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.