The..Bun

She got ready to go meet two other couples at the local bar in town! All neighbours, residing on that same stretch, of their little hidden community in the deep woods!

Her spouse, [‘who is this guy!!!’ she’s been asking herself lately! Due to his sudden willingness to go out and socialize!] Was also getting ready!

When she proposed the invitation to meet the neighbours at the pub, she was expecting the usual reluctance! Yet there he was again, proving her wrong! ‘Am I …..rediscovering this man?!…Or did he somehow fall under some ‘LET’S GO OUT..AND SOCIALIZE’ spell, while walking the dog?! Or perhaps even worse, slipped on ice, fell on his head and his personality is now altered…forever!’.

She kept thinking, as she was busy gathering her hair between her fingers, throwing it into an elastic band, to make the ‘dreaded bun’ that he hates! The one that always saves her so much precious time! The one that always makes her feel thankful, for that amazing practicality of it all! The one, that requires so much less… fuss!

Yes, he hates..the bun. He says, it reminds him of his grandmother! She, on the other hand, happened to absolutely love the bun! So, tonight, bun it is. He’s in for a surprise! Or so she thought!

Needless to say, she was the one surprised! He did not even notice when she came downstairs! She giggled between her and herself! ‘It’s going to be a glorious bun evening!’. Then gave herself a big thumb up as he turned to exit through the front door. She was following him! ‘may be I can get away with the bun everyday! From now on! My life will be forever changed! Bun life, here I come!’

Looking ahead, smiling wide! She pulled down on the edges of her jacket to straighten it…and….. stumbled!!! As she missed a step out of the three by the front entrance!

He immediately turned around! Terror is seen in his eyes! ‘WHAT?! Your hair is in a bun?!’

‘I’m ok! Just broke my ankle! But not to worry! The bun will help me get up!’ She gestured ‘all is under control’ with her arm stretched out in front of her! The bun immediately jumped down on the ground, and… pulled her up!

Confusion

Her voice was trying to be gentle, but she was definitely upset!

– Did you just call our brother?!

– Yes. How did you know?! [I responded in the kindest tone I had]

– …..Because he just called ‘me’!

– Isn’t that good?!

– No! This isn’t good!

– I thought it was good! Not good?! Ok…I guess…

Her voice is interrupting again…So I finally pleaded

-…Just please hear me for a second! When we got off the phone, you were saying you wished he’d check on you! So I just sent him a short message, asking him to please take care of you..and..

I am interrupted again.

– Well! I truly wish you hadn’t done that! [her weakened voice lately, is now suddenly tinged with an unusual vigour and an undeniable sharpness]

Yup! She’s definitely not impressed!

My sister is about to undergo a serious operation to remove a tumour, somewhere…in her head! In a couple of days, her life will change!

When you ‘don’t know’ your family _as in my case_ and you suddenly decide you are needed _as also in my case_ you catch yourself, scratching your head, puzzled, over all the differences in how we do things!

Being away from my family, since I was 17, is proving to create some very peculiar challenges. Especially, as I try to help my sister, who resides in Europe, and be of support, remotely…as she undergoes her serious operation!

In our family, there are so many things left unsaid! No one, no one, wants to touch them!

In our family, whom I’ve mentioned I haven’t seen for a long long time, we run away from heaviness! ‘They’ run away from heaviness! They prefer to pretend ‘all is under control’.

But, as I am trying to help my sister get through this difficult time, I am focused on one thing only: her health! Whatever helps her, I feel it needs done!

Our two brothers, one is a physician! An infectious disease specialist! The other, a successful businessman! Both live in Europe too! However, they hardly check on her! Yes, it’s appalling!

Yet one would think, she would be happy that one of them ‘did’ call, after my quick message urging him to! Nope! She was troubled instead!

I tried my best, to not lose my focus, which is ‘her health’! So here I am on the phone, she’s still protesting ‘why did you contact him! I wanted him ‘them’, to care on their own! Call because they ‘want’ to! Not because you messaged them to call me’!

I finally managed to quietly intervene through her trail of protesting words! I kept saying ‘shshshush…honey! Please listen first!’ Nope! No listening was going to take place! She was a woman on a mission! Wanting nothing more than to prove, I had ‘crossed some absurd family lines that shall never be crossed’!

– Oh! So that’s all you actually told him?! To check on me?! You didn’t tell him ‘you are a *+^* etc etc, like you said you wished you could tell’m?!

– No! I thought about it before messaging him! Telling him and the other one, what I think of them, isn’t going to help ‘you’! So I just asked if he wouldn’t mind checking on you. That’s all!

– …. Thank you!

– Well, what did he say?! Was it good?!

– Yes. He said exactly what I’ve been waiting to hear all along and no one was saying it! ‘I’ll be there’.

Now, she is overwhelmed with gratitude! Considering: he DID FINALLY CALL HER!

Sigh….

By now, my head is spinning like a basketball atop a professional BB player’s index finger! So I placed one hand under my chin, the other on top of my head! And I finally managed to stop the spinning! Slow down my poor little head! Things will get better, I hope!

Why do we have to complicate everything?! Is it just my family?! I doubt it! I am a simple, straightforward person! However, in my family, everything is soooo complicated! I am not allowed to actually be with my sister while she undergoes her operation! Every time I offer, I have even pleaded, the answer has been ‘absolutely not! I want you here to go to the beach together! Party and go crazy! I don’t want you here while I’m sick’

See, I am trying very hard to be understanding of it all! And yes, I realize I have that awful insidious trait called ‘pride’ in me too! So, I will not impose by suddenly showing up after al these years! She doesn’t want me to see her sick! I somehow do understand.

As a result to all of this! I have decided to accept an invitation to the local pub this evening! I haven’t been myself for a month now! But this evening, is mine! This by the way translates into, getting to know our neighbours a little bit more, by meeting them there over a glass of wine or a beer, sitting across each other at one of the tables there! That’s all! Let’s see how I do this time!

Now watch me go, throw my _’I’ think it’s funny_ smart a** answers around, if Heaven forbids, someone dared crossing ‘some absurd invisible lines’ 😉

So for the sake of my sanity and yours, I promise to further practice, my beloved and newly discovered, virtue of patience, over aaaaall ‘our’ complicated human tendencies. At the local pub, dealing with family members, friends, colleagues…It’s ‘everywhere’! Stay sane everyone! And wish me luck! I’m going in.

Fables & Wind

It was a cold night. The north wind, known for its violent temper, had been gusting fiercely since the afternoon on that day, and didn’t seem to have any intention of quieting down, even after the night fell.

The tall lodgepole pine trees, were swinging in a circular motion; their branches, rustling and shaking like freighted little orphans. The poplars, on the other hand, breathed loud, then sighed and hissed! Like minor gods in some ancient mythology, bowing to their chief. Competing, at who can be the loudest! To impress him.

I went outside looking for something! Searching for…air! Must’ve been air! I was having a hard time breathing the stuffy stale air, inside that house! Feeling the heaviness, of life’s stagnation, smothering me…squeezing my throat! I couldn’t breath….!

The tv was loud. The football game was on! Crowd bursting in sudden cheers. Strong, audacious and confident voices of square faced, clean shaven, sports announcers, were heard dissecting every part in the game.

I suddenly saw her standing there! Her head was lowered down. She was wearing a long black cloak. Her face, hidden in the shadows. She startled me! Her dark mysterious figure! As if she just jumped out of an old dusty book, of old myths and fables!

I could’ve sworn, I was able to suddenly smell, the mustiness of those moth eaten forgotten pages…It was all around her…filling the air! Circling around with the wind! And now all around..me!

I shook my head, attempting to get back to reality! Especially, I could see she had indeed two human feet! No snakes moving in lateral undulation.

‘Your untiering search for ‘things’ to satisfy your always hungry imagination! Is creating these images.’

‘But look at her! She’s real!’

I decided to ignore my sound of logic, and asked her who she was! She did not answer!

Do I leave? Do I run back?! Something compelled me to stay! The trill.

Slowly, I took a few steps towards her. She’s now standing there facing me.

She was shivering. Boreas must’ve been battering her for a while! Her hands were trembling.

Why am I thinking of…Boreas?! I need to stop!

Something about her, assured me, she wasn’t a threat! I could neither pinpoint, nor fully comprehend that feeling! I could just deeply sense, my strong connection to her! As if, I knew her, from a past life!

I glanced at my hands, all warm in my woollen mitts! She’s going to freeze to death!

I took a couple steps further, quietly reached out my hands, then took hers into mine. I was no longer scared! Instead, I was feeling a surge of calm assurance! She did not move. She let me hold them. They were small and delicate, as if belonging to a child! They continued to flutter, like a pair of distraught tiny little owlets, just fell out of their nest, as it was blown off in the wind! I just happened to be in the right place…to catch them.

She’s a child. There’s no doubt now! A cold, frightened poor little ‘taller’ child. No need for me to be alarmed. She won’t hurt me. She ‘needs’ me. To protect her. But why is she there, outside my door?!

I noticed, her hands were bluish in colour. Not good. I thought to myself. I stared at them, while trying to warm them up, by rubbing them between mine. I mumbled ‘you need to come inside’! She only lowered her head further down! As if to hide some more! But I could see now as I was closer, the edge of her chin; the illuminating reflection of the bright moon shining on it! I could also see, the scar above that edge!

The trees got louder…. Their hissing is filling my ears and I want to run…

I woke, my heart pounding incredibly loud..out of breath…and I was…finally…scared.


Picture: Rachel Lynette French

The Bird Lady

We have these birds in the forest. Blue jays, as well as their cousins ‘the grey jays’.

When I did this sketch, this past summer, I had just gotten off the phone with my ‘rediscoverd’ and previously estranged from, sister! I was describing them to her as she doesn’t have them around where she is in Europe. And she laughed at my pervasive fascination, with wildlife in every shape and form, and started calling me ‘The Bird Lady’! It was in fact, quite humorous!

My sister, teaches theatrical studies. I remember late in my childhood _she’s older than I am_ when she used to take me with her to watch different plays, while she was still studying. It was her way of babysitting me, I gather.

I grew up watching classical theatre, all due to her bringing me along, surreptitiously, sometimes!

Then I ‘really’ grew up!

At seventeen, I changed. I became more independent. More wanting nothing to do with her.

Her and I started a new chapter. And it wasn’t that all..meritorious. She judged my choices. I, on the other hand, rebelled, and eventually left the entire family!

I was just seventeen like I mentioned! And I started hearing her describing me as ‘cold’. I wouldn’t say I was completely surprised! Considering yes, I was not known to be affectionate towards relatives and other family members when they used to visit my parents. I used to usually say hello, then withdraw to my spacious room at the time! I wanted nothing to do with aunts and uncles etc etc!

In my room, I used to close the door, play one of my Tchaikovsky compositions, and either sketch, paint at my easel, or read serious classic English, American and Russian literature of, Emily Brontë, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, Leo Tolstoy and…also, Dostoyevsky! Serious stuff to read, for someone who’s still a kid!

My sister, at the time, didn’t care for my ‘strange’ taste in music and art! And we drifted even more!

Ironically, she went on to study theatre, and I, to study English/American literature!

Fast forward 4 years later, I decided I wanted nothing to do with my family. And I became estranged from them all! And yes, I was cold, again. Except this time, to the point of hardly any contact.

Years went by.

I visited once. There we were on the beach, in Greece. My sister started getting emotional! I asked her what was wrong?! She responded ‘You! You never seem to want anything to do with me! I wake up in the morning, you’re already sitting ‘alone’ on the beach somewhere, reading! You are not warm. You hardly talk to me! And I miss you’.

I did not understand her bewilderment at the time, and rather in my mind, I was convinced I was simply being subjected to her desire for control! And she did have that desire while I was growing up!

Then more years went by. We barely spoke! I lived my life completely on my own! No family ties to control or influence me! I wanted to ‘re-raise’ myself, away from it all! Their bourgeois outlook and practices. Making me always feel ‘different’! That I never did fit in! I was the youngest! The ‘naïve’ one. The extremely kindhearted, but also aloof and cold at times. The artistic one among business people, physicians and theatre professors, who had no artistic inclinations whatsoever! The shy one. The fragile one. The meek on. The stubborn one. And the worst label of all ‘The Sensitive’…one.

I did quite well for myself, away from them all, including my sister. My plan to ‘re-raise’ me, worked! I stumbled a lot. A lot. Made lots of mistakes. But eventually landed on both my feet, hence my name ;)! I proved them all wrong.

Lately however, my sister reached out! And her and I, both decided, to write a new chapter! And so far, it’s been…strange and great, at the same time. I am her rock now! And I’m happy to be.

My Wild NewYear’s Party

I would like to start my first’ sugarless’ week tomorrow!

Neglecting my body during the month of December has really taken its toll on not just my physical being, but also my emotional one!

I have tried this before, and I can say, it helped me feel so much better every time. That’s why I believe, the time has come to go off sugar for at least one week, and see what happens!

I have committed to ten days or two weeks before. I am not sure my willpower is as strong these days, hence the just one week.

Last night, NewYear’s Eve, was a rough one for me! I could barely stand being with so many people until midnight, so I can turn into a pumpkin, escape and go home!

Spouse and I were invited to a NewYear’s Eve party at one of our neighbours.

Lots of other neighbours were there too. Lovely lovely people! All of them!

There were so many other people that I didn’t know there as well! I’d say roughly about 50 people!

My head was pounding all day yesterday. I was physically exhausted from the lack of sleep the night before, as well from my deep sense of loneliness that usually surrounds me on that day/evening pretty much every year! More on the reasons later.

I still made a tremendous effort to look my best. Well, it didn’t help.

The Prosecco, red wine, wonderful craft beer, and the occasional ‘snow ball’ _we have lots of brits in our little community_ failed to relax me! And rather as usual, when others are drinking, my brain kicks in and it decides ‘I need to be on alert to help incase a friend may need me’! May be I am obsessed with being the strong one! I don’t know…But let’s just say, I usually cannot relax, when people I care about are over drinking! Which usually translates into, they’re having fun, but I’m completely miserable.

So, there I was, talking to different people, getting introduced to different people, and every single conversation felt…torturous and forced.

– So you roast Coffee?!

– Oh wow you finished a PHD in medicine! (Not me)

– The economy….

– How long have you been married for?

Ugh. Ugh and more…ugh! Voice in my head is screaming ‘get me out of here’. To which I kept responding ‘I can’t quite yet! It’ll look rude and also very weird’

Spouse on the other hand, was having an amazing time. Talking away and showing no sign of running out of interesting subject matters to discuss. He was confident, happy, smiling and just having a great time!

I tried to stay busy by quietly listening to his conversations, observing him being so…alive! Praying no one will ask me anything! But the noise around was unbearable! I basically stood there, but not going out of my way to meet anyone! And just trying to be polite to whomever is talking to me!

I’d say the only person that I really wanted to talk to, was an older lady from England (a neighbour’s mum), who looked like The Queen of England! Her white hair looked so carefully coiffured and just flawless! Her buttery colour cashmere shawl, and fairy like skin all attracted me to her! I even did curtsy when I shook her hand! I DID! It just happened! It was all great until she asked me in her deep English accent ‘Now are you a ‘real’ Canadian?!’ And I pinched my hand with my other one, in order not to respond ‘No! A fake one actually! and I have horns too but they’re soft! wanna feel’m?!’! I think she meant Canada is very multicultural! She probably meant to say ‘are you québécois?!’…Of course that’s not why she said it! But I am trying to be nice and polite! That’s all! Could be she was nervous I have no idea!

So I excused myself from her majesty, and said to myself ‘at least you were able to ‘touch’ the queen and shake her hand’, and just walked away! No curtsy this time around!

There were three dogs in that big hall! The lights were dim, and the music was great but could hardly compete with all the chatters! The dogs were around me the whole time! Yes I’m a dog magnet! Any animal, magnet!

At around 11, I made up a lame excuse that I needed to go check on my own dog at my own house! Spouse protested ‘it’s pitch black outside! I’m coming with you!’

– I am fine! I’ll just go and use my flashlight!

– Cougars are out there! I’m coming with you!

– No. No! Just relax! Cougars don’t like my perfume. I will just go for half hour and head right back.

Our house is just across the road, but no street lights and my driveway is quite dark, long and passes through the forest!

I still walked home, and loved it!

At home, I changed into my pjs immediately! Hugged the dog, and debated a coffee!

I forgot the ringer on my phone was turned off! And apparently spouse was texting and calling, all while I was lounging on the chair, all warm and comfortable!

Then, 10 minutes later, my front door went flying… and there he was, rushing through it like a G.I. Joe!

– Are you alright?! Why aren’t you answering my calls!

– Oh geez I’m so sorry! My ringer is off!

There I was, getting dressed again, to go back to…the party! What was I thinking I could just slip away and no one would notice!

Back at the party now! It’s finally midnight!… yay! Cheers, countdown and hugs!

12:30. I am on this humongous black leather couch! Alone! Feeling way better than where everyone is now congregating, munching on food while talking and laughing post midnight! Three dogs are completing over the rights to my hands!

Then, I decided to slide down and sit on the carpet as I got tired of kneeling down to pet the dogs! The party is all in the background now! Still going in full speed! No one is slowing down. Except me and the dogs, oh and of course her majesty who by now had asked to be escorted to her royal suite! I wished I could’ve done so as well! But she wouldn’t have appreciated me chatting her up in the wee hours, lounging on her deep purple royal velvety settee! Yawning and making up outrageous stories just to startle her!

The noise is a bit muffled when you are sitting lower on the carpet, shielded by the couch! But alas, it was still…very loud!

I started imagining being one of those dogs! The assault on their poor ears! A dog’s hearing is so incredibly acute, and I kept thinking ‘I feel so so bad for you right now! You need ear muffs! But I don’t have any’

The dogs looked back at me! ‘We understand! It’s ok! Unless, you agree to join us and we can all snarl, bark and chase them out of this house!’ I thought about it, then said no I don’t think it’ll work! I’m too tired to snarl and bark! They lowered their heads in polite agreement….then demanded more petting and scratching.

Around 1:30, I decided to thank my hosts for their hospitality and excuse myself ‘again’!

This time, smoooooth sailing! All went well! I even convinced my spouse for the second time, to let me venture out and run through the dark forest and race those cougars and beat them to my front door!

– I won’t be long! I’ll be home soon too!

– Please don’t rush! Just have fun! Don’t worry about me! I need to go rest! I’m an introvert remember?!

I said while smiling.

– Oh I’m sure I won’t be long!

He made it home at 4 am!

The story didn’t stop there! I learnt some disturbing and extremely funny details from friends who stayed, when I woke all rested this morning, while he was moaning from his headache and Wild NewYear’s Eve party! But I’m tired and need to go bed! I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow!

Zzzz

Anthony Bourdain

Your picture, somehow never leaves my memory!

It keeps inscribing itself, among my own!

Since you decided to abruptly leave, my own life has been, a confusing play at times! Its title _The monologue too_ Both continuously changing! Yet the play…keeps unfolding daily, on the stage of my daily living!

And I know! I know it sounds absurd, to know it all passerby and judgmental spectators! I have, watched them while I was performing…

They come in, after noticing the sign outside “Free Admission”.

They take a seat. At first, they clap at my performance! They think it’s exquisite! But when the plot thickens! And…I mention ‘you’! When I am performing the unpopular grieving part! It troubles them.

Your sudden departure, has altered my talent, and forever changed the play! I suddenly now, notice…everything! And I can no longer stop noticing!

They sit there….shifting in their seats…Perhaps, hoping, I will go back to making them laugh again.

The brilliancy of the light technician, playing with the blue dimmers, adding more gobos and focusing on my blue shadow, keep them intrigued! They decide to stay a little longer…

I stand on the stage. I am no longer facing them…The back of my long dress, is bright and colourful. The soft lavender stage lights, are creating an optimistic mood. Giving them a break, from reality!

I insisted on that part. And I am glad that I did! I knew it will be too overwhelming to reveal all my darkness. I knew, my responsibility to help them see, and not be afraid, but also, breath, relax and be soothed.

My wonderful spectators, who heedlessly caved in to the illusion, of my attractive makeup, and statuesque photo outside!

The curtains fall…

Backstage, I change into a simple peasant dress!

When the curtains open up again! I am standing there, staring at nothingness! They think, I’m looking at them.

I take the scissors to my hair. Half of my audience, stand up, and leave. I feel naked! Staring at my severed strands on the floor..I want to stand up and leave too, but I can’t!

Actors are not allowed to leave.

The play must continue.

I stare into the nothingness ahead of me again! Behind my seated audience, only I, can see the enlarged picture of my face staring back at me! The director insisted on hiding my flaws! And in the end, opted for a black and white one. He said, it will not scare them as much! Then added ‘we need people to come in, sit down, and watch the show’.

Your last performance, your departure, to places unknown, confused my own performance! And I’m still struggling, to perform like I used to!

So I stare at my enlarged black and white fully made up picture and whisper ‘Who Are You?!’