Monday, December 29, 2008

if you feel yourself starting to weaken

Today I watched one of those stupid talk shows where they have a drug addict on who cries in all the right places and says she must, she must, she MUST! change so that she can be there for her children. And I think it's all supposed to be very uplifting and optimistic because who doesn't want to believe that that women went into rehab and got well and came home to her loving family who were oh-so-eager to have her back and welcomed her with open arms.

Those shows aren't really very uplifting though, for me, because my addict is much worse off than the ones on tv who are supposed to be in such bad shape. These women, at least, get dressed once in awhile. They brush their teeth and they comb their hair. They even recognize they have a problem even if they find themselves unable to do anything about it. At least they say they want to do something to change their lives. C, instead, says that life was better on crack and wishes she'd never entered rehab because now it's so much more difficult to screw around her doctor, the pharmacists, and the social services system.

Never fear, though. She'll find a way. She always does.

They say addicts only have three options: sober up, be locked up, or be covered up (ie: shroud). I don't think that's necessarily true, or at least not as immediate as they make it sound. I think C can go on and on and on like this for a long time.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Christmas Eve is always special to me more, more so than New Year's Eve though I'm not sure why. It's not so much a religious thing as a spiritual thing; I have felt my need for spirituality grow as I've aged, new hungers have replaced old hungers. Things that were once the centre of aching need have become sideline issues, desserts and decadence to be enjoyed but not longed for, not yearned for, not lost without. I've become sated in ways I never expected to... and this is as much mental as it is physical.

But the spiritual needs have grown. The need to help, the need to contribute, the need for community... these have become stronger and much more central. And I feel a deeper connection to the world as a whole, somehow.

I think I have been immature, delayed, in arriving here, where it seems others my age have arrived so much sooner. And this irritates me in the most shallow of ways because I have supposed myself, through academic achievements?, to be more intelligent, more focussed. But I'm not. Not really at all.

When it comes to what really matters, I'm just catching on now.

And I'm grateful and I'm appreciative, for those who've pulled me along. And for those who've helped me figure out what really matters. Because of you I am more fulfilled.





It snowed again last night and we've gone from knee deep snow to thigh deep, and it's still coming down fast. Christmas Eve shoppers are going to be in big trouble this year because it's pretty impossible driving conditions right now.

Shawn's stepmom called last night to ask him to go out today to pick up a gift for her dad because she wasn't sure which thing to get. It's some kind of computery gadget, and Shawn's the King of that. He said he would go... not anticipating what the world would look like when we woke up in the morning. Being a man of his word, he's now in the car wending his way to Best Buy. I am half expecting him to phone and tell me he's gotten the car stuck somewhere. The good news is that he probably can't drive any faster than 20k so I don't really have so much fear of a car accident.

Little J and her mother are supposed to have a Christmas visit today and I am uncertain that will happen either. I can't see how they're going to get across the bridges in this. This may result in some drama.


The birds have been so hungry since this crazy weather began and I think I am the only one in the neighbourhood who is still going out to fill up the bird feeders. This morning I waded through snow literally covering my thighs to get to the feeders. The birds were so hungry they didn't even leave the tree the feeder was in. They stayed just a few feet away and watched me. I felt like Snow White. (Is it Snow White?) If only one had landed on my head I would have burst into song.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

those were the days my friend

Tonight when I tucked Little J into bed she asked if she could read to me from her diary. It was a diary from when she was in grade four and I have no idea how she managed to hang on to it when everything else in her house was lost in the wreckage. But she had it, and she read to me her thoughts from three years, so long!, ago. It was lovely and precious. It's funny that as she grows up I sometimes forget, just momentarily, who she was when she was small. I want to help her keep access to that side of herself, the part that was totally optimistic and trusting.

I feel so angry with C for wasting time in Little J's childhood, wasting and corrupting that innocence and optimism while it was pure and new. She totally blew it.

It's a miracle in a way that she still retains that positive, cheerful nature in the face of all she's had to deal with. It's the thing, I believe, that will get her through it all.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

let me put it this way

Yesterday we finally got things sorted out in court in a way that felt right. The judge was compassionate and really seemed to understand what we were about and why we have been doing the things we've been doing. The last judge, in spite of ruling in our favour, still made us feel we were under suspicion; he made us feel as though we were criminals instead of people stepping in to try and save a little girl. The judge we had yesterday, instead, made us feel that she was taking it for granted that we were on the right side, doing the right things, and deserving of some support. She really restored my faith in the justice system.


Tonight my senior Drama students put on their one act plays for their friends and families. We had a pretty good turnout considering the cuckoo weather we've got, and the audience was enthusiastic and appreciative. After the show, an adorable grandfather of one of my students came over to talk to me. He told me about his career in law and how he had gone on to become a judge in Saskatchewan. He was extremely interesting... though I noticed his family tugging at him and urging him to stop talking as though they feared I was being bothered by the conversation. Little did they know... I love talking to older people. I really regret I didn't spend more time talking to my own grandparents when they were alive, and I was enjoying my conversation with this grandfather as much as any I'd had all day. He was quite charming.

So now the show is done and there's only one more teaching day until winter break. I am READY for a break.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

got job?

Shawn and I have been looking to hire someone to supervise the visits between C and Little J. The court has ordered visitation be supervised, but the company we hired initially charges us $40/hour. We have to provide TWELVE hours a week at this price. So, after a month and about $2000 down the drain, we've decided to try and find someone cheaper (contrary to the court's order).

I placed an ad and immediately began receiving responses. Most have been a bit sketchy, people who think they know how to supervise a visit because they have an ex-husband who's an addict, blah blah blah... some have been quite good (thank heavens)... but my favourite by far is this one:

hello my names ******** and i saw your add and thought to my self i can do this no problem . i know all the rules to supervised visits for i had to go through them my self back in the day to get my daugter back from the ministry .

So.... should I hire her?


Monday, December 15, 2008

innovation living

Memory is a funny thing. When I was a little girl I had a great aunt who faithfully sent me birthday and Christmas cards and gifts. She lived in England and so I didn't see her in person, but I did speak to her on the phone once in awhile. My parents told me that I had once met her when she came to Canada for a visit; I was a year old.

They described her as a tall woman, much taller than my grandmother, her sister, who was under five feet. They said she had brown curly hair, much like Grandma. When I heard this in my teens, I suddenly remembered her face. The more I thought about her, the more I could recall specific details. In particular I remembered a flowered dress. I asked my mother if my aunt had worn a flowered dress when I met her and my mother said she couldn't remember for sure, but that it was quite possible. That was enough for me. My memory of my lovely great Auntie N wearing her flowered dress and holding me came clearer and clearer. I held onto that memory.

Years later, in my late teens, I was babysitting a neighbourhood child one afternoon. We sat before the television set together for an episode of Sesame Street. I was flabbergasted when the woman I remembered, and had convinced myself was my great Auntie N. appeared on the screen. She wasn't my Auntie at all. I had somehow transplanted this woman - and her flowered dress! - into my memory and made her mine.

The clarity with which I had recalled this woman, this woman who was actually an actress on a children's television show I'd enjoyed as a little girl, was crystal clear. There was no doubt. I would have passed a polygraph test.

This is why I know that sometimes memories, even the clearest of memories, are sometimes flawed.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

my own two feet again

We met with our lawyer this afternoon to talk about the next of our upcoming court proceedings. This isn't a hearing, just a "case conference", in which we are supposed to meet and discuss what's happening to see if we can arrive at any agreements.

I highly doubt we are going to arrive at any agreements.

Shawn and I don't agree that Little J should live in a house with a woman who is so addicted to painkillers and crack that she frequently can't get out of bed, can't send her child to school, can't do anything whatsoever. We can't agree to anything C is going to ask for.

And she won't agree with what we want either. For her to pay for her own supervised visits. For her to allow us to take Little J out of the province with us when we go on vacation.

So... what's the point, exactly? I'm not sure. Maybe something good can come of it. I guess it can't get worse.

Little J has been changing into a different person. Evolving. Metamorphisizing, really, into the child she was always supposed to be. Contented and self-confident and strong. She's not completed her transformation (who has?) but she's growing all the time. I attribute this to being away from the person who was undermining her and sabotaging her confidence. And to being with people who build her up. She's an amazing girl.



Friday, December 05, 2008

On the way home from work today I picked up two bottles of wine. It was without much foresight that I agreed to attend a play tonight (particularly a Moliere play)... I am so incredibly tired today that I think I might be unable to stay awake for this show, but I'm thinking if I do manage to keep my eyes open it will be by fantasizing about the wine that I am going to drink when I get home.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

on it goes through the circle, fast and slow

For a moment I was confused thinking it was Thornton Wilder who wrote The Scarlet Ibis. Of course it wasn't. It was James Thurber. Sometimes I forget the internet can help me with these things the way it helps me remember Creedence Clearwater Revival lyrics when I can only remember choruses. I remembered Thurber on my own though. If you haven't read The Scarlet Ibis I am asking you to. It's only a short story.

It reminds me of my childhood. But that isn't why it should be read. It should be read because it beautifully illustrates human nature, the kindness and the cruelty that exists within us, even within children.


Today at work, the ring my parents gave me for a graduation gift, broke. The metal actually snapped and the stone not only broke loose but fell down a drain. It's gone. I talked to the caretaker in case there was any hope of retrieving it. He said (with his beautiful accent), "That's another chapter in your life, over."


Sunday, November 30, 2008

There's a boy - well, a young man really - in my twelfth grade Drama class. He misses too much school. And when he's in class he sometimes seems unhappy to be there. He looks tired and he seems irritated with his classmates sometimes. This behaviour is confusing because there are other times I see a different side of him, a side that is intelligent and sensitive and funny and charismatic. I've not confronted him regarding the times I see his negative side. I assumed he had his reasons like I have mine.

On Thursday he poked his head into my office and said he wanted to talk to me for a second. I looked away from my computer screen expecting something short and... inconsequential. He said, "I want you to know that I like your class a lot. Sometimes I might seem kind of uninterested but I'm not. At least, it's not because of the class. It's because of my brother."

I turned fully away from the computer at that point, realising he was saying something important after all.

He said, "My brother, he suffers from alcoholism. And so sometimes there's a lot of pressure on me at home because I'm between him and my parents... and I have to side with them a lot because he's sometimes a real asshole."

I pushed the chair beside me out from the desk. "Sit down."

He kept talking. He said his brother had already been to rehab and relapsed, and was living at home again, slowly destroying his family's peace and unity. He said his parents wanted him to talk to a counsellor but that he didn't want to, he didn't want to take the time to establish a new relationship with someone that just revolved around this issue. He said he just wanted to talk to someone with whom he already had a relationship. Like me.

This was kind of surprising because I haven't felt like I was bonding much with this individual. And yet, he felt we already had a relationship that made talking to me easier. I felt truly honoured.

And I broke the rule about not revealing any personal information. I told him about C being an addict too. I didn't give him details or burden him (I hope) but I wanted him to know that my understanding wasn't just an understanding of the feelings he was describing, but an understanding of the situation itself. How it feels to watch someone you love slowly killing herself... or himself.

He seemed greatly relieved to have talked about it, not only about making sure I understood that he actually did care about his classes... but also about having had the chance to tell someone what he was dealing with. I know it doesn't help change the situation to tell people about it - because I've tried - but it does sometimes help to know there are other people who understand and who care.


Tonight C's boyfriend called to tell me she wouldn't be calling her daughter tonight because she is too sick. He said she has a high fever. I don't know what's really going on but I feel certain it's more than just a flu. The fact that this man elected to phone me frightens me, to be honest, because it makes me think C is unable to speak for herself. Unconscious perhaps. It scares me enormously and there's nothing I can do.


Tonight Little J showed me something she's been working on with her counsellor. It's a plan of action for coping with the stress of knowing that her mother has been overdosing. It says in the plan that she has fears about her mother dying. Until today I hadn't realised that Little J knew this was a possibility. I've been tiptoeing around that because I don't want to plant fears in her unnecessarily. And I haven't wanted to scare her assuming she still believed her mother was immortal.

And suddenly I see she does know. And she's handling it well. Amazing girl.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

We drove past her on the way home; she was standing there in the rain weaving unsteadily on her feet, a glazed look on her face. I don't know if she saw us go by, if she felt the pull that I felt in my chest. How can I leave you standing there in the rain? Waiting. I remember loving her. I remember trying to protect her, trying to make her feel pretty, trying to make her feel strong. I also remember hurting her, thinking my honesty could change her when nothing could change her at all. She was too far damaged before I even met her. Even before her parents met her. And now she's a stranger standing in the rain awaiting a ride back to a transient home, a transient partner, a transient life. Will the ride come? I want to make sure she's safe. And I know she never will be - ride or no ride.

And I squint at her and see her the way strangers do. Probably wondering what's wrong with her. Maybe making judgements. Druggie... loser.... freak...

And I squint harder and I see gravestones.

And I open my eyes and brush away the tears because this woman was my family.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Today C was hospitalized again. Third time by my count. Maybe more that I don't know about... but three at least in the last few weeks. Overdoses. She has different stories, of course. About bad reactions to medication. About falling down and hurting herself. None of it is true. She's overdosing. She's killing herself. I'm going to lose her.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

expert service at competitive prices

Fulfilling a parental role means that there's a lot less time to think about what I'm doing and how successfully I'm doing it, and a lot more time just spent on the doing. Driving her to school, picking her up from school, driving her to dance class, picking her up from dance class, driving her to counselling, picking her up from counselling, driving her to visits with her mother, picking her up from visits with her mother, driving her to drama class, picking her up from drama class... getting her up for school, helping her do her hair, helping her put in her earrings, helping her with her homework, helping her feed her cat and clean his litter, helping her feed her hamster and clean his cage, helping her clean her room, helping her do her laundry, cooking her meals, making her lunches, washing her dishes, tucking her in, telling her stories, listening to her stories, answering her questions ... ...

and when I'm not doing all that, sometimes I sit and wonder how I'm doing at it. But most of the time not. Most of the time I just do it.


This morning the power went out during first period. It was about nine o'clock and we had just finished watching a performance by three boys who did not know their lines very well. A typical Tuesday morning in my world. And then suddenly the theatre was pitch black. My first thought was that some twit had done something to the light board because twits sometimes do things to the light board, plunging us into darkness. But when I groped my way over to the light switch I found it did nothing. A look out into the hallway confirmed that the entire school was dark.

The kids, of course, began to giggle and scream and run around in the dark until I threatened them with painful death.

The back up generator eventually kicked in and gave us one florescent light to see by, a light which cast an eerie greenish glow over the faces of the children who were now almost hysterical with glee at the prospect of a blackout. Cell phones appeared everywhere as if by magic and thousands of phone calls and text messages were sent and received.

Administration eventually came to advise us that we were to stay put and not change classes. We sat.

A mere two hours later the superintendent of schools finally granted us permission to dismiss our students and although they'd been clamouring to go home for hours, now they dawdled through the halls and required pushing out the doors. The staff, of course, were not permitted to leave. Instead we were threatened with painful death if we so much as considered leaving the building. Our orders were to remain in the school as it grew colder, to sit in the dark without the use of our computers or the benefit of light, and to find something school-related to do. It was a very rewarding experience from a teaching perspective.


The tyranny of the wheel, to me, has become ... more tyrannical. I look forward to the weekends and I look back on them. I look forward to the end of the work day and I look forward to bedtime. I feel tired all the time. This is the daily grind everyone talks about and I wonder, if we all experience it, why we tolerate it.


In spite of all of these things, I think my life is improved upon, expanded and stretched in the most positive of ways, by them.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

i want too much

The corn chowder was kind of yukky. I can never tell if I don't like my own cooking because I'm a bad cook or if it's because after cutting the vegetables and stirring the pot for so long that I get sick and tired of the smell of the food I'm cooking so I don't want to eat it. I can't tell because people are polite and they don't admit it if you've made something that doesn't taste very good.


Today is Little J's birthday party and we are going to the YMCA with a group of girls for swimming and pizza. I can't say I'm looking forward to it, but I do look forward to her having fun.


Things, I am afraid to say, have been quiet for a few days. I have no idea what that means, whether it means C is hiding things from us or whether she is actually staying out of trouble. It's always a concern, but I do enjoy the moment of peace and hope it lasts long enough for my heart palpitations to subside.


Thursday, November 20, 2008


Yesterday Puppy E greeted me with so much enthusiasm that he scratched my eye with his front nails. Ouch.


Tonight when I dropped off Little J to see her mom, her mom was a half hour late. I got to sit and wait. Very rewarding, this stuff.


Tomorrow is soup day at school and I'm charge of the main dish. I have to make two giant pots of corn chowder. I don't want to.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'll follow you into the dark

C is suddenly reasonable again. Now she wants to go back to rehab and start the process over. I can never tell whether she means what she says or if she just thinks she's found another shortcut. I can't get excited and hop around for joy and hug her even though she's saying the right things. All I can do is nod and hope she means it this time. In all honesty I'm not very optimistic that she will follow through with what she says because she never has... but kind of like quitting smoking, you only have to mean it once. So I'm still offering my approval, my support of her plan.

I am doing this in spite of everything because I still want her to get better. I can't turn my back on her when she's doing and saying the right things, even if she doesn't mean them.

So let's close our eyes and make a wish that something will be different this time.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Auntie Plum

Today I snapped at one of the grade twelves because he implied it was my fault he didn't hand in his character development assignment (because I hadn't personally invited him to do so?). I admit I snapped a little. I've been impatient. Last night C phoned Little J and announced she was taking back the cat and was completely unmoved by Little J's tears and begging to let her keep just one thing constant in her life. I wasn't receptive to this student's implication that I should have reminded him another time to hand the assignment in... and I was definitely on the snappish side.

I'm not usually snappish. I'm a pretty even tempered person in general.

Anyway. This kid leaned in to me and said, "I need to tell you something."

I tried not to snarl. "Yeah?"

He said, "I'm not telling you this student to teacher. I'm telling you this friend to friend. YOU HAVE BEEN ON EDGE LATELY."

The absurdity of this sassy little seventeen year old trying to straighten me out (and the ironic sweetness of him calling himself my friend) hit me like a slap and the spell was broken. I busted out laughing.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

do you have the time to listen to me whine?

Maybe this sounds like I'm trying to be funny but I'm not. I've noticed that I've been drinking a lot more wine lately. Wine used to be a social thing, a drink I had only when we were out with other people. More recently I've been drinking it every weekend with Shawn, and more recently than that I've begun to think about whether or not I can get away with having a glass on a school night, and wondering how early is too early to start in the evenings.

I know this isn't abnormal by "average" standards, but it isn't average for me. Beyond my binge drinking days in university (and well into my twenties with K!) I am not really a big drinker. I've never been someone who had a nightly drink, and though I know that much of the world does this, it marks a change in my life that I am tempted to do this now. The thing I don't like about it is that if I can so easily, under all this pressure, go from drinking once a week to drinking (or at least fantasizing about drinking) daily, how much more pressure would it take to begin drinking a nightly few drinks, or a bottle, or perhaps having a nip in the morning before work? How slippery is this slope anyway?

It's not like addiction isn't an issue enough already. This perplexes me. I am having a glass of wine while I ponder on it.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

So the reason C didn't take Little J's call last night was that she was hospitalized again. Top secret stuff... so I don't know WHY. Was it another OD? Was it a suicide attempt? Was it a psychotic episode? Or... did she have a liddle sniffle?

My lawyer doesn't like the supervisor who monitors the visits between Little J and C. She thinks he is not impartial, and this may be true. I can't figure out who he's working for. Maybe he thinks we're awful people stopping Little J from seeing her mama. Maybe he's noticed that her mama slurs a lot and often has trouble communicating in her native tongue. I have no idea what he sees. I've realised that a lot of people can look at the exact same thing and go away and describe it completely differently.

I've also realised that when it comes to court proceedings and legal action you don't get to act on your instincts or trust your guts. You have to do exactly what your lawyer tells you and you have to ask your lawyer's permission before you say or do anything because otherwise you're going to fry under the scrutiny of the judge. It's all so tedious and exhausting. I cannot really remember what life was like when it belonged to me.

The way some men don't shave during playoffs, I'm developing superstitions that are supposed to keep C alive for another day. If I match my socks she'll die today. If I say her name she'll die today, if I say anything bad about her she'll die today. So I'm trying to be so careful. The thing is she's going to die anyway. Maybe today. No matter what I do.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

C didn't answer Little J's call again tonight. I called one of her friends. Some people did some calling around. Turns out she's in the hospital because she overdosed. She was talking to a social worker when I called but the hospital would give me no information because they could not confirm my identity nor know if C wanted any information released to me. I'm sure, had she known I was calling, that she would not have consented to have any information released to me.

This is a death watch.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Tonight C did not answer Little J's phone call. This has not happened before.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

random scars

Our lawyer is mad at me because I made an agreement with C without consulting her. I don't know how I'm supposed to live this life without any control over my own decisions, over the hours I keep, my comings and goings, my everything. How is a person supposed to live like this? How does a court, how does a judge, how does a highly educated person not see how impossible it all is?

Our justice system is messed up. It penalizes those who win their cases, it re-victimizes the victim. It brings no peace, no closure, no rest.

Our reward for trying to save this child is criticism, reprimand, disapproval, judgement, judgement, judgement.

It's starting to hit home that in the end we are going to lose. Whether we lose through the courts, literally, or whether we lose through being harassed, annoyed, bothered, pestered, and ridden to death, either way our lives are no longer our own and we will have no peace.

I don't know what a person is supposed to do. Walk away from a situation? Walk away from a child who is drowning and let her sink? Or get involved and become a flotation device for an iceberg? How is a person supposed to survive?

I'm so bloody sick and tired.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

all the lies and fears will stick to me like glue

On Friday my adorable class of grade eights begged me to let them climb up into the fly gallery of the theatre and wander around on the catwalks. I said no at the time because I didn't want to be up there with thirty kids to supervise. So instead I told them they could go up there if they came in on their own time (lunch hour) and asked me then. I assumed they wouldn't do that because kids rarely do come back on their own time for any reason.

Imagine my surprise when lunch time came and not only were there five kids crowding their way back into my classroom (on their own time, no less) but one of these girls was my student with cerebral palsy who is in a wheelchair.

I wasn't sure what to do with this situation at first, given that there are two long flights up stairs up into the fly gallery and one small ladder. I looked at her grinning face with some dismay and she said, "Don't worry, I can walk."

I hadn't really realised she could walk at all. She can walk a bit, with support. And so, with more determination than muscle, my four other students grabbed onto her and helped me heave her up the stairs. The ladder was a real challenge but we made it.

And the railings around the flies were sturdy enough to provide some good handholds.

By the time we got her back down the ladder (I had to carry her) I was ready to faint from exertion but the girl we installed back into her wheelchair and sent on her way was absolutely glowing with happiness.

On Wednesday in class, that same girl had broken out crying. When I asked her what was wrong she told me she missed her mother (her parents are divorced and Mum lives in Mexico) and then also admitted that she felt she had no friends at our school and that she had no one to eat lunch with. And added to all that was her frustration at her inability to do the same things that all the other kids could do. It was a heartbreaking moment for me and one which made me wonder what I'd do, as a professional counsellor, with a student in a situation like this. As a non-professional, as plain old me, I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her tight and said, "It's not your fault. None of it is your fault."

The fact she showed up on Friday with four friends (with whom she'd eaten lunch) and got to do the exact same thing they were doing, even though it really wasn't something she should have been doing, was monumental. I'd probably be in big trouble if my administration knew about it. I'd still do it again.


Friday, November 07, 2008

I want more fans, you want more stage

Shawn bought Little J a game called
"Little-Big-Planet" and it's absolutely

They play it together and giggle and scream and bicker and cheer. It's the funniest thing ever.

I want more of that kind of thing in our lives and less of the drama.


Tonight C called and blathered at me for awhile. Suddenly she wants to get an A&D counsellor and make some big changes in her life. If she'd said this stuff a few months back I'd probably have danced around and hugged myself with happiness to hear she was going to change. But now it's November and we've just been through a Supreme Court battle in which we were maligned and accused of all kinds of horrors. The fact that the judge threw it out, believed us, ruled in our favour doesn't really matter. Because I'm bitter.

I don't believe anything C tells me anymore, good or bad. She says whatever she thinks she needs to say to get whatever she wants. She said, for crying out loud, that we were probably kidnappers who were likely to take her child and flee to Seattle to escape the Canadian court system - as though our mortgage, careers, family and friends don't do anything to keep us here. The more ridiculous the accusation the better.

What's my point? I'm not sure. Maybe just that I don't buy it anymore. I don't buy it and I don't care.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

a better offer

Tonight I spoke to C on the phone to arrange her visitation with Little J. The judge ordered that we must allow 12 hours of visitation per week between them. For her part, C needs to talk to her social worker to arrange to have her social assistance pay for her half of the visits. (We get to pay half too; what a nice reward for doing the right thing.) When I tried to explain this to C she was argumentative and irrational. And she was totally stoned. She was slurring and incomprehensible. I really have to wonder, if the judge could see for himself how impossible and exhausting it is to deal with her, would he still order us to be duct taped to her forever like this?


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Maybe we always saw right through each other anyway.

Today I attended the first half of a conference on Restorative Justice. The second half is on Thursday.

Although our circumstances are different than the standard types of victimization described in the program, I still found myself nodding in agreement when it was brought forth that our justice system leaves the victims far removed from the process and provides them no feeling of comfort or closure at the end of the proceeding. It is a cold and depersonalized process in which no one seems to benefit. I am hoping I will have the opportunity to use what I have learned both in practice and in my upcoming Masters program. I have begun to fear I cannot manage the workload while parenting an eleven year old girl and trying to keep myself mentally and emotionally safe from C.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

i wonder should i get up and fix myself a drink

Today the word "codependent" actually made sense to me. I've been resenting it for awhile, feeling angry that this word is used to label someone who is trying to help an addict. But today it made sense because I saw myself do something stupid and couldn't seem to stop myself. I called C with the name and phone number of another drug treatment centre and told her we'd pay for it if she'd give it a chance -- all this, of course, in an effort to help her win back custody of Little J.

C started arguing with me about it before I'd even finished the first sentence. She doesn't want to go anywhere. She doesn't want to do anything. She doesn't want any help. She just wants us to hand back the kid and butt out of her life so she can do whatever she wants to do. And of course we can't do that... because this little girl doesn't deserve to live the way C lives. She deserves to be safe and secure and stable.

I spent way too long on the phone arguing with C about it, trying to convince her that she must try she must try she must TRY... and got nowhere. And I cried and I got mad and I swore and I hung up on her. And then I answered when she called back. And yelled and cried some more.

That's what codependent means -in the AA sense-, when you let your need for the other person to be okay to overcome, to overwhelm, and to surpass your need for own well being and mental health. It feels yukky.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

I don't have much doubt anymore that C is going to die tragically. She is going to overdose, accidentally perhaps.. or maybe on purpose. Or someone is going to hurt her... kill her. I'm scared for her. And there's nothing I can do to save her because she's so ill she can't hear me calling her name, she can't see me reaching for her, she can't feel my hands trying to hold on to her before she slips over the edge. But I know, almost with dead certainty, that she is going to die.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

no forced entry

There's still no news about my Dad. The doctors are taking way too long to give him any results.


We won our court case. It went the way our lawyer thought it would, another temporary order that puts a little patch on the problem until the next meeting. It's a victory... so I wonder why I feel so sad.

Part of it was seeing how desperate and sick C is becoming. I love her and it breaks my heart to see her like this. The paranoia that makes her so sure we're trying to hurt her is exactly what ends up ensuring that she's hurt. It's devastating. If only there was some way to force her to accept medical care, therapy, something, maybe she could get better. I wanted her, so badly, to get better. But I don't see that in the future anymore, and that hurts.


Monday, October 27, 2008

could have made this big a difference

This afternoon after work I took Little J to the mall to try and find her the perfect Halloween costume. Being nearly twelve she is torn between wanting to be gruesome and disgusting and wanting to be sexy. The Halloween costumes at the mall looked as though a herd of wild yaks had run amok through them and we were unable to find anything other than people's elbows. We left the mall and went to the drugstore where she found a perfect compromise. A sexy ghost. Go figure.

I brought her home after that and shortly afterward the furnace guy showed up to fix our furnace (it's been broken for three days and it's been COLD!). With that started, I took off leaving Little J with Big J, so I could meet with our lawyer yet again and sign my newest affidavit. Court is scheduled for Thursday.

When I got to the lawyer's office, her secretary told me she was still working on the affidavit and needed me to go away for twenty more minutes and then come back. She suggested I go for a coffee in the little shop on the main floor of the building. I considered this briefly and then realised that I'd forgotten my wallet at home (meaning I was driving without my license). No matter; I went and sat in my vehicle and closed my eyes and pretended to be dead. It was the most peaceful twenty minutes I can remember experiencing in the last few months. When my lawyer thanked me for waiting, I said, "No, thank you."


Friday, October 24, 2008

You're not the truth.

I awoke from a nightmare with one of the pup's legs draped over my arm. In my dream it had been C pulling my arm, fighting with me about something.


Today we are supposed to be doing professional development. In this district, unlike others in which I have worked, we are permitted (and trusted, at least to some degree) to find our own professional development activities. Some people opt for more formal things like conferences and conventions with hotels and catered meals. I chose to stay home. I am professionally developing myself by working on my Masters degree. I've spent most of the morning writing a paper which isn't even going to be graded, but is required anyway, to prove that I know how to write papers. Frustrating but necessary.


Shawn took the day off so we could go to the lawyers' offices this afternoon to read and sign our new affidavits. It looks like court will be next Friday, seven days from now. Maybe Thursday. Last night C phoned and told Little J that she would be showing up with the police some time this week to force us to let her go back to her. Although this is nonsense (because we already have temporary legal custody), Little J didn't realise that it was nonsense and became upset and sick to her stomach.

On our lawyer's advice we told Colleen she would not receive a visit with little J this weekend and she responded to this with all kinds of threats and got her Hairy Scary Boyfriend on the phone to tell me he was going to see that the visit happened "one way or another". Wonderful. So now we're walking on eggshells waiting for someone to break down our door or attack us when we walk from the front door to the car.


My dad's results should be in on Monday. We need him to be well.


I am so tired.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Dad has a "mass" in his intestine. I love my Dad so much. Please send him your good wishes.


Monday, October 13, 2008

I want a perfect body. I want a perfect soul.

I am feeling a little the worse for wear. The long weekend wasn't very relaxing, at least not the last couple of days. C continues to make life exhausting, insane, discouraging. I am worn out. Too much so to even try to explain it.

It's nearly 4:00am. I went to bed hours ago but suddenly just awoke in the middle of a nightmare. Except waking up didn't make it stop, just made it more lucid, because it's real. It's what we live with now. Fear, uncertainty, suspicion.


Sunday, October 12, 2008


Right now my husband is upstairs having a heart to heart with our niece. While I sit here empty and lost and paralyzed. Unsure what to say or do. Not knowing what step I can take that won't bring us crashing to the ground. He's up there talking to her, almost in tears himself, explaining, rationalizing, reaching out. While I'm too tired, too empty too hollow too lost to say another word without screaming without tearing out my hair without banging my head against the wall.

Oh god. Yes.

Yes I am thankful for him.

I know it.

Without him we are lost.

I am thankful. I am so thankful for him.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sunday, October 05, 2008

green eyes

On Friday night after hearing Little J offer to steal from us and hearing C saying terrible things about us on the phone, I made a major victory. Big J was here with T and they decided to go outside for a smoke and offered me one too. And I didn't go. This is extraordinary not because I didn't smoke (because I haven't smoked in a very very long time) but because I WANTED to smoke and DIDN'T smoke. Most of the time I just don't smoke because I don't want to. Rarely in my life have I resisted the urge when I actually wanted to do it. This is, in my mind, the difference between addiction and lust. I have never been addicted to cigarettes, never had a "nic-fit", never experienced cravings or withdrawal. But I am in lusty love with cigarettes. I adore them. Particularly when I am emotional. Friday night I was emotional and tempted and managed to avoid smoking. It's more significant because of what it means to Shawn.


Little J spent most of the weekend with her mother - a situation that is both wonderful and detrimental. Wonderful because it gave us some time alone to be together, to connect with each other, to talk about the situation openly, and to just enjoy being alone with each other. And it's detrimental because we know that C does damage when she is with J.

In many ways I am looking forward to the next court date because we will finally know where we stand for a more lengthy period of time. Win or lose, at least we'll know what to expect.


Friday, October 03, 2008

David (I think his name was David)
wrote a story about those dolls -
you know those dolls?
the kind they toss into the ocean
with phone numbers printed on their underbellies
(of the world)
Please call this number to report a finding.
They gather information about tides and ocean currents this way.
It seems more peculiar when you look at it in this light.
He called it
Tyranny of the Wheel.
Someone vomited at the end.

thank you disillusionment

Last night I overheard Little J on the phone offering to steal toothpaste and toothbrushes from our house to give to her mother. I am more and more frequently asking myself what we have gotten ourselves into here. The girl is her mother's daughter and as much as I adore her -- her mother has had eleven years to teach her a value system that she won't ditch just because she's living elsewhere. Instead we are struggling to understand her and struggling to gain her trust. Because to her, we are the ones who are skewed. I was counting on the fact that I had such a beautiful relationship with her when she was a toddler to help us find each other again now. But I am growing fearful we may already be much further apart than I thought we were. She may already be lost to me.


I have a senior drama class comprised almost entirely of boys. There are three girls. And twenty seven boys. It is the worst-smelling group of humans I have ever encountered.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

give me one reason to stay here

Oddly enough, the university decided to time the beginning of the new course to coincide with their server updates, so it is actually not possible to begin my coursework in spite of the fact that assignments have been given and due dates assigned. It's a bizarre thing and I can only assume that the two departments making these decisions do not communicate with each other. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to log into the course an hour before the server disappeared so I was able to do most of the very first lesson, which will put me miles ahead of the pack by October 6th when things are supposed to be back up and running. I'm definitely not impressed.


Big J came back yesterday night from his trip back home and he brought T with him. I didn't know T was coming or would be staying with us, so it was mildly surprising to find him sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee when I came downstairs this morning. Life is so much more filled with adventures when you have more people under your roof. Sometimes I miss the peace and predictability of my old life. But the karma points must be worth something in the long run.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sometimes Little J is so cute I could just strangle her.


My next course starts tomorrow. Bye bye free time.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

it falls apart in little pieces on the floor

Last night while Little J was visiting C, we had the inlaws over for dinner. We drank wine and played Rock Band and acted like kids. Because the kid was gone. :)

This morning we went to their place for waffles (yum) and now Little J and I are about to head downtown to go to an Arts Festival that's all about writing. We are meeting up with an old friend of mine and her daughter (who is 2) to stroll around and gather up some culture. I'm glad I still have people in my life who care about things like this because I feel like I've grown complacent sometimes. I always love these events when I'm actually there, but I have trouble convincing myself to go anywhere when I'm just so cozy and comfortable in my own home. I guess this means I really love my house (which I do) and that's a good thing. But I generally feel more satisfied with Life when I participate in Things. So I'm glad to have a friend who will push me to do these kinds of things, because I want to.

C has been a nuisance (surprise) because she made some plans with Little J to see her today. Of course she didn't ask us if that was okay or if we had anything going on. She just assumed that we would drive Little J over to see her and pick her up on her schedule. We, of course, do have plans. And since C hasn't called to confirm anything with me I've no idea if we're actually going to be able to accommodate her or not. And certainly, if we don't, Little J will be left to feel that we are depriving her of something.

I used to have a different relationship with Little J. When I was just her Aunt, I got to spoil her and have fun with her and lavish her with attention. Now that I am responsible for actually bringing her up, I have to make sure she does homework and cleans up her bedroom and eats her vegetables. It's a big change. The funny thing is that when she goes to see her mother, her mother smothers her in treats and acts like an aunt. So now going to see her mother is the fun thing and life here is no longer novel. I'm aggravated by the fact that we are spending literally thousands of dollars to provide Little J with the life she should have had all along which C was too messed up to provide... and still somehow come out of the deal looking like villains.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

set on you

I've been reading on an addiction/recovery forum, attempting to get some idea of what might be going through C's mind. Trying to understand why she's behaving the way she is. I haven't found any answers, but I found this, which I like enormously,

"My personal feeling is that Bill W's 12 step Spirituality is an off-shoot of E. Fox's and others work in the early 20th century. "Spiritualism", Emmet's word not mine, seems to be a recognized theist (religious) doctrine. At least by the IRS.

Although I don't believe in DAT (Drinking and Typing), I do share a similar feeling of perhaps "thinly veiled lip service" with regard to an monotheistic, omni-benificent God of Abraham vs. a monotheistic, omni-benificent Higher Power. Heck, if it quacks (prays) like a duck, walks (meditates) like a duck...

Here's my problem. I tend to have far fewer stem burns, track marks, open sores, DUI's, judges, lawyers, county time, hard time, depression, skull blinding fear and anxiety when I hang around these stupid rooms full of God-Tards. I hope the mod doesn't censor that, then I'll get a resentment.

During the closing prayer, while politely giving lip service to fit in, I surreptitiously check out the ladies.

Oh, like I'm the only one!"

This was posted in response to a question about whether finding a higher power is necessary for recovery. I haven't quite figured out what it means but it makes me smile every time I read it, and I've read it many times over the last few weeks. I think it may become my new mantra.


Friday, September 26, 2008

pretending it's Friday

The judge ruled in our favour. We have an interim custody order lasting until October 31st, at which point I assume we will reconvene to determine what happens next. This gives our lawyers time to get affidavits from everyone else who has something to say about the situation and it also gives C some time to try and get herself sorted out. I think it's highly unlikely she will, by that point in time, be prepared to take custody back because the chances are that she won't be finished her program, won't have been able to set up a place to live, etcetera. But the hope, of course, is that she eventually will. Meanwhile, it's a tremendous relief to have legal custody set up so that we have some legal rights and the ability to intervene if C tries to run away or do something dangerous.

The scary part is that C is going to be served with all the paperwork today. And she's not going to like reading those affidavits in which we had to dredge up some ugly things about her life. I just hope she can calm down enough to move forward and do what she needs to do to get herself sorted out.

For now, five weeks of stability.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

I had my doubts.

Tomorrow our lawyer - and a second lawyer who is training with her - are going in to court on our behalf to ask a judge to grant us interim custody of Little J until the real court case happens. They have been cautiously optimistic but there's still some uncertainty as to whether the court will be willing to hear it in our jurisdiction. I went to their office after work to sign some paperwork and asked, while I was there, if I should be in court with them tomorrow morning. They said there is no advantage to being there and more often these things are discussed between judges and lawyers without anyone else present. So I'm going to work.

This is actually a good thing because it sounds like it's going to involve a whole lot of sitting around and waiting and I'd probably bite my nails down the knuckles while waiting. By going to work at least my mind will be occupied. Not only that, but tomorrow is a professional development day at school which means I might have time to get some work done.

I'm nervous about all of this. I really hope it goes in our favour because if it doesn't, it's going to launch a huge battle.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Something that amazes me is how quickly, when I communicate with old friends from when I was thirteen and fourteen, I can feel myself surrounded by that peculiar and specific loneliness and ache that went with being that age. It's like I'm still there for that moment in time. This morning I got a letter from B.G. who was one of my three best friends back then and I found myself almost instantly in tears, partly experiencing sadness for him, for all he has revealed was going on in his life back then. And partly for me, for what was happening in my life that I never shared with any of them. It hits me now that all four of us were going through it together; we just weren't talking about it. It's not a coincidence, however, that we were friends. We were drawn together, I'm certain, because of it.

I believe that C is planning to kidnap Little J and make a run for it. I also believe that Little J would willingly go with her and do nothing to stop it from happening.


Saturday, September 20, 2008


Visiting with C today was a nightmare. We made a plan to go to the first recovery home she was kicked out of to pick up some of her belongings that she forgot there when she left. On the way there in the vehicle we talked about the upcoming custody case. My plan was to tell her how to win: that she needed to get focused on recovery so that she could prove she was drug-free and able to provide a safe home for Little J. She wouldn't even listen. Instead, she became hysterical, screaming and sobbing and howling at me.

She calmed down when we arrived at the recovery centre long enough to go in and ask for her things. The staff member there told us that her things had been given away because they'd sat there so long that they'd gotten rid of them. C said she had spoken to the director of the centre who had promised the things would be there. The staff member told us the director hadn't even been in the building at the time C claimed to have spoken to her. C handled this by curling up in a ball in the hallway and sobbing some more while residents of the house stared in amazement.

On the way home, she railed and sobbed some more, and then demanded to know why I wouldn't buy her some more cigarettes, take her for coffee, or by her new shoes to replace the ones that she had lost. I dropped her off and told her I didn't want to hear from her again.

I don't think it's likely I'll be able to stick to that because I can't help having sympathy for her. Because I love her. But for now, I need a break.

When we dropped Little J off for her visit tonight I had Shawn walk her to the door.

I'm still concerned she will run. But I think it's unlikely given her financial situation. It's a scary thing. I hope this gets resolved soon.


some things survived

We went to meet with our lawyer, who is absolutely lovely, on Thursday afternoon. She said that she has some jurisdictional concerns about what we are trying to do because with Little J being a new resident of this province, provincial law is confused about which province actually has legal control over the situation. Her previous province says they don't want to hear the case because she no longer lives there; the current province says she's not yet a legal resident because she hasn't been here a full year. So we're kind of falling through the cracks right now, but the lawyer is going to work on how to get around that. She said we might have to go to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Apart from that, however, she seemed to think our chances are very good of securing full custody. The caveat would be that if her mother was able to prove she was off the drugs and had a safe home for her, that custody would be returned to her. Of course, if that was to be the case, we wouldn't disagree in the least. The only reason we're doing this in the first place is that her mother is on drugs and can't provide her with a safe home. So it sounds hopeful. As long as the lawyer can figure out how to wangle her way through the jurisdictional confusion.

Things are going well with Little J right now. She seems to have settled in at school quite nicely and made some friends. She is also happy with her part in the extracurricular Drama production she's working on now that she's realised she'll be dancing and singing in various numbers throughout the show and will be more involved than she expected she would be. Hallelujah, I am so glad she seems to be doing well. We are still working on getting her some counselling so she can talk with someone about all these stressful changes in her life; as much as we encourage her to talk to us, we want her to have someone with whom she can talk about us if she wants to. I finally feel a little more optimistic about being able to protect her legally.

As for C, I am feeling more and more concerned about what will happen to her. Losing custody of her daughter, if that happens, is going to be horrible for her. And I don't want to destroy her. I want to help her get better, which is the very reason I worked to move her out here in the first place. I want to help her to get well again but right now things seem to be a bit rocky. She has been kicked out of two recovery homes so far and I pray she won't be kicked out of a third. But yesterday when she called to say goodnight to Little J she asked if she and I could talk because she needs some advice about a problem she is having in the current house. She didn't explain it in any detail because she was using a phone in a public room - so I agreed to pick her up this afternoon and take her out for a coffee so we could talk. I have no guess as to what's going on (C is always a surprise to me) but I'm hoping against hope that whatever it is, it can be managed so she can carry on with her recovery plan.

There is, of course, some fear that C will panic about the upcoming custody hearing and kidnap Little J and go on the run with her. It's a very strange thing, living life with these kinds of worries. It's hard to believe that such a short time ago my world was so small that it really only contained me and my husband. And now it has grown to include this child, her mother to some degree, their cat, their hamster, Big J, and our four dogs. And to think we've been considering having a baby of our own!


Monday, September 15, 2008

my good friend

We did our first hooky of the school year today, but this time it had to be more clandestine than usual because of Little J. Because she has such a terrible attendance record it has been important to impress upon her the fact that we attend school EVERY DAY unless there is something seriously wrong. She isn't really old enough to understand that the fact that Shawn and I play hooky about three times a year is not the same as skipping school whenever one feels like it, so we just didn't tell her. We got her off to school the usual way as though we were heading to school/work too, and then snuck back home. It was a good day to miss school because my eyes are still kind of swollen and the puffiness causes shadows to fall underneath so I look a bit like I have two black eyes. Very attractive indeed, and it's always a pleasure to appear looking peculiar before curious and tactless fourteen year olds... but I decided I'd miss out on the interrogation. It's been a nice day.


Little J came home a little bit glum today and hasn't really explained what's going on with her. Sometimes I think we're a bit paranoid because of all she's going through. It certainly could be that she's just experiencing normal pre-adolescent mood swings. Bu it does, of course, concern me. Tonight after supper I am going to take her out for a doughnut or something and see if she'll open up a bit.


Saturday, September 13, 2008


I think I may come to regret joining Facebook. It's an astonishing waste of time and it's way too easy to get caught up in snooping through people's business, people you knew twenty years ago and who no longer have anything to do with you and your life. It's just curiousity. Or, it's nosiness.


Shawn has taken Little J swimming for the afternoon giving me some time alone to laze. Excellent. Tonight we are taking her to visit her mom and we are going to the inlaws' for dinner. I'm self-conscious right now because my eyes are swollen up like a goldfish (allergic to sunscreen) but since we're talking about family here, I think I'll just force myself to get over it rather than staying in and doing nothing.


Friday, September 12, 2008

sweet dreams.

I did it. I actually joined Facebook. It's happened so many times that people have asked me if they can find me there that I finally gave up the struggle - after years of fighting it - and set up a profile. Within a couple of days I had been tracked down by all kinds of people from elementary school, junior high and high school, people I've worked with, old boyfriends, old neighbours from old neighbourhoods, etcetera, etcetera. Now that I've seen the "degrees of separation" in action, I know it's really true. This is really interesting because now I know who married who, who has kids, and who does what. But it also scares me because it means I really am that close to the Baldwin brothers.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

because you're mine

This morning we met briefly with Little J's teacher to discuss her situation and explain what's going on in her life. The teacher is just fantastic and has a great read on the situation and insight into what Little J is experiencing and how she is reacting. I was impressed and I am so pleased that she got placed with such a compassionate and competent teacher.


Today my assistant principal told me that since the other teacher is sick and there are more blocks of Drama than teacher time to cover them, I may have the option to work during my spare and get paid at 114% salary. Comparing this with the situation that existed a short time ago is absolutely ridiculous. It never rains but it pours, right?


Shawn starts his new job on October 1st and he celebrated today by buying himself an iPhone. I can't say I understand why this gadget is worth the bill or the hype that accompanies it, but he's very happy with it, and that makes me happy. I love it when he's happy about things.


Big J decided to buy us a gift (to thank us for letting him stay here rent free) and bought a Wii Fit which is a video game that takes the player through an exercise/training program. It looks like a lot of fun and Little J is excited about it. A few weeks ago Big J also bought us "Rock Band", another game that Little J has been enjoying enormously.


I am tired. I'm going to bed early.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

with with with

This morning my principal told me that the other teacher with whom I was supposed to be sharing the job had a heart attack. He has had heart problems for a long time and it sounds as though the stress and pressure of possibly returning to work really pushed him over the edge. Poor thing, I feel very sorry for him. He's a young man (only mid-forties) and has small children. While his situation is unfortunate, from a financial perspective he will be alright because he'll continue to collect medical benefits. And I now have a full time contract for this semester. Come February, it will be the same situation all over again where he can return, if he's well enough, and bump me out of a job, but the more time that goes by, the less likely this seems.


Shawn has been offered a new job working in the film industry. The money is amazing and the contract is for a full year, after which he could renew (if work is available) or just take some time off until the next contract comes up. It sounds amazing. He's gone downtown to meet with the guys who offered him the work so I'm hanging around here on pins and needles waiting to find out what he decides.


Little J seems to be settling in to school very well. Her teacher moved her desk so she could sit next to her new friend, and the stories I am hearing about this teacher make me think she's fabulous. She is taking her students climbing at the university climbing wall and Little J, who is generally terrified of heights, has suddenly informed me that the best way to conquer one's fears is to confront them. How does she know this? Because her teacher told her so. Hallelujah, amen. I think I love this teacher. After school today Little J told me she wants to start working out with me and spent a half hour on the machines with me getting a good work out.

I spoke with C again this evening and she has suddenly returned to her rational self once again. I find these about faces frightening and never know who I'll end up speaking with when I pick up the phone, Jekyl or Hyde. We are proceeding with tracking down our legal rights and finding out what can be done from a legal perspective to protect Little J from going back to living the life she had before. I feel guilty, in a way, about pursuing legal action when C is acting sane and reasonable, but I've learned that she cannot be depended upon to keep doing so for any real length of time and so it's necessary to proceed assuming she will return to irrationality in the near future.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

don't waste your time on me

Yesterday I asked Little J to give me five days of going to school every day before giving up on the idea of having friends. She said she would, reluctantly, and I promised her that if she didn't have friends by then that we'd have a serious meeting to consider the options. I have no idea what I meant when I said that, and I have no idea WHAT I would have done if after five days she had not made friends. But thank god, when we were driving home this afternoon she told me it had been a good day and she'd made not one, but NINE new friends. Hallelujah, I'm so relieved. I think I might be even happier about that than she is.

C is still threatening to take her back and move elsewhere, and I have no idea what is the right thing to do. I'm trying to play it casual and have been telling her to just go ahead and do whatever she wants (knowing full well that we'll have to fight that) but it's not easy. I want to blow up, I want to stop answering the phone, I want to cut off all communication whatsoever. It's hard to always be trying to do the right thing for someone else when I just want to be selfish.

My own day was pretty good. I taught all the classes and now I have only to wait and see if the other teacher comes back. Right now he's saying he plans to return next week. The staff doesn't seem to think this is likely. Myself, I have no idea what to think.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

more of everything

I'm getting around to realising that parenting, or even "parenting", is awfully heartbreaking sometimes. It wasn't easy watching Little J go into her classroom this morning, feeling nervous and shy, and wishing I could go in with her and be her best friend so she wouldn't feel alone. It was hard tonight when she went to her musical theatre class and came home disappointed that she didn't get the part she wanted. I wanted to be the director so they could see how great she is. This stuff is hard. I feel torn between wanting to protect her from everything and wanting to expose her to these things so she'll be prepared for Life. Wow, it's really hard.

To top it all off, C announced she wants to move back to the prairies with Little J, far far away. I have no way of knowing if this is even possible for her. But it scares me nonetheless. I want Little J to be safe. To be protected and somehow, simultaneously, prepared. It's way harder than I ever imagined.


The other teacher didn't show up for school today so I was immediately assigned his classes. I now have full time teaching status until further notice. This means he can still come back if he so chooses but I'm beginning to understand that his reasons for not being at school are mental/emotional and not really physical. Although he has a legitimate medical problem, what is keeping him from school is something entirely different. I can sympathize, honestly, because sometimes I feel that way too. Like I'd give anything to just stay inside the house and never have to deal with people. But I make myself go for some reason. I wish I knew how because it would probably help people like him to know. Meanwhile, I'm glad to have a full time paycheque again for now, and more so to avoid the awkwardness of sharing that tiny office with him.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Every now and then the things I lean on lose their meaning

Last day of holidays. Little J is nervous about school - wondering who her teacher will be, who her friends will be, whether she'll fit in... It's funny how when kids reach that age they'd really love someone to hold their hand and go with them. Simultaneously they're way too old for such baby things and want you to hide around the block so no one makes the mistake of thinking they have a parent (or an auntie) anywhere in this city. I'm sure she'll be fine, but there's part of me that's nervous on her behalf. I want things to be easy for her. She deserves to have some things easy after living so many hard years.


And as for me, school also starts for me tomorrow. The kids will only be in the building for a couple of hours to collect lockers and class schedules, but the staff is supposed to be there all day. Mostly because of various staff meetings. I'm not looking forward to that, particularly, but part of me is looking forward to being back on a normal schedule and getting underway with this half-time job so I can figure out how it works. And if it's going to last.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go...

Last night we took Little J to visit her mother for a couple of hours while Shawn and I went to the inlaws' for dinner. We had a nice visit with them, then went back to pick her up. When I arrived to get her, there was a twelve year old boy in the front entrance eager to question me about when Little J would be back. Apparently his mother lives at the recovery home too, and he was hoping the two of them would be able to coordinate their next visits.

When we got home Little J asked me to come and chat with her about boys. She had questions about crushes and first kisses and that tingly feeling you get a when a boy says he likes you. It was adorable. We talked for a long time. I hope her mother will find a way to let her explore these feelings (while adequately supervising!) and let her grow up as she needs to. Meanwhile I'm so glad she's here and we can talk about these things together.


It's the last day of August. There's already a chill in the air in the mornings, the thing that reminds us we're Canadian in spite of the fact that winters here are so comparably painless to winter on the prairies. There's still a little nip in the air that I can't help loving because it feels fresh and somehow Christmasy. Even on the last day of August.


Friday, August 29, 2008

guess it's got something to do with luck

There's really nothing in the world for making a person feel old like getting ready in the mirror beside a pre-teen girl. I love this girl more than I could ever express... and yet, I think I am jealous of her.

I notice that her eyes are bright and clear and sparkly. And then I notice that mine look a little tired, lines around the corners, maybe some concealer would brighten up those darker circles? I notice her hair, shiny and thick and lustrous, falling just perfectly. And I notice mine, hanging limply with a few greys illuminated by the florescent lights. Her face, unlined, smooth and perfect. And mine... not.

She's such a pretty girl. The irony, of course, is that she struggles with the self-consciousness that seems to come so naturally with adolescence. She looks in the mirror and sees flaws. Flaws that the average woman would kill for.

It's a good thing she's modest, really, or I'd have to kill her and pluck out those pretty eyes of hers and make them mine.



Thursday, August 28, 2008

If I had a rocket launcher... I'd make somebody pay.

The other teacher showed up today and spent a lot of time hanging around with me, being cordial and self-deprecating and pleasant. If I hadn't been forewarned I think I'd have believed he was quite charming. I suppose it's possible that he really is pleasant and that the things that happened in the past are ... Past. But I'm not getting too close because I'm scared. He's already filed two grievances against staff members and has a long history of screwing over his colleagues with the students. Fortunately, his timetable works in opposition to mine so with luck we won't have to cross paths very often. People keep assuring me that he is bound to leave again in the near future and will leave me with full time work again... but I'm not counting on it.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

all that's best of dark and bright

Good morning house. Good morning puppies. Good morning kittycat, good morning hamster. Good morning.

I'm not going to work today. Hah!

My contract is currently for 57% and I am not going to fall into the trap of being there full time for half time pay. Yesterday a couple of people reminded me of the fact that since I put in the full day yesterday, I deserved the full day off today. I've been swinging back and forth with that in my head, and finally decided that I agree. I'm staying home today. I'm going to tidy up the house a bit and stay in. I'll go tomorrow (for 57% of it?) and consider my job done.

So.... coffee. :)


My family is coming home tonight. I'm really glad.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

laughing spinning swinging madly across the sun

Well, today was interesting in a few ways. The staff was supposed to be at school for 8:30, and I decided on my own that I wanted to arrive around 8:00 in hopes of beating the other teacher to the theatre so that I could do a little territory-protecting. Peeing in the corners, if you will. This idea fell somewhat by the wayside when it came down to actually getting my butt out the door because I didn't feel like moving and I also kind of realised that I just don't care that much. If it's only a part time job, it's not worth getting myself worked up about it. So I ended up leaving at a more leisurely pace, thinking that instead of trying to beat him to the punch I would just be amiable and pleasant and not let myself get stressed out over a career that would, at most, take three hours a day out of my life.

Armed with my newfound lackadaisical attitude, I strolled into work (still feeling somewhat trepidacious on the inside, whistling on the outside and swinging my keys) where I was met by my department head who immediately informed me that in fact, the other teacher may not be back after all. Although he informed Human Resources he intended to return to work, he has not contacted the school's administration nor the medical staff he needs to contact to gain clearance for returning to work. So there's no guarantee, of course, that I'll have the full time job after all, but it certainly seems like it could work out in my favour after all. I do hope so.

Prior to this situation at work, my experience and understanding of unions was minimal. I knew they took money out of my paycheque every month and I knew they were supposed to represent me at contractual negotiations. Otherwise I knew nothing. Since then I've had the opportunity to learn much more and I'm not impressed. The degree of protection this other teacher has received from the union over the last few years is astonishing. At a detriment to the students, the staff, and the entire Drama program, this man has been permitted to keep a stranglehold on this position forever while he never actually shows up to do the work.

Anyway. To be continued, I'm sure.

The other surprise was the day's activities. Having not attended summer professional development days with this staff last year (because I was hired late) I had no idea what to expect. The events for the day were nothing I would actually call professional development per se, but they were good for teambuilding. It the morning we all boarded a bus and were driven to a mysterious location and given a scavenger hunt. We spent the morning running around looking for landmarks and bugging local people for information.

In the afternoon we boarded dragonboats and were given a crash course in paddling. After a bit of practice time we raced other boats and showed off our incredible lack of skill. I got soaking wet because the man in front of me was a rather exuberant rower, but the event was fun.

I came home to angry puppies who were offended that I'd left them in their houses all day long for the first time since June. Judging by the depth and warmth of the snugglepile on my lap, I have to assume they have forgiven me.

It's just after 7:30 and I have to go to work shortly. It's not really something to complain about because I know people in other jobs don't get this kind of extended holiday, but every September when school starts I feel like I'm going to meet my executioner.


Monday, August 25, 2008

let me get to the point

This morning I went to the shopping centre to pick up Little J's pants which we were having hemmed, and to get more hamster food. (Exciting stuff.) And since then I've been doing a whole lot of nothing, enjoying my last day of summer vacation.

A woman from work phoned me this afternoon to ask if I was returning to the school this year. I thought that was awfully nice of her since I didn't know her extremely well and I was touched that she cared enough about the answer to call me to ask. I can tell that I've been alone for a long time because under normal conditions I wouldn't have even answered the phone let alone feel sappy like this. Hee. In any event, I'm feeling more positive about my half-time job and hoping for the best in terms of getting along with the other guy.

There's stuff I should do tonight before going to bed.... laundry, for example. And vacuuming the area where the cat lives... But I don't feel like it. I guess I can't wait to feel like it or it will never happen. But procrastinating until tomorrow seems like a good plan.


Sunday, August 24, 2008


My vacation is ending way too fast. I go back to school on Tuesday for a three day week, which is just professional days. I'm actually going to need to figure out what on earth to do with the kids when they arrive, so I hope they don't tie us up in meetings the entire time. I'd like to have a chance to plan out the first week's worth of lesson plans.

I suppose I could be doing that now. But I'd rather do it on the clock since I have to be there anyway.

I'm kind of nervous about sharing that office with the returning teacher whose reputation precedes him as an obnoxious, overbearing loudmouth. I hope they find somewhere else to put him. But I suspect, if the reports are accurate, that is going to be me who chickens out first and runs for cover.


Shawn phoned this morning from his mother's place to say he'd arrived there safely. He'll probably be home late on Wednesday night. I'm actually starting to miss the family now which just goes to prove that I am all talk when I say I love and crave being alone. Just the way a person fantasizes about eating a whole cake or a pizza, when you have it there in front of you, a couple of pieces will usually do the trick. Now I'm ready to have my family back. Maybe I should eat cake and pizza until they return.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

just (a) fine

Yesterday I caved in and bought cigarettes for C. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I just can't seem to figure out what the right thing is. After thinking about it a lot, and doing some reading, I started to think that maybe buying her cigarettes was actually an aid to her recovery since when she doesn't have them she goes insane and can't focus on anything else.

I don't know. It's probably a stupid decision. I'm probably being taken advantage of. But somehow that's easier to live with than wondering if my action (or lack of action) could sabotage her recovery. I just want her to get well.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

a little somethin' extra to take it all away

Today is day one of my Week of Peace. I woke up at 5:30 with Shawn to help him get Little J ready to go, and to hug and kiss them all goodbye. After seeing them off, I tried to go back to bed and found that I couldn't sleep. And yet, I didn't want to be up and awake that early knowing I have only five days of vacation time left before school begins again. So I stayed in bed staring at the ceiling and snuggling the puppies for awhile, and eventually did manage to get about another half hour before finally getting up at 8:00.

My parents called shortly after that to talk about the custody situation, and basically reported that no progress has been made on their end yet either. As Little J is on her way to visit them for a week they probably won't be seeing their lawyer for a little while. Meanwhile, C called to demand cigarettes and told me that since I wasn't willing to buy them for her I was obviously disinterested in her recovery, cold, cruel and exacting. I asserted my non- "co-dependent" self by assuring her that while I wish her all the best I have no intention of buying her any cigarettes. She was angry.

I went to a doctor appointment after the phone call, and then came home and had some lunch. And then fell asleep on the couch for an hour. Ahhh... this life of peace and quiet!

I have no plans for this evening other than just lounging around and reading my book and perhaps struggling to muster up the motivation to go for a jog.

I've been letting the answering machine get the phone all afternoon and reveling in the Quiet.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

the nearer your destination

My principal said she would see about the rooms. She said she will do all she can to make this situation easier for me and that she really wants me to stay at her school. She assigned me to work with the senior classes and the other teacher to work with the juniors, anticipating that this is going to cause some friction, but being prepared to deal with it. She also alluded to the fact that she still thinks this will work out in my favour in the end. I'm pleased to hear all of these things, but am not counting my chickens yet because this entire experience has been one surprise after another.

Meanwhile I'm going to get my mind around the idea of being a half-time slack-ass and find ways to enjoy that instead of worrying about it.


Tomorrow the gang is leaving at 6:00am.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

the sound of your own wheels

I am just going to find ways to deal with it.

After fuming for awhile, I wrote my principal an email and asked her if she could assign us different spaces to work in so we don't have to share one area. She had already gone home for the day so I won't hear from her until later. But if she can do that it will go a long way toward making things easier to deal with.


Tomorrow I have an appointment at noon. I am looking forward to it.


a day tripper... a one way ticket, yeah

Well. I just found out that the teacher who is being disciplined by the board and who caused all sorts of problems while he was on medical leave is returning to the school next month. In spite of everything. And he's taking half my job. Or perhaps more accurately in the eyes of the union, I only get to keep half his job.

The idea of working only half-time leaves me feeling somewhat worried. I wouldn't feel this way if Crazy Shawn wasn't also in this boat, but I was really hoping to have full time work at least until he found a better situation.

It's a funny thing. If I was working this schedule by my own choosing I would probably be quite delighted. But having it forced upon me is frustrating. People warned me he would end up doing this and I think I was a little too cocky in thinking he wouldn't want to return to a place where he was so obviously disliked. Perhaps he doesn't care. Or perhaps he just doesn't see it.

In any case, it leaves me a bit worried. If this year goes well for him, he will probably take back the other 50% in the following year.

Working on my Masters degree in Counselling gives me some flexibility in the future... but for now this situation is not ideal.

I'm going to have to grovel to GDJ for some more instructional design work. Or something.


Monday, August 18, 2008

more fun than a barrel of monkeys on my back

Since C started to work a recovery program I have learned more about The Twelve Steps than I ever wanted to. Something I find exasperating about the whole program is that people like me, people who want to help, are suddenly labelled with an illness, "codependency" and deemed to be addicted to the addicts. We are urged to attend Al-Alon or Nar-Anon meetings and to spend our lives "recovering" from our disease and "working the steps" to recover from our illness. It makes me want to barf.

The fact that C has made idiotic choices in her life, and the fact that I want her to get better so she can raise her daughter- who I happen to adore - does not make me ill. If we're going to talk about being a little too sensitive for my own good, or a little too tenderhearted to always make the best decision, I'll cop to that. But it's not a disease. It's compassion, it's love. It's empathy. I don't need to work through twelve steps or spend my evenings in meetings in order to recover from that. I don't find anything wrong with it.

Am I deluded in feeling this way?


Sunday, August 17, 2008

here comes us

Today is our anniversary. Big J is at his sister's for the weekend and we were able to drop Little J off for a visit with C, allowing us to have some time alone. Time alone is hard to come by these days but I'm finding that this fact makes it better when we do manage to get some. Or maybe it's the fact that the weather has been so hot I've been wearing very little clothing. Men are sooo visual. Heh.


In the morning we took Little J back to the eye doctor for her contact lens lessons. She struggled a bit for awhile but managed to learn how to get them in and out well enough that we could eventually take them, and her, back home. Meanwhile Shawn got a haircut, which he couldn't have needed more.

Things around here have been crisis-free for a few days and I'm trying to enjoy that fact rather than waiting anxiously for something bad to happen. Part of me thinks C is just back in another honeymoon phase being in a new centre, but another part of me is truly hoping this might be the turning point. Having been forced to spend a night in a shelter because of the drugs and her bad choices around recovery, I am hoping the infamous "rock bottom" has been hit and that things will get better from here. And yet I'm scared to hope that too fervently because I think I will be disappointed.

I love them all, but I miss my old life, the one where it was just me and Shawn and the puppies.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

signs of serious side effects

Craigslist is an interesting phenomenon. I've learned that we don't ever have to pay someone to haul away things we don't want because if we advertise them on Craigslist under "free stuff" there is ALWAYS someone who wants them. Right now I am waiting for someone to come and pick up the three toilets that we removed from the house several months ago and which have been sitting out in the backyard providing nice homes for spiders. I don't think I could sell them for a dollar apiece but as soon as they're free... people want them. It's weird. Anyway, I'm glad about it. Glad that someone else can get rid of them for me, and glad that someone else can make use of stuff that would otherwise be in a landfill.


I was late for my dentist appointment this afternoon because I forgot about it and left late. I've been doing that a lot lately, being late for things, forgetting things, being dumb like that. I think I might be getting early onset dementia.


Tonight Little J is visiting her mother in the newest recovery house and Shawn is over at his Dad's place. Big J is visiting his sister and I am getting a free preview of what life will be life after they all go on the road trip. I am selfishly ridiculously excited about being alone for awhile. It's kind of awful, really, to be this delighted, but I can't help it. All summer I've had a full house, the exact opposite of what summer is usually like. I've desperately wanted long days to lounge in the bath, be lazy, and just enjoy having some time to myself. That's what I'm looking forward to.


Friday, August 15, 2008

drive my car into the ocean

Only six days until I'm going to be blissfully alone for a whole week.

These are the things I am going to do while I am alone:
- spend time at the YMCA in the gym AND in the hot tub
- use the spa gift certificate Shawn's stepmother gave me for Christmas
- shop for some back-to-school clothes for MYSELF
- finish my book, A Spot of Bother
- clean the house and watch it stay clean

There's more... but I haven't figured it all out yet. Maybe I'll eat pizza too.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

storing up for the winter

Shawn is taking Little J on a road trip for about seven days. He's going to visit his mother and grandmother, my parents, and some of our friends. Little J will spend a few days with my parents while he visits people she doesn't know. I have been sort of excited about this because of the fact it would mean having the place almost to myself for a little while... and today, Big J announced that he wants to go too! Hallelujah!!!!! I'm going to have seven whole days of peace, quiet and privacy. I can sleep, I can read, I can sit around naked. I can waste time, I can fool around. I can do whatever I want.

It's not that I don't love these people. I really truly do.

But seven days. Think of it! What would you do with such a gift?


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rock Band

Big J bought a video game called Rock Band which comes with a pretend drum kit, guitar and microphone. The idea is that it's a family game because each (of 3) people can play simultaneously. Big J became bored with it almost instantly but Little J is in love with the microphone (the girl has pipes!) and Shawn loves the drums. So the two of them have been playing together all afternoon. It's adorable.

I just asked them if they want dinner and Little J completely ignored me. And Shawn said, "I'll play dinner after this song."


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

there's god in the trees, i'm weak in the knees

Tonight has been crazy.

This afternoon I took Little J to the mall for an eye doctor's appointment and to get her a haircut. She was one happy little pumpkin with pretty hair and the promise of contact lenses to come.

And then, we got home to the phone which has been ringing incessantly since then. C has been kicked out of the recovery home AGAIN for lying about her prescriptions and trying to stockpile pills. They drove her to the Salvation Army. So I have been talking to her on the phone. She is hysterical and wants me to come and get her, which I have been advised not to do.

She even gave my phone number to some strange man who phoned me to give me his opinion of her (she's wonderful, he says) and of the recovery house that kicked her out (awful, he says) as though I might listen to the opinion of some stranger over that of the women who we have trusted to help us in getting C off the drugs.

Nothing makes any sense.

We're going to see our lawyer tomorrow about trying to get legal custody. Right now C seems to be doing everything she can to make that very easy for us.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

fire no guns, shed no tears

This morning C told me she had decided to go to a different recovery centre because she doesn't like the one she's in. (This, I suspect, is because they are pressuring her to stop taking the pain medication.) She said she was going to fax in an application to another centre today. While she was talking to me, one of the staff members told C to get off the phone and C got really obnoxious about it. Unable to keep my mouth shut, I told C she'd better be careful about getting too lippy before she's found a new place to go lest she get kicked out.

Then we decided to go out. We took Little J to the YMCA to swim and I worked out in the gym, taking out all my frustrations on the machines. Very satisfying.

When we got back, C called again to inform us she has officially been kicked out of her current centre and has not yet been accepted anywhere else. On the application form for the new centre she decided to write horrible things about the staff at the current centre, and then, absurdly, used their fax machine to send it. And then was shocked to find that one of the staff members at the current place actually read the document.

They gave her 48 hours to get out.

She asked for advice from the women's resource centre who suggested she go to the Salvation Army where she could get a cot for a few weeks while she tried to find a new centre to live in. She told me this was unacceptable to her. I told her she isn't really in a position to be picky like that. What I did not do was offer her a bed at our house, and this is because I have been advised by every drug addiction specialist I've spoken to that it is necessary to allow her to reach rock bottom no matter how awful that is because it's the only chance that she might decide to change her life.

What a mess.

If C was a normal human being this would be the moment in her life that she would realise she had to do something drastic to fix up her life. But she's not, and I fear that she won't. I can't even guess at what will transpire next in this drama, but I'm trying to keep my stomach knot-free the way it usually is after a good workout. I'm trying to focus on what's good about this, which is that she may be ensuring her own child's safety by putting herself in a position where she is less and less able to care for her.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

a still life watercolour

I'm nervous about our meeting on Friday with the court appointed counsellor. I really know nothing about this process and how it works, but I suspect there are going to be snags. Although C initially agreed and signed the custody order, since then she has been in panic-mode, running on air to try and scare us into changing our minds somehow. She doesn't understand, of course, that it's too late for any of us to change our minds about this. The papers have already been filed at the courthouse. All we can do now is go forward. And whether that means we have to have some big ugly Kramer vs. Kramer style feud or whether it can be done more simply and with less blood remains to be seen.

I don't have a lot of confidence, in spite of the document she signed, that we will manage to get anything lasting out of this. Nothing to keep Little J safe in any real, long-term way. I think the system is very much biased in favour of mothers, even mothers who neglect their children, allowing them to live in piles of cigarette butts and rotten milk cartons and cat feces. My mother said that after the eviction, the company that came to clean the apartment had their workers in HazMat suits and masks. The law, I think, protects these mothers. Even mothers who don't send their children to school and don't allow them to leave the house in case they should be exposed to the normal world for a brief minute and realise they like it there and might want to come back once in awhile. I still think our justice system is bent in these mothers' favour.

I could be wrong.

But I'm mentally preparing myself for the likelihood that the court will simply return Little J to her custody, allowing her to continue depriving the child of everything childhood is supposed to be. And worse yet, I'm mentally preparing myself for the distinct possibility that if the courts decide to return Little J to her, there's a good chance that she won't allow us to see Little J ever again.

It all scares me so much that I frequently feel nauseated. But there just isn't any other way to proceed. I can't let her go back to that life without at least trying to pull her out of it.