Nevermore

There has been a robin making my life miserable lately. He has been waking me up at awful hours tapping on my bedroom window. So, I wrote him a poem… (side note – I’m awful at poetry, I know, but writing this made me laugh. And, after days of barely sleeping, I needed that! Also, if you didn’t know, I’m a HUGE fan of Poe, so this is, obviously, with him in mind.)

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Once upon an early morning, my husband lay there, softly snoring                      I realized I had been awoken, not from mumbled sleeping words spoken     But because I heard a tapping, loudly rapping, which wasn’t at my chamber door                                                                                                                                      The sound came from behind the curtain – “you shall sleep, nevermore”

For once it wasn’t just my cat, eating my hair, imagine that!                               No massaging claws down my back

It wasn’t the dogs, begging for breakfast, needing to pee, or whining incessant Everyone was quiet but the tapping, ever present

Weak and weary I wished it away but to my dismay the tapping was here to stay                                                                                                                                 Pounding loudly on the glass, a tiny robin was visible at last                                  I threw open the curtains to scare it away, but it returned without delay Rapping, tapping, never napping, that damn robin did not stray

Morning after morning he did rise and silently I planned his demise     Hoping, praying he would disappear before I bring the poison near

I fear I’ll forever hear this rapping, tapping, inside my ear
Sanity slipping, hands are gripping, crumbled sheets no longer used for slipping, slipping into sleepy snores

That stupid bird forever tapping, rapping, reminding me I will sleep, nevermore

I’m with the band

I recently realized that 2017 marks my 15 year high school reunion. And, if that didn’t make me feel old, a recent social outing certainly reminded me of the passing time.

Growing up, I dated a boy in a band. He was a ridiculously talented musician and I stood along the sidelines for every show he played.

Apparently I have a thing for lead-guitarists, because now I’m married to one. And, just like when I was younger, following the boy and music, I’ve found myself standing next to the piles of empty guitar cases, ear to the music, once again.

I’ve come to notice though, being ‘with the band’ as a teenager versus being ‘with the band’ in my 30’s is an extraordinarily different experience…

My runners stuck to the tacky floor, my movement like velcro teeth separating from one another. My surroundings were familiar – music, alcohol, a dancing crowd. But there was an unfamiliar presence hanging on the air, assaulting my senses, the heavy flavour of urinal pucks. And that my friends, is when I realized just how many years have passed since I was last, ‘a girl with the band’.

The shows now begin promptly at 7:00 pm, because well, it’s a work night, and wrapping at 10:00 pm is pushing everyone’s structured sleep routine. Instead of hanging off the loading dock, puking up the 2-4 they chugged before the show, the bands are now discussing office politics and silencing their buzzing devices, reminding them to take their heart pills and anxiety medications. In my younger years, the more black you could wear, the better. Now, we wear red plaid to show our support. Circle pits have been taken over by the one old man, ‘letting lose’, flailing his arms in a dance that would put Carlton to shame.

When it comes down to it though, I’ll take “The Log Driver’s Waltz” over screamed lyrics even the song’s writer no longer understands, any day.

Timing is everything

My life is riddled with coincidences, signs, and nudges. Every other day I find myself exclaiming, “Isn’t it weird how that worked out!?”. My husband just gives me the same look, it’s a look he has customized specifically for situations like this as they happen so frequently. After ten years together, I can confidently say he’s not as firm a believer in ‘signs’ as I am. Nonetheless, these little nudges I’m given, sometimes daily, are now so frequent, every so often I’m able to turn him into a believer.

I’ve always had the attitude that if I just work my butt off for something and really, really want it, I can make it happen. Call me naive,  but it’s working for me, so let’s just roll with it.

Case in point, National Geographic. I’ve been talking about getting published in National Geographic since I was approximately three years old (and no, it still hasn’t happened, but I’m working on it!). This dream is what is fueling me through the long hours of studying, reading, and writing, as I work toward an MA in Anthropology.

A few weeks ago I had a meeting with the professor who I’ve always hoped would supervise my MA. We talked about the Amazon and travelling there to do fieldwork. We discussed thesis questions and started to formulate a game plan for this dream of mine. I came home that night, a little overwhelmed with what it all meant – travelling to the jungle, learning Portuguese and relearning Spanish (why didn’t I continue with it the first time!?!), and a whole lot of competition in a heavily researched field of study. For a few fleeting moments, I started to consider alternate options. I considered doing fieldwork closer to home, taking the easier route on this journey. And road which would undeniably be filled with less anacondas and panthers, but one which would also make me less desirable to that light at the end of the tunnel, National Geographic. I’ve never taken the easy route, but I was so tired and easy was appealing.

A few short hours of sleep later and I was heading out for another day at the University. As is my ritual, I stopped at our local Esso to fill up and grab coffee. While there, my dear friend Randy, told me he had a story for me. He told me his wife was in town shopping and came home with a beautiful coffee table book filled with images by National Geographic photographers. He told her he knew someone who would like a copy so she drove all the way back into the city and bought me a copy! That right there was another one of those signs. National Geographic slapping me in the face and Randy reminding me why I was doing what I was doing. He told me that one day, one of my photos will be in there and I told him that when that day came, I would bring him a copy of the book. I thanked him profusely, but I honestly don’t think they will every know just how much that book means to me.

I cleared a spot on my bookshelf next to my desk where it is sitting on display. I have it there to remind me every single day exactly what I’m fighting for and the dream I’ve been working toward for my entire life. Randy and Myrna, I honestly can’t thank you enough for giving me that nudge at the moment when I needed it most. It truly means the world to me.

31, Happily Married, Childless

Someone recently shared an article with me. Its title surmises it well, “Why your choice to not have kids is awesome”. If you’re interested in reading it you can find it here.

One line that really struck a chord with me was, “You want to open yourself up to a huge stinking pile of judgment? Just be a childless female over 30. Even worse, a married childless female over 30 — a woman who chooses not to have a child.” Over the years I’ve encountered many who question my life choices and others who are much more concerned about my fertility than I am. I’ve had people question me, wondering what I’m going to do when I’m old and don’t have children to take care of me or what I’ll do if I change my mind one day. Besides being completely inappropriate questions to ask someone you barely know, these aren’t the things that I struggle with in my choice to be childless.

The judgement is something I’ve always been prepared to deal with. Yes, sometimes it’s exhausting, but I’ve learned to just brush it off and keep doing my thing. What I was never prepared for was how lonely being a childless woman in her 30s would be. And that, is why I’m writing this.

My husband and I are very much in agreement about our decision, but I don’t feel like he can relate to being a 30+ year old woman in my position. When his friends call him to get together, they go for beer, play music, go to concerts, and play hockey. Their children, aren’t involved in these activities. When my friends ask me to get together it’s usually at a park, so the kids can play, or for a walk, while the kids sleep in the stroller, or to a first birthday party for someone’s child, a party I’m positive my ‘kids’ aren’t invited to as they would likely eat the cake single-handedly and destroy the bouncy castle in mere seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate children. Not even a little bit. I’m just at a point in my life where all of my female friends have children, so a relationship with them usually means a relationship with their children too. My friends have some pretty incredible minions, but every once in awhile I just want to drink wine and talk about cats (am I right, Jenny and Haley!?).

When I was newly married and in my 20’s, telling people we had made the decision to not have children read a bit like a joke. Most people chuckled when I told them (I’m not sure why it’s an amusing statement, but that was a common response). I feel like many people didn’t take my statement seriously and were silently thinking that we were still young and had plenty of time to change out minds.

My husband and I have had a lot of very serious conversations about having a child. I often wondered if maybe we had made a mistake, maybe we should have a baby? Everyone else was, maybe we were missing out on something we didn’t even realize we might love? Maybe we would love being parents? The logical part of me stops there though and realizes that the fact that I MIGHT love it, doesn’t even come close to resembling a good idea. In fact, that’s probably the worst reason to have a kid – because it might be ok. What if I hated every second of it, it’s not like I can just give a baby back. I’m stuck with that person for the rest of my life, and there’s still a 50/50 chance it might hate me and not take care of me when I’m old. It’s basically a recipe for disaster.

While I struggled with this back and forth battle, making pros and cons lists, pretending this is a situation where that might be an appropriate response, I sunk deeper and deeper into a lonely darkness. Social media constantly reminding me that my four-legged children will never dance in competitions, sing in Christmas concerts, or graduate from high school. I’ve always struggled with feeling like an outsider and not quite fitting in, but now it couldn’t be more obvious that there is a very big part of life that looks nothing like that of so many of my peers.

I know that I’m just at that stage in my life where women my age are having babies and focusing on their families and I’m so happy for each and every one of them. I love that they’re all doing what makes their hearts happy. And, while I’ve struggled a lot with the loneliness this time in my life has brought, I’ve decided it’s time I embrace it and find the things that make my heart happy and work toward that too.

The decision to have children or not have children should never be taken lightly. It’s a life altering decision, either way. I just hope that the few people who have scoffed at my decision over the years or who have called me selfish, understand that this decision, the decision to be childless, was not an easy one. And just like those who have chosen an alternate path from mine, there are days when I question if I made the right choice. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of soul searching, but I’m finally coming around to a place where I’m confident in my choices and living the life I need to live to make my heart happy.

Mr. T.

Eight years ago, I met a man who, on our third date, came to my work and brought me coffee and a mixed tape (actually a mixed cd with a mixed tape drawn on it). Aaron, you won my heart and it was on that day I knew I never wanted to live a life without you in it.

Five years ago, you, and our families played along with my crazy idea to travel all the way to Richmond Virginia (somewhere not a single one of us had ever been to) so we could get married in the gardens at the Edgar Allan Poe museum. We held hands and promised to love and respect one another until the end of our days.

Today, we celebrate another year married, another year with my best friend.

You have humored me and encouraged a life of love and spontaneity; a life of laughter and adventures. I can’t thank you enough for being a man who understood the importance of driving hours out of our way to follow a billboard to a store called the Mousehouse Cheesehaus for no other reason than, we simply wanted to see what it was all about. You are the man who took off his shoes and socks to follow me through a river because I wanted to see how deep it was and you didn’t want to be ‘out adventured’. The man who didn’t hesitate when I told him he needed to drive around the block again solely so we could drive by a house with a front window filled with bulldogs. For always remembering to hide the cookies because, well, they like cookies.

The past eight years have been filled with so many wonderful moments which seem to get better year after year. Mr. T. I love you more than anything. Thank you for being you, encouraging me to be me, and for the most amazing eight years of my life. I can’t wait to celebrate so many more!

Cup and Handle

I’ve been reading Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams and he introduced each story by writing a bit of background about it and how it came to be. He describes the process as needing to find a cup and handle, and then putting them together to create something that works.

A few years ago I was driving through my hometown and walking down the street was this old lady and a few feet in front of her was one of the roundest, fattest cats I’ve ever seen. It was unexpected and hilarious. I tucked the scene away, knowing it would come in handy at a later date. Earlier this year I received a text from a good friend with an concept for a story, a witch who steals laughter. Almost immediately, I knew I had both my cup and handle and that is how this story began.

This is the first witch story I’ve written this year and I think it will be one that receives more attention in the future and possibly added to my book (eee!!!).

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Her stocking-covered flesh oozed between the thick straps of her orthotic sandals as she waddled up the sidewalk. Gnarled hands gripped tightly to a walker she stole from the man who lived down the street from her. She didn’t need it’s assistance but she knew it added to the charade. Last night she added sparkly cat stickers to the frame, they covered up the name Cooper and added just the right amount of color to the prop.

Her shadow fell hard against the pavement and sweat slid over the dents and grooves that made up her face. A few feet in front of her stark outline was the boulder-like shadow of her cat. Frank’s mass of fat and fur waddled over the cracked pavement in a comical performance. This was, of course, all part of her plan.

Single file, they made their way up the block like camels through a desert. Fragrant sour cabbage filled her nostrils. While it was one of her favorite dishes, the scent wasn’t as pleasant when seeping up from beneath the layers of her loose cotton dress and wool cardigan.

Cars slowed as they passed, laughing and pointing as the pair cautiously made their way over the broken path. She nodded and waved at each car, gaining strength from their smiling faces. She took only a little from these victims, such a small amount that they would never miss it nor feel it.

Rainbows danced off of the cartoon cat stickers under the late morning sun. Her grip on the walker loosened as her weathered body soaked in the giggles bouncing on the hot air around her. She felt her body grow stronger; younger. Over the years she experimented with a variety of tactics, but she always favored the ones that involved Frank. Once a mere tool used to her benefit, she had now grown quite fond of the cat. His plump frame welcomed the fuel she required, he made this process easy on her and for that, she was grateful.

There was once a time when she would steal from one soul at a time. Spells woven to squeeze every ounce of happy chatter from her victims and leave them a black withered shell to wander their remaining years lost in perpetual melancholy. And, while that would always be the method she favored, unwelcome attention followed closely beside it.

Her heart quickened as she approached her final destination. It was nearly noon and she knew she would only need a few minutes to restore the last five years of aging. The wheels of Mr. Cooper’s walker twisted sideways before straightening over the horizontal lines of the crosswalk. She lifted the light frame back up onto the curb and followed Frank through the opening in the chain-link fence. She spun the walker around, pushing the wheels up to the metal lattice and eased herself onto the hard plastic seat. Frank lazily looked back over his shoulder at the witch and flopped hard against the tarmac rubbing his whiskers against the warm ground. The school bell sounded and within seconds children spilled from the doors. She lifted her chin to the sun and sucked in all of their delighted squeals.

Penny Lane

 

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset7:42 am Wednesday January 13 – I’m in the shower mid face wash and I can hear Aaron yelling from the living room. I’m annoyed because I think he’s hollering about something ridiculous and I can’t hear him over the shower. Turns out he had good reason for yelling. Our 100lb 9-year-old ridgeback is immobile and barely responsive. I still have soap on my face, I’m dripping wet, and I’m huddled over my dog that I’m sure is dying in front of me. I sob and tell her I’m not ready for this and that she isn’t allowed to leave me yet. In a panic I managed to get clothes on my body and in what felt like seconds we are carrying her through the doors of our beloved vet.

Long story short, she ate some pebbles, leaves, twigs, and a very small, but very pointy object. We were presented with a bill that is equivalent to a trip to Europe and the task of being on potty patrol for the next month in hopes that our decision to take a conservative route pays off. I imagine this is what new parents feel like… taking pictures of bowel movements to show their doctors, logging the amount of food your child has eaten and how quickly it runs through their body. I was pretty sure this was one of the reasons we chose to NOT have kids. Someone out there is laughing at us right now because we’re faced with the same tasks as a new parent, minus the free healthcare. Maybe we didn’t think this life decision through as well as we thought we had?

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In all seriousness, this is a pretty wonderful life we live.  Even though I would love to have a heart-to-heart with Penny and find out what part of eating random objects she found in the yard was a good idea, I love her more than I can begin to express. And, while I’m sure the staff at TMz Vet clinic will never see this, I need to say thank you. Thank you for loving our monsters just as much as we do. For truly understanding how much they mean to us and giving them the best care a dog Mom could ask for. They make owning pets easy because we know we have the most incredible team of people we can turn to in emergencies like this and the well-being of our family is always their top priority.

Today, the sun is streaming through the window, warming both me and Penny as we share her bed.  She’s sleeping, toes twitching, tail wagging periodically, I’m writing and this is a moment I want to remember.

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Circle Pit

Spit and snot sprayed from their faces as they cavorted in manic circles. Their limbs lose, and flailing at one another. I pressed myself into the wall and watched as they danced in their circle pit. Smiles filled their faces, an indication they were enjoying themselves, but this was not a game I understood nor knew the rules to. They screamed and grunted at one another like wild animals. I couldn’t decipher their words, but they appeared to understand each other. Round and round they flew like vultures circling their prey.

At the same moment I began to wonder how long this could possibly go on, they bounded up the stairs from my office, expressing their immediate need of a snack.
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Concrete Jungle

2015-04-11_0003This is another piece I wrote for my creative writing class.  I was envisioning the same character I wrote about here.  This piece ended up being almost  continuation of that piece as well!  Please feel free to share your thoughts/opinions 🙂

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The heels of her black leather boots clacked against the wet pavement; a wordless militant mantra. A wet breeze lifted her wild curls, wrapping them around her face as she made her way down the cement steps and into the tunnels.

Trains filled with passengers entered and left the station. “Instead of concreate jungle, where the living is harder.” A young boy singing Bob Marley atop a plastic milk crate drum could be heard, the hard surroundings spreading his soulful sound. Strategically weaving through the dense crowd, she made her way to her platform. From the corner of her eye she spotted a man pushing a collection of what she knew was stolen jewellery, into the face of anyone within an arm’s reach. Desperately, she fought his efforts to make eye contact. She had been on both sides of this con.

“Miss, miss!” He called out to her. She had no patience for men like him today. Men, like her father.  “Miss! Come, come and see. You’ll like, I promise. Look, this piece will bring out those beautiful eyes.”

Annoyed, but always eager for a challenge, she forced her lips into a smile. She raised her chin and the grated lights transformed her eyes into faceted emeralds. Ensuring the man saw just how beautiful her eyes were, she locked his gaze and confidently walked over. The worn folding suitcase around his neck was filled with gold chains swaying from tiny hooks. A vulgar smell emanated from his down-filled jacket, screaming insults at the air around them. The stench clawed at her nostrils; she hid her disgust well.

“You like?” he questioned, raising the squalid caterpillars above his eyes.

“Oh, they’re beautiful,” she flirted, “but much too rich for my blood, I’m afraid.” Her Prada bag and Burberry jacket mocking him more loudly than her words.

She ran her manicured merlot nails across the ornate necklaces, flashed him a smile that made men kneel at her boots, turned, and walked away from the man as her train approached the platform. It was a game for her and she enjoyed every second of it.

She joined the flow of bodies making their way onto the train and found a seat near the door. While she waited for the doors to close again she reached into her pocket and gently ran the garish gold trinket through her fingers.

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Shatter the Void

2015-03-09_0002Our house is as still as the Queen’s guards. Unblinking, unmoving.

Our dog’s chest rises and falls rhythmically and her breath fogs the glass panes that are usually shaking timidly from her bellows. Her short coat reflecting the warmth that creeps in through the sheer curtains.

Our cat, with a voice which would get her kicked out of any library is laying loaf-like and uncomplaining. Her pregnant, yet kitten-less stomach isn’t protesting her empty dish.

Our rabbit, mimicking a sixteen-year-old boy in both actions and attitude is laying corpse-like in his bed, nursing a banana hangover. His mane, as wild as a Joplin groupie, masks his eyes. I’m tempted to poke at his soft form to ensure he’s still earth-side.

I’m nearly positive both furnaces have stopped working because I can’t hear the whir of warm air filling the vents.

The feathered tenants occupying the large trees surrounding our home aren’t performing this afternoon. The outside of our home is mirroring the inside.

Buttons aren’t making music in the dryer and the persistently dripping faucet is as dry as stale bread. My shallow breath hangs on the air, suspended and soundless.

The man wielding a knife with intentions of making my liver his next meal isn’t pacing over the squeaky board in our living room. We have yet to meet face-to-face, but I’m certain he lives in our attic.

Steam silently rises from my freshly poured cup of coffee and I slurp the first mouthful to shatter the void.

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**Photo by TJ Romero**