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Archived Stories

 

Working with John Mann, March 4, 2013

 

So, you know that musician who never wrote a song for you or even sang a ballad in your general direction in case you misinterpreted as a “love” song? And fair enough. It wasn’t meant to be and he’s a great guy and could play all those awesome Spirit of the West tunes. I know it’s fine and you wish him and the rest of them well and it’s all good now and you have some awesome CDs you still listen to. But you know what’s even better? Write a play sort of about it. Then get John Mann to write that love song to that character who is sort of like you who was so in love, and have him sing it to you in his living room while his little dog howls and his beautiful wife types away happily upstairs. There’s something very happy and good about that whole scenario. There’s a twenty something year old girl in me that just giggles with disbelief and glee.

 

http://johnmann.ca (check out his upcoming album The Waiting Room: an amazing journey)

 

The play I’m talking about is Diamond Willow commissioned by Prairie Theatre Exchange in Winnipeg under the artistic direction of Robert Metcalfe:

 

http://www.pte.mb.ca

 

also developed by Playwrights Theatre Centre playwrights colony under the dramaturgy of Heidi Taylor:

 

http://playwrightstheatre.com

 

Outskate Me, March 20, 2013

 

As Nora laces her own skates for the first time without my help, I recall her constant refrain as a toddler, “I do mine own self!” Mostly I am watching from the stands during her lessons and she waves after a particularly good round of backwards bubbles, hoping I burst with a bit of approval. And I do. But it is today, when I am actually on the ice with her…her dawning realization I have no lutz or loops. Only klutz and oops. I see the shy surprise in her face then pride in surpassing me at the age of seven, then pity for me, then…a smile. It’s quite wonderful. All of it. This is her thing. Her thing she can do. She releases my hand and flies.

 

A great theatre day in Vancouver, May 17 ,2013

 

My day at Pacific Theatre consisted of going over a few scenes of Espresso for the first time in ten years with my new playmates and having those old friends Rosa, Nonna and Chinz leap out of my body like caged animals ready to roar. It was almost frightening. Then I headed in to watch “How to Write a New Book of the Bible”: a terrific production despite having the worst title in the world next to “Unless” and “Trying”. At intermission a woman came up to me and said, “Oh! Oh my, you’re – ” Lucia “Right! That Lucia! Oh you people you work so hard and you don’t get enough money to do what you do. The energy and heart you put into these plays. You really ought to be paid more. It’s incredible what you all do.” Why tha- “but that last play you did was DREADFUL. You know what I mean. But I guess you people have these things in your head – I don’t know -” And she walked away. I watched the second half of the show and marveled at my friends Erla Forsyth and Anthony F. Ingram I’ve watched for over twenty years now, move so effortlessly through the story, like fine Olympic athlete swimmers through water. Everything taut, everything true. Magnificent performances. And right there six feet away. The whole cast was terrific, the direction fantastic, the design. And I sat and smiled thinking how I have had the tremendous opportunity to write and have produced twenty five plays in twenty five years, six of them here on this Pacific Theatre stage. And out of the twenty five plays only two of them have been tragedies and one of them indeed, dreadful. And I am so thankful for the opportunity to tell it and honor those who have lived it. What a great Vancouver theatre day.

 

Communion audition, May 28, 2013

 

Nora and I have the flu today but there was an exciting audition I had put a ton of hours into so I freakin’ pulled on my high heels, put my big girl panties on, drove out, did it standing up and drove home. Longest drive home ever. But during the audition I saw the line up of some of Vancouver’s fine fine sisters. And as each remarkable talent walked through the door, and I’m telling you, there weren’t any sluffs – I couldn’t help but tear up and think “wow, wow, wow” all of us keep going and my community has so many bright stars. I lie in bed again, ahhhhhhhh and dream of writing big casts for women…

 

This play is at Pacific Theatre, co-pro with Ruby Slippers Theatre

 

http://pacifictheatre.org

 

http://rubyslippers.ca

 

Little Pigeon, June 1, 2013

 

“I’ve got you, little Pigeon” is what the Voice says to me as I soar over beautiful Vancouver in a float plane with my barf bag in hand. I get a breathtaking “Moses on the mountain” view of the promised land and suddenly everything melts away: the last ten days of being a human double ended volcano, the pile of bills, the divorce papers, the work I’ve lost, the auditions I’ve missed, the people I’ve disappointed…”I’ve got you, little Pigeon”. And it feels like I am indeed, in the hand of God, being cradled over the ocean. I know why He’s calling me little Pigeon instead of the more Ibsen-esque little Sparrow. It’s because I’ve been shitting on things and it’s about time I stopped viewing myself as the tragic female desperately requiring emancipation. He does have a sense of humor. And besides we both like pigeons: they’re urban, they’re savvy, they’re pearly breasted, they ingeniously manage to raise their young. The woman beside me flaps her newspaper about noisily, frantically reading the business pages, constantly bonking me with her elbow. She doesn’t look at the view once. She does stare at The Bay male model for exactly ten seconds. The woman on the other side looks at the view but only through her camera. Then she quickly scrolls through her digital memory and edits what she just sort of saw, immediately, in order to post, “here I am!” and I think “but are you here?” And I am. I am here. Finally. And I am flooded with gratefulness. All my problems seem as small as those tiny toy sailboats bobbing in the water. So easily blown about. My stomach has settled, a kind friend this morning put some cash in my hand. I land in gorgeous Victoria dressed for rain and kissed by sun. I share my work with a room full of intellectuals from across the country and they are very kind. Oh and there’s the fabulous Marie Clement in a most excellent pair of new shoes. We talk about writing, we talk about raising kids, she simply asks “are you with someone” and I simply say “I’m alone”. She says “It’s easier with someone”. And that hasn’t dawned on me for a long time. And then Joan MacLeod appears. She has let her hair flow gloriously white: a literary angel. She is kind to me and I can’t even begin to tell her how much her elegant writing inspires me. Jerry Wasserman gives me an all star intro and Talon books has treated me like a little queen with my stack of crazies for sale on the table. And I realize what a privilege it is to be an artist in Canada. I have momentarily and selfishly forgotten how lucky this Pigeon is. “I’ve got you, little Pigeon”. Yes, you do.

 

Art is Subjective, Even in Ikea, June 22, 2013

 

Today someone stopped me in IKEA to thank me for Leave of Absence: their favorite play ever. The last person who stopped me to talk about that play told me it was dreadful. And both incidents leave me humbly astonished in different ways and remind me that people do see theatre and they are deeply affected by it at times.

 

Dropping off Fire Alarms, July 5, 2013

 

So, ten minutes ago, a fire truck drives up. The captain is back. Six firemen stride out of the truck, seriously, all ridiculously handsome, RIDICULOUS and all six are here to put in a fire alarm in my ceiling. Five did this, and the captain handed me the spare battery. And as luck would have it, my house was clean, my hair was brushed, and I even had something fetching on. And my daughter was eating a salad with flowers in it. Captain checked my furnace. Asked me how my dinner party went. (you know, when I nearly burned the house down a few weeks ago) He said “you thought I forgot about you, didn’t you?” And I weakly said, “yes…” he grinned. And then they were off, off to save the citizens of Richmond…it was beautiful.

 

A Play in Ottawa, July 13, 2013

 

Lovely cast, well directed big warm opening night audience and a standing ovation. But my favorite part of the night: Zio Ross walking across the set during the preshow Shtick with his hands full of drinks. It meant a lot to me to have some aunts and an uncle there and my brother and sister in law. First time most of them have seen my writing.

 

The last time I did a play in the Ottawa area was nineteen years ago. When we were on the waiting list for Manotick and Montreal fringe and didn’t get in Dad surprised us by booking an Italian restaurant hall. We performed to a bunch of relatives he rallied, among the statues and pink stucco. Then he followed us to Toronto where our biggest house was maybe 16 and our only review was “Holy Mo, not quite as boring as church.” Sitting in a “no show” audience one day in my clown face, Dad said, “even if you’re a failure kid, I’m still proud of you.” Twenty years later I open a play in Ottawa, my second professional production in Ontario this year. The family has grown huge and busy and a little indifferent. But somewhere I like to think that dad is watching. That his faith in me has paid off.

 

Anita’s Shoes, July 16, 2013

 

I am stepping into my friend’s shoes while she’s out of town. I water her garden and notice how huge it is, how artfully put together, how much whimsy is involved. I wander through her house and smile at all the pieces of furniture and knickknacks I have the great honor of knowing some of the story behind. I smile at the relatives on the wall who are now gone. Relatives I’ve had the privilege to love. I hang out with her extraordinary kids and get a glimpse of peeves and pleasures, rhythms and humor and so much integrity. I wonder how she does it all. I look around me and I think “Even if I didn’t know this woman, I would want to know her, just from walking in this house. The beauty she creates, the history she holds, the order, the buoyant corners of creative chaos. The little tea cups kept even with a crack. It gives me a sense of awe, actually. Who she is. And I fall in love with her all over again.

 

The Steveston Bakery, August 8, 2013

 

I know I just wrote but…the Steveston bakery has a fresh baked beautiful breakfast for $2.75! The place is packed with octogenarians: always a good sign. Nobody can sniff out a bargain like someone born during the Great Depression. A flock of white fluffy ladies in pastel slacks are having a morbid and lively conversation about the python killings over their delicious buns. Never mind my seven year old is sitting right beside them. Perhaps those born during the depression generally feel children should know how close death is and to be wary of snakes, strangers and anything not on sale. I speak very loudly, cracking jokes, unusually animated for the morning. It works. Nora doesn’t hear a thing. But she does think I’ve had too much coffee. Suddenly the conversation drops low amongst the ladies as a tall handsome man walks in with bulging biceps. He’s a local, everyone knows him, he makes conversation and orders the usual: scrambled on a bagel with bacon. He swings his beautiful body over to the table of ladies, he radiates health, he has some kind of vitamin ointment rubbed into his skin I’m sure of it. And indeed, I soon overhear he’s a massage therapist down the street and everyone in the bakery seems to be his patient. Nora interrupts my spying and says far too loudly, “Mommy, why are you staring at that tall man?” After Hercules scoots off with his scramble, the ladies follow suit. Soon it is just me, Nora and Ed left. Ed has red eyes like a gutted fish and that wispy baby boy hair in pure white. It has taken me this long to realize the cloth on his elbows and his knees is all torn out. He’s not a bum, he’s not a drinker…oh my God, He’s a hard worker who got old. Very old. Maybe a fisherman? The ladies behind the counter know him and they love him. I can tell by the way one keeps pouring his coffee and the other takes his plate gingerly when he’s done. He catches me staring. I don’t pretend I’m not, in case that makes him feel even more like a curiosity. I smile boldly. He calls across the store to me. “There’s an article in here about liberty and freedom. They are not the same thing. Some people think they are. But I know for a fact you can be liberated and not free.” I nod. He pushes on some half glasses and squints at the paper and continues reading. Nora asks “what does liberated mean?” I’m shy about my answer, knowing Ed can hear me. “Liberated is when you can do whatever you want. But that doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Freedom is….something about your soul. Maybe you can’t do anything you want but you can do some of the things you love.” Nora declares, “oh, then I am not liberated because you have to always be there to watch me. But I am totally free in my spirit. I can feel it.”

 

Moving Shock, August 13, 2013

 

Woke up after ten minutes of sleep in a startled shock, suddenly not knowing where the hell I am, which house, which decade, which lover which season which bed. A faint recall…Frangione…followed by the next shock, “Where is my child?!” I flip the switch on the bedroom lights and they’re out, I flip the switch in the hall and they’re out…am I dead?! No. We removed the lights for the new house. Right. And all the chairs. And Nora’s upstairs with Violet. There’s a spider web across my left eye. Why? And I ate something that is making me itch like a pig in the sun with no mud. I sit on an old cooler in a half emptied room, scratching my ears, crunching on an allergy pill, trying to remember who I am. These legs look familiar. I touch the soft spot behind the knees: still little girl smooth. But it doesn’t stop the flood of existential angst that comes with a momentary loss of identity. “Who can keep up with the mortgage? Would that be me? Or will I end up on the street? What if I’m nothing but an embarrassment to my family and they all stop talking to me? What kind of mother moves five times in four years? A failure, that’s who.” I peek out the window at the dark spiky shadows of white gladiolas. “Right! Anita is coming to help me transplant my garden.” And that alone…just knowing the rosemary is going to come with me…that my dear friend is going to be digging in the dirt with a shovel just because she loves me…all these faces start to bloom around me. Family, friends, colleagues I love. I’m back. I’m grounded. I’m good. And maybe…just maybe…I’ll never move again.

 

My Hornless Dog, August 14, 2013

 

I have a dog named Tartuffe. He is now closing in on fourteen. Because I have been in single Mom limbo for the past four years, in homes that do not welcome dogs, Michael has kindly taken Tartuffe on and I haven’t spent much time with my pup day to day. So now that I own a home in a dog friendly complex, Tartuffe is back in my life, farting on my carpet. This Tartuffe. This old boy. I took him for a walk today and noticed his radical shift to “aged”. Tartuffe, traditionally, has been the horniest dog I’ve known, humping everything in sight. I went for a walk with him today and he’s so slow and whiskered now…it was quite something to witness. But mostly I noticed he didn’t even attempt to mount a single living thing. I said, “Tartuffe, what’s happened to you?” And he turned and looked at me with one raised eyebrow as if to say, “And what’s happened to you, Lucia? We both just don’t give a shit anymore.” And really…what can I say to that?

 

Ed’s Teeth, August 17, 2013

 

Today I need to rely on the generosity of others. That’s a rare thing in our society: worshippers of the God of independence and I am an avid disciple. It always surprises me who comes to the rescue. Last week it was the affable lanky and lovely Jeff Gladstone and today it is a tag team of Russell Wallace and Colleen Winton’s boys, Sayer and Gower: handsome well spoken young men who will do the heavy lifting for free if I don’t insist on paying them. The kind of young men who give me hope for the future, these two. But they have jobs to go to and my move is unending and I end up…long story short: with a U-Haul full of heavies parked in front of my apartment with no help in sight. I put out a facebook notice and Kitty Nichols offers to pedal over on her bike within the hour. I can picture her with most excellent hair and signature bright lips: pin up girl to to the rescue! She alerts me by text “Kitty from the old Playhouse”: bitter sweet to read. I head out to the Uhaul and roll up the rim to win: carrying out the manageable articles in order to not keep Kitty long, and in my mind, to not over turn one of her high heels. (she’s forever Gil Elvgren to me) I hear a rattle louder than the one my truck ramp makes…down the street rolls a rubby with a grocery cart full of odds and ends. He has no teeth, he’s bald ears up, the rest of his long grey hair is splayed out under a baseball cap. He looks like a Kim Mitchell Jacob Marley who has absolutely no intention of going for a soda. The baseball cap has the visor in tact but the head part is missing the fabric, exposing a cross floating in a rapturous backbend over his skull. He says something about that desk being too heavy for me to lift and he gives me a hand down the ramp. And the first thing that flies through my head is “how nice” and the second thing that flies through my head is, “this man is here with a cart and I have my door open and a U-Haul full of my stuff to steal and he knows where I live.” He calls out with concern, “you’re not going to try and lift all that stuff by yourself, are you?” I wave him off, “I have a girlfriend coming to help.” He hums, then, “Ah, it won’t take a minute. I got nothin’ better to do.” And he leap frogs into the truck and starts lifting my desk parts like an Eastside superhero. I notice underneath the ripped shirt is a ripped abdomen. He sets them by the door, not going in and just gets down to work, man. He lifts my old TV (already broken a bit) and I drop the one end and smash the bottom even more and I have a speaker hernia on my hands. He pokes it back in, a seasoned doctor of used appliances and says, “the wires are still intact, it’s fine.” Then we set it down to readjust and the whole thing falls apart in our hands like a big black pastry shell. “This TV must be thirty years old but I hate to throw away anything that still works…” I laugh, it’s heavy as hell and so large it requires its own room. “You can still save it”, he offers, and this makes me laugh so hard we both lie belly down in the Panasonic rubble. “Keep it in the truck for a dump run, I never watch TV anyway”. “Me neither” he says. He spends half an hour helping me unload the rest of my stuff and he never once asks for a favor or money or any compensation. He just sighs at the end, “Man, I need a beer!” I apologize, “I’m sorry I don’t have any-” He cuts me off. “I got it.” He reaches into his grocery cart and sure enough, he pulls out two Alberta genuine drafts. He offers me a semi-cold one. I snap it and we drink. He shows me the innards of his cart: a skull jar filled with unidentifiable dark liquid, a glass boot mug, a pink tea pot, a set of drill bits and a poster of an aerial view of Vancouver “So I can see where I am when I’m high” he says. “Name’s Ed. I like to drink. Guess you might have figured that.” He says. And that’s it. We lean against the U-Haul, wiping away the sweat on our brows, drinking our beer and a couple of neighbors walk by: squidgy girls in colorful stretch pants who look at us “like, OMG”. I don’t give a flying f*&CK you girls, because you know what? Ed was there for me today. Ed did an honest bit of work and he deserves a beer in the sun, twenty bucks and my gratitude. Once his beer is done, he grabs his cart and wheels away. “I needed help and you were there for me, Ed. I sure appreciate that” I call out after him. He grins and points to his gaping maw. “I don’t have dentures. Whenever my teeth rot to the root, I pull them out and put them in a jar. And once they all go, I’ll make a necklace. Then I can pull them out and say, “See, I still got all my teeth.” That’s some kind of oddly wonderful beautiful smile.

 

Banana Foster, August 19, 2013

 

The U-Haul lady is tanned dyed and lip lined the colour of banana foster. I must look dilapidated – she calls me honey and coos she’d like to rent me her three boys out in Surrey. Instead she gives me a free dolly, some blankets (sounds deceivingly like a little girl’s nap time) and another 24 hours of the truck for free because “you sure as hell have paid a shit load already, just take it, trust me, you’ll need it.” And she’s right. I do. Bicycles and balls and ferns and fans and dirt (whoever invented the phrase “dirt cheap” doesn’t garden at Art Knapp) and fixtures and drawers and all that “do I really even need this crap” business at the end of a long week. I see Nora’s large rock collection…sigh. They all look grey to me. I load it up because who am I to discourage a young geologist? I also load a bag of manure that leaves me smelling oh so sexy. When I get to Commercial Drive, I creep out of the cab after parking the U-Haul monster and all my muscles quiver, “No, no, we keep telling you, we can’t do this anymore…!” And I retort, “Oh shut your gob, your life is only half over.” I smear what is probably more cow poo over my brow and who do I see out on a jaunt, heading towards me? King Arthur. Really. (I think he just closed the show). King Arthur in breezy cotton and sunny knees, his magnificent whiskers curled above his smile. Russell Wallace and his queen, Colleen Winton. She is smiley and fresh and doesn’t smell a bit like me. She goes in for a hug and I can’t, I just can’t do that to her – she embraces me in all my filth and then skips up the ramp and scampers down again with two hip hugger plants. Russell takes the heavies, I mostly point and it seems as though they unload the entire truck in thirty seconds flat. And neither of them sweat. They still look perfect. These two, like everything they do on stage, it seems effortless. They have moved me: poo smeared, sweaty, with my dog who has filled the house with sleepy farts. Nice. Now that’s unconditional love. I load the truck back up with a few bags of recycling and junk and head to the city dump. I get to the place where one guiltily gets rid of old TVs and I try to lift that three hundred pounder out of the back and it keeps breaking black eggshells all over my van. And just then, I kid you not, Riley and Beatrice Zeilinger drive up. It’s so noisy at the dump and smells like fruitcake from hell, we don’t stop for niceties or small talk. Trix just grabs the TV out of my hands and hoists it out of the back, tag teaming with Riley who Clark Kents it over to the appropriate bin while handing me exactly what I need: a broom. As soon as I’m swept, they’re gone, vamoose. Seriously. Over 600,000 people live in the city of Vancouver. And all I find are friends. Friends all day.

 

Mermaids, August 30, 2013

 

There is a distinct possibility our children may be amphibian. This is not warm weather. And yet there they go, slipping into the icy waves with chattering teeth and blue lips and lacerated toes and jelly fish stung legs with glee. “The waves lift me up like I am flying, Mommy!” The eldest girl always faces the sea with a steely eyed determination. It reminds me of a ballerina in the wings. And then, when the moment is right, she wades out to where it is deep…and swims. I am not one to get metaphoric about mermaids but Miss Emma easily slips into her Waterous way more comfortably than land. And when she must be grounded…she dances, diligently practicing on two pointed toes in order to swim in the air.

 

 

Persnickety Pete, September 1, 2013

 

I return from a gorgeous time with dear dear dear friends at the Alders and face the boxes of home. As I unpack, I realize, along with two million other Vancouverites, I must go shopping today for smart storage solutions at Ikea. So, Lisa takes Nora for the day and I plan out my kitchen with glee, measure, pencil, and mark. I march out to affix my roof rack onto the mini. This takes some elbow grease. I am fine, I have it covered but two young French people with flowing honey hair and soothing softened consonants jump in to help me as they pass me on the street “It won’t take a moment”, says the strawberry kissed whiskery boy. Very kind. I head out to Ikea and bustle around the display rooms with the pregnant ladies and back to school Dads buying desks for daughters and I smartly purchase my tall pull out pantry cabinet, the desk for the Algerian nurses (to be explained later) the shoe rack and other fabulous do-dads and proceed to haul it onto the top of the car. Again, I am fine, I have it covered. But a tidy family leaps out of an approaching Volvo in the Ikea parking lot. The smart-bob Mom directs with appropriate arm gestures: “My son and husband will lift the rest, good you have straps, my daughter is a sailor, she can tie your knots!” And sure enough, within moments, that lovely clan has my loot hog tied so tight it is hurricane proof. They drive away in their plaid and cotton and I cry out, “what are your names, oh you suburban good Samaritans?!” They remain anonymous. On the highway, my mini cooper looks like a cockeyed dragonfly, all iridescent blue with long square cardboard wings. Once home, I am on my own. I slap my working gloves together, release the cinches, loosen the ropes and haul the boxes one by one. Finally, just the tall cabinet box is left and it is too heavy for me to even lift an inch. I didn’t know this. The Samaritan Dad put it on there. So, I slide it down and walk it, corner by corner, step by step, like dancing with a very shy flat giant. But the going is slow and I hit the curb. How am I going to lift it? Unbeknownst to me Persnickety Pete is behind me. I’ve seen him before, walking his dog, he’s some kind of neighbor. I’ve dubbed him this. Why? I’m sorry to say it is a snap judgment. His whites are far far far too white. His arms are gym toned, the rest of his body seems meanly underfed, his posture is perfect. His dog is so tiny and inbred it looks like a nail brush. It’s so fragile, if I sneezed at it, I am sure its eyeballs would dislodge. And then how could I afford THAT vet bill? No. Best not pay any attention to persnickety Pete, he never pays any attention to me and that’s just how we do things, PP and I. He tries to sneak by me with his dog but I catch his eye (he’s concerned I’ll drop the box on his scrub brush). He says, nervously, “what do you have there, a marble table top?” “Ah, it’s a wood cabinet.” I say. He scuttles away with a feeble good wish, “You’re doing well” I smile between grunts, “bit by bit, yup”. I give a big heave ho and lift that MFin’ box up onto the curb. And something gets Persnickety Pete. I can’t believe it. I see the white white white back of his t-shirt stop still. He’s already half a block ahead of me and he turns around and says rather impatiently, “I suppose I could help you if you’re not headed too far.” I say, “Oh, I’m just this patio door here, thank you thank you thank you!” He ties up his scrub brush to a twig (that’s enough to hold it) and takes one end. Indeed, he works out a lot, it seems pretty easy for him. He drags one end, I the other, to the apartment doors where there’s a tricky pole to shim around and a bumpy step to go down into my patio. It takes him about eight seconds and I say “just through this door would be so great!” (suggesting another five seconds work) but he immediately puts his end down. He says, “well, that’ll help anyway.” He releases his fluff and marches away. My shy giant is splayed on his side, blocking the entrance to the apartment building while lodged sideways through my patio door. As I push pull and drag my cabinet at least within the patio door (needing to leave it outside) I damage one of the ends. But all the while I’m thinking “what kept Persnickety Pete from following on his generous impulse? He only had five seconds to go. Was he afraid to come into my patio space? Maybe I would kidnap him? Was he worried I would snatch his puppy and sacrifice it to appease some ancient Hungarian god? Maybe his back started to hurt? Maybe he was in a hurry? Hm. But he seemed fine when he walked away and he did not walk away briskly. Oh heavens, was he worried I was hitting on him? How could that be?! I look a disaster and I don’t even think I made eye contact.” After about twenty minutes of feeling bad that I had inconvenienced Persnickety Pete I had to also admit there may be one more reason he didn’t want to do the last five seconds. Maybe he didn’t want to do the last five seconds. Maybe in this world there are the honey toned Francophones who make life easier and the Suburban Samaritans who help you be safe and snug and sound and there are the Pernickety Petes who probably think they did a good deed today, as they feed their petite pup electrolytes with an eye dropper. And in a strange way, I am glad to have met them all.

 

Back to School Outfits, September 3 2013

 

First day of Grade 3 and Nora isn’t at the age yet where she realizes she should have a “back to school outfit” according to Gap. All she wants is “Maid Marion hair” and I braid her curls lovingly as she chatters excitedly about who she is going to have for a teacher and who might be in her class. She’s decided she likes both teachers and all the kids so it’s a win win. I serve a fried egg in the centre of a zucchini ring and she gasps, “oh Mom, I just LOVE zucchini!” I think she would love liver and onions today, she’s so happy. We get in the car and drive ten minutes and arrive at her school and she says WHAT?!??! WE’RE HERE ALREADY?!?! and I laugh, almost hysterically with joy and relief, “I know!!! No more Richmond!” And we do a little car dance “no bridge, no bridge, no Knight street stinky bridge!” And then a thought gives her pause and she wrinkles her little forehead and says, “I wonder what Violet is wearing on her first day of school. She’s going to Kindergarten this year in Richmond. I miss her.” And we have a little chat about what it is to miss friends and family, to come and go and leave and return and ebb and flow with the sorrow and joy of loving people as we pass in and out and back in each other’s lives. I remind her that Anita and I have never lived in the same city and we’ve stayed friends for almost twenty five years. This cheers her and she bounces off and away up the stairs of the old square brick school house with a wave and a Maid Marion toss of her curls. As I drive to work I turn on the radio and there is Violet’s Mom, Tara Jean Stevens on the radio (making it into an art form, she’s so clever) She jokes along with listeners like me and then she plays “Freedom”.

 

 

Learning to Screw, September 4, 2013

 

I seriously lacked torque today. I stripped essential screws, prayed for a decent drill job and wished for a magnetic bit. I soldiered on for hours, but when the last shelving unit went cockeyed, even the double entendres failed to amuse me. “Oh Lucia, you are rather successful at these verbs and nouns under different circumstances”. Hm. “Cheap joke, seems you can’t do anything right you dumb head.” I say unkindly to myself. “you should give up now before the neighbors call the police about a domestic dispute: Frangione vs Phillips. Phillips is getting sorely abused both physically and verbally.” I miss my Dad. He was a superb handyman. My brother is getting very skilled, thanks to his fabulous father in law: a quiet Portuguese man, easy to adore. I only see him expertly fixing things or laughing with grandchildren. I do have “hire an ex-husband”, thank goodness, but I was hoping to do more of this myself. Ah well. Gone are the “taken care of” days, Lucia, you’re on your own. And that’s not such a bad thing. I decide to 1) suck it up. 2) make sure Nora learns these skills from her dad 3) crack open a bottle of wine and have a glass. Then I finish the day doing something I know I can do well: I put stuff into fancy jars then plant lavender and winter pansies. And now…I write. I write and write and write and…everything is aligned, everything is solid, everything is beautiful, everything is right.

 

 

The Magical Unicorn Forest, September 7, 2013

 

“What would you like as a theme for your room, Nora? You can have anything, anything you want” I offer, foolishly. She scrunches up her forehead for a minute and then her eyes fly open wide and excited, “I want a violet colored room with a magical unicorn forest that has crystals all over it!” Really. Her room is a closet. Literally. My walk in closet. In Richmond she had a huge back yard, a huge bedroom with a big window she could sit inside, a best friend upstairs with more room and more toys and she had a secret cubby play area…now she’s in the closet. A closet in Vancouver, mind you, but still. How the HELL am I going to fit all her stuff into this tiny space, let alone a magical unicorn forest with crystals?!?! What have I done? “Don’t rush dear, take some time to think about it.” She smiles resolutely, “Nope. I know right now that’s exactly what I want, Mama.” So, first of all I ask Michael to build a loft bed and keep Rinaldi’s desk in there. Then I put in shelves. Nora and I hunt around and find a unicorn and then some crystals and then I find some swirly twigs I spray paint white with more crystals and slowly and carefully I try to stick some kind of forest in the corner of her mouse house without poking out an eye. I really do wish at these times I was a set designer…I keep thinking, “John Webber‘s magical unicorn forest would have an excellent shape, be fire hazard proof and he would jig it so that the kitty light would shine through the crystals and create beautiful refractions on the walls…or more like…he would have the aesthetic sense to say “no”.” But alas…Nora is stuck with Mommy’s big ideas and small skill set. And there comes that moment…that moment when I have put branches all along the ceiling painstakingly pulling a Michelangelo on my back for hours, trying to tie tiny knots onto tiny nails with fishing wire…. I look around and think “this is so ugly, this is another one of my cockamamie ideas, it’s going to fall down, it looks stupid, her friends are going to make fun of her, it looks creepy and OH MY GOD it’s so new age: Crystals unicorns and angels?! I better stick a glow in the dark Jesus just to ground the damn thing in some sort of philosophy. What have I done? My daughter is in the closet. With no window. I should go in the closet and she can have my room. I suck as a mother. Who does this? Who does this shit?!” And then I take a big breath. “This feels like tech week. Remember, it’s all going to come together.” I step back, admit the whole act two has got to go, rip down the ceiling stuff and keep the wall stuff. And…it looks…well it looks not bad. And one by one I started to put all her toys in and…everything fit.

 

Storage Closets, Sept 8, 2013

 

Storage closets are so damn revealing. I mean, beyond the Christmas decorations and the cooler…what is it we can’t let go of but also can’t use?

 

I live pretty lean but I do have a few boxes. I look around me: letters from my Dad, too painful to read. A big black and white photograph of a former best friend who dumped me, but God she’s gorgeous in this picture. Three bags of baby clothes. A box of diaries from my “mystical” years: ages twelve to eighteen. Oh little girl, you knew God in a way I can’t reach now. Like trying to return to virginity. (this is why young people should write) The group of friends nude calendar period of my life…the nearly decimated blanket too fragile to use that Gramma made just for me….

 

But then I see the three boxes of my hand penned work, research, musings, journals and unfinished scripts. I’ve carted them around for twenty five years, along with three old computers and a large collection of old discs. I gather them up, mercilessly, and recycle them today. I have lost hundreds of poems and several full length produced plays forever.

 

And that’s just fine. But why now? I muse. Am I deciding I’ve never amounted to much by world standards and I likely never will? Am I admitting there will be no PhD hopeful doing their dissertation on my oeuvre, going through my papers posthumously to publish my undiscovered works…? And am I okay with that? Yes. Yes I am. I’ve heard this revelation comes in one’s life. My ambitious “published by the age of sixteen” youthful self dreaded it. It sounded like giving up. It sounded like death. But it isn’t. I think… with time and loss and failure and some profound opportunities to shine, I understand: it’s the love I give that gets stored up in people’s hearts and it’s my accomplishments that get stored up in my closet.

 

Cornerstones, Sept 10, 2013

 

I feel these walls are blessed now that Mom has arrived. Effortlessly she rearranges my living room and AHHH everything makes sense. I fit. Around the table we sit: my dear little Nora, Mom and Stan and Aunt Connie and Uncle Ed, my collection of kind salt of the earth parents, adoptive and otherwise. I bought a beautiful free range chicken up Commercial Drive. Such a big fat happy life that bird must have had: he was nearly a turkey. I roasted potatoes from my garden: Yukons and Russian purples, with rosemary from the deck. Fresh greens. Peaches from the market for a crumble. And Nora sang grace with us all holding hands around the table, her eyes shining with glee as she peeks her eyes open to watch her Poppa sing. I am so very grateful to have these cornerstone folk. Solid. To build a house upon.

 

The Third Nipple, September 13, 2013

 

The glamorous life. The playground Dads shyly kick the gravel around the guard rails when their wives aren’t there and I’m the only woman in the parent group. I’m the divorcee in the blue mini cooper (amongst all the mini vans) always flying in two minutes late to drop off my daughter that their sons have a crush on. We have a Japanese, Indian and Iranian Dad hanging around the bike rack today: it’s an international modern Dad festival. They all know I’ve been “in the newspaper”. It doesn’t matter they were crappy reviews, I am famous. Their wives are friendly with me, but joke that their husbands think I am “glamorous” and simply call me “the actress”. The last birthday party I went to, all the Iranian women in relatively traditional wear, nodded and knew I was “her”, that “actress” swooping in for a second helping of dolmeh. They were all very kind with me, as though I couldn’t help being an actress. The eldest in the group sat furthest away, perhaps unsure how syphilis is catching. Today the Dads are asking me when my next show is and when my movie is coming out and if they can go see it. And I tell them about the Pi Theatre show coming up and they nod with interest over the political intrigue. I want to add “Until then I wipe bums and clean toilets for a living…” but I decide to leave on a glamorous note, somehow, for their sake. I also refrain from telling them that between my rather decent cleavage I’m growing some kind of monstrous alien third nipple. I scoot down to my infamously handsome doctor right after I drop off Nora at school, and he squints at my formerly excellent décolletage, and cheerfully says, “Oh, that looks like a little cancer.” He proceeds to suggest a specialist to get it cut off. I start to laugh heartily and say, “Wait, wait wait, “that looks like a little cancer?!” can you explain, if ever so briefly, what that means for my future?” And he chuckles back and assures me not to worry, not to worry, peers at it again and goes “eww, I must admit, I’ve never seen anything quite like that before, that’s incredible. That’s huge. It looks irritated. How did it first get irritated?” And I look at him with one eyebrow cocked, “Considering my little cancer’s current snuggly location, I’m sure you can use your imagination.” Which he must have immediately done, because he turned his customary pink and we chuckled again. Ah, cancer, such a laugh! (apparently this is the kind of surface cancer you can just cut off and wave good-bye to, if only they were all that easy). I will not miss this third little nipple when he’s gone. (I figured it was a “he”) I do not need any more humbling reminders of just how fleeting glamour truly is.

 

 

Biking with Fusaylah, Sept 13, 2013

 

Now that we’re back in town we have friends again. People are dropping by left right and centre for a Fringe festival sleep over, a martini night, a Sunday brunch, a play date. I have LOTS of community! They just didn’t want to come over the Knight street bridge! Today we biked from school and back and Shiya’s Mom, Fusaylah, and her brother, Mo, biked back with us. Nora, not aware yet that it’s not necessarily advantageous to best boys at everything, out pedals Mo in her bigger new bike with her spidery long legs…and yells back “haha, I’m faster than you, and I’m younger, isn’t that weird?!” He pouts and circles back to his Mom in a show of “I wasn’t trying anyways…”. Shiya, one of the most beautiful little girls I know with huge brown shiny marble eyes and a rosebud mouth, pedals in pink, determined and smiley. My favorite vision of the day though is Fusaylah. She is in full sari and sunglasses, elegantly perched on a mountain bike (I almost expect side saddle) with her helmet topping her glorious head of dark flowing hair. Her scarf flutters in the wind behind her all Isadora Duncan newly returned from Kashmir. We settle into my little apartment and I dish out home made cinnamon buns with blackberry cinnamon sauce and give poor bested Mo the first huge piece and congratulate him on his avid reading. He immediately feels better. Nora is at full turbo now, racing from front entry to gate to patio to laundry room. There are guests! Suddenly the laundry room is the greatest show and tell ever! Coins! Soap! Noisy machines! Who could ask for more excitement? I am actually afraid, handing her the sugary bun. She may explode. Fusaylah looks around my house with interest and I’m immediately aware of the naked ladies in a poster I have above her son’s head. She’s a devout Muslim physicist who moved here from India shortly after her arranged marriage. I panic for a second wondering what on earth we’re going to talk about for the next two hours. I apologize for the poster and she says, “I don’t judge you. It does not interest me to judge you.” And then she proceeds to tell me I make baking look so easy, she’s embarrassed that she doesn’t bake at all. Never mind she does her own flat breads, chutneys, curries…and so we start with baking. Then we move onto education. Then environmentalism. The balance between parenting and career. How difficult it is to have friends and family scattered across the globe. How satisfying a good peach is. How beautiful the day.

 

Jeremy and Wisteria, September 14, 2013

I did not have the heart to leave my wisteria behind.

 

It was the wrong time of year to be uprooted. Anita and I worked hard to transplant him but he immediately withered, browned, dropped all his leaves and laid his burden down.

 

It’s a sentimental vine for me. It has always been tied to Tennessee’s Streetcar and Stella (my favorite role) Jeremy expertly cracking me open to strengthen me. The Southern belle is a hearty flower. Wisteria reminds me of old graveyards and churches, Enchanted April and the upcoming trip to Italy with Anita. It’s a beautiful melancholic plant, always hanging its gorgeous head down, reflecting, cooling, silently generous and double blooming.

 

Three years ago today Jeremy died. On the first anniversary of his death, Anita and I stood under my wisteria and remembered and wept and laughed and said things like “It will get better”.

 

Today, a few of us were able to gather as friends and reminisce. He was a fiercely intelligent loyal wildly talented man, always pondering something significant, often silent. We joked how all of us felt awkward at times with his quietude and would blather on and neurotically assume he was annoyed or bored…and then he would almost always look up and say something akin to, “you’re very dear to me” with tears in his eyes and you realize he loved you, all along, despite all.

 

I think he would be extremely surprised (as most loving people are) by how many people continuously miss him, deeply, wishing for his thoughtful conversation, his rare pained laugh, his beautiful voice, the pull of his eyebrow, his brown tweed in summer, his nod of approval.

 

I went out to my patio today to water the plants and…the wisteria…the wisteria…was full of new life.

 

The Young Man and his Skulls, Sept 16, 2013

 

I must tell you this quickly because I only have a few minutes. On my way to the market I saw the young man in the park: the one whose girlfriend broke up with him in front of my very eyes a month ago. He was sitting on a rock, alone, wearing a pink shirt and a backpack full of skulls. He was trembling. Ever so slightly. I know this because I was unabashedly staring at him. I knew he was too preoccupied with his thoughts to notice me. I was so struck by him. I wanted to sit down beside him in the green grass. In the silence. With my ear showing. I suppose he may have found that strange. This rogue mother figure with a band aid between her boobs, smelling of rosemary and burnt flesh. (I just had my third nipple removed) So, I didn’t scare him. I decided to stop gawking and continue on my way: after all, I have a dinner party at seven, that I’m hosting. Who picks out a backpack full of skulls and wears it with a pink shirt? Someone vulnerable and carrying dread, perhaps? Or maybe someone who just doesn’t think before they do things? Definitely someone in-between a rock and a heartbreak who takes refuge in public because the trembling can’t be hidden any longer anyways.

 

 

Baby Travel Kit, Sept 17, 2013

 

My friend and first boss, Wendy, owns furnished condos in the West End and she just lost her maid at the last minute. Since I was low on work I stepped in. It’s bizarre to do the same job I did 23 years ago: same apartments, same parking spots, same view, same boss, same wage, same cleaning products, same red Dust Devils, same black grime on the patio furniture, same sore hands. I’ll tell you what’s changed: my cost of living. And the clientele. It used to be all Japanese and Hong Kong businessmen and US movie stars in for film shoots. (this is when I saw Gabriel Byrne in his underwear, but I digress…) Now it’s more tech, computers, trade…no film industry, and the clients are from India, Australia, Europe, the US, and half of them – half, are women! And these traveling gals are bringing along their kids. On the welcome mat beside Mom’s power office heels are little tiny pink Crocs and little blue slippers with Thomas the Train on them. On the bedside table: piles of ipads and iphones and laptops and just enough toys to fit into a suitcase. Boy. Family life is changing. I see it right there in the baby cup and bowl travel set. Today it was a Russian lady with her Orthodox icons all lovingly placed in a corner and her children’s books in Cyrillic. I tidied lovingly, knowing her chaos was from sheer exhaustion. Lugging out my bucket and mop and bags, I turned the key in the lock and sighed, on so many levels…”You’ve come a long way, baby…”

 

Stand Up, Sept 19, 2013

 

I do apologize if this post reaches you while you are ingesting a meal but I must remark upon a terrible misunderstanding we have in our society regarding urination. It has come to my attention it is generally thought manly for men (and the odd adventurous woman) to urinate indoors while standing up. However, the entire accomplishment would be to stand up and achieve good aim at the specified target during all the various stages of release and in all states of mind, wakefulness and sobriety. This is what separates us from the animals. The ox and the ass pee standing up. It is the able bodied practiced sanguine and cocksure individual who is able to accomplish standing and achieving good aim. The rest of us are advised to sit down during the entire operation without a hint of shame sprayed over-exuberantly along the cabinet, or a drop of evidence along the basin to prove a crooked line of sighting or a pre-pubescent puddle on the floor to expose a precariously inconsistent or unpredictable flow. Sitting down should not indicate a lack of virility or ability by any means. Why should one stand if one is not 1) in danger of contacting flesh with insects, stinging nettles or predators 2) at war. Our society is frenetic and over stimulated. Why not take this urination break as a small moment to sit, relax and meditate? This is particularly advised for those who have had to give up smoking. If one is missing smoke breaks as a small “down time” during the day, this could be a healthy and hygienically sound replacement. A special note for women * It seems standing and urinating is reserved exclusively for public receptacles. I have no personal experience with the practice, but I have been one to encounter the scene of the crime after the offending sprinkler has vacated the premises. I can only guess from the wide and circular trajectory of the urine that a woman may actually stand up on the secondary lid itself, remove all clothing below the waist and urinate while rotating her hips in a “come hither” fashion. It is my personal thought that this type of “marking” is not an attempt to be hygienic by avoiding gluteal and perhaps even labial contact with a secondary lid, but a show of aggression. Though I sympathize with those who must stoop to such an activity to gain a sense of dominance, I advise therapy or perhaps kickboxing as an alternative. My advice isn’t exclusively for the benefit of the general public, but the urinater herself who undoubtedly must still end up with crusty stockings by the end of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

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