Archive for December, 2016


I remember

December 12, 2016

I remember magic.
When I first learned to love soft light, the variations on colour and glow, how a room changed dynamically into a space, alien, but more like home at the same time.
I remember how music sounded different, there seemed to be a softness to it.
I remember how the air felt colder and warmer at the same time. The wind didn’t bite, it belonged.
I remember the weight of the room changing with every present under the tree. A buffet filled with dishes tucked away the better part of the year pulled out, gleaming alabaster white under candlelight, their gold edges seeming to flicker in response.
I remember the moment permission was granted, the screams and giggles accompanying the excursion into the closet under the stairs where the decorations were kept, patiently waiting for their time to shine.
I remember the christmas of the complicit lie, the handed down star destroyed by the new dog that dad said he never wanted, though he’d pet her when no one was watching. How we buried it out of sight and never spoke of it again.
I remember the hours spent in the kitchen, baking shortbread and stollen, brandy balls and fudge, the double boiler filled with chocolate for the molds of leaves and santas, my disgruntled face when mum insisted that white chocolate was just as necessary. It totally wasn’t.
I remember how it felt to transport christmas into a car, presents piled high among suitcases and baking, alarm set and a car warmed in the pre-dawn, sleepy girls in the back, tucked in with pillows and promises of a ferry ride and a warm house across the water.
I remember how it felt to carry ourselves up stairs faded red cracked concrete, flanked by rose bushes that patiently waited out winter to bloom yellow as tribute to the summer sun.
I remember the door opening and the smell of my grandmother, wreathed in shalimar perfume and the excitement of seeing us arrive safe and sound. I remember her hands, old lady soft and welcome home warm on my cold cheeks.
I remember a large house, filled with familiarity, long hallway from front foyer filled with books, rarely lit, leading to a kitchen that was always bright. I never went that way, instead turning left to the living room which was the centre of activity, filled with family, some well known, some only glimpsed once a year. A sparkling tree in a corner that seemed empty without it the rest of the year. Nestled next to a piano so old it still had ivory keys, though some had chipped off, yellowed wood beneath scraping at fingers that played. Front window showpiece of lights and garlands, over stuffed sofas among gregarious uncles, eyes already warm with pre-dinner drinks, their laughter infused with eggnog, heavy on the nog.
I remember suitcases and coats shuffled into spare rooms, my sister and I into a room painted purple, with it’s view of Grouse Mountain and the lights at the top that were obviously a runway for easy access to neighbourhood chimneys.
I remember the nativity on the mantle, the marvel of tiny bulbs’ smoky soft glow among the angel hair. It seemed so small and delicate beneath my grandfather’s sword, strapped to the wall and watching over all of us, though he was long gone. I remember the rare moments grandma would take it down and let us see it. Let us ooh and ahh over this tool of violence that had never known any. More pomp than circumstance.
I remember the plates of short bread and rum balls we’d left out as a just in case, though I had my suspicions about who was eating them the year dad suggested that santa probably just wanted a beer.
I remember the faint crackle of the fire from the other side of the house, the sound of ice cubes tintinnabulating against tumblers filled with amber to accompany reminiscences of the year gone by.
I remember the smell of candles, subtle wax scents tapered and tall, proud of their place in the tableau.
I remember the feeling of my blood boiling with excitement, barely contained and yet calmed when my aunt came in to read us a christmas eve story. Twas the night when we were young, graduating to the gift of the magi as we got older. Her voice as soft as the light of the candle she read by.
I remember it all.


Disconnecting to reconnect

December 6, 2016

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

Restart. Reboot. Reset. Readjust. Rework. Realign. Result?

I have, in the past, touted myself as the patron saint of trickster gods. What does that mean? The short answer is that I advocate for the benefit of intelligent mischief makers who take delight in messing with the status quo. But while that’s not the subject of my ponderings in this moment, it does makes sense that I would lead with that.
No, for the past few days (years? decades?) I have been developing a talent in the art of the distraction. (I know, who hasn’t?) Especially considering all the amazing shiny things there are to distract myself with. My phone is full of them, proved not only by their existence but by how much time I spend gazing into the brightness of the screen.

But I’ve noticed recently that I’m not really ingesting much of the information I’m taking in. I’ve become en thrall to the sensational headline, the scroll scroll pause reader tactic, the “liking”, the “loving”, the observing without any engagement whatsoever. The interaction has started to feel insincere.
(To be clear, not on the part of anyone else but me. I can’t speak to the depth of experience anyone else is having, ever. I’m not you. I can look at you, but only from the outside. Please don’t ever think that my perspective of the tiny robot experience should in any way affect your own.)

Everytime it makes a noise, I reach for it. I’ll be in the middle of a conversation with an actual person and I’ll be thinking about what that alert indicated. Sometimes when I’m visiting,  I’ll turn the volume down but if they get up to get another glass of wine, I have no problem idly scrolling through the feed while they’re gone. To be clear, they went one room away and I’m having trouble not filling in the seconds that they’re gone with more information that may or may not be pertinent to reality.

And so I decided to experiment with disconnecting, to a certain extent. I have no desire to disengage, I’m not leaving facebook, detweeting my twitter, unpinning my pinterest, deactivating instagram or any accounts that I’ve not signed into recently because I’ve forgotten the password.

But I’ve uninstalled them from my phone. I know the whole point of most social media is to have it there, to instantly connect with friends and family, to share what’s going on in one’s life in real time and it’s a damned beautiful thing to be able to do that.

But I was spending far too much time as an observer, without actually seeing anything. I had stopped commenting on pictures and posts from friends, beyond the lip service of a like, clicked hastily before I scrolled the screen to the next one.
It feels dishonest. So I’m taking a step back. I’ll still be accessible, if anyone needs me, I’m easily found without too much trouble. I’ll just be a bit quieter in the feeds.

I’m restarting gently. No hard reboot. Just a subtle attempt to reset my priorities, to readjust how I process the information I’m taking in, to rework my ability to more fully comprehend what I’m experiencing, to realign myself with habits that are beneficial not just to me, but perhaps resulting in a ripple effect of creativity and sanity.

I could use more of that.


December in the chair

December 1, 2016

“Tuck in darlings, we’re twisting toward the dark. But then? Then we’re rocking our way back towards the sun once more.”
December is a month of revelling in the lack of light, combatted by the string theory replacing vitamin d with colour wrapping trees. Sleigh bells ring true though transport takes a seemingly more efficient form this time of year. For all the dark that October promises, rain soaked morose reminders of long night might that November dictates, December is all about the balance of dark vs light.

She brings it in tight, describing a dark night mentality that stretches itself beyond what might seem sane, evening the game to a perspective of longest night that rotates back towards the light.
December promises presents and the presence of spring on the horizon, sentiment means more than buying affection, don’t let me forget to mention those 12 days that can’t help but erupt in song.
December is the musical montage of winter, potential promise of snow and the delight in how one can know that there is no where to go, but home. Even when all alone, there is magic in the invoking of her name, how odd that the recall of memories can feel just the same as when I was there, back then, even now and when I consider moments gone by, it’s those days in December most apt to make me try and be as good as I can, to help those around me understand that it’s not about the things, but the kind of joy December can bring.

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