Grace in Small Things No. 544: The BlissDom Canada Conference Hotel Room Edition

This is my view from my nap position on a hotel couch in Mississauga, Ontario.

  1. I love arriving early to what will be a busy speaking engagement and conference — in this case it's BlissDom Canada — and then taking several hours to quite literally stretch myself across every piece of furniture in my hotel room like a cat lazily claiming their territory.
  2. I feel clean and sweet just looking at the tidy row of miniature shampoo and cream bottles lined up on the bathroom shelf.
  3. Having a hot shower, wrapping myself in a fluffy robe that doesn't have cat hair on it, and eating room service dessert at midnight is a decadence I never squander.
  4. Overheard conversations covertly scribbled next to my plate in the hotel restaurant make great fodder for poetry when I have a quiet moment.
  5. I like to trace the lines of another city's skyline with my eyes when it is lit up at night and the distant traffic moves muffled below.

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My Body as a Symbol

I looked at my body and frowned this morning. I do this on a lot of mornings.
It's not what I expect, anymore, although I can't pin down a time in my life when I did expect it.
And then it hit me, as it often does, that this isn't about whether I find my body attractive, so I asked myself:
"Do I unconsciously elevate what I expect to experience over accepting a more objective and less familiar perspective?"

We do this all the time.
I pick up a glass expecting to drink soda, and then when it is water that hits my tongue, I find it horrifying.
Water is not horrifying except when I expect it to be soda.

I understand that what I expect is not necessarily better,
and what I don't expect is not necessarily worse.
My body is not what I suppose it might be in the memory behind my mind's eye.
When it is not what I expect, there is an element of foreignness that comes into play. My present body becomes foreign to me. Like the water, it tastes bad.
That foreignness brings out skepticism and fear. I wonder who I am.
How am I this way? Am I afraid of this body, the one that has lived for over 41 years, whose parts (and sometimes lack thereof) record its history?
Am I afraid of what this body does and does not signal?

I think I am.

it is that I do not see my body at all.
I see a symbol of my fear and unmet expectations.

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These Pickles? I Love Them 9 Different Ways.

  1. These pickles are a lovely shade of green.
  2. Their flavour is bright and tart, a surprisingly satisfying experience when I am peckish but shouldn't be eating potato chips.
  3. I am eating these pickles right now while I write this list, and they don't make my keyboard greasy or sticky.
  4. I almost never become suspicious of pickles. Sour cream, old jam, leaky bottles of mustard: these all raise questions for me, make me wonder about their integrity.  Pickles feel safe and clean held in a seeming stasis in their brine.
  5. Their name, pickles, is also a description of how they are made. It is what they are. Pickles have integrity up the yin yang.
  6. Say "polski ogórki". Pohl-skee oh-gohr-kee. You simply have to love eating something that is that fun to hear and say.
  7. The pickles bump the glass with a heavy-yet-soft, distant staccato when I sway the jar from side to side through the air.
  8. These are the same pickles I have eaten for decades. I ate them as a child, and I bought them as cheap snacks in my early twenties when I sometimes had only a dollar a day left over for entertainment. When I eat them now, they are one of the few threads of my life that knit back coherently through all the rest.
  9. I am a secret pickle juice drinker. The prospect seems impossible until you tip the jar just enough for the juice to rush to the back of your throat. It is brilliant and almost medicinal, an antidote, a therapeutic revelation.
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