Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I don't mind the sun sometimes

A funny thing about Bikram yoga is that they always warn you to let go of your expectations and instead to be curious about the practice.  To let yourself just experience it without judgement.  This is difficult for me.  I have expectations.  I expect to get better, only better.  I expect to be uncomfortable.  I expect to struggle.  On days that I don't get better, I am frustrated.  On days that I do not feel the discomfort or the struggle the way I expect to, I wonder if I am not working hard enough.

The goal is not to think like this.  The goal is to notice, and breathe, and let it go.  Notice and let it go.  I notice that I used to be better at Bikram before the vertigo because then I was fearless about inversion.  In my current practice I regularly come up against a fear that stops me from tipping my head as far back as I know it can go.  It stops me from rolling as far forward as I know I can go.  I notice, and I cannot let it go.  The anticipation of dizziness prevents me from finding my edge.  That is, it prevents me today.  And maybe eventually it will not.


*





Sunday, July 09, 2017

start now, we'll be done by Easter

I received a call from my credit card company to tell me they suspected my card had been compromised.  We went over the charges together and they were right.  Someone was using my card at Bell Mobility, which is not a company I have ever used.  It's interesting how quickly it was caught - less than 12 hours.  I wonder how they do that.  Surely it has something to do with computers and not humans poring over incoming bills, but my brain couldn't stop conjuring up pictures of a roomful of workers tracking my movements based on my credit card.  "Oh, she's going into the grocery store! She's buying tomato soup for dinner." "She's on her way home.  She just stopped for gas."  "Wait, Bell Mobility?  No!  That can't be her.  Bell isn't on her route home!"

*

My neck muscles are weak.  This is indubitably from holding my dizzy head as straight as possible for two years to prevent an attack of the spins.  Now that I am using my neck again, allowing my head to move more, it is causing some strange sensations.  I am working to trust my body to be okay with this, to let the sensations enter my awareness, to notice them, to accept them, to let them pass through me.  Not to fight them.  To breathe through them and let them go.  It is a new exercise in self-discipline, and I like this kind of challenge.  By the end of summer I will get back my Ustrasana.


*





Tuesday, July 04, 2017

anahata

Summer is time for projects, and I have done many over the years.  Some gardening.  But painting and tiling, mostly.  (I enjoy these things - except for the weeding.  I now have a blow torch for the weeds, which makes it more tolerable.)  This year I have run out of things to tile, and very nearly run out of things to paint.  The only thing left to paint doesn't want to be painted yet.  I haven't finished thinking about it.

This leaves me with no projects, except one.  The project this summer is... me.

I have finally, finally, finally returned to daily yoga practice properly  - with no stops and starts, with consistency and focus.  And no dizziness.  None.  My apprehension is still there; I think that will take more time and practice.  But that is why it is called practice, and I am ready to practice.  With my dizzy inner ear at last acting normal, I have been able to do full inversions for the first time in two years.

It feels like starting over in some ways.  I can tell I have lost some of my strength, and some of my balance.  And yet .. the muscle memory is there.  It feels like spiritual awe to me when my brain cannot think of the next posture, but my body knows it, twists itself without me asking, to set up the next position, and the next.  Twenty-six of them, and they're all still there.  With practice they will be better.  I breathe in, I breathe out.  My body is doing what I am asking it to do again, and this feels better than anything else I know.

Tonight I went to "pyropilates", a class my yoga membership offers me for free.  I did not know what I was getting into.  Now, in the safety of my living room, I think I did something amazing.  At the time it was mortal suffering.  An hour of intense cardio and pilates in a hot room.  Hot.  I breathed a lot.  I might go back, maybe.  My body is not really a fan of the plank, but maybe that means I should make it plank more often.  It probably means that.

*

I had coffee with CE this morning.  She crossed the bridge in my direction, which was kind of her.  Toasted her retirement.  And talked about her future plans.  I think she will have a happy retired life.

*

There have been some tentative steps toward new friendships.  On their part, not mine, because I am cowardly like this.  I find reciprocating these gestures nerve wracking, a bit like dating.  I want to make a good impression without appearing to try too hard.  I want to be myself, but I want to be cool.  I want to be a cooler version of myself, less likely to spill something.  I wonder why I made friends so effortlessly when I was young, and now it feels so deliberate.  Sometimes I tell myself I have everyone I need in my life already.  And sometimes I tell myself to go ahead and crack open my chest and see what pours out - and in.

*






Friday, June 30, 2017

orphans and atheists not withstanding

This was the last day of work; now summer vacation.

Wrap up.  I gave a big speech before the staff in honour of CE's retirement.  This was somewhat difficult as a.) I do not particularly enjoy delivering speeches - Drama background notwithstanding, I am not a person who especially likes a microphone, b). CE is very special to me and her retirement means I will not see her very often anymore.

However, giving a speech is also cathartic, and I appreciated the opportunity to tell my colleagues how much she meant to me, and how much she (quietly) contributed without them even knowing. The feedback was warm, some in person and some text messages later in the evening.  I appreciated it all, because I am not confident about these kinds of things.  I have no doubt they knew I needed a little feedback.  (The quaver in my voice would have told them so if they were listening.)

*

The boss is also leaving, and I was invited to participate in that send off, another opportunity I appreciated.  My change in position in the school has resulted in great changes to my relationships with many people.  This is both wonderful and frustrating.  Wonderful to find that people are more human than I thought.  Frustrating that it takes a change in position to earn the right to know so.


*

CM was lovely.  She gave me her shirt, she gave me some dragons.  She told me my speech was beautiful, she told me some secrets.  Fuck I wish I had gotten to know her before she was leaving.

*

Monday, June 19, 2017

the evidence shows we are probably not alone

To have a hard conversation with someone you care about is significantly more difficult than to have that conversation with someone about whom you do not.  I teased around the topic with N a few times but could not bring myself to tell him directly that I was going to apply for the position of department leader - because I was assuming he would be hurt.  Today I addressed it directly, but only because the boss sent out the email asking for applicants, and because he was away today, I took the henhouse door and sent him an email instead of talking to him face to face.  It made me recognize that I do care about N, I care about him more than I thought I did.  I do not want to hurt his feelings. (He responded very kindly, telling me it was a good time to apply and that he would support me.  Of course this does not prove he was not hurt by my decision, but I hope he wasn't.  And I hope that I will be able to do as good a job as I want to.)  This is not a fait accompli because the new principal needs to approve my application.  But the outgoing one has offered her endorsement.


*

I talk about work a lot.  I think about work a lot.  A lot.


*


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Pimento

T went home early yesterday, and it troubles me that I did not notice she was struggling to be there.  Or that she had a new haircut and colour.  When she texted to tell me both things, I was surprised by my lack of awareness.  This tells me that I need to slow down and notice.  Efficiency is important to me.  Getting things done is important to me.  And getting things off my desk is important to me.  But so should be noticing, so should be genuine concern, and so should be (buzzword) mindfulness.  Time to slow down and breathe.  Breathe.  And breathe.

*

The buttercups are taking over the yard, and with the mower broken there is not much we can do about it.  I borrowed a mower last week, but the rain has been relentless and things are growing faster than we can keep up.  Our mower won't be fixed for a couple more weeks, by which time the buttercups may have swallowed the house.  Being swallowed by a buttercup seems like a delightful way to die.  A is for Amy who fell down the stairs, B is for Boris devoured by bears... 


*

Yesterday I received a rather sharp nudge at the end of the day when my VP asked me if I would be attending a goodbye event for a colleague and I said no, because I wanted to finish my scheduling before going home for the weekend.  She said no, that the schedules would wait until Monday and that I should go and let her buy me a drink.  I did.  I have not had this sort of rapport with administration in the past where one would take interest in my work/life balance or where one would care enough to proffer a bribe.  It is a bit out-on-a-limb-like to consort with the enemy this way, but my revelation this year has been that the enemy is human too, and not so much an enemy as a shepherd; the nipping can feel unpleasant but it is intended to keep us together and safe.  (My view on this has been altered by having an office with a window.)  I drank a Caesar that came with three olives.  I wanted to drink six more of them (I didn't),  and I did not regret leaving the schedules until Monday.

*






Sunday, June 11, 2017

Would you rather be you?

I wonder if it seems incongruent that I should be busting with empathy for the young people I work with, the ones who struggle with depression, anxiety, and all sorts of other mental illnesses and disturbances.  And yet, I can muster no such compassion for my coworker.  It seems unfair that I should have so little room for empathizing with her, and it makes me wonder why I feel this way.  This list is a compilation of reasons I cannot empathize with M:

- she says she is allergic to everything, but she frequently eats things she says she can't eat
- she doesn't answer her work email for weeks at at a time, but will respond immediately if something free is being given away
- she jingles when she walks because she wears a lot of jewellery
- she lisps when she talks because she is lying (that's patently ridiculous)
- she always applies to go to professional development opportunities that will get her out of being at work
- she does not respond to students' requests for appointments
- she claims to care very much about her career in spite of being terrible at it
- she claims to care very much about being part of a "team" although she does not contribute
- she takes credit for other people's work
- she brings in student counsellors to take on her work
- she does not supervise her student counsellors 
- she complains about being very busy all the time although she spends her whole day with her door shut, not seeing students
- she leaves her paperwork for others to do when she falls behind and then calls in sick
- she seems very very very very happy and seems to have no idea how much she sucks


That's not a comprehensive list by an means but it covers the most important things.  When I look at the list I realize it's largely the last item that makes me unable to care about her apparent mental illness.  It's her apparent lack of awareness that her actions impact others.  The way she seems so pleased with herself and seems to think she's quite wonderful.  It really rankles.  Why?

Maybe it's because I ask myself at least a hundred times a day if I'm doing a good enough job.  Maybe it's because I am oversensitive to how my actions impact other people.  It's something to do with these facts, absolutely.

I'm too irritated to feel sorry for her, even though obviously something is wrong with her.  And that's the problem with invisible illnesses; maybe the more "normal" a person appears to be, the less room there is to tolerate something less.  Maybe that's it.

Or maybe it's the lisping and jingling.  I really hate that.


*

Friday, June 09, 2017

forecast

Today M called in to say she is going on an extended medical leave, for "several months".  M goes on a medical leave every year so this was not very surprising, but the timing is suspect.  She is in some trouble.  She has been making some unethical decisions, and some downright stupid decisions.  She spends the better part of most days with her office door shut, and what she is doing behind that door is anyone's guess.  We know she isn't doing her paperwork or seeing any students, because the complaints don't stop.  But now people from HR are involved.

I hope she won't be back, and that's my honest truth.

*

Thursday, June 08, 2017

right after the forecast

My principal encouraged me to apply for the position of Department Head for next year.  She said she would advocate for that to happen in spite of the fact that the other guy has more experience.  This was an interesting conversation.  Her vision and mine are very closely aligned, which would, at one time, have alarmed me.  But now I see things from a different perspective because I have been working so much more closely with the admin team.  This leaves me with a difficult conversation to have with N about the fact that I will be applying for a job he sees as his.


*

There are only sixteen work days until summer.

*

Monday, May 01, 2017

still under warranty

The differences between K and S are fascinating.  My relationship with S is easy.  He is jolly and warm and terrible at keeping secrets.  I boldly ask him questions about things that are none of my business, and he tells me he cannot answer those questions, and then answers them anyway.  He comes to my office for personal counselling when he feels inadequate.  He compliments me lavishly.  He is simple and easy to work with as long as I don't care if I don't actually get any work done.

My relationship with K is much more complex, made up of tentative gestures and large pockets of unsaid thoughts.  K is consciously ethical, acutely aware of Standards of Practice and Codes of Ethics and Union Rules.  She does not say much, in fact, when it matters most.  And yet she is the one I would be more likely to count upon to understand a complicated situation and navigate the way through it.  I once threw a bet to her.  I once gave her a Pez dispenser.  I once shared with her a piece of personal history.  She received all these gifts in similar ways.  She has a sharp edge that makes me nervous but is easy to respect.  I whispered a concern to her today.  She said, Yeah, that'll happen.

If I were to share that same concern with S, he would say, Haha, well that's because you're wonderful!  Have I told you that yet today, haha?! You end up doing everyone's work because you're good at it.  You need to stop that, haha!  But please don't.

Neither response answers my need.  I follow up with a conversation with my dashboard.


*



Friday, March 03, 2017

behold

Today I had another of those rather difficult conversations that I have been growing accustomed to having.  This time it was Steven, who is frustratingly immature and surprisingly lacking in common sense.  It should not necessarily have been me having the conversation with him, but M doesn't come to work on time (ever) and I could not stand to wait for her to jingle and lisp her way in the door fifteen minutes late before addressing my concern.  So I ploughed ahead, and found myself quite capable of addressing another adult's idiocy in a straightforward manner - much more so than I ever would have thought a short time ago.  I am narcissistically fascinated by this facet of my personality because it is brand new and completely unexpected.  My whole life I have gone to great lengths to avoid having uncomfortable conversations.  To find out I can lead one so successfully is endlessly surprising.  I almost want to manufacture situations that will allow me to practice.  I wonder what has changed in me.  Is it all the new shoes I bought?


*

It is only 9 days until I leave for Berlin.


*

Saturday, February 25, 2017

forgive me I'm just an animal

Ghosting BB is not as easy as I hoped.  Like a high school boy, the less interest I show in her, the more she shows in me.

*

Friday was an unpleasant day.

I had written myself a list of things I wanted to accomplish, none of which got done.

First I was forced to call the Ministry about a parent who punched her daughter in the face the night before.  I sat with that girl while she cried for a hour, and nursed the bruised knuckles she acquired returning the favour.

Then I went to the elementary school next door because I was required to lead a cheerful pep rally type event to welcome their grade sevens to high school next year.  I am so excited that you will be joining us.  Wooohooo!!

Then I came back to work and was interviewed by a social worker and a police officer about the girl.

Then I dealt with an angry father who wanted to reschedule his son's classes because he mistakenly believes his profoundly learning disabled son is capable of graduating.

Next, I informed a mother that her grade eight boy needs to have showers.  And wear deodorant.  And brush his teeth.

Then I had a meeting with a mother who wanted me and the vice principal to take responsibility for her daughter skipping school and who was astonished that neither of us were going to come to school on Saturdays to make her daughter make up missed time.

This was followed by a department meeting (the first of the year, and only because I insisted upon having one), in which I felt compelled to share with my team that I think we can do a much better job of several different things.

And then a conversation with a bratty grade 9 girl who was bullying another girl.

Throughout the day I noticed myself communicating more and more bluntly.  I have always been a person who is gentle with words, afraid of hurting other people's feelings.  Afraid of hurting people to a degree that has inhibited me, often, from being as clear as I should.  This has been changing rapidly as a requirement of my new job which no longer allows me the luxury of avoiding difficult conversations.  By the time the department meeting started I was becoming deadpan blunt, and the last bully of the day did not get a lot of nurturing.

I ended the day at the liquor store filling my cart with wine.

*




Monday, February 20, 2017

Note to self

1.  I would like to remind myself that overall I am good at my job.  I want to remember it on days when I am overworked and short on time and miss seeing students I should have seen, and miss doing things I should have done, and make mistakes.  Because overall, I am good at this.  I am not only good at this.  I am really good at this.  And I am already better at it than both my team members who have far more experience than I do.  (Not that being better than really matters, but it helps to have a yardstick by which to measure.  Or I'm a creep.  Maybe that.)


2.  I would like to remind myself that my job isn't me.  I would like to remember it when my job is enormous and overwhelming and eats up my evenings and my weekends and still leaves me wishing I had more time to do things.  My job isn't me.  I love my job but my job does not love me.  It wants to eat me.


3.  I would like to remind myself that where it comes to BB, I have made this mistake before, and I already know how to solve it.  I can run faster than she can, and for longer, but running isn't the only option.  Running is only one option.


4.  I would like to remember that being direct is generally better than being sneaky.  Today when N asked me to register for a workshop with him and keep it hidden from M, I got twisted glee from doing so.  And yet, clearly, we should have told her it was her turn to stay home and babysit the kids rather than trying to sneak out behind her back.  The fact it made me laugh does not make it a good thing.  We can do better, and when it is my turn, I will.


5.  T must never be undervalued or taken advantage of, because she functions far above her pay grade.  It is easy to forget this, but essential not to forget it.  She is invaluable.  She makes me look more competent than I am, and she challenges me to become more competent than I was.




*

Saturday, February 18, 2017

beautiful wreck

The longer a pattern persists, I suspect, the easier it becomes to identify it.  I am vigilant on the lookout for patterns lately, my own and everyone else's, because we know that in general people behave the same way forever until and unless there is a reason to change.  One of my long established patterns has been to become close friends with bossy, domineering women who treat me like a child.  (Allowing myself to be infantilized this way is rooted in laziness, though I can entertain the argument that it is also manipulative.  Like controlling from a position of submitting; topping from the bottom, so to speak.)

When you are friends with a bossy, domineering woman you never need to make a decision on your own behalf because she already has it covered.  You don't need to drive anywhere because she does that.  You don't need to send back your undercooked food because she already eaten half of it and sent it back for you.  And she tells you who you are, so you don't even have to think about it.  Very relaxing.

But my second puberty has me in full bloom lately, and I suddenly cannot breathe when my bossy, domineering friend makes me breakfast because she knows I didn't eat this morning, and sends me home with a tupperware full of brownies, and criticizes my hair, and implies I have no secrets she doesn't know.  These kindnesses have become intolerable and I find myself pulling away, far away, further and further the more she demands to know where I am going.  I actually do have secrets she doesn't know, but that's because I don't know them either.  Our friendship is ending.  I choose this.

*

I went to a professional development day yesterday and walked out partway through.  I left because we were painting and cutting magazines and gluing and sharing.  It was gross.  The purpose was clever; a counselling exercise.  A small cardboard box.  You decorate the outside of the box to represent yourself as you show yourself to the world.  And you decorate the inside of the box to represent the secret inner parts of yourself that only you see.  Too personal, maybe.  But also not necessary to do it to understand it.  But also, and more importantly, the growing awareness that my outside and my inside pretty much match each other these days.  Not because I have nothing flawed and prickly on the inside, but because I hide those things far less than I used to.  People who know me see my imperfections early on.  I left without fanfare, but also without slinking or looking apologetic.

*






Friday, January 27, 2017

she thinks she's the passionate one

I think it is fair to say my vertigo has finally and thoroughly ended.  Although I credit my physiotherapist with helping me by providing desensitization exercises, the fact of the matter is that the main reason it has gotten better is the simple passage of time.  And this is aggravating because it tells me that should this condition ever recur, it cannot be cured.  Like many problems in life, it needs to be outlasted.

*
Yesterday two women at my work had a fight via email, but for some reason felt the need to "Reply All", keeping the entire 100+ members of staff caught in the drama.  This is the kind of thing that makes me hate unions, because they give people confidence to openly act like asses, knowing that there won't be any consequence.  Sometimes a union is a wonderful thing, and sometimes it simply protects and preserves idiocy.  I wonder if the administrators look at each other and whisper about how much they wish they could fire certain people.  Actually I don't wonder.  I'm certain they do this.  I would.

*

My sister-in-law convinced her doctor to take two new patients, me and J.  I have grown fed up with my doctor on a number of counts over a number of years, but my primary problem is that he is far too interested in talking to me about my sex life.  His curiosity is not rooted in medical concern as far as I can tell.  And I do not say this because I think I am particularly interesting, rather that he is particularly curious.  There have been a number of times in my life that I have ignored gut-feelings like this, and regretted it.  This time I have decided to act on that feeling and move on.  We met the new doctor yesterday, who was not nearly as smiley as he is, not nearly as warm and chatty.  She was serious and deliberate and professional.  I'm good with that.

*

Now I am reading Caroline Adderson again.  Isn't it strange how some writers can alienate their readers so delicately, making them long to get closer?  And others just throw a warm arm around the readers and pull them in so comfortably that they can feel like they have always inhabited this world?   (Adderson is the latter.  Murakami is the former.)  Both styles intrigue me; I want to imitate them, each one in different situations and for different reasons.  I do not think I accomplish either one successfully.  Rather I invite my reader to watch me tread water and wonder how long I can go, forever on the cusp of swallowing water, and dare them to flag down a lifeguard.  Because I can swim; I just don't like water.


*






Friday, January 20, 2017

what walks down the stairs, alone or in pairs?

When I moved into my first apartment I bought a shower curtain that had a print of strange cartoon-like creatures that looked like hybrids of birds, bugs, reptiles, and rodents.  I was quite enamoured of these peculiar little critters and spent a lot of time studying their faces while washing my hair.  I was particularly fond of the two-legged, pointy-eared guy next to the blue rabbit.  I liked his sidelong glance and his crooked little mouth.  This little dude clearly knew stuff he wasn't telling, and he had an opinion about it too.  But he knew how to be cool.
When I got my new drivers' license in the mail today I recognized a nearly identical expression on my own face in the photograph.  The woman taking my picture had clearly told me not to smile or make any kind of facial expression at all.  And I hadn't, not on purpose.  But the picture came out looking remarkably like the guy on the shower curtain I used to chat with while I got ready for school in the morning.  Eyes looking up and off to one side, mouth slightly askew.


*

My new job continues to force me to have difficult conversations with people with whom I would not normally choose to have any kind of conversation whatsoever.  Today I told a mother she would be irresponsible to continue not to take her depressed daughter to see a doctor.  And I told another mother her son had chosen not to graduate and needed to be held accountable for that decision.  Neither of these things are things I could have said six months ago.  I may finally be becoming an adult.

*

My husband's hair is astonishing.  For reasons no one understands he has stopped cutting it and allowed it to become enormous.  Something I did not know about his hair when it was short is that it is extremely coarse and very curly.  And now that it is so long, I find it all over the house, especially in the bathroom sink.  Like millions of silver slinkies.  (A slinky, a slinky, it's a wonderful toy.)  It's as though a toy box has exploded.  I have feelings and thoughts about the slinkies, but I say nothing.  I look heavenward (up and to the left) and hold my mouth crooked.

*






Wednesday, January 04, 2017

a public memorial

Do you know Ruth Ozeki?  I have been reading a lot of her writing lately.  The first two were fiction (the kind of fiction that feels autobiographical), and now I am reading a set of, what would you call them?, memoirs I think.  But not exactly memoirs, more like a long poem or perhaps a blog  (the word is detestable) written as she looks into a mirror and contemplates her own reflection.  The exercise is a three hour reflection upon oneself.  The mirror is the tool.  And the pen (or keyboard perhaps?).  The idea is fascinating and revolting.  I started to read it last night but fell asleep about a third of the way in, not because the book is boring (it's quite interesting) but because I have jet lag caused by Christmas holidays.  I have been sleeping in until the luxurious hour of 8 o'clock for the past two weeks (!!! unheard of) and now returning to my regular schedule of waking at 5am has become a bit painful.  Staying awake beyond 9pm is challenging.

*

Today was difficult.  This job comes with a different sort of schedule that is less predictable and largely out of my control.  I entered with the delusion that I would be setting my own schedule, which has turned out to be only slightly and ocassionally true.  The rest of the time my schedule is determined by emotionally-sodden teenagers.  For some reason today they were particularly needy, and the trend extended to the staff as well, and I accidentally found myself unsuccessfully attempting to mediate a dispute between colleagues (which felt wrong in a multitude of ways).  But it's so difficult to stop swimming once you find yourself immersed.

*