is I am a prisoner
of all the sentiments
I cannot tell her.

We have had our battles,
she and I,
and every white flag and dove
I have brought to her door
have been ignored.

I want to reach out my hand
and find her there,
this mysterious
earth woman
shrouded in shifting time.

Time and time again
we speak
of inconsequential things–
the weather; a current event,
the cost of living,

while my real words,
buried heart deep,
remain unspoken.

Then, with a click,
she is gone.
I love you,
I say bravely,

to dead air.

Vancouver East Side

Back lane Vancouver East Side

In the past, I’ve viewed success as a simple formula: figure out what it is I want to achieve; set a goal; make a list of the things needed to accomplish the goal; prioritize; work my way through the list. Success is completing the tasks at hand to reach the desired outcome.

Lately, I discovered that achieving success (no matter how we define it) is not a linear process. There are too many variables; changes of mood; forks in the road. I try to stay positive. Keep focussed on writing for clients, writing for me, attracting more clients, looking for work. I inch forward, generally moving in the right direction, yet progress is negligible.  Success is a ghost; I think I see something floating in the near distance, but I’m not exactly sure what it is.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed a lot. The anniversary of my dad’s passing at the end of October and Christmas looming on the horizon aren’t helping. My mental health is not so healthy. I’m Old Rose (character in Titanic): “It was the ship of dreams to everyone else. To me it was a slave ship, taking me back to America in chains. Outwardly, I was everything a well brought up girl should be. Inside, I was screaming.” I don’t mind asking for help, but I don’t exactly know how to do this without giving myself away.

These days though, I’m satisfied if I get through my compulsory to-do-list of five priority items. My definition of success is a horse with blinkers – I get through the day by looking straight ahead.

He cannot breathe
here
the streets are too cold.

In time,
the sum of all his lies
still echo

until even I
don’t believe him any more.

The answers are there,
hidden in a lifetime
of passed mistakes;
past predictions.

In the not too distant future
black hair, brown eyes,
the gypsy will return;
I’ll listen to him play
his blue guitar
(and pretend this time he’ll stay
as he’s promised before)

while rain falls
on someone else’s roof.

I’m not particularly fond of American comedies that make me laugh “at” rather than “with”; I tend to avoid those types of movies because I end up feeling manipulated and uncomfortable. So by the time Bill Murray appeared in The Razor’s Edge (1984), I had only seen a small handful of his films. This movie though was a remake of a Somerset Maugham novel I particularly liked – and it was playing at my dad’s theatre. Dad called it – he said Bill Murray was incredible as a dramatic actor; however, the critics wouldn’t see him that way and pan him for it.

As a result Lost in Translation (2003) wasn’t such a surprise to me as it might have been to other Bill Murray fans. But St. Vincent is a revelation. Murray’s performance truly moved me – I laughed, I cried, I held my breath when he falls to the floor, passed out. Combined with Melissa McCarthy’s understated portrayal of a shaky single mom trying to make sense of her upside-down world and Naomi Watts as a Russian strip club dancer who is pregnant, the story engaged me right from the moment we meet Maggie (McCarthy) meeting her next door neighbour Vincent (Murray) for the first time.

You’d have to be blind not to notice the similarities between About a Boy and St. Vincent (single, curmudgeon/self-absorbed male mentors a young boy from a single parent family). For me, St. Vincent carves its own path. The film possesses an organic charm that really entertained me while opening my eyes to a couple of potential life lessons I need to investigate further for my own quality of life and peace of mind. While I’m partial to movies that demonstrate how the main character has a change of heart, I don’t like being hit over the head with it. Vincent’s sea change is subtle: by the end of the story, he’s still the scallywag he always was, but something’s different. He’s a happier man; he’s journeyed somewhere worth charting.

And kudos to selecting a Persian cat that mirrors  Bill Murray’s facial expressions. Actually, the credits list two cats as playing Felix. So double kudos…the cheap movie Tuesday Oscar goes to Felix the cat.

The map was useless to her. North and south totally meaningless. The binoculars dangled from her right hand, arrested there on the way to around her neck. This was his idea, and she had told him that it was a bad one – she had no interest in camping out and was only happy outdoors if the outing had a maximum three-hour time limit. When she finally caught up to him, he smiled at her and jauntily inquired, “Where are we?” She gave him her I-don’t-know-little-girl-lost look, and then thrust the map at him more enthusiastically than she had intended. His look of surprise solicited a muttered “Sorry,” but secretly she was disappointed that he had been standing on the flatter part of the upward, winding trail.

Anywhere is a good place for love to manifest itself. This past weekend I went back to sorting through the remainder of my mother’s recipes. I was again overwhelmed by memories. “Date Loaf” instantly brought to mind the time my little sister was sick on a weekend, and she wanted meat loaf. But my mother didn’t have the ingredients and had to wait for Monday in order to go shopping (the good old days when stores were closed Sunday). Once the meat loaf had been made, it turned out that what my sister meant was date loaf.

The recipes in her handwriting and the memories they evoke, make me feel alone, estranged from family, and like I’m wading through molasses. And yet, suddenly these same memories float up from the Sea of Love, bestowing buoyancy, possibility and strength.

Anywhere is a good place for the love story – my dining room table; down the back lane between Davie and Burnaby Streets where the autumn leaves are shouting in shades of rust, red and yellow; exchanging smiles with a stranger. I need to remember love is all around. Love is the connective tissue between me and sanity; me and reason; me and accomplishment.

In the past two and a half weeks, I’ve been on more job interviews than in the past two months. But now the possibilities have all disappeared; back to the silence of square one again. Right now, my life does not seem like the ideal place for a love story – more like a prison or a whirlpool or a patch of quicksand.

I try to remember this when I get impatient or upset or lose hope – love is stronger than defeat; the past; and darkness of any kind, mental or physical. Anywhere is a good place to be kind to myself.

not know
what my touches conveyed;
what the staccato notes
of my breath
against you chest meant;

where were you when I
reached
for you?

Listen.

Rain falls upon this city
like a woman weeping,
but snow can keep
its secrets–
silence lies worse
that words.

I know.

Listen.
If you trace
the blue rivers of my veins,
you will discover

words I have not yet written.

How could you not know?

that an entire symphony
flows through my heart,

written only for you.

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