Monday, October 31, 2011
And it's not getting any better or going away.
It's getting worse and it's getting bigger.
As I emailed L. today, and emailed my sister, recent events surrounding issues with my family, etc, have caused me to ask, Do I have a black cloud following me around?
I am just not even close to being ready to deal with all of this in terms of the death and detrius of one parent, and the looking after (ie, parenting) the other parent.
I'm really trying (and by trying I mean watching trash
tv every night, drinking too much chardonnay, falling asleep,
then getting up at about 4 for no reason) but I've reached a bit of an impasse where I truly have lost sight of what I can do for solving these problems. It's like my bag-o-tricks in empty.
I try to keep a clear head, but this isn't the kind of stuff you
talk about with 'people' you know. This is the kind of stuff that sometimes you can't even talk to about to your closest friends. And another thing, most of my friends have alot of happy stuff going on right now, and I hate being that 'wet blanket'. And then I remind myself that I have had different sorts of challenges than most people I know, and I have different ways of dealing with said challenges (my favourite being social isolation and bottling things up; pardon the pun).
Yes. I do believe in God, I do. But jeez. He just doesn't make
it easy sometimes. However, I know that a life with a bunch
of scoops of vanilla ice cream isn't for me. And as I read on another
blog this week, these times of trial are how you go from "bland"
in life to "Oscar-worthy". Not that I agree with most of the nominations
(or understand them). But once in a while, they choose a gem.
Is my life a gemstone? A hard rock (not a diamond) right now.
Rocky, uphill, and hard.
And I'm engaged. Should be the happiest time of my life.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
You smile, your eyes become my sweetest dream of you.
Oh, sweetest love,
My heart is not a beat away from you.
--Harold Pinter, love note to Antonia Fraser
"There was nothing I did not discuss with John."
--Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
Though both the women in the above photos, Lady Antonia Fraser (whose diary-style I decided to imitate when I began this year to title most of my posts as Journal and then a number, chronologically arranging them); and Joan Didion, are now widows after long (33 and 40 years respectively) marriages to men who were also writers, I idolize their
I idolize them as people, as real adults, the type of real adult I aspire to be everyday, who doesn't behave like a Real Housewife, who doesn't make fellow human beings feel like pieces of furniture, or like they are housepets.
I often worry, in this 'age of insanity' (age of inanity) the one we, as a collection of generations are destined to be living in (God help me) that these adults are dinosaurs.
Well, I want to be a dinosaur. I want to enjoy cocktail hour after a solemn day at work, one where thoughts were important. I want to discuss my day with my husband and hear about his; I want to work with him on solving all the worlds' problems over dinner together.
From what I have read, that is what these couples did.
Oh, and they were soulmates, and madly in love.
That I already have, and that fire I will continue to stoke.
To being a real adult, and the mantle of responsibility it entails.
"Christ, you know it ain't easy"
--The Ballad of John and Yoko
(they had their issues, yes, but God they also had some fun with the world, didn't they?)
When interviewed by Vogue in the age issue a few years ago she said "your life is not "up there"--your life is all around you". She was talking about how people in New York would go to the outside of her apartment building to look for her and that they would say "she's up there!" and she, Yoko, would be standing right behind them.
Something we should all remember.
It's like the weather--Thanksgiving Monday I was roof top bound, donning my bikini one last time, reading in the sun, and there was a period of this week where we didn't see the sun for days. And Friday dawned, cool, and clear, the trees starting to show bare. My friend A. was here Friday night, visiting ( I think for both of us the 'highlight' of fall, a little oasis in a pair of busy lives; when I think I am busy I think of her and need to give myself a shake). So Friday night was about conversation, soul-searching, reflecting, and looking at not only our adult lives, since we've known each other (coming up to the tune of almost twenty years), but also all those big-life things: love, death, change, aging. Facing life on life's terms, the things you just 'know' and the things that you weigh in on with all that you have, and still don't get an answer back.
We hit the AGO Saturday am, after staying up talking, tarot-reading, (drinking) Friday night. There is a Chagall exhibit on until January of next year, and it was definitely worth taking in.
Then there were the posturing 'Toronto types' doing their thang at the gallery--always entertaining. One of the features of the exhibit was a small table with pencils and square pieces of paper for the patrons/visitors to express where they felt their favourite place was--you could write something, sketch something, and then leave it behind for others to look at. I was fascinated by this. It was inspired by Chagall's love for his homeland, a place he was quasi-exiled from in his early adulthood. I thought about my favourite place, and various things popped up in my head, all of them, as the majority of the pieces left at the table represented--physical places, towns, cities, countries. I wonder, though, if the emotional places that people may have come up with were too personal, painful, to really share? A favourite place can relate to many things, on an emotional level. A time in ones life, a moment with someone, a special day, all of those things count. I thought about a favourite place for myself, and really, it is usually one where I am in that ideal headspace--my mind isn't tricking me into castatrophe thinking, I'm not 'creating a worry'...I'm just in the moment, I'm running, or I'm reading, or I'm deep in conversation. Those are some favourites of mine, just skimming the surface for now.
Saturday lunch was at a pub across from the gallery with a waiter who had a personality all his own, pub-fare lunch, bad coffee, then a walk back through the oddly-empty Toronto streets, then A. grabbing a cab to the airport to get back home early Saturday afternoon.
I was in my apartment, sunshine streaming in, pleasantly tired, cleaning up and putting dishes away, doing laundry, and really, not much of anything else.
I walked to the grocery store a few hours later, the sky darkening with clouds, (no rain though) and then made a quick dinner while, in the spirit of Halloween, one horror movie after another played on the tv.
I dealt with my mail, read the paper and some magazines, and was asleep by eleven, the previous late night taking its toll.
A baptism for my friend T.'s son started off today, and in about thirty minutes I have to drive uptown with a designer friend of mine to do a quick consultation for a possible new client.
The backdrop of today is that it's Sunday, and it's been, for the most part, a week of unexplained, free-form melancholia, and stress, but as A. said, and as I sometimes forget, in the frenzy of work, dealing with my mom's house, the bank, the aftermath of death (yes, that word again: grief), it is that roller-coaster ride, robbing me, if I let it, of the ability to just BE, and just LIVE--without feeling like I'm running a race, against myself, against time....against death itself.
But just the fact that I'm sitting here, mid-day, apartment clean, laundry folded, dishes put away, attests to the 'good' of this weekend--conversation and reflection fuelling quiet introspection, reminding me of all the things in this life that deserve so much recognition and gratitude.
I haven't run this week. The touch of the stomach issues I've had put me on a focus to down water and just kind of monitor things--and I focussed instead on sleep, my cure-all. So, running may happen later, or maybe walking will.
I have a few new songs on the ipod, I have a couple of books on order from Indigo online (Joan Didion has a new one out called Blue Nights and Nile Rodgers wrote a memoir called Le Freak), I'm just waiting for them to ship to me.
I also have Natalie Goldberg, and the Thunder and Lightning book, and I am still working on the post about her and her books.
That's the weekend update, for lack of a better term. Up, down, in the middle, and the sun keeps shining.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Last night, reading in bed, later than I wanted to be up, I was deep into this book, the 'highest activity of the mind' (that is what the New York Times has classified reading as). I completely agree.
I was gone last night. Gone, into this book, like I haven't been anywhere in my mind except my dreams for the past few months. I'm going to talk more about this book in my next post.
My intense involvement in the book probably contributed to my odd dreams, too.
(Last night, I dreamt that it was mid-October--it is--and that I lived in my childhood home on Crockamhill Drive, our townhouse, with my mom, sister, and Mike--I don't---and we got a call from a distant hospital--(Annapolis--how did he get there?) It was unclear--that my father was dying. I thought, immediately, two things--One, we must get there, and Two, he's...already dead.)
Never the less, in my dream, we gamely tried to take directions down, and the four of us, myself, Mike, my sister, and my mom, all tried to get out the door to this distant place, where, we were informed on the phone that they were reviving my father. I remember shrieking into the phone "He has a DNR!" and then the doctor telling me that my aunt and cousin were there with him, insisting that he be revived and I remember feeling that old anger well up inside me again, absolute poison, and I rocketed out of the house to put a stop to this, having no idea where the hell Annapolis is.
I was telling my friend L. in an email today that in the last couple of days, feeling a little down because I was home, sick, and feeling my companion, grief, settle in a little more comfortably as the days shorten and get colder, that I hadn't 'felt' my Dad's spirit around in a while. I was sure he was busy, I think he's probably really enjoying his life as a spirit, my Dad always wanted to travel and do alot of things but didn't really get a chance to, having a family so young and all that that entailed.
So I was 'missing' not just his physical presence but also his spiritual one.
Cue today's crisis; My mother calling as we had missed a crucial bill payment and I had to rectify it, immediately, as it involved taxes and all that sort of stuff you just cannot mess around with after someone has died. Trust me on this.
I called the bank to get the situation looked at, and since I've had to do this by phone several times before, I knew the drill--they have to verify things like POA, dates of birth, etc., and the best way to get that done is by being as cooperative as possible--like the government, I try to appreciate the fraud that costs them so much on an annual basis, and appreciate the lengths they go to to prevent it and protect their customers.
I was on hold for the first little bit, idly doing some work at my desk while I held the phone, and then I noticed the song that was playing, a sad little instrumental version of Elton John's "Your Song" (I say sad instrumental version because it's a song that his voice lifts to a higher level). I immediately started to tear up a bit when this line (it wasn't sung but I knew it was coming) came on: "I hope you don't mind..that I put down in words...how wonderful life is, when you're in the world..." The bank lady came back on the phone for round 2 of my information just as that line went by. She put me on hold again, this time to "The Living Years" and by then I was glad my door was closed.
It's one of those songs that you hear while your parents are alive and think (well, I did, after my father's diagnosis), 'this is going to be a really upsetting song to hear one day'.
Well, it lived up to that today.
By the way, I still can't get it out of my head, oddly, although the Elton song is one I much prefer. The Living Years won't go away.
Oddly, I wikipedia'ed Annapolis (in my dream it had one N) and it's state motto is eerily similar to New Hampshire, the one I told my dad about gleefully last year when I first visited: "Live free or die" is NH; this is Annapolis:
Motto: "Vixi Liber Et Moriar" - "I have lived, and I shall die, free"
Spirit sometimes does come when it's called.
Thank you Dad.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Still, I remain optimistic. I managed to log onto work email today and take care of a couple of things, and I have a nice, long, to-do list for the day tomorrow, for the week really.
Anyway. Nothing else to report. Talked to my friend K. about learning more about saying "no" and about turning down invitations without feeling obligated and guilty (this is huge for me. both these things). We also talked about taking too much on (here here) and emotional exhaustion and how stress can be a real trigger for that.
This also reminded me of how differently kids allow you to look at the world sometimes. I walk by this store all the time, but they instantly saw the magic there and took the time to name the colours on each head of hair.
Years ago I worked with a coworker who habitually listened to her voice mails on speaker.
So, with the wall between us, I could hear the garbled messages, reminding me of my morning clock radio alarm. It was so maddening. Today, I silently seethe as another one shuffles stacks of paper, about 4 inches thick, into manageable piles. The sound sets my teeth on edge. I can't explain it. It drives me mad.
Arriving at a restaurant, any restaurant, to a shrieking child/baby, is another one. I know people love their kids. And let me also add when my own niece and nephew do this I am mortified and often say to them so the other tables can hear "See those people? They are trying to enjoy a nice afternoon/evening meal" (whatever time of the day it might be). So the people at least know that yes, I feel your pain, and no, I don't deny your feelings of frustration. But what I've noticed in these situations, that some parents seem to like and relish the attention. As my temperature rises and Mike mutters under his breath, we noted that one set of parents, whose wild eight-year-old was careening around the quiet Thai restaurant where we were trying to have a peaceful lunch, seemed to stretch out their time, which included their hapless offspring flinging a glass of water all over his table and almost falling off of a barstool, to last the entire time we were there eating, as if enjoying our semi-obvious irritation.
I cursed them, I don't mind telling you.
Other annoyances include the crazies on the street; before you lecture me about how these people deserve our charity, compassion, etc, know that I DO know this, but when an elderly homeless man spits at you as you walk by, and when a man carrying his bike up the subway stairs, muttering "F*cks, you're all f*cks" all the while staring at you with his too-bright eyes, when someone stands on the corner of Shuter and Church screaming that he wants a coffee, when a man, clearly employed and well-employed, wearing a watch worth more than most engagements rings and is neatly dressed, pees up against a Starbucks wall after what I can only guess was a very gruelling night out, then I stop feeling those friendly feelings of sadness at their plight, and start feeling the more appropriate reaction: Fear. I hate walking / running along the streets in broad daylight feeling afraid. I hate knowing that the taxes I so dutifully pay do not seem to be able to help these people, and that the economic circumstances of the past few years seem to be breeding more and more of them. And if you've ever had the happenstance to wander by the Rat man outside Nathan Phillips Square, well then, all bets are off. He doesn't LOOK like a rat. He HAS rats. ALL OVER HIM. Yes, I ran, screaming, across the street, with Rat man yelling after me, like I was the one with the problem. ( I HATE rats. They terrify me. I identified so thoroughly with Winston in 1984).
Anyway. On to more positive postings (I hope).
Lately my life is work-come-home-try-to-make-healthy-dinner-fall-asleep-by-1o-try-and-write-in-blog-try-not-to-sound-like-lunatic.
Honestly. How does anyone find time to do anything other than work and sleep.
How, I ask you, could I ever even try to plan a wedding like this?
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Contrast with today--food poisoning or flu, not sure as to what I've picked up. Or is my body just telling me to slow things down and stop the breakneck pace that feels like it has gone on all year.
No deep thoughts to report, no book-reading, just a junked kind of day, one that I do not normally 'indulge' in. I pride myself on being sick very little, and a regimen of set routine, exercise, vitamins, and good eating and sleeping habits ensure I am usually ill only once a year. However, when I do get sick, like when it happened in Maine last Christmas, I can be down for the count. I hope that this is a 24-hour type of thing, and that I don't beat myself up for not bill-paying, grocery-shopping, doing more cleaning, missing lunch with my Mom and sister. They understood, though, and I was grateful for that. I feel stretched thin lately, and my posts, to me, show this--the tough, stressful weeks, the feeling of no control over my job when things are this busy, and the need to take stock of life, and try to find the joy. Lately I've been really negligent in doing that.
Sunday=No day this week.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I'm not that well-travelled. I've gone on a handful of trips, nothing crazy, as movies like "Brokedown Palace", "Alive", and "Midnight Express" really sullied international travel for me. I've stuck close to home, North America, the Caribbean.
I've been to the UK once, and to Dublin, Ireland. I didn't love it there. It was cramped to me, being in Edinburgh and Dublin--I guess coming from a city, it tired me out to walk around another one for days at a time. My feet hurt constantly.
It was beautiful, don't get me wrong. But I haven't had the urge to explore anymore of Europe since that trip. Mike swears I will love Paris, and I know I will love it with him, since he is very well-acquainted with it and speaks very good French; so I'll leave it to him to put Paris on my "favourites" list.
Caribbean--St. Maarten has proved to be my favourite destination. Mike can't wait to go there, I talk about it so fondly. Unbelievable scenery and views (have you ever seen the moon rise? You will in St. Maarten). Beaches. Heineken. Jet-skis. More Heineken. It's Dutch you know. And another fun fact: not only can you buy a beer at KFC, you can wander on in with your own beer, order your chicken, and drink it there no problem. And then leave, with your beer, out the door.
I know. Was shocked, and that shock quickly progressed to admiration.
tried this pricey, delicious little number in Chicago. the client paid. thank you!
brunch esp. if I have to eat any one of the 100s of disgusting overpriced hipster bullsh*t brunch places in this city. Thanks--I'd rather lie on the sidewalk and try to swallow clouds.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Yesterday reached a zenith, the kind where all I can do is sit with the feelings, and I don't reach out, and I don't want to be social, I just want to think things through, plan my next move, as Lady Gaga says "take my time, put it back" in terms of where I want things.
Planning can be a great thing, and as a structured Virgo I usually embrace it. But I have to remind myself I am not in control--at least not nearly as much as I like to think I am. We're barrelling along, making a plan for this, a plan for that, and suddenly we need to come, sometimes, to a screeching halt and notice that life, for the most part, often has other plans. It can be difficult to accept this.
I may not be making much sense at this point. I've been mulling this concept over for a while now, starting about two years ago, then intensely after the year that 2011 has been. I've also been up since 3:53 am, having had to arrive way earlier than I like at work (I was sitting at my desk, gripping my Starbucks in a death grip, by 6:59 am, and working like a deranged person (re: not a morning person. Morning people would have put this stuff to bed. I just dragged it out, making phone calls, losing pieces of key paperwork, making simple math errors). I will clarify--when I know I have to be somewhere extremely early, I often stress myself out while sleeping, only to wake way too early, in order to make sure I meet my early-day obligation (note: I have to do it again tomorrow. Lord help me).
Off topic, brain 'pathways' are things we carve out in our neurons, according to an article my dear friend A. sent me yesterday. We take the experiences that we have the most of (if that is pain, your pain pathways are deeply embedded, they are roads well-travelled, and if it is happiness, your happy paths are carved out. See how it works?) And then you must try to re-route these circuits, about as easy as it is to get Toronto traffic moving again once it has experienced a backlog due to an accident, a delay, you see where I'm going with this.
It feels impossible, but I am really making this a priority. My therapist has told me I have "catastrophic" thinking patterns (the article mentioned THAT too) and my cousin calls it "creating a worry" a phrase I love.
Oh well. At least I'm aware. That's the first step.
More jumping around (again--up since 3:53am in my defence!);
Some old friends, as I was reading today, had to say a hard good-bye. I wish them both well.
I want to tell them that yes, it's normal to wake up on a day like this and feel like you are going to your execution. And yes, part of you is missing, absent and may never fully be aware of this day (I for one was not, and can't really return to that day). I don't really have a true grasp of it yet, not sure if I ever will. And yes, more people are overwhelming. And no, I don't recall fully who was and was not there. And I don't remember, really, what I did say to the people who were there.
I remember the pictures, and putting them all together. I remember my niece and nephew and how quiet they were, sensing, like animals, that something was 'wrong' with this day. I remember Father's Day, two days later, and sitting on my rooftop alone in the spring sunshine, blinking against the obscene brightness. I remember running every day, near my parents house, the week I stayed there, trying to fake interest in eating, and in living. A little social hiatus never hurt anyone. In fact, I feel one coming on now.
Stress is the enemy to situations like this. As is excessive tiredness--it causes melancholy, and down-ness, and sadness.
My own exhaustion led me down pathways in my own brain today that really, I shouldn't have gone down, but I wandered there anyway. Dread, hopelessness, the tears threatening.
I felt some optimism as I drove back downtown, towards another meeting, and two crows swooped into view, then just as quickly back out. As I drove through a kind of clearing in the road, they re-appeared, each alight on a lamppost, high off the ground, to the right of where I was driving, but they drew my attention and I saw them.
That's the other thing to do. Be open to the signs, the lessons, the signals.
Signs that there exists that other world, where we've come from, where we will return to.
Monday, October 17, 2011
And I thought I was a runner. These times blew me away. Especially since, when I was running in Ajax yesterday, it was freezing, windy, and I hated every second of it.
I was observing how, in the last few weeks, I haven't had runner's high in a while.
I miss it, and I can't seem to get back to having it; maybe the extreme summer heat was passing for runner's high, meanwhile I was in a dehydration-delirium.
I tell myself it will come back--and at least I continue to run anyway, without the expectation of it.
I think that in recent weeks, getting back into the (serious) fall groove at work, everyone around me very much forgetting that four shorts months ago, a member of my family of origin died, and the way that this time of year at work is not only busy, but short-handed alot of the time due to people being out with the flu, etc., and it adds up to very long days, lots of traffic-filled drives as hockey returns to Toronto, and many many other fall events fuel people to drive into the city.
Randomly, I've noticed sleep and running are the only two things that help create an obstacle for my anxiety (along with mind-numbing TV watching. Reading is good, too, but anxiety can still invade if the book it not interesting enough). And I don't know how it is that my body knows exactly when it is 4 am and knows exactly when it is Sunday night to Thursday night, and only wakes up at that time, on those five nights, much to my absolute frustration.
Last night I was in bed, out cold by 10:30 pm. I didn't even hear Mike calling me on my phone to say good night. And I wasn't even in bed, I was on the couch, hoping that a sleep venue change (like being at my mom's the night before) could trick my body. It didn't work. At 3:59 am I awoke, got up and moved to my bed, after taking 2 advil for an absolutely splitting headache.
So much for tricking myself.
Another thing for Monday, after my exhausted Friday post. Mike is not doing better.
He is bed-ridden right now, I am losing my mind, I truly am, because I am 1100 kms away and can do absolutely nothing to help him, with the exception of jumping on a plane and going to him. And, faithful, loving fiancee that I am, I looked up flights on line today: lowest going rate to
Boston, return, for this weekend: $ 700.oo odd dollars with taxes. Not even remotely do-able.
Not even remotely. So I'm stuck here, in the gray-wind-weather, waiting for news on how he's doing. And, as I mentioned, keeping in mind short-term memories, the thought of anything happening to anyone else I love right now is enough to make me climb the walls with terror, and this is where I'm at.
Mercifully, Monday at work flew by with all sorts of tasks that needed my attention, and that distracted me hugely. But here I am now, with no outlet and no way to mediate my feelings of missing, worrying, and general complete self-pity (the 'I'm so hard-done-by' thing. I hate feeling this way, by the way. I HATE IT. But I'm powerless to stop it. Until he gets to a doctor and I have some feeling that normal will return for him, I'm living in limbo.)
I want to write my way beautifully through this, but I may have to settle for reading, looking at great photographs, and zoning out on more Brit TV.
Anyway. Trying to commit to daily blogging, no matter what (sorrayyyy), and this is a testament to that. Lately, every day is a testament, lord help me.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
My mom and I made a risotto and then spent the evening flipping through decorating magazines, myself with a glass of wine in hand, curled up on the couch, listening to the wind literally howl outside the front door.
It rained almost all day, but I managed 10 km, dropped my car off for its service, went and had Starbucks (where I found a matching Toronto cup to the New York one Mike had gotten me last year) and then got a nice strong dose of vitamin D after my strong dose of coffee. I found 2 cute dresses at Old Navy (managed to keep it together in a line-up full of people and their whining kids) and all that time the rain continued to fall.
After dinner and decor browsing and Vanilla Sky watching, I went to bed, with my book (see side bar, it started off very slowly then last night started to get really good) and was asleep by 10:30pm, where I remained, uninterrupted (a serious feat for me lately) for nine hours.
As I was falling asleep I had a million blog posts ideas.
Vapour. That's the only clue I have as to where they go after I fall asleep. I didn't have my fawn-lark notebook with me (it's at home in my loft, I'm at my mom's) so that is a good lesson of why I need to bring it with me places. To capture these fleeting thoughts).
Nothing earth-shattering though. Just observations about the book I'm reading, about plot, about free-form writing, about Sundays that bother the writer (other people have this syndrome too?) and just writing about writing.
Ok. Off to grocery shop. Am going to run later today. I'm here at my mom's all day partially to run all my errands here, but also to avoid the snarls of the downtown road closures for the Marathon today. And that occupation of St. James park, which, I am sorry to report, is minutes from my condo. I support peaceful demonstration and every facet of democracy. But I remember the chaos of last years' G20 and suffice to say: I don't love the fact that there are some rag-tag 'protesters' most from other parts of Ontario and Canada (where they won't have to clean up the mess they make here in Toronto) occupying a park and denying access to anyone else who lives and pays taxes in the area. Sorry. It's my opinion.
Friday, October 14, 2011
I am truly so tired I'm not sure which way is up.
Good workweek in the sense that MUCH was accomplished, but in my away-from-work world my sleep was all over (a couple of early meetings made it necessary to set my alarm for before 6 and get up by 6, one of the hardest things for me to do. It's so so dark in the mornings at this time of year.)
Lots accomplished though, for a four-day workweek. I have to admit I'm having trouble envisioning that I am going out tonight, as it's raining, the cloud ceiling is low, my hair is reacting and I am bone-tired, I really am.
The full moon made things interesting all around, with lots of moods everywhere, but I have new library books so I tuned the city out in the evenings, listened to the rain, and read my way through the evenings.
Mike is on the mend and I'm so glad about that too.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Today was a long long long day at work. Awake just after 5am, at my desk just after 8am, my major meeting cancelling FIVE MINUTES before arrival: Yes. I was Not Happy.
Because I was all geared up, dressed up, and set up. Then I had to come out of it, settle into my office, and do three major things involving numbers and not alot of design all by the 'end of the day'.
On the plus side it was grey all day, the full moon's energy was everywhere, and Wednesday, the most wicked (and by wicked I do NOT mean fun) day of the week is over. The shot above is out my condo window, where the city is currently getting doused with rain. It's been raining, hard, since about 6pm. I love the sound of it, hitting the flat old roof of my condo (I'm on the top floor, the roof deck is on the neighbouring building--nothing separating me from the lovely rain noises. So that made up for alot of the day's troubles).
Reading; see below, my dining room 'library'. The portrait beside my book shelf is of my Dad when he was 21. Smoking a cigarette, I know (that goes under "not favourite"). I remember him telling me not to smoke (I don't). I also remember him telling me the artist who painted this, in BC where he was at the time, was very challenged by the fact my Dad wore a checkered shirt. The artist was his friend, trying his hand at painting. When I was young, growing up in our townhouse, this painting hung in our downstairs rec room near the piano. I loved looking at the patterned shirt (was it foreshadowing of my future ID career that I loved looking at all types of patterns? and all types of buildings?)
Another shot out of the window of my condo. Normally, even from my lowly third floor vantage point ( I live in the converted offices of an old optical company), I can see the CN Tower, and the Spire, a building I designed alot of kitchens for in 2006/2007. But not tonight. Tonight it's all fog, dense, but lit up by the intensity of the full moon, and the high-voltage lights in the back parking lot.
I love looking out the window on clear nights, clear days, cloudy ones too. When the moon is in the western night sky I can often get a stellar view.
Alright. Today tired me out. Tomorrow, after having a serious talk with myself, I really hope to start what I hope will be MANY enjoyable weekday mornings out running BEFORE work.
Ambitious, I know. But one must have goals.
For Favourites, Part three, I will explore favourite holidays (St. Maarten); favourite wines ( Cali chards, preferably US purchased, on sale, at a wonderful place called a wine outlet in NH), and maybe explore some more bookish tendencies.
I'm still on a reading tear, and the Julia Cameron memoir has been fodder for many a creative idea.
I also do want to continue with Secret Diary part two. Lots of sequels lately.
Other favourites off the top of my head;
my new multivitamin (i feel...different. stronger. sharper. weird!)
other books by julia cameron (she is my new louise hay. i still love louise though)
the great tarot reading i had friday night
wearing my new pewter ballet flats to work and having an alternative to heels in today's weather
that my foot is tentatively feeling better after much icing the last 2 days
that mike's head is feeling better (that tops the list, really, but i don't like to drag him into the blog too much :)
the continuing free preview of the horror cable channel DUSK until October 31st. I still can't believe I braved Candyman alone. Did you know that Philip Glass did the music for the movie? And it was directed by someone named Bernard Rose, whom I have never heard of. However, he put in some amazing shots of the Chicago skyline, ariel views of the highways, an old stadium....cool to watch now that I've been to Chicago (once. not that I could pick anything out on a map).... a fun tv channel to watch, when BBC Canada is not showing too much.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I've been o'ding on Brit tv lately. Not on purpose, purely by chance, and truly--I'm not a tv watcher by nature. I picked up my wayward cable again last year when Mike was coming to stay as it was Canadian winter, he needed American football, and he loves the Food Network. I can take or leave TV. But, truth be told, it has had, lately, a good effect on me. As in: tranquilizing. As in, my not so much up in my head. Me, unwinding, and reading in front of it, as I always do, and letting my thoughts take flight, like they do when I read.
So, it's been all good.
Caught another wonderful UK Law and Order tonight, all sorts of complicated.
Then, while flipping, lying on the couch and icing my foot (don't ask. too many kilometers on the weekend, way too much ambition to work off 2 dinners, and far too challenging of a pace set), anyway, icing away, watching DUSK (last night I made it through Candyman ALONE, and I have to say--I didn't just focus on the horror of it all--I looked at the gorgeously-shot, ariel views of Chicago, the backdrop of the southside against the glittering architecture of the beckoning city--that is the realy horror if you ask me. The true parts).
Anyway, flipping about, RICE-ing, and I stumbled on IFC "Secret Diary of a Call Girl". This is the Brit's answer to Carrie Bradshaw. Instead of writing a column about sex, though, she gets paid to have it. See? The Brits like to, sometimes (alot) show the Americans how it's done (good on them). And while British men are not my thing in real life, on film and in speech they are delish. But whatever. I digress.
Once again, as with Law and Order UK vs Law and Order Gorefest Inc, Secret Diary is more about feelings than Sex and the City was. I am not kidding.
Tonight's eppy hinged on the word "kinky", ie, something with kinks and twists. And, as the heroine Belle so succinctly put it, finding that one who loves yours unconditionally. I liked the sound of that. This little in-the-head dialogue, clearly taken from Carrie's endless narrative, was, however, voiced-over the images of her fellow prossy-best-friend falling head over heels (reciprocated) in love with a whacky client, and pasted us against the passionate "one of" (Brit slang for a one-night-stand, how do they think this stuff up?) with a man Belle is interested in, who dumps her seconds after their 'shag'.
It brought me back to my own twenties, not in 'fond memory' express lane either. It brought me back to all those one-ofs, those men who thought that by f*cking you, they could control you, and how wrong they really were. I thought about how selective I was in the men I brought into my little Bathurst world at the time. About how exciting it could be when I did let someone in. And how crushing I felt when they disappointed me (or when, worst of all, over and over--I disappointed myself).
I'm just musing. I watched the images on Secret Diary, I remembered the excitement of those times, those days, more importantly, those nights, and how I was not sad to see them go.
I reflect that this is what it took to get me here, with Mike. I met him over ten years ago. Yet I wasn't ready to accept and love myself until about two years ago, just before I 'met' him again, for the second time.
Where-we're-supposed to be.
It's just that kind of post.
Me musing, practising, looking.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I had gone to the wedding of a dear friend the day before, and had very much enjoyed watching him and his new bride celebrate this on a beautiful fall day, and was very happy for both of them. A wrenching moment, though, came for me as I watched the bride have her dance with her father, to the music, "My Girl"; the same song my sister danced to with our father at her wedding. And I broke into tears, my friend N. putting her arms around me.
I pulled myself together, but the reason for my tears was not just the unbidden memory of my sister's wedding and that particular dance; somewhere, inside myself, I knew, bone-deep, that I was going to miss having that opportunity, miss creating that memory, those photos, and it tore at me.
"It" (these crazy thoughts) was something I didn't talk about to anyone, much less my mom or sister, and really, to none of my friends.
When my father's prognosis of 'cancer-free' came on October 13th, a few short days later, it did absolutely nothing to take these crazy thoughts away. I had snapped at a coworker during a dull meeting when she accused me of looking at my watch one too many times. My boss, who had lost his own mother to cancer a scant eighteen months earlier, followed me as I left the boardroom and said how sorry he was--he hadn't known I was waiting for 'that' kind of news. He asked me to phone him later after I had heard.
I did call him, after my mother called as I was driving home from work, her voice joyous. I tried to match her enthusiasm but inside I was again, feeling torn. My boss had reacted joyously too--"This is the BEST possible news!" Me, flatly: "I'm just not feeling it". He was puzzled, but as I do so often, I didn't elaborate.
I didn't "feel" optimistic. I chided myself that this was the by-product of months of stress; my own personal life had been dizzyingly chaotic, and now I had a new, wonderful boyfriend. Maybe all the good fortune was scaring me. It's tough to adjust to the bad in life, but sometimes, it's tough to accept the good, too. We look for that cloud in every silver lining (I do, anyway.)
On their actual anniversay day, last October 10th, we gathered at my parents, gave cards, had champagne, which my father weakly sipped; he was still at that point, after all the treatments during the summer, of being unable to eat. We didn't have a family thanksgiving dinner, but we did reflect on anniversaries and thanksgivings past.
As he would later that year, on Christmas Day, my father had a strange, far-away look in his eyes, one that worried me. His expression as I read it said "This is the last ________ (fill in the holiday/occasion) I will be here for".
This terrified me.
Again, I talked to no one about my fears.
October 10th, now, 2011.
I've spent the day quietly, after a nice Saturday and Sunday celebration with my mom, sister, and the kids. First, Saturday thanksgiving dinner at my loft, with everyone trying not to focus on the fact that we had set the table for five, not six. Sunday we had dinner at my mom's, the kids celebrating with their father and his family. We ate leftovers, talked about my Dad, had champange, just the three of us, and yes, there were some tears.
I came back from my mom's house last night and did none of the cleaning up I planned. Instead, I sat on the couch staring vacantly at the TV, watching Dark Knight. I finally fell asleep, early, and thrashed the sadness out this morning with a 10-mile run with my sister. By the time I arrived back home I could barely limp up the 12 flights of steps to my rooftop deck, where I spent the next two hours, reflecting, reading, drinking water and Gatorade, and allowing the sunshine to feed me some of its eternal optimism.
I'm still reading Julia Cameron's memoir about finding her way in the world as a creative person, the writing of all her books, against the backdrop of often intense bouts of mental illness and personal challenges.
I adopted her simple prayer today as I sat on the roof, alone, "Please guide me".
She always asks that while out walking, communing with nature, and I asked that today.
No, it's really not a time of intense personal challenge--grief notwithstanding--but for me, it is a time of immense personal change, and maybe some of the personal growth and development I've been so committed to over the past two years is finally beginning to show signs of taking root.
I am almost finished reading Cameron's book, but throughout reading it, I've flipped back to the beginning, where she lists her bibliography of her own published works, just to see if what she was working on at that time in her memoir really did come to fruition (most of her works have). It was while flipping back that I realized I had missed the acknowledgment--it was at the start of the book, unlike most others I have seen, that tend to be tucked at the back.
She acknowledges her gratitude to those who have shaped her life and 'these pages.'
Then she opens with a simple poem from her own works, called Why we Write, and these were the lines that stood out for me:
We write because
The light we have to see by
Is always shifting
So very true. The light has shifted so much recently. On this coming October 13th, now, in 2011, I wait for no news. It will be the four-month marker point since his death in June.
So, I will continue to ask, "Please guide me".
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Reasons? The end of summer, maybe, and all the clarity I get from hours on the rooftop on the weekend, alone with my thoughts, letting them unfurl, the hot weather and sunshine making me grateful to be alive. I know everyone loves autumn, fall, what have you, and I have NO argument
against its undeniable beauty and the crispness of the weather. As a person who is forever over-heated, believe me, I adore the temperatures in fall. But the winter looms, the darkness comes so quickly, and I lie in bed in the morning and face the day and sometimes it's just a bit much.
In an effort to remain positive, I tried to compile the things I like in a simple list, with reasons behind them all.
The Real Housewives of New York
I can't help it. I love all things New York, but these women take the cake. Their constant efforts to remain young and hip remind me that growing older takes grace and stamina, and acceptance. Not plastic surgery, fake friendships, and lies. I watch these women as they dance with youth, live in a state of perpetual denial, and drink away their problems. Who says that reality tv doesn't have lessons for us?
Law and Order UK
Watched 2 back to back eppys last night. Wow. Less emphasis on the crime, more on the people, very British, very play-wrighty and very un-American. For instance, last nights' second eppy was about a young man accused of killing his pregnant fiancee. He had been convicted as child of being an accessory to a murder, so of course he was already guilty in the minds of the police and the lawyers prior to even being charged. But it wasn't that simple. He had a crazy therapist who had murdered his fiancee and framed him, because she was in love with him. And she had no qualms about letting him go to jail, because she could still treat him. In the end, all this unravelled for her, and the young man was free to go. Except that he was found hanging in his cell in the prison where he had been awaiting trial. His young lawyer, who idolized Ben Daniels' character in the eppy, was disillusioned. And Ben Daniels' character didn't just miscalculate a case--his actions indirectly led to someone's sad death, and a fellow professional who looked up to him, who was just starting out, was left feeling bereft. The American show, which I do love, could have never achieved this kind of under-played pathos.
Til Debt Do us Part
First of all, I love the host/money-queen-supreme of this show. At first I could not figure out her background. Her accent, to me, had a tinge of the Irish, and her manner--strong, informed, and 'on it', did too. But a friend of mine shared on FB that Gail is Jamaican! She is amazing. She takes couples to task about their shoddy finances, their treatment of each other, and their staggering consumer debt. I also admit to a fascination with this kind of dirty laundry. It's like looking at other people's homes. What DO they do in there? I punish myself routinely for buying anything on a credit card. At one point during my early adulthood, I went almost ten years without a proper vacation. If I didn't have the money for it, I didn't have it. And it blows me away that these are COUPLES, often both with very healthy incomes, and that each bill is SPLIT in half for them. I have paid all my bills, the whole bill, on my own, for the entire time I've lived by myself, all in all about twelve years. It's eye-opening to see the attitudes in our society about consumer debt, and how much money we collectively waste on STUFF.
Devil Wears Prada
Clothes, clothes, hairstyles, more clothes, make up, a job from hell (no comment), and the type of boss that ends up being the person you learn the most from. I remember my early-career years so well. When a comment could move your neurotic 20-something self to tears. Where a client had the power to ruin your day.
Ah the 20's. So long ago. Thanks be to Christ.
The greedy, unbridled 80s. What a decade to have started a career.
Plot-driven, riveting. People need their kids to watch this today. It never gets old.
I wrote a whole blog on this a little while back. I never get tired of it.
Female frenemies(!)at their finest. I also love Winona Ryder. And all the colour-coded clothing.
French, gorgeously shot, quirky, out-there, and just plain original. My favourite type of movie. Tugging at my heartstrings while taking in beautiful scenery, colours, and characters. No North American could have made that film. NO ONE. We're too self-obsessed half the time to bother with the world around us.
I'll move on to something more important: BOOKS.
I did my top ten websites a couple of months ago.
And no matter what I do to this post, it doesn't want to cooperate in terms of list-spacing. I've given up. But my favourite websites are on there.
Houzz.com is a new one I've discovered, fyi. And on all the plethora of 'amateur' design blogs out there, I can spot when they've stolen their photos from this site.
I look at this site ALOT.
Reebok. (obvious reasons. Best shoes--Runtones. Best lightweight running jackets. Tops. Gloves. Shorts. You name it. Yes. I love Lulu lemon too. BUT COME ON. It's insane in there. See my next entry).
Costco. I am telling you--workout wear/pajama/outdoor coat/ heaven. Also, biscotti, vitamins, hair products, coffee, guacamole, hummous, contact lens solution, socks, dishwasher detergent. Anything, everything. Under one cost-effective roof. So amazing.
Bath and Body Works. Great perfume, lip gloss, hair products again, lotions, candles, all in scents that give fruit-haters like me a new lease on life. Except they discontinued the Summer Vanillas. Not happy. Victoria Secret has a great line of lotions and perfumes, too.
MAC. There are 2 Mac counters I love. 1. In the Bay on Richmond Street, where a red-haired make up artist effortlessly picked out my best shades without batting an eye (Mulch, Ember). 2. Maine Mall Macy's where a lovely man named Michael picked out Lady Grey eyeshadow pallette and Courdroy. All winners.
Old Navy/Gap. They tie for "basics". White t-shirts, black dress pants, workout pants, pajamas again, black skirts, bikinis, summer dresses, underwear. I am a complete bargain hunter when it comes to clothing. The less I spend on an item, the prouder I am. So I go to Gap outlets.
Zellers. See Costco and Old Navy/Gap.
Walmart is hard for me to shop at. The closest one to me is a behemoth of a store with record-setting line ups. And they have all those boycotts. So Walmart is not on here. When I visit the States, my go-to is Target. Hair colour, make-up, creams, more running gear, tank tops, all of it. Super cheap and lots of sales. Last time I went when I was in Maine, Mike was tired so he decided to have a snooze in the car while I shopped. I told him I'd be back in ten minutes.
When I returned, forty minutes later, $ 200 dollars had been well -spent, and Mike had had a nice nap.
Ok, Part two of this mindless posting will be forthcoming.
I think I'm going to explore holidays, wine, and running routes in my next post.
Also, I love hearing about people's favourite ANYTHING. Remember those email quizzes back in the day your friends and you would send to each other to 'get to know each other better' and all fill in, competing as to who had the funniest responses? The tagline would be something like "Fill this in to get to know your friends better!" and one of the questions would always inadvertently begin with "What is so and so's middle name?" and I would realize I didn't know ANY of my friends' middle names. And then they'd fill it in for me, and I'd forget a few days later when the next quiz arrived.....
My middle name is Ann, just in case.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
I'm not that 'cheerful' type, and I detest people who are constantly smiling, especially when I'm in a bad mood and I secretly think, "what the f(ck is SO uplifting?' but I digress.
It's Monday, so I already have an axe to grind (I couldn't resist putting that in there) and my voice, to me, has been faint lately, so I'm reverting to my beloved list format.
Things that are irritating me today: (in no particular order, context, or importance. I'll asterix the ones that are REALLY bothering me though).
1. It's been loud in the office lately. Loud enough that I've been tempted to wear my ipod. But I can't do that, it would set a bad example. So I close my door over, breathe deeply and give myself a Louise Hay "you can do it" pep talk. *
2. The weather. Grey. Blah. Bleck. Not warm. Not cool. Like the spring, in reverse. Low cloud ceiling, reminding me of Scotland (shiver).
3. A cell phone in the office that has a 'shimmering' note to the 'you have a message' ping, that goes off EVERY day around 5pm, indicating that someone is halfway out the door. Whatever. *
4. Feeling bad for my sister and a few rounds of bad luck she's endured lately. She doesn't have it easy. She is raising two little ones on her own after a hard divorce, and really going through alot with grief over my dad's death. So, when a guy blows her off or is insensitive, or when a friend doesn't cherish her by giving her some face time, it really really irritates me. It's always that way with siblings I think. ***
5. Traffic. The mini van who completely made me lose my cool this morning. When you are the lead car at an advanced green at a HUGE intersection, do not sit there when the arrow comes on. I will honk at you, politely, to let you know that you need to go. Do not take this an as invitation to become as passive-aggressive as possible and drive under the speed limit, with exaggerated care, for the next 5 kms. I will get, for lack of a better word, extremely p*ssed off. **
6. It's now Tuesday. Tuesday at 530 am. And I'm awake, and I have been since 4-something am. I don't know the exact time since I keep my clock radio set 30 to 40 minutes ahead to 'fool' myself. I'm drinking coffee out of a glass cup because coffee tastes better out of glass. And also, because, like it or not (not), I'm now up for the day.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
I know..the word "autumn" is one of 'those' words for me--not pretentious, but we're leading into Canadian winter. Fall seems the appropriate terminology.
Fall means a kind of buckling down. We (I) start eating more. We get ready for all these family holidays (sometimes they feel mine-field-ish), Thanksgiving, leading into winter and Christmas.
I tend to hole up, cleaning more than I should, cooking more chicken, snacking on carbs, and enjoying (?) cooler runs.
I ran another 17 k yesterday (11 ish miles). It hurt. Alot. At one point, on mile 10, I had to stop and use some construction railing to stretch out. I felt alot better after that.
The whole run was a success, based on the fact that I never fell back on walking, and I got, no kidding every single city green light on my city run. That NEVER happens.
But my pace was slow, slower than when I ran in high summer. I couldn't figure it out--I enjoyed myself more, I lost myself more, but I ran at a shameful, jogging pace. Not sure what happened.
And hear this--no runner's high. Nothing. I will admit I lost myself enough to lose focus on what was playing on my ipod, but that is no substitute for flying out of your shoes, metaphorically, and soaring over every problem in your life.
I hobbled the rest of Saturday. I needed extra dinner, and an extra shower.
In the morning, this morning, I needed even more water, and I took a tylenol one to stand upright, I'm ashamed to admit.
I looked outside. It was a cold, grey, iron day. And then the rain began to fall.
I wanted to do a cute little 5k today, a little afternoon salute to all the feet pounding the pavement in this morning's Run for the Cure, but I couldn't manage that. Too much pain, too much risk. I settled for opening an August edition of Running for Women and reading about training advice, and then my sister and I ate a dinner of curry-chicken wraps, hummus, and chips. The dizziness went away. More water.
I think about Saturday's long run, and what it took for my head to get there (your legs must be strong, but your head must be stronger), and I felt pride in my psychological commitment to this painful 'sport' I have chosen, has chosen me, and then I read the beginner training program in the magazine and realized that despite bad times (literally and figuratively) I am no longer a beginner. According to Running for Women, in spite of my lack of formal races, lack of awards/accolades, I'm really an intermediate. Weird. When did this happen?
I continue to trawl along the city streets, I continue to aim for morning runs during the week--it is a true dream of mine, to do my weekday running at the crack of dawn, and start my day off in the most disciplined way possible, but also in the most dreamy.
Because running is a dream sometimes. Reading about it makes me remember the high, the beat of my pulse, and I forget all about the pain, the drudgery that sometimes invades, and those days with leg cramps, stomachaches, shortness of breath...all of it.
Like anything we love. It saturates us with frustration only to grant us pure freedom.