Daily Diversion #35: Not Every Diversion is a Good Diversion

As of 6:00 PM Wednesday, this was the photograph I was going to post for my 35th Daily Diversion.

Yum! Tacos!

Yum! Tacos!

Last week, a friend opened an eclectic little taco shop in the neighborhood behind ours. We missed the official opening because we were out-of-state attending a family wedding/staring at the Toronto skyline. We’re hardcore devotees, though, so we made up for it by walking 3 miles round trip just to eat a few heaven-stuffed tortillas. Afterwards, when we rounded the side of our building, instead of seeing an empty street…we saw a police cruiser and a wrecker hoisting up a strange car. Then, this pitiful sight:

Pretty, isn't it?

Innocent bystander

Our parked Durango was just collateral damage in the broad daylight shenanigans of a random heroin addict, who decided to shoot up whilst careening down the street in a too-fast car with her baby strapped in the back seat. RHA is in the county lock-up, the unharmed baby is with his/her Grandma and our (only) vehicle is likely headed to the great scrap pile in the sky. It was hit with enough force to move it 4 feet forward and 2 feet to the side from where my husband left it last night.

I haven't trotted out Millais' Ophelia for awhile, but she is perfect for so many situations.

I haven’t trotted out Millais’ Ophelia for a while, but she is perfect for so many situations.

Until the insurance adjusters have come and gone-for good or ill-this is how you will find me.

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Day Dreams and Night Parades: Why Writers Are Always Surrounded by Dead People

DAY DREAMS/                                                                                                                                                   There were two trees I loved as a child. They lived less than an acre apart, but never met. This made me sad, as I was certain they would get along if the chance ever came. I tried making introductions, but whenever I broached the subject they were too busy doing secretive tree things that I did not understand.

The Front Yard Tree thrived on the imaginations of little girls. Continue reading

Daily Diversion #20: Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad*/My Neighborhood is Weirder Than Yours

This pig has been keeping watch outside the main entrance of our building since Friday. This is totally normal, right? Right?

What is this, you ask?

What is this, you ask?

I recently wrote about one of my main concerns as a writer, which is feeling at home in my surroundings. I’ve struggled with this since moving to the Queen City six years ago. I love our flat, and our building; if the whole thing could be picked up and moved somewhere else, my contentment would shine forth like a lighthouse beacon. I know that I am guilty of focusing on what I wish I could change about our neighborhood, even as I am faced with all that there is to enjoy in this weird little corner of town. Mr. Enormous Pig has reminded me of some of the perks of living in the CW. They are:

  • Sharing a building with an unusual museum (thus, Mr. EP).

    Come closer.

    Come closer.

  • The best (and wackiest) mural of George Washington you will ever see.
  • The ability to get chili at 3:00 in the morning, and the simultaneous people watching opportunity.
  • A giant gorilla hanging off the side of a costume shop building.
  • People watching. Oh, the people watching.
  • The beautiful park across the street (visible from all of our windows), especially the dough boy statue that was dedicated just post-war.
  • The handsome architecture of this neighborhood is truly impressive, even if many of the buildings are derelict or down-right abandoned.
  • The city salt barn directly across the street. Not only is it an easy landmark for guests, it is absurdly fun to watch news crews swarm the premises at the slightest indication of snow. Also, it looks like a voluptuous breast. At least a C-cup.
  • I love being surrounded by manufacturing businesses and a sea of trees. This area is not very residential, but is intensely lush.
  • The minimum-security jail behind the park (also constantly on view from our windows). It sits on the site of an old workhouse, razed many decades ago. Only the stunning stone wall remains. A jail in the neighborhood means that the streets are very well patrolled. Even though some people think the CW is sketchy, it actually means that we have the lowest crime rate in the city.
  • Diversity, diversity, diversity.

Looking out our wall of windows, nine stretching full-height in a salute to the ceiling, I see colour and character; zest and life; dirt and beauty. It’s always interesting. A writer could do worse than to have so much at hand.

Don't look into his eyes, or you will turn to stone.

Don’t look into his eyes, or you will turn to stone.

Belly of the beast.

Belly of the beast.

*This is a quote from George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

[Intermezzo] Develop Monomania or Go Home!

Excuse me, but I’ve been holed up in the 19th century for the last few days. Time flies when your nose is in a book (or two). Close the cover and, wham, it is 2012 again. How did that happen? Where are the Shelleys, the Hunts, Keats, Byron? They were here just ten minutes ago. Their laughter hangs in the air, lilting and vaporous. I wish they had been able to stay longer; I enjoyed the discourse, the flinging of ideas, their beautiful and weighty words. Emily, too, slipped off when I wasn’t looking. She cannot be shackled, or fully understood. She is the elusive one. The great riddle. Why am I annoyed? They were selfish, demanding my time when it wasn’t healthy to give: develop monomania, or go home! was their request. It is always the same with them. Nothing ever changes. They aren’t very romantic-never were-but they are sirens, alluring as they lure you away from workaday life. They left, and do not linger. Out of the moment, through the fire, and I am not affected at all. I like it that way. Back in reality, refreshed, I can write again.

[Intermezzo] A Howling Phantasma or, Is That You, Allen Ginsberg?

I met Allen Ginsberg today. Thirty year old, Howl-era Ginsberg. Pre-beard, lean-faced, second-hand button down shirt and wrinkly chinos Ginsberg. Passionate, open, distilled, intellectual. Chatty, with a beatific smile. Slight yet strong, like a controlled exhalation. He didn’t seem to know who he was, the great Ginsberg unaware of his greatness. How could that happen? Modesty is not one of his virtues. There’s a sturdy ego beneath that skull, that nose, those glasses. He was there, but not there. Present yet absent. The voice, the words, the attitude-all off. Wrong. He was fading, chimerical. If I blinked one more time, would he be gone, disappear into nothing, recede into my brain cells? No, he was still there. Moving to the door, thanking me. Thanking me for the package carried in his hand. Only now his shirt was too smooth, the chinos too crisp, the shoes too smart. The accent was all wrong, there was no poetical thought behind the eyes. Just a nice man, polite. Grateful. Gone. Gone, with his casual canniness worn like smooth skin, neither pondered nor known.

[Intermezzo] Happy Birthday, Momma! Or, This is Where I Review My Mother’s Job Performance…..

I’m taking a break from my work to wish my sweet, lovely mom, Kay, a Happy Birthday! I started by searching the web for appropriate “mom/mothering” quotes. I came up empty. Oh, there are thousands on the Internet. Most of them are quite nice, inspiring even. Perfectly appropriate. Unfortunately, they just seemed…hollow. Not right. Then it occurred to me. “Duh! You’re a writer. Doing a ventriloquist act with someone else’s words is not good enough for your mother. Do it yourself.”

So here I am, feebly attempting to explain how wonderful she is in (almost) every way. I decided to add that ‘almost’ qualifier because no one is perfect. Not even my mom. That’s alright, because even her imperfection is inspiring. When I was growing up, her humanity empowered me. It still does. She’s stronger than she knows, more beautiful. She grew up at a time when suburban assimilation was expected; she raised me to be my weird, larger-than-life self. To revel in my uniqueness, because that uniqueness was my ticket to an interesting life.

She’s always been fun (and funny!) and open. She’s adventurous but won’t admit it, even when she’s in the middle of doing something totally awe-inspiring. She’s wickedly creative when it comes to this thing called life; always has been, always will be. She’s shy, like me, but passionate and vocal about her convictions (hmm, also like me). She gave me my love of reading and tea and art and half of the other important, beautiful things I hold so dear. My mom, this woman named Kay, has made it possible for me to look in the mirror and say, “I like who I am.” It’s true: I like who I am. But I love her. Mom, you are the best: the best parent, the best friend, the best role model I could ever hope for. You still inspire me. Happy Birthday!

Why, yes, it was the 1970s!

Why, yes, it was the 1970s!

 

Also born on 25 April: Al Pacino, Ella Fitzgerald, Oliver Cromwell, Edward R. Murrow, Renee Zellweger, William J. Brennan, Jr., Edward II and Guglielmo Marconi (which is odd, because I was born on Tesla’s birthday).

Words Mean Things

DISCLAIMER: This rant is not directed at our wonderful followers or their lovely blogs. We love you!

Words mean things. Although the English language is highly malleable-giving us an exceptional amount of leeway in how we use it-there are still basic rules to follow, if you enjoy being taken seriously and don’t want to look like a twit. In my fight against imprecision in language, I’ve adopted the term “words mean things”. It’s short, easy to remember and to the point. I’m not ashamed to shout it at myself whenever I feel my writing is too mealy-mouthed.

*

I’m in the habit of reading blog posts on my smart phone while still in bed. Call it what you will, but I like to think of it as laziness. Continue reading

Intermezzo: Like a Yoko in the Night

Yoko Ono stole my commission. Behind that sweet face is a heart sated with greed. She walked away with three of my customers. Each time I stood there, mouth hanging open mid-sentence, she just kept on smiling. Saying soothing things to them, never missing a beat; her theft audacious under the fluorescent lights. Wide-eyed, brown-eyed, soul-eyed. No hint of wrong-doing troubled her placid face. She took their sales, pocketed their money, said strange things and sent them on their way as if nothing was wrong in her world. It wasn’t. Each time she turned to me, pirouetted, and grinned. “This is how it is done. This is how you make a sale. It’s easy. Follow my lead and you’ll be just like me, my dear.” I kept tumbling after her, now sure that she was right: I really could learn a lot by watching her. She’s crafty, serene, enigmatic. I suddenly, forcefully knew that she isn’t driven by greed at all. A few seconds later I looked over, expecting to be gifted with her smile and odd natural wisdom. She wasn’t there. The sun was hitting my face.

 

[Intermezzo] The Sky is Flaunting Itself

My husband has the flu. Although he mock-whines when sick, in a pleading little boy voice, he doesn’t need my help now: he’s snoring, sleeping contentedly by my side. The dogs are at his feet, murmurs from their canine dreams occasionally breaking free: they are warm, happy. I’m on my back, staring at the too-blue sky that is flaunting itself through the carelessly closed blinds. Clouds are spinning past the electrical wires; faded brown squirrels are on the march. I swear I heard a bird chirp. I have important things to write, a shower to take, tea to brew. It’s 3 o’clock on a Sunday, February has dawned. I’m too satisfied staring at the incandescent sun. It hasn’t been Winter at all.