Categotry Archives: Stories

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Storytelling Month – The Basement

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Categories: Remembery, Something or other but True, Stories, True Stories, Tags: ,

To celebrate Storytelling Month, I’m going to tell you at least one story per week in  February. These are all true stories.

I don’t think I’ve ever told this story before. Maybe I have and I’ve just reached that stage of perpetual awesomeness where my memory of stories is like that thing that things get out of. A prison or a sieve or a colander or politics or whatever.

Part of the reason for that is that I can’t actually be certain whether it’s fiction or fact. When I look back at the whole thing with my remembery, things are hazy. Flash-bulb, like when you dangle too far into your cups at a hootenanny and your only memories of the evening come in postcard-like flashes because probably your blinks took several seconds each. Like dancers in a strobe. Like headlights on the highway.

IMG_5201I would have been in grade four or five. Maybe grade six. I was around ten or eleven years old and my neighbourhood school had rapidly declining registrations. It was …it *is* a gorgeous old school, built in 1924, I think. It’s a Band School now, but at the time it was a public school. I remember the dust-and-chalk scent of the classrooms, the sound of runners squeaking in the halls, and the way the sun burst through the walls of windows in each class.

The kids I went to school with had been attending this school with me since Kindgergarten, for the most part. Maybe one new kid here and there, but not many. My neighbourhood was in an older part of the city, where there were three elementary schools (two public and one Catholic) in a ten-block area, all on the same street. The point here is that I knew everyone in my school.

When you only have twenty kids in your age range (and split-grade classrooms), you often go to every birthday party that rolls around. It’s a bit like living in residence at University really, or in a small town; when there’s a party, everyone goes. There was a birthday party – a slumber party – and I’d been invited, and my mother didn’t want me to go. She couldn’t really articulate why, but in retrospect, I think I understand. All she could tell me was that she didn’t know the family very well. Didn’t know the parents at all. She was nervous. She said I could go to the party but had to come home before the sleepover started.

I didn’t listen.

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“Corners” image from freeimages.com

I went for the party and after hotdogs and cake I phoned home and asked if I could stay over. Mum said she wanted me home, but I begged and pleaded and wore her down in the way that only eleven year olds can do. She knew where the house was, she knew the phone number, she knew some of the other kids who were there. I didn’t tell her that some of the girls who’d been to the party had gone home. She brought over some pyjamas and a change of clothes, a sleeping bag and a pillow. She told me to be home first thing in the morning. Before noon.

All of us were down in the basement, flopped all over the floor like a litter of puppies. Some girls had sleeping bags, but most had been given some blankets and pillows to sleep on air mattresses at the foot of the stairs. I was curled up on a foam mattress a little way away, listening to whispers and giggles and staring into the darkness watching shapes form and reform as my retinas did whatever magic thing retinas do when the lights are out.

I wish I could remember more details. What the house looked like. Who was there. What time of year it was. But I can’t.

At some point when the whispers and giggles had turned into deep breathing and light snores, I heard something. Someone was coming downstairs. I don’t remember exactly, but I think my birthday friends had older brothers and sisters or uncles or family friends…someone was coming down the stairs. I remember a sliver of light as the door to the upstairs opened. I remember the sound of unsteady footfalls on the stairs. I remember the vague outline of someone walking past the foot of the mass of sleeping girls.

I remember the weight of someone on top of me. I remember pain. I remember, vaguely, at least I think I remember, being told to stay quiet. I remember being completely disoriented, having trouble walking the next day. I remember going home the next day wearing panties that weren’t my own. I remember Mum asking me where I’d got them, and I didn’t have an answer. I don’t know what else I knew then, when I was eleven years old.

That was the last time I ever went to that house, though. I didn’t even talk to the girls who’d invited me to their party very much after that.

Although I still don’t know what exactly happened in that basement, I think I was raped.

It’s neither here nor there now. I don’t remember it, so ultimately it might have all been something that never happened. The only thing I know is that I came home the next day in someone else’s panties and it hurt to walk. It doesn’t affect me. I don’t have PTSD. I’m not a victim. I don’t even really ever think about it. I only tell this story now because not all stories are good ones. But all stories are important.

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Storytelling Month – A Bigger Man

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Categories: Stories, Style, True Stories, Tags: , ,

Why International White Trash Week only lasts one night.

To celebrate Storytelling Month, I’m going to tell you at least one story per week in  February. These are all true stories. Okay and I forgot last week’s story but I gave you two stories the week before so it all evens out.

*ahem*

And I was going to find you a picture for this story, but when I really started thinking about it I realised you really don’t want pictures for this story so I found a royalty-free image that kind of has something to do with part of the story and by the time we get to the end of the story, you’ll understand why I chose that and you will thank me.

You. Will. Thank. Me.

When Drang and I lived together in the little boxcar house (which has since burned down, no fault of ours) with no doorknobs, a busted pool table in the basement and a full-wall mural of Homer Simpson smoking the world’s biggest doob, we were never very far from one a’ them…whattayacallems…thinly veiled excuses for having some shindiggery. Drang worked X weeks away at the mine and X weeks back home, and that led to rather a lot of intense ballyhoo action when he was home, and several weeks of recuperation when he was Away. And since most of our friends were mutual friends it was never very difficult to get a Troupe together for a hootenanny.

Cue birthday celebrations.

#HisNibs shares a birthday (or thereabouts at least) with Our Fair Canada, and with my grandmother, who is now dead but at the time this story took place she was very much alive. For the record, my mother (who was  a heavy drinker) was also very much alive. Neither of these latter two facts really plays a large role in this story; one plays more of a role than the other, but we might not get to it so I really just put that out there because this is how I tell stories. Everyone strapped in? Hands and feet inside the car at all times. Ready? Okay, here we go.

Wait. You’re going to want to take that…whatever that is…out of your mouth because I will not have anyone choking. Snorting beer, coffee, milk, or carbohydrates through one’s nose is acceptable; choking is not.

First, you need to understand the boxcar house. Which I think you do if you’ve been reading along. It was a slum house we rented from slumlords who were famous for offering to trade rent for sexual favours, and who didn’t think there was anything *wrong* with renting out a house that had no doorknobs. The walls were made of buffalo board, which is one step down from gyprock and two steps to the left of cardboard. It was a two-bedroom house that was smaller than my garage. AND WE LOVED IT. Because we were 20-something punk/goth gamers whose primary goal in life was to save enough empties to buy a carton of cigarettes. These are not lofty goals, my friend. However, if you set your goals low enough, you can prove success quite effectively.

ForbiddenWe declared the weekend of #HisNibs’ birthday to be International White Trash Week. Because…um…well, because…uh…kay here’s the thing. You have to look at GOALS first. OUTCOMES. What is the END RESULT you’re looking for? We wanted to spend some time drunk on a beach, but we didn’t have a beach handy (we did, but we’d roont ourselves on it the previous month celebrating the Best Day of the Year). We did, however, have a bunch of shitty lawnchairs we’d picked up at the beach the month prior.

Now let’s just talk for a minute about the Aristotelean ideal of “lawn chair”. No, no. Let’s back up from there even. Let’s talk about the Aristotelean ideal of “chair”. If we sort of…deconstruct the concept of a “chair”, we’re left with “something upon which one may sit”. This could, then, arguably, be an actual chair, a log, a chesterfield, a bunk bed, a rock, a tuffet, or any number of things. Drang and I had “sourced” some “lawn chairs” (by which I mean ‘relatively portable items upon which one might plant their bottom out in the yard’) from the “rubbish bin” at the “beach”.

So. Here we have two to four shitty, busted “lawn chairs”, the dregs of several bottles of liquor, a basement full of empties, half a carton of cigarettes, and a fridge devoid of everything but a quart of milk, half a pound of butter, and two half-eaten Big Crunch chicken sandwich burgers from KFC. Oh, and some mustard and BBQ sauce.

Now, we posited that combining those items and a Saturnalia in honour of #HisNibs impending natals would be a Good Thing, and the theme that presented itself, quite organically, I might add, was “International White Trash Week”. Because, you see, we planned to spend that entire week, a week which Drang had free from work, which I had free from work, and which #HisNibs had free from work, slurring our words face-down in a gutter. Lofty goals, gentle reader. Lofty goals.

So we invited our peeps and informed them there would be a strict dress code. Nothing that wasn’t torn, cut off far too short for modesty, or clean would be permitted. Tooth black, while not required, was highly recommended. Bathing beforehand was strictly optional, and there was to be a bonfire so anyone with aerosol hairspray, jerry cans of gasoline, or incriminating evidence was invited to bring it on over. Those few of our friends who had successfully bred at that point were told their children could attend, provided they were solidly attached to a hunk of twine, the other end of which we would wrap around the neighbour’s fence for safety.

Drang and I realised our laundry (A-frame tee shirts quite politically incorrectly nicknamed “wife beaters” and army surplus dungarees) was Far Too Clean, so we spent the afternoon squirting one another with mustard and bbq sauce and spilling coffee down our fronts followed immediately by rolling about in the dirt in the back alley. I shit you not, dear reader, this is a TRUE STORY. Eventually the sun fell low in the sky and Drang built our bonfire high enough that I thought it would warp our neighbour’s siding. We tossed in the “Vote Conservative!” sign our landlord had lovingly staked in our yard, after we stabbed it with knives as a political statement. Drang may have also urinated on it. [Note: my political leanings have not changed.]

Image from http://www.peopleofwalmart.com

Friends showed up in various attires of the redneck trailer trash cracker variety. I have never in my life (and never will again, I surmise) seen TUO in ‘hotpants’ (cutoff jeans) that short. Our friend D showed up – a fellow a few years older than us, who we all just kind of …assumed… had been a biker. Or still was. Or knew some. Or, you know, was hiding from some. We…didn’t ask a lot of questions.

He tied in to the whiskey pretty hard, halfway through the bottle announcing he’d been on the wagon for a number of years, but this…THIS he had to celebrate. By that point, nobody much cared, and in fact that was the moment that Drang ran up to me to announce he had just vomited! Over there! In the yard! By the end of the night, the cat had escaped and been caught (by #HisNibs), Drang had vomited! In the yard! Over there!, TUO had burnt her knees at the fireside, Suzi had scared the ever-loving Christ out of me by pretending to be my mother, and D was looking a little green around the gills.

Here’s the thing about fêtes. If you CHOOSE to go to bed/to sleep, it doesn’t count as having imbibed so much that you passed out. I *chose* to retire to my own bed at an entirely unreasonable hour, with an entirely excellent choice in partners. In fact, I had stayed up, sobering up, most of the evening, waiting for Drang’s Conflagration to die down enough so that I could put it out with the neighbour’s garden hose. So I missed the Excitement happening in my salle du bain.

The next morning (I’m an early riser much of the time and especially after I’ve been in my cups), I found D snoring loudly on the couch, and although I did my best to creep past him on my way out with #HisNibs to fetch some delectable morning-after fare, D woke with a grunt reminiscent of bears rumbling out of hibernation. “Where you off to?” He mumbled.

“Breakfast. Want to join us?”

He cocked an eyebrow, then rolled himself off the couch and rose unsteadily to his feet. “I could use some coffee.”

What he did not know, what he *could not* know, is that my favourite thing to do after a night of imbibery is to eat greasy fast food. So we drove to the greasiest, fastest-foodiest, arch-related restaurant in the vicinity, where I ordered two greasy mcwiches, several far greasier hash brown patties, and a large cup of coffee drowned in cream and loaded with sugar. I ordered for everyone, as D was still a little unsteady and had opted to have a sit-down in the sit-downery (see: Aristotelean ideal of “chair”) to wait.

I returneth, bearing a tray of sweet, greasy ambrosia.

D’s face turned several shades of…actually I don’t even know what I’d call that colour. Orc? Sun-dried dog  poo? Anyway, the man did not look well. He gulped a few times and said “what the hell is that for?”

I said “Breakfast!” and began to chow down. Now, truth be told, I ate far too fast for the state my stomach was in. But watching that man change colour was far more interesting than any minor protestations coming from my pyloric valve. I didn’t know human beings *turned* those colours. What I did not know was that D had spent much of the previous evening in the loo, retching horrifically…actually, I don’t believe “retching” is an appropriate descriptive verb here. According to #HisNibs, who is a consummate raconteur, the noises coming from the WC were somewhere between “a jet engine revving up” and “an entire pride of lions roaring into a very deep cave”, which lasted “for longer than [he] thought humans could survive without breathing” for the better part of an hour.

“Holy shit,” D said, watching me eat, wiping his brow as he watched. I noticed he was shaking a little. “You’re a bigger man that I am.”

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Storytelling Month – Grandmothers

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Categories: Family, Grandmothers, Just for You, Stories, True Stories, Tags: , , , ,

To celebrate Storytelling Month, I’m going to tell you at least one story per week in  February. These are all true stories.

Every day at noon, the bells in the fire hall in Climax (the town in southeastern Saskatchewan that was home to my mum, and to me every summer, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and most spring breaks) would sound out the Westminster Chimes, and bong their bongers twelve times. No matter where you were, you knew it was time to go home for lunch.

Or, in some cases, you knew last night had been a hell of a night and you buried your head under the pillow and cursed the English once again for every travesty they’d committed upon your ancestors, your ancestors’ ancestors, good food, and the middle class.

Either way, to this day, I associate that particular melody with everything that was good and right and wonderful about childhood. Lying on the the dry, crinkly grass (it was always dry and crinkly down there, no matter how often you watered it because the only trees in town other than the spruce trees planted by Old Mrs. J at the end of the block were two weedy and spindly poplars we planted in Nama’s yard that grew at a 60º angle because of the constant wind), staring up at the cloudless azure sky, the Chimes of Westminster would break you out of your reverie and in you’d go for toast squares and blueberry pie and a tall, cold glass of milk.

"Moroccan Breakfast" photo by Piotr Menducki, used with free license from freeimages.com

“Moroccan Breakfast” photo by Piotr Menducki, used with free license from freeimages.com

Today I walked a few blocks west of the hotel in Pasadena, letting the sun warm my bare arms and dry my hair, and I stopped in to a little restaurant for breakfast. I ate on the patio, and the part of my leg not sheltered by the sun shade grew hot, but I didn’t move it out of the sun. So what if eight inches of my right calf got sunburnt? It’s summer here and there’s no goddamned way I’m budging an inch.

I drank hot, rich coffee and read the book I’d brought with me. I made plans to stop in at the Pasadena library on the way back, because it looks like the lovechild of the Alamo and a colonial spanish ranch-style bungalow. (It turns out it has a courtyard with a fountain and a wall of books devoted to Doctor Who. I love libraries.) A few minutes after my order arrived (eggs benedict florentine with avocado and Canadian bacon), a woman arrived with a young boy – the boy probably not quite old enough for school. The woman had short greying hair and the boy had Spiderman clutched in one hand.

She ordered for them (waffles, orange juice, water, and two plates so they could share) and I read my book and ate my breakfast and drank my coffee in the sun. If this story ended here, it would be just fine. But it doesn’t. Because, as Anton Chekov says, “something-something gun in the scene, something-something better get shot”. I may have muddled up the quotation a bit but the gist of it is that if you introduce something into your story, you had better be prepared to use it.

The waitress brought my bill and I sipped my coffee and watched the grandmother with her grandson and I had An Idea. It was one of those Ideas that kind of jumps out at you from behind the topiary and then slaps you around a bit until you agree that it is, in fact, a Good Idea. Because the grandmother and her grandson were having breakfast together, on the porch of this little café, and I thought about all the times I had eaten at my grandmothers’ tables. I thought about grandmothers. About how maybe someday I’ll get to take my grandchild to a restaurant and share a plate of waffles.

I thought about how, even now, thirty years after she died in a cold and green hospital room, I miss my Nama fiercely and think of her often. I thought about how despite the differences my Gram and I had. one of her greatest joys was taking us out for a meal (and how she nearly shivved His Nibs when he attempted to pay for dinner one night). My eyes were filling with remembering, and this Idea was still beating me up.

This was taken the last fall she was alive.

This was taken the last fall she was alive.

When the waitress returned to take my credit card, I asked her to please add the grandmother’s and grandson’s bill to mine, and to please not tell them I was doing that. And the moment the waitress walked away, a church nearby began to ring out Westminster Chimes. I left a note that said “please tell the grandmother and her grandson how wonderful it is to see them enjoying each others’ company, and to always remember how lovely it is to spend time with your grandmother.” And I paid their bill and left my tip and got up and walked down the stairs toward the library.

Now go ahead and call me flaky, but I could damn near feel my Nama walking next to me. She was smiling as she told me, “that gift came from me, you know.”

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To Print or Not to Print

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Categories: Books, True Stories, Women, writing, Tags: , , , ,

You’ve heard by now that HarperCollins will be publishing a “new” book by Harper Lee, the author of one of my favourite books, To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee, renowned for being reclusive and very protective of her work, may not have made the decision to publish, and that raises some interesting questions. Questions about art ownership and intellectual property and commerce in the creative economy.

The decision to publish is a commercial one. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating because I still hear the hateful phrase “art for the sake of art” more often than not. So I’m going to go on a little tear about that phrase, then I’m going to talk about publishing as a commercial creative production, then I’m going to (hopefully) draw the whole thing together, and back to Harper Lee. Are you ready for this? Okay. Let’s go.

As an artist, I do not “do art for the sake of art”. I do not “make art for the sake of art”. I’m not into that bullshit belly-button-gazing phrase because I don’t know any artists who do “art for the sake of art”. In fact, I don’t even know what that phrase means. People tend to use it to mean “people who create things without an intent to commercialize/monetize their works”. That is a very different thing from “art for the sake of art” (hereafter referred to as AFTSOA).

Some artists, and many hobbyists, may decide to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars creating works with no intent of ever recouping any costs at all. You know who’s the worst for this? WRITERS. We undervalue our work *all the time*. We think nothing of tossing a blog post up or a piece of fan fiction or several chapters of our next book because we are under the mistaken impression that if you put your work out there for free consumption, we’ll become well known and publishers will start beating down our doors to get our next manuscript. I don’t want to be a poopypants here, but that’s not going to happen.

Chances are *pretty good* that the next Stephen King or Alice Munro is not sitting in front of their laptop posting the next eighty chapters of their Lloyd Robertson/Mike Duffy slashfic. And chances are *even better* that Random House is not trolling tumblr to find the new Stephen King or Alice Munro. The reason why Stephen King and Alice Munro are successful is because they devoted their lives to their art. They had little or no income. They worked shit jobs to pay the bills so that they could spend their time doing what they’re driven to do – what they can’t NOT do – and artists grok this. We do what we do not because we choose this lifestyle but because we go bats without it.

Ultimately, though, we want to make a living. Ask any artist what their dream is, and I’d put money on them NOT saying “working at a desk job for the rest of my working career”. I bet they’d say something like “being able to quit my job so that I could focus on writing/music/sculpture/theatre career/photography/stand-up comedy”. Some of us are fortunate to find work within our creative sector, and most of us aren’t.

I will concede that there may be some hobbyists (and I make the distinction here between professional artists and hobbyists because professional artists spend decades learning how to be better at what they do) who choose to write stories or make earrings or paint landscapes because it’s cathartic and they never want anyone to see what they do, except maybe their kids and friends. There are people who use art as therapy (and it is a POWERFUL tool in that arena), but those people aren’t professional artists. What makes a professional artist professional is that they have chosen art as their career. Which means they want to make a living at it. Which means they want to get paid.

In order to commercialize artworks, there needs to be some kind of production – visual artists may have their work exhibited in a gallery; musicians make albums and go on tour; and writers’ works are published. The decision to publish is entirely a commercial one. Publishing, even if you’re doing digital publishing, is not easy to do well, and it’s a dear venture. The truth is that people place more value on products they pay for, and if you want your creative product to “get out there” so that “people will read it”, you need more than just a PDF available for download on your website.

Manuscripts need editing, design, sometimes typesetting, marketing, distribution…they need PRODUCTION. And this is where the new Harper Lee book becomes very interesting.

Publishers publish because they are businesses. They need to make money. They may be non-profit or for-profit, but non-profit doesn’t mean no revenue. It means the profit recognized from sales gets rolled back in to the operations and that shareholders don’t profit. Let’s look at HarperCollins. This is a HUGE publishing house with hundreds of publishing professionals at their disposal. They have an accomplished and notable sales force. They have international distribution and rights deals. They can move a lot of books because they have a lot of money to put behind a title.

HarperCollins doesn’t want to publish Go Set a Watchman for the good of the people. They probably don’t want to publish this book to benefit the author. They want to publish this book because they know it will turn a profit. They’re planning an initial print run of TWO MILLION COPIES. To put this into perspective, an indie or small press publisher might print 5,000 copies if they think they have a particularly strong title.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with publishing being commercial, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with huge publishing houses producing enormous print runs. I’m not anti-business (especially if it means artists and the creative economy benefit).

But if what Madeline Davies says in the Jezebel article is true, and I don’t see anything in that article to indicate she has her own ulterior motive in questioning this publishing choice, then a bigger question is at play.

Let’s just say that Harper Lee has a really good reason why she hasn’t published this title before now. Maybe she didn’t feel it was as strong as To Kill a Mockingbird. Maybe she felt that To Kill a Mockingbird was an important enough book that she didn’t want to put another one out there. Maybe that one book was enough. Maybe she only had one story in her, and that was the one (and what a hell of a good story it is). Maybe she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird because what it talked about – racism, rape, and the American justice system – needed exposition in modern literature. Whatever her reasons, she opted to stop publishing novels (but she didn’t stop writing essays and articles and letters). She chose, for more than fifty years, not to publish another novel.

Why?

Do you think she’s just mean? She just doesn’t want you to find out what happened to Scout and Jem and Atticus? She thinks you can’t HANDLE it? She doesn’t want any more money. That’s it. She has sold enough books with her first novel that she’s said ‘no, you know what? I don’t need any more money’. [Note: Harper Lee probably didn’t get incredibly rich from sales from her novel.]

Harper Lee has received numerous accolades as a result of this book – not just a Pulitzer prize, but a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a National Medal of Arts. And she has fiercely and successfully defended her own copyright and intellectual property.

And, let’s play devil’s advocate too – let’s say she has decided, in her later years, that really, that second novel really SHOULD be published. That the people of the world really do need to find out what happens to Scout and Atticus. That maybe what happened to those characters after that trial in Alabama is important too.

I’m not convinced. And here’s why this is important: As artists, our intellectual property, our artworks, are commodities. They are our products. We have control over whether or not our works *become* products. If we don’t feel a work is good enough, or ready, or says what we want it to say, we don’t send it out. There are numerous reasons why, and those reasons, each of them is legitimate because  our works are the product of our labour.

If writing a book is like building a house, then publishing a book is like selling the house. If the wiring isn’t up to code; if the roof leaks and the grade is off and the foundation cracks, that house isn’t going to sell. If I’m the builder, I want to make sure I build a good, solid house. A beautiful house. A house that will hold young lovers, and tiny babies, and rammy kids, and old farts. And then more young lovers. I don’t really know what this simile has to do with anything. But I kind of liked it.

Anyway. I think I won’t buy the new Harper Lee book when it comes out. I figure that the important story she told in To Kill a Mockingbird wasn’t about Scout, or Jem, or Atticus, or Boo Radley. I think I don’t want to know what happens to those folks. I’m happy with Scout staying 9 years old forever. I’m happy remembering Atticus clean off his glasses. I don’t much think about what those folks might have gone on to do, because their zenith was in that court room, and in the jail cell, and back at Atticus’ house. It was never about the characters, in other words. It was about the truth.

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Storytelling Month – Dogs

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Categories: Dogs, Just for You, Stories, True Stories, Tags: , , ,

 

1391804289614To celebrate Storytelling Month, I’m going to tell you at least one story per week in  February. These are all true stories.

dogsweater

A picture of the cat in a sweater I made for my friend Road Rage’s dog.

You know how you sometimes get in to the middle of a situation and then you wonder “how the hell did I get here?”, and then you spend the rest of the night trying not to let any part of your body touch any part of the furniture, floor, walls, or yard of the place you’ve found yourself? You know how that is, right? Of course you do. It’s part of the human condition. It’s one ‘a them…whattayacallems…shared experiences that become part of the collective unconscious, shaping the entire future of mankind.

I had a lover who played bass.

I realise this sounds like the beginning of a noir novel…“I had a lover who played bass,” the dame said and blew her cigarette smoke across the desk into my face. I’d have taken offense, but nothing that those lips could do would ever hurt me more than watching them quiver as her heart broke. But it isn’t. A noir mystery/thriller/crime story. Well, okay, it could be, but you’d have to squint a bit and pretend that “noir” actually means “punk rock” and that “mystery/thriller” really means “crazy adventure”.

So I had a lover who played bass. He had long hair and loved Primus and thought he was less bright than he actually was. He was a friend’s ex boyfriend and he was sweet and I always knew that he was the one whose heart would be breaking when the affair ended. I was on a roll back then, “chewing up men, and spitting them out,” my friend RR would tell me, “like a combine chews up wheat and spits out the chaff”. He had a band. I mean, of COURSE he had a band. Well. He had a dude he hung out with who played drums.

He and his drummer had an audition, down in Regina, and of course neither of them drove (didn’t have their permits, in fact – I once attempted to teach my lover how to drive and after he nearly took out the neighbour’s fence I encouraged him to take some lessons) and neither of them had paying jobs but I thought it was kind of cool that they had an audition for a band. I agreed to drive them to their audition. In Regina. Did I mention we lived in Saskatoon at the time? We did.

I collected my lover’s friend and their kit and we drove down after I was done work for the day. I asked where the studio was as we approached the city. “What studio?” D- asked.

“Uh. The studio where your audition is?”

My lover’s friend in the back seat snorted. “Studio. There’s no STUDIO. This is at a dude’s house.”

Ah. A house. A house with a recording studio built in the basement. My boss at the time had one of those. Well. His was in his garage, but still. I’d always wanted a studio in my house.

Nope. It was a dingy, run-down house in the sticks of the ‘hood. A tiny little house with shitty floors and Too Many People and these stupid dogs. I mean. Okay, to a certain extent, all dogs are stupid. This is a true fact. But these dogs were PARTICULARLY stupid. Like. Sat in the fire pit while the fire was burning stupid. Big, fluffy, drooly things with mats and bad breath. Which reminds me of another fellow who asked me out on a date…

…but I digress.

The house smelled like wee and stale beer and cigarettes and a lifetime of regret and bad decisions. The stupid dogs had the same look about them, except with more sadness. There was a torn and 100% springs-free chesterfield up against one wall, a filthy coffee table varnished with several years of spilled beer and ashtrays in the centre of the room, and an even MORE decrepit couch/love seat covered in tattered blankets along the east wall.

There was no television, no stereo. The “dining room” was a bunch of lawn chairs with tables made of beer cases. And let me just say here before I start sounding too pretentious that there was a fairly long stint in my own life in which my primary goal was to save up enough money from the return of my empties to buy a carton of smokes, and that meant the only reason my dining table wasn’t made of stacks of empties was because I was returning them for a carton of smokes. And the only reason we didn’t use the busted pool table as a dining table was because the legs were gone. So. Just to put things in perspective there. It’s not like I lived in the most auspicious lodgings.

Remember the scene from “Trainspotting” where Renton retrieves his fix from the worst terlet in Scotland?

Right. Well. That was pretty much what the loo was like upstairs. After dodging the passed out drunks and stupid dogs while trying not to touch the walls, I ended up standing on the terlet seat (with my boots on; I’d refused to take them off) and squatting to wee. The worst part was that when I was done, the drips on the terlet seat WERE CLEANER THAN THE REST OF THE TERLET. Ugh. I was even a little leery as to whether the running water from the sink was clean enough to wash with. The point here is that this was not a Better Homes and Gardens house.

I sat at the end of the chesterfield, nursing the one can of beer I’d accepted from the host, and pretending to share the joints that were passed around. I did not inhale. I literally didn’t inhale* because I was pretty sure if I did, I’d have flashbacks about that house for the rest of my…oh wait. Shit. Well I could have been high, which would have made what happened later make more sense. Maybe.

This guy. This guy sat on the couch next to the chesterfield and he started chatting me up. As they do. With the dulcet tones of staggergingly bad death metal lilting up through the floorboards at 800 decibels, this guy on the couch leaned toward me and said:

“DOGS.”

I nodded. Because, 800 decibels.

“YOU LIKE DOGS, MAN?” He shouted.

I nodded again. I figured, just keep nodding and eventually this guy will get the idea that you’re too high to talk to.

“I LOVE DOGS, MAN.” He shouted.

I do not have the sort of luck that involves people getting the hint that I’m too high to talk to.

“WHAT’S YOUR NAME, MAN?” The guy shouted. He was like…if you took Bruno Gerussi and roughed him up outside Molly’s Reach, then kind of smooshed him up with Stan Rogers’ younger brother Garrett, then threw in a liberal dose of Gordon Lightfoot, added a few more felony convictions and a dozen years of hard labour, and far fewer showers, that’d be this guy.

I told him my name.

“WHAT”

“cenobyte”

“WHAT, MAN?”

“cenobyte”

“NO WHAT’S YOUR NAME, MAN”

“cenobyte.”

“FUCK YOU, MAN.”

Now. I’m sure you’ve heard the adage about your life flashing before your eyes when you’re in a car accident or when you find your grandmother’s dildo. This was one of those times. I was convinced that there would be a news story the following morning in which someone found my body stuffed in a chesterfield in a burnt-out slum house in Regina. Faced with such a situation, I know you’d have done the same thing I did. I leaned as close to Bruno-Garrett-Gordon and shouted, “No, fuck YOU, buddy. You asked my name. My name is cenobyte.”

He reared back like I’d spit on him. I may have spit on him a little bit. “NO, FUCK YOU MAN!” He shouted, jabbing at me with his finger.

I stared at him. Knowing that would be the last moment of my life, I wanted to remember it in perfect clarity just in case reincarnation was, you know, a thing.

“MY MOTHER’S NAME IS CENOBYTE!” He hollered.

“Uh. What?”

“NO, MAN. MY MOTHER’S NAME IS CENOBYTE. I LOVE MY MOM, MAN.”

I’m not really sure there is a way to describe what my expression must have been.

“YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE I LOVE, MAN?”

I had no idea what else that man loved. I had a few ideas. Blow-up dolls, larceny…definitely not soap.

“I LOVE MY DOGS MAN.”

What does one say? I mean. A hobo is screaming at you in a drunken slum house while your boyfriend is playing death metal in the basement loud enough to move the floor joists and a smelly chow dog is drooling on your foot. What does one say? Want to know why you’re not me? Because *I* said, “at least you have someone.” I said that, like, before I thought about it. I should probably claim contact high here.

“I HAVE THIS SHIRT, MAN.”

Thank Christ he hadn’t heard me.

“I HAVE THIS SHIRT AND YOU KNOW WHAT IT SAYS, MAN?”

“I cannot begin to fathom,” I said.

sadie“IT SAYS, THE MORE PEOPLE I MEET, THE MORE I LOVE MY DOG, MAN.”

I kind of felt bad for the guy. I feel bad when people love their animals more than they love other people because what shitty people we are. Love is easy, you know. Even hobo Gerussi. He was lovable in his own way. As soon as he said that, I knew there was no threat from this guy. Not from any of these folks. So who cared if they’d fired the maid or were squatting in a low-income rental? They had music, they had friends, and they had dogs. That’s a damned sight more than a lot of people have.

I didn’t budge from my corner of the chesterfield all night. I eventually fell asleep with the chow dog on my legs for warmth, and when my lover was finished his audition (which was an hour of playing and five hours of steady and unreasonable drinking and drug use), we drove home. That guy yelled at me periodically throughout the night, every time he caught my eye.

“THE MORE PEOPLE I MEET, MAN, THE MORE I LOVE MY DOG, MAN.”

I hope you’re still around, Hobo Gerussi. And still kind to dogs.

*This should read: “I literally didn’t inhale THE DOPE”. Not “I literally didn’t inhale at all”. Because, of course, if I had literally not inhaled, the rest of the story would be a complete lie because I would be dead. Of not inhaling. Which I think they call “not breathing” these days.

I’VE BEEN FIVE-STARRED!

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Oh Danny Boy, Oh Boy Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Danny

6 comments

Categories: Just for You, True Stories, When There's Weather, Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been gone for a little while. Which is to say, after ExMass, I decided I’d do a little assperiment. But before I get to the assperiment, I want to tell you a little bit of background stuff. While I’m ramping up to that, have a listen to the best version of this song that has ever been performed in the history of the performing arts:

Sometimes, when I find something I really enjoy, I like to walk away from it because as the child of an alcoholic, I’m always a little nervous that I’m using the things I really really like as some kind of crutch or escape. That, in essence, I’m exhibiting the same behaviours toward things about which I am passionate as my mother exhibited toward her addictions. I suspect there’s some kind of buzz word for this, but I don’t think much of buzz words. And I’m going to warn you now this post will probably descend into some kind of rant about something, even though it’s meant to be more expository than …uh…rantitory.

Just after ExMass I gave some thought to my activity on social “needia”. It’s no surprise that I’m not a huge fan of Effbook. Their privacy policies make me grind my teeth (and frankly, there’s a reason I didn’t keep in touch with you, Chris M.; we’re just too different. Plus you were a total dick). I hate how most of these platforms aren’t actually about being social. They’re about breaking communities down and attempting to rebuild them on the basis of algorithms and the laziest of “social interactions”, the ‘like’ or ‘poke’.

There are two things about social networks. One is making connections. This is done one person at a time. You meet someone, you find out a bit about them, you share a little bit about yourself, and there’s give and take. The second thing is about content. In order to form a social “covalent” bond, you have to share content (electron pairs, if you will. This will be the extent of my chemistry metaphor because my knowledge of chemistry is pret-ty rusty these days). And I find most social networks sorely lacking in the content arena.

If “media” is a form of mass communication, then “social media” is either redundant (“collective/mass communication to the collective/mass from the collective/mass”) or it’s misnamed. It could possibly be both, actually. If society is really communicating to the masses, but society IS the masses, then doesn’t the actual content – the message – become meaningless? How can you find the content if the point of communication is simply broadcasting?

These are the sorts of things that keep me up at night.

At any rate, when I find something I really like, I walk away from it because I want to be sure that the reason I’m passionate about a thing isn’t because I’m using that thing as a crutch or a replacement for some aspect of my life or my self that’s lacking. Or absent. Or stunted. You get where I’m going here.

So I quit social “needia”.

I wanted to see if I’d hate it. If I’d feel lonely. If I’d feel like my friends had all abandoned me and I was alone. (Yes, yes. *I* was the one who chose to leave, I know.) I wasn’t sure if I could handle more of that lonliness business.

What happened was exactly the opposite. You wrote and asked if I was okay. You checked in. You texted me and emailed me and called me to find out where I’d been. You missed me.

These are the important connections. This is what I want to build on. One person at a time, one relationship at a time. I miss you too. It’s important that you know that. That you’re not just a name on a screen – I know this sounds really schmoopsy, but I want to and plan to continue to focus on building relationships up.

Look, my hiatus wasn’t narcissistic in any way. I needed to walk away to see what would happen. I do plan to come back, maybe a little at a time. Maybe all at once. But I kind of like the silence too, and I kind of liked forcing myself to come here to this place and share a little bit more. I don’t know what’s coming, but since you asked, I thought I’d tell you where I’d gone.

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Miss Appropriate Or, Why I Stopped Looking In Mirrors

8 comments

Categories: Everything Else Drawer, True Stories, Tags: ,

Diane Groves' "Fishwishers" image used royalty-free from freeimages.com

Diane Groves’ “Fishwishers” image used royalty-free from freeimages.com

I walk up the street and catch a reflection of myself in the window. I look away. The woman in that window is a woman reflected. She has backward thoughts. She cannot look in to her own eyes. The woman reflected is alone in that window.

In mirrors she moves backward, mixing up her right and left hands. She has imperfections. Spots on her chin or an extra roll around her middle. She notes with too much rapidity every wrinkle forming at the corners of her eyes. She catalogues every change, every sag, every pull of gravity and the stretch of every mashed potato. She frowns at the flame-red stretch marks reaching up over her belly from fifteen, ten years ago’s Rapid Baby Expansion. She says she is not good enough because she is no longer twenty. She is fatter. Softer. Older.

She says this as if youth were a panacea. As if smooth skin and a taut belly were measures of a woman’s worth. As if what made a woman important was the way men looked at her, how they wanted her. You can’t blame her for thinking these things. All reflected women know these things to be self-evident. The women they see, the women they hear, from the time they are born, tell them that age is a hateful, fearful thing. That women lose their power once they turn 40. That men won’t want them if they don’t pluck their chin hairs, and that a woman’s desirability is a woman’s worth. This is what reflected women learn. This is who they are.

So I stop looking at her because she is misinformed. Mislead. Misinterpreting. Miss Appropriate.

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CRISIS! (Averted)

4 comments

Categories: Just for You, Something or other but True, True Stories, Tags: ,

From SantaI don’t know about you, but I still write letters to Santa every year. This year my letter, after the perfunctory inquiries about Mrs. Claus, the reindeer, and the state of Santa’s socks, included a request for the Clauses to look after my wee cousin as he undergoes some surgery. Usually the boys and I write our letters together, but secretly, so that nobody knows what’s in each others’ letters. Kind of like when you used to play “Mastermind” (that classic game of trying to guess the shit out of your partner’s twisted mind as it pertains to setting up a row of four differently-coloured beads – we rediscovered it over ExMass this year and I was reminded just how beastly the game truly is. I love it.); we scribble our greetings and requests, and sometimes line drawings of the cats while shielding the contents from one another because some secrets are still sacred, thank #Glob for that.

We got our letters off late this year, so I was a little worried that Santa wouldn’t get them before ExMass, what with the post being overbogged at this time of year, but I have to tell you. We received replies on “Christmas Adam” (which is, The Nipper asserts, “the day before Christmas Eve because Adam came first, after all”. And to think we aren’t churchgoers (nor, in fact, are we Christian…nor in fact particularly religious except for my own quest for enlightenment which is at best ramshackle and at worst pretty handwavey. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with handwavey enlightenment. It’s sure nice when it’s hot out).

ANYWAY.

Often, Santa also leaves a hand-written note after his visit on ExMass eve. This year’s note was pretty awesome. I’ve…um. I’ve redacted portions of it to protect the “innocent”:

Dear [redacted],

I hope you will be happy with these toys. I haven’t received [redacted]’s Christmas list yet, but I think I still know what he likes.

SantaLetter2014[Redacted], I have had to have a talk with Jingle the Elf. He mounted the crossbow backward on your Zombie Strike Crossbow, and then he had an accident that kind of messed up your whole order. Jingle was put on a strict “NO NOG” list and will be in charge of reindeer poop next year. Sorry.

Mrs. Claus has shipped replacement items for you. I hope they arrive by the time you get home. The Terradrone was particularly badly damaged. I’m having Elf Ralph make a new one from scratch.

[Redacted], you have had a good year in sports. I was going to bring you new skates but I guess you don’t need them!

Merry Christmas to all,

S

P.S. I had some soup. It was a nice change from cookies.

[Not shown] P.P.S. You guys have weird stockings.

I should explain that I forgot our ExMass sockings in the exact spot I dumped them, unceremoniously, in the middle of our upstairs hallway, last year after ExMass. I probably should have mentioned my utter lack of domestic tenacity in my letter to St. Nick, but he probably already knows. ANYWAY. Our “stockings” this year were a bunch of cardboard boxes. Yes, we *did* have a white trash Christmas. Thanks for asking.

The Nipper’s whatever the hell they were things that he asked for (I have never even heard of this stuff before, thereby putting me solidly in the “old fart” category) showed up at some point between New Year’s Eve and this past Sunday. I had heard some horrific banging coming from the rafters, which I assumed was the cold snapping the roof beams, but apparently was a wobbly reindeer, because The Nipper discovered some stuff (a crossbow and a weird and very creepy robot that shoots darts) on his upper bunk while getting ready for bed on Sunday. And there was a note that said more about Jingle the Elf and how he felt terrible and how there had been a meeting where he acknowledged a Nog problem.

I mean. That was cool and all.

But it was nowhere near as cool as what happened to me this morning.

I’m sure you remember me bitching about how I was having a RIDICULOUS time trying to buy gifts online (particularly from ThinkGeek, which makes me sad because I do love their stuff, but they refuse to ship to my address, for reasons that are long-winded and usually end in tears). Well. It turns out that SOMEONE ELSE noted my Bad Attitude this year.

Dear [Redacted]:

In due course after the seasonal rush it has come to my attention that you have received poor service in the assemblage and shipping execution of much-desired gifts to your post office box, an address at which you have lived for ages, and one at which you are easily reached by those with a greater capacity for both caring and drink.

krampusletter2014
As you suspect, your troubles were entirely due to the inebriated incompetency of Jingle the Elf, whom Santa has relocated to the stringent auspices of my department for the twelve-month ensuing. Jingle (whom some of the lower order here at the North Pole have simply taken to calling “Nog” as a sniggering homage to his propensity for the rum-laced libation) has been put to hard labour in the bowels of the internet for his various misdemeanors.

Rest assured that I can hear his piteous moans and occasional whimpers as he proofreads BuzzFeed lists and GoodReads reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey – about the worst punishment I could see fit to tax him with. I am, however, not without some small morsel of compassion and do allow him the opportunity to read Your Blog as reward for good behaviour. [Editor’s Note: That could actually be construed as punishment in four states and the Republic of Guelph.]

Having read of your Dorothy Parker, the Effin’ Cold Weather in Saskatchewan, and your love of classic literature, he has had An Idea.

Therefore, in an attempt to curry your favour (and perhaps get back into Santa’s good graces in so doing), Jingle asked me to forward to you this small token of his sincere repentance and his wishes for your Very Good Health and a Very Happy New Year.

K.

Enclosed, wrapped in black tissue paper, were cotton gauntlets printed with passages from Alice in Wonderland which, as you know, is one of my favourite favourites.

I GOT A LETTER FROM KRAMPUS, MOTHERFUCKERS! And gauntlets from Jingle “Nog” the Elf, who is on his journey to recovery, it would seem. HOW COOL IS THAT? (That’s might cool, yo. MIGHTY COOL.)

I love things.

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…when you look at it

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Categories: Just for You, True Stories, Tags:

image "old photograph" used royalty-free with permission from freeimages.com

image “old photograph” used royalty-free with permission from freeimages.com

So after yesterday’s Debbie Downer post, I thought I’d just say another thing along the same vein. And that is, that while there is a very important role that grief plays in dealing with loss, where the actual MAGIC happens is somewhere else. What that mourning stage does is gets some of the sadness and hurt out – you know, when you cry so hard, and so long that you’re exhausted afterward and fall in to a deep, deep sleep? It’s a powerful purging. That expression of longing and loss and sadness makes way for something that I’m sure the Germans have a long, awesome-sounding word for.

And it’s this kind of happysad memory invocation, also usually spurred on by stories, where we actually can and do “celebrate” the life of someone we’ve lost. Yesterday I had a bee in my bonnet about the whole thing and here’s why: I was at a wake two years ago, and the MC stood up and said “we don’t want to see tears today; we want to remember him fondly and remember all the wonderful and amazing things he did and the great man he was”. And that’s great; that’s important to do. But it stuck in my craw because at that moment, that day, what we actually did need to do was to cry like banshees. And we did.

I remember the first funeral I went to, when I was eight, and the minister was talking about how wonderful it was that my Gramps got to hang out with God, and I thought, “yeah! Actually, that is pretty awesome, because he totally believes that’s going to happen. GOOD FOR YOU, GRAMPS!” And so I did have this moment of joy knowing that Gramps was getting to hang out with God. This was, of course, immediately followed by my own selfish knowledge that that meant that *I* didn’t ever get to see him again, and let me tell you, that knowledge has pretty much shaped my entire life.

But there is good, comfort, and even sometimes joy to be had in peoples’ passing, especially so if their death is an end to their suffering. And if you have faith in an afterlife, there are all kinds of awesome things a soul can go on to do! Honestly, that’s the kind of comfort that some people need. I think that’s wonderful, that you can find comfort there. There are many ways to find comfort whether you’re religious or nonreligious, theist or atheist.

Death is a very inward-looking thing. There’s nothing wrong with that. And honestly, one of the things that gets me the most at death services/celebrations/whatevers is that my heart breaks for the pain that everyone is in. I mean, whether or not I even knew the person. This one time, Drang and I went on a date to a funeral. I know that sounds weird, and trust me, it gets weirder. It was my cousin’s funeral; a young man who’d been murdered at a house party for trying to defend his ex girlfriend from her then-boyfriend. That branch of the family was pretty much destitute, and it was the first time I’d ever seen an actual cardboard box coffin and the little chapel filled with his peers and his parents and brother, none of whom could rub together two nickels to get a dime between them.

I wouldn’t have known my cousin if I’d have passed him in the street; I’d only met him once, and that was in passing and is a whoooole other story. But I watched my great aunt, his mum, come apart. I felt how heavy and melting people’s grief was, and I wanted to make it better, but of course, I couldn’t. Nobody could. Helplessness really blows. I remember walking up the street afterward, surprised at how emotional I’d become over someone I didn’t even know, whose life never touched mine except in the story of his, if not noble, then at least somewhat heroic death.

Kay. You know what? This was supposed to be a more UPBEAT post. I meant to say that there is a place for happiness and laughter at memorial services. There’s a HUGE place for all of that. I think the (rather abstruse) point I’m trying to make here is that we oughtn’t deny the power of grieving together to …well, to help.

So at my funeral I ALSO want you to laugh and fight and throw shit and cause a ruckus. A joyful ruckus (this might be the name of my next poetry book), a tearful ruckus (maybe a combination of those two things). I want you to do whatever you need to do to send me off. Fireworks ought to be involved. And possibly a New Orleans-style brass band. And filthy poetry. PLEASE promise me there will be filthy poetry. [Note: I don’t intend on dying anytime soon. I still have at LEAST 40 more good years in me, so you’re going to have to wait rather a long time for this awesome shindig.]

 

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Not with a whimper

8 comments

Categories: Just for You, True Stories, Tags: ,

I thought I would be much, much older before so many of my friends died. I thought I had more time. That’s the thing, isn’t it? We always think we have more time.

Well, we don’t. That’s just the thing. Cherish every single moment because while time is not finite, our lives are. We are so delicately, so miserably, so beautifully finite.

I am sad to say I have had more experience with funerals* and wakes and ‘celebrations of life’ than I would really like to have had at this point in my own life. And I have something to say about it right now. It’s not politically correct. It’s not going to make anyone feel any better. If you’re the sort of person who needs trigger warnings, well, there are probably triggers all over the damned place in what I’m going to say.

When I die, I goddamned well want people to be sad. I want you to mourn. I want you to grieve. I want you to sob and to wail and to gnash your teeth. Because grief and sadness have a place, an *important* place in our lives. We have to learn to let go of hurt, and the only way to do this – seriously, the *only* way to do this – is to grieve. To let that sadness wash over you in wave after wave of throat-stabbing, chest-heaving wave. To cry so bloody hard your tears dry out and your nose is raw from wiping away all the snot.

Grief is raw, it’s visceral. It’s not *pretty*. But it’s beautiful. Grief is one of those things that bind us to one another. It’s one of those things we have all experienced. Every one of us has lost a friend, or a pet, or a family member, or, what the hell, a beloved gewgaw, gadget, or toy. It’s okay to grieve for lost things. It’s okay to be sad. The purpose of grief, then, is to embrace that sadness fully in order that we can move past it. To experience it so that we don’t drown in it. To learn to swim, in other words.

I get what we’re trying to do when we say we’re going to have a “celebration of his/her life”. I know we’re trying to focus on all the great things our loved one did; all the awesome ways they made us feel good. We’re trying to focus on the good memories in order to ameliorate the heavy, bleak white and scarred landscape that our souls become when we lose someone. But at some level, that’s completely missing the point.

A while ago, for reasons that I only understand in terms of listening to what the universe is saying (I will not beg forgiveness for my understanding of how the universe works. I’ve done enough of that, frankly.), I wrote my father’s obituary. My father isn’t dead. I am terrified of having to face my father’s death, and I woke in the middle of the night and thought, “I’d better jot something down now because God knows I won’t be able to when the time comes, and since I’m the last member of his family alive (other than the kids, of course), I’d better do this now.” So I did. And I wept the whole time. My sobs shook the bed. I also haven’t…told my father that I’ve written his obituary. That would probably weird him out, so maybe let’s just keep this between you and me, okay?

You are bloody well right that I expect people to be upset at my father’s wake. He is a great man, with a great many friends, and his life has touched many, many others. He is a giving, caring soul, despite his many ‘accidents’ with my (former) pets, and I expect he will be mourned. He is utterly irreplaceable. What we will be grieving is that we will no longer have the chance to sit with him and hear his laughter. We won’t be able to make any new memories. The only way we’ll be able to be with him will be to tell stories.

Now, stories are powerful strong, and a good story can bring a man back until you can damn near see him. But not strong enough to feel his arms around you or to just sit at the table and talk. And that’s why we grieve. That’s why we NEED to grieve. And wakes and memorials are the time when we all grieve together. Where it’s okay to show our vulnerability. Our sadness. We are strong together in our weakness.

So when I die, you motherfuckers better be sad. You had better grieve and mourn and for those of you who don’t, well, I probably pissed you off right good and never got the chance to figure out what I did wrong. I do plenty wrong, and I do wrong things often. We all do.

I love having you in my life. I love spending time with you, or chatting with you or talking to you, or reading your words. You are important. You are brilliant. You are worth it. I have no idea if I’ll miss you when I croak. But when I do, I want you to be sad *together*. If there’s one thing I want my life to have done, it’s to have brought people together (with or without Very Awkward Verb Tenses). I want to have made a difference, however small.

So. Just so’s you know. I don’t want any of this “come and celebrate cenobyte’s life at blah-blah-blah”. I want “look, we’re all pretty miserable about this, so let’s all be miserable about it together, okay?”

And of course, part of this is spurred by the possibility (however real or imagined) that there will be five non-family members at my wake, and three of them will have been hired according to the tenets of my will, as traditional keeners. YOU KNOW I’LL DO THAT.

*I want to note here that the purpose of religious funerals is very specific, and that is to note and celebrate (in the sense of the word that means ‘observe in a religious rite’) the journey of one’s soul to whichever nirvana to which your religion adheres. So I’m kind of not talking about religion-based funerals in this little rant, although I’m sure I have something like that burbling away somewhere.

 

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