A Heartfelt Valentine

I can’t remember not knowing Nadine*. She’s a family friend that’s been around for so long that she leaped the hurdle of friend and became family. When pushed to describe our relationship we say “mother-aunt” because she is as close as an aunt but she has stepped in to play the role of mother when mine was unavailable. In high school, when I was learning to drive and would get lost returning from the corner store, if my own parents didn’t pick up when I needed directions, I would call Nadine’s house, hoping to hear her soothing tones while frantically searching for missed turns. Her poor husband, Nadine raised two wonderful boys, both of them thoughtful, organized gentleman, while I was a whirling dervish of chaos and even harder to deal with when flustered, sometimes Nadine’s other half would answer the phone. During those fast paced conversations where I would shriek cross streets into the speaker of my cell, demanding when I should turn, it was difficult to say who was more confused by the call, me or Nadine’s soft spoken husband who was accustomed to his calm, mature boys.

Nadine is a person who is set to “warm”. No matter the topic, she has an interested question to ask. In conversations with her, you feel important and valued. It’s a quality I strive and fail to channel. Both of Nadine’s boys have her wry, quick sense of humour; it adds spice to every conversation. Today, on this day that is traditionally reserved for passionate couple love, I challenge you to find someone who has loved you all your life, to send some gratitude and warmth to.

To : Nadine

Happy Valentine’s Day. Yours is among the voices that I hear in my heart, one of the people that no matter how old I am, truly understands and knows me. I value my relationship with you so much. I’ve always felt this way, on weekends when our families would tour gardens together and the four kids; your two boys and Diana and I, would be given the option to ride in either your car or our parents’ vehicle, I would always choose yours. Sitting in the backseat as you asked me questions about school and my friends, I felt so loved. I used to imagine how it would feel to be your child all of the time. It was marvelous.

Now that I am older, I appreciate when you accompany my mom and I to our artisan shows so I can try on beautiful clothing for both my Mom and my mother-aunt. And best of all, it gives me the opportunity to listen to your sage words. You give the best advice of anyone I know.

From : The Great Unwashed

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of ones whom I hold so dear,I am want to share with the world.

A Valentine to my Best Lady

Dear Sula*,

I love you. I love you in a way that is so fierce, passionate and big, that for a time my WASPy family expected that I would run away with you and we would live together in rapturous lesbian sin. If I was even a little bit into girls, I would have bought a house, married you, and happily eaten the questionable wild game labeled “STEAK” out of your freezer every night by now. For the record, our children would have been beautiful. Also you really need to inform the hunters who you taxidermy for that calling muskrat or coyote meat “steak” doesn’t make it so.

Each day, I grow more proud of you. Your love for your work and commitment to science is remarkable. Little wonder that so many companies want to associate you with their brand- it’s clear that you and your arctic research are going places. The only person who was surprised by your decision to go back to school was you. When you returned from your extremely successful field season, the only person who was amazed by your ability to lead a crew of five people to collect great data in a camp without running water or electricity again, was you.

Sula also didn't have electricity here. She had the gall to call her visit to this place "a vacation" despite driving on a road so rough that it blew a tire. (Photo Credit http://northofthegrid.com)

Sula also didn’t have electricity here. She had the gall to call her visit to this place “a vacation” despite driving on a road so rough that it blew a tire. (Photo Credit http://northofthegrid.com)

Sula, you have a shine, even when doing something as mundane as cooking bear pizza, which to date is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, you emit a radiance that people flock to. My most cherished memories of the past two years were the nights we spent together eating dinner then crafting by your fireplace.

Your friendship has meant so much to me. You offered your house as a place of respite when my own home became a sad, scary place to be. I can’t count the number of nights that I stopped there on my way home from work, just to spend a short time with you and Maddie, to gather enough courage to face my life. Our innate understanding of each other brought me such comfort when my whole life was in upheaval. You are my favourite person to talk about everything with because of that.

I supported and was delighted by your decision to pursue your PhD, but even still, your moving away broke my heart a little bit. Thank you so much for choosing to store your furniture at my house, sitting on your couch, in the living room of my new home consoled me. Though you yourself weren’t there, the memories we shared were; when you learned to crochet left-handed in order to teach me how, the hours you spent afterwards sitting next to me checking my growing blob of stitches, the time that I glued my hands together making a scrapbook tree out of found materials, or when I would munch on lettuce leaves ripped fresh from the huge potter that always sat in your living room.

I will hold those evenings, and all the other experiences we’ve had together, dear to me always. I can’t wait to hear of your new arctic adventures this coming spring and for our conversations and visits to come.

Love always,

The Great Unwashed

*Names have been changed because I get grumpy when even one person crashes Sula and my time together let alone the whole internet. Back off interwebs, she’s mine.

Some of my family members have a weaker grasp of technology than me, which is to say, I occasionally arrive home to find them sitting in the dark because the contractor put in fancy light switches. The following instruction is for them. If you click on the picture below, it will take you to Sula’s website of science and wonder.

Photo Credit: northofthegrid.com

Photo Credit: northofthegrid.com

Love Letters To The World

I’ve decided to start giving it away for free. Every year February descends upon us like a pack of dark, cold, rabid dogs eager to rip the frozen flesh from our cheeks during a celebration of romantic couple love. So I’m turning this month and the accompanying holiday on it’s ear. To combat the frigid temperatures outside, I am going to warm individual’s hearts, one a day for each day leading up to the mass rose genocide.

Today I’ve chosen a friend who is relatively new to my social circle; Natalie*.

Dear Natalie,

I adore you, from the top of your perfectly highlighted blonde head, (Please share the name of your salon with me again, I’ve forgotten for the eighth time.) down to your perpetually stocking-ed feet. I’m going to join my voice, with that of the masses of people who have met you and inwardly shout “She’s fantastic!” However, it’s no good to merely say those words without backing them up. And unlike the paint covered little people, whose lives you change every day, I’m able to articulate my thoughts.

Natalie you are wonderful (and slightly deadly) because you are the Energizer Bunny.

Natalie and this guy once had a race, the Energizer Bunny lost and had to go to rehab because he started using meth to cover the pain of his disappointment. (Photo Credit aylmerrunner.wordpress.com)

Natalie and this guy once had a race, the Energizer Bunny lost and had to go to rehab because he started using meth to cover the pain of his disappointment. (Photo Credit aylmerrunner.wordpress.com)

You would have made an amazing pioneer; you get up and go, go, go until you fall into bed at night. You are the only person I know who would willingly hop on a bike and have people shout at you to pedal at six am on a Monday morning. Even when I didn’t profess my love for laziness, I would never have done that.

Behind your energy is a heart that throws itself fully into everything that you do- nothing short of your very best is acceptable to you. One day, when I am old, and have figured out all of the shortcuts in the world which make things easier, I hope to do everything half as well as you do.

With that big heart, comes your warmth, this is perhaps why children and people are attracted to you, they wish to warm their hands by the fire of your kindness. Whenever I venture out into public with you, we never fail to meet someone who both knows and remembers you, this I believe, is due to your ability to always see the best in everyone. It’s a lovely quality.

Thank you Natalie, for sharing yourself with the world, keep doing so- we adore you!

Much love, and the occasional nom de plume,

The Great Unwashed

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those so fabulous that the world would be relentlessly knocking down their door if their true identity were published online.

Why Keep Writing?

Welcome to the sophomore slump. A year ago, or maybe two, three or four, you started your blog because you loved writing and wanted to share your work with the world. You were proud of what you did and had grand aspirations, however a couple of years in, it is becoming obvious that you’re not rapidly transforming into the next J.D. Salinger. With tens or even hundreds of posts under your belt and maybe even having dabbled a bit with National Novel Writing Month, you can recognize quality but are struggling to produce it. Life is encroaching upon your precious free time and it seems easy to cast your once beloved hobby aside in favor of cleaning the house, finishing that project at work or just hanging out with friends. The question which pops up is “Why keep writing?”

  1. This is what you love

You started this blog because writing was your passion. Sure you aren’t going to be the next Hemingway, but in the end, the person you should write for is you. Keep writing.

 

  1. Your words are yours and you are the only person who can share them

Everyone’s perspective is unique, no one else is able to tell your story, whatever your method of storytelling, it’s valid and yours alone to share. Keep writing.

 

  1. This is your outlet

That feeling of creativity needs to go somewhere; pen a short story, a poem, a fictional piece, a limerick, a paragraph about the Boer War, anything as long as it lets your express who you truly are. Keep writing.

 

  1. Real work, house work and even friends can wait

Jobs are important, but so are hobbies, take a break from that project. Use that fifteen minutes set aside for housework to write- you can sleep in dirty sheets for one more night. Remember the dirt hypothesis; you’re actually protecting yourself against developing allergies. No doubt your friends are among your readers so they’ll understand if you need a half an hour to create. Sometimes life can wait however that perfect paragraph will only dance on the edge of your consciousness for so long. Keep writing.

 

 

  1. Practice makes perfect, or at the very least makes better

No piece is ever perfect, but through persistence and hard work, taking the perfectly formed words from your head and putting them on the page or screen becomes easier.

 

 

  1. Even if you don’t enjoy what you wrote, someone will

My most surprising discovery over the past year and a half has been that the posts which I’ve hated, that felt forced or boring, received as many “likes” as those that I’ve loved. Even if you don’t like it the words you’ve penned, someone else will. Share all your words with the world and be surprised by the reactions you receive. And above all else keep writing, this is your passion so it deserves your time and care.

 

This post is dedicated to my friend and reader Natalie*, who patiently waited for me to get ready yesterday morning because I chose to write rather than get dressed for our outing together.

 

 

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of understanding people who make a point of telling me they like my work.