Friday, November 30, 2012

Niagara during the week

One of the great things about visiting wine country during the week is that there's no one around.

Which I love.

A boutique hotel, a bunch of vineyards, old buildings.

Buying local wine and doing tastings, eating great food, driving in the sunshine, with no traffic, and quiet.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Outside In

This isn't going to be one of those beautifully poetic posts waxing about life, love, and the pursuit
of happiness.
It's going to be more of the type where I sit, in total perplexion (I just made a word up, I'm sorry, it's my license right now) and look at my life and say: what the fuck?

I stepped outside myself several times yesterday, as I was emailing my friend A. this morning, describing said phenomenon.  I was, between the hours of nine and ten in the morning, at my therapist's office, the place I go for help, and she was busy writing some summary notes in my chart at the end of our session, and my mind was free to wander.
First, I rooted myself by looking at the calendar on the wall behind her.
November 28th, check.
My appointment date, check.
I'm thirty-nine-years-old, check.
I've been targeted at my place of work by a person who clearly has some serious issues and is 'not being heard at home' as my friend A. so accurately describes it when people feel the need to 'project' like this. 
I am moved by this to thank God for my own hideous self-awareness, that has plagued me from childhood. Check.
I am looking now at the painting that hangs behind the couch my therapist sits on during our sessions (yes, she sits on a couch, I on a chair, it's a nice reversal of the New Yorker cartoon depictions of therapy and its many patients-on-couches). It's a blue watercolour, it's a building with little definition except it's definitely square, and it might be a church, or it might be a prison (that got me thinking to how often these two entities can get confused in our busy modern lives).  And I thought about how life is sometimes made up of a zillion tiny observations, and sometimes, our treatment of one another gets all snarled up while the time zips by and we lose site of how very small we are on this revolving-door planet.

Leading up to my appointment, I got myself up on time and to the coffee place in plenty of time to make my session without rushing. All very responsible adult-type things to do.
In the waiting room, I sat with my purse on my lap, the coffee resting on a nearby ledge, and read a  magazine, and didn't encroach on other chairs in the waiting room by 'claiming' a space that I didn't really need (why do people DO this?).  I read an article about a new kind of narcissism, where constant re-assurance is needed for this type to feel their own worth. Except they never really feel it, because they're so busy blaming their emotional state and their 'problems' on others. Ie, classic narcissist behaviour,  but in a much clever-er sense. It feels neat. It's not immediately apparent. But their refusal to accept responsibility for the upkeep of their own emotional lives leads them to a permanent state of infancy in dealing with said emotions.
Long story short: they just don't have the tools. And they don't want to get them or use them.

I had, as Oprah has coined, that "aha!" moment.  There is nothing that will change this person, this shell who wouldn't know happiness from suffering if it jumped up and bit her, and it made it a little
(note, a little) easier to bear the whole thing.

I will write more about this strange day and its odd effect on me shortly.
Mike and I are headed to wine country to enjoy some time away from the city, and I hope to use my
iPhone for my very first photos there, which I promise to post and talk about.

Happy Thursday. It's sunny (for now), and it's a new day.
Deep breaths.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Giving Thanks

Inspired by my blog-friend Julia's lovely post, here;

It's Thanksgiving for our American friends this weekend. Food, fun, football...friends.
Julia asks what we are thankful for...I thought I'd do a list since I'm feeling a bit list-y today, the tv is on, football game in the background (Bills and Colts, you know how I feel), it's almost 2pm, and I have yet to run (am still in pajamas. What can I say? I went out last night. Out, as in, I left the house, hung out with Mike, and some old friends, it was a good time).
So without further delay...

Family of course. More than ever. Despite the frustrations that only our families can inflict on us, no one will ever bring us more joy. Or more sorrow. My dad's death has etched that for me.

Friends. New. Old. Those amazing memories that keep giving. And really, they just keep getting better.

The sunshine. It just came out at my back, reminding me how great my run will be.

Running. Even though I'm not supposed to really be doing it right now, I'm sort-of half in the clear. Good enough for me.

This blog, even though it hasn't been getting near the attention it needs from me. Even though I can't quite reveal the bullshit that has gone on in the last while, unless I write a 'fictional' account (believe me, I've thought about it). But all will be revealed, eventually. You know how that goes.

My principles. Wow. They have gone through the wringer these last couple of roller-coaster weeks. As my friend L. wrote in her blog--you can't let their lies become your truth. Amen L. It's been a real challenge to hang on to my beliefs about myself over these two very difficult weeks. All the while keeping up a facade that everything is okay, while inside asking those really scary questions.
How well do I know myself?  How do others really perceive me? Does it marry up with how I perceive myself? I think I've proven to myself that it does. This test of my principles is not over, but it's closer to being resolved. And I have the satisfaction of knowing I held on to my beliefs, to those soul-truths, even as I faced scrutiny for being who I am: myself.

Karma. The backlash of it. The whiplash. How it will strike without warning, like a random rainstorm on an otherwise clear day.  And it does strike. It's been said that the wheels turn, however slowly, and that has been revealed over the past few days and weeks. And it's also been said, it's a bitch. And yea, it is. Especially when you're on the receiving end of it. On the other end of it though, there is no sweeter feeling then seeing someone get what's coming to them.  I am thinking back to a sad September day where I sat in a dingy courtroom with my sister, my arms around her as she cried, witnessing the end of her marriage. This weekend, someone got what was coming to them after a long delay. I know it's wrong to gloat at the suffering of others, but I did give thanks at getting this news yesterday. Sorry. I'm human.

That's all for right now. I'm wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, even though here in Canada we had our holiday in October.  It's a nice reminder to remember to be thankful every day really. Even when things are not going well. Especially when they're not going well. As my friend A. says, even in those dark, shitty times, good things can come out. Very true.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Faith, Hope, and Charity

That's all I can really count on right now.
Other than that, I got nothin'.

This photo was taken by my friend K. who is on her way to being a stellar snapper don't you think?
It really spoke to me.

Right now, I'm just looking for things that speak to me,
and centre me,
so that as a situation in my work-life continues to press forward,
I can remain calm.

photo credit: Kim Heaslip

Sunday, November 18, 2012


"a situation marked by confusion, turbulence, strong feelings, violence, or destruction."
That's where I'm at right now.
I had to look this word up because it popped up in my head last night as I lay in bed, going over
my week in review, this sh*tstorm of a week. 

I can't, much to my eternal chagrin, write about what is going on right now. 
Even this blog is basically by an anonymous writer right now (it is--notice...).

There are a few with whom I've shared the particulars, hazy though they may be, of this most
recent 'happening'.  They have responded with positivity, with wild anger (directed at the situation), and unquestioning support (as always in these types of situations, the ones I've seemed to find myself mired up in over the past few years), the phrase "you know who you are" pops up in my head. 
My husband, my sister (who has been my most vocal supporter, to the tune of "I'm worried about how this will affect your health"), my friend T., who knows ALL the background stories--they have buoyed me along this week with their encouraging words and calls.

This is the type of blog entry I despise--you know what I mean.  One that is vague, un-telling, that clearly hides a big story, veils an emotional turmoil.

What can I say? 

More later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Birthday Letter

Lots of things have been popping up lately that remind me of you, Dad.
I'll tell you about them.

The new James Bond movie comes out this Friday. With Daniel Craig. I'll let you know how it is.
You and Mom would have liked to have gone and seen this one in the theatre. It looks like it has some great action and effects. You would love the song, sung by Adele. You would love Adele, I know I would have already bought you a CD of hers.

The U.S. election was last week. You would have been following this pretty closely over the past year or so. You would have told me all Mitt's secrets, things that no one else would have known. I would have bought you copies of the New Yorker to read all about the GOP and you would have sharpened your arguments, your opinions.

The hurricane. You would have been able to fill me in on all the devestation, point by point. You would have wanted to know exactly where in Conneticut Mike's family lives, and if they were all okay. I would have assured you of the safety our my friend L. and Mike's cousin A. in NYC. You would have been glad that anyone we knew and any family of Mike's was alright.

You would have just joined Mom, most likely, on Hallowe'en night, helping the kids go door to door for candy, and taken masses of pictures. They miss you lots. They ask about you all the time. I tell them funny stories and we talk about Shadow. We look at the pictures on my fridge, from happier times. When they are not looking, I tear up.

Mom misses you alot, but doesn't talk about it much. I think she's afraid too, afraid of her own pain. I don't press the issue, but I try to leave the door open. I called her on your wedding anniversary to let her know I was thinking about that day.  She was uncharacteristically down. Normally, no matter what, she remains cheerful and tries to think about others.  Not on October 10th. She said she'd already had her cry in the morning and that now there are 'no more anniversaries'.  I reminded her that the significance of the wedding day will never diminish. She sometimes tells me how she talks to you everyday and wishes you were in the apartment with her. She thinks you would have loved it.
I think so too. You would have gone walking near the water every single day. You would have met lots of people in your walks already. You would have challenged yourself walking the huge hills in the Beaches. You would have loved to see the changing seasons here.

I guess you know but we sprinkled some of your ashes into the lake on Father's Day. It was a sad day, but we knew you would have liked to have been in the water. When I go running now, it's one of my favourite routes. I also whisper a hello to you as I run by and most times, I take a break and walk out into the sand to stand near that little inlet of water. I don't worry about getting sand in my shoes. You would have told me not to worry about that. "You can shake it out later, that's all." That's what you would have said. Now, when I say "That's all." I think of you. You always said that as a way of illustrating a point that was simple. Moot, as you once taught me.

I chanelled your calm yesterday when dealing with a really difficult (older, rich) client. He was confused about something, but insistent. I simply let him win the argument. It was nice to think about how you never worried about petty things like this, as so many of my clients with money do. You always reminded me to not let money be my master. It's been good, solid advice, and I never got to thank you for that.  The client complimented my scarf as we were leaving his newly-renovated condo, the way you would have.  "Green suits you", he said, not looking at me. I had a strong memory of you then. I asked if his kids help out as him and his wife get older. He shook his head.  "They have their own life; they come first".  I thought, with pride, about how you could have answered this question should someone have asked.  You would not have had to say something like that.

On Sunday, an NFL coach with cancer gave a locker-room speech to his team about circumstances versus vision. Circumstance being that yes, he has cancer, vision being that he wants to see two more of his daughters get married and dance at their weddings (he actually said "weddins" a little American spin thrown down on the word) but I cried shamelessly, alone, at that sentence. I realized that toward the end we had talked about so much, but we never talked about that. Maybe we both knew that such a discussion would have been too painful. Maybe we were both just grateful for even having the time we had to just talk about the weather, and our crazy family, and the mystery of faith. I didn't dwell on the fact that you would not live to see me married. The dream I had before my wedding assured me that you were in fact there, in your own way, as much as you could be.

I finally read the last two articles you mailed to me, one from the Toronto Sun, which I always nagged you about reading (I think I referred to it as "junk writing"), about car insurance and one from Macleans, about running.  I am going to call my insurance company and discuss some of the great points in the article you sent, written by a lawyer. I'm sorry I couldn't get up to the task of reading them earlier. I was, perhaps, in a strange way, saving them for later. You had your customary little note in the envelope, your writing all in caps, as mine always is. You always ended your notes with a wide smiley face, a signature doodle.

I fell at work last week, but I guess you already know that. There is no other way to describe that a fall on concrete, a hit on the head, my left elbow breaking my fall a bit, but nothing more than bruises and a bit of a strain. How is that possible? It just is, that's all.

So, I'll sign off for now. Not sure what the plan is for the 13th. I think Mike should be in Canada by then. If you were here we'd all have dinner together somewhere, with Mom too, of course. You could regale Mike with election tales you'd heard. You could impress him with your knowledge of U.S. politics. Not that you ever need to impress. You just had to be yourself.

You taught me that, too.