Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Two roads converged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by...and ended up lost in the wilderness for 4 days, was almost eaten by a cougar, nearly froze and starved to death and the search team had to air lift me to the hospital.

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  • 2 people like this.
  • Some girl
    OMG. That is insane. When did this happen?
    56 minutes ago · Like

  • J
     I am just kidding lol...I was making fun of a new age poster I sometimes see. You know the one, the Robert Frost quote about choosing the road less traveled by having made all the difference.

    54 minutes ago via mobile · Like · 1

  • Some girl
     hahaha.....well, there you have it...I'm slow to catch on. Need more coffee.  Have a happy new year J!! Glad you're ok. haha
    52 minutes ago · Like · 1
  • J
     Have a great New Year as well  thanks for caring though lol!
    49 minutes ago via mobile · Like · 1

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thank you.

Today I started - and finished - reading My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor.  This book was recommended by a psychiatrist (not mine; I don't have one, although I probably should) so I figured it was going to be worth reading, and it was.  I guess I was most engaged by the beginning chapters that outlined what happened to the author while she was experiencing a stroke, how while she should have been calling 911 she was puttering around her apartment musing over the pain in the head, the dead right arm, and the growing sense of detachment from the world.

Last summer I had a migraine headache that mimicked a stroke, except for the pain.  But migraine headaches have never brought me much pain.  They mess with my vision first, so I notice pieces missing from my field of view, especially in the centre.  People and animals suddenly appear nose-less, with a sparkly aura around their edges.  And I become detached from my body, where I can see my hands moving but cannot feel myself as being connected to those movements, as though I am watching someone else do things.  These have always been my experiences with migraines, which I only have rarely anyway, but because they are the same every time they no longer alarm me.  They just notify me.

However, in the summer I also briefly lost access to some of my memory banks for the first time, and this was a strange feeling.  I was watching television when I noticed that the television personalities had lost the middle of their faces, but then I tried to remember what I was watching and I could not remember the names of the people.  (It was Oprah or Kelly Rippa or someone I would normally have no trouble identifying.)  And I remember being concerned about the fact that I could not remember the name of the host of the show, nor the guest being interviewed, both of whom I should have known easily.  I remember wondering if I could be having a stroke.  And then I started looking around the room trying to name the things I was looking at:  coffee table, television, fireplace, lamp, etcetera, and none of that would come either.

That's when I started talking out loud to myself because I was testing my ability to speak.  That worked.  I could make words (unlike the author of the book I just read who also lost her speech centre).  I sat down on the couch and closed my eyes and rested for a short while, feeling that I was not having a stroke after all, and my ability to think of words came back.  Quickly really, although it seemed slow.  Five minutes without your words feels like a very long time when you are as rooted in language as I feel I am.

And by the time it ended I wasn't really upset or worried, just bemused, and when the sensation passed  I spent some time looking up information about migraines and found that it wasn't terribly uncommon for a migraine to cause a person to experience aphasia.

Anyway.  How would I ever know the difference between this experience and a real stroke?  I have no idea.  The author of the book wrote about feeling rather peaceful and relaxed while her head was exploding.  This was simultaneously terrifying and soothing.

The point of the book, of course, was not about the warning signs of stroke - although I learned a lot about this.  In the following chapters, the book was more about the right and left brain hemispheres and how they dominate our thoughts, feelings, and actions.  Right brain dominance, apparently, can result in more feelings of inner peace and oneness with the universe.  Interesting.  The author chose to recover parts of her left brain, but not the parts that allowed her to indulge in negative thoughts, fear, anguish, and suffering.  There were a number of suggestions for awakening and stimulating the right brain that were reminiscent of counselling practices.

There are some things I have always done.  For example, what I came to learn was called positive self-talk by therapistsis something I have always employed my whole life.  I think of it as the invisible coach who blows a whistle at me to get me out of bed in the mornings and tells me to get my shit together because I can do this even if I don't really want to.   The invisible coach also counts my minutes on the treadmill and tells me to keep going when I think about cheating.  And those self-soothing practices, like candles and baths and music and deep thought.

The book also reminded me a bit of The Burning House (Jay Ingram), at least at the beginning, because it really left me breathless contemplating the mysteries and the amazing capacities of the human brain.

This kind of thing, when I really think about it, feels like touching God.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Does it ever occur to you that I am sometimes thinking?

We went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty this afternoon, which was only loosely based on the title written by James Thurber.  (When I saw the trailer for the movie I wondered how the tiny story could become a feature length movie; the movie had almost nothing in common with the story at all.)

Still, it was a rather sweet movie, one I could have liked better with any other title.  Sean Penn was in the movie (not nearly enough).  I have wanted to marry Sean Penn since the mid-eighties when he married Madonna instead.  Of course, I was only ten then, but I think I saw something special in a man who would brandish a rifle at his wedding to protect his privacy.

It was not a brilliant movie, not brilliant like Thurber's short story.  But when I stopped counting inconsistencies and accepted it, it became sort of cute.  But I really, really wanted Ben Stiller to say, at some point, Walter Mitty's signature line, Does it ever occur to you that I am sometimes thinking?  He didn't, of course, because there was no need.  I said it to J and Shawn in the car on the way home to compensate.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

preconceived notions about the undead

It feels good when the visiting part of the holidays ends.  On Christmas Day we went to Shawn's stepmother's sister's place, which is just as insipid as it sounds, spending the evening with people we see only a couple of times a year and with whom we have no real relationship.  A and A were fighting, which made me uncomfortable, and I find male-A disturbing even at his best, let alone when he is red in the face and making sarcastic comments and squabbling with female-A over who last changed their baby (whose eyes, by the way, are strangely close together).  And female-A is openly rude to her grandmother, who suffers from dementia, and thinks it doesn't matter because she cannot remember it later anyway.  I am fairly certain male-A is taking steroids, which makes him heavier but certainly not taller, and it doesn't pull his eyes any further apart from each other either for that matter. 

J captured a brilliant shot of me and Shawn at the dinner table in which I am leaning on my elbow and looking vampiric and utterly miserable, and in the background, Shawn's eyes are glowing like a devil's.  We appear to be a supernatural couple sent from hell to ruin Christmas.  
Now we have met our obligations and can spend what is left of the holidays lying around and eating chocolates.

At one point Dr. B was talking about his adventures in Christmas shopping for his fiancee, which reminded me of The Gift of the Magi, a story I thought was required reading for every high school student in the country.  Apparently it is not, because every person at the table, all sixteen of them, turned to stare at me in confusion when I tried to make the correlation.  (This joke would have gone over like gangbusters with my family, but one of them would have surely beaten me to the punch.)  Only 364 days 'til Christmas!


Monday, December 23, 2013

I could have been someone. Well, so could anyone.


I am reading Mitch Albom (Tuesdays With Morrie, The First Phone Call From Heaven).  He is sort of Oprah-style uplifting, by which I mean his work is a bit saccharine for my cynical palate, but perhaps this is a good idea right now, a little sweetness.  And the reminders about mindfulness don't really hurt either.  I could afford to take a few deep breaths.  I might, however, need some Michel Tremblay to roughen things up a bit when I am finished.


I spent a lot of money today on wine and Christmas junk, which is funny because every year we say we aren't doing this.  But that is a tough sell with a 17-year old who loves everything about Christmas -- the giving, the receiving, the lights, the trees, the baking, blah blah blah.  So we get her stuff.  And we do the stuff she needs to do to make it feel right to her.  Oh, and when you decide you aren't doing Christmas it does not really prevent other people around you from doing Christmas to you.  So now you have to decide whether to be an ass and refuse their gifts, be an ass and keep their gifts without reciprocating, or stop acting like an ass and go shopping.  So I spent a lot of money on Christmas junk.

In the spirit of Christmas miracles, when I got home,  I decided to sweep and mop the floor in the mudroom.  (You know, a mudroom sounds like a terrible thing, but in fact it is a marvelous place to keep shoes and boots and laundry and cats and Shane MacGowan's teeth and other revolting things that otherwise bring mess into the rest of the house.  And you can close the door on it and pretend none of it is there.  Except the cat who swears and scratches up the baseboards.)  I do not know when was the last time someone in this family decided to sweep the floor in that part of the house, but it must have been at least a decade ago.


Last night I dreamed we bought a giant family-sized bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.  (This should have alerted me to the fact I was dreaming because the last time I ate KFC was more than ten years ago, and it still hasn't been long enough.  Yuck.)  In my dream, J decided she did not like the skins on the chicken and therefore was wandering around eating chicken and leaving slimy greasy chicken skins covered in batter around the house.  I found a couple on the countertop, one on the couch, another on the mantle by the fireplace, and so on.  I was quite put out.  In reality, we do not actually eat chicken, not even skinless grilled chicken these days.  Shawn has abruptly gone completely vegetarian, and J and I have always been pretty non-carniverous anyway.  Now that our primary meat-eater has lost his appetite for blood, we do not buy meat anymore.  Especially not Kentucky Friend Chicken.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

tow the line to tax the time

Staying true to my Be More Assertive Plan, I decided to tell my principal, today, that I am going to be looking at the job postings and possibly applying elsewhere next year.  I told her this is directly because she does not allow the counsellors to bring me in to cover for them when they are away the way the previous principal did.

She said okay.

It wasn't a satisfying conversation, but I did not expect it to be.  This principal is not the sensitive type.  She sees people as commodities that are useful, or are not.  When one is not functioning the way she wants it to, she replaces it.  If I want to teach Theatre, I am functioning correctly.  If I want to change to Counselling I am of no use and I can leave.  I knew this was going to be her reaction, but I decided to tell her anyway, just because I want to be a person who tells people how I feel, even if they choose not to care.  Expressing wishes is somewhat new to me.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

three more days

We don't like their counter offer.  We don't like it so much that we may not carry on negotiating.  Maybe we will just walk away and look for something else.  It is a nice feeling to feel free to do that, when you are not under the gun to find something quickly.  Now we are in thinking mode.


Non-Crazy Jennifer told me today that she may not be coming back to our school after the Winter break.  She has been offered something else, or might be offered something else, not sure which.  She was being intentionally vague.  Either way, I do not particularly care.  She is nice enough, but I do not like her as much as she likes herself.  So whatever.  Hello, goodbye.  Just don't let Crazy Sue back in.


One of my students is very angry with me for not casting him as a lead in the next play.  I should be accustomed to this by now, but it bothers me every time it happens.  I do not really want to teach theatre anymore.  Or at least, I do not really want to direct any more school plays.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Left and Leaving

Dear Mark,

Quick question for you.  I have three friends on my Friends list who are, umm, deceased.  Suicide, all three.  (You know that stage of life you're going through now, at 29, where all your friends are getting married?  In a couple of years they'll all be having babies.  Five more years after that you'll go through divorce season, and then, probably, a season of suicides.  You might not understand what I'm talking about for a little while, but if you can imagine what I'm talking about, maybe you can steer me in the right direction now.)

The thing is that I don't know what I'm supposed to do with deceased friends.  Their accounts remain active as ever, as if nothing had happened at all.  Maybe their families don't know how to deactivate the accounts, or maybe they like to pretend, at least in this small way, that their loved ones are still here.  Status:  Dead.

It seems wrong to Unfriend the dead.  Doesn't it?

But as it stands, I receive Notifications from the dead when other hapless people post things on their Walls without realising they are talking to people who have died.  Hey Mike, how's TO so far?  And birthday wishes, oh god, that make me green.  And most ghoulish of all, viruses with no one to delete them:  Wow!  I lost 18 pounds Jason!  For the past few weeks I have lost a lot of weight.  I have been using these new Rasp-berry drops I saw on DrOz.  It really worked for me, let me know how well it works for you.  Take a look at this site, type in without the spaces --->  www. EzRasp. com

I guess you didn't think about stuff like this when you were envisioning your project.  Well, I don't blame you.  I didn't think about things like this when I was 23 either.  I don't even really want to think about it now, except that Notifications keep reminding me.

Interested in what you would suggest here.


Friday, December 13, 2013


Around 2000, I kinda forget the date exactly, I bought my first property by myself, on the Winter Prairies.  It was a condominium, not bad for a starter place.  One car garage, 1200 square feet, gas fireplace, washer/dryer, three bedrooms.  A postage stamp sized yard in which I grew strawberries.  And a gaggle of old ladies (condo executives or something) who looked over my fence daily and trimmed my trees without my permission.

Then I bought this weird thing, a hermit home in mountains.  A tiny little shack thing that was meant to be a hidey-hole.  No condo ladies.  No nothing.  But somehow between buying the place and living in it, a strange phenomenon happened, which was that the isolated place abruptly became a trendy snowboarding place.  Two results:  the property value rose from nothing to something; and, I no longer wanted to live there.  I sold it without living in it.

Then I got married.  And had puppies.

Then we bought a place together.  Northern Winter Prairies.  A detached house, 1800 square feet.  Gas fireplace, bonus room, small yard, double garage.  Beige and more beige, beige as far as the eye could see.  Excellent resale value.  Mosquitoes.  We did well because of the stupid oil sands.  Dirty money, maybe.  There was a bidding war for our Prairie Sea of Beige.

And then we moved West, to the sea.  The best move, in my opinion.  A better house, an older house.  Wood burning fireplaces, two of them.  And friendly neighbours.  And a yard that lets me pretend I am alone.  And the ocean nearby, and the mountains.

Now we've put an offer on 32 acres of wilderness on a desolate island.  No amenities.  No power, no hydro.  Maybe they will take our offer, maybe they won't.  It is the first time I have ever made an offer to buy property where I was not waiting on pins and needles for the answer.  We have subjects and conditions, mainly to do with travelling to the island and seeing the place in person.

If they accept our offer we may not even choose to live there anyway.  The property pays its own mortgage by renting use of logging roads to local companies.

Or we might build an earthship.  You know, out of driftwood and stones and junk.

Or we might just visit it on weekends.  In an RV.  Or a tent.

Or we might use it to lure David Suzuki out of the woods to come and stay with us for awhile.

Or, I don't know.

I don't really know what we're doing right now.  Sometimes I let Shawn take the reins completely and close my eyes and hope he doesn't crash.  It is easier now that I know he almost never crashes us.


Today I used my spare block to counsel a sixteen-year old girl whose boyfriend is regularly threatening to commit suicide.  Admin thinks we do not need any more hours of counselling added to our allotment.  So I do it for free during my spare because I cannot fathom a world where this girl has no one available to talk to her when she needs so much support.  Admin says thank you.  But it isn't about them anyway.  So I am doing the right thing because it is the right thing, not because it leads anywhere or means anything to anyone but the two of us.


the most beautiful art

Thirty-two acres is a lot of land.  I feel like I already have a lot of land, owning a third of an acre in a residential neighbourhood.  (It used to take me a really long time and a lot of effort to mow the third of an acre - before we got the rider.)  Thirty-two acres isn't an amount of land that you would mow, not even with a rider.  You'd just mow the around the home and let the rest be wild.

It has a whole lot of shoreline along a lake.  A place where you would build a boat launch.  Because you'd want to have a boat, of course.

And no electricity, and no water.

I wonder if we are really going to buy it.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

hippies with cell phones

1.  We spent lunch break in a committee meeting about whether to call the timetable blocks "A""B""C""D" or "1""2""3""4".  It took the entire break.  This kind of thing makes me mad.  As in mad like a hatter.  Why am I on this committee?

2.  On Carolyn's advice I decided to take the direct route with NJ and just ask him when the hell he plans on leaving so I can have his job.  He was honest with me; he has decided to stay after all.  I did not like his answer.

3.  Now I need to think about whether I want to stay and keep waiting for one of them to die, or whether I should go and find something else.  It isn't as easy as it sounds.  I have a lot invested here.  A lot.

4.  I am reading a book I do not understand.  It is called, Life After Life, and it is about reincarnation.  I like the idea of reincarnation very much, but for some reason nothing in this book is sticking to my brain.  It is all slipping straight through.

5.  Shawn wants to leave civilization and go live off the grid.  For real off the grid, not a metaphor.  He wants to live in a house made of mud and recycled tires and I don't know, goat droppings or something.  The advantage to living in the goat droppings house is that it grows its own food, makes its own energy, that kind of thing.  It means you can live without bills, and living without bills means you don't have to have a job.  Or you can pump gas two days a week and live like a King.

I was the one who dropped this suggestion rather flippantly, but I did not expect Shawn to take me seriously.  He really likes his stuff, or so I thought.  Apparently he is more of a hippie than I took him for, maybe more so than I.  Or maybe he just hates his job more than I do.  But if that's the case he has only to wait a little longer as I feel the bile rising again.


Saturday, December 07, 2013

I sent Shawn a text message asking him to pick me up a "swiffer" at Safeway.  Autocorrect changed it to "swinger".


Friday, December 06, 2013

weaker than

You're still young and healthy.  Maybe that's why you don't understand what I am saying.  Let me give you an example.  Once you pass a certain age, life becomes nothing more than a process of continual loss.  Things that are important to your life begin to slip out of your grasp, one after another, like a comb losing teeth.  And the only things that come to take their place are worthless imitations.  Your physical strength, your hopes, your dreams, your ideals, your convictions, all meaning, or, then again, the people you love: one by one, they fade away.  Some announce their departure before they leave, while others just disappear all of a sudden without warning one day.  And once you lose them you can never get them back.  Your search for replacements never goes well.  It's all very painful - as painful as actually being cut with a knife.  You will be turning thirty soon, Mr. Kawana, which means that, from now on, you will gradually enter that twilight portion of life - you will be getting older.  You are probably beginning to grasp that painful sense that you are losing something, are you not?

- Murakami, IQ84


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

when you're a stranger

Seriously.  My workplace has become an asylum.

Today while I was in the photocopy room copying scripts (illegally) I witnessed a P.E. teacher have a complete meltdown.  She was looking for a fieldtrip form, but she couldn't find it because the new accountant has moved everything.  She was slamming around and yelling and losing her shit all over the place.  Then she took a fistful of money she had collected for her fieldtrip and shoved it under the accountant's locked office door without filling out any of the paperwork that would have explained what it was.

There are twelve work days left until Christmas break.  I hope we all make it.


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

could've been worse than you ever would know

Exhausting.  The parents of Diva Numero Uno were upset with me as predicted.  They wanted to come  in for a meeting with me and the Vice Principal.  They were even more upset than I expected them to be.  They said I was a bully and accused me of harassing and labelling their daughter, encouraging others to bully her, and applying vigilante justice in my classroom.  I told them they know nothing of what kind of a teacher, nor what kind of a person I am if they think things like this about me.

After an hour and a half of going around in circles about what a terrible person I am, my administrator managed to get the meeting back to focusing on their daughter's lousy behaviour.  It took a long, long time to get there, but they did eventually concede that their daughter needed to stop being such an ass.  I think they left still thinking that I am also an ass, but I do not particularly care.  I mean, I wish they could know who I really am, but I accept the fact that they don't.  And I'm okay with that.

This was my first experience with the new administrator, and I was pleased with him.  He mediated the meeting well and debriefed with me afterward in a way that made me feel supported and appreciated.  (And it's not easy to feel supported and appreciated after someone calls you a names and insults your personal integrity.)


I have been reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the movie version of which was so popular last year.  And I find it strange and choppy.  Sort of quirky and interesting, but also a bit uncomfortable.  I have not decided if I like it or not.

It was a surprise to find To Santa Claus and Little Sisters in that book.  I wonder why I know that poem, where I first read it.  When I read the opening line I could immediately remember the last line, so it must have made an impact on me wherever, whenever, I read it last.  I wish I could remember where I have seen it before.


There is a tremendous amount of upheaval at work.  The new principal has been, for reasons known only to herself, poking every bear she can find.  And the bears are now roaring.  Today N sent an email to several Fine Arts teachers, including me, asking for support for her program (at the cost of ours).  Strategically she addressed this email to those she felt would support her cause and not to those who she knew would not, including the Department Head.

It felt yukky to me.  I like being N's friend, and I like that she thought she could count on me for support.  But I do not like that she was trying to round up an army and that she was asking the opinion of several people who aren't really Fine Arts specialists, and also of the new teacher who hasn't been in the game long enough to have an informed opinion (although she feels free to express one).

I wrote back to N, cc:ing everyone who was addressed in the email, telling her that people and relationships are more important to me than the outcome of any kind of debate like this.  And did not respond to any of her questions.

People are upset about all kinds of other things too, and it's making me tired.  This is the first real shake-up I've had with new administration, and it isn't pleasant.  I wonder why the new principal is so determined to change everything we do.  And I also wonder why people are so defensive about what they do that they are so incredibly uncomfortable looking for ways to improve.


Sometimes I get a strange feeling that lands near the hollow in my throat.  It feels like emptiness but it also feels like overflow.  I try to take big breaths when I feel that feeling to make it grow smaller, but the air sort of misses the mark.  It feels like I need more information so I can cry about something instead of being the kind of person who cries for no reason.  It feels like I need to know what I miss.  Who I miss.  And why.  And if I feel these things more clearly, more precisely, and these aches can move to their rightful places in my heart and in my gut and in my mind, instead of hovering in that strange place where I cannot quite feel them.


Monday, December 02, 2013

The Reckoning

Today I raged at the group that were involved in various shenanigans during the Drama production.  And then I gave them a quiz to take, my "Are you a Diva?" quiz.  They had to answer questions about their conduct and add up points for each ridiculous behaviour, and determine how high they rated on my Diva scale.  Those who were high on the Diva scale were encouraged to either drop the class or work backstage where there was less danger of them being exposed to applause and attention, toxins that clearly make Diva symptoms worse.  Failing this, I offered them to opportunity to come up with their own action plan.  But none of them will be allowed on stage again until they follow through.

Of course the two biggest Divas lied on their questionnaires and pretended they did not do the things that were most offensive.  (Like stealing from the charity.)  And I handed back their sheets with red circles and "disagree" written on them, and I rescored their quizzes to show them that they were, in my books, total Divas who needed an action plan.

One of them pouted while I talked to the class about moving forward in a positive manner from here.  And the other one snuck out during the clean up, allegedly to go to work (which is unacceptable as she receives credit for being in class).  I expect that her father will be phoning me tomorrow to defend his Princess.  I will bite my tongue to avoid telling him that his Princess acts this way because he encourages her to.  I've attempted to pre-empt Dad by sending an email describing my concerns and my hope for a quick and positive resolution. 

I also fired Charlie on the weekend, which was satisfying.  I look forward to not seeing him ever again. I cannot help but feel that it was his influence that changed my formerly pleasant students into such prima donnas.

And of course, the nice ones felt terrible and apologized profusely for the actions of their idiot peers, and several of them paid for the water that was stolen by others.  It is heartwarming that there are so many wonderful humans, and simultaneously maddening that those who really need to hear this absolutely will not hear it.  Way of the world.


Friday, November 29, 2013

can't swim so I dog paddle

The crystallization of the idea that I might not want to be an actor after all happened at the end of the run of Juno and the Paycock.  Cast and crew were both expected to show up to strike the set after the show, and because it was part of a university course we all appeared to have our attendance taken.  Credits earned.

And then the "Underground Railroad" would come through the theatre and take away all the actors who did not think they should be subjected to the slavery of helping clean up.  It was always the same divas who disappeared, making it clear that they thought they were better than the rest of us, too important to have to participate in drudgery that involved no applause.  The very fact that they called it the Underground Railroad made me want to fight someone.  I hated those actors.  And I started to realise that there were divas all over the place in theatre.  Everywhere.

And last night the Underground Railroad took away a number of my students who decided the same thing.  Too good, too important, too special to have to clean up after the show.  (This includes my "co-director.")  Not only that, but the train didn't show up until after they had broken the hinge on the costume room door trying to prop it open after I told them not to, and after stealing eighteen dollars worth of water from the charitble organization that was selling refreshments during intermission to raise money to build schools in Sierra Leone.

Unbelievable.  It's a strange thing; I have a number of very lovely, sweet children in this group, mixed in with some real donkeys.  On Monday I am going to destroy the donkeys.  My lesson plan is, "Rage".     I doubt any of these kids are going on to participate in professional theatre, but damned if I ever release one more diva into the theatre world as if it does not already have enough.  I will crush their arrogant little souls.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

post production

B showed up at the play last night with his boyfriend.  B introduced me as his other mother, and I was so excited to meet the boyfriend that I hugged him when he tried to shake my hand.  I am so happy to see B happy.  I was so worried about him when he graduated last June with no plan, no confidence, no joy at the idea of living his life.  Now he has enrolled in trade school and has a love.  The heart swelling I felt must be the way his mother is supposed to feel about these things.


Last night after the play, once the theatre was cleaned and emptied, one of my lovely twelfth grade actresses approached me.  She said, Can I tell you something without you thinking I'm being weird?  

I said yes without knowing if I would be able to keep my promise, because I like hearing weird things.

She said, My little sister (who is in eighth grade) wants to tell you this but she's too shy, so she wanted me to tell you that you're the prettiest person she has ever met.  

When I was 22 people used to tell me things like this.  I would sort through these compliments ruthlessly and find most of them insincere - because compliments that are directed at getting you into bed don't count.  The frequency of this sort of compliment dwindles away when you get older, and especially once you are married and no longer spend your time in places where the mating dance is the focus of the evening.

So this sweet compliment took me off guard, all innocent and non-manipulative and generous and warm.  I got all teary.  Maybe it was exhaustion from the play and working fourteen hour days.  Or maybe I'm just a shallow creature who is focused on shallow things like appearance.  I don't know.  Whatever it was, I appreciated it.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

snug and warm

Maybe I am the one who is difficult.  Charlie bugs me.  Crazy Sue bugged me.  And now Non-Crazy Jennifer is bugging me.

She isn't crazy.  She isn't mean or rude or making personal attacks like Crazy Sue did.  She's just too... comfortable.  As the brand new person on the job, working only part time, she just seems too comfortable.  Too assuming.

The other day she showed up to watch my play during the free preview and I told her (because she is new and I thought she might not know) that there was a staff meeting and that I had special permission to miss it.  She said, Yeah I'll tell [the boss] why I missed it later.  Comfortable.

And today I realised she had taken some of my teaching resources and implemented them with junior kids, meaning I can no longer use this resource with the seniors I had intended it for because it will mean they repeat the same material.  It isn't that she is mean or vindictive or bad.  She is just inexplicably comfortable.

Having learned the error of my (avoidant) ways, I am speaking up when she treads on my toes.  And kind of hoping her contract ends in February and we get someone else who is a little slower to feel right at home.

Or maybe I need to relax and surrender.


Monday, November 25, 2013

hit the road

I think that I am going to fire Charlie.

Once this show is over (Thursday), I am pretty sure I am going to cut him loose.  He is a volunteer, not an employee, but he is becoming a burden rather than a help.  And I do not need an extra pain in the ass when I already have a roomful of them.

Charlie keeps making obnoxious comments about "his" play, and offering people front row seats, and other aggravating things he does not have the authority to do.  He also tells the sound guy to play sound cues without running them by me first.  His sense of what and how much he has contributed to this show is ridiculous.

Basically he has gone from being a somewhat pleasant visitor to being a pest.  I wish him gone.  He has earned the right to watch the show throughout the run, and then I am going to banish him.

(This is big talk though.  Because I do not feel comfortable telling him to go away because I know how badly he needs somewhere to be.  I know how lost he is.  The fact that this 20 year-old young man wants to spend his spare time hanging out at his former high school is evidence of how little he has going for him.  So how can I hurt him by telling him to go away?)

But I'm going to do it anyway.  Somehow.  Because I am cruel like that.


Friday, November 22, 2013

everything moves real slow when it's forty below

My show goes up on Monday.  Four days of hell and then sleep.  I have not been sleeping properly.  When I close my eyes, students start lining up to ask me stupid questions that they think, for some reason, only I can answer.  Where is my other shoe?...  Can I have a safety pin?...  Is it okay if I go home to get my shirt?...  I don't know where my costume went...  Brandon took my sword!... My whiskers are crooked... and so on and so forth until 6:15am when I am actually relieved to get out of bed and get away from the chaos.


Ophelia is doing better.  She jumps up on the couch again.  It takes more effort than it used to, and sometimes it takes more than one attempt.  But when I compare that to two weeks ago when I thought we were about to be confronted with a terrible decision whether or not to put her down, this still seems like something to celebrate.  She is much better.


J is turning seventeen on Sunday.  Our little family has been together since she was eleven.  I still have heart pangs when I think of my sister, of how this was meant to turn out.  I will probably always have heart pangs when I think of my sister.

My mother is changing into someone I do not recognize.  My mother has always been a bit of a battleaxe and it troubles me a little that she concedes too easily these days.  To germs, to age, to sadness.  She concedes things she never used to concede, and I do not want her to.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013


On Friday morning, Ophelia experienced a fibrocartilaginous embolism.  What that means, basically, is that she had a stroke.  Not in her brain, but in her spinal cord.  A small blockage prevented normal blood flow for a period of time, leaving her back legs paralyzed.  We took her to the vet, who said that we could leave her hospitalized until Tuesday (today) at which point they could reassess her and give her an MRI to confirm the diagnosis.  (Because it was a long weekend, no one would be able to see her any sooner than that.)

We pondered this and decided, instead, to bring her home for those four days.  The idea of her lying, paralyzed, in a kennel for four days was just intolerable.  Even though there would be people there to keep an eye on her vitals, no one would hold her, no one would comfort her, no one would help her not to be scared about what was happening to her.  So we brought her home in that condition and waited.  She has spent four days on our laps.  I have crawled around on the ground with her, holding her back legs, to help her go to the bathroom without falling over.  I have slept with one eye open to stop her from falling out of bed.

The vet said that if his diagnosis was correct, we would see some improvement in her mobility, and this has happened.  She has gone from being pretty much completely paralyzed on the first day to moving her legs a little bit on the second day, walking a bit with her feet dragging behind her on the second day, to walking a bit Frankensteinlike yesterday but mostly lifting her feet properly and only tripping on them a little bit.  Of course nothing seems like enough because I want her back 100%, the way she was, able to follow me all over the house and to jump in and out of bed on her own.  But when I compare her to the helpless pup she was on Friday, it's really very remarkable recovery.  And I am hopeful that it will keep getting better.

We've both taken the day off work to take her to the specialist this morning.  Good thoughts.

Meanwhile, I am awed by the way that dogs cope and recover when they are traumatized.  Rather than wasting time feeling sorry for themselves, they simply get on with the business of learning how to manage their new condition.  I have cried a lot the last few days, but I don't think Ophelia has been crying at all.


Tuesday, November 05, 2013


CC's husband (Homie) sent me this message on Facebook this evening:

Nov. 21 - Mandatory Nov. 28 - less mandatory

Monday, November 04, 2013

Mr. CreepyBeard

Mr. CreepyBeard is an interesting character.  He is extraordinarily squat, not short enough for him to qualify as a dwarf, but very short.  I am not a tall person myself, but I can see the top of CreepyBeard's head.  He is also quite rotund; although he has thin (short) legs, his tummy is perfectly round as though he swallowed a beach ball.  He has shaggy grey hair, and a giant grizzly grey beard.  He looks as if he would be perfectly at home in Middle Earth, probably carrying a battleaxe.

The more unusual thing about Mr. CreepyBeard is his peculiar social behaviours, underscored by the fact that he teaches social skills to children with autism.  Mr. CreepyBeard has a signature at the bottom of his emails that reads, Regret is the fervent desire for a different past.  I wonder why he chose this to be his signature for his professional email account.  I wonder without judgment.  Well no, actually I judge.  I judge it to be an odd way to sign off when sending emails at work.  I also find it to be a clumsy arrangement of words, unmelodious, but I do not know whether he authored this signature or plagiarized it.  The point is that I do not judge him, just the appropriateness of the phrase.

Mr. CreepyBeard amuses me with emails in which he frequently invites my opinion or help with various questions. When I respond with my thoughts he invariably responds back telling me that my ideas are useless to him because he has something better.  And then uses my idea anyway.

I find Mr. CreepyBeard entertaining in small doses.  The important part will be maintaining small doses.


Friday, November 01, 2013

look my eyes are just holograms

We started the transition when I was about twenty-one from the Warehouse and the Republik to the Ship & Anchor.  A switch from industrial-themed alternative bars to a pub with bookshelves and a ship bell and, well, an anchor.  A switch from dancing and grinding to sitting and talking.  It was not a difficult transition for me.  Although I have taken (and taught) a few dance classes in my life, dance is not really a passion of mine.  I like fucking; what is the point of dance?

The Ship & Anchor became the site of numerous important life events.  For example, this was where Tony gave both me and his newer girlfriend the same Valentine's present (1996ish), hoping (I imagine) to somehow delight us both with the same clever idea (so clever I forget what it was) while hoping we would not notice each other.  And the same night my little sister became drunken Big Sister protective and verbally threatened Tony with a busted bottle over his head.  (Later that same night I gave up my bedroom to D and J in hopes they would consummate some kind of relationship, which they did not, and my sister and I slept on the pull-out bed in the living room under Old Itchy, the worst blanket in the entire world.  Partway though the night I threw up.)

The Ship & Anchor was where I met Victor, an elderly former millionaire gone bankrupt who assured me that whatever heartbreak I experienced, it was nothing compared to what was to come.  And promised me that I was wrong if I thought that time healed all wounds.  Time healed nothing.  I wrote Victor's Anchor for him and sang it in every pub in Edmonton that invited me.

The Ship & Anchor was where I found Paul again after about twelve years.  Newly thirty and with nipples newly pierced, I just wanted him to know that It's not that I don't love you does not mean the same as I love you.  I don't actually think I told him that.  I think I called him Showboat.  When his friend told me Paul had talked about me for twelve years I thought, Good, fuck you, Paul.  And then I fucked him.

At the Ship & Anchor I kissed Noah.  I sat on his lap like a teenager.  I believed in love again for six more days.

When my sister died three years ago, I went home for her funeral, and later that night I went to the Ship & Anchor with my girlfriends.  I drank several pints of beer.  By then you could no longer smoke indoors; K and I stood outside in front of the bar and smoked.  J asked me, What are you doing?  (She never understood my self-destructive tendancies, not when we were teenagers and not now.)  CB drove me home to my parents' house in spite of the fact that it was incredibly far out of her way.  I remembered buying CC beers at the Ship & Anchor ten years ago when her mother died.  (I was drunk, but CB's kindess was not lost on me at all; I noticed.)

I have not been there since then.  Life's biggest moments will not happen there anymore, I think.  Now I am all grown up and my moments happen in my living room, in my car, in my shower, in my bed.  In Italy.  In my office.  You know, adult places.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

dogs teaching dream books

This morning during my spare block I went to the hardware store to buy castors for the set for my play. (I like it when my sets spin.)  In front of me in line was a man with a dog, an Italian Greyhound, wearing a green Christmas sweater.

In other parts of the world (though not Italy; I checked) Italian Greyhounds may be common and popular pets, but here they are not.  When I take my dogs outside I am perpetually stopped by people.  What kind of dog is that?  And once even, Is that a dog?  So I was sort of surprised to see an Italian Greyhound buying a hammer and some nails, and even more surprised at myself for becoming one of those weirdos that feels the need to talk to strangers in stores.  I needed him (the human attached to the dog) to know that I have Italian Greyhounds too.

I needed him to know that I, too, understand their delicate little emotions, that I also have foresaken going on holiday with my husband for the rest of their lives so they won't feel scared or sad or lonely or unsafe, because I, like he, truly know what it feels like to be loved.  Because Italian Greyhound people are insane, he was thoroughly delighted by my intrusion into his world and we talked outside the hardware store for fifteen minutes like a pair of lunatics.  I know all about his wife (former teacher), his Post Office worker retirement pension plan, where he buys his groceries, where he buys his dog gear, who is his favourite veterinarian, where he likes to walk, and so on and so forth.  I stopped short of inviting them to come over and meet my dogs, but only because I had to go back to work.


At lunch I met with Mr. CreepyBeard to talk about our social skills program.  I used to think it was ironic that I was selected to teach social skills, being that mine are a bit shaky, but compared to Mr. CreepyBeard I've got it going on.  Mr. CreepyBeard gives away too much information about Mrs. CreepyBeard and their Creepy Apartment and their Creepy Landlord and their Creepy Neighbours while we are meant to be talking about cognitive behaviour therapy.  (As a sidebar, when I first met Mrs. CreepyBeard I said, Hello, it's nice to meet you!  This wasn't especially creative on my part but at least it was predictable.  Mrs. CreepyBeard stared at me and did not respond other than to make a barely audible grunt.)  In the end I felt we accomplished nothing, so I took a pile of books and told him I would email him my work.  I find it difficult to work with Mr. CreepyBeard, very very difficult.


Last night I dreamed I was walking slowly across a large body of water, maybe a river.  It was deep, chest height, but not over my head, and the current was fast and trying to pull me under into cold water.  To add to the challenge, I was holding Ophelia in my arms and trying to prevent her from getting wet.  She was not pleased.


I am reading, somehow, several things at once.  Canary, by Nancy Jo Cullen.  It is odd when you approach reading a series of short stories as though they are a cohesive book.


Monday, October 28, 2013

non-profit organization

Tonight Shawn asked me if I knew where my current teacher retirement information booklet was (we are trying to figure out, with the help of our financial advisor, how we can retire... now).  I looked inside the filing cabinet where I thought it might be and was distracted, no horrified, by what the inside of the filing cabinet looks like.

Back around, oh, say 2001, I stopped doing things like opening bank statements, reading insurance letters, and filing my own taxes.  In my books, that's what husbands are for.  They're supposed to do the horrible financial thinking that no one wants to do.  Shawn does do that, but he isn't, apparently, so good at filing the paperwork.

The filing cabinet (I swear I haven't looked in there since we moved here in 2007) was stacked full of unopened envelopes from our investment company, and a plethora of other bedraggled looking papers haphazardly stuffed in every which direction.  No file folders, no system.

I used to have a system.  Like I said, I used to do my own stuff.  Last millennium.  I kind of remember how to file stuff.  I pulled out everything, opened all the unopened envelopes, threw away the tax returns from the 1990s, and created a dozen file folders and alphabetized them.  And put papers in them.  Ran all the old paper to the curb, all the private documents through the shredder.  Just like that, an hour and a half later, peace was restored to the inside of my file cabinet, and I wanted Shawn to be excited, enthralled with my organizational skills.  And I wanted him to feel the sense of relief that I feel that there is no longer any unopened mail clogging the track of the filing cabinet drawer.  I showed him the neatly organized drawers, sorted, alphabetized, and labelled.

He said, Did you find that booklet?


Sunday, October 27, 2013

until i met you

I went back to the Writer's Festival again this morning with CC, who sent me a message last night asking if I wanted to go.  Although there are times I cannot bring myself to meet up with CC, going to an event is always a better way to package a visit because it gives us both a destination and a frame that imposes a beginning and an end.

As always she was not ready to go when I arrived.  I watched her finish pouring pancake batter in a frypan (which smelled like it was burning), hand off tiny pancakes to her two young daughters, and then we went to the yard to say goodbye to A, who was painting in the garage.  At some point (a while ago) I decided it was hilarious to call A homie.  I don't remember why.  I know it is obnoxious, and it is also clear he doesn't find it funny, but I cannot seem to stop.  Hey homie, I said.  After we left, CC talked about his alcoholism in a way that we rarely talk about it.  At 27 I lost touch with her for awhile because homie's antics were so intolerable.  Five years later or so I was ready to conceed that my opinion of someone else's partner was irrelevant.  Now, with even more time gone by I am ready to listen, and even to share a gentle opinion if asked.  But she does not ask.  I wouldn't either.

At Writer's Fest I was surprised by the fact that the audience was almost entirely comprised of women.  Why should that be?  I was also surprised by how many of these women were willing to sacrifice hearing the writers in exchange for whispered conversations with the wait staff about getting more coffee.  (It was not even particularly good coffee.)  In another life perhaps I was overbrimming with ideas, the kind of person who put pen to paper and cranked out reams of books; in this one I am a thousand false starts and an endless series of chronically awkward attempts at self-expression.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

bien dans ma peau

Listening to writers talk about their craft mortalizes them.  They write like anyone else does their job.  Get up, get dressed, walk the dog, drink coffee, sit down, get started.  Have lunch.  Work some more.  Stop, eat dinner, laze.  Just like every other job in the world.

So why is it so difficult to see anything through to completion?  One writer suggests that we are still young and can afford to play with words as long as we like.  Another posits that fear of failure translates into failure to culminate.  (I shoulder the certainty that it must also have something to do with apathy.)  Another has no answer to this because he has written -and published- six books this year.  Though he prides himself on his imagination, he cannot relate.  (Perhaps he writes nonfiction.)  Three artists on a panel is not enough to get an adequate answer to this question.

It would be better to spend the whole day, several days, listening to writers talk about writing, listening to dancers dance about architecture, being inspired and being realistic.  It would be satisfying to look at photographs of log cabins in the woods.  (Septic tanks and well water...)  But it would be safer to keep doing what we always do.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

this is how you lose her

Some days I've really got it all together.  Can simultaneously talk BB in off a ledge and help her barter peace with a colleague while juggling a lunch meeting (and getting minutes sent off to everyone with time to spare) and covering RDub's class so he can make an appointment with his son.  And still make it to afternoon rehearsal in a good mood, take great notes, get good feedback, and then get J to her riding lesson in time.  All while wearing heels.

Or ... maybe I actually forgot to show up for NC's class that I had somehow also agreed to cover without realising it was at the same as RDub's.  And maybe I was so confused I told admin I had no idea what they were talking about when they asked me about my double booking.  And I might have even followed that up with a sassy email to admin telling them to quit assigning me to cover other people's classes when it was actually ME who made the arrangement with NC.

Whatever.  I might have been fabulous today.  On another plane I'm pretty sure I rocked it.

I'm kind of a fan of apologies.  That is, I believe in making them when I owe them, and making them good.  Sincere and immediate.  (I count at least three apology coffees that I need to bring to work tomorrow.  I might need to bring a couple extra just in case I fucked up anything else I haven't figured out yet.)


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

lyrics and chords

Your breath is heavy, I can tell you are nearly asleep.  If I hurry, I wonder, could I catch you?  I touch your arm lightly, thinking I might be able to keep you here with me another minute while I catch up.  We might dream together of the same thing.  (I rarely see you on the other side.)  I want to count backward, aloud, sip on a sedative, and float beside you.  


Friday, October 11, 2013

bark bark

The first vice president of my union phoned me at work today.  She wanted to talk about my negative perception of the union and my public comments about such.  It was interesting.  I decided to listen to her, and to share my opinions with her, and we ended up talking for almost an hour.  She didn't hang up convinced of anything new, I'm sure, and neither did I, but for the first time since I moved here I felt that someone at the union was actually interested in and listening to member opinions.  It was definitely the first time that anyone at the union asked me what I thought instead of telling me.  This school year has already been filled with opportunities for me to act like a grown up and I am trying to take them as often as possible.  Dixie promised me a second puberty at age forty that would mark the end of my fear of confrontation.  I'm a little ahead of schedule.  Precocious if you will.


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

respect for acting

Charlie helps me.  He gives me fifteen minutes at the end of the day to talk to the people I work with.  He brings energy to something that has gotten me tired.  He gives me a break from doing it all myself.  And it's all very valuable.  But he is simultaneously everything I hate about acting school.  Actors.  He's the epitome of all-dressed-in-black, with a natty bowtie, and a bicycle helmet.  Leave him alone for fifteen minutes and come back to find him in leopard printed Y-front long johns and bandana, sweaty and red in the face, table drumming and conducting a "movement workshop".

He's all "warm up your lips!" and "make a bold choice!" and lie on the floor and pretend you're a piece of bacon frying in the pan acting school caricature.  All the stuff about acting school that gave me the creeps and put me off meat .  Especially the leopard printed long johns.  It reminds me of Brian, my acting coach, prancing around in his purple MC Hammer pants, leaping like a gazelle, and shouting at us to move with intention!.  

It kind of reminds me of those mad churches where people kiss snakes or throw themselves on the floor and babble in tongues when they are moved by the spirit.  Something about the way people behave when they are groups, losing their ability to recognize ridiculousness as everyone around them becomes increasingly more ridiculous.  Adults lying on the floor pretending to be frying bacon, adults dancing madly while someone drums on a table, adults opening and closing their fingers and rolling their tongues and lips in unison, brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!.  And taking it all very seriously, wondering why the rest of the world thinks actors are nuts.  And then putting the black dress slacks on over top of the leopard printed long johns, tucking their black dress slacks into their socks, re-clipping the bowtie, and donning the bicycle helmet for the ride home.


Sunday, October 06, 2013

Uh oh, I've mouthed off in the union forum.

I wonder what will happen to me now?  Will I be banned from the forum?  Will my union discipline me?

I'm scared.  (Not really.)



Saturday, October 05, 2013

Street in a strange world

This afternoon I went to the bookstore.  I used to go to the bookstore quite regularly before Shawn gave me his Kindle and insisted I learn to use it.  (Now I have a bookstore in my bed with me when I finish a book at midnight and want another one straight away - something that happens more often than one might imagine.)

But I went to the bookstore today.  I went because I had a gift card, the kind that must be spent in the store, and so I thought I would try to find something that was only available in the store.  Normally bookstores are a bit of a religious homecoming for me, but for some reason today my heart was not open to it.  None of my favourite authors had anything new, except Margaret Atwood and damn her anyway.  The gift card was only for fifteen dollars and eventually after looking at everything in the store I decided to waste the money on a blue bracelet.

Why does my bookstore sell blue bracelets? you ask.  I have no idea, but they don't just sell blue.  They also have pink and purple.  But I chose blue and marched it up to the front counter where I was greeted by a cashier who looked at my purchase and asked if I had found everything I was looking for.  As if perhaps I had also been looking for the matching necklace and earrings.  I wanted to scream, "Don't judge me!  I read!  Seriously, I love books!"  Instead I confirmed my shallowness by receiving a text message, loudly, while she was explaining their school book donation program.  I refused to make a donation because I have already donated to this program, but the cashier had no way of knowing that and undoubtedly assumed I was saving my hard earned cash for more jewelry.


I decided to write a bit more porn.  The publisher contacted me and offered me an advance which made it all the more tempting.  I can see my pay in blue bookstore bracelets already.


Thursday, October 03, 2013

the more you ignore me

I said yes.  Yes to Italy (again), yes to France, yes yes yes to Spain.  Now I trust him so it's different.


The guy on the morning news just referred to "African refugees from Syria".


Sunday, September 29, 2013

hairpin turn

My friendship with RDub has evolved, mostly because of Italy.  He sometimes pays my bill when he should not.  (He should not because he has two children and his wife stays home with the kids, which means he is supporting all these people on a teacher salary.)  But he does.  I try to even the score as often as possible but it takes effort and I am inherently unobservant and lazy.  

My latest attempt at paying back involved buying a new kind of beer at the pub.  I bought it because I knew the bartender and he told me it was wonderful.  He lied.  It is bitter and revolting.  It was horrible.  Even RDub, who seems to like all beer, admitted it was awful.  (He still drank it.)  I hated it and so he drank mine too.  I don't think I can count this as repayment since it was so terrible.  


Thursday, September 26, 2013


My aunt and uncle split when I was about twelve.  My uncle is my father's brother.  Auntie Heather told us that she was still our aunt and would always be in touch.  We never heard from her again.  And then Facebook brought her back, sort of.  Just recently.  Of course I have no idea who she is anymore, but when I was twelve she was a cool parent, the kind that laughed a lot, the kind that didn't get angry or yell, the kind that did yoga and nailpolish and other things children find fascinating.  Apparently, now, she is the kind of woman who posts videos of herself dancing in her living room.


When I was a child I thought the word "rubber" meant an eraser.  My parents taught me that it did, and I do not think they were setting me up.  I think they were just unfamiliar with North American slang.

I had a lot of other vocabulary issues: lorries instead of trucks, rubbish bins instead of garbage cans.  Wiping the dishes rather than drying them.  But none of these caused me nearly as much grief as going off to school with my backback full of pencils and rubbers.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

this island called home

His son was normal for the first two and a half years of his life, then abruptly began having coordination problems.  He and his wife took their son to see a doctor who diagnosed him.  He was going blind.  This was terrible news.  But there was far worse news, because the blindness was a symptom of a degenerative disease that would eventually paralyse him completely and shut down all his autonomic functions.  At the time he was the only person in Canada with the disease.  The boy was given a year to live.  (He lived eight more.)

His parents quit their jobs so they could become his full time caregivers.  He needed 24 hour care and monitoring.  They learned to breathe with him.  They learned to interpret his signals even as the signals grew fainter and fainter.

They called him their Captain because they learned they could not steer the boat on which they found themselves.  They could only respond.

They petitioned for money to add a hydraulic lift to their home so their son could go outside in his wheelchair and feel the sun on his face.  The organization gave them the money, and sponsored their trip home to Zimbabwe so he could be with his grandparents one more time.

Though their son could now go in and out of their home, he, and they, became the only ones who did.  People do not know what to say to parents whose child is dying.  People do not know what to bring when they visit.  They are afraid of talking too loudly, too much, too little.  They do not know what to do with that kind of pain.  No one does, least of all those who are caught inside it.  We isolate them.  We say pain does not belong out in the world; it belongs at home.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Since you asked...

I may have neglected to mention that Crazy Sue is MIA.  She vanished near the end of May and no one (at work) has seen her since.  At the end of May no one was surprised she disappeared because she was being investigated, which was undoubtedly uncomfortable.  The investigator found her guilty of harassment, which resulted in a note being placed in her employee file and a recommendation that she attend a conflict resolution class.  But nothing else.  She was not moved, she was not forced to leave the school.

So we were surprised when she did not return in September.  To be fair, I am certain it is difficult to return to a workplace in which you know people have been talking about you.  It must be embarrassing.    But Crazy Sue was offered the opportunity to go and work at another school - and turned it down.

Apparently she has booked a substitute until the end of October.  No one thinks she will come back though.  And if I was a wealthy woman nearing retirement anyway, I wouldn't come back either.  I really hope she stays gone.  I really really really really hope she stays gone.

The substitute teacher, Ashley, is sweet.  And today I asserted myself (the way I should have done with Crazy Sue) by asking her not to let her students rehearse loud screamy plays right outside my (non-soundproof) doors.  And lo and behold, instead of having a temper tantrum or refusing to listen, Non-Crazy Ashley said sure and life carried on for both of us.  Wonderful.

So that, I hope, is my last post about Crazy Sue forever and ever.  Amen.


Sunday, September 01, 2013

weak limp lifeless dull straw-like

Shawn went to some kind of nerd convention in Seattle and at home the world went bananas.  J and I ate greasy pizza for dinner and wiped our hands on the furniture instead of on napkins, and watched insipid television programs that made us dumber while simultaneously wracking up the credit cards.  We went to bed ridiculously late and I nearly choked on dog hair in my sleep with four dogs wound round my body.

In the morning the coffee did not make itself and neither did the security alarm remember to turn itself off.  While I explained to the security guy who phoned me that I just forgot to turn off the alarm before coming downstairs, the dogs tried to eat each other because there was no sensible human around to feed them.


And tomorrow is the last day of summer vacation.  I opted for the summer pro-d which gives me days off in November and May.  (Crazy Sue did not, which was a relief, as the prospect of spending a day brainstorming departmental goals with her was utterly intolerable.)  There isn't a Final Day of Vacation plan to look forward to.  Maybe a nap on the couch.  Maybe some Triscuits.

Summer pro-d, as always, consisted of aggravating team-building exercises.  I caught a ball, and wove a rope through a spider web made of wire, and balanced with a boatload of off-balance colleagues, and smiled and laughed and hugged people.  Checked in.  Made jokes, laughed at jokes.  That kind of thing.


S writes to me.  Instead of counselling her in person I now counsel her via the ether.  She is armed with a new doctor, an SSRI prescription, and some Valium.  And university starts for her the same day that school starts for me.  We will both be apprehensive, but she has a sedative and I do not.  (Summer vacation allows me to nurse a social anxiety problem in a way that is mostly very satisfying until it ends.)  There were a lot of people who, in my high school yearbook, instructed me to "stay cool".  Every last one of them is disappointed in me.


Monday, August 05, 2013

This is Deep Cove, where we sometimes go canoeing.  It is best to be there early, very early, because if you go later in the day the sailboats and the windsurfers will be in the cove, and worse, the power boats, all of which means the living things will be hiding.

This seal family seemed completely unconcerned when we floated by them.  There were also three pups swimming around, but every time I tried to take their pictures, they would go underwater.  Camera shy, just like me.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

of lovers and leavers still believing (they are free to come and go)

When you take a really deep breath, as deep as you can, there is still always a little room for a bit more air if you just force yourself, and that is the place from which I want to breathe.  When I run hard I can breathe to that place consistently, but only while I am running.  (The other thing that opens that place is crying, but I almost never cry that way anymore.)  The feeling of opening that tight place in my chest, that is my reason for running, because it releases everything that is trapped behind it for awhile.

I ran the TH trail this afternoon, which is the right balance of people-y enough to be safe, and quiet enough to be peaceful.  It was a passage through seasons because although it is still summer on my street, in the park it seems that autumn has already descended.