Music Monday: Your Life is Now by John Mellencamp

Over my holidays I learned a classmate from my graduating class passed away in July from cancer. He hung with the head bangers (mullets, jean jackets, and heavy metal crowd) as the quiet one of this bunch. While he looked gaunt, he had the same eyes and face I can still remember. I find myself remembering pieces of my school years, and his face strangely stuck in my memory. His death had no obituary, and he would celebrate his 44th birthday tomorrow. According to the Facebook post he passed surrounded by his family.

Meanwhile another classmate in my graduating class, one I knew really well, had her first grandchild. In fact she’s the second person I knew to have a grandchild as another had that honour at age 40. It’s the way the old neighbourhood runs. People have boyfriends/girlfriends they marry, and some divorce to remarry again and again and again. In between they have children. In my 20’s it irked me I didn’t have those basic milestones like everyone else.

At 45 those worries fade farther and farther in my rear view. (Note: I was left back in grade 1, therefore a year older than everyone else in my grade all through school.) This year I joined two separate Facebook groups, one for  junior high I attended, and the other for high school. I don’t know if any reconnecting will happen, but I felt it was time.

Those years had many good memories mixed with a lot of bad. Take one look at my name (Fatima) and take a wild guess what bullies can do with it? In fact I want to take a TARDIS back to those years,  tell that girl she’s not as big as everyone thinks she looks. I would also tell her ‘your life is now.’

Every year I get older, I get reminded more of life passes behind me. I had an inkling my life is now not if I have a man, not if I make this x-amount per year at a job, and not if I can meet an ideal body type.

Now.

So this is for the Valley Gardens Junior High class of 1986 and for the Kildonan East Class of 1989. Raise a glass to friends far away or passed away; Deal with your demons; Celebrate your triumphs; Hug your loved ones.

Your life is now.

Stay-cation Postcard

It’s after midnight as my vacation begins to countdown to the finish. I went out, got my passport done, uncluttered some spaces, and stayed up late. Right now I find myself in one of those late-night spells after watching the new Hannibal episode. I have watched my share of scary stuff, but Hannibal took scariness to a whole new level. Let’s just say the site of Richard Armitage in short shorts should give me some highly pleasant dreams. Nope. Any zing-y feelings grew some dragon wings and flew off tonight. (Last night?)

I find myself feeling strangely ready to go back to work. I guess it’s the point of a vacation to get away to fill the well. I kept one eye on my blog goals, yet turned my computer off and put away the other electronic toys. Sometime the internet looks dark and full of terrors.

Tomorrow, or in this case a few hours from now, I will take three garbage bags of gently used clothes and shoes to Value Village. Last week I pruned my bookshelves for a library donation. Anytime I tackle my clutter, I reinforce my gratitude for what I have now. A few years ago I learned about stewardship. I learned about the concept in a spiritual sense related tithing and sharing gifts. The underpinning of those times flows through what I did today. I wrote about having the privilege to take vacations while others can’t. For some people the salary they get doesn’t seem enough. I have made little compared to other people before my library job, and my circumstances changed yet my philosophy has not. I remind myself to always look for ways to give, to make the world a little better. It’s not always with money. It could be time. Sometimes it’s an ear as I have discovered working in the library.

Before I take those notebook scribbles and turn them into a post, I have paper to shred. Now the weather has turned a little cooler, I can hopefully sit on my balcony with a cup of tea, or something stronger, to toast the upcoming academic year.

For now I need to get to sleep and hope a red dragon doesn’t get me.

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Good luck trying to read my writing.

Post in Progress

Music Monday: Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins

Echo Beach exists in the mind of the narrator of the song, but Martha and the Muffins are real. It’s the song of escape, and yearning to escape, common to anyone with a boring job or not.

I love the guitar work and sax playing. It has this old-school vibe despite hitting the top ten in 1980. Just press play, kick back, and go far away in time back to echo beach.

Music Monday: Vacation by The Go-Gos

It arrived.

For the next two weeks I will sleep in, pamper myself, and take my mom to a morning appointment without worrying about arranging my work schedule. My mind already left on the Tuesday after the Civic Holiday/Terry Fox long weekend. I wish to call it planning, but picking the dates meant waiting four days instead of five.

I enjoy my job, make a good living at it, and flex my intellect along with helping a variety of people. Even the best workers in any field feel the need to step away for a little routine change. I have the privilege to step away, while mindful some people work without two days off in a row. My last job before going back to school has Sundays off, the odd Saturday, yet not two days off all the time. The job before that one did. I had the Sunday/Monday weekend, others had Friday/Saturday, others had some unique ones during the week. In the end full-time workers had two days off, in a row, all the time.

In honour of vacations both in the mind, and in real-time, the next few Music Mondays have a fun theme. August heralds the last few weeks of summer vacation. Let’s hum a fun tune, and enjoy the remaining time.

Scattered Drafts and Upcoming Appointments

I have a mental list of things to do over my holidays. I checked the ‘Drafts’ portion of my blog, and saw some entries to change/add/eventually publish. Stacks and Ranges will hit 400 posts very soon. I never imagined the last hundred, but I did read my early posts, and saw a some growth. Hope does exits for this blog and her writer. In addition to the blog posts, I will sit my bum down to write. In the words of Cheryl Strayed writing as Sugar in Dear Sugar I will ‘write like a motherf***ker’.

Much of the holidays will involve some self-care. I have a massage booked with Y to continue caring for my back. I go every two months to get the kinks out, and keep things flowing in the lower back. Two years passed since my injury, and sometimes the nerve vibrates without causing pain. It’s like plucking a string, and it reminds me of the pain traveling down the left, the piriformis spasms adding to the pain.

The other self-care appointment involves my hair. Every 8 weeks I get a cut, but this time the demicolour will not only condition my hair, but erase the white lines for a little while. If I had evenly distributed grey, without sticking out like wires on a circuit board, I would not mind. In reality my hair has wiry white hairs, and humidity makes me look like Roseanne Roseannadanna:

Now Imagine This With White Streaks

So here’s to vacations, time off, and mentally taking a break. Here’s to showing kindness and understanding to those in the service industry; They may have not received a fraction of vacation time people take for granted. Here’s to creating, live tweeting Hannibal, and drama-free, fan-girling in middle age. Finally, here’s to life at present, one meant to be lived, so we can feed a creative life no matter what we do for a living.

Soggy Books, New Books, TBRs, and Books in Progress

Last week I posed a picture of my damp copy of Health at Every Size. How bad did it look after drying off?

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Exhibit A

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Exhibit B

I went online to order a replacement copy, and a couple of more items. One particular book titled Cinnamon and Gunpowder shapes up as my next read. It tells the story of a ship’s chef taken prisoner by a female pirate named Mad Hannah Mabbot. My friend V told me about the book, and the premise basically said READ ME! Owen, the chef, has to make dinner with the supplies on hand. Female pirate + food+reversal of roles=READ ME!

At the moment two books occupy my time. On the bus I continue with Too Far Gone; Before bed I read Aziz Ansari’s (Parks and Rec) new book Modern Romance on e-book, courtesy of the library’s Overdrive app. How do I love Overdrive, let me count the ways. The wait time is shorter. The physical book has 75 people waiting with me as the 75th person. I can discover new authors, take my book-laden Galaxy tab to places, and read smutty books to my heart’s content.

I still love the feel of a physical book in my hands. The problem with physical books? Did I just mention the book-laden tablet? I only have so much room in my condo, something both a blessing and a curse. I have to take stock of the TBR (To Be Read) pile to form some sort of queue. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, the ‘Song of and Fire’ series for re-reading before Dances with Dragons, When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid (2014 Governor General winner for Children’s Literature, but really YA), and this list goes on.

Last year I revisited The Crucible for the first time since high school. Why? I had a reason and he’s 6’2, British, blue-eyed, and my kind of nerd. No essays to write, just the pure joy of reading the play. Enough time has passed to reach for the classics, something done in earnest for a few years. I read Pride and Prejudice, and feel the need to have a look at Tess of the d’Urbervilles again. On the other hand, I have not read enough Aboriginal authors, and particularly. Aboriginal women. I do recommend Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway and Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden. One deals with the fall-out of residential schools, the other has a female character carrying on traditional trapping. Boyden’s The Orenda remains firmly rooted in the top 10 of the TBR pile.

What’s on your list? My TBR pile can always use some ideas. Sound off below.

Music Monday: Holiday by Madonna

I felt nostalgic, and I had one post for Music Monday needing some work. It’s the Civic Holiday long weekend, or Terry Fox day depending on who’s mentioning the news story. I had three lovely days off, and it’s four more days until I go on my holidays.

Let’s celebrate!

If I Am Not Fried, I Am Soggy

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I thought may be putting  a book in a ziplock bag made me strange.

Nope, not at all.

The Great Vacation Countdown Begins Again

I logged into WordPress for my usual stats check, and had a look at my site. I discovered my post title still had a the colon from the original title. I forgot to press the backspace key one more time, and had an awkward sentence later in the post. I blinked a couple of times then thought my vacation can’t come fast enough.

I will take a couple of weeks off to wake up naturally, or wake up early for some other purpose not involving taking a bus to get to work. I feel punchy, and the new academic year comes closer each day. Around August we see dazed, and slightly confused, first year students. Sprinkled in the newbies, the second years return ready to finish their programs, and head out to work. Most programs at the college, with a few exceptions, are two-year diploma programs. My library technician diploma took two years. Go in, work like a person on fire, and head out into your field. It took me until 2014 to get permanent work, and I already began with three weeks vacation. After years of switching from teaching to book retail, then going back to school for my diploma, things like stability and benefits feel like hard-won privileges.

When a library tech graduates, unless they get lucky, it’s term and contract jobs for a while. I juggled three positions twice since my 2009 graduation. Money played one role, but I really wanted skills. I wanted to apply my skills, and I wanted a few new ones. Believe it nor not, Twitter was a skill I picked up at one of my library positions. I learned about a social network, and how to tame my wordy self in the process.

Now I learn a new skill–the fine art of doing nothing. Doing nothing requires skill, and it seems easy. In fact it’s difficult as little voices come into play, urging me to be ‘productive’. Usually, they take on one, familiar voice telling me to clean my condo. I have learned to flick off the switch, turning a page in my latest read. I got better at even closing the door on my day. Once I leave work everything stays on the other side until the morning. I plan to do the same for the two-week sabbatical.

Top of the list involves something I pay for in common elements fees, but never used since I moved in 2011. I have a pool in my complex. It has lounge chairs, the sun doesn’t hit to hard, and I have a bathing suit. Most of the time, the same residents simply lay around until their skin turns a caramel colour. I get naturally darker, but I don’t want to age faster by sitting out in the sun. What happens if a person sun bathes too much?

Moisturize me!

Call it a vacation or a staycation, but I call it a brain reset; Nothing gets accomplished without it. For the record it’s six working days and counting.