December 8, 2008

At Arms Length

Heredity is defined as: ‘the transfer of characteristics from parent to offspring through their genes, or the transfer of a title, style or social status through the social convention known as inheritance.’

I used to believe that I did not inherit any of my mother’s traits. I wanted to believe that I did not inherit any of my mother’s traits. I had assumed that having been raised by my grandmother, I would escape that vicious circle. I did not factor in that the same woman who raised my mother, reared me. In much the same way. As I had been indulged and embellished, I was by all accounts a spoiled little girl in terms of material means. The cliché “you live what you learn” has not gone unnoticed and as a mother myself, I recognize the paradox. I recognize that I wantonly commit many the same mistakes which were put on me and quite possibly my mother and knowingly, do not correct or stop; as if there was no control button.

I have, however, devoted a steadfast and unswerving promise to convey to my daughter, those miniscule words, which do not mean much to some, and meant the world to me and I yet did not hear them after puberty. I have refused to let this one act be repeated. I love you.



Controlling every little situation -- How you manipulate and guilt trip -- the master puppeteer -- and we your marrionettes.
Pitting your daughter and her mother against each other?
Makes you a big man, to put me down or critisize the way I do things?
Makes you big man to put your daughter down or guilt trip her...making her feel under your thumb.

Can't be in control of other aspects of your life, so control this one thing. Controlling your daughter, thereby controlling her mother.
Makes you a superior being to accuse me of the unnecessary circumstances and not take any responsiblity in why things are now the way they are. Can't even take 50% of the fault? It's so much easier to point fingers at others, than to accept responsibility or hold yourself accountable, or hold your wife accountable, for the actions you've both taken which have led to the circumstances were under.
Makes you feel grand to allow your wife to emotionally and psychologically abuse your daughter?

Makes you feel good about yourself to deny your own daughter, the unconditional love and protection she deserves, from the horrors and neglect of the unlove in your house?
To outright tell your own daughter, that you cannot tell her you love her because she reminds you of her mother?
To alienate your daughter from her mother, to satisfy your own hate for her mother?
Does that make you a better man?

Actually, that makes you no man at all.



Loneliness is defined as, the state of being alone in solitary isolation; forlornness: sadness resulting from being forsaken or abandoned; aloneness: a disposition toward being alone.

“The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.”
Mark Twain

“There is no greater sorrow, then to recall in misery the time we were happy.”

“The end comes when we no longer talk with ourselves. It is the end of genuine thinking and the beginning of the final loneliness. The remarkable thing is that the cessation of the inner dialogue marks also the end of our concern with the world around us. It is as if we noted the world and think about it only when we have to report it to ourselves."
Eric Hoffer

“There’s nothing terribly wrong with feeling lost, so long as that feeling precedes some plan on your part to actually do something about it. Too often a person grows complacent with their disillusionment, perpetually wearing their "discomfort" like a favourite shirt.”
Jhonen Vasquez

“There's a cold wind blowing softly through a narrow, dark ravine. A sound is heard, soft and everywhere, like the rustle of silk. It echoes from every dismal reaching corner of the abyss, and whispers of the aching loneliness within the crevasse. A cold, blue-white light transcends an aura of weird lifelessness to the jagged rocks of the cleft walls. There appears a soul within all of this, like a thin frail mist, congealing within its center -- a tiny translucent grey cloud.”
Ralph Kenyon, 1962

"We're born alone, we live alone, and we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone."
-Orson Wells

“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.”
-Thomas Wolfe

November 9, 2008

Two Steps Forward

As a child, I lived by the Hope Slough which was fed by the Fraser River. This boggy marsh was play home to many a child, and an escape for masses of teenagers. From one end to the other and on both sides, century old Willow Trees stood rostrum along the banks and I would swing from the long leaves and tease the catskins with my cheeks. I could run through and toss the leaves for hours alone. I would walk the banks of the slough and follow the minnows but now and then, touching its water gave feeling to the “Slough of Despond”. But there the Willows swayed, talking to me with the wisdom of their age.

In the park off the path from the slough, I would climb the large trees and sit in their crooks and dream the day away; dreaming of the future, forgetting the present. Sometimes though, the dominant images of unpleasant absolution would take hold. These images my mind still creates.

I remember Joanne Pederson, though I never knew her personally. In 1983, Joanna was 10 years old. She was my age. Her older sister locked the screen door and would not let Joanne in. Crying, she walked down to the ‘Penny Pincher’ Convenience store to use the phone. The man behind the counter wouldn’t let her use his phone to call her mom to open the door - forcing her to make the call out at the payphone. According to the Cold Case files for the RCMP in Chilliwack, ‘An unidentified male was seen with her in the phone booth. He was described as being a Caucasian male, approximately twenty ( 20 ) to thirty ( 30 ) years old, 5'6" to 5'7" in height, slim to medium build, light to dark hair ( that was below the ears ), clean shaven and wearing a dark jacket.’ Attempts to locate Joanne have been unsuccessful. Joanne’s was the first child abduction case I had ever heard of. My self security was broken into and doubt of the human condition entered my core, though I would never have been able to elucidate these sentiments as a child.

I was never free to walk or roam the banks of the slough, again.

Or Something Like It

The woman, who would be my mother through biology only, was now living with her husband and her son in a small tourist town of Penticton BC, in the Interior of British Columbia. Due to circumstances within her control, she was not an educated woman. Her street smarts were taking her only so far, and even reasonable actions were limited. My mother’s range of parenting also lacked, and managing a selfish life style to date was not promising for her son.

When my mother’s son was ten years old, he befriended the neighbour. A slight middle aged man, my mother thought it a perfect fit as it was well known that my mother’s son’s father was no reward and would not be winning any parenting contests in the near future. The fatherly bond, which my mother’s son and this neighbour had developed, was just what my mother needed a break from parenting.

My grandmother would call my mother regularly to see if my mother was doing well, and to see if she needed anything. My mother never asked outright for handouts, but her calculating character served her well through the years, and although living off of Assisted Living (A.K.A. Welfare) all of her life, she was able to maintain an above average means of being.

My grandmother had always expressed concerns about my mother’s son’s lack of good judgment and common sense and of course, my grandmother believed that there are just some children out there who let their guards down too soon or some that don’t have any guard at all. My mother’s son fell into the latter. On one particular occasion, when my grandmother called to ensure my mother was doing okay, my grandmother inquired about my mother’s neighbour and expressed deep concern for her grandson. My mother tired to play it down that the middle aged man meant well, and that as a bonus, my mother was able to have anxiously waited free time, and focus on her own life for once. A week later, my mother’s husband rushed my mother’s son to the hospital, violently ill after eating 14 pancakes. An eating condition he had recently acquired, my mother’s son was at 10 years old, becoming a bulimic. His stomach was pumped.

Two years later, the middle aged man, a youth programs camp counsellor, died of the Gay Man’s Cancer.

My mother’s son was in and out of doctor’s offices and in and out of schools. He had developed quite a temper and when he was 14 years old, beat a boy the same age so horribly, the boy was admitted to hospital near death. The boy called my mother’s son a ‘homo’. My mother took the only course of action she ever thought she knew. Once her son was sentenced to a half way house hundred’s of kilometres away, my mother stopped telling him she loved him.

My grandmother had her hands full with me. I was a contentious, obnoxiously selfish teenager. I commanded all of her attention in the most unfathomable ways. I was an extremely unconstructive young woman. I sought out all the negative strokes I could receive from my grandmother and her children and even her friends. I was beginning my downward dissent into a living torture. Leading up to this behaviour, it seemed to me that nothing respectable I did, would please my grandmother who I felt was critiquing me in her sleep and ever increasingly, her children were waking her up to my bastardly ways. I was becoming my mother and my grandmother could see the past repeating itself. It was rushing upon her and her eyes were not closed to it.

I believe that I stole more than a thousand dollars from my grandmother’s purse between the ages of 14 and 18 years old, not to mention ‘borrowing’ her credit card and signature. I had nothing to show for it, except 50lbs of added weight gain and an addiction to cigarettes but my grandmother never knew the truth.
I deliberately started hanging out with undesirable young women and men, who were bound for jail or worse. I was rude and foulmouthed. I was loud and boorish. I was completely lost and I was an absolute fake.

I had a boyfriend.


Vanderhoof is a small bush town of approximately 4000 people North West of Prince George which is in Central British Columbia, and the heart of the Nechako Valley. The local First Nations Band is Sai’kuz and make up at least half the population and who have named the moving waters, Omineca for the river which divides the town into two. The only way to cross was a single lane wooden bridge, where the weight of a vehicle triggered the signal lights.

My grandmother’s daughter was a teacher at the local high school. She was a ‘challenger teacher’ for youth who were in and out of the school system and who were generally thought of as underachievers and going nowhere. My grandmother’s daughter befriended a lot of her students. Childless, she seemed to take on other peoples children as her special interest and looking back, she may have possibly have been giving to these children , what she felt she lacked in her own life; a mother.
On several occasions, my grandmother’s daughter had given a couch to sleep on, to native and other youth, when there was no other place for them to go, and her reward was the belief that the youth would continue to attend her classes and possibly make something of them, and, somewhere along the way, my grandmother’s daughter would go on to receive the Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

It was the first Saturday of December 1985 and the beginning of a long winter for the region. My grandmother and I had already spent several days, learning how to properly blow dry plastic sheets to the windows to help prevent drafts for the cold snaps we were expecting and my grandmother’s daughter spent numerous hours hauling cords of wood into the house to fit beside the wood stove and along the side of the house by the main door. The night delivered the promised chill and the temperature dipped well below -18oC, where flesh freezes.
Before retiring to each of our bedrooms for the night, my grandmother filled the wood stove to the brim and my sister turned on all the water taps in the house to run a slight amount of water to help prevent pipes freezing.

My bedroom was actually intended to be a den and I’m sure prior to invading her life, my grandmother’s daughter used it as a work area to prepare for classes. Opening the door, I looked directly into the dining room which was attached to both the kitchen to the right and the living room directly in front. When my grandmother’s husband died, her daughter inherited the dining room table, chairs and hutch and made themselves a fine home here.

The bed I slept in was really a folding cot-couch-hide-a-bed-daybed. It was orange and soft and smaller than a twin or single, but suited me fine. I had one dresser in the room, off to the corner and butted the wall leading to the small closet. There was just enough room in the bedroom for me to sleep, change, read and if I peered hard, I might be able to look out my plastic covered window, and make out the trees to the side of the house. The room was narrow and institutional.

My grandmother’s daughter’s bedroom was on the other side of the kitchen and my grandmother’s room was at the back of the house, which was really an afterthought appendage to the petite trifling house. A complicated little maze of stairs and hallways led to her room, and it was cold and indifferent.

At approximately two in the morning, I awoke to the screams, howls and yells of my grandmother’s daughter, from behind her bedroom door. At the point of consciousness, I could not make out what she was shouting. Lying on my stomach, I pushed up with one arm and turned to roll onto my back, and there, in the light of my green digital lit alarm clock, was the face of a long haired man. He was crouched to the floor and was about a foot from my face. I could smell winter in the air and alcohol. The room was still dim, but I could see he was wearing only a jean jacket. It was too cold for him to wear such a thing in this weather. He made not one facial expression that I could see and in my bewilderment all I could ask was “Who are you?” Instantly, I could clearly make out my grandmother’s daughter’s roars.


I stared at him with devastated eyes but could not breathe and within that instant…

I remember sleeping the rest of the week in my grandmother’s daughter’s room. It was the only bedroom in the house with a lock on the door and it was here that I discovered that some aluminum softball bats were loaded with sand. I learned how to properly hold and swing the 38 weight within days. After three days of very little sleep, and startled at every little noise, I began to sleep with ear plugs, a habit my mother’s daughter was accustomed to, while working in the pulp factories in Northern BC, prior to taking on teaching.

My grandmother did not talk to me or ask me how I was doing. She did not console me or hug me. She did not outwardly, take the situation as some parents or grandparents would have and it was from this point on with which I never heard her again, tell me she loved me. I didn’t talk for weeks.

When the school year was out, my grandmother and I moved back to our original hometown.

I did not say goodbye

Chocolate, All Things Loved

I don’t remember the first time I ever had chocolate, but I can imagine that I fell in love with it immediately. My love affair with the sweet has forever been my haunting. Of course, dark chocolate is my first choice, but really, anything goes. Even the kind which has aged enough for the refined sugar to start to seep or sweat itself out, to the point where the chocolate starts to assume a white film. This kind is usually sold in a 25 cent bin and bought by grandmothers for grandchildren favours.

One Christmas, pre horror movie experience, I opened up an aluminum foil wrapped Santa. I was so excited at nine in the morning to be eating this delight; I paid no attention to its crumbling demeanour. I believe I slammed the whole jolly chocolate in my mouth only to discover what rotting chocolate is like, melting in a warm child’s mouth. Though I’ve never tried it myself, I can only imagine that this is what paint tastes like. This would not deter me.
Blissful, miserable, euphoric, dejected, incensed, anguished, festive and in mourning, chocolate has always been there for me.

Valentines, Easter, Christmas, Weddings, Birthdays, Funerals and Divorces and everything in between. Chocolate has never scolded me. Chocolate has never told me I was bad. Chocolate had never told me I was fat or getting there. It never told me that my grades were poor. It never told what friends I should or should not keep. Chocolate never told me I was not attractive enough. Chocolate did not tell me I was worthless. We didn’t have to talk. We could just with each other and together in silence, for almost every single day of my life, we grew together.

Chocolate comforted me.

Chocolate loved me, at a time when I was unlovable.

Too much love will kill you.

Or come close to it.