Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Friday, March 03, 2017


Today I had another of those rather difficult conversations that I have been growing accustomed to having.  This time it was Steven, who is frustratingly immature and surprisingly lacking in common sense.  It should not necessarily have been me having the conversation with him, but M doesn't come to work on time (ever) and I could not stand to wait for her to jingle and lisp her way in the door fifteen minutes late before addressing my concern.  So I ploughed ahead, and found myself quite capable of addressing another adult's idiocy in a straightforward manner - much more so than I ever would have thought a short time ago.  I am narcissistically fascinated by this facet of my personality because it is brand new and completely unexpected.  My whole life I have gone to great lengths to avoid having uncomfortable conversations.  To find out I can lead one so successfully is endlessly surprising.  I almost want to manufacture situations that will allow me to practice.  I wonder what has changed in me.  Is it all the new shoes I bought?


It is only 9 days until I leave for Berlin.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

forgive me I'm just an animal

Ghosting BB is not as easy as I hoped.  Like a high school boy, the less interest I show in her, the more she shows in me.


Friday was an unpleasant day.

I had written myself a list of things I wanted to accomplish, none of which got done.

First I was forced to call the Ministry about a parent who punched her daughter in the face the night before.  I sat with that girl while she cried for a hour, and nursed the bruised knuckles she acquired returning the favour.

Then I went to the elementary school next door because I was required to lead a cheerful pep rally type event to welcome their grade sevens to high school next year.  I am so excited that you will be joining us.  Wooohooo!!

Then I came back to work and was interviewed by a social worker and a police officer about the girl.

Then I dealt with an angry father who wanted to reschedule his son's classes because he mistakenly believes his profoundly learning disabled son is capable of graduating.

Next, I informed a mother that her grade eight boy needs to have showers.  And wear deodorant.  And brush his teeth.

Then I had a meeting with a mother who wanted me and the vice principal to take responsibility for her daughter skipping school and who was astonished that neither of us were going to come to school on Saturdays to make her daughter make up missed time.

This was followed by a department meeting (the first of the year, and only because I insisted upon having one), in which I felt compelled to share with my team that I think we can do a much better job of several different things.

And then a conversation with a bratty grade 9 girl who was bullying another girl.

Throughout the day I noticed myself communicating more and more bluntly.  I have always been a person who is gentle with words, afraid of hurting other people's feelings.  Afraid of hurting people to a degree that has inhibited me, often, from being as clear as I should.  This has been changing rapidly as a requirement of my new job which no longer allows me the luxury of avoiding difficult conversations.  By the time the department meeting started I was becoming deadpan blunt, and the last bully of the day did not get a lot of nurturing.

I ended the day at the liquor store filling my cart with wine.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Note to self

1.  I would like to remind myself that overall I am good at my job.  I want to remember it on days when I am overworked and short on time and miss seeing students I should have seen, and miss doing things I should have done, and make mistakes.  Because overall, I am good at this.  I am not only good at this.  I am really good at this.  And I am already better at it than both my team members who have far more experience than I do.  (Not that being better than really matters, but it helps to have a yardstick by which to measure.  Or I'm a creep.  Maybe that.)

2.  I would like to remind myself that my job isn't me.  I would like to remember it when my job is enormous and overwhelming and eats up my evenings and my weekends and still leaves me wishing I had more time to do things.  My job isn't me.  I love my job but my job does not love me.  It wants to eat me.

3.  I would like to remind myself that where it comes to BB, I have made this mistake before, and I already know how to solve it.  I can run faster than she can, and for longer, but running isn't the only option.  Running is only one option.

4.  I would like to remember that being direct is generally better than being sneaky.  Today when N asked me to register for a workshop with him and keep it hidden from M, I got twisted glee from doing so.  And yet, clearly, we should have told her it was her turn to stay home and babysit the kids rather than trying to sneak out behind her back.  The fact it made me laugh does not make it a good thing.  We can do better, and when it is my turn, I will.

5.  T must never be undervalued or taken advantage of, because she functions far above her pay grade.  It is easy to forget this, but essential not to forget it.  She is invaluable.  She makes me look more competent than I am, and she challenges me to become more competent than I was.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

beautiful wreck

The longer a pattern persists, I suspect, the easier it becomes to identify it.  I am vigilant on the lookout for patterns lately, my own and everyone else's, because we know that in general people behave the same way forever until and unless there is a reason to change.  One of my long established patterns has been to become close friends with bossy, domineering women who treat me like a child.  (Allowing myself to be infantilized this way is rooted in laziness, though I can entertain the argument that it is also manipulative.  Like controlling from a position of submitting; topping from the bottom, so to speak.)

When you are friends with a bossy, domineering woman you never need to make a decision on your own behalf because she already has it covered.  You don't need to drive anywhere because she does that.  You don't need to send back your undercooked food because she already eaten half of it and sent it back for you.  And she tells you who you are, so you don't even have to think about it.  Very relaxing.

But my second puberty has me in full bloom lately, and I suddenly cannot breathe when my bossy, domineering friend makes me breakfast because she knows I didn't eat this morning, and sends me home with a tupperware full of brownies, and criticizes my hair, and implies I have no secrets she doesn't know.  These kindnesses have become intolerable and I find myself pulling away, far away, further and further the more she demands to know where I am going.  I actually do have secrets she doesn't know, but that's because I don't know them either.  Our friendship is ending.  I choose this.


I went to a professional development day yesterday and walked out partway through.  I left because we were painting and cutting magazines and gluing and sharing.  It was gross.  The purpose was clever; a counselling exercise.  A small cardboard box.  You decorate the outside of the box to represent yourself as you show yourself to the world.  And you decorate the inside of the box to represent the secret inner parts of yourself that only you see.  Too personal, maybe.  But also not necessary to do it to understand it.  But also, and more importantly, the growing awareness that my outside and my inside pretty much match each other these days.  Not because I have nothing flawed and prickly on the inside, but because I hide those things far less than I used to.  People who know me see my imperfections early on.  I left without fanfare, but also without slinking or looking apologetic.


Friday, January 27, 2017

she thinks she's the passionate one

I think it is fair to say my vertigo has finally and thoroughly ended.  Although I credit my physiotherapist with helping me by providing desensitization exercises, the fact of the matter is that the main reason it has gotten better is the simple passage of time.  And this is aggravating because it tells me that should this condition ever recur, it cannot be cured.  Like many problems in life, it needs to be outlasted.

Yesterday two women at my work had a fight via email, but for some reason felt the need to "Reply All", keeping the entire 100+ members of staff caught in the drama.  This is the kind of thing that makes me hate unions, because they give people confidence to openly act like asses, knowing that there won't be any consequence.  Sometimes a union is a wonderful thing, and sometimes it simply protects and preserves idiocy.  I wonder if the administrators look at each other and whisper about how much they wish they could fire certain people.  Actually I don't wonder.  I'm certain they do this.  I would.


My sister-in-law convinced her doctor to take two new patients, me and J.  I have grown fed up with my doctor on a number of counts over a number of years, but my primary problem is that he is far too interested in talking to me about my sex life.  His curiosity is not rooted in medical concern as far as I can tell.  And I do not say this because I think I am particularly interesting, rather that he is particularly curious.  There have been a number of times in my life that I have ignored gut-feelings like this, and regretted it.  This time I have decided to act on that feeling and move on.  We met the new doctor yesterday, who was not nearly as smiley as he is, not nearly as warm and chatty.  She was serious and deliberate and professional.  I'm good with that.


Now I am reading Caroline Adderson again.  Isn't it strange how some writers can alienate their readers so delicately, making them long to get closer?  And others just throw a warm arm around the readers and pull them in so comfortably that they can feel like they have always inhabited this world?   (Adderson is the latter.  Murakami is the former.)  Both styles intrigue me; I want to imitate them, each one in different situations and for different reasons.  I do not think I accomplish either one successfully.  Rather I invite my reader to watch me tread water and wonder how long I can go, forever on the cusp of swallowing water, and dare them to flag down a lifeguard.  Because I can swim; I just don't like water.


Friday, January 20, 2017

what walks down the stairs, alone or in pairs?

When I moved into my first apartment I bought a shower curtain that had a print of strange cartoon-like creatures that looked like hybrids of birds, bugs, reptiles, and rodents.  I was quite enamoured of these peculiar little critters and spent a lot of time studying their faces while washing my hair.  I was particularly fond of the two-legged, pointy-eared guy next to the blue rabbit.  I liked his sidelong glance and his crooked little mouth.  This little dude clearly knew stuff he wasn't telling, and he had an opinion about it too.  But he knew how to be cool.
When I got my new drivers' license in the mail today I recognized a nearly identical expression on my own face in the photograph.  The woman taking my picture had clearly told me not to smile or make any kind of facial expression at all.  And I hadn't, not on purpose.  But the picture came out looking remarkably like the guy on the shower curtain I used to chat with while I got ready for school in the morning.  Eyes looking up and off to one side, mouth slightly askew.


My new job continues to force me to have difficult conversations with people with whom I would not normally choose to have any kind of conversation whatsoever.  Today I told a mother she would be irresponsible to continue not to take her depressed daughter to see a doctor.  And I told another mother her son had chosen not to graduate and needed to be held accountable for that decision.  Neither of these things are things I could have said six months ago.  I may finally be becoming an adult.


My husband's hair is astonishing.  For reasons no one understands he has stopped cutting it and allowed it to become enormous.  Something I did not know about his hair when it was short is that it is extremely coarse and very curly.  And now that it is so long, I find it all over the house, especially in the bathroom sink.  Like millions of silver slinkies.  (A slinky, a slinky, it's a wonderful toy.)  It's as though a toy box has exploded.  I have feelings and thoughts about the slinkies, but I say nothing.  I look heavenward (up and to the left) and hold my mouth crooked.