What Did You Know About My Father?

Do you know what a complete stranger could learn about me in a matter of minutes?

They could learn my name, where I live, that I hate vegetables, what my favourite movies are, how long I was in my last relationship, the size of my feet, what colour lipstick I wear and even what I’ve been feeling lately. In all honesty they could learn more about me than anyone who I would physically invite over for drinks would ever know. Note: this is not a rant about the horrors of social media and the intrusion of our privacy. Screw it, I really don’t care.

But as I started thinking about how much I put out there about myself, the more I started thinking that, good or bad… I actually like putting that much personal information out there. Without knocking on someone’s door at 3am telling them that I am contemplating my existence, I can write it, post it, reread it. Call me naïve but I don’t have concerns about my identity being stolen or being stalked. Perhaps that would change if it happened (knock on wood) but I digress…

I enjoy being a warts and all type of person. It’s a huge step for me on a journey of self acceptance (ohm). It allows me to be brave, it allows me to analyze my faults, to open myself to criticism. I’m by no means perfect and the internet and social media could be the ideal place to pretend that I am. Air brush my photo, write statuses and tweets about how everyday I am extremely happy, manufacture fake achievements, pretend to have more friends than I do, just… be perfect. But see…. not only do I not actually want to be perfect in reality, I don’t want to pretend to be perfect either. If you are at all privy to my musings, blogs, social media, emails, whatever… you will see raw emotion, you will see hurt, you will see mistakes, arrogance, low self esteem, naiveté and self doubt. Every day. Of course I don’t want to inspire mass suicides so this will also be mixed in with joy. But when I feel it. I feel like, if you want to know me, then KNOW me. If you don’t, well delete me and while I obsess over why I was deleted, forget me.

So as I thought about how I revel in the big picture I paint for myself on the world wide web and in the minds of those around me, I randomly thought, what about my dad?

Ok let me explain that more. I was thinking about what it would be like for someone who shared nothing?

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My dad is older, in his seventies now and he does not understand social media nor does he want to. He is intensely suspicious of it like a lot of his generation. So there will be no status updates from him anytime soon. But beyond that. I’m his daughter, and I know barely anything about him. I’ve seen him cry twice and we never talked about it. I don’t really know what he likes, what he hates, what he wants out of life. I don’t know what scares him, what gives him joy, what makes him reflect. Sure I could tell you what he watches on TV, maybe what his favourite meal is. But if you asked me to paint a picture of my dad, my canvas would be more like a puzzle than anything else. Missing many pieces.

Realistically, he is in the twilight of his life. My sons are going to ask about him when he’s gone. And there is no person, no reference and certainly no website that could tell them what they are going to undoubtedly want to know. I realize that there exists an older, more stoic and reserved mindset. But what does that leave us in the end?

So you could argue about the pros and cons of living a public and very open existence. You could talk to me about privacy and decency and ego. Talk to me about how this phenomena has shaped our culture. Say, back in my day, yada yada yada….

But when I die, my children can look back and know who I really was, flaws and all. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. But I lean towards the former when I think, what does anyone really know about my father?

 

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1947

When I wake up, the war is behind me. Brutality fading as if it were in another person’s lifetime.

The thick polished curls of my hair are my art this morning. The air is heavily perfumed. I still have time to breathe it in slowly.

I recite in my head the name of every person I will meet on the way to the market. I make sure I have a dime and a nickel for the freshly baked bread we needed.

I think of the late afternoon with nerves and excitement. My mother would like me to marry soon but my Daddy wishes I would wait until after secretarial school. I only think of the dances I’ll get to do tonight. My palms sweat at the thought of the newest dances, I may not be brave enough to try. I would prefer to spin, spin, spin and laugh and grab hold of my partner’s hand to keep from tumbling to the floor.

I asked my mother to listen intently to Bob Hope this evening so I wouldn’t miss anything on his radio show. I almost wished I could just wipe off my makeup and wear my housecoat and lounge in front of the RCA. But I would die of embarrassment to miss my date.

Skirt ironed. Collar stiff. Cheeks rouged. Lips painted. I’d like a small wedding at the church I suppose. Only three children. My mother has five and she is always cooking. I don’t enjoy cooking the way she does. It’s always too hot in the kitchen and my blouse is constantly damp with sweat. I most likely look like one of those overly athletic girls with the shine on my nose.

The night was long. So long it felt as if it were two separate days merged into one. My feet ache and my throat is raw from so much talking and laughing. I know mother won’t mind if I’m late tonight. My date had changed my dance card so that his name was on every other line. I felt a warmth in my cheeks when I had seen this. He was very forward. I could tell he wanted to dance closer but our chaperons were older and very old fashioned. He had brushed his hand over mine when he walked me home though, much to my delight.

I had tried a glass of champagne for the first time. I couldn’t even twist my braids properly the room was spinning. I gave up and flopped on my bed. I thought of him nervously asking me to see the latest Robert Montgomery picture with him next Saturday. I detested Robert Montgomery films but smiled dreamily thinking of sitting so close to him.

My eyes grew heavy and I yawned deeply. I hummed a Doris Day tune until I felt my consciousness drifting away.

10 Affirmations To Stay Positive When Life Is Not Going According To Plan

 

Something to read when you feel hopeless.

Or even if you just feel…. blah. Written by Jessica Cooper, TIME magazine’s 2006 person of the year, it completely encapsulates a list of seriously simple ideas, very often over complicated.

She begins:

“Life is amazing, but sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge because of all the sticky situations and straight-up terrible nonsense that happens in our lives.

Let me guess: Right when you FINALLY think something is going great, something bad happens again. When does it end, right? Why you? Why can’t you just be NORMAL like “everybody else”? How come it seems like some people have no problems at all, and you’re stuck under a constant avalanche?”

Exactly how I feel right now.

She continues to list ten ways to keep positive, change your mind and ultimately how you respond to life.

I might add…

11. Just breathe.

If something is overwhelming you at any point, clear your mind and just concentrate on forcing breath in and out of your lungs. Seems silly but if you can delay your sense of panic or unease for a short time, it is always lessened.

 

Ten Affirmations To Stay Postive When Life Isn’t Going According To Plan

Ode To The Virago Within Memory

A virago is a woman who demonstrates exemplary and heroic qualities. The word comes from the Latin word vir, meaning ‘man’ (cf. virile) to which the suffix -ago is added, a suffix that effectively re-genders the word to be female.

A woman is both hard and soft. She is an enigma. She is strong, fierce, delicate and warm. A woman has been lost. Remember the women that were beautiful. They were outspoken. They were overly sexual. They were businesswomen. They were mothers. They were complicated. They were mean. They were full of love. They wanted everything. They gave everything. They were an impossible thing, everything at once.

Tell me what you love about these women before we forget them forever….

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