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Saturday Night

By Christina Friedrichsen
(For anyone who has fallen under the spell of someone or something)

You are the looking glass
at the bottom of my fourth martini;
The mirror, mirror
that blurs the edges
that Photoshops
that Ph D’s
that Obamifies the Boring Parts.
That crosses out the oopses
that Pimps the Prose;
You are the poetry
at the bottom of my fourth martini
that sounds
much better
than it is.

Princesses are taking over the world

clever princess

Princesses are taking over the world.

 I can’t go to the toy department of any store without being deluged with images of smiling, doe-eyed women wearing crowns and flowing cotton candy pink dresses.

 There are princess beds, pillows, bicycles, T-shirts, dolls, games, puzzles, underwear, cereal, bubble bath, Band aids and even princess spaghetti.

 When I was a kid, princesses belonged in fairy tales. Not on tubes of toothpaste, canned goods, and diapers. Back then there were no plastic dollar store crowns. And there were no Wal-Marts stocked with princess costumes in every size and colour.

 When I was a kid, the word princess wasn’t even part of my lexicon. I was about as far removed from the saccharin Disney princesses of today as a girl could get – and that was just fine with me.

 I grew up with three older brothers who provided an exhilarating alternative to the world of fairytales. My brothers were experts at making stink bombs and setting entire ditches on fire. They also knew how to make brandy from orange peels and gin from juniper berries and well, we won’t get into the one about the back field (mistakenly) being set on fire.

Aside from the constant amusements from my older brothers, I spent copious amounts of time outdoors on my own. My idea of fun was collecting worms from the driveway after a summer rain. There were few things more compelling than cutting an earthworm in half to watch both parts defy nature and remain wiggling.

 Being a princess would have cramped my style. Imagine trying to pluck earthworms from the pavement with satin gloves? Imagine jumping through mud puddles with plastic high heels?

 My five -year old daughter does not have older brothers to show her the bliss of a muddy field. She has a three-year old sister who worships her. A sister who also wants to be a princess.

 At Halloween they both insisted on princess costumes, even though I pleaded for something more ghastly, like a witch costume, a vampire costume. What about a mummy? Even the bribe involving extra candy could not set them straight.

 Now, princesses are part of their routine. They brush their teeth with princess toothpaste, at lunchtime they eat princess shaped noodles and at bedtime they listen to stories about princesses. Then there are the princess training pants my youngest wears to bed and the princess alarm clocks that they each have beside their beds.

 I have been suckered. Royally.

 Since princesses don’t generally go around killing people or making trouble, one might think it’s all rather harmless. Besides, as a parent there are bigger fish to fry.

 That is, until you think about the growing number of pre-pubescent girls who hate themselves because they don’t look princess perfect. 

 How many plus sized princesses do you see emblazoned on little girl pajamas? How many band-aids wear images of princesses with pimples, glasses or crooked teeth? How many are in wheelchairs?

 I would embrace this princess thing if it celebrated diversity in all its forms. I would sing its praises if princess culture made young girls feel beautiful in their own skin.

 Until then, I will begrudgingly let saccharin images of Disney royalty invade my home. And I will bite my tongue and let my daughters prance around in crowns and glass slippers.

 But soon, very soon, I will write my own stories of princesses. My royal ladies will be smart, sensitive and strong. And they will be diverse. My daughters will ask for these stories at bedtime, and the sugar-coated fairytales starring Princess Perfect will be cast aside like toys that have lost their magic.

An Ode to the Handwritten Note

 not-the-real-thing

 

The handwritten note is dead. Paved over by pixels. Bludgeoned by bytes. It’s been gone for years. Thrown to the curb like the things found at the back of closets during spring cleaning.

 

 But I want it back. The romance of a poem, a story, a letter, written in liquid verse by a soft, warm hand. Words in black, felt tip loops with edges that don’t line up. Paper with blue lines. Remember that?

 

 It’s been a long time since I received a handwritten letter. Even longer since I wrote one. And I can’t remember the last time I sat down to write a poem inside a journal, a notebook, a piece of scrap paper found at the bottom of my purse. Now it’s me – one on one with my keyboard. Tap, tap, tap, tap. Enter. Save. Delete.

 

 There are no candles to light the way. No paraffin flickers to ignite the flight into my imagination. Just white computer light. Where’s the soft, orange, waxy light of my youth? Gone with felt tips and fat journals ripe with juicy, scribbled, crossed out words.

 

 Before I was married, before I claimed the title of motherhood, I write poetry, cross legged on my single bed. After school, or during summer nights when no one called, I hunkered down in my bedroom, equipped with scented candles, notebook, pens and music blaring. Each blank sheet was filled with promise. I was a lover anticipating a moonlit kiss. And I delivered line after sorry line. 

 

Then I got a computer, and pen and paper were put to rest like an old dog whose gait can’t keep up. Whose eyes are sad and wise and accepting of the new pup.

 

 Rest in peace dear old dog. Gone, but not forgotten.

 

 

I’m Back

It’s been over a year – and here I am. I miss writing for the sake of writing.

Brilliant thing

brillianthingebay.jpg

Whenever I am in a writing slump, I paint art cards. The ladies always show up. Always different, but similar. A form of therapy I think.  I am going to paint a large painting with about 100 of these ladies in it. I’ll have them sitting in a movie theatre watching an art film. It will take about a month to paint. I did this one last night. Brilliant thing.

Detox

I am reading The Hundred Year Lie by Randall Fitzgerald. Wow. I am turning over a new leaf in 2008. I’m serious. Very serious.

Now that we are on the topic of toxins, check out this magnified picture of lunchmeat. Gag.

Going Loonie

I wrote this a while ago. Thankfully, since then I have stopped these little excursions.

 Going Loonie

As I unload my items for the cashier, I am overcome with guilt. Am I over-indulging my child? Are these dollar store excursions sending her the wrong message? Are these bargain shopping sprees programming my child to consume, consume, consume? As I fumble in my purse for $30, I catch the lady behind me glaring at my purchases and my shame is reinforced. I can almost hear the lady whispering: “Tisk. Tisk. Tisk.”  

By Christina Friedrichsen

 

It’s raining. Not a warm rain. The cold, stinging kind. My four-year old is ricocheting off the walls with boredom and I have the perfect solution. The dollar store.

I mention the words and in thirty seconds flat, my daughter is dressed and waiting at the door. To her the dollar store is just another word for paradise.

We arrive, and our eyes dilate under the spell of 100,000 things that cost only a buck. We take a deep breath, and succumb to the scent of Brand Newness. Subtle hints of polyvinyl chloride and molded plastic, blend with bubblegum, jujube and top notes of air freshener to create an elixir that goes straight to our heads. I ask the cashier if this fragrance is available in a bottle. She leads me to aisle five, but I only find cheap vanilla and a floral perfume that smells like a funeral parlour.

Next to eau de funeral home, I find a pregnancy test. A pregnancy test, for a dollar? Even though I don’t need one, and will never need one again (we hope) I am tempted to buy a few just because they’re only a dollar.

Three aisles over is what we came for. I tell my daughter she can choose one package of stickers, and that she’s better off getting the 1,022 Barbie ones (sure, they’re tinier than freckles, but they stick really well to hardwood floors), than the package with only 10 SpongeBobs. She chooses Little Mermaid, and throws in a package of smiley faces.

“Oh, what the heck, it’s only a dollar,” I tell myself.

Next, we head to the section that has colouring and activity books. I marvel at the selection. This could keep her occupied for at least a week. She puts three books in her cart and I add two more, just in case this rain keeps up for a few days.

After adding five cans of Play Dough (the ones we bought last week dried out), a magic wand, some Silly Putty, two plastic dinosaurs, a doll, a miniature doll house, a hula hoop, bubbles, a ball, two packages of beads, and a Kitkat, we head to the check out.

As I unload my items for the cashier, I am overcome with guilt. Am I over-indulging my child? Are these dollar store excursions sending her the wrong message? Are these bargain shopping sprees programming my child to consume, consume, consume? As I fumble in my purse for $30, I catch the lady behind me glaring at my purchases and my shame is reinforced. I can almost hear the lady whispering: “Tisk. Tisk. Tisk.”

When I get to the car I check the bill, just in case the cashier miscalculated. I wasn’t planning on spending $30. Did I buy that much stuff? I sure did.

We get home and you’d think it was Christmas. My daughter excitedly empties the bags on the floor. She can’t decide what to play with first so she plays with everything. I decide not to intervene because it feels good to see her have so much fun.

Half an hour later the ‘tisk, tisk, tisk’ returns and this time it’s louder than a jackhammer. My child has blown through three activity books, one package of stickers, half a chocolate bar and an entire jar of bubbles. She’s dumped the Play Dough on the floor, and she’s back to ricocheting off the walls, except this time she’s wearing a hula hoop and brandishing dinosaurs with very pointy tails.

I’m now convinced that these trips to the dollar store aren’t as harmless as I care to admit. Buying toys (most of which are plastic) that my daughter doesn’t need isn’t exactly an earth friendly act. Sooner or later these little playthings will end up in a landfill somewhere, leaching toxins into the environment.  And what kind of poison is belched into the air when this stuff is manufactured? What about the people being paid a pittance in dingy factories to make this stuff.

Also, I am greatly concerned about what I am teaching my daughter about consumption. Don’t worry if it breaks, dear, we’ll buy another one. Tired of the Barney colouring book? That’s okay, we’ll buy you the Barbie one and three more just so you won’t get bored. And the stickers you blew through in thirty seconds, well, there’s plenty more where they came from.

My child is only four. It is not too late for her. It is not too late for me.

Next time it rains I’m getting out the flour, the salt, and the food colouring. My daughter is going to learn that the best play dough in the world cannot be found in a dollar store, but at home, inside a kitchen where mother and daughter have flour in their hair and food colouring all over their hands.

And when we’re done making play dough animals and she’s back to bouncing off the walls, I’ll join her. Who says going loonie has to cost a dime?