Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I'm sick.  That's twice this school year.  Stupid dirty teenagers.  I took today off work and will take tomorrow too.  I only managed to stay awake for about fifteen consecutive minutes at any point today, which doesn't bode well for returning tomorrow.  The dogs are driving me crazy.  They like being nestled up close to my hot, fever-addled body, which just makes me feel worse.  But if I put them in jail they bark and keep me awake.  I haven't trained these rotten creatures for this sort of situation.


Yesterday J turned eighteen.  Odd, that, to have a legal adult in place of the child.  She is beautiful and smart.  And delightfully self-conscious and awkward.  I wonder where she gets that latter part from…


Friday, November 14, 2014


I hate October.  One of the best things about the move here has been the fact that October does not invade the coast the way it does the prairies.  Some winters it does not make it here at all, and I feel as though I have gotten away with something; many years since then I have gotten away without living through October.  Here on the coast we spend that season wrapped in a sodden pewter blanket of rain and cloud.  October sneaks up and disguises itself as crisp, cold morning sunlight.  Through the window it looks like the right month to go running outside.  Even through the car window, if you happen to have a garage, which I do.  It prevents October from seeping in through the seals.

But it catches you when you step out into the air, even if it's just to walk from the car into a building.  There are poplar leaves here, yellow, after all, and they have a smell that is amber and death.  The blades of grass stand up straight, each encrusted in its own capsule of frost.  And the sunlight is bright and blinding, but it's cold, it's so cold.  And in those seventeen steps toward the door you cannot help but inhale it, and it stings going in and it comes back out as a sob that has been trapped beneath the rib cage for years.  And then you take another breath that hurts less only because you expect it to hurt more.  And that is October.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

keep it in your pocket

I work with idiots.  Today CreepyBeard did some extra stupid things that got him reported to Human Resources.  I was amused that the Principal stated that she felt no discipline was necessary but she was reporting him to HR just in case.  As staff rep I am supposed to help defend him, but it is difficult to defend CreepyBeard because he is just such an idiot.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sarajevo still

It occurs to me as I read this book that I once dated a man from Sarajevo. (Or maybe he was only a boy.  I was in my early twenties, and perhaps he was five years older.)  It occurs to me that he must have left Sarajevo in the nineties because of the war.  It occurs to me that he must have witnessed terrible things.  And it occurs to me now that he probably suffered terribly.

And I was only dimly aware of a war in Sarajevo.  Sarajevo only existed on the periphery of a world that was all about me, and I did not connect this young man with what little I knew.  Perhaps this contributed to my charm, the fact that I was too stupid to ask him any questions about his experience, about his life before moving to Canada.  More likely he wondered what was wrong with me.  But this was before I fell in love with the CBC and Peter Mansbridge.  I wish I had asked questions, I wish I had paid attention to the world.  I wish I still knew him today.


Monday, November 10, 2014

fully furnished

On Saturday afternoon I was IDed at the liquor store buying a bottle of wine.  ID laws have becoming ridiculously stringent in my province when liquor store owners feel compelled to check the ID of someone who passed the age of majority twenty years ago.  The shop owner tried to be charming about it, telling me I looked far younger.  So I impressed him by being unable to recall my own phone number, which he requested for the points program.  I stumbled over the first three numbers repeatedly, like a senior citizen overcome with dementia.


There is a Japanese Maple tree on my front lawn.  I admire its Japanese Canadian temperament, its confidence to do its own thing in the face of pressure from other trees on the street.  In late August while every other tree was shaking off its leaves as fast as possible, the Japanese Maple changed nothing about itself at all.  In early October, some of the leaves changed from deep purple to pink, but only some of them.  Certain branches changed, others did not.  Now it has decided to let go of some of the pink leaves, which have fluttered to the ground where they look like confetti.  Other branches have not changed since summer.  It is a strange, unpredictable tree, and I like it very much.


I am reading The Cellist of Sarajevo, which is a difficult read for a couple of reasons.  It does not fit within my limited frame of reference and experience (which needs expanding).  And it is sad, terribly sad.  There are times I read for immersion.  There are times like this I read to learn, and learning is sometimes an uncomfortable feeling.


Friday, October 31, 2014

the King of Spain

This Jian Ghomeshi thing is killing my buzz.  I like that guy.  I want to believe that guy, and quite frankly I would prefer to believe in a sexy BDSM world in which kink is both exciting and consensual.    (I had no idea he used to be in Moxy Fruvus; did you?  J used to call me his "unspeakable wife, Queen Lisa".)  But let's be realistic about it.  He probably is guilty.  Probably terribly terribly guilty.  But come to think of it, I have a friend who claims that George Strombolopolous undid her bra at a bar in Toronto - so you just never know who you can trust.  Because George is my boyfriend.  He wouldn't do that.  Right?


R says he is angry that he can never find M.  She is late, always late, never reachable, never available when one has an emergency, and why do emergencies always happen at such inconvenient times.  I watch his mouth while he is talking, and then close my eyes and try to count his teeth in my imagination.  It doesn't work.

This summer on the picket line I learned that strangers had been distinguishing between me and another Lisa by calling me "Lisa with the teeth".  (This is mysterious because the other Lisa also possesses a full set of teeth.)

I ask R, Why don't you tell her you hate it when you can't find her when you need her?  It will make her feel important.  He laughs.  R prides himself on being the kind of guy who shoots from hip, not the sort of man who would employ such manipulations.  Which leaves me to wonder why he is complaining to me.


I was frightened of C for a long time, years perhaps.  He always looked like he wanted to punch someone in the mouth.  He still looks like that, but now that I am confident it is not me he would like to punch, I find it attractive on him.  I play a game in my head where I try to make him laugh, because he gives up the laugh so rarely, so ruefully, and with such respect.  When I can make him laugh I feel like I have won a prize.  It turns out what makes him laugh the most is the things I am naturally best at: inappropriately intimate comments, innappropriately intimate questions, inappropriately intimate gestures.  (Perhaps in some ways there is no difference between my behaviour and Jian's.)  So I ask him about his divorce.  I encourage him to seek therapy for his rage.  I call him names.  Sometimes I say pussy and make a gesture that goes with the insult.  And he laughs.  And my fear dissolves a little more.  (I am thinking about tackling him in the prep room so I can push - and mail -  the envelope full of inappropriately intimate physical contact in a public space.)


Thursday, October 30, 2014


This was a photograph of me and Emory.  Now it's just a photograph of Emory and my hand.  Because Emory doesn't care about his privacy or about ending up on Google Images so people can use his photograph to lure teenagers into inappropriate relationships.  He says go for it.


Monday, October 27, 2014

making ice

Mr. Sexual Harassment is in trouble again.  He's at his third complaint since school started in September and this doesn't count the sexual harassment complaint from last year.  To be fair, only one of the current complaints is about sexual harassment, and the other two are just about being a jerk.  I met with him today to mediate one of those discussions between him and the complainant.  He did not handle himself well.  He loudly munched a big, juicy apple during the meeting and rolled his eyes and implied that the complainant was childish for being offended by his behaviour.  My role is about helping and supporting all staff members, but I do not know how to support this man.  Something is wrong with him.  And what bothers me most is that I kind of find myself liking him and empathizing with him.  He rubs people the wrong way, truly, because he is socially inept.  But I do not think he truly means any harm.  Or maybe I am giving him too much credit.  I feel certain he is going to end up being disciplined in short order and I cannot protect him from that if he keeps making terrible choices.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

ready for this

After nearly three weeks, I have returned to yoga.  That is, I have successfully attended two consecutive classes and have plans to get back into my regular routine.  But I am sore, sore like I was when it all began, which is exactly what happens when you stop attending yoga class for any length of time.  You lose your gains.

It was pleurisy that prevented me from attending class for three weeks.  I imagine that different people experience pleurisy in different ways.  For me, it involved a stabbing pain in my chest with every inhalation, right around the place where I think my heart is located.  At first, and for several days,  I thought it was some kind of weird pinched nerve, because the pain radiated outward the way nerve pain does.  I was confident I was not having a heart attack but after two weeks, I began to wonder if my heart was infected in some strange way.  I have never experienced anything like pleurisy before.  The pain was unrelenting, and culminated in the third week in a drowning sensation that kept me from being able to sleep lying down.  I was stubborn for far too long in refusing to seek medical attention.  I did, however, spend some time researching "Right to Die" legislation in case I did not start to feel better soon.  Fortunately, eventually, I did.

Throughout this ordeal I only took one day off work, and thought I was quite tough for doing so until I remembered that BB is working full time through chemotherapy.  There are a number of ways in the world a person can be stupid.  Or brave.  I have chosen to go back to yoga now that my strength and stupidity have fully returned to me.


Friday, October 24, 2014

only books

My book club is reading Alone in the Classroom, a peculiar bit of Canadian writing that tries to scream Canada! the way Miriam Toews screams Canada, the way Sam Roberts sings Canada, the way Tomson Highway and Michel Tremblay emote Canada with its beautiful quirks and flaws and magic .  I wanted to be impressed with this book but either there were bits that didn't quite work, or I wasn't smart enough to make all the necessary connections for it to be completely satisfying.  We are discussing it on Saturday, but unfortunately I have read a few books since this one and now it is not as clear as I would like it to be.

After that I read something by Deepak Chopra, something about seven spiritual secrets.  I did not appreciate it.  It seemed trite and obvious.  And insipid.

Then I read The Children Act, by Ian McEwan, which I enjoyed very much.  The notion of a woman in her sixties suddenly finding her husband is planning to have an affair with a younger woman was fascinating, terrifying, psychologically challenging.  The knowledge that these things really do happen is something I struggle with, along with the awareness that husbands also develop fatal illnesses sometimes and die.  It would be nice to think that the future is all set up, but these thoughts frighten and shake me, although I have enormous faith in my husband, I recognize our human frailties to keep me from being to certain of anything.

And now I am reading Elizabeth is Missing, which I chose because it was Laurel's Pick at the bookstore, and I like the name Laurel.  This book is about an elderly woman with some sort of dementia, who feels certain that her friend Elizabeth has gone missing, but struggles too much with her failing memory to deal with the situation as effectively as she wants.  And again I am reminded of our humanity.  My mother and her her ominous threats about the tea I was meant to poison at earliest sign of dementia.  (She was lucky, really,  because my mother behaved irrationally enough times throughout my childhood that she would have been dead many times over if I'd kept my word.)

Yesterday I went to the Writer's Festival with a pack of teenagers and BB, who is recovering so well from leukaemia that one would never know she had been ill.  I honour my strange friendship with this woman who no one else seems able to get along with.  During the writers' talk, one of the authors said she identified herself as "bi-gendered" or "two-spirited".  While this has been in vogue in the East for a long time, it is comparatively new to the West, and completely new to conservative BB, who rolled her eyes at me and said, "Good Lord", in a voice that travelled several rows.  I tried to explain it to her on the bus on the way home but she would have none of it.  Stupid, impossible, ridiculous.  I do not wonder why other people find her intolerable.  I wonder why I enjoy her so much, why I get such a kick out of her obnoxious behaviour instead of being offended.

Speaking of work, the cool young teachers have invited me to a cool young teacher party in a couple of weeks.  (BB is not invited.)  I am not sure why I am, as I am neither cool nor in my early twenties.  I am trying to decide if I want to be sociable with people I do not really relate to, in case I find something relatable after all, or if I would rather stay home - which is my default preference.  Last time I went to a cool teacher party I drank too much wine and got sloppy.  Come to think of it, maybe that is why I have been invited, to provide some entertainment.


Sunday, October 05, 2014

my own silence

My mother's book is experiencing success.  No, my mother is experiencing the success of her book.  It is an odd thing to read a book in which you are a character, even a minor, flat, character.  (Flat as a piece of paper, actually, flat as a dour nun who can be counted upon to shake her bony finger at you in disapproval every time you try to think about enjoying yourself in some small way.)  I am proud of my mother - though not of the small part I have to play in the dramatic story of her, and Colleen's, life.

It is raining, as it does here for much of the year, and this time I have remembered to fill the bird feeders.  It makes the rain more bearable to see living things outside and enjoying the rain in a way that I can rarely muster.  It is fascinating how it is actually very possible to enjoy rain when one chooses to do so.  Like birds do. They rejoice.  When you step outside with the purpose of jumping in puddles and getting wet, rain feels wonderfully refreshing.  You know you can come back inside and change clothes and dry off.  The other kind of rain, the one that gets you while you are trying to load groceries in the trunk of your car (only the first of many tasks that must be completed on the weekend), feels dismal.  I wonder how many frustrated authors have begun (and ceased)  to write about how rain makes them feel today.


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

I fell in love the way you fall asleep

I think of myself as a person who falls in love easily.  I do fall in love easily, but falling in love is one of those expressions that means different things to different people.  Perhaps I refer to the potential for love more so than love itself, for love is complicated.  And I think it is enduring - even when relationships end.

But I say I fall in love all the time, because I do.  I feel I have fallen in love with book characters, movie characters, musicians and singers, authors and artists, strangers on the bus to whom I have not spoken, and I am not sure what I really mean when I say that.  Can one be in love with a fiction?  An intangible?  Can one be in love with someone with whom one has no relationship?

Though I fall in love easily, I have only had two of those of those kinds of loves that fit society's rules, the kind that come with long lasting relationships.  Commitments and promises.  One of them did not last.  One of them has lasted.

My first love was Shawn, who eventually I married, but not until after I met, loved, and broke up with the second love, T.

T was actually the one I thought would last forever.  And somehow he turned out to be even more fictional than a character in a novel, but I do not know how this happened.  Perhaps he was never who I thought he was at all.  Or perhaps he changed into someone else.  Or perhaps I did.  Any combination of these could be true, and to be fair I am certain I disappointed him too.

A few years ago he got married.  And divorced.  And recently he became engaged, and again split.  And I am surprised by my own reaction to these pieces of news because if I truly loved him I should be sorry to hear of these things, shouldn't I?  But during his divorce I found it impossible not to laugh at his exasperated Facebook status posts about his ex-wife stealing his car and kidnapping his dog.  And this time I guess I am just thinking it serves him right for trying to be happy in this world without me.

It proves that one should not maintain contact with one's ex-lovers.  And it proves that I have a tight knot of cruelty right beneath my collarbone.  And it proves that love is not always really love.




In summer, the lack of responsibility cuts my anchor to the calendar and days blend together in a blurry, warm, campfire haze.  I like that life, borderless and loose.  It makes time move in a different sort of way, neither fast nor slow; time is just as an unimportant bit of information I rarely notice.  It could flow in almost any direction if it wanted to.

Then summer ends and I pin the new calendar to my bullentin board and begin counting the days until the weekend, weeks until holidays, months until next summer.  Wishing life away, one might say, but it isn't exactly like that.  It is just a heightened awareness of time and how responsibilities fit into time, and deadlines and paycheques and appointments and meetings.  Places I am meant to be, times I am meant to arrive and leave to avoid missing the next commitment.

The thing I miss more than the easy flow of time is the light.  I miss the early morning light that makes waking so natural and easy.  And I miss the late evening light that makes me want to stay outside, that makes it easy to sacrifice sleep for more conversation and one more drink.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

set on fire

I would like to know what you have been thinking about.  But I do not mean the recycled musings about  your lost youth, fantasies in which you appear as a tragic hero, drunk and heartbroken, tough and unknowable.  I mean the things we have tried not to talk about that make us human, like my obsession with floor tiles, your obsession with the ladder.  The boring things that cannot be made into a feature film, but might make a nice book if you would allow me to read it.


I am reading Half-Blood Blues, which is exactly the sort of book I would never have chosen to read on my own - but I have joined a book club, which is the kind of middle-aged suburban soccer mom kind of thing I do these days.  And the book is interesting.  I abandoned Worst. Person. Ever. without finishing it, which is the kind of thing I almost never do to books.  (People maybe.)


Ophelia has a herniated disc, which was mistakening diagnosed as a fibrocartilaginous embolism.  She had a CT scan and an ultrasound to make sure.  It means that I have been treating it wrongly when it flares up, encouraging her to walk around and shake it off, when in fact she should have been resting.  She will probably need surgery, which I hate the thought of, but not as much as her being in pain.  It is mostly good news in that the condition is treatable and non-life-threatening.


Monday, September 15, 2014


LukeYou were such a part of our lives and our music. You gave us your classroom everyday at lunch to perform to real audiences. How are you so cool?

You were one of us. We all wanted to ask you to the dance, but then realized that dances are for squares, and that we didn't know how to ask out girls.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Now I've been crying lately

My uncle has written me letters.  My Dad's brother.  Twice in the last two weeks, which is more than he has ever communicated with me in my life, really, and it is astonishing how my heart abruptly begins to ache for a family that I have never really known.  I write: J has enjoyed her first two weeks of university.  I have trouble believing how quickly she has grown up.  

I want to write, I think you would have liked me if you had known me.  I think we would have been friends.  I want to ask him if it's too late for that.  It feels too late.  I wonder why.  He writes that he is learning the guitar tabs to Peace Train.  Says he used to play a lot of Cat Stevens in the 70s but was too drunk and stoned in those days to retain any of it.  For some reason I tear up when I read that.

I am writing stiffly, everything safe and distant, and I do not know how to cross the bridge to where he is coming from.  I feel certain he will stop writing because this kind of stilted communication cannot possibly be satisfying; I cannot possibly fulfill whatever need he has recently developed that has made him want to reach out.  And how badly I want his attention to continue is ridiculous.  I am already mourning the day it will end.


Friday, September 12, 2014

My family (apart from the animals) has abandoned me for the weekend.  I love my family very much, but that does not mean I am not going to celebrate my solitude in a number of ways.  Just imagine.


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

she wants me to be guilty

I am not good with technology.  Sometimes I forget to check who I am texting first and send messages to the wrong person.  

Like when I accidentally accused a former student of stealing money off my bedside table.  (This was intended for Shawn.)

Or when I asked another former student if he made an appointment for my dog to go to the vet's office. (Also meant for Shawn.)

And when I (almost) sent a text to my mother-in-law to tell her I was naked in the sauna.  (Intended for a former student.  Just kidding.)


I am reading a book called Worst. Person. Ever. (by Douglas Coupland).    And I. Hate. It.


Friday, August 29, 2014

ordinary lens

Bikram yoga is weird.  Sometimes the instructors say the most ridiculous things.  For example, many people struggle with "camel pose", which is a deep back bend.  The problem with camel pose is that it immediately follows some deep forward bending, so all your blood rushes to your head - and then abruptly away - leaving you quite dizzy and sometimes nauseous.  I struggle with it sometimes.  One day one of the instructors (I call her "In Recovery") announced that the real reason this pose is difficult is that it requires one to open up the heart chakra.  (Chakras are "knots" in the "energy channels" of the body.  It makes sense in an intuitive kind of way, but in pragmatic terms it's nonsense.)  Camel pose requires such an enormous commitment to opening up the heart chakra, according to some yogis, that people cannot do it because they are too emotionally fragile to do so.  This kind of thing makes me angry when I am looking for simple instructions, like, "Move your hands closer to your hips," and someone tells me to: "open your heart more, don't be afraid of the emotions that flood your body".

Not all the instructors are like that, though.  Some are very scientific and have education around anatomy and physiology.  And one of them (I call her Drill Sergeant) yells a lot, which really fucks with my zen.  And one of them is a comedian who uses the class to test out his jokes, though it's hard to laugh when you're tied in a knot, even when it really is quite funny.  And one of the more useful pieces of transferrable wisdom I've received… "Ask yourself if you're giving up because it hurts.  Or is it just uncomfortable?  Or are you actually just bored?"

I have spent the last two months doing Bikram yoga.  My balance is greatly improved (another transferrable), my resting heart rate is lower, and I have developed something I hardly recognize on my own body…  biceps.  I have not bought the whole package of chakras and emotional healing and blah blah blah.  But I have bought into the notion of taking time to tell the difference between pain and discomfort (and boredom).  And I have bought a membership, and I have bought tiny stretchy yoga shorts.

My obsessive nature means this has become somewhat all-encompassing over the summer.  Just like any other obsession.  Running or tiling my floors or picking at my cuticles.  It's all the same.  I don't know if I will continue to stay focused on this once other things sweep in (like work), but I hope so.  It feels like a better way to channel energy than some of my other choices have been.  I'm a camel, I'm a rabbit, I'm a tortoise, I'm an eagle, I'm a tree.


J and I took the bus to her university, which she will begin attending on Tuesday.  We took the bus so I could show her how to get there on her own, and then we wandered around the campus and found all her classrooms so she would feel less lost on her first day.  I think it helped her to feel more positive about it.  She is not the type to dive into new things headlong and without reservations.  She takes time to warm up to new experiences and new people, and this is something that can serve her well or be a problem, depending how she uses it.  Our dry run, I hope, will have set her up to be more comfortable from Day One.  It made me miss being a university student, wearing weird clothes and thinking the world was all mine.


Tuesday is also supposed to be the day I return to work, but the strike may well prevent that from happening.  "Talks" are ongoing, but progress seems limited.  I don't have much faith in our leader, and even less in the government.  D and I have swapped roles in this dispute.  He began as the naysayer, dragging his heels on calling meetings and shooting down most of the calls to action from our union.  This, while I pointed at the concessions.  This while I tried to appeal to the staff about doing the right thing, protecting our new teachers, and protecting public education.  Eight weeks later I find myself ready to change strategies, ready to make a concession or two in exchange for some peace, ready to let people collect a paycheque.  And D has somehow, mysteriously, become ultra-militant.  And has begun spouting nonsensical propaganda like a good little union soldier.  I have no idea who he has turned into, but I'm pretty sure it comes from hanging out with pods.  He has repeatedly invited me to attend his pod meetings, and I have repeatedly refused.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

fixed firm

Bikram yoga has a cultish quality to it that I find comforting.  The postures are the same every time, the order is the same.  Even the instructions are the same, regardless of the instructor.  Look back, fall back, way back, go back, more back… I fall into a hypnotic trance and obey.  There are specific phrases they use that prickle my spine.  Choke your throat…  Now suffer here...  You are a capital T, like Tom, not a broken umbrella!  All the instructors follow the same script and my mind chants along; it has become a Top 40 hit I cannot stop singing, and liking it has nothing to do with it.

But I do like it -- in the same way I imagine cult members enjoy being in a cult.  It is predictable, it is comforting, it is painful in that good-for-you kind of way that makes you enjoy your martyrdom.  I like how my body can do strange twisty things I did not know it could do.  I like the way I leave so empty of energy, resistance, and …  water.  I like feeling myself fill back up.  I like emptying it all again.  I like being corrected, I like striving to be more correct.



Saturday, July 19, 2014

About quicksand

It was Gilligan's Island that taught me about the dangers of quicksand when I was a child.  It seemed that someone on that show was always falling into quicksand and being sucked under, leaving behind only a jaunty hat on the surface to indicate who had been swallowed.  Quicksand, although I had never seen any in real life, became something to fear.  What if I was walking home from school one day and tread, accidentally, into some quicksand, and sunk to my doom, leaving behind only my woolly toque? This could happen, I knew, because on Gilligan's Island, no one ever had any warning that they were about to step in quicksand.  They would just be strolling along happily on solid ground, and then suddenly find themselves in quicksand.  To get home from school, I had to cross a very large field.  Who knew how many quicksand pits there were in that field?  Dozens, I felt sure.  Maybe hundreds.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014


D reminds me, unpleasantly, of Howie Mandel.  Today I mediated a discussion between him and A, because she feels he has sexually harassed her.  Uncomfortable conversation.  Uncomfortable neutral third party.


Thursday, June 05, 2014

republik of fuck

I dreamed of Paul early this morning, just as I was waking.  I have never known someone I found so immeasurably compelling and simultaneously repellant as Paul.  The smell of stale alcohol was trapped in my throat, his chest hair caressed me like a sea anenome.  I felt ill.  And followed him as he stumbled out of my house into the darkness, too drunk to walk normally, too drunk to make sense.  I followed the sound of his stumbling footsteps, wanting to apologize for something, wanting to offer some kind of comfort.  Because it was my fault he was hurting, wasn't it?  I wanted him and he made me feel nauseous.  Or perhaps it's not that I didn't love him.  I wanted to strangle him.  I wanted to pin him to the ground.  I wanted to fuck him.

I dated Paul again once, once when I was about twenty-five.  He wasn't any different from when we were eighteen.  He still lived with his parents.  He took me to the same pub we used to go to when we were eighteen, and introduced me to his friends.  Friends who said, Ohhh you're Lisa?!  as though I was famous.  I wondered what he had told them about me.  I was still appalled by him, and still horrifyingly attracted to him.  Gross.  I hated myself.  Attraction is a very complicated thing, and I am an explicably hedonistic individual.


Saturday, May 24, 2014


Twitter confuses me.  It is not that I have anything to say that needs to go out to the universe.  I just want to read what is being said about job action, because all the people with the reins are "tweeting" rather than talking.  The union tweets, the government tweets, the journalists tweet.  And I don't understand how to use it.  It is maddening.

Zuckerberg, any thoughts?


pseudoscientific discourse

One of those dreams again, those dreams in which I abandon good sense and succumb to seduction.  I never know if I am doing the seducing or being seduced.  (I never did then either, although you blame me.)  It alarms me how real these dreams feel, how long it takes upon waking for pulse and breath to return to stasis.  The ending of this one was different though.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014


"That night I lost you, I lost something inside me.  Or perhaps several things.  Something central to my existence, the very support for who I am as a person."
- Haruki Murakami, IQ84


Monday, May 19, 2014

in preparation

Miriam Toewes has written another book:  All My Puny Sorrows.  I keep a list of books I want to read in the "notes" section of my phone, and sometimes I take photographs of book covers when I am at the bookstore, and store them.  I like this method of keeping track.  I used to write myself scraps of paper and then lose them, or store notes in my brain where they were even more likely to get lost.  Miriam Toewes is a very interesting modern Canadian writer.  I like her enormous East of Winter Prairies wheat fields, and her great big skies; they remind me of mine.


Shawn and I had a final discussion with the Island Opportunity folk this morning at 7am, which is too early to be discussing finances, honestly, but it was necessary.  We have decided not to move to the Island now, now that things have worked out for me at the school, and while J is in transition between high school and post-secondary.  Maybe the Island is a better place to vacation than to work.  We are going next weekend to look at it again, with other ideas in mind.  Summer cabin?  We said goodbye to our Island connection (for now), which was sort of difficult, but we left a stopper in the door so it wouldn't slam shut completely.


A former colleague contacted me asking for help.  Help was to come in the form of a letter attesting to an incident I witnessed last year, an incident for which she has been suspended from work.  I thought about all those people who promised to help me out with my problem at work, and then chickened out. And then I wrote the letter.  I am not going to be one of those people who is afraid to speak out for what is right, even when it puts me on the wrong side of the administration.


The play wrapped up on Thursday night and the kids were great this time, cured of last semester's case of diva-ism by my temper tantrum, perhaps?  Or maybe they've just grown up a bit since then.  They gave me an engraved picture frame containing a photo of all of them, which was a brilliant gift, the lead actor and actress gave a short speech about their appreciation of the Drama program, and they all choreographed and performed a hilarious dance for me at the end of the show to "I Had The Time of My Life".  A much better note on which to end.  I experienced a restoration of faith in the goodness of teenagers.


Saturday, May 17, 2014


Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.  I read this book because it was recommended by a colleague who did not know he was recommending it to me.  He mentioned seeing a former colleague out in the world one day, and although he only said hello to her, he returned with all kinds of opinions about how she was doing and what was happening in her life.  I told him he could not possibly know these things, and he told me that according to Blink, he certainly could.  So I read it.  It was interesting, and made some sense of inner feelings that I have thought of as hunches, inexplicable knowings.  There is a science to this stuff, which pleases me, as I like science very much.

Now I am reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which is also nonfiction, a genre I have mostly neglected but now read with increasing frequency.  Henrietta Lacks is about genetic coding and DNA and cancer, and the life of a woman who was exploited by the medical system.  Also very interesting, recommended by my mother, who no longer reads books, she says, because she prefers sudoku.

The sudoku thing troubles me, somewhat, because my mother is (was?) a serious reader.  Now she claims she cannot concentrate long enough to read a book, which is bizarre.  What is happening to her?  She has always had a fear of dementia, which she instilled in me, and when I was a child she asked me to promise I would poison her if she ever showed signs of dementia, rather than allowing her to live encapsulated in madness.  "Slip it in the tea", she said.  I would repeat it.  "In the tea."  Sometimes in public places we would see an elderly person mumbling to himself, drooling a bit, looking dishevelled and behaving strangely.  My mother would give me a pointed look, and remind me, "In the tea."  


Saturday, May 10, 2014

you can try to smoke an ounce to this

There is a secret I seldom share, but you deserve to know the truth about me.  I love love love...

I love Eminem.  And I love Public Enemy.  And Heavy D, and Busta Rhymes, and Ice Cube and Missy Elliot and Dr. Dre.

There.  Now you know.


sounds like

Ophelia is better again, running around the house, pole vaulting off the furniture, acting like nothing happened on Thursday.  I wonder if these episodes could be connected to the injections the vet is giving her to manage her arthritis.  Is that possible?  The attacks seem to line up with the injections, timing-wise.  Or maybe I am just looking for ways to explain and take control of the simple fact she, and all of us, are getting older and more frail.  In any case, I am happy to see Ophelia chomping on her treats, and barking at squirrels in the yard, and chasing the boy dogs, and being her usual sassy self.


My job is officially safe now.  My principal came to tell me after school on Friday.  What a lot of drama for nothing.  Apparently someone (don't know whether it was union or employer) convinced Crazy Sue to let go of her position at my school.  I think she gets a more desirable job somewhere else as a reward for cooperating, but about that I could not possibly care less.  As long as she is finally, and permanently, out of my hair, I do not care if karma manages to kick her teeth out or not.

This halts our discussions about moving and becoming Islanders - for now, but not permanently.  Eventually I think we will still make this move, but it will be nicer to do it on our own terms and our own timeline, as opposed to being rushed by things out of our control.

This should be my last post about Crazy Sue.  Ever.



I went to BB's house with another colleague last night, and we talked for hours and ate a lot of unhealthy things.  This was fun.  I wonder why I am usually such a hermit.


Thursday, May 08, 2014

miracles and fibrocartilaginous embolisms

My union representative phoned me today and apologized for her ineffective communication.  A miracle.  An apology and an acknowledgment of accountability from someone in the union.  It's practically unheard of.  She also alluded to the possibility that my job might be safe after all as there may be "some movement" on Crazy Sue's part in her decision to take a neverending medical leave.  She also told me not to celebrate until papers have been signed because Crazy Sue still holds the cards and can change her mind until she has signed.  (I am still going to celebrate the apology from the union representative, because that truly is something.)  We had a long conversation about union politics and union bullshit, and I learned that she is one of those people who is much better in conversation than in writing.  In conversation, she made more sense, was not abrupt and rude, and managed to leave me feeling like she was making an effort.  It's a shame I needed to throw such a tantrum to get this kind of reaction, but I am glad that I did, no matter the outcome.


Ophelia continues to have trouble with her back legs.  Sometimes they work, every once in a while they stop working.  Each time we don't know if they'll come back.  It's scary.  I hate watching her age.  (I hate watching everyone I love age.  I hate watching myself age.)  I do not know how long we have left with her, and it makes me terribly sad.


Monday, May 05, 2014


I am puzzled by my husband.  Sometimes I sneak peeks at him across the top of my book as I pretend I am reading, trying to figure out what happened, how I ended up married to him.  He makes no sense.  I am watching his hair turn silver.  (This surprises me too.  My own hair is not turning silver, rather growing platinum blonde streaks.)   His hair is short, his nails are clean.  He eats a lot of peanut butter.  He listens to terrible music composed by machines, comprised of thumping noises and electronic beeps. He says this helps him think.  He drives a stupid penis car.  He reads science fiction and fantasy books. He plays video games.

It doesn't make sense because he was supposed to be a poet.  Maybe a novelist.  I would have made a good wife-of-a-novelist.  He was supposed to be interested in growing organic vegetables in the garden and composting and composing.  He was supposed to have long hair and ratty facial hair and ink stains on this fingertips.  Wear some flannel, man.  And he was supposed to smoke once in awhile.  Not excessively.  But enough that I could get away with doing it once in awhile too.   And he was supposed to read and discuss novels with me, and enjoy coffee shops and want to build things in the garage made from reclaimed wood.  He was supposed to talk to me about sustainability.

I dunno.  When you try to decide who someone else is supposed to be you're probably wrong.  Maybe I don't even know who I am supposed to be.  Strange that this stranger fits me so well. 


Sunday, May 04, 2014

millers and mills

Around this time nine years ago, Brenda Miller wrote me an obnoxious letter complaining that she figured I had probably rigged the junior high talent show, thus preventing her daughter from winning the prize to which she was entitled.  When I received that letter, I knew I was leaving my school in six weeks and wouldn't be back, because we were moving.

Knowing that I did not need to preserve my relationship with Brenda Miller and her underappreciated, talented daughter, nor my relationship with my administration, I wrote back to Brenda Miller all the things I always want to say to parents who make these kinds of insulting accusations.  I tallied up how many volunteer hours (mine, other teachers, and students) went into creating the talent show so that her daughter could have the opportunity to perform in front of an audience.  I told her how to go about hiring better qualified judges, how to rent a venue, and how to put on her own talent show next year.  And then I mailed her back her two dollar entry fee.  It was very satisfying.

Now I find myself in the same boat with nothing to lose as the end of the school year approaches.  No relationships that need protecting.  And I have taken the opportunity to let my local union vice president know that she is unreliable, incompetent, and a poor communicator.  I have forwarded my observations to the provincial office.  This has also been satisfying.  It has also evoked a flurry of communication that everyone was somehow too busy to manage when I asked for it earlier.  Hah.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Shawn and I are leaving in an hour to go spend the weekend on the island.  J is staying home and looking after the dogs (except Fee, who will come with us) and having girlfriends over.  Everyone likes this arrangement (except quite likely, the dogs, who would rather not be left home).

This is not just a holiday, although it is the first time Shawn and I have been able to go away together in a very long time.  It is a fact finding mission.  We are looking with different eyes now and asking ourselves specific questions.  Where would J go riding here?  Where would we want to live?  Where would we go hiking?  Where would we shop for groceries?  That kind of thing.

I am hoping it will bring some kind of clarity - to both of us - about whether or not we are going to make this next move.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

counting days

I am struggling with being at work right now.  It is astonishing how overnight a place can go from feeling like home to feeling hostile and awful.  I do not want to be there, not at all.  Each day I force myself to go, but it hurts.

On top of my personal drama, the union and government are back at it, and we are in job action.  Again.  A couple of weeks of truculence aimed at administrators is where we begin, and then progress to rotating strikes, which are likely to interrupt the rehearsal process for my play.  The play I do not want to work on any longer.

I held a meeting with my actors yesterday and told them about the possibility of their play being derailed.  I also told them with great candor that I am falling apart, a bit, and do not have the energy to carry them.  We voted on how to proceed.  Secretly I hoped they would vote to cancel the show, but bless them and their actor spirits, they voted for The Show Must Go On! so we went on with rehearsal. And true to their promise, they worked hard enough that I could focus on holding myself together, something that is presently requiring most of my energy.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

We are thinking, seriously, about making a huge life change.  New city, new careers, new everything.  Again.  It is scary every time we do this.  But every time so far we have been okay.  Seems like things are lining up in ways it is time to move on.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

This morning RDub offerrd to commit a small murder on my behalf.  I thought this was surprisingly chivalrous of him, but on second thought it occurs to me that this is one of the reasons I like him so much.  The fact that he is unnecessarily large, a big voice, big unruly hair, big hands.  Big convictions, big commitments.  I like these things in men - against my will.  Against my cultivated desire to be independent and self-reliant, instinctually I am drawn to these cave men who want to protect me by clubbing aggressors over the head.  I do not really want RDub to commit a felony on my behalf (because I want to do it myself), but I really appreciated his offer.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nothing from LF.  Nothing from Union Lady.  Nothing from Big Union Guy.  Nothing from Staff Rep.  Nothing from admin.  Nothing nothing nothing.  Nothing.  Nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing.

All this scheming is making me tired, really tired.  I hate thinking this way, plotting how to convince people to do things I want them to do without pushing them too hard.  Trying to get information without asking too many times, without making a pest of myself.  It all feels dishonest and gross.

Carolyn says I need to take the reins out of Crazy Sue's hands and just decide what I want for myself.  This would be easier to do if the reins weren't in her hands in the first place.  Why are they there anyway?  When I get hung up on the wrongness of that part it becomes paralysing and I get all bitter and negative.

I am still not sure how I want to proceed here, how to grab the reins, but it becomes increasingly tempting to quit teaching altogether and strike out in a new direction.  A direction that is union-less and won't force me to consort with lunatics if I don't want to.  And it is scary to think about that new direction because it is new and unpredictable.  But still, maybe it is the way to go.

I am waiting to see if LF contacts me or not.  Yesterday she was gungho about filing another harassment charge, but I am finding that although people say that, when it comes down to doing it, they lose their balls somewhere.  LF is my last hope at this plan, and after that I think I am out of ideas for grabbing the reins directly out of Crazy' Sue's hands.  After that it will just be about finding my own direction away from her.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April was too lonely a month to spend alone.  In April, everyone around me looked happy.  People would throw their coats off and enjoy each other's company in the sunshine -- talking, playing catch, holding hands.  But I was always by myself.

-- Murakami, Norwegian Wood


Saturday, April 12, 2014

wash my illusions away

Yesterday Carolyn told me that she is going, today, to the funeral of a friend who died from cancer.  The friend was a singer, and the cancer she developed was a tumour that attacked her face, eating its way through her sinus cavities, her mouth, eventually parts of her brain.  Not only was she unable to sing, but to breathe normally, to eat or drink.  To be normal in any way.  Carolyn talked to me about how the death of her friend was a relief, an end to her friend's mortal suffering.  I agreed.  I talked to her about my sister's emotional suffering, and how I felt, in many ways, the same about her death.  An end to her pain.

Then Carolyn blew me out of the water by saying she believes in eternal life, and that she believes her friend - and my sister - are now not only out of misery, but happy, and in a better place.  It surprised me so much that Carolyn said this because she is the sort of woman I would have assumed was more pragmatic, more scientific about this sort of thing.  Actually, it always astonishes me when adult people who have obviously had time to separate their own values and beliefs from their parents', and especially when those adult people are intelligent, rational, and thoughtful, tell me they believe in life after death.

Somehow, from a very young age, I convinced myself that only Americans, stupid people, and dying people believe in the existence of an afterlife.  (Sorry, American friends.)   Something like that, something that made me superior because I had been strong enough to swallow the Hard Reality pill.

But the older I get, the more I run across adults that I respect, admire, and know are highly intelligent, who are able to reconcile the existence of God with their open minded, well informed, and intelligent interpretation of the world.  My father is a scientist.  Yet he also believes.  How?

This conflict struggles to the surface of my consciousness every so often, particularly when I am feeling alone.  I feel jealous of people who take genuine solace and comfort in their faith.  I want to know how to abandon my cynicism and embrace faith.

When I talk about this with Shawn, he becomes immediately defensive.  God is a trick.  Religious people are mindless drones.  I am not sure why his lack of faith keeps him safer, but it does.  Mine makes me anchorless.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Someone else on my staff has decided to file a harassment complaint against Crazy Sue.  Apparently she didn't just save her psychosis for me.  Well, I am not really surprised to learn that this is true, but surprised to learn that someone else is willing to speak up, finally.

This may go nowhere, but it is the best shot I seem to have at the moment.  Perhaps with mounting evidence of a problem, the employer can finally give this woman the boot.  Inshallah.


Thursday, April 10, 2014


Things have been sloppy since Monday.  Tueday, I had a doctor appointment, which turned out to be a stroke of good luck because I was certainly in no mood to go to work.  The doctor appointment turned out to be a waste of time because the receptionist who booked it didn't book it properly and so it was only meant to be two minutes long.  So I seized the opportunity to get my birth control and allergy medications renewed without having to get on the table.  But it means I still have to go back some time soon, which is aggravating.

I spent the rest of the day reading my mother's book, of which she finally sent us a couple of copies.  It was a difficult read, obviously, and given my frame of mind, I was extra weepy.  Weepy in spite of the fact of being amused by how she portrayed me in the book.  Some of the statements and attitudes she attributed to me struck me funny, and her memories of some events were different from mine.  But in those situations I always try to remember that memory is an imperfect thing and I am just as likely to have to have the faulty memory as she is.  Maybe.  Regardless.  I said goodbye to my sister again, mourned her through my mother's eyes, and mourned my mother's experience too, which reflected the situation from a mother's perspective, different, of course, from mine.

Yesterday I returned to work to find a note from my substitute teacher outlining all kinds of idiotic shenanigans that my students pulled while I was away.  Never one (in the past) to send kids to the office, preferring to deal with things myself, this time I found myself completely empty and exhausted.  "Get out," I told the kids who were listed in the report.  "Go to the office and don't come back".  With the rest of the class I was a thundercloud, demanding to know why they persisted in supporting the idiotic behaviours of their peers, and when they sat in stony silence, I turned my back on them and did work on my computer, leaving them to concoct plans to save the situation.

To their credit, they did, and came up with some suggestions of things they would commit to doing to improve their classroom climate.  I listened (reservedly) and accepted their apologies.  Frankly, I expect things to return to chaos in a few days.  For some reason, this semester, my classes are populated primarilily with kids who hero-worship dead gangsters and long to be thugs.

Throughout the day I communicated with my union through email, regarding my stupid situation and wondering why I want to keep this damn job anyway.  The union, predictably, wasn't interested in helping.  They are only capable of using the collective agreement to fuck me, not to help me.

At the end of the day I was called to a meeting with my principal who said she wanted me to know that she does want to keep me, respects my teaching skills, blah blah blah, and the only reason she has to do this is because she has no choice.  I told her I was tired of getting fucked by people who are too weak to fight for the right thing, and she looked appalled, and asked what I wanted from her.  I told her I wanted her to fight to keep me if she meant any of those things.  And then she said she would.  I have grave doubts about this statement because she is a climber, not a fighter, but whatever.  In the end she said she could guarantee that I would stay in the school if I was willing to teach other things besides what I am trained to teach.  Whatever.

So that's where it all stands, half in the trash.  And it makes it difficult to spend any more energy on things that seem so futile.  Maybe I need a medical leave myself, as that seems to be the best way to get protection from our useless union.  Maybe if I was the kind of person who fell to pieces and became an emotional invalid every time something bad happened, they would find me worthy of receiving their assistance.

Cynicism feel gross.  I've said the word fuck a lot the last few days in casual conversation.  Whatever.


Monday, April 07, 2014

daily things

Looks like Crazy Sue gets the last word.  Even though she is on a stress leave, and has been for almost a year now, the union requires her job to be protected in case she ever decides to return.  And that leaves me without enough students to have a full job next year teaching Drama.

So I have two choices.  One is to let admin piece together some kind of patchwork dogshit teaching assignment made up of remnants that they can't get anyone else to teach.  Or I can apply out to other schools and find something else.

Both these choices are lousy; typical union nonsense protecting Crazy Sue because she has seniority regardless of the fact that she is:
- a horrible teacher
- disinterested in teaching Drama
- on a fake sick leave to avoid dealing with being disciplined
- a horrible human being

It is very disheartening, and in particular upsetting because my new principal is a robot who really does not care about people's feelings as long as she has the right numbers in the right columns.  She delivered the news with no empathy, just the facts, and demonstrated no interest in fighting this stupid union bullshit.

So now what.  I'm not sure yet, but I know it doesn't motivate me to put much effort into finishing out this year positively.  I just want to quit.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Students at my school are required to complete 40 hours of "work experience" (volunteer work) in order to graduate.  Some of the placements are fantastic and some aren't.  Yesterday one of my students started telling me why he never completed work experience at the assigned time, and why he had to start over because he got fired.  He began by telling me how he decided to sit down when there were no customers in the store.  Apparently this was not allowed.  His manager said… (He:  Oh wait, I'm not sure I'm allowed to say this.  Is it okay if I swear?  Me:  Yes, go ahead.  Don't worry about it.)  … His manager said, "Why don't you stop fucking the dog?"

He looked so perplexed when he said this to me.  What could the manager have meant by that?  He wasn't fucking a dog, obviously.  He was just sitting on a crate.  He could see how the resulting argument ended in his dismissal, but why the manager accused him of having sexual relations with a dog was still a mystery.

Apart from the fact that this manager was obviously a power hungry asshole talking this way to a fifteen year old, as lazy as that fifteen year old might seem, this story was utterly delightful to me.  English is a wonderful language, isn't it?


All my dreams since returning home have been set in Europe.  This must mean I am still processing the experience, sorting the memories into files and putting them away.  Spring weather (with plenty of rain) has arrived and we have been hiking a lot.  I keep comparing the vast empty woods with the crowded shops and narrow streets of Spain, both of which have an appeal to me.  But it helps me know I am home here.  I value the green.  I treasure the quiet and the emptiness and the space too much to live anywhere else.

(beautiful) narrow streets in Europe

(beautiful) open spaces in Canada

Monday, March 31, 2014

for all of us

Vandals have damaged the lions in Stanley Park, smashing off their faces.  According to the newspaper, it isn't the first time the lions have been attacked like this.  I try to get myself inside the mind of someone who makes the decision to do this.  Unlike going at a wall (or a statue) with a can of spray paint, this kind of vandalism requires more forethought, more planning.  Presumably it requires acquiring and lugging heavy tools to the site, and also, presumably, a certain degree of anger.  But why.

I vandalised a wall, once, when I was in high school, which is why I feel as though I should be able to understand the lion-smasher's motivation.  I took a thick, black marker and wrote in enormous block capital letters something I thought was profound and poetic.  Something I thought might turn the stupid world around and help it understand.  When I returned to the scene of the crime half an hour later (as criminals are wont to do) I was greatly disappointed to find my pain had been erased easily, without leaving the slightest trace.  A fuzzy cloth and a spray of some sort of chemical had taken it completely away.

So I see how a vandal chooses to make a bolder statement, a statement that is not so easily erased.  But I wonder if this statement is also poetic and profound, filled with pain and pleading.  Or is it just stupidity.


Saturday, March 29, 2014


Italy - Milan was beautiful, and Cinque Terre was totally unbelievable.  I believed I could live life at this pace, particularly in the off-season, with so few people around.  I could even climb 380 steps every day if I needed to, to get that peace, and space, and silence.

Monaco - Monte Carlo was simultaneously beautiful and disgusting, all that opulence and flaunting of money was a bit nauseating.  I enjoyed it thoroughly; I would never live there.

France - Nice was also lovely, more like a real city, busy but liveable.  I managed better here because I could speak the language and read the signs.  My travelling companions were less keen on France than I was.  Vence, in particular, was fantastic.  Living in a tiny, quiet, medieval village would be okay with me.

Spain - I loved Barcelona, loved the excitement downtown, the inexplicable parades, spontaneous protests and demonstrations, the gorgeous buildings, the cliffs of Monteserrat.  But Spain was cold.  And it was even colder in Madrid.  The Royal Palace was astounding, as was the Prado Museum.  Watching football at the stadium was like nothing I have ever experienced in my life.

Then Lufthansa went on strike and things went a bit awry.  But we got an extra free day in Madrid to see the Templo de Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple, and time to wander aimlessly sipping cappuccino and watching people.

The journey home was hairy as a result, a patchwork travel itinerary which landed us in the States instead of Canada, where my luggage went missing, and capped off with a three hour bus ride on a broken bus which honked every time the driver adjusted the steering wheel.  It was all worth it.


Sunday, March 16, 2014


Tomorrow we are leaving for Italy.  Then France, then Spain.  I have not packed yet, a problem I am dealing with by thinking about how I should have packed already.  But not, you know, actually packing.  I do not understand people who begin packing weeks before they go somewhere.  What makes people think they won't need their toothbrush or their blue sweater in the time before they leave?  I am a day of kind of packer.   When I am going far and going for awhile, I might be organized enough to make a list, but that's the best I can manage.


Friday, March 14, 2014


On the weekend I got a letter from M.  I haven't spoken with him in a number of years, not since maybe 2004.  So ten years, maybe more.  He wrote to tell me he had heard about my sister's death, and wanted to offer his condolences.  He wanted to tell me the things he remembered, the things he had thought about.  Back then, and recently too.

I met M at a time when things were messy.  But that thing psychologists tell you about how children do not know that their lives aren't normal because they assume everyone lives just the same way they do -- that thing is true.  And not only for children, for adults too.  At least for young adults.  So I met M at a time when things were messy, but I did not know that things were messy because I was accustomed to the mess.  I did not know I was a mess because I thought everyone was like me.

By the time I figured out what a mess I had been, M had distanced himself, which is only evidence of his good mental health and strong survival instincts.  He knew better than to latch onto a sinking ship, but he stayed in touch, just from a safe distance.  A letter here and there.  I do not know why, because I was obviously not good to him, or good for him.  And sometimes I appreciated it and sometimes I did not.

This time the letter came at a time when I could appreciate its sincerity, his sincerity, and the type of person he really was.  Is.  All of which I have rarely recognized.  And it makes me feel lucky that people like this still see me as being worth making the effort to communicate with.  And it makes me wonder why.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

tap in

So here's what happened, sorta.  I am a direct line from union to staff, meaning it is my job to deliver the union's message and help them interpret it.  (Sometimes the union is displeased with the fact that I take that second step because it means that people come up with their own opinions instead of my telling them what their opinions should be.)  Anyway, I wrote something to help my staff understand the latest, as we are poised to strike.  Somehow my written explanation got leaked to the press, and within 48 hours of my having written it, it was all over the news, being referred to as "the mysterious document".  Many people in grey suits had copies of it, and were discussing it in legislature.  Many news reporters had it.  Many many newspapers printed it.  All very startling.  Perhaps I am more naive than I think I am; when I wrote and distributed this document I really just thought I was helping my staff understand a set of complex issues.  Apparently I actually released a whole lot of terribly secret information.  Oops.


Went to the art gallery yesterday as a teacher chaperone - which was a very welcome break from the classroom.   I think I like Art students better than Drama students at this point in my career.  I feel as though I have lost control of my program because Crazy Sue is still entitled to her job, even though she chooses not to do it.  This means we MUST assign those blocks to a substitute teacher for eternity, or until Crazy Sue relinquishes them.  And that means I will never get to have those classes, even though I am more qualified to teach them than Crazy Sue and certainly more invested than any substitute teacher on a temporary contract.  And again, my union protects those who need to be snipped.


Only five days 'til Europe.


Sunday, March 09, 2014


I am still a bit nervous about the potential for getting in huge trouble for what happened, which is why I am not telling it - yet.  But let me just say I have never been in the news so much in my life, not even when I was doing a lot of acting and seeing play reviews in the paper fairly often.  But no one knows it is me, so shhhh.

Shawn got me an iPad for my birthday, which was sweet of him, so now I am trying to learn how to use it.  It is very intuitive, and my only problem so far is that that keyboard is so different from using a real keyboard that I am having trouble typing at my usual speed.  On a regular keyboard I am a fast, secretary fast, typist.  On the iPad, I am a plodding typist, forward and back, correcting and fixing all my mistakes.  I think there's an option to add a real keyboard, but once one does that, I wonder how is it different from just using my laptop?  We have a lot of gadgets in our house, more than we need, more than we can really use.

This weekend has gone  by so fast, mostly because it has been so busy.  Friday night my mother-in-law took me to see a show, and then last night we had dinner with the rest of the family to celebrate the aging process.  They insisted on telling the waitress (bleh) who made a big deal about how I look much younger than I am, which I appreciate, but of course she was working on her tip so I didn't take her too seriously.

Today Shawn and J have gone to a horse show, so it's just me and the pups.  And groceries and laundry.  Woohoo!


Thursday, March 06, 2014


maybe we'll talk about this later, when things have blown over.  Just in case.


Friday, February 28, 2014

The book is nearly ready to launch.  I am proud of my mum for being able to do this courageous thing, as I do not think I could ever bring myself to dredge up all that pain the way she has.  She is a different kind of person than I am; stronger, braver.  But she takes us along for the ride.  So here we go.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

a couple of things that interfere with sleep

Union is ramping up to go on strike again.  Sometimes I wish I had chosen a private sector career, and while I'm changing careers, it might as well be the kind of career where I can wear headphones all day and only take them off when I engage in spirited ping pong tournaments with my co-workers.


Last night we were awoken at 2am by the sound of a car alarm, and opened the front door to discover an abandoned vehicle on fire on our front lawn.  Exciting.


Friday, February 21, 2014

all right in a limited sort of way

I think I should like to bite you.  Not hard enough to draw blood, not like Mike Tyson, but I should like to bite you hard enough that it hurts, so much so that you will not forget it, not ever.  I would bite you slowly so it might be interpreted, initially, as a sexual overture, but increasing pressure until it becomes uncomfortable, and then painful.  Until you felt alarmed.  And then go one second longer than that moment, long enough to give you a burst of panic, a shot of adrenaline.

That is how I would like you to remember me if you think of me again, as pushing past those warm places where love bites tickle and into the slightly scary place where you momentarily lose faith in my intentions, and then question your own ability to understand the world when you wonder if I meant to hurt you.  Of course I never meant to hurt you, you jackass.  It's just that love hurts sometimes.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

fear and loathing

J is taking driving lessons, expensive driving lessons, which does not, as I had hoped, release me from the responsibility of taking her out driving and helping her to hone her newly acquired skills.  I dislike this intensely.

It is absurd for me to critique anyone's driving.  I am an inconsistent driver.  With the right music playing, the right weather outside the open window, and the right day behind me, I drive like I own the world, passing people, taking chances, and appearing as confident as if I knew what I was doing.  Deep in thought, however, I might back up into the garage door or a parked car.

Driving with J frightens me.  She takes her lessons in an automatic car, but mine is standard, and it is my task to teach her to drive standard.  I am a lazy standard driver anyway, riding the clutch rather than downshifting, and articulating what I am doing is nearly impossible.  J looks down at the gearshift rather than at the road when she changes gears.  She makes the car chug terrifyingly when she shifts.  She slows down to nearly a dead stop in the middle of the road before she can make a left turn.  And she travels through narrow gateways moving much too fast.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Unfortunately, I have noticed that my passport has expired.  Fortunately I noticed this prior to trying to board a plane to Europe next month.  Tomorrow I am going to race to the passport office after work and hope that they can take care of me quickly.  Stupid.


Christy Clark is not just bad at her job.  She is a horrible human being.


Sunday, February 09, 2014

fifth pound

I met a chickadee who had only one eye.  One eye was normal, the other was an empty space, socket, where the eye should have been.  Long healed and causing no problem.  He landed on my hand long enough to pick a peanut from the seed mix, long enough to show me his scar.  I said, Are you okay?  And he said, Of course; what do you mean?  Wild things do not feel sorry for themselves.


My mother's book is going to be published in April.  The forward has been written by a famous person.  Not famous like People Magazine famous, but famous in the world of counselling psychology.  Famous enough that it will make a big difference to how many copies of it are sold.  Famous enough that it alarms me a little, because my life is in this book too.  Not just theirs.  No matter how much I tried to disentangle myself.


Saturday, February 08, 2014

Friday, February 07, 2014

flying light

I woke up with your breath, ragged against my neck.  It never leaves me satisfied, what happens in my dreams.  It just leaves me ravenous and aching, and frankly, angry.  The thing about this kind of affair is that it can never end as it has never really begun.


Thursday, February 06, 2014


It was his hands that I noticed first.  I like hands that are not perfect, hands that look a little rough.  I especially liked watching him write, the lightness of which this rough hand might be capable.  I wanted to touch his hand, but I did not.  I wanted to outline his hand with my fingertips.  I wanted to touch his fingers to my bottom lip.  My thoughts about his hands were all I knew of him for the first year.

In the second year I learned he drank coffee.  He was one of those types that carried a travel mug clipped to his backpack, long before travel mugs were an everyday, everyone, kind of thing.  Back when it was a waving flag that meant you were a friend of the earth.  I liked his addiction.

The third year I learned his name.  He told me had noticed me a lot.   I wondered how this was possible as he had always seemed oblivious of me.  After that it became okay to sit beside him instead of a few rows back.  And up close I could see his hands better.

The fourth year I learned he was a better actor than I expected.  And he was quirky.  Maybe even a little bit odd.  In a good way.

Year five, I learned that his hands were rough, and soft.  He told me had always wanted to kiss me, and his kiss was the kind that lacks something utterly unknowable.  In that crowded space his emptiness spilled over onto me a little and choked me.  I drove him home when he became too intoxicated to drive.  His father seemed unnecessarily grateful.

Year six his brain began to implode.  I learned he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.  He got into a car accident and abandoned his car on the roadside.  He showed up at the bar immediately afterward and ordered a beer, and made sculptures on the table out of pebbles and gum wrappers and bits of broken glass while he waited for his drink, which was not meant to be mixed with lithium.  It turns out they do not have nachos in the psychiatric ward.

His father came looking for him that night, but by then he had fled.  None of us could have convinced him to stay.  His father stayed instead.  He sat at my table and told me about his divorce.  And about how he had tried to help his son keep a job.  And how mental illness ran in their family.  And how lonely he was without his wife.  And I looked at his father's rough hands on the rough wood table, the same hands as Tim's, tracing the names that had been carved there, and still wearing his wedding ring.


Sunday, February 02, 2014

I just started seeing the light of day

Yesterday morning and this morning my next door neighbour began operating a power saw at 7:30am. It does not really impact me because I get up earlier than that anyway, but I am surprised that he feels it is acceptable to make so much noise before the sun has even fully risen.  He must be able to imagine that there are people nearby who are still in bed and unimpressed to be woken in this manner.  I do not like humans very much for the most part.


Friday, January 31, 2014

I drive around in my pajamas pretty often.  For the most part, it is J's fault.  She does not yet have her license to drive, but her out-of-the-house life is pretty active.  She rides horses three times a week.  She shops.  She visits friends.  She needs a ride somewhere all the time.  But my out-of-the-house life is pretty quiet, so much so that it makes sense to me, in general, to put on my pajamas at about 4:30pm most of the time.  So when J wants another ride somewhere, I just cannot see myself getting dressed again just to get in the car and drive.  So I drive her around in my pajamas.  I am the most unprofessional-looking chauffeur in the world.  Sometimes I worry that I will get in a car accident or get a ticket for something while dressed in my pajamas at 4:30 in the afternoon, but it does not stop me from taking my chances.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hello, Goodbye

Demicup Cheryl is done her little contract, and I cannot say I am going to miss her.  The only time she seemed briefly human was when she interrupted my game with RW to kick my ass at You Think You Know Canada?  I was already losing (badly) when Demicup Cheryl astounded everyone in the room by knowing every Canadian celebrity, monument, and invention since the dawn of time.  Then she went back to being a silent brooding lump with four boobs.

The principal posted the job and got two applicants: Dancer Chris (who we already know, but who has a background in Dance rather than Art/Drama) and StrangerDanger, who has credentials but not the history.  The principal, of course, elected to hire StrangerDanger because she wouldn't be the one sharing air with her, and she looked better on paper.

By a stroke of luck, StrangerDanger found a better gig before the principal could lock her down, and so Dancer Chris got the job by default.  It just so happens that I like Dancer Chris, who is the right mix of fun and pleasant and bubbly, with just enough uncertainty and maleability to be endearing both to me and to the kids.  And this is what I want, someone who will be pleasant to work with, bring more kids into the program, and not be over-confident in that way that makes me homicidal.

I guess I talk about work a lot.  That's because it eats up too much of my life.


B O'C's wife left him.  Left him as in he came home from work one day and was startled to realise that all her clothes and belongings had vanished from their home.  This, after several years of marriage.  Events like this blow my mind, the idea that things like this really happen to normal people who have normal stable lives, or think they do.  It makes me stop and question what it is that makes me so sure my life won't one day explode, what makes me any different.  And I am not sure there is anything that does.  Like B O'C, I think my marriage is in good shape, my relationships rock solid.  But only because my husband came home from work today.  He might not tomorrow.  And when that idea tumbles round inside my head it threatens to give me a concussion.


Monday, January 27, 2014

on happiness

1.  I think NJ is fucking with me.  I went to talk to him this morning about one thing and ended up talking about another.  He told me he has changed his mind (again) about potentially leaving, opening up the job I want.

2.  Shortly following this conversation, which I found uplifting, I went to visit the AP and told him not to schedule me to teach my production course next year.  It's too much of a headache and I no longer want it.   I think he is either too stupid, or too inexperienced, to realise that what I am saying is actually a big deal as far as it impacts his timetabling job.  He did not really give me much of a reaction whatsoever, just said fine, and they support me, and yakka yakka bullshit blah blah.  It's funny how much of an effort I went to in order to get this gig, and now that I have it, I want out.  I'm taking a risk here because if Crazy Sue returns she could end up teaching the classes I am counting on falling to me, leaving me to teach basket weaving and snake charming or whatever admin decides.  But hell with it, I have to do something to preserve my energy and sanity, what little remains.

Both these things made me feel happier today, and happiness is something I am wondering about somewhat.  Like how does one really achieve happiness, and more importantly, once achieved, how does one maintain it so it does not slip away?

Theodor Adorno suggests that happiness, true happiness, is a betrayal of itself because it must necessarily come with a memory of unhappiness in order to recognize it, and that memory brings with it a fear of slipping back into that state, which sullies the purity of happiness.   Sigh.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

tapeworms and Crazy Sue

I once saw a television show in which the topic of discussion was tapeworms.  According to the information this show delivered, there are some (insane) American women who intentionally infect themselves with tapeworms in order to lose weight, because parasites are a whole lot better than exercising or dieting, I suppose.

I would like to propose that these women allow me to send them a swab of my flu germ instead of choosing to contract tapeworms.  In the last five days I have been dropping weight at an alarming rate, and am now officially lighter than I was in high school, about 115 pounds.  This flu also comes with a wonderful ab workout -- interval barfing for the lower abs and incessant, unproductive coughing for the upper abs and obliques.  My abs ache.

Of course I am shaky, weak, my skin is dry, and my eyes are glassy and bloodshot.  But whatever, anything to be thin and beautiful, right?


C phoned me from work to tell me that Crazy Sue has applied for a longer leave.  Her return date is now marked as May 2nd.  It grows increasingly less likely that I will have to see her again.  Inshallah.


Poor Shawn.  He is so sick now.  I think he is skinnier than he was in high school now too, and a whole lot smarter.  I would like to have one more day to be his matching bookend lying lifeless on the couch, but I think I am going to attempt to rejoin the world tomorrow.  He should really stay home for at least one more day.  He looks like hell.  We have managed not to poison the kid, which is nothing short of miraculous.


Monday, January 20, 2014

more germs

Nope, still not going back to work.  I did manage to sit up today for a couple of hours, though, which is actually significant progress.  In other news, Shawn, who was so careful to avoid touching me, decided to use my toothbrush for some reason, and is now on his way down the spiral.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

leaving Las Vegas

So sick.  Friday morning I woke with chills and a cough and called in sick, which I never do when I am actually sick, and spent the day sleeping - waking only to medicate myself when the fever spiked, which it did every four hours.  Last night it turned into interval-barfing, which seems to have tapered off now and I am dying of thirst.  Shawn has gone out to get me some juice because he drank it all.

I have concluded that if I was terminally ill, Shawn would probably leave me in the care of someone else rather than take care of me himself.  He forgets I exist when I am sleeping, and is frightened of touching me in case he catches something.  Not that I blame him.  I am disgusting right now.

The puppies, who I always anthropomorphize as sensitive and loving, are horrible to be around when I am ill.  They have hot bodies, and they cram themselves into my hot spots and add to my fever.  They absolutely refuse to move when I push them.  And to an achy, sensitive body, they feel like sleeping with four big industrial staplers, all points and sharp edges and joints.  They poke and jab me with their elbows, and glare at me resentfully when I struggle out of bed to go and barf again.

I do not think I can make it to work tomorrow either unless I experience miraculous improvement.  This has been the most sick I can remember being, unrelated to wine.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Please prove you're not a robot.

When I type a comment into a friend's blog, the filter always asks me to prove I am not a robot by performing some sort of trick that is, apparently, something only a human can do.  Does the fact it allows me to post prove that I am not, actually, a robot?  Doubtful.  I am pretty sure I am a robot.

I see it in my own eyes; they betray my secret in the mirror when I brush my teeth.  Robot.  I go to work, I juggle and dance, I smile, I sigh.  I pretend I am filled with energy, I pretend I am engaged.  I pretend because it convinces me.  There is nothing to gain by convincing anyone else, and even if there was, no one else is watching.  Robotlike, I get dressed, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to bed.  I smile, I laugh.  It's artificial intelligence.  Robot

My productivity has dropped to about 50%.  I have called a hiatus for the rest of this month from congregating, rehearsing, from torturing one another with our obnoxious presence.  I vant to be alone.  It is dark at 4:30pm and my body tells me to go to bed.  No one notices I am not working.  I have begun to invest more energy in evasion than in doing.  (This year's October is brought to you by January.)


Sunday, January 12, 2014

You have to consider the possibility that god does not like you.

My Dad used to tell me I was copping out when I said I couldn't cook.  He said anyone who can read can cook.  Tonight I have made Chinese hot and sour soup in the slow cooker.  We shall see if he was correct.

I have developed more of an interest in cooking lately, for some reason.  Maybe I just want to know what I am putting inside my body.  Or maybe I am on the brink of becoming a domestic goddess with Martha Stewart cloth napkins and an appetite for cleaning.


Yesterday I took J shopping for her grad dress.  We brought my mother-in-law, who is exactly the sort of person everyone wants with them when shopping for a dress because her opinions are instant and definite.  Good lord, take that dress off, it's wearing you! she laughs.  Or, Oh my god (dabbing tears), you're beautiful!  I frustrate J when we shop together because I look for her opinion first before offering mine. And my opinions about clothes are always wishy-washy.  Hmm... yeah, that's okay.  Not bad.  She found a dress in the third place we went, and she loves it.  So does the mother-in-law.

While J tried on dresses, I noticed other girls in the store watching her.  She's really very beautiful, even in the most awful dresses.  Seeing her in a specific dress inspired another girl to try on the same one, who did not end up liking it on herself.  This happened several times with several different girls.  I am suddenly surprised by how strikingly lovely J has grown up to be.  The best part is that she does not know it.

(On the way home, my mother-in-law complimented my driving.  It's so smooth, she said, like you're not even driving a standard!  I have driven standard my whole life and never had anyone offer me this kind of feedback.  It seems like something you would say to a seventeen-year old who has just learned to drive.  My mother-in-law is the best.)


Friday, January 10, 2014

There are only about eight weeks until we go to Europe.  RW has been talking about it a lot; it makes me want to bite him.  Affectionately.


Thursday, January 09, 2014

again and again

Now I am reading The Rosie Project, which is a bit like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, in that it is written from the perspective of a person with (undiagnosed) Aspergers syndrome.  In this case, the protagonist is an adult, and blessed with great intelligence.

There are a surprisingly high number of adults walking around in the world who have Aspergers and do not know it.  I think I work with two of them.  One of them is a Social Studies teacher, and he demonstrates a lot of the classic signs of austistic spectrum disorders including social ineptitude and walking on his tiptoes.  Another, an English teacher, recognizes that both her husband and son have Aspergers but seems not to have considered the possibility that she has it too, in spite of the fact that her behaviours, attitudes, and mannerisms are the same as theirs.

People like me wonder how to broach the subject when they suspect Aspergers in an adult friend, colleague, or family member.  I suggest you handle the subject openly and without embarrassment.  For example, you could say, "You're kinda weird, don't you think?  Maybe it's Aspergers," or, "I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure any layman could diagnose you, Aspie".

At times I have convinced myself that I have Aspergers too, because I find human interactions so impossible.  But the symptoms do not align, not really.  I have some other syndrome, perhaps one that has yet to be discovered, and might be named after me if the doctor who diagnoses me doesn't steal all the credit.


I dreamed last night that Crazy Sue was back on the job.  She aggravated me by being extremely happy to be back, bragging about her recent trip to Japan and her newly found inner peace.  For some reason my inner Satan wanted her to come back destroyed and timid.  The fact that Non-Crazy Jennifer decided to leave for a better gig is certainly the reason my sleepy brain started imagining what it would be like if Crazy Sue returned.  But instead of Crazy Sue, we got DemiCup Cheryl whose bra is so much smaller than her breasts that she appears to have four of them.  I think DemiCup Cheryl will only be here for a week or so because once the semester changes over they will need to find someone who can teach both Art and Drama.  When DemiCup Cheryl arrived I asked her if she was okay or needed any help and she said, "I need a hook for my coat," which struck me as extremely strange because I thought it was abundantly clear that I was offering her help with teaching.  It is possible that DemiCup Cheryl also has Aspergers.