It’s funny how fast the bulldog can turn into the underdog. The creature you once feared so much you raced across the street to avoid its gaze, that you wore thick, quilted clothing with a bite free steel underlay to stop its teeth and avoided meat products so they wouldn’t smell blood now appears as a whimpering, defeated, sad hound dog. This week on TV, allowed for the first time to talk to news agencies at her own will, poor ole Sarah Palin looked disheveled, humbled and shocked that she and her running mate John McCain didn’t win the race to the White House. She, in her rediscovered consignment clothes, (don’t they have a Winners up there in Alaska?) and growing out dye job with no freebie in sight, felt obliged to defend herself against allegations that she is ignorant about government policy, fruit fly research and world geography. Not the least of which was a very underwhelming effort to convince viewers that she did know that Africa is indeed a country and not a continent, oops sorry about that I mean a continent, not a country. With the dumbing down of society it is inevitable a little stupidity is going to rub off on us all, if even for a moment, still I thought McCain’s concession speech was beautiful and gracious. If he had been half as sincere on the campaign trail and half as funny as he was on SNL I think he would have fared much better and for that I am so glad he wasn’t. It’s kind of like being in a relationship and knowing you have no choice but to break up with the guy, everything is all wrong, you can’t stop talking about how he takes you for granted, mistreats you and has no compassion, then you dump him and all of a sudden he’s a different person altogether and for a second you think maybe you shouldn’t have broken up with him. Until of course you remember the time he left you stranded in Florida with no money, no passport and no hotel. Suddenly your heart skips a beat because in an hour you’ve got a date with the new guy in town who has a great education, a way with words, is nice to your mother and genuinely seems to care not only about what you feel and think but everybody in the world . I was always told when you met “The One” you’d just know and I never dared believe them until now.
Wow, I just received a truly unexpected perk of marriage, something so exhilarating I might not get over it and no it has nothing to do with having the garbage taken out and the toilets cleaned. If anyone asks I am going to say my husband was attacked by a swarm of bees (this of course is farfetched and that’s the point, I don’t want to jinx him) and temporarily lost the ability to move his arms and use his fingers and I was given the task of filling in his ballot for the American election. In truth the absentee ballot arrived by mail and I stood looking at it for more than an hour before he came home and the headlights in the driveway snapped me out of my stupor. I had a childlike need to see it for myself, the grade of paper, the size of the names, oh just to hold it in my hands. All the memories of the Detroit news flooding the airwaves of St John’s growing up, making me believe Newfoundland was north of Florida, west of New York and pretty much the center of the universe although conversely it turned me into a twelve year old that never dared to venture up the street to the store in broad day light because I truly thought I’d get kidnapped and traded for drugs. The countless American elections, devastating and exhilarating that we could only helplessly observe and now the ballot was in my hands. I believe in people’s rights to keep their vote secret but if someone has to ask who I’d vote for, they are probably reading this column for the first time and certainly couldn’t hear me screaming “why” like a Nancy Kerrigan imitator after the Canadian Election a few weeks ago. I believe my husband felt a little pity for me and after watching me cradle the form he quietly asked “ hey, do you want to fill in the circle?” . My answer was a lightning fast “I do”, as definite as the day we married but without the hysterical laughter/crying. I took out my writing implement like it was a quick draw at high noon, like it was the fight I’d been waiting for my whole life, the wait is going to be excruciating, but at least I’m not afraid to walk to the store anymore.
I think I have died and gone to heaven, mixing my work with the most guilty of guilty pleasures. I am not proud but I have been known to indulge in some reality TV watching. You know the kind of show where you scramble to change the channel when someone walks in the room because you don’t want them to think less of you as a human because you are watching Brett Michaels hold a contest for a new girlfriend on “Rock Of Love”. The trick is to have something like PBS or The History Channel programmed in so as soon as you hear footsteps walking down the hall you just flick over (don’t for a second pretend you’ve never done it). So when I got a call to be a guest on a reality show featuring eight women from across the country who’ve had their hearts ripped out and stomped on and are ready for a comeback, I simply couldn’t resist.
So today I am in London, Ontario where the ladies are sequestered for a couple of months as they work their butts off and expand their comfort zones in order to restore self esteem, get in shape, eliminate negativity and get their mojo back. Their challenge is to write a torch song laying bare all the hurt and betrayal and that is where I come in. If you sat down and really listened to the lyrics of the songs on the radio and in your record collection you’d see most of them are about love and the really good ones are about loss of love, there is nothing like the raw material of a broken heart to fuel a million songs. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have sat down wretched with heartache only to be able to see through my tears and say, damn this would make a good song. If you are a writer there is a silver lining to just about any situation and just like anybody who can talk can sing, I believe everybody can write. It may not win a Grammy, but it’s way better than keeping toxins inside.
Watching these women conquer their fears ,writing their stories and getting up on stage to share them with the world reinforced my belief that pain is one of the best gifts you can ever get. There’s just no limit to where it can take you if you treat it with respect.