Thursday, May 31, 2012

Grumpy to grateful

As in I am. Hugely. Unjustifiably. But I am.  And I'm not entitled to it, I know.
I had a regrettable massage last night, my own fault (lying on the table it finally hit me: the why of why I hate massages and have never ever been able to enjoy them my entire life. A massage table reminds me eerily of an operating table. You're naked, exposed, and for me, it's scary. It really is).
I love when Mike or my sister massages my neck, truly, or my friend L.
But I'm sitting up. Clothed. In control.
Lying there, especially when ticklish/cold/warm/kind-of in pain/whoops a very sore muscle/ow that f*cking really hurt/ and then the one reaction I did not have: Stop the whole tired exercise and say, okay, can't do this.
I walked into the clinic feeling the best I had in fourteen days and left in pain.
I drove home.

And then, with poor Mike on the phone, having to listen to me when he's 700 miles (that's 1100 kms to you and me) away, I had a complete meltdown. Complete.
Crying. Hysterically. I had to hang up. I sat down in the bathroom, on the closed toilet seat, and
clutched kleenex while the tides of frustration, despair, and old-fashioned, "I give up" washed over me.

I calmed myself. Well, pills had to help, I ashamed to admit. Also, I took two muscle relaxants. So much for living pill-free (wow, I made it two whole f*cking days). 

Stood up, went to the kitchen,  the freezer to be exact, to my friend the ice pack, and slapped it on my smarting neck. I'd deal with my arm and leg next (yes, whole right side  of my body. I get it. RMT's want to TREAT you. But I don't want TREATMENT. I want this exact part of my neck and back rubbed LIGHTLY and I don't want you to touch ANYTHING else).  While I was taking out the ice pack I noticed, wayyyy in the back, a lone bottle (7/8 full) of Ketel One vodka. Took it out too along with some ice (chardonnay not going to cut it).
Wandered over to my little bar, grabbed the Vermouth, threw all ingredients into a short juice glass. 
Back to the kitchen (it's one step from the bar, really. Laughable) combed the fridge for olives. No dice. Capers? Not in a martini. No lemon either.
I gave up caring.

Living room now, I've traversed the length of my loft, sanity slowly returning as I 'fix it'.
Sink down on the couch, ice pack, martini, cell phone. Called Mike back and convinced him I was no longer on the ledge.
But God. Was I ever frustrated.
I let the whole scene ruin my evening. I had insomnia (again).

I watched the Housewives of Vancouver but even that didn't give me my normal jolt of horrified fascination. I turned on my computer (it took about two years to boot up), and opened an email.
You see, this is why they invented gratitude. This might even be why we even HAVE evenings like this, even though we know we are not remotely entitled to them. There are far far worse things than having a crappy massage experience that you engineered yourself (the masseuse, when we were done, said she sensed my discomfort. Me, in my head, Then would it have killed you to have said something? I didn't say anything either. She told me that somewhere inside me, I have a blockage. Really, is this something to say to a person awaiting an MRI? I have all sorts of nightmare scenarios that involve just that, so ....thanks?).  I'm adverse to touch in the best of times. Take away my creature comfort of endorphins for a couple of weeks and here I am, the monster (is that a full moon looming?) you see before you.

Back to the email.
My friend had not just emailed me, but sent me a letter, one of those pieces of writing where you say, damn, how come I couldn't write that?  It was almost a short story. A really good one.
A slice of a life.
A portrait of pain.
It's hard to write about pain, it really is. When you can, to me, it bears acknowledging that on some level, even if it's not conscious, you are somehow getting through it.  That it's starting to ease.
This is the sense I got from my friend and her graceful words.
I'm not going to go into deep details here--it's suffice to say that her story involves something we all often struggle with--loneliness--and how there are times in life when it is more acute than other times. Those are the times where you can be knocked down by pain. When I look back on my most lonely times, through my adult life, I notice how hazy they are. That's what pain can do for you. Shade things. Smudge them. Soften.
And then, you emerge from under that cloud.
And here, my friend so disarmingly sums up how her life is right now.

At once everything that I ever dreamed of yet packaged
so very differently that I could have ever imagined.

I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


It's far too late for me to be up, (the flipside of my too early wake ups), and light is hurting my eyes.
All of my nail-polish collection is cluttering up the coffee table, as I managed to paint my toes over when I got home from work tonight. The laundry (all washed, all of it) pile continues to grow. I rummaged through it this morning looking for a tank to wear under a nice mocha-silver new shirt to work that I discovered was a little low-cut when I put it on.  Second round of rummaging happened tonight, looking for a pair of (yes, freshly-washed) pajama shorts. Found them. Put them on.
I should be tired. I've been taking some sort of daily pill, I'm sad to admit, since The Headache hit two weeks ago.
I'm positive it's interfering with my sleep. I've continued to drink powdered magnesium dissolved in warm water, either at night or in the mornings, as a friend of mine wisely recommended.  I like it. I like adding to my vitamin and mineral aresenal, my mini-battle against my ever-shrinking cerebral cortex, the elasticity of my memory losing some of its precious snap these last few trouble-some years.
I re-read an entry from the second half of late 2009, one about trying to control my anxiety, and it was like reading something from another lifetime. Like something someone else wrote. I suppose it's good. I've had urges, lately, to prune the blog, to delete and dis-able some of the more painful entries to me, but I don't. For good or bad, they're here. They're what I had to say at the time.

I should be alot happier tonight. It was a 'good' day at work, an important project was secured, on the heels of another one being secured a very short time ago. I worked hard on both proposals. But once again, I watched, outside myself, the meeting that ensued after, (remembering my friend L's sure lines: 'confusing their lies with your truth' ) and another fitting phrase I read in the novel I was flipping through tonight, one I've read several times before, 'aggressively calm'.  A good description of much that unfolds in my daily life at work. Except I can't be both. I can remain calm through the whirlwinds, but that calm also damages my passion for work, I can't be both of those either. My calm comes across as lobotomized, I'm sure of it, and it too attacks my memory.  Routine tasks pile up. Fear of criticism, both direct and indirect, seems to paralyze me.
Then I get up, wash my hair, put a face on, and gamely do it all over again. Sometimes it feels marginally better.  Other times I have a distaste that I'm certain is spilling over into my physical self.  What do headaches mean anyway?
For tomorrow, this might be one of the posts I look back on and regret. But I can't censor it. All writing is practice, and this practice does require my truths. As one-sided as they might be at times.
See, I'm working on editing. On being more precise with truths--illustrating them, pinpointing and examining them. Finding out which ones I can use to fuel my ever-evolving voice.

City life has really been getting to me lately. It's summer, I want to be a social-loner, but there are people everywhere, on the streets, driving, walking, pedalling. Sirens are screaming. Birds are chirping. Light is revealing itself earlier and earlier in the mornings. The year anniversary looms. One of my dad's old friends emailed me on Monday night, randomly, to ask how my dad was doing. I had emailed him my blogged-obit, but he had not read it. I tried, clumsily, to explain, in an email reply, what had happened. The same thing occurred with my dad's accountant at tax-time, whom I had called to confirm I could once again mail him all the tax info for him to compile returns for my mom, dad, and me (you have to do a tax return for a deceased person. Go figure). It was as I dialled the accountant's number, a lovely man whom my father knew for many years, that I realized I had never contacted him to tell him of my dad's death. I apologized profusely, (he was very kind about it all) and mailed him a prayer card from my dad's service with the taxes.
It occurred to me then--really, anyone I told got their info in an email. I didn't really call anyone. The initial scar of being interrogated, rudely, over the phone, by an uncle of mine, the day my dad died, didn't go away. My cousin and her mother, and their self-centered attitude to it all, further soured me.
At the time, and even now, I just don't want to talk about it. Who really understands? That it wasn't just one event, but a series, tests of sorts, none of which I feel I really excelled at. Instead I just 'got it done'. No joy in those kinds of tasks. But doesn't getting it done have its own small pride? Perhaps this is me mingling work back into the equation. It's done, we've achieved something. Can we have a couple of goddamn hours to just be?

It's all exhausting. I'm going to bed.

Thanks for reading, if you are.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What I want to be...

Today, after a successful series of meetings here at the ol' workplace, I am still
at my desk, late, thinking about what I want to be when I grow up (a writer) and
that somehow, I will crank out a book at some point in my life (sooner rather
than later) and that somehow, my blog will become something that will allow
me to 'work' and be two places (ie, in two countries) at one time.

I started thinking about women and blogging and how much super-bad writing
there really is out there, and how few blogs I find myself relating to, and making return
visits to, when I stumbled upon a Forbes list of top 100 websites/blogs for (by) women
(says them) --I clicked on a few, mostly disappointed (Divine Caroline was on there,
my pick for a vacuous blog for idiots).

Just as I was despairing for the younger generations, for the twenty-somethings,
for my niece, the women of tomorrow, I clicked onto this,

The last name drew me in, I'll admit. Anyone who knows me well knows who
in my life had this same last name.
I clicked on the article about this future New-Yorker writer (to me, the New Yorker, even after Tina Brown, is still a veritable force to be reckoned with) and was filled with sadness.

I was also filled with a sense of how brief our time on this planet can sometimes be. How unfair things turn out to be sometimes, and how, even when some of us do get to live to a ripe old age, we let our years be barren, we litter them with regrets, with the should-haves of life, instead of the "I dids".

I'm at a point in my life where I really need more "I dids".

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Highlights

1.  awaking at 5:30 am, unprompted, not a noise, nothing. Just...awake. HOURS before I needed to be.  Before I WANTED to be.

2.  trying to blog since I was up so early, but my computer refusing to work. just...REFUSING.

3.  throwing together an outfit that ended up looking completely 80s--all black and white. With stripes. It's alot nicer than it sounds.

4.  my new dark dark brown hair. I've left the medium brown behind. I used at-home mousse colour. I have to say: I loved it. I feel that it makes my newly-minted 'off' eye less noticeable. Black eyeliner seems to help this effect too. My right eye. It's so....strange. If  my face was asymmetrical before, now it's even weirder. And my eye gets so tired. And it hates the sunlight. When will this fix itself? (I was going to write "right itself" but that seemed punny).

5.  muscle relaxants. How have I never known about these before?

6.  calling a client back and having the 'on hold' music be "Love is a Battlefield" by Pat Benetar. Made my day. Sadly.

7.  listening to the monotone voice of Louise Hay on her affirmations cd at work..all day long. At least it distracted me from the coughing.  I focussed on her Health section. Loving your body. Treating it with kindness when it's not well (I tend to do the opposite. Yelling "HEAL" at your body does nothing to change things, I'm here to tell you).

8.  condo board meeting. always entertaining.

9.  my Sunday Night Syndrome being in full effect last night. I tossed and turned all night, despite sleep-tea. I dreamed weird things, about work, about my car, about not being able to get where I wanted to go. I woke up thirsty and hot, my sheets and duvet in a tumbled muddle.
9a.  the pile of washed, semi-folded laundry on my couch. It's the size of a person. A small person.

10.  I finished reading Chai Tea Sunday last night.  As I mentioned, I experienced great sadness reading it. I also experienced profound "first-world" guilt, reading about the circumstances of 'disadvantaged' Kenyans. I also found myself borderline-disgusted with the protagonist's casual mentions of expensive dinners, diamond bracelets, and a worship-ful marriage, albeit one with a husband who f*cked off when his wife (the protagonist) needed him most. But it made me squirm, I'll give the book that. Our rich, empty, soul-less lives here in our land of getting everything-we-ever-wanted. And if I feel that way, someone who did not grow up with extra money or stacks of privileges, how do the over-advantaged feel? Do they have to sublimate their luck by pushing it down, denying the circumstances of their birth, to rid themselves of feeling dirty about money, guilty about privilege?  Is this why they drive so aggressively in their large cars?  Why they project a sickening sense of self-entitlement, that they somehow deserve it all, and how these same people are now my contemporaries? Or are they truly embarassed by their good fortune, access to excellent education, and chastised by the knowledge that on the other side of the world, people are waiting for it to rain so that they may eat?
I'm not leaving myself out of this continuum by the way. I'm in it too. Very deeply. I've got the mortgage, the job I depend on to pay it, the car, a wardrobe for the four seasons, and the rrsp's that our government tells me to buy.

11. New Yorker, week of May 21st. I read another piece about Kenya, about a young Kenyan marathoner who fell to his death off of a balcony during a fight with his wife. He was in the beginning stages of an amazing career that should have lasted years. Reading about the training, the landscape, the expectations of someone earning good money in an impoverished country shed some more light on this sad story.  Imagine being given a talent like that, having the training to sharpen it, and then have your life just......  end.  By misadventure.

12. The nightly news. Last night, at 6pm, I tuned in to City Tv to take in what they had to say about the weekend. I'm happy to report that it was pretty safe going in Toronto this weekend as their lead story was about a traditional 'tourist' trap in Toronto known as "Doors Open" where prominent buildings open their doors to the public for the weekend. City Tv decided to include themselves in this prominency and open the doors to their Yonge and Dundas news-room.
When I was young, these were the types of things we did as field-trips with the Scarborough Board of Education, so I feel no need to stand in an endless line-up of unwashed-masses and wait on the sidewalk on a beautiful day for hours on end for the chance that I may turn up on Tv. In truth, I didn't notice many people of my demographic participating in any of it. Most were people with children, and probably no access to private outdoor space, looking for a way to fill in an otherwise boring Sunday.  If only they could turn to exercise. Watching it last night reminded me why the news enrages me (I also went a step further and read the Saturday Star too. I felt icky afterward)--it disgusts me how vapidly people spend their time. And I am not judging. I watch Real Housewives sometimes too. But I also engage my mind more often than not. Social research.

13. Instead, I lie in bed at night, prior to just falling asleep, and have a creative awakening. Nearly every night. My friend L. reminds me to scrawl these thoughts down. I must commit to this practice. Again, practice. Practice, practice, practice. That's all this post is today.
Nothing new to report...sorry.
No headache--check.
Weather wayyy too hot--check.
Want to go running but can't--check.
Missing Mike--check. Check check check.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Randoms

I've dealt with head (migraine? something more?) pain now.
I've seen the doctor, been to the hospital, had a catscan, visited the eye doctor for my constricted
(right eye only) pupil. Had drops put in that made my vision blurry for hours.
Continued to go to work every day, getting little done, as I try to 'work through the pain'.

So far, it's a flop.
Upon waking Friday morning,  my head felt the best it had in two weeks.
Good enough that if I had had the time and it wasn't a Friday morning, I would have laced on my shoes and blasted off for a run.  Except for one small thing--I couldn't  move my neck from side to side without a screaming pain.
My body is still not happy, and I still can't run, and as I await an MRI in some distant medical future (end of June now), this makes me very un-happy.
Another weekend spent combing my mind as to how I did this to myself, what happened, why, and when it will stop. All those honest serving men (remember that rhyme? Or am I the only one who knows it? "I keep six honest serving men, they taught me all I knew. Their names are what, and why and when, and how and where and who").

Not running means I am a caged lion(ess).
Irritable. (I currently have two co-workers with recurrent, seemingly incurable coughs. I am losing my mind at work).
I've also cut my coffee consumption down by about two-thirds, my chardonnay-imbibing skills are at an all time low, and today, Sunday, was an epic day to run. Light breeze, half-sunlight. I had to talk myself out of it (it went like this: You will injure yourself MORE if you go today, you must heal, you must...I ended up at Costco with my mom and sister. Bought more vitamins).
Not running also has another side-effect:
Writer's block. (just typo'ed blog by mistake. yea, I get it). are some links I've explored this week, in a vain attempt to get me out of myself and back into the world of the pain-free, where I prefer to reside.

Louise Hay.
I listen to her affirmations CD often. I need to tune into the section on Health right now, for obvious reasons.
I explored this blog entry, where she instructs that pain can be referred to as "sensation" which is a good semantics trick. I'm trying it right now. The other thing I'm trying are muscle relaxants (praise the lawd. I can move my head and check my blind spot). 

This article does not pertain specifically to me but I was happy to find it as this word, 'orthorexia'.
It talks about that really annoying condition where you go out to dinner with friends and there is always that ONE person who is obsessed with every pithy bite of food that goes into their mouth. It usually encourages me to have more wine so I can block them out.

I'm reading "Chai Tea Sunday" by Heather Clark. She classifies herself as 'not a real writer' but so far, five chapters in, it feels like a 'real' book. I even caught myself crying as I lay in bed late last night, unable to put it down. She wrote it while on mat leave for her second child. Yes. One of the overachieving-types whom I tend to admire and whose abilities to get it all done amazes me.

That's about it. I've got a couple of posts on the back burner that are kind of negative, as I'm feeling so low without exercise.
If I get around to editing them, I'll post them shortly.

Ah Sunday. Speeding right by...

Monday, May 21, 2012

The White Horse

photo credit Ryan Hefferman

"Injuries began to slow him as he closed in on 40, but he eventually viewed these annoyances as a liberation. He started to care less about piling on the megamileage and more about finding challenging trails. Running was an exploration, inside and out, endorphins feeding his cerebral bliss."

Read the rest of the article about Micah True, ultra-runner and free-spirit.
If only we all had the ability to enjoy life this gently.
I read his attitude towards his injuries as his graceful allowance for his own limitations without being hemmed in by then...another example of that 'calm acceptance' of life in an uncertain world.
I strive to emulate that kind of grace in my own endeavours..
From the New York Times.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The life I signed up for

I did a reading with a friend of "angel cards" last week.
My arch angel right now is "Haniel" and he is relative to the "Passion" in life.
I thought about this for a while after I drew the card.
Passion, huh?
Well, it showed itself with flying colours last Sunday morning (aka, race morning).
I re-discovered my passion for running, remembered the why and not the what, and I got out of
my comfort zone for a time. And it always seems, that when I do that, I feel that much better.

Example: Driving to Maine, alone. After I arrived on New England soil, me and my little grey Mazda, my Ontario plates giving a shout-out "She's far from home people!" I felt like I'd conquered the earth.
Truly. I felt like I'd propelled myself to the moon.

That first 16k run I did last summer. Where I stopped at the corner of Broadview and Dundas and leaned against a post to stretch because I was so exhausted. But through the exhaustion I felt exulted. It was amazing.

Mike. Meeting him (again). Getting to know him (in person, just as he is). The sheer wonder of meeting someone, at the stage of my life where I was "done" with relationships, "done" with the games, the lies, the withholding. And then to have this gift land on my lap.

I've had ample time to think about the life I've signed up for this week. Injury has had me with plenty of time to do nothing but think, reflect, and read a bit--in between icing and heating a neck problem that has blossomed into continual head pain.
I've thought about how self-inflicted this injury was--alot of over-doing it during training runs (I train on my own, there is no coach to rein me in, I'm starting to think there should be. But there I go..passion again).  Then I didn't rest my body enough before and after the race run.
So on Tuesday of last week the injury flared, became acute, and led me into the land of being home, in pain, on my own for a good four days before I started to enter the world of the mobile again (and that means walking. NO running. For at least another week).

I had to admire my body's passion. She's tired. I get it. She's stressed (she's fuelled by my mind). She's had a rough eighteen months. Not all bad I have to add--my engagement and wedding were exactly what I wanted, but here I am, a newly-wed. And Mike's not here. He's in Maine, working, while I remain here, working. And despite all the time that work eats up for both of us, there's lots of time to miss each other too. To pine. To start to feel low.

And for my dad, the one-year anniversary looms. It's had to describe. But it's a big milestone. I knew I would and I am, re-living many details of last year at this time. What the weather was like, what I did each weekend, going to see the Angel-reader and hearing his take on things.
Maybe my body wanted to remind me that there are bigger fish to fry in life than the day-to-day to-do list. That pain will make you stop and notice. That pain will make you  detour sometimes.

This week, I'll go to two doctor's appointments, and hopefully I will fit a sports massage in. I want to be well, I want to stoke my passion, I want to run again. SOON.
But I have to be patient, which is hard for me. The rebellious side of me wants to ignore my body's cries for help and just start secretly jogging. But I know the price paid for that could be an even worse injury.
So I wait it out. I read about training, and breaks, and rest and recovery. I read about pampering injuries so that they heal with less recurrence. And I sleep, I eat, I stare at the tv, and I watch the days pass.

Passion. It is a mighty fire, one that must be handled with care.   Feed the fire too much and you're burning the candle at both ends (although, as the poem says, it makes a lovely light).

For now, there's a brownie in the fridge and a pain pill waiting to help me drift off...

Good night...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday's Reads

I've realized, in ruminating regularly over my own profile, that I haven't been nearly prolific enough lately in outlining my reading tastes to blog-land.
So I'm committing to a weekly check-in of what's on my bookshelf, being consumed in the too-fast way that I read.

Out of the wonderful used bookstore I frequent, I found the latest McCall-Smith offering, from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency--The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection (hardcover! $12.99!). 
It's kept me company on this long journey of being home sick.

I also wikipedia'ed Mr. McCall Smith.
As I suspected, he has an enviably ordered life, and also, as I suspected, he's a Virgo! But not just any Virgo--he actually shares the same birthdate as yours-truly!
I was excited by this.
What I was not excited to read was that Laura Bush is a fan (how? HOW? does she even GET the moral of these stories? Does she KNOW where Africa or Scotland can even be found? That they exist? They're not just places on a globe!?).

Anyway, the other nugget of information I gleaned from the site is that Mr. McCall Smith has another instalment of the Isabel Dalhousie series due out this year, "The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds".  There is no image available for it yet. How I would love to design a bookcover of what I imagine Isabel's house to look like, under a cloudy Scottish sky.
I'll endeavour to keep my reads up-to-date on the blog, and to share any and all good reads. (most of them are pretty good. That being said, over the past two library visits, in an effort to pick books quickly and GO I did take out a couple of books I'd already read. And it took me a while to figure it out.)

McCall Smith also has a delightful website with a great tune playing in the background as you browse the books...

Happy (reading) Friday....

Home Sick

Not as in "homesick" but, rather, at home, sick. Day 3. Misery.
Tea and saltines have become my constant companions, and yesterday was one of those sick days where you literally cannot do anything except move from couch to bed. And back again.
I couldn't even focus enough to read, and going to the drugstore to pick up a prescription was agony--the noise, the bright lights...the waiting. My sister's observation that 'all my senses are heightened' right now was aptly and ironically right. Senses heightened when feeling the lowest.

It started Tuesday night, innocuously enough, I thought.
I was doing my standard after-work 4km, and was albout half-way through when my vision suddenly went wonky. I gave my head a shake (truly I did, like I thought, "hey, this will help") and stopped running abruptly. I looked up at a nearby street sign. There were two of them, one on top of the other, diagonally. Well, there wasn't really two of them--but my eyes thought there were. I stopped even walking, and looked at the ground, breathing hard, suddenly aware they my head was hurting. Really hurting. And I was halfway through my run, meaning, I still had to get back to my car, which was 2 km away. I walked back. It felt alot further away then it was. I got back to my car, had water ( somehow I connected how weird I felt to dehydration, but downing one bottle, then another, of water, did very little.)
I managed to drive home, telling myself all was well, and believing it for a while, until my headache would swell up again, like a wave cresting, and then "crash" solidly on the shore, in this case the shore being the back of my head, right side, the crash causing a pain I'd never felt before, not even last week, when that three-day-headache followed me around, from work, to home, to sleep, to morning, pills having no effect on its stubborn presence.
This was nothing like that. This wasn't  "I can manage" pain. This was, "Get-me-home-to-a-dark-room-block-out-the-world" kind of pain.
I got home. I blocked out the world. I had some gingerale and some tylenol, all which decided to make a re-appearance a short time later. I lulled myself into a fitful sleep thinking that sleep would get rid of this monster.
I awoke early Wednesday morning, five-am early, and washed down some Advil with water. That bought me two hours more sleep, and some respite (not all, but enough for me to shower, get ready for work, and go. And call my doctor on the way in to get an appointment, which I luckily did).
Computers, phones, talking, brightness. Soup for lunch. Eating gingerly, but hungrily. The echo of my headache (irony again) at the back of my mind.
Doctor's office.
Bright again (and bright, so bright, outside). No waiting. I describe my headache episode, hopefully. As in 'fix me'. Hoping for pills, ones that will work. He writes everything down. Checks my eyes, neck, blood pressure. Sits back down, writes some more.
"I don't want to scare you, but when a headache comes on like this, it is sometimes something that we can't see just by looking at you."  I must have looked blank.
"Meaning, you need to get this looked at, have a scan, so that anything serious, like a bleed in the brain, can be ruled out". 
Me, in my (aching) head: "What?"
And then, out loud, "Okay". 
Because I was already scared. I'd been scared last night when my vision had altered and I'd been entertaining these kind of skittering thoughts since then. Worry. What to do about it. Now, the doctor was telling me to go to emergency and get the scan done immediately.
"I'll write you a note", he said, scribbling something illegible on a piece of prescription-pad paper and handing it to me. "You can go to any emergency room".
Me: "Okay" again.
So I left, went back to work, sent an email to my boss, talked to both my bosses on the way back downtown, letting them know the situation. I got home, changed out of my workclothes, and walked to St. Michael's hospital, down the street. Registered at the emergency ward. Confused when the nurse asked me if I'd been there before. "Well, I was born here..." but that was not really what they meant, I think.

Paperwork processed, I settle in to wait. And wait I do. Arriving at 3pm or so, I saw a doctor around 7pm. After I'd been shown into the room where one waits for the doctor, I lay down, lights off, to get some relief from the endless noise and lights of the hospital. My headache was gaining strength after four hours in a chair, with nothing to read. Only a screen to stare at, the same endless-news-headlines on a boring, monotonous loop.
After seeing the doctor, I go to wait for someone to bring me up to get the scan done. This happens pretty fast in hospital-time. Under half an hour. I go upstairs with the hospital porter, to the neurology floor, where I snag a magazine (Toronto Life Fashion, but I'm desperate at this point) and I am told to sit and wait (another waiting area, it seems impossible) for the scan. However, the lighting on this floor is dimmer, and it's quiet. So I sit, quiet too, and read. And think about the scan. I don't know how it works. Does it hurt? I'm scared. And the hospital itself--I realized I haven't been near one since last year, when my Dad was at Lakeridge in Oshawa. When I was there almost every day for well over a month.

The scan-tech arrives and ushers me into a large room, huge windows, almost dark out (it's nearly 9pm at this point). Gives me the instructions--to lie on the stretcher-bed, and not to move my head at all. And to close my eyes as the bed backs up into a giant open-mouthed machine, as there are laser-lights on the way in.
"You can open your eyes now" he says, from far away.
"Can I keep them closed?" I ask.
"Yes" he says back.
I don't open my eyes. I concentrate on breathing. Deeply. Calmly. I think about my father. All the treatments. The procedures. How even when people were around him, he must have felt utterly alone at times. Isolated by illness, aggrieved by his own worsening condition. Being the head of the family, still. Trying to keep up that end of things by being strong and seemingly untouchable during his own trial-by-fire.

Lying stone-still in the cat-scan machine, nevertheless I felt the tears falling, nowhere to go but down the sides of my prone face, falling into my ears of all places. I tried to channel my dad as I lay there. The scan-tech did not tell me how long it would take, I had guessed not long, he was pretty brisk about it all. But I channelled my dad anyway, hoping for some of his calm demeanor, that had seen him through the worst of his illness.
I called to him, silently, in my head. I think he heard me. I  stopped crying and just lay there, still working on calming my breath.
The scan ended abruptly, I got up, almost losing my balance as I did so. Went back out to wait some more. But I brought the magazine with me back to the emergency ward, and the tylenol 2's that a nurse had given me a couple of hours before were making everything slow down, even my racing heart.

Another hour. Then the doctor came in with the 'all clear' results of the scan. I'm overjoyed inside. I really wasn't sure what to make of this hideous, rogue headache. Now all it can be is a run-of-the-mill, catch-me-if-you-can headache. Which it is. And is still. I get a prescription for tylenol 2's and a copy of the scan results, that state clearly 'your head is fine' (not in those words, but you know).

I go home, on foot. I eat some rice. I go to bed, head still reminding me who's in charge.

Next day, Thursday now. I don't go to work. It's an effort to even go to the drugstore to pick up the prescription, but I do, if only to help get rid of this insistent, nagging pain. I sleep most of the day, and all of the night. And I wake up, Friday morning now, with the headache still in tow. But--it's weakening. And as it weakens, I start to feel slightly stronger.
It's now Friday afternoon. I've had at least four cups of tea, innumerable saltines, and two lovely pain pills. I've had a bath and some gingerale. It's still ever-bright out, and I've kept the blinds closed to avoid the light. But I did make it across the street to the little store to see if the New Yorker was in (it wasn't) and I picked up my mail. The effort left me a bit dizzy, but still upright.

And now I'm here, online, a place I haven't been since the whole ordeal began. And I can't run all weekend. (not that I want to do much of anything. I haven't had a proper meal in going-on four days and no coffee either).
But just writing it down helps, it helps make sense of it all somehow, that my body wanted a rest, a break, and I don't usually give in to it that easily.
This is a good reminder that sometimes--one must.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Race Day (and mother's day!)


Such was a hand-lettered sign that I ran past yesterday during the race, my first race, held up by a teenage girl on the sidelines. One of many signs I ran past, all encouraging, even as light rain fell intermittently, even as I ran alongside crowds of other runners, as I looked for each kilometre-sign marking off the distance.

May thirteenth.
Thirteen...that enigmatic number again.
 May thirteenth --it's eleven months for my dad; it's the day of my first real race (and my sis's); and it's a milestone number for my friend H.   All on the same auspicious date.
And it's mother's day to boot.

The race was the Sporting Life 10km, down Yonge Street to the base of Bathurst, over towards Fort York, to...the finish line. It was for kids' cancer-camp, which made the run even sweeter.
I don't run with a phone or any device other than my ipod (and keys in a zipped up pocket) but I wish I had had a camera to take a photo of the 20,000-odd runners all lined up in the Yonge St. corridor, waiting for their chance to run.

My run-time was abysmal.
My decision to train the day before the race ( a 10 k run, followed by lunch with wine and a 10 k walk) was ..misguided (I now know why they say NOT to run the day before).
My legs, my back--by the end of the race--aching.

My spirits were soaring.
I overcame my crowd-aversion.
I had a good experience at an event I would normally shun (group-oriented, early on a weekend morning, something scheduled).
I rekindled the flame I've been stoking these last ten weeks-the one I have with running, no matter what it gives me or doesn't give me. Despite sore feet, a need to wear running shoes everywhere, needing more sleep than I ever have, and taking up to three showers a day on the weekends when I do those long runs--I'm back in love. I don't care about the numbers, the stats, the times, the miles, the kilometres. I just know that I've got that feeling again, the one I used to get as I was walking somewhere and I'd want to break into a run, because, well, it's just that much faster.

My sister and I convened at the finish line and high-fived each other, and moved through the throngs of people to get some much-needed post-race liquid.  We downed three cups each, electolytes coursing through our veins.
Then the band started.
My Girl.
The song my sister danced to with my Dad at her wedding.
She welled up. I did too. We hugged. The band played on, both of us feeling like the only two people standing there.
The song ended, but the feeling that my Dad was somehow right there, watching his girls, proud of us, stayed.
We limped off the grounds, back to the subway, still buoyed by endorphins, the clouds clearing, the sun beginning to shine.

Mother's Day involved  champagne, shopping, a late-lunch/early dinner on a downtown patio, and a burger and fries (something I have not eaten in months..)
It involved three women smiling, sharing memories, food, and making the best of what could have been a daunting day, another 'holiday' first. First Mother's day without my dad.

So, that was the day. Not much else to say other than the fact that my sister and I felt compelled to sign up for a half-marathon, as much for the experience and the goals we will set as for anything else.
I don't really feel the sense of cutthroat competition that I thought I might, I just feel like I'm doing something I love, and there is, really, in the end, no better feeling than that.

Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 11, 2012

That voice in the back of my head

..sometimes it doesn't believe all it's supposed to.
..sometimes it needs to read something, turn it over and over in its mind, and look at the swiss-cheese qualities. The holes.
When I run into a story that doesn't quite make sense, I try to figure it out. Let me clarify--this actually happens on my own blog sometimes. I read my own entry and I think...what WAS I getting at there?
Then I sit with it, rest, and the answer comes to me.
Or I solve the problem, as if it comes out of the air, while I'm running.

I read Reagan's Blob again this morning. I liked the post entitled

It was fiesty. It was list-y (you know I'm a list lover). It was punchy.
It felt, to me, like it was defensively written, like it was like a 'so-there' of blog-land, a hasty dismissal of a medium that I think she's quite gifted at manipulating. And as one reader put it, it did feel like a bit of a 'scolding'.

I thought about my own blog (as always: turn the lens inward).
Do I check my traffic?  Hell yes.

Do I want to grow it? Yes. Why would I commit myself to something I planned on abandoning?  Most people know that blogging is the new way to a book deal. I want one. Most serious writers do. Nothing wrong with that.

Do I care if the people who read my blog hate me or like me? Hmm. Not really. I know that there are alot of people out there in internet-land who probably find me too caustic or depressing or lacking in photographic-entertainment or boasty or not boasty enough or don't like it because this isn't a mom-blog and all that stuff. That said, some people do like my blog (and me. Or  just my blog. Doesn't matter). I've had emails from people who are going through rough times and needed to hang out with some clouds overhead for a bit, before they moved back into the sunshine.
And I get the whole privacy-for-your-kid stuff. So that is a moot point.

Do I have a life outside my blog? Yes. But writing invades my head and my life far more than I would actually like. It's part of the solitude I cultivate. I picture myself, in a few years, of feeling that way even more about writing. And running. A kind-of life-long practice, one that doesn't delineate. Blogging, writing, running, reading. No matter how I feel.

Are some things in my life nobody's business? Yep. And they don't show up on here. That's what the fawn-lark journal is for. Google me all you want. Friends do, enemies do. What's that saying "the only reason someone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you?" Yes. That's the one.

So, I appreciate the take-no-prisoners attitude. I employ it myself. But blogs DO matter, especially good ones, and anyone who takes the stance that they are just out here in blog-land blithely writing for themselves and the good of the planet is kind of naive. Not in a bad way. And I get it.
It's hard to put on a good front sometimes when the life you've constructed has proven itself to be a house of cards and it folds in. Being made a fool of is embarassing, but having it speculated on is the real sore spot. I've been there. It hurts. Alot.

Enough said. I won't belabour.
That's just what I had to say.

May Ups and Downs

Not really sure how I am feeling about May.
I know this:
1.  I had a bad cold toward the end of April which lingered on for about 2 weeks.

2.  I went to Boston, Maine, Conneticut, and New Hampshire over one weekend at the end of April-beginning of May. While I love the time with Mike, whirlwinds are tough for me. My job keeps my ends frayed far more than I would like, and this often spills over into 'me time'.  Also, I am still kind of shaky from all the goings-on in life over these last few years. Up. Down. Up. Down. Often, when I'm up, when it should be good, I'm perilous. I dangle. Worried. Looking down. Way down.

3. Work has been a whole other whirlwind. Barely time to breathe. High pressure. Day after day after week after week. Humans can take pressure, I can take pressure, but this unrelenting stuff has been very hard on me.

4. I react to stress differently than I did ten years ago. Even five years ago. It's like a state of becoming 'hyper' which I liken to extreme anxiety. Then, because of the environment I work in, I internalize it.

Also, because of the people in my life, even the ones I love the most, I hide it. Pain. Worry. Stress. Fear. Like I'm not supposed to feel it. Even a smidge. So it finds other ways to come out. One of these ways is social withdrawal-- holing up in my apartment and not wanting to venture into the world.
Yet another way of coping is starting to take shape as I age and I don't like it one bit:
physical ailments.
My sister and I were talking about this on the phone last night. How, sometimes, that sore shoulder, that achey foot and, in this case, a headache I've now been carrying around now for three days are your body's stress receptors set to "way too high".
So I try to step back, breathe, be gentle, treat myself with care, with calm, with love.
And then last night, as I was lying in bed, awake, alert, after midnight, it came to me.
I'm edgy about May. The last two Mays of the last two years were stifling. Something to be endured. While spring blooms outside me, and the days lengthen, and people's moods improve, I am terrified. Every little thing spooks me. Every negative thought. Every unshared secret.

I guess the difference is my level of awareness--I KNOW what is happening. But then there is a part of me that is powerless to stop it.
I'm not sure if I've ever really been a spring-person. I don't like the temperature fluctuations, I hate trying to figure out what to wear, spring-cleaning is a bane on my existence, and while I adjust well to summer and just 'being', spring seems to demand my attention in a way I'm not comfortable with.

I just have to get on with it I suppose. Read, write, RUN, and feel the feelings.
No matter how negative they sometimes are.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I had dinner with a great friend last night.
We sat together for hours, we took turns telling each other what was going on in each others' lives.
It's been a big couple of years for both of us, and there's always lots to tell.

We met at the end of each of our respective days--I was coming from work, and she from her home, where she is on mat-leave with her little son right now.
We arrive almost at the same time (we're both extremely punctual. First-born trait, I'm convinced of it).
The restaurant, a pizza-place, has rough-hewn walls planked with wood. A downstairs bar. A thick wooden counter on the bar, with hooks underneath (my favourite bar feature, besides chardonnay. Meaning: your purse never has to sit on the floor, which my sister says is bad-money-luck.) So we sat at said bar, for a nice long dinner and catch-up. At the end of the evening, almost, someone we once worked with at another restaurant came over. We were friendly. I was privately unimpressed (I'm alot more polite than I used to be). After he dashed off (he was working) I blurted out to my friend "That was housepet guy".
In my recent contribution to lettersforourdaughters.  It was a line that came to me as I was writing and for a little while I wondered why it came to me.
I'll give the background story: When I worked at said restaurant, years ago, this group of guys went on a trip. When they returned they told stories about this girl they had met who had stayed with them and they (or just one of them?) referred to her as "the housepet". Which at first (keep in mind, I was in my early-to-mid-twenties) did not quite jump out at me the way it really should have. My friend, my treasured guy friend pointed this out to me. Because it really really bothered him to hear a female talked about this way. And it hit me: very very wrong. What was even more wrong was that I needed a man to point this out. But once I got it, I never really got over it. I know. Strange. So, having just written this, and then running into this person was strange for me. Like....I'd conjured it all up.

Weird, I know. It reminds me of how many stories I still have left to write on this crazy often incoherent blog.
As it stands right now, it's way past my bedtime, I've had a searing headache for most of the day (stress, I'm convinced) and this is night five or six of uncommon insomnia for me. Is it the moon? Weird weather? As my sister mentioned on the phone tonight, weather's been the talk of the town this week. That, and an extremely bad week on the Toronto roads. Moon? I don't know.
I'm going to try to get some sleep now. More about said restaurant later. As I drove into the parking lot on the day I left said restaurant, coming up on two years this July, I had a thought as I looked up at the sign on the way in--is this place cursed for me?
Part of me is still undecided.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I often over-think while lying in bed when I'm trying to sleep.
This usually happens on weeknights, when I'm trying to actively calm my mind. Instead of calming, I find my thoughts swirling--what I've written that day, what I've thought about persistently, what I want to write about.
I do it constantly.
Since I've started writing abougt narrative, and remembering that this blog was to be the springboard of this thing I want to write called a kind of reality-based "memoir" but base it in a fictional vein.
I know--this sounds crazy. Even writing it seems crazy. How will that work? Never mind--I know this isn't a project that is going to just 'happen' over night (while I toss in bed). It's going to take years.
Hell, it already has.
This blog has been what Natalie Goldberg so often says "Freedom to write the worst stuff in the world". For example, when I whine about work. Traffic. My (relatively okay) commute. Women who home-school. Women who home-school four kids. And write blogs about not wanting to see their friends anymore. That their kids and husbands come first. Let me tell you something ladies; that husband ditches you I'll point you in the direction you're gonna run. Hint: It's not your mother's house.
So that's what I mean about that. I need to get the scrums out of the way.

But there's another roadblock.
I absolutely despise thinking and writing about childhood. OR young-adulthood (I've already blogged about that, search the archives. I can't remember where exactly). I mean, I don't even like reading about OTHER writer's childhoods and young adulthoods. Confession time; I routinely SKIP OVER parts in memoir (or skim them, very very fast)  where writers go back to their childhood/adolescence. I literally squirm. I know what a writing teacher/therapist would say about this; that must be gold if it makes you so jumpy. But I don't agree.

So I will try to begin at my beginning, and maybe, if you will play along, you can be my guinea pigs on this weird journey, one where I try to remove the 'me' out of memoir. I know that there are still going to be days when I want to tune in and sound off on something. Or when I have a feeling that I need to get out or a worry that's been eating at me.

This week it's been a mixed bag. I've missed Mike furiously, I've worried about his kitchen-injury, and I've fretted over not being there, over not having a 'normal' marriage yet, where he and I live together all the time and get to come home from work and complain and listen and understand, instead of doing it over a long-distance line with dropped calls, and suppliers calling to make food deliveries (him) and me having a week where I feel completely unmotivated to do, well, anything, and as I re-trace my steps and realize that after I see him I'm even more empty with the life I'm parodying day after day I get really down.
Then I have this eleven-month anniversary (re; my dad) looming on Sunday, which is also Race Day, and that's been giving me twitches of sadness all week too. Factor in a pile of work and it's a recipe for becoming stuck.
I've been remembering (or rather, my memory has, I don't seem to have any control over it) those last few weeks last year. My dad and his note-writing. Snippets of those conversations. Not realizing how fleeting things would be, how quickly the last weeks would fly by, how I would cease to notice weather, how running would not affect me physically because I wasn't really in my body.
I guess that 's the challenge of this year. I'm back, fully 'real' and in some ways I just want to push it all away.  I guess that's what I'm doing when I lie on the couch for hours after work, eat leftovers, watch terrible tv out of the corner of my eye while reading a Stephen King book of stories.

Hoping for a better tomorrow.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Because we all need a little sugar

Fact: this is the same woman who wrote that memoir I talked about a few months back.
I cannot believe I didn't make the connection.....

More synchronicity for a Monday....


“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”  Carl Jung

This quote 'found' me today, through a site I love called the tiny buddha;

After talking about therapy last night, I found it timely and beautiful (oddly, my own therapist practices Jung-ian based cognitive therapy).

So there you have it. Freud said "no accidents" and Jung talks about facing the pain to know our own soul.
At church on Sunday the priest, talking about plants (I was so confused during the sermon) and excess leaves. How God prunes us. How painful it can be.
Sorry to go down the God road and I promise you this is not 'that' kind of blog, but it just all seemed to fit.

As we wake up to live another day on this uneasy planet.

My letter

Here it is in all its unadorned glory.
Take a read.
And while you're there, take in some the beauty of this unique site.

As I re-read my letter, I think about who I wrote it to, and then realize, really,
it wrote itself. To whomever it wanted...

Happy Monday....

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday therapy

I've been in pretty much all weekend. Let me add: I absolutely love it.
It's not that I'm becoming a recluse, it's just that I've always been a homebody--but the last few years have allowed me to really unfurl this trait, grow it, exercise it. Encourage it. Also, the money-saving benefits. Don't even get me started. I've been on a mission lately, last weekend's U.S. visit (hello Target) notwithstanding, I've really been pinching it. Another thing I love (Virgo, I'm a Virgo, remember? Singsong voice).

I've watched the Devil Wears Prada twice in a row, once last night while cooking dinner, and once, (part of it, anyway) tonight, after taking my mom home. I've been grocrey shopping, I think I mentioned that.
I'm now having tea, have been in my pajamas since, oh, 7:30, and I'm alternately putting heat and cold on a sore shoulder that I developed today, I have no idea or memory how. All I know is I can't reach too far for anything (is this a metaphor for something?) and I can't put my right arm above my head, or anywhere up, really. Doing my hair for work tomorrow morning should be interesting. It's clean, so I might be able to twist it somehow, but my arm is puzzling me. Sorry to complain. I know there are people out there with real health issues. It's just weird--first my foot, now this. And I'm going from hot-to-cold alot.
Spring is great, but its climate can leave me puzzled: my body is warm, then chilled; I wear the right thing for the office in the morning, but by late afternoon it's sweltering. And I HATE being hot.

Just finished reading my sister's blog entry for today, titled with the word Observations (funny, another blog I like posted about a lost earring this week, and I had that odd feeling that I had to turn around--you know, that over-the-shoulder thing? My own lost (and happily found) earring story languishes in the drafts folder along with, I can hear you saying, my five-year-condo-anniversary post. Not done yet. Hmm).
Back to Observations. I didn't really feel it right to mention the...hmmm... transgression my sister and I had yesterday. I had a good day, a good evening, in spite of it all. I know she's going through a rough time. My mom knows it too. And as I stood in her kitchen yesterday, where I had gone to pick up the dinner things I dropped off earlier I had a strange echo of being in my boss's office when she corners me. That sense, that fundamentally exhausting sense, that nothing I can say or do will be the right thing. So I say and do nothing. I go mute, I go limp, I play dead.
Conflict. Once such a life-force to me now leaves me very very cold. Battling it out and "fighting" life are now a part of who I was.
Confrontation, emotional energy expended on triviality (not that I'm calling my sister's pain trivial, I think I'm lumping work into the mix here), but spending that energy, that life-force, on situations that don't even come close to meriting that--it saddens me deeply. Leaves me with that horrible feeling of 'is this all there is?'  When do we finally grow? When do we learn, figure it out? In those last moments here on earth? Those last shuffling years? I don't want to learn it that late. I'm trying to learn it now. Keeping the anxiety at bay has been my 'creative' project for a number of months now. Compartmentalizing the tough parts of work. Life, as I said to Mike on the phone today, on life's terms. And sometimes (most of the time, I know this) life doesn't play anything close to resembling fair. Yes? Yes.

So I slept in this morning (phone on silent). Made coffee. Dragged myself out for a run I didn't want to go on, on a foot that I was scared of hurting more. I thought about physical injury and physical pain and the limits of the body. How my pain doesn't usually manifest itself physically--it's almost always emotional pain. I have a hard time weighing which one hurts more.
I called my mom about our dinner plans, as I surveyed my apartment, littered with laundry, in various stages of folding, on the way to being ironed, sorted. Grimaced at the dust bunnies, the crumbs on the floor, my unmade bed. If you're in one of those phases that involves survival (I counter that if you can maintain a 'lifestyle' you have passed the survival marker. Well done),  I'm here to tell you--cleaning will be either the first or the last thing to go. In my case it was the first. Just tackling the paperwork of the last year has taken everything I have.

Therapy takes on different forms. I have my own therapist whom I've seen, off and on, in various locations, since the age of 24. Her advice on cleaning has always been succinct. Put it down on the priority list. Don't let it take up headspace when you are healing. Just pick one room to focus on at a time. It's good advice. It's the same as what she told me at my last appointment, sometime in March, when I was talking about how daunting running had become.  Just run for ten minutes, was her advice. Strangely (no, not strangely really, this woman is brilliant), it worked.
So that's therapy in the literal sense.

I was telling my mom about the streetcar re-routing that's going to be happening on Queen Street all summer due to track work (inwardly I cursed the TTC, the universe, my stupid luck for this kind of thing) and preparing her to get to my place with the transferring she'd have to manage during the route (we moved her so she'd only be one streetcar ride away. Eye-roll). As I talked to her about dinner, she offered to come over earlier if I needed some help with the apartment. You know what? I did need help.
She arrived, a quick hour later, even with the transferring, and helped me organize some stuff. Motivated by her help, I cleaned my whole office area. I made my bed. She folded laundry. I put away clothes, swept floors, and soon ninety minutes of cleaning was done. We each had a drink, then walked to the grocery store to get some last minute dinner things. I was making a pasta but needed some ingredients.
We walked down the hall of my building, my mom ahead of me, and I thought about what it must be like for her, every day, without my dad. I had a brief moment of wistful imagination--he was at my condo too, waiting for us to get back from the store, reading the paper, telling us about the news of the day. The Conrad Black return-to-Canada would have outraged him. Adam Yauch's death at such a young age would have saddened him (I could almost hear him saying "That's like the cancer I had, Carolyn"). Or I imagined him arriving later, having spent the afternoon outside at Kew Beach, then making his way over in the car, excited to find free, semi-legal parking. Somehow this was therapeutic for me today, maybe much the same way that folding my laundry was for my mom. Mothering me, even in that small way. Me actually letting her. I've been so strident in trying not to need anything from anyone at any time for so long it doesn't come easily. I'm used to being the helper, not used to being helped.

Later on, after dropping my mom off, I stared blankly at the tv. I zoned out again, like I did in church yesterday and thought about how long it had been since I'd had a cry over my dad. I mulled it over.
I didn't cry until I wrote the previous paragraph though.

As I said--therapy. Takes on different forms. Sometimes you need outside help, but sometimes, the quiet thinking you do by yourself, on those days when the phone is silent, is the most healing.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Self-edit and thoughts on a Saturday

I'll admit I perform this damaging writerly 'duty' far too often. Or I don't. Whatever the case, I'm really working on it.
Also, my own proper-English editing. I have miles of books about this type of thing, and I think it's time I move them front and centre, crowd them round my desk, have them hover, like the thesaurus and the dictionary (yes, I know about spell-check and all that but sometimes it's not enough).

It's Saturday night. I've run today, I went for a tan (sue me), walked about, did my niece's hair, took her to ballet, read the Toronto Star (my dad would freak) page-by-page-by-page in the community centre where her ballet class is, the backdrop of this my muted ipod, screaming children, and doting parents. Doting, but not disciplining. It's a theme lately isn't it?  But, really, today, the whole world bothered me. I mean, I loved the bright sun, I loved my run (oh foot, please be good. I know you're hurt), I loved helping my sister.
But I hated the traffic. How warm I felt, how many cars on the road, my late bedtime, my sluggish morning.
But I got it all done. I sent in my Letters for our Daughters and got a positive response.

I made it to church. Even though, while I was there, I completely zoned out, in a meditative fashion (very unlike me) and had to rely on the other people around me for the cues of standing up, sitting down, kneeling. I guess it was good. I lost myself for a good forty minutes thinking about May, last May, the May before that--how much peace I've been able to garner this May around. How horrible it can be when you are in strife while gorgeous weather swirls around. How my running the last two years fed on strife.  How this year, I pray, I will give it happiness to feed on.  I lit some candles, I stared at the flickering light, looked at my own reflection in the black lacquer of the piano at the front of the church, reminding me so much of my childhood Saturday nights. Funny that the two candles I lit were for the piano players in my life.

I bought a huge bag of vegetables at the market (inspired by, I'm sure, the vegan ultra-runner I read about in Runner's World).  I did my banking, got Starbucks, and more laundry is on the go. Cleaning. Well, that will have to happen tomorrow. I didn't do my hair today. Or put any make-up on. I just didn't want to. There's some correspondence I would like to get out tonight, some dishes and leftovers that need to be put away -- I just roasted chicken pieces, made a portabello/saffron/roasted tomato risotto. Spinach on the side.
And I'm in tonight. Super-moon awaiting. Perhaps my tarot cards need to see this.

Oh, and bonus--Porter extended their sale on summer flights and I found (and booked!) an ever better deal than the one I was cruising for this week. I booked the times I wanted (one day after Mike's birthday, but better than nothing--his birthday is on the 5th of July--I will arrive, belated, on the 6th, late at night). I stay until Monday night (no one likes these evening flights--so--great price. GREAT price.). Happy. Called Mike. He was happy too. Two months to seeing Mike seems do-able. After five months apart last summer, these two sojourns, one last weekend, one July 6th, are like delectable gravy. I am so thankful.

Back to church.
All the same faces. Older faces. Under-housed men doing the rounds with the collection basket (two collections today, the second to help keep this beautiful church, this basilica in good repair. I'm a designer. I know what the upkeep can cost to keep a building this unique, this very special brand of vintage, in good repair). I walk home in the lovely sunshine, I buy my vegetables.
I'm in for the night, the crazies of the pre-full-moon out in full force, my desire to be solitary and comfortable and silent being fulfilled. Chardonnay is in my present, book to read in my (near) future.
That's really all I have to talk about at this point.
Well, that, and the thoughts I've had today about this blog. About how I wanted it to springboard a memoir for me. And now, finally, as I reach that last thirty-something birthday, I think I finally know what I want to do.

Stay tuned. (and look for the super-moon!)

It won't let me sleep

It's like the opposite of writer's block. It's like writer's overflow.
Even though I'm tired, I've heated my foot up with the heating pad, I've finished the book I started reading on the plane home from Boston (Ruth Reichl--Garlic and Sapphires. One thing I love: reading about things I love doing, ie, eating, also, running, and writing, and up-and-quitting-one's-job and just STOPPING the paycheque-slavery that we of the gainfully employed so lament...)
So I'm up again. I did turn off the light briefly after I talked to Mike, after my next-door neighbour (I often wonder if she sits up against our shared wall, bedroom to bedroom and stills herself to hear sounds she can bristle about. In this case, tonight, it was just me, mewling along the long-distance line to Mike, that must have set her off. She started scratching the wall...or something that sounded like that. Or she's purchased a cat that is more sensitive to sound than she is. No. That can't be right. No living thing could survive in that smoky nest with her). Sorry. Uncharitable. But the scratching was...unnerving. And it had the (desired?) effect of getting me off the phone and making me alert.
I visited my friend (well, blog-friend) Julia ( and took in her last few thoughtful entries, heard her describe herself as 'humble' (which is exactly how I always think of her, somehow, a very humble person, surrounded by a city full of ego, taking glorious photos and not realizing it) and I returned back to my mantra of "calm".
I very much admire Julia's wonderful attitude towards children and I remind myself of this when I get impatient on the inside as I hear children wail insistently while I am at the library (my cell phone discreetly muted) and when I am in church, trying to find some peace away from my own ego-driven city, or when I am at a restaurant.  I remind myself of how my own niece and nephew talk loudly in Starbucks and how unmoved I am when they do it (biased beyond belief I am. Nepotism at its finest).
And then I move on to a little piece in my head entitled "why I would be a terrible parent" (moody, impatient, surly in the mornings, chardonnay'ed in the evenings, homework bored me the first time 'round, I leave pills all over my apartment in the manner of a kind of Valley of the Dolls existence, I have this fetish for not putting things away yet I abhor mess..) I did that dance for a bit.
Then I turned off the light again and tried to sleep but I feel like the light from the upcoming "super-moon" is starting to invade my room. That, or after sleeping in the pure darkness of a small town in Maine and a beach town in Conneticut last weekend, my circadians are waltzing.  Super-moon is a remarkably uninspired way to describe the moon I think. They interviewed an astronomer on the radio as I drove home who, when pressed about how this years' moon compares to the super-moon of 2011, said "that was a super-super-moon".  Me, in the car, to myself: somebody get this man a thesaurus. I want to call it a "glorious" moon, or an "abundant" moon. A "generous" moon. A gift-of-a-moon. I suppose, though, that if all that we believe and research about full moons is true, there are many professions who are not looking forward to a calm weekend at all thanks to the super-moon. Doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, police, fire-fighters. And on a Saturday night to boot. Oh God. Despite my haze of calm driving to my mom's this evening I did notice the drivers on the road seemed distracted, the pedestrians misguided, and I had a feeling of....I guess ominous anticipation.
I must have a pill for that somewhere in here.
Back to Julia--I have, I will admit, a strange predeliction to the blogs of New Yorkers. Their lives seems impossibly full ( I tease my friend L. that her weekend-goings-on are enough to fill a whole summer of weekends in my Toronto world of reclusive roof-deck-tanning and the disappearance of my friends into this new role called "motherhood").  New Yorkers' lives seem glamorous. But sometimes I can detect the amount of work they have to put in (not my friend L., she's above all that, and not Julia, she has an identity and a commitment to self that allows her to rise above too), but alot of the others--it's both tiring and thrilling to read about yet another night out, or a brunch with sixteen people (L. had me crying with laughter describing how some New York restaurants have banned cameras becuase of instagram-addicted/blog-hogging scrums photographing their food, that insistent city-driven impulse to document their important selves to the masses). Tiring too to read about workout regimens (who CARES?) and tiring to read people who are obsessed with their appearances to the point where I imagine their vanity to be beyond the realm of my imagination, and that it must be very, very crippling. {Scrum is a word I've just honed into. I love it. I love it with the same intenisty that I hate words like "hubby", "sleeps", as in 'two more sleeps' ugh it's days or nights people, pick one, go with it, "tummy" and "grub". Ick.}

But curiosity gets the better of me and I read torrid entries about why their lives are exceedingly special and I gaze at their often-poached images (L: I'm so confused, tumblr, pinterest,  what's the difference?), showing the country house that is coveted and the necklace that is begging to be bought from a store that steals ideas from artists they don't pay, and wonder: just what is so wrong with these lives they are leading that makes them look so far outside themselves for an answer, a fix?

There must be a pill for that somewhere.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Conversations and Observations

It's the calm end of what was a calm (translation: I'm too tired to be stressed about anything) day.
I even look tired, something I detest, and my skin is mottled with pms blotches and that (just occurred to me) might be why I've been dragging all week (that and the fact that I haven't run since last Sunday. The week just ran on without me. Also, I have this foot thing that I am trying not to focus on. But I am..resting it. Next week is race week. God help me).

Talked to my friend L. last night--always uplifting, funny, and spot-on about her take on life.
We were discussing my post from yesterday and she coined the perfect phrase to sum up what I was writing about: "It's like killing off a main character and then not telling anybody why!"

We were surmising about the possibilities and using our writerly imaginations to fill in the blanks
(L. is also a blogger, see my sidebar and this link,
I told her my theory and she gasped. We talked (myself as a northerner and Canadian to boot, her hailing from SA) about the seemingly mystic power women in the Southern U.S. seem to have over men (could be our perception but they do seem to really know what they're doing--and my general opinion is that handling men is a skill much like writing--you are born with your gift--it can't be taught). My burgeoning theory has taken flight and I'm not convinced that we're in the final installment of this part of the book in this life we're reading about. Meaning; sometimes characters get called back on. Because not everyone has a zero-tolerance policy, and marriages are as individual as sets of keys, as snowflakes, and this may be a prologue to a reunion.  What I was saying is, she might know exactly what she's going to do. And here we are, loyal readers, hanging on every word, wincing at every veiled reference.

It was pure late-night speculation but all in all harmless musings.
Trust me; I am one who recognizes the power of a philanderer to cause psychological anguish.
And when the only justice you can rely on is the karmic backlash, you just have to be patient.

But as I was saying it was an okay Friday all in all.
When I left for work this morning, the ground was damp from last nights' rain and everything smelled like Spring. I don't care if it rains all of May. I loved being gently wakened last night by the sound of the rain starting up again, around 2 am. It's one of my favourite sensations; being absolutely sheltered, warm in bed, while rain starts to patter outside. I live on the top floor of a three-storey building so sometimes, when the rain is particularly loud, I can hear it bounce off the roof. If anything else wakes me in the night, I can get quite grumpy--but not with rain. I always love the predictable sound of it. Symmetry.
Other things today: no traffic, breakfast in the car (I never make time for breakfast. It's shameful).  Made it to the library on the way home to bring back my almost-overdue books and pick up a few more (back to the fiction again, loving it--the McCall Smith book that I looked for last time was back on the shelf, I snared it).
Had dinner with my mom at her apartment in the Beach,(chicken tacos) and then watched tv after admiring her beautiful new dining room curtains.
Was home from her place by 8:30 pm, face washed, hair up, air conditioning blasting (when I'm tired, I overheat, it's the weirdest thing).  Ipod on Sunday playlist, garbage and recycling taken out, laundry in the dryer, catching up on emails, reading Runner's World while I waited for my computer to power up, and this, blogging, writing about my day, at its very end. I'm just about to turn everything off and get ready to read in bed as the clothes tumble.
Oh, and one more thing: I fnished and submitted my contribution to Letters for our Daughters.
My concept had been rolling around my head for a few days and tonight, after a fairly peaceful day and this very calm evening, I finally typed it up.  It took more of a poetic form than that of a letter, and I welcome editing, but it's done--my first attempt. All that I really want to say to the next generation(s). My niece's generation, whom, for her sake, I hope gets the most liberated generation of men ever. With my contemporaries mothering the sons as well as the daughters of her time, it might end up being a bit of a mixed bag, I have to say.
Well, start as you mean to go I say.
Start as you mean to go on.

I have to be up early.
I have a long run planned (despite my foot, see, not focussing on it, that's my plan). I also am going to take my niece to ballet class and prior to that I have to do her hair in the requisite bun that she has now become dependent on me doing (I had a flashback to my own childhood thinking about this: my mother used to put my hair up and I remember thinking, at age seven--who will put my hair up for me when I one day leave home? Oh being a Virgo. Takes planning in advance to the next level).

Happy (calm) weekend.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Other Blogs

I think I've mentioned it before, but I love reading other good blogs.
I love seeing other points of view, reading about people's outlooks on the world, and feeling a little like you 'know' who they are--even though you usually don't (on my sidebar, with "I'm Just Sayin", and "threadless" --all  written by people I do know, however.
One of the amazing things about bloggers you know is that you know their situation. You know what is going on in their lives, they know what is going on in yours (and can surmise things from your blog like nobody else).  They can, for lack of a better term, navigate the narrative, so to speak.

Readers who don't know you can't do that.
Bloggers you don't know, but read, admire, and follow can't give you that either.
And it can be tough.
In my own blog, I try to carry a narrative, I sometimes link to other posts of my own when I think they might carry weight or give a reader more a glimpse inside my little world, my 'revolving door planet'.

I have what one might call 'themes'. For instance, in a nutshell, I can summarize this blog from its inception, April 2009, to now:
Started the blog as a bored singleton whose friends were all deeply entrenched in the world of engagements, marriages, husbands. I held down two jobs for twelve years and was feeling stymied by both.

I started writing as I was bored with journalling 'just for me'. I had volumes of journals from my twenties (I've kept them ALL) and I hadn't been journalling, or doing ANYTHING creative other than amazing scrapbooking for years.
Yes, I am an interior designer.
But, (truth time): My job is mostly numbers. Contracts. Budgets. Deadlines.
My desk is covered with papers, samples, files, folders.
One day I'll take a photo.
I warn you: It is appalling.

So, not much of a creative outlet.

I didn't write much in the beginning. I talked about the end of my sister's marriage in one post that year (when I look back at that post now, it was very vague. One reason for that is that I promised myself this blog was going to be about Me and my life--I didn't want to use it as a forum to muse and think about other people all the time.. I'd been doing that far too much).

I wrote about my then-boyfriend moving into my condo. I outlined my CN tower climb for charity in another post.  I talked about my journalist neighbour and her fondness for putting me in print (in Toronto's most circulated paper).

Then December 2009 hit. A friend who I'd once been so close to died in an accident.
Cue; tailspin.

2010 ushered itself in. The year starting off in sluggish January, not showing its colours yet, nothing on the horizon as far as the eye could see. My narrative included my newfound hobby, running, something I hadn't been committed to in a long time, I wrote about wanting to write my memoir, and I talked about books I was reading. I grieved all winter for my now-lost friend. Spring came around. With it, my father's devestating cancer diagnosis and my then-boyfriend, the one I'd 'taken a chance on' had an affair with a co-worker at the restaurant we all worked at. I didn't find that out until AFTER he moved out. The chaos in my life fuelled my writing, it fuelled my reading, it fuelled my running. It fuelled ME. I lost about ten pounds that summer. I wrote about the 'break-up diet'.

I travelled. To see Mike, the man I was falling in love with long-distance-style. I wrote about driving on my own to Maine. About seeing New York City for the first time. The signs and the omens I experienced in 2010 were a recurring theme, too. My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary (to be their last). I wrote a poem about it.

Now writing in itself had become my narrative.

Mike came to Canada. He met my parents.

I went back to Maine after Christmas, had the worst flu/cold of my life over New Years ringing in 2011. I look back at that as my body getting as strong as it could for the coming year which, in all of life's paradoxes, would be the hardest one of my life, with a strong, sweet ending, but getting there would take almost everything I had.
Spring 2011. My father's grim prognosis. Writing to keep myself sane, to keep myself getting out of bed; I look back at entries now and think, "Oh yes--written while I was on AUTOMATIC."  There is no other way to describe it.

Through it all, the readers knew. They knew because I told them. I wrote with no veil between Reader and Writer. It's how I have to write.

Then I got engaged to Mike, we got married four months later, and I wrote about that; our happiness, our honeymoon, our sheer joy at being together. My sheer joy of remembering what it was joy felt like.
And life runs on and on and the days gallop by.

So when I read a blog, like reading a book, I want to know. I'm driven by a curiosity that I have to satiate.

And when it doesn't happen I apply the same scenario over and over again: I stop reading.


I linked over to this amazing website yesterday in my post, and I wanted to share--I've been
invited by the author of this incredible project to submit something! I'm going to be musing about that out loud in the next few days.
Please, go and check this out--correspondence for the next generation(s) of women.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

List-Poem-Tuesday Loves

I was doing some light cleaning tonight, on a work-in-progress I like to call my "fridge collage" when this jumped out at me (it was hiding behind a poem hand-written out by my aunt, by Rumi, a way-in-the-last-century mystic and, it may be said, amazing poet).

I don't know who wrote this (if you do, please let me know, either by comment or by email).  All I know is that I've read this over and over again, whenever I was in the depths, and it always somehow helped. I think that my boss's mother gave it to me, years ago, photocopied lovingly on our office photocopier. She was a swell woman, let me tell you. An inspiration. She typed things on a typewriter in her cubicle, and it was papered, from top to bottom, side to side, with drawings and letters from her thirteen grandchildren. After she got really sick I was entrusted with the task of dis-engaging these paper treasures from the cubicle 'walls' and putting them away in a box, along with the typewriter and her adding machine. I still miss her dearly.
Here it is:

15 Things You Probably Never Knew or Thought About:
1.  At least 5 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.
2.  At least 15 people in the world love you in some way.
3.  The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.
4.  A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone.
5.  Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
6. You mean the world to someone.
7.  If not for you, someone may not be living.
8.  You are special and unique.
9.  Someone you don't even know exists loves you.
10.  When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.
11.  When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.
12. When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won't get it. But if you believe in yourself, probably, sooner or later, you will get it.
13.  Always remember the compliments you received.  Forget about the rude remarks.
14.  Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know.
15.  If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.

Pretty simple stuff, isn't it? Yet powerful.

I'm trying to be more positive (ongoing quest) as well as sharpen my blog-skills so that I don't lag and have a long time between entries.

So here are some Tuesday "loves":

May. I love May. Not too hot (usually), not too rainy (usually), great running weather, people in better moods (myself included), the start of what I like to call 'the summer long-weekends', and there are flowers blooming everywhere. All good.

This blog: which I found on this blog:
Don't wait for an explanation, just visit these two blogs. GOLD I tell you.

When my friend K sends me cool spiritual stuff like this:
"There is an Indian Belief that everyone is in a house of four rooms: A physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room everyday, even if only to keep it aired, we are not complete."
-- Rumer Godden

Good hair days, good hair tips. Go here:
I recently started using hairspray. I know. Elementary. I can't believe the difference. At Target over the weekend I found a Pantene anti-humidity hairspray. In a 2-pack. For $ 4.98.  I am giving one to my mom. I've also been doing a weekly treatment of macadamia nut-argon-oil magic. Great results.

Coffee. Delicious, and as I read in an article in Oprah last week, a great metabolic booster. Double benefit!

New England.

Mike's family and extended family, many of whom I had the privilege of meeting on the weekend. Billie and Roger (Rock) are going to get their own posting. They are going on 56 years of marriage. Over dinner Friday night I made them tell me their life story. Beyond fascinating. We have so much to learn from our older relatives--they are teachers and guides through this life.
As always, having the opportunity to talk to a man in his seventies or eighties, I feel such a wistful longing for my father to have reached that age. How much he would have had to share by then.

Another Tuesday thought: I miss you Dad. I love thinking about the time we did have. How funny things could be even through the horror of illness. The big pink bird on the windowsill. How you would laugh so hard at something you would start to cough. How dignified you were during the doctors' meeting that day in your hospital room, all those people surrounding you, with all these plans, and you in your hospital gown, listening intently. No signs of fear, though you must have felt lots. Only 'calm acceptance'.  I kept all your notes. I saved all your emails.

That's me in a nutshell on a Tuesday.
Thanks for reading.


I check my stats, blog-wise, that is, on a fairly regular basis.
Much of my traffic is people I know reading my blog.
However, the recent spike in visitors from Russia intrigues me.
Is this real? Is it spam?
And Germany--for months now there is ALWAYS a German viewing of my blog.
I chalk it up to the fact that my cousin, who is a frequent visitor to Germany as she has
a 'relationship' with someone there, is blog-stalking me.
The Russian thing puzzles me though.
I don't get alot of reader mail, so I blithely keep writing for me, myself, and my sanity, as well as a core of people, as  I mentioned, whom I already know.
Who ever you are...
keep reading.