Click here to listen to my over-the-top reading of my post. PS You gonna like it…
Dear Ralph Lauren,
Do you know who I am? I have a blog, Karalee of no fixed address. Listen, about your name. Thanks for being gender neutral and good on you for the equality, but do you know life ain’t equal for women?
Yours truly, Karalee
Dear Ralph Lauren,
Hello again. What’s the story with the man on the horse? Is that a woman horse? If not, you’re sexist.
Yours truly, Karalee
Dear Marc Jacobs
Do you know who I am? I have a blog, Karalee of no fixed address. Listen, you’re startin’ with a problem. You’re a double man, and you’re sexist.
PS I have a fixed address now.
You’re sexist. And plus you spelt male wrong.
Yours truly, Karalee
Please consider renaming yourself. I suggest FeMale box.
Dear Mrs. Steve Jobs,
Listen, I’d rather communicate with you cuz you’re a woman, and besides, Steve just ignores my letters. I’m Karalee, and I have a blog. Anyway, I know you were the brains behind all that apple crap cuz every good man listens to his wife.
Yours truly, Karalee
PS Keep fightin’ the good fight sistah.
PPS Thanks for being a woman.
The middle boy comes home to play…
Graham had arrived on Thursday evening for a short sojourn. It was Monday lunchtime, and we were down at the watefront. Until that day, it had been three days of gray skies and rain, but I knew the sun would come sooner or later because Hali just never lets me down. Above us hung a brilliant blue canvas with giant orange sun poked into the middle and beside us roared the high fidelity soundtrack of the Atlantic’s choppy waves bashing agains boats and rock and dock. As Graham and Sara and I trekked along the dock’s wooden slats, so it was our lovely walk morphed into a running comedy duo-logue, courtesy of Graham and Sara and exclusively for me, their one-woman audience.
The two of them had become consumed with the invention of ‘letters’ as written by me, in praise of women and in admonishment of males for supposed sexism, whether deserved or not. They perfectly captured my tendency to rant away while standing firmly on my life-isn’t-fair-for-women feminist soapbox, wearing my thigh high, black leather boots, of course. Each time I thought they’d run the course of possible parodies that nailed my sometimes over-the-top, occasionally illogical and at times reverse-sexist tendencies concerning gender, they’d start riffing off each other again, coming up with even cleverer, more preposturous quips.
Dear Garbage man
Do you know who I am? I have a blog… Listen, I’m kinda thinkin’ I might like to be a garbage man myself. But we gotta do something about the name first.
Ya, it ain’t no secret that I am and have always been a rabid feminist, keeping my eyes peeled and my ears open for inequities, inequalities, and intolerance. My greatest contribution to the gender battle began at home, raising three sons. I felt it was my duty to learn my boys right concerning what it is and how it is to be a woman and what it looks like to put on the gloves every morning to face an often unacknowledged and mostly invisible battle, all to be seen and considered fairly, on the same plane as a man (stepping down from the soapbox). Every now and again, they jibe on me, but I don’t mind.
At the end of the comedy show, Graham threw his arms around me, gave me a big hug and said, “Ah ma, you know that I know women can do anything and everything and do it better.”
That’s my boy.
The three of us went from the waterfront up the hill to Brunswick Street where we split up, me heading back to my Propeller office to ponder all that is beer, while Graham and Sara continued to poke about the day.
I crossed the lights at the corner of Sackville and Brunswick, Citadel Hill on my left and the sea on my right, and I thought of the Thanksgiving just over two years ago, when Graham and I first came to visit Sara and Warren for the weekend. It was when walking down this very sidewalk that I fell in love with Halifax, never dreaming how soon I would call its streets my own.
Since running away from Waterloo, and then deciding to stay here for a while, my sons have become frequent visitors, and in the interim between visits, I live with Warren’s girlfriend Sara and my nephew Spencer.
Yes, it’s not quite where I envisioned I would be at 55. For sure, I missed the memo. I forgot to get married and stay married and I forgot to spend thirty years in the same job piling up a nice big, fat pension. Had I been successful with those, retirement and fanciful trips round the world with my spouse would be right on schedule, followed in due course with lottsa grand kids. Nope, not for me. Instead, I wander about with the sea at my side and loved ones providing a custom-comedy show, instead of sitting in cubicle hell at lunchtime, eating a meatball submarine and tallying up the airmiles.
Graham is my in between son. My middle boy is freedom and spirit, a flame not to be contained. He moves about the world unfettered, unconstrained, unabashedly casting brilliance and light, infecting people and place with a hundred-watt smile and an appetite for living that screams, More! More! More!
“I run hot,” he’d once told me, and I kept that in mind when his arrival came accompanied by explosions of clothes and stuff throughout the house. It was in the front parlour, the cave upstairs, the hallway, and pretty much everywhere hardly minutes after his arrival.
Channeling one of my (rare) male hero’s quotes, “If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” (Ronald Dahl) , so it was that I reframed his explosion as the symptom of fun, frolic and frivolity to come, root cause boy-home-for-visit. And from that moment on, I wasted no time getting down to business, wringing out every second of his visit, an extra ten cents on the dollar.
Friday, we all had to work, so Graham took the day to get to know the new Duncan Street homestead a little better, meaning he curled into the couch in front of Netflix and Crave and ravished the kitchen cupboards of food. Friday night, we were off to Good Robot for beer and a bite, where Sara happened to be our server, working a last shift before her big trip. Later, we slipped down to a Halifax hallmark, Bearly’s, for another beer and live music. Saturday was market day, and then rinse and repeat hanging out together for most of the daylight hours. When evening arrived, the kid-dults left a tired mama behind while they headed out to Cosmic Bingo at the Halifax Forum, a short walk down the street. I heard they later the hit The Local on Gottingen Street, which happened to be the joint across the street from the old Portland Place Cave.
Sunday morning, I woke up at my usual 5am to a very quiet house. I snuck out of my room and saw that all three of the other bedroom doors were closed, and behind each door snored my two roomies and middle son.
On I padded down the stairs to the main floor to make my morning coffee. In the kitchen, I had a Graham tsunami greeting. His coat was twisted up on the floor with his black and white-hounds tooth scarf trailing after it as if still needed for warmth. His shoes lay abandoned by the cupboard, and on the counter above was a bonanza of crumbs, globs of honey, a bread knife and a lonely, crumpled brown paper bag that seemed utterly heartbroken without a loaf. Where back in the day I’d be furious, leaving the mess to be tidied by the person responsible, such things now make me nostalgic and teary. I almost didn’t want to clean it up, so strong was the urge to preserve the moments in amber. With a sniffle or two and as I waited for the kettle to boil, I wiped the crumbs, picked up his coat, but I left his shoes, just cuz.
I trotted back upstairs with coffee in hand and passed by various caches of candy wrappers accumulated from the leftover Halloween candy Graham had been munching through since his arrival. There were also about half a dozen Cosmopop purple-stained popsicle sticks sprinkled here and there, stuck to shelves, the coffee table, an errant sock.
My current roomies, Spencer and Sara were Graham’s ready partners in crime during the visit. Pleased that having Graham in the house fortified their ranks, they figured their combined force could overcome the mom-factor that normally keeps the house in check, taking the ‘f’ out of fun.
Apparently, 3 kid-dults > 1 mom.
What they didn’t know was that no matter how I protested that they were ganging up on me, I went willingly, relishing a four-day stretch where, under duress, I had to abandon the concept of being grown up.
Sunday night was Happy Dinner night. In other words, the three kid-dults expected me to cook for them. I didn’t mind. We had a lot going on. Spencer had turned 28 on Thursday, Graham was visiting, and Sara would soon be one on her way trip to meet Warren in Bali.
I spent the day in the kitchen making Gourmet Mac & Cheese, Turkey Meatballs, Graham’s favourite salad and Rice Pudding, extra chunky, as ordered. Against my better judgment, I invited my friend Sandy and his son Jonah to join us for dinner, though not without a caveat, warning: We are playing monopoly. Graham and I are the worst losers and the worst winners. It will be loud.
Anyone who has spent some time with us will attest that we are a bish-bam-boom family, and the more of my own people I have around me, the more inclined I am to toss off the good behaviour I typically employ to make and keep friends in this new life of mine.
Oh well. Better the truth comes out sooner rather than later.
After dinner, Sara gathered the dishes and Graham washed them, as a good feminist son will do. Jonah ducked into the buffet behind his chair to retrieve the Monopoly game, as I’d asked him to do, albeit tempering my usual drill sergeant bark ever so slightly. He was, after all, a guest. The board was spread on the table, and Graham conceded to be banker, and then proceeded to dole out the bills.
“How many of each?”
“Ten dollar bills, five fives, six twenties, four fifties…” I answered, rhyming off to the best of my memory.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Graham and Sara bend their heads down over something… Argh! The dreaded instructions.
“Wait a minute, that’s not what it says here,” said Sara.
“Mom, have you ever even read the instructions to find out how much money everyone gets?” asked Graham.
“It’s six twenties! Check. I know it’s six twenties,” I said, my voice rising over the two of them.
And thus the bickering began, while our very polite guests sat quietly on the sidelines until, that is, in the midst of the squabble but during a rare moment of silence where the three of us had to stop talking to refill our lungs, Sandy looked down at his watch and piped in, “So, yah… you know, Jonah and I, well… we, uh… we should get going. It’s getting late and tomorrow’s a school day…” He added in a nice big yawn for effect, and then he laughed.
Yah, he was kidding about hightailing it home (maybe). And they stayed on, though I suspect Sandy may have thought twice about that decision when half an hour into the game, in a if you can’t beat em, join em kind of way, Jonah became as raucous and saucy as the rest of us.
“Ah, Monopoly. It brings out the worst in everyone,” said Sara the next day.
Sara and I dropped Graham off at the airport on Monday evening. And though I tried not to weep, I wept, which got Sara not only weeping, but yelling at me to stop weeping. Look, I admit. It never gets easier to drop a boy off at the airport. I don’t think it ever will.
My roomie Sara and I drove back home to Halifax, more than a little glum. It was back to the three of us again. And a week from now, it’ll just be Spencer and me when Sara pushes off.
About that the memo…
You know, the one I missed regarding how I should be living my 50s. I’ve realigned my error in sound planning for a straight, linear life. Whether I wanted to do that or not I can’t be sure. But in exchange for the traditional, I trod an unusual path of life as a series of epochs. This juncture is the epoch of living with roomies-in-their-20s. And heck, it ain’t so awful. I have all pluses and none of the minuses. As the mother figure, I have the power to make them clean, and also, I get to cut out whenever I get sleepy, with no one moaning at me to go out with them, say, to Cosmic Bingo or something. When I start to fade, Spencer willingly puts the kettle on for my hot water bottle, and when it’s filled and I’ve tucked me and hot water bottle into bed, one or both of my roomies will poke their head in to say good night.
About my roomies…
Sara moans sometimes that we spend too much time together. What? Is it that weird to join a yoga place, cook and eat just about every meal together, go to the mall, hang out on the couch watching every season Sex in the City (again), and then follow that up with a Jersey Shore redux with your boyfriend’s mother? I think not. And anyway, Graham is the one who got us back onto Jersey Shore.
Admittedly, living with Sara provides a much-needed gender advantage. It’s two against one at the moment, though its only until Warren returns. Also, her in-house guidance around what I can and cannot wear is probably much overdue. (Yes, I know Sara. No more black leather pants. Whatever.) Her subtle hints that maybe I should consider washing my hair, even if it’s not been a whole week yet, or a reminder that no, do not call your black lace up boots that name anymore… ah, I consider it all the price to pay for having someone else around who has nail polish remover.
Sara also happens to be as cute as a button, and I have been spoiling her rotten. You see, if I am the usual Just-Do-What-I-Say self I am with the boys, I think she might cry, and I won’t know what to do. As my other roomie Spencer pointed out, I never get on Sara’s back to do stuff like clean the toilet or take out the garbage. I do remind him that Sara is our resident organizer and miracles do happen when she gets at the Tupperware cupboard, plus the there’s thatother thing, she’s cute as a button.
“I know,” Spencer says as he trudges to the bathroom to scrub the toilet, yet again.
And my other roomie, the meat-eating, muscle demon, laugh-ready Spencer is kin, a bona-fide Clerk. My brother Brent has loaned him to me for now, but my bro is getting something back for his investment since Spencer is now a full-time student in the Karalee Clerk Finishing School, which involves a lot of lectures, movie making, eating, joke-telling and general hanging out cuz my nephew and me, well, we just get each other.
From the outside looking in, yah, it looks like I live in a rather peculiar arrangement. But I kinda like it. Actually, make that I’m savouring its every minute. Soon enough, the twenty-somethings will all go on to their next adventures, or I might go on to another one myself.
And anyway, besides all that, life is short and what else might you expect from an old broad who ran away from home att 55?
Exactly this, I think.
Now for the fun stuff…
Recent Sara text…
I left my fuagan pizza at work.
* * * *
Recent Spencer text…
Requesting permission to finish off the frittata in the fridge. It’s been sitting since Sunday.
(me) Permission granted. You may have cake too.
Haha, you read my mind
* * * *
Bitmoji creations, courtesy of the kid-dults in my life who downloaded the ap and then made me into a bitmoji too… YAY!!!!
(me) (Sara) (Graham) (Spencer)
PS Please note that no cartoons were hurt in the making of the above bitmojis.
The Graham Puppet Show
Photo Gallery for your viewing pleasure…
PS If you’ve made it this far in my enormous post Heidi, Dan and Brent, thank you for lending me your progeny for a little while.
PPS I ain’t never gonna be one of them no-fun grown ups in Roald Dahl’s book