September 26, 2021
September 26, 2021
My precious Claireabelle:
I have put this off for days; ‘this,’ meaning saying goodbye to you in some meaningful way. Intellectually I know that putting it off does not make your death any less real, any less true, but emotionally, it has kept me safe from the bottomless black pit of grief I fear falling prey to. So I apologize to you, to your family, others who loved you so fiercely, as fiercely as I do, as fiercely as I always will, for taking so long to say a goodbye I still struggle to wrap my brain around. I have been hiding in my job, hiding on the trail, hiding in my own pain.
But everywhere I go there you are, as you have been for so many years since we met. At times more distant than others, but always there, in my heart. For you were that rarest of creatures (in my world) who like me, just like me, knows the despair we have known, have felt so lost, so misunderstood, so forsaken, for so many years, and we ‘got’ each other, right from the get go.
And even after a decade long silence between us, because life, it felt more like 10 minutes since we last talked, since we last cried together, since we last cursed, since we last danced, since we last laughed together and at one another, it felt like 10 minutes, not 10 years. That kind of connection can only survive and thrive in an environment of absolute honesty, absolute trust, absolute kin-ship, absolute loyalty, and absolute love between humans, absolute: meaning no matter what. We had that, even when you didn’t like my straight-up words, neither sugar coated, nor brutal, just honest, always stated with and from love, and always driven by the fear of this very reality, losing you, permanently.
But I mustn’t fall down the black hole, for it was not only ‘the pain,’ our experiences of abuse and other vileness that connected us, it was the free-spirited wild, the beautifully crazy, the wicked funny, the sharply intellectual, the intensely sensitive (always shrouded in a self-protective shield of ‘I don’t give a fuck’), that created this most precious of bonds that we had. That bond will always be there, and as your beautiful daughter said recently, I too, ‘will never stop fighting for you.’
For what has occurred, this mind-numbingly tragic event, is a direct result of pain, not one of intent, and most certainly not one of failure, on anyone’s part, including yours. I have a good idea of what you yearned for in this life, and I know how determined you were to get it. I also have an inkling of how far down in the bottomless pit of pain you landed, how deeply you felt, believed, to have let others down. I know how low, how non-existent your self-esteem was, your feelings of unworthiness for the support you received in recent months, over the last several years.
I am acutely aware of the line we cross, when the war we wage with ourselves (because that, is where the true battle lies), turns everything into a toxic quagmire of shame and self-loathing, a pain that seems quell-able only with more pain killers; that Plexiglas shield of substances and behaviours that I have come to understand over the years, as more than the convenient, judge-y, pathological label of ‘addiction.’ I have come to understand this quick-sand swamp as a set of responses to trauma, to pain, to a lack of self-worth, self-acceptance. I have come to understand it as a set of reactions, decisions and choices we have made, that others made during times in our lives when we were unable to defend ourselves, decisions and choices we made as adults when choice A and choice B appeared to be the only two available and they both equally sucked. Decisions and choices that often served others and harmed self, decisions and choices that felt like the only survival tactics we had in our arsenal of weapons in this war. Decisions and choices that in the long run, stop serving us in any useful way, no longer kill the pain, and harm others, harm the people we love most, the people who love us most, and there we come full circle.
The cycle is only breakable by breaking it, and my heart bleeds for you, for now you will not have the opportunity of knowing that freedom. That freedom does not mean a life free of pain, because we do not live in a benign world, we live in a world fraught with injustice and systems and structures which doom people, the most vulnerable people, people like you were, like I used to be, still am, just in a different way today, to failure. A world in which bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people, and ‘fair,’ is a place I go to ride a Ferris Wheel.
The freedom I speak of is one of mastering self, nothing else; because ultimately self, our response to any given situation in life, as our friend Collie recently brought to our attention, mindset, our response, is the only thing in the entirety of our known Universe, that we ever, have any real control over. I wanted this freedom for you so very badly that I can taste the foul and bitter taste of its loss to you on my tongue, and it is all I can do to keep myself in check, for I am not just sad and gutted, I am furious.
But I know how futile, unproductive, and harmful that fury can be… we talked about it, along with so many other important things, on July 10th, at 11:28 a.m. It was a long and at times difficult conversation, as real conversations, about real things, between real friends often are. And remembering that conversation since learning that you are gone, remembering how both of us pushed through the hard parts, because love and trust, having finished it, having left things, as we always have, at a place of honesty and our respective truths, a place of deep and unconditional love for one another, a place of friendship, brings me some measure of solace.
And then I went away for a desperately needed reprieve from work, from most civilization, technology, and from health and other unwelcome realities of my own, came back with the intent of responding to your most recent messages once back on dry land, and before I could catch my breath, the message from your child, and that phone call, the gut-wrenching news we all fear most, when it comes to the people we love so fiercely.
I bought a wildly coloured pair of tights yesterday, because they literally reminded me of (y)our inner fire, and as soon as the weather cools a bit, I will don them, power the shit outta that one trail, the one I so wanted to share with you next Spring, because it is wild and glorious, and covered in Bluebells…
Everywhere I go there you are my beautiful ClaireBear. We loved (and hated) so many of the same things. I will never look at another fiery sky, another cool cloud, another Bluebell, without yearning to hear your voice, your laugh… without feeling the part of my heart that you will always occupy. This world, your childrens’ worlds, your family’s worlds, your friends’ worlds, my world, lost one of its brightest stars the day you left, but your star-dust has settled into my heart, just in a different way than when you were here, and there it will stay, until the day my own star-light burns fully out.
Always and forever, your mama M.,
July 31, 2021.
50 years… how has it been 50 years…?
I think about you every day, miss you every second.
Whenever I have cause to go to Vancouver I look for the places we lived, and remember the early days of our life as immigrants, how excruciatingly hard you and my mother worked to build a life, from nothing, absolutely nothing, in a country and culture so foreign to us it may have been another planet… but it was exciting, and your energy, your never give-up was, is to this day, palpable, and it lives on inside me.
When I lived in Switzerland and started going back to the old country, I sought out Nerudová 1, every.single.time, and remembered the old coal storage downstairs, what you hid there, in preparation for our escape… When I went back there with mama and my boy in 2014, tread upon some of the same cobblestones in Karlovy Vary that we had all tread upon at some other point in time, I drank up mama’s stories of where the two of you had spent time together, regaled my son, one of the grandchildren you never met, with my own recollections of the first 7 years of my life there, and my recollections of you… and I cried like the small child I once was there, when we visited Božý Dar, our old ski cabin, and vague memories of being on those ski hills, on your back, in a rucksack, and then on my own tiny skis, came to life brightly, and as it does in these moments, time stood still…
When I went back to Stewart a few years ago I walked until my feet bled, until I found our old townhouse… and the nearer I knew I was, the more intensely I felt your presence, and I remembered the 20 foot snow banks, and that we had walked this road together, and desperately I tried to make out your voice, failed, for it had been so many years… decrepit, rotting, moldy, the carport caved in by decades of big Northern BC snow, and overgrown by the vegetation that takes its environment back when we abandon it, but also seemingly untouched, it was all still there, frozen in time…
Walking through the front door was the single greatest moment of surreal of the entirety of my years, and no drug on earth would match this high, the emotional crash of it, rolled into one intensely profound experience… so intense profound, because while I cannot buy into the spirit world, you were there, because I was there, because we had all been there, at another time.
I walked into the small square of a kitchen, and I remembered you shaking up the resourceful man’s milkshake, for you were nothing, if not resourceful, for my big brother and me, in a mason jar – canned milk and strawberry jam… I walked into the living room and saw the giant tree through the streaky, fungus-covered window panes, that tree our Collie Sheba chased a bear up into… and I as I made my way up into our bedrooms, where the lamps you had so skillfully MacGyvered for us once hung, I remembered your words, but still, could not conjure up your voice as you told us to put the sheets on our beds… when I walked upon the molding carpet, the same one we had all walked upon all those years ago, I heard your footsteps, coming home from the mine that took your life.
I could not bring myself to walk the rotting stairs down to the basement, where you kept your rifle, the one my mother was tempted to use when we were told you were dead. For that news was and remains the single most impactful event in our respective lives. The mine, the people associated with it, took your life, and with it, my mother’s joy, and my brother’s and my childhoods, in one fell swoop. And while I am aware that it is an exercise in futility, I cannot help but wonder, often, what life would have been like for all of us, had you lived beyond 36 fast and furious years, to see a birthday past that one, to see this day, what would have been your 85th year.
Your rebel lives on inside me, and maybe even some wisdom, which only years can bring, I see more of that in my brother, and I like to think that you would have been like him, at this age, and so in this way, and so many others, you live on inside him. Your rebel, your energy, your wild, your survivor, your wise-man, and sometimes your impulsive adventurer, they all live on inside me and my brother, in a thousand different ways.
October 24, 2020 (re-posted July 07, 2021)
I have long argued the concept of 'fixed personality,' and by direct extension 'personality (and other) related disorders.' It is all about what we choose to pay attention to, what we choose to take on, and disregard, grow into, and shed, as belief systems and world views: mindset. Ms Dweck has articulated it beautifully (below) I might need to buy her book. ~M. "A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities." -Carol Dweck, Ph.D
Because I have known heart-breaking loneliness, I know and crave, the bliss of solitude. Because I have known spirit-crushing abuse, I know and love, with compassion and empathy. Because I have known mind-boggling ignorance, I know and seek, emotional and intellectual intelligence. Because I have known self-stifling entrapment, I know and revel in, autonomy and freedom and self. Because I have known trust-shattering dishonesty, I know and live, truth and fielty. Because I have known soul-ripping harshness, I know and pursue, a softer side of being - me. Because I have known gut-wrenching hatred, I know and endeavor, to default to love. ~Marcela: knowing… but not all… never all… June 09, 2021
May the sun warm the earth,
that your tiny bodies were so unceremoniously buried in...
May the cool, clear waters of these, your islands and coastlines,
act as salve on the aching hearts of your families and communities...
May the trees and stones and creatures,
of these, your unceded territories, finally guide you home.
And may you know, that you were always missed, never forgotten,
and that you are loved, and grieved, then, and in the here and now...
...by your families, by your communities,
and by those of us clad in the unearned privilege, of lily-white skins,
who know, what we have done.
With all the love and humility I have,
May 31, 2021
725,846,400 seconds, and counting…
These are the numbers representing the back-to-back time I have spent living in my own skin, for better or worse, without the bullet-proof shield of substances to kill the pain, kill the pain, kill the pain; or at the very least, obscure it some, so that I didn’t take myself off the planet.
I am not you, and you are not me, so what is painful to me, may not be to you, and vice-versa, though the experiences I speak of here, are in my personal and professional experience, a source of great pain for many, if not most. We all deal, or don’t, with these things, anything, in different ways, and many folks have barriers that the rest of us will never know about to accessing support, and/or, like me, have experienced more pain, in the pursuit of said support.
So please, read MY (abridged) list of pain, with an open mind, but more than that, use, hone the skill of critical thinking, listen with an open heart, and try not to paint my experience with the tainted and dirty brush, of yours, or others’. For when we do that, we inadvertently, or purposefully, judge another’s pain, measure it, against our own. But when we open our hearts, minds, and eyes to another’s context, the possibility that even the very same experience can be perceived and experienced very differently by different humans, we cannot help but have empathy for any given soul, no matter their circumstance or the ‘choices’ they have made; because choice theory, while a very useful tool, is limited, often severely so, but that is a digression I have neither the time nor inclination to pursue in any depth here. My point: we are not all born, raised, gifted with, the same set of choices, abilities, and ‘fairness,’ is a great theory, but an ill-fitting concept and rarely to never doable in practice, in far too many situations.
I wielded my shield to protect myself from these pains:
-The pain of losing my extended family and the most important pieces of my cultural heritage, to the Soviet invasion of my original home and native land in 1968, becoming refugees
-The pain of watching my mother and barely older brother, take on the gargantuan task before them: leading our little family of 3 in this brave new world, with no money, little to no language, no extended family to speak of, and little to no hope
-The pain of watching a man take advantage of my mother’s position, and when she had had enough and sent him packing, the pain of losing everything we owned, because in vengeance, he set our home on fire
-The pain and guilt I watched her writhe in because she hadn’t understood a detail about our insurance, and we were uninsured
-The pain, the exhaustion, of constantly trying to fill the void, the one that only got deeper as I got older
-The pain of filling the void with boys, and later men, who looked only to their own wants, discarding me by the wayside like so much trash on the bottom of their often ‘well-heeled’ feet
-The pain of Lou, the wealthy ‘hobby pimp,’ with no actual need for the money, who professed to love me by turning me out and then kicking me out at the age of 18, because in his words to my brother, I was “all used up.” I had to force those words out of my brother’s mouth; he did not want to tell me, to slay me with those words, and they did, slay me. Lou, at the time 32, didn’t possess enough man-balls to kick me out himself, so he summoned my brother to collect my things, but not many of the fancy things that stayed in his penthouse, payed for with my body. He loaded my brother’s valiant and sent him to my ‘day job,’ in a nail salon he (Lou) owned, to have my brother “let me know” that it was over. Chew on all that for a minute or two and imagine what it may have done to a hurt, already lost soul of 18. I was a hurtin’ little girl before I met this man, in one of his salons, getting my nails done, by a friend, who he had turned out… this series of events set the stage for years of choices, which for several decades I did not understand, did not recognize as being related more to Lou’s actions, and what happened in the course of my sex-work career, than to anything I had experienced previous to him. This is the Reader’s Digest version of less than 2 deeply and profoundly impactful years of my life, that unbeknownst to me, would serve as the fuel for too many years of suffering; suffering I acted upon, in a myriad of ways that simply caused more pain, to me and everyone I cared about, everyone who (truly) cared about me.
-The pain of violence; of physical, sexualized, verbal, emotional, psychological, intellectual, and financial violence. Vile and deliberate violences perpetrated against my person by various individuals, including some I loved, trusted, individuals who purported to ‘love’ me, who demonstrated their ‘love,’ returned mine, with vileness and violence.
-The pain of violence perpetrated against my person by individuals in the systems and groups I reached out to for support
-The pain of being pathologized, for THEIR violence and bad behaviour
-The pain of being patronized, invalidated, belittled, subjected to too many indignities, and victim-blamed and shamed, for my pain
-The pain of never being ‘enough,’ for anyone, least of all myself
-The pain of being ‘too much,’ for everyone, and conflicted about it, within myself
-The pain of doing the bidding of other’s dreams for me, rather than my own
-The pain of running, back and forth across several countries on two continents, only to find that where ever I went there I was, and there it was, the pain.
These are the primary reasons, I say primary because they all had extensions, nuances, bred offshoots, but I digress, how odd… these are the primary reasons I needed a shield. The shield’s chemical make-up and methods of delivery to my traumatized brain and spirit, changed as my needs did, depending on the circumstances of the physical and psychological spaces and places I occupied. The chemical make-up and methods of delivery encompassed an ever broader spectrum, ranging from mild, to wow and fun to holy fuck and almost lethal. All of it, did what I intended for a while, saved my life, and believe it or not, in some ways my sanity. Because the only other choice I felt I had at various points in my life, was to end it.
And at some point in 1997, I stopped making decisions that were related to anything but the procurement and use of the shield, any shield, and my coping strategy, my survival mechanism, my best friend, became my worst enemy, took the meager remnants I had left, of me, and every.single.human I loved in the world, every.single.human who loved and needed, the me now buried so far below the detritus of the pain, that the void had swallowed me up.
Fast forward to September, October, and December 1997, several stays in detox, and a 16 week residential treatment program. And then, April 22nd, 1998, I picked up and wielded that shield for the last time. In the course of those detox stays, and a fairly brutal treatment program (now there’s another story), I had experienced tiny fragments of myself, real hope around becoming a mother again to my child, and at least enough belief in myself that I could build some kind of life for us, to start over yet again, so on April 25th, 1998, I started counting days, and have not stopped since.
I did so with the help of a number of counsellors, a compassionately brutal and very effective day treatment program which went to heart of the matter, the traumas listed above; went to my very core, helped me start the arduous process of resurrecting a Marcela I could not only live with, but one who would eventually stop caring, so much, about what anyone else thought about her. It was a ground-breaking program really, in its time, pre- the joke that has so sadly become most trauma-informed practice in the ‘helping world, which unless used with the greatest of care and attention to language and human dignity, does nothing but ladle a bunch of pathological symptomology onto people who have been violated in the most horrific ways, and attempts to ‘treat’ them, coming full circle to: it’s on you/me. Watch The Keepers, in its entirety, if you want a painful look-see at an example of that… but there I go, digress again, look, shiny-shiny Unicorns… stop! Revise: I digress because nothing, nothing about any of this, for me, for the women I once mentored in the BaNAclub, for the humans I have supported in the course of my work, for the countless humans struggling with all manner of trauma today, and its related responses (read: coping mechanisms, survival strategies), nothing, nothing at all, about it, is straight forward, no matter its roots and causes.
I did so, kept counting the days, primarily with the support of a group of people I have lovingly called the BaNAna club. I did so by attending countless meetings, and with very deep involvement in its service structure, thousands of hours of volunteer work sitting on committees, supporting people in various institutions, mentoring other women, and a handful of gay men.
And as the years wore on, I did so while trying to remain loyal to some of the individuals responsible for some of the pain, and living, trying to stay ‘part of,’ with an ever increasing, ever more disquieting discomfort, with most of the club’s basic tenets, principles, and a constant push to believe in something I cannot, have not, since I was a small child. Though in all fairness, I tried, really really hard, for many, too many years. False loyalty has been an Achilles’ heel, a constant companion, in the complexity that is I.
And then at some point, I just kept counting them without significant involvement in the club, but for too long, with the ever-present internal struggle of false loyalty, and more and more harmful (to me), attempts to maintain my ‘membership.’ I kept counting the days not because the club told me I had to, not because I believed the rhetoric that I would re-erect the shield if I didn’t practice what had become stifling rote, and an act of psychological and spiritual violence against self, every time I crossed the threshold into one of ‘the rooms,’ every time I heard myself or someone else repeat the tenets.
I kept counting because somewhere along the way, I had come to the conclusion that I did not wish to ‘filter’ my life, my view, my experience of what Salty likes to call ‘damned reality,’ had no desire to filter me, with anything, least of all with the shield, any shield.
I could not, knowing everything I know about my life, about myself, and a great deal about the lives of others, buy into something which insists that I view myself as someone with “defects of character,” as “powerless,” and as “self-centered” to the core. I cannot buy into a disease model of substance use or the contradictions in the club’s literature about our ability to recover but to never be cured, healed. I cannot stomach any longer, the notion that I do not have enough power to make decisions for myself, as related to a resurrection of the shield, or maintaining my back-to-back count, and I cannot, will not, have the entirety of my person and the entirety of my life, defined by something that I stopped doing 23 years ago. For that matter, I will not have it define any part of my life, prior to, or following April 25th 1998. I will not define myself, the entirety of my wildly creative spirit and my 19 lives in one skin, by any one aspect of my life, any more than I allow Lyme disease to define all of these things about me. I don’t call myself a ‘Lymie,’ I abhor terms like ‘survivor,’ and the word ‘victim’ has been hijacked for purposes of judgement, so I will not use that one, either. I will not label myself an addict for doing something that saved my life, for as long as something like the shield can, before it turns and consumes one’s life and being.
It comes as no surprise to me that the very thing I relied on to ‘save’ myself, ended up turning on me at some point, too, at least it felt that way. Although when I really think about it, I find that it simply reached the end of its utility for me, and I could no longer ignore the contradictions inherent to it. And it began, at some point, to stunt my growth. I know for certain that it began to harm me long before I walked away, but I believe I was a bit trapped, by the previously noted false loyalty, and by fear.
And that, is what I believe to be at the core of my disengagement from ‘the program’ and most of its members. It, they, limited me to living in fear, which is completely contradictory to that which I believe for myself, have demonstrated over and over again, prior to, during, and post, the BaNAna club years: I have long chosen faith, in my ability, with the help of others I choose to have in my life, when needed, to figure shit out; without having to dig the shield out of its musty, dusty closet. I am quite happy for it to stay there, with the other skeletons I have picked through ad nauseam, and chucked back in to rest in their jagged, now useless to me pieces. For I categorically refuse, to keep flogging the rotting flesh of long dead horses.
It is important for me to articulate that I have the deepest gratitude for some of the people I have crossed paths with in the course of my involvement in the BaNAna club, and for its utility in helping me find enough of myself, to help me figure out that the way, for me, is about healing my wounds, both self and other inflicted, and for moving on. It does not mean that I don’t continue to support people looking to find and heal themselves, it does not mean that I actively dissuade others from trying/using ‘the program(s),’ it does not mean that I stop my own personal work, and it most certainly does not mean that I’m going to run out tomorrow, or the next day, or when Bitch-Slappy decides to deliver her next blow, because she slaps whether or not I am a member, to pick up the shield, it never means that, unless I choose, decide, that it means that. And whether I choose to or not, at the end of the day, there exists no permanent affliction, in any event.
So I continue to count days, because I am loyal to myself, and to a decision I made 23 years ago today, to refrain from picking up the shield, no matter what. At this juncture, that choice is a subconscious one most days, but it is a choice, and despite feeling very limited in the choices I had, and they all felt equally shitty, it is a choice exactly as it was to wield a shield, in the first place.
And if I should choose to pick up any of the legal and/or illegal substances I have long put down, it is because I made a decision to do so, and not for a lack of gratitude or a lack of tenets and dogma in my life, any dogma. And certainly not for a lack of some of the people who populate the rooms of the program(s).
Francis Mallman is one of my food and philosophical heros, and I’ve had the hots for him for a good long time now. If you watch the episode of Chef’s Table that tells his story, you will understand more about why this me, in so many ways, and you will understand my break-out of many boxes, including the relationship (any relationship) box I lived in for way too long, and you will understand why me and the Sailor… all that said, one of the unequivocally most beautiful things about growing (up), without constraints, into my own skin, is that I no longer need any of you, to understand any of it; though in all honesty, it is still heart-warming when you do. So thank you for the souvenirs and most especially for the deep and lasting bonds that continue to flourish in my life. I am acutely aware that they would not have occurred, without my membership in the BaNAna club.
“I can’t spend time with people I don’t enjoy. I can’t do it anymore as theater. I make choices, and that’s a beautiful thing about growing up, learning to say no, in a nice way, just say no. I have this friend…we just went different ways in life. Once he came to me and said, “Francis, you don’t like me anymore.” and I said “No, it’s not that I don’t like you, we’ve chosen different styles of life. I still have beautiful souvenirs of all the things we did together and how close we were, but the truth is it’s not that you bore me, but I don’t enjoy talking to you anymore and I don’t want to fight with you but there’s nothing in common between your life and mine nowadays.” I would have never said that but he asked me. So what could I say? I said the truth. Growing up has a bit to do with that, to be able to tell the truth, to show who you are, even if it hurts.”― Francis Mallmann
With all the love I have, and a wish for smoother sailing for all of us, here’s to the next 365, of whatever we are counting, or not…
~Marcela: still counting…
April 25, 2021
Writing and Photo: All Rights Reserved, because sharing is great, plagiarism is not. Things like quotation marks and attribution, are a great way to avoid that…
I am not content to fall, any deeper, into the hole in my soul, which was once occupied by the relationship with you, my only child. I am not content to dwell, any longer, on that which has befallen us, respectively, my dearest friend. I am not content to remain, paralyzed, in a robotic survival, originating in the grotesque realities of this life and world, yours, mine or ours. I am intent, on creating something, anything, other than: black holes broken hearts and trudge. I may not know, may not see, yet, this new future, but I am fervently and passionately, intent, on creating it. One Foot In Front Of The Next I am not content; therefore: I am intent. ~Marcela: moving toward that which has eluded me most of my life, one well-shod step at a time. February 20, 2021 Photo and writing: All Rights Reserved.
If you hate the commercialization of a holiday that literally had nothing to do with romance, rather “originated as a liturgical feast to celebrate the decapitation of a third-century Christian martyr, or perhaps two," by the Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus, then please, by all means, STOP commercializing/bastardizing it. I am still a devout Atheist, but that does not preclude my belief that people should not be decapitated, for theirs. I have long abhorred this particular Hallmark Holiday, single or attached, and have repeatedly requested of my Royal Consorts to kindly, NOT engage.
~M: Still the Queen of This here Quackdom, and happily not receiving Valentine-specific overtures from one Salty-Ass Sailing Man, without having to ask, because he gets it, all by his-self.
Sources: Historical info: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gory- origins-valentines-day-180968156/ Photo: Google Search - Banksy - Lovesick
The Annus horribilis nears its final demise, and another tear traces its way down a weathered cheek. A mother misses her child. The bullwhip strikes the next blow, and a 24/7 mind re-runs the last 365. A mother’s heart never rests easy, the maternal mind replays, everything. The deep welts of self-flagellation burn white-hot, and the mother agonizes, over where and when she had failed. A mother, no matter how exceptional, will rarely never, feel adequate. The bullwhip is heavy, heaved high for the next exquisite, unforgiving lashing, but of a sudden, the mother recoils in revulsion as the mirror reflects her self-inflicted wounds. The child’s choices are their own. The bullwhip falls from her hand, shatters the flawed belief that she had any control over, and little to no contribution, in what has transpired, and a mother comes to the stunning revelation that: she is but flogging the rotting flesh of a long dead horse. Rest in scarred and jagged equine pieces, A mother must find joy! ~Marcela, December 31, 2020: looking back to move forward. Writing: All Rights Reserved Image: Google Search 'Palomino'
I glimpsed her in my peripheral vision as I sat quietly in my vehicle, waiting in the ferry line. I had been savouring the warm, fresh memory of forty hours. Forty hours of beautifully easy moments, forty hours of small, but powerful adventures on the little Island called Thetis, with the man of many monikers and few (extraneous) words.
She, whom I had glimpsed, wore the layered, long and flowy patchwork skirt that I have come to associate with the mature, nature-loving wild-spirited women of the Gulf Islands. The skirt was topped by a ¾ length puffer coat, and a bright white Smurf-toque, and she wore them with an ease and comfort only one well at home in one’s own skin, can wear.
Her little dog was clad in a red sweater that reminded me of the Arbutus berries I had attempted to capture with my camera just yesterday, and matched her wild-woman hair, in a shade of vermillion not available in any beauty counter bottle.
She felt my gaze as she walked by my car, turned to look me in the eyes, and gifted me with a smile so genuine and warm, a smile of such depth, a smile of intensely wise knowing, a smile the likes of which only women of a certain age and wisdom have the capacity to bestow upon other women. A smile bereft of competition, insecurity, or envy.
And I left the Island feeling as though I could, possibly, make it through another week of intense human suffering, and perhaps, even lessen the burden for some, because: 40 hours and her smile.
~Marcela: focusing on the beautiful, in the midst of ugly all around us.
December 06, 2020
I was a bit giddy when I came upon him, and grateful to self for having dragged me out, for it has been a long while since my last walkabout. The level of vigilance needed in my job and PPE/safety protocols changing daily create such high anxiety; do not contribute to a desire to brave the world on days off, so unless absolutely necessary, I'm not going out much. But I was glad I did, because I need outside, it drives everything good about me. And had I not dragged myself out, I would have missed him! And it made me smile that someone went to the trouble of creating him, so that people, people like me, could smile. I took my photo and went on my merry way, to run the stairs at the marina, and 'trespass' at my beloved breakwater, visit with 'Resurrected,' smile at the irony of her, and watch the aerialist acrobatics of the Jonathans in the world. I walked back the same way I came, because I wanted to see him again and to check if my own 'art du jour,' was still there, or if it had been swept away by the tide. And as I got closer, I smiled to see him, and my own Sea Eggs'n Ham in the distance, still perched on the log, the one with my favourite piece of chain on it. And that, is when Entitlement walked up and said: "Hey did you see that Reindeer? I think I'll take it home, I mean, there's more 'material' here for them to make another one, they probably made it for that, don't you think"? I said: "...or maybe they just like to make public art, to make people smile, people like you and I." I pointed to Sea Eggs'n Ham, and said: "I build them because they make me smile, and sometimes, if the tide doesn't take them too quickly, they make other people smile." I call him Entitlement because he was well-dressed, well-shod, and his pure-bred dog was well-leashed with leather gear. He did not appear to be a man 'in need' of free ornaments for what is very likely his well-manicured yard. He did in that moment, however, appear to be a man 'in want.' A man quite accustomed to getting what he needs, and wants, when he wants and needs it. And he demonstrated this to me when he told himself, tried to have me co-sign, a story about the person who built the reindeer, building it for someone to take home. And while that could certainly be the case, I doubt it. I think I know something about public art, and the people who create it, and I don't think it has anything to do with someone taking ownership of it, someone removing it from its 'public' space, to be enjoyed privately, by only one. I harbour no ill-will toward this man, his utterances and thought process regarding the Reindeer, are but a reflection of the mass self-entitlement, the other pandemic, plaguing human kind. I wanted to say to him, "if you had taken it before I got here today,I would not have seen him, I would have missed a most welcome reprieve of joy in my somewhat joy-less world," but I did not, say that. I work extraordinarily hard to be kind, most of the time, but my kindness cup was running precariously dry, for there had been several 'sketchy' moments during my longed-for and sorely needed outside-ing this day, so I said: "I'll be going now, have a great day." Entitlement said: "I'm going to go take a closer look at your Sea Eggs'n Ham," and I could not bear to turn around as we parted ways, to see if he was heading for the Reindeer.
Marcela: Wondering about the Reindeer,trying not to judge, not always succeeding. November 28, 2020
And as the last vestiges of summer relinquish their hold on this special place so I lay down this sceptre and bow out of a reign long due a new sovereign. For it is imprudent to cling to that which is neither my current reality nor domain. ~Marcela: desperately seeking a desirable next, in Ye Olde Queendom of Quack. October 25, 2020