My 30 Day Challenge

      I’ve  been interested, for awhile, in doing a 30 day challenge on my blog. But, like everyone, I couldn’t find a topic, or series of topics, that really grabbed my interest. And, also, like Hamlet, I usually talk myself out of action before I start. I get discouraged about the whole “30 days” thing. I know I can keep up for a week, maybe even two, and then the dissipation and discouragement would set in. So, I quit before I would even start.

This time, however, I am going to take a great big step, flail at my biggest dragon and commit to a 30 day challenge. I am going to post a picture to my blog for 30 days straight. I am not going to attach any written words to my pictures. I am only going to tell you now that they will be pictures that say something about my life. There might be people, or places, or things in these pictures and there will always be clues hidden in the images that say something about me and my life. How I feel, what I think, what I do, who I love, for example. I will let the photo use one of the thousand words at its disposal to tell you something about me.

I hope you come on this journey with me.

She Shoots, She Scores

Sweat drips, ice bites
Hot and cold
Puck slaps, coffee kisses
Hard and soft
Money goes, score clock ticks
Fast and slow
She scores, she misses
Up and down
Home and rink
Back and forth
Cold narrow bed, ice crackle morning,
Long and short…

Referee
Black and white.

Oh, Foggiwog!

The following is an excerpt from a conversation I had with my six-year-old son. He is the cutest little tadpole you have ever seen, and thus, his nickname is Polliwog. With his angelic curls springing up all over his head and his big eyes and his impish smile, you would think you were dealing with the softest, most delicious cuddleumkins there is. But – he has a contrary streak that makes it impossible for him to accept banal comments at face value. His ability to turn normal comments into a metaphysical debate over the time and space continuum is breathtaking. We’ve taken to calling him “Foggiwog” but I sometimes wonder who is REALLY feeling their way through grey matter.

Foggiwog: “When did we go to the swimming pool?”

Me: “Yesterday.”

Foggiwog: “The other day?”

Me: “No, yesterday.”

Foggiwog: “Is yesterday the other day?”

Me: “No! It’s yesterday!”

Foggiwog: “But I don’t know when yesterday is!”

Me: (bear in mind, I have two other children and I’m used to staying a jump ahead of childish conversational shenanigans) “OK, remember last night, when you went to bed?”

Foggiwog: “In my own bed?”

Me: “What do you mean, ‘In your own bed’? Where else did you sleep last night?” (deep breath)

Foggiwog: “Oh, yeah, my own bed.”

Me: “OK, remember when you went to bed last night?” (refusing to be drawn into the vortex)

Foggiwog: “Was I wearing my shorts?”

Me: “I don’t know. Do you mean your pj shorts?”

Foggiwog: “No, you know, the shorts with the string?”

Me: “What string?” (stupid, stupid, stupid, being sucked in against my will)

Foggiwog: “The red string. You know, the red string that goes around and when you pull it goes down your leg.”

Me: “What are you talking about?!”

Foggiwog: “My shorts!”

Me: “OK, whatever, let’s say, yeah, you were wearing the shorts with the red string. You went to bed last night wearing the shorts with the red string, right?”

Foggiwog: “Last night?”

Me: “Yes, last night. Remember? Can you remember that? Going to bed? Going to bed and then waking up this morning?!” (slight hysterical ring to my voice)

Foggiwog: “What time did I wake up this morning?”

Me: “I don’t know!! Eight? What does it matter anyway?”

Foggiwog: “If I woke up early, then it’s a school day.”

Me: (taking a deep, shuddering breath) “It’s a holiday. You didn’t go to school today. You woke up late. You were wearing the shorts with the red string. The ones you went to bed in last night. Don’t you think you would have remembered if you went to school today?!”

Foggiwog: “When is school?”

Me: (weeping) “School is tomorrow. Do you know what tomorrow is?”

Foggiwog: “Oh, yeah, I know when tomorrow is. It’s after I go to bed tonight.”

Me: (seeing a glimmer of hope) “Well, then, yesterday is just tomorrow but in reverse!” (hoping to catch him at his own game)

Foggiwog: “But are we going swimming tomorrow?”

A crisis without change is failure.

I like words. I sometimes wonder if my love of reading has nothing to do with the story itself but with the fact that all those words are lining up and filling in the empty spaces on the blank page. Painting a picture in my head with their little pixels of colour until the whole is realized. Using their pinpricks of emotion to create a tattoo of love, or hate or anger on my heart.

Recently, I pointed out to someone that the addition of an ‘r’ to “toque” (a lovely, Canadian word, BTW) makes “torque”. Two disparate things. Although, not getting “your toque in a torque” has a certain ring to it. And that got me thinking about the word “crisis”, for some reason. One can have A crisis or, in my case, many crises. I think women should be categorized as having mid-life crises, not just one crisis. A crisis feels like a one time thing. Something unexpected that happens and that you get over in a little while. My child is  getting ready to leave the nest, aging parents are demanding more of my time and energy and the job, or lack of it, is a dead-end street on Hell’s cul-de-sac. This is not just one problem, they are many problems. And I haven’t even mentioned the depression that comes with watching my body fall apart.

So, I think I’m experiencing my mid-life crises. I don’t know what they’re going to look like. I don’t know how long they’re going to last. But I do know that I want to meet them with a certain amount of foggy romanticism like Don Quixote. I don’t want to work out or journal or take long baths. I want to take on villains only I can see. I want my faithful friends to stand with me and support my incalculable disillusions and treat me like a hero. I don’t care if I’m laughed at, as long as it’s behind my back. I don’t care if I’m the butt of jokes, as long as they go over my head. I’m waiting for something I can tackle with impunity because aging is just too big of a giant. I prefer to tilt at spinning wheels.

If this isn’t ageism, why do I feel so old?

age·ism also ag·ism

// (jzm)

n. Discrimination based on age, especially prejudice against the elderly.

I am not elderly. But I am over forty. I am still raising young children, I regularly step on pieces of Lego as I make my way across the living room floor and I still negotiate disputes over who gets the plate painted with an ugly blue dragon at dinner time. These activities keep me immersed in the part of my life that has everything to do with staying appearing  young and yet I have this uncanny feeling that the bottom is about to drop out. Like I am poised on the edge. I am stepping over the brink. I am standing with one foot in the halcyon crayon days of my youth and am about to step into the disordered devolution of old age.
I don’t think I have necessarily experienced prejudice directed towards my age, but I do have a job coach. Which is something I wouldn’t have needed in my twenties. I don’t know her very well and I really don’t think she knows me at all. She knows my name, a bit of my work history (as per my resume) and she tells me I don’t have any barriers to employment. Hhmmm. Doesn’t feel like that to me.  Isn’t age a barrier? Isn’t being a woman a barrier? Isn’t taking time off work to raise my kids and then trying to enter the work force again, having lost those essential years of “experience”, a barrier?
Perhaps the most intimidating barrier is my inability to manage the hours, days and years allotted to me. If I’d known they were all going to slip through my fingers so quickly, I would have grabbed on to some of them. I would have held them in a choke-hold and strangled every last bit of living out of them. I would have made them tell me their secrets and perhaps my life would have been richer, more fulfilled. Or, at least, I would have corralled a few years together and forced them to provide me a career. But, alas, even now, as the clock keeps ticking, I am involved in picking up Lego and am washing the dragon plate so it will be ready for supper. And, after all, maybe that is the essence of the secrets those nymph-ish, willful hours are trying to impart.

“…a lance in the rack, an aged shield, a worn out horse…

…and a greyhound for running.” So begins the romantic epic, Don Quixote.

Much of my domestic life at home feels like it runs parallel to that old man’s tragic story. I often wonder if raising children, staying married, balancing the chequebook and keeping ahead of the dirty laundry doesn’t really require mental fortitude but only a certain amount of insanity. If only I were insane enough to not recognize the innate futility in some of the things I do. If only I were mentally imbalanced enough to not recognize that being a mother often makes you the butt of some really big cosmic jokes. Often, I feel like I roll out of bed every morning, take my lance from the rack (coffee), pick up my aged shield (daily devotions), and kick the worn out horse (beat-up Honda) awake so I can begin the daily battles.  Or, should I say, my quests. My heroic, often misled, quests.

For example, I have been trying magnificently to stop my youngest child from emitting horrendously long and loud burps in public. He tells me he tries to hold them in his mouth until he gets to the bathroom to let them out but by that time, they’ve already gone to his stomach. How can I rage against this perfect logic? I lack the insight which would lead me to see this stalemate as a romantic challenge waiting for me to bring it to a chivalrous outcome. Instead, I suck on my coffee and go lay down. I’m at a loss. My windmills are mundane and sometimes, well, just kinda’ gross. But no less threatening, seen from the same point of view. I think I just lack the man from la Mancha’s insulating layer of warm, cozy insanity.

Here I am, however, still tilting at spinning-wheels.