Busy is Over Glorified

It has been a chaotic rush of things since I last posted here in December. Sometimes it feels like standing still and everything is passing by. Working, wedding planning, trying to get “Edge of Glory” written and somewhere in it all, became distant from old friends who were lost in a chaos of their own. Different roads, separate lives dividing up in the dark.

But getting lost in that rush changed for me back in December with one phone call. It was my best friend of 15 years calling to inform me an old friend of our from high school died of cancer only six months after her younger sister was taken by the same heartless disease. In a strange numbness and not knowing how to feel, I posted the following on Facebook:

“Do yourself a favour. Today. Not tomorrow. If you have a friend you know off the internet and in real life, and you haven’t talked to them in three or more years, call them. Today. Not tomorrow.

Because before you know, it has been ten years of unfulfilled coffee dates and passing conversations during chance encounters, and then you get the unexpected news that they are dead.

I got that news last night. A girl I went to high school with. An old friend stolen by cancer. I knew she went for surgery to remove a tumour last month. I didn’t know she was so close to the end. The last full, in person conversation we had was about ten years ago. Since then it has been chance encounters, short Facebook chats. Talk of getting together but we never did.

Call that old friend. Today. Not tomorrow. You don’t know if they have a tomorrow.”

It felt weird to hear the news because as I absorbed it, I was left somewhat hollow in that I didn’t know how to feel. At least three years had gone by since I last saw her in person and we had only chatted briefly on Facebook.

She died of cancer only days after her 26th birthday. I knew she went for surgery back in November to have a tumour removed, but it is painstaking to admit I did not know she was so close to the end. I didn’t know she was sick until she announced the surgery on Facebook. It was one of those statuses I saw, acknowledged, silently hoped it would go well for her, and scrolled back into my life.

I treated it like another name on the screen, as many of us end up doing in this age of online friends and relationships.

But this was a girl we met in the high school foyer every morning before the first bell. She laughed with us the December day our friend Travis (who died Dec. 26/02) walked in with lights strung around him and plugged them in, standing there just shining in his humour and ability to make everyone around him laugh.

I knew her family back then. Her family lost two daughters in six months to cancer. I cannot imagine that kind of devastation.

I’ve known a lot of deaths in my life, from my dad to all four grandparents, a baby nephew and friends.

“This is a crisis of a different kind,” as my best friend put it.

Over coffee we contemplated how much of a right we have to feel this loss, given how we absent-mindedly let so much time pass by. She was always one of those people I meant to connect with again. Instead, life’s whirlwind found me in the middle of working, wedding planning, writing and renovating.

Sometimes you spend so much effort in certain areas that others get neglected. Like that list of old friends you don’t talk to often; the ones you keep thinking “I’ll message/call them soon. Maybe tomorrow.”

But maybe there is no tomorrow. Maybe they won’t be there when you finally give them the time of day. Maybe you won’t wake up to give that list another passing glance.

I look at that list every time I log onto Facebook. But often do the names get acknowledged? How many “maybe we should do coffee this week” suggestions have gone unfulfilled?

And she has become another tomorrow that isn’t there.

My best friend and I came to the realization of how little we knew the 26-year old woman she had become, instead of the immature teenagers we were. All of the arguments, the petty fights, the normal high school drama; how much of that is carried with us that causes us to grow apart as we grow up?

With Travis’s death came the separating of friendships, the unravelling, if you will. My best friend is the only from school I still talk to. How can certain friendships stay with us and others get left to dangle in the wind, unfinished?

I finally picked up the phone and called other friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. Whether the coffee dates were just a quick catch-up or not, it was great to just slow down. It struck me that my social life had taken a hard hit in me being busy. And I realized how much I hated that.

Being busy is over glorified. Stop. Find that list. Get back to the people who matter to you. Do it now.

There might not be a tomorrow.

 Wildflowers

Poetry Friday ~ December

Snow piled high
outside my window;
a listless sigh
while pacing the house.
I can’t write about this
anymore;
can’t live in darkness
of another endless winter.

Sometimes making it through
December isn’t enough.

Haunted still by your face
come first snow fall.
Something poetic,
something tragic
as years go by.
Words become scarce
in remnants of the heart.

Sometimes making it through
December isn’t enough.

So I wait
through blizzards
atop a frozen land
for first light of a gypsy sun
to break through naked trees,
throwing punches into nothing
for even they know…

Sometimes making it through
December isn’t enough.

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My first Nanowrimo and cover reveal for “Edge of Glory”

I did it.

I finished Nanowrimo. Fifty-thousand words in thirty days. I didn’t think I was going to do it, with 11,000 words left to do on Nov. 30. But there I was, 45 minutes to midnight, strung out on too much coffee and too many cigarettes, pouring myself a glass of wine to celebrate as I let the Nanowrimo website validate what I had written into “Edge of Glory” for the last month.

Glasses raised to the rest of you who won Nanowrimo! Some people were finished halfway through November and some were last minute sprint writers like me. And to those who didn’t make it, be proud of yourself for getting that much writing accomplished. Life likes to get in the way of this passion and it is easy to get sidetracked. I am so looking forward to next year, doing this again on my next book.

I am hoping to have “Edge of Glory” released sometime in 2015. It is not completed. This plot wants to take up more than the 50,000 words I hammered out this month, so we will see where it goes.

In the meantime, I am revealing the cover for “Edge of Glory” tonight. Here it is! And a loving shout out to everyone who cheered me on in the last month and kept me going. It feels great to be back into the habit of writing and actually getting something done. Thank you, guys! And thank you to my wonderful fiancé who kept encouraging me to sit down and write on nights when I didn’t want to and for bouncing ideas around when I got stuck.

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Saturday Musings ~ The Molly Shattuck case and brushing off male victims

A couple of weeks ago I posted a news story on Facebook about the allegations against former NFL cheerleader Molly Shattuck repeatedly raping a 15-year old boy. I post a mix of stories about male and female victims, because rape and sexual abuse happens to both. The reply I got from one of my male friends was surprising to say the least, and I was most of all taken aback that someone I knew had this attitude towards rape culture.

In the comments below the story I posted, we had this exchange:

Him: now why in the fuck couldnt I have met her when I was 15????? Sorry had to XD 

Me: Not even funny

Him: come off it 15 years old,shes an ex cheerleader you honestly think he didnt want it?it happens all the fuckin time,some women just get caught doing it and its illegal so its called rape,I doubt it was against his will

Me: This attitude is called rape culture. It lets people idiotically believe a rape victim “wanted it” even though you were not there to know for sure. You know what? Rape happens to boys too. It is not what every boy wants just because he has a dick. And just because he got an erection doesn’t mean shit either because especially at that age it happens involuntarily. Only the way ignorant when are the ignorantly submerged in rape culture say shit like he wanted it. I bet that’s going to be her defense in court too, just like every other rapist.

Him: I know what youre saying Im saying when its a guy,15 years old and his so called rapist is an ex cheerleader and still looks good for her age does that it doesnt look like rape,it al goes back to that teacher Mary Kay Letorneau,did she not have sex with her student who was 15 at the time?had 2 kids with him,they got married and whatnot,however,she got charged and convicted of rape and did her time,he did NOT want to charge her thought because he loved her but thats the law,now fast forward to now,theres countries with children being married to grown fuckin men,fucking disgusting nd disturbing,you mean to tell me a story like this is worse than a story like that?why because its in a different country?I started having sex at a very young age,it happened whatever,I cant change it nor would I want to,being 15?fuck thats laughable these days considering you have a show about girls being 16 and prego,think about it,this is really that big of a deal?Im thinking it wasnt rape,thats just what the charge is called.if it happend in BC out here?itd be legal just so you know. now there is a lot of sick shit out there but in my opinion,better a 15 year old guy than a 10 year old girl and by the circumstances it doesnt look as bad as they make it sound.

Me: The legal age of consent in Canada is 16. And again, not every teenage boy is a horndog. What makes you think she is not sick enough to use her supposed good looks to take advantage of him? It happens. I am well aware of what happens in other parts of the world. Guess what? Sexual abuse of boys runs rampant here just as it does for girls. It is just not talked about as much which leads to ignorance and the assumption it is what every boy wants. Really? Why is it suddenly OK for boys to be victims but not girls?

 

The conversation ended there as I unfriended him and another female friend commented to say that even boys can be pressured into having sex they don’t want, which is completely true and still rape as there wasn’t consent. If there is not clear consent and you still force someone into sex, it is rape. I don’t understand the attitude that just because he is 15 and the older woman is pretty that it makes this ok and that he wanted it. Not to mention in the article itself from the Huffington Post, it says that the boy is the one who reported her to the cops, which tells me that it was indeed unwanted sex. She also contacted him first on the Internet, which in itself is luring a minor, indicating she had the whole thing planned.

I have a hard time wrapping my head around this societal norm that boys cannot be victims of a crime so horrific. The gender lines don’t matter here. I wonder, would this guy have said those things had that been a little brother or cousin or his own son, shaming someone he knows versus shaming some kid he has never heard of before? Would that even make a difference for someone who holds this viewpoint?

Probably not.

And that is what has to change in our society, for all victims.

 The Huffington Post article can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/05/cheerleader-molly-shattuck_n_6108168.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000021

People’s website also touched on this case: http://www.people.com/article/molly-shattuck-sex-scandal-friends-react

Photo by Lavinia Thompson

Photo by Lavinia Thompson

Saturday Musings ~ What does it mean to “really live”?

A recent Facebook post caught my attention. It was a simple image but the words were powerful and thought provoking.

“Are you really living or are you just paying bills until you die?”

Sometimes words simply pass us by and sometimes they are sudden, like the lights on a train on the tracks in the middle of the night and you never saw it coming. I stopped scrolling when I read that, cigarette in hand and staring quizzically into the screen of my phone.

What does it mean to “really live”?

It must be different for everyone. Some people travel and vagrantly see the world. Some are stay at home gypsies, much like I have become these days; dreamers of other places who stay settled where they are, somehow content in the life they have built. Others fall in love and never come out. Even love can take different forms; wild and free or calm and serene, like the changing moods of the ocean.

Does it mean finding what makes you content? Or does it mean we should stretch those boundaries and find the exhilaration of things we have never done before?

I can say that right now, in this moment, I am content. Cigarette lit as I write, rum in a glass beside the laptop and a recently-adopted stray cat to accompany the other fur babies on the chair beside me, with my fiancé on his way home from picking up dinner, there is bliss in this house. Between work and wedding planning, the eight fur babies in the house and writing again, my life as a whole has taken such a positive turn in the last year or so.

I can’t say what the answer is to the meaning of living. I used to live a life where when something went wrong, I up and left, no looking back and only a stretch of highway ahead. A lonesome stretch, even when someone claimed to be right beside me. When that went wrong, I’d run home again and do it all over again. I’ve stayed in the same place for about two years now. Same house, same town. The only thing that has really changed is the people. Some left and some stayed. One relationship ended in hostility and another blossomed most beautifully. There were backstabbing friends and there is still the best friend who has been there for the last 14 years in spite of men, distance and changes. I know how to be by myself and who my real friends are.

Maybe that’s the meaning for me: simplicity. A roof over my head, someone to love, my family nearby and the furry babies surrounding me when I get home every day, those noses in my face first thing in the morning to indicate breakfast time and the kitty cuddles right before bed. Johnny Cash once said his definition of paradise was having coffee with his wife, June, every morning. I can relate. Coffee in the morning or rum at night with my beloved guy are some of the fondest moments I adore.

Some people think that “really living” means thrills and glory. But I think happiness is what we create for ourselves that defines how we live, no matter what that means for you. It is your own art, your own creation and your life. Paint your own colours.

Photo by Lavinia Thompson  2012

Photo by Lavinia Thompson
2012

New poem ~ Long After the Moon

Only the night knows
of our lost conversations
hidden behind sleepy eyes;
drooping words
drawn from weary lips,
skies of satin,
stars of rebellion,
all the warmth of
summer’s sunset
in a touch.

Only the night knows
how moonlight sneaks across the sheets,
touches the crevices you lit up for me.
Darkened heart
enlightened by candle flame,
shades of enchantment,
hues of your words
like watercolours
on a gypsy soul;
paint my world.

Only the night knows
these walls are a world of their own,
while everything else passes by.
Wild souls
enlivened by a heart’s restless
rustle of wildflowers,
whispers of blankets
where we hide
by moonlight
somewhere in the night.

Only the night knows
intimacies of your skin on mine,
darkness between two souls,
tangled silhouettes,
heart beats in the air,
lost in passion,
engulfed in you.
For long after the moon
stops burning
I still long for you.

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