thewren

my forays through love and other gastronomical stories

The Lesbian Chronicles: You Reap What You Sow. — November 28, 2017

The Lesbian Chronicles: You Reap What You Sow.

I am co-habiting here in Montréal with my Mother due to a confluence of events much too complex to write about today, better saved for that proverbial rainy day blog.

Here is my mini version:

Years ago in a different time and place I was a practicing Buddhist. When the day arrived for my naming ceremony I felt quite hopeful, as I was attempting to rename myself from my given name of Rhona and my adopted name of Katharine to something else altogether.

I entered the temple and waited patiently for my turn, and hoped the Buddhist Name Goddess would be kind. My teacher gave me a blessing and named me ‘Sawjack’. I asked my teacher what my name meant and was told ‘You reap what you sow’. (This is where you insert that creepy music from the movie ‘It’ when the clown is about to do something very very bad.) At that time I didn’t understand the ramifications of reaping what you sow, today I most definitely do.

I have up until recently chosen only powerful but cruel women. Truth be told, their cruelty turned me on, but only in limited quantities. When they acted according to their character, I demanded that they treat me with kindness instead of cruelty.

“How did that work for you?” You might ask. “Not so well!” I answer. So here I am, living in Montreal with my cruel and powerful mother and certainly reaping what I have sowed which to be honest, is mostly manure.

C’est la vie! I have learned a lot and continue to do so. I am one of those irritatingly optimistic people who believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

‘Till next time,

K.A.L.

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Shadows And Light — April 15, 2017

Shadows And Light

Recently  I made a video of myself reading one of my stories and frankly I was quite dismayed. I wasn’t sure who I was looking at, certainly this person on the video did not match up with the image I have of myself.

This was the first time that I had ever seen myself on video and frankly I was more than a little disturbed.  I did not like at all how I looked, or more specifically how I spoke. In still photography I look fine, because I can smile like everyone else, I’m just not able to smile with my teeth showing. On video however, I can see that when I speak I certainly do not speak as most people do.

I have Moebius Syndrome, or Moebius has me. Regardless of the how or by whom, having Moebius means that some muscles in my tongue do not function, forcing me to speak differently than the norm.

In my community which includes healers and therapists; there is a movement to look toward the light, believing that if you are in the vortex of positivity you will be rewarded with all the riches, healing and love that you have been longing for.

I have toyed with these concepts for a while and find them lacking. Here is why –

If I can’t make peace with my flawed mouth then I will have failed and the kingdom of heaven will then be permanently closed.

In my opinion however, this concept of praying away the shadow only forces the shadow deeper underground. I  am a perfectionist. I can never not be one, perfectionism is written in code into my DNA.

Now how can I make peace with not looking perfect?  I can’t. What I can do is this. I can finally make peace with never being normal and make peace with not looking nor sounding like Joni Mitchell (my heroine). Then paradoxically I can relax into me, because I just gave myself permission to love and accept my unyielding perfectionist self.

So I am loving the hater part of me instead of shaming the hater part of me into submission and into the shadows where she has lain waiting, always waiting to find another opportunity for self abasement.

Accepting the all of me just as I am: the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Forgiveness — September 12, 2016

Forgiveness

 

Definition of Forgive

1: to give up resentment

2: to grant relief from payment

3: to cease to feel resentment

I have had such difficulty writing this piece. I wanted to give all of you something perfect and shiny and bright. I wanted to wrap up my story with silver ribbon and a blue box from Tiffany’s.

Instead you are getting my truth which is not wrapped with a bow but in yesterday’s newspaper, and I didn’t even use the cartoon section for the wrapping, but the obits.

The greatest sorrow of my life has been my relationship with my mother. My first days of life were spent in an incubator in the ICU department of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montréal, where my mother abandoned me for a business trip with my father to Québec City –

” Why would I have stayed with you in the hospital? said my mother
The nurses were there!”

Late this summer when I told my mother I needed to stay with her for two months due to my untimely exit from the apartment I had shared with my now ex – partner Lorraine, her response was less than enthusiastic. I ignored her non response, and proceeded to annihilate what was left of my fantasy mother by asking her to come back with me to Toronto so that she could help me deal with the unpleasantness brought on by my exit from my aforementioned apartment.

“You know I’m not good with that stuff!” said my mom.
“Mommy!!! I need you!! I need you now!!!!” said desperate me

“I need you mommy!” was now looped through my brain and played non stop throughout my day, like an itchy ear worm.

I couldn’t stop myself. I understood intellectually that I did not win the good mother lottery prize but emotionally I was still just four years old, begging my mommy to come to my tea party. She never came and my Barbie’s had to drink their tea with just Ken and me for company.

In my desperation I called a psychic I saw advertised on my Facebook feed. Rachel told me I needed to forgive my mother before I can move forward. Really? This is what I paid five dollars for? ( It was a special offer.)

How do I forgive? According to the Miriam Webster – I need to stop feeling anger toward the person who wronged me.

I have tried repeatedly to do just that. I really have. I have gone to therapy for years with hopes that I could come to some type of peace with my mother. I have talked incessantly about my situation with Jodee, my long time therapist. I thought I was making slow but steady progress, but in Montréal all healing went to hell in a hand basket. I felt unhinged, as if I literally was coming apart. I was desperate for my mother to take my face in her hands and say –

” Don’t worry Katharine, I got you”

I so wanted my mother to create a safe space for me in Montréal, even though that had never happened on the thousand trips I had made to Montréal previously. I didn’t think I was asking for much, just a drawer to put my clothes in, and an acknowledgment that this was indeed a scary and difficult time for me.

As a child, I did not enjoy Halloween, as dressing up in costume made me anxious. I lived with parents that put on masks every day when they went outside our home. Just like the parents who caution their children to use their inside voices during school and synagogue; my parents used their inside face with me, and their outside face with others. The mask they showed to others was so radically different than the one they showed to me at home, that I am still disturbed by masks of any kind, knowing what danger can lurk beneath.

I tried this time, I really tried to make believe that I could calm this frightened fragmented inner child of mine, but I, like my mother before me, threw baby Katharine out to the wolves. I could not console her and I let her rage at being abandoned take me over.

I so wanted my mother to come to my rescue, just this once.

I kept on repeating:

” Mom, you can redeem yourself for all the damage that you have done before, all I ask is that you create a safe place here for me to rest and recoup until my new apartment becomes available in November.”

And each time I begged and each time I pleaded, I lost a little bit of my soul and a lot of my dignity but I could not help myself, so desperate was I to be seen. To make matters worse, as a retired psychotherapist, I understood intellectually that my mother was not ever going to give me what I needed, and in fact took pleasure in seeing her former jappy princess daughter reduced to sleeping on her not so comfy couch, but I was not able to make my brain meet my heart.

Weeks passed in this way, and then my birthday happened, or didn’t happen, to be more accurate.

I had spent the weekend before my birthday celebrating with my close friend Marcus and his family. Before meeting Marcus I had an idea of what familial love should feel like, but did not have a body memory to go with it. Thanks to Marcus and his family, I have experienced love as a felt sense. To celebrate my birthday, they surprised me with a weekend at the splendid Hovey Manor, located in the Eastern Townships.

When I came back I made the mistake of sharing my joy with my mother. If any of you here tonight are familiar with the reality TV show Survivor, whenever the winner of a reward challenge gloats about her reward, the people left behind become angry. I came home so happy, I forget my own rule about keeping my joy contained so as not to risk my mother’s wrath.

Too late.

Now I was to be punished, and since the punishment level was in line with my joy, the punishment was extreme. My mother decided to banish me from her kingdom which meant that my birthday would not be acknowledged.

No birthday cake. No birthday card.

” But I’m sixty, Mommy!! See me! Celebrate me!”

And my shame at my bottomless need to be seen by her, obfuscated my otherwise sound judgment.

And still.. and still.

I’m now back in Toronto, safely ensconced in my new cozy apartment. Every morning before I get out of bed, and every night before I go to sleep, this agnostic Jew prays to the Divine Mother and my Guardian Angels and anyone else I can think of, saying my prayers out loud because I don’t want to take any chances on any unseen helpers not hearing my forgiveness plea.

“I release you mother, and the hold you have on my heart. I am going to do my best to stop blaming you for not being the mother I so desperately wanted, and to try my best to live a life unencumbered by my old friends shame and blame. Please dear Mother God send me your love and healing and if you’re feeling really generous, please send me my Beloved. I am ready to receive her now!”

Hopefully these prayers will help me this month when Chanukah comes around, so that when I light my Chanukah candles sans Maman, I can take comfort in knowing that like the Maccabees before me, I have won the battle even though I have lost the war.

Longer — September 24, 2018

Longer

All I have ever wanted, as far back as I can remember, is to be someone’s wife. I understand that’s not an aspirational dream for most women but truly, all I have ever wanted was to belong to someone, to look across a crowded room and allow my eyes to rest on Her, my person, my bashert, my safety net, my beloved.

I have spent my lifetime chasing hope through heartache, always believing I would find Her when I was thin enough or accomplished enough or normal enough.

Perhaps if my Moebius Syndrome issues, (gifting me with my crooked smile and eyes that can only focus straight ahead) had magically disappeared, leaving with a dazzling smile and an ability to wink at Her in line at Starbucks, then maybe She would have showed up long before.

Oh how I wish I could wink!

Lately I’ve been reflecting on love, via my past relationships. It seems I was always only halfway in, never fully trusting in our love, always doubting my choice, always hyper alert waiting for my ‘true’ love. The one that could make my heart vibrate like a tuning fork to her personal heart song.

I’m sixty-one. I’ve given away my virginity, my innocent heart, and my declarations of love, but there is one thing I’ve kept for ‘Her’ and his name is Dan Fogelberg.

Are you confused with my last sentence? I’m saving a man for my potential wife? Before you get too excited, I’m not into threesomes or any other sexual variations other than Her and me. I’m saving a song from Dan Fogelberg. That’s correct, a song.

Way before I understood that I was a woman loving woman kind of woman, I loved music. I came of age in the seventies and fell in love with James Taylor, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Dan Fogelberg. They weren’t just singers, they were modern troubadours.

Dan in particular spoke to me, his songs of love and longing resonating deeply with my soul. One song Dan penned stood out amongst all the others.

The first time I heard ‘Longer’ I was in my father’s copper coloured ’65 Caddy that was so large it had foot rests in the back seat. I had borrowed his car to go to my favourite record store in Montreal. It was downtown on Parc Avenue and it was a challenge to park my dad’s boat of a car on the street, but I was determined to buy the new Dan Fogelberg ‘Phoenix’ that had just come out on 8 track tape.

I made it safely to the store, bought the tape and ran quickly into the car so that could listen to Dan in private, and in stereo.

I was a little disappointed in his choice of material until track number 7 came up. The lyrics to ‘Longer’ made me literally sit up straighter in my seat so that I could listen more intently.

‘Longer than ther’ve been fishes in the ocean,

Higher than any bird ever flew,

Longer than ther’ve been stars up in the heavens,

I’ve been in love with you.’

His lyrics and accompanying music were simple, elegant and moved me to tears, which was a rare experience for me as I had closed down my heart years ago.

I knew that this would be the song I would play for my beloved when I found Him, because I still did not understand that my true nature had a more sapphic bent.

Time passed; I had boyfriends, got married, then divorced, met a woman, had my heart broken, began dating again, had other girlfriends, and all through these relationships I held off playing the song for any of them. Something somewhere deep inside of me told me that they weren’t the One worthy of ‘Longer’.

I have upgraded from 8 track to cassette, and now the song has been saved on my iPhone. I have been tempted only once over the last almost thirty years to play the song for this devastatingly sexy woman named MJ, but I restrained myself, and restraint does not come easy for me.

I am a true romantic and so want to give my beloved something I have held onto for thirty years to share with her alone.

I have come to the final chapter in these Chronicles, still single, often struggling, but coming to know my own heart better and better.

I’m trying as best I can to keep my heart open, so when that still devastatingly sexy aged dyke finally enters my orbit, and we are intwined in her bed, I can turn to her and say “Darling, I have saved something for over three decades that I need now to share with you.”

‘Je pense que vous avez toujours.’ — September 21, 2018

‘Je pense que vous avez toujours.’

Many years ago when I was young and almost beautiful, I spent a summer in Europe meandering through towns and villages. I went shoe shopping in Florence, found this tiny cafe in Paris that served the most delicious croissants, and even visited the oldest synagogue in Rome, where I sat quietly feeling the prayers of the thousands who had come before me.

Eventually I landed in Monte Carlo where I was to meet up with my mother Honey.Honey liked to go out clubbing and so after a late night dinner, we went to Jimmy’z where I would dance all night long.

It was there that I met a Russian magnate named Harry who proceeded to wine and dine my mother and me the entire week that we were in Monaco. Harry owned a conglomerate of hotels all over Europe and happened to show up in Monte Carlo to scout out possible new locations for his growing empire. I liked him well enough, and certainly enjoyed the flowers and gifts he would bring me each night, but I did not want to live in Europe (nor be straight, but that is another story all together) and so bid him adieu.

Months later a postcard came in the mail. It’s interesting to me that I still remember this moment so well, when so much of my life I have forgotten.The front of the postcard featured two white persian kittens, on the back was written a single sentence, ‘Je pense que vous avez toujours.’ (I think of you always) no name, no address. I had a feeling the postcard came from Harry, it was stamped from London, but I had misplaced his number so I could not respond.

Flash forward many many years later, September 21th is the birthday of someone I loved very much a long time ago and though we do not speak anymore and she is not a Facebook fan, so will more than likely not see this posting, ‘JC. Je pense que vous de temps en temps, Joyeux Anniversaire’

Berkeley Hills — September 9, 2018

Berkeley Hills

thewren

I’m sitting cross – legged on my best friend Nile’s wooden rocking chair, cocooned in a faded indigo coloured blanket that I’ve wrapped around me twice for comfort.

I’m watching Beau, his family’s chocolate furred puppy breathe,

In – Out – In.

In – Out – In.

Sunshine spills out from a cloudless sky. I watch as little teardrop shadows appear on the stone steps in front of me, reflections from their newly planted orange tree.

I release the blanket, pluck an orange off the tree and eat it, letting the juice spill from my fingers onto the steps, creating a chiaroscuro on the bleached white stone.

Nile’s daughter Ruby comes outside to see if I’d want to bake a chocolate cake for dinner.

I reply in the affirmative. I love the alchemy of baking, creating something delicious that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.

Together, Ruby and I explore the far end of the vegetable garden, where we…

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Berkeley Hills — September 3, 2018

Berkeley Hills

I’m sitting cross – legged on my best friend Nile’s wooden rocking chair, cocooned in a faded indigo coloured blanket that I’ve wrapped around me twice for comfort.

I’m watching Beau, his family’s chocolate furred puppy breathe,

In – Out – In.

In – Out – In.

Sunshine spills out from a cloudless sky. I watch as little teardrop shadows appear on the stone steps in front of me, reflections from their orange tree.

I release the blanket, pluck an orange off the tree and eat it, letting the juice spill from my fingers onto the steps, creating a chiaroscuro on the bleached white stone.

Nile’s daughter Ruby comes outside to see if I’d want to bake a chocolate cake for dinner.

I reply in the affirmative. I love the alchemy of baking, creating something delicious that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.

Together, Ruby and I explore the far end of the vegetable garden, where we find some rogue blackberries that have crossed over from the yard next door. We concur that blackberries are the perfect fruit for decoration.

I love being here in Berkeley, being part of a family, albeit temporarily.

I step into the kitchen to wash the blackberries and notice an envelope written in black ink on their grey marble countertop:

The Coen – Tanaka Family

An involuntary sigh escapes my lips. I’ve been waiting my whole life for a place to rest my little heart, to become part of something bigger than myself, to create a union of souls.

She + Me = Family

My holy trinity. My longed for wish. My deepest desire yet unrealized.

Perhaps she’ll arrive tomorrow, sitting tall upon her white horse, perhaps she’s directionally challenged like me, and has lost her way.

I put my hand on my heart to right myself, telling my battered but not broken heart that all I need is here in this house, nestled into the Berkeley Hills.

I retrace my steps, slip back into the rocking chair and begin to twin my breath with Beau’s,

In – Out – In.

In – Out – In.

Katharine Angelina Love

This Little Life Of Mine — August 30, 2018

This Little Life Of Mine

I was 41 years old, desperately unhappy in my marriage but terrified to leave. I was never taught the basics of living due to my chaotic family of origin. I knew I must leave my abusive husband but one of the many reasons I felt I couldn’t leave was because he often cooked and I did not. I knew how to make reservations and to purchase take – out food, but aside from scrambled eggs, I was lost in the kitchen.

One day my best friend (and lover, it was complicated) Wendy came over to my condo with her daughter to enjoy a swim in my pool. In the pool where I felt safe the water would hide my tears, I told her that I couldn’t possibly leave Bob, I didn’t even know how to cook. She told me just to open my fridge, and start there.

Fast forward twenty years, divorced, out and proud; I now know how to cook and try hard every day to  stay focused on the present moment and not get lost in the fear of tomorrow. Along the way I have healed my forty-six year dance with disordered eating, have lost over 60 pounds and have begun walking seven to eight miles a day to the delight of my circus puppy Lucille.

Today I’m making a chicken stew and listening to Joyce Maynard’s heartbreakingly beautiful Spotify choices, including Maura O’Connell singing ‘The Water is Wide’, feeling so grateful for this little life of mine.

Leaning In — August 28, 2018

Leaning In

Tuesday night. I have the apartment to myself as my mother is away at my sister’s country house for her birthday. I am, of course not invited on this mini vacay as I am the proverbial black sheep of our small family.

I was lying in the bathtub earlier this evening when seemingly out of nowhere the urge to succumb to the water took me over.

“I could just let go” I whispered to myself.

I am in so much pain here in La Belle Province. I have no agency, no love, no money.

There is literally no room at this inn for me. I have tried everything I can to connect to my mother and as fortune would have it, I include my sister in this clumping of grief since her absence and unwillingness to work towards a détente continues to deliver bonus amounts of distress.

I have cleaned and organized my mother’s apartment from top to bottom (This was a challenge for me as cleaning is not my raison d’etre) only to hear her exclaim  “It’s too neat, I can’t find anything!”‘

I’ve had the exterminator over three times because the apartment was infested with bugs. Her response “I don’t see any bugs!”

“Okay Mom, when the bugs start crawling up your bum you’ll feel them!” Was my over-reactive response. But that was then, this is now.

After almost nine months here in hell, where cruelty is the currency that is most often played, I surrender. I just can’t continue crying and trying and begging and pleading to please please try to be kinder, just this once.

Perhaps just one little dandelion puff of kindness would suffice for the small desperate child that lives inside of me, that one chance to be seen and heard.

What I do know for sure is the toll it’s taking on me to constantly console my inconsolable three year old is enormous.

But here I am and I do not want to die, I just want the pain and my neediness to cease, and if not to cease than to just let up. But the pain will not let up until I lean in.

I’ve got to lean in to my pain as if my life depends on it, and truthfully it does. I believe it was not an accident that brought me here to Montréal. I believe it was divine guidance offering me this opportunity to release a lifetime of rage, disappointment and discontent.

I have until now disowned and disconnected from my shadow feelings, those darker emotions that I have put on partners but never claimed as mine.

I am making slow progress but progress nonetheless, at waiting and breathing for five seconds before responding and in those five seconds feeling all my stored up rage and grief at not being loved that way I thought I deserved.

This five second delay is how I healed my 46 year food addiction, by breathing into those five seconds and asking myself if I’m truly hungry or experiencing an emotion that needs to be felt and not pushed down with pizza, popcorn and Pepsi.

I am ‘woke’ now, as the kids say. Truth, I have no family. But here is the good news, the actually fucking fantastic news:

I have myself.

Finally after a lifetime of self – abandonment, I got me. I’m both the Sonny and the Cher. (For those under fifty who are reading this, go to YouTube to watch Sonny and Cher perform the song ‘I Got You, Babe’)

And right now, in this moment, me is my place to be. So I shall exit this tub, feeling grateful that I can feel and lean into my grief, because for so long I felt no thing at all.

Here and Now — August 26, 2018

Here and Now

here and now

beloved:
i have waited
heartbeat by heartbeat
for you.

now
you are here

my fervent prayers
to the goddess aphrodite
heard and delivered.

i love
dropping in
to the
very deep of you,
feeling joined in a way
that feels ancient
yet entirely new,
my own unified theory.

your large hand
on the small
of my back
reaching all the way
in
to the ragged
parts of me
soothing and softening,

then like a sorcerer
you delicately
use those beautiful
strong fingers
of yours magically
releasing my long worn
protective breast plate.

at long last
i can
breathe,
in to you.

your body
covering mine
shielding me
from all that
could ever harm.

i feel you here –
a heart without question
someone to watch over
me.

katharine angelina love

This is what is means to be humane, to be human. — August 13, 2018
Little Girl Regrets Eating Wasabi — August 10, 2018
Lucille vs. the Acorn —
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