Thursday, August 31, 2006

Fifty ways to love your Lisa - or twelve things you can throw back in my face when you're drunk.

I have blue eyes and a halo of mousy brown fire.
I am 5 foot 4 but I would like to be taller.
I am physically fit but completely unathletic.
I got married when I was 28 to my first real boyfriend.
I broke up with my boyfriend dozens of times before we married.
I am 1/4 Scottish, 1/4 French, 1/4 Dutch, and 1/4 Egyptian and completely Canadian.
I used to love beer but now I prefer red wine.
I took classical guitar lessons in my twenties.
I play classical guitar poorly and folk guitar passably.
I can play the harmonica but haven't done it in years.
I do not like sweets but I love popcorn.
I used to dye my hair red but now I am a natural mouse.
I have nine piercings - I removed two awhile ago.
I have only one tattoo.
Italian food is one of my most favourites.
I like to read novels but rarely read nonfiction.
I have had three scripts published by a university press.
I love writing but tend not to finish things when I get off-track.
I brush my teeth too hard and have caused striations on my molars.
The first language I learned was not English but now I use it almost exclusively.
I am mistrustful of organized religions but I have beliefs that I value.
I never raise my voice to my husband or my students.
When I'm mad I cry. (I hate that!)
I have grown more emotional and sensitive as I've gotten older.
The only things I own worth more than $1000 are my house and my engagement ring.
I believe in some kinds of magic.
I am scared of movies about supernatural phenomenon.
I have had two root canals. Gross.
I love sushi but have no one who enjoys it with me.
I smoked casually for about twelve years but now I don't smoke ever.
I was briefly homeless when I ran away from my parents' house.
I am not very good at domestic tasks.
I wanted to learn to paint but I wasn't very good at it.
I wanted to be an astronomer until I learned there was math involved.
I travelled with a comedy tour and did stand up. It was depressing.
An actor I dated was in Brokeback Mountain.
I talk to my puppies incessantly.
My husband says I'm beautiful but I think I'm ordinary-looking.
I don't wear nailpolish because I'm too lazy to do it.
I am tempted to believe in reincarnation.
I don't use drugs and even avoid over-the-counter medicine when possible.
Autumn is my favourite time of year, but October makes me sad.
I am shy in small groups, outgoing in large groups.
I rarely eat meat.
I like to sing best when no one is around.
Sometimes I get paid to sing in a coffee shop.
I enjoy spending time alone.
I am in love.
I still have a lot of important things to do in my life.
I am mostly happy with who I am becoming.

I Am An African

I am an African

Not because I was born there

But because my heart beats with Africa’s

I am an African

Not because my skin is black

But because my mind is engaged by Africa

I am an African

Not because I live on its soil

But because my soul is at home in Africa

When Africa weeps for her children

My cheeks are stained with tears

When Africa honours her elders

My head is bowed in respect

When Africa mourns for her victims

My hands are joined in prayer

When Africa celebrates her triumphs

My feet are alive with dancing

I am an African

For her blue skies take my breath away

And my hope for the future is bright

I am an African

For her people greet me as family

And teach me the meaning of community

I am an African

For her wildness quenches my spirit

And brings me closer to the source of life

When the music of Africa beats in the wind

My blood pulses to its rhythm

And I become the essence of sound

When the colours of Africa dazzle in the sun

My senses drink in its rainbow

And I become the palette of nature

When the stories of Africa echo round the fire

My feet walk in its pathways

And I become the footprints of history

I am an African

Because she is the cradle of our birth

And nurtures an ancient wisdom

I am an African

Because she lives in the world’s shadow

And bursts with a radiant luminosity

I am an African

Because she is the land of tomorrow

And I recognise her gifts as sacred


© Wayne Visser

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Giving and receiving, to and from the source

Rose Greenway © 1999

This is what I was born to do

Shawn got the time off; a five day weekend lies ahead. Happy happy happy!

In other news, I decided (formally) not to rely upon on GDJ to give me a job. Though I like the working conditions he proposes (working partly at home, and partly in the office, setting my own hours) I do not like waiting until he gets things sorted out. I also don't like relying on a man who keeps suggesting we have an extramarital affair for anything.

Toward that end, I spent some time finding out what else I could do with myself to keep from growing bored and weird with my stagnant state, and came up with a few things. The pilates class is a good start (could it really make me taller? hehe) and I also got an audition to sing/guitar at a coffee shop on W. Avenue a couple of evenings and/or afternoons a week. That means needing to go get new strings because I haven't replaced my guitar strings for a long time.

I also got a phone call this morning from a local radio station asking if I would do an interview for Spoken Word, as a "local celebrity". This, I thought, was hilarious, because I am NOT a celebrity even in the most broad definition of the word. However, because I toured with the Winnepeg Comedy Festival at one time, and had some of my scripts performed at a professional theatre, this apparently qualifies me to speak on the radio. I laughed when the guy explained what he wanted to do and said, Wow you must be really hard up for someone to talk to! And the guy laughed too and said, Yeah, I am. That, alone, should have been just cause to tell him to piss off.

That, and the fact that I HATE the way I sound on the radio. When C. was working at the radio station back home she always used to get me to come on when she was stuck for material and talk about theatre. (This was, in fact, how I met Noah.) It drove me crazy when she would expect me to be able to talk for twenty minutes but have no questions prepared to keep things rolling. Anyway, I agreed to do a short interview on the condition that he would prepare questions rather than making me deliver a monologue, and he promised.

Beyond that, I think I have finally got my papers in order to return to teaching in the public system. Ironic how hard I fought to get OUT of that system, how many different things I tried in my desperation to find a job that made me feel appreciated -- and having been up and down that road, I now realise that I truly am happiest working with the crazy-confused-and-lost adolescents of junior high school. Weird. The hiring situation isn't too great out here, though, and it may be a bit of a wait to get something. My eight years of experience makes me too expensive, I fear, to hire as quickly as a fresh-out-of-school teacher. Still, I'm hoping for the best and feeling optimistic now that I finally got the right papers filled out.

There's also been time to do some real thinking about~ things - something I'd completely forgotten during my time overseas - and have been feeling more settled inside that part of my true self than I have in a significantly long period of time. Years, even. Being able to talk about things I haven't really talked much about has helped a lot. I am getting a better handle on what is different about me; why certain things work and why some of the old standbys just don't, and I am feeling more okay than ever about not being the same. Fitting into a community is no longer a concern, and neither is comparison. It's not the quick-fix I'd hoped it would be, but being honest with myself makes the journey less painful, and even enjoyable.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

can i find a candle of thought

The car wasn't in as bad shape as I feared. A friendly man called me with an estimate and said he needs to keep her overnight. That means the shiny little Suzuki Swift in my garage is mine for another day. Well. I shouldn't take so much pleasure in cheating on my car, but this little thing is nice. I wonder if they make a manual version.

Shawn and I went to the breakfast place and he was gleeful over his waffles.

Then I drove the Suzuki downtown and successfully found the office I was looking for yesterday (and apparently drove by it about four times because it was right there), acquired the forms I needed, and realised that I could not fill them out fully because I have lost my permanent professional certificate. Ugh. So I brought the forms home with me instead of leaving them with the personnel lady and called the OTHER office to find out how to get a new certificate. It's unfortunate that I'm so scatterbrained sometimes. These kinds of things cost money and even more time. I did manage to get the forms filled out, however, with the help of a friendly voice on the phone who gave me the secret information I was seeking, and also managed to fill out a request for a new certificate which I will not lose.

Now I'm going to the dentist for my six month checkup. Yuk. I don't like this dentist who misdiagnosed my need for root canal back in January and then went on holidays while I got sick. It isn't that I blame her for mistakes or for having holidays. It's the fact that she called me a liar when I said it was hurting (even though she was joking, it wasn't funny) and chose to leave me in pain rather than refer me to someone else when she went out of town.

Back then, I swore to myself that I would find a new dentist before my six month checkup came due, and true to form, I forgot. So now I'm going to see her again, rather than miss my appointment because I am neurotic about having clean teeth. However, I am bound and determined that this will be the LAST time we see each other. I will find a new dentist!

When I called Shawn to tell him about the estimate on the car, he mentioned that he was thinking of taking Thursday and Friday off. Monday is a holiday because of Labour Day, so that will make a five day weekend if he gets his approval. I hope he does! Five days together would be perfect.

J called just now, just to chat, and that was nice. I do miss her. It's funny that I see her and talk to her more now, in different cities, than I did when I lived seven minutes away.

It feels like things have gotten back to normal and I like it that way. I like my plain old ordinary life.

Line my eyes and call me pretty

This morning the phone rang while Shawn was in the shower. I picked it up. Hello?

The man on the other end of the line said, May I speak to your Daddy please?

This is something that happens to me every once in awhile. I guess I have a young-sounding voice (which is nice when I feel like being young, but frustrating when I'm trying to be a thirty-two year old). It hasn't happened in awhile though, and I was taken off guard.

Long pause.

Finally I decided not to play games and just asked in my most grownup voice, Do you mean Shawn?

The man said, Oh I'm sorry, honey. Is he your stepfather?

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Finer Things

Damn. Real life already? Happened way too fast, but maybe it will help me overcome the last of my jetlag and disorientation.

The car is behaving strangely. Poor girl, she's old, she has the right to be strange. (Everyone else in the family is strange so she might as well join in.) But we're taking her to the doctor tomorrow morning just to be sure she's okay. I'm aggravated that we have to take her to the doctor because I need her to take me places tomorrow, like the dentist's office and downtown to pick up application forms. Shawn says the car doctor will give us a courtesy car which makes me nervous because I feel comfortable in my little baby car and I'm always nervous about driving an automatic because I'm so used to my little stick shift. I feel like whining but Shawn is delighted about the whole thing and here's why: the car doctor is located beside the best breakfast restaurant in the world.... and Shawn is so thrilled about the prospect of the world's best breakfast that he doesn't care that the car is sick. What a crazy man I married.

This afternoon I went to the recreation centre near my house and paid for a drop-in yoga class. It was a mix of total experts and complete novices. I am a novice in the extreme. In fact I have no idea why I decided to take a yoga class. About halfway through it I realised I meant to take pilates. The yoga was relaxing (so much so I could easily have drifted off to sleep if the instructor would have stopped talking) but it wasn't what I was looking for. I was also confused about the difference between Hatha and Ashtanga. I don't know which one I ended up doing. Suffice it to say I was upside down a lot with my butt in the air. So tonight I found the pilates class I MEANT to take and Shawn, for reasons known only to himself, decided to come with me.

The pilates class was really good and I signed up for a registered class starting in mid-September. A lot of the exercises were like things I did when I was taking dance, and it felt good to stretch those muscles that get used so seldom. The instructor kept telling us to "work the core" and now Shawn is lying on the floor moaning loudly, "Owwww... ouch! Ohhh, owww! My CORE!" to the extreme joy of the puppies who are licking his nose in happiness.

Joie de vivre!

everything's going to be alright

I remember how to love her now.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's a lifelong celebration, and I think we're right on time.

Laughing is so healthy. I love it that I can laugh at these things now. I want to thank whatever force guided me so benevolently in the right direction right to this place where I can feel the way I feel at this moment. Grateful for my safety, thankful for my peaceful home, and filled with laughter that keeps sneaking out the corners of my lips.

Fifty ways to love my lover.

He was my first lover.
He has green eyes.
I love the shape of his hands.
I have only seen him really cry one time.
He makes me laugh every day.
He never yells.
He's smarter than anyone else I know.
He likes ketchup on just about everything.
He has no middle name.
His parents divorced when he was four.
He is a good cook.
He is saving money for flying lessons.
He used to ride mountain bikes competitively.
He was shy when he was younger but now he isn't.
He is the only person that knows me completely.
He always pulls the park brake up too hard so I can't get it down.
He leaves his dishes on the counter instead of in the dishwasher.
He likes morning showers better than nighttime showers.
He hates diet pop.
He always grabs me whenever I walk by.
He has only smoked a cigarette once his life.
He is a talented artist.
He loves his job more than anyone I know.
He still has several friends that he made in high school.
He is extremely loyal to his friends.
He encourages me to do things that I find scary.
His hair is turning grey at the temples, which I love.
He has 20/20 vision.
He is a very intuitive person.
Managing people is something he doesn't like but is good at.
He usually doesn't snore.
He is Big Puppy's favourite parent.
He sings to me all the time.
He is an unusually patient person.
Sometimes he makes up crazy lies to see if I'm listening.
His mother phones him at least twice a week.
He is always sweet to his mother even when he's busy.
He is generous with money.
He keeps his office sparse and tidy.
He likes music on all the time.
He doesn't drink alcohol very often.
He does not like public speaking.
Sometimes he wakes me up when I'm sleeping by kissing my forehead.
He has broken free from chapstick.
He always dresses casual.
He is openminded and willing to change his mind about things.
He tells me that he loves me all the time.
He likes to do different accents but he's bad at it.
He doesn't like Stephen Harper or George Bush.
He does not like horror movies or real surgery programs.

To me you are perfect.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Last on your dial; first in your heart

I've been having crying jags since I got home. I feel guilty about my food. I feel guilty about my money. I feel guilty about my wide open spaces and for ever thinking my neighbour's house was too close to mine. I feel guilty about the lack of balance in the world.

I don't recognize myself in the mirror. My skin is so dark. My hair, bleached out by the sun, looks white. (Maybe it's just turning grey.) My arms are muscular. I have never had any muscles - not even when I used to spend two hours at the gym every day. And my eyes, looking back at me, look like someone else's. I want to tap the face in the mirror. Hello? Lisa? Is that you?

I never thought it would be like this.


We went to dinner tonight and I cried over the plate of food, ducking my head and trying not to draw attention to our table. I think that if someone had looked over at us they would have thought that Shawn was some nice young man taking a poor old crazy bag lady out for a meal to help her out. I just needed a sweatsuit and a tiara.

The movie theatre was better because it was dark and I could let the tears flow. I was crying for the little girl who wanted to be a beauty queen and was going to be judged-judged-judged by hairsprayed ladies who thought she was fat and plain in her glasses. I was crying for the colour-blind boy who couldn't grow up to fly a jet plane, and for the pain of a disappointment, and a death and lost love..... It all seemed so painful that it was almost real. And I was crying for what is real, and for the unfairness, the wrongness, of being able to float in and out of that reality, from the dark of a movie theatre to the real world half a world away.


Shawn, while I was away, did not update my blog nor post the things I wanted him to, and yet he managed to finish and send, in my name, one of my half-finished stories to some lady to ask her to publish it. If I hadn't missed him so much every day that I sometimes wanted to die, I think I might kill him now. As it is, I haven't the inclination quite yet. He's being too sweet, passing me wads of Kleenex as I cry for no reason.


I had a dream this afternoon, napping on the couch, that I was touring a house with a real estate agent who bought me a black coffee in hopes it would seal a deal. And each room, as we entered it, morphed and bent itself into something different. When I looked away, and then looked back, the room changed shape and size.


I threw my written diary into the garbage can the minute I walked into the house. I took it from my backpack and threw it away, not because it says anything it shouldn't say. Just because I don't need it anymore.

I used to be a packrat. In my underdeveloped childhood sense of empathy, I somehow developed an oversensitivity to the plight of inanimate objects. I felt certain that banana peels lay sobbing in the trash can, emotionally brutalized by that callous treatment. And so, as a result, I kept everything. I saved scraps of paper and elastic bands and empty containers and paperclips bent into rings. Because I knew they'd be hurt if I threw them away.

By all rights it was entirely possible that I could have ended up like those crazy cat ladies living in condemned buildings.

But some time in 1997, the first time I lived in a new city away from my friends and family, I realised I had to remove ~ from my heart-burden because it was all getting too heavy to carry. Back then I wasn't strong enough to empty the contents of a cardboard box into a garbage can without carefully combing through its contents. I needed to open up each one of his letters, and reread it. And remember the letter I had written in response. And then carefully fold each letter back up and replace it in its envelope before I could throw it in the garbage. But that night the literal cleanup served as an emotional cleanup too, and I could finally stop carrying him with me into every new experience. He wasn't gone from my heart but he wasn't heavy anymore.

From then on, when I needed to throw something away, I remembered that night in the apartment, folding his letters in half neatly and putting them in the garbage over and over and over again until they were all gone. It wasn't an act of aggression. It was a peaceful experience to let go of something that was weighing me down and colouring my perceptions.

When I came in the door carrying the travel-diary I felt the same way about it, in a strange way. It was heavy with depressing observations and sad stories and my homesickness and sadness. And I knew I didn't need it anymore to remember the trip and to get what I needed to get from it. I'm getting better at holding onto what's important and letting what's not important go without as much of a struggle.


Aging and changing is more painful a process than I believed it would be when I was young. Time doesn't move at an even pace; it leaps and lags. And things don't happen in the chronological order they are supposed to.

There are pieces of me I had meant to sort out long before now... and there are things I figured out sooner than I thought possible.

Tired. Going back to bed.