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

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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

Bespoke

In 1981, I owned two pairs of corduroy pants, four hand-knit sweaters made by my mother, a pair of Adidas running shoes with a loose heel that slapped my foot as I walked, and two dresses I sewed using material found in remnant bins of fabric stores. That year, I shifted my job hunt from the careers section of the Ottawa Citizen to the classifieds. An English Literature degree had not guaranteed entry into any work I aspired to and I needed a job. I borrowed a jacket, a blouse, and a pair of shoes that blistered my baby toes for interviews. I landed a job as a secretary with the Canadian Construction Association. At 24, my real education began. Continue reading

For sale: red dress

RedDress

Vintage. Size 8. Worn three times in 1992.

The reason
I wore the dress for the first time at a Meeting Planners International (Ottawa Chapter) Gala. I won “Planner of the Year”, for which I received a plaque. Now when I hear the word plaque I think gum disease and heart attack but back then it meant achievement. I was good at a job that, among other things, demanded good feet. Back then when scouting a location for a 1200 delegate conference and 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, I walked every inch of too many hotel function rooms and concrete floored trade show halls – in stilettos. I tromped service corridors and loading bays. I hoofed the cobblestone streets of old Montreal surrounding the Montreal Convention Centre. I pounded the paved cruise ship docks beside the Vancouver Convention Centre and marched up and down Halifax’s hills to and from the harbour and up to the Citadel because back then there was no Google Earth or Mapquest to help situate the convention site within a city. I had to see it for myself. In stilletos. Because. Fashion. Continue reading

The space between

Dandy-dog

Dandy dog

When I opened the book I ordered on-line, the thing I noticed immediately was neither the beautiful photography and the carefully crafted knitting patterns nor the lyrical language of the stories accompanying the patterns. What I noticed was the lack of white space. Paragraphs bumped into each other like commuters in Toronto and margins were narrower than country roads.  Photos worthy of singular exposure were lost in a visual melange. There was no place for my eyes to linger or rest.

I felt like a Panini pressed between paragraphs. I wanted a moment to breathe and think. I needed space to digest what came before and what was coming next. Continue reading

Forgiving pink

Fifteen year old me said something like this: “Pink stinks.” I got extra marks in university for brevity from an exhausted professor probably worn down reading 300 term papers replete with rosy language hiding empty thoughts. Pink as a colour struck me this way. Pointless, pathetic fluff. Continue reading

Games I don’t play

It is a few evenings before Christmas and we’re in the living room of my brother’s house in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  A low fire winks behind the screen of the small coal burning fireplace and undernotes of coffee mixed with alcohol intermittently finds my nose. Continue reading