Archive for October, 2016

hunt

Just last week, my twelve-year old son asked what I wanted to be at his age. Honestly, I have no memory of wanting to be anything. Nursing, typing or teaching were the only options. Most houses in our neighbourhood had a stay-at-home mother on duty. And all the books I read back then had buxom women landing their Mister Right in a hundred pages.

Then I met Scarlett O’Hara. Not that I dared compare myself to her. I was tall and gawky. Too much arm and leg. My hair, mousy-blonde and straggly. My skin all patches of dry flakes and T-zones. Long bangs could hide half the blemishes and the others I attacked with Clearasil. But Scarlett told me to stand straight and proud. Could I do that? Dare I try? And she tossed her mane of dark hair and sashayed. I couldn’t put together a sashay to save my life. Meanwhile I continued praying my hair to shoulder length. I let Scarlett-on-the-page demonstrate sass and brashness with men, but opted out on boys myself, fearing I’d somehow manage to screw things up. Besides, happy endings weren’t written for girls like me. Were they?

Nonetheless, I began to wear a little makeup. Starting with that sheer pink Yardley City Slicker my mother bought me for my Grade 7 year-end party. Mom was a lipstick-before-you’re-out-the-door kind of woman. Seemed safe. But classmates played spin the bottle while I sat on the stone wall outside in the backyard wishing I was brave enough to join them cross-legged on the dingy carpet in Yvonne’s rec room.

As my skin slowly cleared, I laid on black mascara and pitch-black eyeliner. Too much? I rouged my cheeks and traded the demure silver studs for huge hoop-earrings. I backcombed my hair and pinned kiss-curls at my cheeks. The hairspray was toxic but it became my friend, transforming my fine hair into a virtual helmet. Perfect? Well, I could pretend.

Just as fake-it-til-you-make-it helped me feel more pulled together, the world of outward appearance began to relax. Or maybe I just learned to pretend better, wearing pantyhose instead of stockings and garters, middies instead of those dangerous mini-skirts, wearing my hair long and flowing instead of a spray-bombed nest. It gave me comfort swinging and swishing across my shoulders as I eased down the school hall clutching books to my chest. Was that a sashay? Before long I became more comfortable in my own body – in my own life. I smiled more once the braces came off.

I thought about law school and architecture. I sketched and wrote. Teaching never left my list, but I added so much more. I could be anything. Eventually my attention turned to boys and, although convinced no one would ever marry me, I was content not to be one of those moonie, dippety-do girls, trying out surnames in the margins of notebooks.

Maybe growing inside-out was better after all?

 

Barbara E. Hunt is the author of The Patternmaker’s Crumpled Plan (Piquant Press, 2011). Her work has been featured in literary journals, anthologies, magazines and newspapers across North America and on CBC Radio One. She has played a mentoring role in poetry for the Diaspora Dialogues in Toronto. Her work with Phanta Media, The Writers’ Community of Durham Region and the Ontario Writers’ Conference are her heart.

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found-by-richard-van-camp“I could have been the solution to your problems.”

 

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unbroken

Posted: October 17, 2016 in ann douglas
Tags: , , , ,

douglas

It had been a foolish idea to bring the umbrella with us on that stormy autumn day—a silly whim propelled by a truly misguided gust of optimism.

Nothing was going to be able to protect my five-year-old son from this particular storm.

Not me.

Not his mother.

And certainly not some flimsy, dollar-store umbrella.

And so the umbrella ended up being battered—badly—as any sensible person might have predicted. The wind can be as ruthless as an umbrella is unforgiving, after all.

Our hearts—his and mine—didn’t fare much better either.

Marriages aren’t supposed to fail.

Mothers aren’t supposed to leave.

And little boys aren’t supposed to be left to try to make sense of it all.

* * *

I still don’t know what led me to hold on to that umbrella—what made me decide to carry it back home with us rather than simply leaving it to writhe, tattered and broken, on the boulevard beside the bus station.

And I have absolutely no memory of heaving that grotesque and useless object up on to the top shelf of our front hall closet, where it languished, forgotten, until this morning.

In the end, all that it took to dislodge that pathetic umbrella was an innocent tug on a winter scarf—a scarf my son needed in the wake of the first heavy snowfall of the season.

His eyes lit up at the sight of the mangled umbrella, which had morphed into a nondescript hunk of nylon sporting a few twisted and misplaced aluminum spines.

Cool! Can I have it, Dad? Can I have it, please?”

I shrugged as he bounded out the door, scarf forgotten, brandishing the umbrella like some sort of precious talisman.

As I watched, he scrambled up the mountain of snow at the bottom of our driveway, placing the hardy remnants of the umbrella across the top.

“Look, Dad. A snowfort!”

 

Ann Douglas  is the author of numerous books about parenting including, most recently, Parenting Through the Storm. She is also the weekend parenting columnist for CBC Radio. You will find her on Twitter at @anndouglas and www.anndouglas.ca.

 

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hunt“It started with the Yardley City Slicker my mother bought me in a sheer pink for my Grade 7 year-end party.”

 

 

 

 

morgan

We leave ourselves wherever we land,
jettisoning flotsam,
even if it’s only the accidental dust of skin
we settle in every room.
It’s the hello, the fingerprint,
the subconscious erection,
the careless monument that says:
We were here in this place.
Before you,
we also saw this water
and sat in this sweet mulch of fall grass.
We call back to ourselves,
if only by the shape of a palm pressed into tin
left ugly for the next comer.

 

 

Elan Morgan  is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works (http://elan.works), spreads gratitude through the Grace In Small Things (http://www.graceinsmallthings.com) social network, is a co-founder of GenderAvenger (http://www.genderavenger.com), and speaks all over. She has been seen in the Globe & Mail, Best Health and Woman’s Day magazines, TEDxRegina, and on CBC News and Radio. She believes in and works to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.

 

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douglas“Mothers aren’t supposed to leave.”