Sunday, November 20, 2011

Uncrushed


I’m sitting in the empty Timmies area, and eating the Laughing Giraffe’s “coconut pineapple chocolate macadamia nut balls” (that’s a handful and a mouthful). It’s the second weekend I’ve chosen to sit in this spot and do some writing. I have an empty/closed “coffee shop” to myself.

I gave my work to the writer in residence and #1 asked if I was ready and I said “yes.” It was time. There was one story and five poems. I was expecting an hour of cutting and pasting and talking about what was good and what needed work. She said my work was too abstract not concrete enough too conflicting and my story although good, it was in the wrong tense and she had corrected each example of the tense. It was about 20 minutes and she said I needed to read more poetry. And she listed a bunch of poets I had never read, well I read one and I didn’t like this poet very much. Then she asked what I studied in university and I said “theatre…”

I left completely confused I had no idea how to process this. I went to the new second hand bookstore but couldn’t find my type of books amongst the grocery store books and was cornered by a lady who said my story telling last night was really good. I was so confused.

I’ve learned from getting ready to move to a new apartment that it was OK to ask for help. I wrote to S____ who was my roommate for two years and is now a theatre professor, a High School English/Drama teacher and the girls from “the house” who I studied theatre with.

The roommate was the first to write back and get me to breathe and reason it out, get me to admit that things were told to me that I could learn from. She said Why not focus on your positive response: what did people like about your story? What are your strong points as a writer or storyteller?” The girls were next telling me she’s one person and then my teacher saying that the ego takes a beating when we put our work out there. She told me her experience and I could relate.

I looked over The Pig and the Puppy, one of the poems I submitted there was a note on the work that the ending was good. There are two lines that I wrote, one says “The freedom in her face, Began to tell stories” the other one says “For a moment the stranger, Is honored to hear the stories.” She wrote “what are these stories?” I was taken back to a conversation I just had about telling people you have a story and actually telling a story. I was telling “my readers” there were great stories but wasn’t doing the work of telling what those stories are.

I also had to look in the mirror and admit I didn’t study poetry in university I studied theatre, film, and history and short stories, which is maybe why I was successful of telling a WW2 short story to a group of people; even if there were a lot of holes to the story. I’m not a poet, I write down ideas and images, but I’m a disconnected theatre girl, who had to move home to get well. There’s not a lot of theatre here so I thought I’d make my ideas into poems.

I took the Pig and the Puppy and started to sort out what “those stories” are. There will still be a lot of ego crushing to come in the future, but I need to get crushed in my medium. I wasn't ready to do that before, I'm ready now...


PS I've signed up for her poetry class and will still be attempting poetry...

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Little Things

I told my story last night it felt like the years of university and morning pages led to something I loved to do and something I was good at. It gave me confidence and sparked my passion to do what is me. I was so doubtful everyday I worried that it would come out all wrong. After I told it I realized I had done it. Now I need to "find" a Christmas story. I'm thinking trumpets and mice, and of course Johann's Gift to Christmas as Papa Duncan is a big silent night fan...

This week I was reading some stories about when people do work with their insides, their energy and their self esteem how the world seems to open up for them, they find their soul mate get their dream job and write their novel on the side. I thought, why doesn't that happen to me? And then I realized that I was getting these beautiful little gifts that I was blinded to because I was waiting for the big ones. I thought the big ones were the only important ones. In the past week I've let the little blessings in, allowing myself to be called "Dear Friend" invitations to tell stories and food suggestions and Zumba.

Oh and I have a meeting with the Writer in Residence at the library today I'm excited.

Have a good one.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

VICTORY



On a Saturday in 1940, my mother sat us down around the wooden dining table in the kitchen. I watched her tap her fingers on the table, I watched her fingers roll across the table cloth. She said dad was leaving for the war. I felt a tension knit across my shoulders. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t want my brothers to laugh at me. So I looked down at the scar I got last week on my finger.

I said “When Kristi’s father left for war, the family gathered in the living room to pray.”

My mother looked at me and said “Sweet heart, we don’t pray.”

The house seemed smaller than it already was, it was simple, one story, the boys slept in one room. I had my own, but had to share it when Aunt Faye came to visit. I looked out the window at the big yard to the barn full of old tools and hay from another time. I like to hide out there when things get crazy, I longed to be there now. There were kittens out in the barn, the mother was wild, but I could get close to the babies when she wasn’t around. I could pet them and be at peace.

My mom was quiet and distant the next few days, but she had no patience and when someone stepped out of line they were sent to their rooms. No one skipped out on a meal, no one had to go to school, all the time was spent with the family. When dad took his duffel bag and turned down the end of the drive way my mother collapsed at the kitchen table. She cried and cried. When I asked her what was wrong she said.

“He may never come back.”

I held her hand and she told me to go play outdoors for a while.

I went to see what the boys were doing; they were playing in the back yard, sticks no thicker than twigs as guns and picked up rocks to fire like shells from imaginary tanks. They pointed at each other reenacting the last newscast they heard on the radio. They vowed the good guys would win. At that point, we could only hope we would win.

I asked the boys if I could play, but they told me to get lost. I went out in the barn and quietly opened the door, the light trickled in, there was dust everywhere. I looked all over the barn, they were just starting to move around a little bit. Mama cat had moved her kittens on a bed of hay under the old tractor. Mama must have ran when she heard me come into the barn, but I knew she was watching me, I could feel it.

My mom said I could have one when they were old enough to live inside with us, I wanted the black and white one. I hadn’t picked out a name yet, when I was younger, I asked my mom how she came up with our names. She said when she was naming us she didn’t have anything planned ahead of time, when she got to know us better a name came. So I will wait until a name comes to me.

In December of 1940 the enemy blitzed Main Street; the boys and I went to see what the town looked like. Everything was crumbled the roads were covered in brick and people were crying. There were soldiers in the streets trying to clean and rebuild. I asked my brother if one was my dad, but they said these men were too young. This was my town, there weren’t supposed to be soldiers in my town. We saw shrapnel and twisted metal on the ground. I picked up a piece of shrapnel, later asked my grandfather to make a necklace out of it for me. I said it reminded me of my dad, so he did.

The next night they bombed the steelworks, which we learned later was their original target.

We could hear air raid sirens. My mother got us out of bed and led us down to the living room where all the curtains where closed. She wrapped us in a blanket. She told us to sit close together. I remember crying because it was so dark so mom said she would light one single candle.

As I was falling asleep in the living room, I told my mom the kittens name would be Victory.

“Shush,” she said, “Not a word.” I asked if they could hear us from the plane if we talked and she shushed me again. So I said nothing.

I woke up covered in dust, I don’t remember hearing anything. I couldn’t hear what my mother was saying as she shook me awake. I was surrounded by broken glass and dust the house seemed to sway as if all the nails where blown out of place. She made sure my brothers were all right and noticed that there was blood coming down my face.

I watched my mother walk over to the kitchen counter, kneel down so that her skirt brushed the floor. She began to mutter something. I realized that probably for the first time in her life she was praying.

Mr Arnold, the neighbor, showed up in his pajama’s and war helmet right on time, usually he knocks on the kitchen window saying “everything is OK.” Tonight he leaned in and asked “Is everything OK?”

Mother started to shake her head. Mr Arnold continued. “You folks is some lucky, those enemy planes took out your barn, now who takes out a barn? That candle wasn’t on was it? You wasn’t the only one hit, they’ve opened up the school as a shelter, you folks make your way down there now, and be safe.”

We walked down the road to the school. People seemed to gather with us as we went along. It wasn’t until a little girl carrying her stuffed toy kitten came past us that I realized that if the barn was bombed, the cat and the kittens were probably sleeping there. I started to cry, my mother said there were other things to worry about now.

For two weeks we stayed at the shelter and my grandfathers worked all that time to put the house back together. Churchill had refused to consider defeat, and mom lived in his words and put her faith and trust in him. Every evening she asked the lady who took care of the shelter and night for paper and wrote to our father.

A few weeks after we moved back into the house there was a knock at the door. Mom looked at me and said go answer it. When I opened the door, I saw my father standing with his arms out stretched. In his hands was a small kitten. White with tabby spots. No bigger than the ones in barn, he said, “Mom says you want to call her Victory, she’s a lot of work, I’ve been feeding her with a syringe and she needs constant attention, but she’s all yours”

I was caught not knowing if I was more excited about my dad being home, or having my own kitten. I hugged my father and went searching for a basket and some old blankets I could use to line bottom.

“Hello Victory” I said, “Welcome to the family.”

c.c.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vacation


Wow after I wrote that I was just sitting at home waiting for time to go to bed, I did something about it. Last year I started with photoclub and this year the story tellers took off, but that’s only a few nights a month, so on Monday night I dressed up in my sweats and went to zumba, for the last week every night has involved an activity. Nights were set aside to do writing, but I needed a change, I feel alive and full of energy and excited for the next day. I feel good. This week is vacation and I’m planning some fun stuff to do, right now just chillin with mama and papa Duncan.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

On the Walk


I was asked how a gorgeous friend could have such low body image and not realize how beautiful she was. Thinking about it made me realize that last year, when I had lost a tone of weight, I still thought I fat. Maybe that’s why it went back on so easily because I didn’t see my success, to me I was still fat and it didn’t matter if I kept working on it or not, I hadn’t seen what I had done. #1 actually said she was glad I had gained a little weight because she thought I would have blown over in the wind, and I couldn’t see it.

Every year I go to the library book sale. 5 dollars for a box of books and I usually spent 10- 15 dollars. I look at the author, the title, and picture on the front, and if I get the least bit of a pull towards it, I grab it. I picked up one that said “Mid Century Poetry 1940-1960.” I want to dream poetry so I got tossed it in the box. Last night I pulled it out of the pile and all the authors were listed on the bottom of the front cover. I knew some of them. I turned the book over and it said. “Canadian Anthology.” I was so excited that I had chosen to put this book in my 5 dollar box and I would know even more about Canadian Poetry. Then I fell asleep. But the book (along with a few others) are sitting on my coffee table.

Last night I continued with Debbie Ford and looking at all the darkness inside me. The Gaelic Wife said my poem was sad, there’s been a lot of sadness to who I am, but I’ve never given up, and I’ve put it in a place where I’ve still been able to live, and now I’m healthy enough to process it. In the last 3-4 weeks that I’ve been reading the book I found it’s too personal to put in a blog, and the last post was the closet I could get. I’ve also noticed me really enjoying my own company and other peoples company more than I have in a long time, since starting the book.

I started reading Gloria Steinem’s “Revolution from Within.” I’ve only gotten through the introduction, I was always afraid that reading her would say something about myself. I'm not afraid anymore and I already love her power and her insight. She talks about the revolutions in Europe connecting them to the populations self esteem. She said when she wrote the book she totally realized hers self esteem was low even while the world believed she was beaming with it. I remember people like Boris Yeltsin and the falling of the Berlin wall but never thought about it as a growing of self esteem within a population.

And I thought about myself. When I graduated from high school (big breath) I felt I was the epitome of independence, in every play that I did or studied, in every film that I did, I approached it like I knew everything there was to know, maybe this made me sad, made me hate the work, maybe I needed to allow myself to make mistakes and enjoy learning from those around me.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Working on the inside this week


There’s no welcome sign

On the front door

A small apartment

A mattress on the floor

I was afraid of missing the bus

Afraid I wouldn’t get to school

That mattress is by the bus stop

As an adult its stopping is cruel

No late night secrets

No dinner dates

There’s nothing till bedtime

I sit and I wait

There’s a couple in the rain

Button each other’s coats

I lace my own shoes

Paddle my own boat

And now there are whispers

Permission is given

To hold on to these values

And let the hate go to heaven

I understood those people

Wouldn’t like me at all

So I pushed them away

Made them the ones to fall

The comedian says she’s ugly

The boring fat wife

And I pray to lose weight

Cut away fat with a knife

I save myself

But there’s a lot of darkness

Inside this heart

Inside this mind

But I’ve made it this far

And I laughed with a new friend

Put myself out there

Say I’m not that bad.

There are two levels

The part that you know

Says you’re beautiful

And there’s another part

That takes more work to believe it

But I’m getting there…