Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Open Letter to Teachers' Association

Dear Union,

I know you care very much about me.  I know this because you say you do, and I know you never lie.  But still, sometimes you make me feel icky.  A few ways you could help me to feel less icky are:

1.  Don't drag me to court to testify against my employer when I have nothing negative to say about my employer.

2.  Don't call me a liar when I don't say what you want me to say.

3.  Don't tell me unions are meant to defend contracts rather than people.  People pay for unions to exist.

4.  Don't promise me a vote regarding job action when you plan to make my decisions for me anyway.

5.  Don't hold union meetings that involve shouting, rudeness, bullying, insults, and unprofessional behaviour.

6.  Don't protect union members who are abusing the system at my expense.

7.  Stop ramming your agenda down my throat.  Give me information and let me make my own decision.

8.  Follow through with promises made to the public.

9.  Start contract negotiations with reasonable requests rather than inflating them ridiculously.  Bargain in good faith even if the employer won't.

10.  Send information via email rather than printing an expensive, glossy, multicoloured magazine filled with typographical errors and street lingo.

Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.  (Oscar Wilde)


Sunday, February 26, 2012

The teachers' association in my district is an ass.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

wonder why I felt inclined to try

Mildly annoying that we won both of the items that we allowed J to bid on at her silent auction.  One item, a fleece blanket with horses printed on it, is rather nice for J.  She has been wearing it around the house like a bathrobe.  The other, a giant popcorn bowl containing a bunch of junkfood and a couple of DVDs seems like a colossal waste.  J, however, is delighted with the whole thing ~ and now we owe the stable another hundred dollars.  I'm reminding myself it's a good cause.


I've been missing B since the semester changed.  I hadn't seen him since the end of January.  But today he passed me in the lobby of the school, and waved and grinned and shouted, Hi Ms P!  Don't touch me, don't touch me, don't touch me, don't touch me!  This is our standard greeting now.  I said, Hi Bryan!  Don't touch me, don't touch me, don't touch me, don't touch me! even though we were much too far apart to actually touch one another.


At soup group on Friday it is my day to provide the main course.  I decided on spaghetti and meat balls.  Meat balls are not something I'd normally have much to do with, but the soup group has a lot of testosterone-ish men in it who like their meat.  So I've spent the last two nights rolling and cooking a billion meatballs and simmering pots of sauce.  All that's left is to figure out how to make thirty two portions of spaghetti that are ready at the right moment.  It's not something I have much experience with (or interest in), preparing meals for big groups of people.  But I only have to pull it off the one time.  Shawn and J hovered around the kitchen, watching me with amazement, and demanding samples.  They didn't know I knew how to turn on the oven.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

somebody could walk into this room and say your life is on fire

In the summer of 2007 we transitioned from Edmonton to Vancouver.  Shawn was already here, setting up our new life, and I was still there tying up the loose ends of the old life.  It was a hot, hot summer and I was sleeping with the windows open and the fan blowing.

It was early morning, around 5:00am, when a house in my neighbourhood exploded.  I did not hear it, probably because of the noise from the fan, but I woke up a few minutes later because the smell of fire was strong.  The dogs woke up too and stood in the middle of the bed, sniffing the air.  

It was a terrible fire, and the house was completely destroyed.  Many houses nearby were damaged too, windows broken by the heat, siding melted, char marks everywhere.  Fortunately, nobody lived in the house that exploded; it was still under construction.  The people who lived in the houses nearby were able to evacuate in time and nobody was hurt.  We lived a few blocks away, far enough that we were not impacted.

I remember walking by there with the dogs, and staring with amazement at the damage.  I had never seen anything like it.  Our neighbourhood became a tourist attraction, people driving in from neighbouring areas to see the devastation.  Right after that we moved away.

For some reason I awoke this morning thinking about that fire and wondering what caused it.  At the time, people were saying it must have been caused by the construction workers exercising inadequate safety precautions.  When I looked it up this morning I found several articles (and videos).  Turns out it was arson.



Sometimes I am concerned about T.  I do not know any other forty year old men that invest time like he does in posting daily Facebook quotes affirming his happiness, and photographs of himself smiling joyfully in his own bathroom mirror.  It seems a lot like the behaviour of a troubled fifteen year old girl, and I cannot decide what to make of it, except that methinks thou doth protest too much.  Perhaps I read too much into this.  But seriously.  He's a forty year old man.  Do you know any forty year old men that do things like this?  


Last night we, the three of us, went to a "family pub night" in support of J's riding stable, which, in addition to the regular riding lessons she takes, is a non-profit organization that offers therapeutic riding for kids and adults with disabilities.  (That sentence is awkward, and I'm too lazy to fix it.)

The pub night involved getting a twenty dollar ticket that bought us each an undercooked hamburger, beer (pop for J), and the joy of hanging out with other horse enthusiasts.  We gave J the go-ahead to put in a couple of bids in the silent auction, and then left before we found out if we won or not.  None of us are particularly good at this type of event.  J called us "antisocialites".  


Friday, February 10, 2012

exercising the right to free won't

Dr. Gabor Maté.  His introduction made my heart pound and I felt dizzy.  I considered leaving the auditorium; my fear was coming true.  I might not be ready to talk about addiction.  I definitely wasn't ready to hear about his case study, Robyn, dying of infection on the streets of Vancouver's downtown east side, skin grafts being rejected because she continued to use them as injection sites in spite of her doctor's warnings.  Opting for a wheelchair as osteomyelitis progressed - rather than giving up her drug.

But he didn't stay there.  He painted the picture quickly, and then stepped far far away from it, so far I didn't really see it anymore, diving into a discourse about the biopsychosocial perspectives of psychology and medicine.  And then he stepped so close to the painting I couldn't see the whole thing, and that was less scary too.  I couldn't see this human, Robyn, anymore, only her amygdala.  And that was okay too.

He talked of the loss of his father in Budapest, taken by Nazis, before his explicit memory.  He talked of how his mother's anxiety and sadness over this loss caused him to become anxious and sad, as an infant.  He said his mother phoned the doctor.  She said, Please help, Doctor.  Something is wrong with Gabor; he will not stop crying.

To us he said, I was an infant.  What did I know of Nazis and extermination camps?  Nothing.  I just sensed my mother's pain. 

The doctor told his mother, All the Jewish babies are crying.  

All the Jewish babies are crying.  And those babies grew up into adults who struggled with attachment disorders and addictions, though they had no memory of what caused their pain.  This is implicit memory.

Stephen Harper insults the Aboriginal people of Canada with his empty apologies for what happened to them in residential schools.  He pushes forward with his plan for an oil pipeline from Alberta to the west coast, cutting straight through Aboriginal Canadian land.  Their implicit pain becomes explicit at his hands, and he apologizes and poses for photos in his Christmas sweater.  And sets aside more money to build prisons to hold the adults whose futures were taken away from them as children by his Conservative government, dooming them to lives of pain and self-medicating.  

Maté suggested that as counsellors we need to stop asking why the addiction exists, and rather, focus on why the pain exists.  The pain that leads to addiction.  This is a courageous question, or rather, a question that may require more courage than I have to listen to its answer.  The kind of vulnerability this requires may be too painful to bear.


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

the Dodo Bird effect

In counselling with S, I sometimes feel as though we are sparring.  She is highly intelligent, and has the ability to make specious reasoning sound logical.  We stack our vocabularities up around the office, hers in sturdy mid-size piles and mine in wobbly teetering towers.  I take big risks, and sometimes I lose.  She is more careful, and hedges her bets.

Yesterday she admitted, for the first time since we began our sessions last school year, that she has intentionally cultivated some strange behaviours with the express intent of driving people away and garnering negative attention.  This was interesting.  Fascinating, because her first counsellor suspected she might have Aspergers.  I felt as though she had finally exposed herself a little, making this admission, and I fought to keep my balance and fought the urge to push her while she was teetering with her own.  I cannot say I look forward to counselling sessions with S, but I do enjoy them at times.  She is a challenge.


It's Alice in Wonderland this semester, and because I want the students to take ownership of their production --and because it is utter absurdism-- I did not stop them when this afternoon's rehearsal spiralled off into madness, the Mock Turtle rapping his song instead of singing it as a ballad.  And the Lory, Dodo Bird, and Mouse danced around like M.C. Hammer.  It was beyond ridiculous and I suspect we'll keep it that way.  Something fresh and new, Lewis Carroll.  If the audience is even half as amused as I was, it'll be a smashing success.


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

what if i can't forget you?

Urban Dictionary (which is not a reliable source of information but is helpful when translating teenager-speak into English) defines caraphernelia as a condition in which someone abandons you but leaves their belongings behind, inducing painful memories.