Nuclear Power – by Melissa Ballard

 

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A writing mentor, Richard Taylor, said recently “What do you do with the shit in your head if you don’t write? Hit a supersize bag of cheetos and a litre of Coke?”  So many reasons to write. Here’s one of my favourites –

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. – Joan Didion

 

Or how about this from a great Canadian writer:

I’m concerned about the unknowability of other people. – Carol Shields

I can guess why my friend, Melissa Ballard, wrote this story. See if you can, too. Whatever drives Melissa, I’m grateful for her beautiful non-fiction stories and exploration of events and people in her life. She finds the universal in the particular as you’ll read in her latest story in Belt Magazine. I hope you like it as much as I did.

 

 

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A Shot at Redemption

I wake to my mother’s black and white image every day. Her photo hangs over my dresser and she stares directly at me. Its one of those photos where the eyes follow you. My husband has never objected to the location of the photo or that her gaze is focused on our bed. Perhaps its because she is very beautiful and serene.

Judging from the hairstyle and clothes, the photo was probably taken around 1940. She looks like a big city gal which belies her rural Midwest roots. I wonder if it was taken while she lived in Chicago where she finally settled down after years trailing her Dad in the Dirty Thirties as he looked for work.

Propped in my bed with the dog snoring beside me, cozy in a nest of pillows and books, we loll in soft grey light. A squirrel skitters across the roof and I tense, hoping he doesn’t fall down the chimney as happened to one of his brethren on Boxing Day. As I hold my breath, I hear my mother’s voice. Continue reading

Fear of Authenticity

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Christmas morning – Authentic dog and snow

“If I brought my authentic self to work, I’d be fired.” This was the most authentic thing I said in the 2.5 hour long discussion my employer held on the new corporate values. My authentic self is quick-tempered, opinionated, potty-mouthed, and arrogant. These are not highly prized attributes for an underling and certainly, during a corporate group-think values session, I was not about to expose my true self. Continue reading

How to Clean Your Closet

Close your eyes, slide the door open, and pluck 12 items randomly from left to right. Ignore the weight of your choice. You touch it, you pluck it. Ignore texture, too.
Make no conjecture about your selection. You don’t know if that silky feel is real or synthetic. This moment is your emetic. Commit to the decision at your fingertips.

Continue reading

A Walk on Nietzsche’s Birthday

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You may know of his most famous work – a philosophical novel called “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” and you probably also know the music of the same name from “2001: A Space Odyssey”.  The composer, Richard Strauss, had read Nietzsche’s novel and created this strange, other-worldly musical fanfare used at the beginning and the end of the movie.

Without music, life would be a mistake.

Now, lest you be thinking I’m some kind of philosophy buff, let me divest you of that thought pronto. I discovered it was Nietzsche’s birthday because I was driving in the car early the morning of October 15 and a radio host shared this nugget and then played the music. Continue reading

To be or not to be

I felt something soft under my foot and thought I’d stepped in dog shit. We were outside the door of Ottawa’s newest fancy donut joint, Maverick’s, where we planned to buy a ½ dozen of the pricey treats and bring them home to the children for all of us to enjoy. We’d spent the last 2 hours hiking in Gatineau Park, tromping up and down hills aglow in fall foliage – maples, aspens, birches, fanned out like a male turkey’s tail feather display. The bear warning signs had not deterred us. Continue reading

That Doesn’t Happen Here

The sky the morning after the storm was bright blue with charming white clouds, now harmless, arranged across the sky like teeth in the grin of a psychopath post-knife plunge. A gang of red, black and grey squirrels emerged from their safe havens and skittered along branches of damaged trees, pulling together new nests. They make it look easy. Continue reading

Morning Prayer

5:50 a.m. In dark just lighter than pitch, the dog and I venture out for his morning relief. The spilled streak of stars we call the Milky Way fades as I glance up, as though my eyes mop heavens’ mess. The dog lifts his leg and anoints the road sign pole and I hear the splash of contact. He kicks his hind legs, rubs his paws on the grass making sure every bit of his scent graces his small patch of turf. Continue reading