Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

how the notes all bend and reach above the trees

I like running alone. Listening to Shawn complain makes my knees hurt, which might be the ultimate manifestation of empathy, but which also defeats the purpose of running. When I'm alone I can get outside my body completely. I like how the little birds scatter when I get close, as though they're actually in any danger of my overtaking them in a flurry of beating wings. They think I can fly and I like them for thinking so.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

[17=] This is not working.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

please repeat whatever you just said

1. C is having heart problems. Her heart is damaged by what she does to herself and she is careless with hearts.

2. The day before yesterday Shawn accidentally killed a bird as we were driving home from his father's place. The bird was focused on something it wanted to eat on the road and it came out of nowhere in front of us and was under the car before anything could be done about it. I think I am overreacting to this. I keep watching it over and over.

3. The neighbour's cat is missing. I hear coyotes crying at night in our yard all the time. Their kids came to our door asking if we'd seen their cat and I think it's gone forever.

4. K and H are getting divorced. She's going back to the winter prairies and he's moving back to Holland but not before he moves in with us for a little while, while they sell their house and divide their things precisely in half.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

thinking of more things to confess

Sometimes I purposely ignore what intuition tells me because I want to prove to myself that I'm in control of what I choose or choose not to do, that I make my decisions cognitively instead of instinctually like some kind of reptile. But when I do that I almost always make poor decisions that I have to go back and fix later.


Mike was here when I arrived home after work on Thursday night at 11:00 after the play. We hadn't even known he was going to be in town. It was nice to fall asleep hearing them talking downstairs. After his kids were born, Mike suddenly became self-conscious about cursing in front of me (all women, I assume), which left him with very little to say in my presence, so I didn't stay long to talk. I don't understand this new voice, why he thinks it's necessary - as if my memories of him don't exist - but I think I appreciate the sentiment behind it. I see us all at seventeen sleeping in a pile on the floor like pet store mice pressed against aquarium glass and wonder why things have to change.


The new courses start in about three weeks. I don't want them to start so soon. I need more time.


The supervisor called to say that C won't be visiting with J tomorrow because she's been hospitalized again.


Once in junior high I spent the night inside the school, in the girls' locker room. At first I was hiding but then I found I was locked in. I don't know how I wasn't caught there, why the caretakers didn't find me. I always think about that when I'm leaving school at the start of vacation, wonder if there could possibly be anyone hiding anywhere inside the building.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

85% of the world's doormats are made in Kerala, India, which also has a 91% literacy rate and the lowest rate of population growth in the country. I'm thinking how pleasant it would be to live there in the sunshine and make doormats for a living.


Friday, December 11, 2009

A grade eight boy called me a douchebag today and before I could stop myself I busted out laughing. This kind of thing is so problematic when you're supposed to be running the show. It wasn't funny because there's anything particularly amusing about being called a douchebag. It was just funny because this kid literally has an IQ of 60 and uses all of it to keep breathing, and he was trying to be cute, he really was, because I asked him -it was my fault- I asked him what he was thinking, and it just so happened to turn out that he was thinking about what a douchebag I am. (How can I blame him for that? I was thinking the exact same thing about him.)

He smiled and I could tell he thought he was teasing me rather than being disgusting and all the kids froze in horror waiting for the apocalypse and I couldn't stop myself from laughing although I tried because of all the little faces frozen in slow-motion terror and because of the stupid lopsided grin on this kid's face; the whole thing was just hilarious. And you can't kill someone after you've laughed... which made it all the funnier.

Sometimes I am truly a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad teacher. I can only hope that I've set this kid up to call someone else a douchebag, someone who is more apt to punch him in the head than I am and take his IQ down a couple more points so he forgets how to talk.


The set revolve broke yesterday during rehearsal and my student director had a meltdown. He kicked one of the broken pieces across the room, the castors spinning crazily as it flipped upside down. These kinds of moments when students are directing pain me because I know how they feel when they've spent time getting attached to some sort of artistic vision and it doesn't work. He left rehearsal early so he could go smash things and I picked it up where he left off. I've learned not to chase people when they're in this mood, and they've learned not to chase me.

Not that I kick things across the room anymore, but yeah, sometimes I still want to. It's easier to forgive people that you like, isn't it; I really like this kid. I wasn't mad at him for kicking the broken piece toward our heads. I wanted to protect him from being disappointed by fixing the revolve myself, not that I have the skills to do so, and the adult part of me that knows he's supposed to learn about artistic flexibility in this way is very nearly sublimated by the bleeding heart that wants to tell him I'll fix it even though I can't. It's kind of like raising a thirteen year old kid whose mother is dying of opiates; you know that learning how to deal with it is important and necessary and makes her stronger but part of you just wants to fix it even though you can't do anything about it at all.

At tonight's rehearsal we used half the revolve and it worked, it worked better than it worked before it was broken. The student director is happy again, his dream is working differently but well, and how clever of him to think in semicircles. These things remind me of when I was only a few years older than the students were and I used to smoke in the boiler room with the caretakers because they were the only ones who didn't offer me stupid clichés or lectures when everything was always, always broken.


Carolyn came into the theatre after school while I was lying on the floor with four of the actors, pretending to walk on the ceiling and talking about dreams, which makes me look like an ass. I don't know how many more ways I can make her think I'm an idiot but it seems I'm bound and determined to find out. Carolyn wouldn't have done this when she was 35 and she wouldn't have done it when she was 25. She knows it makes you look stupid to do things like this and she doesn't understand why I'm okay with looking stupid. I'm actually okay with looking stupid because I'm not stupid, which sounds egotistical but it isn't.

Maybe it's a difference between visual artists and performing artists, maybe it's just a difference between me and her. How things look is of importance, of course, to a visual artist. How things are is important to me. I didn't do this kind of thing two years ago when I was new because I didn't trust them, staff or students, with who I really am. Now that I know them better I let them know me in bits and pieces and sometimes even though I'd rather stay in bed than talk to anyone, I just love them so much it's ridiculous. I love these idiots enough to have joined their stupid dodgeball team so they could qualify with the required number of females on their team (1) and that is seriously a lot of love because there is almost nothing in the world I hate more than dodgeball. Besides, lying on the floor and walking on the ceiling was actually my idea. I do it at home all the time (which the dogs love) but it's totally different inside the theatre because you have to step over all the bars in the lighting grid, which is challenging and dance-y and worth working for.

Carolyn is too professional to say anything in front of the kids about what I'm doing but I know she's going to talk to me later about it, about why I'm lying on the floor with seventeen year olds, about why the office is a total whirlwind of props and paper and junk, and... about why I'm me. The best part is that I actually really love Carolyn too. She's the best department head I've had because she's so organized and blunt and honest, and when she's done telling me off I'm going to kiss her on the cheek and call her mom and she'll roll her eyes and tell me to shut up.


J isn't Little anymore, she's a teenager. We took her, with ten friends, to the movies last weekend to celebrate this travesty. Tonight her mother was slurring so much on the phone she could barely be understood. But J understood enough of it to be hurt by it, to be made guilty by it. How we can offset this kind of guilt remains a mystery. I can't tell her how not to feel guilty about it because I feel guilty about it too though I'm not certain why. I don't think it's as simple as Shawn believes it is, to just choose what to feel. I wish I could do that, I wish I knew how he does. I've never been able to choose in that way. None of us think that C has long to live. Tonight I'm holding her daughter in my arms the way I did when she was six and telling her whatever happens is not her fault.I don't know if she believes me or not but I'm not letting her go until she does.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

tired forms of self-immolation

[4=] This is a physical experiment.


Reclusiveness is like my expired membership to The Underground with a dwindling clientele that represents a small group of people who no longer think Perry Farrell is the answer to every question. I'm going to knock it off for awhile.

Maybe this sounds like the brink of a new life. It's not. It means I hung out with a bunch of hens from work and made Christmas cookies. Having accepted this invitation three years running, I decided to try something new and show up.

I don't even particularly like cookies. But I'm trying to figure something out.

I came home with 60=5x12 little cookies and played mini golf with them in the garburator from various points in the kitchen. With 60 shots, I got pretty good at it.

It also means I accepted the invitation to the staff Christmas party this year. I think I'm going to go too- unless something drastic changes inside my brain in the next two weeks.

I have a black dress I've worn to six funerals since 1992 and I think it would like to go somewhere a little more upbeat for a change. Isn't it weird that there are clothes that can be worn both to funerals AND Christmas parties? Is it possible I was scandalously dressed for those funerals? I know I behaved scandalously at one of them. Actually two.

I accidentally took the wrong iPod out running tonight. In addition to Hilary Duff and Britney Spears, Little J is listening to D12. I find this extremely funny.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

question the answers

On the phone last night my mum told me I was an obstreperous teenager. This is how she talks. I liked the sound of it without knowing what it meant. A mealy sounding word I could tear apart in my teeth and spit out the pieces. Ob. Strep. Er. Ous. I was fairly sure it wasn't a compliment but Oxford was too deeply buried to ask. So I asked her, which I hate to do, but she loves being asked, so it was a gift in both directions because she got to be a teacher and I got to be called obstreperous. Which I think I might still be.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sometimes I like what happens when you exceed aerobic threshold for as long as you can without throwing up and your throat burns and your mouth tastes like iron. It isn't that feeling I'm trying to capture, it's the feeling that comes after, the recovery phase. It feels so good. But you have to go through the burning to get there. It's totally worth it.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

quod erat inveniendum

In the middle of trying - unsuccessfully - to calculate standard deviations for my research project, abhorring how even deviance needs to be standardized, the answer to a different question entirely came clear. The reason for the preference for travelling backward through time. It's mathematical.

Because when you go forward, 4+4 only has one answer = 8. If you make the chain longer you just wait longer for the answer but there's still only one possible result, there's only one way to be right, and it makes the whole thing pointless.

But when you start at the end of the equation with 8= there are endless possibilities, so many right answers you almost can't miss if you try at all. 8 still equals 4 plus 4 but that's only one way of looking at it. I need there to be lots of ways of looking at it.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

"What do you see when you look in the mirror, anyway?"

He asked me this after I got home at 4:00 in the afternoon having been out all day wearing a red t-shirt with the "sz small" sticker still attached to my right boob. (My right boob is small, I concede, but no smaller than my left.)

I pulled off the sticker but I didn't answer the question. I just don't know.


Friday, November 20, 2009

My Benjamina tree is dying. Or maybe it's just depressed by the lack of light since we entered Rainy. It's dropping more leaves every day. I'm tucking them back in the soil and hoping that this somehow helps, this kind of recycling.

Little J's cat is outraged that I'm home on a work day, interrupting his routine. I've trapped him in the laundry room so he won't escape when the doorbell rings, and he's scratching the door and saying, Whyyyy? Ohhhhh... Whyyyyy? The pups are asleep dreaming of sleeping.

It's so quiet. Especially when the cat gives up. I want to hold him but he's not that kind of cat, and I don't even like cats.

Waiting for the doorbell keeps me awake and feeling cold. My perception of cold has changed so much since we moved here. In Montreal I would have run a fever effortlessly.

I wish I had a V in my name so I could listen to it become a W in Ravi's mouth.


Monday, November 16, 2009


While I was straightening the blanket on our bed, Malaprop asked me, as though the answer didn’t matter, why it is that I’m so fragile.

I froze for a second, then sighed. I didn’t really want to have a conversation about why I’m so fragile. My brain whirlpooled with excuses and denials and counter-accusations. You're fragile. And you always leave your dishes in the sink. And I know how to put the cover back on the barbecue all by myself, you know, I'm not stupid. You're the one who's fragile, man.

Before I could say anything he amended his question. Fragile wasn’t the word he meant. He meant to say frigid. And this was because I hadn’t wanted his hands down my pants while I was brushing my teeth. Bonehead. He thought he was being funny, I could tell. I’m so glad that people can’t see inside my head.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

defining moment

Thursday night D-dog was overcome with excitement and launched himself at my face, knowing no better way to express his happiness than to seize my bottom lip between his teeth and bite it. It bruised and turned blue.

I didn't notice that it was blue until Little J asked me about it two days later.

When I asked Shawn why it was that he'd neglected to mention to me for the last two days that my bottom lip was purple and blue, he looked again at the mark and then said it was because he'd assumed it was wine. Seriously? For two full days? And even at 8:00 in the morning? Do I really drink this much?

I am reassessing.


After we got back from her husband's gallery opening, I asked C. if she ever cries in her car. I've been trying not to say things like this to her since I moved here. She said no. I was going to say, Me either, when she said, I cry in the shower.

Her older daughter handed me her helium balloon, the ribbon sticky and damp. Make it longer Lisa so I can touch the ceiling, she said. I told her I can't make the ribbon longer, only shorter. Why? I don't know why. I tried to give it back to her but she didn't want it anymore. The string is too short, it's useless, I can't touch the ceiling, I can't do anything. C.'s younger daughter stayed quiet, watching from the car seat, her seatbelt still fastened though we hadn't moved in a long time. The balloon floated up to the ceiling while all four of us watched.

C. has a way of remembering things that everyone else forgets and it's not just because she doesn't drink. Her memory is magical. Sometimes it's inconvenient when you're backpedalling to have someone remember in vivid detail the vehemence with which you asserted things that couldn't possibly be true. She remembers things that are inexplicable. Remember the night you suddenly stood up, jostled everyone's drinks, and folded yourself in half like a gum wrapper and fluttered to the floor so you could lie under the table with the ashes and the shoes? I prefer to forget things that make me look this stupid.

She doesn't, fortunately, expect me to remember anything. She retells me stories about things I experienced, things I did, and I listen with a mild sense of déjà vu.

Though I wish she'd remember less of my idiocy, it's comforting, too, to share a history with someone who doesn't need any explanation. She knows why I did these things, she remembers better than I do. Though I'm frustrated by the deterioration of my memories, I'm glad I've stored them somewhere safe.

She's thinking about leaving her husband.


After all these years I still sometimes miss smoking very very much.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

saying something nice like everything will be alright

Dodo wrote to me last night. Between hockey seasons he has time to write twelve lines twice a year. And the twelve lines make me equal parts happy to hear from him and frustrated that writing reduces him in this way. I think if I hadn't known him in real life, known how smart he is, in fact, I would think he was just another dumb jock, especially since he wastes the first two lines telling me about hockey as though I hadn't told him every day for those seven years we worked together that I don't care. What's more interesting is the successful escape from the classroom, the successful operation of a business - even if it's a hockey school - and the fact that his wife and Dodo birds are well.

The first time I met Dodo's son he was four years old and Dodo left him alone with me in the theatre while he went to the gym to put away hockey nets. Little Dodo wasn't interested in hockey nets and wanted to stand on the stage instead. Dismaying, no doubt, to a man who rightfully would have played in the NHL if only he'd been eight inches taller.

Little Dodo reached for my hand as he climbed the steps the way that children do, the ones who've never had a reason to be afraid of adults, afraid of strangers, and made his way to centre stage. I turned on the lights for him and watched him squint for a minute while he thought of what to say. He settled on shouting the word echo a few times, which is, I think, exactly what I would have said too. Then he came back to me and sat beside me in the audience seats watching the empty stage. I asked him if he could sing. He said, I'm only medium at that. I said, Me too.

Then he looked at my shoes and narrowed his eyes. You have the same shoes as my sister, he told me.

I nodded. Dodo had mentioned that too.

He said, She's two, you know.

I laughed and after looking irritated for a second, so did he. When Dodo had pointed out that I was wearing the same shoes as his daughter he hadn't said it with quite the same indignation. Laughing at my shoes seemed to make him feel better about the problem of an adult person wearing velcro.

Suddenly I remembered trying to explain the fact that I'd never in my life seen my parents in their pajamas, while my English teacher corrected me, telling me I'd never seen them in pajamas after a certain time of day. He wasn't listening. They didn't leave their room in pajamas.

Dodo's son is in eighth grade. Dodo says he's taking Drama now. Echo.


At the train station this morning a woman was sitting on the paved steps speaking out loud to herself in French. I tried not to listen but I couldn't stop myself. The fact that I understood the words doesn't mean that what she was saying made any sense.


Last Saturday night I went, with the Fine Arts department, to see A Chorus Line. I really think it's one of the most boring shows ever written. It was painful. Just before the curtain went up one of the ushers came over to yell at two of the women who were with me because they had moved over to occupy some empty seats that afforded a better view. I don't think it was so much that her request to move back to their original seats was unreasonable as it was the way she spoke to them as though she was ordering a dog off the furniture that made the experience so uncomfortable. (I wouldn't talk to my dogs in that tone of voice.)

After the show was over these women went back to find that usher and told her how much they didn't appreciate her approach to them, how they would be complaining to management. This kind of thing mystifies me, how people manage these kinds of confrontations. I'd rather cover my ears and hum. Which is why I never find resolution.

The upshot now is that we've been given five free tickets to see another show. Goddammit.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

you fit into me

George Stroumboulopoulos is my boyfriend, he said so himself just now. He also said Sloan is here tonight. I think I was ranting about George Stroumboulopoulos and Sloan together like this just a moment ago. The other night he talked to Margaret Atwood who seems to be going through some kind of second childhood. She gave him a mole necklace made with ribbon from her recycling box and convinced him to play piano for her while she sang, terribly, a hymn from The Year of the Flood. This was not the same Margaret Atwood who I listened to read bitter poetry a few years ago, monotone and dour. (You fit into me like a hook into an eye, a fish hook an open eye.) I wonder what has happened to her, why she is so changed. It's heartening to think we can change this much, even in our sixties. Unless this is the onset of Alzheimers.


The school board has moved to save money this year by cutting the number of days of class. By shutting the building down, there is great savings to cost for water, heat, electricity, etc.. This is supposed to be upsetting, but I like it very much that I now have a five day weekend for no reason other than inadequate funding for public education.

Unfortunately both term papers were due today, rather than after the weekend, and I've turned in two papers that are each lame in their own special way. Between the first round of papers and this one I totally lost focus and interest and now I'm pretty sure I've messed up my average. I had until midnight to hand them in but instead of working on the papers I pulled dead leaves off the Benjamina and then wasted time looking for the package of guitar strings that went missing a few weeks ago. I did not find them, and the papers are going to be B- at best.


Remembrance Day bothers me a lot.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

I think my email account is filtering you out and in my technological haze I've no idea how to stop it from deciding things on my behalf.


Friday, November 06, 2009

And I don't think you see the places inside me that I find you.

Don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

GDJ just contacted me for the first time in about a year and a half. Since the last time I spoke with him, he's moved here. Surprise. He wants to meet to talk about the possibility of working for him again. After my last contract with him ended I assumed that I had either done something wrong with the writing, or had done something wrong to upset him ... (me me me it's all about me) because after the contract was done, he just disappeared. So to hear that he's living nearby and offering me a job was a surprise. Is it surprising that I'm thinking of taking it? I'm trying to remember what it was like to work for him and I realize that my memories of it, of everything maybe, are completely unreliable, coloured entirely by other events that were happening at the same time, and maybe even by what's happening now. Memories shouldn't rely upon contrast, but these ones do. I probably just want what I haven't got. But I need to think more.

But Friday = wine. So I'll think tomorrow.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Outside the post office a woman asked me for money. I can see heroine a million miles away now. I don't know why it looks different than everything else, but it does. It's utterly obvious. Before C was dying of it, I used to give money to people who asked me, without caring what they spent it on, without a social conscience about The Problem, just wanting to alleviate the personal guilt around Have and Have Not. I'm not claiming to have grown a social conscience about it now either, but what I can't do now is be near it. I can't even look at it without waves of illness trying to smother me. I can barely stay standing. I tried to keep breathing, keep moving forward. Little J asked me why the woman was so "pallid". What kind of twelve year old talks like this? I'm glad she doesn't know the answer.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I'm assessing the cost

The books come from the university in the mail, giant heavy boxes that would have to be addressed to someone mighty important because no one who reads things that were written before 1960 could be anything but. When I look over the titles I can't even remember my thesis statement let alone imagine reading these dusty monsters.

When I pretend to be sick so I can stay home from work and do this instead, sometimes I need to remind myself that I'm not really sick because it's easy to forget, while pretending, what's actually true. This is another reason not to be an actor ever again even though all the prairie hopefuls ended up here too. I'm here for different reasons.

Shawn's talking about New Zealand again, working there, living there, and contrary to how I felt a couple of years ago, I suddenly don't care. The only one I didn't want to live far from now lives with us, so it makes no difference if we move. Of course custody orders prevent this kind of whimsy in the present, and I'm doggedly ignoring the next upcoming court dates. Moving is easier than I used to think it was. Everything is, really, once you start doing it. It's the thinking about it that's so bloody awful.

Yesterday Carolyn told me that my inability to say no does not elevate me to the status of martyr. I thought this was beautifully melodramatic since we were talking about which class had the responsibility to stack chairs after an assembly. What she doesn't understand is that I'd rather waste time than save time and that no one is making me do anything I don't want to do. There's no martyrdom in chair-stacking. It's just the sort of mindlessness I enjoy. I also enjoy it when Carolyn makes these kinds of biting remarks to me because I know exactly what she means and therefore don't have to spend any time trying to figure out the subtext.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Dorian frequently pins me to the bed, my hair trapped beneath his forearms on either side of my face so I cannot turn my head, cannot look away from his face. I would like this very much if he was not a dog.


Monday, November 02, 2009

freedom of listen

Some people think that it doesn’t matter whether you run or whether you walk in the rain, that either way you will get equally wet. This is how you know they’re wrong. Consider the extreme limits at either end of the realm of possibility. The slowest thing is stop. The fastest thing is light (sort of).

Stop in the rain.

Move at the speed of light in the rain.

Which is wetter?

(This isn’t why I like to run in the rain, though.)


Sunday, November 01, 2009

The English Dept Head sent out the newest list of selections from book club, undoubtedly chosen at the last meeting while I was pretending to be sick so I wouldn't have to discuss Dean Koontz' latest.

R is for Ricochet
Black Hills

Fucking mouthbreathers. I wrote back to B and told her I don't have time for book club this semester.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

in the dark

Chris phoned to talk to me about priorities and quality of sleep versus hours of sleep. I assumed he hadn't read the literature before writing his review of it but now I think I underestimated him. He speaks very intelligently on the subject, he just refuses to put it in writing. My assumption was based on his lack of tangible output which seems reasonable until I notice that I barely understand the words I've written myself and that being able to talk about the subject without a script is far more indicative of understanding. If only I could simply transcribe his words instead of having to think about them I could finish this research project today. He probably wouldn't even notice I wasn't contributing anything more than keyboarding skills, he'd be so glad not to have to type, as long as the keys didn't drown out the sound of his own voice.

He cautiously asked if he could edit out some of my less relevant responses to the survey we wrote. I stopped myself from mentioning that I'd thought I had already done that. My irrelevance doesn't know its own strength.


Just as I was closing in on something important, I no longer have morning darkness. I hate Daylight Savings and I hate the end of Daylight Savings. I appreciate the extra hour of weekend very much but I do not appreciate having to adjust to waking up in the dark twice.


Beware of spiritual leaders with business cards

It's practice only. Which is good because I'm getting it partly wrong.

Emerging (add):
running away from

Case 1.

A Priori:
And having realized (in time) that I was wrong; I do not, in fact, want to have children at all. It's fortunate to have determined this before making the mistake of trying to do so. It would have been a big mistake.
{How is it that I make these decisions alone?} {How can this observation be coded?}{Is it actually emerging and not a priori?}

L&R Review:

Mistapeo dwells in the heart and is immortal.

It makes more sense to me like that but I am not sure I understand framework analysis yet.

This is frustrating. It's filling in too slowly, my brain is lopsided and I've taken up too much space with things I don't need and can't use. The part that's supposed to be able to chart and code is clogged with things like Master of all Masters, get out of your barnacle and put on your squibs and crackers... I waste so much space. It's no wonder I can't think.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Identifying a thematic framework

1. Familiarization

2. Thematic Chart

3. Coding

4. Charting

5. Mapping and interpretation

obsessive compulsive
building and tearing apart

A Priori
* family history
* personal history
* future

L & R Review
Where evidence contradicts experience:
No longer want to have children.
Trust in experience over evidence.
Separation from prompts.
Legal versus actual.

Thus, the major obligation of an individual is to follow the instructions given by dreams and then to give permanent form to their contents in art or music.

found a cure for being sure

Late - because I’m a little worried about why it is that in the morning, before the sun comes up, when cars drive by my house I see the headlights illuminating things in patterns on the wall that clearly prove to me that there is something that moves faster than light. It bothers me because nothing is supposed to be faster than light but I can see that this is wrong, I can see it happening, they’re wrong, and so I'm frozen just trying to untie it. My inability to understand physics confounds me. And so I’m late for work. There is no way to be honest about things like this. Being hung over is easier to forgive. These thoughts are distracting... occasionally make it hard to function properly. I censor all these things out and your having access to them is very, very strange.

These are things that no one can deal with in daily life. So I try to keep it to myself, and when I can't, they learn to leave me alone.

It’s hard for me to imagine circumstances under which I would either ask you to shut up or to leave. In fact, although it seems inevitable that you will eventually grow bored of this and do both, I’m rather apprehensive about that fact. I’d really prefer that you stay. But what if I start writing about tile grout again?

I don’t find your self-portrait is accurate, particularly. At least, it isn’t the version of you that I remember. The way you seem to know things might be Brando-esque but I don’t think it was your main strength, just a disconcerting quality, the ability to appear unphased by surprising things. But I’m sure it’s not what interested me most because you were always like that; and for most of the summer it only seemed funny. It changed as summer was ending and I'm certain the generosity you deny played in then, too. I have trouble with the chronology but in spite of that, a lot of my memories of you are vivid and clear. What you selectively hold back reveals more than what you choose to share, and that’s why I don’t believe you. The contradictions are the finest part, when someone can recognize that you don’t know a damn thing but wants to know what you have to say about it anyway. In that way I have always acknowledged the acuteness of your limited excellence because you don’t actually have to know everything, or even very much, to remain interesting or important, or even trusted. If you weren't here to read it, I'd take off in a whirlwind of adjectives. If I try to touch you, I do not think you will conclude that I’m stupid.

(I’m accepting the terms of your production conditions; I only have one of my own and that is that you say goodbye when you decide to quit so I can tell you one more important thing.)


Thursday, October 29, 2009

no match for predators

But this one, the one who wrote the four years of backstory isn't the one starring in the play anyhow. I won't play her myself, of course. She'll be taller, with larger breasts, and a perfectly clear conscience.

That’s the thing about writing, you so often lose control of your own narrative. The chasm between intent and interpretation grows wider with each reading. If you can see something a little sparkly it lies in the generosity of your interpretation. The only things I’ve written that have ever made money have been vocational training manuals and pornography. Does that make these things valuable? I doubt it. Does it imply we universally share an understanding of what these things mean? Not even. It’s all wide open to interpretation no matter how graphically and explicitly you try to define it.

Different is good, different is interesting…

This is true mostly in fiction. In reality when you laugh after denting someone’s car he is bound to become angry. No one understands you’re late for work because of how the light bends around the door in a way that can’t make sense to you. If all my communications were in writing perhaps I’d be more comfortable with the differences. Your recognition of them and acceptance is a kindness that approaches reality and brushes up against it nicely because I know you’re real and I am more confident now of that. But you can’t overestimate how distance and time do change things that are intolerable to live with on a daily basis into intriguing quirks when you look at them from far away.

But everyone thinks they’re different. It’s egotistical, isn’t it.

I’m not sure about the Brando label. I’m not sure what I meant by it either. Once I narrow it down it isn’t sticky enough to attach itself. I’m still sorting it out. Your lines, in my script, are in need of some work (you stubbornly refuse to freestyle), but your stage directions are perfect. You come off even better than Brando. But before making any attempts at production you’ll need a ruthless editor who can remove the particularly strange things as well as the mundane. And with that accomplished, is there enough material left? Maybe a short one act with no intermission.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

talented at breathing, especially exhaling

When inspired to do so, I write scripts in my head when I should be sleeping, alternate endings, director’s cut, that kind of thing. I make a lot of revisions until it comes out perfect and everyone says and does exactly what I want them to, even me. Of all the cast members I am by far the least cooperative at taking direction. (And here you probably had no idea you’d even auditioned for a part before you won the lead role; congratulations.) It makes it hard to sleep but I want it. I want to do it at work too but my thought bubbles keep getting popped.

You being far away and many years removed, it’s probably easier to imagine me not being an inconvenience. But if you asked people who are stuck with me in the Here and Now, I think you’d see how well it still fits. The differences between reality and imagination are so painfully vast sometimes. I think I’d rather be the one you imagine.

The driving is absurd; when I went to give my information, the other driver looked at me with such incredulity that I almost laughed. Inappropriate affect.

You’ve read it all.

I was going to ask you why but I think I already know. I’m certain I’d have done the same if I had discovered your hiding place. So now you have the dubious honour of knowing more about me than anyone else – who’s also known me in Real Life.

I wondered if Brando was my adjective -but not pocketbook- because I’d once mentally attached him to you, strangely. I wondered if I’d written it or just thought it to myself. I wondered how many other times I’d written about you, whether I’d qualify as obsessed or just stuck, spinning my wheels, but maybe there’s no discernable difference. I wondered, vainly, how it would alter your perception of me to know too much.

But then I thought you probably already knew most of it, having seen the neuroses firsthand. I've collected more since then, I suppose. I don’t think I ever did a good job of hiding them. Maybe I’m better at hiding it all now as it becomes more necessary to do so because no on thinks it’s cute to be flakey anymore. I always had the (mistaken?) impression you already knew everything about me.

I wondered all of these things and tried to start rereading my own words in case it wasn’t too late to edit out anything that made me look cuckoo. But there's not enough time to catch it all. There's so much of it to read, years and years. It always was meant to be written, not read. All that being aside from the fact that it’s deadly dull, I credit you with impressive perseverance both for having gotten through it all and for sticking around afterward. Did you come back to tell me about four years late? Did you come back to tell me your secrets? By now I think you owe me a couple, at least...


Monday, October 26, 2009

we're rolling neon lights

On Saturday afternoon I caused a car accident. This was two minutes after I figured out who you were. I figured it out while I was driving. And then I hit a blue Mazda. I pulled over to the curb and found paper and a pen to write out information. I was less shaken by the car accident.

I wondered who else's name I've written. I'd hate for A*l*e*c B*a*l*d*w*i*n to show up or something. I hate that guy.

But I'm glad you were here just now, just as glad as I was the first time with you.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

I told her affection had two Fs, especially when you're dealing with me.

This is where I'm supposed to write about what it feels like to be confronted, unexpectedly, by the Irresolvable Past, which seems an inappropriate response now, given the circumstances, and besides, I don't do what I'm supposed to do anymore. Too old for it or something. But maybe I'm too old to even have an irresolvable past anymore anyway.

(A past. An Irresolvable Past. An irresolvable pasta.)

October has a history of being the most difficult month. Deaths and break ups and suicides and court cases; these things tend to fall in October. In light of that, it hasn't been so tough this year, and maybe it's never been as hard as I've told myself it is. Autumn by the ocean doesn't come with the same stinging cold. Wearing woolen hats here seems cute. I wonder why the pioneers chose the prairies to make their homesteads, if it was summertime then, or if it was just so cold that they had to stop and make fire or die. By the time it's spring again you're just so grateful that you don't think of moving.

There are things I'm supposed to be doing now. The position paper. The culture paper. Laundry. I don't do what I'm supposed to do anymore. I'm a bad driver but I'm not a bad person.


Friday, October 23, 2009

you see the good in everyone

I love George Stroumboulopoulos.

And Sloan.


I'm becoming a germaphobe. I actually have a vat of hand sanitizer on my desk. It's not so much this specific flu as it is the fact that so many people are away and are missing so many days of school. It's not that I'm scared I'm going to die of it. I just don't want it. I don't want cooties. Just ewwww.

Little J is getting interested in boys. I love how blunt she is with them, telling them that she likes them and demanding to know if they feel the same way. And when she's had enough of talking to them she says so, "I've got to go now. Bye." When I was her age I had no such strength. I'm not sure if this is a generational thing, strong and assertive women, or if it's just that we've got a kid here who's extra strong, but whatever it is, I like it. I'd like to imagine that she gets through these years without her heart being broken too badly. (Is that even possible?)


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

go on, take it.

A man took several hostages today in Edmonton at the WCB office to garner media attention about his fight with the WCB. The reports make him sound crazy. What if he wasn't crazy though? How much abuse can you take before you fall down? I'm not convinced he wasn't just so long-suffering that he became desperate. And I'm not convinced it couldn't happen to me.

The H1N1 vaccine has arrived and been approved. I've never been fearful of germs before, but with six or seven kids missing from each of my classes (not all H1N1, but various autumn bugs) I have been becoming more worried. Children are far too germy and touchy. Yuck.

Today my junior class was unbelievably wonderful. I wonder what happened to them? They were so alert and cooperative and responsive and fun. Miraculous. How do I reproduce this? Oh yeah. I send six of them home with 'flu. Tada!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

it was raining from the first and i was dying here of thirst

Sometimes the dogs conspire to ruin the house. It's strange how they work together as a team. After a long time of getting the pee thing just right, all of a sudden, yesterday, everyone went bananas. First, FosterPup peed on the couch right where he was sitting as though it never even occurred to him to move. Twenty minutes later, while I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed, Little Puppy peed in the middle of bed, as though she planned to sleep right there in a puddle. And in the wee (heehee) hours of the night, someone snuck into the closet and peed on my wedding dress. Unreal.

I hope after all that madness we've earned another few months of good behaviour.

I don't always remember why I like dogs.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Commercial Drive makes me want to cry. In spite of how fascinating it is, how perfect for people-watching, it breaks my heart. There are so many homeless people, so many people suffering mental illness right there so blatantly, so much self-medicating, self-harming self-destruction. It's devastating. It makes me know I'm not over it, what's happening, as much as I try to be aloof and stop letting it hurt me.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

(Little J dances around with wildly excited happy dog)

Me: J! Stop getting the dog excited!

J: I'm not! He's getting me excited!


Monday, October 12, 2009

I've become so stationary I can't remember what it feels like to run anymore. I'm rooting. Since starting this Masters program I've been so neck-deep in work for so long that I feel like other aspects of my life have completely vanished. It's kinda cold out tonight and very dark but I'm thinking about going outside for a quick walk anyway.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tonight while Little J was at her singing lesson Shawn and I parked the car and had sex in the back seat.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

they were grateful for his patronage and they thanked him very much

Once a month I have to go to the office of the ministry to pick up Little J's cheque. It's a small cheque, but worth getting nonetheless because it's hers and she's entitled to it. It's meant to offset the cost of raising her a little bit, and we use it for her singing lessons rather than for necessities, which is a nice luxury because we've already got the basics covered.

Every time I have to go to the office I feel a little stressed out. It's the same office where people pick up their welfare cheques, disability cheques, unemployment cheques, etcetera. There's no way, as you stand in line, to know who is picking up which kind of cheque, and there's part of me that wants to explain to strangers that I'm not collecting welfare. And another part of me that hates myself for feeling that way because it shows that I'm judgmental, somehow imagining that there's a difference between me and them. And doesn't the fact that we're all sitting together in the same waiting room looking the same as each other prove that there isn't a difference at all?

Except there is. There's something about that place that makes me uncomfortable in a way that I don't feel uncomfortable in the waiting room at a dentist's office or at the bank. There's the smell of stale cigarette smoke bitter and lingering on people's clothes. There's the voices, too loud. There's the way people use the word "fuck" with no emotion, because they're so fucking tired of waiting, sitting in these fucking chairs in this fucking office on this fucking Tuesday afterfuckingnoon. Maybe I'm uncomfortable because I know that no one looking sees me any differently. Or maybe because I can't quite see the difference myself.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

You just don't love me no more

I have been unfriended. I've read a couple of articles about this phenomenon and am working to analyze the experience and categorize it appropriately. For example, I read about a father whose daughter unfriended him to punish him for grounding her. I read about Burger King's viral Sacrifice a Friend promotion. (You unfriend 10 people and Burger King sends you a free Whopper, and sends your ten unfriends a note informing them they've been dumped for a sandwich.) I've read people who say they need to prune their lists periodically and remove anyone with whom they no longer feel connected.

At this point I'm thinking I fall into that third category, although I haven't read extensively enough to figure out how many more categories I don't yet know about. I know I didn't DO anything to my unfriend, who I've not seen in a few years, or talked to in a few months. I don't post obnoxious political propaganda messages, nor do I update my status to inform the public what I'm eating, wearing, thinking or doing from one moment to the next. So I'm ruling these out as reasons to curb me.

What I also don't do is "comment" or "like" very much. I'm a slacker. I surf around when I'm bored and log out. I don't keep in touch, much. I don't send out a lot of virtual love. So maybe I've just become irrelevant.

My other thought was that my unfriend doesn't like my friends (ie: her ex-husband). But he says they're still friends. So that puts me back in the irrelevant category, I think.

I've laughed at unfriendships in the past and marveled that there were people in the world who'd A) unfriend, and B) care about being unfriended.

Now that I've been unfriended I see that it's a bit more disorienting than one might think, and my own theory is that it's troubling because of the fact that we are using the word "friend" as a verb.

If I knew that N had "unlinked" from me that would seem less of a rejection than being "unfriended" seems. Because what are you if you are not my friend? Unfriend? Are you my enemy? It's sketchy social ground.

Does this mean I am no longer welcome to send her a Christmas card? (I never sent one before, but now I'll miss not doing it.) Does this mean if I run into her in the real world I am to pretend not to know her? Does this mean she hates me?

There's no closure when you are unfriended.

In fact, I'd never have noticed except for the fact that another mutual friend pointed out that she had been unfriended by N, which led me to check and find out the same thing. There is no notification to tell you that you've been dumped (unless Burger King sends it). There's no final farewell goodbye message. Just silence. It's a cruel imitation of reality where friendships grow quiet and dissolve. But this makes it so much more concrete. Why didn't I feel an empty space in my chest the moment I was deleted? When was that moment and what preceded it? What was she thinking about me when she made the decision to relegate me to the recycle bin?

I'm fascinated.

And I'm far too late to experiencing this strange digital phenomenon to have anything original to say about it. I've just joined the masses of the unfriended, the Unfriends.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

honest eye

Argh. Things are nonsensically busy the last couple of weeks with something going on every evening after work. It's been hard to keep up with the homework, but right now I'm actually caught up. (It's a miracle!) I'm going to struggle with staying that way over the next few days because have guests coming to stay from Thursday through Sunday. That means getting anything done is going to be a real challenge. But I'm not going to fall behind. I'm NOT.

Little J decided, out of the blue, to try out for the school volleyball team today after school. I was astonished as she has done nothing but complain about how much she hates Phys. Ed. since school began. I hope she makes the team! Someone in this family might as well be athletic.

Little J and I will be playing hooky on Friday so we can entertain our guests. Not the example I'd really like to set for her, but since it's the first time in a year that I've allowed her to stay home when she's not sick or required to go to a medical appointment, I don't think it's too horrendous. Hopefully this won't leak to Child Protective Services, hahah.


Monday, September 21, 2009

I've got a notch for your safety pin

Having had my ring taken down three sizes from what it was when we bought it, I think it now fits tightly enough not to slip down the garburator anymore. I hate that my other ring, my real ring, is gone. Though the new one is beautiful, I just miss the old one because it's special to me. But now the new one will be special because my husband should have been mad at me for grinding up a diamond ring but instead he got a new one.


My new classes are already leaving me feeling mildly panicked about keeping up. Maybe I'll feel this way for my entire graduate program and finish with an ulcer. On the plus side, I think I've thought of a creative way to arrange my practicum without having to cut back my hours at work.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

In the midst of writing rude things about caraway seeds, caraway seeds prevented me from accidentally ingesting a bug. I don't know whether to call it a maggot or a worm or a caterpillar, but it was in that family, tiny and white, crawling along the edge of my cracker as I tried to pick off the caraway seeds.

When I went to look at the box of crackers I found that a family of this creature were living inside the box, and not only that, but that there was an extended family dining on a bag of sunflower seeds, and another chowing down on a bag of flax seeds. Apparently we can't leave food in plastic bags in the cupboards because these critters aren't slowed down by plastic bags one bit.

So I take back all the cruel things I said about caraway. Thank you, caraway, for stopping me from eating worms, and thank you for leading me to clean my cupboards which were filled with them.


I'm seriously considering going to bed now.
I hate the taste of caraway seeds.

They're stuck to my crackers and I can't them off. How the makers of these crackers, or any other FOOD, could think that caraway has the potential to enhance the flavour of the food must be assuming that by tasting it next to something so disgusting, the eater will think the food tastes that much better.

Friday, September 18, 2009

with perfect regard for how cavalier we used to be


1. I got a rude email from the university demanding more money because apparently I didn't pay my Program Fee, a fee which I thought was a one-time thing, but apparently happens every semester.

2. A quite-famous band played at my school today because the school made an extraordinary contribution to a build-a-school project in Sierra Leone.

3. The cheque from my insurance company finally arrived and I am, at last, going to get my new ring. Engaged again after eight years of marriage.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

This week has been ridiculously busy with meetings and a multitude of commitments beyond the work day to keep me from being able to get home and relax and do the things I want to do. I'm hoping things will settle down as the school year gets going. I feel, right now, like I'm running as fast as I can just to stay in one place.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

bright like neon love

Shawn took Little J to the movies. I love it when he does this for a couple of reasons. First, I just love that he's willing to spend time with her, willing to give her the father figure she needs and deserves, and willing to contribute to her upbringing and well-being. Second, I love it when they both go away and give me a few hours of peace and quiet. Mostly I'm stuck doing homework during these brief reprieves from reality, but even still, I appreciate the chance to think, to get caught up, and to breathe. All in all, I'd have to say my husband-selecting skills are very very good.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

all getting habits

While I was sending out SOS messages to various psychologists in the area, I found a man who actually wanted to help me.

The sad thing is that with his help I've discovered that I'm woefully inadequate. To be what I want to be when I grow up. That is, my program doesn't even scratch the surface. I'd basically have to start over again if I really wanted to go down that road.

I'd happily stay in school for the rest of my life if I could afford it, but I can't. Shawn's said we can sell the house if I want to go to school full time, but I think we'd be nuts to do that. I don't know why he'd even say such a thing.

So maybe I'm going to be a timetable sorter after all.

I still have Thursday's meeting to look forward to. Maybe I'll learn something helpful instead of discouraging this time.


Friday, September 11, 2009

in the basement thinking about the government

I keep changing my mind about where I'm going with my Masters degree.

At first I wanted to be a school counsellor. Now that I've paid more attention to what school counsellors do, I've realised this probably isn't it. They spend a lot more of their time fiddling with class schedules and doing administrivia than they actually do with counselling people. I pictured it differently than it looks in reality.

Then I was thinking about other kind of counselling. Like marriage counselling. Like individual therapy.

But I'm not totally sure I want to do this either. I'm less sure about WHY in this case. Just that something about it makes me a little uneasy. Maybe it's all the contact with human beings.

Lately I'm thinking I might want to be a school psychologist at the district, rather than school, level.

This would involve a little travelling. I like the idea of being paid to drive, short of being a trucker. It's nice being alone with the radio and my thoughts.

I also like the idea of working with clients one-on-one, or with small groups, like their families. I've come to learn over the past year the true significance of psychoeducational assessments, and I'm thinking this might be a good place to make a real impact. Maybe. But it's so hard to know. It's entirely possible that school psychologists actually spend more of their time Windexing the mirrors or picking up dog poop or something. There's just no way to know for sure until you follow them around for a couple of days.

I'm meeting with a district supervisor on Thursday, a fact which I find somewhat astonishing. I'm amazed that he's even interested in talking to me, actually. But I'm seizing my chance and going to find out if there's any advice or any pearls of wisdom he can offer me.

Meanwhile I'm continuing to ponder how I can pursue my career/educational goals and still keep helping with the mortgage, the child-raising, and so forth.

I want everything.


Monday, September 07, 2009

white knuckles on black and blue skin

Well, this is it. It officially begins tomorrow. Little J is nervous, of course, about starting high school. The next five years of her life depend solely upon choosing the right outfit to wear tomorrow.

I'm actually nervous too, for different reasons. I'm nervous about how I'm going to get through this first semester of teaching without a spare, and still get my course work done. I'm nervous about how my students will handle it when I tell them we're doing our production inside the timetable instead of extracurricularly.

But in other ways I'm glad we're getting back to the Daily Grind. It'll be good for Little J to have friends and homework and boys to think about instead of worrying about her crazy mother. I'm hoping the other things will become much more consuming.


Shawn, in his infinite greed, has decided he needs a "Google Phone", whatever that is. This means I get to inherit his cast-off, the iPhone I took with me on vacation which I used to write here and which kept finishing my words incorrectly. Apparently this is exciting. I've actually only owned a cell phone for one brief period in my life when I was substitute teaching and needed it so I could leave the house occasionally. And that phone was the lowest possible form of cell phone technology. No pictures, no text, no nothing. Just a phone. This iPhone is rather intimidating. But surely I'll feel more comfortable with it if I find it a pretty case. :)


This afternoon we went to look at a lottery show home that overlooks the ocean. We didn't buy tickets because we don't really do stuff like that, usually, but we had to go look at it because it's being talked about so much. It was quite amazing, but the thing that really struck me about it afterward, when thinking about what I'd seen, was the fact that it wasn't really the house that was so unbelievable. Although it was newer and fancier than my house, there are a lot of things about my own house that I like better. It wasn't the house. It was the view. This was a two million dollar view. And probably worth every penny, though I have to guess that if I had that view I'd never get my ass off the couch and go out into the world. Why bother?


Not only does teaching start tomorrow, but so does student-ing. I already have homework.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

shed no tears

Abruptly it seems as though summer is over. The furnace turned on last night. School starts on Tuesday which is distressing both to me and to Little J, although I'm trying to be upbeat about it for her sake. I've been tempted, while still on vacation, to take on the direction of a full-scale musical for my high school students. But now that the clock has wound down and I'm reaching the point where I'd have to start executing this plan, I think I don't have it in me.

I don't want to work off the clock. I've realised this about myself and am facing it.

I know a lot of teachers give their free time generously and happily just for the love of kids, and I absolutely see how that can be rewarding. I've done it too, especially when I was a new teacher filled with energy and enthusiasm, single and with no other responsibilities.

But life's not like that now.

The school work I'm doing for my Masters can be time consuming, and sometimes it's tedious instead of fascinating. And even at it's most compelling, it's time consuming.

I'm raising a twelve year old without having had the benefit of the last eleven years to train. It takes time and energy to do this.

I'm working full time with teenagers who are hilarious, insane, frustrating, loud, wonderful and exhausting.

At the end of my work day I want to go home and be as alone as alone can be at this point in my life, which really means I have a twelve year old asking a million questions and four puppies jockeying for the warmest spot on my lap, but it's still a chance to unwind at least partway, and I want it. At the end of the school day I don't want to put in another ten hours a week for free. Which clearly means it's time for me to move over and make room for the new teachers who do want to do this because as the theatre instructor I'm supposed to be busting with creative energy and passion.

I'm ready for a new phase in my career, involving a quiet office and some individual time with students and parents. I'm ready to move past the roomful of thirty bad-smelling teenagers who all want (and need) my attention simultaneously. Unfortunately I have to do it for another two years anyway, because I won't actually have the qualifications to do what I really want to do until then.

Nontheless, knowing that I'm moving in the right direction is satisfying.

Meanwhile, I have to find a way to balance the demands and do a good-enough job of what I'm supposed to be doing excellently. Hurrah!


I'm worrying, already, about the practicum I'll need to start working on a year from now. I have no idea how it'll be possible to do a practicum and keep my job. I don't want to give up my job (well, actually I don't want to give up my paycheque) and I also don't see how it's possible to work full time and do a practicum simultaneously. I have to think. I have to do some information-seeking. Maybe some begging. Or maybe I'll just have to Do It Anyway.


The house improvements have been grinding to a halt. I find myself more energetic when I know there's lots of time left to relax afterward. Knowing there's such limited time now makes me feel lazy.


Friday, September 04, 2009

Sorry I can't take your call right now, I'm too busy raising your child to come to the phone.

C has been calling a lot, leaving a lot of miserable sobbing messages on the machine for Little J, begging her to call, reminding her of how happy they were together when Little J was littler, asking how she could possibly not want to talk to her own adoring mother.

I don't let Little J listen to the messages. I just tell her, "Your mom called and wants you to call back," then leave it to her to decide what to do with it. More often than not she chooses not to do anything at all. I wouldn't either.


A guilty pleasure:

A collection agency has been calling the house asking if I know how to contact C. Yesterday, in the spirit of returning the favour, since she's decided we should be bothered by Child Protective Services, I decided to go ahead and give the collection agency her number. Yeah, I'll probably have trouble defending that one when I'm accounting for all my earthly sins, but whatever. I deserve to have some fun once in awhile.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

In the last year or so...

- Big J came to live with us, rent free, while coping with his divorce, moving out about 8 months later
- Little J came to live with us, along with her cat and hamster, first with the notion she would go back to C after rehab
- C was kicked out of several rehab centres, we went to court to get legal custody of Little J and won
- we adopted P, foster pup whose mom was also in rehab, initially intending only to foster but falling in love
- we struggled to sell the old house as the market collapsed and got stuck paying 2 mortgages for almost a year, but finally sold it
- Shawn was laid off from Company R and had 4 months of unemployment until Company K hired him
- I was laid off for the summer from my teaching position, and rehired in September
- I started work on my Masters degree

In the past year, things have been difficult, off and on, in a lot of ways. Stress. Chaos, uncertainty, instability.

And we've come through. Shawn and I are close as ever. Little J is thriving.

There have been a lot more milestones than I've listed. Learning to ride a bike, learning to swim, making a permanent home out of the temporary space, making friends, becoming closer with family, travel...

In spite of the hard things, we're fine. We're closer, we're stronger, we're happy. When you get through hard things together you are pulled together in new ways.

Because we've been knocked around a lot, allowed weaknesses to show, and still survived, I have more faith, rather than less, in our abilities and our love for each other.



Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I'm so angry I'm vibrating.

We got another call from the Ministry. C has made another anonymous call about the danger we are presenting to a child. The woman who called to tell me about it said it was best if she could come over to the house to talk to us in person. I told her to come on over. She's going to be here any minute.

I'm so mad that I could kill.


Monday, August 31, 2009

the autumn winds

We had the conversation. My mum called to talk about the email I sent and we had the talk. It was very unpleasant. I hate confrontation. I hate talking about money. I hate feeling taken advantage of and being too caught up in wanting us all to get along to fight about things that are bothering me. But I'm not like that, I don't fight.

So my mother said they never promised to pay half. I have no idea what that's about because the conversation was between them and Shawn. She says he must have misunderstood something. And maybe that's true. I have no idea.

They agreed to help out a little bit by paying for Little J's singing lessons. It's nowhere near "half" but it's something, anyway. Of course Shawn isn't impressed. And I'm just tired. I don't want to fight with my anyone.


Sunday, August 30, 2009


I just sent my parents an email, fairly blunt but short of asking for our half of the costs incurred. Just listing all the expenses and stating how frustrated I am with the fact that we're spending so much of our money raising someone else's child. (And I don't begrudge this girl anything, I really don't.)

Actually, when I think about it, maybe not begrudging her anything is part of the problem. Maybe we spoil her. We both were raised by parents who didn't provide us with much. Shawn, because his mother was uneducated and had more children than she could support, and me, because my parents were post-war English baby-boomers who just simply believe in holding on to whatever you have very very tightly.

So we heal ourselves, maybe, by indulging her with the things we couldn't have. Nice clothes, a nice bedroom, extra curricular activities...

Anyway. I told my parents how I feel. I'm not sure that they'll care in the least, given how my previous attempts at addressing this topic gently have been ignored, but at least I've tried.

I believe, quite honestly, that they've somehow rationalized not helping out with this, and that my email is going to accomplish nothing. And in some ways that makes it worse than not saying anything because it's so hard to be rejected when you're asking.

I wish I had a different family sometimes. I don't understand why these people are the ones I'm so entrenched with.

This morning Shawn and I packed the Element to busting with C's crap that she's had stored in our garage since last June. Finally, she said she was ready to take it back. And for me, the idea of being able to put my vehicle in the garage again has been very exciting. So we agreed to meet at a parking lot (I don't want her on my property) at 9:00am.

Of course she complained, at first, about having to get up soooo early. But I told her 9:00 was the latest we could manage because of other things we have planned today (revolving, of course, primarily around chauffeuring her daughter various places) so she agreed, reluctantly.

We sat and waited and she and Hairy Scary didn't show up. Finally I called home to ask Little J if her mother had called and she said that her mother had, and told her she would be fifteen minutes late because they were caught in that crazy Sunday morning traffic. (This means they left when they were supposed to be arriving.) So we sat and waited and boiled and stewed and considered leaving it all, until finally they pulled up beside us.

Hairy Scary was driving a COMPACT.

And C's eyes were wide as saucers.

I guess she must have been stoned out of her gourd when she packed those boxes if she thought they were going to fit in that vehicle.

We didn't stop to discuss it with her or anything. The relationship has dissolved to the point where we cannot talk to each other anymore. But to see the two of them drive up to that mountain of boxes in that tiny little compact was almost worth waiting for.


Friday, August 28, 2009

your input is requested here, for real

I'm not sure what to do.

My parents, a year ago, promised that they were shouldering the financial expense of raising Little J with us, 50/50.

They paid for us to go to court with C last December, where we won custody. They paid the whole shot, about 15 K.

Since then, they've contributed zero.

So I don't know if I'm supposed to assume that we pay the next 15 K to even the score. Or was that a separate expense?

Shawn thinks it was a separate thing altogether and that it does not relieve them from owing 50% of current expenses.

I just don't know what to think.

I know that my relationship with them is fragile and I'd hate to damage it.

And yet I feel like they're letting us down, leaving us with all these expenses for glasses, braces, clothing, school fees, etcetera.

I don't get it.

What would you do? Seriously, I'm looking for advice.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

something is wrong it doesn't belong

The garage-cleaning project went on again today. We dragged all C's boxes out of the garage and stacked them by the side of the house to put them into the Element later. I'm not going to give a rat's ass if someone steals them in the meantime. Seriously. While we were cleaning and organizing, we found the carcass of a dead spider so big that I almost wanted to burst into tears. Just thinking that that thing was once alive in there was nauseating. I wish I wasn't afraid of spiders. But not enough to do anything about it.


Today C phoned to talk to Little J and was pleasant for the first time in a long time. Well, pleasant is pushing it, but she was less combative. Better at lying, better at saying what Little J wanted to hear, better at diffusing instead of engaging. Which means she's still full of it, but instead of leaving Little J angry, for a change, it was a less upsetting conversation. And immediately after that, Little J announced that she wants to see her mom for a visit some time soon. Sigh. That means I have to supervise a visit and I can barely stomach the thought of seeing this woman ever again. I don't want to be near her. I really don't. My marvelously supportive parents have completely dropped their end of this financial responsibility and Shawn and I are now shouldering the cost of everything. It's so discouraging sometimes, trying to do the right thing.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

even after you're gone

Insurance is finally moving on my new ring. I will soon be engaged again!

Today Little J and I set to work cleaning out the garage. We crumpled all the cardboard boxes and tied them up and put them out for the recycling guys to pick up. It was great to get rid of all those boxes (from the tiling project and from Little J's new furniture) and to make space in the garage again for CARS.

On the weekend, Little J's mother says she's finally taking back all the junk that she's been storing in our garage for the last year. I really hope this actually happens because I have absolutely had it with doing favours for this horrible woman. I want her stuff out of my garage, out of my life.

I also borrowed Shawn's dad's power washer and cleaned all the tile dust off our driveway this morning, which was kind of fun in a happy little OCD kind of way. In fact I've decided not to return this little toy right away because I'm excited about washing the garage floor when we've finally finished cleaning it out.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today Shawn took Little J out on an adventure with his work people. We couldn't all go because someone needed to be home with the dawgs because it's a twelve hour day. I pretended to be a little disappointed that I couldn't go with them, but in a big way I was really happy about having a day to be alone. I don't get those very often anymore.

In addition to my four little pups (I'm halfway to being an octopupmom) and Little J's cat, I was also given responsibility for a small sheltie named Scruffy, who belongs to another couple who Shawn works with. Poor thing has been rather dejected for most of the day, lying by the door and making sad noises. But he's felt well enough to eat a few treats, drink some water, and go for several short trips around the neighbourhood. So I guess he's okay. Just misses his family. My pups are terrible hosts who've spent the day occasionally barking at their shy guest and trying to swipe pieces of his food. Jerks.


Friday, August 21, 2009


My kitchen is messy. But my floor is pretty. And it's finished.

This picture doesn't actually show how *finished* is finished because I took this before doing the sealant, which made it look a little more polished. But I like that it's rough. I like that it has a bumpy texture. I like that it feels like I'm outside. It's what I wanted.

And now there are so few days left in summer that I want to cry about it.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

it's not that i don't love you

I got a note from Paul today, which threw me a little. Paul isn't the kind of person who writes things. He spelled "accept" as "except" and was complimentary and warm, and inquired about my relationship status. All these things, even the spelling error, were sort of positive for me, "accept" for the fact that I had this hideous urge not to tell him I've been married for seven years, as though I might leave out that small detail and see if he would invite me to have yet another round of totally self-destructive sex with him.

Of course I didn't do that. I told him about Shawn.

I wish I could figure out what it was about him that made me so insane, and what it is that still does, even in my imagination. I'm a very disturbed individual sometimes. It's a good thing he's a province away where I'll be able to avoid ever having to truly exercise any self-control.


After his day at work, as if just to underscore how much the right person I married in the end, Shawn told me about how my new engagement ring (I accidentally lost the original in the garburator several months ago) is finally going through insurance and needed to be fitted. We went to the store and had my fingers measured. I'm a 6. Which is very odd and perhaps explains why the previous one slipped down the drain, because I'm pretty sure it was a 7. I feel weird about the new ring because it's bigger than my other one was, and having already shown how irresponsible I am, I'm not really sure it's the best idea for me to have another. Maybe I should just keep it in its case rather than wearing it.


Tomorrow I need to do some final work on the kitchen floor. The grout has had three days to dry and now the whole thing needs to be sealed.

I also want to repaint the kitchen eating nook. I painted it a rather-too-loud orangey colour which Shawn and I thought would be sort of quirky and funky because it's just a small area, but it really doesn't work. The wall is too close to the colour of the cedar ceiling, destroying the contrast between the two. I don't think I want to do that tomorrow though.

It's hot again.

I think we're going to drag the futons out and sleep in the living room again.


Monday, August 17, 2009


It's our anniversary. Seven years. Seven years! I wonder how that's really even possible. Seven years of marriage, and more than twenty years of knowing each other. Time is speeding up as I get older. I think we are going to go out for dinner or something tonight to celebrate.

Today I finished grouting the floor. I'm so glad it's finished. So so so glad it's finished. I think we can celebrate that too.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

put her in the safe and lock it

Shawn fixed the squeak in the floor today after cutting several large holes in the basement ceiling and applying a variety of clamps and screws and to the underside of the floor. At last he found the magic spot (he always does) and it was solved. Good news, I get to carry on grouting on Monday. (whoopie)

I finished painting Little J's room today, and Shawn put up her new curtains which I'll need to shorten (hooray for iron-hemming). Now they're upstairs together, the two of them, assembling her furniture. It's so nice to see them bonding. I know he's so important to her, his approval and his affection. I feel the same way about him.

It'll be nice to have this project buttoned up so I can go back to focusing on the kitchen which still needs grout and sealant. And then paint. And a backsplash. And baseboards. These are things I want to accomplish before the holidays are over. It might be a bit overly ambitious but I'm really hoping I can do it all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hallelujah, the spending spree is over. My credit card is still smoking but I think we're finally done. Furniture, bed linens, paint, curtains... everything. Today when we bought paint I got paint for the kitchen too, so I'm looking forward to finishing up that part of the house and being able to eat there once again.

The kitchen floor is still not completely done. I've got more grouting to do but can't finish it until Shawn fixes the squeak. Which is topping the list for this weekend.

This has been one of the most productive summer vacations I've ever had with school and all these home reno/ decorating tasks. I'm determined to leave myself at least a week at the end to relax before school starts again.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I will sleep with a clear conscience.

Soooo tired.

We shopped for Little J's room today. She'd been feeling sort of unsure of herself, of whether she was really wanted, for real wanted, or whether we were just letting her stay here because there was nowhere else for her to go. And Shawn and I talked about that and decided that we needed to find some ways to help her feel more settled here, more at home. So we decided that we'd let her redecorate her room, which is currently made up of old furniture we scrounged from various places, mostly Shawn's family who had some old kids' stuff they didn't need anymore.

So, we told her she could get new furniture, and pick a paint colour and the whole works.

Today we did the furniture shopping. We found a headboard and a nightstand and a bookshelf and a dresser. All really nice stuff. And extremely HEAVY. Little J was a superhero helping me carry stuff, unbelievably heavy stuff, from the store to the vehicle, and from the vehicle to the house. (The wonder of the Element. All this stuff FIT.)

So we have all the furniture now, and we just need curtains and bed covers. That's on the list for tomorrow.

While we were shopping, I found a huge fabulous free-standing pantry/cabinet kind of thing that would be perfect, so I got that too. And Little J helped me set it up and then we put in all the food that's been stupidly stacked in the corner of the living room because we had nowhere to put it. So the house is looking far more organized than it has in awhile.

Now if I EVER finish grouting the kitchen floor it will be a bloody miracle. I'm stalled because we have a floor squeak that needs to be fixed before grouting so the grout doesn't crack. And I ordered some miracle clamp thing that's supposed to kill the squeak, but it still hasn't arrived. So I'm blissfully unable to grout at the moment. And part of me is frustrated because I want to finish this job. And part of me is just so damn glad I don't have to do it right now.


Crazy C called to repeat all the same things she said yesterday.


Monday, August 10, 2009

And that's as much grouting as I can do today. My hands are so sore. I am developing more and more respect for tradesmen each time I try to spend a full day doing physical labour. I did put in about five hours and have sadly little to show for it, but I'm chipping away at it and fully anticipate being done before I turn forty. I cemented down the tile pieces that Shawn cut to finish the stair and I grouted another small section. This time I used the weird thing that looks like it's meant for icing a giant cake and it seemed to make it easier, at least at first until my hands got too tired to squeeze it anymore. (Grout is not nearly as pliable as icing.)

It's raining today; I think this is the first rain we've had in a month. The poor lawn has been turning more and more brown. Of course brown grass doesn't grow or need mowing, which is a blessing, but it looks awful. So I can look forward to it looking pretty again. And look forward to mowing it, which only takes about two hours for the front and two for the back. !!! Sigh. I want to have a huge yard AND a gardener.

I feel like I want to go back to bed now.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

More drama. C and Little J had a fight on the phone tonight and Little J called her a "bottom feeder". I seriously didn't teach her that, but wow, is it ever apt. C says she's getting an apartment at the end of the month and she wants the cat back at that point. Here we go round the mulberry bush... (This, of course, is why she's placing the calls to Child Protective Services, because she's planning to have us back in court again at that point.)

And in other news that has something to do with Life, I finished sealing part of the new floor last night and it looks beeyootiful. There's still lots more grouting to do, but it's nice to see what it will look like when it's done. If I just look at that section I can pretend we're finished. Shawn fixed the stair with a wood nosing and it looks great. I'm so glad he's getting good at this kind of stuff.

Tomorrow I get to grout all day again, I think. Whoopee!


Friday, August 07, 2009

This afternoon I received a call from a social worker with Child Protective Services telling me that an "anonymous caller" had phoned with a concern that my husband had been using drugs in front of "the child".

Good lord.

Every time I think that C has sunk to the lowest she can possibly sink, she finds a brand new way to disappoint. She's a disgusting person. The social worker was kind. She told me that they found the report suspicious and were aware of the custody problems, and that they'd decided not to bother with an investigation because it was clear that there wasn't really a problem. Even still, I'm angry. I'm angry that C doesn't care who she hurts in the process of trying to twist the system into giving her custody. I'm angry that she always finds a path into my life no matter how many ways I push her out.

It's been two years now since I moved here and today was my first haircut since then. It's ridiculous that it's taken me this long to get around to this. When I let things slide, this is always the first thing to be neglected. My hair. It was long long long and flat and heavy and all one length. But I finally decided to find someone to tackle it, and off I went this morning to see the hair stylist. She was adorable and weird. She greeted me at my car when I pulled up and hugged me on her driveway by way of greeting, while her dogs sniffed my pockets. She was beautiful like a little Spanish doll.

I don't know why I can't just go get a haircut like a normal person in the mall, but I can't. I hate that, I hate being in a roomful of people all having their hair done at the same time, with dryers roaring and chemicals in the air. I just hate that experience so much. And so I always take the time to find myself these weird little ladies who have their own businesses, so I can avoid the mall experience. The one, the new lady I've found, is a keeper. She did a good job and she is adequately bizarre. Not as bizarre as the last one I found in the Winter City, but still comfortably weird.

So that's my big accomplishment for the day, driving to a stylist and getting my hair cut. I'm going to be taking Little J and her pack of girlfriends to the mall in an hour and then picking them up a little bit later. Fun stuff, being a chauffeur.

Then it's the weekend, and Shawn gets to stay home with us. Perfect perfect!


Thursday, August 06, 2009

I didn't work out yesterday after all. It was too hard to get off the couch. I did manage to buy the grout I needed, though, and to do a little bit - but not an excessive amount - of grouting. I also took Little J to the library so she could find the first two Harry Potter books. She is rereading that series again from the beginning. I still haven't read any of them and I'm not sure I want to. This kind of book just doesn't do the magic inside me that it seems to do in others. Or at least, the movies didn't.

After dropping Shawn off at the train station this morning, I went to the park so I could run outside. It was busier there than I expected it to be but it was so nice that it was cool enough to run outside again.

Now I'm back in my pajamas and enjoying toast and yogurt and coffee. Mmm. I think this day is going to be just fine.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Aggh. I'm so sore today from all the work I did yesterday on the floor. Everything hurts.

So I'm going to try and work at a more moderate pace from here on out. Something more manageable. I did manage to get a couple of things off my list yesterday in addition to getting a good start on the floor. I returned that stupid $170 extension cord that Shawn bought for no good reason. And this morning I finally got my hair appointment arranged for Friday. (This seems like a small thing but it's not since I haven't had my hair cut in as long as I can remember.)

Today I need to go back to the hardware store and buy more grout. And I want to work out - which I hope will make my sore body a little less achey. And I need to bag the weeds and grass we pulled out the other day so that it can be picked up tomorrow with the other yard scraps. And then, of course, I should really spend some more time grouting. Maybe I'll limit myself to 2 hours.

So that's the wildly exciting day I have planned, and yet, as I look at it, I can't seem to convince myself to get up off the couch. I'm so so so tired and sore. Maybe I should plan a nap instead.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

In spite of making note of all I wanted to do today, I didn't manage to accomplish it all. I did work out, which was so nice now that the heat's dissipated, and then I called to make my appointment (got an answering machine) and went to work on the floor. And that's where it all stalled. Grouting the floor, like every other aspect of this job, took a million times longer than I expected it to. Since I was only planning to grout a small-ish section, I figured it might take a couple of hours. It took about five hours. Getting the grout OFF a slate tile is completely different than getting it off ceramic tile. Grout doesn't like to let go of rock; it holds on tight and needs about a hundred washes before it considers going away. I'm now totally exhausted. I guess I didn't really need to work out since I spent five hours scrubbing the floor, but I had no idea it would turn out that way.

So tomorrow I guess I'll continue grouting. And maybe for the rest of my life.

(At least it looks cool.)


Monday, August 03, 2009

Yawn. Floor progress has slowed. I got a new dremel today and worked some more on the grout lines, and then sealed a portion of the floor so that the grout won't stick to it as much when we start that part. Tomorrow I'm going to try and do some grouting while Shawn's at work, but I have so many other things on my list of things to do that I'm not sure where to begin.

I want to work out and return the stupid extension cord that Shawn bought that we didn't need. And I want to get groceries and set up a haircut and plant some new flowers in the front of the house. It doesn't seem like so much when I type it out so maybe that's the way to make sure it all gets done.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Floor floor floor floor.

We didn't really work on the floor today. The thinset was drying. I spent a bit of time dremel-ing out bits of thinset from between the tiles with a carbide bit. But the dremel gave up the ghost about 2/3 of the way through that job, so I've got to go get a new dremel tomorrow so I can finish. Then we begin the grouting process. I'm getting tired, sick and tired that is, of this process. But it's so worth it in the end. By doing this ourselves we've saved thousands of dollars that would have had to be spent on labour otherwise.

Little J and I also did some yardwork today and she helped me weed the tulip bed which was a nightmare, taken over by grass. We managed to pull out all the rogue grass and now I'm wondering if we should go ahead and plant a summer flower to fill up that space until the tulips and daffodils do their thing again next spring. Otherwise its a boring strip of dirt, there for no reason. We got filthy doing that job and I got a bit sunburned too, which always feels strangely pleasant (as long as it's mild) even though I know it's not good for me.

I was wrong when I said that Shawn is going to work tomorrow (Monday) because tomorrow is a holiday. Yay. :) One more day to make him work on the floor... hahaha.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

I need a haircut.

When Shawn goes back to work on Monday I am going to try and get some things-I've-been-neglecting done.

Wooohooo! We finally finished setting the tile today. What a long long long long job that was. Now it needs a good 24 hours to dry so we can start grouting. I'm so proud of Shawn, who generally loathes this kind of do-it-yourself stuff and resists it at every turn. Throughout this whole project he's been positive, cheerful and focused. Kind of miraculous. And now that this has gone so well he's realizing that there are many other projects around the house we could do ourselves instead of hiring people. Which means getting things done faster because it will cost so much less. So it's been a very good experience.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

You think there's not a lot going on

Good progress today in the tiling. Shawn was on a roll with the tile saw and cut a lot more pieces than I expected him to so that when we start tomorrow we'll have lots of the hard stuff done already. The learning curve was steep but I think we've done well. I actually enjoy operating the tile saw although it's noisy and I think that by the time we're ready to do the baseboards, we'll have acquired a lot of transferrable skills.

We've had no luck solving our air conditioning problem. That is, we returned the defective one and got our money back, but couldn't find another unit anywhere in the city. Apparently we're too late. The rest of the coast has beat us to the punch. In disgust, Shawn called our AC/heating/plumber guy and asked him what it would cost to install central air. There's some government incentive right now that will rebate part of the cost of a heat pump/ AC because it improves energy efficiency significantly and according to this guy, the rebates cover a good portion of the cost. Might be worthwhile, so we're looking into it. Of course that doesn't solve the current problem which is that the house is still boiling hot and stifling. But wow, should we happen to have another heat wave in September we'll be all set.

Tonight C called and let Little J down in a big way. J wanted C to come and watch her do a horseback riding demo at the camp she's been doing for the last week. C had said earlier that she would come, and J stipulated that she didn't want her to bring her creepy boyfriend, which C said was fine. Tonight she called and said no, that the boyfriend was coming. J said she was withdrawing the invitation then, and C hung up on her. I can't fathom that, how the creepy boyfriend (who C, herself, has admitted to finding rather disgusting apart from the fact he buys her cigarettes) could possibly be more important than sharing a part of J's life that she has invited her to share. It's sad.