Category Archives: A little serious

The Cat’s Not Dead, Yet

To work or not to work. It may not be “the” question but it is a question nonetheless. And it’s one I’ve been pondering for some time now. As many of you know, I retired (apparently fake news) going on two and a half years ago. It’s true. I got the gifts and the accolades from my colleagues, which included a very public declaration of my aversion to hugging. Timely I’d say on that particularly day. I even gave a “poem speech” as I am apt to do on these type of occasions. So you would think I would have packed my bags, bid a fond adieu and rode off into the sunset. You would think. But, again as many of you know, I took a day off (actually two) and headed back to my desk, albeit in a rather distant location,where I have remained ever since. Because apparently it’s what I love to do. Work. But “the time has come to talk of other things, like shoes and ships and sealing wax” (Thanks LC). Well maybe not that. Ok, shoes. But at the very least one must talk about what to do when stepping away from the almost too familiar daily grind.

As I am wont to do at these times of indecision, I called a good ol’ friend and headed to my neighborhood watering hole (ok, you know where I went) to shoot the breeze and have someone else figure this out for me. It’s the least they can do, don’t you think? I mean I’ve pretty much worked out my life for myself to this point. I think it’s about time that someone else stepped up to the plate and took a swing at the bat. Why let fate take its course when you can plant the blame firmly on someone else? Sure. It might cost you a cuppa coffee or two but if that’s what it takes to absolve yourself of all future responsibility for the decisions you make, it’s money well spent in my book. Just think of it as an investment in your future. And so, there we sat under the blazing sun in the eternally blue skies of Alberta, talking about all things retirement.

The thing I love about retired people is how they manage to put a positive spin on just about anything. Talk to them about money. Let’s face it. More than likely, when you retire you will be living on a few less shekels than what you’ve become accustomed. I know. There are the pensions the government gives out in order to leave enough cat food on the shelves for the cats. And then there’s the dollars you have been saving for nigh on 40 years that you can now start to pry out of that wallet of yours. Nonetheless, you are still likely to come up a little bit short. But ask a retired person about living on less and, dimes to dollars, they’re going to tell you that they don’t even notice the difference. First they’ll rattle on about all of the seniors discounts that are now at your disposal. So what if you can only go to the grocery store on the first Tuesday of every month and the lines will literally be out the door? You’re retired! What else did you have to do? Then there’s those early bird specials at the local diner which are perfect, now that you will want to be home for the 6:00 news anyway. Of course clothes are no longer an issue since you can pretty much wear the same jeans and T for most everything. Afterall, who’s looking at you? And if you decide you need a new frock, just head down to the nearest Bay store, on a Tuesday of course.. At the end of this diatribe you’re absolutely convinced that, not only will you be able to avail yourself of all of the necessities of life, but should Bill Gates come knocking at your door you’ll welcome him with open arms and let him know you’ve managed to reserve a suite for he and his family at the Four Season’s. Gratis.

As important as money might be however, that’s not what you’re really worried about. You really want to know more about what’s going to get you out of bed each day. How are you going to pass all of that time now that you don’t have a whack of emails to go through, people to see, places to go. And here again they’ll pontificate on the wonder that is retirement. Somehow, and apparently this happens each and every day, you get up in the morning and before you know it, the day is done. They`re not even sure where the time goes but somehow between reading the morning paper and watching Peter Mansbridge  end the day with the nightly news (it`s a Canadian thing), time just flies by. Asking for more specifics reaps some rather vague chatter about taking walks, meeting friends for coffee, getting through the stack of books that’s managed to accumulate over dozens of years, the gratifying feeling that one gets from volunteering once a week and that continuing education photography course they should have, would have taken years ago if only they had found the time. This will all end with the now very much overused and perhaps even, somewhat trite “I don’t know how I ever had time to work” followed by what can only be described as a long sigh of gratitude that those days of tedium are over and done with.

Of course, the conversation can’t come to an end without some talk about travel. It seems to me that for most, this is really what retirement is all about. Once you’ve wrapped up the daily 9 – 5 you are apparently now free to travel the world. There are places to go, people to see.  And so it was that I sat and listened to my friend wax eloquently about the exotic destinations he’s visited, the wonderful food and wine he consumed, and the beaches he has relaxed on, with nothing better to do than sip Margaritas and watch the evening sun slip through the sky. Who could ask for anything more? So I was not surprised that when he stopped to take a well deserved breath, he noticed the look of dismay on my face. The conversation that followed went something like this:

My Friend: “What?” he said. “Have I not convinced you that this will be the best time of your life?”
Me: “Don’t get me wrong. This all sounds great.
My Friend: “What is it then? What’s the problem?”
Me: As enticing as the walking and the discounts, the coffee and Peter might be, I’m really most interested in the travelling. But, I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to do that.”
My Friend: Why not? You’re still young! You have the time, the money and the energy. What’s going to stop you now?”
Me. “Well, it’s none of those things. It’s just that the cat’s not dead yet.”

I don’t know. Maybe I better just keep working.

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The Unmaking of a Shallow Person – Part 2

Cute kittens

Very cute kittens

Over the past couple of weeks I have come to realize that this “unmaking” of mine is more of a process than a transformation. Perhaps it will take a little longer than I anticipated. Perhaps more effort. It seems to me that I am now in what some might call “limbo”. Others purgatory. Whatever the moniker I am now betwixt and between. Sitting on that proverbial fence. Too far over to turn back but not far enough to seriously consider doing so. I seem to be treading water, but not quite in the deep end.

It’s like this. I’m still glued to the “fake” news channels, to witness first hand “45” blame just about everyone for the apparent mess “his” country is in while at the same time taking credit for anything positive that has happened since Eve took a bite of that apple. And I stay tuned to listen to the reasoned analysis of those who can’t seem to wake up from the nightmare they only wish they were having. At the same time, if truth be told, I am anxiously looking forward to the return of The Voice and I simply can’t wait to find out if the Survivor “game changers” are still willing to change the game. So you get what I’m saying. Seems like this whole thing has left me in a mess. And I’ve gotta tell you, it’s making me feel a tad out of sorts (as my Mother would say) and flailing a little with how to reconcile these very divergent perspectives. So forgive me if my posts appear to go this way and that because these days it’s hard to know which way to turn..

Here’s how I see it. There are a lot of creepy things going on in this neck of the woods. So many people are hating so many other people. Clearly there has been a resurgence of anti-semitism, not only in this country but pretty much everywhere. There are those who would like to blame the Muslims for, well everything, and if it’s not the Muslims it’s the Mexicans and if it’s not the Mexicans it’s immigrants from pretty much anywhere. The top guns think that telling the culprits to “stop it” will do the trick while they continue to embrace the very people (and some of them are those people) who have overtly espoused these sentiments in their rather sordid pasts. Meanwhile long time undocumented immigrants who are contributing members of society, who work hard and pay their taxes, are being rounded up and sent away, separated from their families by a wall, or maybe a fence. Whatever it is, it’s simply not right.

And it doesn’t stop there. Marginalized people of all sorts are being left to fend for themselves as those in the government decide to sit back and see what happens. School children who are already struggling with their identity will now, in many States, not be able to use the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable. Coal miners who could possibly get back to work, may find themselves without the health care they will surely need when they suffer the inevitable consequence of the work that they now might get. Maybe. Because the people in control seem to know how to “repeal” but not how to “replace”. Given this hands-off approach, I suppose it’s not surprising that the country has been relieved of regulations designed to protect investors, the climate, and endangered species. And yet, in the midst of all of this deregulation these men (and yes they are) have the audacity to regulate a woman’s right to choose. All of this is going on while we are being told that the “real” enemy of the people is the free press, or to be more accurate, the ones who don’t say nice things about 45. 

Yet, in the midst of this debacle there is a bright light. There has been a resurgence of interest in the political process and an understanding of the power of protest. And that makes sense. Many of our young people know that there is no place in their world for intolerance and hatred based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other defining human characteristic. They refuse to stand silent about what is happening now. But it’s not just the young. There are many of us who remember what it was like to march against the war in Vietnam, who railed and fought (literally) against the racial inequalities so prevalent during the 1960s. We lived through the feminist movement and lauded those who stood at the forefront, the ones whose tremendous strides paved a path for the rest of us. And sadly, there are still many whose parents and grandparents endured the horrors of the concentration camps, not only overseas but in our own countries, and to whom “never again” has the most profound meaning. These people know that the time has come for them to stand together and let their voices be heard once again. They bring with them not just the hope that what is happening is an anomaly but the understanding that a just and sustainable future depends on what they do now.  So you can see how all of this has made me reconsider my dedication to being shallow and, as result, to repurpose this blog and pontificate a little on what I think about the current events.

I’m guessing at this point you’re saying, perhaps not out loud but at least to yourself “what’s she talking about? Seems to me her transformation is pretty complete!”  And right about then you notice the pic of the very cute kittens at the top of the screen and wonder what they have to do with this post. Let me explain. I have it on the highest authority (thanks again Wader) that cute kittens are a surefire way to make a blog go viral. I figure anything is worth a shot at this point so what the heck?.  And hey! You can’t say I didn’t tell you this was a process.

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The Unmaking of a Shallow Person

take-the-high-roadHonestly, I never thought it would come to this. If there was anything I was ever committed to, it was my commitment to being shallow. Flashback five years ago. Way back then I prided myself on having spent one whole week writing this blog. One. Whole. Week. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would still be here five years later. Five. Years. Later. (I’ve never truly understood why people do that but what the heck.) I know. You’re going to remind me that paying my 24 buckaroonies every year around this time was at least half the reason I stuck around. Perhaps. But I truly believe it was more than that. I had a mission. I wanted to share with people what it was like to live life as a shallow person. I wanted them to know that it was ok. That one could live a rewarding and meaningful shallow life. I went so far as to let people know that it was possible to be shallow and sad, shallow and irritated and even shallow and a little scared. It was this dedication, this steadfast belief, that kept me going, posting each and every week, and then each and every other week and finally each and every month. What I didn’t anticipate those five years ago, was that it is not possible to be shallow and angry. And that’s what I am now. Angry.

Some of you are going to say “I told you so”. You’re going to confront me with some alternate facts. Facts that you think are definitive proof that I was never really all that shallow in the first place. You’ll label me a “so called” shallow person. You’ll tell me that the very act of writing this blog, of being as introspective as I have been about my shallowness, is testament to your point. That my deep thoughts about being shallow are the very antithesis of what I have professed to be over all of these many years. To you I say balderdash! Because whether you think I’m shallow or not is entirely beside the point. If I think I’m shallow then I am shallow. Sure, you might have evidence to the contrary. So what? I have better evidence that I am, or at least that I have been, shallow for the better part of my life. And I know this to be true. I mean would a person who is not shallow admit to having watched almost every reality TV show (and let me tell you that’s a very big number)  that has ever been foisted on the viewing public? Including “The Apprentice”. Before Arnold. Face it. I saw Omarosa get fired not once, but twice and even though I may have missed that lucky third time, I do believe that I have made my case. And now I expect you to think so too. And anyone who tells you different, well they’re just wrong. Probably getting some fake news from some fake person from somewhere fake.

Sorry folks. That last paragraph was just too easy. Perhaps even a little self-indulgent. It’s just this. From where I sit (literally) it is very clear that these are troubling times. The fellow that’s now calling the shots (or should I say fellas) seems to be more than a little problematic. He’s caused me and a whole whack of other people reason for concern. On very many levels. From this vantage point I would have to say we are in a kind of  time machine heading at warp speed towards the 1930s, to a place on this planet that many of us are not going to enjoy very much.  This is a guy who doesn’t trust the mainstream media, doesn’t trust the “negative” polls (which at this point would be most of them), doesn’t trust a majority of the people who live on this earth of ours, certainly doesn’t trust his political opponents, and really doesn’t trust those who have been entrusted to uphold the laws of this land of the free and home of the brave. On the flip side he does seem to trust the guy who thinks he has disguised the white supremacist movement by renaming it the “alt-right” (does he think we don’t read?) as well as the current leader of Russia who I understand might not be as trustworthy as our fella seems to believe. And here’s the thing. It’s really, really hard to be shallow when the guy at the helm who trusts almost no one can’t be trusted to do, well pretty much anything we might actually want to have done.

Perhaps not surprisingly, all of this has made me angry. And, I have to be honest with you, a little less shallow. I have abandoned “Survivor” for CNN. “The Voice” for MSNBC. I feel as though if I ran into Anderson Cooper on the street we would be on a first name basis. Rachel Maddow might as well just move in. In the past 3 weeks I’ve learned more about the U.S. Constitution than I ever expected to know and I think, if given the chance, I could probably take a reasonable stab at arguing the “merits of the case” with regard to the recent stay on the Muslim ban. (Did I say “ban”?). Quite frankly, this whole thing has pretty much turned my life upside down.

All of this, as you can plainly see, has led me to the crossroad on which I now stand. How do I continue to write about being shallow in a world that deserves some very serious attention? How do I ignore the alternate facts, the discrimination and loathing that I now see every day? And that’s when it occurred to me. This is my blog and I can write what I want to. If I want to write about being shallow, I can. But if, as has happened today, I’m feeling a little less shallow and I want to write about that, I can. I’ve written about non-shallow things before and it hasn’t worked out all that bad. As a matter of fact, people seem to like my non-shallow posts. I know that’s true because I see the numbers. And let me tell you, they’re fantastic.  Huge. Really huge. But you’ll just have to trust me on that.

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Shallow and a “Little” Scared

prairie-roads-1220316Well enough time has passed and I think I can talk about it. You know by now that, come January, we gravitate to more moderate climes. In past years we have done so using the most efficient if not, admittedly, the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation and it takes about 5 hours, give or take an additional hour or two in some airport lounge along the way. Flying may not be my favourite activity but barring extended and extensive periods of turbulence (in which case all bets are off), deep in my heart I’m pretty sure that when I board that airliner I’m going to debark safely at my intended destination. But that was not the case this year. This year one of us said to the other “so how about we drive down south?” to which the “other” foolishly responded “good idea”. Because while this “other” doesn’t mind hitting the road, especially since we are doing so in the cutest little buggy ever, she (that’s me) really only likes to drive the blacktop when the sun is shining and the roads are clear and dry. And believe me, that was not the case on any of the seemingly many days we spent making our way down to where the turf meets the surf. Which, and this is not an “alternative fact”,  made me just a little scared mostly because I happen to like being on this side of that pearly gate.

Now people are going to tell me there are lots of things to be scared of that are much worse than driving in the rain, ice and snow in a tiny little car. Like spiders. Lots of people seem to be afraid of spiders. I’m not sure why. To me spiders are just little creatures, with lots of legs, who make quite lovely and intricate homes for themselves. Ok, I suppose they do use those homes to catch unsuspecting other bugs who unwittingly venture into their webs and, I imagine, quite unceremoniously become delectable morsels to be enjoyed for a late night repast. But unless you’re my friend Wade who has chosen to live among some of the more treacherous members of the species, you’re probably not going to suffer any harm from an encounter with that Daddy Long Legs who decided to take up residence in your basement. Certainly (and this is from my perspective) it’s not worth stomping out his rather precarious life when we know full well that doing so will no doubt result in the proverbial downpour I’ve mentioned above. At least you won’t find me making that trade-off any time soon.

Then there are clowns. I’ve mentioned this in the past but that’s no reason not to include them here. Some people are afraid of clowns. So much so that there’s even a name for it. Coulrophobia. You can look it up. This fear I kind of get. Let’s face it. There have been some pretty scary clown like figures around in our time. Like the Joker. Not the nicest guy and unless you are a superhero of some sort, probably not one you want to bump into when taking the garbage out at night. And more recently, those people who for some unknown reason decided it would be a hoot to dress up as creepy clowns and scare the bejeezus out of little children.  But let’s put those aside for a moment. Most of us encounter clowns under happier circumstances. Like at a birthday party, or the circus, or even at the rodeo, which, if you ask me, has much scarier things going on than clowns. These are happy clowns. They do tricks, hand out balloon animals and generally do their best to make people laugh. Given the choice, I’d rather watch a clown slip on a banana peel than find myself sliding my way through a sea of black ice.

Ok, I know. There are plenty of people in this part of the country who will tell you there are way scarier things than spiders or clowns or even driving in the rain. The fellow who has taken hold of the reigns in this neck of the woods seems to have sparked a whole new level of fear amongst the people. In many cases they are scared because they don’t really know what he will do. Then there are those who are scared because they do know what he will do. Certainly women are scared they will lose control their bodies. Immigrants are scared they will have to leave the country they love and call home. The LGBTQQIP2SAA (I do my best ot be inclusive) are scared of losing the rights they fought so hard to obtain. Some people will tell you they are scared that they will no longer get the facts but rather something called the “alternative facts”. Others think the “real” facts will be scary enough. Everyone is scared about how the world will react to the policies that are designed to keep America great again. You don’t have to hit me over the head. Millions of people right across this world of ours are marching in the streets to let us know just how scared they are. I can honestly say that, even though I’m a shallow person, it has become quite clear to me that at this moment in time there is no shortage of things to be scared about. 

With that said, I’m starting to think that maybe driving in the rain and snow isn’t so scary.  I’m also starting to think that perhaps I should be more than just a “little” scared.

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This is not a shallow blog

letterNo, I’m afraid this is not a shallow blog. Some of you may be a little surprised. You may even think it’s a little sappy. But it’s not. Although fortunately it is uncharacteristically brief. It’s an open letter to my Sons, from a very proud Mother. And I’m posting it on this little soapbox of mine for all to see.  

Dear Sons (sappy or not, I never name names in my blog). You are grown up now. That happened much more quickly than I ever would have imagined. Mostly you managed to do this on your own but I like to think we helped you a little along the way. It’s true. There were times that we yelled when even we knew we shouldn’t have. Hovered when we should have walked away. Walked away when we should have stayed. But there were also times when we got it right. Like sharing with you the importance of accepting others no matter where they come from, the colour of their skin, who they worship or whether they worship at all, or who they love to love. That each person’s history is a part of them that deserves respect. That life is not always fair but you have to do your best to try to make it that way. And that sometimes you have to stand up not only for yourself, but for others too. Even when it’s easier not to. We let you know there are never any guarantees and one never knows what life will bring but sometimes things work out pretty well. Like the two of you. And the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Because both of you have turned out to be the best sons any two parents could hope for. Both of you have faced challenges from which others would have walked away. Quickly. As a matter of fact, there were times that others thought that was exactly what you should do. But you didn’t even though it would have been easier. Much easier. You stood tall when others thought you should kneel. For one of you, the challenge came early on. Wise beyond your years, you stood your ground when others tried to pull it out from under you. For the other the bump came a little further down the road but you managed to navigate your way through it. In both cases you stood up not only for yourselves but for others because you truly believed that what you were fighting for would make their lives better too. Even though you knew the consequences. And there are always consequences because, it seems, in this world of ours we blame the victim to save ourselves. Which makes standing your ground so much more difficult than walking away. Turning the other cheek. Letting bygones be bygones. We all know that to be true. It’s just that so few of us have the courage to do our best to make things right. Like you do.

So this is just to let you know how proud we are of you. That we will never stand behind you. Rather we will be with you, up front and centre. Always. And forever.

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