Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I have been carrying 125 euros in my wallet since last March.  When I went to the airport to pick up J, I exchanged them at a kiosk.  We are not going to Europe this year.


I am going to New York, alone, at the end of February.  I would prefer not to do this alone but things did not work out that way.


Monday, December 21, 2015

sicker than the rest

I skipped the party I was supposed to co-host too.  Maybe that was the special cachet that N was looking for when she asked to put my name on the invitations.  Absence.  (It makes the heart grow fonder, some say.)  I really had intended to go to that one.  In fact, I had a gigantic platter of vegetables in my car and a bunch of wine glasses wrapped in paper towels to prevent them from smashing.  But when the time came to go,  I just transferred these items from my car to BB's car and asked her to deliver them along with my regrets.  These enormous gatherings of people I don't really know or care about are just so impossible to contend with even when I have the best intentions.

There is only one event left now (apart from Christmas dinner with Shawn's family) and that one is this afternoon.  I will attend.  Partly, I will attend because I am the one responsible for providing lunch and there is no one to deliver it on my behalf.  But also, I will attend because it is only four people, and I am much better with  small groups.


One of the counsellors is leaving next year, next school year I mean, and I will be entitled to post into the job if I want it.  It has taken a very long time to reach this place, and I would have been excited about it a couple of years ago.  Now it requires more deliberation to decide if I should do this.  It would mean working more closely with an admin team I am not especially fond of.  It would mean significantly more responsibility for no more pay.  It would mean having to talk to more people in the building.  But it would also mean doing something that feels, potentially, more meaningful.  Closer to where my heart lies now.  It feels inevitable, although it is my decision.  Decisions like this make themselves.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

about the story

In a daring display of social anxiety, I skipped the staff Christmas party last night.  Not the ladies' one that I'm supposed to "co-host" but the whole staff one.  I hate that party.  I ignored my phone, which was making indignant pinging sounds as the party went on.  I like this age of text messages where I can just pretend I lost my phone.  It makes it much easier to skip parties.

I once skipped a party I'd promised to attend and one of my friends phoned me from the bar to find out where I was.  This was the days before cell phones, when one had to borrow a phone from the bartender who would drape the long cord over the bar while you talked.  She said, Lisa oh my god where are you!  K is worried sick!  Just as she said that, I heard K's voice slurring in the background:  Gimme another Grasshopper.  That was back when I felt compelled to make up excuses about car troubles and sudden violent illnesses.


Today I revealed something very personal to someone I do not know very well, but about whom I have a good feeling.  I tend to think my instincts about people are accurate.  So far she has responded exactly right.  It is possible she is more trustworthy than I am.


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

nothing doing

My association invited me to apply for a mediator position - which means being the person who gets called out to referee disputes between colleagues.  It interests me, and so I applied.  Yesterday they began checking my references, and this morning I was contacted with a question.  Am I willing to take six days off work to attend two courses at the Justice Institute?  I had to stop and backspace over my response a few times because it sounded unprofessional to be this enthusiastic about missing six days of work.  But really, missing work is just a bonus.  It is taking courses that gets me fired up.


Speaking of missing work, I have taken tomorrow off to go and see my doctor.  I am going to ask him for a referral (to see someone who knows what he/she is doing).  After eight months of paroxysmal dizziness, I am looking for a permanent solution.  Allegedly there is a surgery that can resolve this problem by disconnecting the posterior canal of the inner ear, and perhaps this is something to consider.    The idea of surgery does not please me, but neither does this perpetual dizziness.  I anticipate my doctor will be annoying about this, but I am going to push him.


When did Matthew McConaughhey become so disgusting?


Yesterday I received an email from N, telling me she wants to hold a Women Only Christmas party at her house right before the break.  I said it sounded like fun.  She asked me which day she should pick.  I advised her not to pick the early dismissal day because people would more likely attend if they could come directly from work since she lives next door.  She asked me how the invitations should go out.  I suggested using email.  (I really am a genius for thinking of that.)  Then she said she would like to send out the email stating that she and I are hosting this party together.  I asked her what that meant; would she like me to share the cost with her?  She said no, she just wants to put my name on the invitation too.

This was bizarre.  The background of this story is that N is the world's most social of social convenors. I cannot think of a reason she would want me to pretend to host a party with her, and my endorsement of a party does not give it any credibility as I am usually the person who ducks out early or skips the party altogether.  Curious.


It really irritates me that my morning news program shows viral videos and pretends this is news.


Sunday, December 06, 2015

I would like to know what you lie about.


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

intuitive all wheel drive

Today marks the first day of Part Two of the Wellness Project I'm implementing with the juniors.  It makes me one of the people on the boss' Nice list for a change because she likes looking innovative and  clever, especially when someone else is doing the legwork.  The fact is that I am doing this because I want to and because I care about it, and I did long before it became the current fashion in education.  But being on the Nice List really does change the world.

I'm quite accustomed to being ignored and stepped around by this administrator.  Lately she has been asking for my opinion on things, and actually doing what I state as my preference.  This is all very new.  The last time I had a principal who really seemed to like me a lot was 1998.  Hah!  I won't get comfortable or used to being her pet though, because surely something new will come down the pipe shortly that she needs to jump on.  And the next time it won't happen to be my thing.


Yesterday after school a student approached me and asked if we could talk about his suicidal ideation.  Here we go again.


Friday, November 27, 2015


So I hired a lawyer.  This was never really the plan.  I was thinking a bit of tough talk might cut it.  (Nope.)  Or some wangling and begging. (Also nope.)  It turns out no one wants to get involved in these sorts of things, even when they know you're right, because it opens them to liability.  And no one wants a lawsuit.  No one.  Not even industry experts with thirty years experience to back them.

So after a lot of sleepless nights, I decided to go the legal route, with all its costs and extra stresses.  I find myself obsessed in the truest sense of the word.  I am having trouble thinking of much else.  It interrupts my sleep all the time.  And my work is suffering.  Maybe I'm having trouble focusing at work because I'm having trouble sleeping.  Seriously.  I cannot sleep.  And I'm so tired.

I've been pretending I'm not worried about this, but I'm worried about this.  What if I actually live in a world where people get away with this kind of thing?  It's entirely possible that I do.  And this steals a bit more of my sleep.  I'm pretending to be confident because I think it might help me win.  But I'm actually not confident.  I'm tired.  And I'm unsure of what will happen next.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

we'll see

Yesterday afternoon I had an appointment with my eye doctor.  I was forty-five minutes early which forced me to wander around the shops and buy shoes.  Buying shoes made me feel better about the fact that my eyes have been bothering me for the last few weeks; feeling dry and gritty and sore.  And kind people keep coming up and asking me if I've been crying, which I have not.  Less kind people are undoubtedly whispering that I must be high.  Because my eyes are red.

The eye doctor did that horrible test where they shoot a puff of air into your eye, and you're not supposed to blink, but it's so hard not to when you know that it's coming.  And she gazed into my eyes through that magical machine that makes it possible to see everything that's going on inside a person's eye.  And she put weird yellow drops in my eyes to test how quickly they would evaporate.

Her diagnosis was not earth shattering.  I have dry eyes.  They hurt because they are dry.  And they are dry because they hurt.  And so forth.

I have some eye drops.  And instructions about warm compresses twice a day.  It seems to be helping.  But it might just be the shoes.


Monday, November 09, 2015


and Hugh Everett III's theory is in the book I am reading, For the Time Being, which turns out to be about quantum although I did not know that when I started to read it.  Goddamn right, it's a beautiful day.


Saturday, November 07, 2015

going to stop pretending that I didn't break your heart

Today I learned:
"E ="is Mark Oliver Everett.
Mark Oliver Everett is the son of Hugh Everett III, quantum theorist.
(Things the Grandchildren Should Know)
I like that.  Whichever way the wind is blowing.  I like the way this is going.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

irrelevant intrusion on a writer's intentions

It is at least a little bit ironic that I spend hours each week teaching young people about mindfulness and neuroplasticity, while my own brain simultaneously ticks forward and backward and forward again and barely perceives the present moment.  I stand before these young people and remind myself aloud, Mindfulness practice is for everyone.  Tick tick tick.  Can they tell I am somewhere else?

I am the world's best time traveller.  I can go back - I can go forward - I can go back; I leave behind my lifelike corpse, adept at mirroring facial expressions and making reflective statements.  You seem to have a strong opinion about that.  Tell me more.  What's your name?  Why that's fantastic.  He is a genius, everyone!  Please, tell us what you said one more time (because I wasn't listening).  And so forth.  I wonder if I am good at my job.  I wonder if I am good at my life.  How can I be sure?  The feedback is fine, but I find my own insouciance unsettling.


Monday, October 12, 2015

It always seems like you're leaving when I need you here just a little longer

So it turns out that Justin died in January.  Usually my dead-radar beeps more quickly.  It took me until yesterday to figure it out.  He was only 33, which is terribly sad, saddest of course for his parents who have now lost three children.  Three as in all three of their children.  I cannot imagine how that would feel.  I would like to contact his mother, but that might seem odd, and I am not sure what she knows about me and Justin; I am not sure she would be happy to hear from me.  And I do not know if people like hearing from their dead children's friends.  None of my sister's friends ever contacted me after she died, but I think that's because she no longer had any friends by then, or maybe they contacted my parents instead.

Justin and I had lost touch.  I am not even sure if he would have wanted to hear from me or if it would have made him uncomfortable.  He took me a lot more seriously than I took him, and no one really wants to be reminded of that.  I kind of thought he would die young, but that's because I think I can squint my eyes when I look at anyone's face and read their gravestone.  Not really.  But some more than others.  Except I would have guessed he died younger, and more violently.  I am glad I was wrong about those things, sorry I was right he died too young.

Goodbye Justin.  I'm so sorry.  I am truly so so sorry.  You were so alive and so full of big feelings that you could never express while living in a small town.  I am sorry we didn't go deeper into that.  You were misplaced and misunderstood and so beautifully imperfect.  I wish I had been a bit younger so I could have understood you better, and I wish I had helped you in the aftermath of knowing you instead of letting you figure things out for yourself.  I wish you had been born with perfect healthy organs, and I wish you had lived long enough to be cured.  I wish I had been a little gentler and wasn't so fucked up myself that I missed knowing you better.  Jesus, I wish I had let you spend more time at the Republik when you came to visit.  Greyhound Greyhound Greyhound.  Goodbye Justin.  I miss you already.  I miss you in my past.  I miss you in your future.


Friday, October 02, 2015

transfer deck A

Yesterday RW said, "You should come out with us on Friday for once.  No one knows how fun you are."  When he refers to how secretly fun I am, he is referencing a night he and I spent in Athens that involved a lot of drinking.  Being the sort of sociable man's man that he is, RW probably cannot understand that how fun I am is supposed to be a secret.  Being the life of the party is no longer on my priority list, and I only want to share the fun with a small select group of people.  And maybe only in Greece.  Instead of treasuing the fact that I have chosen to let him in on my secret, he wants to share it with the world.  Stupid man.

We were planning to go to Portugal and Morocco this year.  But it probably won't happen.  (RW may never have fun with me again.)


Wednesday, September 30, 2015


BB entered my name in a draw without telling me.  And I won.  If I could give the prize to BB I would, but it is non-transferrable.  Now I have a $2500 credit to attend an international conference and it needs to happen within this school year.  I am not only looking this gift horse in the mouth, I am counting its teeth.

I do not know where I want to go or what I want to learn.  Shouldn't we all have such terrible prolems.


Monday, September 28, 2015

when you want something and you don't want to pay for it

Adam says I am his spirit guide.  I do not want to be Adam's spirit guide, but perhaps one does not get to choose these things.   I wonder how people used to get in touch with their spirit guides before they could just send them text messages.  Adam wants to know if he should stand up for himself in Department meetings.  He wants to know if people like him.  He wants to know if he will have a job next year.

I want to know why he waxes his silly little moustache into points, but I don't care enough to ask him outright.  Instead I stare at it and try to imagine him using it like cats use their whiskers to determine the size of spaces through which they are small enough to crawl.

My advice to Adam is always to slow down and think about who he needs on his side.  My advice is to respect the crotchety old Department Head who does not, yet, respect him.  Earn your place, boy...  Wait.  Listen.  Learn.

I am a spirit guide.  Breathe in my wisdom.


Friday, September 18, 2015

current conditions

Now that we are done spending this month's mortgage payment on her, Ophelia seems like she is going to be fine after all.  I hope it isn't jinx-y to say so.  The ultrasound turned up nothing remarkable, and right after that she started eating again, satisfied, I suppose, that she has bled as much out of the stone as necessary to prove our love once again.  Facing the inevitability of her death (and everyone's) made it impossible for me to eat for awhile too.  But we have all returned, tentatively, to our dishes of kibble, hoping life will allow us to hang around a bit longer.


My principal asked me to take on a block of Counselling in my schedule this year, after years of claiming it could not be done, it was a bad idea, and so forth.  What changed?  Who knows.  My principal is a woman who is extraordinarily decisive and directive, and equally extraordinarily poor at communicating reasons and collaborating.  She told me I had until Friday (today) to make the decision. Yesterday, when I logged into the computer system to look at which class would be replaced by Counselling, I saw that she had already deleted the class from my schedule and replaced it with the Counselling block.  Asking is never really asking with this one.  Fortunately I had decided to take it, so there was no need for a confrontation.


RW tells me we are probably not going to Europe this year, and I was not really surprised by my own reaction.  Disappointment of course, but also relief.  There are difficulties associated with this tour, and I do not like leaving my husband with all the responsibilities that I must leave when I go.  Of course I love the trip (this year was supposed to be Portugal and Morocco) but the idea of having a couple of weeks at home during Spring Break is pretty wonderful too.


Richard Simmons is always in shorts and a tank top, no matter the season.  I wonder if he gets cold?


Sunday, September 13, 2015


The black ink spot that leaks cancer into the back of my brain is telling me Ophelia is going to die soon.  It has been about two weeks since she has eaten much of anything.  We have been to the vet three times and received a myriad of medications, none of which are doing any good.  She is fading.  It takes too long to get any answers.

We have an ultrasound scheduled for Wednesday, which seems like a year from now.  I want to let her go peacefully but the system makes us wait, triage, wait, rule it out, triage triage triage.


I took her to another vet this afternoon because I couldn't bear doing nothing, knowing these medications are doing nothing to help her.  Knowing she is hungry but cannot eat.  Knowing she is uncomfortable.  How could I do nothing.  How could I just wait and wait?  The vet still has her now.  He is giving her intravenous fluids and nutrition, and will take some X-Rays.  Another set of eyes on her, another round of opinions.  Maybe he can help.  Or at least make her more comfortable.  I just don't want her to suffer.


Thursday, September 03, 2015

last time

The dogs are on strike.  Well, the little ones.  The big boys are fine, the way they always are.  The two little ones are fasting to teach me a lesson.  I assume they are displeased about the disruptions to their normal schedule:  a giant loud party, Shawn out of town, me back to work, roofers crawling around on the shingles during the day….  But of course the dark ink spot on the back of my brain seeps thoughts about cancer and other diseases.  Emory has begun to eat a little bit, resentfully.  Ophelia is still fully on strike.  And of course I am worried about her the most.  She is happiest when I am worried about her and doting on her.


This afternoon is part 2 of my dental work, and I am anticipating another round of dizziness to follow my dentist's refusal to cooperate with my need to remain semi-upright.  Yesterday afternoon I went to meet a new dentist.  Once this work is complete I am switching.  

I like the new dentist.  She is young (my version of young has changed.  She is probably 40) and was wearing high heels, which I immediately called her out on.  Who does a standing-up job in high heels?  She said she's more comfortable in them, which makes her cuckoo, and I like that.  

However, I do not like her office.  In fact I hate it.  It is a renovated old house (which sounds good but it's not, because…); the chairs go around the perimeter of one large room, with small dividers between the chairs, and with a work station in the middle, like a beehive, where all the hygienists buzz in and out gathering honey and carrying it out on silver trays.  The clients can all see into each other's areas with any effort whatsoever. When I arrived at the office the first sight to greet me was a person wearing a plastic mouth stretcher thing that looked a little like a horse and bit.  I could see every single one of his teeth, and I did not want to.  I'm growing increasingly more anxious about dentists as I get older and more and more neurotic.  A computer screen sat visible by my dental chair where I could read all the client's names and conditions, and what type of insurance they had.  Uff.

It was noisy and fast-paced and buzzy, unlike my current dentist's office, which is sleepy and quiet.  But of course there's a reason his office is quiet and this one is busy.  And so I am switching in spite of the fact I hate this office, because the dentist assured me it was no problem to do dental work without tipping me upside down.  And this has come to mean more to me than anything else in this world.  I may become one of those people who has to take Ativan just to get my teeth cleaned.


Work starts in earnest on Tuesday, which is a very late start this year, about which I am grateful in spite of the fact that the Ministry has decided to punish us by adding 10 minutes a day to our work day.  It's worth it.  I would like to believe this year will be less painful than last, but it is unlikely.  Bill 11 looms over us, new battles, new assaults on professional autonomy.  I continue to regret allowing myself to get sucked into helping with union representation.  


Monday, August 31, 2015


The party was good.  My fussing was unnecessary, of course.  In what universe would anyone notice if my baseboards were dusty?  These are the kinds of things that can overtake my OCD-inclined mind in the countdown hours.  And then I drank gin and tonic and felt better.  Lots of people, lots of food.  I had a good time.

Saturday the storm blew in and knocked out all the power lines for 48 hours.  You wouldn't believe how many times I could walk into a dark room and automatically flick a useless light switch without thinking about it.  The mall was overrun with teenagers charging their cell phones at outlets in the corridors.  And fast food places ran out of food while all our food spoiled in the dead refrigerators.  A little taste of the apocalypse.  I hope it's over.  There are still pockets of neighbourhoods without power restored.  I hope those unfortunate people won't come and try to break into my house and eat my brain and charge their phones in my outlets.


Friday, August 28, 2015

luck and lint

Five and a half hours until the party is supposed to begin.  I sort of wish I hadn't planned this.  Waking up extra early to put raw meat in the oven made me feel ill.  And now the whole house smells like meat.  And my clothes, and my hair.  Gross.  And since then I have been doing things, doing things, doing things.  Like making ice.  And vaccuuming the carpet.  And fussing.  I hate this kind of thing.  It's not me.  What was I thinking?


Yesterday my dentist fucked up my dizzy head again.  It was going really well, no dizzies for almost a month.  Then he ignored my request and tipped that stupid chair way too far back and it all went to hell.  I was able to do the physio maneuvers effectively by myself when I got home, which was good, but it's a setback nonetheless, yet another injury to the ear canal that will require time to feel normal again.  Today I feel better, not actively spinning, just off, the way this thing goes.  To add insult to injury, the dentist was irritated with me and made it clear that he thought I was overreacting when I told him I could not lie back anymore.  I am now looking for a new dentist who will listen to me, and work with me to make it safe for me to get my teeth cleaned.  But not until this party is over.


Monday, August 24, 2015

vital processes

My mother is preparing to die.  She is not ill, she does not have a disease or a reason to believe she is dying, apart from the fact she is sixty-seven and growing, like all of us, statistically more likely to die with each passing year.  She prepares for death by giving away most of her clothes to the Salvation Army, and paring down her possessions to almost nothing.  She tells me after their dog dies they won't get another, because there is no way to be sure they will live long enough to look after it for its entire life.  She has my father give me information about where to find their wills, and not to sell his stamp collection for less than the estimated value he provides.  I find this kind of talk difficult to bear.  The thought of my parents' death is awful; the thought of one of them having to live without the other is worse.

When I was a child, my mother's mother used to show us her rings - still on her fingers - and tell us which one would be left for each of us.  My father's mother showed us little tags stuck to the bottom of each of her china figurines, each one bearing the name of one her grandchildren.  I inherited Little Boy Blue, but not the ring, because it was never put in writing.  I would much rather have my grandparents.

The omnipresence of death is so complete it is nearly invisible.  I hardly notice it most of the time, resting there on my chest and tangled in my breath.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I was just asked to click a box to "please prove you're not a robot".  This question always makes me pensive.  How do I even know for sure I am not a robot?  I clicked the box anyway.  But then it jumped to another screen that asked me to click on images of food which contained eggs.  Apparently robots cannot possibly discern an egg from a yellow pepper.  Some of the eggs were fried eggs, easy to spot.  But how do I know if there are eggs in donuts?  I don't make donuts.  The screen timed out while I pondered this.  Perhaps this proves I am a robot after all.


Friday, August 14, 2015

I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone

One of my students was murdered this year, the last day of school before Christmas break.  By another of my students.  I have not yet been able to say this to myself enough times that I can quite believe it.


It has been more than five years now since my sister died.  When her funeral song plays on the radio it still crushes my throat.  I wonder why that song plays on the radio so long after its time.  For a brief while a non-profit was using the song to convince us to send donations.  You couldn't get away from it.  I guess it's that sort of song, the sort that's meant to crush your throat closed even when it doesn't evoke specific images of your dead loved ones.  I find it unbearable.  J chose it; she knew it as something her mother listened to.  I would like to think she was too young to really hear the lyrics, but she probably was not.  That song may be the reason I cannot go home any more.


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

stay focused

Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon in the basement crushing empty cardboard boxes to be recycled, and throwing away bags filled with styrofoam packing.  I rarely go in the basement at all (too spidery) and my horror of spiders was overshadowed by my horror at the mess.  Turns out Shawn is a hoarder.  Who knew?

I pounced on him when he came home and interrogated him about why he was collecting hundreds of cardboard boxes and styrofoam.  He claims he has no sentimental attachment to the boxes, and that he has just been lazy about taking care of them.  While we were talking about this, the doorbell rang and the Purolator guy dropped off three more cardboard boxes with Shawn's name on them.  Must monitor this situation in case the boxes begin multiplying again.


I am hosting a party.  A big party.  This isn't the kind of thing I normally do, being antisocial and all.  I think the last time I hosted a party was twenty years ago, and I don't really remember how to do it, but I think it will involve my doing things I don't like doing.  Like cleaning.  And cooking food.  And so forth.  I had trouble sleeping last night after sending out the invitations.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

it doesn't really matter

This afternoon I went met CC for lunch.  We worked out that we have not seen each other in two years.  Two years.  We live thirty-five minutes apart.  The only possible explanation is that are both neurotic shut-ins who struggle with normal kinds of socialization.

The dynamic is always confusing because she is the most mentally ill of my friends, always has been.  I find this jarring because I generally consider myself the most mentally ill (although I prefer the term quirky) of my friends.  For example, when I go places with my colleague/friends, someone else always drives because it is known that I am likely to make nervous mistakes or get hopelessly lost.  Someone else always makes the dinner because it is known that I cannot cook anything edible.  Someone else always hosts because it is understood that my house is full of peculiar nervous dogs who will require too much of everyone's attention.  Etcetera.  In all honesty, being the kook of the group is a good position.  It comes with little responsibility, and what I lack in responsible stability I can make up for with generous gifts, and unexpected moments of thoughtfulness.

But with CC, I have to drive.  She doesn't own a car.  I have to manage the time because she doesn't own a watch.  Or care.  I have to pay attention to the road because she won't warn me if I am about to crash, and  I have to remember how to parallel park because she can't help.

It isn't that I don't love her.  I do love her.  But she requires something from me that does not come to me naturally or easily.  Still.  Two years is far too long to spend not seeing someone who is important to me.


When I drove home from CC's place, I put my hands on the steering wheel and looked down at them, and saw my mother's hands resting there.

Last year, one of my autistic students sat next to me and put his hand on mine, tracing the blue veins that are visible through my skin.  He said, I can see your veins through your skin.  You can't see my veins through my skin.  I said, That's because you are young and I am old.  He said, No, it's because you are white and I am brown.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

unreliable narrator

In the summer, the book budget gets inflated.  I read a lot anyway, and in summer I read constantly, simply because I love it and there is suddenly all this extra time in which to do it.  One day I will shrivel like a raisin because I spend so much of the summer in a lawnchair reading.  In the sun.  We all know that sun in bad for us; so why does it feel so good?  I blame my Egyptian relatives, whose blood still must seek heat even as it disperses its way through North America.

The last few books I have read have been somewhat awful, which hasn't stopped me from continuing to read the genre.  I like non-fiction books, memoir type books, especially the kind that are meant to teach the reader something not previously known.  In that vein I read Fierce Conversations, which has made the rounds among our staff, recommended and purchased by the head honcho.  Yuck, what an obnoxious piece of garbage.  Then I read Songs of the Gorilla Nation, a book about an autistic woman learning to understand her fellow humans better through her interactions with gorillas.  This was a pretty interesting book which taught me more about gorillas than I had previously known, and I would have liked it more if the story had not be interrupted every so often by the author's lousy poems.  Now I am reading Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight.  So far I'm not finding the confessions particularly engaging.  So she uses and manipulates people to her advantage… I'm not sure what is meant to be interesting or shocking about it.  People do that; most of us learn to spot those people when we are still in elementary school.  Don't we?  The author strikes me as having an unrealistic and grandiose sense of her own importance and ability to impact others.  I suppose this is a symptom of psychopathy.  


Yesterday Shawn and I went to see Southpaw, a Jake Gyllenhaal movie about a boxer.  Pretty formulaic, but it was pleasant to spend an afternoon together anyway.  J is in the States now at a horse show, and we are enjoying our empty nest.  If only she had taken her cat with her.  The poor cat is terribly lonely without J, and in his desperation for affection, he has begun hanging out with me.  He lies behind my head across the back of the couch, purring in my ears while I read.  It's not altogether unpleasant, although I am not a huge fan of cats.  He's rather sweet, and I could probably learn to love him if he would stop leaving hairballs everywhere and pay me back for all the damage he has done to my house over the years.


M. has gone home for the summer.  He comes from a place near to where I come from.  And he posts pictures of it, the long straight highway under the enormous sky, fields and fields of canola on all sides. It gives me a certain ache that is hard to describe because it is so mixed in its composition.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015


My boyfriend broke up with me on Monday.  He says that my treatment is over and there is no longer anything he can do for me through physiotherapy.  Now it's just up to me to go home and get better.  It's like recovering from an injury, he says.  I just need time and to stay active so that the things that are supposed to compensate will learn how to do it faster.  Okay, it's not the most painful breakup I have experienced.  This one leaves me with hope that I will be alright on my own.

Strangely enough, following the break up, I have been feeling significantly better.  Perhaps I had allowed myself to grow too dependant on the physiotherapy.  Or perhaps knowing that he thinks I'm fine has a placebo effect on me.  Whatever it is, I like it.


Most mornings I go for a walk/run at a park near my house.  Yesterday BB asked if she could come with me today.  This was surprising because BB is not the walk-in-the-park sort of woman.  She is more the come-over-for-pizza kind of woman.  (I happen to love this about her; it is not a criticism.  Just an observation.)  But far be it for me to discourage a friend who wants to get more active.  So I told her where to meet me, and off we went.  To my surprise, BB was a fine walker.  She kept pace with enough breath left to talk, so in the end she turned out to be a pretty good companion.  I am not a person who generally enjoys exercising with someone, but since BB has decided she wants to exercise with me, I have realised it isn't so bad having someone to talk to rather than focusing on my knees.


Friday, July 10, 2015

these so-called vacations

Those people who talk incessantly about their illnesses make me feel sick.  It is certainly to repay me for my lack of empathy that I have developed a chronic problem that I cannot seem to stop talking about.

I have BPPV.

For the uninitiated, that's Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.

Benign - non-cancerous
Paroxysmal - sudden attacks (of)
Positional - referring specifically to the position of one's head
Vertigo - dizziness

What this means is that I might stand up, or lie down, or look over my left shoulder at my alarm clock,  or tilt my head quizzically, and suddenly be overcome with the sensation that I am spinning drunkenly and might fall down.  (Actually, wine is the only thing that seems to make me feel normal.)

I meant not to talk about it, the way I mean not to talk about things that make me seem frail or aged or stupid or vulnerable.  But whatever.  It has been going on since the end of April.  I had a terrible flu in March that may have triggered it; it's some kind of inner ear disturbance.  And it has been mostly unrelenting ever since.

But I do not mean to spend my life lying down watching the ceiling spin around above me.  So I am still running, dizzily and drunkenly, amusing myself with the strange sensations that overtake me.  But I have stopped yoga.  I simply cannot turn my head upside down without experiencing sensations that are too alarming to manage in public places.  I still hike in the mountains, searching for connections between autism and vestibular functioning as leaves and shadows throw my world into inner chaos.

In the positive column, I have a new boyfriend.  His name is Nav and he is a physiotherapist.  He tilts my head back gently and turns it at unexpected angles while he stares deeply into my eyes, looking for signs of nystagmus.  Sometimes he makes me feel better.  Sometimes he doesn't know what to do with me.  I hardly blame him.  I do not know what to do with myself either.  We like each other, I think.  We talk more about other things than we do about vertigo.  Things like Valentine's Day.  Things like droughts and racism and politics and family.  He is a lovely boyfriend.  I see him frequently.

But that is not all.

I still operate the chain saw, in spite of the dizziness that is made worse by the vibration.  I still dig up weeds.  Several days ago I accidentally sliced through an extension cord with the chain saw, which resulted in sparks and smoke and great excitement.  I could blame the vertigo but I probably just wasn't paying attention.

I still refuse to remove the superfluous space between periods at the start of new sentences.

You know.  I'm still me.  I'm just in recovery.  At least I hope I am recovering.

And it's summer, a good time to focus on that sort of thing.


Monday, June 29, 2015


I dreamed I was moving to live in Hawaii with a man I had just met.  The man was incredibly persuasive about the fact that I ought to leave my life here behind me and move with him to start a new one.  In the end I went with him, not because of him but because I really wanted to live in Hawaii.  Living with someone who was fascinated by every breath I took was a fringe benefit.  In dreams you can amputate pieces of your world painlessly.  In reality, phantom pains tingle just at the thought.  My dreams are not wishes; they are something more difficult to define.


Friday, June 19, 2015

dead end of a thought.

I think I have changed my mind about what I wanted to say about this.


Friday, June 12, 2015

disappointing you is getting me down

I grow accustomed to A.  He borrows my keys and does not return them until I chase him.  I find myself unlikely to chase.  Especially unlikely to chase  men like him… thin men, vibrating with caffeine and hunger and good intentions.  I am not enchanted, but I grow accustomed.  And I sense he is accustomed to being chased.  I was like him when I was twenty-four, but I do not think he will be like me when he is my age now.  Time will attach itself to us in different ways.  I study him with interest because he will likely be my new partner.  He will impact my life in a number of ways I cannot yet predict.  Frankly I like him, somewhat against my will, and in spite of various affectations I find irritating.  He will challenge me.


For some reason it all reminds me of N, who I thought was terribly old when he told me he was thirty.  Now, it is nearly impossible to imagine him with a wife and baby.  Long ago, when K lived here, he caught me with my shirt off in the hallway.  He said, "Now that's a woman who has never had a baby," and I did not know if he was complimenting me or insulting me  - because babies both make us and destroy us.  My body has never been altered by that magic.  Nor my soul.  I wonder which is more apparent.  N referred to many lifetimes of missed opportunities, and there is still a part of me that counts upon another chance to get things right.


My family is away.  And so I take this as an opporutnity to drink red wine alone.  And then to stumble to the corner store to buy cigarettes.  I do not know what I smoke anymore, because I only smoke what I am given.  It has been a long time, and so I revert back to what I would have bought decades ago… Benson & Hedges, something.  Something in a black package, I tell the girl at the counter, who looks at me like I might be crazy instead of just a bit drunk.  I am disappointed the homeless man who often haunts the cornter store is not there, because I wanted to smoke one cigarette with him and then leave him the rest of the pack.  But he is not there.  So I take the rest of the pack home, smoke on my front porch alone while the cat watches me through the screen, dreaming of freedom, knowing nothing of what this is like, to be alone.  I am drinking white wine now, because I have run out of red.  Terrible, this.  I am not much different in this moment than I was when I was in eighth grade.  And disappointing you is getting me down.