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Hidden curriculum…

October 26, 2010

He’s been milking that bullet wound like a dairy farmer with ten hands…

— Jack Bartlett on Heartland

The other evening,

at suppertime,

Starshine told me about her day at school,

and I nearly blew a gasket…

She painted a scenario,

where she was standing with a friend,

when a classmate ran up to them,

followed by someone wanting to keep up,

to her…

And loud enough for everyone to hear,

the classmate said,

about the person behind her,

Hey, if you try a little harder,

you might be able to fit into a small…

Starshine added more details to the illustration,

with a verbal pencil crayon,

She used the kind of voice you use when you’re trying to be nice to someone,

but her face said the complete opposite…

Pretty sharp weapons used by ten year olds,

on a school field…

I asked Starshine how she handled the situation…

She told me,

I asked the one girl if it makes her feel good to say things like that,

to other people…

Then I waited for a private moment,

and asked the other girl how she felt to hear those words…

She told me she’s used to it,

because it happens all the time…

This is treatment that one should never get used to giving,

or taking,

but some how a lot of us do…

One of the things I’ve observed,

from my armchair research,

is that people who perceived themselves to be on the outside of cool,

when they were growing up,

want to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself,

by investing energy into exposing their children to the very worst of what culture has to offer…

These efforts usually result in a house made of sticks,

built on quick sand…

The best thing we can do to fortify our children,

in a People magazine world,

is to recognize the false beliefs,

we hold inside,

and find constructive ways,

to dissolve them…

When I was growing up,

in that time before words like juicy,

and sexy boot,

were acceptable labels to wear on your backside,

I was convinced I was fat…

But when I look back at the pictures I can see that I wasn’t…

From about the time I got my period,

at ten years old,

I was very aware of my mother’s conversations,

with her friends,

about Weight Watchers,

calorie counting,

and going to Fitties…

I remember being told to eat an apple,

or drink some water,

when my body craved protein,

and healthy fats…

I remember weighing myself,

after every meal,

and the times I starved myself,

because my ballet teacher told me I had to slim down,

if I wanted to dance on pointe shoes,

and how a few weeks later,

because I was willing to die for that,

I bit the bullet,

and got the job done…

And I remember the day my mother said to me,

I can’t believe you’re almost in the same pant size as me,

you’d better watch yourself…

I always thought it was my mother driving the boat of my self-perception,

when it came to my body image,

until I was an adult,

and clues began to appear in the Polaroid picture,

of my father…

In my final week of carrying Starshine,

my father looked at me,

with a face of disgust,

and said,

I sure hope you’re going to be able to lose all of that weight you’ve put on…

I ran from my house to Gastown for dinner,

after that moment of illumination,

and at a street light,

just as I was about to cross an intersection,

a couple turned to me and said,

We were just admiring your magnificence…

We wish you all the best for a healthy baby…

You look fantastic…

The last time I took Starshine,

and Little Gem,

to have dinner at my father’s house,

he made an announcement the minute we walked into the house,


with the pride of achievement,

Well, I’m under 160 pounds now…

I didn’t say anything,

but wondered if the best you can do with your retirement,

and your 5’11” frame,

when you’ve been blessed with a strong body,

for you whole life,

is to use it striving to resemble a captive of a P.O.W. camp…

Even though,

as Little Gem says,

Life is a big long movie we each move in and out of,

in different forms,

the particular form you’re in now,

is temporary,

and fleeting,

so there’s no point wasting worry over a few pounds,

which are neither,


nor there,

in the big scheme of things,

because it all comes out in the wash…

The very best way,

to move down a few notches,

in your belt,

is to continue dropping the stories,

you’ve written in stone,

about yourself,

and other people…

The metabolic effect,

of this daily practice,

is revolutionary…

People ask me,

the further I get down the road,

of individuation,

Have you lost weight???

My answer to this question,

is that the numbers are staying the same,

and what they are seeing,

is my growing refusal,

to hold other people’s baggage,

in my belly…

Sometime last Summer,


Little Gem and I were booking it,

up a big steep hill,

one giant root,

at a time,

when a man carrying a smiling baby on his back,

caught up to us…

As we climbed along,

all together,

he told me about how he and a buddy had a bet on,

who could lose twenty pounds first…

He said,

I lost twelve in the first three weeks but now I’ve hit a plateau…

I’ve got to figure something else out…

I was going to suggest hiring a tapeworm,

but we weren’t on that level,

even by the time we got to the parking lot…

This September,

when I renewed my parking permit,

at the neighbourhood community centre,

I saw a man who wrote and recorded a song,

I would sing,

if I were a cover band…

I asked him how things were going,

music wise…

He said,

with heavy sadness,

I could feel in my chest,

One of the musicians moved away,

and everything fell apart…

I said,

trying to shine a little light into his darkness,


so you’re in a creative incubation period…

We don’t always hold the space,

for those to come along…

And when we do,

it’s hard to trust that we’ll ever see water again,

in the desert…

He looked at me,

with new understanding,

and reflection…

I said,

My favorite song of yours is Forget-me-not…

He looked at me with wonder,

and amazement,

and said,

Hardly anyone knows about that song…

I said,

Well I do…

And in my opinion,

it’s the best you’ve ever done…

And she works laying whiskey down...

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