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.