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."