I’d like to make it really clear that Halloween is my absolutely favourite celebration-fiesta-event-thingie. But…
Flora: So, like… have we made all the holidays just about candy?
Jane: Define “we.”
Flora: Western society.
Not that there’s anything wrong with candy, especially free candy. Except, perhaps the sugar crash that children experience on November 1… which adults take a step further an transform into utter self-loathing. Still. Before the crash, there’s the high. (And therein is some kind of not too deeply hidden metaphor for life, the universe, and everything.)
I am helping an adult ESL learner with a grade 12 essay. Her teacher has told her that her essay must consist of 4 paragraphs, and that each paragraph has to be eight to 11 sentences long.
Jane: Your teacher is an idiot who doesn’t know how to write.
Jane: Fucking, seriously, Henry James and David Foster Wallace can get away with writing 11-sentence paragraphs, but only because they’re both dead and nobody really reads them.
Jane: A paragraph is supposed to be as long as it needs to be. A paragraph is a tool used to organize your ideas–and, to communicate with your reader. The purpose of a paragraph…
Student: But I had seven paragraphs in my essay before, and the teacher docked me marks.
Jane: As I said, your teacher is an idiot who doesn’t know how to write.
I am not loving teachers very much at the moment. Don’t get me started on Cinder’s chemistry teacher.
Jane: Honey? I met your chem teacher at the parent-teacher interviews.
Jane: If you fail chemistry, it’s probably my fault. I’m sorry.
Cinder: Fuck, Mom. I told you not to go.
Sorry-not-sorry, but if you tell me most of your class failed the exam and didn’t know how to do carry out the assignment you gave them–I’m going to tell you to consider the possibility that this is the result of you not knowing how to teach your subject.
At this point, I’d like to say thank you, Khan Academy, Google, and Internet.
Flora is just about a black belt and now officially more flexible than me. Cinder is suddenly taking Mixed Martial Arts, Thai Kickboxing and Wrestling–I guess he decided being 6’3 wasn’t intimidating enough. Their 44 year old mother still has better technique than the two of them, and she gets a little high on this for a brief moment.
my foot. really
That didn’t hurt, exactly, but it might. I recount the incident to the motherfucking sadist who, since April 2012, has been ensuring that I can walk upright and with controlled pain.
MFS: I’m always very proud when you get cocky, but you know it doesn’t end well.
Jane: I know. But it felt really good. Can you check to make sure I didn’t dislocate anything?
MFS: No. But I can do that psoas release you love so much.
I scream. He smiles with pleasure. I walk home, erect, strong.
The motherfucking sadist and I celebrated six years together this past April, and next April it will be seven (watch Jane do math). I have, over the years, referred to him every single person who has ever whined to me about their back, shoulder, neck etc pain, or expressed a serious desire to be fitter, stronger, healthier.
Most don’t go.
Those that do… go for a while… love it… don’t persist.
MFS: Not enough pain.
I don’t mean, by the way, that he doesn’t inflict enough pain on them. That, after all, is his specialty. I mean that there isn’t enough pain… to not going. You know what I mean? My motivation, the reason I keep on going back, gritting my teeth, doing all the things–it’s because the consequence of NOT experiencing the pain he inflicts is experiencing the pain of NOT being able to walk.
If your motivation for not going is a slight twinge in the hips or back that reminds you that you’re aging, or a slightly protruding potbelly, or flabby triceps… well, I wouldn’t go for that either.
Jane: I do occasionally dream that you’ll be able to fix me forever and I’ll just be strong and healthy without having to do any of the work.
MFS: I hear there’s a pill for that.
There isn’t. But, as Flora points out, Western society is working on it.
I’m waiting for this post to meander back towards the topic of Halloween et al. It don’t want to. It wants to delve into goal-motivation-conflict, pleasure and pain, life and death–here we go, life and death, death, sugar skulls, jack-o-lanterns.
The children give me all their Coffee Crisps. I can’t really eat them any more–and when I do, they are not as delicious as the Coffee Crisps I remember from my childhood–fuck, I have gotten old without noticing–but I accept the tribute with gratitude. Stash them away in my studio.
Flora: This is where I get it from.
Flora: My candy hoarding skills.
da’ girl went as a homicidal Red Riding Hood;
she killed the fucking wolf and she didn’t need to be rescued
The hoarding, she gets from her dad. The ability to not eat her Halloween candy for months and years–yeah, that’s probably me.
Flora: Do you think I could beat you in a fight now?
Jane: Not yet. I still outweigh you and I’m meaner. But another decade. Two max. I am going to get more brittle.
She looks at my critically.
Flora: 15 years, Mom. You’ve got 15 years, and then I’m taking you down.
Sigh. The young are cruel.
I suspect I’m lucky if I’ve got a single decade. Still. Erect. Strong. Mostly pain free.
The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)
Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)
A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)
Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)
The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)
A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)
Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)
Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)
Professionals do it like this: [insert key scene here] (Week 9: Battle, Fatigue, Reward)
Reading Nabokov, crying, whining, regrouping (Week 10: Tears and Dreams)
Shake the Disease (Week 11: Sickness and Health… well, mostly sickness)
Cremation, not embalming, but I think I might live after all (Week 12: Angst and Gratitude)
Let’s pretend it all does have meaning (Week 13: Convalescence and Rebirth)
The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)
My negotiated self thinks you don’t exist–wanna make something of it? (Week 15: Priorities and Opportunity)
An introvert’s submission + radical prioritization in action, also pouting (Week 16: Ruthless and Weepy)
It’s about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)
It was a pickle juice waterfall but no bread was really harmed in the process (Week 18: Happy and Sad)
You probably shouldn’t call your teacher bad names, but sometimes, your mother must (Week 19: Excitement and Exhaustion)
Tell me I’m beautiful and feed me cherries (Week 20: Excitement and Exhaustion II)
A very short post about miracles, censorship, change: Week 21 (Transitions and Celebrations)
Time flies, and so does butter (Week 22: Remembering and forgetting)
I love you, I want you, I need you, I can’t find you (Week 23: Work and Rest)
You don’t understand—you can’t treat my father’s daughter this way (Week 24: Fathers and Daughters)
The summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude and Collapse)
It’s like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering and Reflection)
It’s the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)
On not meditating but meditating anyway, and a cameo from John Keats (Week 28: Busy and Resting)
Hot, cold, self-indulgent as fuck (Week 29: Fire and Ice)
In which our heroine hides under a table (Week 30: Tears and Chocolate)
Deadlines and little lies make the world go round (Week 31: Honesty and Compassion)
That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)
And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)
Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)
Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)
I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)
Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)
It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)
Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)
The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)
All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)
Damn you, Robert Frost (Week 42: Angst and more Angst)
Speaking of conflict avoidance… (Week 43: Fight of Flight)
—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA
nothingbythebook @ gmail.com