Shag Me

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I’m nine. I come home from playing dolls at Kelly Flaid’s*.

“Ma,” I say. “Kelly has carpets all in her house.”

“Tha’ right?” says Ma. “Well bully for them –  get out of your good dress. I hate those people.” Ma turns back to her Louis L’Amour novel.  “Its called wall to wall.”

“Can we get some of that?” I ask.

I’m nine.

Kelly Flaid is my idol – she has voluptuous hair, mauve velvet drapes (they drape!) and a doll display case.  I have early pattern male baldness, share a room with Granny and my dolls consist of Old Pete and a one -eyed melted creep my brother blew up to experiment.

That’s okay – I’m going to be like Kelly – we’re going to get wall to wall carpeting. The idea thrills me.

The next day Ma tells me she thought about it and I can go to the carpeting store and pick out something and she’ll pay for it later.

Did I mention? I’m nine.

I walk two miles, to Taschereau Boulevard and go through the samples in the carpet store. This is the seventies – they don’t question me as I swipe and squish and smell (!) the colored squares and flippy books.

After a long time I decide yellow because I like Big Bird.  I get the order number from the salesman, walk home, and give the number to Ma.

A month later every square inch of floor in the house is covered in long, Big Bird yellow shag carpeting.

I loved it.

Missed you, friend, a lot more than I miss that yellow carpeting.

Dawna

*names have been changed to protect the innocent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HENNA

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henna tubesWe are heading out to our Estonian friends’ home tonight. They are calling the event Burning $%/! (an homage to Burning Man). You bring stuff to burn…stuff that is vexing you & there will be printed songs to sing at midnight & a sauna (19 below zero…but, still) & Estonians have a strange yet charming tradition of throwing lead in the snow to tell fortunes. Its a pot luck so my man is making Irish soda loaves & the house smells like heaven. I’m making roasted red peppers with thick slices of garlic & cream cheese to spread on the bread. We’re also bringing henna so each guest can write an adjective on each guests’ back…& tomorrow you wake up & look in the mirror & read all the wonderful words people have written on you. I made up this game a few years ago & its kind of fun. We’re also bringing bubbles to the party so folks can make frozen bubbles. My friend Prissy* is joining us as she is single with a 23 yr old son who has his own plans ….read : Prissy would have spent NYE alone. No fun. Prissy & I have been friends since we met around the time we moved to Toronto. 2006. We enjoy lunches together & birthdays & this Christmas & now, another NYE.
This year gave me new friends, a year end rising career & abundant health. This year many people suffered globally & under a horrible US president. This year took my best friend’s health away & now she’s got to be a superwoman to move forward. To beat it. She’s 49. She will beat it. She just got her first grand baby.
Take & give.
Why am I writing this to you now? Why, when so many of us are lonely, sad & sick tonight? Because I have been alone & sad & sick on past new year’s eves & it sucks & I’m writing this so you can know that each life gets better. Each year gives & takes.
I wish you breaths of ecstasy. I wish you light. May 2018 find you seeing the world with the innocence of a child. Love. More love – so much love there are hearts out of their casing, pressed together so they beat the same. Yes, good hearts & strong health, sweet opportunities & happy news.
See you next year, my friend,
Dawna
PS: The henna word I’d write on your back is FABULOUS.
PPS: Prissy is not her name because maybe my friend doesn’t want her business smeared on the internet. Can’t blame her.
PPPS: You notice I haven’t been reaching out lately. This blog is going to be moved to a new name so it will cost a wee bit each time a reader plugs in. That way, in the future, any ass wipe who is creeping me will at least have to pay.

SHE

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Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote Women Who Run With Wolves.

If you’ve read it you know this woman takes us along the edges of something real & raw & magnificent. She reminds us how we are wild side creatures, if we only reach out & touch. That. Wild side.

In our busy lives, in this reality of schedules & parking meters & packing lunches we might easily forget that we have legs meant to run and skip and walk and dance. The quickened corners of us get wedged between credit cards in plastic sleeves.

Wightman, what are you talking about THIS time?

We are weird animals: naked & questioning & scared.

I’m fully clothed, thank you very much.

Sometimes we find our happiness for a little while. Some of us stop & do a little meditation  – that works a teeny bit. Some of us falter & fall to drink or shopping or too much food or starving. Maybe its simple. Maybe all of us need to own that we are August grapes ripening, clouds skittering, newborn babies in a vast cosmos of star dust & change.

WTF?

A few of us are special; part of the Scar Clan. My deepest respect to all women who have suffered & loved & actually thrived through suffering. As we live, the hurts add up: the train wrecks, losses, disappointments, regrets & lies.

Speak for yourself, I’m not a liar!

We survive the people who love us & leave us. Some take years to leave, some go suddenly, but none leave without a mark.

On us.

The scars we collect never go away – that’s why they’re scars. On the outside we might appear ‘happy’, but inside we walk with an emotional limp. Those damn scars just never go away.

Maybe they don’t have to.

Last week I had the honor of sitting with a broken friend who told me things so painful they bubbled up & over & out his carefully pressed shirt. His pain left his eyes leaking.

Just write ‘crying’. He was crying, for God’s sake.

My friend refuses to accept his scars. Wants them gone.

But learning to live with scars, to accept them & love them even…now that’s a choice. We can all look at our scars & cradle them, soft, like a precious baby. We can tell them they made us who we are. We can croon how our scars give us a patina & remind them how much they’re loved now & always. Loving our own scars is one of the hardest things many of us will ever do.

Want those scars. We don’t need to be victims, no, but we do have to hug our scars & accept them. As Rosie Fudge says in Life as a Pomegranate : Not bragging or complaining, but I sure do love my broken bits.

The scars are a map of Who We Were. They guide us to the land of Who We ARE & (with any luck) that glorious country: Who We Will Be.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls scarred woman : She Who is Still Standing.

Thank you, CPE…thanks for including me in your club. I can’t run with wolves, but I can walk with dogs. I’ll glow, knowing I’m in good company.

Love you, friend,

Dawna

No idea what you were trying to say. Good bye. 

 

 

Toronto Fringe 2017

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AMFOMfringePDFfrom WICKED:
 
Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!
 
It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down!
 
 
On that note I’m using this space to tell my truth, to defy gravity.
I’m in show business.
In Toronto.
You’re not supposed to tell the truth in my business. You’re supposed to pretend everything is great – we’re all friends.
 
Went to a Fringe event & a mean person (MP) corners me:
 
MP: Haven’t you put this play up before?
DJW: Yes but they were workshops & previews…I like to tweak the work until its just right, just right until it…
MP: Barb Scheffler’s in it I see.
DJW: Yes! Our understudy!
MP: It’s the Fringe, why do you need an understudy (no question mark here).
DJW: My agencies don’t want me taking time off because there’s so much shooting right now…
MP: What, so you can shoot another commercial? (scoffs) You’re work is going nowhere, you know, the good shows are the ones with young people….
DJW: Is that PIZZA? (scuttles away sideways)
 
I’m beaten today, feeling like a bad cupcake: raw in the middle burnt on the outside. This is FRINGE: shouldn’t we all try to support each other on this crumbling theatre raft floating in an ocean of Netflix & contact sports?
Why be mean?
Truth is that Fringe Toronto chooses it favorites & surrounds them with HIGH walls.

And while we’re on the subject, why make lists of ‘Picks of the Fest’ when none of the shows have been seen yet?

Do YOU ever feel beaten…burnt by a harsh system that bastes it favorites & broils its underlings?
 
Please, friends, come see this show. Bring friends. Ask your friends to bring friends.
You will not find us interviewed by media (we tried & tried).  Middle aged women like us do not get funding for marketing. 
Understandably they give funding to younger creators.
Interviews, too, are for young theatre makers or those who started making theatre a long time ago.
I stayed home with my children.
Made play dough / cut vegetables / watched Eureka’s Castle. It was my choice & I turned out 3 healthy, happy people, each making a positive difference.
And I am being punished for it.
You’ll not see A Mickey Full of Mouse on any ‘best to come of the Fringe’ list.
 
We are the underdog.
 
I am calling ALL my camp to come see A Mickey Full of Mouse.  I’m asking you to take up this banner for every time you’ve ever been left out / ignored / bullied.
This show is fun, fast, & furiously courageous theatre.
See you at the Fringe.
Love you to the moon & back & twice as much as that, friend,
Dawna

444 words

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Help us to be children in times when we don’t know how and lose our way and act out of our fears.

Every day?

I know, me too.

It’s not easy to love, but what is the alternative?

There’s love.

There’s fear.

Think about it: fear is lack of love.

Many believe there is something other than love or the complete absence of love (the E word), but love is where I try to live and love, to me, is all there is.

Whenever I eat anything sweet and coloured pink I wiggle my bum a bit while I chew and it tastes better. This is (was) a secret, until now, because it’s not grown up to act silly. It’s something I do just because I don’t always squelch the three-year-old in me.

Keeping the child in me alive keeps my writing fresh, acting vibrant and my relationships bursting with sparks.

I pray you find your light and hold it close to you; a puff of starry caterpillar, one on the edge of birthing into a beautiful prayer.

Your prayer.

But what do you dare pray for? After you have as much money as you could ever need, after your health and safety, and the health and safety of your loved ones and all the world, what is there to pray for?

The heart of a child.

You’re three years old? Remember? Or five? Life is all possibilities, when a soft breeze blows into you and you pick it up and it becomes a silly little song or a pretend or…

and you skip or jump or move your feet just because.

Try it.

Move your left foot.

Try it now?

Just a bit, so nobody sees.

Wiggle the toes.

See? Life is simple when you have the heart of a three or five-year-old child.

The tiniest bit of nonsensical fun.

Life is simple when you have the heart of a three or five-year-old child.

Tenderly, that same simple life is calling you, calling each of us.

Calling us home to the best version of who we are.

In the heart of three-year-old you there is only love and not the gaga romantic kind, no, the kind that is growth & hope & faith in something you can’t see.

Pray for the heart of a child. Choose innocence.

Right now, wherever you are, let yourself look at the ceiling or sky and feel your heart expand with golden light. Let it pour down and caress you and bless you

and, if only for a quiet second, may you have peace

may you have peace.

may there be peace.

You’re ‘it’, friend, and I love you,

Dawna

 

 

 

 

I love you, Donald Trump.

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After winning an election based on fear, how does he feel today? What do the people in his tent ask themselves about their future, and the future of everything they hold sacred?

I got a request to join a resistance group this morning.

Me?

I’m an artist, working every day on weaving words together so people come together.

Girl power.

Art or die.

I do not resist.

I wear fluffy slippers and drink coconut water.

I daily tackle writing a novel about fairies.

Fairies.

Balls of light with wings.

The new play opens in March (it’s about treating people decently).

The scrubby in our shower has a happy face, and I turn it towards me so I can smile at it every morning…THIS is how wimpy this gal is.

Resist?

How?

My dear Muslim friend who invited me to join the cause has every right to be frightened. If and when things look frightful for them, I and my family will do everything in our power to help.

But…alone, I am a grain of rice in an origami box in your chest. Snuggled up to your heart.

You get what I’m trying to say.

That this election has unsettled so many people is unspeakably wrong. What is happening in the USA? Yes, I know: and the disenfranchised and the rust belt and the

…but something like 42 percent of his voters are women!

I love you, Donald Trump.

Love is all there is.

You have stirred up a passionate fervor in people like me…a love so fierce, for all humanity, that we cannot help but be proud of being part of it all. We were all that before you, but now, now we shine. We realize how important freedom is, and we now pray, and act, in a way we didn’t before you were elected.

You have brought out the best in us.

We realize how important freedom is, and we now pray, and act in a way we didn’t before you were elected.

Because of Donald Trump I think it best we pull up our big girl and boy pants and set our compass to ‘ YES’:

YES to love

YES to faith…

faith in a benevolent universe that conspires in our favor

YES to fluffy slippers and 22 thousand reasons to stay happy.

Some say he needs to be defeated.

That will not happen. Democracy wins: Donald Trump will serve as president for 4 years.

So let’s get out the best chocolate, the favorite movies, the smiley face scrubby…look into the night.

let’s hug the children tighter, and more often.

let’s resist by being the best, for the best, in the interest of the best.

Yours in peace and always, friend,

Dawna

 

 

 

just a dog

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Her name is Bella.

‘Just a dog’ when we spot her buddy on Petfinder.com.

We wanted the buddy, but

the animal shelter says the two had been found together.

So we bring both home.

Izzy fits in right away.

Bella’s a worry wart.

She loves pieces of apple, cut up small. That’s her favorite.

When you rub her belly, she sticks her chin up into the air. Never seen another dog do that.

She sort of purrs, like a cat, when she’s earnest, which is most of the time.

Bella has to sniff the whole lower level whenever we come home from a walk. If she’s been waiting for us, she greets you with a little whistley trill, and throws herself onto the rug and spins by pulling herself.

We joke that she’s a spinster librarian. I buy her a dusty rose sweater.

Then last night @ 9:45.

My husband takes them for their walk. He carries pepper spray now, as a coyote has followed him home a few months back.

Silent. Stealthy. You can’t blame the coyote, it’s hungry. Why would a coyote be hungry in a city full of compost bins & squirrels?

BECAUSE MY FUCKING NEIGHBOR WAS FEEDING THE COYOTE and then the coyote becomes coyoteS

and winter is coming

and the neighbor MOVES AWAY and stops feeding them.

Last night Jay unclips the dogs when he gets to the porch

Bella hears something

there

beside the garbage

it’s there

on our porch

2 feet away

and there

there

the coyote takes Bella and drags her into the night.

Jay runs into the house, grabs a bat and heads outside.

I follow.

Bella! Bella !

Dog tags jingle, heading into the ravine behind our house.

Then quiet.

The night is keeping dark secrets.

We spend the night on the phone, all lights in the house on

waiting by the door for her the way she’s done so many times for us.

Waiting.

Calling (who? Division 55, Toronto Animal Services, Vet clinics, and, and, and).

Morning there is still no Bella.

One of our kids, Lily, comes over, and my husband takes the day off.

What do we DO? They’re asking me as if I know.

We’ll look in the back,  I say, in the ravine, in people’s back yards, I say.

Armed with sticks and rolling pins, we begin.

It’s raining (Bella hates being wet).

We climb over mossy fences, keep going

climb under electric wires

keep going.

one house,

next,

we’ve been in 4 back yards

Lily is ahead of me, climbing

I step

and almost fall

laying in the woods

Bella.

Here, at the end of all things, is my little dog.

My first thought: ‘She’s wet, Bella hates wet.’

Looks like she’s sleeping.

Now, if I live to be 100 I will swear, right there, there’s a purple glow over her and the second I see her body, say a quiet ‘Bella’

Hearing her name

the purple glow that is Bella leaves

so now she’s only rain and sticks and soggy ground.

We carry her home, and in the end, at the end of all things for Bella, I will not let ignorant people who feed coyotes so they lurk on your porch …win.

I am happy:

that the coyotes didn’t get to do what I spent all night thinking they’d done

that a tiny rescued rag of a dog got to live (we adopted her on the day she was to be put down)

that Bella taught one family how to love her fiercely for 5 years

that she got to have favorites, like apples, cut in small pieces.

Bella is now at the end of all things, true.

My heart is breaking.

But she taught us there is no such thing as ‘just’ a dog.

So, to the person (people?) who mistakingly think it’s a good idea to feed coyotes in a city: I leave you with a picture of Bella: happy, loved, cradled in a family who adores her.

 

rbella

Miss Vivienne

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romper-room

Do any of you remember Romper Room? The magic mirror? How the nice lady would sing

“Bend and stretch, reach for the stars…there goes Jupiter, there goes Mars…?”

I’m at the Carrot Common in Toronto. I’ve got Life as a Pomegranate coming up at the Guelph Fringe, and the new show, A Mickey Full of Mouse, opening in the spring. I’m producing both.It’s been one meeting after the next. My stomach is eating itself, I’m tired & wearing out.

It’s been one meeting after the next. My stomach is eating itself, I’m tired & wearing out.

My stomach is eating itself, I’m tired & wearing out.

Like my cell, I’m running on empty.

Not sure where to find the cafe where I’m meeting a potential print sponsor in 15 minutes.

There’s an old woman sitting on a bench. She’s dressed in tie-dye and baggy, balloon type ruby colored pants. She looks calm and kind, so I ask her directions instead of listening to my battery beep LOW! at me one more time.

We start talking. I ask her where to find such & such cafe.She asks me if I’m always this rushed.

She asks me if I’m always this rushed.

No, but…

“Slow down,” she says.

Can’t I’m a small time producer who gets zero funding from ….

“Do you remember Romper Room?” she asks me, out of the blue.

Of course!

Images of peanut butter sandwiches, crusts cut off, the glass of milk, sliced apples and the ‘board’: an extension of red and white arborite from our old kitchen table. Ma used to place it across the armchair. I’d sit, and she’d place lunch on the board so I could watch Romper Room.

The woman in the ruby colored pants and me, we’re connected big time all of a sudden. “Romper bomper stomper boo,” we both say, trance like. “Tell me, tell me, tell me do, magic mirror tell me today, did all my friends have fun at play?” Crazy, but, I still know the words. They’re etched into me; a huge part of dreamy, soft-edged early childhood.

We laugh.

The woman leans in: “I was Miss Vivienne.” She spells her name. “Remember me?”

I’m not getting it.

“On Romper Room. I was her, the host!” The woman beams at me. She doesn’t look at all like the lady I remember, but she’d old. I’m not sure there even was a Miss Vivienne, but she’s smiling, and she’s earnest.

When I pray, the face of God usually looks like my doctor, but sometimes the lady from Romper Room. Her magic mirror could see me.

“You called my name once, thank you!” I say.

“Do you really have to go to your next meeting?” Miss Vivienne asks. “I’d love to have lunch together.”

Have you ever had lunch with God?

I cancel my next meeting using Miss Vivienne’s charger to revamp my cell. We have lunch. Miss Vivienne tells me about the show’s humble beginnings. We talk about her life in the Yukon, and what it was like to be a working woman in ‘those’ days…the show took up so much of her time, she forgot to have children…they’d be my age by now.

Miss Vivienne tells me about Ayurvedic cooking, and how they feel it’s better to eat food that is not good for you than eat good for you food that you dislike.

I’m in heaven. We part, and I hug her with every innocent cell that still lives in me.

“It was lovely spending time with you, Miss Vivienne.”

That’s where she looks at me, holding my shoulders, and tells me she never worked on Romper Room.

I’m stunned.

“Good story, though,” she says. “But I feel I worked on Romper Room, you know?”

No.

Do I want her number, so we can do this again?

No.

At home, I google Romper Room.

Never was a Miss Vivienne. I’ll never know why she lied so boldly and admitted it at the end of our afternoon.

Life can be so strange.

Things happen, and we have no idea how or why.

But, this is not a sad story. For one afternoon, I remembered 4, with the board and a peanut butter sandwich, waiting for Miss Vivienne to say my name when she held the magic mirror to her face.

Glad you’re not tricksy, or bat shit crazy, friend,

Dawna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Kay

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Thank you Mrs. Kay. You had a skunk that you kept in your kitchen. A skunk named Stanley. A St.Bernard named Dutch.  A skunk smells bad even when its scent glands are removed.

The walls in your house were always shiny maybe because of the numbers of neighborhood children who you baby sat for the blue collar parents in my town and maybe from the lost ones. Like me.

And the back kitchen smells like burning oil and food dirt  and burning oil food dirt and safety and one day when I am over for dinner you bring down a box from upstairs. Upstairs of your house is silent and mysterious so you bringing a cardboard box and walking, sort of gliding into the kitchen this day stops Sandra and I from our black cherry soda drinking competition.

“I have something,” Mrs. Kay’s voice is always like tangerine colored velvet and my ten-year-old eyes do not see the disconnect between Mrs. Kay’s dulcet voice and her layers of fat, sleeves rolled up, hair always in pink curlers. “Come over here girls, something to show you.”

Mrs. Kay wears what looks like a burlap potato sack with a button on the front and always, always a floral apron on top of everything.

I love Mrs. Kay fiercely.

Sandra and I do not go over we crane our neck that black cherry soda game was going good and we have no reason to want to look at Mrs. Kay’s box even when she opens the lid and takes out a big picture.

“This is me,” Mrs. Kay turns the picture and I see a black and white picture of the most beautiful woman I have ever seen so that can’t be Mrs. Kay dirty children, two of them mentally retarded my mother tells me and one shot on the spine in Alabama protesting for the blacks to get rights and now he’s in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

The slim beauty in Mrs. Kay’s picture does not have a skunk, an oily kitchen, Mr. Kay bald, rotten teeth, work boots that stomp always a green shirt from the gas bar, Norman Kay buck teeth getting caught stealing from Miracle Mart, son a cripple.

“Who is this in the picture?” I ask.

“Told you, it’s me and I’m showing you because I was a singer in Paris and all the men loved me and I wore furs and my beaus took me out to eat at midnight.”

Mrs. Kay puffs up, “This is me. This was me, I mean.”

Then Mrs. Kay pulls her floral apron up to her mouth and her face crumbles and she’s crying into the daisies.

Sandra and I scuttle out of the room sideways, like mice avoiding an angry broom.

On my way out, I look back. The black cherry soda looks different; it has floaties in it and the bubbles are gone the game is over and not just for me but I know for Mrs.Kay too.

Thank you Mrs. Kay.

From that day on I am determined to live my best life and not get stuck in that oily kitchen with any skunk.

Life has guided me down to the precipice of being stuck.

But no.

Not me.

Mrs. Kay’s eyes taught me not to travel too far down a road that I am not in love with. Mrs. Kay’s sad eyes taught me to rise up and grab a dream like a pit bull and never let go and like a phoenix rise again and again if need be.

Tonight I am performing Life as a Pomegranate. It is the best of me, performing, and though I will never perform in Paris with a tangerine colored velvet voice I am the best version of myself when I can be a professional actor in a play I wrote from my heart.

I encourage every single one of you reading this to avoid oily kitchens…the dark demise of your dreams.

Thank you Mrs. Kay.

Thank you, friend,

Dawna