Monday, May 30, 2011

Journal 27 Notes on a Reading

"But where is your sense of fun, playfulness?"

"And you need to ask for that courage, call upon it"
(I'm trying)

"I'm not seeing that"
(I am)

"I don't see you there"
(neither do I)

"The prophet is never heard in his own country"
(I'm invisible)

"I'm not seeing that"
(I'm not letting you)

"How would you rate that on a scale of one to ten?"
"Could it ever be a ten, you could make it to ten?"
(we're human beings. not lottery tickets..)

"He says to stop feeling guilty"
(I can't)

"He says he's where he's supposed to be"
(am I?)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Journal 26 The Fear

I had a 'good' cry tonight, the kind that sneaks up on you, at first just a few teardrops, calmly, while lying in bed reading an old letter from M., but then the anxiety kicked in, my heart felt torn in half, and all the faces of people in my life seemed to swirl up in front of me, all wanting something, and somehow, through my sheer mental exhaustion of just-getting-through-the-days lately, I have failed them all, on some deep level.

I have this terror that I will get through this 'stage' and that things will not improve. Ever. It's like the episodes in my life, thus far, stacking upon one another into a taller and taller tower, a house of bad cards, building a precarious structure, have been bending in the wind these last few months. When my anxiety mounts, I try to calm it by harking back to last year, same time, same season (completely different weather, but that's another story) and I tell myself, see, a few months later you were FINE, you recovered, you could socialize, engage, emanate energy, and genuinely enjoy life. I just feel like every episode of odd luck I'll call it, tends to add to the swaying, and I really ask myself--will there come a time where my insides simply give up and stop trying to control my fears, my anxiousness?

When I think back to my post-traumatic-stress-twenties, after the robbery, living alone in a tiny basement, I wonder why I wasn't more terrified. I just didn't know enough at the time. I had just escaped a possibly violent death, but I didn't cling to life all the more robustly--instead I curled away from life, not wanting to jeopardize the dizzy sense of safety I felt at home, alone, underground. I lived in my journals, in my cd player, in my rollerblades. As a poignant poem I read yesterday declared, the writer tried to bicycle away loneliness.

Is that what I do when I run? Truth be told, I don't even let my thoughts unfurl there anymore, either, perhaps accounting for my body-pain and my slower and slower times.
Tonight I'm not trying to understand, deconstruct, or interpret. Those are the Thought-things.
Tonight is Feel-things. My mother's resigned, sad voice on the phone today. My guilt as a daughter. My missing M. terribly, more so than I even allow a corner of that missing to waft into my addled head. My fear, that one day a terrible death waits for me, or for others I love.

My fear. I didn't even know enough to be this afraid years ago. I had to learn to be this afraid.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Journal 25 Twenties

To My Twenties
By Kenneth Koch

How lucky that I ran into you
When everything was possible
For my legs and arms, and with hope in my heart
And so happy to see any woman—
O woman! O my twentieth year!
Basking in you, you
Oasis from both growing and decay
Fantastic unheard of nine- or ten-year oasis
A palm tree, hey! And then another
And another—and water!
I’m still very impressed by you. Whither,
Midst falling decades, have you gone? Oh in what lucky fellow,
Unsure of himself, upset, and unemployable
For the moment in any case, do you live now?
From my window I drop a nickel
By mistake. With
You I race down to get it
But I find there on
The street instead, a good friend,
X— N—, who says to me
Kenneth do you have a minute?
And I say yes! I am in my twenties!
I have plenty of time! In you I marry,
In you I first go to France; I make my best friends
In you, and a few enemies. I
Write a lot and am living all the time
And thinking about living. I loved to frequent you
After my teens and before my thirties.
You three together in a bar
I always preferred you because you were midmost
Most lustrous apparently strongest
Although now that I look back on you
What part have you played?
You never, ever, were stingy.
What you gave me you gave whole
But as for telling
Me how best to use it
You weren’t a genius at that.
Twenties, my soul
Is yours for the asking
You know that, if you ever come back.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Journal 24 Poem by David Whyte

What to Remember When Waking
by David Whyte © 1999 Many Rivers Press

In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the waiting desk?

Journal 23 Bitter

I have no right to be, but rights are not important right now.
What is more important is feelings, and I never get the impression lately that mine are honorable, express-able, or rational. (Am I mixing up feelings with thoughts? It's possible. I can't tell them apart lately. And I don't care that I can't.).
I save up diatribes to no one in my head. I had the bright idea to call Rogers about my bill tonight. The 'thinking' part of me over-ruled the feeling part. I'm glad for all who could have been involved.

A moment of silence for my memory and my ability to organize ANYTHING (that thing about the clear tape wasn't a joke. It was a reality. A cry for help. To be able to wrap a gift, buy a gift, get a gift where it is supposed to be, at the right time, the right place, and to want to be at the place where the gift is going. Giving the gift. When you feel like your life is structured to give you anything but.)

My nails have turned back time to the hospital-disinfectant state. I have started to listen to things my cousin is saying, you know, pesky stuff like mixing alcohol and pills is bad (I know, I KNOW).
Things like, sometimes bed really is the best place. (if only work felt this way).

The worst part is I actually had a therapy session today with my "paid friend" as one of my girlfriends labels these people.
I have never ever done this, but today I wrote and brought NOTES because my state of mind is so insane to me, the thoughts and feelings tripping over one another, intent on attracting attention, that I felt some need to harness the insanity.
I laid it all out for her. She made some notes, went silent as is her way. No life raft to hang on to today. I stared off into middle distance, maybe slightly to the right, taking in the calendar on the wall, well into May; the well-used coffee pot, the coffee cups, the sagging sad couch, it's cream fabric now greyed. An institutional room.
Her voice permeated my judgmental interior-designer-fuelled impressions about her office.

"A penny for your thoughts?" she was looking at me intently.

I stared back, not in a challenging way. A blank stare. I looked down at the bright green post-it I was holding, my scribbled notes. I'd read them out to her, one-by-one, almost, giving her the background on each one. Now what?

I actually say this aloud; "Now what?" I move my head forward in that way you do when you're facing someone in conversation, now I was getting into challenge-territory.
This is therapist-land for letting you answer your own question, it's a tactic mine uses at times. She doesn't make 'pronouncements' or give long pieces of advice. Sometimes she tells infuriating stories that seem to make no sense to me at the time.
I shrugged at the penny-for-my-thoughts. Uhh...didn't I just read you a list?
She launched into a memory of me telling her about a place I used to live (I managed to turn this memory into yet another feeling of bitterness/angry thought. She shelved it. Sorry Dr.)

"Now what?" Can't some one just fill me on some part of this, because I am really stuck on it, I've got my list, fished out of my purse, it's sitting here on my desk.
Now what? I guess I finish off today, this post, and hope for the emotional cloud to lift.
That's all I got tonight.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Journal 22 Holiday Monday

I went to visit my lovely friend T. today, and her two little ones, her husband taking a quick midday break to go and work out while I was there.
It is T.'s father who essentially has the same cancer as my father, and it has been this trajectory that allowed me to lull myself into a false sense of 'it's all okay, you can live with this for years' without letting the stark statistics join up with my strong sense of unease from the beginning, from the date of diagnosis, without allowing myself to think that 1 in 5 are hideously bad odds, and that most of the time, statistics proves that the odds win.

T. and I usually do magazine exchanges, my Oprah and Vogue to her Hello and Vanity Fair, but this time she wasn't finished with the Vanity Fair, but while she was tending to her little guy, she brought it down for me to read, so I could take a look at Christopher Hitchens' latest article. Hitchens also has a form of esophageal cancer.

She was upstairs with her son for a while, feeding him, which I was glad of, because during the reading of the article I needed to get kleenex.
This author who truly seems austere for lack of a better word; who wrote a book on Orwell which I own, because I love Orwell; whose January 2011 Vanity Fair article, which would have been written in say, October, was something I read in hair salon while waiting for a cut-and-colour, completely off-guard, unexpected (my father was not, per se, dying, that we knew of, in January). So reading this article today seemed like a foot note to an already sad story, and reading it, with its' references to Japan and the earthquake, I could once again tell that although this was the June, 2011 issue, the article had been prepared right around March 13th, on or about the date of the Japanese earthquake, on or about the date that my father had his tracheostomy, those endless rain-soaked days of mid-March, where we all spent approximately 4 days, with little respite, outside my fathers ICU hospital room. When they told us my father had weeks to live.

Hitchens, to me, does not seem the sentimental type. But reading about his battle with the disease and all of its accessory conditions, I couldn't not react, being the daughter of someone sharing his illness.
In January's issue Hitchens talked about the lightning-quick onset of his disease (my father's also arose, seemingly, out of the blue). He wrote about the things the disease wanted in exchange for his life; taste buds, the ability to eat...and more. Now it is attacking his voice, his vocal cords separating, leading to the eventual outcome, I know, of no voice. My father, for the most part, is already at this stage. Post-trach, he had no voice for the first six or eight weeks afterward. Now he can speak, haltingly, and his voice is not the same, but he has some power of speech. The ominous-ness of this, however, terrifies me. Vocal cords work in pairs, the 2 cords needing to touch to create sounds; changes in speech and sound indicate movement of cancer, of growth, of differences in the tumour. It is I who remains mute and un-talking in the faces of these changes.
There are days when I feel like I can't face them.

What stands out now are the things they didn't tell us.
How my father will die, for instance. You hear of people 'dying of cancer'. But what really happens?
Here's what I've got for you so far:
First, they give you hope.
Then, they give you timelines. Timelines, which, really, are more like throwing darts at a dartboard 3 drinks in. Maybe the dart will land close to the bull's eye.
Next, they just dangle carrots, like stellar weather reports for the week you're taking vacation.
And finally, they become, the doctors, not idolized gods--they are glorified pharmacists, doling out pills the way they do in totalitarian regimes in novels.
There, got it?

I don't have the eloquence of Hitchens, his subtle spit-in-your-face sarcasm, his utter rejection of pity, or of sympathy of any kind. I don't have his psychological prowess, his extra years on the planet out numbering mine, but I do have this--the will to write my way through this, as honestly as I can, so that maybe someone else doesn't feel as alone as I have over the past few months. So someone else can google a topic, find something, read it, and maybe for a minute have the calming thought of "woah....good to know I'm not going crazy!".

Because they left that part out.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Journal 21 The point of it all...

I didn't run today, or do anything particularly active, noble, or noteworthy.
I got impatient (once again I almost wrote "inpatient") at my family.
I wished for some way to change anything (because everyone knows WISHING things would change is the big way to make it all happen).
I ate extra dinner at my family's house, somehow trying to feed something in me.
I drank coffee after 5pm, a true curse.

I am home now, have been for several hours. I've eaten some leftover chicken, cold, from the fridge, because we had dinner early, at my parents, 5pm.
I've taken some phonecalls, I've congratulated one of my dearest friends, via email, on the birth of her daughter this morning.
I've done all these things, and at no time has the tide changed, letting the water ebb away from me. I'm still treading my way through it, employing every single tactic I can think of to help myself cope.
Temperature is important to me, I took a cool shower to calm down.
Wine in a glass is never a bad thing.
Daniel Craig is on the tv, for the third night in a row (it's some sort of glorious Craig film festival).
I ate chocolate cake at my parents for dessert.
I had a cupcake for breakfast with my coffee.
I have a book waiting for me to read it.

See--it's all in place.
But inside, I am seething with anxiety, wishing, wanting, more than anything, for something to pluck me out of this situation, give me some measure of peace, the way a measure of vodka is essential to a martini.

Tell me--what is keeping you awake?

Journal 20 Another Sunday

As I have probably written before, I like to read (alot). I read anywhere from one book a week, to two or three, and sometimes I have more than one book on the go at a given time. I read fast, I read thoroughly, and I absorb most of what I read.

I also re-read. I keep a stock of many many books, all of them 'favourites' (they number in the hundreds). I once had a dinner party, years ago, where my book collection was approximately a quarter of what it is now (and when I moved into my loft I sold boxes of books to my local used bookstore).
One of my dinner party guests was looking at my bookshelf, warily, holding his wineglass. He sought me out.
"Have you actually read ALL those books?", he asked, kind of incredulously.
I stared at him. "Of course!" I extolled, briefly, my love of reading. He seemed moved.
But I was the one who was moved--I couldn't imagine my life without 'my' books, the texture of holding a book, it's slight weight. The memories associated with certain books, their ability to transport me. I still have my battered childhood copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I was upset when Dahl died. I felt like I knew him.

I re-read 1984 every few years to remind me of why laws that seems obscenely liberal and focussed on personal freedom should be that way. Of why it's okay to fall in love with whomever you want to.

There is another book that I habitually re-read, for a number of different reasons, too, again, partially due to my love of reading memoir (it has eclipsed fiction as my favourite genre in recent years). It's by a former journalist-turned-accidental memoirist, and in my experience of reading memoir, journalists often make very very good story-tellers, especially when they turn the pen on themselves. The book is "Drinking, A Love Story" by Caroline Knapp. I've been re-reading chapters of it lately to re-visit her take on the death of both her parents, of cancer, when she was respectively 32 and 33. A tense, fractured family, but with a strong connection to one another, I can relate to her scenario. When I first read this book, aged 21, I found it fascinating--I so admired Knapp's ability to put her life on the page, raw and uncensored, honest, and without a trace of self-pity for a life that was anything but easy.
I get something new out of her book every time I read it, even when I read it in sections, in no particular order. She ascribed, maybe naively, when I read it now, at 37, alot of her 'life situations' to drinking and to its effects on her psyche, and how it kept her mired down. In reality, she was a successful writer, and alcohol had nothing to do with the fact the she lost both her parents in early adulthood, within a year of each other. She didn't marry early or have children, and again, as I read the book again at 37, this had to do with her own ambivalence towards both of those things, and the choices she made (brave choices) rather than anything else. She describes a feeling of being 'left behind' or 'stuck' as people all around her get married and give birth. I can relate to those feelings, but I also know it takes great strength of character to allow your life to look different from everyone elses'. So.. I filter the book differently now. I still love it, but I have different opinions from hers. I see the power of life to drop you down, and how little control we often have in situations of love, loss, luck.

Like Dahl, I was upset when I learned of her untimely death, at 42, of lung cancer. I googled her recently just to get more information to feed my recent obsession of finding out more on people who have died of cancer. Because it used to be just an expression to me, rather than a reality.
It used to be a series of words linked together rather than a painfully thin person, your own family member, a stauchly suffering person, your own father. Because my way of coping is through information, through reading, through knowing. Whether or not I know anything at all.
I will find out.
I leave this passage, one I found particularly touching, from a column written by Caroline Knapp, a few months before her father's death:

Notes on fathers
What illness can teach us about family connections (8/9/91)

My father stared out across the room, a pained expression on his face.

"I guess what I want to hear from you," he said, his eyes not meeting mine, "is that you think I'm a decent person."

I wanted to cry. My father, whom I've idolized all my life, is terminally ill. His condition, which developed quite aggressively and with little warning, was diagnosed in early May, and I have spent the better part of the months since then watching him confront the end of his life, and doing what I can to help him.

"You are far more than a decent person," I answered. "You are my father."

The exchange was brief but important: a small testimony to the kind of unconditional love that can exist between parents and children, a small lesson in what it means to be an adult child. . . .

I am this adult child now. And while I am miles away from the life Knapp lived, with all its ups and downs, and ultimately, its very short timeline, I feel, for all the world, what she must have suffered watching this.
I am home from another Sunday visit, and I pray I can continue with some capacity for self-comfort, as I feel depleted today. As Knapp so eloquently writes, he is more than just a decent person. He's my father.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Journal 19 Visits

I dreamed of my father's father, my grandfather, the other night.

I don't dream of him often, he was not in my life long (he died when I was 8, twenty-nine years ago this past St. Patrick's Day).

I usually regard dreams from those departed from my life as 'visits', and I know this is not necessarily the case. But as I age and seem to tap into the more invisible side of life, the 'other' side of life, and not in a new-agey-weirdo-kind of way, but in a true, more visceral, more viable, more believable way; information seems determined to come to me in non-traditional forms, or in ways I would not necessarily been able to understand before.
I dream about dates, times, I pick up another book from the library, another memoir, and barely read the back of the book, the description. Only when I get home, and am reading the book in bed, through a haze of tears, that the writer died of cancer, a short while ago, a scant couple of years ago, in her early 60's. How? I only read the forward. Then the afterward. Just like a looming deadline, one you can't meet or face, I have yet to read the body of the book.

I still email with my father daily. He's tired alot now, and he makes typos in his emails that I know are not careless, rushed typos. It's his hands...even his hands are tired now. Of picking out the letters on the keyboard. Once, on another set of keys, he entertained our family for hours, for many fun Saturday nights, his piano-playing, singing to the Beatles...
I've cried alot tonight, one of many many nights I've spent alone in the last couple of months. From work to home I go, pick at some dinner, pick up a book, an ice pack for my inflamed sinuses, and then I am usually on the couch or finally, in bed, when the feelings drop onto my chest, slamming into me, making it difficult to breathe.
The headaches that have become a part of my interior landscape, for weeks now, feel like they have a source in the suppression of emotion. They render me helpless, energy-less, the sound of a siren out the window is agony, my entire face seems to swell with the pain in my head.
I don't make it into a big thing. I know that this pain is fleeting, and despite my presence in this stage of my father's journey, he ultimately makes it alone. This world, and all in it, will be left behind, and that is something that on the most basic level, I truly do not have to face for myself, not right now. As I said in my Easter post, I've only just absorbed the fact of my own demise, to come one unexpected day. But I don't have to face it daily, each time I draw a ragged breath in, or watch the sun creep through the blinds.
I picture the man on the bench in Central Park, his eye catching mine, his sad expression imprinted on me. I hear that voice on the subway, no person to attach it to, that I could see, singing that random, far-off line. I curl up on the bed of my life and wait for the next dream, the signal, the one that make me jump up, that will somehow rid me of this feeling, right now, of being haunted.
I go back to that poem, posted on my blog a few months ago..."normal day...let me be aware of the treasure you are..."
I'm trying.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Journal 18 Up and Down. And Up. And Down.

As the title mentions....I get a whole load of stuff done at work, I work with my team, I get excited again.
Then my memory falters and I have to remember things like a normal person, and I get frustrated with myself.

Then I think about my running and how committed I've been lately and I feel happy.

Next I think about how my father cannot run, has no physical strength left, and guilt invades.

I eat mini oreos and drink a coffee and life feels somewhat normal again.
(then I ruminate about WHY my coffee gets cold so fast).

Then I put a framework around it all and nothing feels quite the same.

I read alot of other blogs. It's almost replaced alot of book-reading for me. I read blogs of ordinary people (ok, women) like myself, and wonder, for the most part, at their happiness, their excitement about life. I feel that so sparingly right now, and it is fleeting when I do feel it. I read design blogs, things about my profession, the profession I used to get fired up about, and I feel virtually nothing when looking at the new products, the visuals, the great photos from other parts of the world, where people are also selling kitchens like mad. (alternately, I wonder what they are taking to get them this high all the time. Or are they just THAT fulfilled?)

Is this what a rut is? Or is it just the by-product of life right now? I still get gratitude, I still talk and email to dear friends and love every minute of hearing them, getting feedback from them. I love M. indescribably and feel incredibly lucky, at this stage, as a 'quirky alone' to have found someone who is like me in so many ways.

But I truly feel like I'm on a desert island most days, no other land in sight, just endless water (Does it have to do with the endless rain? maybe. But as I said to my friend A. on the phone last night, the weather grimly matches my mood. Or does my mood match the weather?)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Journal 19 Domestic (?) Goddess

There's a question mark in the title of this post as I truly write this phrase with a twist (of lemon. as in, a martini. I look around my apartment, and it is NOT Martha-worthy. But I digress).

It was Sunday today, so I went to my parents, the Adult Child visiting, the Patient, the Informal Caregiver. Those are the names we get on cancer websites I scroll through when I feel the need for more information than I already have. I am the Adult Child, who will often help with such duties as paying bills, driving to and from appointments, providing moral support, all the while feeling like a non-adult child, the child that is asking..."Hey...what happened to my family?"
That being said, I felt comforted reading all of this on a cancer website this week. It gave me a sence of normalcy (seems impossible, I know. I take what I can get.)
The Patient. The Patient has all sorts of conflicting feelings, and alot of the reading about the Patient has to do with the Patient getting well, and the sections of reading entitled "Life after Cancer". There are no sections (that I have found) entitled "Death after Cancer". That's what I really want to read.
The Informal Caregiver is the person who takes care of the Patient at home. Informal is another quirky word for "unpaid". Clever.
But today we felt family-ish. We didn't dwell, cry, let our shoulders sag, or ruminate about death.
We took my dad to the movie store to pick out movies to watch on the DVD player, despite the day's unseasonably cold weather and teeming rain. My mom and I went to get groceries, with the heavier items she needs being easier for me to help her with in the car.
We entered the new Marshalls, a bit of retail therapy. Whose kidding who. It works.
Groceries purchased, new shoes in hand, we had an early dinner together while my dad rested, then the three of us looked at family photos together. Ah...the seventies. Short hair for little girls, and lots of overalls. I didn't have a princess complex then, and I don't have one now (thank you Jesus). My dad smiled the most at the photos of a young family--his and my mom's. And photos of my niece and nephew when they were babies. And our family lab Shadow, five years gone now.

I left, packing up the baking accessories my mom gave me, along with a cookbook of muffin recipes (yes, I am baking. I have to channel the anxiety somehow, and as I have a one-martini rule, it needs to come out in other ways.)
We had an early dinner, I came home early (rain still pouring down), did my nails, tried on my shoes, put my hair up, pajamas on, and caught up on my emails.
My bathroom and kitchen are completely clean, my bed is made, and there is laundry in the dryer. I have lunch for tomorrow, meals for the somehow, despite the mis-firing neurons in my brain, I have accomplished tasks that required planning and organization.
May this continue on for the week ahead.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Journal 18 Friday the 13th

It lived up to its name today.
Nothing quite went right; computer issues to boot, a total of approximately three full commuter hours (lost), an aching run, an aching head.
It's pouring out now, I feel, somehow, that I should now have some relief, but nothing is forthcoming. The rain, and the steady sound of it, coaxed me out of bed, where I was trying to read and sleep, but it would have none of it.
I sat at the edge of my bed for a while before coming out here to write, turning on lights, wrapping myself in a sweatshirt.
I sat there and pondered my own life questions, am I special enough, unique enough? Does being human alone just guarantee me that feeling of right-ness to be alive. Alive-ness, living-ness, all that business associated with it.
But really I feel like just a tiny speck on this miniscule planet, floating around in this giant galaxy, and somewhere in all of this, heaven is supposed to fit in, a bunch of stars running around, shining like mad, glowing down on us as if to say " will all be okay".
I don't feel that today. Yes, I'm still reading the L'Engle, and yes, she has great things to say about moving beyond all this fear, towards grace, the grace of living life in spite of the things that plague us, the love, the letting go. I adore her take on it all, and I can read between the lines to know that it did not happen overnight.
It's my journal, that's why these entries are titled like this. For me, to me. From me.
I wish I were more tired, more able to cope, more able to accept, but I guess that the act of even typing these words and adding them up into phrases is an act of some acceptance.
I guess that getting up from sitting on the edge of my bed, and coming out here to write was an act of turning my back on fear. Talking to M about what I want, what I feel, where I want to be; that too was something I had to reach for. The difficult. I want easy (I want it even though I know I will learn nothing from it. It's just a want. It doesn't mean that it will happen.)

Years ago I learned the expression 'there are no guarantees in life'. This is true, absolutely. But sometimes there are less guarantees than others.
Ruminating. This is journalling for me right now. It's not pictures of me in my outfit for the day, it's not running around the city with an umbrella getting cute shots of me in the rain.
It's Friday, and yes, I might be the only unmarried-childless-quirky-alone-with-a-boyfriend-in-another-city girl here at home, a veritable shut in while I experiment with just how hot I can make curry chicken in the oven, and just how patient I am with Rogers On Demand (read: zero).
But I am where I want to be.
Except right now, sleep and no headache would be my heaven.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Journal 17 Looking at Photographs

My fridge is papered with photos of family and friends, literally papered. There are also my niece and nephews drawings and colourings, and a fridge farm, that sometimes randomly makes farm animal sounds for no reason when I am home alone, enjoying a quiet activity. The sound makes me jump.
I open the fridge, close the fridge, many times a day, but I don't always "see" the photos.
They are there, part of the 'wallpaper'. But they are organic to me, they live, they breathe, they tell a story.
Here is one of my sister and L., taken, I know, by me, in my condo, in 2007. My sister looks lush and calm, despite the recent birth of her second child, and the turbulence in her life surrounding that time. My friend L. looks radiant and healthy (she is), and they both exude a confidence even though we don't know what's coming next.
I have many pictures of my niece and nephew, especially the Christmas postcards my sister sends out each year--you can see them growing up in the photos, getting more hair, growing taller, smiling wider, the camera beginning to mean something.
I have photos of my own friends--here we are at a wedding shower, it's summer, we are tanned, wearing tiny tops and skirts, our nails are all done. L. is holding my tarot cards in her hands in this photo.
I have one of my family, just the four of us, taken on the cement steps of the townhouse we called home for so many years. My sister is in a baby seat, she's about six months old. I am two, standing beside my mother, in a bikini-type outfit; it is summer in this photo too. My 26 or 27-year-old Dad is looking lovingly at my sister, smiling at her baby antics, her hand reaching for his. My mother is looking lovingly at him, her face straight to the camera, but her eyes glued on him. What is she looking to him for? Reassurance maybe. In this photo, my mother has a shock of white hair, and two tiny daughters. Her own mother has just died, a few weeks before this photo was taken, and yet she pulled it together. She looks happy, if a little trepidatious.
It was this photo I took down off the fridge last night, to hold, and to look at a little closer.
To cry over.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Journal 16 Short-Lived

I write with tears dripping down.
Today's respite was nice. I got through a productive workday, and managed to feel some nudges of positivity. Then I get home, post-run, and am able to do some 'processing'. Like reading through my dad's emails, sorting through the medical jargon from the nurse/doctor.
I got through the day, the calls, the meetings, I did my run, I made and ate a nutritious dinner of curry-chicken wraps with basmati rice, and Glee is on, the ultimate in mindless tv, a bunch of ruminating 'normal' teenagers, crying about nothing (no, I didn't go to my prom. go back and re-read. I'm not a prom-goer. There is no judgment in this statement. I just am not a prom-going type. I never have been. I was this girl then. I'm her now).

It's the witching hour I guess, when I clean up, put away the dishes, prepare for tomorrow, and settle down to read, now that I'm here alone. When M. was here he would have me eating dinner at 1o pm, some amazing thing that he had cooked, and I would fall asleep listening to whatever movie he was watching. Now, I have adjusted back to my routine since he has returned home to Maine.

I talk to him around dinner time and we tell each other what we are having for dinner. Sometimes we each pour a glass of wine and drink them together while we talk on the phone. I know the stats and status of all the New England teams (ah Celtics. you HANDED IT OVER).
The Jays are playing the Red Sox tonight, (here, in TO!) and my loyalty is conflicted.

But I look to the everydayness of life right now, in spite of the day dread. The ordinary-ness is comforting, distracting, and only when I am alone do I give in to the dark thoughts, as I did yesterday, as I do right now.

Journal 15 Better Day

Today's a better day.

I don't know exactly why, maybe because I got some of my stress out on the phone last
night with M., through crying and frustrat-ing and letting my heart beat fast.

But I slept through the night somehow after a soppy, sentimental good-bye on the phone to him, and I woke up, and when my eyes opened I somehow did not feel the weight of yesterday.

I made coffee with my new french press (it makes STRONG coffee, but I love it), I wore a summer skirt that was a wardrobe staple of mine last summer (re mantras...)put on sandals and a cardigan, and shivered in the 12 degree weather that was the walk to my car this morning, but I felt...better.

Stronger, gut-sier, more optimistic, and I let my thoughts wander back to how I can make myself feel more balanced, with the right amount of downtime, and by letting the feelings just sit with me.

Not running away from them or pouting about them or battling them.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Journal 14 Dark Thoughts

"Some people learn through suffering" --A.

If this is the case I must have lots to learn. But I know it must be, for me anyway.

I am simply incapable of doing anything the easy way.

I mean, I'll figure it out eventually; but for now I seem intent on f(cking things up in the grandest of fashions, and in maximizing my self-sabotage. Can't have it now? Don't want it.
Have to wait for something good? Don't want to.

I hope when I wake up tomorrow I see the world in a new light, even just a shade of one, and that I can stop doing the fighting, because I should stay in my corner, but I can't seem to do that.

In the book I'm reading L'Engle talks about how the meek will inherit the earth; as they should, they'll do a good job of it.

How I will hate that.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Journal 13 Sunday girl

Memory lane, drove down it today. In the form of two client meetings/dropping-off-of-product, I was in my old neighbourhood, the one where I spent most of my twenties/all of my early-thirties, the traffic-clogged, streetcar-tracked roads of midtown Toronto. Bathurst street, St. Clair, then turning left onto Davenport (three people brazenly running the red light, no change in the temperment of midtown drivers I'm here to report). Davenport to Avenue ....the flower shops where my friend L. and I spent many a happy Sunday walking into, purchasing said flowers, then flopping onto the nearest patio for a few springy-summery drinks. Then I moved, but we still met at the Ave-Dav area, she lived just north of that intersection. Cross the border over to Yonge and we had the best LCBO (whose kidding who, that Summerhill train station building is one of the best in the city) where we would buy wine ( I am old enough to remember when LCBO's were NOT open on Sundays...) and traipse to my new place downtown, heat up frozen pizzas for dinner, work on our photograph albums, and talk.
That was to contend with the stress that was '07. Again, a damning start to a year, and our Sundays helped us cope with all that we were both dealing with.
I return in thought to how simple things look against the backdrop of NOW.
I flip-flop between trying to keep it light (it's not) and then ultimately giving in to how dark it really seems right now. I don't know which place my writing wants to come from.

Just completed an email to my Dad, in the spring of now, here in '11, a year I'm sure I will look back on as the real end of my innocence. He is having a difficult day. My mom is too. She doesn't know what her life is going to look like next. I know what mine looks like, it will look different in a short while, but it won't look as different as hers will, and there is no sugar-coating that.
I try to remember the years of "not this" , the bbq's, the sitting in the backyard, the bike-rides, the dog, the anniversary party, the jokes. Not the trach, the feeding tube, the f*cking stealing, robbing, destroying disease, the medicines, the waiting, the fear, the dread.
My guilt that I am not doing enough, that I will never be able to do enough, because there is, ultimately, nothing I can do to stop this.

Journal 12 Weather-Effect

I laugh for no reason.
I cry for no reason.
Actually, there are a million reasons for both reactions, and the random-ness in which I apply them lately is the REAL mystery.
Sad things, like reading an email from my dad where he talks about faith and God and prayers stay with me for ages.
Funny things, like my sister and I talking about what happens when you plan to have cake at an office (everyone takes their full lunch, comes back at 130. hears there is going to be cake at 3:30 and then they do nothing until the cakes shows up. then they all eat the cake. then they go back to their desks, but not before lingering/talking more about the cake they just had.) We had this conversation last night on the phone after both of us had each had our own particularly trying day. I laughed listening to my sister describe this cake story. I've laughed several more times today thinking about this story.
The weather has an effect. I had forgotten that, yes, in fact, the constant, endless days of rain do help contribute to a black mood for me. Running for consecutive days in the bright sunshine, in a running skirt, takes away some of the clouds.
It's early evening, the sun has been warming up my west-facing apartment all afternoon, and there is no sign of the sun going down as we march toward "June's long days".
Last year at this time I was marching along to June, trying to get May over with, ending my very bad relationship with that G person (who? what?) and finding out about his Lollipop.
I remember my sister coming over on the last day of May to bribe me to leave my apartment, and before we went out, sipping champagne, I solemnly declared, standing up in my living room, glass in hand that I was "Done with men". Not that I was going to women, but done, as in Done Dating. Done with Love.
I had my first phone conversation with M. a few days later. laid plans...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Journal 11 Joy less

I think I've lost my sense of humour.

Somewhere between reaming out my parents' eye doctor (via faxed letter) and dealing with the car company (who shall remain nameless but let me just say this; the letter T and a BIG recall) I have fully surrended the fact that things are not that funny right now.
Driving to work this morning and running into some construction, a worker was carrying a big sheet of plywood, and all you could see was the piece of wood, with the legs, moving. Normally that would be funny to me.

Not today. Not after my sister tried to return my parents' car to said car company, as this would be a big help to me; oh no. She can't. Because I am the g*ddamn POA. So I HAVE TO DO IT.

Let me just say this; that car can sit in their driveway for however long it has to.

So then I'm at work. I'm in a meeting. When I get out of the meeting, there is a message on my cell phone from car company. Guess who is NOT getting a call back from me today (ever)?

See what I mean about the sense of humour?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Journal 10--Why I am a Bad Daughter

"God wants you to be alone in your empty apartment"--L. on my sore foot

My foot is pretty much healed. Seemed to be a flip-flop accident where I tried to keep said shoe on without proper practice (note; long longgggggg Canadian winter).
I'm running like a normal person again. Normal for me anyway.

I'm also having some more 'normal' reactions of late, the kind I have when I am not patient, compassionate, or humble enough.

I lose it on my family sometimes. Different members, different times.
I never, ever feel good about it after. Does it stop me from doing it again, in a subtle variation, over and over again? No.
And when I talk about my family, I'm not talking about a husband or kids, I have neither; I mean my good old 'family of origin', the one you love more than anything, but who can also cause annoyances (in my case anyway) like nobody else. And I can react toward them like nobody else.
This is the dynamic though. This is what I was brought up with, conditioned to, and no constructive solution was ever introduced. We are a tense family, coiled up alot of the time with irritation, and in living on my own for many years, I have attempted to bring calm into my realm. Then I go home. And as I've going home ALOT lately, it's starting to grow on me, like moss.

Then I come home, home, as in back home to my downtown loft. M. has gone back to his home state to run his restaurant after living with me from November to March. So I'm living alone again (Hi April. It's me. I'm alone again).

So then I go down the laundry list of life and decide that other things are unsatisfying as well.

I'm carrying around a plastic shopping bag of my parents' mail and forms and the POA's (that stands for Power of Attorney). I didn't know what that even was, prior to somewhere around the second week of March. But then I surprise myself. I have moments of random happiness, dispersed in the (many) moments of mountainous sadness; an eighties song on the radio as I drive in the rain, the lift of a cup of coffee; these things never disappoint.

Is that the definition of my own form of maturity? I don't know. My concentration skills are shot.
But I have little pockets of hope.

May Running Log

In an attempt to meet my running goals, I've started a 30-day running log with distances
and times.
Running goal for this 30-day log is minimum 80 kms, and since I start and end my running weeks on weekends, it looks like this so far:

Date: Saturday April 30th
Distance run: 10 kms
Time: did not time
Weather: Sunny, dry, 13 degrees.

Date: Sunday May 1st
Distance run: 10 kms
Time: 51.73 minutes
Weather: Overcast, dry, 10 degrees
Total for weekend: 20 kms

Secondary goal of this 30 day log is to increase my distance runs to 15 km rather than 10 km. I reached the 10 km goal last July 1st, which is ten months ago today, and over the next few weeks is to do 11 kms, 12 kms, 13 kms, 14 kms, until reaching the 15 km mark, with a new route, and keeping at that distance for my long runs.
Update on the foot: Still sore-ish, but not enough for me to stop and walk; very good weekend in terms of no pausing to walk, and no cheating my staying still at stoplights.

Date: Monday May 2nd
Distance run: 4 kms appx
Time: 23.00 minutes
Weather: Sunny, dry, 13 degrees

Date: Thursday May 5th
Distance run: 5 kms appx
Time: 30ish minutes
Weather: Sunny, dry, 16 degrees...spring

Date: Saturday May 7th
Distance run: 10 kms appx
Time: did not time
Weather: Sunny, dry, 14 degrees

Date: Tuesday May 10th
Distance run: 4 kms
Weather: Overcast, dry, 15 degrees

Monday, May 2, 2011

Journal 9--Control

Endless frustration.
With everything and everyone.
I know, I know, this is the 'unlive-able' part of PMS talking, but I am in such a mood today, it's reminding me of the month of April in Toronto. As in, clouds for days.
I dread my own phone ringing, even though I have caller ID, because it's usually not-good news, or someone calling from a bank or somewhere like that.
I got all quiet on the phone last night with M because I was inside my head doing the 'where am I going to end up' trip and 'where is my life going and how are we going to be together in the same place at some point and what will it look like' and on and on like a broken record, stuck in an endless loop and it was only when I got up this morning, feeling a little more bright-eyed (and pill-free...) that I looked back on my phone-silence and how much that hurt M., because he's sensitive and sometimes I forget that, I really do.
I've had men from the past who were so emotionally unable to cope that having M is a huge treat, but it's also a privilege, and I need to treat it as such. We talked today on my lunch hour and I felt alot better.
I don't have to figure everything out right now, as my dream last night reminded me--I can't be in two places at once, but I can learn to exist in the here and now and not project too far forward.
What can I do, I'm a virgo (ie, endless planning...exhausting...)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Journal 8--My Voice

I wake up, lately, with heart-pounding anxiety, usually at about 4am. It's been going on for months.
When I don't wake up with this at 4am, I wake up on the weekend at a 'normal' time, but my heart is still pounding. What gives? I haven't even DONE anything to start the day yet, nothing has happened, I haven't even moved from my square in the bed, and yet...something nags at me.
It's like my writing lately--down in the depths, nothing 'new' to report, just a bunch of journal entries, the way I swore I would write them, at the beginning of the year, but not as diaristical as I would like them (is that even a word?).
If anyone is reading this, I can forgive them one-hundred-percent for being like, "this is god-awful." I re-read and it is. I'm 'telling' not showing.
It might be time for a list or something, a great way to sometimes revitalize dull writing (mine).
For now, I'm going to get my running clothes on (what temperature is it? will I be cold? when will the weather CHANGE INTO SOMETHING I RECOGNIZE?), go outside, and stop this nonsense.

Journal 7--Solitude

I'm tired today.
Of dealing with banks, the car people, co-workers, and everyone else who populates
this over crowded world.

I've wanted to be someone else lately. Not that I don't appreciate who I am, or want to be me, but lately I've wondered--hey, when did I get so serious? So weighted down, worrying about everything I can. My family, the rising cost of EVERYTHING, my LDR, my sore foot, the future, the present.

But to look at me and talk with me, this is probably not the impression people get. I keep it locked down when I'm outside. When I'm running the thoughts (I can almost see them) seem to spiral above my head, they 'hover' for lack of a better word, just around me, a little cloud. But they are out of me in those moments. Same with when I am reading, a good book, a good blog, a writer who is opening up right into the dusty corners.

If all my blog posts were like my emails to some of my closest friends (and here I do admit that I have a select list of friends that I email, especially L, who, like me, is tied to a desk during the day and has the talent of being able to put a sentiment in a matter of a couple of lines. No easy task). But most of my close friends of late feel far away. They can't really do anything for me, and I don't really need them to. The email is a great favourite of mine in terms of communicating; it allows me to think about what I am writing, and gives me greater freedom of the 'when/where' of communicating. Truth, I feel very invisible right now, of my own volition. I don't feel the need to be seen. Or talked to. But I do like it when friends drop a line.

I had dinner with a group of people last night, something else I've avoided for the last six weeks or so. I have to attend a shower today. I say 'have to'. Yes. I have to, for the six-hundredth-million time, paste a smile on my face and be happy for someone else. And I AM happy for them. I was whining to my sister on Friday night at her place, after her kids were in bed and we were a couple of glasses in, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Why does the Misery not get divided up evenly? And the Misery picks a place to perch like a crow on a lamp post, and seems to roost there. Not letting up.

We can talk all we want about positive thinking (I'm TRYING), about changing our lives one minutae at a time (the change is usually THROWN at me, in a 'here-hold-this!' kind of fashion, where I'm left with what seems like bad luck at the worst moment), and we can boldly assume that, as always, WE are in control, guiding this life of ours into port, not hitting any icebergs. But, as I need to be reminded time and again--we don't. The part where I go .."But why..?" is the part when I make comparisons to others (God help me). Why do THEY never have to make their own luck? How come THEY get everything on a silver platter, offered to them at the exact right time, while my perception of life is that it's maybe 30% free will, what you do, and 70% everything else--what calamities choose to ensue, to alight on that lamp post and then fly overhead and sh*t all over your life, when you least expect it. Except that life has taught you to never not expect it, when it plays itself over again and again.

I am highly, highly imperfect. I strive to do my running, I try not to indulge in too much white wine, I want to get up early and like it, I want to create a budget, stick to it, and feel good about it. I want to care more about clothes (oh f*ck it I CAN'T) but I want to care more about everything, or maybe less, maybe more focussed caring. I want to keep up my church-going every week, I want to make life for my parents easier, I want all the special people in my life, the ones who've suffered so much bad luck, to get things without having to ask for them, I want wonderful things to find their way to these people.

Today, as I drink my morning coffee and offer up gratitude for Sunday monring, an imperfect day outside, weather-wise, but I'm here to bear witness to it. I'm here to lift the coffee cup to my lips and sip it. I'm getting ready to go outside and run in about half an hour. Maybe during my run I will solve this misery-equation and have an easier time 'being happy' this afternoon.

As the crow flies....