Sunday, 31 May 2015

Aging Poetically

I have a birthday this week.  Birthdays are mainly something to be ignored except for the fact that they tend to involve good food.  Once, when I had a large garden, I frequently received plants as gifts.  There was a time when it was often a tree.  Now, with just a small balcony, that is no longer the case but this year Mum apparently couldn't resist and I got an early birthday surpise-this pot of violet alstroemeria (which my spell checker wants to change to astrolabe).




I have begun a painting of Mum, but progress is slow since my brain is more interested in writing at the moment.  Actually it  can't stop, so last night while trying to get to sleep it spewed out several first draft poems.  Now I shall inflict them on you all because I am generous like that.

Oh hey, look, I still wear clothes and here is a picture to prove it.  Also, I still have mushroom-hair days.  Especially when I attempt to straighten it with the hairdryer.  This is a very wild outfit by my standards.  All that colour and pattern.  Mum says she is surprised.

Top and pants-thrifted, pants and sandals re-dyed by me, bag a splurge but on sale for half price-LOVE this bag so it was worth it.  I have a cross-body satchel obsession.

                              Miss Mathilda is not very impressed.


        We disagree about which of us came up with doorway posing first.


                                If you hate my poetry, stop here. 
                                     **********************


Jazz Night at the Cafe

A syncopated infection invades my body and the symptoms
include persistent twitching. 
Toes tap, hips waggle and sway
Doing the vinyl seat boogie.
I am plucked like the strings of the base viol
and I  cha-chaka, cha-chaka, cha with the drums.


Literature

I say it apologetically, whisper it, I like literature
Wince and shrug
Someone says she just likes to read stories, you know,
Be entertained.  She doesn’t want to have to think.
And I am certain then that I must be pretentious.

Someone else approaches and asks me have I read
(insert name of major literary work here) and I say,
Umm, well no, I have not gotten to that one yet.
Wince and shrug
Clearly I am an imposter.  A poseur.

I love literature but I don’t believe in reading something
I am not interested in reading. 
No longer a student for marks and grades, I close a book
that does not hold me captive.  Ulysses.
Did James Joyce wince and shrug?

I read for fun, they tell me.  I like to be entertained.
Who doesn’t?  I think.  But now I can’t say it, can’t say-
Oh the highbrow stuff entertains me-the smart stuff.
Thinking is fun,
Wince and shrug.
Unspoken thoughts in the other’s mind:  What else do you do for fun, scrub toilets?

Salad

A salad is so much work for what you get.
Washing, chopping, shredding, tossing,
Half an hour to make, ten minutes to eat
Hungry again an hour later.

The Corner
I walk into the cafe
And stride straight to my favourite corner
My corner-only someone else is there before me
Claimed it for herself.

Momentarily I hesitate and then take
The table right next to hers
A large empty room and two women are
Unspeakingly pressed into the corner.

Eventually, perhaps half an hour later
We share a bond of sisterhood-sitting on this vinyl bench
The sisterhood of the corner-leaning back against the wall
Eventually she speaks to me.

It’s just a comment or two, a friendly
understanding, we will think the same way
She leans toward me conspiratorially
whispers her thoughts as I smile and nod.

Later, when she leaves, she is compelled
to say goodbye to me, her old friend
her corner sister.

Words

Your words seemed more powerful than mine.
More accurate, assured and they crowded my head
leaving no room for my own and when your words
are out in the world, who is going to listen to mine?

My words buzz and whine in my ear
Around my head, mosquitos of thought
Cars ‘round a racetrack-crash and burn,
tires spinning, I  lie awake and think of metaphors.


Dogs

The heartbreaking loyalty of dogs
Eager to please
Desirous of your love and
Giving, giving giving-no matter how ill used.
That’s why I am a cat person.
The way of dogs is all too painfully familiar.

Black and White

Powerful predators, high-pitched chitter
a tin-flute sound that brings feathered death.
Soaring in circles, taught-winged grace,
riding the wind and watching for dinner in the water below.

A cacophony of crows’ hack-sawing voices
shriek from the trees as they send out their
mobbing-calls: Back Off they scream
issuing threats and posturing brazenly.

White hatted eagle, black hatted crow
no clues here about good and bad- it is all about perspective.
Just ask the salmon.  Just ask the sparrow.

Broken Bird

A broken bird lies on the highway
Twitching, not yet dead.
We approach at speed directed
By the signs
And there is only time to react with horror
At the sight of suffering,
To know the car will pass clean over-
The body untouched by its wheels
And that really, somebody should
Have the courage to run the wheels right over it.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Iris, Alice, Margaret and Maya

If I lost everything in a fire, it is my books I would be most keen to replace. I have made myself a library in which to live, full of reference books, non-fiction, novels, short stories, poems and even some plays.  I try not to be attached to material things, but my books are my anchor in this world.

Choosing favourite writers is a bit like choosing my favourite flower.  I definitely prefer some, love some, but the moment I start a list it just keeps growing.

Iris Murdoch:

I love Iris because she was herself, a bit of a mess actually, a philosopher, a bit of an odd duck.  Scholars debate whether or not she is a good writer or a bad one, but they can't not pay attention to her one way or the other. She is known for her confidence but private letters reveal that she had great doubts about her abilities and that makes her so relatable.  Her books are not easy to read and somehow manage to combine a boring, yet dramatic plot with characters to whom you don't really attach but want to learn their fate.  

I love Iris for her exploration of human psychology, of philosophy, ethics, human relationships and the complex not all good, not all bad nature of most people.  She might be one of the few writers who gets away with a lot of telling instead of showing.  Break those rules, Iris!

Alice Munro:

Another writer not everyone can embrace, Munro writes short stories which she describes as a slice of life or about the pain of human contact.  She focuses on people, relationships and ordinary lives, often small towns, often revisiting the same characters or themes.  Sometimes the story, or our view of the people and events, simply ceases to continue rather than any sort of dramatic ending.  Just like real life.  There is no academic debate as to whether she is any good, but she is not everyone's taste.

I love Alice for her great success with the short story in a culture that prefers novels.  I love the glimpses into lives and the very ordinary people coping with what comes their way.  Her style is deceptively simple, which I greatly admire and rather hope I also can achieve.


Margaret Atwood:

This woman is possibly  my idol.  A brilliant writer, speaker, feminist, environmentalist, essayist, and poet among other things, I just find myself wanting to either be her or marry her.  She makes it all look so easy yet never undermining her obvious intelligence in the process.  It must be added that anyone who writes a poem that includes the lines "Cat, enough of your greedy whining and your small pink bumhole. Off my face!"  has my attention.

I love Margaret for her intelligence and her talent, her versatility and clever, novel plots and her wit.  I love that she wrote a Home Economics Opera while in high school, that she considered being an artist or a scientist instead of a writer, and pretty much everything she says is riveting. I believe her to be one of the few writers I admire as a person just as much as I admire her work.

Just a few of my favourite quotes:

''I feel that the task of criticizing my poetry is best left to others (i.e. critics) and would much rather have it take place after I am dead. If at all.''

''Everyone thinks writers must know more about the inside of the human head, but that is wrong. They know less, that's why they write. Trying to find out what everyone else takes for granted.'' 

''If a stranger taps you on the ass and says, "How's the little lady today!" you will probably cringe. But if he's an American, he's only being friendly.''

Margaret Atwood Poems and quotes



Maya Angelou:
 
How is it that I relate to the words of an African American woman twice my age? At first I might be tempted to say it is because we are both women but I think more is due to  her talent for beautiful, precise language which makes such a clear mental picture for the reader.  When you read a poem by Maya Angelou you are her.  With clear, simple yet powerful language she makes her point and tells her stories.



                                             *****************

I am a reader who reads for the writing style as much as for the content.  I look for poetry and philosophy in what I read.  A cracking good story can be a pleasure but if I am touched, moved by the writing and the depth of the content the book is a treasure forever.  Sometimes cake is nice but I want the nourishment of a good, hearty stew most of the time.



Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Lillian: A Short Story

Lillian

She opened her eyes, rubbed them and stared into the pitch darkness that surrounded her.  She waited for her eyes to grow accustomed to the lack of light, certain that they would, that shapes would begin to reveal themselves as curtains, lamps, a chair in the corner, a bathrobe hung from a hook in the door. She started when the door opened, letting in the sharp light from the hall along with a lumpy figure.  A woman, she thought.  “Mrs Anderson,” the woman said. “You’re awake.”

Now that she could see around the room it was not the room she had expected.  It was not the bed she had expected either and when she looked at her hands  lying on top of the bed covers, folded corpse-like across her chest, they were not the hands she expected to see.  There was a wedding ring on her left hand.  A plain gold band.  She stared at it and brought into her head a picture of the man she associated with it.  The lumpy person, definitely a woman in scrubs, came closer and asked if she needed anything.  “I need to know exactly where I am and when I got here,” she said.  Or at least that is what she tried to say.  What came out was mainly the words where, when, and some garbled sounds but the woman-nurse?- in scrubs seemed to understand.

“Last week.  This is a place where you can rest now.  You’ll be okay.”  the nurse said in a reassuring tone, and then poured some water and helped the thin, nightgown clad woman to sit up for it. Slowly she reached up and took the plastic cup.   She drank it all down quickly, feeling the liquid unsticking her tongue from the roof of her mouth, lubricating her throat.   With water, came memories.  The  nurse made pillow fluffing motions and tucked her in like a child, telling her to go back to sleep and not worry about anything but she was only just beginning to remember that she had anything to worry about.  She wanted to write it, to write what she remembered, but she would have to wait until morning so she told herself what she wanted to write down as though it were a story, a bedtime story before going to sleep.

There was a cabin and a lake, perfectly idyllic.   He was tall and dark. He  laughed a lot and Lillian meant everything to him.  He taught her to swim, to fish, to strike matches for the fire.  He didn’t like lighters, and said there was nothing so satisfying as striking a match.  Lillian looked like him with dark, laughing, straight eyebrows and just one dimple when she smiled, and the same cowlick that was not tamed by the bangs she cut for herself that summer she was eight.  There was always so much water.  The lake.  The rain.  It always rained there. “Murphy’s Law” he said, but it was no matter because the fish bite better when it rains.  I stayed in the cabin and read my book by the fire but the two of them, they went out fishing in the rain.  Sometimes from the dock, sometimes rowing out just a little ways in the punt.  “Your mother, she worries,” he said to Lillian.  “We don’t want to make her worry too much.”

That place.  And now THIS place.  She wasn’t sure about this place.  It seemed it could just as easily be a prison as a place to rest.  So dark.  So quiet and that lumpy woman coming in to see her in the middle of the night.  She slept some more.  This was a place for sleeping.

It might have been a week later.  “You have a visitor, Mrs Anderson.”  A woman with short dark hair, grey at the roots and obviously needing a fresh dye job, slipped hesitantly into the room and sat in the chair beside the woman in the bed. 

“I’ve brought you some word search puzzles, Mum.” She said. 

“When have I ever liked those?” Replied the woman in the bed.  She didn’t trust this visiting woman or the way she seemed to know about her.  According to her she liked word search puzzles. Children’s games!  She twisted the gold ring on her left hand, refusing to reach out for the games that were offered.  The visitor had to put them on the bedside table. 

“You don’t let him come.”  The woman in the bed said to her visitor. “What do you have to say about that?”

“Mum, no.  No, you’re forgetting.  Dad has been gone a long time, remember?”

“Don’t you Mum me or tell me what to remember.” 

There were tears in the eyes of the visitor and the woman in the bed saw the tears and she watched the visitor get up and leave. Feeling satisfied she thought to herself, she wants me to believe she is my Lillian but I know she isn’t.  Lillian has bangs that stick up a little on one side.  Lillian is ten.  When did my hands get so gnarled and veiny?  Too much water, that’s it.  Always washing with my hands in the water.  It ruins hands.

On another day a woman in blue jeans and a red sweater came into the room.  She said she was a volunteer but the woman in the bed was not impressed.   Reading was bad, dangerous.  Bad things happened.  Red sweater woman sat in the chair and opened a book she had brought with her in a quilted bag.  The woman in the bed knew she was trapped and she had to listen though this would have been a really good time to sleep.  “Short stories”, red sweater woman said, “by my favourite writer.”

 “I’ve read that one already,” the woman in the bed  said but her words went unheard.  As the volunteer read, the woman in the bed let her mind wander.  There was no stopping it really, so not much letting was involved.

Reading was the best thing to do when he went fishing.  I always worried.  Not that he didn’t know how to be safe, but that doesn’t always matter when there is water involved.  I always worried and tried to read to distract myself.  I remember.  I remember that.  He often went alone.  I hated that he did that but oh no I couldn’t say anything about it without him just laughing and telling me I worried too much.  I remember that.  I worried too much.  He laughed.  Water.

The volunteer woman was nearly finished reading the story and the woman in the bed was anxious to write in her journal.  It was all she wanted to do these days.  Her hands didn’t work very well but she could still write.  Whether or not anyone could read it was another matter but that saved her having to worry about privacy.  She was thinking and not listening but she heard the volunteer woman say something that sounded like the story was over, something about a dead turtle and a lost sock or some nonsense.  A too-clever metaphor probably.  “That’s not a happy ending” the woman in the bed said sharply and thought to herself, nothing that comes out of my mouth sounds half as intelligent as it sounds while it is still inside my head.

“Not all stories have happy endings, now do they” red sweater woman said placatingly.  “Realism, that’s the popular thing now. And happy endings are… well there’s nothing wrong with them but they aren’t what really happens most of the time.” 

“I’ve had enough realism, thank you very much.  My whole life has been realism so I don’t need a story to get more of it.”  As she spoke, the woman in the bed wondered if she had always been this cranky.

Red sweater woman sighed and got up and said she had to get going. “I hope you sleep well tonight”, she added to the scowling figure in the bed, who thought,  which is about all that is left to hope for me now.  Then, as soon as she was alone she got out her journal.  She wrote about the day as she usually did and added her usual message for Lillian.  Some day she would be gone, some day not far away, and she wanted Lillian to know how much she loved her.  She wanted her little girl with the dark hair and one dimple to read it and know.  Where was she? Why didn’t she visit?


This story is linked to the Write and Link hosted by the talented and beautiful Natalia Lialina at In The Writer's Closet.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

No Outfits Here

I do wear clothes when I write.  Sometimes even nice clothes.  I have, for the moment, lost any motivation I may once have had to take photos of what I am wearing.  Since I am not a skilled photographer or model and not a fashion icon by any stretch of the imagination I don't see this as any great loss for blogland.  Believe me when I say, I continue to wear outfits I like and not give a damn if they are stylish, fashionable or to anyone else's liking but my own.  If I have learned anything, I have learned that when it comes to clothes what I care about most is being comfortable and wearing things I like.  This will inevitably mean sensible shoes and no belts.

Bittersweet

Lying in bed, my thighs heavy against the mattress,
Head, light on the pillow
I think of you, my last thought always
Before sleep.

But sometimes sleep won't come
And heels digging in, body arched with longing
I am reaching for that far away place
Where you are and I am not.

Palms down, spread-hands press,
Sighs are deep and then breath catches
Bittersweet, a word that can only ever apply
To love or chocolate.


Sensible Shoes
I was born understanding that my appearance mattered,
That not everyone could be beautiful and probably I was
Not one of the lucky ones, but that
still, what I wore and how I did my hair
And moved my body mattered.

I was born understanding that there was shame
In being female because most of me
Needs covering or taming, controlling, changing
And although I could grow up to be anything I wanted
I was going to have to look a certain way while doing it.

But how to look?  It depends on whom you ask.
How to behave?  Well that too depends
And whichever you choose will be wrong by someone’s standards.
It has taken me awhile to figure myself out
But if I am sure of anything, it’s that I prefer sensible shoes.

Too Much

Sometimes I have too much body,
thick, pained, exhausted, overflowing
And too much mind churning, grinding, spilling
Where is the off switch? 

I only want to be light,
To float perhaps invisible or
Non-corporeal-sometimes
I want to disappear.

I am supposed to want visibility
But all that means to me is that
I will have to stand and all I want
is to lie down. Please let me lie down.

I knew bliss once.
There was a lake and summer sun,
An inflated vinyl donut.
So much had not happened yet.


Why Can’t Bellies  Be Sexy?

It’s really not fair that I am supposed to put
My extra weight in certain places
Just to please others, and it’s not my fault that
The chocolate pudding doesn’t go to my booty so
Why can’t bellies be sexy?

I finally grew big boobs but booties were
All the rage and sexy means big bouncy cheeks.
I am waiting for the day when upper arms -no elbows
-the day when fat elbows are sexy.
Why not?  It’s the fat-elbowed people’s turn.

I can grow a booty eventually, yes
But it comes at the price of a double chin
And the last time I checked those are not
Much admired though mine is a particularly
nice one.

Why aren’t brains sexy?
Oh, we like to pretend they are
It’s the latest thing to claim-but honestly
Tina Fey is not that hard on the eyes and I don’t
know anyone with the hots for Hilary Clinton.



Under the Weight of You

Under the weight of you
I grit my teeth, hold my breath
Try to smile-no I try to believe
That I like this and I want this.

I am supposed to like this-
Supposed to want you touching me
But there is so much of you,
flesh and hair and bone and breath

And so much asking, wanting, needing
Something I can’t give, but why?
I don’t understand why and you
Can’t understand what is wrong with me.

I am supposed to want this-
This merging and vulnerability and surrender
But there is a wall I can’t knock down
And perhaps I do not want to.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Ambling Through the Weekend




 It's a long weekend here, a holiday on Monday, and the weather is lovely.  For some it's the promise of summer.  For me the temperatures are perfect already and not too hot.  I spent some time in cafes writing this weekend, and on Sunday evening went for an amble around the marina.  I wasn't the only one ambling, and chose the location for the fact that it is an ambling place.  My natural pace is a brisk walk, but my afflicted pace is at best an amble.  Some clouds rolled in, making the sky a bit darker, but the temperature didn't drop noticeably. 




Why do I publish first draft poems on my blog?  If I didn't I would never share them because they are never finished.

Carrying You

Moving helped to keep me from seeing.
Seeing can be dangerous -a horse needs blinders to keep moving forward,
to keep from bolting in panic and
I would have turned our cart upside down, or is that
right side up?- If I could see.

When galloping turned to trotting turned to plodding I tipped everything over
emptied out the cart and started again, with one less person in it,
I could no longer carry you; I would no longer carry you.
So you sat on the side of the road accusing me and nursed
Your wounds that were my fault.


Hitching another ride you kept on going on your own way
And I kept going on mine, pulling a different cart
Less weight to pull with every step-
Stronger than either of us knew I was
steadily taking a new road.


Badass Poet

I want to be a badass poet
not sweet or soft or romantic though I confess
that is more who I am.

I want to be a badass poet
with hard things to say and cutting words
that make you catch your breath and nod your head.

I want to be a badass poet
who makes you ask how does she dare?
How does she dare to be her?


Insidious

Style and beauty experts- stealth attackers, double agents
telling us we are beautiful but have flaws we’d better hide.
Buy this, wear that, it will make a slimmer, polished you.
Polish is for furniture or shoes.

Trash talking my own body-I did that once.
Or twice-okay I did it often.
I bought the idea:
Don’t look slutty, trashy, frumpy,
Too young, too old,
Don’t show those arms, they have flesh!

We are told we must define a waist.
For what is a woman without a waist?
- surely not a woman.
And never wear anything like neon leggings or tee shirts with slogans
Because after the age of thirty
You only ever want to be taken seriously.

You don’t want to have fun
Or be ironic
Or look like you are trying too hard
But do try harder, please, for your own sake.

Be chic like a French woman.
They don’t get fat, you know- only use croissants to decorate the plate.
Baguettes are for carrying, a crusty accessory.
And who wants to eat all of that molested bread?

You can’t eat it-it will ruin your waist.
Ask an expert and you will be reminded that the only important thing is your waist.
Ask Hollywood and you’d better have a booty or boobs or both. Triple B.

Looking like a liberal arts professor with a part-time hobby
Making hand-thrown pottery
Is a look to be avoided by the truly chic- and chic
Is the only look that counts as style.

Be ashamed of yourself you creative woman
Your opinion on what looks good doesn’t matter.
We don’t want to have to look at you dressed like that-
looking like yourself.

I would rather look tousled like I’ve just come from a delightful
Roll in the sack but Oh My Goodness, A woman of a certain age
Doesn’t do THAT!  With a baguette or without.


The Plants

I forgot to water the plants.
The cat will remind me if I forget to feed her,
She will remind me if I forget to wake up that day.
The plants are helpless captives in my home,
unable to fight for their rights.

They nearly died.
Nearly died but not quite yet, shrivelled
accusingly, moaning softly in the corner.
I forgot to water the plants because
I didn’t hear their silent screams.

You are Gone

Nurtured memories
A catalogue of the best, an archive of the worst, 
collected and curated -the story of our love......

I remember your gentle blue eyes.
I remember your heart so vast and your arms so long.
I remember when you held me and the way our bed smelled once. 
It doesn’t smell like that now you are gone and the  space on the left That once held you now lies empty. 
I tried to lie there  but I can’t.

I cling to the edge of the opposite side, away from the unbearable Knowledge that you are not there.
And I wonder if I need a new bed-  A bed that never once held you-
A bed that holds no pain, no loss, no you. 
That’s the problem:  No bed will ever again hold you and
The urn that holds your ashes has no room for me.

I am afraid that the scent of you is fading,
Fading from the bed and from my memory. 
I haven’t washed your clothes and from the corner of the bedroom
Looms the medical equipment-ugly reminder of what you endured.

You are gone
But you and I together,
We go on forever- the story of our love.


Cafe on Saturday

Barristo: straight-faced, tired, bored,
I am working hard to make you laugh or smile,
Knowing that you just want to get back
To chatting with the cook.

I see you sleep-walking through your job
And I wonder if you are ill
But then I remember-
You are young and today is Saturday.




Cafe on Sunday

Loud girls telling their stories,
Suntans, tight shorts and ponytails,
On the table-keys on lanyards, smart phones and sunglasses
Whipped cream covered mocha smoothies.

Quiet couple doing a crossword together,
The pencil in his hand,
Matching mugs, large lattes, tech fabric
Cycling outfits.

Solitary young man
Top brand laptop
Earnestly working on something important
Eventually drives away in a battered car.

John with his wheeled walker, basket weighted
Cheerfully talks to pretty girls
Who, smiling, laughing, nodding, don’t understand what he says
Except the part about liking them.

Boys and Grandma, arrive with a red wagon,
Order cookies and pop to go
Then return up the hill
Smaller boy riding, larger boy pulling.

I sit with my pen and notebook
Watching, listening, writing, glasses half-down nose,
Holding on to these people forever.
Nosy old woman.



Friday, 15 May 2015

Socialising For Introverts




When I left my husband he said to me "It's going to be weird seeing you in the local bars."   I thought to myself, in the twenty five years you have known me, at which point did you get the idea that I was the bar type?

 "I really don't think I will have any interest in going to bars," I said. "It's really not my style."

He reflected a moment and then amended his vision of my future. "I can imagine you ending up with a hippie from California, a potter or painter."

"Only if he becomes a Canadian citizen but we live in Santa Cruz,"  I added,  deciding to play along."

I am not the type to seek a partner.  I don't even seek friends.  Everyone who ends up in my life has made the first move though I am not unfriendly.  In fact I can be so friendly it is sometimes mistaken for flirting so I have to be careful.  I have accidentally given hope to both men and women.  As a non-seeking but very friendly socialiser things get a bit convoluted and perhaps make sense only to me.  I love people.  I talk to people whenever I go out.  I feel connected to people, I feel a great love and warmth for them most of the time.  But I can only do any extroverted socialising in very small doses.  Once or twice a month is excessive for me and there has to be another benefit to it with socialising the side effect.  In some ways having to spend a few hours amongst a group of the same people, talk and laugh and attempt to pay attention to everyone is so exhausting it is the price I sometimes have to pay in order to give myself a little dose of that connected feeling I do love.  People, I love you but you exhaust me.

Or perhaps I exhaust myself by being a certain way among people.  I am sure it could be argued thus, but I cannot change my essential nature without enduring another type of exhaustion.  In the end it is always easiest to be one's true self.  My true self is a faux extrovert at times.  It very much depends on the people and the situation, but if I find even a small thread of connection between us, I will become more extroverted in a group.  The connection is everything and my ex husband wasn't too far off the mark when he decided that I would feel connected to artist-hippie types. This isn't California but in some ways where I live is the California of Canada and yes, there are those artist-hippie types here.  Some are original hippies and some are hippie-nouveau, artistic talents vary but generally one can find an enthusiastic, people-loving, accepting group of artist-hippies if one tries.  Or, like me, one can fall into them.  Drift past and get scooped up.

Last night I attended my second women only prose and poetry night.  It was put together by different people and in a different venue from the last one, though still in a cafe.  I must add here, that I have accidentally given the impression that our cafes are open at night all of the time.  They aren't unless they are putting on special events and one of them does that every Thursday through Saturday.  Otherwise the average cafe closes around five or six pm, with Starbucks as an exception, but Starbucks is not a cafe.  So, I went to a cafe I had not previously known existed, in a part of Courtenay to which I never venture.  It's an odd little area called Tin Town and meant to be charming and artsy but is a funny collection of dwellings above businesses and a few studios, an odd mixture that doesn't quite make up it's own little independent community, since it is usually the case that a grocery store in the neighbourhood is more useful than a pet groomer.  The event, which will take place every second Thursday of the month and of which this was the premiere, was organised by a group of women who live in the neighbourhood and have a writer's group together.  Some of them had attended the previous event as I had and had been dissatisfied with it.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I set out, but I took with me a recently written short story (which will be published here at the end of the month) and a handful of coins from my little pig.

A ten minute drive later, I found myself in a small but charming cafe that was nearly empty.  Sitting at a table on her own was a women I recognised as being the organiser and having attended the other event a few weeks ago.  Just ahead of me, entering the cafe and completely unaware of my presence behind her, was a woman with a wheeled walker, moving very slowly and then coming to a stop completely, blocking the way fully into the cafe.  She and the woman at the table greeted each other familiarly and began to chat as I stood there rather uncertain of where to go next or how to get there.  I later realised, as their shared reading revealed, that they were partners who had recently marked their union with a pagan handfasting ceremony.  Hippie-lesbians make up a large part of any artsy women's group around here and they generally wear the uniform of their group.  (Expect to see, tie-dye, lagenlook, comfortable shoes, short hair, natural curls and big beads.  No wonder I fit in!)  Others they knew came in and joined them.  They were a group and I sat alone, though cheerfully, I chatted with them whenever our eyes met.  The woman organising the event recognised me from the other one and I turned out to be the only person from outside their social circle who attended this inaugural event.  When one sticks out in a smallish group, one has to summon up a little faux extroversion.

I was very much not part of the group in some ways.  I came alone, I shared fiction, I live in a neighbouring town, and yet I easily felt like I belonged.  A few others drifted in, couples who came only to observe and listen and probably came mainly for the singer/songwriter who also performed that night.  I was signed up to read first.  This does not bother me at all and  I will happily volunteer to go first.  People are often amazed at the bravery of this but I will reveal my secret.  If you go first you are not being compared with anyone.  There is no difficult act to follow and if you are terrible you will just be forgotten as better presentations come after.  There were about ten people in the room, a much smaller crowd than the other event, and I read my story without any violent shaking.  I had an attentive audience and appreciative applause and comments afterwards and I was done.  These were people who were eager to be supportive, to share in a safe place and to help others do the same.  In that moment I loved them all.

The singer was having an experience similar to mine.  She performed without a band, or second guitarist as the venue was small.  Just her wonderful voice, talented guitar playing and heartfelt lyrics were what she brought that night and we loved her.  She loved us back.  On the road for some time now, she told us how wonderful it was to relax with this small group, be part of an event recognising women and making a safe space for their words.  She read one of her favourite poems to us from a book she'd brought and then treated us to her music.  More than once, she mentioned how in this room her heart felt so full.  I suspect I will come to see these people regularly and perhaps move through the stages of acquaintance to casual friendship, though it must be a slow process.  The singer, will likely never see any of us again, and yet I understand how she feels, how somehow she now carries a little bit of all of us with her into the future. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Middleaged Mori

When I am not under the boho influence, my lagenlook style definitely skews a bit in the direction of Mori Girl style, and what I like about that is that at my age it 'shouldn't'.  I had to put that hideous words in quotation marks because to me it is something someone else might say but not something I will say.  Dressing like a Mori Girl is not dressing my age.  The term is not Mori Woman so it tells us something right there.  I have my own version of Mori, and for anyone who is searching, there are many versions and variations of it and this blog has a good description of many of them here, here and here.  I have not found, in my online searching, any examples of Mori Girls over thirty, though surely such women are scattered about the world to some degree.  When I was in my twenties I would not have touched Mori Girl style with that proverbial ten foot pole.  I wanted to be taken seriously, to look grown up, and anything too girly by my own arbitrary standards didn't fit with that ideal.  Now, my age, my not-tiny body and fear of judgement could potentially stand in my way but I am not going to let them.

Note: The cardigan and dress have been dyed by me to alter the colours.  The dress was once bright turquoise and I can't even remember what the cardigan was but possibly the same.

I don't see bodies like mine dressed in Mori inspired outfits.  I am too thick to be flattered by some of the really bulky and shapeless layers but this outfit has Mori elements with the layered skirts, the cardigan, the lacy scarf, mary-jane style shoes in an earthy brown and my short banged hair.  This outfit below could be made more boho or a bit Mori but since it was for kicking around at home it doesn't take me long to abandon even the belt and go quite without accessories and extra layers.  Boho and Mori do have a few things in common in that they are creative, feminine and often layered.  Even without trying my personal style will have touches of one or the other because it is simply what I am attracted to. If I had been going out, this purple and blue boho outfit would have been a crocheted shrug, perhaps a flower and likely some mary-janes or granny boots.  I usually don't get into sandals until June.

Digression:  I am beginning to come to terms with those arms and that bust. Blogging and photos have really helped me do that.


This skirt is a new-to me favourite and although I have not yet given it a really Mori style it has much potential. With navy tee shirt, leggings and a denim vest I have made it more funky-boho than romantic but even when I go funky there is a softness to my style that makes sense to me knowing I am attracted to certain Mori styles.


This woman looks a kindred spirit.  I borrowed her from this blog. I love her short bangs, cross body bag and her floral layers.


It's probably too dramatic looking for me but I love this look on Gretchen Schields, as shown on Advanced Style Blog



It isn't Mori but it has similarities and the same soft colours, loose layers and slightly old fashioned look appeal to me.  Edwardian without corsets perhaps?

I enjoy how dressing with a Mori Girl influence breaks some of the rules.

Thou shalt dress appropriately for thine age.  
Why?  I am fortunate enough not to have to please anyone other than myself.  I don't have a job.  I don't have teenaged children whom I might embarrass.  I don't wish to attract anyone who thinks I must dress a certain way.

Thou shalt emphasise thy waist, especially if thou art not skinny.
Mori style tends to involve loose layers, though sometimes a belt or some sort of shape indicators are employed.  I like lose layers though I confess I don't want to be mistaken for a tent.

Thou shalt be skilled at hiding figure flaws.
Been there, done that, got the unflattering tee shirt and now I have more interesting things to think about and I resent being trained to view any part of my body as being a flaw.

Thou shalt not be weird.
Sometimes I would like to be ambushed by one of those What Not To Wear television programmes just so I can tell them exactly where they can put that pencil skirt.

If you really want them, you can search and find Mori Rules.  I find most of them pointless but then it is a style that appeals to young women and when young we may be more likely to want rules, to worry about getting it wrong.  I didn't set out to be Mori, I simply discovered that my taste has much in common with it and that amuses me.  I don't set out to be boho either, but again, my preferences are more in line with boho than preppy so whenever a label is useful, I can always drag out boho or mori-girl as references.
When I get dressed I am aiming to wear something I like the look of and it is essential that I feel comfortable.  Those are my only rules.

If you are here because you want to know how to dress in a Mori Girl style, you are likely disappointed.  I am not a Mori Model and do not deliberately seek to wear the style, rather I have found that I use many of elements of it instinctively.  There are some guidelines for a Mori look which I have learned from a little online searching.  It began as a Japanese street style and has evolved and developed variations but the basic idea is to look like a 12 year old girl-probably Edwardian English- who lives in the forest but wears lacy, frilly cream-coloured things and never gets them dirty.  Some people take it to an extreme costume degree and others play with it more loosely.

Basic elements include...

** soft colours, pastels and lots of cream/white

**earth toned leather for boots, shoes and bags

**bags are usually messenger or cross body style

**shoes usually have straps, laces or buckles and granny style boots; round toes are the significant feature

**layers include petticoats, flouncy slips, skirts, blouses, cardigans, pinafores

** floral patterns, embroidery, lace and peter pan collars

**body shape disguising

**socks or thick white tights-often lacy or patterned

**flower accessories for hair or lacy headbands

**natural fibres

** hair is often lightened to soft browns and red browns, usually straight bangs

**makeup is natural looking-aim for big eyes

**dark Mori does all of this in blacks, greys and dark browns



* Pencil skirts are perfectly lovely if you love them.

All my clothing and shoes, except the cross body bag, the belt and the lacy scarf, are second hand.