FEELS, SOUNDS

My Mother Was a Karen

Years ago, I once saw a loudmouthed nonagenarian on a streetcar in Toronto who shamelessly (and very audibly) insulted every new female passenger under the age of 45 by calling her a “whore” (for no reason at all), and similarly greeted all the non-Caucasian commuters she saw with the N-word. I saw more than a few cranks and oddballs on Toronto Transit Commission vehicles during the number of years I lived in Hogtown (aspiring hip-hop artists are a dime a dozen on the subway), but that woman in particular sticks out in my memory more than most. Her overall appearance and demeanor were very reminiscent of the titular character from filmdom’s forgotten classic Throw Momma from the Train. Nobody threw her from the streetcar, though. Not even the driver, despite being well within his authority to eject her from the vehicle. In fact, most people just wrote her off as a loony old crone and ignored her. Canada is chill like that.

But I remember the way my heart sank that day, with the realization that a certain someone I knew would eventually turn into that loony old crone. My mother lived her life according to opinions (which she always had and always expressed) about how things should be, as opposed to what is. As if Nature was somehow obliged to give a damn about her opinions. There was only one right way to do things (her way, of course) and a countless number of other ways, all of which were wrong. Hence she was seldom happy and lived her life in a near-constant state of resentful disappointment.

Among her favourite things to whinge about was the manner in which contemporary Canada has deviated from the Canada of her youth. She once complained bitterly in a public place (within plain earshot of at least a few people) that there weren’t enough white faces on TV anymore. One of the most embarrassing moments of my life, bar none. But not at all the most shocking. She said shit like that in private all the time. That’s actually how she thought. Novel things unfamiliar to her fourteen-year-old self (such as an evening newscast featuring an ethnically diverse and gender-balanced team of anchors and correspondents) tended to greatly upset her.


The very essence of Karenhood is the inability to grasp this teaching.

Nonetheless, we can learn as much from the fools as we can from the sages, and my mother was a shining example of what not to do. Pretty much every waking nanosecond of her mortal existence was wasted either worrying about the future or pining for some la-la land of the past. She was never in the present. Ever. The whole concept of BE HERE NOW was completely alien to her, and it showed. She went to her (early) grave a frazzled wreck.

Not sure if that’s a bad thing or a not-as-bad-as-you-think-it-is thing, if I’m being honest. Given the timing of my mother’s passing, I can easily see how things could’ve been much worse. I just can’t picture her outlook becoming rosier at the onset of senile dementia. If anything, she’d become the extreme opposite of rosy. Am I supposed to feel bad about missing out on all that? And forgive me if this sounds crass, but I’m really struggling to find something to complain about this shiny new guilt-free and judgement-free life I’m living these days. It would be great if I could have a war-and-pestilence-free life to boot, but you can’t win ’em all.


FEELS

Um, Yeah. About That Mob of He-Karens Who Terrorized Ottawa

Consumer tastes have changed. The once-lucrative (and unfortunately tax-free) business of peddling anti-gay hysteria from the pulpit suddenly doesn’t fill those collection plates the way it used to. So it’s been replaced with anti-vaccine hysteria. Same rancid milk, different witch’s tit. There are probably other issues at play here* which I shan’t elaborate on, but that’s the crux of it.

P.S. This is your pastor underneath that Brooks Brothers suit.

* Remember those preppy guys you used to know from high school who “ruled” the school? You know, the ones who had this whole attitude that they didn’t have to work hard or put any kind of effort into life because they figured they could just coast by on their looks, charm and connections? Um, yeah.

FEELS

A Pair of New Year’s (Writing) Resolutions

I have so far made three attempts to compose a work of fiction. Four, if you count that one I worked on for a couple of weeks in 2013 and then quickly abandoned. All of them were set either on another planet or in some kind of alternate reality, and I didn’t finish any of them. This particular genre is evidently a lot more difficult to write in than most people realize. It helps to adhere to a few guidelines of some type or another.

In addition to Kurt Vonnegut’s ever-useful eight rules of short story writing which I elaborated on earlier, I’d like to add two other rules of my own that I’m presently applying to my fourth (fifth?) literary attempt. The more practical writing experience I get, the more I realize how important these guidelines are. Especially in the speculative fiction genres, where the temptation is always there to go nuts with the worldbuilding.

  1. Do not edit as you write.
  2. Do not exceed 100,000 words on the first draft.
A scene like this, for instance, should not be vividly described in loving detail in prose fiction, unless it’s somehow relevant to the overall plot.