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.