Category Archives: Mind and Body

Jesus Lady

Jesus Lady lived a few houses down from us, on the house near the top of the hill (we lived nearer to the bottom).

She had a mean yellow dog and loud signs taped to the large windows of her front patio, which read:

JESUS SAVES THOSE WHO ARE SAVED.

JESUS LOVES.

JESUS WEEPS FOR YOUR SINS.

Etc., etc.

She was a small woman, but physically strong and persistent, as most people who believe themselves to be righteous often are. She waited in front of the patio (many school kids had to pass her house in their decent down the hill, towards home) and rushed forth to shove pamphlets about Jesus and how he loves and saves and weeps into our hands. She would hold on to coats or sleeves demanding to know if we loved Jesus in turn, and whether we were saved or not.

She did this most of her days, often with her mean old dog in tow. Together, they dominated the sidewalk. I came home from school with many pamphlets, which my parents used to wrap fish guts and egg shells so that they wouldn’t stick to the inside of the garbage can.

Jesus Lady got to know my face. How could she not? We saw each other almost every day. I went to that school for years.

I tried to dissuade her, get her to leave me alone. I really did. Told her I wasn’t interested, that I didn’t believe in god or Jesus, that I was Buddhist (and hence, good insofar as matters of the soul were concerned).

But Jesus Lady was not moved. Would not be made to see anything but her god-driven mission to save. Us. All.

So, one day I did the only thing that seemed natural. I lied right to Jesus Lady’s Jesus face.

“Yes, I am saved now.”

The transformation was instantaneous: she lit up like a fiberglass Jack-O-Lantern. I remember it well, her expansive grin slightly grotesque, her pallor decidedly…orange.

“Oh, praise Jesus! Praise Jesus! Praise Him!”

I expected her to see through the lie (I did not put much effort to selling it, just mechanically said the words, Yes. I. Am. Saved. Now.). That she accepted it so readily taught me that truth and validation are not the same thing, and that a lie, one beautiful lie between two people, can set them each free.

And that nothing is free.

From that day forward, I was able to walk by Jesus Lady (dog or no dog in tow) with only a mild, “There she is! The girl who is saved!” rather than the usual litany of “You’re going to Hell/Devil child!/Buddhism isn’t real!”

Etc., etc.

From that day forward, Jesus Lady watched me walk by, the child she saved for Jesus’ sake, who never had a word otherwise to share with her and whose friends snickered at her back with every, “She is saved! Praise Him,” that flew from her thin lips, empty words that they were.

***

Jesus Lady, I eventually learned, had an adult son. I’m pretty certain his name was Christopher (of course it was), but not in a factual way.

By then I was working most days in our city’s grimy downtown, one cashier among many.

That’s where I saw them, one summer’s day: Jesus Lady and her son (the dog was long, long dead) walking the streets, pamphlets in hand.

Her son. He was dressed as Jesus, complete with a straggly fake beard, flowing robes, a crown of (pipe-cleaner) thorns and a giant wooden cross strapped to his back, which immobilized his arms (his mother, naturally, handled the pamphlets).

It was quite the display; he really seemed to be suffering, under all that grab in that all that heat, bearing that mighty cross day after day in a downtown core that was already half-dead in its dying.

It took me days to see it, but then I did.

The cross. It had a set of roller skate wheels attached to its bottom, allowing this Jesus to master the sidewalks, but also to struggle against the burden of his beliefs quite convincingly, if he so chose. It was really up to him.

I wonder if he ever thanked god for that.

***

Did you know that “dog” spelled backward is “god”?

People say it is also the same thing the other way around, but as a non-believer, I have my doubts.

 

 

 

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Filed under Dogs, Mind and Body, Names, People, Race, Religion, THE PAST

Future Tense

I’ve found that I can commit to things (i.e. birthday parties, baby showers, dinners out, shows) when I already (that is beforehand) have an exit strategy in place (i.e. illness, emergency, act of God).

“I’m, uh, rather feverish at the moment.”

“My dog threw up!”

“My roof collapsed?”

I seldom, if ever, use the exit. But the fact that it is there, in place, is as much as a comfort as it is a crutch (is this, really, the Good Life? Can’t I do better?).

Also this: I tell myself that the event is so far, like out there, in the future, that it’s almost like not committing at all! That is a problem for another day, which is not today, maybe not even tomorrow.

And then, eventually, it hits me: the future is now. Or it will be.

Every. Single. Time.

(For the time being, anyway.)

I suppose I could just commit to less, make things more manageable, more orderly, less stressful. But I’m not there yet. I’m still not up to being that person, not yet.

I am becoming that person, yes, certainly. Eventually, I think so, I hope so.

But not now.

For now (for right now): I’d love to go to your thing! Count me in!

Yeah. Can’t hardly wait.

 

 

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Filed under Change, Communications, Events, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Philosophy, Routines, THE FUTURE

Resolution (2019 Edition)

  1. a) To be better, or less bad (or at the very least not as worst), which is to say, to set a new normal.
    b) New normal are hard.
    c) What is “normal”?

 

  1. a) Incremental, every day changes (i.e. to routines, habits, thought patterns).
    b) How incremental is enough?
    c) ???
    d) (This, perhaps, and for example, not incremental enough.)

 

  1. a) POSITIVE THOUGHTS ONLY.
    b) “ONLY”…proscriptive?
    c) Uh oh.

 

  1. a) Introspection!
    b) Don’t brood, but don’t not brood…
    c) Ugh. For real, just…ugh.

 

  1. PERSIST (why not?).

 

  1. RESIST (always, not never, be doing this).

 

  1. SMASH (read: the patriarchy).

 

  1. Climb every mountain!

 

  1. Slay every demon!

 

  1. Solve every murder!

 

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

 

GOOD LUCK.

 

 

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Filed under Ceremony, Change, Holiday, Mind and Body, Routines, THE FUTURE

Please Select That Which Best Applies

If I do not know the ordering procedure of a particular eating establishment, I will:

a) Decide to go somewhere else.

b) Eventually convince myself that I am not that hungry after all.

c) Stare on in puzzlement until it’s officially socially awkward for everyone involved.

d) Turn heel. Run home.

e) b & d

f) a & c

 

Your puppy:

a) Is the most adorable thing I have ever seen. Your puppy has therefore ruined my life.

b) Is the absolute best.

c) I WANT A PUPPY.

d) I cannot afford a puppy right now.

f) All of the above.

 

What That Guy Said?:

a) “Old.”

b) “Ode.”

c) “Auld.”

d) “Bald.”

e) “Sassafras gonads.”

 

PUNCTUATION THROWDOWN:

a) .

b) !

c) : OR ;

d) c OR Both

e) c & d

f) How come no one cares about ampersand?

 

Discreet Flatulence:

a) Acceptable.

b) Diabolical.

c) You ruined it by calling if “flatulence.”

 

Book or Movie:

a) Book.

b) Movie.

c) Both is not an answer.

c) Both.

 

You’ll be in:

a) My heart.

b) My thoughts and/or prayers.

c) Deep shit.

d) Shallow Paraguay.

 

I would love to:

a) Help.

b) Be able to help.

c) Consider helping.

d) Consider being able to help.

e) b, c & d

f) Never a.

 

Choose Your Fighter:

a) Emperor Penguin.

b) Death Cap Mushroom.

c) Giant Spider.

d) Tiny T-Rex.

e) Haunted Waterslide.

f) Ugly American.

 

Nonsensical:

a) “Owning the Libs.”

b) “I can fix them.”

c) “I’m sorry if…”

d) “All lives matter.”

e) “Books are dead.”

f) All of the above (plus a few others, TBA).

g) All of the above (but e especially).

 

Good answer:

a) Yes.

b) No.

 

Best answer:

a) No.

b) GOD NO.

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Books, Communications, Dogs, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Places

Dream State

Lou got me up early and it was a relief.

“I’m tired of dreaming,” I told him. “Let’s go out.”

It was a miserable, wet day and the sun had already decided to shun the remainder. That was also fine, also a great relief. Such a pitiless contrast between the dream and waking world was exactly what I needed to ground myself in the here and now. The real world?

I suppose I could describe the dreams; these dreams I’ve been having over the past couple of days (and days). And I do remember them.

But no.

The imagery is still too sharp, the flashes of dream reality too visceral. I feel more than I remember, but that’s more than enough.

Why this? Why now? That is not for me to say.

Let me just say: the subconscious is a lewd, lewd place.

Also: I am so over cowboy hats.

 

 

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Filed under Dogs, Dreams, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Pets

Conversations About Dogs With Near Strangers

I had met Shari before, at a seminar, but we did not speak to each other, the class getting much in the way of that.

On our second meeting, waiting in the dim little hallway for the class to begin, we talked about dogs.

Hers is 8 years old, a bulldog/boxer mix with an attitude problem that she’s tried to work with him to, if not remedy (he’s too far gone for that), mitigate. I told her about Lou, our 14 year old dachshund, and even got into the specifics of his many issues and countless idiosyncrasies, and all the things we’ve done to help him along with those.

Strangers can talk to each other about their dogs for days; dogs being a “safe” topic for discussion with people you don’t really know all that well – a way to talk about yourself without having to talk about yourself.

Dogs help us open up.

A confession, then, from Shari: “I know this sounds weird, but I’m already thinking of the day I’ll have to put my dog down. I shouldn’t be, he’s old but not that old. But I can’t seem to help it.”

“I think about that too,” I replied. “It’s not so weird.”

“Well, when I have to, I’ll have to. You know?”

Dogs teach us about responsibly (to think about it, to take it seriously). They help us with our empathy. And they teach us about mortality: the impermanence of things, and what (if anything) we can do about it.

Another confession from Shari: “I’m worried about how my newborn son will get along with my dog. But we’ll just have to figure something out. I am not getting rid of the dog.”

Ah, yes. Of course.

Dogs help us prioritize.

 

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Filed under Animals, Death, Dogs, Mind and Body, People, Philosophy

Direct Quotes, 1

Sometimes, the only thing to do is to get it down. Save it. Relish it. Keep it pure:

 

Unsolicited Opinion: “Books are dead.”

Conspiracy: “The Illuminati have Tupac because his music is too good.”

Religion & Science: “Cindy, that was over 2,000 years ago. Before science. Back then that shit [immaculate conception] was possible.”

Elderly Neighbour: “Dear, what is a ‘dingleberry?'”

Anatomy: “That’s my candy gettin’ arm!”

Life Advice: “If you don’t want to have a baby, just have one!”

12-Year-Old’s Prognosis: “I like it how my knee kills me and then it just doesn’t.”

Power Couple: “Babe, what’s glands?”

Term Paper Gem: [Margaret] Mead was a woman who wore capes, was flamboyant, and although maimed at one point, had a lesbian affair with Ruth Benedict.”

Hetero Idiot: “Gay guys hit on me all the time. I’m what’s known as a ‘bear.'”

PSA: “Basement floods are on the rise.”

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Body, Children, Friends, Mind and Body, People, Relationships, Science, Words

Fire, Fire!

Dreamt the other night that my plants become infested with fire ants which colonized them via spider webs my house was a warehouse but also the back of a restaurant somehow shadowy government figures were after me so I turned virtually invisible and hid out on the roof two people found me but I convinced them not to rat me out with my magical fire breath they fell hard and fast and far but my concern the entire time was for my plants my plants the ants ants poured out of them like water live lava..!

I woke up itchy, relived and also vaguely disappointed.

What dreams may come, eh? Or mayn’t they?

Mayn’t?

 

 

 

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Filed under Dreams, Interruptions, Mind and Body

Bong Go

There is one morning in recent memory where I caught my teenage neighbour out on his stoop with a giant, truly impressive bong (not unlike a really large test tube, or small palm tree).

He choked on it when I said “Hi” and I looked away so he could shove it behind him and pretend he didn’t have it. And so I could pretend I never saw it. So we could both pretend that it wasn’t, in actuality, right there, jammed between his body and the front door, jabbing him uncomfortably in the back like it was indignant.

(Wouldn’t you be?)

Then he smiled and said “Hi” back.

Then we talked about the weather for longer than seemed necessary, or possible. He shifted, fumbled, and the bong fell unceremoniously to its side. The noise it made as it did so was one of pure resignation.

Then he really smiled and I really smiled and we forgot about the weather and wished each other a nice day.

Because it’s not always about how the day starts, is it?

And the morning had really only just begun, hadn’t it?

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Friends, Interruptions, Mind and Body, People, Routines

Non Persona Non Grata

 
Happy New Year!

Have you decided what kind of person you’ll be this year?

Sometimes that is more or less out of our control, more or less a matter for Fate and the Gods to decide.

A Young Person. A Tall Person. A Short South East Asian Female Canadian Person.

A People Person.

Circumstances this week have rendered me a Non Person.

It wasn’t my idea!
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 
It was very casual, my sudden loss of personhood.

Stephen went away for work.

And I lost my wallet.

No ID. No cash.

There. That’s it. That’s all it took.

Incredible.
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 
For four days, I survived via a pile of loose change I amassed after searching the apartment. Stephen suggested going to the bank and turning that change into cash money so that I could at least avoid the shame of paying with handfuls of coins.

“You need a bank card to do that.”

“Oh…yeah.”

Surely, I thought, things would have been better if Stephen were around: even without my driver’s license or credit card, I could at least validate my existence through him.

Get him to tell people who I am.

Get him to pick up bread and Drano®.

But I realized that even with Stephen home, my personhood was not guaranteed.
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 
I exist in space and time. I am matter. But without anything to substantiate my identity, did I?

Legally, the answer would be: No.

Existentially, the answer is: Really?

For four days, one realm of possibility closed on me, while another (kind of) opened up. It was a realm in which I existed, but only up to a point. A limbo in which, for those four days, it would be a very inconvenient time to get killed or want to take out library books.

If a car or a plane or an assassin hit me, where would the proof of my identity be?[1] That chicken pox scar from childhood?  My memories from the Calgary Stampede (circa 1999)?  My love of smooth jazz?[2]

My fingerprints and blood, sure, but without my health card or SIN number it would take a while to establish my identity.

So that left just me.

A regular Jane Doe.
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 
I worried a lot about someone else having my wallet.  

My boss had his identity stolen, and now he can’t get a passport. He went to the police and they did very little.  For what it’s worth, his identity is now “compromised”.

What the hell is it like to be “compromised”?

He won’t say.
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 
People change. Every single cell in your body, so the logic goes, gets replaced every 7 years, more or less. Biologically, that makes you a more or less a new person.

Health cards in Ontario are renewed every 5 years.

Passports are renewed every 5 to 10 years.

Birth certificates can’t be renewed, but they can be replaced.

In any case, they don’t expire, unlike your cells.
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 
My sister never got a driver’s license, so she used her passport during the 2008 election as her ID so she could vote.

Or rather, she tried to.

The man working at the polling station, officious little turd that he was, refused to accept her passport as “legitimate identification.”

She wasn’t allowed to vote. She didn’t vote.

Imagine that.  And in this day and age.
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 
In 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada had declared that sorry no, women were not, legally, persons. The decision was challenged by five Canadian women at the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the highest court of appeal for Canada at the time, in England,[3] and on October 28, 1929, the Privy Council confirmed for Canadians everywhere that, “yes, women are persons”.

Just to be clear.

In 2012, the Bank of Canada replaced the image of an Asian woman with a more “neutral” Caucasian woman on the newly redesigned $100 bill after focus groups complained about the appearance of the Asian woman on “Canadian” money. The Bank later apologized for its decision and after it was too late for it to make further changes to the bill.

“Erased” is another word for “replaced”. It’s funny.

In his book, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, Thomas King writes of Canada’s Bill C-31 and the effect of its “two-generation cut-off clause” on Status Indians.

In Canada, Status Indians are people who the federal government chooses to recognize, legally, as Indians.

However, “[m]arry out of Status for two generations, and the children of the second union are non-Status (2012: 168).”

King continues:

“Let’s think about that for a minute. Because Indians marry both Status and non-Status individuals, so long as the ‘two generation cut-off clause’ remains in place, more of our children will lose Status. If this continues, at some point…there could be no Status Indians left in Canada (2012: 169).”

King goes on:

“It’s a brilliant plan. No need to allocate money to improve living conditions on reserves. No reason to build the new health centre that’s been promised for the last thirty years. No reason to fix the water and sewer systems or to update the science equipment at the schools. Without Status Indians, the land can be recycled by the government and turned into something useful, such as estate lots and golf courses, and Ottawa, at long last, can walk away from the Indian business” (2012: 169).

So much for blood and fingerprints.
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 
Not that I need to worry about the next election or next week or even, after a fashion, getting totally smoked by an 18-wheeler tomorrow.

For, on the fifth day, my wallet was returned to me.

I am a person again!

For what it’s worth.
 
 

Don't leave home without it.

Don’t leave home without it.


 
 
 
 
References

King, Thomas. (2012). The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. Anchor Canada/Random House Canada: Toronto.

 


[1] Assuming, of course, that there’s anything left.

[2] One of these is false.

[3] Canadians are weird.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Filed under Mind and Body, People, Philosophy