Tomorrow, tomorrow

Seeing as though I got my rant on yesterday (and get it on did I ever), I am trying to look at the bright side of things on this rainy December day.

I feel really fortunate to have so many solid individuals in my life whom I can count on to comfort (or at least abide) me when I am at my utmost dejected. Without them, I would probably slink off the forest and live out my days in obscurity, becoming feral and losing my ability to speak and maintain healthy (if any) human relationships.  I would either end up in the National Enquirer, or have Jodi Foster play me in some Oscar-winning biopic, scored by Howard Shore.

Like my blood pressure, the sun will rise again...

So thank you my friends.  Thank you for your support and for helping me rebuild my humpty-dumpty confidence in humanity (or at least chose to stay in society for a little while longer.)

(Man, speaking of that nursery rhyme – what the heck were all the King’s horses going to accomplish? THEY ARE HORSES. If anything, they were probably responsible for further smashing up Mr. Egg Wall-sitter’s remains.)

Anywho, yesterday night I met up with my Little Sister (I’ve worked with Big Sisters for the past three years) and hanging out with that little firecracker of genius was exactly what I needed to regroup and refocus.

Working with my Little has been life changing in many different ways, and knowing that as much as she has transformed my life, I have had a positive impact on hers, is something I very much cherish.  When I am overwhelmed to the point of tears by what I see to be insurmountable, soul-crushing obstacles, I have to remember that little by little, constructive actions are capable of chipping away at the our society’s monolithic, and firmly-rooted ills.

So remember kids: Only you can prevent further reinforcement of institutionalized, overarching destructive norms!

That, and you know, forest fires.

As they say, baby steps.

Either way, today I am focusing on the positive!

Case in point, a couple of nights ago I was invited to a friend’s house to bake sugar cookies and watch The Muppet

Rolling pins are good for getting out stress.

Christmas Carol.  It was a gas and a half: munching on junk food, laughing at Gonzo (playing Charles Dickens, of course), loving Michael Caine as Scrooge, sharing the bizarre and equally funny parts of our day.

Sometimes you cannot get any better than that.

Of course, our first batch of cookies wasn’t hugely successful.  We tried to fit two sheets on one rack at the same time.  It wasn’t until I started to see smoke seeping out from the top of the door that we decided we might have to exercise some restraint and only do one batch at a time.

I would be lying if I said we didn't eat quite a few of these anyway...

(This worked to varying degrees, as the more we talked – and the more we laughed – the harder it seemed to be to actually make sure we timed the baking process properly.)

Now, I am not by nature a very visually artistic individual, but years of dedication to cookie decoration has left me with a particular prowess in this department that I am not afraid to talk up.

Oh what fun!

Back home in Halifax my mother goes absolutely bonkers in the kitchen every Christmas, whipping up batches of (sometimes) up to two hundred ginger bread men.  I will spend hours hunched over the kitchen table, painstakingly decorating cookie after cookie, to the point where it is almost a little heartbreaking to watch people cart them off, or even worse, scarf them down without properly admiring their long-endured edible beautification process!

Yeah.  That’s definitely a little sad on my part.

But I don’t care!  Love live the cookie decorator!  PEACE, LAND, BREAD!

Erm…

Nom nom - WAIT! Tell me how pretty they are!

I mean: ICING, SPRINKLES, SMARTIES!

I hope you all have a wonderful, rage-out-free weekend.

And if not, I’ll do my darndest to put you back together again.

One odd duck

Hey Kids!  In lieu of the regular Friday Fry-up, I have a little something different planned.

Now, before I get into the crux of the matter, I feel as though I need to explain myself.

I, contrary to past (and current) posts, am not a completely deranged animal-cum-water fowl fiend.  I just happen to suffer from some kind of faulty construction (birth defect?)  in so far as I incapable of stopping myself from becoming momentarily paralyzed every time I am found in the presence of these beings.

Seriously, I almost start crying every time I read an article on polar bears.  (DAMN YOU COCA COLA!)

What can I say?

I also just really, really like ducks.

Like, a lot.

So it pretty much makes my day, but also sort-of takes my breath away and makes me tear up a bit every time I walk into the lobby of my office building and see this:

I’m trying to figure out how to 1.) get one of the geese up the elevator and into my office and 2.) jerry-rig the electronics so it will still be able to move and not, you know, blow my place sky high.

But nere you worry – I’m working on it.

Man, is it just me or is it that any way you slice the mandarin orange these days, things are looking pretty darn festive?

I don’t know if the daily increased swelling I experience in my chest is due to 1.) the holiday spirit 2.) the daily inclusion of mechanized ducks from an old Woodward’s window display 3.) angina or 4.) all of the above.

Two nights ago I was speaking with my sister on the phone and we were laughing (nay cackling) about an incident that occurred a couple of Christmas’ ago that concerned her, a Christmas-cracker hat, and a bowl of bran buds cereal.

It is definitely one of our favourites and a total go-to memory when we are in need of a good laugh-until-you-cry moment.

So do it I shall.

Cry tears of happiness.

Where we lay our scene

Currently, my husband and I are operating at full speed ahead.  It is quite a shock to acknowledge that we are now into November and before we know it, it will be December, then New Years – seriously within a hop, skip and a wink he will be wracked by arthritis and my hair will be tinted blue and stiff with aqua net.  Or is it the other way around?  I can never remember.

I would like to take this opportunity to give credit where credit is due, in so far as the man to whom I have pledged my troth until the end of the world (see: Michelle Bachmann, President) is without a doubt the coolest teacher of all time.

Please see exhibit A: his Halloween costume (which also happened to be his first day teaching Romeo and Juliet).

That ruff was made from a loofah. A loofah!

Exhibit B is a little longer – a snapshot from four years ago – that I hold close.

It is night time and I am writing.  Sitting at the computer, freezing, fingering the frayed edges of my boyfriends old boxer shorts (that I am wearing) I am also listening to my cat, Nymeria, talk to the small birds outside in our cherry tree.  M is lying on the couch reading Ovid, laughing with his eyes, and he speeds through the Amores with zeal unknown to non-classicists or non-nerds.  Despite the chill, there is a slightly sweet smell to the air, and I know this is because spring is slowly breaking out of the frozen walls of ice and fog that winter has trapped her in for far too long.  I think about how we herald spring as a rebirth for the world – for its flora and fauna, for the sleepy bears and their growing young, for the blue jays that rattle our window panes and the daffodils that smile at us as we pass them by.  But I wonder how much of this rhetoric about spring is representative of our time and place, of living life outside an area marred with conflict, violence and fear.  Spring in Poland, during the Russian and German occupations would not signify rebirth, nor a celebration of new life: it would serve as a reminder that despite the change in season, the oppressors and their destructive regimes remained entrenched in everyday life.  I think about what kind of strength of character is required to deal with such a strain.  And how I would do in a similar situation.

I ask M if he has a hero.

“Why?”  He closes his book and pushes his glasses up against his nose.  He is wearing a stained t-shirt (it is the one I wear each time I dye my hair) and shorts whose elastic is so old he has to hold them up as he walks towards me.

Because it is late at night, and we are dressed comfortably.  We are dressed like bums.  We are dressed like those who have nothing, though we have everything.

“Because I am thinking about heroes and I’m wondering if you have one.”

I am half expecting an answer.  The last time I started this discussion, I almost left Red Robin in tears.  This is because I am a bad debater: I have a hard time believing that my opponent’s efforts aren’t masquerading as a personal attack.  The last time we were talking I made it clear that I don’t think that the heroes of classical antiquity are proper heroes: they were too selfish, too obsessed with their own legacy and too drenched in the blood of innocents to have rightfully earned this label.  M, however, understands the reasoning behind Achilles and Odysseus’ actions (and those of their kin), and sees no problem with their association of “hero.”  He also believes that the democracy of Athens is dead and (jokingly) propagates the return of an oligarchy.  Old white men running this old white country: that isn’t so far from our present truth.

As he thinks about the question he thrums his fingers along the cover of his book.

“No, not particularly.  I don‘t think I could say I have a hero.”  He rolls his shoulders and kisses the top of my head, and I can sense him pausing to smell the shampoo scent of my hair.

“What about Romeo Dallaire?” I ask.  I swivel around in my chair and look up into his eyes.  He inhales with a sharpness that sets the hairs on my arms on edge.

“I wouldn’t contest the idea that he is a great man who tried to make the best of an impossible situation.  I admire his strength and courage, but no, he’s not my hero.”

I exhale.

It seems as though tonight, we will be spared a debate (and therefore, my tears.)  M picks me up.  As easily as a rag doll.  He likes to gauge how strong he is getting, by carrying me about our apartment, and measures his gains by how well he can lift me up with one arm.  My hipbone grinds into his shoulder as we pace the length of our living room.

“What about when you were a kid?  Did you have any heroes then?”

Nymeria weaves between M’s legs as he makes his way over to the couch.  She purrs as she rubs up against him, like she knows she is trying to trip us up and loves every minute of it.  The patches of orange and black on her back stand stark against the white of her legs and the slits of moonlight that fall through the blinds.  M lets me down on the cushions, before taking a seat.

“I used to pretend I was one of the X-men.  I had the power to shape matter, and create force fields.  My best friend was Jubilee and we’d hang out at the mall bothering overweight security guards while drinking orange sodas.”

I feel my nose scrunching up as I start to laugh.  I too used to imagine such things when I was younger.  My sister and I would dress up in our highland dancing skirts and wield my father’s blunt tai chi swords because in our minds we were Sailor Venus and Sailor Jupiter battling intergalactic space monsters who wreaked havoc on our homemade Tokyo and its environs.  But although I never missed an episode, I can honestly say I never saw those long-legged cartoon girls as heroes.  They were too weak in times of crisis, always on the verge of annihilation before the masked gentleman would show up and save the day.  As a newly self-discovered feminist, this always horrified me.

I talk to M about my Slavic film class.  I probably talk to him about this class more than any other class I have ever taken.  I am not saying this as a sly way of sucking up to my professor, somewhere, out there, but because it is a truth and my new years resolution for the past five years has been to stop lying so much.

I talk to him about how I am trying to become more aware of the words I use when illustrating a point.  I am becoming aware of the power of speech.  I am becoming aware of the baggage that come with certain terms, or the taste a sentence can leave in your mouth when peppered with contested “truths” or “normalcy’s”.

I tell M about how the Polish Solidarity movement happened the same year as the Moscow Olympic boycott and that I am thinking about the connection between the two events.  And about how Lech Walesa has always been presented to me as a hero, and I believed this because of the enormity of his actions because they took place during a time when enormity was discouraged and suspect and therefore punished.

“I am very proud of you,” he says.  “I am proud to be marrying you.”  I don’t really know what this has to do with Poland or Lech Walesa, but it I feel relief spread over me like fresh jam across crunchy french bread.

“I am trying to find answers,” I whisper to him.

I feel his hand in mind.

“I know.”