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All posts for the month June, 2012

Mom and the Old Bitch Above

Published June 23, 2012 by megdedwards

There was a time in my youth when I wished my Mom was dead.

As soon as I wished it I realized that it was a terrible solution. I knew that my Mom drove me crazy in various ways but it was certainly not fair to request her death in order to set me free from my reactions to her.

I knew that she enjoyed living and I did not begrudge her that.  I did not actually wish harm to her.  She did not need to die, I knew that. I just needed to separate myself from her.

Mom was always there for me but sometimes her love or maternal attention felt destructive. I would inevitably regret reaching out for help. Whether it was emotional or financial, her help was like the well intentioned rock walls that people put up to save their sea shores, the effect of her attention sometimes caused more erosion than protection.

There was something about my relationship with my mom that was claustrophobic and dangerous.  She had a way of watching and commenting on my life that was suffocating. And while she could be maternal and caring, even almost doting at times, she could also be cool and dismissive.

If there was a battle of the wills then she had to win, and she would use whatever tools necessary, mockery, sarcasm or even physical power in order to rule supreme.  She was competitive and fiery.

If I was in pain she assumed I was exaggerating and would imply that I was weak. If I was in love she would question my judgment. If I wanted anything at all she would suggest I was greedy.

Maybe I made our relationship more painful by wishing she was something that she was not. She could only be who she was. When I read about Martin Amis talking about his relationship with his father, Kingsley Amis, I saw that what I had with my mother was not unlike this relationship.  It was more competitive than maternal; it had a manly air about it. She nurtured and then she fought. She prepared us to fight.

I kept wishing for a soft mom with soft arms who was a refuge against the world, but I did not have that. And in fact my Mom did not have that either, with her steely blue eyed librarian mother with the feminist leanings.  As I age, my sense of certainty that I have managed to avoid the same pitfalls and personality faults of my mother fades into a more sympathetic notion that maybe my Mom did not fail.

Maybe mothering is not about constant nurturing and altruistic sacrifice at all times. Part of what we do in weaning our children is push then away from our breasts, even when they cry. If they don’t learn to survive without us then we will have failed.

We may sometimes push our children away in order to set them free. That might be true. But we also make stupid mistakes and have moods. No one’s fault, no one deserves it, it just happened. Not only do I not know what I have done already that has hurt my children, I don’t know what I will do in the future. I will try very hard to be a good mom, but at times I will fail, quite by accident.

As the grains of sand drop one by one into the hourglass, the witch watches us and laughs. This image, from the family favorite, The Wizard of Oz, is definitive of my mother’s effect on us. My Mom was not the bad witch, she was kind hearted and fairly powerless, but she conjured witches.

Mom created a feckless and humorous God-like character, the Old Bitch Above; this mythical creature had a looming presence over our lives. OBA, as she was known in our home, would punish those who became too confident. OBA may give you a bad hair day just when you thought you were pretty, or make you trip when you were proud of your shoes. She had that kind of power. She brought you down off your high horse. Like a Greek God, or even the emotional Hebrew God, OBA had moods and emotions and you never knew what she would throw at you next.

Looking back, I see that my Mom was the physical form of OBA. She was unpredictable; you had to watch your step. Sometimes she was nurturing and sometimes she was harsh.  And she never said sorry. I learned to keep my dreams or opinions to myself because if I turned to her for comfort it would come back at me like a boomerang at another time, with a sudden attacking reference to that private conversation.

Even now, while we embrace in love and forgiveness as her energy drains out of her body, she can still throw a knife.  While I was telling her about a business idea that I had (once again forgetting what this admission would lead to) I said, “If it is any success at all…” and she said without thinking, “Well, that’s not likely”.

I laughed in my head, back on the same ground, aware now that the constant negativity that had accompanied me all my life was just under the surface.  She was aware that she had done it again, but, true to fashion, would not take it back. We let it go. But sometimes I see my life, and those of my siblings, as plants struggling for light, twisting and contorting to find the nourishment that we need to thrive.

As I accompany my Mom around the track, on her last lap, our faults are forgotten and our desire is to show love and acceptance. She says wonderful things about my writing; we talk about philosophy, writing and ideas. In fact, even in our hardest times we have always been able to talk about ideas. That has always been our connection.

Sometimes her  past rises up to torture her, she feels ashamed and irritated with herself, acknowledging that her strong pride and stubborn nature may have been unnecessary or harmful  to herself  or others during her life.

But I have no argument or anger anymore. Life is like one of those mysterious Irish folktales that show life as a meaningless struggle punctuated by madness and magic. My Mom likes to quote from some tale that she studied, lost now, “A man longs and longs and nothing comes of it”. She likes this line; it satisfies her on some deep level.

Tantramar News

Published June 10, 2012 by megdedwards

Jerome Bear joins the drumming circle celebrating his Swearing in Ceremony in becoming Mayor of Dorchester.

Up until last spring I wrote for The Times and Transcript doing local news and features for the daily paper published out of Moncton. It was a great gig and I enjoyed it.

The job began more than 10 years ago when I made a ‘cold call’ to the paper’s news editor saying that I was looking for work. We had just bought our house in Baie Verte and I knew that I did not want to drive for an hour to get to my call center job.

As an aside, an hour commute for rural people is not the same as an hour within a city. It is not just the cost of gas but the challenge of driving though major snowstorms on highways that may not be cleared.

But back to my employment story, I ended up scoring the Council Reports for three villages outside of Moncton (Hillsborough, Petitcodiac and Salisbury).

I was very happy with that even though I had to get my husband Joe to drive me to the meetings because I had foolishly let my Driver’s Licence lapse!

In later years, I took up three more villages closer to home and added freelance reports from my coastal position that included reports on new businesses and events from Sackville, Dorchester and Port Elgin.

I also began to write feature pieces for Leigh Williams, the editor for the Life section of the Times and Transcript. I really enjoyed those longer pieces but you do not want to know what you are paid for a three interview, 1000 word feature article.

Then the big cut came, a terse and unapologetic email from Brunswick News telling us that freelancers were no longer needed. They were going in a different direction, they were moving to more of a 24 hour on-line presence.

Which was fine. Well, not really, it was a kick in the teeth, but what can you do? And I went back to my Library Studies and finished my Certificate.

But in the meantime I have been asked many times during the last year to write on a subject that someone wants published. I have been asked where my articles are, and when I am returning.

And bit by bit I have begun to recognize that there is a desire for my local writing, and that I can fill that void.

If the Times and Transcript can go on-line, then so can I!

In my writing I covered everything from municipal politics to theater reviews. I enjoy writing about entrepreneurs, artists and business take overs (they happen in small towns).

I have recognized a need and identified a market, and I have already placed myself on the map as someone who can and will write about the local news and events with clarity and enthusiasm.

So I am going to start my own on-line news site called Tantramar News.

By the fall I plan to have my own website and a subscription base, however humble, of my own.

To start the ball rolling, I traveled to Dorchester to cover the swearing in ceremony for the new First Nations Mayor, Jerome Bear.

Check out Tantramar News at:

http://megdedwards.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/first-nations-mayor-of-village-of-dorchester-nb/

Jerome Bear joins the drumming circle celebrating his Swearing in Ceremony as Mayor of Dorchester.

Chaos and Order – Life and Music

Published June 5, 2012 by megdedwards

I drove to Dorchester the other weekend to go to a village organized garage sale extravaganza. Maud and I found a few things but one of the most wonderful things was the music I found.

I was looking through a box of things and found some hand labeled CD’s and cassette tapes. What drew me to the tapes was the hand writing, which looked like my Dad’s.

I picked out a few CD’s and tapes, Beethoven and Vivaldi. Now I know I love to hear the piano in almost any kind of music, but I have also grown very fond of strings that vibrate into your heart.  When I play the Vivaldi 6 Concertos I am transfixed.  I keep turning it up, and tuning out what is around me.  I want to lie down and just listen. It is beautiful story telling music, with echoes and refrains and the soul crying out to celebrate life.  The 6 Concertos pulse and surge, my heart fills, my mind is completely drawn into the conversation of instruments.  My Dad and I listen together.

Maybe I appreciate the violin now more since I have tried to learn how to play it. I was just getting somewhere with my lessons when I cut the tendon in my finger in a bizarre and unexpected accident with homemade granola. The lesson to learn from that is that you may in fact have a limited time to learn  something new so don’t put it off for 40 years like I did.

But I am really good at going with the flow. So I have moved on. Now I listen to the violin and in my head I am playing it. Sometimes I do desire that my children will try everything with no hesitation, and try to be good at it too. There can be no harm in achievement of any kind in any art or discipline.

But music means a lot to me, and dance. And I never really recognized how much it did. Even now I let music enter my life randomly, and I don’t indulge it as much as I could with concerts or a good sound system. My car is littered with CD’s though because as a rural Mom I spend a lot of time in the car: pop, classical, salsa, Arabic music. CD’s like autumn leaves, unsheathed and chaotic. I am the one who sweeps my hands this way or that and makes things happen in my chaotic life.

I chose tap dancing when I was a young shy girl and my Mom told me I could take any class I wanted from our local community center. That must have surprised my Mom. And my brother chose cooking and has been a chef all his life! Then later I played in the all boy brass band in high school because I had been given the trombone in Grade 9 when I had requested the flute.  In my thirties I found belly dancing and loved it. Recently I have been taking West African Drumming with Kadijah and really enjoying it.

I don’t know if I am a self- authenticated person. I am not even sure I know what that means but I suspect it means you know who you are and you act on it.

Lots of us struggle with knowing and acting. It does seem to take me a long time to take myself seriously. I don’t pursue achievements, I don’t believe in myself too strongly. What I do know about myself is that I enjoy my own company and I can flow with the stream of life, watching and thinking.

It is probably a fairly good achievement to be a content person so maybe I am self -authenticated after all.  I have always had modest dreams and within my own expectations I have done well. I really wanted children, and from a very young age I knew that. As I matured I knew that I wanted to be the kind of mother who gives her whole being to her children and allows them to outshine her. And I am doing that as planned.

My writing was not so much of a career choice but a part of me, I have always had journal of insights, observations and occasional poetry.  I have made money from my writing, which is good I suppose, but I don’t suspect it is ever going to be a big money maker for me.

This blog allows me to open up and add my voice to the chorus of voices. I can hear my voice, and that is nice. Others can hear me, and that is pretty good for a recovered shy person. I dance at my local hall with my friends because we like to dance but I find I am too shy to perform with any real enthusiasm. I just like to dance for my own pleasure.

If I did have a ‘bucket wish’, it would be to play an instrument again, and especially to play or ding with others, in choir or in a band.

It is so satisfying to play with others. I rediscovered this when I was drumming in my last West African drumming workshop.  Kadijah had me on the big low drum and I had to hold the beat together for the rest of us newbie drum players during our last song and the culmination of all that we had learnt that day.

I was concentrating really hard, my brain tying me to my hands, my feet wide apart and my stomach hanging out and breathing deeply.  Nothing brings your heart, mind and body together more than music.

Your body and mind must work in unison. You cannot be distracted or self -conscious or you will lose the beat. Your mind must stay focused and the only thing you will hear is your own beat, and how it is working in chorus with the other drummers.

It is hard work and it makes you a whole person engaged in the moment. It is satisfying and revealing; discovering the power of singing or drumming  allows the body to remember what it felt like to learn how to walk or talk. Like infants we smile broadly, proud of ourselves and amazed at the sound of our own voices.

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