Sunday, September 30, 2007

i have squandered my resistance

The weekends go by so quickly once again now that I'm working out of the house. There never seems to be enough time to do the things I want to get done. This morning we got more food for the greedy mongrels and also went to the department store to get a new central vacuum system. I hate spending so much money on an appliance I am loathe to use. Then we picked up groceries and that seems to have eaten up most of the day.

Shawn is now in the garage monkeying around with the vacuum and trying to install it. The lady at the department store made it sound easy but she didn't mention needing to buy a whole bunch of PVC tubing which means making another trip in the rain. I often wonder whether we are doing things the hard way or if everyone else just knows these things intuitively.

Tomorrow is a professional day at work, which pleases me because it gives me time to do some organizational things in between activities and meetings. (If the teaching profession really only involved classroom teaching it would be the plumiest job in the world.) There's a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of getting ready for rehearsals for the show and I also need to get my instructional week planned.

Beyond that I still have a safety document to finish up with and am feeling completely uninspired to do so. I'd also planned to wash the dogs today and wash out their dog houses. The likelihood of that getting done is slight.


My little shoot of "lucky" bamboo, given to us by J and N (who are now in the process of divorcing) seemed to be dormant for about three years. I wasn't sure it was even alive except that it was still green... and then suddenly it grew a leaf. I don't know why or what we did differently to encourage this new growth but it was exciting. I wonder if it will continue to sprout leaves or if that's it for another three years.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

my direct line

The cast list went up and I hid in my office. One girl sought me out to hug me and thank me, another to ask disbelievingly if she'd really not been cast (ouch), and other boy came to tell me he was delighted that I'd cast him in a part that required him to dress as a woman because he enjoyed women's clothing. I smiled benignly which I think wasn't what he was hoping for because he said it again, perhaps to be sure I'd understood what he was sharing with me. I smiled and nodded again. Drama kids... they like to share. It's what I love about them but sometimes I long for a line. Rehearsals start Tuesday. Goodbye freedom!


This morning Shawn took the Element for an oil change (much needed) and though I would have preferred to tag along (because the dealership is near the sea) I am stuck here waiting for a man to come and pick up our leaky washing machine and replace it with another. When it comes to things like that I am relieved that we chose to get our appliances where we did because there has been no problem getting them replaced when they've been defective though of course it would have been better if they'd worked properly in the first place. The annoying part is that the person picking up the washer is supposed to be here some time between 8am and 5pm which might mean being stuck here all day long.

Shawn will be home soon, though, and we have other things going on today too. The kitchen designer is coming to take some measurements and a plumber is coming to hook up our dishwasher (allegedly, because he has cancelled a couple of times). So we'd be home anyway at least for part of the day. And... it's drizzly outside.


Last night Shawn's Dad came over to watch movies with us because his wife was out. He and Shawn were watching the Battlestar Galactica series together before I arrived in BC - and for some ridiculous reason they felt that I needed to watch all the old episodes in order to catch up with them so we could all continue watching the series together. The problem is that I couldn't care less about Battlestar Galactica and so I've not been doing my homework and that has stalled them. I've explained repeatedly that I'm not really interested in Battlestar Galactica and that they should just go ahead and continue watching it without me. They refuse to listen. They both feel that it's such a good series that it's stupid for me to miss out and so they've stubbornly been waiting while feeling irritated with me for not catching up.

Last night I got railroaded into watching the first one - which was actually a three hour movie and not an "episode" after all. It was a silly way to spend the evening. I was only watching half-interestedly while playing with puppies and thinking about work and Shawn and his Dad were bored too because they'd already seen it. So none of us was having fun and yet they doggedly carried on. In the end I never even finished watching it because Shawn's Dad went home and I went to bed.

The thing that Shawn and his Dad are having trouble accepting about me is that I don't really care much for Science Fiction. Even with a great storyline and characters and all the rest, it's just not my thing. I can appreciate it enough to sit through it and even stay awake most of the time, but I just don't get excited about it. It doesn't really interest me. Why won't they believe me and leave me alone? I don't force them to watch Broken Flowers.


Thursday, September 27, 2007


Day two of auditions. I am really glad I decided to break auditions up over two days. Doing them all at once would have taken way too long. After they were done, I stayed for another half hour or so sifting through the papers and trying to decide who would fit best in what role. There's this whole problem, as a teacher, of trying to decide whether to give a part to the best actor for the role, or the most deserving child.

I have a lot of kids who could really use a little self-esteem boost. I have one, in particular, whose mother called to talk to me about his gender identity issues and wanted to know if I could encourage him to join the play rather than getting involved with a group of girls who weren't such good influences on him. I also have a darling young man who is just learning English and made the effort to get a copy of the script ahead of time so he could learn his part prior to auditions. These kinds of things change the way I look at kids when I'm auditioning them and it skews the process. I guess all auditions are skewed in some way or another, whether it's nepotism or casting couch or whatever... but I always feel stressed out by the process because I want to be both FAIR and RIGHT and it's really hard to be both.

I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

I hate knowing that I have.

And posting the cast list tomorrow is inevitably going to hurt someone's feelings. Probably a few people's feelings.

I post the list purposely on Friday afternoons and then hide in my office so that the kids will go home and have the weekend to cool down or whatever they need to do before I have to deal with them again on Monday.

(PS: I decided to cast both the ESL boy and the gender-identity boy. Not fair, but I think it is right.)


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

heart of the matter

Shawn's brother is doing better today. He's in pain but he's feeling less woozy and he got a chance to talk more with the police about what happened. I wonder if there's any chance that they can find the people who did this.


Today one of my grade ten boys asked me to fill out a form to give him permission to miss school on Friday to attend a field trip. I signed my name. Then I noticed a section on the form that said, "Teacher Comments". Things like this confound me. What am I supposed to write there? Have fun? Bring me back a present? Do your homework? I decided upon, "I miss you already, Sherman." He was not as flattered as you might expect.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

overheard on the salt marsh

Shawn is finished back in Alberta and he's coming back to me later tonight. He said that the new house is really nice but that they've made some mistakes. The wrong faucets were attached and the garburator forgotten. He also said somehow they forgot to sand and paint the tops of the doors. Odd, that. The worst part, he says, is that the concrete for the driveway still hasn't been poured which means that the house's owners will not be able to park in their garage until, mostly likely, next summer when it next becomes warm enough to pour concrete. In some ways I'm glad we never lived in this house because these little things would irk me, particularly the lack of driveway. We'll have to nag the builder to correct the mistakes and hope, meanwhile, they don't slow down the process of selling the house.


Shawn's youngest brother was beaten up last night by a large group of young men while waiting for a bus. For no reason, just sitting there minding his own business on his way to work. It's impossible that he said or did anything to provoke this attack because he is truly the shyest human in the world. It's sick that something like this should happen to someone innocently awaiting a bus... We saw pictures and his eyes are swollen closed and blackened, and he has actual tread marks on his forehead from some disgusting creep's shoe. Poor poor kid. We're buying him new glasses to replace the ones that were smashed and probably going to have to subsidize him while he is recovering and unable to work. I hope his already lagging self concept won't suffer too much from this awfulness. The world is so brutal sometimes.


I have one spare block each day, a whole hour and twenty minutes with which to organize my life, and I can't express how much easier it makes things. Next semester there won't be this luxury, but for now I am feeling a lot less frazzled than I normally would by the end of September.

During this prep time, another teacher comes into my room and teaches a class of grade eight Drama. I try to stay out of his hair so he won't feel watched or judged in any way, but I can hear his class through the office walls even when I close the door.

Yesterday I heard him introduce an assignment on fairytale retellings, and I thought, Good luck with that one buddy, eighth graders are too old for fairytales. They won't enjoy it, they won't get excited about it.

Today his class performed those fairytales and they were fabulous. Why? I've tried this (years ago) with my eighth graders back home and was met with blank stares and passive resistance.

I thought about it a lot and then suddenly it hit me. I'm in a different kind of community now. Different demographics. These kids have parents who read stories to them when they were small. Mine, back there, didn't.



This morning I got up really early because I thought I'd need the extra time since Shawn isn't here... and usually in the morning he feeds the dogs now and also makes the coffee. As well, I needed to make a phone call to a client from the safety council to go over some changes he wanted made. The time zone thing works well for me now because I can make these calls before I go in to school.

For some reason I thought feeding the dogs and making the coffee would take a lot longer than it did. And the client just wanted me to delete one paragraph, so that conversation took less than a minute. And now I have all this extra time before I have to leave for work.

The thing about getting up early is that I hate it and I would almost never do it on purpose unless I really really really had to. But once I'm up and sipping a cup of coffee, being up early feels good. Having extra time in the morning is relaxing and I like it. I wish I could convince myself to do this when I didn't have to.


I made bread last night and it turned out right. It's the first time I've made a loaf of bread in that bread machine that didn't look and/or taste really weird. Being at sea level really does make a huge difference and all the things they print in the recipe book to help you adjust for the altitude simply cannot make up for it, at least, not for people like me who have no understanding of baking and just follow the recipe. It's neat that I can make bread now.

On the weekend I looked for those little boxes they used to make that kind of looked like cake mix boxes, but were a one-loaf bread machine kit. They don't exist anymore, at least not where I shop. Shawn said that the bread machine craze is over and that if I want to do it I'll have to actually measure the flour and yeast and salt and stuff myself. I guess I'm still excited about bread machines while the rest of the world has moved on because I never made any edible bread before. It's exciting.


Little Puppy is back on strike again. Hunger strike. Sometimes she refuses to eat for no apparent reason and it drives me completely insane because I worry about her incessantly. I don't know what sparks the hunger strikes; maybe this time it's because Shawn is away. Or not. I don't know... but I hate going to work and leaving her without any food in her tummy.


Monday, September 24, 2007

you're already a voice inside my head

Shawn's out of town tonight. He flew back to Alberta to take possession of the other house, the one we never lived in. It's strange that "taking possession" is such a formal thing, but it is. It requires a legal owner (fortunately not both of us) be there to accept the keys and walk through the building and check to ensure that everything we expect to be there is there. I don't really envy him the job... but I wish I was with him, too. This is my first night alone in this house. I've become such a baby.


We went to meet with the kitchen designer this morning and were annoyed to find learn that her secretary neglected to tell us that we should bring measurements and a floor plan... which meant the meeting was largely futile. We've arranged for her to come to our house on Saturday to see it for herself, which would have been my preference all along.

I didn't understand before today why Shawn didn't want to just buy some nice new cupboards and install them ourselves, but after seeing some of the sample kitchens in their showroom I understand why he thinks this is the way to go. I was truly awed by the creativity and ingenuity on display. I never thought kitchens could really be so pretty.


I suddenly have a lot of work I should be doing for my writing project. Again, it's not HARD work, it's just tedious and time consuming. Largely it involves cutting things from one document and pasting them into another. Things that the average nine year old could manage. Sometimes it seems so idiotic that this company wastes money paying people professional salaries to do these kinds of things. I don't really understand it. I'm sure I'm not as fast or efficient as someone with real keyboarding skills would be.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

trouble, oh trouble

It turns out that Puppy E is our problem child. This is something it took us awhile to catch on to because Puppy E, in addition to being a disturbed creature, is also sneaky. He makes it seem like Puppy D is the culprit when in fact he is not.

He craftily nibbles on Puppy D's ears and forelegs when no one is looking and does this incessantly until Puppy D snaps and chases him around the room and tries to kill him, at which point we glare at Puppy D and say, "Puppy D! Why are you doing that! Stop chasing your poor brother instantly!"

It's only recently that we've begun to notice that these spats are almost entirely at Puppy E's instigation and that poor Puppy D, who we have labeled as violent and abusive is actually just being tortured until he starts Falling Down.

In this picture, Puppy E is pretending to yawn but is actually turning his great gaping maw slightly to the side so he can "accidentally" close it on Puppy D's left ear. Note Puppy D's little grey head poking out as he tries to sleep underneath the Giant Puppy Pillow. Puppy E is dreadfully sneaky.

It also turns out that the Midnight Wrestling Matches have all been arranged by Puppy E.

I am now trying to figure out what Puppy E needs to help him to settle down and get enough stimulation and exercise that he won't feel it is necessary to torture his brother so much. He also tortures me and Shawn. The only one he rarely dares to bother is Little Puppy who had taught him that pestering her results in losing pieces of one's nose. (I'm proud of her for that.)

Oddly enough, in spite of being the most rambunctious and energetic of the babies, Puppy E is also the most sensitive and timid. He is quite frightened of other dogs and other people too. Not only that, but when we dare to speak to Puppy E in a firm voice he gets very sullen and hides from us for hours to make us feel guilty for not rewarding him for his naughtiness.

I am wondering if his behaviour could be improved by helping him gain more confidence, through taking him out more often. Maybe insisting he get over his fear of other people and animals. Or something. I'm thinking on it anyway.


It is now time to get groceries, my least favourite of the weekend errands. Mostly I hate it because Shawn is so miserable about it that it makes me hate it too. For some reason getting groceries always makes Shawn crabby.

I am, however, excited about buying ingredients to make bread. I am currently of the opinion that my breadmaker may work better now that we're at sea level. I hope I won't be disappointed.

Tomorrow is our appointment with the lady who is going to fix our kitchen so that the fridge fits in the hole. And I'm not sure what else she is going to do to our kitchen but we have a lot of vague ideas about things. Like replacing the scarred up linoleum and the ugly oak cabinets with something brighter and cleaner looking. And getting rid of the dented old sink and changing it to something more modern. We have new appliances that currently cannot be used because none of them fit in the spots they are meant to fit... and so in spite of having these things, we are doing dishes by hand and cooking only in the microwave. It's not a big deal... but neither is it ideal. I fear this project may take forever and start a domino effect that means our home is constantly under construction... but I'm hoping we can have a functional kitchen some time in the near future.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

don't go a'changin (I like you just the way you are)

The dogs are all starting to bond more with Shawn than they used to do. They used to be very attached to me and only snuggle him when I wasn't in the room. But lately they've started to cuddle up with him more often, particularly since (I think) he took over the morning feeding. But it's not just about food. I think it's also because he's becoming more patient with them than he used to be and they can probably sense that he's enjoying them more, allowing them to enjoy him more. I like that. In nice ways, I like to see my family being close and loving each other. And in selfish ways I love that I can, every now and then, take a breath that isn't full of dog odour.


I am sick. Rotten kids have given me germs. I'm feeling really sleepy and listless. It's nothing serious... just feeling under the weather. Bleh.

We did errands this morning anyway, because they were necessary in spite of feeling sleepy. We paid our notary and did our banking, retrieved my shoe from the repair place, mailed my cheque to Teachers' Certification, tried (unsuccessfully) to recycle our cardboard boxes, got the new coffee maker that Shawn thinks will improve the quality of his life, and on impulse, decided to get a crock pot with the idea that perhaps it would inspire us to cook at home more since we could have dinner ready and waiting upon arrival home from work. I actually think this is truly possible.

After all that I napped on the couch feeling yukky and tired. Then we had dinner with the inlaws and now we're back home again. I thought it was late when we left their place but it was only 8:30. I feel totally ready for bed now and am, in fact, in pajamas with teeth brushed. I think I'll doze on the couch while the pups play in hopes they will tire themselves out enough to sleep through the night.

Lately, the boy dogs have been waking up in the middle of the night to hold 2:00am wrestling matches in the bedroom. It's infuriating, especially when I have to get up at 6:30. I'm not sure what to do to prevent this other than trying harder to tire them out during the day.


I went to a meeting (voluntarily) on Friday after school with the Drama Teachers' Association members from our district. This isn't the kind of thing I have ever done without being pressured to by an administrator, but I work in a big enough school now that administrators don't even know about things like this meeting. I just went because .... I don't know. I just had this feeling that I should. And at the end of the day when I was wet and shivering after the Terry Fox run in the rain, I forced myself to go anyway instead of coming home and having tea which is what I desperately wanted to do.

And strangely enough it was a really good meeting. I felt very warmly welcomed by the group and was truly amazed and impressed by how much good and useful information and support was provided for new people to the district... well, and to everyone, really. They just seemed like a really nice group of people to belong to. So maybe I'll try harder to be a contributing member. Or at least a member.

Drama teachers tend to work very much in isolation because we are usually the only person on staff teaching our subject... and this group really seemed to offer an alternative to that isolation. The benefit to being isolated, of course, is that no one really knows if you're doing a poor job and so you can be lazy (which I often am). But of course you also don't get any accolades when you're truly working your butt off, which I have also been known to do from time to time. This group seemed to offer a sense of both support and accountability, which from a professional perspective, would be something new and could be very inspiring.


It all got me thinking about talent and work. And teaching. I haven't totally figured out what it is that my brain is trying to sort out. It's something to do with the fact that I'm not really necessarily good at teaching things that I'm good at. That is, there are some things that I do (that we all do) easily and those are things that I'm generally not so great at teaching other people how to do. Like teaching English, for example. I have taught high school English and I have also taught adults that are learning to speak the language. And speaking and writing in English are things that I do with relative ease and competence and yet I do not think that the instruction I have provided in those areas has been particularly stellar. Average at best. I'm not good at teaching these things, I think, because I don't really know how I do them. I just do them.

This is why I am, in fact, better at teaching Drama. Because I am not a brilliant actor and I have had to work hard when I've worked as an actor. Work hard to be believable, work hard not to lose my mind from being around other actors, and work hard to stay focused when I need not to be distracted. And so because I have struggled somewhat with these things I feel I can do a better job of teaching them to others. Likewise, because I often feel socially inept, I feel like I can break that experience down into manageable bites and help kids cope with it and survive it.

And this is about work. I don't often choose to work hard. I frequently choose to work a LOT, but I almost never choose to work hard. When I've acted it has been hard work. And when I took dance classes, that was hard work because I am naturally kind of uncoordinated. But most of the time, I choose work that I can do easily while keeping my real brain (and soul) embedded in other things. Teaching, for me, isn't hard work. It's long work when I'm tired and want to go home instead of listening to noise or pretending to laugh at things that aren't funny. But it's not hard. It comes fairly easily to me. The same is true of my writing projects for the safety councils. They're tedious sometimes and boring and annoying, but they're never difficult. The writing happens without much real work involved. The real work is just forcing myself to do things I don't want to do.

It makes me wonder if other people are like that too, if we're all at work doing things that we find easy but tedious because we're too lazy to do things that are hard but engaging. Or if there's something truly wrong with me for opting out in this way.

And it was the Drama Teachers' Association meeting that got me thinking about this stuff because these were people who were, largely, very excited about their careers in spite of being significantly older than I, and who were still actively involved in professional development and in learning new things themselves so they could teach them to their students.

Specifically, I have to admit shamefacedly after teaching Drama for about nine years that I still don't really know much about technical theatre which is an important component of the program. Lighting and sound in particular elude me. I am intimidated by the wires and buttons and knobs. I am frustrated by what seems to be an organic piece of equipment that changes and morphs without me knowing how or why. One day when I push this button it makes the lights do one thing... another day the same button causes a short circuit. Why??

Instead of teaching it to my students, I've always found older students to teach the younger ones, and thereby avoided learning anything myself. And when I should have been paying attention and trying to absorb what they were teaching, I was letting myself go on mental coffee breaks. Year after year after year. Anyway, these Drama teachers were so excited about teaching each other technical skills that I felt like I might as well actually do some real hard work in learning this aspect of a program that I am supposed to be teaching to others. And since it's such a struggle to even make myself listen to people talk about tech, when I finally manage to choke down the information, maybe I'll be good at teaching it to others. Maybe? There seem to be a lot of supports in place for people like me - so maybe I'll finally access them and force myself to do some work.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

now that I can dance

My throat hurts. I think I've been out of schools long enough that my immune system has lost its ability to zap everything the way it had when I was teaching full time for so many years. It's unfortunate that it requires being exposed to cooties to teach the body how to fight them.

Shawn is working late tonight and I wish he was home. It's a long night when he's out.

My stepmother-in-law called and left a message on the machine inviting me to a "candle party" next week. She's hoping I'll come over to her place and that her husband can come over here and hang out with Shawn. The real problem with this is that it eliminates my opportunity to tell some kind of white lie about why I can't go because if I tell her I'm busy doing something else, she'll still send her husband over who will see me at home in my pajamas eating a bowl of popcorn and pretending to be busy doing something else. I just hate events like this where women cluck over ugly jewelry or tupperware containers (or candles) and feel compelled to buy something to thank the host(ess) for her hospitality and eventually get roped into having their own little parties that people feel they should attend so they can continue to have pleasant relationships with their inlaws. It all gives me the shivers.


Things that require my attention this weekend:
- doing laundry
- recycling a zillion cardboard boxes and sheets of paper from the move
- finding a new vet to give Little Puppy her rabies booster
- getting my teaching certificate cheque in the mail
- going to the bank

That list was longer when it was still in my head. I think I'm forgetting a few things.


On Monday morning Shawn and I are both skipping work (well, not really skipping because I had to fill out an enormous form to request a "personal leave of absence" which sounds like it would be something big and not just three hours). We are going to meet with some lady who, apparently, is going to redesign our kitchen so that the fridge will fit in the hole for which it was intended and the ugly 80s paraphernalia will be changed into something we like.

I don't really see why we need a kitchen re-designer lady and why we can't just buy cupboards at Home Depot and put them up ourselves, but Shawn is developing some seriously expensive tastes in stuff and cannot be stopped. I have thought about this a lot and I think it has something to do with the fact that he grew up in a home where money was very tight and now that he's a grown up it's kind of like he's making up for all the things he didn't have as a kid, or something. My parents, on the other hand, were pretty well off and though they weren't particularly lavish in terms of buying toys and junk that kids like, we had a nice home, we had nice holidays, and we were lucky to have these things. Maybe that's why I don't feel so excited about things like big screen televisions or leather couches or whatever. Or maybe it's because Shawn is insane.


I sent E a computer on September 10th knowing she would lose hers soon. Hers was taken on September 15th. That's only five days ago now but it seems like a long time and I'm worried about how I will know if the computer has arrived if she's unable to get it going and write to me. Being completely useless where it comes to computers, I am concerned there will be something wrong with it that renders it useless - something that I didn't foresee because I know nothing. I'm also worried it will get lost, or damaged, in the mail.


I need to figure out a way to make about 5 Pink Panther costumes (the cartoon, not the spy) for my stagehands because I think it would be nice for the crew to wear pink instead of black for a change. I looked at costumes that could be purchased online and found them WAY too expensive for a high school drama budget so now I am trying to imagine sewing tails and white bellies onto pink pajamas or something like that. I don't really know how to sew, though. Sigh.

It's 8:33 and I think I might fall asleep on the couch since it's too early to fall asleep in bed.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


The breeder sent me an email and offered to give us one of his newest litter. Shawn is against taking bringing another pup into the family. I am too, really, because I know it would be too much; I'm already exhausted with three. But there must be something of the "collector" in me, like those crazy cat ladies that end up having their houses condemned because they have hundreds of cats and can't properly take care of them all... because part of me wants to take another puppy. I'm struggling to find my sensible self.


A man from the cable company came tonight to set up Shawn's HD digital cable. He was here forever and we were forced to make polite chitchat while waiting for someone at his office to "ZAP" something that would make it all official. He seemed rather enchanted by the dogs who made nuisances of themselves by trying to lick his fingers and wrestle with him while he installed the cable box but when I tried to round them up and put them in jail, he said they weren't bothering him. He told me he has several episodes of Animal Planet saved on his cable box which made me like him more.


When I woke up this morning it was darker than it has been at 6:30 so far. Up until now I hadn't noticed the morning light shrinking back, only that it has been getting dark earlier in the evenings. But this morning it was definitely not full sunrise quite yet. I guess winter is coming, even here on the coast.


Monday, September 17, 2007

student drivers

I decided on The Pink Panther Strikes Back as my show for this season, and am preparing to hold auditions at the end of the month. I like the script adaptation because it calls for area lighting and minimal sets. I'm hoping that means less stress and panic. Also, I'm thinking that working with older students will be a bit easier in that I can expect them to do their memorizing a little more reliably as well as to turn up for rehearsal each and every time. It's a fun and ridiculous little play that I think will be enjoyable to watch.


After school was extremely busy today. I drove first to the bank to get a bank draft for the down payment on our new house - the one in Alberta that we're going to try and sell immediately. Then I went to the Notary to sign all the papers and give her the money.

After that, it was off to the dealership to pay for our poor little car who needed some work in order to pass the provincial safety inspection. I couldn't take the car with me, of course, because I'd arrived in my other car... but Shawn is going to get her on his way home from work, being dropped off by a friend.

Once I'd paid for the car and retrieved the key, I went back to the shoe repair place and dropped off my chewed-up shoe. The man there (cobbler?) told me that he could patch the hole where Puppy D ate the strap and that it would cost $10.00. It seems too good to be true, frankly, but it remains to be seen how good this repair looks.

Then it was to the store to get some food, and home to feed the pups. Puppy D was so ravenous that he ate Little Puppy's dinner in one bite on the way to his own bowl! I had to wrestle his dinner bowl away from him so that Little Puppy could eat HIS dinner, and then he cried as though I was starving him for no reason. I don't think he understood why he couldn't have two dinners. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I let the boy dogs eat as much as they wanted to, if they'd ever stop.

I was supposed to pick up Shawn at the Skytrain after all that so we could go get the car, but a friend at work was kind enough to offer him a ride home making my life a little easier and allowing me to sit down at last!

A good thing about being employed full time outside the house again is that there's less time for me to think about stupid things. Of course it's a lovely luxury to have time to develop some pretty deep neuroses... but a luxury I really feel ready to give up.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

on what basis

This morning we went for breakfast at Tim Horton's, Shawn's favourite. We did a bit of errand-running; we got the dogs some more raw food (yuk) and found some red wine glasses to replace the ones that have broken over the years. There's something about the shape of the red wine glass, I think, that makes it weak and prone to breakage. Or maybe it's just that we bought them at Ikea, 6 glasses for $4.oo. Anyway, we bought six more of equal excellent quality secure in the knowledge that we won't need to feel sad when they start, inevitably, breaking again.

We also tried to find a place to fix my shoe that Puppy D so callously decided to eat, but the shoe repair place was closed on Sunday. That's something about where we live that I find odd - that many of the merchants keep small town hours in spite of the big city status. I guess I'll have to go back tomorrow.

On the way home we stopped to get those weird fake logs that you can burn in a wood burning fireplace. I like them because they leave a lot less ash behind than real wood does and so it's easier to clean up after using them. We're actually enjoying the fireplaces very much though we've grown accustomed to having a gas fireplace - these are nicer in a way. Less convenient, but prettier.


I spoke with GDJ on Friday from school and he said he expects lots of work for me in the very near future and one of the managers sent me a pile of scriptwriting to keep me occupied until then. Of course they don't realise that I am now teaching full time and I've chosen not to share that information yet because I want to see, first, if I am able to manage both jobs simultaneously. I don't know if it's possible to do both while still having time left for Shawn and the pup-babies and myself... but in the past, the writing has been something I've been able to do in so much less time than I've been allotted that I'm greedily wondering if I could pull in two full time salaries for awhile. If so we could get our renovations done a lot faster, or Shawn could get his new car, or whatever.

As I sit here contemplating this, there are some scripts awaiting my attention that need to be finished by the end of the day, but as usual, I'm balking at the idea of getting started.


One of our neighbours came by to introduce herself this afternoon, bringing her small son and a plate of a cookies to welcome us. It was very sweet.


Saturday, September 15, 2007


Tonight I got sauced with Shawn's stepmom which was actually a lot of fun because I think she's more like me than I've realised. When she decided to go pick up Fracture, I went with her, and then after that I let her pour me more red wine than I needed by FAR and we talked a bit about things that girls understand and boys don't even though the boys were there, and THAT was fun.

Now I'm thinking she and I could have a lot of fun if the men weren't with us and so I'm hoping we'll have a chance to play without them at some point. Is that wrong? Heh. I just like having girl talk. The thing is, I love women. I mean, I love men too, to lie with and life with, I truly do love you men. But when it comes to talking, no one is better than women, and that's the way it really is.

I enjoyed talking with C today so much after all these years. I'm hoping that we'll make this a regular thing. I don't mind paying for every single date we have if that makes it easier for her - I just want to have girlfriends again. I've missed that far more than I've realised.


no time like the present

This afternoon I took the Skytrain downtown and then a bus to C's house. I met her beautiful little daughter - who looks exactly like A - and then we went for lunch, leaving the little one home with her dad. I was really glad I decided to take the train instead of driving because the traffic looked crazy downtown and I think it would have been stressful to try and find my way around there.

It was sort of sad seeing where C and A live now. It isn't really the where, though, so much as the how. I think it's because of A's alcoholism and C's difficulties with depression that their home is so disheveled and dirty, and I think that when you live that way for a long time you forget what it looks like in a place that is reasonably clean. Her apartment, when we were close, was always unbelievably cluttered - but there used to be a certain amount of house-pride ... I didn't see that anymore and it troubled me a little.

Nonetheless, apart from feeling a bit dismayed at the condition of their home, after we left there and went walking downtown and had some lunch, the rest of the day was quite nice. It was really good to catch up and hear about all the new things that had happened. It was, quite quickly, as though no time had passed. It's funny how that can happen with certain people when you've been very close.

Now we're going to inlaws' for dinner and movies so I've no more time to impart any further details of the day.


Thursday, September 13, 2007


Looking back at it, I think a large part of why yesterday was lousy was that I was looking ahead too far at the things I need to get done in The Future instead of concentrating on what I'm doing right now.

When I think about the things I need to do in my classroom or at home in the next few hours it can all be managed. It's when I think about a huge production coming up in December for which there must be auditions, rehearsals, set building, crew meetings, crew rehearsals, performance dates, chairs set up, sets taken down, etcetera etcetera, that I start to feel crabby. Because I can't do all those things right away. But I can do them in eight hour chunks. I can.


According to the books, I'm still employed as a scriptwriter on a full time basis. I'm not going to bill the company this pay period though because I haven't done enough work to justify it at all - and I don't want to submit an invoice for something I didn't do, even though nobody would know it. I am really lucky to have found this teaching job or this would have been a very lean month financially.


C called the other night and we finally spoke on the phone. We arranged to meet for brunch on Saturday and I am going to meet her little girl. It's comforting that in so many ways she sounds exactly the same. I wonder if she thinks I am the same too. I wonder if I am.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sikhs celebrating 400 years

About a third of my students are Indo-Canadian. Another third are Pacific Islanders. And another third Caucasian and others. This is much more multicultural than Alberta where visible minorities all together make up about 20 percent of an average classroom. It's nice here in this part of the world that for the most part, people do not seem divided by race.


I feel grouchy. The kids at school are quickly getting past the "honeymoon" phase and starting to be real kids. It's not that I can't appreciate them for the kids they are... but I just felt a little worn out with the madness by the end of the day.

And feeling tired, after school I had to go directly to Human Resources to sign my contract. It took forever to get out of the school parking lot as I battled hundreds of parents and dozens of students with cars to get off the premises, and then navigated through a maze of construction sites to finally end up at HR five minutes late for my appointment after parking in a spot with a sign on it that said it was Reserved for the Chairman of the Board.

At HR, a very haggard looking photograph of me was taken for my employee ID badge and a folder full of forms was pressed into my hands. I thought I might take the forms home to read and sign them, but no. Instead I (and three other new employees) were taken to a little room where we had to fill out the forms under the watchful eye of the Personnel Specialist and also be dragged through a crash course on safety and even given a quiz! (After all my scriptwriting for various safety councils, this part was both ironic and bizarre.) I hadn't written the particular quiz I was taking, and only that could have made this part more ridiculous.

Almost two hours later my stomach was growling and I finally finished filling out the last of the forms and gave them back to the HR lady who looked at them and demanded I do a different one to replace one of them since I'd come from another province... and then finally released me. I bolted to the parking lot, wondering if my car would still be there or if it would have been towed away. Fortunately, it was still there and I raced home to meet with the men who were coming to pick up our defective dryer.

I arrived home about quarter past five, fifteen minutes late for the dryer people, and was relieved to see them still in the driveway. They'd been about to leave and I managed to catch them just in the nick of time. The defective dryer was taken away and the new one reinstalled.

Shawn arrived home minutes later and as I was distracted by his arrival, Puppy D seized his opportunity and stole one of my new shoes and ate its strap.


Sometimes the boy dogs are so physical that it makes me want to strangle them. Little Puppy is dainty and gentle; she snuggles sweetly and kisses me on the cheek. The Boy Dogs greet me by jumping into my face and making my jaw crash shut. They leap in the air and nip me gleefully, leaving red pinch marks on my skin. They scramble across me and use me as a crash mat. I am covered in scratches from their toenails. Sometimes I want to pin them on the floor and crush them under my (broken) shoes.

It sounds, when I say these things, like I don't love the Boy Dogs and I do. But they're different... they're tiring. They're bouncy almost all the time when they're not asleep and sometimes I just wish they would sit still. Sometimes I still break apart when I get missing the way it was.


It's only 9:15 but I think I might go to bed now.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Photo Journal part 2

These pictures were taken this afternoon on my walk home. There is some, though very little, evidence that autumn is approaching. Where I come from, autumn is mostly yellow because of the abundance of poplar trees. Here, there is so much more variety that the colours are amazing. In spite of the rain, I predict autumn is going to be incredible.

These bluish-blackish berries grow wild absolutely everywhere, and I see people picking them and eating them quite often. I'm not sure yet what they are, but I'm thinking either boysenberries or maybe blackberries. I ate one today and it tasted sweet. I have no idea what the white berries are and I didn't eat any because I was afraid.

This last picture is the view from the bridge that takes me out of the park and back into suburbia where I stopped taking pictures.

Photo Journal part 1

Right now the weather is good. I'm told it will start raining soon and not stop for many months, but for now I am walking to work, which takes about half an hour. It's odd to think that I live in a big city because it has so many areas that seem very rural and not city-ish at all.

The lake has fog floating on its surface in the morning.

The slugs are the biggest I've ever seen in my life. I should really have put something near him for scale to make this clearer but that would mean, of course, getting even closer to him. As a sidebar, I've decided that my fear of bugs and other crawly things is going to be a problem for me if I continue living here, so I'm working on getting over it. Kneeling down to photograph this slug was therapy.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

things about thoughts

When I was cutting open boxes with Shawn's penknife I suddenly remembered my Dad cutting my hair with his penknife when I was about thirteen. We were on vacation in Hamilton, Ontario, and I'd decided, abruptly, to get rid of my long hair. My hair had been -until that summer- about waist length, and suddenly I wanted a short cute bob. And so I went to a nearby Supercuts or some such place that cuts hair for $8 and impulsively had it all cut short.

When we got back "home" (which was a motel) I noticed that the hair stylist hadn't done a very good job and had left several long pieces uncut that hung below where the ends of the blunt cut were supposed to be. I looked all over the motel room for scissors, and finding none, asked my parents for suggestions. My Dad said the only thing he had that could cut was his penknife, and so I sat on the couch while he literally hacked off pieces of my hair with a knife. This memory is odd and somehow rather special.

In the end, I believe, it all boils down to social ineptitude, a thing which I am fascinated by because it rarely means anything even remotely negative in spite of all the negative reactions it may garner from other people. At thirteen I was a painfully shy child in spite of my impulsiveness and was strangely unaware that a haircut from a penknife might not turn out right. My father, bless him, thought nothing strange of it either.


Matthew has Aspergers; it looks like asparagus but it tastes like autism with soda water. Near the end of my last year at my other school, Matthew knocked on my classroom door at lunch time. When I opened the door he said in his monotone way, "My toque is under your desk." ("Toque" - that's a little tidbit of Canadiana.) When I asked Matt why his toque was under my desk he said, "I hid it there from Robert." This is odd primarily because Matt is fifteen and not six. When I left that school I gave the secretary my petty cash drawer and asked her please to let Matthew take a dollar whenever he forgot his milk money. She said she would but sometimes I still worry that she didn't, though Matt is a grown up man by now. Sort of.


Now I live by the sea.


it only comes out as a yawn

I could have used another couple of weeks of summer to finish getting the house unpacked and organized before starting school. By the time I get home at the end of a workday, the last thing I want to do is unpack. Shawn is the same. We are terribly lazy.

We had this idea that we'd unpack a little bit each day but that didn't happen. Once the weekend was over we completely stopped. So we unpacked a little more this weekend, but again, not nearly enough. I want to be done.

Shawn bought a gigantic television set that makes me want to barf every time I look at it because it's so ugly. I don't really mean that it's uglier than any other television, just that a 46 inch television is such an absurd and hideous thing, impossible to tuck away - and stealing focus away from anything else I could put in that room to try and make it pretty. Shawn claims we can get a cabinet that would hide it nicely but for now it's the focal point of the entire lower level of the house, and I hate it. Of course, when his friends come over and see it they think it's fabulous and Shawn smiles knowingly because this is just further proof that his wife is insane. Normal people think it's a good thing to have a living room that looks like a movie theatre. The only thing missing is the sticky floor. I plan to spend my life in the backyard. When the rain starts I shall have to live inside my car.

We've been extremely sociable since we took possession of the house and have spent a lot of time with the inlaws- many dinners, many breakfasts - and also had some of Shawn's work friends over who've brought wives that wanted to talk to me. I've complied nicely. But it's a little strenuous given my proclivity for hermit-ism.

In fact, as I type this, Shawn is on his way to pick up his father from work and then we are going over to their place for dinner. I do, in fact, enjoy their company (as well as enjoying Shawn's father's cooking), so I don't think I mean to complain about our sudden new social life. (I don't think many people would consider hanging out with their parents to be a social life anyway, but for us, spending time with anyone besides each other is a whole new thing.) It's a big change.

I think my point is that there's been a lot of change. Most of it is good, like the beautiful yard and privacy from the neighbours, the nice house and the new job, the good weather and the green green green everywhere... Some of it hasn't been so great, like the stupid tv and the enormous man eating slugs (well, maybe they don't really eat men, I'm not sure). But overall the changes are mostly positive. And yet even good changes can be tiring. It's a lot to adjust to.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

you are stupid and you have big eyes

One day down, and a hundred and ninety-nine to go. Or something like that. This semester looks good as far as schedule. I get a prep block every day for an hour and twenty minutes, which is wayyy better than I got at my last school. I get no prep next semester (assuming I'm still employed) to make up for it, but by then I'm thinking I'll be less in a position to need it having settled in a bit.

Several kids came by to introduce themselves today which was nice, in spite of the fact that some seem disappointed that their previous teacher is gone. In many ways it's much easier to take over for a terrible teacher because kids are happy to see them gone. Regardless, I plan to be loved by semester break.

C sent me an email today that began, "Dear Lisa, You are stupid and you have big eyes." I was thrilled. This is something she and K used to say to me back in the days when we went to The Ship every Friday night and drank ridiculous quantities of beer. I still haven't managed to connect with C since arriving here, not even by phone, but I hope to soon.

Tomorrow will be the first real teaching day and I am nervous, just as though I was one of the kids. Maybe they're less nervous than I am, in fact. It's highly possible.


Monday, September 03, 2007

all along the ocean beaches stares up empty at the sky

More unpacking today. It seems strange that it's taking so long to unpack, given how little stuff we actually own compared with the average person. Even the movers commented how strange it seemed... we (I) really are light travelers for the most part.

Funny, Shawn's Dad is worried about us, not because of all the chaos and the unpacking and the washing that needs to be done - but because he thinks our television is too small.

They've been great, Shawn's father and stepmom. They've stopped by with sandwiches a few times, and invited us over to eat breakfast and dinner several times as well. It's made the whole thing a lot easier just to have that kind of help that allows you to deal with other things besides trying to plan meals. For both of us this is a new thing, having family close by, and having family that wants to help so much. It's really surprisingly wonderful. Surprising and wonderful.

Before dinner (at the inlaws') we decided to take a break from unpacking and went for our first walk in the new city. We decided to walk to my school to see how long it will take me if I decide not to drive on nice days. It was about half an hour each way which is very doable. The nicest part is that the walk takes me past a small lake and most of the walk is very pretty. As we were on the lake path I saw several enormous slugs and a small snake. These are things I would never have seen where we used to live both because it's so much colder and so much drier. I wished like crazy I'd had my camera with me in spite of the fact that the pups have eaten the cable - because I am sure that one day I will get around to replacing it. And I want to take pictures of these things before I become accustomed to them and stop finding them fascinating.

The unpacking is starting to feel like there might be an end in sight now. We've finished with our bedroom and the kitchen and most of the living room, which leaves the office as the biggest job left to be tackled, followed by the basement/garage. I asked the movers not to put anything in the basement here because I have a bad habit of leaving things in the basement, untouched, for all eternity. I hoped that in the garage I'd be more likely to unpack things since I'll look at them every day.

Our basement reminds me of a scene from Being John Malkovich, (which is, by the way, one of my favourite movies ever) because the ceiling is so low. It's not actually low enough that you have to bend the way you do in the movie, but it's so low that if you're taller than six feet, you would have to. Shawn is about 5'11'' and his hair touches the ceiling as he walks. Essentially, it's a "crawl space", or a terrifically large storage room, but for some reason, someone has invested a great deal of time and energy into fixing it up. It has fancy pinstriped baseboards and carpeting and shelves and pretty painted pipes. It's very weird. Hilarious - when the house was up for sale, this area was advertised as "an extra bonus - 200 square feet of living space in the basement". It certainly isn't what I would call "living space" because it's damp and windowless and low-ceilinged. But it is space. I just don't want to start letting junk collect down there because then it becomes all too easy to put things down in the basement to grow mold instead of throwing them away or giving them away. And I hate that.

Tomorrow is my first day at school with kids in the building. I'm kind of nervous and simultaneously excited to be returning to the job I both adored and hated. I don't have to teach tomorrow, just welcome kids to the building and attend some meetings. Then the real thing starts in earnest on Wednesday. In some ways I wish I had more time to finish unpacking and getting things organized without having to go to work... but mostly I think it's going to be a good thing.

Back to making lunches the night before. And coffee. Back to set hours and alarm clocks and back to being a bit more "normal". I never thought I'd want this again... but I really do.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

another note

Since arriving here, where it is significantly more humid than in Alberta, my hair has grown bigger and bigger by the day. Now it is absolutely enormous giving me the illusion of having an extra-large head.



Another busy day. I'm really glad we ended up moving on a long weekend because there's just so much to do. By the time I must report to work on Tuesday there's no chance we'll be finished unpacking but at least the major things will be done. I hope.

This morning we went to the hardware store to get all the things we needed to hook up the washer and dryer, which turned out to be a lot more complicated than we thought. The thing is that when you bring new appliances into a twenty year old house, they aren't totally compatible. So we needed hoses and rubber washers and other things that Shawn, thank goodness, seemed to have control of. Getting the washer and dryer running was definitely a priority because the pups have washable potty pads that continue to pile up when you stop doing laundry. (Blech.) So, miracle of miracles, the washer and dryer are now doing their thing.

The dishwasher remains in its cardboard carton, and I suspect it may stay there awhile. Shawn and his father took one look at the old dishwasher with the front pried off and realised they didn't know what they were doing. So we need a plumber to hook that up. We'll be doing dishes the good old fashioned way for a long time, I suspect.

The fridge, of course, is still blocking the eating area, and I see no end to that weirdness any time in the near future. We also need the plumber to hook up a waterline to the fridge so the water dispenser and ice cube maker will work. Last night the fridge made all kinds of weird cracking noises as it grew colder and contracted. Too bad it didn't shrink about three more inches - then it might have fit into its designated spot. Hehe.

Later in the morning we drove to the pet food store and stocked up on the raw food that the babies have come to love, and looked for another doggy/baby gate to keep the pups corralled in the part of the house where there are no boxes or sharp scary things they can be hurt by as we unpack. Unfortunately we were unable to find the gate we were looking for and will have to order online, an experience which has become extremely frustrating since we moved because our VISA address doesn't match our shipping address (at least not until they correct it) and this gives the illusion of using a "borrowed" card.

With these things sorted out, we went back to the inlaws' place to have another look at our poor dead car and see if it had managed to heal itself overnight. It hadn't, but Shawn decided to try and boost the battery just in case that was the problem, and we nearly danced for joy when that did the trick. Turned out Shawn had left some iPod connection thing hooked up for a week and it had drained the battery. Not having to worry about that particular headache right now was very cheering.

The grocery store was next on the list of Things to Do, and we got a few things to get us through the next few days as well as pounds of baking soda based carpet deodorizers and some room freshener things that say they have the approval of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as a safe alternative to chemical fresheners. I hope they are effective. Since then I've spent the rest of the day washing the walls and cupboards with vinegar and water in hopes that it might reduce some of the cigarette smell... and if the lady's lungs are anything like the colour of the water that came off my sponge, I am very concerned about her health. (I don't suppose she cares much at eighty-two, however.)

Shortly we are going back to the inlaws' place for dinner and a movie, which again is a pleasant diversion from unpacking and cleaning. I didn't think I'd like visiting with family so often, but so far I am really enjoying it. Weird.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

all of your people are toads

September 1st. Hello September.

We spent our first night in our new house and having our own bed back made everything feel right again, even though I hurt my back earlier in the day helping Shawn rebuild the bed frame. Stupid aging. I never used to hurt my back.

Today the pups turned one year old and celebrated by romping madly through their new yard. We will need to fence off a couple of areas that seem to invite them to leap from the garden to the grass and drop a few feet in the process. Of course they don't exercise any caution whatsoever and sail through the air as though they hadn't a care in the world while we scream and turn blue.

The new appliances arrived and once the delivery men had safely installed the stove I began to think that maybe Shawn did know what he was talking about when he said the appliances would fit in this kitchen. Then came the fridge. Of course it didn't fit in the tiny space allotted to it, which means we now have the fridge hanging out in the eating area which is awfully handy if you want to reach into the fridge without getting up from the table but you have to be careful so you don't end up with an ice cube tray in your ear. We have to rip out these cupboards and do some rebuilding. This is something we'd planned on doing anyway but now it seems a lot more urgent. The dishwasher is still in its cardboard box and we won't bother unpacking it until Shawn's Dad is around to help us. He says he wants to help and I'm glad because I don't. The washer and dryer are hanging out in the laundry area but aren't hooked up because we can't find the duct tape and have grown too tired to unpack anything else.

I finished unpacking all the kitchen boxes and some of the upstairs bathroom, which felt like a pretty major accomplishment, and we also drove over to the inlaws' to pick up some things we'd left behind including our car. And wonder of all wonders, it decided not to start. This is the old car, the '97 Neon, which has recently become the bane of my existence. Shawn wants to get rid of it altogether, which is tempting, but buying another new car right now just doesn't seem feasible with all the other costs we have on the go at this moment. We'll have the weekend to ponder this before we can get it towed to the dealership.

Meanwhile, I am doing all I can to air out the stink of stale cigarette smoke from the house which smells to high heaven. I know that repainting and removing carpet will help tremendously but these are things that will take time to get underway and the stink is bothering me now.

Tonight we are going to pick up Dad-in-Law at the airport and bring him home, then hang out at his place for a couple of hours. I think it will be good for both of us to get away from here for a couple of hours because we are tired tired tired and it's hard to sit here without feeling guilty about all the things that are left that need to be done.