Monday, September 29, 2008

Hold My Beer

More fun fun FUN!
This weekend was a whirlwind of excitement, one that I will have to spread over several posts.. LOL. This particular post, is the one where I talk MORE about Country Music. As you may have read here, last week I was bestowed a wonderful gift, courtesy of my wonderful father and the local radio station BX93, of two tix to the private Sugarland concert in Toronto. And, I took my best friend Jennifer along for the ride.
To repay me, she purchased two tickets for Friday night, to see one BEAUTIFUL country man, Aaron Pritchett. So after dropping off the kids in Burlington and picking up Jen, we headed back to Brantford for some concert fun.
As soon as we got in the door, we ran into a friend of ours from my hometown, who just happened to be there, which was great. They were camped out in front of the stage, so after getting some beer, we joined them. I'd have to argue that we had the best seats in the house... we were literally close enough to get "sweated upon"... LOL. Although some of the girls next to us would have fainted for the chance, I'm fairly certain Jen and I were looking to escape sans sweat.
Aaron rocked the place, hoards of ladies trampled to the stage, leaving me to push back on the crowds in order to prevent Jen from getting crushed (she's just little you know). Despite the sore back and feet from THAT nonsense, I had a STELLAR time. Oh, and Aaron? Sigh.
I don't remember too much in particular, I was sort of just staring in awe at the beautiful man in front of me (I know! I'm terrible), but his vocals were sharp and the band was killer. Just because we were so close, we were able to get some great pictures too!
After the two hour set, we stood in line to meet the man himself, where I procured an autograph and a hug. (!!) The gaggle of ladies we ended up joining were fabulous, and kudos go out to Jody, who after we all were autographed, went back, cut in line, and convinced Aaron to come over and take a group pic with us (something I'll have to post later when she emails it out).
I'm pretty sure I just listened to his new album and sighed the whole way home, while Jenny laughed. I don't care. It was awesome. Thank you Jenny for taking me out!!

Stay tuned for the next installment of our weekend Adventures: Double Crossing: Two Girls and a Bridge to the United States of America.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Photography Thursday

Welcome to another installment of the tandem photography project between myself and PhineasPoe.
As a brilliant photographer and master post editor... his photos are always evocative and beautiful like this:

You can see the rest of his gorgeous contributions here.

Here are my self-portrait favorites for today:

Love on the Inside

This is the tale of my Sugarland experience. Since my loving father won me tickets from BX93, I now have a great tale to tell...

Let me begin by saying I needed this. I really, truly needed something to pull me out of this deep, deep hole. A gossamer thread glittering in what was left of the sunlight, just visible enough to remind me there is more...

We loaded on the bus here in London, and traipsed down the 401, amid 48 others, talking, laughing, singing. They passed out these nifty passes, marking us on our Sugarland adventure. Jenny sat beside me and was literally vibrating with excitement. I won't bore you with the mundane details of the bus ride down, highlights include a stop at Wendy's, four rowdy travelers drinking at the back of the bus (spurning Jenny and I to sit somewhere outside the splatter zone where our ears weren't bleeding) and then there was this (the thing that made me twitter): covert farting.

The event was held at the Courthouse, on Adelaide in Toronto. I must admit, the venue was breathtaking. I fervently wished for my Pentax, but had to be satisfied with a point and shoot, sans flash (as we were instructed). Still... it was so pretty.

The band sounded STELLAR, unfortunately Jennifer Nettles was ill, and her talking voice was very scratchy. I felt kinda sorry for her, in the "when your sick you'd rather stay home and die" instead of out pleasing her fans, but hey. She's paid for it. LOL.

I cannot actually choose a moment that was the best one, it was more like a feeling. As I stood there, surrounded by 199 other people, I began to feel it. A perceptible change in the haze, a sharpening in my chest. As I looked around the lavish decor, heard the music that pumps from Jenny's car when we're out wreaking summer havoc, tasted the cold beer in my hand... a slight constriction happened in my chest. Tears sprang to my eyes as I watched Jenny, enraptured in the experience and loving it like she was dying, and it happened. Life creeped back into my veins, my hips began to sway on their own and I forgot all that has twisted my guts.

As Jenny wrangled into the crowd, dodging tall folks, scurrying around short ones, I laughed. A real honest to peanuts laugh from my belly... until tears formed in the corners of my eyes. They stayed there until she returned - triumphant - autograph in hand. I felt quite content on the bus ride home, listening to the rowdies sing country tunes while I sang along in my seat. I didn't care if I was off tune or didn't know all the words... I just wanted to lift up my voice and let a little of that happiness out. You gotta do that now and again...

Sugarland? You kicked ass. BX93, you too. Dad? I dunno how to begin to repay you for a few hours of sanity... I'll find a way, someday. But Jenny, you my dear are the girl-love of my life. I couldn't have had any better time than standing behind you as you bobbed up and down and got all teary-eyed over this band. I love you girl, I really do.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This morning, I received a call from a local radio station to inform me that I? Was a WINNER.
You can imagine my surprise, since I hadn't officially entered any contests (at least in a waking state), until the hosts Dave and Kim expounded on what had directed them to me.
As a huge fan, my best friend Jenny and I have been trying to find a way to go and see Sugarland together. Unfortunately, their dates are only slated in the US, and none of them are do-able for both her and I. Until now.
A local radio station BX93 here in London, was giving away pairs of tickets for an intimate Sugarland show in a private club in Toronto, an opportunity that my father heard and responded to, with an email that can only make me cry.

"Hello Dave and Kim!
The purpose of this letter is not to get tickets for myself, but for my daughter Amanda. She is a 29 year old with two children she is raising on her own. While this in and of itself it a big job, she has also completed a two year Early Childhood Education program, graduating at the top of her class and made the Dean's Honour Roll, and is currently in her fourth year at university as an Honours Specialization English Major. She will be attending teacher's college next year to complete her education. Additionally, she volunteers at a local fitness club in their child care centre several mornings a week.
Despite all of these demands on her time, she still finds time for her extended family and would drop everything to be at their side if they needed her. She is truly a hard working, caring young woman and I am very proud and honoured to be her Dad. She rarely takes time just for her.
What I want for her is to be able to drop everything and have some FUN for a change."

I can't begin to explain how amazing it was to be recognized for my everyday life by the radio station, and even more so by my own father. Often I'm caught up in the cogs of this machine and forget to step back and see exactly what I manage to do everyday. I am humble, and I work very hard to give my children a better life, but what a wonderful gift this is.

To my dad:
Thank-you so much for all you have done. You have believed in me, even when I didn't believe in myself. You've always passed on the courage when I'm lacking, and stood behind my every move. When I moved here for University, you followed shortly after, always helping, loving and supporting.
This is a wonderful opportunity, for me a once in a lifetime chance to experience something I would not have access to. For that, I thank-you once more.

I'm getting on a bus tonight, with Jenny, at 4 pm. We are headed to Toronto for the coolest prize I've ever inadvertently won. Let the party begin. I feel so special. Just reminds me to work harder, someone is watching, and always proud. This is my reward for my efforts.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I was right there. Right on the edge, dangling on the crust of real and spectre. Hanging on with the edges of sunset orange toenails. I held it my hand and my heartbeat, my heartbeat crashing against my eardrums, the fluid blood coursing through my veins so loud, too loud. My ears and the beat and the panic, oh the panic and my insides are liquefying. The demons are right there and they're angry. They're screaming, the stale rank breath is in my nose and its horrible, its horrible and gut-wrenching. They won't stop, their faces are contorted and the droplets flying in my face and oh my GOD the panic, the heartbeat is unbearable. I'm clutching, I'm clutching and my nails are digging into my palm and I can't let go and I need help and I'm alone, so desolately alone and I can't let go. It's there and it's slamming in my brain and I can't block it out and the answer is there and it's so close and the panic, the panic is gagging me. My eyes are closed and I'm focusing and it's exploding, my brain is imploding and I can't let go and my hand drops and raises and drops and I can't let go. They're at the door and the footsteps are so heavy, scraping on the floor and then at the door and it's splintering and I'm trapped and I can't get away and the atrophy. I'm atrophied and I turn from them and the terror. My legs give out, they can't hold me, no one can hold me and I'm not real and it's so close I can smell it and I crumple in the corner and I cry. I cry big scary sobs that steal my breath and shiver my heart and I'm gasping and heaving and the tears, oh the hot tears roll over my arm and they feed the panic and it lessens. It lessens and I give and I shatter and I win, I win.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Tenderly you convinced me.
Begged me with your whispers, implored me with your eyes to show you my heart.
Take down the wall and trust me.

Breathy promises I could not turn from.

Gingerly you traced the raised ribbons of yesterday.
You fingered the scars as your eyes delved into my soul.
I watched as your pupils dilated and yet I could not break away.

Flickers of old hurts contort my face, vermilion snapshots flying, tantalizing, fading,
bleeding sepia and then black.
Your fingers sunk into the rotten wounds, twisting,
deepening until only white crescents remain.

The warm flow trickles over my ribs like the tears of ancients,
silently undulating over each hill and valley,
the forgotten dripping off the curve of my hip,
the forsaken pooling in crimson puddles around my naked feet.

And you laughed.

Photography Thursday

Keeping in line with last weeks entry, I've embarked on a self-portrait project. I did not know that it would be so difficult, either to properly set up the shots, or to feel completely comfortable with what is now my body.

These are some of this week's results:

I have to thank the incredibly *patient* PhineasPoe, who has diligently helped me through this ordeal, offered excellent advice and provided me with glorious edits. When I can't make it happen with the lens, Poe makes it beautiful in post production. Thank-you Poe.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Two Weeks Notice

I know that I've posted a tremendous amount of depressing things lately, but that's where I'm living. Darksville. Deppresso Station. Blacks Corners. You'll find me in any of these places, on the corner of Bitter and Cynical. I'll be under the black rain cloud, you can't miss me.

I have a few questions to toss out into the blogosphere today, random things that I can't get to stop running through my mind. In sharp, pointy heels. Loud, sharp and pointy heels.

When you're suppressed, honestly and truly suffocating under something you can't break free from, and your only options are to either allow the crushing pressure to break you or escape to a place where your soul can be free, what do you do? Does it change your options if you can still admit that you love the suppressing force?

When you feel so very small, too tiny to squeak out your voice, too minuscule to have earned respect or admiration, how do you grow? Do you move out of the tiny mouse hole you inhabit or do you bar the door to prevent being crushed? What if there are two other tiny mouses to protect?

When you are travelling in the same circle, pretending, denying, re-hashing and then dismissing, how can you train your brain to try something new? The definition of crazy is attempting to do something the same way over and over again, but expecting different results. When the only other option is opposite, how do you stop the eddies?

I'm feeling change coming, and it scares me. I've never been alright with change, despite the fact it has been a constant factor in my life. I forget who I was, and I have no idea who I'll become, and I don't know what to do with that black hole.

Universe? You're on notice. I can no longer thwart your impediments on my existence. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Photography Thursday

Here are a few results from Photography Thursday...

These are self-portraits, but I must thank the great and wonderful PhineasPoe for his beautiful editing job. They are quite stunning.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Win Ben Stein's Food Stamps

Bitter? Comin' atcha.
So, some of you know a little about me, and for those who don't, feel privileged. I am not only a single mother of two, not only a volunteer in a children's drop-in center, umm.. not only a photographer and a research assistant, but I am also a full-time university student. This September is my fourth year, slated to graduate with an Honours Specialization in English Literature in June 2009.
This year is also my sixth consecutive year in post-secondary education, because I went to college for Early Childhood Education first.
Which means? Also my sixth year receiving OSAP - a Canadian program which loans people like me large amounts of money to complete my education. Its safe to say at this point, I've borrowed somewhere around the amount of $95,000. Yep. Count those zeros. Thanks to the grant program, my debts are reduced to a mere drop in the bucket, and I only owe my firstborn about half that.
But I digress.
Today? I'm UBER-pissed at the system.
As if it isn't bad enough to discourage single moms to get better educations, and therefore better jobs (in turn stimulating the economy and decreasing the strain on social programs); these wonderful women leaving the academic life with the equivalent of mortgages, but now - they are going to make me jump through hoops.
In July, I submitted EVERY form the government required, including proof of child support and child tax benefits (because, and I quote: We feel your annual income isn't enough to live on - isn't that ironic). I triple-checked, cause the government can be a bitch a stickler sometimes, and felt confident that my loan should arrive in early September as usual. Ha! Isn't complacency dangerous??
In mid-August, I got an email telling me that I didn't submit everything they needed (despite the assurances of my OSAP account online) and needed more. Which? I submitted. Four. Weeks. Ago. Today, I checked my account.. and? Still on hold.
While other students have now adjudicated their loans, and awaiting first payment of their monies at the end of this week, I am still frozen in the process somewhere.
With NO END in sight.
Today, I went to Financial Aid to request a contingency loan. For things like, I dunno, bills, textbooks, groceries... yanno. Ironically (this is becoming a theme here), despite the fact that I am a sole support parent for two young children (read: our roof is important to us), I am not eligible for any financial support until my loans are released. HUH?
Their solution?
"We'd be happy to provide you with food stamps until that time."
I repeat: HUH?!?!

Since when do food stamps pay the rent? And, why do I need to suffer that humiliation because the government hasn't yet fulfilled their obligations? UM, hello? Mister Prime Minister??

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Sometimes I feel invisible, transparent.. non-existant.
Other times, I feel so full you realize me.
My charms wear off you in seconds, no matter what spell
I cast; for me there are no profits.
I know your fingers are still charred and black from
the fire that engulfed you.
The memory of that agony makes you over analytical.
Your mood changes in minutes and so do your thoughts and
reactions, so that sometimes,I feel my head is spinning.
But--I live for the days the sunshine is reflected in
your eyes, your smile so bright it warms my uncertainty
and helplessness.
I long for the nights of music and comfort with the ease
of communication spilling from your lips.
How, I wonder, can someone exist in such hot and cold
landscapes, each page swept away by the wind, never one
nailed do I get a grasp on you?
I'm left feeling unresolved and invisible in the tornado
of change, emotions whipping my hair wildly, words
stinging my cheeks.
How do I get home if my ruby slippers are powerless??


Friday, September 5, 2008


Way down deep, tasting the earthy smell of despair, I called for help.
"No," he said.
In the dark, suffocating on the past, I called again. Find somebody to help me.
"No," he said. "You don't know everything."
Swirling in the depths of terror I cry. Muddy tears mingle with lost opportunity and threaten to drown me.
"Every day for one year," he began, "if you've proven you're worthy, I will toss you one brick."
Crumpling down, bathed in the sweat of nightmares, I listen.
His voice booms. "Each brick is a step, one step closer to feeling the sunshine warm your frigid bones, kiss your skin, thaw your heart."

Grinding the remnants of lost childhood castles from my eyes, I set about my task. Each day bringing a new challenge. Some days I add a brick to the mud, digging out old roots of me and creating a new path. On others, he steals those little pebbles, in hate, in punishment, in spite.
Finally, I emerge, squinting in the sun, broken fingernails caked in the dirt that was my old. I long for the breeze to chase away the gooseflesh, the sun to envelop me while the darkness of my soul slithers away. He's not here. He watched me struggle, and laughed as I stumbled. Rain. Washing clean the stains in my eyes. Cold droplets fall around, but all miss me. I'm invisible. Longing to feel the fresh - the real - along my feverish skin. Desperate to be solid. Its a cruel, cruel joke. Startled, I turn up my head. Through slitted eyes, stained and swollen, I see a ring of light. My wall is still standing, with just this one brick. His voice always mocking me. Climb.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Enjoy Being a Girl

This morning I was browsing Deviant Art when I came across PhineasPoe's journal. This? Is just one more reason why women rock.

ScienceDaily (Sep. 2, 2008) — Researchers in Canada report discovery of unusual proteins in a small group of Kenyan sex workers that appear to be associated with resistance to infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The vaginal fluids of the HIV-resistant women had higher levels of proteins with anti-viral and anti-inflammatory actions, discoveries that may lead to more effective vaccines and drug treatment options against this deadly disease.

See? We ladies always knew the Vag has magical powers. Now? Science will prove it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Lone Recycler

Two months ago I was standing on my balcony getting some fresh air. It was a hot and humid night, somewhere around 11 pm. As I stood there, gulping thick air and doing my best not to take on water, I heard some tinkling down below. When I peered over the edge, I saw him. A nondescript man standing in front of recycle row. The blue bins stood in a rigid line of opposition; lids open, they appeared ready for a war of epic proportions only Mel Gibson could win. BUT, I digress. At his feet was a large black duffel bag, flap laying open, exposing the underbelly of the operation. Then, he pounced.

Cans, paper and plastic flew from the bowels of the bin, bagged bits of yesterday destined to become this winter's gortex. Like a maniac, lacking only a rebel yell, the lone recycler dove in after his booty. At this point, I'm enthralled. Sad, aren't I? He violated bin after bin, disturbing carefully placed reusables in his quest. Periodically, he emerged, triumphant, running back to the duffel bag with one thing or another, until it was full. Spent, he carefully replaced each wayward item, grabbed his duffel bag and disappeared into the night.

Last month, I stood on the balcony once more. I think this time, I was attempting to escape the thick stuffy air from inside the apartment. As I stared up at the sky and cursed my existence waxed philosophical, I heard that familiar sound of displaced refuse. I quietly leaned forward again and peered down at recycle row. There he was again, the Lone Recycler, raping and pillaging this weeks discard. The duffel bag was barren, laying in wait for the bounty to come. As I watched disbelievingly, he dismantled the pile inside, neatly placing bags of recycled goods at his feet. Then, tilting the unsuspecting bin on its side, he crawled inside. As I shivered in repulsion, he scratched and clawed his way to the bottom, then popped out, triumphant, and added his find to the waiting bag. Once all eight bins had been treated, he once more picked up the bag and faded into the night.

Tonight, I stood on the balcony just because random things seem to happen when I'm out there. And then, the tell-tale tinkling began. I looked down to see the Lone Recycler, clad in board shorts, mid-calf rise work boots and a parka. Yes, I am aware I live in Canada. But a parka? It's 30 degrees out there! Full winter regalia, hood up to shield his identity, he began his routine once more. Giggling under my breath I watched him dig, set aside, replace and resume, running back and forth to his duffel bag sidekick, resuming their quest to take over the the earth. Kickin' it Green-style.

Is it wrong that I desperately desire to dump spaghetti sauce inside the bin? Will he pull out protective gear? A haz-mat suit? I'm dying to know. I keep popping out on the balcony, hoping to catch him in the act. Each time it gets crazier and crazier. I want to know what he covets! What does he fill that bag with? What is it, on the eve of the recycling day, that he cannot let go?

Sugarpants, you may be in the country, but crazy beats hick any day. Who knows... maybe next month I'll join the hunt for a green tomorrow. Parka and all.