Saturday, May 30, 2009

mixing up the medicine

C called this morning to try and reschedule her planned visit with J. Because we'd already arranged other plans around this one, it wasn't possible to reschedule. C went off on a tirade about how soon J will be back home with her, how the courts will see it her way, blah blah blah. It's been almost a year now and she's been dead wrong about everything from start to finish, so I don't know why I still let myself get rattled by these kinds of conversations, or why I even participate in them.

But it's a problem I've had for a long time, that I want other people to see the same version of reality that I see. Instead of being able to be content in knowing that I know, I want everyone else to see the same thing. I don't know why it matters because it doesn't change outcomes. But I haven't figured out how to stop caring about it.


Friday, May 29, 2009

how i place

Their conversations are absurd and heartbreaking. What 12-year old is supposed to feel that her mother loves medicine more than she loves her daughter? The lies are atrocious. The fact that this child now sees those lies and is able to point at them is tragic. I keep my mouth shut all the time. All the time, all the time. It's hard to do that. I have so much I want to say, but I try so hard not to influence her, not to brainwash her the way the she was brainwashed before. I keep so much to myself, until she's in bed. Then poor Shawn is subject to my wrath by proxy.

I am lucky, and she is lucky.

This morning she had an argument with Shawn about whether or not she'd unloaded the dishwasher in time to earn a full allowance this week. As they bickered, I was awash with memories of trying to ask things when I was a child, trying to question, and suffering the consequences of daring to do that. My parents were never ever wrong about anything. I know it's generational, I understand that. But when I hear him admit to her that he's unsure of what to do, or that he made a mistake, I find myself falling in love with him again, Daddy and husband, seeing how differently he raises this child, the one he didn't create and now burdens the financial cost of, the emotional cost of, the time, the and energy to raise her properly. To give her everything we both missed out on. None of us claims to be perfect, but I'm proud of him, I'm proud of us. And I'm proud of her, for surviving it all and coming out with that beautiful optimism intact.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

it all catches up

I love watching them work when they actually start working. When they start feeling a little pressure, and want to do a good job.

I love watching their faces scrinch up and their pencils scratching madly on scraps of paper they will inevitably forget and leave behind when their momentary focus is once again seized by something more exciting.

Those few mad minutes of concentrated thought are magical to watch; if that level of energy and dedication could be sustained, these people would be able to accomplish anything.


Friday, May 15, 2009

My window is a broken wing

An old Bob Dylan concert is on tv tonight, and I can hardly think of anything better on a Friday night than my family all together, a glass of red wine, and Bob Dylan singing in the background with a long weekend on the horizon. He inspires me. He makes me pick up my guitar after it's sat for too long with a broken string, to restring and play again. To sing. To listen, to play. I tried to think of a songwriter to rival him. Paul Simon? Maybe, maybe not. Is there a greater poet in the world? T.S. Eliot? I couldn't love T.S. Eliot more but Dylan's Tambourine Man could give him a run for his money. Sometimes when I take the time to surround myself with inspirational writers and singers and artists I find it hard to believe how brilliant human beings can be, in stark contrast to the stupidity that seems so bleakly obvious from day to day. (People carry roses, and make promises by the hours.)

A long weekend stretches out ahead of me and I feel, for a change, like I have all the time in the world.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

stem the tide

Tomorrow A.L. is covering my Drama 8 class to return the same favour I did for him last Friday. I should be excited about this because I'm using the time to sleep in... sleep off some wine... go in for an early morning hot tub in Whistler... or some other exciting event. Instead I'm excited about it because it'll give me time to do some reading for my course. But that's exciting too.


9:00pm - I just completed my second run in Project Balance. This one felt much better than Tuesday's run. Less lung burn. It's always been incredible to me how quickly the body remembers what it's supposed to do when you remember to make it do it. I didn't take any walk breaks this time, and although I was moving as slowly as molasses in January, it still felt good to get through it more gracefully. Long road to go, but at least I'm back on it.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

wherever the highways go

I went jogging tonight, inspired by the course I'm taking in which the author of the text expounds a great deal on how important it is for those doing the counselling to have their own lives in balance before professing to be able to help others achieve the same. Reading through the chapter on integrative therapy, it really hit home how much I've let my life slide out of balance. I work and I study. That's it. I've lost track of the part of me that used to love to exercise.

So I decided to get focused again, back in balance. There are ways I can manage all my responsibilities and still take care of myself if I get a little more organized. Now the weather is nice and the days are longer. I can do this. So I'm back on the wagon. Errr... pavement.

The run was HARD, I'm not going to lie. I've lost a lot of my cardio capacity. I have a lot of work ahead of me.


Friday, May 08, 2009

if wishes were fishes

C called tonight with a bizarre story of stolen methadone prescriptions and flushed drugs and fighting and drama and chaos. It's all such nonsense that I couldn't be further away without falling off the edge of the planet. She still thinks it's only a matter of thirty days or so until she can have her daughter home with her.

These assertions used to bother me. I've grown complacent enough to admit that in some ways this addiction has already taken her from us. Like the Rocking Horse Winner, I could close my eyes and wish for her to have a painless release.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

when I lose my way I close my eyes

She sometimes comes and knocks on my door as I'm getting ready for bed. At a time when she is supposed to be asleep. She knocks tentatively knowing she's supposed to be sleeping, but she wants to read me a poem she's written or to have another hug. I remember wanting to do that sometimes when I was her age but never daring to go through with it. I'm glad she does.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

it's really only a one person job

This afternoon after dropping off Little J at her singing lesson, Shawn and I went grocery shopping. I became completely distracted by the house plants that were for sale in the centre of the store. A tiny little banzai tree caught my attention, delicate and perfect. I was almost no help, maybe even a hindrance, to Shawn as he tried to load the groceries into the car. I was cradling my baby tree. Just as he was about to pull away, a tiny little insect crawled out of the tree and ran across my thumbnail. I leaned in closer to examine it, squinting as it disappeared back into the plant pot. I looked closer. The dirt at the root of the plant was alive with tiny legs. Spider mites! Billions of them.

I took the tree back and the lady behind the counter suggested that I pick out a different tree. I tried to explain to her that since all the trees were sitting together, side by side in their display, that if one was infested, they all would be infested. She nodded sympathetically and put the little tree back in its spot for someone else to purchase.

Don't buy plants at the grocery store.


C has returned to her threats of taking us to court again. I try not to let her stress me out anymore.


It's raining tonight. I can smell the sea air blowing in. Sometimes living here is so perfect that I can't stand it.


Friday, May 01, 2009

dying there of thirst

Yesterday one of my students, a grade ten boy from Kenya and to whom English is a second language, was very happy to see me. (He wasn't happy to see me because I am me, he was happy to see me because he needed me to sign his fieldtrip permission form.) Nonetheless, I felt extremely flattered when he dug for an English statement to express his pleasure at finding me and said, with his beautiful African accent, "Teacher, you are more than luck!"


This morning I attended an acting workshop which alarmed me greatly.

The facilitator of the workshop was a professional actor and director and I don't doubt his methods are effective for working with professional actors. In fact his workshop reminded me of being in acting classes in university in which we were sometimes challenged beyond breaking point to dig for elusive emotions. The problem I didn't have with it back then that I'm old and cynical (or aware?) enough to have a problem with now, is the fact that the average untrained person doesn't have the necessary skill for digging around in the human psyche without risking potential harm. This man wasn't a psychologist, he was a director.

He was looking for a specific kind of vulnerability in one of the volunteer actors, and went rooting through her memories seeking for a moment that could evoke that feeling. He struck gold when he found a story about domestic violence. The volunteer actor kept trying to tell him her memory was too unpleasant for this activity, for this audience, and for her to handle right now... and he just wouldn't back off. He kept pushing her backward into that experience and if it made me as uncomfortable to witness as it did, I can't really imagine how uncomfortable it was for her. Finally, after revealing a portion of her story (leaving out the climax which my imagination has filled in) he asked her to rewind the story again and choose the evocative words from the story (birthday, blue and white striped dress, kids at daycare, etc.) and say those words to herself before attempting to act out the scene we were working on. She'd protested gently several times. Finally she just said, "No". Then the director was awkward. His technique had failed, he'd gone too far, and the workshop participants were uncomfortable.

And yet he kept pedaling forward. (I don't really blame him. There was no other direction to go if he ever wanted to find a door through which to escape.) He finally had the sense to stop cornering the actor, but still insisted on winding up with comments about how this type of exercise could be used in our drama classes with our students to add layers to their acting.

What this man didn't seem to understand is that this would be an irresponsible thing to do with a group of teenagers. Now that I have (a small amount of) training in counselling, my awareness of this danger is heightened. It's a risk. The average person may be able to pull someone's guts out and lay them on a stage, but the average person doesn't have the skill to tuck them all back in afterward. So someone is left raw and bleeding.

Watching this happen brought back a lot of memories about why I left acting. I had directors like this who left me feeling that way.

Somehow I was less sensitive when I was young and I could tuck my own guts back in. The older I got the more sensitive and less capable of doing that I became.