Misanthrope – Me?

“A misanthrope is a person who dislikes humankind and avoids human society. Misanthropy is the general hatred, dislike, distrust or contempt of the human species, human behaviour or human nature.”

Over the past pandemic months I have been taking in zoom recovery meetings. Invariably some members share effusively how much they miss the face-to-face contact with other members, how much they appreciate seeing the familiar faces on their screen & they can’t wait for ‘real’ meetings to start up again. 

I don’t miss any of that. As for familiar faces I minimize my zoom feed most of the time to audio only, to reduced the distraction of all those faces as they eat, drink, pick their noses, nervously flip their hair around, or, all to often, rub their faces in their pet’s fur. What’s wrong with me that I don’t feel this same emotional longing for folks?

So I looked up the meaning of misanthrope. but I neither dislike or avoid human society. I do enjoy my own company & don’t feel this emotional longing for group contact. But I don’t live alone, nor have I seen the lockdown as an excuse for not spending limited, face-to-face social distant time with friends in recovery. To be perfect freak, & shallow, what I miss about recovery meetings is the opportunity to wear a great shirt/tee-shirt to brighten the day for people.

What I don’t miss are colds & people thinking I am ‘weird’ because I refuse to join hands in closing a meeting.

Boundary 

if I could change the boundary

of what you want 

to what I have

then we might be on an equal footing

<>

your ideals are set too high

for anyone to approach 

if you could see

beyond the narrow margin of victory

you demand

perhaps it would be possible

for you to vote me into power

<>

not that I want power over you

for long

forever would be fine

but if it doesn’t work

you can reassign the boundaries

to keep me out for good

but as it is 

you keep in only what you want

to provide a tentative sense of security

<>

safety isn’t in walls or numbers

but to fearlessly let yourself be exposed

perhaps the natives 

will not attack

maybe we will be the attackers

you only have energy to lose

and nothing to gain

<>

what is holding you back

from letting us swarm all over

the body politic

all over the sacred hidden territory

free yourself of these encumbrances

this sense of inviolate sacredness

that doesn’t allow for growth 

only stern sameness

<>

surely you welcome change

or is it that you only welcome

change you can control

yet those boundaries

seem to change with each decision

letting this

disallowing that

<>

if the unwashed creep to close

push them away

draw that line in the sand

they roll around in

they won’t cross it

except with a finger or two

off with their hands

into their cups

down with their wants

up with your arms

shoot to thrill

missing isn’t half as bad

as a bullseye

even stray bullets can find a target

why bother aiming at all

the ballot awaits 

your trigger finger


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My Space

My Space

marking my territory 

even temporarily 

happens without my awareness

an automatic act

will I share a table

with a stranger

in a crowded restaurant

a stranger who has already

marked it as their territory 

with a stare

a knapsack placed just so

<>

do I want an empty seat

on either side of me

when I fly

take public transit

sit in the audience

well – yes

unless I get to pick

who invades my territory

<>

dogs mark with quick squirts

an automatic act

that leaves a message

for any other dog to read

my territory

is only mine 

as long as I am there

no trace of me

is left behind

The other day I watched a guy walking his dog. The dog stopped frequently to mark their territory & couldn’t be deterred by its master, who smiled apologetically at me for being in the way. I envied the dog that sort of bladder control. I also wondered what it expected to do with the territory it had marked. The scent isn’t like a code that can be scanned telling other dogs to back off – all they do is piss on it.

Years ago I witnessed an altercation in a cafe when someone sat at an empty table with the coffee & sandwich. Moments later someone came to the table & said that that was their table – that they had just gone into give their order. The seated person said something toe effect that was too bad. The other said didn’t you see my knapsack on the chair. Swearing ensued & sadly the seated person relinquished the table. I was hoping for at least a drink being thrown.

One of few good things about pandemic distancing is the distancing. It makes establishing physical boundaries more culturally acceptable. When patios were opened it was no longer okay to crowd so many tables together than one and to hold their shoulder bag over their heads to avoid knocking things off the table next to them.

When it was possible (remember those days) to go to a public performance, or attend a workshop I would usually get a spot with good sight lines & away from groups of people. I was never one for sitting at the table, as it were. I liked my space. 


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MISSING: 2020

I miss the smell of the restaurant – of food cooking, of someone serving the meal & taking away my dirty dishes, of being able to ask for suggestions. Taking your chicken souvlaki out of a paper bag and finding out it is pork isn’t the same as seeing it on the plate & sending it back right away. I miss plating – the art of someone else arranging food on your plate.

I missing being able to give your order at a coffee shop without having to shout through your mask & over-enunciate words like ‘sweet & low’ & having to repeat yourself as they still don’t hear clearly over the music. I miss paying for things with cash. What do people without plastic do?

I miss wearing shirts to public events, because there are no public events to wear them to. I have a wardrobe based on public appearances, even if the appearance is meeting someone for lunch or doing a feature in front an eager audience of poetry fans. The face mask has replaced the shirt, the t-shirt for now.

Shopping has changed here in Ontario. Not that I spent a lot of time in stores but I miss the sense of destination, of discovery as I browsed the aisles looking. When I do shop I am focused on what I want but there are times when going through the tables of remaindered books at Book City, or even Indigo, results is amazing discoveries. 

Not that I mind online shopping for most things & I sure do love packages showing up at my door but I miss the hunt. No more impulse shopping. No more checking every aisle in the grocery store for specials, now it’s all about following the right arrows to maintain social distance. 

I missing not knowing what day of the week it is because I’m no longer doing what I used to do every Wednesday that took me out of the house. My cell phone now tells me what day of the week it is. I think this is Monday.

Old Feet New Shoes

it’s never a fresh start

there is no clean page

no expanse of innocent white

to start in on

there is always a past 

something to remember to avoid 

lessons learned

something to escape from

to forget

to write over scribble out 

<>

new shoes always go on old feet

we stand on what we are familiar with 

bring the same skill set 

to each fresh opportunity

to do the same thing in a different place

yet how different is the place 

a chair is always a chair

lights are always lights

<>

different shades fabrics 

but new jeans are still jeans

same hair changed style

anxious for the new

as if the old 

was worthless inferior

<>

why should things last at all

the longer cars last 

the fewer cars get sold

the fewer cars get sold

the economy grinds to a halt

people are out of work

it’s all your fault

you fucking pedestrians

we’ll make narrower sidewalks 

to discourage all that walking

<>

nothing new in this same old rant 

about the same pointless crap

words won’t fuel the economy

who reads 

who listens 

who cares

nobody wants a fresh start

just new shoes

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Covid #Cleaning

I love the American spirit of independence – no one is going to tell them act to do & some of them say ‘fuck your’ social distancing even if it kills them & everyone around them. They want to die with their work boots on so don’t get in their way, you pussy, cowardly, snowflakes. Is civil war war brewing?

 

I haven’t been following the news that closely though, what I know comes from the headlines that can’t be avoided when checking the weather. I do check to see what new social restrictions I should be aware of but that’s it. As a result I am sleeping as well as I always do. But I haven’t been taking my morning walks as I usually do. 

I’ve been devoting that 90 minutes to housework. Cleaning, purging, raking, uprooting. Mon Wed Fri mornings are my covid cleaning mornings. I was hoping to alternate, one week inside, the other week outside. But this past week as been too chilly (for me) for yard work so it’s been two week of vacuuming & purging. Book shelves have gotten a more in-depth dusting than usual. Tops of window frames too. I have enough house for at least another two weeks of this & by then the curve will have planked. If not there’s always the …. shudder …. basement to be purged of those bits of wood that never did come in handy after ten years.

 

The ‘stress’ of social distancing hasn’t been bad at all. Social isolation has been easy enough as well. I have met with some recovery friends (one at a time, on different days) for social distant walks & talks. Zoom recovery meetings have been good – at least I don’t have to step back to avoid holding hands at the end of the meeting 🙂

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New Era Of Butch

I haven’t been totally socially isolated this past week. On Sunday I went for a social distant walk with a friend in recovery. We walked one of the routes I often take on Saturday going to our morning meeting. Zoom is good but even distant face to face is better. Tim’s was open too. Recovery with coffee is the best 🙂 

Rain makes social isolation much easier. So this week I remind housebound Mon Wed Fri mornings to do spring cleaning & tossing. You know those note pads, envelopes, rough drafts you thought would come in handy – out they go. If I haven’t looked at, used them over 10 years bye bye. Rough drafts of the novel’s I’ve blogged already aren’t worth the space they take. Those cables I don’t remember ever having seen for something I don’t own anymore bye bye.

The biggest release was of books I’ve read but have no one to pass them on to. Mailing them isn’t worth the expense. Carting them around hoping to find a ‘free library’ to stuff them into is more work than I’m willing to put. So into the recycle bin.

The Artist’s Way talks about letting go of things that hold us down. This stuff doesn’t have any emotional hold on me so why litter my spaces with it any more. Also I feel more focused without that layer of dust too. Cleaning & purging takes more time than just dusting 🙂 I do look through things & make quick keep or toss decisions. Donate isn’t fast enough for me. I’d rather have empty space.

Healthy wise both of us are not sneezing or coughing. I am wearing bandana or neck warmer masks when I go out, I pull them up when near people. I’ve started to give them a little squirt of cologne too just to make them a bit more e pleasant, for me. In fact I’ve scented whatever hankie I’m using for blowing my nose too. The new era of butch has arrived.

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Deprivation

Week Four of the Artist’s Way presented a few challenges. In particular reading deprivation on top of social isolation & distancing. Is editing chapters of Picture Perfect for the blog reading? What about daily meditation books? So I did a bit of a compromise – blog work isn’t reading. Editing isn’t reading. No reading in the bathroom, no reading in transit, no podcasts. No twitter or ‘tooling’ around until evening. I finished chapters in the books I was reading & stopped there. 

Some of these were time frittering at best. I have more time as a result. Some of these may become new habits. Eliminating the superfluous is freeing. When I stopped carting my iPod everywhere I felt less encumbered, one less worry. A much as I liked creating playlists etc not to have t keep refilling it is freeing. I only use it for guided mediations & podcasts. Walking without it has been a small adjustment but I feel more open to what is round me without a constant soundtrack in my head colouring everything. Plus it gives me an extra coat pocket 🙂

The chapter give lists of things to do as an alternative to reading – many of these things are showing up as suggestions for folks frustrated by social isolation. My days go by quickly enough with my routines without resorting to new activities. One of the blessings of being an introvert. I enjoy my own company. 

Thanks to social distancing artist dates have become more a spin than an actual event. I did three mornings of yard work (without iPod soundtrack). Those were 3 artist dates. I shared some selfies with my fans. Being where things grow was good in the face of the mounting covid toll. Things grow regardless of much of what is going on around me. Nature can recover quickly given the chance. The better air quality means better sun which means better plants. 

Boss of Me

John’s theory is that

our leaders are all puppets 

figure heads

who have bought 

into the illusion of power

they are unaware

that they are hollow images

taking the heat 

for the real powers

that hidden consortium 

of non-public figures

who make the real decisions

who exert the right squeeze

and our little leaders 

slump or pop up

to do what has to be done

take the blame for what has gone wrong

because leaders are just frail men

with no power to wield

no clout to get the job done 

often not even attractive to look at

thus even more believable

 

John tells me that politics 

are another form of entrainment

media fodder

to keep us diverted

from the real holders of power

so that we are amused  numbed

by the constant barrage of sound bites

cell cam videos

of presidents getting blow jobs

when they should be getting us out of wars

wherever the hell they are

because even where they are

isn’t the the real war 

it is a more elaborate movie set

with real lives being lost

to keep our attention from

what is really going on

 

John isn’t sure what is really going on

he is confident it isn’t what we see

it isn’t what accept as the truth

because there is no truth 

only monetized divertion statics

the struggle for freedom

from Tibet to Kensington market 

is upscale name branding

he is sure of that

 

sometimes I believe John

sometimes I don’t care

where do we place our faith

what is worth the energy to change

if it can be changed 

because revolution

has been copyrighted by 

estee lauder

the latest scent 

a mix of blood oil jasmine

with woody undertone

 

John is convinced 

that if it isn’t making someone money 

it isn’t going to happen

war happens because it is big business

pandemics are even bigger business

even as the population dwindles

going green isn’t happening 

because the profit margins 

are too low

some people can’t afford 

to save the planet

& that he finds is sad

I don’t disagree

when I do it starts another litany

of who runs what

who really holds the power

or if there is any power

stronger than futility

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Mask Mess

Woman wearing mask around her chin, smoking, clearly irritated she can’t smoke while wearing it. Two men in front seat of a car, masks around their chins, talking at each other. Woman pulling mask down to talk on cellphone. Me thinking maybe I should buy a beekeeper’s hat – which is probably as effective as a mask & will also be great for blocking uv rays for what is looking to be a socially distant, but sunny, summer.

Social distant stripes at registers, plastic shields at registers. I almost said cash registers but only cornerstores are accepting cash the days – bank profits will be sky high with the additional fees they collect on both ends of those transactions. Hey banks – how about waving credit/debit card fees for three months?

Walking around parked cars, into on coming traffic,  to avoid people on the sidewalks because patios, fruit market offerings are taking up so much room already. Which is worse hit by a car or covid? If they hit you will that driver’s insurance pay or can they sue you for damage to their paint job?

All these are the dilemmas of the new world we have been thrust into. I wonder how long before we have iDistance – a device that beeps when people get too close. One newish development has been the Zoom boom. Many 12 Step meetings have gone to Zoom so recovery people can stay connected – a great idea – I ‘belong’ to one such group, so far. Some wonder about online anonymity but I think in the end I’m powerless over who finds out I’m in recovery. I do think ‘the only requirement’ is sort of compromised – beside the desire for recovery one must also have a device to access online & a data plan.

We will survive but I doubt if lessons will be learned because the rich will get richer & the rest of us will be left to scramble.

(photos all north side Bloor to Danforth overpass & viaduct)
– April 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales – online

https://www.facebook.com/events/529712257592790/

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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