Friday, October 22, 2010

What a Feminist Learned Today

Today I learned that when men grow hair on their faces, it's funny, it's adorable, it's endearing, it's wonderful.

Today I learned that when women grow hair on their legs, it's disgusting, it's unspeakable, it should not be discussed in polite company, it puts one off one's lunch.

Today I learned how angry I am, that this double standard should be so casually assumed by so many people.

It seems as though Blogger won't let you embed video any more, so here. Go and watch this. Pay close attention (I'm using my teacher voice right now) to the last thirty seconds or so.

And then, maybe, the next time someone says that leg hair on a human being is shameful and degrading, we can do what I was not brave enough to do today - we can say a massive and collective screw you to the masses who think we are less than human because we are women.

Friday, October 8, 2010

On being thankful for your own damn self

without any assistance or guidance from you 
i have loved you assiduously for 8 months 2 wks & a day 
i have been stood up four times 
i’ve left 7 packages on yr doorstep 
forty poems 2 plants & 3 handmade notecards i left 
town so i cd send to you have been no help to me 
on my job 
you call at 3:00 in the mornin on weekdays 
so i cd drive 27 1/2 miles cross the bay before i go to work 
charmin charmin 
but you are of no assistance 
i want you to know 
this waz an experiment 
to see how selifsh i cd be 
if i wd really carry on to snare a possible lover 
if i waz capable of debasin my self for the love of another 
if i cd stand not being wanted 
when i wanted to be wanted 
& i cannot 
with no further assistance & no guidance from you 
i am endin this affair
this note is attached to a plant 
i’ve been waterin since the day i met you 
you may water it 
yr damn self
-ntozake shange

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Random, with Angst and Pictures

I just realized the other day that I've been working my butt off for three years, and I have, financially speaking, gotten exactly nowhere. Three years ago, you see, I was getting child support, and a whack of money from the government (Child Tax Benefit FTW). Now, no more child support, and I make too much money (oh, irony) to qualify for the Child Tax Benefit, and we've taken up riding and competitive swimming respectively, and if we want to keep doing that then our budget (and by "our" I mean "my," because only one of us works in this household, and it sure as hell ain't the dog) is very, very, very tight.

And I know I shouldn't complain, because there are so many people with less than I have, and when things are tight AFTER you've paid for all your bills and expenses and food and extra fun things (riding, swimming) then you have no one to blame but yourself, and I know that September is always hard because of back to school things, but HOLY COW, I would like things to be easier. Sometimes. Just once or twice, maybe, so I can see what it's like. I promise not to get used to it.

Anyway. Moving on.

Fall is, all financial disasters aside, my favourite season. It's the colours, the weather, the fact that it's not dark all the time yet, that golden light we get here over the fields, the excitement of a new school year. The air is cool and crisp and dry, and you can crunch leaves under your feet and smell their spicy scent, and sit in front of your fireplace at night, and wear your lovely knitted sweaters.

Most of all, I love fall because it isn't February.

I have decided that I want to knit a blanket - the Moderne Blanket from Mason-Dixon Knitting. Here's someone who's already done it, if you're curious. (If you're curious about why someone might want to knit a blanket, well, I just can't help you there. Some people like skiing, some people like knitting blankets. There's no accounting for weirdness.) I want my blanket's colours to be fallish, even though I made that word up and don't know quite what I mean. Like this, maybe:

Or this:

But probably this, for sure (maybe):

 I like the dark spruce green, the sage green of the fields, the dark red and the bright yellow of the leaves changing, the blue blue sky, the patches of green grass that last and last, the water that reflects the long autumn afternoon light, the blush of the sunrise.

Decisions, decisions.

Perhaps I will just go and make a pumpkin pie, instead.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Poem for Saturday - really sad edition

Dog's Death
By John Updike

She must have been kicked unseen or brushed by a car. 
Too young to know much, she was beginning to learn 
To use the newspapers spread on the kitchen floor 
And to win, wetting there, the words, “Good dog! 
Good dog!”
We thought her shy malaise was a shot reaction. 
The autopsy disclosed a rupture in her liver. 
As we teased her with play, blood was filling her skin 
And her heart was learning to lie down forever.
Monday morning, as the children were noisily fed 
And sent to school, she crawled beneath the youngest’s bed. 
We found her twisted and limp but still alive. 
In the car to the vet’s, on my lap, she tried
To bite my hand and died. I stroked her warm fur 
And my wife called in a voice imperious with tears. 
Though surrounded by love that would have upheld her, 
Nevertheless she sank and, stiffening, disappeared.
Back home, we found that in the night her frame, 
Drawing near to dissolution, had endured the shame 
Of diarrhoea and had dragged across the floor 
To a newspaper carelessly left there. Good dog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's my blog, I can cry if I want to.

So I had one of those weird days - this thing happened, this (metaphorical) poke at a (metaphorical) sore spot I have that I thought was long since healed.

Turns out it isn't. It's still raw and oozing and didn't want to be poked at. It hurt, actually.

So on the way home I was thinking those negative thoughts, you know? The ones that say all the things you aren't, all the ways you have failed, all the ways in which you do not live up to the expectations you hold for yourself.

This happens to me all the freaking time.

When I get like this, I make a list. (I love lists; sometimes I will put something on a list that I've already done just so that I can have the pleasure of crossing it off.) The list I make when I'm feeling lost and lonely and like a big fat failure is the list of all the things I can do,  all the things I have accomplished, all the successes and the skills I have acquired over the years. The list includes the most mundane things: as long as I'm proud of my achievement, it goes on the list.

The list includes the following things:

  • I can drive a standard. The person who poked me cannot. Na na na na na na. (Nobody said the list isn't childish)
  • I can quiet a class of 32 grade 8 students without saying a word.
  • I am the queen of the knitters. Herewith is evidence: the Citron shawl I knit for my gramma. It is fabulous, and by the end I was knitting a row of 437 teeny tiny stitches and not even feeling the urge for a stiff drink.

  • I took up riding when I was 34. Not a lot of people do that, although my friend Holly knows a lady who started taking lessons when she was 65 and just did her first show at 72. And I'm not bad at it, either (especially now that I have cracked the canter).
  • I own my house. Well, the bank owns it, actually, but they let me live here. Me, a single, unmarried person without a second income. They looked at me and though I was a good risk for a mortgage.
  • I'm raising a boy child. On my own. I did not freak out (much) when I got pregnant, I did not run shrieking for the hills because it was not what I planned. I did not leave; I stayed and did my best and I didn't regret it for a moment. This boy here is my greatest achievement (even more than the canter, actually).

  • I have three university degrees. Irritating person who irritates me? Oh, they have NONE.
  • I make a mean pie. Any kind. Bring it on.
  • I have some awesome friends, one of whom swears that she would totally throw herself on a bee for me. Totally.
And this irritating person, who drove me to publishing a self-aggrandizing list of the ways in which I am fabulous, they do not get to make me feel like less of a great person with one poke. I'm not going to let them.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We now return to your regularly scheduled blogging.

I've been thinking for a long time (since April, actually, did you notice?) about blogging. I find that I have these huge expectations of myself - scintillating content, regularly updated, a few good jokes. At the same time, I have all these limitations: the things that I most want to write about are the things I can't say. All those tangled up stories of life that writing can magically smooth out, but which are not intended for a blogging public. I felt gagged, stuck in the trivial when I wanted to get a few good stones off my chest instead.

Then there's the issue of updating. I've never been good at regular output. The only time I wrote to a deadline which I never, ever missed was when I was an editor, and that ended in a nasty bit of burnout and resulted in a complete life change (and the decision to never write for a living again, which is kind of a shame because I liked it at the time). I'm kind of a sporadic person - something will occur to me as I drive, and I write about it later. Or not. Whatevs.

I never wanted to write one of those navel-gazing whiny blogs: "Woe is me, I weeded the asparagus patch today and my darling hubby took lean ground beef out of the freezer instead of extra-lean, the useless lump" but I've started to think that's what blogging is best suited to. Not so much the existential or the transcendent, but just the everyday. This is what happened to me today. Read it or don't - it doesn't matter.

So I'm back, with this: today I went to Spruce Meadows and saw Eric Lamaze do a clear round on Hickstead, and it was amazing.

Thanks. Come again soon.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Poem on Friday because I'm really busy tomorrow

This one is for S., who just came down with stomach cancer. Because if anyone is going to be the old woman wearing purple, it will be her.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph