This Is Why I Don’t Like Being Hugged.


This is not a new phenom for me. It’s been this way since… probably before middle school. Because, it was never just a hug. It was political. Or sexual. Or forced. Or unwanted. Or fake. But worse than that, for me, it pretty much always turned into being sick. And besides all that, I’m tall, so whoever is hugging me feels the need to reach up and get the crook of their arm around my neck and drag me down to their level! Or curl their shoulder cap up under my throat, strangling me.

Hugging, to me, is VERY INTIMATE. Yes, I needed to shout that. I don’t care for this “touchy, feely” part of society I’m apparently a part of. A lot of it seems so forced, so fake. Like it’s just what we do now. Even in primate packs, physical affection/grooming is reserved to members that are known to each other, comfortable with each other.

I say, “NO!”

As a member of a 12-step group, I would consistently sneak in through the kitchen at the meeting room, rather than endure the gauntlet of “Greeter” hugs that awaited me should I go through the front doors. And it always turned into a competition of who could grab me before I protested. “BUT WE LOVE YOU!” Like somehow if you just exposed me to the same uncomfortable behavior I would give up and accept. Capitulate. Just go with the flow. Resistance is futile.

My Western Civ teacher in college told us how he thought we shouldn’t say “I love you” too much. His belief was that by saying it over and over and over, at any time, for any reason, diminished its meaning. I kinda agree. On the flipside, I don’t think you should be stingy with saying “I love you” to those you really DO love. Especially children. They do need to hear it, and when you say it, you need to look in their eyes and mean it. I feel the same way about hugging.

And then there are the conversations that people had about my dislike of hugging.

“Oh, she’ll learn, one day.”

“It may take a long time, until she likes herself more.”

“When she sees what she’s missing.”

As an adult, I make sure that I get permission if by some crack in the cosmos I feel like hugging at that particular moment. Even I am struck by sentimental thoughts sometimes. At a party at our house one Christmas, my friend and her family were saying goodnight, and I leaned down to her oldest, to get on his level (who must have been 10 or 11 at the time), said how glad I was that he had come, and could I give him a hug? He immediately said “No!” and I said, “Fair enough! Would it be OK to shake your hand then?” And he gave a little smile, and we shook.

This is MY body. No one else’s. I have never had autonomy over it, never felt comfortable to say “no.” Didn’t feel I ever had the right to not let someone touch me, or put me on their knee, pick me up, stroke my hair, “you’re such a pretty little girl!”

As if that makes it OK. Oh, I’m pretty! OK, then, I guess I am just an object for you to do with as you wish.

Maybe then, pal. Now, it’s over my dead fucking body.

When I hug you, I really mean it. If I hug you, it’s real. Like my husband’s hugs. Pure magic. But they are borne out of trust, respect, love, consideration, and time. They are intimate.

Last week, someone hugged me (I couldn’t cut it off at the pass) and held on. It was nice, fine, they told me they missed me, etc., and then let go. Then ten seconds later, mentioned, “I’m not feeling great tonight.”

Fuck. Literally, just fuck. Cue up 36 hours later, my nose is stuffed, throat scratchy and coughing, headache.

FIVE DAYS OF THAT CRAP. For one ten-second hug.

I ask you, is it really worth it? To me, it is not. I know you like me. You care about me. Then hold out your hands. Chances are, I’ll let you take my hands. Squeeze them. Look into my eyes and tell me what you have to tell me, and I’ll return the sentiment. We can smile, maybe I can touch your upper arm gently, or you can touch mine.

And then, if it’s cold and flu season, I can go wash my hands. Please don’t take it personally.

Six years.


I’ve been feeling “off” for about a week. As if something were approaching, or something I’d forgotten was supposed to happen.

I couldn’t put my finger on it. But I tried to experience it differently. I wanted to actually feel whatever emotion was being brought up, instead of stuffing it down with work, TV, food, Facebook, etc.

Feelings can be scary, for sure. They don’t seem safe. They never were when I was a child. I can’t tell you how many times I was told, “You’re not a nice girl,” when I would display any emotion other than happiness. I was not allowed to have any of those big feelings. They were too scary for other people. So, I would compartmentalize, not feel, eat, and do anything not to feel. Became the shell of a person I would remain for many years.

Imagine my surprise when I remembered that today is the 6th anniversary of my father’s death. No wonder I’ve been so squirrely. No wonder I’ve been off my game for a while.

And now, a whole host of other feelings come up – guilt (for not being more upset), doubt (has it really been six years?), resignation (yes, really gone, yes, never coming back). I know that there’s some residual anger in there too. Grief is SO complex. You can’t feel one thing without feeling something else too.

I guess it does get a little easier each year. It’s not because I don’t love him anymore, or have forgotten about him. It’s because the grief is not so fresh. It’s still sad. But I’ve been living for six years since – had time to work on it, express it, feel it. And by feeling all of those huge emotions, I’ve gotten through it. Gotten to the other side. Accepted it. That is the natural course of things. We are supposed to feel, to love, so that we can KEEP feeling, and loving. Stopping that is unnatural. We dam up the energy, the vibrations, the spirit and soul of being human.

I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to feel it, heal it. To be human is to feel. Someone once said to me, “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience – we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” And so, bringing the feelings down from just the “neck and above” to seat them viscerally, expands their strength exponentially. These bodies. They are incredibly beautiful with the immediacy and depth of their feelings.

Once I was able to see that feelings couldn’t kill me (although sometimes it FELT like they would), and that the sooner I really felt and dealt, the sooner I got to being better, feeling it became a habit. Almost like doing a fourth step – where you feel so clean afterwards, you don’t want to do anything to mark it up again. I don’t want to dam up the feelings again and hurt myself in the process.

Dad, I love you so much. I miss you terribly. There’s so much I want to share with you. I thank you for everything you gave me. For everything I became because of you, and in spite of you. You were human, and flawed (as we all are), but you were amazing. You are so loved. You are so missed.


You were Dynamite, Kid.


I read a few weeks ago with wistfulness that the professional wrestler Tom Billington had died at his home in England.

Wistfulness because I am now at the point in my life where important parts of my childhood and growing up have started dying with regular occurrence.

Tom Billington wrestled under the name “the Dynamite Kid” since his start in 1979. Back then, wrestling wasn’t flash, steroid-abusing, pumped-up long-haired loudmouths. There was a lot of technical moves, holds, flips – it was more about slipping out of a grasp than spectacle.

My sister and her then-boyfriend would take me to see Stampede Wrestling on Saturday nights in Edmonchuck. Nearly a decade older than me, and stuck babysitting, she found it was something that would keep me occupied and captivated while they courted. I remember asking for boyfriend’s cigarette pack and a pen, then going up to Keith Hart (son of Stu Hart, brother to Bret Hart, and the rest of the Hart wrestling franchise) as a 12-year old and asking for an autograph. He was gracious, with a very cute smile and bushy moustache. I was hooked. We came back to Stampede Wrestling a lot. And of course, watching it every Saturday morning on CTV with Ed Whalen (or “Wailin’ Ed” as his nickname went, because of his nasal voice), keeping up on who won the belts, who beat who… I probably should have gotten outside a bit more as a kid!

Dynamite Kid appeared on the scene and shook the dust off of everything. He was small (5’9”), skinny, and quick. The presence he brought to the ring was undeniable. Explosive, exciting, energized, he would handspring out of holds and risk dangerous maneuvers (like headbutting his opponent by jumping from the top of the turnbuckle) to win the crowd’s favor. There was always a roar and a buzz that went through the arena when he entered and wrestled. He was so popular and successful that a generation of other kids who thought, or were told, that they were too small to wrestle, emulated his moves and his tights, right down to the same haircut.

It was fun. I was less annoying to the dating couple when I was entertained. Plus, there was always cold pop and a hot dog or some other not-so-good-for-me snack as a bonus.

There was a definite melancholic smile on my face remembering all the things I used to do to get through the long winters up in Canada. I like to think it made me well-rounded – it’s good to know about what people do for entertainment. It tells you a lot about them.

I know that Tom Billington’s out-of-the-ring persona was well-documented as nasty. He and his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, bulked up and joined up as the tag-team “British Bulldogs” and it got away from the wrestling I remember and more into spectacle and schoolyard taunting and bullying that I didn’t care for.  I lost interest, and truly, I don’t know enough about it to comment. I just know, that the Dynamite Kid, fresh on the scene, made a huge impression on me. He was an enormous, notable part of my growing up in prairie Edmonton, Alberta. I hope he finds some peace now. Or at least respite from a pained, broken body.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

I’ve never been a good sleeper. The norm for me is four or five wake-ups a night, sometimes to pee, other times just to listen and make sure All is Well. Growing up in an alcoholic home, I got into this habit very early on. As a child, my hearing and intuition were always on high alert, just in case I needed to be ready for…whatever. Always on guard.

In Macbeth, Shakespeare writes some of the best metaphors for sleep. It’s a favorite play of mine.

Sleep, that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,

The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,

Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,

Chief nourisher in life’s feast.

Isn’t that beautiful? The death of each day’s life. No matter how we try to save time, work non-stop – days die and we must sleep. Now that I am a woman of a certain age, hormones play into my pas de deux of insomnia, coupled with my already fitful light sleep. I am a MESS.

I cannot remember the last time I got through the night without waking up. I’ve tried many things – exercise; not drinking coffee past noon; turning the TV off an hour before bed; not using my iPad to read (the light is a subliminal signal to stay awake); not drinking ANYTHING past 8 p.m.; meditation; sleep apps, with all their varied background sounds (I’m partial to rain, thunder, and trains). It’s exhausting.

I want to try an old-fashioned mantel clock – one that peals out the hours every hour on the hour. My husband and I just returned from vacation in Boston, where we stayed in Rockport MA for two nights out of the trip. The B&B was close to the town church, and its steeple with a clock. Maybe it was the bed, or the ocean air, but I can vaguely remember, through my dreaming state, counting the chimes and relaxing when I knew it was only four a.m. and I could still drift off; I didn’t need to get up yet.

My doctor wants to give me something; non-habit forming and light, just to see if it could bring about a normal sleep pattern. I’m hesitant – no – resistant to that. I think that if you force sleep to come on, it’s not as restful as a cycle brought on by your own normal circadian rhythms. So, you’re going to be worse than when you started!

What’s the solution? I don’t know. Maybe I’m metamorphosing into something else. I’m a terrific napper. Sunday afternoons are my favorite – right after lunch, on the couch with a blankie and the kitties, I’m good for ninety minutes. I feel great when I wake up, but then invariably end up alert till one or two in the morning. 5:30 a.m. comes pretty quickly after that.

Even now, it’s four p.m. and I’m ready to close my eyes, even for fifteen minutes, but I’ve got another three and a half hours of places to go and people to see before I call it a night.

There’s something to be said for being reincarnated as a spoiled house-cat with comfy beds and hideaway spots, where I could sleep my twenty hours a day in peace.

Maybe in my next life.

Fat-Bottomed Girls…

We really DO make the rockin’ world go ’round. Yeah.

In anticipation of Seeing “Bohemian Rhapsody” on Sunday, I’ve been listening to my old Queen albums. I’ll never forget hearing “The Game” in my friend Andrea’s bedroom. It was 1980, we were in Grade 7, and I was still pretty much into a lot of my sisters’ music – The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Peter Frampton.

The first single, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was a favorite because to me it sounded a lot like an Elvis/50s rocker mashup and in addition to me liking it, my parents did as well. I loved that my mum would dance and swing me around to the big guitar strums.

I will admit, I’m still into more lyrical, dare I say even “folksy” artists – Joni Mitchell being the be-all end-all. I guess I am such a wordwhore that the poetry and ballad-like stanzas that could stand on their own is what captivates me.

Then, I heard “Another One Bites the Dust” and my head exploded. Lights, camera, action. That bass line, the way Freddie slinked all over the melody, velvety and sexy, then blew my ears off on the bridge – my world opened, I exited the log cabin and began to see in Technicolor, and I was off to see the Wizard.

Rami Malek looks like he channeled Freddie. I hope the premise of the movie is about ALL of the singer’s life, and not just his voice and songwriting. He was multi-faceted, and even though there are plenty of parts of him that most people don’t want to know, or deal with, it’s important to see that at that time in history, he was just who he was, and he didn’t care who knew it.

He is unparalleled vocally. There will never be another Freddie. I am so glad for that early summer day in 1980 when the doors of all types of music (not just the AM radio singles) opened up to me.

Rest in peace, Freddie. We sure could use your words and your voice right now.

Inspiration or Desperation?

I heard at the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference 2018 that “Inspiration is for Amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

What a quote. I love it. Because it’s true – like the man who wouldn’t buy a ticket after praying to God to win the lottery, you can’t expect the fruits without doing the work. The simple act of creating something, whatever it may be – a grocery list, a post-it to your partner saying “I love you,” or your to-do – all of these help loosen the grip of Writer’s Block.

Today, it’s Hallowe’en. I know, nobody puts the apostrophe in anymore. But I like it. I didn’t dress up this year for work, didn’t buy candy because we live on such a busy street with traffic that kids and parents shun it like the plague. I can’t get myself into it. I have tried. Grateful I’m not a parent where I have to not continually disappoint my offspring with how lame I am.

I’m truly struggling with keeping good thoughts in my head. There is so much noise! So many distractions. Trying to look on the bright side of that, maybe I just want to be part of everything. Like, I’m so enamored with all of it that I can’t bear to miss a second of any of it!

I hope that is the case. I hope I’m not fracturing off into an inability to focus for more than a few minutes on whatever is in front of me. I’ve always prided myself on being able to read for hours, or draw, and sometimes, write for that long as well.

Does this distraction happen with age? Is it only going to get worse? Christ, I hope not.

Promises, Promises

I made a deal with myself that I would post to my writing blog every day. I used to post fairly often. Now, trying to get back into it feels like trying to run a marathon after being in a coma for years. Let’s just do a little sprint then, shall we? Build up some endurance.

Struggling to put my butt in the seat is an ongoing task. Before November 2016, it was always about not having time, trying to be perfect, wanting to wait until “inspiration” struck me. I’d be waiting a long time.

Now, my mind is so fractured, what with rallies to go to, campaigns to give to, email after email coming about “Vote!” and being horrified, shocked, not shocked, despondent, and filled with ennui, on a daily basis. There is so much noise from everywhere, including my own head, that it’s difficult to quiet my conscious self enough to string coherent sentences together.

Morning pages, as instructed, three of them – seem to have the same array of “FUCK!” and “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WRITE!” at the top of the first page as my mind screams to sort through the pond scum that the night before’s dreams have congealed into, like a horrible green jello salad brought to a fancy potluck.

Just write. Write. Don’t see it as an empty page, something that has to make sense or have unity, but maybe more like letting air out of an overfilled balloon – the latex stretched taut, and you’re afraid to touch it lest it squeak and blow. Let the pressure out on to the page – who cares what it says – at least it’s out of your bean and not bouncing around your cranium anymore.

I know that daily life is better when I do the things that make it so: eat well, sleep well, take some exercise, laugh a lot, cry a little. Writing has to be part of that, for a well-rounded personality. It’s not only the physical things we must do to take care of ourselves, it’s the mental and spiritual too.

And just like that, Day 2 of everyday blog writing, is done.