Ma(r)king it up

by Yule Heibel on September 29, 2004

Haven’t written much lately, have I? A few annoying health problems intervened, and the usual “I can’t believe I have this much to do” panic, too. Yes, it’s true that I try to spout a constant stream of anti-fascist propaganda when I cleave to denigrating the “work makes you free” claptrap, yet somehow I, too, am caught up by the SS of everyday life. They march me off to endless tasks that grow ever more “aryan” and insurmountable: c’mon, suckers, work harder, work more perfectly, work more this, work more that, shine shine shine! Bah, humbug, right? Except I let the maid go early today, so it’s humbug on me, eh, as I polish the jewels… One of the several-if-minor-but-still-annoying health issues had to do with anemia, which I was truly startled to learn I had. Moi, anemia? Joke, eh? On the other hand, it would explain the weird feeling of “my head is nailed to the floor” that set in every day around 2 pm. Forthwith, my recipe in aid of those afflicted thusly: do not think that ingesting lots of expensive beef will cure you. You might just get constipated (not that I want to know the details of your sensitivities), and who knows how efficiently your body will absorb beef’s iron anyway. Instead, try my sure-fire recipe for what I call “Tiger’s Milk” (this stuff, which I drank during pregnancies, baffled the birthcentre midwives who couldn’t believe how high my iron levels were — I never saw a doctor, so who knows what s/he would have made of me): 1 c. OJ
2 Tblsp nutritional brewer’s yeast
2 Tblsp non-gmo lecithin
2 Tblsp skim milk powder
2 Tblsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses
2 Tblsp raw wheat germ
1 banana
Blend in blender until smooth, after which you actually have to manage to swallow it. Warning: you have to like licorice to tolerate this concoction since blackstrap molasses has a strong taste akin to licorice. But keep in mind that blackstrap molasses kept the pioneer masses going through thick and thin: it is pure sludge and pure gold, full of minerals and vitamins. And brewer’s yeast is spiffy, too, although it’ll make you puke if you try it straight. This brew has everything you need to get through the day, and it’s good for your GI tract, as well as being very cheap, too. Pure unsulphured blackstrap molasses (i.e., not baking molasses) costs less than soda pop. I also have a very excellent recipe for chocolate cake, adapted from my ancient dog-eared (early 1970s) copy of Iva Bennett’s The Prudent Diet, but will save that for another day. Must keep something light in the offing, something to motivate me to come back, too. Why not come back? Well, for one thing, I hate the look of this site, and it’s a personal challenge for me to load the page: god, how much crimson can a body stand? I think all my red blood cells have seeped into the page, which explains my condition, n’est-ce pas? Unfortunately, I’m not at all clear on how to change it, nor how to fix the annoying problems I have trying to set up an entry in Firefox, Safari, Opera, or any other browser than Internet Exploder, whether I’m using Apple or Windows: every HTML tag that has the pointy bracket () gets turned into a question mark plus ampersand and other assorted gobbledegook, wrecking the mark-up. In frustration, I left those issues and turned my mind to remembering a friend I had (briefly) in junior high, when I was at S.J. Willis, which is now an adult learning centre, but which was a former jail, turned school in my day. Situated on a rise at Hillside and Blanshard Streets, it was known then as “Pregnant Hill” because of the greaseball avidity of its population. It was f-ck or be f-cked, the peer-controlled educational mantra that parents and teachers don’t want to see. The story that resulted is based on a real person, but judging from this beginning, there’s the potential that I can turn the memory into a wholly new character. This is kind of exciting, since I don’t usually try to create fictional characters. Hmm, if this were a mystery, I could kill her off by drowning her in a vat of Tiger’s Milk….

In junior high school I had a friend who, through no fault of her own, was really very odd. Her name, for example, was so fantastically different from the norm that, were I to write it here, I could not claim the protection of fiction, for her friends and family would recognise it instantly. It was a name so resonant and elegant, yet potentially so ridiculous, that the adolescent bearer had no choice but to wear it like a cloud. Of rain. A shroud. Of doom. But let’s make a name up for her: Aulelia Milldeau, say. In the days when Aulelia was entering the sexual life web of junior high, attitudes toward the handicapped were not yet tempered by inclusive classrooms, and in some of the smaller minds her name inevitably merged with the term “spazz.” Having a name inspired by the islands of Hawai’i didn’t count in her favour, either: visions of mamas in mumus instantly linked her to The Uncool, and made Aulelia wish for a different name. Furthermore, while too many of her classmates from Kindergarten on hadn’t possessed the capability to pronounce her name, they neither had any particular desire to learn, for strangeness in others was never an opportunity, but simply an affront. And the fact that her last name sounded too much like mildew only worsened matters. On the other hand, if one was willing to surrender to one’s musical self, the name Aulelia resonated with Eulalia and called to mind the word ululation, which means “a long, loud, emotional utterance.” Alas, Aulelia the girl was better known for her silences, for her sullen, hooded expression: sound was not her specialty. She didn’t howl, she didn’t sing, in fact, she barely spoke. She had a low but nasal voice, which fitted her thin and reedy body very much. When charitable and not mocking the handicapped, her classmates called Aulelia Owly. The Owl, owly mildew, Aulelia Milldeau, Owl at the Window. That last name was of course as magical as the first, a dimension lost, I’m afraid, on the awkward adventurers of adolescence whose own vital impulses scared them into iconoclastic attacks on anything imaginative. Those of us who had the smattering of French that even Western Canadians ought to have could delight in Milldeau, which suggested mille d’eau or “thousands of waters.” Now, where did that come from? One’s mind was set to thinking of daring couriers de bois carving out new identities untethered to former family names, fearlessly making their way across the Canadian Shield, through the endless marshes of Ontario, perhaps helping to portage on the Prairie, surely defying The Hudson Bay Company’s monopoly on the fur trade, quite possibly marrying Indian maidens, and undoubtedly fighting in Louis Riel’s righteous M�tis rebellion. The possibilities for imagining something distinctly Canadian were endless, and didn’t Aulelia have a chiselled elegance in her dark looks that suggested a wilder parentage than the average scones-and-tea pedigree on offer in Victoria?

Well, that’s about as far as I got, aside from starting to describe her house. But the house and Aulelia’s life in it is a turning point in the plot/story, or it would be if I knew what it was. It’s a turning point which is supposed to wrench the reader off the track s/he thinks I’ve started her/him on. For me, Aulelia’s house was the starting point — the bit about her name was just a ruse, you understand, …although she really did have a most unusual name. It’s her mother, her father, and her several loathsome brothers who are the real antagonists, though, not her name. The name is just a name is a name is a rose …you know…

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