Author Archive

Grandma In The Closet Waiting For Fishsticks

Monday, February 14th, 2022

Grandma In The Closet Waiting For Fishsticks

When I went to knock they said, “she won’t hear you, I’ll let you in.” And, so, I knocked, she didn’t hear me, and they let me in. I called for her, and no sound. In front of me, the living room quiet with the little kitchenette and a table and a little can of Gingerale sat upon a little folded paper towel as Grannies are apt to do. But Granny, nowhere to be found. Then through the bedroom door, and the bathroom. Where the hell was my Grandma. The closet? I opened the door and there she sat in her beautiful home-made dress. “A tailor,” she once said. “A salaried tailor,” she’d add saying how rare it was to be paid like that as a woman, and how she married at 35 having my dad only at 42 because she was a career woman. But the 1940s were having none of that and the 50s meant women had their roles, the men theirs, and that’s that.

“Grandma?” She sat there in her home-made tailored dress of baby blue or maybe white but something just perfect for fussing around her Calgary home during the day until night. Except this was a perfectly dull and shitty suburban pristine suburb community of Brampton, Ontario where East Indians walked about in turbans and about whom my Dad was racist. Old folks home for the dead and dying and for Grandmas who seem to hide out – in the closet.

“Grandma?” Her little dainty body in her pretty home-made dress tailored to fit a slim body, still fit over her silky little Hudson’s Bay slip with maybe some lace here and there and always feminine, that woman. And her little slippers on her little feet of toes squished together that were soft and neat. “Grandma?” There she was in her perfectly softest white hair sculpted like 1930s in a bob and terrific long bangs pulled back neatly with a stylish barret. Bangs that still held the imprint design of the prongs of her pretty plastic comb with thick teeth that kind used on us as grandkids to detangle knots in fresh-washed hair in big giant clawfoot tubs and soaps that smelt like “Grandma’s House.”

“Grandma?” Grandma sat there alone in all her femininity having had a life long life of gardening and making things, of sewing and mending things, of keeping home and fixing things, or being an entrepreneurial woman with her own favourite grandma, probably the only one who she truly loved and loved her unconditionally. That’s my great-great grandma then my Grandma’s grandma from Armenia we’re told and somewhere far near Russia. “Grandma? Grandma – what the hell are you doing sitting in your closet??”

Dainty Grandma, poised and perfect, sat in her little closet cupboard just waiting to die, I guess. Or until they came to get her for her Captain Highliner fishsticks at noon, served on a bed of lettuce while the nurse man came by with a tray not of appetizers but of little white cups of medicine. When she was done her lunch, she’d return to her room. Dementia? Ha ha! That’s what my step mother and cruel father would have said yes but Grandma knew well to tell us she ripped up our letters and or “hid them” and we knew exactly that she knew exactly what the letters meant and it was best to keep them from the man, my Dad, who paying her rent at the old age home in Brampton.

“Grandma, let’s get you out of there and go for lunch.”

The look upon her face of seeing me, “dear Granddaughter” was full of joy and happiness and gratefulness and a big smile. She’d pet my chest still wondering when even in my 30s I’d get breasts. She’d hand me a belt and say “try it on.” She’d pat my bum and go “Ou ou ou, honey bunches.” Grandma stood there all about 4 feet tall of her, shrunken, when once she towered over me just a baby, then one, then two years old then three. Then four then goodbye at five, parents are getting divorced, we have to leave the mountainous Albertan home and outdoors and gardens for the French Canadian crowd back in Ottawa among whom everyone would grow cancers and love with conditions. Depending on the day they were your friend, but if it was a Tuesday count yourself unlucky again.

And so torn apart from the deep love consistent of a paternal Grandmother and her industriousness, and how can we forget, she taught me to write. And here I am writing about her and will again and again until my end.

So when it came time for her to die, my Dad hid her. Ever since I left him in the style my mom did and boy did she love this drama and watched me tell stories that gave me migraines with aura like it was her on-demand soap opera, ever since I left him at 18, I knew, I said, “he’ll hide Grandma on me.” And he did. And I wonder how she died, did he kill her? No really, did he kill her? And did my step mother smile her turtle-face tight bitch thin lipped smile and utter bad words in support of my father’s anger toward women, which started with her?

I used to have a plaque by my bed that read, “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” I was always stumped by that first line and would ask my mother, “but why should I not wake up.” She never could give me an answer that was good enough. If I did more woodworking I would create a plaque now that may say that if I should end up in the closet like Grandma, hope I choke on a fishstick and never ever come back.

They say we come in on our own and we die on our own, forget the lovers you’ve known and your friends are all gone. With much verve I say for Christ sakes if that be our journey and an awful one at that should we not try to bless one another with care and love? Mom’s mom died surrounded by family, hands, love and comfort. My mother for me now – is nowhere to be found. Expected my father would write my sister and I off, sure, but what kind of life is this and how do we go on when your story of origin is but a stupid fuck drunk and inexperienced versus the desire to be wed and come together and have a family and live together in love until you’re dead.

In the animal kingdom, children neglected die in the wild world without the tools they need to survive. In the human world, they sit in cupboard closets after a rich lifetime of contributing, now waiting for medications and fishsticks and granddaughters who will be kept from them by their very own offspring.

Sylvie Hill

Old Grandma

(Photo is not my Grandma)

BOOK PEER-REVIEW: “Motherhood in Precarious Times” | Demeter Press

Monday, February 14th, 2022

I was honoured during the summer of 2019 to peer-review an anthology of essays and poems about mothers in dangerous times. An exceptional and enlightening read now published, Motherhood in Precarious Times is available for purchase for $24.95 on Demeter Press. My favouring review appears on the back blurb of the book.

Motherhood-in-Precarious-Times_FC Motherhood 2

“Motherhood in Precarious Times explores through reflections and academic analyses in poems, stories, and essays how environmental, socio-economic, political, and cultural and gendered threats shape mothering. The diverse voices combine powerfully in this vital anthology that will undoubtedly shape many debates from choosing Mother Earth vs. Motherhood, to fatherhood’s role in emergent maternal independence.”

– Sylvie Hill, Writer, Poet and University Continuing Education Professor of provocative literature courses on sexuality, relationships, and female “awakenings.”

Deep connections to pursue passions together but separately: why I loved the film, “Submergence”

Monday, February 14th, 2022

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This is what it looks like when two people, passionate about their individual missions, are about to part to go fulfill their purpose, which is dangerous and deadly …. but all about life-saving, and LIFE itself.

It’s a scene from a movie called “Submergence” on Netflix. Check it out. It’s glorious.

I’m a sucker for films about fierce connection where each as friends, or as new lovers, help the other in fulfilling their purpose. Where they don’t give up their passions for a relationship just yet – but they continue on, perhaps distracted but nonetheless in pursuit of the task.

There’s the movie, “Once,” which is a bit like that. “Snow Walker” as well. But this one goes deep – literally, into the underworlds of both our natural Earth, and into the underworld of Somalia and political/religious terrorism.

Each in their darkest moments – literally and figuratively – the the characters are able to call upon the other’s wisdom shared during the lighter moments. This wisdom keeps them alive.

I like how with the lady scientist, she will go to the very bottom of things, to the depths, face death – and rise. He will do the same. Something about being reborn through the deathly experience of pursuing some freakish compulsion to PROVE LIFE IS WORTH LIVING, and that it is rich and holy, resonates.

And that the two each dive to those depths of death to prove life is worth existing — is meaningful.

McAvoy is beautiful to look at it — nice to see a man’s thighs fill out his snug jeans. And those eyes. And, I always appreciate a woman with a small bust – and her unapologetic nerdiness is … inspiring.

Joseph Arthur: Portrait of the Rockstar as Digital Artist

Monday, February 14th, 2022

Lola Art Magazine – Issue #10

Lola coverLola story

POEM: “JEEP” — Henceforth we get locked in targets / Set ahead for us by past upsets

Sunday, February 13th, 2022

Jeep

JEEP.

Whether whatfore he said then and none other
He could picture me with a crew as a Mother
Of three, packing them into the back of a Jeep
Taking them to soccer, in control, routine.

Wencewhy, though, had he thought me militant?
I was only 20, disciplined, and innocent.
But stupid when drunk, and wildness dormant.
So what did he see as maternal in this Poetess?

And why the Jeep?!

Whether whatfore he said then to me, bothered:
“You with kids? Ha ha, I don’t think so sister.”
Yet he was the narcissistic, dark alcoholic
and I too entrenched in his war to get out of it.

Henceforth we get locked in targets
Set ahead for us by past upsets
Family patterns, neuroses, and abuses
This is the outcome of divorced kids’ futures.

And why the Jeep?

Love is that one thing that breaks us from regime
That sets us off in silly-land, challenging all that seems
And it’s addictive in its hallucinatory properties
And when gone, leaves us with blunt realities.

We need only one person to say: In you, I believe.
We need only parent to say: go away, you bug me.
I needed only one young man to tell me I could mother.
And only one fucked-up experience to discover –

That maybe he wasn’t as much of a creep,
that maybe he was the one who had my Jeep.

Sylvie Hill, Montreal, October 2, 2019.

(Image)

Sylvie appears on Montreal Podcast – “Late Night Poutine”

Friday, February 11th, 2022

So excited to join the Two Fingers Gun Club for the first ever episode of Late Nite Poutine, where we talk about the different layers of life – including mine as a writer, teacher, civil servant, lover of music, and so much more!

Late Night Poutine

HAKA | MANA | STAUNCH MAN, YEAH?

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

HAKA | MANA | STAUNCH MAN, YEAH?

Do things exist if we cannot name them? If named, are they into being now and forever furthered into their sense? I think so.
I remember meeting someone in my life for whom there was no words to describe them but I knew there was a word. (I tried to in #RussellSquareStation).I used to pronounce the unknown word with this face below, with an accompanied guttural expression of “ARGGGHHHH!!! WHAT IS HE?!!”

His stance could be confrontational but not combative: like a “haka” warning you that he could kill you, so just be aware, and mind is all. His oomphf was “mana” – that is the word: “2. (noun) prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma – mana is a supernatural force in a person, place or object.” And his being, “staunch,” just as Christina Thompson, author of “Come Ashore, and We Will Kill You and Eat You All” describes her Maori husband in a non-fictional biographical history book about their history both personal and of New Zealand’s Indigenous people. She describes ‘staunch’ as being of different meaning in New Zealand than elsewhere.

Three words that I never heard in Ottawa for the kind of person I would unlikely meet in the streets in which I lived life. Three words we don’t speak, and for which no other English word comes even close to describing viscerally. Three words that open the mind to a different kind that one finds elsewhere but not here, and always faraway. Like the Mauritius-born Northern Englander in London who was full of beans, tenderness, intellect and named A Man Called Woo Woo.

I long for the time to travel again to some far-off places to meet different kinds. And Montreal brings us so many. And recently in dreams, I’ve been some and seeing places.

Of all things we have not seen yet and the folks we have yet to meet. Of all the times we felt love but it wasn’t an “I Love You”, could it have been I love that you are here since everyone we meet may be willed and wanted? Destined?

Careful where you put your attention, they say. Yet some of the most blazed paths to the source are strongest not for the object of your attention but because you’re already burning bright and you’ve spotted a mirror reflection reflecting back your light — even if they are really dark.

I used to pretend I was tough with smokes and bottled beer at the Aloha Room but my haka was nothing more than shit talk.

I reckon I’ve free-flowed in the artistic realm having published things that once need be nuts or tapped into Source to let loose in the status-quo and perhaps in that, and with my virtue and that I’m here because Tolstoy paid for my Great Gran to come on over and my French Canadian Grandpa was a poet – I’ve got mana.

As for staunch … maybe I’ve got chutz·pah, and I certainly carry a Jewish nose that may have by way of Russia and Armenia.

I realize now it was never the boozing drunk wild and reckless I wanted in my sought. But the fierce and furious, mana-with-prana man, and staunch solid oak of a beast for which I’m destined! But we are what we eat, and we sow what we reap.

ERGH to unbecome what we’ve done over decades of aging, eh? To find our wits among fits and starts of planning and reinventing. Centred, I swear we find it all — and sometimes in silence, and peacetime, it just … happens along.

THOUGHT: DiscUSsion or – just digust?

Sunday, May 30th, 2021

DiscUSsion or – just digust?

I used to GET PAID for my public opinion that appeared in a printed weekly in news agent boxes on every bloody street corner, of every Ottawa city street stretching from the downtown out to suburban Orleans and Barhaven, and over to rural Perth, and into Quebec’s Chelsea and as far as Wakefield. Even across Canada to record labels, libraries and beyond. My words. My thoughts. Whatever was on my mind crafted in a confessional column style and critical thought to inspire conversation; debate in a “Letters To Editor” section and eventual online Comments section that I integrated in subsequent columns; and sharing. (Thanks Stuart Trew and Matthew Harrison).

And NOW?

Forget it. The change is this, and I’m not saying anything new. One public now-always-electronic word, one sentence out of place – and you’re blasted to high hell! The immediacy with which people REACT – not respond – is frightening because it closes the vented space in which dialogue can transpire and where two opinions can dance to an understanding. There’s no discUSsion anymore, just taunting. No learning, just abusing.

(See Ricky Gervais’ comedy show about posting the ad for guitar lessons in the public square and his comparison to the explosive reactions of Twitter).

Put another way, in our digital and virtual worlds, we’re not ‘sharing’, but merely PELTING our persona and one-way views that don’t benefit from the luxury of the back-and-forth with a real human face-to-face, nor the repair necessary for salvaging civility in a heated debate. Again, not new.

This, on the morning after an amazing four-hour visit-walk and talk with a mate hiking a mountain and venturing Montreal speaking of the current BLM, Nazis, activism, the pandemic and vaccinations, Rwanda and atrocities, Bolshevism, dating, feminism, Trump. There was room to be politically incorrect. To vent. To get it so wrong, and to have “Aha moments” of compassion for sides we didn’t see yet.

In this world of a shit-tonne of noise pollution, who is your sounding board? Your filtering-friends to help you sort out matters?

I’ve found the very groups shouting for visibility – and rightfully so – are often NOT the places I can go to learn more about their plight. I fear being turned away in a righteous, and rightfully-so exaggerated and intolerant, “oh please, lady! Figure it out!”

Reckon this is why Indigenous Elders were so valuable to a community. The passing along of information that we may never otherwise know for the seeming judgement out there that “well, you should JUST know!”

Do I know why the feck they changed Amherst to Ataken or that name that sounds like a Jedi? Do I know what bad McDonald did for his statue to be toppled? Do I understand why Steve’s Music store was looted in an BLM movement? Do I get why that girl in my old building defended her wardrobe malfunction of exposed bra and ample bosom as her ‘right.’

Good thing terraces and pubs are opening here in Montreal. That people can gather once again. Rather interesting how the blood boiled this past year with hot topics revolutionary in nature and yet — due to a mysterious spread of a mysterious bug — we all were disconnected from one another to TRULY CONVERSE and work shit out, relying only on the shit venues out there: social media, and news media.

Do you know what’s shaping your mind today? #CriticalThinking

TV LOVE: The Letters: Rediscovering the Art of Courtship

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

Who doesn’t miss getting love letters these days? ? ? If you’re craving some extra romance this Valentine’s day, tune in to THE LETTERS: REDISCOVERING THE ART OF COURTSHIP!

(I’m the host!)

In this exciting and unique series, ten Suitors set out to court a mysterious woman known to them only as “Roxanne,” but with one very romantic twist. They must woo her only using the power of the pen! Anonymity is key as the Suitors and Roxanne never lay eyes on each other and use pen names to mask their true identities.

Whom will she choose to meet face to face for a very special first date?

Now you can catch season II exclusively on Encore+ this Sunday, February 14th, on the day of love ?

Click the link to watch:
https://www.youtube.com/encoreplusmedia

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Saturday, January 9th, 2021

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