Tag Archives: Blood

Car Trouble

1. Ontario is a province of periodic ice storms. Big ones, nasty ones, ones that come in big and powerful and loud and whose consequences linger for days on end.

Accidents are not meant to happen, but they happen anyway. From the outside looking in, watching the accident as it happens, it can sometimes seem less of an accident and more a twist of fate.

There was a terrible ice storm that hit Toronto years ago – not the one where the mayor called in the army, but one a few ice storms after that. Stephen and I had decided to drive back into the city after visiting my parents about hour or so away. The storm was gentle at first, just but a touch – a whisper really – of inclement weather that seemed innocent enough, weak enough, fleeting enough.

But then. Well.

But then it was too late.

Slowly, imperceptibly and then all at fucking once, the highway became slick with snow and ice; the highway was a waterslide, a slough of cold, wet malice. We inched along, pumping the brakes as we skidded here & there, to & fro, as side became front became side became back & front again, as we lost track of the lanes, as we lost all sense of direction and any semblance of hope.

All around us, cars, vans and trucks crashing into each other, skidding at wicked angles down wrong lanes, striking the median with their bumpers and hoods, plunging into ditches.

And yet somehow we made it. Whole, without one scratch, through the melee traffic. Not one scratch, despite the calamity, the sheer inevitably of it for everyone else, anyone else at all but us.

 

2. The bird darted out of the woods and smacked into the grill of the car so hard and so suddenly that it took a full moment to register what had happened, even as the windshield was showered by a burst of blue, white and black feathers. There was also some blood, but not as much as you might think. Just flecks. Nothing outwardly incriminating.

My field director was driving and all he could say at first was, “Huh.”

Pulling the car over to the side of the road allowed us to fully realize what had happened. It’s almost worse than I can tell: the bird had melded with the grill of the car. It was as if one had become the other. They had become inseparable, the car and, of all things, a Blue Jay. Rare enough to see one of those these days.

It could have hit any car, but it hit ours. It could have hit any car, so it hit ours.

Feathers of blue, white and black against chrome. Any car, really, there were so many out on the road that day. Or maybe even none at all. If only.

What kind of a luck is that? What events or factors or circumstances, like the planets above, had to align for that poor bird to so inelegantly thwack against a random/not so random car.

So many things.

Too many things to count, that are, finally, worth counting.

 

3. We had never had a flat tire before that flat tire, and never had one since (so far). It was summer and the drive was fine – smooth, uneventful – and then we started kind of thumping, tottering, hobbling Not exactly a pleasant sensation. Not one I’d recommend offhand.

We parked precariously on the side of a ditch. A cop stopped to ask us what we were up to (“Nothing going on here, is there folks?”), then piled back into his cruiser and drove away when it was clear the situation wasn’t any more nefarious than the changing of a flat tire. He honked, waved goodbye (“You got this.).

Neither of us had ever changed a tire before. It took us a long, long time but we managed to switch out the tire for its spare. Elated yet defeated (the plan had been to visit Stephen’s sister but we had spent too long changing the tire and it was too late), we got back on the road and turned off the next exit, homebound.

Days later my aunt told me she and my other aunt, their spouses and my cousins had passed us on the highway while we were stranded, in the ditch, attempting to change that tire.

“You looked like you needed help,” laughed her husband. They didn’t feel like stopping, it turns out, because then they would have had to take the exit and backtrack. No one wanted that. Who would want that?

Strange how a moment can bring you together or rip you apart. Funny how coincidence works itself out.

Years later, he lost all the money he and my aunt had, and they, in turn, lost their cars and their house and were forced to sell most of their things, including all their precious koi from the, frankly, undersized pond that held them.

They separated. A year later, he died.

Huh. Didn’t see that one coming, not by a long shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Birds, Death, Family, Nature, Relationships, THE PAST, Transportation

Avocado Hands

I know someone with a job I cannot do and never could do (therefore never will do). The person is a nurse, a job I tell people I’m too sensitive for. But it is a selfish thing to say, isn’t it? On my part, I believe it is.

Such stories this person could tell you about extraordinary things happening every day, at the their job, while they’re on the job.

For example, Avocado Hand.

The other day, I learned about Avocado Hand.

Heard of it? Avocado Hand: when someone accidentally stabs themselves in (more often through) their own hand when attempting to remove an avocado seed (its stone, or the pit, depending on your perspective) with a knife.

Halve an avocado, twist it apart: one side, pristine, hollow, ready for you. As for the other, well, there it is. That damn pit. Staring at you like an all-seeing eye. Something for you to pluck out, with gusto. Tout suite. Grab a knife. Use your hand.

Results Often In: Pierced, serrated, mangled flesh. Blood too. Lots. Damage a few nerves, sever a few tendons, split the sinews here, there…irreparably, maybe. But then again, maybe not. You could get lucky.

I’ve never heard of it before, Avocado Hand. But I’ve always suspected, felt its presence, its potential, in the spare moments when I prepare some extravagant toast or contemplate a nice guacamole or consider the produce on a grocery run.

What if? Press this way and that with the point of a big, solid knife. Stab it there, just right. Just hard enough to get it. Never mind going across with the side of the blade. Never mind a spoon.

The nurse. Avocado Hand. You know how many times they’ve seen it? Three times this summer at least. Not enough to count on one hand, but getting there, not forgetting, of course, to include that all-important thumb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Body, Food, Health, People

Anatomy Lesson

 

Having dispensed with the customary reading of Corinthians 13:4-8:

  1. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
  1. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

the Minister – the struggling sun alighting his thin face, the leaves from the trees shading his features in ugly patches – turned to the Groom and turned to the Bride, and he asked them each in turn:

“Groom, what is your favorite food?”

“Steak,” was his answer. He had to think about it.

“Bride, what is your favorite food?”

“Chocolate,” she answered without hesitation.

“And do you love steak? Do you love chocolate?” asked the Minister.

“Yes,” answered the Groom.

“Yes,” answered the Bride.

From beneath him, the Minister produced a body. Free of blemishes, unmarred in any conceivable way, it was in a word, perfect.

“The Ancient Greeks,” he began, addressing the Groom and the Bride and us, the Dearly Beloved, his hands hovering gently above the body, “have four words for love.”

He looked down at that perfect body, that immaculate skin.

And he plunged his hand within, producing a horrible shlucking sound as he probed past muscle and sinew, past bone and fat and guts, searching for purchase. He stopped suddenly as he found the love, and with a strength almost unimaginable, he pulled it out for all to see.

AGÁPE! Spiritual love, good will and benevolence!” he cried. “With this, you love a spouse or you love a dog and are loved in turn and in kind by them. You are content, with this kind of love.”

He held the love before him, where it pulsated, trying to keep in erratic time with the body from which it had been so cruelly torn. Bile oozed from its insides; sugars and toxins spilled from it, unprocessed. Large and unwieldy, the love was tossed back inside the body’s abdominal walls.

The Minister pointed at the Groom, and then to the Bride.

“Do you each have this kind of love for each other? Do you have this love for each other more than you have for steak? FOR CHOCOLATE?”

“Yes,” was the answer, echoed from Groom to Bride.

Throwing his hands up in the air, the Minister continued. I blinked and suddenly he was driving them down again, into the body once more.

“ÉROS! Physical, passionate love. Attraction, romance. I take it you are well acquainted with this love already,” he intoned rather matter-of-factly, indicating the Groom and the Bride as he moved further down the body, grasping the love at last with both hands. A great balloon, he retched it from its place and held it before us all, cradling it as one cradles a newborn. Juices spilled from the love. It churned, searching, questioning; always hungry, forever ravenous.

Do you each have this kind of love for each other?” whispered the Minister, gently rocking the love to and fro and bouncing on the balls of his feet.

“Yes,” was the answer, immediate and true.

The Minster nodded curtly and dropped the love into the gaping hole before him. He surveyed the crowd, letting his hands wander along the length of the body.

He came to the head, and paused.

I stared on, unable to look away.

We went in through the eyes.

Pulling this love out in handfuls of chunks and mush, he continued.

PHILIA! The love of the intellect. Loyalty, virtue and friendship. ‘Mental love!’” he almost screamed, grabbing frantically at the love, fingernails embedding deeply into the grey matter within.

The synapses of the love spurted, firing helplessly into space, trying desperately to connect as the love was thrown haphazardly over the Minster’s head, at the Groom and the Bride, at the crowd of Dearly Beloved. Finally, having run himself ragged, the Minister stopped. He looked down into this red, red hands and regarded the love with something like pity.

And just as simply, he shrugged off the love, flinging its remnants it into the woods behind him.

“Do you each have this kind of love for each other?” asked the Minister, wiping his hands on the sides of his trousers.

“Yes,” was the answer. The Groom’s voice flattered, consumed with emotion. The Bride’s chest shuddered, as she tried to hold back the tears that were threatening to overwhelm her.

The Minister closed his eyes, breathing heavily, nodding gravely. Finally, he pulled back his arms at impossible angles and plugged first one and then the other fist into the centre of the body. He found what he wanted easily.

STORGĒ! Affection. LOVING AFFECTION. Familial love, natural love, LOVE OF GOD!!!” he shouted, holding this love high in one triumphant hand, while the other braced itself against the poor, mangled body.

The love pounded and throbbed. It shuddered; chilled by the afternoon breeze, pumping diligently away to serve the others, even at it itself was rapidly losing precious oxygen.

“Do you each have this kind of love for each other?” asked the Minister,unwilling or unable to lower his arm, squeezing the love till it was pushed through fingers like tree roots.

“Yes!” answered the Groom and the Bride, both shaking in exquisite agony for what was to come.

“Good. Good. Very good,” said the Minister. He put the love into his back pocket, for later.

Depleted of energy and seeing now his impending irrelevance, the Minister softly proclaimed, “You may then, finally, kiss the Bride. God. Bless. You.”

The Groom, at last, kissed the Bride.

The Bride, breaking the kiss, turned and smiled widely the Dearly Beloved.

And I remember thinking, almost aloud:

Love is, and it wants what it wants.

And who’s going to clean up all this blood?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Ceremony, People, Relationships, Ritual

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