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.