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.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

vanishing point

Sunday nights are even quieter. After crossing the bridge the city changes and this is why I cross that bridge even in the darkness, because this particular metamorphasis is important. I'd go so far as to say it's necessary so that I might be able to keep going and come home clean.

On the city side of the bridge people have put their garbage bags out on the street for morning collection, overripe bananas and grass clippings leave dewdrops visible through the clear plastic bags, ready to be composted and made new again.

The streetlights are on, glowing lamps with warm halos of light. I run from halo to halo - and I can almost imagine it feels colder between them. There aren't many cars in this neighbourhood, particularly on a Sunday night, but I can still hear them, one by one on the newly built highway; when they cross they say hahhhhhhh.

On the other side of the bridge it becomes dark abruptly. No streetlights. My eyes adjust slowly and I alter my pace to avoid tripping where the road changes from smooth asphalt to gravel. The cars are too far away to hear now. Coyotes are crying. I whistle through my fingers so they know I'm here.

It's colder on this side, somehow, without the imaginary warmth of streetlights, and the stars are clear. I can hear the trees breathing. The city changes from indoor to outdoor and the metropolitan landscape abruptly becomes wild and fresh.

I change too. I am no longer an aging woman, favouring the right knee slightly and squinting with poor night vision. My gait becomes even, my breathing becomes deep and regular. My irises open and I can see everything in black and white. The knees are warmed up now, the backbone stretches long and I become tall. I am strong and I am tireless. My mind is clear and bright in the diminishing light.

I turn home after an hour, my eyes adjusting back to the brightness, becoming blind again. I feel like I am waking from a dream, a dream I wanted to be real.


Friday, September 22, 2006

It's the weekend, and I know that you're free.

Still raining.

Tomorrow Shawn's Dad is coming to visit. Shawn is going to pick him up at the airport so he's going to miss both my coffee-house tunes and our pilates class. I've decided to do both by myself, anyway, and meet them at home afterward. It won't cut into the visit much. I enjoy Shawn's Dad; there's so much in common between the two of them. I love watching them together; I love how happy Shawn is to have his Dad here. He's only staying one night and then going to visit his parents... but he'll stop to see us again on his way home next weekend and stay another night then. I have the thrilling task of tidying up the house in preparation for the visit. Fortunately, things around here aren't bad right now. Most of the untidiness is the puppies' fault. They never put their toys back in the toybox when they're done playing. So I'll put away the puppy toys and vaccuum a bit.

I have a haircut planned in the afternoon. I got brave enough to cut my hair shorter awhile ago, which wasn't really short, but short for me. For someone who has had hair down the middle of her back since childhood, a just-touching-the-shoulders kind of cut seems drastic. Anyway, I dared to do it awhile back, but now it's just as long as it ever was again. Sometimes I really want to be the kind of girl who clips out pictures from fashion magazines and gives them to the stylist and says, "Make me look like this." But I don't really have that kind of self-confidence (make me look like this!) and I'm also honest enough with myself to know that no matter what kind of haircut I get, my hair will be back in a ponytail within a couple of days. I think today I'll pretend I have laryngitis and just nod to whatever she suggests doing with my mop.

Lastly, and strangely, I was wrong again about Shawn not having been successful in getting something I wrote published on my behalf. He did. Imagine my surprise.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

is the sun coming up today?

Rain. Again. The sun might never shine again.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I met with GDJ and DH this morning along with their corporate client. The three men talked in acronyms the whole time so I didn't understand a lot of what was going on around me and instead I just smiled and tried to seem interested and attentive. I'm not sure why they had me attend the meeting at all, except that perhaps it was good for me to know who I was working for, and for him to know me. At the end of the business part of the meeting, they talked about hockey and golf, and so I continued to have nothing to contribute and went on smiling stupidly.

Finally it ended and I went for lunch with GDJ and DH. That part was nice because didn't talk about business much (or sports) or talk in acronyms. I felt like I could keep up at last. Talking to GDJ with someone else there was better... less opportunity for him to be inappropriate. I like DH too.

It sounded like they were going to be able to offer me a month's worth of full time work, writing scripts for educational programs. I don't have any idea what that will translate into in terms of pay, as that remains to be discussed, but I'm hoping it will be worthwhile because I want to contribute even if Shawn doesn't really mind either way.

After lunch I went to the registry to renew my car registration and found out that the insurance card I've been carrying for the last year is expired. This means NOT that I have been driving without insurance but that when the new card came I must have lost it because I know we've been paying for insurance! Even still, it's totally against the law to drive without proof of insurance and I'm sure lucky that I was never required to show my insurance card at any point since the old one expired. Now I'm waiting for a new one to come in the mail and praying I'm not stopped in the meantime.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sweet Little Lies

When I try to use psychology on myself, it usually doesn't work. For example, I don't understand those people that can set their clocks ten minutes fast and use that as a system for getting places on time. When I do that, I know I've done it, and so I just give myself extra time.

But one place where I can manipulate myself and it works is in running. When I run outside, I run three loops, each of which connects pretty close to my starting point. As I'm beginning the run, and all the way through it I tell myself I can bail out at the end of any loop and not do all three if I don't feel up to it.

The first loop (A) is the longest one. It's about 28 minutes around. When I get to the end of that one, I am usually not quite tired enough to want to stop yet. And so I tell myself that I'll just do the B loop and then come home. Loop B is about fifteen minutes, and when I'm at the end of that one, I am tired. But at the end of part B, the C loop is sooo little and small, maybe just seven minutes, I think to myself, I can do it because it's so short. And that's how I get myself to run fifty minutes telling myself the whole way that I can stop anytime.

I also talk to myself while I run. I say, when I get to that signpost I'll walk for a minute if I feel I need to. When I get to that signpost, I say, I can keep going, maybe just until that corner. Then I'll walk if I need to. And when I get to the corner, I say, I'm okay, I can go a little bit longer.

I also tell myself about the food I'm going to eat when I get home, hehe.

It's funny to me that I can't lie to myself about some things, like changing the clock, but I can lie to myself all the way through a workout and believe myself every time. I told Shawn about it and he said it's not lying; it's just setting up success. (I think he was lying.)


Monday, September 18, 2006

Everybody sees the wind blow in

Running has been going well again lately. I had a period of time where I was feeling discouraged by my sore knee, but after easing back a bit, I feel like it's getting better. I used the elliptical machine for awhile as it improved, and have been adding run days back into the cycle and they're working. Yesterday I felt especially hopeful when I was able to run the full ABCD Loop. (I don't know what that area is really called, but that's how I imagine it, like a four leaf clover, each loop coming back to centre enabling me to bail out four different times if necessary.) When I started that run I wasn't sure how much of it I would do. But after each loop I felt fine, and finished the whole thing.

I ask a lot of myself when I run. I ask for good form and steady pacing. I insist on keeping properly aligned, I make my feet strike evenly - heel to toe. I make myself take in water whether or not I feel like it. I ask my body to do a lot of things, but I don't ever ask myself for much in the way of speed. I'm not a fast runner by any means. I run for distance and not for time. That's the part of my training that is completely lacking.

There was a time when I wanted to run a marathon. Some races are open and anyone can enter, but many, like the Boston Marathon, require a qualifying time in order to register. That is, you can't even enter unless your speed is good enough, proven by a time taken at another race. Once I realised this, my interest in marathon-ing diminished significantly. I didn't want to race for time; I just wanted to finish. I have no spirit of competition within me whatsoever. (This is undoubtedly because I know I would come in dead last!)

I have never timed myself running but the qualifying time for women in my age group at the Boston Marathon is 3 hours and 40 minutes. I have grave doubts that I could qualify. But then, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I don't have to enter an official race or register for anything in order to do what I want to do. What I want to do is to prove to myself that I can run 42 kilometres. That doesn't require a racing number or a registration. Shawn is encouraging me to do the first 42 km on the treadmill instead of outside, so that I'm HOME if anything goes wrong and he doesn't have to follow me with cups of water. I know that running on the treadmill isn't the same as running outside in terms of what it requires of the body, but he's right about the training.

I have no deadlines in my head right now. Maybe I'm just dreaming...


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Joseph Pilates, a man after his own heart.

This morning my darling husband attended his first registered Pilates class with me. I don't think there are a lot of men in the world who would do that. It started out, on his part, as an act of generosity, wanting to do something with me that would make me happy, taking an interest in something I enjoyed doing. However, once he found himself in a room with six young women all arching and stretching into Angry Cats, I think he found reasons of his own to enjoy being there.


Friday, September 15, 2006

I've got a good father.

A long time ago, before it started raining, before reality television took over, before Oprah Winfrey became just Oprah, and before there was anyone on the talk show circuit besides her and Phil Donahue - A long long time ago, Oprah had a guest on the show and he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He was there to explain his side of their behaviour and their biases. He was offensive and rude and generally horrifying.

I remember asking my Dad why Oprah would do that to herself, put herself in the position of being in the same room with such a horrible person, someone who disrespected her and would have liked to hurt her just for fun. I asked him why Oprah would give this man a platform to say such awful things.

My Dad said that Oprah was smart for letting him do that. He said by letting the KKK talk, she was letting the world see for themselves just how wrong and awful they were. He said that telling the world they were awful could never be as effective as letting them show their true selves where everyone could see.

Another thing my Dad said to me at that age was that I was allowed to love anyone I wanted to love as long as they were good to me and made me happy. He said I could marry a white man or a black woman or any variation thereof and that he would love that person too, so long as they were good to me and made me happy.

My Dad is an awfully awfully smart man.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My therapist said not to see you no more; she said you're like a disease without any cure

A friend gave me a nice quote about perspective. It's good to remember how much perspective matters. I see things clearly now I couldn't see even a few short months ago. Everything in perspective. And it all makes perfect sense.


dream back to summer, hear how he tells her

In September the temperature drops at night and for the first time since June the heaters start to kick on. The night air is filled with that smell, the smell of sleeping furnaces waking up and rolling over and burning off the layer of dust that has settled in their lungs while they slept.

Literally it is only the smell of burning dust - but it brings with it memories and fears that settle and seep effortlessly into October. I find October so hard. I smell it coming.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

an exercise in knowing


For Emily whenever I may find her,
and for Matthew six days
before your wedding
in mittens you bought me from a vendor on the street
I'm sorry I never said sorry but
I'm glad you didn't need that.


Monday, September 11, 2006

partly cloudy

It isn't an accident that what I needed so badly, for so long, didn't arrive until now:

Now, because its arrival is no longer necessary, and I've already learned to live without it.

Now, because sustenance consumed in starvation isn't really tasted.

Now because I can take it or leave it, enjoy it or enjoy turning it down.

Now because you can appreciate what you wait for more than what you are immediately granted.

And now because now, it is the right time. Because I'm no longer falling.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

September... I remember

"Cultivating Happiness" was fascinating. It was clear and simple. We don't need to expend great energy and effort at cultivating happiness. We just need to be happy. Happiness is habit-forming, and the more we do it the better we get at doing it some more. We are already on the right path.

Flying from autumn to summer and back again is always such a strange sensation, like travelling in a time machine. It's time to savour the season, for autumn here is fleeting and fast. The crispness in the air gives quickly way to frost and glitter - but for now, for as many days as we can hold on to it... autumn.


Friday, September 08, 2006

... and maybe they'd be happy.... for awhile.

I tried to work on the writing. I even called the client, partly for clarification and partly just to convince both of us that I was making progress. He seemed convinced, but I'm not.

Then when I hung up, the phone rang in my hand and it was a theatre back home asking permission to use my script for an upcoming show. This script was never formally published and still belongs to me rather than the theatre company that planned to commission the writing of it, which means royalties are mine, not to be split with a zillion other agents, hurrah.

They also invited me to be a guest director. I quickly granted permission to use the script and vetoed the notion of directing it myself. Directing it would mean living apart from Shawn again and I have had enough of that for this lifetime. I wish this had happened prior to the radio interview, since I was under the distinct impression that when I spoke about 52 Summers Ago, Ty thought I was referring to the last time I had contributed something to the theatre community. It feels about that long. It's nice to feel like the work is still alive and breathing, even though I stopped giving it the kiss of life.

kiss me and smile for me

We're going to see the Dalai Lama. Being the neurotic puppy-lovers that we are, we're bringing the babies with us. And since it's only one night, instead of trying to find a puppy-friendly hotel, we're just going to stay with Shawn's Dad. Perhaps the puppies can have their hearts educated too.

We decided to fly instead of driving, which means Shawn won't need to take any time off work. It's weird how much more affordable, and how much more convenient, flying can be. Something weird is that this will the very first time that Shawn and I have flown together. Though we've both flown a LOT, everywhere we've gone together in the past, we've driven.

In other good news, the missing-in-action contractors have finally turned up to spread topsoil on our dustbowl of a yard. It's been a long wait. Hopefully the city will verify the final grade quickly so we can put down sod and finally have a lawn instead of a grey expanse of dust and clay. I don't covet my neighbours' spouse... I covet my neighbours' trees.

Meanwhile, the most recent man in a long line of men who has promised to see to the repair of damage to our driveway caused by dummies, has vanished. This is the second or third time that someone in charge of solving this problem has either quit or been fired. It doesn't inspire much confidence in the company. I sent the company president another email which he answered promptly but offered no answers to my questions. The Better Business Bureau complaint remains open... but I don't know if this particular company cares much about such things. I really don't want to deal with small claims court so I am keeping my fingers crossed that someone will help me in the near future. I hate having to chase and nag, but more than that I hate being taken for a sucker.

I am supposed to be writing right now. It's sort of creative writing except that it occurs within such a limited frame of requirements that it doesn't feel very creative. It does, in my experience, seem to be the kind of writing that pays, however. So I'm looking at it helplessly and trying to will it to write itself before Tuesday. Another writing project (more creative) has taken off a bit more recently and leaves me relieved that Shawn's sweet but misguided attempt to help me get something published in my absense didn't work out. Now that the writing wasn't published elsewhere it remains ours to publish at a better return in another place. I love how things work themselves out, sometimes, in ways we don't expect ... Meanwhile, my corporate -boring- writing sits open in front of me and calls for my immediate attention. Back to work.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Educating the heart

This morning I was watching him get ready for work the way I used to do, rushing around, forgetting things, tripping over my shoes, watching the clock. And I suddenly said Do you ever resent me?

With one arm through his shirt sleeve he stopped and looked at me. Resent you? Why would I?

Because I'm not working full time. Because you're paying the mortgage and buying the groceries and paying all the bills ... and all I'm doing is laundry, and half-heartedly at that. Sometimes I even let the puppies chew on your underwear.

His sincere surprise made me realise that resentment isn't anything like what he feels. He told me he's happy about taking care of me. He's proud to be managing things on his own.

It makes me see, yet again, how much nicer a person my husband is than I am. When he was in school and I was carrying all the financial responsibility on my own, I sometimes felt resentment. I got tired and frustrated. I wonder why he's so much kinder than I am. And how I could have attracted such a wonderful man. It makes me wish I could reverse time and never roll my eyes at him when I was getting ready for work in the morning while he was at home.

I still want to go back to work, but knowing that my wish is based on my own personal and professional fulfillment changes what working means. Knowing he doesn't feel resentment makes finding work something that can be approached lightly. Finding small things to do until then can be rewarding instead of just killing time.

It was in that frame of mind that I applied for a couple of jobs today, and felt more confident than I have in a long time that where it comes to employment, things will eventually work themselves out.


The Dalai Lama is in Canada, having been made an honourary citizen (as was Nelson Mandela in 2001 ), and is scheduled to speak at the Orpheum this weekend. Having determined that we won't be going back to our home-city for Saturday as was originally discussed, I am trying to convince Shawn that we should book tickets to hear him talk and go to Vancouver for the weekend.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

thighs and wings

When I was a child of perhaps ten years of age, my parents took the family to some sort of outdoor exhibition in the United States where there was a Birds of Prey show. The birds, somewhat wild, but still trained, would swoop above the crowd and return to a handler's glove at the command of a whistle. When the beautiful redtailed hawk appeared, the handler asked the audience, "Does anyone know what this guy eats?"

A man in the audience, overcome with excitement and perhaps beer bellowed out, "Republicans!"

The handler laughed, the crowd laughed, my parents laughed. And then the show continued. I leaned in to whisper to my mother, "Mum, what's a Republican?" She said, "Shh... listen to the show."

"Dad?" I tried, "What's a Republican?" Dad said, "I'll explain later. Don't interrupt the show."

Based upon my parents' reluctance to explain Republicans I decided for myself that a Republican was something dirty, probably sexual, something icky and not meant for polite conversation. I didn't ask them to explain later, convinced I no longer wanted to know.

There is a commercial on television lately that makes me laugh in which a father changes his "Oatmeal" label to read "GOatmeal", in an attempt to keep his children away from his favourite cereal. This reminds me of being a child when I believed that "skim" milk was actually "skin" milk, a thin bluish liquid somehow extracted from the skin of corpses. And rose "hips"! My mind went wild with that one.

In adulthood, my earlier preconceptions and misunderstandings still seem to hold power. Though I have learned what Republicans really are, as well as skim milk and rose hips, their initial ability to frighten me a little hasn't completely gone away.

Monday, September 04, 2006

all your dreams are on their way... see how they shine.

Shawn drove me to the radio station this morning which was helpful because I was nervous and wouldn't have been able to drive and bite my nails at the same time. It was also helpful that Ty, the host, let Shawn sit beside me while I talked so I wasn't alone with the microphone and my jitters. It actually went pretty well, and Ty kept his promise, lots of questions, so it wasn't hard to keep talking. When that was done, we went to Tim Hortons for breakfast. I never tire of Tim's coffee and cheese croissants.


This morning when I woke up there was a message from the pixie that said: Sail on silver girl, sail on by, your time has come to shine.

I've decided to sing that for my audition tomorrow.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

promise you

Verily, great grace may go with a little gift; and precious are all things that come from friends.

my empire of dirt

I remember hearing that a key to happiness and self-fulfillment was accepting one's own faults - and wondered, then, what was keeping me from being happy? As far as faults go, I sought and defined and analyzed and agonized over them since the earliest age I could remember, and did, absolutely, learn to accept them. Perhaps I even embraced them to an unhealthy degree, using my perception of myself as fatally flawed to prevent me from daring to do things I should have done and be things I should have been.

There was never a time I did not accept my faults. I am learning that what I had not done was accept my strengths. Flawed as ever, I do have strengths. And I am learning bit by bit not to be so afraid of them or let them be taken from me. I can work on what still needs work, and I can let the strengths compensate for other things.


Tomorrow is the radio interview. I am nervous.

Tuesday is the audition. I am nervous.

make a little birdhouse in your soul

Yesterday we rode our bikes to the lot where the new house is being built. Presently we own a deep hole in the ground with a bit of concrete, a few empty pop cans and an abandoned container of Skoal.

The search for a new house was motivated, primarily, by the desire for a bigger bathroom. Something we always wanted was a bathtub big enough to play in together, and if the tub could have jacuzzi jets, even better! (Right now when we squeeze into the tub together there's barely room for the water.)

Other things we dreamed of included having a mainfloor laundry instead of doing laundry in the basement. And Shawn had visions of a big kitchen. And I wanted wood floors instead of carpet so that the puppies couldn't do as much damage.

Somehow we found what we were looking for... and while we likely won't ever be able to decorate as successfully as the showhome people managed to... this is basically what our new house will look like.

Most of all we were just excited about choosing things together. I bought the first place by myself when I was still single... and Shawn picked the current house by himself because we were living in different cities. This is the first time we've chosen a home together, and the first time, actually, that we've had the opportunity to choose colours, cabinets, fixtures, floors and countertops and all that kind of stuff. The house we're in now is brand new, but was a spec home, as neutral as neutral can be. It's been such fun to choose things that represent our tastes more.

We were hugely fortunate in that we put the deposit down on our new place just about three minutes before the housing market went insane here. That means our house price is locked down while it's being built and the price we can sell our current house for goes up while we wait. We were incredibly lucky with our timing because it certainly had nothing to do with planning.

Moving during the winter is going to be no fun... but Shawn says he wants to hire movers rather than moving things ourselves. This way there's a guarantee of no damage to our furniture (which matters not since most of our furniture is pretty old and dented anyway) but also of no damage to the walls and floors of the new place, which does make a bit of sense. The fact that we're moving again soon makes me feel justified in the fact that I've never fully finished unpacking from the last move, never hung up any pictures on the walls, never made it really "ours".

The new place will be different, I think, in that it already feels like home because we put so much thought into planning the way we wanted it to look.

Sometimes it seems shallow to be so excited about things - and like we shouldn't be giving ourselves such an extravagant gift. But simultaneously, I know we've both sacrificed a lot over the years to get to this place. Just being back together under one roof again has made all the difference in the world. It feels like the pieces are starting to fit into place, and real life has finally begun.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

changing the chaos to order and light

Biking against a strong prairie headwind makes me alive in ways that are primal and pure.

This trip - and coming back home from it - have made made me alive again.

I didn't know I had been existing encapsulated within a moment, an experience, so lost and so blindly focused, until I came back home.

And now the capsule is shattered into a million shards of sparkly nothingness and I am free to move above and beyond.

Nothing is lost.

Friday, September 01, 2006

what is it?

It's magic.

Miracles and Construction Zones

After minimal nagging, Shawn conceded we should walk the puppies and donned the proper walking attire. A half hour later, feeling warmed with sunshine and time spent sweetly with my family, we stopped at the mailbox to pick up our mail.

I got a speeding ticket!!

A hundred and three dollars for going 18km over the limit in a construction zone. Damn. What really gets me is that I thought I was driving 2km UNDER the limit! Guess I didn't see the sign.

Fortunately, Shawn is in a good mood today (I credit it to the fresh infusion of Vitamin D) and did not decide to kill me. In fact, he just said cheerfully that we ought to put the pups away and go for a run. Phew.

charcoal and pencil

Shawn got a raise. His boss emailed to tell him, since he's on holidays. He was surprised because it wasn't evaluation time at his office - but I am not surprised because he has recently taken on a lot more responsibility and has been made a Team Leader. He says he doesn't like managing other people because he just wants to do his own work, but I think he's probably exactly the right kind of person to manage others because he doesn't get any kind of ego-kick out of the "status" of a job like that, he just wants everyone to work hard and do a good job together. He likes to bring them TimBits in the mornings and whisper his wishes sweetly while they consume large quantities of fat and sugar, making them too lethargic to disagree with him. R calls him "The Artist Whisperer". I think he deserves the raise. It's amazing to see how far he's come in the last few years. I don't think I could be more proud of him.