Friday, October 25, 2013

Fiction Friday Five. Finally.

I stood up, metaphorical fists up and ready to fight for answers if I needed to.
“That’s alright, ma’am, no need to get up”. Ma’am? Really? At least it moved me from hot anger and confusion to cold anger and sarcasm. “Whatever you say,
Cowboy: have a seat”. Yeah, he picked up on my not being thrilled with being called ma’am by some out-of-place stranger who’d just thrown me for a loop or ten.

I remember him apologizing, something about respect for the lineage. I’d no idea what that meant, but I had more things on my mind at the time. He tilted the hat back a bit and looked down at me with dark brown eyes. Like dark hot chocolate with a hint of cinnamon. Seriously, what movie did he just walk out of? I was surprised he wasn’t chewing on a piece of straw. Maybe I should have told him to light a shuck. Instead I just moved over and made a space for him on the bench.

“So…how much do you know about what’s going on?” How much did I know? Dick all, dickhead. Not that I said that. I just looked at him. And he sighed. Guess he’d worked out the nothing part on his own. Which meant he’d have to start at the beginning.

I learned quite a bit that afternoon. Not everything, not what I wanted to hear the most and certainly not enough. But something, at least.

In the beginning, the gatekeepers were more like guides, or sages. People who could help you navigate your dream, if needed, or interpret your dream if that’s what you wanted. Over time, people stopped keeping track of their dreams, and those that interpreted were no longer being sought out and started to be seen not so much as sages as charlatans. Eventually, although they continued to exist, they stopped doing – publicly - what they were doing and it truly was only charlatans that talked about dream interpretation. Not everywhere – there were cultures that understood and revered the dreamscape, and travelled between that world and this with ease. Some of those peoples are still with us and their wise ones and elders are regarded with respect.

As a reader, I was not surprised to discover that some of our greatest works of literature are actually retellings of events that true dreamers had experienced in their dreams, and that some great writers created worlds and stories so vivid and fantastical that when people read them, their dream lives were inspired and the dreamscape grew in response.

I may not have been surprised, but I’m still undecided about whether I wanted to know that. It’s changed how I look at certain books. And movies, songs and poetry. All art, really. Which came first? When are you imagining something and when are you just remembering a dream-event?

I sat on the bench thinking about this for a bit. I guess more than a bit because the cowboy gave me a nudge, eyebrow raised. “Still with me?” I nodded. Philosophical discussion of creativity could wait.

“Bien. So, in 391 AD something from the dreamscape made it to this world. Whatever it was had been running, so to speak, the dreams of a Coptic Pope. The end result of that was an actually influencing of the actions of the man, to irreparable harm to the world. It’s possible, likely even, that something similar had happened before, but this was the first time that we know for certain it happened”.

We? What, was he there? Is this some clumsy time-travel con? So help me if he was some psychic hoping to pull money out of a grieving family I’d shoot him where he stood, gorgeous specimen of manhood not withstanding.

Some of my uncertainty must have shown in my face, because he smiled and tucked a strand of wayward hair behind my ear. “No, T’evi, I am not that old. Not quite. But that event was what brought the remaining true dreamers together to prevent it from happening again. That is when guides became gatekeepers and the dreamscape became well-watched again. We all know that date, and we all feel it a little bit, no matter when we were born. You’ll feel it too, when you become a gate-keeper”.

In case you’re wondering: I already knew my cowboy was from Louisiana. My family is Acadian on one side (Celtic on the other), so I have plenty of relatives in the state and I know that look and accent inside out. Calling me Petite Evina, or the more colloquial T’evi was not surprising. My friends sometimes called me L’il Bit when they were in a teasing mood. I am five one – if I am feeling boastful- and sometimes I swear my hair is the heaviest thing about me. I know being overweight can be a nightmare in school, but let me tell you being referred to as “that little boy” when you’re seventeen – in shorts and a t-shirt no less! – is no picnic either. People really don’t like different. And boy howdy I was different in more than just size. A tiny ginger who confused dreams with real life, an optimist who named her fourth grade go-cart “the happy mobile”, a book worm with a book or two a day habit: I was not spared. Fortunately I had a firm group of friends, and that made all the difference. Yes, sounds like glurge, but one good friend can make the difference between a life worth living and suicidal despair. And I had enough good friends that my life – death, oddness and all – was a sunny one. But you probably guessed that with the happy mobile.

Back to the bench with hot cowboy. I might have called him Bayou Boy, but boy he most certainly wasn’t. His name, as I eventually found out was Remy LeBeau. Très beau, but I’ve got a story to tell here, time to move on. And we did, but remember what I said about not learning enough? I wasn’t lying.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Be free, little nestlings.

Ok, yes, I missed a Fiction Friday.
And now here we are on Thursday and I am in a bit of a panic. I guess we’ll see what happens tomorrow, yes? And dad – this may end up being part romance despite being mainly fantasy so you may want to skip the “Fiction Friday” entries!

Today I want to write about kids. Now to be clear…I am NOT talking about the two I’ve had or the two I’ve just gained via marriage. So no comments on how I’m being too hard on my Mr.’s kids, ‘k?

I just found myself wondering – after reading various blogs, and listening to various co-workers and friends talk about parenting – when we started going to such great lengths to cater to our children? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people decide to not move to a new house/neighbourhood/province that would be best for the parents and the family in general because it would upset the children: "They have friends in the neighbourhood, how can we make them move"?

When did that happen? I know the high rate of divorce has changed a number of things. For the first ten years of single motherhood I worried away at various methods by which I could move to British Columbia to be closer to my family. And then one day I finally woke up and realized that while I was not responsible for making sure my ex had a good relationship with his kids, it behoved me to at least not make it well-nigh impossible. Neither of us had money for travel, so if I’d moved that would have been just about the end of him getting to see them. So I stopped planning. Yes, it might have been good for me to move, but I would not take my kids away from their father nor would I advise anyone to take their child away from a parent.

I even know one woman who passed up what would have been just about the sweetest job (for her, at least) in the world because it would take her five year old out of Regina. To move to Saskatoon. Really? At five one has a social circle so important that it leave it would be the end of all things sweet and good?

I am not trying to downplay how difficult it can be – especially if your child is an introvert – to move to a new city. In fact, we’re doing some crazy driving so the youngest can finish elementary school at the same place she’s always been. It’s not that big a deal, and this is her last year. Might be different if she were in grade one, though.

But back to my original question: why all the extra accommodation? And does this not teach our children that the world will bend to fit them? I know single parents that won’t date because their pre-teen (and some post-teen) kids don’t “approve”. I’d like to know if those kids plan on keeping that parent company for the rest of their lives. Or do they “allow” their parents to move on…once THEY’VE moved on?

And food – don’t even get me started on food. Too late. A woman I used to work with made FOUR different suppers. Sometimes just three, but basically, a granddaughter who lived with them was very fussy. Daughter, moderately fussy and quasi-vegetarian. Husband was a “serve me meat and potatoes, period” type of guy. And instead of making supper for herself and leaving them hungry with a “fix your own damn meals then” she made different things for each of them. Macaroni or pizza for the little one, salad and perhaps some of the macaroni for the daughter, salad and perhaps something for herself and steak and potatoes for the hubby. Variations of this, night after night after night.

Me, I had a doctor that said no little kid will starve if you have food available. So I made us all a supper. I made sure there was a side they were likely to enjoy, but what I made for supper is what we had for supper. And once I cottoned on to The Boy not eating supper but having multiple sandwiches at nine, late night snack became whatever we’d had for supper re-heated in the microwave. And guess what? Neither of them starved (although skinny boy did occasionally cause me ill-founded concern) and they are both fairly adventurous eaters. They even like things I don't, like calamari. And I made a point* of getting them involved in the making of supper. So even if they eat horrible meals when they are on their own, I know they are both capable of cooking well.

*I’d like to pretend that’s because I was a brilliant mom. Actually, it’s because I was a single mom. There is only so much one can do at one time, so if potatoes needed peeling whilst I was chopping something up, then someone got potato duty. Or Shrimp peeling duty, or beef browning duty. Whatever it took to get things done.

Recently (wish it had been decades ago) I was listening to a woman on CBC talk about parenting. She said that the whole family should be able to do things for the good of the family. There is nothing stopping a four year old from opening a dryer and pulling the clothes in it into a basket in front of the dryer. A five year old can set a table. Kids can do laundry. And mow lawns. And clean house and make meals. But it seems to me (this is now me speaking again, not the CBC person) that this is happening less and less.

I think being a single mom was, in a way, a good thing. I think if I’d been married to someone with money and been able to stay home I would have done everything. Instead I had to get help where I could, which meant the kids. They may not appreciate it, but it helped make them the independent young adults they are today. Not perfect, but capable.