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Category Archives: Seasonal

November 22, 1962

was the day i was born. To Edith Mary and John Aimer, in the Regina General Hospital in Saskatchewan. It was operated at the time by the Grey Nuns. I arrived really early in the morning. I was born, snipped, shown to Mom, (i don’t know when i met Dad, but i’m sure it wasn’t right then, men were not allowed into those mysterious chambers, not even when women were breastfeeding–certainly not when they were birthing babies!), and whisked off to the nursery. Mom didn’t see me for three days.

She was frantic.

In August of 1961, Edith and John’s first born, John Scott, (who went by Scott), died in Regina General. He was 14 months old. My dad wrote a letter to … someone, I don’t know who, i found it when I was home for a visit about a year ago … He didn’t begin the letter with “Dear___” He just started, “Our little boy is gravely ill again.” He described the chronology, the pneumonia, the hospital, the infection, the name of the bug he had, what the doctors tried to do, how cheerful and brave Scott was, how much the nurses loved him, and how Edith wasn’t sleeping or eating very much. He said the chaplain had been by to visit, he told the anonymous reader (me, in that moment, 48 years after the letter was penned) that he had a breakdown, but he felt much better after the chaplain talked to them a while.

My dad died in 2005, and we buried his ashes in the same plot as his first born. Out there at the edge of Regina, near a shade tree, I think. Mom and I went to see their graves in the summer of 2008. We had trouble finding them. That’s the thing about settlers–we don’t, really. Our people moved, from the windy isles of Scotland, Ireland, Wales–all across the Atlantic, all the way to the wide Prairie, and some of us further west, too. We bury our loved ones in the land that is not ours, and upon which we cannot rest. I don’t know when i will ever go see my Dad’s grave again. I guess when we bury Mom there. Then the only place I will see them, either of them, will be photographs and in the mirror.

Mom did not want to have any more children after that, sure she was of passing on the illnesses that afflicted Scott. They were about to adopt, to begin the process of finding a child to raise, but then they learned Edith was pregnant. So.

While i was gestating, my Great-Grandmother died. Mom loved her Grandma Craigen, and I love her too, though i never met her. I asked Mom once, I said, “Did she know you were expecting me?” and Mom looked at me, and said, “Well, she knew we were expecting a baby.” and then she laughed and laughed.

In the midst of deep grief, I was conceived. Love and sorrow and hope and fear mingled during a spring night in Saskatchewan with the tenderness of the lovers who were to become my parents. They had been parents, and then they weren’t and there was a hole there now. The trees were barely budding, the green of the leaves barely a hint above their heads.

The nuns swept me off, after Mom had seen me once, and wouldn’t let her see me for three days. “What’s wrong with her? Why are you keeping her from me?” She didn’t believe them when they told her I was fine, “She just has a lot of mucous, we have to watch her,” they told her. I’m still pretty snotty, to be truthful. If they’d waited until all the mucous had cleared, I’d still be there. Although, the nuns are not…

Finally Mom made such a fuss that the nurse brought me in to her. She gently unwrapped the swaddling from me and gazed through her tears at her daughter. “Don’t tell them I brought her, I’ll get in trouble,” and of course Mom kept the secret. those were three long days for my mama.

She is loyal to the nuns, though. “They sure gave good care in there,” she said, “Better than you get just about anywhere now.”

It’s been 48 years now, and my Mom loves me with the same ferocious tenderness as the day I was born.

Lucky Woman, me.

solo

Well. It was just Halloween, and there were lots and lots of fireworks and sirens ’round my place. My girlfriend and I, surrounded by all that spark and fire, we quietly broke up.

that’s a first.

Not a first to break up, but a first to do it with so little drama.

We’ve both been kinda feeling restless and discontent, turns out. There is love there, yes, there is. But there’s something…missing. It’s kinda sad. We both wept, but we are both relieved, too. I’m a little scared. I asked her, I said, “will you still put me in a nice home when I get too doddery to look after myself?” I hope she will. She said she would.

But there’s now, too, to get through. Each moment alone. It’s okay. I’ve been single before, and never for long enough, really. So this will be a good thing, an adventure, a test. I’m just remorseful that I let her say it first. That’s always how I do it, I let the other person take the risk, say the thing that we’ve both been thinking.

Except for the last time, with M. I was not expecting that ending at all. I got shattered in the fall. And J. helped me stitch together again. She showed me how to ask for what I want, trust my gut, tell the truth, stay in a fight, trust her to stay, too. She’s really something, J is. I love her a lot. I’m sorry I made her say, “I think we should break up.” I should have said it first, I’m the older one, I oughta have taken that risk, knowing that it was the natural end of this part of our relationship.

One morning last week when I woke up, the first feeling I had was one of loneliness. nothing dramatic, just a wave of lonely as I opened my eyes in the dark morning.

It’s okay. It’s a still place I’m in now. A door is opening.

huh.

So, looks like I won two tickets to anywhere Westjet flies. Westjet is a Canadian airline that flies all over Canada, and a now a bunch of places in the U.S. and Mexico, and the Caribbean, too.

sonofagun. I don’t know where to go. My first impulse was Newfoundland. Then someone said, “you could go to Cuba!” yes. yes, i guess I could. And who would I go with? The immediate assumption is that i will take my lover. But she said, “you know, you don’t have to take me just because i’m your girlfriend”.

She’s something else, that woman. Really. so I said, “well, I was kinda thinking it might be nice to go somewhere with Mom.”

“just what I was thinking,” she said.

So I called up Mom. “Wanna go to Cuba with me?”

“oh, not Cuba!”

I think we get stuck inside decades sometimes. Most people seem to be stuck in a decade not this one, seems to me. Mine is the 70s. I like the 70s best, because it wasn’t quite as whifty and ‘love and flowers’ as the 60s, but it was a period of really high activity in the women’s liberation movement, and that was where LOTS of the ground was prepared for accessible abortions and transition houses and equal pay legislation (if not yet practice) and women being able to get credit on our own, and–well–mmmm. gender-neutral language, some more public attention to male violence against women–at least a tiny bit less victim-blaming…also skinny ties, high school gym class, pointy-toed boots, pre-bunion feet.

anyhow. so, yes. the 70s. Favourite decade.

My mom, though, i think she’s kinda stuck in the 50s. So I thought maybe she’s a little bit…even though i think she’s social-democrat (her parents were BIG Tommy Douglas fans)..she was a little scared of communists. and i have a feeling she’d wear crinolines if she could. and poodle skirts.

So when i suggested Cuba, she wasn’t too happy. then she said, at the end of the call, “well, you pick the place and I’ll go. As long as they have flush toilets”. Wasn’t the commies after all. also i think she’s afraid of wearing a bathing suit in public. but she’s never been to a hot place. I think it would be good for her to go to a hot place. I’m a bit twitchy about the whole American Imperialism thing. and being “the ugly american” and all that. but it would be nice to take Mom to a hot place where mangos grow on trees.

Peace. sort of.

Posted on

This morning I slept in. I was going to be up and on the road by 7 am. all rejuvenated from my weekend with Louise. Here is what the weekend held: kale chips! a fair with rides and mini donuts! a drive to the west coast of the island, with the wild ocean coming in right there and the wind like the prairies but with brine. Talking about patience and learning and dying and life. Cooking thai curry sauce and rice and prawns. the Farmer’s Market and butter tarts and salad greens. Playing crib (I won all but one game). ferry rides to and fro. love the ferry.

Yesterday J and I went up Grouse Mountain. A walk in the woods, but more vertical. we got to the top and were ecstatic, having walked up and up and up. Sweat. heaving breath. muscles warm loose tight. ah. breath. this thing we do, breathing, that we take so for granted. the smells up there were intoxicating. we got to the top in better time than last week. lead with your heart, shoulders back and down, engage everything, keep it all in, and go. feel your body. feel the love. Lots of people on the trail we all share this adventure. it’s not a pretty trail, it’s a workout, but it’s outside and it’s challenging and we’re all in this together. I pass people and wait for J, then the people pass me. leapfrog all the way. J’s good natured about me going up, coming down, meeting her, going up, waiting, coming down meeting her, going up…i’m like a border collie. “c’mon, are we playing now? do you have treats? what’s that smell? c’mon, let’s go!”

We get to the top. I can see my school from here! look, there’s where your house is, there’s mine–oh look at the sunshine through the clouds.

anyhow, i slept in. but i didn’t turn on my computer before i left. I just listened to the radio. and I heard that the BC government is taking people who are defrauding welfare to small claims court. petty fuckers, the BC government. What are they thinking? welfare fraud? the fraud is that people are expected to survive on the paltry insulting crumbs tossed to them by the state. My fucking tax dollars. it’s a waste of them to take people to court. put that money, the money for the lawyers and the judge and the paperwork, toward a guaranteed annual income, already.

When i got on my bike i was mad. I made good time to school. in the rain. my rain jacket is at J’s, where i hung it, trying to be tidy and efficient. That’s what happens when i put stuff away. I never see it again. drat.

I met a woman who is thinking of applying to our department for her PhD. I told her I was writing a story. the title came to me as I was riding to school. The title is “How to Write an Obituary”. When i described the story as i so far think of it to her, we both cried. and she shared some stories, too. And we parted friends.

i’ll tell  the story in a couple of weeks at a festival here. We’ll see how it goes. Now i’m writing about prostitution and harm reduction and how to withstand the encroachment on grassroots movements by Institutions of Power. How can we hold back the Health Authority and the Social Services and the Ministries of Health and Housing and Employment and Assistance? They are staffed and maintained by people, but the people are apparently run by the policies, not the other way around.

Anyhow. Stories. Rantin’ n’ Tangents. that’s what I’m doing. then in an hour I’m gonna go to the gym. Peace. that’s how it goes around here.

spring

Beware of springtime. Season changes are tough, eh. somehow, springtime is the toughest of all. I swear, the sun stays up longer, illuminating the corners, giving us more daylight to get into some trouble. People are suffering. and the suffering shows up when the sun shines. crocuses turn their brave little heads up to the slowly warming horizon, people emerge from their dens, blinking into the sunlight, and…

…throw away their medication. or pick up a pack of smokes. or start drinking. or let the waves of depression wash over them (“i was going to spend the long cold nights of winter inside, writing the book–what happened? i have failed again”) or release the taut rubber band and ride uncontrolled into manic highs…

Or break up. Among my circle this spring, three of my friends have broken up with their long, long term lovers. 17 years, 9 years, five years…Goodbye. and there is no easy way. no clean good way to break up with a lover…’cause that passion and spark that brought and kept you together has to burn, still–I burn still for my ex-lovers. and with some, that flame has become a good bank of embers where a satisfying friendship stays warm and nourishing. For others that flame eats through the fabric of our time together, exposing dropped threads, weakness, paths for more destruction. but for all, in the weeks and months after the final break, there was only pain. like hacking off a limb with a butter knife. and there is nothing to do but live through it.

I’m so grateful I have decided that no matter what else, I will be committed to the women’s liberation movement. An uprising of women. It’s a movement, but it’s human, too, and it shifts and changes and stays the course, and there are women beside me through all the seasons. We will manage to navigate the storms of springtime, the placid stealth of summer, the melancholy of fall, the depth and anguish of winter–and know it and mark it and find the joy in being part of a movement. Not only a community. a movement. There will be conflicts and tensions and break-ups, but coming together and agreement and celebration and solidarity and resistance and learning–hard hard work. weariness and pain, but also the kind of growth that happens after a good fire. the kind of growth that happens with the application of carefully tended, religiously turned and stirred up compost–ya, it’s all scary and big, icky and smelly–but look at the beauty that emerges! Spring is a season to be endured, stirred, ridden and tamed. Enjoy the aroma of the new blossoms, sure, the glory of new buds, the warmth of the spring sunshine. But there are tests with that. careful. the melting snow reveals no small amount of shit on the ground.