As I pluck, the stray hairs from my face, I try to ponder with some grace, this crazy thing, called Aging. As I take my locks, from gold to dark, With silver strands just for the lark, I smile, for I have Lived. As I view the lines on this visage, every day is vernissage, and mostly, I care Not. And as I judge this culture, youth obsessed, no more couth do I possess, than (T)rump-a-dump, himself. In this world, where absurd is King, I wag and wonder at this thing, the phenomena, of Stupid. We're teaching children, to regurgitate, are raising mindless reprobates, in bubble-wrapped, Entitlement. I yell at them, to read a book, get your brains back off that fuckin hook, you call a life, on-line. And as I sit, with 56.5 I rejoice the years I am alive Live(d) and Love(d), with frenzied fire’n Passion A youthful spirit, in its tweens the wise chick in me hears’n gleans that this body, doth Protest! In recent words, to my well-(b)read child I spoke of this my big wild ride, and uttered this, fair Warning: If tomorrow, I should die, know that my life was not all pie, but holy fuck me, what a Ride! Lose no tear, for my time lost here, I sped through akin to Buzz Lightyear, had no time, to sweat the small Stuff! No such burden, as regret, for NO dull moment did beget, a single breath, I Took! And so I enter, this next phase, In a blur of crazy-dayz, and with electrifying, Verve! I ought to warn, you faint-of-hearts, my new grand plan will have no chart, to map out how this goes! So if you love me, in all my glory, you will know that this next folly, will be, of proportions Epic! BOOM. FALLOUT. AFTERSHOCK. SPLASH. SMILE’n WAVE, like the Queen I am. Quack-a-fucking-doodle-dizzy and with a brand new energy, for an old(er) chick! ~Marcela. October 21, 2017 Photos and Poetry: All Rights Reserved.
-Mama Marcella at 20-ish -Marcela Jr. at 20-ish
I want to tell you this story. I have told you the untold story of my original dad, the hero status I raised him to, because most of us do, when folks die young, tragically, dramatically. And because his heroism was brash, in your face, and because we as a culture have this bizarre tendency to idolize the dead, forget their misdeeds, while we ignore the living, breathing heroes who walk among us, every single day. My mother is one of those silent heroes.
She turned 81 today, and I need to tell you this story while my mama Marcella, yes, two L’s in her name is still with us, because she deserves more than a eulogy, because she deserves more than me extolling her virtues, waxing poetic about her loving (mis?)deeds, when she can no longer hear me.
It is far less cumbersome to paint a balanced portrait of a dead hero than a live one. For a dead hero cannot take offense, be hurt by, feel misunderstood, when I shed light on the dark side of their humanity, or my experience of it. The telling of these truths as I know them, shining light on all of our human parts, is a significant piece of the indescribable thing which drives me to write anything, about anything, in the first place. It is about normalizing humanity again, in all of its glory and folly. It is about refusing to buy into culturally-boxed ideas of what is real, what is appropriate, what is worthwhile, who and sadly what, we ought to idolize.
My mama Marcella is a Warrior Woman. One of a much subtler ilk and variety than the outwardly visible, unfiltered rebel-rebel style I inherited from our mutual hero, my original dad. She has known more strife and hardship, worked harder in her life, waded through more shit than you and I combined have ever flushed. She has trudged up more hills, bled herself dry for my dad, for my step-dad, for my brother and I, our children, and so many others, more times than I have the mathematical skillset to count.
She grew up in war-torn Eastern Europe with a mal-adjusted, alcohol-loving, violence-inclined father. When my grandmother finally managed to get them the hell out of his reach, with nowhere to go and no-how to get there, she learned by the same quietly tenacious example of her mama, Žofie Ševčíková, that I have experienced and learned from her, my mama Marcella, with two L’s.
When my babi Ševčíková forbid her to date my über unruly, leather clad, motor bike riding, womanizing, Czech Casanova of a dad, she up and married that boy, with my big brother Tom already in her womb. Keep in mind that this was 1960 in Eastern Europe, and nothing about him or their love story, was ‘appropriate’ or ‘acceptable,’ but especially not in my very strict and proper grandmother’s world view, and the hopes and vision she had for her only child.
When my dad was up against an extended jail term (for various political and other rebellions) she lessened that term by several years, doing what a good, loyal wife would do and made sure the authorities did not find everything they were looking for; she shoveled coal in our basement for days, to ‘obscure’ the immediate visual existence of various artifacts of interest to them.
When the Soviets rolled their tanks into our lives on that notoriously famous day in 1968, she quietly went about the business of being my dad’s right hand, in the complex affair of ‘getting him out of jail,’ think about that, and all of us out of the country. She literally bled her hands dry when she went to work with him in a metal toy factory in Germany while we were in hiding, because they were looking for him. She did it again when we finally got to this country, working at night producing and repairing the massive anchor lines used in the Port of Vancouver.
When he died two years later in a mysterious mining ‘accident’ in Stewart BC, she found herself standing in a world completely unknown to her, with two kids under the age of 12, no language, no job, no money, and no family support to speak of. We had fled former Czechoslovakia ‘illegally’ and going back was not an option. So like the Warrior Woman she is, she chose to put down his rifle the day they came to tell us he was dead, she chose to stay alive, and make the life for me and my brother that he always dreamed of, for all of us. I don’t think she ever thought of it as making a life for herself and her children, it was always about making sure my brother and I had what we needed, and then some. She slaved at several jobs to give us what our two-parent Canadian friends had, and so much more, always. This has never changed.
When we first landed in Canada I felt completely alien and in an effort to fit in, decided to change the spelling of our shared first name, Marcela, to Marcella with two L’s. My 1st grade friend Michelle had two, and I thought if I did, I would be more like her. My mama agreed because she needed her daughter to be happy. When I started to figure out who I really was in my mid-thirties, I changed it back to Marcela with one L, announced it to her, and the woman who hates profanity said ‘fuck you,’ I’m not changing it again. I’m keeping two.’ Insert that accent we all love so much and boom, you know where my feisty comes from. She may be a silent hero, but she ain’t no pushover!
When a millionaire wanna-be-hobby-pimp turned me out and she heard what I was doing for a living, she combed the known strolls in Vancouver looking for me in the middle of the night, and when I started to pump my veins full of poison to kill the pain of inhuman judgement, she never did, judge. She just wanted me to stay alive. When my brother wanted to get married at 18 and needed her signature, she may not have liked it, but she signed, because she wanted to support her son.
When she finally made the decision to pursue a life of her own again and married my second dad Mickey, there was not a moment’s hesitation, when I asked to follow her to Switzerland less than a year after she had moved to be with him. I needed to escape a life I was seriously unprepared for and she needed her daughter to be safe. Naturally she took me in, right into the middle of her new marriage and life. I was so happy for her. It was so short-lived.
You should know that we both cared deeply for him. He was lovely. That phrase is a standing joke between her and I, because in actuality he carried decades of anger and negativity that had nothing to do with my mother or our family, and she was where he directed it, more often than anywhere else, because he knew she would suffer in silence. In the beginning, for the first 20 years, she defended him almost as fiercely as she had defended the folly of her one true love, my original dad. Later, during moments of profound unhappiness and intense vulnerability, she talked about her sadness, but like so many of our species, was afraid of ending up alone in her old age.
So she stayed, stoically, in what I believe was a deeply unhappy union for both of them, for over 3 decades, until he died in 2012. She cared for him for months, brought a hospital bed into their living room. She slept on the couch so he wouldn’t be alone in his illness and fear and anger. We spent a week together sleeping on the floor of his hospice room, so he wouldn’t be alone and afraid and angry when he died. I learned something from her during his illness and ultimate passing, which almost defies description. I believe it is connected to human dignity, in profoundly undignified moments, and complete and utter un-conditionality and commitment.
This very generosity, loyalty and dedication to the well-being of her children and others, continues to be one of her greatest strengths and pitfalls, all in one. I recognize this characteristic well, because I, her youngest apple, have not fallen far from, am still clinging fiercely to parts of her tree. I share her tendency to stay loyal to individuals, organizations even, that by virtue of their less than stellar behaviour toward her or I, have rendered themselves undeserving of said loyalty.
Giving undeserved loyalty is my mother’s Achilles heel. I have learned from her about getting out of really bad situations sooner than later, and I am beyond sad that I had to learn it by the heart-wrenching example of her prolonged suffering.
Máma, I know that my deep sense of empathy, compassion, and to some extent a sense of obligation to others, come from you. I love you so far beyond these few paragraphs, for they are but a mere snapshot into a life most folks would be challenged to imagine, never mind survive and thrive in. I feel that you cannot possibly comprehend the extent to which you have informed some of the best parts of who I am; they are not the outwardly intense and obvious bits I get from my rebel-rebel father, they are the stoic, silent inside that I so often feel is going to break me, but I know is part of the core, the very root system of that apple tree I come from. For you have always been the roots that keep our family tree healthy and strong, and bearing crazy-ass Ševčík-Mrnka-fruit that defies anything like normal, when it comes to categories.
This story is a work in progress. The task of attempting to portray your heroism is one of proportions most epic, and I am overwhelmed with anxiety about getting it right. There are so many more parts, so many more pages in the story of your life that I feel must be included, but it is important that I release this draft from the vault of my beloved writing lappy, before I am paralyzed with the enormity of painting an accurate word picture, of your beautiful soul. The figurative ‘stick people’ I have managed to draw on this page, will have to do, for your 81st birthday, my dearest máma.
I have faith that we will both continue to flex that never-give-up-muscle we have in common, and while another 81 for either of us is a bit of stretch, I choose to believe that we will enjoy many more years of life, love, learning and growing old(er) together.
More filtered than usual, for I know you hate it when I swear, and with all the love I have:
PS: Thanks for the style, we do love our hats and clothes and shoes’n things!
July 17, 2017
All Rights Reserved
March 22, 2017
This day last year I stood on your doorstep, and told you that Miller had died. Four days ago we stood with so many others and celebrated Matty’s life. They were both your age. Kids you knew, kids we both had significant connections to. And they both died the tragedy which your very existence provided me a most narrow escape from, so many years ago. I owe you Thomas. It has been a bizarre little year, and hard to believe how much changed, in only 365 days. How much you have changed, in only 365 days. How much ‘we’ have changed.
We shared a roof again for the first time since you flew the mama-coop almost 7 years ago, and you got to experience my home world in a much different capacity, as an adult. During that precious, though most difficult cohabitation (we know why, but this isn’t about my ill-fated romantic escapades), I was gifted with many insights into who you have become, a view that I could not have glimpsed in the course of a less closely-quartered relationship, consisting only of weekly drive-by-huggings. I treasure that unexpected and challenging time we shared.
The kind, sweet, compassionate parts I have always known were readily visible, as always, to my ever-biased eye, and came as no surprise. They have been an integral part of you since the moment you took your first breath, and broke my heart so beautifully, on this day 26 years ago. At 1:29 p.m., Central European Time, to be precise.
Sharing space again was not the challenge, rather the battle we each waged with our respective demons-of-the-moment, which then manifested in our adult-child/childish(?)parent duo. A most welcome revelation during that brief roomie-relationship last spring and summer, was witnessing you put into practice, under highly inauspicious circumstances, some of my oft repeated, and most relentless teachings:
- Stand up for yourself and above all, for others when they cannot!
- Question everything, use critical thinking skills to analyze everything and everyone in the world!
- Be willing to re-think and revise your own beliefs, always!
- Question and challenge me, and mine!!!
That last one was/is hard for you, and I am tempted to apologize but I won’t. You did, you do good with it! I don’t make it easy. I know.
To my utter chagrin, I also watched you demonstrate some of my ‘best parenting,’ in a number of your habits, confounding, even provocative and head-strong ways of being! I can but express my remorse and regret for those bits, and forge ahead to lead by a different example than the one I obviously provided you at some point in time. Neither mama-flagellation nor Sunny-bashing is the purpose of including this piece, it is important though, to me, that I live with a more balanced view of my heroes. For not even you, my most beloved, all-time favourite human on this planet, in the galaxy, the universe, are perfect. And for me to live with that skewed perspective is a set-up for you, and for me. Because it damn well hurts when our heroes fall off the lofty pedestals, upon which we situate them. That in mind, I will only raise you to an altitude we can both withstand a fall from. Because we will, fall. Splat.
Watching you this last year, the softness you had for your babi during her painful struggle, and for me, having you close, through some of the hardest times you/we have experienced to date, and holy moly Bat-boy that says something (because have you met our life?), has yet again, been my ultimate saving grace. Once more, I owe you Thomas.
Twenty-six will be fabulous BabyCakes, and I look forward to more! More surprises, more challenges, more of everything we have always known together, more crazy, and more learning, about ourselves, each other, and how to evolve and function even better, individually and as ‘the set,’ we have always been. I can only beseech my atheist Ungods that we will always be, that set. ‘Always’ being so fully and inadequately impermanent and all, but you get my point!?
No words, no language (not even profanity), suffice to describe the gift of your presence in my world, for 26 years and counting. Who says I can’t do long-term relationships?! Our relationship has evolved, and not without serious growing pains, to something it has never been before, something I am loathe to label in any way, other than to say it is more grown up. On both ends. Which means you’re right on schedule, and me, well, sorry, bit of a late bloomer in some areas of life…
High five SunnyBoyManChildBabyCakesSnookemBooBabyCzechThommyCzechBatBoy (did I get them all?), we did well! No, we did fucking awesome! Yeah, that’s better, we did Fucking Awesome!
Happiest of happy birthdays to you child!
With the Maddest of Madd Love,
It is tragic in its fitting-ness, that the long sought (perfect) light fixture for my beloved cage, is from the Marcel(l)a series, from no less a cultural cage than Home Depot.
The perspicuous view, the vistas upon which I gaze from my current prison, pain me greatly.
~Marcela: quite fettered, and bereft of gilding on the cage.
January 17, 2017.
“Stop,” she said to herself! “Do refrain from accusing the accusers, from negating the Nellies negative, from despising the Debbies downer! And focus, on the freedom that comes with designing, with owning, your feelings, your thoughts, your life and your choices”!
“Know,” she said to herself, “that as long as you are breathing, life will bitch slap you, over and over again! Feel the fury, agonize in the pain, and then stand up to her like the fucking Warrior Woman you are.”
“Love,” she said to herself, “self above all, for it is not an act of ego, rather the only real survival skill you will ever need.”
~Marcela: Moving, at the speed of a woman Too Much!
January 02, 2017
Photograph: My personal collection. All rights reserved.
It is not that I was in need of repair because you broke me, for I was never broken
It is that my voice was lost in the roar of the tsunami that was your disdain for me
And as a new blanket of white refreshes the grime of salt and snowplows
So renewed faith in self cleanses my heart of the detritus you left behind
It is not that I was the dung you believed to simply wipe off your sullied soles
It is the vehemence with which you shoveled your manure onto my person
And as the streetlight on the far shore casts a long glowing ripple across the lake
So another crack opens in my heart to allow the light back in
It is not that you succeeded in extinguishing it with relentless revile
It is that I erected shelter for my very core
And as I turn the plans for this, my most recent incarnation into fruitful reality
So I recognize your singular, constructive contribution to my life:
I choose not to forgive you for the myth of forgiveness as salvation is not my creed
I will, however, put you behind me with nary a thought to our dalliance, beyond these words:
I win. Not despite your efforts to destroy me, but because of them.
And I feel nothing for you.
~Marcela: Newer than this year.
January 01, 2017
Photograph: My personal collection. All Rights Reserved.
And as the lake reflects nature’s finery back onto herself So I reflect on the solitude I have come to crave It is not that I wish to isolate from humanity, or reject the risk of a new paramour, It is that I revel in alone-ness with the passion of a new love for my own cosmos. And as the stillness of the quiet-season brings peace to my beloved Bay So the pain of my most recent faux pas is diminished in its tranquility It is not loving one who cannot love that I regret It is that I am wistful about having snatched up your well-baited hook of love-lies And as the snow-laden branches dump their white weight, and spring to a more contented position So the Warrior Woman I am exhales to release you and I find myself here: I stand well-grounded and know that what you did, only served to create this: More big, more bold, more strong, more beautiful, more wise more too much for some, but most especially, much more too much, for you. ~Marcela: As is. Only more. December 27, 2016 Photograph: My personal collection. All Rights Reserved.
Hey kids, yes, this is a bit of a tirade (prompted as so many others, by those double-edged swords called caring, cleverly disguised as assumptions), so exit now if you’re not prepared to read all of it. Or, stay with me and learn something new, about something you thought, you already knew about me, and quite likely many of the other warrior women we know and love, though I would never dare assume… she says with a wink… .
Just in case you’re one of the caring horde, and thinking I’m all sad and lonely out here on this ‘holiday weekend,’ nothing could be further from the truth.
First of all, various holidays, including thanksgiving, don’t mean a whole lot to me. Many of the holidays celebrated in the world, particularly in North America, are not my culture or part of my personal life philosophy and belief system. This does not mean that I don’t enjoy celebrations, traditions and the like, or that Universe forbid I am not thankful. Sometimes, they’re just not the same ones that others engage in. And sometimes, for different reasons, they are. Have you met my Christmas Tree collection?
Secondly, I am just as happy, or happier, single and/or living on my own. This has almost always been the case. For reasons that I don’t really care to divulge to an all-inclusive audience, I am a serial monogamist, and I engage in romantic relationships every now and then, you know, just like most folks.This does not mean, that I hate being alone, that I am lonely, or anything else that folks appear to construe about me and my way of life and being in the world.
Clearly, a lesser known truth about my life, is that I have been single, and/or lived on my own for about 30, of the 40 years since I moved out of my mama’s house when I was 15 years old, and I repeat, I quite enjoy it.
Lastly, this is not about knocking what you do, what you believe in, what you choose to celebrate, when, with whom, and how. This is about letting you know that assumptions are still as bad an idea as they were when Felix Unger, acting as Oscar Madison’s attorney, first coined that famous and well-used line, when you assume, you make an ASS of (yo)U and ME. Actually, you make a bigger ASS of you than me, I just get irritated enough to spend part of my ‘thanksgiving weekend’ doing that which I love more than most things, writing, so again, thankful, yup, uh-huh… .
And if you don’t know who Oscar and Felix are, 1) I’d feel for you but I can’t reach, and 2) there’s this handy gizmo called a ‘search engine’ on these here newfangled machines, that you can look it up on.
Clear? Great. Peace.
Thankfully Unfiltered: Marcela.
As is… And as the mist obscures the scars of clear cuts on the hillside so the steam from my tea obscures the ache in my bleeding heart It bleeds not because it is over between you and I it bleeds because against my best intuition, I allowed you and I And as the sound of the rain drowns the drone of regret so the heat of simple soup soothes my temporarily ravaged spirit It is ravaged not because you found it Too Much it is ravaged because I knew your opinion should not matter And as dusk falls on the tiny Bay I call my (44th?) home so solitude brightens the darkness in my psyche It is dark not because you dulled the diamond I am it is dull because you painted it with brushes of critique and counsel And as I will always remember our time with bewilderment at self, so introspection brings me here: In this one thing you are correct: I am too much. For you. Never, for those who love me. And self. ~Marcela, as is, not as you need(ed) me to be. September 7, 2016