A Sunday Challenge Post

Marc, Chief Troublemaker number 1, over at Sorryless, has once again issued to both Karen, KC Sunshine Troublemaker number 2, of Table for One, and me, Notorious Q Troublemaker number 3 (hey, my blog, my order), a writing challenge. I love that he calls us the Holy Trinity and Karen has her own ideas on who’s holds what position, and after quite the discussion last night, I have agreed to her order.

So, what’s the challenge, you ask? Sounded like it was simple enough. Go back in time to meet someone in 1985 (a nod to the Back to the Future original movie made that very year) and explain to them what 2018 looks like. As this is really close to the last day of said 2018, I realise it is high time I do my part. I have started and chucked and started and chucked again. Ideas coming in and then being dismissed. Marc’s brilliant post is here and Karen’s just as brilliant one, here. Their writing is so wonderful and heartfelt and true that I found myself even more stuck because I thought, shit, unlike them, no particular event in my own life happened in 1985 that affected me so deeply that I could dig it up and use it like they did.

Except.

Hopefully, without sounding schizophrenic, I’ll meet up with my own 21-year-old self and have a little chit-chat with her. To avoid confusion, me, aged 21, shall be known as Rog, a nickname used by four people for me.

“So, Rog, 1985 has been quite the year for you, hasn’t it?”

“Whoa, Dale, am I that old in 2018?”

“What? I’m not that bad, for Chrissakes! 54 may seem old to you now, but trust me, when you get here? You’re gonna change your mind on what one defines as old. It’s all relative.”

She eyed the signs life had left on my face and body so far. “You’re ten years older than Mom is now but I’ll tell you what, not too shabby.”

“Gee, thanks. How gracious you are…”

“To what do I have the honour of hanging out with my future self? Are you here to warn me of something so that I don’t fuck it up?”

“Nah, nothing like that. Besides, messing with time can have some dire consequences. You saw the movie—

“Movie’s not reality—”

“Maybe not. But I’m here now and best we keep this little conversation to ourselves, k? Anyway, I’m not here for changes, because I wouldn’t change a thing. OK, that part is not entirely true… Some shit I wish I didn’t do, but it’s all part and parcel of where I am now, so. Just know there are some really good things ahead for you. And, yes, there is some heavy shit coming your way, too. I don’t know if I really should tell you but I’m here now so I’m going to fill you in anyway.”

“How heavy?”

“More than you want. And, as you can see, it’s not going to kill you. That old adage of ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’? It exists because it’s true.”

“God I hate that one.”

“Yeah, I know… can we continue?’

“Yeah, yeah. What did you mean by ‘quite the year I had?'”

“Lemme see… you ditched D after you refused to move in with him – kudos to you for knowing what you want and what you don’t – but you kept him around as a friend with benefits, went with him on vacation—”

“Best vacation ever! Know why? I didn’t give a shit. He couldn’t tell me what to do and convince me to participate in stuff I didn’t want to because I wasn’t his girlfriend!”

“You do realise, don’t you, that even if you were, you still wouldn’t have been obliged to do anything you didn’t want to.”

“Well. I guess. Maybe…”

“If only you had kept that confidence in your own judgment. However, here you are, living with P, your former gym teacher. I know. Kind of has that fairy tale feel to it when you guys reconnected five years after high school, eh? But now you find yourself a weekend stepmom. How’s that working for you?”

“It’s cool. Really, it is. The rest of the week, it’s just the two of us. With the requisite phone call to the kid on Tuesdays.”

“Uh huh. Keep trying to convince me. Well, Rog, here’s what’s coming. You are gonna last five years with this guy because, why really? After two years, you’ll have come the conclusion that this union was all about him and not about you. You’ll go nowhere, do nothing, plan zip. Three years later, by the age of 26, you are going to finally break free because you’ll realise you are too mature for his 37-year-old ass. Friends and family will come in to help you and you will move out on your own. You and P will drift apart because you didn’t have the balls to just say it was over.”

“Shit. You mean to tell me I am gonna waste five years of my prime?”

I smiled at her. “Nothing is a waste. Every choice you make, brings you to the next phase of your life.

“You won’t be alone long. You’ll meet R at work. A guy so totally not your type that you are immediately attracted to him. Before your one-year lease on your apartment is up, you guys will decide to move in together and the timing is perfect because Lisa and Chris, who are now married, will move out of their apartment into their first house and you and R will move into it. You’ll stay there a grand total of four months because Mom and Dad finally get divorced and you’ll buy the house. Within three years, R is going to go against everything he believes in to make you happy and ask you to be his wife. At 29 you feel it is ‘time’ to be married. The morning of the wedding your thoughts are going to be ‘what the fuck am I doing? Is it too late to cancel? This is so not what we should be doing!’ But you’ll convince yourself that yes, you can make it work.”

“Ah come on, Dale, am I that desperate?”

“No, you’re not desperate, you just think that’s where you should be in your life and you still don’t believe in yourself enough to say no. It’s a farce of a marriage over within 17 months. At the same time you also lose your job but the six months you live in that house solo, sans job? Turns out to be a priceless gift. Lisa was home with three babies. The twins were six months old, and Jennifer was only 20 months so you spent your days together. It helped each of you not lose your minds.

“Come March 1995, your life will change drastically.”

“Please give me good news!”

“You start a fabulous job with a great group and your friend Kathy convinces you to join Tele-Personals.”

“What? A dating service? I don’t need those!”

“No, well, what’s the harm? You meet some nut-jobs, but you also meet Mick. You guys go on your first date, and he never leaves. Mick buys R’s share in the house a few months later. Even quicker than you can bat an eyelash, you are pregnant. An oops, to be sure, but you both decide to embrace it. It is not a perfect pregnancy. You think you lose it twice and then the baby decides to come early. One month before your first anniversary of meeting each other.”

“Whoa. Um. Not too responsible of us.”

“Ya think? Anyway. I won’t give you all the deets because I can’t stay all day. Suffice it to say that you will have the challenge of your life ahead of you. Austin is what you guys name your little 4 lb 8 oz preemie. Born with a heart defect”

“Oh. We’re going to lose him, aren’t we?”

“After seven months and twenty-three days. This precious time you have with him will teach you just how strong and capable of anything you are. No one will ever be able to convince you otherwise because, for the first time in your life, you will be so confident in your abilities.”

“I don’t know if I wanted to know this.”

“Too late now. Do I stop here?”

“No!”

“Losing Austin puts a strain on you and Mick but it also cemented you. You decide to stay together and, after mourning, decide to build a family together. You have two more boys. Iain and Aidan, born 19 months apart.”

“We didn’t waste any time, did we?”

“You were already in your mid-thirties! But life is good. You guys have a great relationship on the whole. Sure you breathe each other’s air occasionally and there are gonna be fights because let’s face it, life cannot always be a bowl of cherries. And you need the pits to help remind you of the sweet. You’ll go on vacations and camping with Tracy and Sébastien and other friends occasionally and have many an adventure. And after seven years, you finally get married.”

“Jeez, what’s the rush?”

“Hah! Life got in the way and it wasn’t that important until it became something Mick and you really wanted. The whole big shebang with the dress, the open bar, the band, the party and your two precious boys, aged 2 and 3 as little groomsmen in their tuxedos just like Daddy’s.

“Mick started his own business and the family house became something he just didn’t want to have to keep renovating. So we got our big-ass house where Mick could have his office on the ground floor and watch people running to the bus stop. More trips, more camping, entertaining, activities. A really nice life.”

“Why do I have a horrible feeling, suddenly?”

“Dad died in May, 2013. Mick died in December the following year – God, he was only 51. It’s been four years already.”

“Aww come on! This can’t be real? I’m going to be a widow? Why are you doing this to me?”

“I’m sorry, Rog. This is your life. The good, the bad, the ugly.”

“How have you not completely fallen apart? How are you now, Dale? Is life good?”

“You know that much about us, Rog. We don’t fall apart. I’m doing pretty well, all things considered. Life is good.

“I’ve just come to the realisation that I’m not here for you at all. I’m here for myself. My telling you what lies ahead for you is really a reminder to me to look back at my journey so far, take stock of all my learnings and remind myself that I am who I am. That I am enough.  And I am still learning.”

 

Another Olde Lang Syne to say good-bye with a toast to the past and look forward to the future.

Weekend Writing Prompt #87 – Ignite

In such a rush, I forgot my preamble!  Thank you Sammi Cox for giving me something to think about while I struggle over another prompt!

Do you remember when

With just the right smile

I was able to

Ignite your wildest passions?

Under the Calabash Tree

Good Boxing Day (for those who “celebrate the crush of bodies in stores the day after Christmas) my peeps.  Hope you are not suffering from a hangover, food or booze-related!  Took me a good while to get myself going today (giving you the idea that I actually have got myself going at all).  The crash after the excitement, I guess!

Thank you to Rochelle for keeping this here party going even during the holidays.  And thank you to Randy Mazie for allowing us to use this photo – for the second time, it would seem.  Before my time 😉  Wanna play with us?  Click on Rochelle’s name for the how-to’s and then click on the Blue Frog to add your link to your own 100-word creation!

©Randy Mazie

Get the Frog for your Blog

Under the Calabash Tree

The heat is stifling, made more so by the number of people crammed into our little house.  Family gatherings are wonderful and I love them until the press of bodies causes me to seek relief.

I sneak out the back door, unnoticed.  I want no company.  No one alive, anyway.  Except for the goat.  She is always welcome.

I whistle as I make my way to the shade of the calabash tree. One day I’ll remember to bring a damn chair.

I take out my notebook and pencil and begin to write.  I dream of being the next George Lamming.

And So This is Christmas….

We have hit that “quiet time” in our yearly festivities.  It lasts a few hours and most members of our families try to take this time to nap to prepare for the last of the family shenanigans, or in my case, write a blog post.  After all, I managed to write 24 days in a row, why break it on this most special of days?  Besides, no matter how tired I am, I am afraid if I do nap, tonight’s sleep will be slow in coming.  And now I am feeling nostalgic.

Time moves forward; we can’t stop it.  Families grow, decline, grow again.  Children are born, grandparents (and parents) pass away, children grow up, fall in love, boyfriends and girlfriends come in and out of the picture; before long, those children are getting married (or hooking up), having children and the cycle continues.

Some things are lost along the way.  Things like the music.  As the older folk start dying off, so do their songs.  The next generation remembers some of the tunes completely, or parts of the lyrics of others and we sing what we know, faking the rest, then repeat the same verses.  We are now at the point where there are so few left from the singing generation and the songs have all but been silenced.  I still want to sing!  Rare are the occasions now where we do.  I am aggrieved by that.  My generation still has the memories of those family gatherings but the ones following us, don’t.  Is it our fault?  I don’t think so.  Times change.

Back when, before most of us had kids, we would assemble at my grandmother’s for New Year’s and spoons would come out and, if one of the old uncles was around, there’d be a fiddle, plus there was always at least one guitar… but didn’t matter if there was nary an instrument.  Because suddenly either Mémère or Matante Lucette would start the song and we’d all join in.

New traditions needed to be created when my parents divorced. Now we had to adapt to the new reality and spread ourselves to please everyone.  The Saturday before Christmas, Dad would make his bird and have us all over for his celebration, then Christmas Eve, over to my sister, Tracy’s, for a major party with both sides of the families.  Ugh… when I think of those smoke-filled rooms…  Next day, after each of us did our individual family thing, we’d schlep our stuff up north to Mom’s for Christmas dinner and a sleep-over.  Some years we’d make it to Mémère’s for New Years but that meant two two-hour drives up north within a week.  That quickly became old.

Traditions changed once again and, for the past, shoot, I don’t know how many years, our formula has remained the same.  Up until Dad’s death in 2013, we did the Saturday before Christmas at his place, then the Christmas Eve at Tracy’s – no more smoke and much more reasonable by being immediate families only – which still implies 25 people or more!

Mick started a tradition of making Christmas brunch for family and friends – I can’t even remember when it started!  It was like a rotating door:  some would arrive, stay awhile, eat, chat, leave and more would come in.  This, too, changed over the years and became smaller with mostly family with a few friends who pop over.  After Mick died in 2014, Iain took up the mantle.  So very cool to watch him do what needs to be done to keep this tradition going.  And he won’t admit it but he is so proud to do so.

Then supper at Lisa’s for the classic turkey dinner.

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We interrupt this post because the internet decided to go wonky on me and I had to leave for turkey dinner at my sister, Lisa’s.  So much for posting for a 25th day in a row!  It is now very early December 26th…

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So how was Christmas 2018?  It was a wonderful time!

Differences were set aside to embrace the spirit of the season.  Food was shared, drinks flowed, laughter was heard.  Three gatherings in the three sisters’ houses with the same core people in two days and we wouldn’t change a thing.  Well, except I would have liked to have won at Texas Hold ‘Em but at least didn’t lose my money!

Our new traditions having been holding strong and we’re enjoying them, knowing that there will be changes in the future as that is the nature of life.  New people shall arrive, others shall leave and so it goes.

I still wish we would sing, though.

My all-time, never to be excluded Christmas song is Mahalia Jackson’s “Silent Night”.  Thank you Dad, for bringing her into my life.

Advent Calendar – Day 24

In the spirit of Christmas and the Advent Calendar that has been revamped and re-purposed in myriad ways, I have decided to do one of another sort.  Instead of taking one chocolate per day (or wine or whatever goodie is in vogue) or adding one item into a box to donate for a good cause (a very good thing, indeed) I have chosen to send a little love to my favourite blogs.

How did 24 days fly by so fast?  I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed sharing with you some of my favourite blogs and that each “nominee” expressed pleasure at being a part of my calendar.  Such a little idea that did more than I could have hoped.  It was hard but I had to force myself to stop at 24, respecting the Advent Calendar principle.  So, last, but not least:

Day 24 – Yesterday and Today:  Merril’s Historial Musings

Merril D. Smith is a wonderful writer, poet, and fan of musicals, whom I discovered, I believe, through Frank – though I’m not 100% sure he can get full credit as we hang out with a couple other peeps 😉

I have never been much of a poetry buff.  Oh, there are some that I’ve enjoyed reading and do I ever admire those who can recite their favourites off the cuff but I’m far from that – unless Dr. Seuss counts.  So much poetry goes way over my head but not Merril’s.  Hers is a friendly style, for lack of a better term.  From her magnetic poetry, inspired by the Oracle, to her weekly recaps in her Monday Morning Musings, to her haiku and haibun, mostly triggered by the various challenges she participates in, there is something for love.  She mostly spreads joy with the occasional frustration – she is human, after all – in her lyrical verses.  And it’s all her fault I attempted a Cleave Poem (having no friggen clue what it even was)!

She has a lovely family and fabulous husband willing to be dragged to plays, movies, restaurants… and thanks to her enjoyment in the various arts, my “to-read” and “movie-and-plays-to-see” lists keep expanding!

Advent Calendar – Day 23

In the spirit of Christmas and the Advent Calendar that has been revamped and re-purposed in myriad ways, I have decided to do one of another sort.  Instead of taking one chocolate per day (or wine or whatever goodie is in vogue) or adding one item into a box to donate for a good cause (a very good thing, indeed) I have chosen to send a little love to my favourite blogs.

Day 23 – Word Shamble

Lynn Love is a wordsmith hors pair.  Honestly, this woman weaves a tale like no other.  When participating in Friday Fictioneers or What Pegman Saw, I marvel at how she can describe a situation or scene or person in 100-150 words and leave me with the images swirling around my brain.  And she doesn’t do it with an overload of adjectives placed willy-nilly, either.  Each one enhances the story just right.

Her specialty is horror or stories of foreboding and her creepy is often done in a sneaky fashion.  You think all is going well and then you pick up on the little Easter eggs she has subtly hidden within her text.  So good!

I know Lynn sends her work out regularly and eventually a publisher is gonna wake up to her talent and publish it where I shall be first in line to purchase it!

Weekend Writing Prompt #86 – Mask

Such a rush to publish, I forgot to insert my intro!!

Christmas is around the corner and for many, it is a difficult time… I hope for all, to find the joy again.  Thank you, Sammi Cox, for hosting this weekend prompt.  Today, I felt inspired….

‘Tis the time of year where masks are found aplenty

To hide the pain

To pretend joy

To make believe

To soothe others

To convince one’s self

To fake it till you make it

 

The day comes

You remove it

You no longer need it

Sun behind cloud