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.