Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Eye of the Beholder.



“Mom, I need to talk to you about something.”

Looking at her in the dim hallway, all I can think of are all the things I have yet to do before I can finally file this day away with all of the others that have felt unbearably out of control and out of reach. But the dishes and the laundry and the mess of papers on the kitchen island and the vegetables that need to be cut and the pile of playthings on the half wall and the dirty shoes scuffs in the carpet and the inky black spider creeping up the wall and the broken toilet and today’s burnt out light bulb and the oil-splattered cooktop and the broken cupboard door and the bills to be paid and the camp registration forms and the workday not yet finished and the emails and text messages can wait.

“What’s up, lovely girl?”

“I think you are spending too much time on your work and not enough time trying to find someone. Can you talk to your boss and tell him that you need to only work for half the time and the other half you can … you know … look for someone?”

I have to hand it to her. She knows exactly what she wants and all signs point to her not giving up until she … ahhhh … I … get what she wants.

“You really want that, don’t you?”

“Yes … I want us to have someone very, very much.”

All joking aside, I am not mother of the year. I simply know how to apply an excellent shade of lipstick on a pig. I have dressed up my disheveled life in my daily desperation to have their life hum as smoothly as possible, letting the chips that are for me fall where they may. And fall, they do.

But the one chip they watch with sadness and frustration and irritation is their hope that I might find love again, because my love is in turn theirs.

I remember long ago a conversation with my husband, about a woman left on her own to raise her child, a mother and son who lost their loved one far too early. We talked about how, so many years later, she was still on her own. How na├»ve I was. Insensitive. How utterly unacceptable my judgments were. But it wasn’t until I joined her ranks that I understood how hurtful the idle ruminations and curiousity of bystanders can be. And that writing a new chapter takes time and strength. Patience.

And a sex ed refresher course.

My children are convinced that their mother is resting on her dead spouse’s laurels. It’s my fault, really. Because after one very brief false move I have made a very conscious choice not to expose them to any male specimen that might be under consideration until such a time when said male specimen has proven a substantive degree of staying power. That commitment – to them and to myself – has made the pursuit of affection exponentially harder.

Dating after death is not for the weak of heart. And dating in the style of a covert operative requires stealth, ingenuity and availability I simply do not have in spades. To protect their hearts, I have to wedge in any opportunities to exercise mine offsite and under cover.

“I promise you, I’m working on it.”

“Not. Hard. Enough.”

Annual Review of Mom’s Romantic Performance: Mom says she is working hard to find a man, but I have yet to see any real evidence. In the coming year, I expect to see stronger results.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Beta Testing the Full Moon.



I remember when Beta was born. 

Not the fish (although we did have one for a brief interlude before it went belly up in protest). Beta as in the Paleolithic age of video recording. As in an expensive and heavy machine that my brother once stuffed a cookie into. As in a window into a world far away from the Arctic I grew up in and the source of much pain and suffering for the parental units that listened to endless re-runs of Annie, The Musical, Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the electric buzz of light sabers.

Each month, a package would arrive from the south on “the Sched,” the moniker our little hamlet of 300+ had applied to the twice-weekly DC3 that connected us to the outside world with red Canada Post bags, supplies, seasonal interludes by the remotely-posted RCMP officer just starting out and standing on the bottom rung of the seniority ladder and a non-traditional flyby from St. Nick himself, despite the fact that the North Pole as just a ways down the frigid road.

Underneath the kraft paper and packing tape were four Beta tapes. Four trips into worlds of fantasy and imagination, the terrifying and the sublime. I imagined love against all odds as Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren embraced and never fully recovered from the thought that it might actually be possible that creatures of space could crawl into our ears and erupt from our bowels. The Goonies became friends and Wile E. Coyote died 1,000 spectacular ACME-branded deaths.

And then there were the hounds.

Damian’s devil dogs still have me crossing the street to avoid close contact with a Doberman Pinscher. But it was Sherlock’s dogged hunt across the moor to uncover the secret of the Hound of the Baskervilles that forever changed the full moon.

The hound in question was locked up in a dark and dank dungeon, covered in phosphorous paint to improve his terror ranking and let out once in a blue … er … full moon.

I would have howled, too.

On the silver screen it was terrifying and if I ever make it across the pond, I won’t be experiencing the moors after dark unless my companion has arms the size of missiles and the speed of a gazelle. 

But I’m on this side of the pond waiting for the other shoe to finally and eternally drop and wishing email would be un-invented. (21,918 emails later, I’m surprised my Gmail account hasn’t been impounded.) It’s been months since I’ve done anything of note or value for myself. The not-so-gentle “I didn’t tell you about it because I knew you would say you had to work” comments are uncomfortably valid and this morning I woke up on the toilet.

Technically I was half off the toilet. While the toilet paper holder does not provide effective support, it does a remarkable job doubling as an alarm clock.

Staring at the full moon as I drive back in the dark accompanied by two kids in jammies and an emergency purchase of Tide I can’t help but marvel at its luminosity.

And think of all the people I mentally told to kiss my milky white moon.