Saturday, July 31, 2010

reaching for the sky and everything else unattainable

Jonathon and CC chose to live down the hall from each other in the same apartment building on 17th Avenue, close enough to point out that a calendar is not, in fact, a chessboard, and far enough to run into each other accidentally on the street over sushi.

Jonathon moved to Japan to teach English; he came home at Christmas with strange presents for me, Hello Kitty toilet tissue, tea cups and peculiar items, undergarments (worn?) obtained from vending machines. My relevance to Jonathon was based entirely upon my friendship with CC. He had no idea who I was although he brought friends for dinner he thought I might like. I did not like the friends he brought. The beat poets and the playwrights, JesusGod I need someone with edges, sharp edges.

I lost Jonathon after Christmas I think. I lost CC later when she married A and he tasted like vomit. But why do I say I lost her? I spent the day with her and her two children a couple of weeks ago. I have never been good at holding onto what is important to me or even identifying it until long after it is gone. The hallway in their building was almost a destination in itself, like a small country, a book repository, an overlay, and a very large view of the street.


We went for dinner, me and Shawn and J and my parents. And like a 6-year old I ate all the bread on the table and was therefore unable to eat my meal. My anorexia - it's gone. Now it's like I have bulimia without the throwing up.


Malaprop again.

Me: Ouch! You kicked me!

He: Sorry. I think I have Reckless Leg Syndrome.

Me: Reckless Leg Syndrome?

He: Mmmhmm.

Me: Reckless? You have Reckless Leg Syndrome?

He: I think so. I didn't kick you on purpose.


Friday, July 30, 2010

chalkdust torture

In seventh grade I accidentally snapped my gum in Social Studies class. My teacher responded by giving me a poem to memorize and recite in front of the class the next day. I have never forgotten the poem:

The Gum Chewing Girl

The gum chewing girl
And the cud chewing cow
Are so alike yet different somehow
Ah yes, I see the difference now
It's the intelligent look
On the face of the cow.

I think I was meant to be embarrassed by this but I wasn't. I liked poetry, even poor poetry such as this, and I liked performing. I would have felt much worse had he just yelled at me like the other teachers did. My French teacher was a sadist. He made me stand with my arms out and hold dictionaries (French/English ones, of course) until my arms ached. My French teacher did not know that I already knew how to speak French and assumed I was acting up because I didn't understand what was going on. I was bored of conjugating ĂȘtre for the millionth time. My science teacher sent me to sit in the hallway where I had no audience for my antics, but then I would wander up and down the corridors. At least that way he didn't have to deal with me. In English I rarely needed to be squashed because I was usually interested in what was happening, though I cannot say I behaved as well as I should have even there. I remember being sent to the office a few times and the principal making me sit on the other side of his desk facing him and having to do my work there. And in math I never made a sound because I did not want to draw any attention to myself. Now I'm a teacher and I have no idea either what to do with students that don't want to listen to me or to learn anything. I never make them hold books while their arms shake... but I kick kids out and forget where they went. I say sarcastic things sometimes and far too often I just shrug and ignore the ones that are bugging me and teach only to the ones that are listening. I'm glad it's summer right now; I wish I wasn't thinking about school.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

At the Aquarium I was amused by the fact that in a room filled with aquariums busting with weird looking jellyfish that the crowd of people at the centre of the room were not queued up to see any type of aquatic creature, but rather waiting turns to touch buttons on the computer that would show them pictures of the actual creatures that were just a few steps away. I had a clear view of everything in the tanks but I never got to touch that computer.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

smiling and covering her tracks

I had a dream my sister was living here in my house but I was the only one who could see her. And I was glad because I had decided in the dream that it was better to be driven crazy by her than to miss her. She was still dead in my dream and she knew it too, but it didn't seem like it mattered much. I was receiving her bills in the mail and bill collectors were calling me to find out where she was, just like in real life, except in the dream I was showing her the bills and asking her why she spent thousands of dollars on calls to telephone psychics. And in the dream, unlike in real life, she realized that this was not a good idea.

And I am struck, perpetually, by the inconvenience of grief. You can sit down and talk about it and feel okay, think that you're dealing with it, think that you have made peace. And then suddenly you are washed away when you least expect it. With a child at my elbow, falling to pieces is also inconvenient and I sometimes miss the luxury of being a basket case whenever I feel like it.


My parents are arriving on Monday, a visit that was scheduled prior to my sister's death, and I am caught between adolescent petulance and the neurotic need to clean my house so my mommy will approve of me.

The funeral home has called me at least five times since my sister's death because they keep losing track of papers I signed and decisions I made. The person with whom I made the first set of arrangements went on holidays and left the file with someone else and from there the entire thing has unravelled.

They started the process as requested and then stopped, paralyzed with no idea what to do next.

And having to re-sign the paperwork, re-make the decisions I already made just makes me second guess everything - as though it is possible to make a wrong decision. As though it is possible to make a right one.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

This is a true story.

One night when I was 26 I kissed my best friend's husband. I did not know then he was going to be her husband. I still don't see it. We were sitting at a table in a pub, she and I, when a very drunken man lay down across our table between us and told me that he wasn't going to move until I gave him a kiss. I told him to fuck off and he laughed at me and didn't move and told me the same thing again, that he wanted me to kiss him. I told him no and started scanning the place for a bouncer to help me out but could not see one. The pub was very busy and a man lying on a table attracted no particular attention. He leaned in closer and asked me again, more quietly, to please give him a kiss. And this part makes no sense and can only be explained by the fact I had probably had too much to drink. I kissed him.

After that he got up off the table and went away and left us alone for awhile. My friend was appalled both with him and with me and I added it to my collection of stupid stories of inexplicable human behaviour and assumed we were done with him. But he came back later, and this time he wasn't interested in me. This time he wanted my friend. He didn't demand to be kissed by her but he hovered around a lot trying to get her attention. Unlike me, she was not inclined to kiss strange men and the more she ignored him the more persistent he became. Eventually they got married.

The End.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

the metal of those hearts that you always end up pressing your tongue to

I am thinking about taking Shawn's last name. We have been married eight (or maybe nine, I always forget) years now so I am a little slow about taking this into consideration but it was something I never wanted to do before. It's not like I need to convince him I mean to stick around. I do. And he's one of those types of people who doesn't really suffer from that kind of uncertainty anyway.

The fact I never changed my name is more a reflection of laziness than anything because it takes a concerted effort to gather up all the right documents for this kind of undertaking and I am not the kind of person who has any idea where my birth certificate might be. Then there are all these other things that have to change too... the drivers' license, the credit cards, the employment records, the bank accounts...

The fact that it also costs money to be this irritated is further deterrent and when I combine that with the fact that my husband doesn't have a supercool last name like Woodcock or Jactation or Esperanto there just has not been enough of a motivator to make the effort. I would like to add other intelligent feminist arguments to this but in all honesty I can't. It's a patriarchal tradition either way - it's just a matter of whose property I want to be, my father's or my husband's. For me, it is not about these things. It is only about inertia, the awesome power of inertia.

So I am not sure what makes me think I should be considering this now. Maybe I'm just looking for things to think about to keep me from having to write that paper.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

I might like scars, I might like signs of life.

It's a good question about good people, and about letting people in. Yes I do have good people, but no I do not really let them in. If I let them in I do not know how to get them out later. I do not, after all, want to be colonized. So I let them near, but not in. My husband, in all cases, is the exception to the rule. He does whatever he wants even when I try to stop him, and I like it that way - for me.


My husband understands me; I know this because in addition to knowing that he has to push - he bought me power tools for the garden. Tilling is very hard on the forearms but it's fun, and the new gas powered edger is so powerful and heavy that it requires a shoulder strap to stop it from flying out of my hands. I love it. I have decided to wrest control back from the insects I had previously stated I was sharing my yard with by letting one section go wild. I have changed my mind; the insects are rat-bastards who do not show me any appreciation whatsoever and they sting me when I am mowing. So I am evicting them, no more wilderness. I want control of everything after all, everything. I predict I will be queen of the garden by Wednesday.


Maybe all this gardening has something to do with the fact that I have a 20 page paper due in just over a week. I like to procrastinate in ways that make me feel like I have a good reason for not doing what needs to be done. I cannot feel okay about watching tv instead of writing my paper, but I feel great about tilling.


Though I do not like perfumes or colognes very much I like candles that smell like things. Not candles that smell like perfume or cologne, but candles that smell like spice or pine needles or cedar chips. Except then I wonder why I don't just go outside and be around those things. It's like that commercial where the people are all inside a sterile-clean, air-conditioned SUV with the windows rolled up tightly enjoying the view of the mountains out the window - and the company caption floats across the screen... "Let's face it, you belong outdoors". Har.

Which reminds me, I heard a public service announcement on the radio this morning in which I was strictly warned not to set any forest fires. I was told I had to remember three numbers:

1. The size of the fine I would be given if I started a forest fire (up to 100K)
2. The number of months I could spend in jail if I started a forest fire (up to 11, I think it was)
3. And the phone number to call and report myself if I accidentally start a forest fire (stopped listening... yeah, right.)


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oh they're immortal, she said. It's only a cake.

I am not named after anybody.

I think I named my sister because I remember how I chose her name - but my parents say I made that up.

Sometimes I think I have memories that turn out to be based on photographs I have seen.

I like it better when men do not wear cologne.

I once spent my last $20 on a whale kite with a long long tail.

Dear Spin,

I read it all the time, to be honest, because I have a lot of things I want to share with you that I think about writing characters and writing papers and cutting the grass and opiates and running and CBT, and lots of other things. I say them to myself when I'm mowing the lawn and I always leave a triangle now, always. It helps me stop worrying about not being perfect, and it helps me remember.

And osmosis of course flows in both directions, not only one. I learn from you; I understand other people in my life better because of you. Today you explained something about pain that I did not understand before, and which I appreciated. I keep trying to understand all of that, how the pain and the numbness are achieved and managed - before and after. I have a lot to learn. But I want to learn it and that is what I think makes people different and more susceptible, the wanting. I think you understand that.

I am glad about lots of things you are doing right now, for you.

Love Wink


Monday, July 12, 2010

every junkie's like a setting sun

I spent today with Jesse -- about which I was totally apprehensive. There was all the typical weirdness around seeing someone that I hadn't seen in more than ten years, but that wasn't really the part I was worried about. I didn't care if he looked the same or not (he did) and I was sure my ego could take it if he didn't try to sleep with me (he didn't). I was worried more about what his mental state would be and whether I could handle being around him in that state, whatever it might be.

The thing I didn't know, having been out of touch so long, was that Jesse has been to treatment. He was better, a lot better. Maybe the extra years of wisdom helped too, but the difference in him off the drugs was enormous. And I moved from feeling very nervous about seeing him, frightened and slightly sick, to only wanting to avoid him in the same way I want to avoid everybody, even the people I love the most.


Oh yeah. I smoked with Jesse... three cigarettes! -- which is the most smoking I have done in more than ten years. I felt like throwing up and it was so good.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

switch on summer from a slot machine

This is my afternoon at CC's place with her daughters. First there was a trip to the park where we tested our climbing skills. (I do not want to brag but I climbed even higher than the four year old in this photograph.) Then there was some drawing at the picnic table in the backyard. A lot of drawing.



Saturday, July 10, 2010

I hope that she will soon explode into one billion tastes and tunes

We went sea kayaking this afternoon. Shawn busted me tasting the water which was stupid but I have this problem, as you can see, with wanting to put things in my mouth. It's like I'm still in the rooting phase. He wanted to prove this to me as though I do not already know it. Or maybe he just wanted pictorial evidence to prevent me from lying about it. He also takes video of the way I start talking with my hands after a couple of drinks. (I will spare you this proof.)


I do not only want to see Jesse because he will give me a cigarette. That isn't fair to him at all. If I actually wanted to smoke I could just buy cigarettes myself as I am well over eighteen; though I recognize that I need someone to smoke with in order for smoking to make any sense, there is a good deal more to Jesse than that. And smoking is disappointing like most things you think you really really want only because you can't have them. When you get them they're not so great; it is the hunger that makes you feel alive.


I have made a plan to go visit CC tomorrow. CC is a little nuts the way most of my closest friends are. When her mother died of pancreatic cancer ten years ago she inherited thirty thousand dollars and spent it all in one summer... on clothes. She really is quite batty and I love her. Aside from Jesse who only moved here a couple of weeks ago, CC is my only close friend from home, and something about sharing a long history with someone changes how you interact. I met CC in University when I was 21 and I like that she can remember things about then that I have long forgotten. She pays more attention to the things I say than I do.


Friday, July 09, 2010

Don't be concerned, you know I'll be fine on my own. (I never said, "Don't go".)

There is a man in my graduate studies program who freaks me out. The way he writes makes me certain something is wrong with him. This is an odd observation to make based only on reading someone else's writing, but I feel absolutely positive something is wrong with him unless English is not his first language. And I do not have that impression. English is not my first language; usually, I can tell. He writes things like, "Hello friends from away", and, "I too adore narrative therapy" and after long diatribes about his opinions... "Do you agree?". I find him... effusive. (These small samples do not capture what I see.)

I find him effusive in a way that strikes me as false, like an alien who has observed the behaviours of humans and is now attempting to imitate them but not really feeling the things he says he feels, not really experiencing the emotions he seems to utilize in his writing. Not effusive like an unemployed actor who would like to have sex with someone. People "like" him in the forum, which is absurd in the first place because we are virtual students and though many of us have met in real life at various institutes requiring face-to-face sessions, we don't really "know" each other for the most part. I never met this person at institute. But I think he is a sociopath and I am totally serious about that. I recognize the affect. I might be being sociopathic myself in thinking this about a stranger based on his writing --- but I believe this man has something severely wrong with him.

I am not saying this based on nothing. I recognize something. My sister was a sociopath. Which does not mean I did not love her very much. But she was a sociopath long before the opiates destroyed the rest. It was a total slash and burn. I am far too familiar with what that really means. Once you really know it, you can spot it from away.


Shawn didn't go to work today. I like it when he doesn't go to work.


This is the truth. I think I only want to see Jesse because he will give me a cigarette.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray,love, remember: and there is pansies. That's for thoughts.

I wrote the paper and slipped it under the professor's virtual door with eight minutes to spare. I don't like it when I cut things this close, and by procrastinating as long as I did I do not think I spent enough time on the editing part. The paper was too long, a bit rambling, but I was out of time to do anything about it. I learned nothing from this.

According to my test results I am super high on the empathy and emotional self-awareness scales, and disappointingly below average with regard to systematic problem-solving skills and adaptability. I wasn't surprised by either of these bits of information but I don't really understand how my strengths are actually "intelligences" because both seem to me somewhat useless. The fact I can understand how you feel, or tell you how I feel... well... so what? It would be a lot more useful, in my opinion, to have systematic problem-solving and adaptability skills. According to my test results I attach a lot of importance to how people feel when making decisions rather than to logic or forethought about potential consequences. I knew this. Because I am emotionally self-aware, you see. I could have just handed in this paragraph instead of writing sixteen pages; the meat of it is still the same.


I had a nice conversation with my neighbour yesterday. It was one of those on-the-front-lawn with hedge clippers in hand kind of conversations that happens when you are sociable, which generally I am not but I really like my neighbour. He is so good to his dogs. And he seems to like mowing as much as I do.

For the longest time he thought my name was Ophelia. I think that Shawn might have introduced the dog to him and he assumed her name was mine. (I know the name is ridiculous for a dog but we did not name her.) Something happened to mix him up and I didn't fix it because the first time he called me Ophelia I was actually caught in an Ophelia-like moment, digging holes in the dirt and dropping flower bulbs inside, mesmerized by the whole idea of these ugly twisty things turning into daffodils and tulips. So when he said Hello Ophelia, I didn't answer for too long, and then answered in a rush to make up for the strange long pause, and in my hurry I neglected to mention that my name is not Ophelia. And he called me Ophelia for awhile after that. I felt too silly to correct him since I had answered to it the first time. But he's gotten it straight now somehow since then. Yesterday he called me by the right name.


Two of the pups went to the vet yesterday to have their teeth cleaned. I don't like having to leave the dogs at the vet's office because they get upset and I feel guilty about leaving. And I feel scared something bad will happen to them while I am gone and I won't see them again. Tooth cleaning is a bit of an ordeal for dogs. They need to be anesthetized because they won't cooperate. But they're okay now.


I need to renew J's passport and I am concerned that the passport office is going to give us a hard time because her mother won't be able to sign the papers. Though we are her legal guardians our rights are limited to some degree until we complete a formal adoption. Which we will.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

angel in devil's shoes

J convinced me to take her shopping yesterday. At the mall. And I lasted longer at the mall than I probably have in my whole life. Four and a half hours. It seems impossible but it's true. At one point she tried to convince me to buy a pair of shoes with a five inch heel and a clear plastic platform sole with pretend water and a plastic duck swimming inside. The reason she wanted me to have these shoes was not because she liked them but so she could have more reasons to laugh at me. I was feeling compliant on this shopping trip and gave in to most of her demands, but not this one.

She did manage to convince me to buy new jeans because it's terribly embarrassing to her that my jeans are threadbare and frayed. Instead she wants me to wear new ones that have been intentionally frayed because somehow that's better. I felt like she was the parent and I was the child as she tossed clothes into a fitting room at me and demanded that I come out and show her. When she found the pair she wanted me to have she was delighted to see that they were marked "Short". (I would not have been short had I bought those five inch heels.) They also said "Diva". By this point I was getting irritated. I am probably only two or three inches shorter than average and I am definitely not a diva.


I have a paper due today, tonight at midnight, and I have been putting this one off, and off and off. The reason is that I don't want to deal with the subject matter. I am supposed to be writing an assessment report on myself and though I would probably come across here, since all I do is write about myself, as someone who loves this kind of thing, I don't, not really. I don't write about myself because I need anyone else to understand me, I do it because it helps me understand myself. People reading it is just an accident. (I'm glad you're here, but it is.) Writing an assessment report on myself is gross. I do not want to be assessed. I do not want to read those formal assessment results from the tests I wrote in April and figure out what they mean. I really really don't.


Jesse moved here from the winter prairies. He told me he was going to do so last summer, and then did not. So when he told me again that he was moving here I did not believe him. Except he's just called and said he's here. Now I am thinking about whether I want to see him or not. Maybe I would want to more if I had those shoes.


Friday, July 02, 2010

I went running this afternoon for the first time in almost three weeks. But I shouldn't really say I went running because what I did was try to go running. At the sixth minute, which is halfway up the first hill, I realized with complete certainty that the symptoms I have been attributing to hayfever weren't just hayfever. I'm sick. Not sick like needing to stay in bed sick, not sick like not going to work sick, not, apparently, even sick where you know for sure that you are sick if you also have hayfever, but the hill left no room for doubt. I'm sick. I changed my plans from running to going for a walk which was still more than I've done in far too long.

All this time I thought I was just exhausted because of the Sadness. And still I don't doubt that Sadness opens the door for exhaustion and lack-of-eating and not-enough-sleep, and that they all find each other in good company. But I'm kind of relieved to realize that I'm sick and that this feeling isn't just how I'm going to feel from now on. Though there is nothing I can do about the Sadness, I know I can recover from having a cold.