Sunday, February 24, 2013


I would like to convince you that I have, in fact, been thinking about filters all this time, but I am not going to lie to you.  I have thought about filters a little.  And not enough.  What I thought about is just that I look through the same filter through which I am seen, and so the way you see me impacts who I think I am and vice versa.  It is simple really, and it means you are mostly right.  I am not special.  It is just that I have been the DOC for a lot of addicts, and addicts are effusive when they are under the influence.  And I am initially buoyed by it - and then disappointed when I recognize what it is.  And the more addicts profess undying devotion, the more I know something is wrong with me; I am not a healthy habit.  That is what my filter is.  It is a net that catches things eventually after a few slip through.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

We were called to an urgent staff meeting after school, at which we were told that BB has been diagnosed with leukemia.  BB, as far as she had told me, was having some immunity problems and was asked to take time away from the germ pool until it was resolved.  The potential for serious illness had not really occurred to me and so when we received the news I was completely startled.  And, unfortunately, had an extracurricular activity I was still expected to run afterward.  I do not think I was an especially effective facilitator this afternoon.

BB is not just a colleague, she is a friend.  And friend is one of those words I do not throw around, because I do not make friends easily or lightly.  Her illness scares me because she is bad and tough and sort of invincible-seeming.  And I do not want her to die.


Monday, February 18, 2013


This morning in first period M interrupted my class while I was teaching them how to stagefight.  I was in the midst of pretending to deliver a knee to the jaw to one of my grade nine boys when she appeared by the door and gestured at me.  I left my students unsupervised and stepped out into the hall to see what was going on.  Usually when M interrupts it is to ask me to cover for her in counselling.  Instead she said, I feel naked.  Do you have any lipstick?

This was an extremely strange request in a lot of ways.  First of all, isn't it unusual for adult people to share things that touch their mouths?  (My mother was highly opposed to my teenage practice of sharing drinks, chapstick, and slobbery kisses with anyone who asked.)  M is 44 and because she is older than me she is supposed to know better.

But it is also odd because we aren't really that close.  I do not know her very well at all, I don't have a history of sharing personal secrets or personal objects with her.  There are people in my life with whom I do share these things, mostly Shawn (who thinks nothing of using a toothbrush I just finished using) but she is not one of them.  She is just a colleague.

And mostly it is odd because she is an adult person, a counsellor, a person who is supposed to be professional and have the best interests of students at heart, interrupting their very important Ass Kicking education to ask me for a cosmetic product.

I gave it to her, of course, and then was interrupted a second time after she had finished using it when she brought it back.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

This afternoon there was a commercial on television for one of those charities that fosters children in the third world (I don't think we're allowed to say third world anymore) and the song playing was the same song J chose for her mother's funeral, chose it because her mother loved it, probably chose it without really knowing what the lyrics meant, what her mother was saying when she sang along.  I can see her in the kitchen washing dishes with her outdated ghetto blaster blaring on the counter, horrible plastic pig decorations speckled with spilled coffee.

And although it's been nearly three years since Colleen died I am suddenly stunned by how much it still hurts, even though I keep making peace with it over and over again in different ways.  Through my dreams and through my memories, letting go of her in bits and pieces all the time.  I started doing that while she was still alive, and shouldn't I, by now, be done letting her go.  But the way I react to that song tells me it is not over with; god, I miss her so much.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

more love

And another friend posted this.  I seem to have more Catholic friends than I realised.  I suppose Catholicism is invisible like a lot of other illness.  

No, I do not really mean that.  Extremism is not specific to Catholics.  It is a problem in any faith.  And is it extreme for him to tell me (and his other 278 "friends") that he is against abortion?  Does that mean he would get between a woman and her doctor?  Does it mean he would demonstrate and frighten people who have made that choice?  I doubt it, I do not think so.  So is it extreme?  Not really, no.  It's a lot more extreme than minding your own damn business, but it's not particularly invasive.  Still bugs me, though.  I wonder why.



A friend posted a bible passage in honour of Valentine's Day (I assume):  ‎"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."   I wonder what all that means.  It is a lovely sentiment, but I have trouble with the word always, not because my experience with love is so different, but my experience also tells me that Love Sometimes isn't exactly perfect.  Even when it's perfect for me.

Another friend posted a photograph of himself hobnobbing with Margaret Atwood, which made me jealous.  (Not in the ugly way, jealous, but the kinda-wishing-I-was-hobnobbing-with-Margaret-Atwood-too kind of way, jealous.)  I think Margaret Atwood is quite crazy, and sort of dislikeable (is that a word?), both of which are qualities I admire.


I am reading (with every intention of returning to Ian MacEwan soon) Why We Broke Up, which is written from the perspective of a sixteen year old girl who is overcome with the need to write her ex-boyfriend a letter explaining all the reasons she had to dump him.  I had trouble staying focused on it when I began reading it last night.  My mind was distracted, swirling with mental pictures of the upcoming Italy trip -- because RW and I had just spent the evening talking about it.  But I think I like the premise of the book, though I may need to read backwards to make sure I got everything important.

I should like to write a letter to my boyfriend from when I was sixteen to tell him why we broke up.  Except oh, that's Shawn.

We did break up, though, when I was sixteen.  And eighteen, and nineteen, and twenty-four, and twenty-seven.  And there were good reasons every time.  Just that reasons to come back together were always better.  We haven't broken up for more than ten years now, so I think we mostly have it out of our systems, although I always threaten him with the fact that my next husband is going to be much more accommodating about sharing his razors.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013


In the interest of honesty, I want to admit I do not really know what Twitter actually is.  I know that when you talk to Twitter you put a #hashtag after your comment, and that makes it magically fall into a category where other Twits can find it.  I know that you're supposed to tell Twitter what you're doing all the time because people who read Twitter want to know what you're doing all the time.

sitting on the couch    #sitting
beside Shawn    #husbands
who is reading his Kindle    #slave to corporation   #literature
with a dog asleep on his chest    #love 
thinking about Twitter    #Twitter
with a half finished glass of water beside me    #water    #beverage
on the arm of the couch    #sofa  #couch  #settee  #chesterfield
that looks a bit precarious    #imminent spill 
and now thinking about the fact that my grandparents always called their couch the "settee"    #settee

I'm pretty sure it goes something like that.  Like the Documenters with all their photographs, except the Twits do it with words instead.  I think I could learn to use Twitter because I like words to document my insipidity.  It makes me feel more important.


Monday, February 11, 2013

born of blood

Do you ever write something so perfect that you're afraid to follow it with something else, something less perfect that might detract from its beauty?  No?  Me either.


Today is Family Day, the first of its kind in BC, a gift from the Liberal Party who are liberal, apparently, with stat holidays if not with wages for public servants.  There has been some debate and disgruntlement over Family Day, which is unsurprising; in fact I remember the same thing in Alberta when Don Getty announced Family Day in 1990 (and the rumour at the time was that he needed a day to visit his son in jail).

It took BC another couple of decades or so to follow suit.  And for some reason the day chosen for Family Day was a different day than Getty chose for Alberta, which annoys people who have family in neighbouring provinces they would like to visit.  And of course there was plenty of argument that Family Day Monday should follow Super Bowl Sunday so all those hung over football fans could have a day to recover.  But nursing a hangover isn't a family activity, really, is it?

I am spending Family Day (morning) with CC, who is one of the only friends I have kept in touch with from university (and by keeping in touch I mean seeing in person, not clicking "Like" on Facebook).  I love CC very much but I dislike her husband intensely.  The good part about seeing her early in the morning is that he is likely to still be in bed, or even still out carrousing from the night before.  We are going for coffee and breakfast.  CC has two young children who are adorable and exhausting and greatly impede our ability to talk to one another, so most of the time when I see CC I spend it listening to her children and helping her pull them out from under chairs in the coffee shop.  Nonetheless, I do not see her often enough given that we are only a 40 minute drive apart.

The rest of the day I will dedicate to my own little family, husband and niece/daughter, both people I chose for my own.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

a thousand sharpened elbows in the underground

One of the first thing students of psychology/psychiatry learn is that one should not diagnose oneself, and the reasons for this are numerous.  First and foremost, we all have symptoms, and symptoms do not always point directly or conclusively to illness, just as you cannot conclude each time you sneeze that you must have a cold.  People sneeze.  Sometimes it's dust, or allergies.  Sometimes it's dog hair.  Quite frequently it's dog hair.  And sometimes I'm just pretending to be Bridget Fonda checking if Eddie Vedder is going to say bless you.  Still, self-diagnosis is delicious and tempting, and so is diagnosing one's family, friends, and neighbours.

The neurosequential model, in which I just happen to be deeply immersed at the moment, suggests that the earliest of childhood traumas interrupt the development of the brain stem, quite literally manifesting itself in autonomic issues like awkward gait, irregular breathing patterns, unregulated heart rate, and overactive and/or underactive appetite.  A little later in life, childhood trauma damages the limbic system, potentially resulting in issues like poor impulse control, heightened startle response, inappropriate sexual expression, and the inability to self-modulate mood.

As a person ages and the brain develops, new traumas injure the brain in different and newer structures.  This means our war veterans return home with damage to the cortex, the outermost portion of the brain that is last to develop.  Research into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder focuses largely upon traumas experienced by adults, but trauma expresses itself in completely different ways in adults than it does in children.  Damage to the cortex impairs higher functions like organization and decision-making.

It means that many of the children we diagnose as having ADD/ADHD, conduct disorder, oppositional defiance, and other attentional/attitudinal/social problems may not have these disorders at all.  What if they are actually the victims of childhood trauma instead?  If so, we are not treating them properly.

This is the part where I start looking around me and diagnosing everyone I know, especially me.


And on another note, I'm very aggravated by the commercial that features a blonde woman ice skating around a department store or some such nonsense, picking up knick knacks and candle holders, singing to them orgasmically, Oh-oh-ohhhh, and concluding with her setting a perfect dinner table while her husband stares at her, Ohhhohhhohhhh, Ohhh is the one.  Not that I have ever had any interest whatsoever in the advertising business but I have to wonder if they couldn't have come up with something a little less inane.


Friday, February 08, 2013

relational cesspool

I think this is a story about not being polite.  But it might be a story about being decisive.

Today I had an appointment at 3:30.  I arrived at the appointment on time, five minutes early perhaps.  In spite of my disorganization I am usually on time.  I smiled at the receptionist.  She said, She'll be with you in a minute.  I smiled again and nodded and wandered around in the reception room looking looking looking with growing trepidation.  An inner voice asking me to leave.  I tried to ignore it because it would be impolite to cancel an appointment right when it's time for the appointment to begin.

But she was late.  And her lateness gave my doubt time to blossom.  Eventually she came out of a back room and said my name in a tone of voice that sounded like a gunshot.  I'm running late, she said, Sit down.  Sit down, like it was an order, not an invitation.  Like it was wrong for me to pace like this.

I said, How late?  Maybe I'll go get coffee and come back.  I do not drink coffee in the afternoon.

She said, Fifteen minutes.

I stepped out the door into the cool February mist and took some deep breaths.  I got in my car and sat inside looking in through the front window.  Looking, watching, waiting.

After fifteen minutes I put my key in the ignition and drove home without any explanation or regret.


the world is so small


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

just to add... a little wisdom

But maybe it just takes a small reminder to recall the times I have recognized it like a childhood friend.  Oh right, there it is, truth.   (Thank you for that.)  Perhaps being willing to wander means being willing to get lost sometimes, and so it must also mean trusting in one's own sense of direction.  And having a friend who will point the way helps too.


I finished and adored Enduring Love by Ian McEwan.  Loved the way I unquestioningly believed Joe's narration for the first third of the book, and then painfully began to doubt him.  I love the unreliable narrator (and consider myself one at the best of times), and loved watching his credibility crumble.  Loved feeling sorry for him as I felt certain he was losing his grip on reality.  And then loved joining him in his outrage when it turned out he was right all along, misunderstood, misjudged, mistreated.


The return to teaching after several weeks of counselling was not a difficult transition to make.  Teaching is an easier job -- or at least it is an easier job for me because I have far more experience with it.  It bores me sometimes, but other times it is a relief to be doing something I feel good at without having to try nearly so hard.  Of course I cannot be satisfied doing the easier job for another twenty years until I am eligible to retire, but for February it will be just fine.  (February is a short month.)