September 28, 2014 § 6 Comments
The beach of course.
I read somewhere that as little as 20 minutes of morning sunshine (somehow different than afternoon) boosts metabolism into magnificence. I’m not here for metabolism boosting but these little bonuses never hurt.
There is a lad in an orange worker’s vest with its fluorescent X, he’s picking up litter. On a Sunday morning. This, I think, is noble work and I want to tell him so. I start with Good Morning as I pass and he, without looking up, without making eye contact, mumbles most miserably: morning. He keeps walking and I do too and the whole idea of nobility has gone right out the window. I’m not sure he’d understand my meaning anyhow, might even think it was a negative.
The lake today is a cliché.
Cool and perfect and I want to swim out to a pair of resting gulls.
But I collect glass instead. Only the tiniest bits of green. And then I sit on a picnic table and the picture I snap makes it look as if I have a fox’s tail. I take this as an excellent sign. As well as a compliment.
An old hippie with toned down Roger Daltry hair, a tan and tie-dyed tee-shirt walking a baby bulldog. The dog stops, rolls onto his back among the lake lap and pebbles, stands and shakes himself off. The old hippie doesn’t rush him.
And then a dad and a very young child, maybe three or four. The child in navy pants and a grey and blue striped top, possibly meant to advertise that it’s a boy. His dad on the phone, seemingly unsure of how to have childish fun; he eyes a pretty woman in leggings walking past. Now he skips stones with a vengeance and looks to see who’s watching and when the child picks up a stone and throws it, the dad doesn’t watch. Soon the child no longer watches the dad, but walks away instead. I’d like to think this is a lesson in independence, in not caring if anyone’s watching, but I strongly suspect this isn’t what the boy is learning. Eventually the dad realizes the boy is gone and goes after him, shouting, checking his phone, then he spits as if to assert himself in the absence of stones to throw. They walk away from the lake, metres apart. The child is sullen and the dad asks loudly what he wants, accusing, angry—does he want to go home??
The child doesn’t answer, keeps walking.
Remember, he is three, maybe four.
And I want to answer for him:
September 24, 2014 § 14 Comments
September 22, 2014 § 3 Comments
Walking without my camera today and seeing things differently.
Always a surprise how this works, that instead of feeling like I’m missing some shot or other, I just happen to notice things that don’t require filming.
Like the black and white cat running through the park from the ravine. He doesn’t pause long enough for me to take his portrait anyway. I say ‘his’. I think of all black and white cats as boys, a holdover from the one I had as a kid. Called him Peter. He thought he was dog, came with us to the beach, no leash required. Jumped back in the car when it was time to go home. One day he gave birth to four kittens in the laundry chute. It was a confusing time for all concerned.
I pick up litter in the parking lot where people dump the debris from their cars. Two young lads pull up in an SUV and a blond chap gets out, the other drives away. The blond walks into the park a piece and then checks his phone a few times, heads into the bushes. Could be a call of nature but the Nancy Drew in me wonders if it’s a rendezvous of the nefarious kind…
The apple tree that was so heavy with fruit last year has only one apple. I look really hard for more. Zip. [sigh] No windfall cobbler this year…
A child in pyjamas walking with a woman in pyjamas.
Pink and white cleome fading against a warm grey wall.
September 19, 2014 § 7 Comments
Yessirree, bob. You heard that right. The world.
First place is somewhere in Japan.
This blows my tiny mind. Not because the ‘hood isn’t a cool one, but because, well, you know, it’s Queen Street. I mean is there nothing ‘cooler’ (and by the way, ‘cool’ is Vogue’s word, not mine. I don’t use ‘cool’, even when I mean ‘cool’, in which case I will tend to use the less cool ‘groovy’) in New York or Paris or Montreal or Sydney or Milan or Vancouver or Reykjavik… than the stretch between Gladstone Avenue and Bathurst Street…??
But I’m not one to judge these things. I like sand.
Still, there I am the other day, strolling these recently hallowed blocks in my beach-loving Birks (which, it turns out, are currently trending with hipsters and I do hope the trend stops soon because these are my shoes and the hipsters have so many of their own)…
And what I find is that there is indeed much happening of a cool/groovy nature on this bit of pavement.
No lack of cool/groovy temptations…
in these hipsterville blocks…
not to mention roads less travelled within them.
There is free, exquisite reading material,
and free fashion counselling.
A stretch of road where economics are no small thing…
and creative minds are rampant.
Where the insults are relatively mild,
and the love is coffee scented.
A stretch of coolness where there’s never not a place to sit,
For me, from where I stand, toes exposed to the air… there remain some glaring omissions.
There is no sand.
No cackling gulls.
My Birks and me, we love us a tide. We would give up all manner of cigars and quiche and onesie alerts, for cackling gulls.
And you’re welcome.
September 17, 2014 § 13 Comments
September 11, 2014 § 9 Comments
So why did she marry him, move in, have kids? Why??? When the feel of his fist was still fresh on her face.
It’s always the first question but it’s worse when there’s money involved, the implication being she stays for that, for the lifestyle. Right. The lifestyle…
And the answers… they’re all over social media right now, but they’re not new. The sad truth is they’ll still be valid long after we stop listening.
She stays because she’s afraid, isolated, shamed. Because it’s her home. Because she’s given away her power, been told she’s stupid and worthless one too many times. Because she’s been told her whole life she’s stupid and worthless. Because she believes she’s stupid and worthless. Because there are kids and pets and threats… to harm them or take them away.
Because there are threats. Always threats.
Because she is deflated, broken, and because he threatens suicide if she leaves. Always threats. Because to leave is failure; because she came from a broken home and doesn’t want her kids to come from the same place. Because she will be seen as pathetic for having stayed so long so it’s better to stay even longer and not let anyone know. Because people blame the victim. Because people blame the victim… Because people blame.
She stays because she’s fought this fight ten thousand times and hasn’t got the strength it takes to fight back anymore much less start a new life, no matter how right and good and sensible she knows that would be.
She stays because she doesn’t even know she’s being abused. It started small. It was only emotional. He has a temper but he loves me, the kids, he always says he’s sorry. Because this time is the last time. Because this black eye is the last black eye, he said so. He promised. He cried, he begged. He’s really just a teddy bear underneath… he needs her, he said. And she needs to be needed. What else does she have?
She stays because he is her family. Because of For Better or Worse. Because even though she looks fine and manages to function, she is so messed up emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically, she can’t even see straight. She stays because it’s easier at this stage to hope… so she hopes he will be in a good mood today and when he isn’t… it’s too late again.
She stays because she doesn’t want to be seen as weak, or overly dramatic. No bones broken, just a little scuffle. He’s got a temper. I mentioned that, right, the temper?
She stays because the most dangerous thing she can do is leave. It’s bad enough under normal circumstances but if the guy has money, that danger is multiplied. He can have her watched, followed, hurt or worse. And he almost always does.
And where is she supposed to go? Family? Friends? He’ll find her. A hotel isn’t safe. So you tell me… where does she go?? In this weakened state. Where?
That she leaves at all is extraordinary. It takes monumental courage.
And the women that manage it should be applauded and protected. They aren’t just ‘leaving’, they’re fighting for their lives. I see them at the women’s shelter where I volunteer. They land on the doorstep not because it’s an easy fix but because, for a short time at least, they’ll be safe. The windows are bullet proof; there are cameras at the door, you have to be buzzed in. The police are on speed dial.
Sadly there are never enough beds, never enough shelters. The problem of abuse is only getting worse. Sometimes women are sent out of town, wherever a place can be found. Imagine leaving your home with nothing, your abuser’s voice still ringing in your head, screaming that if you leave he’ll kill you or someone or something you love, and it will be your fault he says. If you leave, he won’t be accountable for what he does. It will be your fault.
The shelters are a place to breathe and think and get some help with what to do next. They’re a place that reminds women they aren’t alone, that their problem isn’t unique to them.
Why does she stay?
Because until she finds the strength to do anything else, it’s all she can do.
And even if she finally musters the courage to leave, she may very well go back at some point. For all the same reasons.
She wants things to be better. She really does. That’s part of the problem.
Factor in a situation where names and faces, celebrity and corporations and big, big money are involved, and you can be sure there are those that will do their best to convince her staying is to her advantage, in order that those others save face. And money.
Her face for theirs.
Why does she stay?
Here’s a better question: why does he stay? If he hates her so much that he has to destroy her, why in god’s name does HE stay?
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
For further information and assistance, including a list of shelters in Ontario, and across Canada: