Sunday, December 31, 2006


instant ending

Growing up, I believed my mother didn't love me. I believed she didn't like me either. In Mommie Dearest there was a scene in which the teenaged Chrisina Crawford came to the same conclusion and it was disbelief at first, almost a question being whispered, My mother doesn't love me. When you say that kind of thing out loud it becomes a million times heavier than it is when it's still inside your head, and then the full weight of it crushes you beneath it. My mother hates me. My mother hates me. I said it with her.

I don't believe my mother hated me anymore. I think she was frustrated with me and with parenthood, and with her life in general. And I know she expressed herself in ways that highlighted the negative, leaving positives to be assumed rather than stated. I needed them to be stated. I was a sensitive child, easily hurt, easily damaged. It doesn't heal the child to feel better now - as an adult who is sometimes angry and frustrated as well. But it helps me to understand.

At times I have a heightened awareness of this type of self-expression, overly critical, stating only the negatives and leaving the positives unsaid. In my teaching career I have made it a habit to make as a public a statement as possible out of every positive and to make criticisms very gently and very sparingly. Some other teachers probably think I'm too soft. But it's important to me. It's what I believe in.

Regretfully, I don't think I have always been as careful with the people that I love as I have with my students. It's something I want to get better at.


Friday, December 29, 2006

no one knows noses

I asked Shawn if I could have a fainting goat.

I had a plan in mind. I wanted to teach it not to be scared anymore. I was going to expose it, slowly, gently, to increasingly startling stimuli until it was cured of its fainting disorder and could calmly continue chomping on the grass as multicoloured umbrellas opened up around it like a field full of flowers.

Shawn said no.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

There are no atheists in foxholes.

Sometimes, when I was a child, I would cry at church when the people sang hymns.
Sometimes I cry when I am at a play and people applaud at the end.
I cried on a tour bus in Hana when the driver stopped conducting the tour and sang a love song to a couple celebrating their anniversary.

I cried when my parents gave me a graduation gift.
These are not times I was sad; they are times I was overwhelmed.

Being overwhelmed can be a lot of things because it doesn't specify what the feeling is that has become too much to bear and it can be any number of things. Perhaps I have always been a little easy to overwhelm. Some people call this sensitive, not to be confused with empathetic, because although they are related, one does not necessarily mean the other exists in the same spirit.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by something I cannot name. Yesterday Shawn looked at the brown dog as he was sniffing the crate in which he flew from Vancouver and the brown dog looked at Shawn quizzically and raised an eyebrow. Shawn raised his eyebrow back at the brown dog and said, This was your vessel. And I started to cry. I don't know why. It was funny to me, that comment, because it was surprising or strangely worded or something odd. Sometimes language has such peculiar nuances that it brings up unexpected feelings, indefinable feelings. I hadn't expected to cry. In fact I'd opened my mouth expecting a honking laugh and was totally taken off guard by the feeling of suddenly being overwhelmed. By what. What.

Being overwhelmed is a temporary loss of the ability to process emotional responses. That's my definition, anyway. I picture it like overfilling a cup. I'm the cup, the water is my feelings, and the overflow is my tears. I have some degree of control over it. It tends not to happen often in circumstances that aren't breakdown friendly. It happens much more easily at home where I am safe and in the company of my husband who accepts my erratic behaviour with good grace. Though I have this measure of control, being overwhelmed is a feeling that frightens me. I don't like losing my ability to control myself from within. And yet it's freeing to do so and find oneself loved, regardless of the spillage. I'm built to spill.

N used to call my spillage "the curse of being gifted". I call it my Lolita Response Complex.

Not really.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

half a mile behind the lines

Shawn wants to know if Christmas will mean more if we have our own family traditions instead of relying on our extended families' traditions. We don't do much for Christmas on our own. We have lights on the front of the house... but that's about the extent of it. No tree, no decorations, no cards.

I have to think about that. I'm not sure I need Christmas to mean more. Religiously speaking, I don't exactly revere Christmas... not because I don't believe in anything, but more because I kind of believe in everything. I can pray and I can believe and I can worship... all from home, all from the heart, and all the time. From the standpoint of consumerism... I participate in the money spending. I buy gifts for my family and friends. Though I loathe the shopping, I do enjoy giving gifts to the people I love, and yet again, Christmas isn't really a necessary part of that. It's something I do anyway.

So I guess I'm not sure what more I want Christmas to mean... I think what more I want it to mean is that we'll start being more actively involved in volunteer organizations. Giving money is nice... but I want to be there physically. Like it was in Kenya, I want to give my gifts with my own hands. It changes the act and it makes it more real. Writing a cheque is just not enough anymore.


Bless you baby. I miss you.

always fresh

I have completely fallen off the exercise wagon lately. Ever since things went sad... I lost my energy, I lost my care. We kept going to Pilates class on Saturdays but that was it, one hour a week of gentle stretching. Not very impressive.

The fact that I was still able to fit into my Christmas dress for Shawn's company Christmas party was a Christmas miracle in and of itself. I am more inspired by successes than I am by failures, and seeing that things aren't as far gone as I felt they were has given me a bit of a renewal of energy. And so yesterday I dragged Shawn out for an hour of hiking and today I try to do the same again. Maybe I can get back the level of energy and activity I had before.

K called this morning and said she would be coming out to visit some time in January, a thought that also pleased me. I've missed her, even as I've let myself lose touch and wondered if we didn't know each other anymore. A little visit would be wonderful.

Tomorrow we're going to my parents' house for the day. It's a bit of a drive so the actual time spent there can't be as long as I'd sort of like it to be, but there's good in that too, I believe. Leaving while we're still enjoying each other is a better way for things to finish than when we've begun to drive each other crazy.


I lived with my sister and her daughter for about two years, 1999-2001. I had hoped I could help her with her difficult role as a single mother and that I could provide my niece with some stability as opposed to the steady flow of roommates before me who'd come and gone by the month. My sister needed someone to share the rent with and I needed somewhere to live, and so we tried it.

It was hard. Really really really hard.

My sister was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in her teens, while living in the hospital and under constant psychiatric care. She believed there was nothing wrong with her and that the only reason my parents had taken her to the hospital was that they were trying to get rid of her.

My sister's level of intelligence was extremely high. I don't know in terms of expressing it as an IQ, but she was brilliant, really, in many ways. And articulate. It made living with her impossible. She had ideas that made no sense whatsoever, and yet could explain and express herself so eloquently that she sounded rational and sane. One of the last things I remember before moving out was that she told me she had purchased ten packages of bacon and put them in the freezer the week before, and now they were no longer there. At first I thought this was the lead in to a joke. But it wasn't. Her point in telling me this was that she believed I had stolen ten packages of bacon from her. And while we were on the subject, she said, she also wanted to point out that she would like me to return all the missing cutlery. She wasn't kidding. She really sincerely believed I had stolen ten packages of bacon and several pieces of cutlery from her kitchen.

The thing about this event was that it was a turning point in my mind where I really realised how ill she was. How paranoid and how deluded. Because up until that point she'd managed to almost convince me at times that I was the one who was mad. She would demand to know why her shampoo bottle was emptying too rapidly... and I would become convinced I had been using the wrong one, hers. She would notice the coffee was low and I wouldn't clearly remember how many times I'd made coffee that week, and think that perhaps she was right. She would promise she'd be home at noon and arrive home at six, forcing me to miss commitments while I was looking after my niece, and she would swear she'd said six, and I would wonder if it was me who was confused. She was so convincing that I was never truly sure which of us was messed up. But the bacon incident was a final straw. A stopping point where I could know with certainty that I wasn't confused. I knew I had never fried up ten packages of bacon and eaten them covertly in my bedroom with stolen cutlery. It was when I accepted the truth that my sister was more ill than I'd realised and that there was nothing I could do to stop it.


Uncovering the Truth has been like that, a revelation that is painful but also a relief. While I learn things that are both hurtful and bewildering, I also recover my sense of balance in learning that I was never the one who was confused or paranoid or overreacting. I learn that my senses were right all along and my biggest mistake, truly, was just in not trusting myself more completely. My frustrations were actually valid, my suspicious were not delusions. It was even more twisted than I'd ever suspected. And that, as sad as it is, is a relief. It brings me back to knowing that I'm okay. It provides further evidence of what I've known for a long time - that when I attach myself to people who are are ill, I am weak and I become infected. When I attach myself to people who are healthy, I absorb and reflect their light.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I spent a large portion of the afternoon chipping ice off the driveway. I shovel snow all the time, but when the car drives over the driveway before I get a chance to shovel, it packs the snow down tightly, and repeated driving over the same spots makes the snow turn to ice. For no good reason I decided I wanted to chip off the strips of ice that look like tire treads.

There is only one person in the world I know of who would truly have appreciated the obsessiveness that drove the ice-chipping project: Crazy Big Eyes. I wished she was here to see me. She would have been so proud. Denim Hat might have been pleased too. She would have watched through her window and clicked her tongue like soft applause.

Merry Christmas Crazy Big Eyes. Merry Christmas Denim Hat.


Some day when times weren't so tight.

I didn't work yesterday. Instead I met Shawn for lunch and then went shopping for a new sweater and sunglasses. Ironic that after dreading shopping so much, I did it unnecessarily. Fortunately, the kinds of places I shop for myself are generally places that most of the world wouldn't be caught dead in... so I don't have battle the crowds or queue for hours on end.

My sunglasses are broken and we get a whole lot of sun here in the land of Great Big Skies, especially in the winter when the sun glares off the snow. Someone must have heard my complaints about the endless grey sky because the sun has returned. And I did need new sunglasses.

And I did need a sweater. I wear a lot of threadbare clothes. It's because I have favourites and because I care about comfort more than I do about fashion. Clothes are at their most comfortable when they reach that ratty stage, when the knees are just about to poke through and threads are hanging down from the cuffs of the sleeves. Sometimes Shawn tries to make my clothes worse by pulling at the threads in vain attempts to make them unwearable - this in hopes it will encourage me to buy something new.

After lunch yesterday I decided to try and find both sunglasses and a sweater. I shop like my Dad does ---a straight line to the item I want with no browsing, trying on clothes only if absolutely necessary and doing so in the aisle of the store rather than in a fitting room, and making a straight line back to the car. Home home home!

The saleslady asked me if I would like my items gift-wrapped, and I had this weird moment of indecision where I was thinking how nice it would be to take them home wrapped up in pretty paper with ribbons and bows on them and give them to myself to unwrap. I'm such a weird girl. Finally I decided not to be a loon and said no thanks, but of course by then the lady believed these were gifts and so I had to listen to her tell me what to do if the person I was giving them to didn't like them or found they didn't fit properly - and wait patiently while she printed a "gift receipt".

Shawn was happy that I had a new sweater and he called me "Mrs. FancyPants" which is the same name he calls Little Puppy when she refuses to eat dog food.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My next post will assuredly not be about goats.


A school choir was on the local news this morning singing Christmas carols. They were quite cute but I was particularly amused by their rendition of "Mr. Grinch", the one from the animated movie and originally sung by Boris Karloff. It just struck me as hilarious and ridiculous for a young choir comprised mostly of girls, dressed up in their shiniest shoes and prettiest dresses to be singing in their sweet soprano voices, "Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk..." (stink, stank, stunk)


Monday, December 18, 2006

so I can feel you breathe

T. & I. argue about his addiction to videogames. She makes fun of him for all the hours he spends building up characters and makes him sound stupid for caring about it. She talks to me conspiratorially about how she would like to smash his computer. She asks if I feel the same way. I really don't. I can't say I fully understand why they love the games so much, but it doesn't bother me. I don't play WOW or anything so complex, but I think that all boils down to the fact that I am not a very patient person where it comes to things like that. There's too much to learn and I can't sit still long enough to learn it.

But as far as character flaws go, being married to a man who loves videogames hasn't caused me any emotional harm. His love of videogames became a career - one that allowed me to quit my job and waste time for an entire year.... one that would allow me to never work again if I wanted it that way. One that has bought us a new jetted tub and all the hardwood floors I ever dreamed of.

All greed aside, I'm proud of him. Purely proud of him for accomplishing the very thing he always wanted. I don't fully understand what draws him to it - but knowing he is a respected professional doing what he always dreamed of doing is a dream come true for me.

I told I. that the fact he likes to play videogames a lot doesn't bother me at all. He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, he doesn't gamble, he doesn't fool around with other women, he doesn't steal, he doesn't hurt me. Those are the things that matter to me. An addiction to World of Warcraft is something I will happily endure.


We were watching one of those idiotic shows about rich people and their money - the lavish lifestyles that people live after they win huge lotteries. And we were trying to figure out, if we were billionaires, how our lives would be different, and how they would stay the same.

On the show, there was a woman who was having "diamond manicures". Literally, she was having thin slices of diamonds shaved and glued onto the tips of her fingernails. This is the kind of thing that I can say I am positive I would not do if I was billionaire. Not even if I never had to think about money ever again.

If I was a billionaire, I would travel a lot more. And I would start projects in Africa to teach and educate the people. I would bring them my gifts myself rather than relying on World Vision.

I would not buy a bigger house. Our current house is 1900 square feet... and the new one is about 2300. That, already, seems too big. It's certainly more than I want to clean. I wouldn't buy a bigger house - but I'd certainly buy a bigger piece of land to put it on. I wouldn't have neighbours that I could see, or whose children would run through my flowerbeds.

What I would spend money on is a cleaning staff. I HATE cleaning - but I like things to be clean. And I would spend money on a chef to cook my meals. I'm a bad cook.

Most of all, if I was a billionaire, I would hire a personal shopper to do my Christmas shopping for me.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

all there is to know about the crying game

The new house has wires in it now. No power... but wires that will run power, and cable and internet and phone signals and things like that. Having spent the last few months writing safety programs for construction workers, I felt like an outlaw sneaking around in an unfinished house without a hardhat or permission. But it's interesting to walk around inside this frame and know that it's eventually going to be the frame around our lives. Literally, it's just wood and nails and wires... but as we walk through it holding hands, that's just not what we see.

Our bathtub has been installed, one of the main reasons we wanted this house. It's big enough to fit us both in there together and it has bubble jets. When we looked at the tub, currently filled with wood shavings and a little bit of snow, I could imagine us in it.

We went for a walk again this afternoon. It was cold but the sun was out, which makes a nice change from the steel grey skies we've been seeing for the last several weeks. We stopped on the way home to pick up sandwiches and a movie. Usually I just pretend I'm helping choose what movie we're going to see because most of the time I fall asleep anyway. Shawn picked Superman Returns - which makes me wonder what Christopher Reeves' wife thinks of that movie. I'm sure she didn't think of him as Superman, exactly, but somehow it seems wrong that things like that carry on happening even when someone so central and important to the whole thing is gone.

It says on the disc jacket that Marlon Brando is in this movie, appearing as archived footage. Even though Shawn used to work with editing equipment all the time and I've seen how that kind of thing is done, I still don't really understand it. Like... how was it possible to finish The Crow without Brandon Lee? Even though there's a digital explanation I still have trouble with it. It makes life seem more abstract and indefinable.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Do you have the time to listen to me whine?

We were supposed to go to a party at K & R's place tonight. They live fairly close, which meant we could have gone just for a short time and then come home without it requiring much effort. But honestly. It turns out that we just don't like people very much.

I don't know what happened. I used to love going out. I used to love being around people all the time. Now I'm pretty antisocial and so is Shawn. It's good that we're on the same track right now. There have been times in our relationship when I was feeling sociable and he wasn't, and vice versa. That means spending way more time apart. But now we seem to agree that staying home together is the nicest thing there could possibly be.

We're going to go for a walk in the snow and peek at our new house.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

antirobe aquadrops

Little Puppy looks strange. Her cheeks are swollen and puffy in places from the trauma of having had teeth extracted, and at the same time, her cheeks are kind of sunken in other places because there's no more teeth holding them in the right place. She seems cheerful though in spite of it all, a lot more cheerful than I'd be if I had a bunch of teeth pulled out the day before. Shawn says that maybe since her mouth was so infected it actually hurts less now instead of more, having had all that work done. It's possible. That makes me kind of angry and kind of sad, to think she might have been in pain all this time and we didn't know, and none of the vets we saw over the last two years said anything about it. I hope that she'll feel good now, anyway.

This morning when I got in my car and prepared to back out of my driveway I realised there was a mountain of snow, literally neck-deep, blocking my exit. In his infinite wisdom, the mayor has finally decided to have the snow removed from the residential streets - this after weeks and weeks of people complaining about their cars being stuck and being unable to get to work. Of course they decided to clear the street during morning rush hour, at precisely 8:00am as every car in the neighbourhood tried to back out of their driveway. Fortunately, a man in a Bobcat took pity on my plight and dug me a small hole to escape through.

After that, it was a pretty good day. I spent the morning in a junior high doing "social dance", the most hated of all Phys.Ed. requirements by junior high boys the world over. They were nice kids, though. The man I was working with was odd and seemed to have a hard time keeping things under control. I resisted the temptation to bust out my pad of paper and start evaluating him on behalf of the university. The school offered me more work for next week, undoubtedly based upon my outstanding ability where it comes to The Bird Dance.

In the afternoon I went to visit all my student teachers and collect their final evaluations. I was annoyed that two of them had forgotten (they're worse than the junior high kids, some of them!) and didn't have them ready to go. Because these official documents require my signature on them in order for these students to graduate with their degrees, I don't think I'll worry too much about what they decide to do. I'll let them contact me and figure out how to solve their own problems. As far as I'm concerned, they can drive to my house to get my signature, and they'd better bring their own pens.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

guaranteed approval

My poor little puppy girl had oral surgery today and now she has a lot less teeth. It's a strange thing how her mouth got so infected because we've brushed her teeth every day since we got her. The vet said that her teeth are too crowded together because she's so wee and so she doesn't have enough gum tissue between her teeth to keep out the germies. He said it's like a window without weather stripping, which made sense to my need-a-visual brain. Anyway, now she has less teeth so there will be more gum to go around for the ones that remain. She's all sore and tired and I feel sorry for her. I don't do well with stuff like this, so maybe I shouldn't have kids after all. Shawn's decided to stay home with her tomorrow since I have to go to the University. He didn't seem so sad about taking a day off, and I'm happy that she won't be alone.


Today's corporate meeting was productive but boring. A nice thing about these corporate meetings is that when the work gets done faster than expected they just let you go home early. In a lot of other jobs I've had, your reward for being a fast worker is more work to keep you occupied until the official quitting time. It doesn't inspire much work ethic. That's one of the reasons I thought it would be good for me to be self-employed; I work fast. I procrastinate a lot, but when I get started, I really am quick. (Of course when I wanted to be self-employed I didn't take into account the fact that I would lose my mind being home all the time.)


I got a message today letting me know that the little story I wrote was selling fast, which was a nice surprise, especially since they asked me to write more. It's nice when unexpected little things like that go well.


The Pilates studio called to tell us the class we signed up for was cancelled due to lack of interest. So now we have a number of choices. Either we can take that class on a variety of different weeknights instead of a Saturday morning, or we can take the advanced class instead of the intermediate class... or we can take the beginning class again. I'm leaning toward taking the beginner class again, particularly since I'm not feeling terribly competent at Pilates anyway. And I really don't want to commit to a weeknight instead of a weekend.

We've registered Little Puppy in a class on Monday nights that starts next month... She already has basic obedience/ clicker training, but this class (it's called RallyO) is supposed to be good for developing confidence and getting exercise. For wild party folk like us, one night out a week seems like enough.


Because he was slow on the draw, Shawn briefly thought we weren't going to get a table at his company Christmas party this year. I could really care less about the dance and party, but I was kind of sorry about missing out on the dinner and entertainment. Well, honestly I was mostly looking forward to ordering mixed drinks that get poured through the ice sculpture on the way to the glass.

In the end, it turned out that R&G submitted our names to save us a seat at their table, so we were taken care of. Sometimes Shawn is even more disorganized than I am.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

don't shoot shoot shoot that thing at me

Sometimes I miss how things used to be so much that I think I would give anything anything anything anything to go backward just a little bit.


Tomorrow I'm not a teacher or a University Associate. Tomorrow I am a writer. Not the creative kind ... the sell out kind. The kind that gets paid for putting words in the right order and making a clear statement; clear no matter how boring.

When I am this woman I wear clothes that are meant for sitting in. Sitting behind a table with a stack of freshly sharpened pencils. Ready for frequent coffee breaks. A light laugh when the men go outside to smoke every hour and a half. Smiling inanely when they ask each other, Working hard or hardly working? (How many times can that joke be funny?) Carrying a stack of business cards as though I am somebody important in terribly high demand.

This is another fantasy. Another mismatched piece of who I am, a piece with ragged edges crammed in forecefully despite its inability to harmonize and fit. It has nothing to do with who I am when I step inside my house and close the door behind me.

I have stopped longing for the freedom to be at home all the time without responsibilities. Things are in good balance right now. A bit of academia, a bit of professionalism, and some corporate nonsense thrown in for good measure. None of them fit very well, but together as a package they seem to work for now.


I'm so tired tonight. I'm going to bed early. Tomorrow I'll need to be out of the house by about 7:00am... which means it's going to be a long day, even with the nonstop flow of corporate-meeting coffee.


Monday, December 11, 2006


The junior high was different than the senior high. By high school, if they're not somewhat interested in getting an education they just don't come to school. That means the kids that are there are pretty wonderful. In junior high they're young enough that their foster parents still kick them outdoors every morning at nine o'clock, and since they have nowhere else to go, they come to school.

I felt like I was watching a spoof on Saturday Night Live when the school secretary introduced me to the "cook", and she was teaching a class. I've never been in a public school that serves free hot lunch to its students - and this, of course, because without that service these children would not likely be fed. The cook looked about sixty with thinning and greying hair and very few teeth. And still somehow had the prettiest smile I've seen in a long time. She told me her brother had killed three moose that weekend. I wondered if that was what she would make for lunch. Her accent was the same as Shawn's grandmother's.

One of the students in ninth grade was incapable of reading or writing. And yet his teacher had left him no modification or alternative work to do while his class studied economics and dissected short stories. (Realistically it's not fair to say the rest of the class was doing these things, but allegedly they were capable of it. I saw little evidence to back this up.)

Impulse control was near zero. One student swore at me when I told him he couldn't leave the room, and I decided to ignore him because I was pretty sure he would escalate if I tried backing him into corner. He didn't leave the room but went to his desk to sulk. Shortly afterward he apologized and told me it was nicotine withdrawal that made him react so badly, not because he was trying to quit smoking but because he hadn't had one for a couple of hours. The students swore at each other all day long and it was so prevalent that there seemed to be no point in making a big deal out of it. The bigger issues were just things like keeping them from punching each other out or stabbing each other with the scissors, and keeping the drugs in their pockets until the bell rang.

By the time these kids reach high school age, most of them will have dropped out. Many will be living on the streets or in jail. These children, because the government has found a way to house them in a separate school, have been forgotten by the mainstream education system that is supposed to be providing free and equal education for all. Their teachers have given up on them and are letting their behaviour decline to a level from which it becomes harder and harder to recover. No support is provided for children who can't read or write at the age of fourteen. The last hour and a half of their day was wasted with colouring pictures of Christmas scenes to decorate the hallways of a school that no one ever visits. Why? Because teaching them is too hard. Letting them colour is easier.


daylight hours

This morning Little Puppy looked at me as though she was highly insulted by my offering of dog food for breakfast. She left the kitchen with her nose held high and I stood there wondering if she was really going on a hunger strike. This is my fault, I know it is. For the last six or seven weeks, while I've been lost in my own sadness, I have been overcompensating with her, attributing my own grief to her and trying to make her feel better. And so she has eaten all manner of things completely inappropriate for dogs. She has shared carrot cake for breakfast with Shawn. She has nibbled tuna salad over my shoulder while I've had a sandwich. She had sushi for dinner last night. It's been a banquet for a six and a half pound pup.

But I want things to get back to normal again. I've been feeling myself starting to unfurl, and watching Shawn do the same. And now it's time for Little Puppy to start eating dog food again.

She came back into the room a few minutes later and begrudgingly ate the food I'd put out for her, watching me from the corner of her eye the entire time in case I changed my mind and decided to put the English muffin I was buttering into her dish instead of onto my plate. No such luck.


I've decided to go back to the Aboriginal school today since I liked it so much on Friday. I'm still trying to figure out where I fit in the world of Education, if that is in fact where I fit. I know there's something that draws me to it, even as something else pushes me away. I care about children, particularly the ones that don't fit in and need to feel accepted and cared about. But fighting such a slow battle every day for years on end has sometimes made me feel hopeless.


It's 8:00am and I'm leaving in about an hour. I wish the world would normally start at 9:00am. It's such a civilized time of day. Now, at 8:00, it's still pitch dark outside and the moon is glowing brightly. Starting a day under those conditions is wrong. By the time I get in my car at 9:00, the coffee will have had some time to do its magic, the sun will have risen, the traffic will be lessening, and I will feel awake and ready.

In Montreal, where Shawn worked for several months, employees worked "flex time". That meant they could come to work any time until 10:00am and leave any time until 6:00, providing eight hours were worked in the day. This beautiful deal is rarely offered in the West, in a world owned and operated by farmers and their descendants. Early to bed and early to rise is their motto.

Shawn's company allows flex time but is phasing it out. We used to take advantage of it when things were different; we slept until 8:30 or 9:00 so he could be at work for 9:30 or 10:00. That was how things went last winter. Now everything is upsidedown and inside out. He gets a ride to work with a friend, and they leave the house at 7:30. I usually leave before 8:00. But today things are on a slightly more relaxed schedule. I'm just meandering into the shower at the time I would normally already be on the road. I am appreciating this small gift.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

and when you ran to me

Sean thinks that everyone should be in therapy. Everyone. Of course, he's a therapist so he has a vested interest in people seeing therapists, but I understand his point. He says that therapy is more useful to people who are functional. Interesting, that, because I remember jw saying something similar... like therapy is wasted on the sick.

There are reasons I've never sought a therapist, and they aren't anything to do with fearing the "social stigma" of seeing one. I've been accused of having that as a reason, but that's never been it.

The first reason was that I used to think that therapy was for people who had become "dysfunctional". Even in the lowest points of life, I've never stopped going to work, paying my bills, taking showers, eating, sleeping and so forth. I mean, of course I have sometimes been frozen temporarily, but never long enough to consider myself dysfunctional when I have tried to look at myself in a factual and objective way. And so, with a sincere belief that therapy was designed to help people who had stopped going to work, stopped paying their bills, stopped eating, stopped sleeping, etc., I believed I simply didn't qualify. I thought it would be like going to the doctor when you're not sick.

The second reason, and the one that persisted even as I learned that plenty of functional people seek therapy is that I simply didn't feel worth it. The idea of paying someone to sit and listen to me talk, ask me questions, be interested in my life, pay attention to the details and remember things from week to week seemed absolutely decadent. Totally self-indulgent. Egomaniacal.

I was raised to believe I was nobody special, and this wasn't an accident caused by neglect or misunderstanding. It was intentional. It was meant to ensure that I didn't walk through the world with a sense of entitlement, expecting other people to pay my way or do my work for me. Why should they? I'm nobody special. In some ways this starkly realistic sense of self was useful to me and made some parts of my life easier. Self-sufficiency became automatic. And I was spared some of the teenage self-absorption that leads to paranoia and discomfort. I knew no one was whispering about me behind my back. Why would they? I knew I wasn't interesting enough to warrant it. No one was laughing at my clothes or my braces or anything else. What would make me that special?

Simultaneously, however, I accidentally became convinced of something more than what I think my parents had intended. The notion that I was no more special than anyone else on the face of the earth seemed somewhat reasonable (though I really wanted to be special to them if no one else) but somewhere along the way I became convinced I was less special than everyone else. I wasn't entitled to anything.

And this is where my mind was when I felt that therapy wasn't appropriate for me. Why should someone sit and listen to me talk about myself for hours on end, week after week? What makes me so special?

Sean wants me to think I deserve that kind of attention even if I don't choose to seek it.

I guess attending church or belonging to a support group is kind of the same thing. A weekly affirmation of your value and your importance in the world.

I've been walking around feeling lost lately, wondering what could put me back at the centre of my own life... and thinking strange random things about wanting to belong somewhere, wanting some affirmation, wanting a network of support that spans a little broader so that Shawn isn't responsible for meeting all my emotional needs on his own. (He does admirably, but it seems a bit much to ask for.)

Now I'm wondering about therapy. I don't have a specific problem I want to work out. I don't feel like I'm coming undone. I just feel like I need some support.


I woke up on a cold blue morning

Sunday. It's blue outside, but not the kind of blue that has anything to do with clear skies. Just the kind of blue that means winter when the clouds reflect the snow and the snow reflects the clouds, back and forth and up and down, casting the world into grey blue winter for what seems like forever.

Shawn asked if I would consider living in California. A company there has expressed interest in him. I don't know how I feel about that - and I don't think he knows how he feels either. The city in which the company resides actually seems quite nice - not big and scary like Los Angeles or Anaheim. And of course I am always appealed to by warm weather. But living in the US isn't really what I want, especially not long term. It's something to think about, anyway.

Today we have resolved to try and tidy up our house a bit. Things really fell into disarray the last little while, and even more so after I started working outside the house so much... but I think we're finally both feeling better enough to have the energy to try and get things back under control.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

R&G cancelled on us tonight - and I felt that naughty sense of relief at not having to deal with people. Instead I could just have Shawn all to myself. We went for a walk, which was lovely, because it's been too cold here for the last couple of weeks to even be outside for more than two minutes... but tonight it's just wintery but possible to walk as long as you wear your mitts and hat. We went into the new house, which is totally illegal, and walked around with a flashlight to see how things are going. We found the bong that belongs to the construction workers that have been smoking in what will one day be our kitchen.

After that we walked to the grocery store. Having a grocery store within walking distance of the house is one of the things I'll miss when we move. I don't know why, but walking home with a couple of grocery bags on a regular basis is so much less painful than doing a big shop once every week or two.



I used to want my life to be exciting. It was exciting. I had lots of friends and lots of things to do and I went a lot of places and rarely slept. Now I'm so happy when things are slow and simple and boring. I love my life this way.

We made it to Pilates this morning, and even registered to take the next level up when this session is done. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing it wrong, especially afterward when Shawn tells me that he feels exhausted and I don't. I think it's because he's managing to isolate the right muscle groups and work them more effectively than I am. So I'm not totally convinced that I'm ready to go up a level... but I hope so.

It feels like things are starting to normalize. I don't feel as stressed out or as sad the last few days. I think I'm adjusting, even as part of me doesn't want to.

We got our property assessement from the realtor and found out, amazingly, that our new house is going to cost less than we can sell the current one for. That's because we locked down a price just before the city experienced a huge boom... and so somehow through dumb luck and good timing we are going to be in a nice position at the end of the transition. Of course Shawn is making plans for all kinds of stupid electronics.... and I will negotiate with him at a ratio of one electronic dollar to five savings dollars.

We're going out with R&G tonight, a thing I'm always ambivalent about. I like them, but I find them tiring, somehow. I don't really know why that is that some people drain energy and some people provide energy. I know a lot of people who I find draining, and only a very small number who do the reverse.

Before then I want to finish my book. And get organized for work next week.


Friday, December 08, 2006


Today I worked in a school built especially for Aboriginal students with the idea of finding a more relevant and meaningful form of education through delivery methods geared specifically to these students. It was one of the nicest schools I've ever been into. The students were friendly and polite and welcoming... but the best part of all was the morning prayer song. The day began with a whole-school prayer circle and drumming and singing by students, teachers and elders. I was totally enchanted. I told the students how moved I was and they smiled at me like I was dumb but cute. I guess they hear it every day so to them it doesn't hold the same kind of power. For me, it was a blessing to start my day this way.


Thursday, December 07, 2006


I had to do some real liaising today. I wasn't looking forward to it. Being a pretty non-confrontational person, I really dislike being around conflict. But I think I handled it okay and managed to smooth the ruffled feathers on all sides. It involves a kind of diplomacy that I am good at, and comfortable with ... so by focusing on pleasing everyone (my specialty) it actually seemed to work out pretty well with all parties feeling soothed enough to carry on for the last week.

What I wasn't prepared for was the news that one of my student-teachers was being sexually harrassed by a female staff member. That takes a level of conflict resolution where kissing booboos isn't going to cut it. He doesn't want to pursue any action (of course) but I am doing what I can to support him while he deals with his frustration and anger. What a strange world.

Glad there's only one more day until the weekend. During the week, Shawn and I are back to being ships that pass in the night.

"Oh hi baby, when did you get home?"
"I'm just on my way out,"
"Love you, bye,"


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Love, Actually

We decided to watch Love, Actually, on pay-per-view, having forgotten that we've both seen it already. I don't think it's a wonderful movie (clearly not, or I'd have remembered it) but it's pleasant. I haven't been in the mood for serious movies lately.

The strangest thing is that Shawn and I both remembered a different ending between Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman. In the version we watched tonight, Rickman really had purchased the gold necklace for his secretary and was caught by Thompson who ended up deciding to try and work out their relationship anyway in spite of being terribly hurt.

In the version Shawn and I both remembered, Thompson only thought Rickman had given the necklace to his secretary, when in fact the secretary had taken it without permission (explaining the scene in which she was seen wearing it) and it was really meant for his wife all along. Presto, happy ending.

Strange, that. I've been looking online to see if I could figure out if we'd seen an alternate ending that first time... but I can't find any answers. Is it possible that we both wanted a happy ending so badly that we imagined one?


still no letter's been delivered still the winter days unfold

We decided, last night, to go on a date. We haven't done a whole lot of that lately, and what little going out we've done has been more to fulfill obligations to friends rather than for our own enjoyment. But last night we decided to go out alone together. First we went to the video store in hopes we'd find a movie that looked appealing, but we ended up leaving without one because there was nothing there that interested either of us. Then we went for dinner to a Chinese restaurant that R&K introduced us to awhile ago, the only good one we've found in this city. (All You Can Eat Buffets are never a good sign.)

This morning Shawn is driving his mother halfway across the province to see her father. Shawn's grandfather is dying. On his side of the family, everyone had their children much younger and so Shawn has had the opportunity to know his grandparents for longer than I knew mine. This is the first time he will have lost one. Shawn's grandfather is a kind man. He makes wooden crafts in his workshed; coin banks shaped like owls, handmade Chinese checkers boards, letter holders... He goes outside with buckets of dried bread to feed the birds. They know him and they land on his hat and shoulders. Shawn's grandparents, to me, feel like what Canada is supposed to be about, or was about a hundred years ago. And yet they haven't changed. I hope he feels his life has been full. I think it has.

While Shawn is gone, I am going to work on my corporate scripts. It strikes me as hilarious sometimes that I am using a degree in Fine Arts not to write scripts about human drama, but to write scripts about construction workers getting in trouble for not wearing their hardhats. It seems too ridiculous to be true. I think it's called selling out. I used to think people just sold out for money, but that's not the only reason they do it. Sometimes they just do it because they're bored to death and need to feel like they're doing something, anything, even if it's not particularly important or significant in the big picture of the world. And so you end up selling your skills to some big corporation because it's the only thing you can do right now that isn't a complete waste of time. I try to remember that some of the other things I do are a bit more meaningful, even if they're not the bulk of my time or income at the moment.

I got my background checks back from the police and from social services and they were clear. This allows me to return to work in the public system. I knew I had never been accused of endangering a child, but I was a little concerned that the police check might indicate a record. That's because I was arrested once, when I was nineteen, back in my idealistic hippie days, for trespassing - ie: protesting. It wasn't on the record, so I guess it must have been expunged after a certain period of time without any further trouble. Phew. (Being arrested, by the way, is really no fun. It's humiliating.) Now I have to send these documents in to the Board of Education to prove to them that I am safe to work with their children. (Interesting that I've been allowed to work with their children for several weeks without these documents on the promise that I would have them soon. What if I had a huge history of endangering children?)

Time to get dressed and "greet the day with a glad cry" (ahh) as my Dad always used to say. Shawn's mother will be here momentarily and I prefer to greet her with clothes on. Besides, there's coffee downstairs, and it's calling me.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

risk and loss management

d~ wonders if even dolphins might be repetitive and boring if you get to know them. The implication, with smug self-satisfaction, I tell myself, is that I am not boring and repetitive, but when it all boils down to the Truth, I am both. Boring. And repetitive. It's just that in d~ I have found someone who is interested in many of the same things I am and so though we are, perhaps, boring as brooms for the most part, we entertain each other greatly. And that's more important.

My strange unbalanced state has led me to miss Pilates this morning and will lead me to miss singing this afternoon. Shawn and I shared some kind of weird melodramatic breakdown this morning and then decided we weren't leaving the house. It's a shame, really, because my back is tight and tense and I think that Pilates would have helped that, but it's too late for regrets now. Class began two minutes ago. This morning Shawn picked up a large tin can, the kind that Christmas cookies come in, that was filled to the top with pennies and tried to move it. Somehow it slipped from his fingers and the lid popped off and a million pennies crashed to the floor, rolling in all directions. Shawn looked at me and said, I hate my life.

Unlike me, Shawn is not a drama queen. He never says things like that. This is what led to our cooperative breakdown. We feel better now though, because we have eggnog in our coffees.

I've been looking at the Noble Eightfold Path more closely and trying to understand whether dreaming these things makes any sense in reality or whether I am just applying chapstick to my dried up imagination. I read an article this moring by Susan Pivar that talked about the issue of impermanence versus marriage. Suddenly I've developed blog-envy of the ability LiveJournal has to hide blocks of text so that they don't take up wads of space and can be accessed by choice. This is because I want to cut and paste the whole article in case it vanishes one day... but I don't want to include the whole article in this post and neither do I have the energy to figure out how to save it to one of Shawn's sites and link it from there. So. What I'm left with is a crapshoot. Since the article is about the idea of impermanance it will be poetic if it disappears.

You know when you hear your voice recorded it doesn't sound like you to your own ear? Or even when you're sick and hoarse, how odd it is that the voice coming out of you sounds nothing like you? When I get sick, while doctors would advise keeping quiet to let the larynx heal, I feel compelled to talk more because I want to hear that strange voice coming from me that isn't me at all. That's how I feel now, like I have lost my real voice and the new voice isn't mine anymore. Some stranger is talking through me, saying things I don't quite agree with or fully understand.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

getting a heartbeat

I'm trying to think of something nice I can do for Shawn to show him how much I appreciate him.

I think I've been completely impossible to live with the last month or so. On the weekend, I made him drive us back home through the horrible snow so that I could take my niece out for lunch on her birthday... and on Monday night I made him drive again through the horrible snow to take Little Puppy to the vet because I was worried about something that turned out to be pretty much nothing. Add to that, that I've not been contributing much to upkeep of our home lately, and I've been bursting into tears every time he says anything to me, and I think he's getting close to earning a sainthood. I don't really know how to show him how much I appreciate how strong he's been for me lately while I've been such a wreck. I tell him all the time but it doesn't seem like enough. Not nearly enough.

I'm trying to start being more useful around here again, and tonight I will have dinner for him when he gets home for the first time in as long as I can remember. That's all I've come up with to start, but I'm going to keep thinking about it. I don't want him to think that I haven't noticed or appreciated everything.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Today was strange. When I showed up at the hotel, I thought I was going to be working with AR and perhaps a couple of other people on script revisions and planning for future writing. Instead, it turned out to be a small conference of eighteen people flown in from various parts of the country and they were all there to critique and review my scripts. It's a good thing I didn't know this in advance or I would have been terrified.

As it was, I sauntered in ten minutes late and stopped to pour myself coffee before squeezing into a seat in the corner, thinking I'd be inconspicuous there and able to read Shawn's flow of text messages without being noticed. No luck.

I spent the rest of the day being the centre of attention and it was exhausting. I had to answer a million questions about things I'd written ages ago and could no longer remember. I had to defend things I'd written that I hadn't researched very well and didn't exactly know what I meant by. Gods, if I'd realised what this meeting was about, I would have read my own writing beforehand so at least I would know what I had written. Better yet, I would have tried to get out of it.

Funny, last night I'd thought I was pretty slick, collecting a day's pay for sitting in a conference, thinking I wouldn't be expected to speak, and enjoying free croissants. Sometimes things don't turn out the way you expect. I cried in the car on the way home, which is just standard for me now. The car has become my crying place. I need to stock it better with tissue because today I was using my sleeves, and they were immediately freezing. So were my eyelashes. This province isn't built for bawl babies. That could be our motto, kind of like Don't Mess With Texas, Canadian-style.


Monday, November 27, 2006

heaven holds a place for those who pray (hey, hey, hey)

A good thing about the jobs I've got right now is that I don't really ever have the opportunity to get bored with or tired of seeing the same people every day or doing the same thing every day - because I don't. Every day is completely different and every day I introduce myself to people that I have never met before and am not likely to meet ever again. In some ways this works well for me. When everyone is new all the time, you don't grow contemptuous of their faults the way you do when you see them every day for years on end and don't feel compelled to roll your eyes when they show up late for a staff meeting for the seventeenth time, because there never is a seventeenth time, only a first time. And doing something irritating just once is rarely a big issue. It's nice that I spend a bit of time driving between commitments too. That's time that's still "working", but it's down time. I don't have to talk to anyone, I don't have to think about much other than staying on the road. It doesn't feel like working even though I don't really love driving the way some people do.

What is not good about the jobs I am doing right now is that I don't get a sense of community from them. When you work for five years with the guy who's always late for the staff meeting, you develop ways to cover for him or anticipate his tardiness and plan ahead for it. And meanwhile, he remembers that you always wish you had coffee halfway through a long boring meeting, and since he's already late anyway, he stops to get you one. You can communally loathe the aspects of the job that are unpleasant, and you can communally celebrate successes. Those kinds of celebrations require you to be there long enough to have made an emotional investment, the kind you don't make when you're only there for a day.

I feel a real ache where there's supposed to be the feeling of community and belonging. It reminds me very much of the Masters research that I did on the role of socialization in teaching and learning. What came out of that, for me, was the importance of the Circle of Courage, not only for First Nations children, but for all children... and not only for all children, but for all people. I miss feeling like I am a part of something bigger.

I remember when I was a teenager something happened in my mother's life... I don't know what it was, specifically, because she didn't share things like that with the kids... but I know that whatever it was left her feeling like she needed a community, and she and Dad suddenly started going to church. Not just for Christmas and Easter like they used to, but regularly, every Sunday, and she joined the choir and he joined the Leadership Committeee. And they still go now.

That's how I feel now, like I want to start going to church. Not church, specificially, because that's just symbolic, but I feel like I want to start going somewhere, or doing something, that brings me into a community that will bring me a sense of belonging.

It's a strange thing, feeling like I want to belong at the same time as I experience apprehension at being in social situations. Two forces pull me in opposite directions. No one mentions that people who suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder also suffer from loneliness.

I know I don't really have this disorder, because I put myself in social situations every day and do fine with them. But I also don't think that normal people dread social situations the way I do. I never have a problem with social settings once I've arrived and I'm in the middle of them... it's just beforehand that I feel anxious. But it's enough to make me choose isolation at times. It's enough to make me choose loneliness, at least in the short term.

But now we've been here nearly a year and a half, and it's no longer a short term plan. I guess it never really was a short term plan, but in my head I think I imagined that we would eventually go home. Shawn thinks we could still end up on the West coast which would be okay with me. His company opened two new offices, one in Texas and one in Australia. We both agree that Australia would be an exciting adventure but that Texas doesn't appeal in the least. Neither one seems particularly likely, however; it's far more likely that Shawn will outgrow his company and find a bigger and better job... and that's why the West coast looks more plausible. And also more palatable. Besides, if we lived near Vancouver, it would only be a short trek to visit friends in Seattle!

So I'm thinking about finding a community, and also thinking about uprooting again and moving and leaving behind what little community I have developed. (I do like to make things complicated for myself.) We've made some friends here.

But I want something bigger.

I realise that I need a community that is separate from Shawn. Shawn is the hub of my life, and when we go out into the community, I find that I still centre on him, even when we are out with others. We sit at a dinner table with four other couples, and I end up talking to Shawn. We go to a Christmas party with hundreds of people, and I end up talking to Shawn. It's because I find him more interesting, more entertaining, more funny than anyone else I ever meet - and yet it prevents me from making connections with other people as much as I should. When I'm out in the world by myself, I am forced to be social with strangers, and that's what I need again. I don't really know where to begin to make this happen.

The last "group" that I belonged to was my writing group, and I'd like to do something like that again, but this time I want it to be something that isn't focused on producing something. I'm feeling outrageously productive right now with enough part time jobs to make about one and a half full time jobs (without the benefits, ha), and I don't want to commit to something that will require any hours of labour from me. I don't, for a change, feel the need to add any more work to my plate and I don't have the energy to educate or improve myself right now. I just want some people to have tea with who will miss me when I'm not there and make me feel cared about. Maybe that is a lot to ask for. I'm not sure. This is why I thought of church first when I was trying to figure out who would have me. Churches take everyone.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Jobs I've Had
in the order I remember them -
sort of chronological
but not exactly

flyer carrier
deli cashier and sandwich maker
doughnut store cashier and muffin maker
post office clerk
drycleaner tagger
daycare worker
backstage security guard
summer camp instructor
playwright in residence
acting tour director
junior/senior high school teacher
coffee shop singer
instructional designer
curriculum developer
University facilitator
adult ESL instructor
teacher liaison


hard road to travel on

We drove all the way home and back today - three and a half hours in each direction - to see my niece for her birthday. Because the drive was so long, we couldn't really stay more than about an hour and a half, so we ate lunch and turned around and came home.

The weather is just awful. There was drifting snow on the highways and you couldn't really tell where the horizon was. The snow and the sky were almost exactly the same colour of wild blue-grey. It makes you feel like the thin black ribbon of highway is a rollercoaster in space and you just might fall off. You really might, you know. We saw cars in the ditch all over the place.

My niece was excited to see us, though, and happy with her gifts, and that made it worthwhile even though the travelling part wasn't a lot of fun. I fell asleep on the way home for awhile, the way I always do. I'm lucky Shawn likes driving and doesn't mind when I nod off.

I've been having vivid dreams lately.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

slow spinning redemption

We slept in until 8 o'clock this morning, and it seemed luxurious. We've been getting up at 6:30 every day for what seems like an eternity. At 6:30 the November sky is still pitch black with no hint that the sun will ever rise. Winter is so cold and lonely here; I always wonder when we're in the depths of winter why anybody ever settled here. They must have arrived in the summer and put down long roots so that by the time October blew in, it was too late to change their minds. Poor souls, they must have had some serious regrets when they realised they were going to get only six hours of sunlight a day and that their skin would freeze solid in a matter of seconds exposed to the elements. I'm sure they didn't say, at least the winter kills off all the mosquitoes. I hate it when people say that. Bring on the bugs, I say. Give me sunshine and warmth and all the mosquitoes that come with it. Deet beats Seasonal Affective Disorder any day.

I'm having a hard time recognizing myself right now. And my life. Nothing looks the same, nothing feels the same. I'm so tired. I want Bad Things to leave us alone for awhile and allow us to pull ourselves together and take a few deep breaths. We need a little rest and respite. Last night Shawn mentioned one more thing that he was worried about and I burst into tears. I have no more room for even one more little tiny thing to worry about inside me right now. I have a pulled muscle in my back from being tense. I am walking around going through the motions of normal life and keeping all my appointments, attending all my meetings, managing all my responsibilities, and in between them I get into my car and cry on the road while I drive between commitments. When I arrive I dry my face and fix a smile on and carry on.

I shouldn't talk like it's always like this. Some days are easier. Some days I feel better, like things are getting better, easier, back to normal. Some days I'm fine. But I want better than that. I want to be happy again, like we were. I want us to feel whole and safe and warm the way we used to.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Today my car got rear-ended at a stop sign because the woman behind me was driving too fast in the snow. This marks the fourth time I have had this kind of car accident, and the second time that there wasn't any damage. Both times that there was no damage it was a woman driver that hit me.

The two times that my car was damaged it was male drivers. One of them was drunk out of his mind and got taken away by the police. It turned out he had no insurance and so I ended up having to pay the deductible. The other guy drove off and didn't stop, and so I got to pay that deductible too.

I kind of knew I was going to get into a car accident today. It wasn't surprising because the roads were awful after all the snow we've had. I wish the world would stop when it wasn't safe outside.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Things I am Afraid of

doctors (but only when I'm the patient)
being widowed
supernatural phenomena
Christmas shopping in huge crowds in overheated shopping malls with loud Christmas carols playing over the intercom speakers

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This year we won't put up Christmas lights.

They're still up from last year.

Monday, November 20, 2006

my sweetest friend

On March 25, 1998, everything in life seemed to be falling apart, so much so that I called my parents to look for support. Emotional support, not financial. They provided. I said I didn't think I could possibly get up out of bed the next day, go to work and be nice to smartass junior high kids. My mother said that however I handled the events of March 25th, the most important thing of all was that I did go to work on March 26th. She said I might find I could be nice in the middle of everything falling apart.

I listened to her about that, though it was still a time when I didn't listen to her about much. And she was right. Going to work and carrying on was the only way that I got through that time. She was also right about being nice. It turns out, at least for me, that in the middle of the greatest personal difficulties I am most able to be compassionate with others. A new tenderness arises out of that kind of pain that makes it easier to embrace others and to nurture them. When my chest is opened up my arms are opened wider.


the feeling disappears you are someone else I am still right here

I cannot help but feel, here, that liberties are being taken. Getting out of bed early, getting showered and dressed and packing a bag all before the sun rises... and then waiting for the phone to ring in case you might have somewhere to go.

Last night I got invited to teach at a school that's just outside downtown on the city's trendiest street. I thought, how fun! I thought I'd walk around down there during my lunch break and window shop or find Christmas presents. Then I was told that the school has no parking lot. That means I'd need to be down there by about 5:30am to have any hope of finding a place to park. I declined.

I'm trying to remember all the things that Laura used to say about how great this was so I can appreciate it instead of feeling taken advantage of. But it's hard to remember what Laura said because I always tried not to listen to Laura.

It's an odd thing because my Pre-social Anxiety Disorder kicks up on the offchance that I'll be invited - that is, I would like to turn off the phone and go back to bed to save myself from having to go out and talk to people. And yet, there's a positive kind of anticipation too. I want to go out. I like people. I miss people.

A Chinook blew in last night and melted a lot of the snow. I didn't think we'd get Chinooks here... but I guess we do. Just not as often. The snow that's left is hard packed and icy.

A nice thing about our new life is that we get up early enough to see the sun rise.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

take it to the bridge, throw it overboard

Dinner was nice but Shawn and I were both feeling a little subdued. Those moods still come and go. Whenever I look at him and see he's feeling sad I get all teary and choked up. But we made it through the night and had a nice time.

There was another couple there - something we hadn't expected. They were nice too. Shawn thinks it's funny that when we spend time with our friends from the UK that I revert back to my accent too. I don't really notice it... but I'm not surprised, either. It's how I learned to talk.

Shawn bought me a cell phone today. I've never had a cell phone before. Now that I'm doing more teaching and travelling all over the city, he says he wants me to be able to get in touch with him and vice versa if necessary. It's a strange thing, having this electronic device that I've resisted so long. I realise I'm one of the last people in North America to have one, but I was fine without it. When we went into the store, we went straight for the "basic" phones, as I have no need or wish to take photographs or home movies with my telephone, and I was immediately drawn to a tiny bright green phone that looked kind of like a little bug with two antennae. I asked the saleslady about that one and she and Shawn exchanged this look which was clearly meant to mean that I was a bit daft and she told me it was a child's phone. Child's phone means that it can only receive calls from four different numbers. It's so that parents can keep track of their kids. I thought it was quite lovely, and I don't plan on giving my cell phone number to anyone but Shawn, so I can't imagine that he has four different numbers he would call me from. Nonetheless, it was decided without me that this phone was just a little too basic and that I would have the one that could receive calls from anywhere and could also receive text messages. (Gads, why?) This phone was blue and not in a bright kooky way, but rather a cool midnight blue meant to look slick and businesslike. Not very exciting.

I am a little frightened of this phone, though Shawn called me from the house phone several times while he sat across from me to let me practice with the buttons. Soon I'll be one of those jerks talking on my phone in the movie theatre and behind the wheel of my car and as I sit across from my friends in restaurants.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Can you imagine us years from today - sharing a park bench quietly?

We're going to R&G's for dinner tonight. It's nice that we've made some friends here in our new city. Sometimes I'm so antisocial that it's kind of pathological. There've been some major changes inside me over the last five years or so.

I haven't talked to K since summertime. Last time I saw her she was still spending all her time with B; she claims he was able to stop using cocaine all by himself through sheer force of will. I don't buy it for a minute. I can't figure out why she does. Jenny mentioned that K told her she'd tried acid with B a few weeks before they came to visit. *sigh* I wish to god she would stay away from him, and from the drugs. I don't understand it. Suddenly our lives have forked in two totally different directions and I no longer know what we have in common.

It was such a short time ago that we spent every Friday night together talking about everything.

Now when I see her I feel like I'm at work. Talking with teenagers.

I can't really figure out what happened, whether she regressed or whether I have rapidly aged. Both, probably. Suddenly I can't stand being in a smoky pub or finish more than two drinks. And she's spending all her time with a nineteen year-old drug addict. What is this?

So we're going to R&G's for dinner. As I always do before we go out, I'm wishing I could stay home. I don't know why I always do that, because once I arrive, it's always fine. I've tried to figure out if I have Social Anxiety Disorder... and I don't. But if there is such a thing, I have Pre-social Anxiety Disorder. And Pre-Exercise Anxiety Disorder. And Pre-Work Anxiety Disorder. And Pre-Get-Out-of-Bed-and-Face-the-Day Anxiety Disorder.

I miss K.


Friday, November 17, 2006

I outsmarted myself. Having no work to do means I have no excuse not to do the laundry and the grocery shopping.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tomorrow I have booked no meetings, no teaching, no writing, no work of any kind. Ahhh.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


An Ode to Goats and Cloves
who can survive most anything
including shark bites and
Ramadan fasting.
These goats are spicy
peppery spicy
these cloves are milky
Make peace you goats,
make peace with cloves.
Close streets around the government buildings
so we can have a parade.


after changes upon changes we are more or less the same

Every morning when we're driving into Shawn's work, we pass a store with a large billboard that says, "Coat and Glove Sale". For some reason, almost every morning, my eyes reverse a couple of letters so I read, "Goat and Clove Sale". My mind actually pictures it... goats and cloves... and rejects it. The whole process of glancing at the sign, picturing that weird mental image, and rejecting it as wrong and then correcting myself, it all only takes a split second. I just find it strange that my mind does the whole thing over and over and over again, even though I've seen that sign every morning for weeks on end.

Monday, November 13, 2006

This wasn't what I was expecting.

Sometimes when things aren't what you expected they seem wrong. Different isn't wrong - but it can feel that way.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

i find it hard to tell you 'cause i find it hard to take

the changes are becoming cement
i can hardly take a breath when i remember

Friday, November 10, 2006

He can't kiss it away but he makes it more bearable until the pangs are less. He holds me and he loves me and that it possible to survive most things.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm lonely.

It's not the kind that can be cuddled and kissed away. Because it's specific instead of general.

So lonely.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

take my whole life too

The night before last I started to have a dream that was scary. It was a visual transition, like in a videogame when the character moves from a sunny happy world into a scary dark one. I had just crossed over into the scary place when I felt someone take my hand and pull me, hard, back out. I woke up in bed and Shawn was holding my hand.

I told him that last night when we were getting ready to fall asleep. He said it was a weird coincidence. I don't think it was a coincidence at all.



There is a part of me that sabotages myself. Yesterday I planned to give myself 45 minutes to get to the job interview, knowing it would probably take about half an hour. And then the saboteur started fooling around and wasting time, telling me it would be fine, until I ended up with only a half hour to get there after all.

With the snow and the traffic and my special skill of hitting every single red light, I arrived six minutes late. I could hear the saboteur's voice in my head, even as I sprinted up the steps to the office, telling me that the car clock was a little fast and to calm down and go slowly. Don't want to arrive breathless, it said.

The gods were with me. The personnel woman that I was supposed to meet with was running a a bit behind schedule and therefore didn't know that I was late to meet with her. I had a few minutes to sit down and catch my breath before I was called into her office.

It was nice to have the gods on my side for a change. I've felt abandoned by them lately.

It's good that the saboteur didn't win this time. Her agenda makes my life difficult.

The interview was good, I think.

I'd parked in a 15 minute parking zone, and didn't have a ticket, even though I'd been there an hour. Blessed again.

I started crying on the way home in the car. It's the first time in a few days that the tears have taken over. Crying is different now too. It's not the wracking sobs anymore, it's just the quiet tears that allow you to keep driving or doing whatever you're doing. It's the kind of crying you can indulge in for fifteen minutes in the car, then stop, get out, and go do things in the world and people don't know that you've just had a small breakdown.

The sky is so grey. I keep remembering Fort Nelson. And Fort Liard.

Shawn offered to stay home with me today but I said he shouldn't. He's missed so much work and his being here doesn't really change things. It makes me warmer to have him close, but it doesn't change the underlying reasons for the pain. He can't stay home forever - and neither can I. My dance teacher used to say "fake it 'til you make it" when we were learning hard new steps; that is, keep moving and pretend you're in control even when you're not. Sometimes it fools people. It works like that in Life too. Sometimes you even fool yourself.


Saturday, November 04, 2006


I haven't been running in what seems like forever. I haven't been on the treadmill or the elliptical machine either. The most I've done is go to Pilates with Shawn and that isn't really cardio exercise, just strength training. Last week I cried all the way there in the car and all the way home, stopping only for the hour in between. Not this week though. This week the sadness is different. It's just quiet now.

Being sad makes me feel like I can't move. Or eat. Or even breathe, almost.

But I'm getting better. I'm going to run again soon.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

you burn in water - I drown in flames

The Psychology-minor part of me was interested in our own progress. And it got me thinking about situational depression as it compares to clinical depression. What we have experienced, and still are to some degree, is a situational depression. It is brought on by a specific event beyond our control which causes us to feel sad, helpless, angry, lonely. These feelings are hard to manage.

And yet, throughout the entire time, even the first few days when the despair was at its peak, there was always the knowledge that the heaviness would lighten, the grief would ease in time. We knew this. It made it possible to get through those days that were the hardest.

It made me think about what it would be like to live with chronic depression. I guess I don't understand how people even survive it. If I was caught in Day Two for a sustended length of time with no idea when the grip of grief might loosen, I would not want to live any longer. When I asked my Friend about it she said that when you live with it from childhood you don't really know there's any other way to feel. She survived twenty years of it. I don't know how she did that. It seems like a miracle and it make me respect her even more. I'm glad she survived. I know that when I'm sad she understands Sadness better than anyone. She doesn't compare my small sadnesses to her twenty years and find me silly - no - her twenty years with the Sadness make her understand mine all the better.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Things are coming back to normal in most ways. That almost feels wrong. Shawn's coping mechanisms are different than mine. In some ways his are more healthy. He grieves intensely and quickly and then sets about putting things back together. I'm slower. I've moved in slow motion for the last seven days, taking only tentative steps away from him, and away from home and comfort. And away from memory and back again.

I think our processes can cross and overlap without impeding each others'. I'm willing to make these strange concessions. Perhaps a challenge will be good for me.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

We left a window open last night and woke up with the house icy cold. Shawn brought me another blanket but it was too late. I was already awake. When I was young I could always go back to sleep for more rest after waking up. Now that's impossible. I wake up and I get up.

I went outside to shovel the driveway, completely buried in snow and ice. Goddamn October. Cold fresh air on my face. I wore Shawn's coat instead of my own. I cannot seem to take a step without his arms around me. He's gone out again, to buy coffee and muffins. When did we become the kind of people who buy coffee out instead of making it ourselves? Our fridge, with its stupid fancy pullout drawers and self-aware ice-maker has nothing in it.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

It snowed last night and for the first time this season it has stayed on the ground. It's dark and cold. I woke up crying. I hate October.

I want to be strong for Shawn but I just can't seem to. I don't know what to do with all this grief.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Day three

I hadn't written about it because I haven't wanted a living document of this pain. I haven't even wanted to admit it was real. I haven't wanted sympathy anywhere, because sympathy meant it was true. I'm able to watch us experiencing grief in stages like a textbook, complete with backtracking and skipping ... with a general linear progression. Shawn is about half a day ahead of me. I look at him now, in the stoic place he has gotten to, and pray that I will get there soon. I'm running out of kleenex.

The rational brain tries to take over, and manages to do so sometimes for a half hour at a time, when pain becomes dull and bleak and achy. And then the emotional brain takes over and the pain becomes sharp once again. Wracking sobs and fetal positions and irrational thoughts of wishing to be gone. How can it hurt this much? It makes no sense. How can my heart break so many times over? I've been waiting to wake up.

O is coming over here tonight. I don't want him to. I don't want to get dressed. I don't want to take my hair out of the towel. I know Shawn is doing better now than I am because he got dressed first thing this morning and went out to get coffee and a muffin for me. Nevermind that I couldn't do more than pick at it. I was happy to see him showing signs of recovery. I managed to get into the shower at 4:30, and back into pajamas when I was done. I don't want to do anything else. We're progressed to a new stage. Now he's strong again and I'm crying all the time. He's holding me together the best he can. But it's not possible. He reminds me that he loves me, that we have each other. And that does bring me warmth. How I can be so lonely in the middle of so much love makes no sense. And yet it is. I know other people survive. I know we'll be okay in time. But right now I can't even imagine it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

cries to her husband Daddy our baby

The talking is easy. I've known you most of my life now and it seems like I can't remember what it was ever like not to tell you things. Correcting your spelling is automatic, just like saying I'll have whatever you're having when ordering drinks. We don't even mean these things anymore; we just do them because they're habitual. Saying I love you is habitual too, but this is a habit that I still mean and I think about the words every time I say them so they never become empty.

When we go out together I love to watch how you talk with other people. I've been trying to figure out your magic since the ninth grade and never gotten any closer. The fact that it hasn't faded after all these years makes me know this is no David Blaine kind of trick. It's not so much magic as it is charisma but you use it magically, never allowing it to stop you from doing the right thing or letting it make you take advantage. There was a time when I wanted you to be more dangerous. Now I'm old enough to see how lucky I am to be safe with you.

You make me confident in a way I am nowhere else, with no one else. You make me believe I am everything. You make be believe I am loved - having forgotten at times that such a thing even existed. With you all the insecurities and inadequacies are soothed. I stop wishing for anything to be different.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

cold comfort for change

October has happened - just the way it always does - with no compassion. But we're just past the halfway mark and I think I can make it.

Some day I'm going to move to a place where October is kind.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

I was the strong one this time, the one who didn't cry, the one who said Sshhh it's not your fault It's going to be okay I love you I love you I love you. I cried this morning though.


Monday, October 09, 2006

the first cut is the deepest

It's Thanksgiving here. Back home we used to invite the Orphans for dinner - everyone we knew who didn't have family nearby to spend it with. This year we are the orphans. Even though we travelled home for pretend-Thanksgiving with my family on Saturday, I kind of miss the way things were in some ways. Sometimes.

Still, I am thankful for many things this year, and overall. I have a wonderful loving husband and soulmate, I have a new developing closeness with my extended family, I have the opportunity to explore new career avenues, I have had the chance to travel and to learn from people on the other side of the world, I have two sweet puppies that give me all the love I can stand, I have a nice home, I have friends and confidantes who bless me with their friendship and support, I have my health and the good health of those closest to me, we have enough money in the bank to pay the bills with enough leftover to feel secure indulging in a few treats. Things are good. I know I am lucky.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Giving Thanks

We sprang out of bed at the crack of dawn. The ground was a little frosty and our breath made clouds of vapour around us. We wore fleece and gloves. These would be shed within the hour as the work got tough and the sun got higher.

I had taken a week off from running in preparation for this day so that my strangely sore back would not preclude me from participating and the rest paid off. I felt strong, lifing heavy rolls of sod from the wheelbarrow and unrolling them smartly on the ground.

Four hours later our bog has become a real, actual lawn. My back hurts again but it all seems worthwhile. The yard, Shawn said exuberantly, has been sodomized.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

promises mean everything when you're little and the world is so big

I'm thinking about people I miss. And things. And places. I guess that means I'm thinking about nouns I miss.

It makes me feel emotionally itchy. Or maybe I just think about these things when I'm already feeling that way.

Friday, October 06, 2006

basic personal protective equipment

Noah says that we have known each other for generations upon generations and somehow we always mess things up between us. This is a shivery whispered exhale in my ear. The little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Noah says that it's like another chance; this time we're here to finally get it right. He's going to buy a cabin the woods and he's going to spend cold winter mornings chopping wood for the fireplace to keep me warm. My mouth is laughing and telling him he's crazy but inside myself I think that I might believe him.

I don't believe him because he's right. I believe him because my heart does that too when it feels that momentary flash of recognition of oneself in another, that moment when it is briefly heard through the din. It makes me breathless. I ask him if he says this to everyone. He says no. He's not lying. He means what he says. He just doesn't know that his heart will wake up in six days with all these things turned inside out.

He pulls my arm too hard when he tries to show me how to skate along the apex of his street -already leaving marks on me the first night we meet and I am already praying they never fade.

We walk from downtown to his place, the city lights growing further apart as we climb those endless stairs. I'm trying not to breathe hard. I don't want him to see that I'm having trouble keeping up with him and I don't want him to see that I'm afraid of him. He's the tallest man I've ever known. When he kisses me he stands on his knees and wraps his arms around me, still taller that me in this position, but now I can see his eyes. His eyes are dark and he looks haunted. I've convinced myself by now that he has important secrets that I need.

When we arrive at his house, his dog finds a comfortable spot on my lap and keeps me pinned beneath him. He isn't a small dog, nor a particularly friendly one, Noah tells me. It's a sign. Digby loves you. Digby wants to lick my face. It doesn't bother me but Noah stops him. She's mine. I'm not sure this is true but it starts to seem possible.

The next night it is cold outside. August blows a hint of autumn and I sit outside on a bus bench, not waiting for a bus but just waiting. C is beside me. She talks of the emotional faucet inside that can be turned on and off at will. Can you really do that? I ask her and suddenly Noah floats by me with his friend behind him. -for six blocks- he says as he goes past and I feel as though he was answering my question. The absurdity of a thirty year old man on a skateboard is lost on me for a few more days. I can turn off the feelings for six more blocks at least. It always seems to be nighttime.

Now I have fantasies of taking the axe that was referred to in the woodchopping dream and burying it in the side of the Hillhurt house in the middle of the cast party or ultimate frisbee games. I imagine staggering into LifeSport under the influence of vodka and openly stealing a bicycle just to make you chase me. I wish I'd spent the night with Digby. I bleakly watch the bruise on my wrist heal. Time's up for this lifetime.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sunday, October 01, 2006

GPS navigation capability

I feel the pace slowing down inside me, the intensity and the need are cooling and it becomes less necessary to agonize and analyze and emote. I think this is because things are in place already but my heart seems to have difficulty adjusting to being happy. Sometimes I try to think of what to write about ... and eventually just leave, having said nothing. I'm just another weak poet who only writes about strife. Now I just happen to be happy... and so there's little to say for a girl who has made a habit of thriving on angst. I look back on the reams of sad poetry and I feel that I don't miss that part of myself. I'll become a light farcical Noel Coward kind of writer - and be hated by all who read it. And I'll love it.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

yes, i love technology... but not as much as you, you see...

Shawn's mother and her partner decided to buy a computer. Neither of them have ever used one in their entire lives. D (the partner) worked in construction, did factory work, and worked in a mine when she was in the workforce. Now she is retired and breeds dogs. She has never used or wanted to use a computer in her life. Shawn's mother is legally blind.

And yet, these two aging ladies decided, out of the clear blue sky it would seem, that a computer might add something good to their lives, and so they bought one.

Now Shawn's mother sends me three 80pt font emails every day. She tells me what the sunrise felt like when she sat on the porch that morning and what sounds were emanating from the bird's nest in their yard. She tells me how beautiful life is. She uses apostraphes on every word that ends in "s". She sends me love and asks me to hug her son for her.

The other day she phoned Shawn to ask him which key on her keyboard was the "action key".

So the computer did bring something good to their lives, and to ours. Surprise.