Monthly Archives: March 2020

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I didn’t think I’d revisit the Breakfast Club movie anytime soon, but I’m a lot more open to watching things again under the circumstances. (If you’re reading this in fifty years and no one is around, we had a Pandemic in 2020.) Anyway. I was thinking about this one part, where the kid writes the required essay, ending with, ‘In the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions, what we found is that each one of us is a brain, an athlete, a basketcase and a criminal.’

Through all their shenanigans, these kids manage to see each other as whole, and to realize that names are often assigned without permission. But does knowing that change how we see ourselves? It doesn’t feel great being pushed inside a box and labeled accordingly. Nerd. Soccer mom. Smarty pants. Widow. Now the last one might have you thinking that, yes, that is a very true description of some women’s status. But I have to tell you that the first time I saw it on a government document, I felt very put out.

I looked at that piece of paper and felt truly startled. And perplexed. I thought, I’m not a widow. I’m still married. To a dead man. Yes, okay, that might make you want to apply that word. It may speak to you. But it doesn’t speak to me.

In my mind, it paints two different pictures. Jackie Onassis in a beautiful dress with a black veil over her face. And Snow White’s step mother. Neither feels remotely like me. I still feel married. And I rarely wear black, or try to feed innocent girls poison apples. I wanted to sit down and write the Canadian government a letter, but you know what bureaucracy is like. I mean, I’m not willing to go to court over this. I just think that I should get to decide when to apply that word. Maybe when I’m eighty-five. Certainly not when I still speak to the guy at all hours of the day and have to remind myself not to talk to him in the Co-op. After reading this, you’ll probably want to apply the label, ‘kooky,’ to me. That’s okay. I’m willing to wear that hat. (I know, I already do. Don’t worry…it doesn’t hurt my feelings.)

So if you think of me, feel free to use any description you like as long as it’s not widow. Just say, ‘She’s married to that dead guy, Clarence.’ That will do for now.

Feeling Lost, Please Send Directions

The movie, ‘Taken 2,’ has a scene that describes exactly how I’m feeling these days. Liam Neeson is helping his daughter escape an abduction. Pointing to the the roof, he says something like this:

‘You’re going to run for five hundred yards. Then get down to the street, head south for three blocks, turn left and go through the red door on the right. On the other side, head north and run for ten blocks….’ This continues for a while, after which the daughter nods and takes off. And I’m left thinking, well, hell.

Just another confirmation about my bad sense of direction, about never knowing north from south unless I’m at home. I’m clueless about the steps it would take to run five hundred yards. I’m easily lost, especially in a strange city. I have to keep my eyes open and repetitively say the names of streets, businesses, and even the colours of buildings. I’ve gotten better at it. I don’t get lost as much as I used to, though my friend Lynn will tell you I was late for dinner in London last fall because I couldn’t remember how to get to the restaurant and didn’t have wifi for my phone. Anyway.

Covid 19 is no different for me. This Pandemic requires a whole new set of directions. The problem is, they change every day, even since I started writing this blog. Here’s what I know so far:

1. Stay home most of the time. When out, keep my distance from others.
2. Don’t travel.
3. Stock up on medicine and food. And toilet paper.
4. Wait for more news

I have no trouble waiting. It’s my imagination that isn’t patient, and wants to create fantastic scenarios of every kind. I write young adult sci-fi and fantasy, (among other things) often specializing in dystopian futures for the planet. And now here we are, facing something big. I know it’s going to be okay. But it would nice to have a map. So far, finding my way has not been difficult. But what if the directions for survival get more complicated? What if the virus decides to get creative with the rest of nature? Will we turn on the television and hear things like this?

‘All citizens must keep sharpened sticks by the door for killing the giant mutated squirrels currently ravaging the country. Stay tuned for more news at six.’

If it becomes a thing, I’d like Justin Trudeau to get very clear about how exactly one should kill a giant squirrel. Perhaps an online demonstration would help. For the extremely paranoid, or just the imaginative, should we be exploring the bat connection? Like in Justin Cronin’s Passage trilogy, where people turn into¬† speedy vampires? Though if that happens, I’m sure the squirrels will suddenly find themselves on our side.

I’m pretty chipper most of the time. But I like directions for everything coming my way. Don’t give me any north, south, go five hundred yards bullshit, either. Say it straight. Be clear. And don’t mess with us on April 1st. I have to admit, the government could have a lot of fun on April Fool’s Day, but we’re all losing our sense of humour, here.

For now I’m remembering all the things I’m grateful for. We’re not at war. We’re just isolated. And I’m a Canadian. (My apologies to those who are not.)That’s a social contract I’m grateful for and never want to mess with. Whatever we think is going wrong with the country, there are so many things that are right. Let’s shut down the whining (I’m aware of the irony here) and concentrate on taking care of ourselves and each other. I’m here if you need toilet paper or apples, or strange brands of canned soup. But if you’re feeling a sudden urge to bite someone in the neck, put a sign on your door. I’ll just leave the stuff outside.