Monday, February 27, 2012

Journal 131 Work Journal

I'm home from work now. Well, actually I left early as I had to visit my lawyer with my mom for all that house-moving-closing documentation. I spent four hours of yesterday doing work at home to make up the time, that's how busy work is right now.
So I'm loggeed in on my work computer, doing change-of-address stuff for my mom, and sipping a Bloody Mary while I read some great blog updates by my favourite blog writers (see sidebar, almost everyone has a brand-spanking new post today or thereabouts).

It's Monday and you know the dread that gets inspired in me about this day. I tossed and turned (futile-ly) last night, even after logging those four solid hours onto my work computer,
remotely, from my condo. And I got a tonne of stuff done.
I can't stave off the Monday blues.
The title of this post alludes to a new project I've taken on.
It's called my Work Journal (I will work on a TM for this haha..).
My work journal, as I was emailing my friend A. today, allows me to track what I am doing (alot), who I speak to (clients), tasks that interrupt other tasks, and any 'incidents' that may happen along the way, during any given day. They might be unpleasant, but I record them neutrally, in a professional, detached way, and it helps me to gain some perspective on how I might resolve them, even if I can't see that at the time.

I once read a book about the 'toxic workplace' and I guess my workplace has elements of that ( I self-edit here...). Part of the toxicity relates to my industry--things must get done, they must get done yesterday, and that's all there is to it. But I'm a person, a sometimes-sensitive person, and angry clients really upset me. And trust me, clients DO get angry. They emotionally associate with their homes in a way I find unhealthy and weird, but I can't tell them that. So I just listen. And try to solve problems. And put out fires. And explain that not every deadline can get met (while frantically doing everything humanly possible to meet said deadline, keeping a cool head while doing it).

And after the year I had last year, believe me, I had a very hard time taking their problems seriously.

I'm happy to report that things HAVE gotten better, that I am functioning at work once again in my usual more-than-proficient manner, and the Work Journal is another indication of my ongoing commitment to taking on projects and running with them.

Then, today, I read this:

It's journalling tips. So rather than use them for my regular journal (or I might do that in addition to), I'm going to apply these tips, one at a time, to my work journal.

Here is the first one:
Start writing about where you are in your life at this moment. Describe your living situation, your work, and your relationships. Are you right where you want to be?
Hmm. I like this one. I'm going to change it to: Start writing where you are in your work life at this moment..... "Describe your working situation, your work, your work relationships. Are you right where you want to be?"

Ok. Here goes. Hell, maybe I'll even use this as a blog springboard.

Where I am at my work-life at the moment.
Well, I'm on the cusp of something. It may very well just be my re-awakening from this long process known as grief, but since my vacation/wedding/honeymoon, despite the busy-ness of work and of my own life, I'm functioning again. In an astute way. And I'm juggling again. And I'm doing well when I work from home (gas prices are going to make this happen ALOT more in the future I can tell).
Am I stressed? Yes. Super-stressed. About every little thing, and every big thing. And as I mentioned, I lose sleep. But it's nothing a little pill can't help. Seriously.

My working situation. Well. It's busy. Uber-busy. Clients need things all day everyday. I have to be creative under pressure. I work with people who sometimes have personality conflicts. But since I carved out my motto, my non-negotiables for myself, it's gotten better. My friend A. is a huge help with this. One: No emotional conversations at work. Fuelled by me or a co-worker. I won't engage.  Two: I control my own behaviour, am responsible for myself.
Not for anyone else. Another follow up to this motto is one I learned from an architect I worked with, years ago: I can't be responsible for work I don't do. Applause.

Ok.  My work relationships. Well, I base them on kindness and I don't come from a place of frustration, and no, I am not drinking the kool-aid, and I don't go in for alot the corporate bullsh*t that invades many a workplace, but I do keep an eye on my co's, and I know who's who.   I avoid time-suckers and wishy-washies. That about sums it up.

Am I right where I want to be? Wow. I think the fact that I write in this blog almost daily pretty well
sums that up.

No comment.

Happy Monday. It's evening now, and it's drawing to a close.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Journal 130 Now, onto Sunday

My first thoughts as my eyes popped open this morning, at precisely 9:28 am, at my mom's house, were as follows:
holy cr*p my mother has to move in 4 days;
I have so much work to do;
(both literally, ie, work-work, and figuratively, ie, life-work, moving-my-mom-work, closing-a-house-work; which entails visiting the lawyer, re-confirming the movers, helping to box up belongings, the belongings that belong to a house long-lived-in, twenty-plus years lived in, and boil them down into something that will fit into a one-bedroom Beach apartment, without causing an emotional riptide).

I know. And I wasn't even OUT of the bed yet. 
I spent the next half-hour in bed, reading, (re: hiding from the day) and then reluctantly I got up.
Went downstairs.
My mother was in the basement.
I surveyed the boxes on the main floor with the eye of a practiced mover (I moved over five times in my twenties and I know that fluttery feeling that starts to happen in the days leading up to a move--it's anticipation, sure, but it's also the thought that {for me} all of one's wordly goods are packaged in cardboard and the 'where-is-the-certain-something' I was looking for that I need desperately, right now?).

I spent the next hour touring the house with my mom, room by room, a reconaissance mission, going through the adage I always use (my voice raising a bit with each unfinished room): "when in doubt, throw it out."

It's not that easy. I do know this.  To me, it is all just stuff, it always just is, perhaps it's the interior designer in me, the minimalist, that scorns the idea of holding on to material things--interiors are always changing, spaces are fluid, and spaces beget other spaces.
But it's not like that for my mom, especially right now. Her eyes, looking blankly past me after we finished up in the living room were eyes that were not in the here and now. They were somewhere else,
looking into the past, where my father was still with her, where he would have helped organize this, make some sense of it, go to a new place with her.
I realized this, thank God, just in time.
Went out. Got in the car. Drove to Starbucks. Brought back coffees.  Sat at the kitchen table, the same one where I used to sit with her late at night after my Keg shifts when I was twenty, twenty-one, still living at home, and talked about life, talked about nothing, talked about everything.

It's hard for me to leave this house (again) too.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Journal 129 On a Saturday Afternoon

The to-do list just ain't getting done today people.
This is what a late night does to me...
So far, I've managed leftover Chinese food, some itune-down-loading (genius has directed me to Mike's music, some classic 70s rock I have to say, I'm loving it. Only thing better than hearing a new song you love is re-discovering one you once loved and haven't heard in a while. And then, you're able to find it {hopefully} on itunes and there you go..).
I'm still in my robe, in case anyone is asking. And this run has to happen soon-ish.
Oh the time suckage of a computer, a blog, some youtube videos of old songs and movie clips and the lure of laundry-folding.
For now, here's a snippet of some of the tunes being listened to this aft...

and Mike's running playlist, radically different from mine.  It's called "Run Like Hell" (after the Pink Floyd song. Mine's called "Run for It". Whatever you call it....just run).

Run Like Hell
Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton
Blackbird, The Beatles
The Weight, The Band
Lay Down Sally, Eric again
Sea of Love, Honeymoors
Runnin' Blue, The Doors
Peace Frog, The Doors
I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash
Suicide Blonde, INXS
Dreams, Fleetwood Mac
The Chain, FM again
You Make Loving Fun, FM
The Way, Fastball
Nikita, Elton John
Don't Go Breaking my Heart, EJ and Kiki Dee
Mama Can't buy you Love, EJ
Dream On, Aerosmith
The Break-up Song, Greg Kihn

There you have it. Songs have such associative power (for me, almost more than anything).

Happy, happy Saturday.

Journal 128 On a Saturday Morning

David Gray is on my ipod dock, just because.
I woke up and checked my email and some random woman allegedly named "Irene Morgan" (died at this) had commented on my blog about buying life insurance (truly. was killing myself laughing--I mean, you're supposed to comment on OTHER blogs to generate traffic back to your own, but this was hilar.)
The comment was like a whole paragraph (I deleted it but kept it in my inbox of my hotmail) saying this:

 Just married? You are probably reeling from the big day. Once it has all settled down and you’ve written all those thank you notes, do the next most important thing: purchase a life insurance policy. I work with IntelliQuote where they know you’ll sleep better knowing your spouse and your future family are protected. IntelliQuote is a great place to start to get an idea of how little that sound sleep can cost you.

Love the "probably reeling from the big day".  Umm, not really.  I don't think most people who just celebrated a wedding are reeling, unless they went way beyond their means and are now trying to figure out how to pay bills.   But I digress. "Irene" left this comment at 4:55am, apparently, according to my computer, but who knows she ("Irene") could be in a whole other time zone, country, or something like that. And, "Irene", just so's you know; I'm a Virgo. You've got to do your research.  I have had life insurance for many years, what you did do was remind me to remind my insurance company that I do have to pay my yearly premium in March.  (For some reason this task falls to me--they seem to fall behind every year on this. Car, condo insurance people are right on with their deadlines--my life insurance rep seems to be running perpetually behind).  I have also, thank you VERY much, finished writing my thank-you notes. All I have left to do is send photos and 'general' notes to those I love because that's what I do. I like to make use of the postal service.
David Gray drones on, I wake up slowlyyyy after a veryyyy late night, and my thoughts are all jumbled.
Going to College Street Bar for my sis's birthday last night has left me a bit short on the sleep department. A late-night junket to Chinatown (Mike is heating up leftovers right now) kept us out later than I planned to (Mike has the gift of being able to stay up all night, it's part of how he works, we are opposites this way) and now, as I age and my ability to be without sleep diminishes in direct proportion,   I sit here and try to write, try to wake up, and somehow get myself ready to run, then head over to my mom's (her last weekend at the house. Deep breaths), have family time and a nice dinner and help to organize some more for Thursday's move.
The thought that propelled me here to the blog wasn't really about the silly life insurance comment, but really, thinking about how young the people at College Street Bar were; how they had so much time and energy, investing in mating rituals,  looking gorgeous while doing it, and, for the most part, generally being clueless about their youth and how easy it all is, because, and I remember this clearly, it seems so goddamn hard at the time-it truly does. You go out, all dolled up, put yourself out there, you might be with some girlfriends, some guy friends, and you go, all wrapped up in hope, and then the night is over and maybe you're walking home late, in the dark, because that is one of the best feelings of freedom there is, that night-walk, the edge of the knife blade. And you arrived home, alone, the apartment is quiet and you poured another unnecessary drink, and your feet hurt from your heels and your long walk uphill, and you slept on the couch and woke up the next morning, alone, and it's gray out, but you're still okay, you're not afraid, not as afraid as you'll become, later.
That's what I was thinking about. Strange, huh? That you do miss the angst sometimes, the simplicity of it, the distillation.
That's me on a Saturday morning.
Going to go and call the birthday girl and autopsy our evening.
Have a lovely weekend....

Friday, February 24, 2012

Journal 127 To my Shister

When we were children.....
You kept your room perfectly neat (I didn't).
You catalogued all your possessions and knew where everything was, most times.
You organized your stuffed animals.
You were scared of a clown poster in your room. (I was scared of it too).
You hid behind the wall of the kitchen and jumped out at me to startle me.
You loved dancing lessons (I preferred art classes).
You excelled at speech arts.

When we were teenagers...
You posted pages from magazines on the walls of your room on exercises and actually did them.
We fought over the phone.
I gave you copies of my old projects in the annoying subjects like science. I typed your essays.
We broke the bathroom door of our parents house when one of us was in there too long.
I covered up for you when you weren't where you said you were.
One night you came home to find me crying in my room after reading Animal Dreams. I couldn't explain to you what had upset me so much.

When we were young adults....
We drove to Ohio for my twenty-first birthday, just the two of us. Life seemed so safe then.
We worked at the same restaurant, not always the same shifts, but we knew the other was there.
You used to stay in the spare room of my 2-bedroom apartment when I first moved out on my own.
You had your own key to all my apartments.
We never missed a birthday party or really any party, or the occasion to order Thai food just because.
You always reminded me men weren't the be-all and end-all of life.

We're in the thick of adulthood now...
I was the maid of honour at your wedding.
You've made me an aunt and a godmother to two.
I was beside you in a blue scarf in the courtroom that sad day. We did have an expensive lunch thanks to your charm.
I cat-sit your cat.
You brought me sushi and champagne and made me leave my apartment when I would have stayed home and been sad by myself.
You cried beside me at the bar over drinks when we knew our dad was really sick.
You were the only person I could say "I can't take much more of this" to.
I had to call you to tell you our dad had died. I can't tell you how hard it was for me to do that.
You were my witness at my wedding.

In forty minutes I will leave to see you to have dinner and wish you a happy thirty-seventh.
Your gift is all wrapped (you're going to love it).
It's a cold February night and I wouldn't leave my condo for anyone else but you.

Happy birthday shister.
I love you.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Journal 126 Where....


I read an article years ago (it had to be in the New Yorker) about time speeding up as you get older. It has to do with the lack of 'new' experiences. You are dulled to your routine, and the days begin to pile up. They turn into months. Years roll by.
Time living in condo that I bought on my own: 5 years in April.
Nephew's age on his next birthday, coming up in March: 5.
Niece, in July, will be: Age 7 (I originally wrote 6. She's already 6. See what I mean? I can't even keep track...)
Kurt Cobain would have been 45 this year. The same age my husband will turn in July.
I will be married two months (ok, so this is a 'small' milestone) on March 3rd.
In August, I will have been at my current job for (wait for it): Fourteen fun-filled years.
Also in August, I will celebrate the last birthday of this decade of Thirties. (insert whiplash here).
September: 2 years of amazing togetherness for Mike and I.
On to friends:
I met L. in high school, where I graduated in 1992. (there was still a grade 13 then).
So, I've been friends with her since 1990. Twenty-two years.
A. and I worked together in our early twenties. Let's say seventeen years. Same with N. and J.
Other N.--we're working on (I think) about thirteen years.
L. and T., ten.
It's unbelievable.
Speaking of all those wonderful friends, I met most of them at a crazy steakhouse where I was first a bus-girl, then a cocktail server, then a dining room server, and then a floor assistant--all while going to school and then working full-time. All in I worked at this restaurant, in two different locations, for over fifteen years.

8 months, almost 9, since I last heard my Dad speak. His last email to me was June 1st, replying to one of mine, with the subject line: "love you".  It was originally an email to his doctor, with a question, that was forwarded to me, and I added the subject line in at the end, so it was the first thing he would see.

Started this blog in April, 2009, and so far I'm up to 268 entries. I claim to have no time to get anything done, but somehow I do this, whenever I can. Instead of sleeping sometimes, you will find me here. Getting it out of my head and onto a screen, trying to make sense of it all.

My "little" sister will be thirty-seven tomorrow.
On March 1st, my mom will move out of the house we all moved into just after Christmas in 1988. When I was fifteen. I only lived there for about five years, but I've been driving to Ajax to visit my parents for almost eighteen years. As of March 1st, my mom will officially become a Torontonian again, and I won't have to drive 40 plus km to see her.  She will be a streetcar ride away, a short 7 or 8 k run away.

So I ask again..where does it go?  I really want to know....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Running List as of today

For Heather:

1.  Mr. Wrong, by Mary J. Blige. Good to warm up to.
2. Take Care, Drake and Rihanna, as discussed.
3. Ain't Nobody, Mary J. again. If this song does not make you run forever, nothing will.
4. Ok,  now you are ready for Flo-Rida. Sometimes I play this one twice.
5. Higher-Ludacris, the version with Kylie Minogue
6. Tonight I'm Loving you-Enrique. I know. I KNOW.
7. Just Can't Get Enough, Black Eyed Peas
8. Sweet Dreams, Beyonce
9. Rolling in the Deep, Adele
10.  Morning After Dark, Timbaland, with Nelly Furtado
11. Take you on a Cruise--Interpol
12. We Found Love in a Hopeless Place, Rihanna agian.
13. OMG, Usher feat. Will I am
14. Touch me in the morning-Cassandra Fox, you will love this one (it's a 7 min remix that I have).
15. DJ Got Us Falling in love again, Usher, with Pitbull
16. Self Control by Laura Branigan. Cool down.



Smooth Sailing

It's Family Day here in Canada, Presidents' Day in the U.S.

I've had a really nice, relaxing weekend thus far.

Mike and I stayed at my Mom's in the 'Jax on Saturday night, then on Sunday did the very coupl-y thing of shopping together (we bought a stock pot at the Bay with gift cards from my shower. Mike was very happy. I was happy too, two words: Clinique Bonus. To my friend T: I got the 'nudes' package and the uplighting illuminator; to my friend A: go, immediately my friend. :))
Then we came home, unpacked the car (it was like we'd been away for a week), and put everything away (we bought groceries, went to the Chinese market for seafood).  Did laundry, made dinner plans, and then drove down to Kew Beach/Ashbridges to go for a late-day 5k run.
We were treated to one of the most beautiful Toronto sunsets I've ever seen; a cold, crisp day, and the sky was all pink, red, and streaks of pale pale yellow.  I forgot about the chill in the air, how much of a struggle the run itself was, and focussed on the outline of the CN tower and the buildings in the Toronto skyline, silouhetted with the backdrop of the sky.

Came back, checked my mail, and my dear friend L. had sent me a wedding card (her cards are perfection, by the way), along with an Essie nail polish called "Smooth Sailing" (for my birthday she sent "Hard to Get").

What can I say, I love it all.

Mike and I made a late dinner, lobster saffron risotto, listened to music (Ours, Terry Edwards, Astrid Gilberto) and had champagne.

So.....where was I?

Well, it's Family Day, the sun is shining, I'm gearing up to run (first, must have coffee) and as my dear friend L. said in 'Just Saying' a couple of weeks back, here,
friends are family too, sometimes.

Happy Family Day, however you spend it!

ps. my sister is a writer too:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Journal 125 More Looking Back

I'm at my Mom's, dinner just happened, packing stuff up is happening, and there may have been some shopping today.
It's the last two weeks of my Mom living here.  It hasn't hit me yet. At all.

Instead, I think about other memories, not involving the house, my parents, anything relating to "now".

My Mom and I watch Sex and the City (even though we've seen them all a thousand times) because it's Saturday night, and I want Mike to watch them (haven't I watched enough hockey games in the last few months?).

So we put on Sex and the City on at the appointed time, I thought back (again) to years of watching the show with friends. One night, my friend N. decided to have an SATC 'marathon' where we all went over to her apartment, ordered Thai food, drank a tonne of wine, and watched SATC until we almost fell asleep (or passed out).  It was amazing. Literally, seven hours of watching.
The best part is, with the exception of a couple of girls, we are all still friends today, even with moves, marriages, kids, etc.

As the show is on, the three of us, my mom, Mike, and myself are looking online together at a wedding album, one I have just discovered (oh Facebook, you do not disappoint sometimes with your tricky 'view as' settings).
It was the wedding of someone I once worked with, someone whom I once viewed as a friend, an ally, who went through a difficult divorce. I know this because I wrote a letter commending his character when he asked me to, during said divorce.
I thought enough of him to do this (I wonder if I still have a copy? I write a mean letter. And by mean, read: amazing).

And then, when I went through a time of intense betrayal and unkindness, he was one of the people who knew what was going on (before I did) and did not have the character, wherewithal, or common decency to tell me. Instead, he became part of the betrayal.

A few months after this happened, he text-messaged me (oddly, on my father's birthday, November 13th), to say he was thinking of me and my family.  In a rare moment of clear anger, I texted him back, this person who had such colossal nerve, this person who had left the task of having me find out about said betrayal up to one of my best friends, another N., who had the thankless task of having to call me one evening to tell me just what had gone on, as I had been too preoccupied with my father's illness to know or at that point even care.  I will admit this, though--I had many solitary evenings in the roof garden of Princess Margaret hospital to think about the goings-on of my life, where I would visit my father after he had chemo (he would stay at the hospital overnight on those occasions).
And let me tell you: there is little time to feel sorry for yourself when patients in the palliative care ward are being wheeled outside for some evening summer air.

I texted him back, in a kind of brazen move that is very unlike me:
"You knew didn't you? And you didn't tell me?"
(and then the kicker):
"Thanks alot, friend."
Then I deleted him out of my phone.

And now I get the intense pleasure of laughing at his ridiculous wedding photos with my mom and my husband, on a Saturday night because that's what life does for you sometimes.  The wheel spins, and justice is served.

It feels good.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wistful on a Friday

I have been looking and looking for this photo and I finally found it....
Oh how I love this picture.
To me, it doesn't just sum up a moment in time from the SATC series; it captures my twenties,
my friendships then, and how the show taught me the importance of those strong female friendships in your life.
I miss the impromptu sushi nights that went on past midnight, even during the week.
I miss going out for coffee whenever because no one had a husband or children to worry about.
I miss my biggest worry being would I ever move out of my apartment, get a mortgage, quit waitressing.
I miss those days--not every aspect of them, but they hold for me a wistfulness of being an 'almost-woman', still experimenting, breaking things, and learning, learning, learning.
I never thought that the feeling 'wistful' would apply when I looked back.

Ah well.
Enjoy the photo.
Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Journal 124 Spring

I'm holding out for spring.
For sunshine, and longer days, and runs at my office after work.

I realized a few days ago--I've missed the last two springs in my life--isn't that amazing?
2010 was my father's diagnosis, dealing with the beginning of a thing called a 'treatment plan' and then that whole business of getting a bad relationship over and done with;
2011 was lost to my father's illness suddenly becoming terminal, and the rapid onslaught of all that goes along with saying good-bye to someone you love, time not on your side.

So I'm looking forward to having a spring to myself--one where I amp up my runs to 40 k a week long before July comes around, one where I sit outside on my rooftop in the longer evenings, wearing a light jacket, holding a glass of wine, that stays cold--spring apparently won't be that warm after the mild winter we've had. It's also supposed to be wetter than usual (that means grey, too) but once the light comes back I don't mind.

The drawback of spring is that Mike will be back in Maine. I will talk to him on the phone every day, mostly more than once (my sister teases me about how many times we talk on the phone when he goes home, it's our thing, it's our way of being right there).  I will miss him. I will channel this missing into running, into reading many books in a week, I will visit the library alot, I will drink alot of coffee on the weekends, and I will stare at the walls of my empty apartment, empty without him, and think about summer and fall. 

I know I will do alot of "this time last year I was doing this..."

And I'll do it all with a backdrop of peace and acceptance.

Journal 123 Awake Part II

I slept through the night last night. Thank you, to a large cup of Dreamland tea laced with Grand Marnier, a light dinner, a visit with my sister and the kids, Mike cooking dinner, and then going to
bed early.
I did not see any hour after 11:30pm except for the one my alarm woke me at, 6:30am.
I got up, did not get out of my apartment any earlier (how does this happen?) and was in the car, coffee in hand (in cup holder) by 8 am, the exact time everyone else in Toronto decides to get in their car and drive to work or where ever it is they're going, too.
I ate a sandwich in traffic, downed an ativan, and here I am.
Awake, but muddled.
February: please end soon and take your dark grey days with you, and that misty, annoying rain, and please give me some March, and sunshine, and time change, and new running routes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


There will come a time
when people who once got under your skin
no longer can

There will come a time
when work is no longer the priority in your life.
Because you will have other, more important priorities.

There will come a time
where you will learn to stay as far away from drama as possible.
It came disguised and breathless in the beginning, begging you to let it
in, to enhance the doldrum of your life.

There will come a time
when you will love someone as much as you love yourself.
This will happen when you finally do love yourself.

There will come a time
where you won't be addicted to sadness.
You will have it with you all the time, and realize that coming out
from behind its shadow, to stand in the sunlight, makes you feel a gratitude
you didn't know you could.

There will come a time
where writing down a few lines, a few thoughts, is no longer enough.
Only a whole book will be able to take in what you have to give.

There will come a time
when you will lose interest in the small talk.
You will want to keep your words for yourself.

Journal 123 Awake

At four in the morning.
At five in the morning.
Anxiety riddles my dreams, makes me lie still in bed--well, my body is still, but my heart--it beats at a rate so rapid it scares me.
And the crazy thing is--I'm happy. Happier than I've been in years and years.
And I know this, but I can't stop the thinking.
The five am thoughts I call them.

They start with work (which is crazy by the way, full of projects and deadlines, and I've said it all before so I won't say it again) then it morphs to my mom's move and future, then my future, and immigration stuff (remember, I married an American. We both need to find a way to be able to each legally reside in the other's country and let me tell you: they don't make it easy).
So I go from there and way way into the future, I do calculations (this is what anxiety drives me to, I do it when I drive through the States, too, to pass the hours on the way to Maine, I cross-calculate the distance in miles and kilometres, do conversions, think about how long it would take me to run a certain distance, yes, I'm insane), but in bed awake my calculations are about "ok, how many mortgage payments do I have left and how can I speed them up and when do I want to retire and yes, I'm only thirty-eight"... but when your parent dies before retirement age, these things can keep you up at night, almost in a manic fashion.

As in, "I need to do it all NOW, ie, my taxes, my will, my retirement plan" and there is no other word for it than insane.

It's funny to me, how I hold on to these beliefs that the world will not turn unless I push it.

It's turning. My father died one year after his cancer diagnosis and the world kept going. I kept going.

My therapist (I have an appointment coming up because someone needs to hear me voice these thoughts, other than my patient husband and ever-understanding sister) says that this is what emotional exhaustion is. That it can exist alongside an otherwise 'going along swimmingly' type of life.

Please let her be right.
All I know is that I'm so so tired of thinking this way.....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Yes, it's that thorny little Hallmark holiday.
I spent  many years in the service industry, serving couples on this fake-y romantic night, smiling a syrup-y, illegible smile, and spent any spare time I had through-out the evening (which was little as Valentines is one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurants.  Note that I never, and I mean NEVER go out for dinner on Valentines' night for this very reason) mocking most of my tables in the waiters' station with  my fellow servers.
I also spent years ignoring it, getting cards in the mail from my sister and my mom (I still have not bought anyone a card yet and the Day is Here see my to-do list from yesterday. I was home from work and already in the shower last night when I had that "god-dammit" moment) and sending them cards myself and then doing my best to ignore the rest of the holiday.

So it was a nice little pick-me-up when a dozen red roses arrived at my office this morning.
I know.
I'm sorry to talk about it.
But it was (and it's happened before, on other occasions) lovely.
It's not just because my coworkers see it (I don't care about that).
It's not just that he does this all by himself and surprises me without me knowing.

I think it's mostly because he backs this up.
Meaning, it's not some 'romantic gesture' (gag) that means absolutely nothing.
He puts in the time, does the real work, with me, alongside me.

Reminds me why I now leave all those thorny Valentines behind.

So I muse on love. And today, not just romantic love, which I am happy to have after
a long-ago heartbreak (healed) and following that a 'fake' relationship where I dated something that resembled a man (moved on) and grateful to have married the man I have. I marvel at it every day.
I also marvel, after reading my sister's latest (damn good) blog entry, how far I've come, how far she's come, into growing into the women we are. (see her blog here:

Women who are focussed, driven, and my favourite: real.  Who aren't afraid to call people on their sh*t, who have friendships that mean something, not just superficial garbage-y ones.
We are women who, despite the twists and turns and the tough events and then the not-so-great things, and the losses and the messes, somehow remain so so lucky and true to ourselves.

So yes, it's a Hallmark holiday, but like all roadsigns in life, I stop, I read it, I take my meaning from it.
Love, love, and more love.
I'm blessed to have so much.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Journal 122 To Do List (and some that are Done)

1. The apartment, yes, my mom got the apartment, praise Jesus.
2. A Valentine card for Mike. And one for my Mom. And for my sister and the kids.
3. More work than I can shake a stick at.
4. Look up what it means when you're on a plane in your dream and it crashes. Into water.
5. Look up what it means when you see an owl, yes, an OWL on your drive into work, sitting,
staring intently (at what? shiver).
6. Remember where I was 8 months ago, on a Monday just like this one. Except 8 months ago was June, 8 months ago was just-about summer, and today, 8 months later, we are basking in February sunshine, my sister and I are doing what we're supposed to "gently guiding" my mother through to her new home, her new life.
7. Put my raggedy hair up. Ah. Better.
8. Ponder as to how a man who beats women can win a Grammy. It really bothers me. It really bothered Mike last night, too, while we watched the entire Grammys because I made him.
Know this: I am not one to watch award shows. I don't watch many movies, and limit my TV choices so watching shows doesn't make any sense, but I'll admit, I wanted to see Adele sing. And I love hip-hop and r'n'b performances, and music stars are, let's face it, alot edgier than actors. And some of them actually eat!
Mike and I came to a consensus that you do reach a certain age (natch, we're there) when you cling to the music of your past. Oh yes, you do let some new ones in (Adele being a good example for me, along with Amy Winehouse, Rhianna, and all the Usher/Flo-rida/Kanye and artists of that genre). But you identify more emotionally with the music of your past because of all the emotion you associated with it. Like, I just cannot understand Mumford and Sons. I hate their songs. And those Power to the People, whatever they're called. Those who know me turn that Pumped up Kicks song off when I'm around, I HATE whistling. I enjoyed the Foo Fighters performance and speech about where music comes from (not a computer) and how they cut him off before he started to make sense to the 'kids'. Ha ha...
Anyway. This award really bugged me. It's still bugging me, truth be told. What do I do now? Who do I take this too?
9. Call and book movers for my mom's moving day. Yes, she only has to move once, thank you thank you thank you....(if we hadn't found an apartment for her, we would have had to move everything to storage, then move her again. No. Noooo).
10. That's it for a Monday. The other people I need to contact are the ones in charge of the road crew (yes, we are into YEAR TWO of the construction on the road off the off ramp of the exit of the highway that my office is on. There is no way around it. My office is surrounded by a moat of construction. It's like battling alligators to get to work. I have yet to find a zen way of dealing with this.
Mostly I just silently fume, pluck out playlists on my ipod of slightly more 'energetic' music, and dream of the finished construction..
11. Nope, that's not it. Read this link. Read it now. Thank me later.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Journal 121 Another Sunday

"Every day, is Saturday night, but I can't wait, for Sunday morning...." --K-os

And I really can't. Yes, I love weekends, the way every Monday-to-Friday, nine-to-fiver does, and yes, Saturday is my ultimate favourite, but there really is something special about Sunday too, and Sunday morning.
It's cold out, there's a dusting of snow, I'm in my robe, the heat is blasting, Mike's still asleep, in the next room, not 1100 kms away, and coffee is being brewed.
I'm going to be running later this morning, but right now it's just me, the computer, a lot of Whitney Houston songs (dear God I'd forgotten how many hits she had. The number of songs in my head right now seems endless) and some blogging.
I've gotten a lot better at controlling my Monday jitters that I get on Sundays, which, if I let them take over, will ruin the entire day. Instead I focus on all the 'free' time, run errands, plan meals, do "Carolyn" things, and just 'be'. And 'be'ing for me, sometimes involves list-making...I know, I know, HUGE surprise.
Gratitude list for a random Sunday:
1. Mike, as I mentioned, here, not 1100 kms away.
2. Saturday night impromptu dinner with my sister.
3. Leftover Chinese food in the fridge.
4. Sunlight, the special pale-winter kind, after snow has fallen.
5. Coffee, brewed strong in the French press, with Baileys (oh yes, I did).
6. The upcoming birthdays of my sister and one of my dearest friends, who is like a sister (both Pisces).
7. Reading snippets of a well-thumbed book on writing memoir, just opening to a page and going with it
8. Looking at new photos from my wedding.
9. Songs in my head ('didn't we almost have it all..' wow. When I think about the sad sampling of 'artists' that todays' youth have to grow up listening to I feel extra lucky to have grown up in the 80s. I mean Nicky Menaj? Embarassing. As my friend L. and I said, we had Madonna, and Whitney, and all these amazing, creative, talented singers who weren't manufactured by American Idol).
10. Blogging about nothing.
11. The pre-run time.
12. Thinking about my first Valentine's Day as a married person. Will it feel different?
13. Prayer.
14. The flowers Mike bought me last week--cream-coloured and still glorious.
15. Emailing friends.
16. No work today.
17. Pajamas.
18. List-making.
20. Starting the day at 11am.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Journal 120 Apartment Hunting

I haven't had to look for an apartment in the city of Toronto for almost thirteen years now.


I moved into my Bathurst place in 2000, lived there until 2007, and here I am, almost five years into condominium ownership.
I am now looking for an apartment for my mother, as we prepare to move her from her house by March 1st.
I cannot describe how daunting this is.
Here is how it's working so far:
1) look at apartment online
2) contact property manager/owner/person renting the space, what have you, etc. either by email or phone.
3) leave message
4) wait 2 days before they call back, then attempt to schedule an appointment, only to find out that the time you have free is not a time that they have free and how exactly is the Toronto rental market "suffering" due to the condo boom again?

The pictures on line don't match the places in real life.
When a building is built in 1928 it's not always that quaint--often it's just horrible.
I know, I know, that this is part of 'city living' when you don't own, the apartments have weird corridors, swirly-thick plaster walls with semi-gloss paint, and carpet that is begging to be ripped up.

Yesterday it finally happened. I connected with a building manager who described what was, to me, a lovely apartment, fully renovated, with all the things we were looking for for my mom.
I set up an appointment during the day for Mike to take her to go and look at it.
They went and met the manager, toured the apartment, and she called me, breathlessly gushing that she loved it, and it was so charming and so lovely.
I was happy. Mike was happy. I was overjoyed to even hear SOMETHING happy out of my mother's mouth for once, instead of the constant stream of sky-is-falling negativity (I wonder where I get it) that I've heard for months and months and months.

She filled out the application. I dealt with letter-writing, reference-gathering, helping her write out the cheques for first and last months' rent.
I left work and drove directly home to pick up Mike, then pick up the application from her (she was at my sister's) and then drove out to the new apartment to drop everything off, all in Toronto traffic, by 7pm (keep in mind I'm coming from my office NORTH of the city).
By 7pm I had done all that, Mike talked the building manager into letting me take a look (it is charming, it is lovely, and it's in a vintage building in the Beaches in a safe neighbourhood, one streetcar ride away from my sister and I), and I stayed happy.

My mom called me this morning, at work, where I have dealt with one crises after another this week, where my stomach is on edge, and I'm on edge, trying to get through absolute PILES of work. She started casually, as she always does.
Her: "I forgot to ask them if the building has laundry", she sidled into what she was saying, almost breathlessly, like she'd just run in from somewhere with this knowledge.
Me: (Mike had told me they already had this discussion, in front of the building manager, and the building does not); "They don't. Mike talked about that with the were there".
Her: pause. "Oh." Another pause. "Well, this changes everything".
Me: (thinking desperately of the work problem on a site I am trying to fix, and trying not to completely blow my stack at this-now aged person on the other end of the phone, who has morphed from my mother into someone who can't imagine doing anything for herself, who doesn't know what it takes out of me to continually do this kind of thing for my own parent, when I'm still trying to live my own life, one that until recently, I have been pretty much completely on my own for. I have no memory of my parents apartment hunting with me or helping me move. That's 'cause, ta da! they never did).
"I have to go now. I'll call you back". I don't even address her "created worry".
I remember apartment hunting, the one you finally move into, that rental place, that will never, no matter what you do to it, have every single thing you want--because it's not yours, you don't own it, and it's to someone elses' standards, and that is the definition of trade-off, of compromise, of taking the good with the bad.
Ah life lessons.
May I never stop learning them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Journal 119 Do You Realize?

It is a song title, yes, I know, by the Flaming Lips, it's a song I dearly love.
I get it in my head when I 'think' or say the words "Do you realize?" in a sentence, or
if someone asks me a question that involves the phrase.
But today it popped out, unbidden, as I examined my own blog, my own writing, asking myself a question, and then, in this post: answering it.
Question: Do you realize, Ms. Carolyn, that sometimes, you can sound a bit insensitive? is the question I've asked.
Answer: A whole-hearted Yes.
My defence:
1) I'm an earth sign. Although I have a tender heart, and a truly compassionate side, I also have a rationality that can make things cloudy at times.
Like in my Saturday post.
I don't feel unabashed 'glee' that someone, someone that used to be a part of my life, (however long ago and unreal it now seems) is in the bin or what have you (there HAS to be a certain amount of 'broken telephone' to these reports, but the fact that there is so little privacy paid to this precious secret is breath-taking to me), but really, my tender heart and compassionate brain bleeds to the rational side of this thing called Karma, the spinning wheel of justice, however slowly the wheels seem to turn sometimes.
And it doesn't end there.
I don't really 'do' forgiveness. There's a certain amount of less-than-stellar behaviour I will tolerate, but I am quick to categorize even if it is only in my own head, and I am not quick to change these categories up.
Exaggeration, lies, half-truths...all blend into shades of dishonesty which for me equals well-earned wariness.
Verbal wreckage, story-telling, and a lack of respect for another's private world also cause me to raise my eyebrows in constertnation.
Sipid smiles that don't meet eyes, eyes that don't meet mine, and one-way conversations that involve me doing a whole lot of nodding and listening provoke in me hound-dog behaviour--I start to sniff around for what ISN'T there.
So yes.
I DO realize.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Journal 118 Thoughts on a Monday

1. It sucks when your team loses, when your husband sees his team lose.
2. I wish I were like a cat who couldn't throw up. Ugh. My throat is RAW.
3. My effort to get to work today was nothing short of heroic. I mean it, I am BURIED with work.
And I had an important meeting.
Done, and done, check that off my list.
4. I did my nails on the weekend. No more French Shellaq (for now). Toes are sporting a do-it-yourself "You Don't Know Jacques" (an OPI favourite of mine, along with its close cousin from Essie "Merino Cool"). Fingers are "Blushing Bride". Oh yes I did.
5. I have a really early day tomorrow, so I'm doing my hair now, while watching a very engrossing horror movie with Mike called "The Caller". We bought 4 half-price-previously-viewed horror movies at Rogers on the weekend to add to Mike's collection. The lead character basically lives in her pajamas, which I completely identify with. However she's barefoot at home all the time, something that I can't bear when I'm home.
6. Monday is just about over. Insert my whooping yell here.
7. I can't even get to a 'top ten'. I'm too tired.
8. New favourite blog, juliaipsa, who writes about things from the perspective of a 30-something in a city, who, like me, is a homebody with less-than-perfect-parents. I haven't liked a blog like this in a long time. The last few new blogs I've come across have been by people who seem to be perfect, who take perfect photos, have perfect families, and have perfect weekends, clothes, and jobs. BLEH.
9. Good night.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Journal 117 After All That

Sam: "By the time my mother was my age, she had three kids and a drunk husband."
Carrie: "You just have three drunk friends!"

After all that it was a pretty great workweek. See what I mean?
Something I've been working on: A very negative post entitled "When you suck as a person".
I could take aim at this, and do that whole "you know who you are" route, but as I was
saying to my dear friend L. in a conversation this week, I guess I will continue (ahem) to "take the high road". But as I detailed to her in the following conversation, (paraphrasing, again, I have near total recall but I'm not 100%) I do have my reasons for wanting to write that's the conversation in a nutshell:

Me: "Guess who's in an institution?"
Her: (gasping) "WHO? Someone we know??"
Me: "YES".
I tell her who it is.
Her: "OH MY GOD."
Then we quoted lines from Sex and the City for about fifteen minutes. That's how we roll sometimes.
Her, in her Samantha voice: "Well, let's face it honey. YOU WON".
Me: "Yea, I know. I know."

My dear friends T. and my other L. said the same thing, that they were so happy things turned out the way they did for me.
As other L. so succinctly put it: "You got soooo lucky!"

I know that too and I'm not really a person whose life has been based on luck too much, especially good luck.
My friend N. characterized the last two-odd years of my life as "the highest of highs and the lowest of lows".
Ain't that the truth.
And as my friend A. said to me, on a visit about a year ago, when we were standing on the very corner where what I can honestly say that my f*cked up s&m relationship finally ended:
"He gave you a gift, Carolyn."
I know that too.
Then it was clouded with pain, with hurt, with the betrayal, with my father's diagnosis, with my topsy-turvy life.

My sister and my mom, gentle souls that they are, felt pity.
Oddly, I felt none. I felt an absence of feeling. There was an odd curiosity to it all, a kind-of voyeurism that makes us stare at car crashes, gives us that "schadenfreude" feeling that can sometimes be, let's face it: Oh so delicious.

I'll continue work on that other post along with dear me part two, and I'll finish this post off
on another positive note:
All the friends and family mentioned in this post are the ones who helped me win.

Friday, February 3, 2012

One Month

It's our one-month-of-being-married today.
Mike got me these champagne roses at the Market.

I got him this pink champagne at the LCBO. French, bubbly, and about to be delicious.

Happy one-month anniversary my love.
So far I've loved every minute of being married.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Journal 116 Back to Work

Let me just say it's been an insane work week thus far, and it's now Thursday morning.
I'm jumping from meetings, to sites, to quotes, to new designs, to more clients, and it's the same across the board as it always is:
everyone wants everything yesterday.
I'm waiting for a co-worker to call me as we are heading to a very early meeting together and did I mention that I've been up, again, since 5:30am? 5:30 am is my new 4 am. It's worse than 4 am though. Because I simply cannot go back to sleep --there's not enough time. So I'm running on 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night this week, after staying up to watch Jon Stewart, breathless with the mess our neighbours south of the border are in.

It's been cloudy for what feels like an eternity, I haven't run in almost two weeks, and I finally had an "a ha" moment this morning (don't laugh at me).
It was that I have one last insane thing left in my life: My full-time job.
And yes, I know many of you out there just said a private "amen to that sister" to yourselves. And yes, I know that the solution is 'just change it'.
But you see, it's not that simple.
It's a small-ish industry.
I'm a paycheque slave.
And let's face it: I am nothing else if not dutiful.

So I sit, fully dressed, coffee in hand, waiting to head to a stressful construction site, then dash to my office for a series of more meetings, more stress, and more 'yesterday' deadlines.
And all I can really do is what I have been doing with some of the other stressful things in my life (ie, finding my mom a place to live and getting her moved in less than a month. And it's all on my sister and me to do this. It's a lot, this parenting your parent, while you work full-time and have to carve out the moments to enjoy what is good in your life).

On the flip side of it all, I uncover my gratitude, my happiness. I leave work on time and come home to Mike. I leave work at work for the most part (most nights when I get home, I give myself fifteen minutes to rant to Mike about the latest ridiculous occurence at my office and then that's it. No more).

So I focus on that. But somehow it still doesn't let me sleep through the night.