Monday, April 30, 2012

Home again

Fact: I visited four states in four days.
Fact: I brought my camera. I did not, I repeat, did not, take a single photo.
Why? Because I wanted to look at everything myself, and not crowd a camera into the mix--ie, take in the images of new places and new people at face value so to speak.

I had a fantastic time.
I will write about it here.
But there won't be any pictures; just the ones you get in your head from my descriptions.
And really, that's so much better, isn't it?

So here I am, home again.
Bittersweet as always.
Touching down at Billy Bishop and de-planing I realized I'd lost of my love of seeing the buildings rise up to meet me as the plane lands. It didn't fill me with tears of happiness to see the CN tower, to be back on Canadian soil.
Instead, it left me empty with sadness, with missing Mike, missing Maine, missing that life.

I had my first runner's high in months one mile into my second run on my second day there, headed to the beach, to my ultimate favourite, running on sand. I haven't had that euphoric rush in a long time.
As I had described to a friend last year, it's like I'd been 'numb'.
I went without coffee for two days in Maine and CT. I just didn't need to amp myself up to do yet another task I was dreading and couldn't put off. When I'm with Mike I don't dread anything.

New England is as nice as you imagine. Being away from this city that I've embraced for so long is even nicer. I just never thought I would feel that way. The rushing, the crowds, the fishbowl-effect, the rudeness--all of it daunting in a way I've never experienced.
The fishbowl-effect: let me expand.
Meaning, in a city, when you are in its grip, to me, you are IN the fishbowl, smugly looking out, feeling not a second of doubt that you want to be in that bowl, swimming around and around, doing the same thing day after day, night after night, without a thought of trying to jump out.

Well, I want out of the bowl. Or maybe I'm already out? Did I take the leap and not even realize it?
Am I lying on the table gasping for air, or did I make the leap to a bigger, better pool of water, one where I don't have to hemmed in, acting the same as all the other fish, swimming in the same direction, chasing after the same world that doesn't exist?

Things to ponder.
More about the mini-trip in a bit. I've just arrived back, there is laundry to do, and dinner (at 10pm) to be scrounged up.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Everything's Better

Because I'm in Maine, if only for a short time, with Mike.
Because we can eat oysters at 2am while cleaning the kitchen and I can dollop habanero tabasco (wayyy hotter than normal tabasco) on them before sliding them down.
Because running on the beach is alot more fun than running on city streets.
Because I found and drove to Target, Starbucks, and a great used book store, by myself yesterday, without needing to ask for directions.
Because after landing at Logan airport, I figured out how to take the bus here. I ended up in Portland, but Mike came to get me from there.
Because I can read the whole New Yorker from cover to cover, ipod on 'random', on the bus, and it's like eating sugar. Delectable, rewarding, a secret treat.
Because I can listen to Astrud Gilberto, Terry Edwards, Ours, Bob Marley, and just "be".
Because I get to meet more of Mike's family and fall in love with them too.
Because people are friendly and kind in Maine. A stark contrast to ice-cold Toronto.
Because I'm away from work (a reminder in here: work=not good.)
Because I can be who I am without worrying about how I'm perceived.
Because I'm with Mike.

And that makes everything better.

(I always thought the line was: "my fear, my only guarantee, so I've got to push on through...." and I would think...yes. It is.  " In this great future, you can't forget your dry your tears I say...")

Friday, April 27, 2012

Don't Forget Me II

The first part of this post is not something I really intended to write (a commonality in blog entries lately. I sit down to write a clearly thought out missive, with plot, sub-text, and imagery, and a clunky first draft is all I get. I'm sorry). Plot. It's what drives me through a read, and it's what drives me back to blogs I like, again and again. I feel it lacking here lately. Boredom seems to permeate, and as my inner life moves to the forefront of my days, it does so with its calm intention, it's boredom. My inner life, I would think, is boring to read about.

Don't forget me. It's a line in many a song (the Chili Peppers for example:
Don't forget me I can't hide it...come again get me excited..."  Same album as "By the Way". I love than album..).
 It can be a cry for help, in some ways, a cry of longing, a reminder, a talis-phrase.
For this post it's a reminder to me.
Don't forget yourself, in all the myriads of self-doubt that is making you question everything lately. (I keep reverting to third person. I wonder what that means psychologically?)

Don't forget:
you love to run, even though it's been more challenging this year than the previous two;
you love to read and it feeds your writing
you will get better at everything you practice at
you are lucky enough to have people who love you. It seems unimaginable but there are people on this planet living out their lives without that.
you always have an out, there is always a plan B
you are free--to think, to write, to dream, to plan
you have a future and it involves choices
you will drink great coffee today, you will talk to people you love, you are blessed.
you have a sense of right and wrong.
you have smarts.
you have Mike.

You have it all.

"and all will be reveled my friend....."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Don't Forget Me I

I stumbled across my own blog entry today from almost two years ago. (little did I know on the date I wrote it that I was writing it on the almost-one-year countdown to my father's death-date.  Little did I know that by June 2011, I would be completing, along with my family, a sort-of vigil around his last week, and also by that time, not only would my father leave my life in this form, but my aunt would also leave. The circumstances around that are murky still, they nudge at me from time to time, but for the most part, I let sleeping dogs lie there. But I don't want them to wake up).

I was musing about courage today and its many forms, and when I referenced my blog I had the feeling I'd written about courage in the past, and I had (the link to that post above). In the post I talk about needing all my strength and yes, courage, to get through all that was swirling around me in my uneasy world at the time.
I needed courage again last spring when my father received his final diagnosis and there were so many loose ends that needed tying up.
And then, in those final weeks, to steel myself for the loss that was coming, the support my family was going to need, now more than ever.
After that, as my friend A. said, the 'little things' go away for a time. They do, you know. In grief, life is crystal-clear, priorities are arrow-fine, and all those nuances, those irritants, they tend to dissipate, to vanish, and you are standing there on your own, stripped but for the clouds looming close around you, forming a nice misty barrier between you and the rest of the world.
Outwardly: you look normal. You are normal, really. But your inner life is in chaos, and you don't own your thoughts, your reactions, your needs, your memory.
Gradually the little things move back in and resume their never-ending demand that you pay attention to them. Your memory is not so absent. You function properly, you send birthday gifts to friends that live far away. You get married, in a small ceremony. You send thank you notes to the people who attend, you go on a honeymoon. All normal. You move your remaining parent to smaller, more suitable accommodations. You privately wonder if this is the last time they will ever need to move. You file tax returns for yourself, and your parents (yes, both of them. One return is the last one. It will be a closed file after this one).
But one thing is different.
You are.
I wrote to a friend in an email recently, someone I hadn't been in contact with for a long time, that I haven't quite been the same since. Since being since my father's illness, suffering, and subsequent death. I didn't even realize at the time that I was writing that. It just kind of pored out and as I read it over after sending the email I thought, I haven't? I haven't been the same?
I tried to pinpoint the differences myself. The social withdrawal I guess is one example. There was a very lonely time in my life when alot of my good friends were getting married, some moved, others were busy getting to know someone, and I was alone alot. I worked two jobs (long hours at both) but still found myself with energy and time to burn. I moved, and that took time, and that was around the time I began to look at Sundays with dread and anxiety--so many hours to fill, so much lonely time. Now, after adjusting, a Sunday ahead of me with nothing to do and no one to see fills me with more joy than I'd like to admit. Because the adjustment did happen--I trained myself to not only exist with my own company, but to enjoy it.
Another thing is my complete indifference to rise to the occasion of a disagreement, an argument, or a situation that involves conflict, that creates resentment, that makes someone feel bad about themselves. It's like the grinch in Dr. Suess. A rudimentary metaphor; his heart grew two sizes.
For me, my compassion dial turned up higher, and I can't seem to turn it back down. So, in essence, I just wait for the conflict to evaporate, for my feelings to calm, for my responses to neutralize.
Don't get me wrong; I can still get very angry at things, work being a good example (I hold it in though. Not the healthiest thing, I know). And I know that regular readers will point out that I have been far less than charitable when musing about my ex's fall on extremely hard times, and in letting my aunt back in my life. I know all of this, believe me. And it does eat at me at times. I turn the lens onto myself and I am wanting and lacking every day. But it doesn't compel me to just give up on ever improving, which is how I USED to look at it.
The title, the aim of this post; don't forget me. Hmm. Courage.
Where do the two co-exist you ask?
I don't want to forget that courageous self who did all that stuff. I know that we tend to look back on portions of our lives and extoll our own virtures (ie, "Oh I was so fearless back then, how can I get that back" when really, we're fearless all our lives, every time we do something new, meet someone, make a friend, extend a hand, start a project, heal our hearts).

A friend shared some news today which I felt showed real courage. I'm not sure if they are there yet in their estimation of how courageous it was, but it resonated with me. It also reminded me I can't forget about myself and the timelines I want to remember. One of them is that when my father was my age, he had twenty-five years left of life. I remind myself: Carolyn, if you knew that was all you would have, what would change right now? And for the most part I know the answer. That's probably what makes courage all the more necessary.
For now I tread water, fill in paperwork, and get ready to 'make the leap' or so it seems.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Love on a Tuesday

This is a series in my quest to be more positive (stop laughing).

What I love lately;

Waking from a dream that stays with you all day long.

Glimpses of spirit: example--the spirited butterfly on the Bloor Viaduct bridge, my Sunday run, 11 am.
Fluttering just ahead of me, blown but not beaten by the wind. Black with red and white on her wings.

Being incredibly tired but not wanting to go to sleep because the book I'm reading is too good, too plot-driven, and I must ...finish...this....sentence........before I drift off.

Not holding grudges.

When Mike calls and even though we only have five seconds to talk, I savour our exchange all day.

When someone tells me they envy me for running outside in any weather.

Running outside in any weather. And it was Summer, 2010, when I first started loving running in the rain. It's incomparable.

When I use the thesaurus Mike got me last Christmas at my desk in my loft. I feel so..old-fashioned, but in a good way.

Memories of people I love who are gone (too soon) and how they are triggered--a food (in this case, shrimp cocktail. My dad loved shrimp cocktail). Books. The classics. Funny movies. My friend
G_____ and his love of  Vampire Kiss with Nicholas Cage. How he had a VHS copy back in the day and trooped over one night for a showing of it. How he loved imitating scenes from that movie--it never got old. Just thinking about it makes me laugh to myself.

Emails from people who've known you the longest, ones who can cut through what you're saying and more importantly, what you're not saying.

Not having to explain myself.

Rain at night.

Rain at dusk, making the day darker and shorter than it should be in the spring time. Pretending it's November and then reminding myself that the days are only going to lengthen from now on.

Leaving work and driving home after my 4km run.

When I'm running, reading, writing, looking up from outside my own life for a minute and I suddenly solve a problem that I thought had no solution. There are very few feelings that are better than that.

Knowing I'm going to be on a plane to Boston in less than three days, on my way to see Mike.
Another great feeling: it.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Back to list format, for summarizing the weekend, and rainy Monday and all:

2 x 9km runs. Pretty much the same route both times. Yes, there was some walking involved. No, the weather was not great. Yes, I was tired and happy at the end.

One book read: "The Forgotten Affairs of Youth" by one Alexander McCall Smith. I loved that I read it after I got married, because in it, (*spoiler alert*) Isabel and Jamie finally go through with their wedding. They have no guests outside of their housekeeper and their infant son. Later, after they have dinner at home, they put on music and dance by themselves, which is what Mike and I did. I loved the end scene when they did that, and I love that there are people out there who do that, too.
It was my favourite part of the book, and of my own wedding.

Babysitting accomplishments: Took my niece to ballet. Got a coffee, read, and sat outside her dance studio while I waited the compulsory hour. An hour goes faster than I can even fathom anymore.
I literally had just sat down with my coffee, turning my ipod up full blast to drown out the parents ("blah blah blah our cottage") talking to other parents, and other kids, also waiting, presumably for siblings, who were shrieking and running around the corridor of the community centre where the dance studio is, that the hour was up. Noise and all.
Note to parents who are reading this: Your weekend days are my worst nightmare.
I also cooked a full dinner, for my mom and niece and nephew, from scratch, of risotto (yes, I made my own chicken stock. I know. I'm ill) and chicken and shrimp. When my sister got back from the baby shower she'd attended she ate too. It was a nice family dinner.

Blog entry: One. Sunday morning.

Cleaning: the entire bathroom. There are no words.

Weather: Grey all day Saturday. I felt tired and never really woke up, even though my run normally energizes me. Sunday started out grey, but turned to sunshine when my sister came to pick up her winter tires from my condo storage locker.

Noteable food: the from-scratch risotto, with saffron and roasted tomatoes (yes, I've been making everything in my pursuit of bikini season and fitting into all of last years' running gear).
Sunday night dinner--went out with my sister and her friend, to Joey's, the downtown location. It was okay. The washroom in the restaurant is about a half mile underground ( I kid you not).  Had a steak, which I badly needed, and even though we sat by a window that was leaking cold air, we had a great time, good conversation about life, love, happiness. They went on to a movie, I walked home at about 10pm. Went right to bed.

Missing: hmm. Well, Mike, for one. I talked to him on the phone a number of times, mostly convoluted, as Boston is in the hockey playoffs and had a game Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon. So, when that was finally done, and it was about 10pm, he could talk. Yes. Right about the time I'm actually falling asleep (yes, even on the weekend. Keep in mind: Day 8 of a brutal cold). So I really remember nothing of our evening conversations. Frustrating, but I'm buoyed by my upcoming visit.
More missing: My friends. Yes. As in no plans with any of them. My sister and I were talking about this. Since when do you need three weeks notice to plan even the most simplest of evenings? Such is life with small children I guess. It's so tiring for the child-less I have to tell you. I read a blog-rant about this last week and said to myself "Hallejuah".  I was thinking last night, at about 4:30pm, prior to my plans with my sister, not one person I would want to meet for a quick drink would be available right now. Nuts, isn't it? I miss my twenties/early thirties for that reason alone. Someone was always around (mind you I was always working but whatever). Now, it's like a no-mans' land of plans. I also get tired of weeknight plans (I'm banning them) and trekking out to go to someone else's house.
1) I have a nice home too. 2) I like to see the outside world in the form of places I haven't been in a while. And I get that motherhood changes some people beyond recognition--I'm grateful for those who are still themselves and have an identity that far outreaches their role as 'mother'. To those who understand that I don't want to talk about difficult labour and all that jazz. That really, outside the clubhouse: NO ONE does.

On the other hand, the amount of money I've started to save since all my friends have had kids is awesome. No plans=no going out. I went out when Mike was here, though, and I really enjoyed how we could make spur-of-the-moment decisions on where to go.
It's cememted the fact that kids aren't for me.
It's a tough fence to straddle, when I'm being really honest on the blog. I know that there are alot of people I know who read the blog, and I never want them to feel bad. But then I struggle with the real ME, who is child-free and resents when people say "Oh, just HAVE A BABY". And the real me gets real tired of this.
My friend has a theory that there are three things that people simply will not listen to reason on:
their kids, their pets, and their habits (she mentioned smoking specifically, I'm going a step further and lumping all habits in there--be it drinking, staying out late, liking a certain type of place, etc.).
I wholeheartedly agree.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dreams on a Sunday Morning

We don't always remember our dreams; when we do, it's often only for a short time, a few minutes in the middle of the night, breathing quietly in the silence; has anyone else seen this dream, we think? Do they know about it?
I dreamed about an old friend last night. Convoluted, as always; the location half-known, the intent of a drink (the dream took place in a pub) certain. The heat of another person, as opposed to the cold marble that comes later.
I have no photograph to record this time of my life, I have volumes of journals though. I have the pair of favourite jeans I always wore, they have followed me from apartment to apartment, along with the journals. I have every book we shared, recommended, gifted.
I have this, inside the cover of this book, on the first page, The Short Stories, by Ernest Hemingway:
"Sorry that I forgot to sign the book. I hope that I haven't brought you too much bad luck. Happy Birthday anyway! love, ________".
Love is underlined, on the inscription.
The birthday in question was my twenty-sixth. The year would have been 1999. {was it ever last century? was I ever twenty-six? These, I feel, are the questions that will haunt me in later life}.
I can't remember everything, but I remember certain things. I also know certain things. I know that I ruminated over that underlined word. And I know that I've never read the whole book, twleve years later, these stories of Hemingway.
Reading "The Forgotten Affairs of Youth" as I was earlier, in bed, there was a random mention of the Artful Dodger, an older man conniving a younger one. This was also the name of a pub we used to frequent, this discovery in my head giving me a jolt. Hence finding the Hemingway book, holding it in my hand, the only really 'real' thing left.
Now it's sitting here on my desk this morning since I went to collect it off the shelf to look at this very inscription, after waking, after my dream, after my moments of sadness and tears.  The grey morning, my hacking cough, my lethargy. It all got to me, I guess.

Years ago I made my first foray into fiction, a foray I still have (an attempt at chick-lit co-written with a friend of mine), I gave the manuscript, for lack of a better word, to my therapist to read. She was intrigued. It drew her in. At our next session she said, talking about the plot, "I hope no one dies!".
I hoped no one would die either, although the possibility had really never occurred to me.

A few days ago I had a conversation with Mike, on the phone.  I was telling him about my plans to add him as a co-beneficiary of my assets, things like life insurance, RRSP's, that sort of thing. Those things you think about after someone actually has died. His immediate response was
"But you're never dying, so none of it really matters".  And it struck me (continues to strike me, days later), that others have the same intangible fear that I have, about everyone they love, that terrible "what if..." that sentence we don't fill in. I don't, anyway. It was strange to me to exist outside my own head, if only for a minute.

This wasn't really the post I planned.  I planned more on something about how fast the weekend is going, how long my cold seems to be dragging on, but it didn't work out that way. What happened was that I started writing in the fawn-lark journal (oh--morning pages! does it count if it's been an hour or two since one awoke?) details about my dream.  The parts you don't share, the way people wriring memoirs must feel when they talk about the happenings in their lives, the real happenings, in no particular order, the way things play out in dreams. Scene-jumping, one minute you are in a pub, searching for a pint and a chardonnay, the next you are somewhere else, outside maybe, or in a bedroom, somewhere suspiciously familiar, but unknown.
For mere minutes or seconds at a time, unable to savour any real details, but absorbing them, to try and hold onto them, no matter how fleeting they may be, for later.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I know my blog is boring as hell lately.
Work is on my mind way too much.
It's sad, I know.
I miss Mike alot too.
When he's not here I have unlimited time to obsess about work, in a not-good way.
I'm going to stop. I'm really trying.
In other news I'm running 4 x a week and eating salad every day. But I'm not going to bore
the living daylights out of everyone by ruminating on and on about my exercise and eating habits.
Summer approacheth.
As my sister reminded me today we have rooftop drinks and tanning to look forward to shortly.
We've both been leaning on each other pretty heavily lately. Between caring for my mom, and all that entails, to my sister's recent dating changes, to my married-but-alone status (groan), we see each other at least a couple of times a week. With the kids, for dinners on the weekends. Without them going running on Sundays. Emailing. Talking. Trying to solve each other's problems.

What else can I tell you?
I'm still sick. I'd like to be better by next week because I'm flying to Boston next Friday for the weekend.  I'm worried that Mike's family will see me as someone perpetually ill (when I was there over New Years' 2010/2011 I had the worst flu of my life).
I want to be healthy and enjoy my short visit. (on an aside note I think it's my body rebelling from all the healthy spring-ness I'm forcing on it. I'm serious).
As it stands right now, I won't see him again until August, when Lisa and I and the kids go out there for vacation. It's a long stretch to go.

I went to the library tonight. I needed some new books to read, and oddly, (I read a tonne of memoirs) I wanted fiction. I found the new Alexander McCall Smith (go here if you want to know more about him, I collect his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Series {set in Botswana} and have written about it before, and I love the Isabel Dalhousie series {I visited actual places mentioned in the books when I visited Edinbugh four years ago} check out this website for more accolades than I can give here:

The "new" book is one from the Isabel Dalhousie series, and it's new to me. It was while reading through it last night (and checking the website, then comparing my bookshelf) that I realized that in the flurry that was 2011, I had missed the book before (I normally stalk Amazon and have a kind of ESP for when a new book comes out--and I pre-order them).
I missed "The Charming Quirks of Others" which I will hunt down and read, and I am now reading "The Forgotten Affairs of Youth".  And yes, all his books are this charmingly-titled.

In the first paragraph, (I'll just relate this quickly, paraphrasing because I love the sentence so much, then I really must go to sleep), McCall Smith describes the planet as "uneasy". 
I just loved that. As you know, I always describe our chaotic planet as "revolving door", and I've heard our planet described in many different ways over many different mediums (vast, expansive, etc.) but uneasy is a new one.
And it is, isn't it? All of us, warily making our way, watching out for the pitfalls, the guides, the signposts.

Nothing too deep, but that struck me.
Good night...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Woe (was) me

This is a post about shout-outs, about resonance, about the present day in my own life,
the joys and sorrows, the ups and downs. The title merely refers to how one gets around those tough times, and I think these blog posts really showcase that.

A discussion with my friend L. on Friday night had us agreeing up an already-foregone conclusion about life:
you can never have it all, at one time, going along swimmingly at once.
For example, for her and I at this time, both of our angst relates to work, to being top-notch employees who are consistently punished for good performance. (Little did I know years ago how reading an article about this would turn out to be a handbook to my career. About how good workers end up 'punished' for turning somersaults to get things done. How the bad workers avoid the expectations of accuracy, speed, customer service. How fucking unfair it all is).  My dad, a corporate recruiter in his day, described this as being "under-employed". I think I've got that right.
Everything else in our lives is enviable. Truly.
With the exception, for me, of having a long-distance marriage, and when I have those tough work days, the ones that make me want to say, here, take this job and .........., well, it's hard to arrive home to my empty condo and find the place inside myself to make me feel better.

This blog post hit me hard, by my dear, rare friend L. Especially these lines, which I felt had been written just for me:

The problem is this: when you are belittled on a regular basis, whether it be in the form of under payment, indifference, or emotional abuse - it becomes far too easy to confuse their lies with your truth. Very often it takes a reality check, a sign (or gift!) from God to remind yourself of who you are.

I couldn't agree more. And when that belittling and indifference comes from subordinates, it's almost harder to bear. I've detailed this to my friend A.; I've realized, I'm a worker bee, management does not come easily to me, I don't wear a mantle of authority well. I think it's because I solve problems, I do things, and the two don't mesh with delegation and regulation for me. I do things for the sake of getting them done, not for any recognition or applause. I'm not needy. Conversely, I also don't avoid doing things and then playing the blame-game and manipulating things to obscure a hidden agenda.
So when I'm confronted with a situation like this, I'm dumbfounded.
But all this seriousness about work seems misplaced. After all, I look at last year and how little space work took up in my head--I had bigger fish to fry. I remind myself of this when Mike and I have discussions over the phone about work (he is preparing for his restaurant re-opening next week. His place is seasonal, dependant on the Maine tourism from April to October). He described what one of his employees said to him one night about finishing up: "I've hit a wall, I've got to cruise".  He couldn't relate the story without laughing himself, and I laughed too. I could so picture it. My own staff do the office equivalent of this ALL THE TIME. I liken it to a game of tennis (yes, another sports' analogy). I give them something to do (serve the ball) they lob it back over the net to me (return). I stare at the ball and go: Umm WHAT THE FUCK? (all in my  head. all in my head).
Oh my God. I have to STOP about work.

From head to heart.
As in: a broken one for this poor blogger-ess.

When I read this latest entry in Reagan's Blob, a fave blog of mine as probably anyone who has
ever read my blog knows, this pierced me. We've all done them. I know I have.
The playlist is short'n'sweet, but despite different circumstances, different ages, and different situations and locations, the music resonates to me. And by resonate I mean, breaks my heart.
My two-years-ago now bad break-up (I can't believe it's two-odd years ago. I mean, I know it is, but it simultaneously feels like it was ten years ago but also just yesterday), and the fact that I'm now married to someone else, someone who makes my bad break-up feel like it happened a thousand years ago, helps alot, believe me.
My playlist is entitled "Sunday" so I can re-tool it whenever I want, but I still remember the songs that headlined that painful time, that were on 'repeat' on my ipod for hours, days, weeks on end.
They each have their own story. And, for sheer pride in myself--I 'took back' every single song on that playlist as one that came from heartbreak but translated into steely determination.
Take a look:

Soul Meet Body--Death Cab for Cutie. This was playing in Pravda Vodka Bar on the Monday my mean ex moved out of my condo. My sister dragged me there. I would have stayed in, balancing my laptop on a cardboard box where his desk used to be. My sister wouldn't let me. I heard this song playing in the bar and instantly fell in love with it. I still love it. To date, it remains on my top 25 most-played.

Cry--Rhianna. What I swore I would never let anyone see me do. And I didn't.

Impossible--Shontelle. Guilty pleasure, yes. But my favourite line was this: And now, all is done there is nothing to say, and if you're done with embarassing me.... Oh yes. I filled in the blanks: "and yourself".

High Road--Broken Bells. A reminder for me to not do anything that would result in even the slightest chip in dignity. I listened to it over and over again.

Soldier of Love--Sade. My sister's wedding song was a Sade song. This one was more of a 'march on out of his life' type of battle-hymn. I treated it as such.

Trouble is a Friend--Lenka.  My friend K. introduced me to this song, and I listened to it over and over prior to what was going to be one of my last shifts at the restaurant where I worked at the time. Where my ex and his lollipop worked. I called her lollipop because she was a sucker.

Caroline--Concrete Blonde. Mike sang this to me during a phone conversation, not long after we started 'phone-dating' because really, the summer of 2010, that's what we were doing. It was out of tune but hilarious. I downloaded  it onto my ipod immediately after. A kind of anthem to myself.  "There's a dream I have where I sail away, looking back I wave at you, and I wave good-byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye.........Oh Caroline"... I waved bye to that lost girl on the shore. Swam out past the sharks.

Miles Away--Madonnaa. On all my playlists.

So Happy I Could Die--Lady Gaga. After a trip I took with my sister and the kids to Wasaga Beach. We listened to this in the car and the one lyric kept repeating to me: "Just know when...that glass is empty that the world is gonna bend...."
Speechless--Lady Gaga. Same trip. Sounded, as my sister described it, "Beatle-esque". I agree. I liked the premise; "and I'll never love again, I'll never talk again..."  In song as in life, never say never.

House of Cards--Radiohead. I don't even have to justify this one.

Across the Universe--Rufus Wainwright. Heard of this cover from the mamapundit blog. Loved it.

Maxie Priest--Wild World (Cat Stevens' cover). A good reminder about 'taking care out there'.

The Boys of Summer--Don Henley.  Another summer, another opportunity for renewal. Another chance.

Devil Wouldn't Recognize You (I do)--Madonna. This and "Used to be my Playground".  All slow, sad laments.

So...that was my go-to list in a nutshell.
Don't underestimate the power of a song, of a blog entry, of a new thought to turn things around.

Good night.....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sudden Clouds

It's Monday, I'm home, on a very much un-planned sick day from work.
The weather in Toronto cannot decide what it wants to do, clouds/sun/cloudy-sun.  Birds swooping to find cover one minute, chirping away the next. I observe all this from inside my loft, staring dreamily, a Benilyn-induced dream-state, out the window into the courtyard-parking lot that is my view.
My Sunday evening ended with alot of hot tea, bad tv, and reading the novel by Kate Furnivall I came close to finishing last night, before falling into a deep-dreamland-tea-sleep, one that has the seeming power to manipulate dreams while one is trying to rest.
Last night it was all about work--my workplace the certainty, its location and figures the uncertain part. There was a threat of danger, unseen, unrecognized, a commonality to most nightmares. Of things not being what they seemed. The dream seemed to last hours. Probably it only lasted a handful of minutes.

I shock blearily awake, smacking my clock radio to silence its insinuating melodies of 'time to get up'. I hit the snooze button again, blindly, not looking, my eyes unopened. It was then that I realized the sound was not coming from my clock radio but from my cell phone, plugged in and charging beside my bed, on my bookshelf, right beside my clock radio--hence my confusion. I paw towards the phone, anything to stop the noise, then panic hits as I try to check the display and answer, wondering, as you only wonder at that hour of the night/morning, what has gone horribly wrong that someone is calling you at this hour.

The cellphone's lit-up display: UNKNOWN CALLER.
In my sleep-addled, dream-shocked state, I am still awake enough to be furious and I almost take that fury out on the phone. WHO does that? I convince myself of the randomness of wrong numbers in this digital-call-display era (I don't believe this for one second) and absolve the person who dialled me by mistake in the middle of the Sunday night sleep, the one I have the hardest time staying asleep in. Alternately, there is a short list that may have deliberately called out of some fiendish need to talk to me and to those I say: drop me an email if there is something burning you up at 4:30 am. The call also, in my quirky-alone (I correct: quirky-married) state, scared me. If Mike were here, I would have simply gotten up, collected him from the couch, and told him this tale, settled back down, and thought nothing more about it. But he's not here. In the darkness it was just me, the now-silent cell, and my now-active thoughts. F*ck.

I turned on the light, opened the Kate Furnivall book, and read until 6am. It didn't do much good for my perpetually leaking nose, my dry, irritated throat, and it pretty much cinched my decision to not go to work today, to stay home and recover instead. Truth be told, work, whirlwind that it has been lately, with my inability to delegate, discipline, and engage with my team is taking its toll. As are far too many last-minute deadlines (one of which popped up today, as I drift in and out of sleep on the couch, curled up under the striped comforter, tea close at hand, kleenexes being clutched. My boss needed to call me to tell me about this latest one. All in all, not the greatest way to spend a 'Benilyn' day, alternately sweating and shivering, exuding a zen-like calm one minute, heart-jangling anxiety the next).
But there's nothing I can do today except lie here and let the world gallop on without me for a few more hours.
Tomorrow, messes will be cleaned up and deadlines will (hopefully) be met. More will crop up.
My energy level will, (hopefully) return to normal (where and what normal is I've completely misplaced) and I'll be able to put out the fires.
Today I watch the sun struggle with the clouds and feel its (my) frustration. Just rain already. The sky has been darkening for hours. Let me sleep lightly while thunder growls intermittently.

My sister told me I have to start putting my phone on silent or turning it off when I sleep. But doing that worries me. What if someone needs to reach me in the night, an emergency, a real one, something that won't wait? It's those thoughts that keep me from turning off the phone.

I reach for more tea, for the Julia Cameron book I am now reading on creativity. It talks about the now-famous "Morning Pages" as extolled in her book, The Artist's Way.  My friend L. does morning pages religiously. I have trouble. As someone for whom every minute in the morning is a race against the clock, I have trouble imagining myself between that state of half-awake and wanting badly to be back-asleep coming up with brilliant utterances about the seeming inanity of my life. I was reading some of the examples in the book, and they did seem too follow along those lines, how it might seem like your stream-of-consciousness might be pulling you down the same road every  morning: I'm tired, mornings suck (for those of us who wake up perpetually unhappy to be awake. AGAIN); I'm out of coffee, it's too hot in here, who called me in the middle of the night and disturbed me so, work's going to be busy today, I have a meeting at ten, what is the traffic like I wonder, do I wear boots or shoes today is that black shirt clean?
That kind of thing. I'm not unwilling to try it, and I'm sure with the level of successful results it seems to foster, there are nuggets you can reach in that vein of thinking in that hour of first awakening. Cameron likens it to a type of meditation, one we need in our 'frenzied' Western world. Ok, I say. I'll try it in the fawn-lark journal, bleary-eyed and scrawling.
I guess this blog entry is like a morning page. Even though it's late afternoon, I've been stuck between sleep and wake all day. Soup, tea, crackers, honey, lemon, gingerale.  All those things as one who lives alone I know I must keep on hand, pantry-ed away, for that day when I am sick and unwilling to go out and get anything, because it would involve leaving the house. Why why why can't Mike and I live together and have it all be simple? The immigration forms gnaw at me too. They remind me, eerily, of tax time. Of other forms that make no sense and that I can't figure out. But I must.

I checked  my email with the typical boredom, but a well-thought-out missive from an old friend had arrived, detailing thoughts about a childless life, of how that happens, and thoughts on my blog, the spreading of my father's ashes, the sadness that accompanied it. I read and I time-travel. Back in time to where I was when I knew my friend, how young we were, how impossibly fast the last fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years went by. How fast the time goes as you build your future, never stopping to realize, at the mid-point, you're living your future, or rather, it's living you. I had already started living my future in 2007, with home-ownership, some long-set, forgotten goal, one I despaired of ever reaching. But here I am, five years into a mortgage. See? It's living me.  I emailed my friend back. Again, a thoughtful reponse for a thoughtful message. My friend is a good writer, I'm not sure if he realizes that.  He gets alot of information down in a scant few paragraphs, and for both our messages, there's alot of unsaid in those lines.
I digress.
It's a sick-day Monday, a throw-away day, as Mike calls this type of day, I won't breathe fresh air, I won't be going outside, I'm not engaging with the outer world. But it's okay. It's these types of days that give you the armour and ammunition for the other types.
I'm sappy, I'm tired, I'm teary after finishing the Kate Furnivall book where the heroine loses her father despite her efforts to save him. His letters to her before this telling her that she is his life, she is living it, to do something worthwhile with it. I tripped over those words a few times. After all it's a cloudy-pale sun spring day, much like that one in June, and things are as confusing as ever. They might be more tangible, and alot of tasks have been completed: moving my mom, that last tax return to close out the estate of someone who is "late", the donating of clean clothes to people who need them and will use them.  But my apartment still bears wisps of dust, nothing has been moved around, nothing is out of place. But, as I emailed my friend this week, I can't say I'm the same inside. Everything feels different. The spring maybe, is just a more candid reminder of this, of the approaching year-mark, of the rebellion of my mind (I haven't talked to my dad in ten months, how did this happen?) and a sense of unreality of all I have done and completed, washed up against all of what I see--the things I didn't get to do, haven't finished.
The sorry regret of them all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Journal 156 Promises....

I swear I am working on two long blog posts, the blue earring one and the five-years-in-my-condo one, but it's been a busy week and weekend, work has been punishing, my work-out schedule has also been punishing (I'm back "into" running. and I mean INTO. No joke, after this week, and today's full throttle run-in-the-rain, soaked-to-the-bone punishment, I can barely stand upright. I'm warming up the heating pad right now).
Work has also left me mind-blown, as usual, when the pace goes into break-neck as it has the last few weeks. And I'm wayy overdoing it.
So tonight I sit, pj's already on, tea brewing, and a trip to Maine looming.
Something else is looming too, storm clouds (I love love love being home during thunderstorms, watching rain pelt while I stay dry and safe in my apartment, feeling the ultimate gratitude for shelter during inclement weather).

But I also think I'm coming down with a cold (April and November are my magic-sick months).
Just let it be gone by my trip. Right now my sore throat, aching body, and general 'out of it' feeling does not bode well.

I promise though--great blog entries coming up.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


It's a slow Saturday morning, there is Bailey's in my coffee, and my wedding playlist is playing in the background, songs more relaxed than my Sunday playlist; songs like "Never Tear us Apart" by INXS,
"Is Your Love Strong Enough?" by Roxy Music, "The Scientist" by Coldplay, "Sonnet" by The Verve, "One Love" by Bob Marley, "Charmed Life" as sung by Diana Krall, and, as always a little Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" thrown in there for good measure.
Slow, winding songs, matching my slow-witted computer, my thoughts dulled from waiting for its pages to turn, thoughtfully. My blogging has slowed since Mike went home and took his MacBookAir (sp? lol) with him. Maybe it's made me turn more to the fawn-lark journal, but mostly I've written in my head. And in emails.

A number of mornings this week, opening my email up was kind of like Christmas morning, if Christmas occurred randomly.  One day, an email from a long-ago, far-away old friend shocked me. The name in my inbox. The dredging up it allowed me of my old, young self. She seems so so far away that girl.
She had no idea what was going to come her way. 
I quote my Aunt here: "Thank God we can't see the future". Amen to that Aunt K.

I was explaining the last few years of my life as best I could to this friend, and even as I wrote out the barest of details, I realized how little you can actually transmit in a few short sentences. Only the surface stuff, really. Writing about Mike, I didn't write about his snug apartment above his restaurant, sloped ceilings of an attic, charming (hitting my head on them....not really). Living one mile from the Atlantic, the mile that is the warm-up of my run on the beach. It just doesn't seem real, even to me sometimes. Yes, I'm recently married. Yes, he's an American. It means alot of hoop-jumping and form-filling-out to make governments happy. Well, not happy really, more like satisfied. Content that we are married and are following the correct channels in this form-filling-out. But under the surface, it's hard to tell 'the background' story--the question I'm always asked: "How did you meet someone from Maine?" After all, it is, as so many have reminded me "so far away".  Not really, I counter. It's drive-able in a day. A long day, but a day. Eleven hours.
So, the answer to that question, when asked by someone I don't really know that well is usually,
"It's a long story."  One best answered over a bottle of wine, because the story itself, I know, doesn't seem real. It seems book-ish, meaning written by someone, someone else. But oddly enough it's my story.
The abject shock (funny, really) when I reveal I just got married. "YOU?! MARRIED?" I have to smile.
The tentative kind.

My email inbox sprang to life again this morning with another email from another long-distance friend, long-dear to me, our correspondence over the last few years, via the internet, on phone calls, sometimes in person fuelling me.  Fuelling my mind, my thoughts, forces me to turn them upside down, away from the conventional ideals, the functions we're supposed to live by.
It was a singular word in the subject line, block-lettered, and my heart kind-of sank a bit, in a flash of pre-knowing.
I read her email. I thought about it.  The kind of thinking my friend deserves.
I emailed her back. I believed every word I carefully typed.

I thought about the book I just finished reading, the one about the woman living in Maine, a one Mrs. Olive Kitteridge, whose widow-hood closes out the book, this widow-hood allowing her, as always in hindsight, to see just how precious those useless years that had preceded it were {never do we know love until the hour of separation"}  Gibran? Rumi?  So so true.
So I give you Mrs. Olive Kitteridge's most profound (to my reading tastes) observation in this book that is full of observations, it was something that came to me when I read all the emails this week, the ones from my dear friend, the ones from an old friend, flung at me from cyberspace, that person you're convinced you'll never see or hear from again, on your doorstep, it feels like, hat in hand, bearing a message {this being human is a guest house...every morning a new arrival.  Treat each guest honorably... }that IS Rumi.

"Sometimes, like now, Olive had a sense of just how desparately hard every person in the world was working just to get what they needed. For most, it was a sense of safety, in the sea of terror that life increasingly became.  People thought love would do it, and maybe it did.  But even was never enough was it? Her son; a bright buoy bobbing in the bay of her own quiet terror".
p. 211, Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout (c) 2008

I think that pretty well sums it up for this cloudy Saturday. That sea of terror isn't going to drain away any time soon. We strive, in my own social-reality theory world, to meet our number one need, whatever it may be for each of us; that secure job, that marriage, those children, more money, more things, more achievements. But, as I emailed my friend this morning, we are tied up in the drawstring bags of our choices, our fates (chosen, too) and all we can do is let the outside in a bit. As in, go easier on ourselves. The world will keep spinning, and we don't have to turn it.

That's me, musing aloud on this Saturday morning, five years to the day that I moved into this loft, floating on my own lake of fear (a mortgage on my own was I crazy? I'd asked myself that since the day I signed the papers, the money I'd saved for ten years out of my savings account, poured into a small slice of brick building I could call "mine"). But that's another entry (one I've been working on for a week. Please forgive me).  The lost blue earring story is still waiting to be written too. And there is running to be done, food-shopping to complete, and there are dinner plans in there too.
When I googled my blog this morning, an instragram ad popped up promising images from 'weekends around the world'.  And I loved the images that inspired in my own head, people all over the planet, starting their sacred weekend, ticking off the boxes of what needs to be done, fulfilling themselves somehow, with something, be it their number-one need or something else.

Happy Saturday. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Girl Part....?

It's almost 4pm, my hair has been washed (and I put a treatment on it before I dried it--huge difference), I've talked to Mike, I've worked out (much, much earlier--not running, by the way, I went to my sister's gym with her and did a stairmaster for forty minutes..ouch), I've done laundry, I've cleaned (somewhat, in my defence I've been cleaning off and on all weekend, so I'm slacking a bit now).
We had our Easter celebration last night at my mom's, and I made it to church on Friday afternoon, Good Friday, avoiding the Easter Sunday morning mass crowd.
So it's one of those times where I actually am 'free' to really do...nothing. I'm on my own, and missing Mike, obviously, but liking the grey day outside as I listen to Old School drone away on the tv.
Also, that stack of library books. A couple of years ago I read Kate Furnivall's "The Russian Concubine" and I found the follow-up book I didn't know existed, "The Girl from Junchow" at my last library visit. I started reading it a few nights ago, it doesn't quite have me in its' grip yet, but I'm getting there.
I also borrowed Elizabeth Strout's "Olive Kitteridge" that I seem to recall having heard about from a number of sources, and I was interested to read it takes place in Maine, so I'm anxious to starting that book too.
I've emailed my friend L., nails need to be painted, and I'm getting take-out on my own later tonight.

In short, it's a Carolyn day.

I'm having memories of last Easter, for some reason I'm also remembering last years' election, I think they happened around the same time, taking my dad to vote in the advanced polls on a sunny April day, one of his last outings.
Easter at my mom's apartment last night had its moments of tension. I've written before, we don't grieve together, we don't really share our grief. It's yet another 'first' holiday, a holiday 'after', and soon, there won't be any more 'first' holidays left in this round.
I'm glad.
They're hard, and they create a burden of expectation that we have a hard time living up to.
So today is kind of a recovery day against the emotional turmoil these events stir up.

I'm going to read now, and I'm working on another long blog post about my upcoming five-year milestone, this Friday, April 13th, of closing on my condo (I moved in the following day, Saturday April 14th), and all that went on around that crazy time, and the year 2007 in general. My friend L. and I refer to it as a watershed year, for many reasons, and it's hard to believe five years have gone by since that weird but sometimes wonderful time. Real change takes a long time, but in terms of cycles, I seem to notice that life, for me, takes place in five-year cycles. Not necessarily keeping in time with age, even though in my adult life, the ages ending in five seem to be alot more challenging than those that end in zeroes. Not sure why--the decade ages seem to signify renewal, re-awakening, but the mid-decades remind you of where you are and sometimes, where you don't want to be.
My friend A. always uses the expression, "as we approach forty" and for a while, I've had trouble believing how imminent this really is. But time marches on and this new zero is not far off. But, as I look back at the last zero to now, so so much has happened, the roller-coaster ride has continued, but there is a real feeling of accomplishment. And not just the type of accomplishmnt where someone has been there the whole time to hold your hand. I'll talk more about that in the five-year-home-ownership post. I'm still mulling some details over and it's a lot to write about--the closing, my nephew being born between the time I purchased and the time I actually moved, mending a feud with my father. It's taking me some time.
As I said--2007. Watershed.
And here it is now, 2012, five years knocked off a mortgage, one remaining parent, surreal holidays, and a long-distance marriage. Looking in the mirror somedays I think, who made all that happen, and how did she do it? And how, based on reading some entries in my work journal recently, does she continue to do it?
All in the journey so to speak.
A good reminder not to stress on those everyday 'little' problems, as I am wont to do so often.

Happy Easter Sunday (girl).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

More blue nights

I have a habit of reading depressing books (note: not depressing, per se, so much, to me, but to others, like when someone asks you what you're reading and you tell them and they don't know what it is and then you describe it and then they get this horrified look like "why are you reading THAT?"). I also have the same taste in the narrow viewing pleasure I get from televesion (I watch American Horror Story. I can't help it. Mike is a horror movie fan and we started watching it when he was here and weeks later I still plan my entire life around 10pm on Wednesday nights or, if I'm too tired, 9pm on Thursday nights).

So yes, I've been absent on the blog this week. I'm not going to whine and complain about starting work every day before 8 am (know how this erodes my soul) and then, when the early-flex-timers disappear by 4pm (the reasonable time to leave when you've been at work since 7:30 in the goddamn morning, keeping in mind the commute that has you leaving your home at 7:00am), but I really want to stop wasting time on my precious blog whinging about how much work takes out of me, how I had dinner with an old friend Tuesday night who has been in another workplace other than Toronto for a number of years and how good it felt to have someone looking back at me validating how ridiculous this city is for its
a) work addiction
b) stuff addiction
c) rush addiction
And by rush I mean HURRY, I mean SCHEDULE, I mean, DRAMATIZE, and I mean OVER-EMOTE.
As my therapist said to me last week or the week before, whenever I was last there, and I'd parked on the city street in front of her office, grabbed the ticket from the automatic meter, went to shove it into the passenger side of my car, yanking the door open and ..Bang. Into the planter I'd parked snugly against:
"let the emotional reaction fit the crime".  I dropped the thoughts of chipped anthracite-grey paint then and there. After all. It's the passenger door. When do I EVER see that side of my car anyway?

So. Blue Nights, by Joan Didion.  The follow-up, I guess, to me, of Year of Magical Thinking. The follow-up she probably never thought she'd have to write, a book she never dreamed, except maybe in a nightmare.
Let me preface this by saying that since all my friends have kids/babies, this book, when I describe it (yes, she lost her husband of forty years in Magical Thinking. But Blue Nights goes even further. I'm not spoiling it. Just google. You'll learn for yourself).  Anyway, ( I use that word alot I've noticed. My bridge. In emails, in thinking, in speech even. Must. Stop) since when I describe the book the automatic response is "I can't read that", or "Oh no, don't talk about  it", I don't. And I completely understand. Just today someone on Facebook posted something random that really upset me and something I know happens in the world, but something I didn't need to see in my timeline, and there it was. Such is the modern spread of news, like a virus, hence the word "viral". I know things I didn't ever want to.
But on the other hand.
I can't stop reading this book. 
Didion talks about staying current, about a magazine being our 'handbook', our guide, to normalcy, a how-to-live type guide.
She talks about people's casual judgements about her 'failure to adequately adjust to aging' (she is somewhere in the neighbourhood of seventy-seven now,  seventy-five when she wrote this book, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms: she puts other writers to shame with the simplicity of her prose, but the depth of her words reminds me of Fraser and the work of hers I so love, "Must You Go?" (again another horribly depressing book, not to me, not in that way) with its un-adornments, its stripped-downed-ness. Its lack of regard for what passes for style today, ie, blogs that ruminate about motherhood, singlehood, poor-me-hood, and just plain scream "I-can't-write-hood" or, "I-don't-read-hood", or, "the only lens that sees me is my family hood" and they come from a great comfy place of vanilla beans and lattes, wool and hipster hats, (just typo'ed hate, ouch) and yea.....for me, just doesn't do it.
So give me depressing, give me a challenge, give me hidden meanings, give me middle names, situations that seem impossible, make me work for it, and while you're at it, have a life in the backdrop, don't use documenting as a way of hiding. That how it feels sometimes. It's all 'there', but it's all a big nothing. Clawing at the film of ice the reader's hands bleed and they give up. The ice must have some give.

Here; a sample:

Pass into nothingness, the Keats line that frightened her.
Fade as the blue nights fade, go as the brightness goes.
Go back into the blue.

The fear is for what is still to be lost.
You may see nothing still to be lost.
Yet there is no day in her life on which I do not see her.

--Blue Nights, by Joan Didion, (c) 2011

Good (blue) night.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Elise and Auntie

i took pictures of:
the diner where
we had breakfast

we went to bed late, but still got up early.  bought myself an hour of lying on the couch while elise had a bath with the multitude of bath toys i seem to have collected over the years.
wine with my sister last night, dinner with my mom, sister, her sister, our cousin, her daughter, and river at the keg. lots of laughs and happy children.
elise stayed over, we had popcorn way past her bedtime, then the early morning.
arriving at the george st. diner before it even opened, the streets deserted (eight-fifteen on sunday morning in the city, and a rainy morning at that...) we took out the camera and elise took these pictures while we waited for the diner to open.
coffee helped, as did gingerale and the remnants of elise's chocolate milkshake. not a breakfast eater (or a morning eater) by nature, I managed a club sandwich and some hashbrowns, and my coffee cup was never empty.

now we're blogging, tidying, we did homework, and hair has been braided.

happy (early!) sunday...