words are all i have

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The postponement of death

patti dawn swansson

I thought I died last night.

Evidence, however, confirms that I remain among the breathing, if not the living. I suppose that makes what I experienced a dream, even as it felt so very real. The shortness of my breath before lowering my eyelids was very real. Gasp…gasp…gasp. Oxygen at a premium.

I found comfort in the notion that I might never raise my eyelids again.

Why was that? Am I content with all that I have not accomplished in this lifetime? What about the unfinished 16th book, Chapter 17 this morning giving way to Chapter 18? The muse has flowed freely in the recent days passed, giving rise to an expectancy of completion in advance of another Christmas with no stockings to be hung.

Perhaps it was not a dream at all, but, rather, an advanced screening of what soon I shall live.

Only two were there to witness my walk to the other side, the loveliest of women, Sheila, and my eldest daughter, Krystal. Smiles and expressions of love and peace were exchanged as I approached the filmy, watery wall that divides the two sides of life. Yet one of them pulled me back. Which one I am uncertain, but what, of all that I have left undone, would she have me do?

Breath comes easily this morning. Purpose does not.


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At War with Words

I cannot decide
if the poet is an illusionist
or a fraud
a man or a woman
a hawk or a dove
an ocean or a pond.

This leaves me at war
with my own words
and seeking no rhyme,
for the wind that blows
in Los Angeles
is not the wind that blows
in New York City.

Ask not
that I place you
on a pedestal
ask only
how far the fall,
for that is the illusion
the fraud would have us wear.
                —patti dawn swansson/sierra

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Sleepless and drunk on world news as the beat goes on

The sirens were loud and objectionable, much like so many newspaper and television opinionists, when they first awakened me just beyond 11 o’clock, about three hours after I had lowered my eye lids on Friday night.

patti dawn swansson

They are wailing again, two and a half hours later, disturbing my sleep for the final time.

This is the worst part of living downtown. The noise. Although I normally find the small hours of the morning a time for peaceful reflection, it is different this night. More sirens. My upper body is in conflict, with pain in my shoulders suggesting I’d participated in a sporting endeavor not so long ago, and I feel hung over, which isn’t possible given that a pint of the nectar last passed my lips on Tuesday, about dinnertime. All I’ve done in the three days and four nights since is research, write and watch TV.

Perhaps I’m drunk on the news, much of which is sour and somewhat scary.

When I was a kid, we feared the Soviet Union, convinced it would lob nuclear bombs in our direction. There was a nut named Nikita Khrushchev in the Kremlin. He was the boogeyman of my youth. Now it would seem that the boogeyman lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington, D.C. Donald Trump has provided ample evidence for me, and others, to consider that he is off his nut. A crazy man with nuclear codes. No doubt he frightens citizens beyond the boundaries of the United States, perhaps not as much as many of his own people, though.

For the most part, I’d ceased contemplation of nuclear war in the 1970s. Now, with Trump presiding over the 50 United States and territories that include a weather-ravaged Puerto Rico, which he largely ignores, apocalyptic thoughts sprout again as North Korea flexes its military might and the president responds by ratcheting up the rhetoric of war.

If he has surrounded himself with women and men of sane, rational thought and structure, not to worry. Except, as he emphasized this week, his is the only “attitude” that matters. He vows to do “what’s right for the world,” because North Korea is “really a world problem.” I imagine North Koreans see Trump as “really a world problem.”

My mind is in scurry, darting to and fro, from Trump and nuclear warheads to people who like to play with guns…to ruinous, deadly wild fires in California…to ruinous, deadly weather in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico…to a ghastly sexual harassment/assault scandal that has toppled a Hollywood movie mogul…to the hate and hostility being spewed on social media, most notably Twitter. So much chaos and destruction of life, property and hope. So many days of despair.

Nothing can be done about Trump, fire or hurricane weather, and there seems an unwillingness to holster gun play, but women have risen up against sexual predator Harvey Weinstein and those of his ilk. Also Twitter. A 24-hour boycott of the social media platform by many women has spawned a promise from Twitter to be better. Less uninvited, vulgar sexual improprieties. Less hate language. Less violence. Less nudity. Less obscenity. Alas, no mention of zero tolerance.

That beat shall go on as surely as the wailing outside my window.

The sirens. The sirens. They persist. But what is there to be alarmed about? All of this is just the world being the world.

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Women fighting silence with a day of silence won’t sway Twitter

I concede that I’m probably one or two sandwiches short of a picnic.

patti dawn swansson

High intelligence has never been my thing. I’ve never sought to attain it, nor has it volunteered itself to me. On average, I was a C student in school, with no interest or desire to extend my stay beyond Grade 12. Ask me my IQ and I couldn’t tell you. And I don’t care to know. I mean, isn’t intelligence better measured by the common sense expressed in our everyday words and actions rather than a series of insignificant questions and graphics on a test?

As a woman much wiser than I whispered to me not so long ago, if you seek learning go to school, if you seek knowledge leave school.

Anyway, I mention my smarts, or lack thereof, today because my tiny brain is mildly confused.

It seems that there has been a call for action against that cesspool of hostility and scorn known as Twitter. Actor Rose McGowan, a central player in the harassment/abuse scandal that has toppled movie mogul and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, had her account locked/limited on Wednesday because she posted a private phone number. Apparently, that violates the Twitter code of conduct. (I know. Twitter has a code of conduct? Who knew?)

As a consequence, the shout has gone out for women to boycott Twitter for an entire day. This entire day.

So let me see if I’ve got this straight: Women are angry because Rose McGowan was silenced and they’re going to fight this injustice by quieting their voices. Fight silence with silence, in other words.

Well, excuse me, but that’s just—for lack of a better word—asinine.

It seems to me that this is a time for woman (and men if they’re inclined to hop on board) to raise a ruckus, not give the male stinkards who defile Twitter with their vile misogyny what they want, which is female silence and servitude. But, then, what do I know? I’m just an old lady with no more than a high school education and probably too high a d’oh quotient.

I have a Twitter account, but I am not a Twitter user in the sense that, as much as I like to see and read what others are thinking and saying, I tend not to engage in the to-and-fro banter that too often takes a hostile, confrontational turn. I find Twitter can serve as a useful source of information, and I link my blog posts to my account, but, because I learned long ago that Twitter is a gathering place for the rude, embittered and angry among us and that anyone with breasts and a vagina is a convenient target for the most crude comments based solely on her body parts, that’s the sum of my involvement.

I once was assailed in extremely degrading tones for something I had posted, but the criticism centred on my gender, not the words I had written. I yelped loudly to Twitter administration, but experienced no satisfaction in my protest. Apparently, referring to me as a female body part that rhymes with the word punt did not violate the mysterious and fictional Twitter code of conduct.

I don’t recall my response to their casual indifference, but that exchange is the reason I know a day of silence—call it a boycott, if you like—won’t sway Twitter logic.

They really don’t give a damn, but you might as well make yourself heard.

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About muzzling the media…cheering for John Farrell to be fired…Mr. Crosby goes to Washington…Rip Van Ditka…presidential word play…the Vice-Puppet takes a hike…and good and bad movies

Random thoughts before the candle goes out and the sun comes up…

So, ESPN has instructed its SportsCenter dinnertime co-anchor, Jemele Hill, to stand in the corner for two weeks due to her refusal to refrain from using her Twitter account as a political pulpit.

Jemele Hill

Already on notice for labeling Donald Trump a “white supremacist” and the “most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime,” Hill went off on the U.S. commander-in-chief’s good pal, Dallas Cowboys billionaire bankroll Jerry Jones, who cautioned his employees that there’d be hell to pay if they took a knee during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. They either stand or they sit permanently, as in not play. In a series of tweets, Hill submitted that fans objecting to the Jones ultimatum could “boycott his advertisers.”

That, apparently, was in violation of ESPN’s social media policy, thus Hill was considered a repeat offender and shuffled to the corner.

If the Hill tweets are measured as a suspendable offence, what are we to make of other sports opinionists whose take on the U.S. president and his fanatical fixation for protesting jocks is less than flattering?

Dave Shoalts of the Globe and Mail, for example, called Trump “the buffoon in the Oval Office” in a piece condemning the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins’ visit to the White House. Bruce Arthur, a very active political voice on Twitter, wrote in his Toronto Star column that “Trump is a force for white nationalism and white supremacy. You can’t find a middle ground on white supremacy. When you try, there are suddenly very fine people among the KKK and Nazis.” He also described him as an “argle-bargle-belching president” with a “canker-sore ego.” Rosie DiManno, meanwhile, used her Star soap box to blast Trump as “this most odious of commanders-in-chief.” On the night the U.S. citizenry elected Trump the country’s 45th president, Steve Simmons of Postmedia and TSN tweeted: “The saddest night in American history.”

Apparently, opinionists at the Globe, the Star, Postmedia and TSN are more fortunate than Hill. They are not shackled by the inconvenience of censure. Nor should they be. ESPN got it all wrong.

I have two words for the Major League Baseball playoffs: Damn Yankees.

John Farrell

On the matter of unacceptable commentary, surely the aforementioned Steve Simmons crossed over to the dark side when he openly cheered for the dismissal of Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell during a segment of TSN The Reporters with Dave Hodge on Sunday. Bruce Arthur suggested that Farrell “could get fired it sounds like in Boston,” and Simmons chimed in saying, “Yay.” Should sports scribes and/or talking heads be cheering for people to lose their jobs? I mean, to suggest a player, coach or manager ought to be dismissed due to flawed or faulty performance is part of the gig. That’s analysis and opinion. But for a jock journo in mainstream media to openly root for dismissal, that’s shockingly unprofessional and shameful. Purely and totally shameful.

Sadly, Simmons, who has made a living by being loud, condescending and objectionable, doubled down on his stupidity, offering this on his Twitter account: “Any day that John Farrell loses, gets eliminated and gets tossed out is for my money a good day.” When one follower suggested he get past his ugly fixation with Farrell, whom Simmons has belittled ever since the skipper defected from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Bosox, the Postmedia columnist replied: “Nothing to get over. Guy was given opportunity in Toronto. Lied to management, public. Tried to leave after first year. No respect for that.” No respect because he lied? Everyone in sports lies, including Simmons (see fake Phil Kessel hot dog story). No respect because he switched teams? Again, fake righteousness. Simmons, be advised, secretly and deceitfully negotiated to leave the Calgary Sun for the Calgary Herald while still being paid by the Sun in the early 1980s. Pot meet kettle.

I don’t know about you, but I thought the Pittsburgh Penguins-meet-the-President schmooze at the White House on Tuesday came across as very awkward and uncomfortable. It was almost as if none of the “incredible patriots” really wanted to be there, even as Donald Trump advised the gathering that “everyone wanted to be here today.” The entire scene was creepy and cringe-worthy, including Mario Lemieux’s faux smile, and it was notable that the most notable of all the Penguins, Sidney Crosby, was stuck in the back row. I doubt that was by accident.

Rip Van Ditka

What do you call someone who sleeps through an entire century? Rip Van Ditka. “There has been no oppression (in the United States) in the last 100 years that I know of,” Ditka, the former Chicago Bears coach and Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end, said in a radio interview this week. Jim Crow laws, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. tossed in jail for peaceful protests, police turning fire hoses and German Shepherd dogs on black people, Stonewall, whites-only Major League Baseball, keeping women barefoot and pregnant…didn’t happen. None of it. Rip Van Ditka later qualified his take on history and allowed that, yes, he has witnessed oppression during his 78 years walking the third rock from the sun, but he didn’t elaborate. He didn’t have to. He’d already lost the debate.

Found out last weekend that legendary singer Lesley Gore was gay. How’d I miss that? Guess I was sleeping, like Mike Ditka. Whatever, Lesley could have cried at my party anytime. Even if it was Judy’s turn to cry.

I swear, Donald Trump might just be the funniest man alive. In a warped way, of course. I mean, the president of the United States believes he invented the word ‘fake.’ He said so in a chin-wag with one of his Republican toadies, Mike Huckabee, the other day. “The word…I think one of the greatest of all terms I’ve come up with is ‘fake,'” the Commander-in-Syntax declared. “I guess other people have used it perhaps over the years, but I’ve never noticed it.” Well, yes, according to Merriam-Webster, folks have been writing about fake this and fake that since it first appeared as an adjective in written form—in 1775. Oddly enough, that’s the same year that ‘burro’—as in donkey—was added to the lexicon. What a coincidence.

Trump’s Vice-Puppet, Mike Pence, ought not be trashed for walking out of Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday after members of the San Francisco 49ers took a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner. He has as much right to protest a protest as National Football League players have a right to protest racial/social injustice. The difference, of course, is that one is a phony, staged protest meant to stoke the fires of division and stroke the ego of the man in the White House, while the other is trying to bring about change.

Fact is, Donald Trump has done more than any athlete to promote the protest movement, including the man who started it all, Colin Kaepernick. If the Commander-in-Chaos had keep his lips zipped and not called out any “son of a bitch” who takes a knee, we’d only be hearing crickets today.

My normal routine on Sundays is to lay my little, ol’ body on the loveseat and watch movies. Four of them minimum. Well, I made the mistake of choosing Failure to Launch to lead off my flick-a-thon this past Sabbath. It’s a film featuring Matthew McConaughey. I lasted less than an hour. It’s a stupid film. First of all, Terry Bradshaw is in it and he basically plays his real life buffoon self, which is stupid. Also playing himself is McConaughey, who seemingly plays himself in every movie I’ve ever seen him in, which is also stupid. I enjoy a good romantic comedy—Billy Crystal and Debra Winger were terrific in Forget Paris, and Crystal and Meg Ryan were absolute delights in When Harry Met Sally—but there ought to be a law against the kind of stupid you see in Failure to Launch and McConaughey’s one-trick-pony acting. I switched channels and watched four people on CNN engage in a rousing, 15-minute exercise in Trump bashing. It was actually funnier than the film.

My faith in quality film-making was restored shortly thereafter by I’ll Cry Tomorrow, an intense, gripping biopic about singer Lillian Roth. Susan Hayward is absolutely brilliant in the lead role. Up next was Dances with Wolves, a different kind of western that, whether historically accurate or not, was extremely entertaining. And that’s saying something, because I’m not a Kevin Costner fan. Closing the show was Must Love Dogs (love Diane Lane), which more than made up for Failure to Launch.

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Two dozen reasons to give thanks on Thanksgiving Day

Am I thankful on this Canadian Thanksgiving Day? Absolutely, and let me count two dozen ways…

  • I’m thankful that I’m not a roasted turkey on a dinner table with someone holding a large knife standing over me.

  • Speaking of turkeys, I’m thankful that the folks down south have Donald Trump and we don’t.

  • Thich Nhat Hanh

    I’m thankful that Thich Nhat Hanh has written so many wonderful books.

  • I’m thankful that I’ve heard Alison Krauss’s voice.

  • I’m thankful for the mountains that greet me each morning when I raise my window blinds.

  • I’m thankful that it’s safe for two women in love to stroll down the street in my city, hand in hand or arm in arm, and it’s perfectly acceptable.

  • I’ll be even more thankful when the day arrives that my gay male friends can do the same thing.

  • I’m thankful that someone thought it would be a swell idea to put pineapple on pizza, because I want a medium Hawaiian with extra cheese to be my last meal.

  • I’m thankful for subsidized housing for seniors, otherwise I might be on the street.

  • I’m thankful for management and staff at Bart’s Pub and the Taphouse on Yates, because they have always treated me with kindness, warmth and respect.

  • I’m thankful for Mike the cabbie and John for the giggles they give me each time they sit with me at Bart’s.

  • I’m thankful for Ashley, an unexpected and precious gift of a young lady who came into my life late and brought a special joy.

  • Wilma Rudolph

    I’m thankful that I got to watch Rafael Nadal and Bjorn Borg play tennis, Wilma Rudolph run, Secretariat run, Gale Sayers run with a football, Sandy Koufax throw a baseball, Bobby Orr play hockey and Tiger Woods strike a golf ball.

  • I’m thankful for my dearest friends in Victoria, especially Cullen, Terry, Lucy, Brian, Sean and Bruce, who have always been there, and Beverley and Davey in Winnipeg.

  • I’m thankful for my squadron of doctors, who keep an eye on my wonky kidneys.

  • I’m thankful for Jane and Mariola, whose warm smiles and continued kindness make my fear of needles disappear whenever I visit their lab.

  • I’m thankful for the angel who visits me and keeps me safe.

  • I’ll be more thankful when she tells me that my niece Darcia is safe.

  • I’m thankful that my brother Mick came back into my life.

  • The Beatles

    I’m thankful that John, Paul, George and Ringo decided to make music together.

  • I’m thankful that there’s a roof over my head, clothing on my back and food in my fridge.

  • I’m thankful I don’t drive a car anymore. It’s dangerous out there.

  • I’m thankful for Terry, Helina and Attila at Paparazzi Nightclub in Victoria for hiring me when no one else would.

  • I’m thankful that the good in life still outweighs the evil, even though you wouldn’t think it by reading and watching the news some days.