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Hell

Sometimes, in years past, my mother and aunt have flown in for Christmas. How grateful I am that they didn’t this year, because, thanks to the new terrorist bomber, their way back would have been excruciating. The reports from the airport speak of eight hour line-ups, infuriated passengers weeping on the counters, exhausted children falling asleep on their suitcases in the lines.

But it is terrifying to think that in this day and age, someone could have entered a plane carrying enough explosives, apparently, to knock it out of the air. There’s a picture of Umar Farouk Abdulmatallab in the paper this morning, a cheerfully smiling, handsome, bright-eyed young man. And a fiend. There’s another article in the paper about anti-Muslim prejudice in Canada, how hard it is for immigrants from Muslim countries to get jobs. It will be even harder now, with this fresh wound.

Read a review of a new book called Hell, by Robert Olen Butler, in which a reporter goes undercover to Hell, to interview the people there. He is chauffeured around by Richard Nixon in a 1948 Cadillac. Satan himself, wearing Armani jeans and packing heat, speaks to him. “Everybody down here has father issues,” he says. One day, Umar Farouk will join them.
At the end of Hell, the reporter concludes that life is “Hell for everyone. We are all utterly alone, but we are alone together.”
Bitterly cold out there, with a layer of new snow. I was alone with much togetherness yesterday. Friend Anne-Marie came over to bring me the first CD from Flashlight Radio, Nancy White’s daughter Suzie’s band. Now that’s a thrill, if another indication of our age – our friend’s children becoming rock stars. Sam came over for another Xmas dinner and to take away his container of leftovers, mostly mashed potatoes; Anna came over ditto, her container mostly stuffing. She helped me – hooray! – take down the tree and sweep up needles. Put away the stuffed Rudolph and the little carved Ark, the Xmas books piled on the coffee table, the Messiah CD, the Noels hanging in the windows, the pine cone wreath at the centre of the dining table, the rows of cards on the sideboard. It’s over. I’ve left the wreath on the front door and the lights on the eavestroughs, so I don’t seem like a total Grinch; most of my neighbours leave their decorations up until Valentine’s Day. But I am moving briskly along.
My usual television dilemma last night, two very good programs on simultaneously, and because I didn’t get the handyperson for Christmas, I’ve no idea how to save programs on my DVD player. (Sorry, Bruce. I know you set it all up for me, but you’re not here to show me again.) So I flipped back and forth between the classic Arsenic and Old Lace, which I’d somehow never seen, with Cary Grant doing a delightful comic turn – George Clooney really is the Cary Grant of our age, it’s startling to see these incredibly handsome men eager to make fools of themselves and do so skilfully – and a documentary on Little Women‘s Louisa May Alcott on PBS. Loved the movie but luckily, when it ended, got a full half hour just of Louisa’s amazing story. She was far more successful financially than the renowned male novelists of her time like Henry James and Herman Melville. She lived all her life at home. And she died within a day of her adored father.
Maybe souls in heaven have father issues, too.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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