Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You don't believe anyone but most of all don't believe me.

Monday night was awards night. The staff at my school really know how to run themselves into the ground at the end of June. I went, I wore grownup clothes, I handed out stuff, I smiled, more pictures, more nicey-nice. And now it's done until September.

Feeling a little more normal now though the hay fever is threatening to drown me. Shawn brought home Indian food which pulled me out of my newly developed eating disorder. I've decided not become anorexic after all; I just sometimes forget that I like food. Sometimes I get detached from my sensory world which feels odd because most of the time it is the focus of the best part of my attention. But every once in awhile I get separated from that part of myself. Somehow.


Friday, June 25, 2010

I snuck out of commencement early too. Once I'd handed out the scholarships that were related to my program and posed for all the necessary pictures I cut out the back way. I wanted to get ahead of the wave of traffic that would keep me stuck in the parking lot for an extra half hour at the end of the night, and I had no real interest in hearing the valedictorian's address. Kid gave lots of speeches in my class last semester and I didn't think he was so funny. Since when are valedictorians chosen democratically anyway? Isn't it supposed to have something to do with achievement? Not that he's a bad kid or anything but he doesn't make much of a role model.

I got home just before 10:00 and had dinner: popcorn and a big glass of wine. Shawn, a man who has been known to eat licorice for breakfast on occasion, gave me a hard time about this, but I didn't listen. It was the first time I've felt like eating anything in days and days and days. There was no way I was going to keep that feeling if I tried to gag down the carnivorous delight he was trying to convince me to eat instead. Sometimes I like it when he nags me like this even though it's a little irritating. One good thing about not eating for a long time is that the wine really does its thing. But tonight Carolyn pinched my arm and told me I was skinny "and not in a good way" which is probably a statement worth paying attention to. I have to admit that I might be looking a little... wiry. And not in a good way. I need to start sleeping more, eating more. So tonight I am breaking the fast with popcorn and wine. Tomorrow I'll do better.


il ne rest que de la poussière

The school board keeps absence records for the staff the same way the staff keeps absence records for the students. Today I looked at my record. I didn't miss very many days because I usually don't, but what I found interesting was that I could use my notes here to track the fact that there wasn't a single absence this year that could be attributed to illness. One was simply playing hookey to go play with friends who were visiting from out of town. One was a court day for the custody hearing (legit), these last few were bereavement. But most of them were days I had pretended to be sick and stayed home to write papers. I guess I don't actually get sick very often. But I feel sick today for real.

Today I arrived early for work somehow, wasted time for awhile, felt increasingly sick, and then without thinking about it just stood up, locked my office, and went home. I didn't tell anyone I was leaving, I just left. I'm not teaching right now and I have nothing to invigilate. Still, I'm supposed to be at work. This was stupid because if I explained I didn't sleep last night because J was having a bad night and that I was feeling ill, admin would have let me go home anyway. But I was too tired to talk, too tired to explain myself. At home I slept on the couch because I felt I couldn't make it up the stairs and I wanted J to know I was there with her even though I was a zombie. Then after three hours of that I came back to work. I still feel sick and zombie-like but somehow I convinced myself to be a zombie in my office instead of at home. J was feeling better.

I have to go to commencement tonight. Fortunately I just stand there and hand out pieces of paper. No talking. Just brain eating.

I got 93 on the paper I wrote in the two days following my sister's death. I don't really see how that is possible. I can't even remember what I wrote.

Three more days of work.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

i only hope that i won't disappoint you when i'm down here on my knees

When CC's mother died ten years ago I didn't know what to say either. I called her perpetually in the days that followed, took her out for a lot of drinks she couldn't handle. Distracted the hell out of her. I wasn't much help but I was definitely there. At the service I wore red, which was what her mother had requested we do, and felt vampish and simultaneously frightened. I didn't want to go to the receiving line but there was no way around it.

Her father was wobbly, the result of back pain pills which no one begrudged him, and I watched myself like a character in a bad comedy shake his hand and start chattering about how pleased I was to see he'd found his pants in time for the service. This was because in his hazy confusion, poor man, he had wandered into the kitchen in his underwear while I was visiting earlier in the day. He told me several weeks later that in the flood of sorry-for-your-losses, I was the only one who had congratulated him on a find. Way to be remembered. It was difficult to follow this up with anything more impressive but I managed to... I slept with her brother later that afternoon. I don't know which of us that was supposed to make feel better. I'm such a supportive friend; there's nothing I wouldn't do for that family.

No one knows what to say to me. My father lives too far to be spotted in his underwear and I have no brother.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Between phone calls and breakdowns I wrote a paper for my Assessments course, due on Tuesday night. I didn't want to ask for an extension for some reason. I've never done that. I don't really know how to ask for things. I finished the paper. My sister's voice, her laugh, her body, woven between paragraphs of the PCL:YV, YLS/CMI... and I never will be able to separate them.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I don't say sister often because I didn't think of her as my sister anymore. My sister was lost so long ago I can't remember when last I recognized her. The triangle of grass in your garden is the best memorial I can think of. It made me cry. When my sister was less ill, before the drugs took her from us, she would have laughed and laughed to think of herself memorialized in this way on the other side of the world. Thank you.


Monday, June 14, 2010

faraway from cars

This is that place you go to make final arrangements. I went here alone because there were only two choices. If Shawn was to come with me then J would either have to come too or be left alone. I didn't want her to have to deal with this room, and I don't want her to be alone right now. I sat at this table mesmerized by the wallpaper and tried not to vomit while the crematorium guy explained cremation to me in far too much detail and made me sign things that said I understood things which I do not understand, or want to understand.

This is the heavy wood table that is supposed to make you feel like you're safely anchored to it when you sit there feeling dizzy like you might faint. The heavy wooden box that contains the Kleenex is supposed to make it feel permanent but nothing is permanent, especially not tissue. Once it's wet it starts to crumble. My pockets are full of it. The papers, the folders, the business cards give you something to do with your hands, something to hold onto that looks normal and familiar. The gold framed mirror on the wall is so you can look at yourself before you go back out into the real world again where it is hot and bright. You can check how much of you dissolved away in the question and answer period, how much was left behind in that room with the caskets and coffins. The heavy hanging light fixture is for comic relief. The crematorium guy tells you he hits his head on it every time he stands up because the table is not properly centered under it. I believe he made this story up.

Colleen would have said something obnoxious about this wallpaper when she was more well. She would have made fun of it. When Mr. Crematorium asked me if I had any questions I asked why the hideous wallpaper, if it was just meant to look like funeral homes on t.v. or if there was a good reason. He did not know what to say. Neither did I. He made a joke about his ex-wife that I did not understand because I couldn't tell if he meant she was dead or if he meant she used to be a teacher. I didn't ask him to explain and I did not check myself in the gold framed mirror before I left.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Colleen died last night. I have been telling people this all day today. Her daughter, my parents, my professors, my friends. Last time someone I loved died I could not say it, I could not speak. This time I can speak but there is very little to say.


Sunday, June 06, 2010

and this is the room one afternoon I knew I could love you

Starling seems like it should be a nickname for someone pretty, delicate maybe. It is a nice sounding word. Starlings, in fact, are bullies. They evict other birds from their nests, steal them for their own. Sometimes they are sneaky enough to watch other birds do all the work of building a nest, and then immediately kick them out of it upon completion. Starlings are aggressive and drive other indigenous birds away from feeders; they overwhelm. Every summer the yard is briefly taken over by starlings. I do nothing to try and deter them although some people consider them pests. I watch them and marvel at their survival skills. When I think of their name applied to me it makes me laugh but only because I am mostly certain he did not know anything about the true nature of starlings.


Sometimes I think I do not remember things because my memory of people isn't very visual. I cannot remember faces, cannot call them up in my head, though I can always recognize them. I cannot see the past the way I want to. I can remember places though, very clearly, and sometimes I remember myself in places as though seeing a photograph, as though looking at myself from far away. And when I see myself like that I cannot remember the faces I saw, only what I felt when I looked. My clearest memories are mostly like that, feelings. When I struggle to remember people I miss I can not see their faces but I can feel what they made me feel with little change to account for the passage of time. I feel the tracers forever after.


Friday, June 04, 2010

comments may be sent to the Secretary General

J auditioned - and made it - into a singing competition at school that is to take place on Monday. When good things happen to her at school she immediately becomes suspicious that teachers are favouring her because I work there. I assure her that no one likes me that much.

The upshot of making it into a singing contest, apparently, is that she needs a new bra because with a gymnasium full of people looking at her, her boobs must look their best. We went to the mall after school which makes me nauseous. She loves shopping, and more than that she loves shopping with me. I think she likes shopping with me specifically because I hate it, and my misery makes me vulnerable and weak and she can drag me around like a pull toy telling me what to do.

While she tried on bras I wandered around and looked at stuff and asked myself just what the hell an "18-hour bra" is and what happens to it after 18 hours have passed. Does it crumble to dust? Whatever it is, its construction told me it was something women who are built like me never have to worry about. I have seven hour boobs at the most.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Poetry found in my psychology textbook...

"That which is to give light must endure burning" (Victor Frankl, 1963).

Frankl was a neurologist and psychiatrist, a holocaust survivor and the founder of logotherapy. I'm reading his writing in reference to suicidal ideation. It isn't poetry. But it is, isn't it?