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A Literary Life Examined: Part I

bookshelfBy the time I was 26, I was already orphaned, divorced, and a parent.

Life, in all of it’s complex mystery was starting over for me. I was frightened, but I was young, and unlike the almost 40-year-old me, I was convinced that the years ahead would be the best, most successful and full of love.

The written word had always held a powerful hold over me. Whether it was a brochure, travel advertisement, novel or text-book, I was intrigued by reading things I didn’t know about, or have any experience with.

So, at the tender age of 26, moving from small town life to the city, I fell in love with big bookstores, fabulously romantic used bookstores, men who had cultivated their intellect and with reading anything I could get my hands on. Tim Sander’s 2002, “Love is the Killer APP”, changed how and what I read;

When we were kids, we loved to role-play, and doctor was one of our best roles.

Try it again today. Prescribe books to contacts like a doctor would prescribe

medications for patients. (p102)

And so it began. My absolutely insatiable adult-appetite for reading. No book, magazine, e-zine, chapbook or greeting card has been safe from my clutches since then.

As a child I read to escape. As an adult, I began to read in order to satisfy my lust to figure things out.

Fast forward to today.

Having been fascinated by men who are primarily interested in their own intellect, I am still single, and surrounded by ceiling-high piles of books.

My graduate studies interests have ranged from South American and Caribbean liberation theology to bio-ethics. I have an English & Religious Studies degree, a professional designation and an advanced something or other for helping recently traumatized folks recover from crisis. I know how to tie surgical knots, Egyptian embalming techniques and how to tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue. Men who can discuss politics, psychology, baseball and not get lost in their GQ ego’s turn me on.

“If you go back to a man’s home and he doesn’t have books, don’t f^(K him”, posted one of my social media friends.  Yes, I thought, wise advice. Men who lack a proper bookshelf or a decent stack of books on an appropriate number of seemingly unrelated subjects aren’t really the kind of fella I can have a decent conversation with. Perhaps the quote should have read, “If you go back to a man’s home and he doesn’t have books, don’t expect a thoughtful conversation, just  f^(k him.”

But I digress…..

This morning, with the sun shining high, and the arrival of spring just around the corner, I decided I needed to make room in my room. It was time to hold myself to the sage advice of a decluttering expert, “If it’s not beautiful or useful, get rid of it.” I immediately packed a bag for my teenager and kicked him out…..


By far the most difficult ‘stuff’ for me to part from has always been my books. As a writer, I go back to many of them, rereading for style, content, and most importantly inspiration.  As a professional and speaker, I go back to create engaging presentations and educational pieces. Why on earth would anyone get rid of such an expansive library right in their very own home.

Well, mostly because they (AKA ‘I’),  live in a small 950 square foot garden town home, and the public-library is a 5 minute walk along a lake trail.  Oh, yes, and I’m trying to get over my literary attachment issues.

While leading the cull of words written on paper, I was able to clear out at least 120 books, but there were some I just couldn’t resist keeping on the shelves…..

Stay tuned for, A Literary Life Examined Part II

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Gatsby Socializing

Louise Brooks
Louise Brooks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Copied from previous blogging life…


I used to be fabulous. I used to be ballsy, and fun and outgoing, and well, just plain fabulous. Anything I wore I made look even more stunning. Anyone I met was intrigued by me. All of the lounges and pubs and clubs and bars I went to were the best.

Gatsby socializing is what I called it. Everyone dressed to be looked at. Everyone was fabulous, fascinating and desirable.  EVERYONE was perfect.

I drank martinis, had bottles of wine or the best tequila ordered for me. We all smiled, feigned interest in each other’s pretentious lives just long enough so we could tell them how fascinating and fabulous we were. Life was great. There was no threat of carrying anything meaningful in that backpack of a soul we were blessed with. It was empty, save for a tube of fabulous lipstick, the number of a cab company, and our real lives crumpled up somewhere in a side pocket like the homework the dog ate last week.

Gatsby socializing is exactly what I needed in my 20’s, and I was good at it. Like, really good. I read the paper, watched the news, travelled solo, knew the best places to dance, eat and play. Men actually dated me. I had fabulous meals, surprises, flowers, love letters. You name it. It was all fabulous. After all, when you’re that good, who needs a meaningful relationship?

I wore my resume like a badge.  In all of those Gatsby moments, I was fabulous. I was not a single mother.  I was not lonely, or insecure, or tired.  And then it all ended. Kind of like a car crash that only dings the car a bit, but rattles the driver to the point they just can’t drive any more. It didn’t kill me like the Gatsby crash, but it definitely sent me into shock darlings.

During the Gatsby socializing stage of life, I was looking for Mr. Right.  Mr. Right Hair Colour. Mr. Right Amount of Hair. Mr. Right Education. Mr. Right Height. Mr. Right Resume. Mr. Right Romantic. Mr. Right Traveller. Mr. Sweep Me Off My Feet In Every Possible Way. Times have changed.  Mr. Right’s packaging looks a lot different these days.  Back then I had forgotten about Mr. Right Morals, Mr. Right Values, Mr. Right Kindness, Mr. Right Gentleness, Mr. Right Sense of Humour and Mr. Right My Intellectual Match.

 My friend says she’s had a bit of a lull in her love life , and is ready for, “another string of losers“.  Nothing like a positive attitude going forward.

My other friend, on the rocks, and up and down with her man says he’s loving, attentive, good with a foot and back massage, but a bit of bum and too protective.  She admits to just not wanting to be alone any more, and knows that she’s going to take this guy back, that they’ll work things out and carry on.

I’m jealous frankly.  I’m in a manlimbo-batical.  I just don’t feel like cranking it up and cranking it out on a million and one dates any more my sweet little dumplings.  As I said to my friend the other night, “It’s a complete waste of make-up.”  My friends, especially the married ones ironically think I should just go for the night out and meal.  Honestly, I think I’d rather just stay in, heat up my vanilla cognac and pass out bra-less with the cat.

Dating is a lot like a job interview.  You always leave wondering whether you had something in your teeth, and either praying they do call, or pleading with the merciless-dating-gods that he loses your number faster than you can pull your car out of the parking lot.

Unless there’s some very handsome man who randomly knocks on my door after dinner, and has a penchant for intelligent, middle-aged, strong and fabulously independent women, I’m leaving it to the Gods.

My friends and I are as likely to go to a club or bar now as a form of recreation as we are to stay up all night  drinking pop, eating potato chips, chocolate and doing one another’s hair. We just don’t do that any more.

We get together a few times a year for a yummy lunch, or quiet dinner. We go to the art gallery, or to a cute bakery, or quaint jazz bar.  Don’t get me wrong, we still have our outrageous moments, we just weigh the pro’s and con’s a little bit more wisely.

We know what it’s like to wake up the following morning and want to pull the covers WAY up over our heads when we remember the night before, or just vaguely remember the night before.

We also remember what it’s like to be fabulous and wanted.

Do you remember my Gatsby days darlings?  When I’d come into work with the most outrageous stories and then go out that night and do it all over again? Remember the remote control, the pants pockets, the staying out all night?

Some might say I’m becoming more “reclusive”. But I say “selective”. That makes me more mysterious and therefore more fabulous – right darling?

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To ‘C’ or Not to ‘C’, That Is the Question

“My husband said ‘show me your boobs’ and I had to pull up my skirt… so it was time to get them done!”
~Dolly Parton~

In a red-neck version of a Gomer Pyle accent; “When God was giving out brains, you must have thought he said boobs and asked for double! Hahahaha.” Very funny. Very witty indeed. This was the kind of thing I heard every.single.time. I saw my uncle and one of my more educated neighbours just as I hit puberty and my breasts were beginning to ‘blossom’. Hooray for small town livin’.

I grew up pretty rough and tumble, and by that age, nothing surprised me any more. I was taught from a very early age to stand up for myself and dish talk like that right back to whomever had sent it my way in the first place.  It was common for older male relatives (cousins), and classmates to make fun of you the first few weeks you had to wear a bra. They snapped the strap, tried to unclasp it, and made public announcements in an effort to embarrass you. I was embarrassed, but I was even  more irritated that my body had betrayed me in such a way.

Now I had to wear an extra layer of scratchy, sticky clothing. Thanks a lot boobs! I resisted wearing a bra as long as possible after I made my first humiliating trip to the pink and white section at the local Woolco. I remember my mother making me try the darn thing on and then reaching under the band to make sure it fit properly. I hated her for that, but it’s the very thing I would do today if I had a daughter.

Until my mother finally put her foot down and said I was NOT allowed out of the house without getting the girls under control, I was still innocent and free. The first day I wore a bra to school, I was in grade 6. I wore a white polo shirt and my favourite pair of yellow cotton pants. My hair was dirty blond and tightly Toni-permed to  my head. I still had a gap between my front teeth, and enjoyed playing marbles and baseball  at recess. I could not stand pig-tails, dresses or leotards. Needless to say the addition of an over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder was not a welcome addition to my wardrobe. I wore it in  the same indignant way that I wore rubber galoshes. It took years before I frolicked in lingerie stores and loved wearing frilly things that made me feel sexy and confident. 

 When I was 11, a brassiere was torture. All of a sudden when I was bent down with my hands in the dirt eyeing a shot, vying for someone else’s pretty or biggie it became a big deal that at girl was beating the boys at marbles. I was the only kid at school who had two whole McDonald’s happy meal buckets full of the spoils of my shark-like marble playing. Who needed boobs when I had two buckets of marbles?

But soon the subtle brassiere line in the back of my shirt started to part the sea of the sexes even further. I’m sure it was an ill-timed bra snapping that instigated the garden hose incident with my Grandma’s neighbour boys. They were around the same age as my cousin and I (we both had big boobs at an early age). We wrestled them to the ground and tied them together with an outdoor electrical cord, and then stuffed the garden hose somewhere in the fray, turned it on, and ran like heck, leaving the two boob commentators to reflect on their boyscout knowledge of knots. My grandmother likely watched what was going on from her kitchen window thinking, “Them’s my girls!”. My grandfather would have given us the dickens, except my grandmother scared the bejesus out of him.

And so it went. My breasts became my primary identifier. You know, that girl with the blonde hair and big boobs. Not the girl who worked at the store, the girl who wrote for the newspaper, not the girl who was the astrophysicst….oh wait, I’m fantasizing.

Throughout  the years I spent partying in clubs with my friends who said they were going out with me and ‘the girls’ to get a few free drinks, my breasts were front and centre like good little soldiers. It was a rare night that some inebriated genius wouldn’t come up to me and say, slurring and slobbering, “You’ve got great tits.” Really? I hadn’t noticed. Someone give this guy an honorary degree to the University of Dumber than Doorknobs.  My usual response was, “Well, don’t just stand there! Buy the girls a round,” and they did. Round after round of Gin and Lime, Cosmopolitans, Double Martinis and Ameretto Sours were bought in an effort to get a feel of the glands that balanced in my overpriced, hard to find super-duper cup-sized bra.

In the past, while trying to have a serious discussion with a (male) coworker, leaning across the photocopier in heated debate, one of my nipples touched the ‘start’ button, startling us both, and making a zillion unwanted copies. I have sat through meetings with buttons popped open from boobs too huge for buttons. Imagine trying to design an entire wardrobe around shirts that don’t button?!  I have been pawed by all ages of babies thinking I’m the milk truck, and almost tempted to punch drunks in the teeth for reaching out to touch them. Big boobs take on a life of their own.

To be honest, my experience in being over-chested is that people think you’re; sleazy, fat, lazy and easy. Sometimes, people would have been right, because we’re all a little of those things once in a while.  But I’m tired of carrying them around.  A number of women in my family have chosen to have breast-reduction surgery, and I can relate to wanting my girls cut down to size.

Just tonight two women of the blue-perm set approached me at a meeting to make small talk, and even their eyes bowed to the girls first. 

I’m tired of running every day and having my boobs feel like bruises when I take my over-priced, size flipping-huge bra off. I’m tired of paddling with my left tit sticking out the armpit of my life jacket so I don’t get chafed. I’m tired of my neck popping and hurting, and carrying around this natural blessing that I didn’t ask for…AND…I’m also damn thankful I have healthy ones.

I’m not sure what going under the knife would mean, but I am pondering it. To ‘C’ or not to ‘C’, that my friends, is the question.