Whose Bridge? – Crimson’s Creative Challenge #17

Good Friday evening, my peeps. I was going to write this one yesterday but the house bidness just took up all my brain cells and left me empty. Good news though. House is sold, an offer has been made on another. Not a done deal, of course. Do vendors ever accept an offer as is? Of course, until that part is settled, I probably won’t get a good night’s sleep. I’ll live. Then party when it is done!

As this is International Woman’s Day, my story took a totally different direction than I had originally planned!

Thank you, Crispina, for creating this challenge that pushes me to use different genres. Much obliged to ya! Was gonna put an answering picture, but chose a video instead.

Care to join? It’s fun and the rules are quite loose. Think sleepover party and the parents are out for dinner. Click on the link above. You’ll see what I mean 😉 K. ‘Nuff jibber-jabber, on with it already. Feel free to sing along…

Whose Bridge?

That bridge is not for you to cross.

You don’t own me

It’s a man’s world, face it. You don’t fit.

Don’t tell me what to do

You should be more ladylike, less outspoken

And don’t tell me what to say

Why do you want to go out and do that?

Please, when I go out with you

Just, please, don’t embarrass me

Don’t put me on display

You know what? Maybe this won’t work

You don’t own me

I’m all for women’s lib but you’re pushing it

Don’t try to change me in any way

You’ll have to tone it down if you want to stay

Don’t tie me down ’cause I’d never stay

(Word count 115)

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #14 – Juste Milieu

Ahh Crispina.  You’ve done it again.  You have enticed me to join in on your CCC challenge again this week.  Of course, it is Valentine’s Day today.  Of course, love is on so many people’s minds, and to a certain extent, mine as well.  That Google “Remember this day” sure didn’t help by reminding me that five years ago today, my husband and I celebrated our last one together with him decorating the dining room with all things heart, making me a meal and gifting me with my camera.  On my own since December of that same year, many thoughts on what I want or don’t want have criss-crossed my mind, going from, I really hope I meet someone, to, well, how about I meet someone who doesn’t need to have me 24/7?  There is something to this doing her own thing that quite appeals, even if occasionally, it can be lonely.  Enough rambling.  To my submission!

 

Choosing Me

“You don’t need a man to make you happy”

“You’ll be lonely remaining alone”

“Don’t be so picky”

“Don’t lower your standards”

Words thrown from all directions, including internally

 

What happened to making your own choices?

Trusting your own judgment?

 

A tasty meal with the perfect wine, wonderful conversation, followed by delicious sex

Why can’t that be enough for you?

Friendship, movies, a walk in the woods, holding hands, kissing, star-gazing

Why can’t that suffice?

 

Must it be all one?

And none of the other?

Where is the “juste milieu”? for me? for you?

 

One wants it all

The other wants just some

Neither can be forced

 

So, for now, I shall remain firmly planted at that junction

Forced neither left nor right

And should someone come along that makes my heart sing

And for whom I do the same?

Then let that path open wide.

(150 words)

Weekend Writing Prompt #93 – Horizon

I must be in a reflective mood today.  Or really thinking about what lies ahead.  Either way, this is the result.  Thank you to Sammi Cox for hosting his weekly challenge that I love.  The changing word-count makes it so interesting.

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend.  How you use the prompt is up to you.  Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like.  Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise.  If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.

Word Prompt

Horizon

Challenge

 

It is funny how the horizon can reshape your perspective

Ever changing, ever elusive, ever within your grasp?

Stretch out your arm and your hand touches it, just an illusion

Stretch your mind and it expands, this is reality

As the scenery transforms, so does your range of vision

Circumstances evolve, and so can your perception

When we stop learning, we stop living

“There is no Final Resting Place of the Mind.”
~Anthony Bourdain

From Dreams to Clutter

Earlier this afternoon, I was reading the lovely Na’ama Yehuda’s Tea Time poem which gave me the urge to make myself a cup of tea.  English Breakfast, to be precise.  The image she used to accompany her poem was taken by her niece, Smadar Halperin-Epshtein, and looks like part of a store specializing in tea paraphernalia, or at the very least all sorts of kitchen stuff.  My comment to her post was:

“If I could, I would include a picture of MY teapot collection.  And now, for some strange reason, I felt the need to plug in the kettle 😉”

I actually tried to insert a picture into my comment but knew it was for naught.  I told her I’d just have to do a post so she could see!  And well, dang it, here it is 😉

I wiped off the dust (what’s visible anyway) and took this picture.  I do have a couple more in my “store” as we call my sort of cold room, notably a Santa Claus…

I stared at my collection and reminisced about why I have so many teapots in the first place.  No, no, no, I was just collecting, like those who do spoons or plates from all over the world.  I once had a plan. These teapots would be put to use in my eventual tea house.  Family members, especially my sister, Lisa, started giving me them as gifts.  I don’t remember ever telling them to stop but eventually it became clear that they were just going to sit there.

Why, you ask?  Life got in the way.  First came the house, then the kids, then, when I started talking about starting my catering business, Mick announced he was going to leave his job and start his own business.  We couldn’t both take risks at the same time.  I believed in him and completely supported him all the way – his was a more lucrative business that could actually pay the bills rather than mine, which was an “unrealistic pipe dream”, anyway.  So I put mine aside.  And worked in offices as secretary/administrative assistant/supervisor, blah blah blah.  They can give it the title they want but it’s all the same difference.  I was good at it and paid decently so it lessened his stress.

Within a few years, Mick’s business was doing really well and I wanted to leave my abominable boss and boring-to-tears job and focus on my potential catering.  He balked.  I gave in.  Till I got myself liberated 😏.  Yessiree.  I made sure I was liberated.  Which was smart in the end, as I had a contract and they had to pay me five months’ salary.  I had done catering jobs here and there plus personalized birthday cakes, over the previous twenty years, but now I could focus on getting more contracts.  I started making meals for busy families.  I started working on my website (forget it, it’s shite, right now), I did corporate lunches here and there.  That dream was still in the back of my mind but growing dimmer.

And then Mick died.  And everything changed.  I still did meals for about a year after but that was just not lucrative enough.  I got offered the job at the golf club and slowly stopped catering.  The idea of owning my own little tea house has gone to the wayside.  I’m too old for that type of business now.  No, don’t argue.  I am at the stage in my life where I don’t want to be stuck to such a business.  And I don’t want to look into a partnership either as that brings its own headaches.

My house is for sale.  I want to downsize.  I want to travel, breathe, live.  I will find something else that will permit me to do just that.

Those teapots?  They are now officially clutter and need to be “Kon-maried”.

Ironically, as I was writing this post, Na’ama wrote another poem that arrived in my in-box bearing a message that spoke to me, effectively book-ending my little musing.  Do go read it, it is absolutely lovely, it ends with these words:

“You’ll find the path

To follow when you

Wake.”

— Na’ama Yehuda

Making the Best of It

There are those days when you want to throw your hands in the air and just say Fuck it!  Yesterday was one of those days.

As I prepared for my “date”, the skies were beautiful and so full of promise…

Why I don’t listen to my gut, is beyond me.  Must be that little naive bit of me that I refuse to let die.  Or maybe it’s the optimist that once and again shoves the realist out of the way because maybe, just maybe, you’ve got to give it a shot.

Well phooey! Gave it a shot.  Wasted my time.  Most of that time was spent idling in the insufferable traffic jam that is the island of Montreal.  For what?  To clean off my car in this sub-zero, digit-stealing, toe-numbing, nostril-freezing friggen blast of arctic cold we are going through this past week.  To thaw out in said car, heaters blasting, nose now running, fingers and toes now tingling, to sit through one log-jam to get onto the highway, to pass those who cannot seem to follow the speed-limit, to cross the bridge, then slow to a crawl to get to another highway, only to be redirected, to finally realise this has all been for naught.  To decide then and there to say Fuck It and to get off at my first chance.  (All this “Fuck It Attitude I am blaming on Grace and Frankie – gotta love this trailer, totally uncensored, by the way.)

To decide that this will not be a total waste of my time as I turn around and make my way to the Montreal Forum Cineplex and park inside where is is snow-free and warm. (Because really?  I am NOT gonna putz around looking for parking on the still-uncleaned streets from our latest dump of snow, only to actually find one and then have a snowplow (miraculously) completely box me in so that I now need to shovel to get out, after I have frozen my ass walking from the cinema).

Notre-Dame Street (Shhh… there was no one behind me and I stopped and snapped but still managed to have a blurry pic)

Driving up St. Marc Street, on my way to the Forum, I am struck by a beautiful mural (this is your fault, Resa McConaghy!) and wish I can pull over so I can take a proper picture but this street looks pretty much like the one above, plus I have someone right behind me.  Thankfully, I am stopped at a light and can open my window, brave the cold, and snap a quick pic.  I will definitely have to return to take some better shots without the bloody parking signs and do Resa proud 😉  I have to admit I’m surprised at just how nice and bright this did turn out.

I walk up to the main level of the forum, re-bundle up so I can then cross the street outside because, why is this the one non-underground connecting section of Montreal?  Fucks sake.  Or is there one and now I am even more of an eejit for not knowing it?  Goddamn! It’s cold.  The wind rendering my face instantly numb, I wait inside for the light to turn green, then hurriedly make my way to Roasters, a little BBQ Grill & Bar, because at this point, I’m gonna have me a Rickard’s Red with something decent to eat.  I have over half an hour before my movie starts and I am NOT having an A&W or McDonald’s burger after having wasted an hour and half to get here.

I am more than pleasantly surprised by my chicken wrap.

With almost ten minutes to spare, I re-bundled up just to cross the street.  I swear, this is not a day to leave your coat open and dash…  Upon Merril‘s recommendation, I purchased my ticket for “Cold War”, a beautiful 89-minute black and white escape into another world.

The movie is sent during the cold war in Poland, Wiktor and Irena are driving through Poland, recording various people singing old folk tunes.  They then want to create a choral ensemble to tour.  During these auditions, Zula appears.  Wiktor sees something in her and decides to accept her into the troupe.  They fall in love and so begins a most difficult relationship.  Can people be too in love with each other?  They go from bliss to separation, back together and apart.  Between all of these comings and goings is beautiful music and gorgeous cinematography.

I probably shouldn’t share this particular video with you but I really, REALLY wanted to share the whole choir singing “Two Hearts” because it is heart-breakingly beautiful.

Feeling warm and happy that my evening turned around, I got into my car and made my way home.  Of course the tunnel leading to the Jacques-Cartier bridge was closed.  Sigh.  Slowly forced to take an exit which is, of course, very slow going, and once I get up the hill, the bridge is not lit up in green or purple or whatever, as per usual.  I fear it might be closed I might be taking the long drive along Notre-Dame to the tunnel to get home but no.  Miracles of miracles, it was just a section of the tunnel being worked on which caused the redirect.  Through the thick snow I drive, across the bridge, onto properly moving traffic on the highway and back home before 10 pm.

I wash off my face, change into jammies, pour myself a glass of wine and I catch up on my blog readings.

That’s definitely what I call making the best of it.

The 2018 Annual Attitude of Gratitude: Bloggers Flood The Internet With Happiness & Positivity!

Dawn Quyle Landau of Tales from the Motherland has issued the 5th annual “50 Happy Things/Attitude of Gratitude” challenge and I am more than pleased to join in once again.  For instructions on the “how-to”, please click here.  Once you’ve figured out how to do it and have been inspired to do it (Why not?  How much can it hurt to bring forth things that make you happy?) click here to add your link.

There is absolutely no order to my following list.  I have set the timer for 15 minutes and this is basically stream of consciousness stuff (i.e. as it comes, I type).  All embellishments are added after the clock has run out and I’ve spell-checked my list 😉

  1. My boys – they remind me that I am human
  2. My home – protects me from the elements
  3. My family – all the way down to second cousins thrice removed
  4. My sisters – despite whatever goes on in life, they are there for me
  5. Mom – without her, I would not be
  6. Friends who are the chosen family
  7. Blogosphere – a world I could not have imagined ten years ago
  8. The friends I’ve made on the blogosphere – I cherish the connections I’ve made
  9. Going to Old Montreal for New Year’s Eve with good friends
  10. Getting on the ferris wheel for the midnight fireworks
  11. Friday Fictioneers – for teaching me how to cut the fluff and get to the point
  12. B – for pushing me to be a better writer while becoming a close friend
  13. My ability and joy of cooking
  14. Sharing my food with those I love
  15. My boys when they help me before I have to ask
  16. My computer – as a tool to connect and write
  17. Internet – bringing the world to my fingertips
  18. Brothers-in-law who help out for stuff that I just cannot do on my own
  19. Girlfriends – to share those things that you just can’t with family
  20. Blogging community – I keep learning
  21. Rochelle for her friendship and for trusting me with her lateest WIP (and any other writings)
  22. Julie for being my “culture friend” and my trusted date for stuff no one else is interested in
  23. Feeling part of my close knit gang
  24. Food – the diversity, the sensuality
  25. My taste buds – which permit me to enjoy all the flavours out there
  26. Good wine
  27. fun work colleagues
  28. New colleagues who seemed to really appreciate me
  29. Clients who appreciate me
  30. My legs for allowing me to take my walks
  31. My big-ass bathtub for when I need to get away from it all
  32. Reading – opening my world to other realms
  33. Writing, which allows me to let go of stuff
  34. Writing prompts that push me to do better
  35. My bed, where I get the rest I need or at least pretend to
  36. My hands which are capable of so much more than I thought
  37. Heating which protects me from the cold
  38. My capacity to love no matter how many times my heart is broken
  39. Being appreciated for what I offer
  40. My wit and sense of humour – keeps me sane
  41. Travel – I need to do more; experience other cultures
  42. The communities I’ve built – virtual and real
  43. Connections I’ve made with people from around the world
  44. A cozy fire, to gaze into, to snuggle with someone
  45. Zeke – who is not getting as much love as he should but will
  46. Eyes – to appreciate the beauty around me
  47. My smile, which seems to be what people remember about me
  48. My camera, which helps me to look at things differently and record the memories
  49. Being able to express myself and be open to others’ opinions
  50. Widow’s pension, which helps to make ends meet
  51. EI which permits me to take the time to rest between jobs
  52. Working a seasonal job which allows me to take the other seasons off
  53. Sense of smell, without it, I would never appreciate food and cooking so much
  54. My body – it may be quite as I would like it to be, but it’s mine and it functions
  55. Dishwashers – because sometimes, doing the dishes just blows
  56. My car – I can go anywhere when I want
  57. My resilience – even though it’s a word that bugs the shit out of me, it is the right word for me
  58. The close friends who will always include me in their happenings
  59. My ability to adapt to whatever life throws my way
  60. My boys – I am so proud of them both for the young men they are becoming
  61. That Iain has decided to go back to school to get a diploma in electricity
  62. That Aidan has decided to pursue an education in animation (yeah, yeah, it has another title that I always forget)
  63. That I know I can count on my sisters for anything
  64. My lack of cynicism – despite the world we live in
  65. My charm that can be helpful when I screw up
  66. Dark chocolate
  67. Camaraderie – that can be found
  68. Facebook – say what you will, I have kept in contact with many because of it
  69. Book, books and more books
  70. Potential for love – I’ve not given up

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.