Maggie is about to turn 6 years old. It’s a milestone. That’s 42 in human years. She’s a beautiful, middle aged lady…who is now missing a tooth.
It happened in the last few weeks. There was no broken tooth. It didn’t show up anywhere, like her dog dish. Just one day, I noticed that her teeth seemed crooked. There was a little space in the front of her mouth. It wasn’t a “lost tooth” space like kids get when they loose teeth – that healing hole of toothless space. No sir. Her black gums don’t reveal that anything was even there, as though she’d never had one.
At first, I’d thought her teeth had simply moved around. They are spaced out and slightly crooked anyway. The space was so small, so I counted. There are 5 teeny little front teeth, not 6 as there ought to be.
How do you loose a tooth without blood, pain or fanfare? Too much tug-of-war with a rope? Chewing on petrified sticks? Demolishing the softball that someone gave you in the park?
I scoured Facebook for pictures of her to see if I could figure out when it happened. She doesn’t show her teeth much in photos, just her tongue. I found this one, with her bottom teeth showing. She had the tooth on July 25th.
As someone that has spent a lot of money on my own teeth – they have a nasty habit of needing root canals, crowns, surgery and implanted titanium posts – I feel doubly lousy. I wouldn’t want to walk around without a tooth. Perhaps this is more my crisis than hers. She seems unconcerned.
Now, I know something for sure. If I was rich, I’d buy her a new tooth. Yes, a cute little fake tooth. A gold tooth. It’d sit there right down in front and say, “hello.”
No, wait, even better, a grill! Like this lovely one:
Because I love Maggie. She’s my best friend. And she’d rock the grill.
Looking out of the kitchen window, I can see grape vines in the yard. This neighbourhood in Toronto had many Italians, as evidenced by the grapes vines on metal structures that create canopies for porches, cars and backyards. Some are still maintained, and others left to fend for themselves. The vines that are visible from the kitchen window are fending for themselves and doing quite well. There are an abundance of grapes – I’d venture to say a ridiculous amount.
The vines have wrapped around the electrical wires that connect electricity to the house from the back lane. The wires are quite weighed down. As my friend is moving into an apartment today that actually opens into the backyard (mine does not), I thought I’d take the opportunity to go through her new place into the backyard. No problem, I thought, I’d simply cut back the vines on the wires to make sure we don’t end up running out of power the hard and dangerous way.
My first lesson about grape vines is that they are tough. Too tough to cut with the kitchen knife and scissors that I brought outside with me. The second lesson is that they wrap themselves around the things they are growing on in a very intricate fashion. They have wrapped their grapey tendrils, along with the vine itself, around the wires for about 10 feet. Around and around and around. This is not happening as I had planned.
Moving on to plan B – lighten the load. I start cutting the grapes from the vines, reasoning that at least this will lighten the weight on the wires. I think I got about 15 lbs of grapes off the vines. They’re sweet but sour, with seeds and of the wine variety, I think.
Here is what they look like on the counter:
Anyone know how to make wine? I probably have enough for a few bottles. Truly, I’m guessing. But if you have or can make wine, perhaps you can send me a message. I hate to waste food. It breaks my heart.
The crazy ideas, the connection with people, the debates, the arguments, the laughter, the tears. When creating anything – a painting, a play, writing jokes, making bridges, doing a short film – you go through steps that are pure creation. Invention, messiness, playing, debate.
My creative process always lands me in one of two places – high or low. I’m ecstatically happy that everything I’m working on will be well received and the world is great; or I’m super- bummed that this is going to be the worst piece of crap I’ve ever created and everyone will hate me and I’ll die alone and misunderstood. Dramatic, I know, and this project probably has no bearing on the chances of dying alone vs. with other people.
There doesn’t seem to be anything in between. I’m never simply satisfied, nor happy with progress. I never think – “this is going okay.” It’s either fantastic or devastatingly lousy.
This week was nearly completely on the low end. Everything seemed bleak, pointless and painful. Things I thought were funny seemed terrible. It went like that all week. I kept writing into the darkness, mired in the dramatic pointlessness of it all.
Then something changed. The last two days were heavy thunderstorms, which has turned into alternating storms and sunshine today. It was surreal but broke the pattern in my mind. Everything is great again. Just like that. Getting my stuff out there seems like a great idea again. Up I go again.
So it swings – from high to low, then back again. I guess that’s just how it goes – I get to feel it all.
And it’s pretty sweet, just the way it is.
I go to spas or beauty places very occasionally. Sporadically and on a whim – that also describes my beauty regimen.
Regimen is far too strong a word – it implies some kind of consistency. Fleeting thoughts is more like it. Followed by thinking I really should do something about that.
If I do end up going, I’ll go under the guise of “treating myself” – a phrase I know was made up in a board room by a group of marketing people. But it is also a mistake. If I need a treat, then I’ve been too busy, which means my schedule has been dragging me around for weeks or months and I haven’t taken time for myself. In this state, I’m not thinking clearly.
There was an “open house” this week, that showed some of the most recent technologies for youth and beauty at a spa that I’d visited on my last post-deadline stress out. I made an appointment to go, even thought I knew what it would be – a sales pitch for the latest beauty line. And it was. Complete with crackers, cheese, sparking non-alcoholic wine and awkward conversations about what I was thinking about getting done. Which was nothing, until now.
There was woman who must have been in her late 80s. She was testing out the latest in skin tightening treatments. I will call her the Beauty Bar Betty. She knew her way around the beauty treatment scene. The skin across her forehead was stretched tight and wrinkle free. Her make up was very evening-like, but it was early afternoon. I was staring. I’d never seen someone close-up who spends a lot on surgeries and beauty treatments. I feel myself judging, which I realize is unfair. I didn’t know her. Maybe she didn’t get anything done and had hearty and youthful genetics that concentrated themselves solely in the forehead area.
When she took off her robe to get on the testing table, the floral dress she wore revealed that she was in amazing shape. She transformed before me from a woman with “too much done” to a woman who knew what she wanted and took care of herself. Which made me feel like a schlub. And a judge-y one at that.
She wanted to look her best. I don’t know how she got the money – these treatments run in the thousands of dollars. She happily discussed her impending trip to Europe and how she’d left her credit card at home. She’s come back tomorrow to get this done once she’d tried it out with the test treatment. I couldn’t tell if she was a rich woman with disposable income or a shrewd deal-finder who got lots of free treatments under the guise of buying them “tomorrow” – either way, I was impressed.
For me, I was impressed enough to sign up for a series of treatments with a down payment. Which I regretted by the time I got home. How stupid to just spend a bunch of money without thinking on something I hadn’t even researched. I got no sleep that night, worried about money and not having enough. I wanted to do a lot of things…why spend money here….I need a vacation…what if there’s no more work….how will I pay for anything…like that. All night. I think I slept for about an hour.
The next day, I decided that I’d have to get out of it. With a good story, of course. A story of woe and sadness that they couldn’t say I had already agreed. A personal emergency. That’s vague enough that I am not actually lying, but sufficiently tragic sounding that they wouldn’t want to pry.
I got the charges reversed after some doing, but was so paranoid that I canceled my credit card (it was expiring anyway) in case they came after me. Ha. I showed them.
Until I went to pay for parking and had to walk 5 blocks to an ATM because I had no credit card. Yup. Sure showed them.
Thanks a lot, Beauty Bar Betty. I blame you, but if I see you again, I’m going to buy you a glass of wine and talk about life.
Recently, I decided to purchase a TV from Craigslist. After reviewing what was on offer, I got into an email discussion about the TV I wanted, did my research and decided to buy it. OK, so far, so good.
Now, it was time to meet this person to exchange the goods for the cash. Nothing sets off the fears in me like going alone in my car to meet a stranger. It’s not the money or being robbed. I don’t much care about that. I have an irrational fear of strangers being psychotic killers. I know it’s ridiculous, but that doesn’t stop it from showing up.
Even a stranger that lives in my neighbourhood, who geeked out about the video capabilities and how they don’t make plasmas like they used to – I found him on the internet. And checked out his web site. He gave me his phone number and email and home address. If what I know from Dexter is true, that is not exactly psycho M.O. – rent an apartment in a crowded city neighbourhood, get a phone, upgrade to a bigger TV to sell your old one – all to lure an unsuspecting woman to your house.
Still, it could happen. I’m in the car outside the house. The wheels of paranoia start rolling. His phone could be a 7-11 store phone with no traceable calling. This might not be his house, just a set up place he uses. Who knows I’m even here? I run through the people in my mind – my roommate, who is at work. That’s it?! I only told one person? What was I thinking?
I’m sitting in my car with the message typed to this guy to say that I’m here, and ready to send the text. And I’m sweating. Damn it. Shaking a bit, too. I know this is ridiculous. Just hit send. Just hit it. And I do. But, I’ve got the key in the ignition, and my hand on the shift. Ready to bolt if the situation gets dangerous.
I will just drive away. Vamoose. Scram. Diana, you are not driving away. Don’t be silly. What if he comes out with an axe?
A few painful seconds go by – dramatic tension. He came out with the TV. Not an axe, nor a chainsaw or sickle. Just a dude holding a heavy TV. He was friendly and put the TV into the car for me. We talked a bit. Still, after it was all done I drove away feeling like I’d survived a close call with Jason or Freddy or one of Dexter’s victims. Before they were victims of his.
Why do I get a case of the fears to go with the great TV I bought? Sheesh.
I have never really confessed until now. Irrational fears.
From Wikipedia. A phobia (from the Greek: φόβος, Phóbos, meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”) is, when used in the context of clinical psychology, a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational.
You know those thoughts that you think. The ones that spring you into some kind of action the minute you think them.
For me, one of them is “Get it together!” I say that to myself all the time, and usually, I feel bad about not having it together. I furiously clean up, or make dinner or try to plan a week’s menu. I’ll write, bake, create a filing system, take photos, organize my computer, arrange my room. But no matter what, the “together” part never seems to happen. Which typically leads me to giving up, having a glass of wine and feeling a splash of despair.
I keep thinking that I’ll get it together one day. Then I look at my life and judge. Is it together to have put my coffee on the roof of my car? Or losing my gym membership card? Or forgetting to tell companies that I’ve recently moved and having to try to get my bills back? Nope, that isn’t it. Not together.
Recently, I’ve realized a fundamental flaw in this process. It’s not working. And here’s some reasons why.
First of all, it’s incredibly non-specific. What would my life be like if I had it together? Beautiful sun shines into my perfectly dusted and immaculate kitchen, where I’ve just Martha-Stewarted up a lovely pitcher of fresh lemonade for a few lovely friends in matching glasses?
Secondly, there is no way to measure my success. How would I stack up the togetherness scale? “Based on my recent activities, I’m 72.6% together, today. Not bad, Diana, but you could do better.” I don’t even have specific activities that might get me points, like putting all my laundry away after doing it or finishing a short story or not leaving dishes in the sink. Nada. Not a scrap of pointage to be had on any level.
Thirdly, why am I even saving it to myself. It’s like I’ve been implanted with a brain chip that parrots the term over and over. “Get it together, get it together.” And when it starts, I’m in action trying to get it together, alright. Without fail. Driven to somehow have it all together.
This has never benefited me. And I don’t think it will.
So, starting today – I’m declaring that I will never get my life together. This is my life, as it is.
And just maybe, I could learn to love my messy bedroom, my disorganized files and the damn piles of piles that I can’t seem to escape. Not holding my breath on that one. But maybe I could just cut myself some slack.
I just recently got flat tire after leaving my car at work for the day. The extremely, cold -19 degree celcius (not counting the wind chill) day. My tire was completely flat as I was wanting to go home.
But, hey, I’m handy. My dad was a mechanic for years. I can change a tire. No problem. So I pulled out the jack and the handy-dandy spare tire that hangs out in the trunk awaiting its debut.
It was icy cold and the tire wouldn’t budge. I pushed. Pulled. Kicked it with my foot. Nothing. Ok, my dad was a mechanic but I’m not. I had to call him. Note to self: if your tire is stuck, that’s rust . You have to hit the rubber tire part with a hammer or heavy object, and it will free up. And it did. Thanks, dad!
Driving home, I was thankful that this situation would be remedied soon. I didn’t drive my car until the day my father and I were going to meet with the new tire. Which coincidentally was the only day a client could meet me. No problem. I’ve got the spare on – I’ll do the meeting, then get the new tire right afterwards. What could go wrong?
After the client meeting, I hit the road to meet my father. On the way, I landed my little spare tire in the biggest pothole on the road… and flattened it. My spare. The little donut of a tire that was there in case I got a flat tire was now a flat tire. Until this moment, it never occurred to me that it could go flat.
I am too far from a parking lot, coffee shop or warm place. My father agreed to get the tire and meet me. I was thankful even though I knew a lecture was coming.
With an hour or more to spare, sitting at the side of the road near the airport, there was nothing to do. The phone calls I’d been meaning to make – I made them. The things I meant to check up on – done.
My car is now much cleaner. I also discovered that had I truly been stranded, there were a few pieces of frozen-by-the-Canadian-winter bread under my seat.
My father arrived with the tire…and the lecture about not driving on the spare. And I was thankful for both.
A few years ago, I banished making a laundry list of “good idea” resolutions – eat better, exercise more, be more successful at my job, get out of debt, etc. Mostly, it just became a list of things I didn’t do, and now I feel guilty about it. And I’m annoyed that I didn’t do what I was planning, then I gave up.
I still like the idea of making a resolution – so now I pick one thing that is more open-ended. So instead of “getting into shape”, I want something bigger that can be solved in more than one way. Like “finishing things that I’ve started that I want to finish”. So losing weight could fall into that category. And fixing my bike light. Calling an old friend that I’ve lost touch with and want to see again. Or finish the many scripts that I’ve half written and always meant to finish. It could be any of them. Any one would fulfill the resolution and keep me on it. There is no failure/success scenario – just a choice of finishing something.
As a director and writer, I’m always afraid that my work isn’t good, that people will hate it, that they secretly say “boy, she should keep her day job” behind my back. But smile and tell me it’s good to my face.So I try to do a bunch of projects at the same time, try to speed up to stay ahead of the criticism and not write and perform from the heart, because that’s risky.
For me, rushing is an addiction. Overbooking is a great escape. I get to say “well, I would have done a better job, if…” and I fill in the blank with whatever is going on at the time – someone’s birthday, a wedding, a family gathering, work projects, paying debts, stress.
2012’s resolution: not to rush. That’s it. Take care, do things well and don’t rush.