24 August, 2016

sparkling diamonds and prancing unicorns

as much as i hate being at the mercy of my emotions - that sudden fist-in-the-solar-plexus burst of anxiety or inexplicable swoop of the sads for no ascertainable reason - sometimes, rarely, but often enough to make a difference, you get a gift. an equally sudden and equally inexplicable moment of grace and magic.

more than a decade later, i still remember walking to the first class i took when i returned to university - it was a spring/summer semester, the class was philosophy of science. i walked through the u of a campus in the late may afternoon and the fluff from cottonwood trees was slowly floating through the golden light and it. was. perfect. i can still see it in my mind's eye, and keep in mind this happened 15? 16 years ago? small mercies, tiny miracles,

i went for a walk this morning and in the midst of the sweaty march i suddenly found myself in exactly such a moment which rendered all things perfect. the perfect song started to play and i noticed that the grass all around was still covered in drops of dew from the morning's fog, sparkling like diamonds as far as the eye could see. the resinous scent of the sun-warmed pine needles, the clouds above the trees, the dappled sun through the leaves - all perfect. and through it all, i was filled with a deep and much needed sense of security, well-being, and hope for the future. everything was going to be all right. though one walks through beauty many times a day, it doesn't always make an impact; it doesn't always sing.

it never occurred to me until today that these perfect moments are the mirror image of the sudden sads, unexpected gifts from the out-of-control emotions, tiny highs to match the dismal lows. sure, the ratio is definitely not in their favour, but that just makes them more speshul (i imagined a bunch of 90's gifs of prancing rainbow unicorns and pink sparkly comic sans font when i wrote that last bit. forgive me.)

everything is going to be all right.





23 August, 2016

superstitious

let it be said: i don't believe in beaming out positivity and the universe responding in kind. i don't believe that wishing or praying hard enough will accomplish anything. i most certainly don't believe that things happen for a reason. i don't believe (although i'm sorely tempted by) magical thinking. but there is a belief (or something akin to belief, it's more of the deep dark root of belief, something beyond visceral, something primordial and ugly) that causes me to fear speaking about things that are not yet locked up. despite my rational mind's pleas, i have a hard time saying, hey! i had a job interview! unless i already know i got the job. that deep dark thing believes (or makes me believe) that if i tell someone i think we found the house we want, it will somehow jinx it, make it go sideways. my mind knows this to be silly but the fear persists. it's all the worse for me knowing how irrational it is. if i fully embraced it, i'd be fine, but having these two forces duke it out inside me, the rational and the primordial, feels distinctly uncomfortable.

while i believe one ought to embrace one's own self, warts and all, there's a balancing act here: some warts i'd pay to have removed like that atavistic thing that makes me superstitious and fearful. i guess it's the fear that i resent the most, this feeling that if i say too much or say it to too many people, i, myself, will be responsible for the failure of the job or the house. so maybe, in a roundabout way, it's really about trying to assert control over situations that give me none (after all, i can't control if my house offer will be accepted or a job offered, i can only do my best) if that's the case, and i suspect it is, then it looks like excision of the thing is all about accepting that sometimes in life one is powerless.




19 August, 2016

oops.

because of all the decisions and thoughts and reflections and such of late, i found myself looking back at some point wondering if selling the edmonton condo and buying the texas place were good ideas or massive mistakes. my reaction to the possibility of them being mistakes was quite telling:  it's quite possible i made the comic shocked face:


because heaven forbid! i made a life mistake!

keep in mind this isn't because i feel i sail errorlessly through life; more that i choose not to dwell on less than stellar choices on account of time only going in one direction. mistakes? i haz maked them. but this for some reason felt kinda raw and terrifying. too close and yet too far gone. so i made a conscious decision not to think like that. i know for a fact i don't regret moving to texas (though in retrospect it seems like the dumbest fucking decision ever - moi. in texas. seriously?) because one can't know what works and what doesn't unless one tries new things. hell, my many many years as a temp surely have taught me that.

zhoen's latest post made me want to reevaluate things a little bit. rejig. reimagine. revisit. shuffle assumptions. hey! life is hard! it is! it can be! tell me you don't know this. and the thing to do is keep trying. keep looking at what matters and learning from your mistakes. oh hell, i know some of you are currently rolling your eyes and mouthing "birds go tweet" but do allow me this opportunity to say, hey, i'm still learning shit and the general hierarchy of what matters in my life is top of the pile.


monkey's choice

we stood at the entrance to security at the houston airport, watching SIL wheel away the sticky, loud, annoying, adorable, sweet, cute, crazy littles. we were subdued and quiet and misty eyed. mr. monkey cried silently in an emotionally-open but entirely manly way*. when he remained withdrawn on the drive back, i asked him what he was thinking about and he told me he was reflecting on the worth of us being here. like me, he didn't regret the decision to move to texas, but, like me, he decided that we would be going home as soon as it was possible. being close to family trumps a hell of a lot, including a coveted lifestyle that we have never coveted.

so it looks like we're both on the same page now, fully. we're working our way home.



*just kidding. he did cry but fucked if i care that crying is perceived as diminishing one's masculinity. but i guess you already knew/assumed that about me. 

16 August, 2016

lady's choice

driving mr. monkey home after lunch yesterday i simply opened my mouth and told him that i'd be looking for work in edmonton and that my plan of action was to return there. he looked at me a second and said ok. i listed the way i see things: the things to sell, the things to refinance, the things to buy, the things to take, the things to leave behind. again, he said ok. i expected something more - a fight, perhaps, or an undermining of my ideas by way of reason. nope. he seems perfectly willing to let me take the lead and take us home. perhaps spending a week with his beloved nephews has something to do with it. or his increasing lack of professional happiness. or both.

i think i've given up on the idea of trying to make it work here. texas feels like a marriage undertaken under false pretences after a whirlwind romance that manifested nothing of the underlying reality. and, having once realised that i ran away, using texas as a convenient rebound after my work-implosion, i must now go back and make things right. somehow. sure, the analogy breaks down at some point, or else i'm just confused but i do think you can sort of work out what i'm trying to say. after all, you're still here, aren't you?

lately i've been nibbling on the edges of missing home. nothing too drastic: no favourite neighbourhoods or festivals (though tears were close to the surface when all my well meaning friends started sending me photos of themselves on the hill at the folk fest last weekend), just suddenly missing a particular bike path in jasper, or a specific (and rather unattractive) bit of 97 street near the empty prison. i find myself wanting, for some strange reason, to see things that never really mattered that much before. these are safe things to miss - unlikely to cause me to fall headfirst into misery. just small flavours of home.

i was talking to sanity salad today about how weird it feels to make this decision, and that maybe i shouldn't have done it. but as soon as those words are out i realised: what the hell else am i supposed to do? who else gets to decide? life? sanity salad told me life is not a decision maker, unless, of course, you let it become one.

zhoen recently suggested that i ask myself these three questions:

1. what do you know?
2. what do you want?
3. who do you love?

1. well, i know that i am happiest in edmonton. 
2. i want to be in edmonton.
3. i love my friends and family who are... wait for it: in edmonton!

kinda makes it clear, don't it?

14 August, 2016

small humans too

i suppose it doesn't really speak too well of me that i get long-term (like hours!) snarky at a four-year old because he was whiny and tired and annoying but there it is: some times i love him lots; other times, i want to smack him up the side of the head really really REALLY hard and walk away permanently. kids. annoying, high maintenance, adorable, sweet, dimpled, loud, and SO FUCKING STICKY.

why are they sticky all the time? why? has science delved deep into this and figured this shit out, because maybe, just maybe, there's like a super amazing new glue, or nanotechnology or, hell, even a perpetuum mobile solution hiding in that ever-present stickiness? i betcha there's a cure for cancer linked to it. there must be; surely nature wouldn't have just made them sticky for no reason!

it rained last night and all morning. mr. monkey had the littles help him clean the pool and wash the car. on top of having the wee-est of them all running pieces of watermelon to our assorted mouths first evening here, i guess there are some uses for children. but i think i'd prefer to get my own watermelon. just saying.


11 August, 2016

small humans

mr. monkey is a most excellent uncle. i'm just the person who tells the kids not to eat/jump on/do shit. he can spend hours and hours with them, keeping them entertained and safe. i'm not like that at all. five minutes into playing "volleyball" with the 4 year old i'm bored stiff thinking to myself, kid, come back in 10 years when you can actually throw the ball in my general direction. or in 20 when we can discuss the intersectionality of race and gender.

i escaped upstairs to bed this evening, trying to combat the massive sads that hit me for no ascertainable reason. lying in bed, reading some articles, the entire family suddenly marches into our ensuite led by uncle monkey and his sister, the little boys naked as the day they were born ready to be rinsed in the walk-in shower. i am lying here, listening to the silliness and chatter: "make sure you wash your penis," random weeping, incomprehensible blather of the 2 year old.

the small one just got carried out wrapped in the towel and the older one is trying to convince his uncle to shower as well. not at all how i expected this evening to go, but entertaining nevertheless. i can feel the sads dissipating somewhat under the pressure of silliness.

and just now, lying in the bed, i got handed a small freshly laundered child who needed to watch masha and the bear with me, before being joined by a slightly larger freshly laundered child. 5 minutes of cuddles and giggles and they're gone and the sads have receded a little further still, though i can feel those bastards lurking.

the end.

hiding out

i'm still in bed. mr. monkey's gone to work and i can hear activity downstairs: smallest nephew periodically yelling incoherent words, loud crashing noises from the kitchen. i don't want to investigate. i woke up with a headache and a sadness. both will pass, i'm sure, but i'm giving myself the luxury of a few more minutes by myself.

i could easily give up this damn big house. i could easily give up our stuff... well, some of it anyway. but you'd have to pry my solitude from my cold dead hands. and if that isn't a most solid reason not to have kids i don't know what is. when you have children, unless you're a total asshole or extremely talented at time management and/or time travel, you are essentially giving up your solitude for a good number of years. couldn't do that. would go mad. kill people, that sort of thing.

so i'll take a few more minutes, ignore the crashing and yelling (it sounds benign), and enjoy my last few minutes of being alone.


10 August, 2016

sink or swim (hint: sink)

sister-in-law and nephews are here. it's been loud, joyous, fun, exhausting, infuriating, excellent, annoying, magical, and messy, and they've only just arrived last night. the highlight of the evening today was stepping in something soft and squishy in the pool. the red light made it clear - it was one of the slices of tomato i'd prepared for our barnyard burgers*. i'm not a fan of the red light - in fact, until last night's Fun Experiments With Buttons, the light was a lovely classy shade of clear. now, it has become an ever shifting niagara-falls-like rainbow hue. the red said tomato, definitely. unfortunately, after the red came clear and the clear said, no, dear, that is not a tomato slice; it is poop. it might have been, on the other side of its digestive journey, a slice of tomato. alas, it was a tomato slice no more.

mr. monkey, in his entirely admirable desire to free the youth from the constraints of diapers, removed the two-year-old nephew's swimmers' pull-ups and plopped him in the pool. an hour later, poop ensued. mom immediately donned swimming goggles, dove to retrieve said piece of excrement and disposed of it in short order. hurray for motherhood!

the pool is chlorinating like crazy right now. it's gonna be fine, i'm sure. nobody's gonna come down with ebola or whooping cough or rubella or whatnot. after all, it was just poop in the pool.

i've taken my own disinfection very very seriously and drank a large amount of wine.


*three or more kinds of meat to reduce dependency on beef.

07 August, 2016

not that kind of hole

c and i made a pact not to talk about american politics because it is not good for our mental health. we've been doing quite well for the most part. the rule was this - don't share/post anything that makes you angry and/or wanting to kick something. last night i texted c my little adventure with gun-loving dad. this was his response (or series of responses):

c: holy shit. that is fucked up. how fucking welcoming at a public place to have a dude with a gun.
kid will probably play with it and shoot his sister or something in a few years. why are americans so scared!

c: don't answer!

c: not going down that rabbi hole!

c: rabbit!

c: rabbi's don't have holes

c: well they do, but not the type I mean.

06 August, 2016

bad romance

goofing around in the pool, mr. monkey leans in for a kiss.

mr. m: mmmm.....garlic....it's the ultimate hermaphrodite...

moi: WHAT?!

mr. m: or something.

moi: you mean "aphrodisiac"?

mr. m: yeah. that's the one.

05 August, 2016

when in texas...

bear with me for a second because i'm sane canadian - we came out of the star trek movie and followed out a man carrying his sleeping son. walking up the stairs to the parkade, mr. monkey used his chin to point our that the man carrying the sleeping child was also carrying a gun. i just about fell down the stairs from shock. after the guy on the motorcycle (with a helmet!!!) at the red light, this is only the second person i saw here packing heat. ha ha. packing heat. open carry. so many little phrases. whoooeee! bang bang! but when you see it, it fucking hits you: this person has chosen to carry a firearm on his pants, a weapon that could easily destroy the lives of many at the drop of a missed antidepressant or a bad incident of road rage.

dear america, the rest of the world (outside of actual active war zones) looks at this as GODDAMN FUCKING INSANE. are you aware of this fact? perhaps you should be. you have made a religion out of an addendum to your constitution written during a time when muskets were all the rage. you are not normal. statistically, you are the outlier. YOU. ARE. NUTS. carrying a small sleeping child AND a fucking gun qualifies you, in the eyes of the entire world, as FUCKING NUTS. i just thought you should know that.

good night.

supporting the sweatshop economy, one impenetrably packaged item at a time

a parcel came for mr. monkey: a very light styrofoam box from china, wrapped in roughly 17.6 billion layers of tape. because mr. m was doing skilled electrical work, it was up to me to unwrap the parcel. it took a long time. far longer, in fact, than it took to swear a bunch and have this conversation:

moi: #%$*@.

mr. m: ...

moi: #@*&%*!!!

mr. m: ...

moi: is there anything else i can help you with?

mr. m: *waggles his eyebrows suggestively at the box*

moi: !!!


*much time passes*


moi: so what is it, exactly?

mr. m: a glass beaker.

moi: how much was shipping?

mr. m: free.

moi: how much was the beaker?

mr. m: five bucks.

moi: holy shit! that's cheap! how do the chinese do it?

mr. m: they pay their workers five bucks a week.

moi: and you support this?!

mr. m: well, they can buy themselves a really nice beaker.

04 August, 2016

fighting sexism, one squirrel at a time

sitting outside in the goddamn hellish evening texas heat. i watch a neighbourhood squirrel hop along the fence, then up the neighbour's palm tree. a while later we can see a disturbance up in one of our palm trees. small things are raining down, leaves are shaking.

mr. monkey: she's up there! what a bitch!

moi: maybe it's a he! what a dick!

mr. m: i can SEE her!

moi: or him! what an asshole!

small things continue to rain down... right into the damn pool.

moi: what is it DOING up there?

mr. m: you've seen squirrels throw nuts down from trees before.

moi: well, yes, but this is a palm tree. (helpfully turning to the squirrel) HEY RETARD! IT'S A FUCKING PALM TREE!



edit:: yes. i realised later - coconuts. but it's not that kind of palm tree.

02 August, 2016

so it's like this...

i've become wary of announcing life changes (other than, you know, irreversible ones like, hey! i lost my leg to a 'gator!) because a lot of that shit don't stick. when i first started meditating regularly, i suddenly lost the need/desire/hunger/thirst for large quantities of booze. well, that's gone... then again, i've only been meditating regularly again for the last couple of weeks, so that could change. still, i've been noticing a gradual paring away of stuff. might be related; might be unrelated. who knows? who cares? i don't. do you? of course, you don't! you don't even know what i'm talking about!

i stopped colouring my hair a while ago and, for the first time in my life, i actually really really like my hair. i love the grey. i love the wavy thing it's been doing. i just generally love it. i've also stopped doing anything with it (although i've never been much of a hair doer) - i let it air dry, and boom! shake what the good lord gave you (hair).

since we've been living in this suburban pit of despair lovely southern texas community, i've stopped wearing make-up. it's simply too fucking hot, and since i see nobody and talk to nobody and do nothing and don't go anywhere, why bother? and when i DO occasionally see somebody or talk to somebody or do something or go somewhere, well, then that bit of colour on my face makes me feel all kinds of special. the funny thing about (unofficially) giving up make-up is that at first you feel all weird about your face, like there's something missing, like you've just looked down at yourself in church and realised you forgot to put on pants. and then, as time goes by, you're all, hey! face! how goes it? nice to see you again! it might also help that 1. my sight is gone to shit and 2. i barely ever remember to look at myself in the mirror anymore. i could be walking around out there with a big chunk of dried up booger hanging off my left nostril and i wouldn't know. and you know what? i don't care.

i know that southern women are supposed to be all big hair and fancy clothes, but in my experience it's all lawnmower haircuts, denim capris (it's 40°C out there? WTF?!?!) and sensible blouses. the fake nails are there all right, but other accoutrements of southern style? not that i've seen. but whatevs. no, seriously: whatevs. having spent 2 weeks with my parents, and having been exposed to the massive tsunami of judgment that my lady parent unleashes on ALL TOPICS IN ALL THE WORLD AND EVERYONE AT ALL TIMES ALWAYS, it's nice to sort of say in my head, hey lady! that lawnmower haircut looks like ass, but you look like a happy human being so rock on. just rock on. anger. letting go of it.

hey! maybe it was make-up that was making me angry! maybe it was the red dye #3 and ground up beetles that were leaching into my bloodstream making me all grrrr all the time?! maybe it was the hair dye! damn hippie henna! no wonder the health food store workers are so morose and judgy all the time - it's the damn henna! oh, man, i'm so glad i figured this out!

so anyways, yes: grey hair, no make-up, trying to meditate. everything is oh so lovely.... or is it? ok. fine, it isn't. i'm having moments of extreme nostalgia. moments of what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-this-country (i've imposed a semi strict trump-free rule in my media consumption, but i do occasionally backslide). (many) moments of feeling overwhelmed by the stuff we have here. but overall, having now conquered the algae bloom that made our pool look like an award winning suburban front lawn, things are relatively level. i've made peace with my face, and that's something, innit?

27 July, 2016

on the same subject once again, this time with subtle differences undetectable without an electron miscroscope

came home to a cooler texas than i left it (yay!)
but i came home to a messier house than i left it (boo!)
came home to mr. monkey (yay!)
but i came home to a pool that is green and filled with algae (boo!)

i am singing the poor little rich girl blues
won't someone tell me what to doooo
i hate my big house
i hate my shit
i want nothing more to do with it
i am singing the poor little rich girl blues

i don't want this idiotic big house. i don't want all the idiotic things that are in it. i don't want to be here in this idiotic state in this bananas country. i don't know what to do, but in the meantime i'm looking for work at home. and trying to remember to meditate daily so that my head doesn't explode.

to end on a more positive note, here are some photos from my time in ontario:











20 July, 2016

it's done

ladies and poltergeists, the resume has been sent. i gave myself until noon (eastern time zone) to quit tweaking and picking and changing and moving commas and shifting spaces and send the damn thing. it went out at 11:49 and it is done.

what happens next is anyone's guess, but i guess that's what Real Life is all about, innit?


19 July, 2016

real life™

what i've found in these recent moments of panic is the sudden realisation that what i'm going through is actually Real Life. and how, then, can you not become clearly and unquestionably aware of the privilege of your position - when the very idea of Real Life only occasionally imposes on your peace of mind (medicated or not)? how then, can you not feel like a class one asshole who sits in the glorious position of someone for whom Real Life is nothing more than an unpleasant break in the monotony of an existence in which all things are pretty much taken care of and pleasantly irrelevant? this realisation, and all that follows, made me see that i've been acting very much like a child and it's time that i grow the hell up.

when i analysed the almost overwhelming fear and anxiety that accompanied the very possibility of my getting a planning job again, i came to the conclusion that despite some valid reasons for being frustrated with the planning world in general, and the planning world in north america in particular, my ultimate rejection of being a planner was nothing more than the angry and hurt response of someone who got kicked off a horse and never got back on again. the fact that i let my professional membership lapse (a fact that will now cost me an additional approx. 200CAD) is indication enough - i wanted to back out and burn the bridges; i wanted to lock the door behind me and have fewer ways of getting back in. and worst of all,  i lied to myself about it: built a whole ideology about why and who and what and how this was the only proper way of going forth into yet another new (and possibly painless) direction!

last couple of days when i found myself working through this insane anxiety, i forced myself to realise that it was nothing more than fear. the fear of the horse that bucked me off a year ago. the fear of the possibility of a new job within my chosen profession. the fear of failure - that, more than anything else, is what caused this anxiety. the fear that i, who did well in school (oh, that ever fleeting and wholly imaginary world!) would damn well fail in the real world as i (half) feel i failed before. the fear that i will disappoint my friends c and sanity salad, not to mention n whose unfounded faith in me (unfounded not because i don't deserve faith, but because our interactions have been almost exclusively social and not professional in nature) is causing her to speak up for me to her boss. it's oh so easy to be above it all, to be smart and capable in one's own estimation, but having a job in my chosen field is the ultimate test, innit? this is the real world!

of course there is the other massive elephant in this room - me getting a job in edmonton (oh, look at all this talk of a job that i haven't even applied for yet because i can't seem to be able to finish tweaking my fucking CV!!!!) means that mr. monkey remains in texas while i head north, and that is nowhere near an easy choice to make. but i have decided today (while picking herbs from a family friend's garden) that i cannot do anything else but apply. if i fail to get interest, that's fine. if i get an interview and then don't get hired, that's fine, too. but if i don't even try, then i'm a privilege-surfing asshole. yes, i'm afraid. but you know what? i was terrified of going back to school but i did it. and you know what else? all my friends, every last one of them, were scared when they started a new job. and mr. monkey isn't happy at work, so me saying, no, i can't do it because i am scared privileges my emotional wellbeing over his and i can't continue to do that.

so there you have it. i realise that the internet isn't the place to announce how you'll get fit or over booze or stop mistreating your pet walrus, but this is MY place to tell you that at the very least this privileged upper-middle class white girl will get off her arse and TRY.

wish me luck.

free therapy session? why, yes, i think i shall! thank you blogosphere!

recap of recent life bits and bobbles:

2 weeks in poland
1 week home getting over 2 weeks in poland (see above) and getting ready for 2 weeks in ontario (see below)
2 weeks in ontario, helping parents empty their house of their many, many, many, MANY possessions in preparation for eventual sale of said house and move back west to be where the family is

being here in ontario, a place that has never been my home (my parents flew the coop and left me behind in edmonton - this has only ever been a place of occasional visits), has for some reason unravelled my tightly controlled positivity about living in the US. perhaps it's being back in canada that does it. the fact that i breathe better here (metaphorically, not physically; the air in texas is just fine, y'all), the fact that this country (if not this province) is my home, all came together and made me get all manner of melancholy. i'm suddenly missing aspects of living in western canada that until now  i never found particularly special or of any particular importance.

and so, under the influence of said melancholy musings, i started a conversation with a friend on facebook. a friend who is a decade or so younger but roughly a century more experienced and a thousandfold more driven. the type of woman who is not only working 70 hours a week, but also sitting on 5 committees, volunteering for 14 organizations, and chairing 3 charitable women's groups. on top of which, her weekends make mine look like those of a hibernating sloth with a glandular deficiency. whenever i tagged along with her, i would make it home at an ungodly hour, having consumed vast quantities of liquor in multiple venues of varying chicness. and then, when all i wanted to do the following day is to gently moan on my chaise longue, she'd want to do it again.

this powerhouse has for some reason taken a shine to me. she thinks i'm aces. so when i casually asked her if the sexy company she now works for was hiring, she immediately jumped on it, immediately talked to her boss (even though it was sunday), and immediately told me to send my CV to him directly. my response to this was to immediately fall headfirst into an anxiety attack. thank gods my mother has a stash of benzodiazepines that i can access sans delay and judgment. my reaction to this... this nothing, really, since nothing has been promised and nothing has been done, is ridiculous, but alas, this is my response, ridiculous or not.

both my response (the ridiculous one, yes) and the situation have made me think and you, gentle reader, are as usual the happy recipient of my outpourings. let this set the stage for what i've come up with. for now, i shall leave you with this, and return forthwith to finish my lengthy CV, so i can stop hyperventilating and move to full fledged panic.



08 July, 2016

floating

after spending well over an hour last night cleaning the pool, i topped up my plastic glass of wine and floated for a bit in the cicada-filled darkness of my suburban white privilege. i reflected on how facebook (or twitter) activism is the one way of feeling less powerless in the face of all the ugliness, but how useless it ultimately is because it merely hollers into the echo chamber of like-mindedness, changing nothing. then again, if not that, then what? what do i do? where do i march? the dallas shooting last night showed an ugly alternative to inaction  - apparently the angry white man in this case was angry at white people and especially white cops. hey, i get it, but his choice of response was... well, what can you say about discharging semi-automatic firearms into a gathering of people? (oh, i know! you can call it the fucking second amendment in action!)

this morning i listened to NPR in the car and the conversation, as always after these almost daily occurrences down here, turned to the age old question: "what do we do about this?" within seconds i found myself flailing madly at the radio, swearing, and utterly appalled - and the NPR is as "my people" as it gets in the US media! "what do we do about this?" SERIOUSLY?!?!

i found myself imagining a country in which people are encouraged to consume candy in vast quantities. it's a badge of honour to walk around with a lollipop or caramels or taffy; bags of candy are everywhere, readily available and much beloved. but, lo and behold, there is (and has been for some time) a massive epidemic of tooth decay! people wring their hands, offer prayers, hold vigils, blame those who don't floss, but never once for a second consider removing the candy from the equation because the status quo is a sacred thing. this, for a canadian, is what the situation looks like. i sit on the sidelines and wonder how it is possible that this is even a question any more.

what do we do about this? seriously, america? i dunno, perhaps if you demanded to buy your soul back from the NRA; perhaps if you took your head out of your ass long enough to notice the rest of the world; perhaps if you stopped venerating the founding fathers as if they were prescient political gods whose creation, the constitution, was a document of biblical immutability; perhaps if you examined the second amendment within its historical context; and maybe, just maybe, if you stopped hollering about your exceptionalism and how great you are and paid attention to the bigger picture, then maybe you could become the kick-ass place you have the potential to be.

until that happens, i'm so done with you. this fling is over. and if you don't cease and desist your violent ways, i may yet take out a restraining order against you. don't call me.


ADDENDUM:

and then i see something like this and i literally weep because most of you are good people who don't want this shit at all, and i don't know who to be angry at anymore.

07 July, 2016

glued

it seems that each day that we've been back from poland, another dainty news item has thrown me for a loop: with the recent killing of alton sterling, i felt a shift, a crack. i got (and remain) so fucking mad at america that i've started looking for work back home. and before you tell me canada isn't perfect - believe me, i know, but we don't shoot unarmed black people every fucking day of the goddamn week.

so i did what one does these days: i wrote a post on fb (only to be told in no uncertain terms by mr. monkey that i need to keep my politics to myself), i've tweeted, i've read, i've talked, internally howling all the while, and i wonder how this will end. it seems like there are cracks all over the world, a great big instability leaving us teetering on the very edge of an abyss: the glorious experiment of the EU might be breaking up; politics seem to be swinging back towards the unmitigated angry tribalism of yestermillenia; the institutionalised racism in the US comes out on almost daily blatant display such that i wonder why there hasn't been a race war yet.  then there are the floods; the fires; the constant screaming anger of so many people (myself included). surely this can't last!

our society feels like a great big intricate vase, useless and dusty but somehow still valuable, held together with wishful thinking and dried up old crazy glue, standing too close to the edge of the shelf and i, for one, want someone to nudge it over. i think that maybe we are due for something, though i don't quite know what it is, and i fear that when it hits, it'll be a hell of a crash.


addendum:
i suppose many people have felt this over the ages. surely, this is nothing new, nor particularly original, as far as our history goes. what lends it such a feeling of immediacy is that now information is thrown at us faster than we can process it, gobs and gobs of ugliness striking us again and again until we think we will never be able to breathe normally.



16 June, 2016

there are things that need to be dealt with

1. we walked into the back yard this evening and what should we see on the top of the fence post but a giant disembowelled grasshopper. i'm going to have to have a talk with larry about leaving his unfinished dinner lying around. just plain rude and not the way we conduct ourselves in this household.  bad larry!

2. i had a glass of wine and then a glass of bourbon and found that caring about american politics becomes ever so much easier when i've had a drink or two  three. i realised that if i manage to stay tipsy until i die, i might be just fine! simple, non? no, no it's not. it's hard to maintain a nice buzz without falling head first into full fledged alcoholism. but i'm trying! watch me!

3. in related news i have vowed to henceforth tweet and share only art, baby animals, or heart-warming stories until the goddamn election is over. fuck you, negativity, fuck you and your ilk! i'm sick of you and i ain't gonna play no more. i responded to two trumpists and i am not doing that again. americans take their second amendment waaaay the hell too seriously and i am done caring.

4. the downside to owning a pool is that you are unwilling to pee in it. this is a pain in the butt: the whole getting out, drying off, schlepping to the washroom. i realise i just confessed to peeing in the occasional public pool. if you want to judge me, go ahead, but i don't believe that you have never peed in a public pool. in the interest of full disclosure, i will also now confess that i once pooped in the ocean. it was a long day on a wild beach - what else could i have done?

5. mr. monkey and i are off to poland on monday for 2 weeks. we will go to our friends' wedding and then spend some time in my neck of the woods saying a proper goodbye to my grandma (i.e. walking the paths she taught me as a child). if i manage to keep their similarly insane politics out of my head, we'll have a grand old time. as for you, world, it's time to swing back left. this right wing thing isn't working out so well for me.

6. and finally, i want you to know how much i appreciate having all y'all in my life. in a world that seems seriously in need of an intervention. y'all rock!

06 June, 2016

brain be like gone

at one point in my book club year we read still alice* and it scared the shit out of me because i became immediately convinced that i have early onset alzheimer's. when the book club met it turned out that all the women were terrified they had it so that cheered me up somewhat. but then these weird things happened:

  • before one of the white sands marathons i was talking to some fellow crazies marathoners and bragging about the number of marathons my dad had run (over 60) vis-a-vis his age. thing is, he had just had a big birthday, 60 or 65, and i knew this, but at this moment i suddenly lost (or gained, i can't remember) a year. and i couldn't figure it out no matter what. 
  • several times, in 2-5 second chunks, i got confused about whether it was fall or spring, each shoulder season being similarly brown and unappealing in edmonton, but there were several distinct moments of utter temporal disorientation.

then i turned 40 and started talking to other women who had recently turned 40 and it turned out that this is the new norm: being stupid is how this thing plays out apparently. remember that awesome vocabulary you used to have? no? exactly. so i sort of made my peace with the holes that showed up in my brain and learned to walk around them using various mnemonic devices and parlour tricks.

then sunday night mr. monkey, tb, and i were watching the stanley cup finals when suddenly i looked at the scoreboard and could not for the life of me figure out what the numbers meant. did the bigger number mean that team had scored more or had had more scored against them? and because i realised this was pretty much insane (one doesn't need to know the ins and outs of hockey to know that in any team sport 3:0 means a certain immutable thing) i decided to quietly figure it out in my brain, and explain it to myself in a way that i could understand: in tiny baby steps. and i finally did. but shit, people, it rather frightened me.

if that is the case, if i do lose my marbles, if i fail to make it home, or if i forget my name (i have no hope of retrieving my vocabulary at this point - that thing is gone!), would you please tell mr. monkey that it started around the time of my second marathon and that he has my blessing to move on to someone sane if i'm drooling quietly in a corner somewhere? thanks.

addendum: or i could just drink lots of champagne!!!


*and may i take this opportunity to say how much i hate book covers with photos of the movie that was based on the book?

05 June, 2016

settling in or just settling?

we had tb over for supper on friday, reinstating our friday night supper/alcohol/conversation tradition and hosting our first actual meal at The Canoe. it was fun, but it also made me look at this place with a critical eye - i don't think it feels like home yet, not quite. one thing: music! music seems to fill some of the hugeness of the house and makes it feel more cozy. a second thing i just did this morning: i brought a small antique dresser and mirror from the bedroom and installed it on the strange large blank wall whose odd window placement means it is resistant to art hanging (at least in my mind's eye). it will act as our bar, and it warms up that damn wall remarkably:


the third thing: i need to put up curtains and soon. i am absolutely allergic to blinds and find them as hard to clean as they are to look at. they make the place look sterile and hospital-like, neither of which is the look that i'm aiming for.

and yes, in case you're wondering, the floor does have a strange reddish tinge to it, but that's the floor i have so that's the floor i will try to love. i keep looking at this place and wondering how one can put one's own stamp on a decidedly bland suburban home, but then i realise that my mom did exactly that in every house that she's lived in, so i suppose it's not the end of the world. and hey, let me give you some more glimpses into my life so you can see what all the fuss is about:


and here, last but not least, is the yard that doesn't require mowing, only, you know seventeen types of pool chemicals thrown in at various intervals and into various portions thereof. however, and it's a big however (HOWEVER!!!!!!!), when it's hot, and it gets damn hot here, this thing is a blessing and i'm not gonna say another bad word against it. also, that's larry the lizard, lounging languidly (ain't he cute?):




i have just received my social insurance number, am about to go and get my texas driver's license, and have started applying for jobs. the shit, it just got real, ladies and gentlemen in the audience. 

most boring post ever. over and out. 

31 May, 2016

bamboo gone wild

yesterday afternoon 3 of the 5 amigos came over to our place and we lounged by the pool until the wee hours (well, some lounged; some went to bed at a reasonable hour - you can guess which path i took). we ate, we drank, we laughed, we swam, and we had a hella good time. i am now covered in mosquito bites and am once again a little hungover. still, it was the perfect ending to a much feared weekend. at one point 3 drunk engineers (2 electrical, 1 materials) finally managed to figure out how to turn on the jacuzzi lights and the garden lights. the best part? waking up and finding all the dishes washed and neatly stacked. nothing like thoughtful guests to wrap things up in a bow.

this morning, my gardener* began the arduous task of getting the bamboo under control, and he just arrived with a truckload of plants: several gingers, a large rosemary, an elephant's ear, a red yucca, and a gorgeous variegated agave. several plants will be moved (bamboos for greater privacy, a small palm for greater exposure) and several old ones removed. once done, i will do the necessary maintenance myself (until i get a job, at which point we'll see what happens). coming from canada, it's shocking to me how cheap labour is in texas. i'd never be able to afford the work i can farm out here and i really don't know if it's bad or good. sure, i may rejoice in a relatively cheap garden job but the big picture beckons and it often ain't pretty.

and there you have it.




*not to sound utterly douchy: he's not just my gardener. he's a gardener that i hired for the day. i needed to clarify that lest you start to imagine a whole throng of liveried servants catering to my every whim. shudder.

30 May, 2016

50/50

after my bellyaching post about the woes of socializing, zhoen shared this with me. my initial reaction was, "wait, i'm not an introvert! i'm a 50/50 intro/extrovert*." but the truth is that most of the cartoons hit home and it made me think about what the 50/50 actually represents. i guess i just figured, without analyzing it at any great length, that it meant i was one half the time, and the other half the time. it'd be easy to say that i'm an introvert based on my reaction to most social events, but then i think back to my year living in chicago where i didn't know anyone and how crazy i was to talk to people. i'd go into stores and talk to anyone who would listen. when i returned to edmonton and started working as a hygienist again, i was thrilled to see people daily. but then i think about how stressed out i was about this weekend, and every other large social or networking event, and i start to think that perhaps it's really more about control.

when i invite my people over, i choose whom i will see. even then, when there's more than a small group i tend to have a mini-meltdown (new year's eve parties, i'm looking at you!) when mr. monkey goes away for work i often choose to hunker down and see nobody. these things are my choice, as is the number and type of people i see. my best people (crusty juggler & d, sanity salad, bj, c, tb, etc.) are people of my heart. they are family in the best sense of the word and having them around is in no way an imposition. they are people whom i will want to see even if i'm in my deepest anti-social funk. they simply don't count as...people, but more of a corporeal manifestation of myself. or something like that but not totally creepy.

so i guess that the 50/50 isn't really about time, but more about choice and gathering size. the extroverted part of me is extroverted in specific situations involving specific people in small groups. which doesn't exactly roll off the tongue as well as 50/50 intro/extrovert. so there you have it, 44 and still discovering some new bits about myself with the help of cartoons! once again, thanks zhoen!




*proven by one of those personality tests administered professionally several years back. i was so taken aback that i retook the test and got the exact same result.

29 May, 2016

simmer the hell down

we spent the whole day yesterday finishing taking apart the bbq into its component bits, taking it to the car wash, scrubbing the gunk off it, and putting it back together again. the day included a stupidly lengthy visit to whataburger where the whole restaurant was in a training session, with the end result of some very angry customers, then a jaunt to home depot for assorted screws, nuts, bolts, bobbles, nubbinses, and widgets. despite intermittent communication with the boys, mr. monkey really seemed more interested in his project than in heading south to houston to hang out. we also waited for our pool guy but he was unable to make it because so many of the roads were closed due to flooding. rescheduled for today.

we finally did make it to houston somewhere around 9pm, having had to make a wiiiiide circle around the flooded roads, and ended up having a really good time. this time it was mr. monkey who decided it was time to go home, and i meekly followed. his reason? he wanted to hit the junkyard early today (50% off all weekend!) and grab some essential volvobeaste bit. we invited the boys over this afternoon and they may or may not come: their plans, as they say, are organic and evolve naturally, and i'm fine with that. it was funny last night to see them stand around glassy-eyed and yawning, proudly telling tales of friday night (or is it saturday morning?) excesses where they closed the after hours club down at 6am. i suspect they didn't go out last night after we left, and if they did, they did it purely for the principle of the thing rather than a deep desire to whoop it up again. all i'm saying is: 40 don't lie, no matter how much you try to tell yourself different.

i'm currently at tb's doing laundry. our house (which i will henceforth call The Canoe*) didn't come with a washer and dryer, and we've run out of time to buy them. tb kindly offered his facilities - it was either that or a laundromat (i suspect they might not have those in the woodlands because only the poors need them and we don't want to encourage those people) or the pool, and i feel like the pool guy might object.

the weekend, despite my darkest fears, has so far turned out to be just fine and dandy, flooding of the surrounding areas notwithstanding.



*not just randomly - the address is canoe birch place, which i insist on misspelling as canoe bitch place. either works, really, though i'm not sure what a canoe bitch might be. ideas welcome.

28 May, 2016

(un) sociable

mr. monkey came home from his week in chicago and instead of going out to a bbq in the neighbourhood (where our 5 guests-to-be were partying) we ended up drinking bourbony drinks and (he) taking apart the bbq and cleaning it and (me) watching bad television*. the volvobeaste threw a hissy fit and refused to start in the torrential downpour which provided a bit of an excuse for not going out. our understanding was that the group would come over after and sleep here, and so i set up mattresses and sofa beds etc. and left the lights on. alas, they did not show up and this morning i saw a 2am text telling me they were continuing to party and were thus taking uber to houston instead of coming here.

i'm conflicted about this. i know i am not considered a "fun" person because my natural rhythms dictate that i go to bed early and get up early and that's seen as "old" and "boring" and a whole host of adjectives i'd resent if i chose to care. i know it's got nothing to do with age because this has been me since...always. alas, this group likes to party hard and takes a certain grim pride in going to bed at all hours of the morning. this, i think, is part of my worry about the visit: having to explain to a hardy-partier that you really truly would rather go to bed than stay up and have "fun" is really difficult to do. they tend to refuse to believe you and insist that if you just stay up and go out and go dancing (or whatever) with them, you will start to have fun. having gone to several concerts in bars in chicago and having waited to see the headliner start at 1am (!!!) i can honestly say that the only thing that happens is a growing sense of resentment and exhaustion. i am not judging their choices, far be it, but i just don't want to be part of it.

still, i feel bad about this, because mr. monkey wants to see his people and i am starting to feel like an asshole because i sort of sabotaged last night's festivities and then they failed to show up. so now i think i will suck it up and get in on the "fun," whatever it might be, or else let mr. monkey go off with them. i really do wish (sometimes) that i was more of a party person, but the siren song of my own bed is irresistible. however, mr. monkey is sad this morning and i can't have that, now can i? his social life is 98% dependent on mine, so i really should support this 2%, or just get out of the way. so wish me luck, eh?




*i'm watching this show, and its main character is utterly charmless** and fulfills all the holywood stereotypes of "strong womanhood" (i.e. bitchy and angry all the time, pouty, refuses to listen etc.), and the writing is increasingly erratic and illogical, and it's making less and less sense, but a. i love most of the supporting cast, and b. it's nearly over and now i just need to see it through to the end. there's a sense of desperation in my watching - i want to kill it dead. there's no joy or anticipation other than the anticipation of it finally being over. what a strange beast man (or in this case woman) is, but alas, this is how it is.

**reminds me of what my english teachers used to tell me about good writing: "show, don't tell" and in the case of this series, the writers are doing it wrong every step of the way. we are told again and again about the heroine's charm, beauty, kindness, attractiveness, magnetic personality, and we really do need to be reminded because all we are shown is her whinyness, her anger, her inability to stop and think before rushing into idiotic situations, and her utter lack of charisma.

27 May, 2016

an (unofficial) guide to living in the woodlands

1. drive a really nice and large shiny new car. the bigger and newer and nicer and shinier the better. the only people who drive old cars are the poors or mexicans. ew.

2. don't signal when driving: it's nobody's business where you're going. anyone who signals or expects others to signal is against freedom and likely a crypto-communist.

3. don't ever open your car windows; god gave us air conditioning for a reason. the only people who drive with their windows open are the poors or immigrants or, worse, poor immigrants. ew.

4. walking on the pathways as a sportsing-type activity is encouraged, with yoga leggings mandatory regardless of the heat or humidity. wearing normal clothes and walking to an actual destination like a shop or a restaurant is weird and highly discouraged. the only people who actually walk somewhere are the poors or immigrants or weirdos.


24 May, 2016

tidbits


  1. as we slowly drove along the residential streets of our neighbourhood, a gaggle of children watched our majestic passage. one boy, about 10 years of age, ogled the mighty volvo and yelled out, they're driving a hearse! look! it's a hearse! i had to comfort a shaken mr. monkey with the fact that driving a hearse is a very cool thing indeed. clearly, cars of such an advanced age and so lacking in aerodynamicity are a rare breed in our new home town. 
  2. we took a first dip in our pool, even though its chemicals are likely out of whack seeing as we know nothing about no pool maintenance and haven't had the time to get someone out. we have not broken out in boils or syphilis... so far. also: it was great fun and will allow us to survive the summer. mr. monkey has really taken a shine to skimming the pool and finds it a meditative and relaxing chore. i just have to get him to do it in shorts instead of underwear, at least until we plant something to shield us from the neighbours out back.
  3. i met our next door neighbours, who are from south africa. their next door neighbours on the other side are from romania. i guess this means we can cook as smelly as we like and nobody is likely to object! woohoo! international ghetto!
  4. lizards: we haves them. larry is not alone and i suspect there is colour changing going on and tail regrowing. it seems sort of unfair that lizards get to do all the cool things like regrowing bits of themselves and changing the colour of their skin. i bet i would look fabulous in a nice bright teal or chartreuse!
  5. the unpacking is slowly progressing. slowly because the big stupid house is big and stupid and what it has in space, it makes up for with utter lack of storage. note to self: when buying house in future, don't be a dummy, check for storage. then again, my next house is more than likely going to be small and simple and here and i find the thought delightful. 

22 May, 2016

(living on) the edge

i'm fine. i don't miss our old home except in the most practical of ways, a.k.a. don't make me mention the lack of deep pull out drawers here again!!!!! i'm busy: painting walls, unpacking, finding places to put things, finding the things i put in places i don't remember, and i'm fine. i am busy and i am doing things and i'm checking things off my to do list and i'm dealing with issues as they come up, and i'm fine. and then, suddenly, every once in a while i'm not. i sit at the top of the stairs and i suddenly realise i now own a large suburban home with a garden and a pool and a large number of bathrooms and bedrooms and it requires maintenance and cleaning and new knowledges and skills and i feel like i am suddenly tottering on the edge of an abyss. i curl my toes and dig in and breathe deeply and talk myself out of the rising tide of panic and then i'm fine again. after all, many people live this life or aspire to this life or dream about this life, and here i am, actually living it, and daring to even consider having a panic attack about the sheer awesomeness of my existence. and then i'm fine again.

we went out on friday night and had very delicious margaritas with a deceptive amount of tequila hidden within them and so yesterday i was badly hungover and not particularly happy and then we had a social engagement engineered by mr. monkey (a very rare occurrence in itself - very very rare!) and i so didn't want to drive an hour into houston to hang out with a bunch of people and be nice and polite and interesting and interested, but i did, and it was fine, but then driving back (i was the designated driver), driving along the highways and byways, driving along the rampant development, driving under the huge ads for medical centres and cancer treatments and mega churches, driving along the overpasses and underpasses and flyovers, there it was again, the edge of an abyss, and i had to concentrate on driving and changing lanes and making sure i kept us safe on an interstate that was still inexplicably busy near midnight, and i breathed and focused and made it home, but some of the darkness remains.

next weekend is a long weekend here and we will be hosting a big bunch of uninvited guests* and i am nearly sick with anxiety about it. i'm nowhere near ready to receive, not to mention that a big part of moving here was the implication of reduced social obligations, but we will suddenly be inundated with 5 people who want to spend the weekend together and who want to spend the weekend with us, all because one friend whose wife is out of the country seems unable to travel without a pack. i know you will advise me to call the whole thing off. i know you will say i don't have to do it. but the alternative (for them all to stay in the tiny apartment of the people we visited last night) is not feasible, and these are friends of mr. monkey's and they all have plane tickets purchased already and i don't want to be a dick about it. plus it'll all be over by tuesday and i will survive. but my reaction to this is colouring everything leading up to the weekend in the darkest of colours and it's taking all my mental wherewithal to keep even keeled. mr. monkey is going away until friday and i usually relish small bits of time alone but this time the long weekend looms. not to mention that since moving here, mr. monkey has lost his every second friday off privileges (oh, america!), and a long weekend is the perfect opportunity to go exploring. instead, i'll be picking up empty beer cans and making sure nobody gets my couch dirty. yeah, yeah, i really should relax, but you know what? it ain't happening.

once again, i realise i haven't been meditating and i'm paying the price. meditation does wonders for keeping the abyss at bay, and perhaps these glimpses of it are a good reminder that while eternal vigilance isn't exactly a good way to exist, being aware of the nearness of darkness might motivate me to more regular self-care.

on a happier note, we just saw our house lizard larry climb up our living room window. we're big fans of larry though he seems rather not as taken with us.


*having stayed with tb for well over a month completely uninvited, i do feel a little bad bitching on this topic.

20 May, 2016

bad porn done badly

this thing just happened to me (or totally failed to happen to me, whatever your take is) and i couldn't not share it with you. i immediately texted crusty juggler to tell her all about it:

moi: so i just had a total porn plot happen to me!!!

i've been unpacking all day, in the house, by myself all alone, so all i had on was a thin little dress - no underwear, no bra. suddenly, the doorbell rings and it's the internet dude. i tell him we don't have internet and he says it should be hooked up, that he's only there for some minor thing, but he comes in and helps me. we go room to room, looking for a plug that's live (the coaxial plug thingy) and FINALLY find it...in the master bedroom! so we then hang out in the bedroom for 15 minutes getting things set up. so yeah, boring ending, but it had the flavour of a really cheesy porn movie!!!

"oh noes! i has no internets! OR a bra or panties! help me!"

truth of the matter, though, is that as soon as he went out to his truck, i ran upstairs to put something on and all i could find was a pair of mr. monkey's old underwear from the laundry hamper.
i can't even do porn right!!!

crusty juggler: no, it's a specific type of porn...just keeps getting dirtier! "all i had to wear were my absent husband's filthy knickers."

moi: rawr!

cj: oh yeahhhhh! installl that internetting!

we then went on in similar vein, but you get the gist and the gist is this: i could have had an internet installation technician google my brains out right on my very bedroom floor, but alas, i failed to live up to the promise of pornography. i am very, very disappointed in myself.

16 May, 2016

hi!

spent my last week in edmonton with girl littles, spending as much time with family and good friends as i could squeeze in. arrived in texas on sunday, unpacked what i could in the new house on monday, and started painting the guano-coloured living room walls on tuesday. found out our stuff gets here tomorrow which provided extra incentive to get going and get done, which i did. the thing with painting some of the walls is that the unpainted walls suddenly start to look so much worse. the painfully beige hallway, alas, is two storeys tall and will require a professional intervention. i'm good at painting but alas, balancing on scaffolding is another matter and one not unlikely to end in death and/or dismemberment.

we spent the weekend in austin with tb and his visiting daughter, and had a wonderful time. austin is the antithesis of the woodlands: the latter is all controlled, beige, architecturally uniform, calm, and corporate; the former is a glorious kerfuffle of varied styles, sizes, colours, and uses. the lay of the land is also ridiculously good looking - i ran out of sounds of awe after an hour of rolling fields of wild flowers dotted with huge southern oaks, prickly pear cactus popping up on occasion, everything dressed in brilliant hues of green and red and yellow and pink and purple and white. it was that rare weekend that was busy but not overwhelming, and even though we did and saw a lot and came back exhausted, it only whetted my appetite for more.

today i go to clean the house, get groceries, and make an attempt at beef bourguignon, though i know already i will simplify and streamline. complicated recipes stand no chance with me and quickly become mere guidelines, suggestions. depending on the unpacking tomorrow, we may well sleep in our new home tomorrow night, so i wanted to make a nice dinner tonight to thank tb for putting up with his uninvited accidental roommates.


01 May, 2016

not the dalai lama quite yet

in case you're worried i'm well on my way to becoming too fucking nice, here's an exchange i had with myself just now:

bringing my toes to the window to look at my paint job.

moi: wow. you did a supremely shitty job on those nails. what are you, blind?

moi: yeah. i am blind. and if you weren't deaf and stupid, you'd know that!

29 April, 2016

acute assholism

while i'll be the first to admit that i can sometimes be snarky, i generally tend to be nice to people, especially those who serve me, if for no other reason than it usually ends with better service. i try not to snark at tellers, or phone operators, or waiters, or anyone else who's doing a thankless job.

yesterday evening, i dragged my sorry carcass to the closest grocery store to pick up some edible substances and was treated throughout the endeavour to very loud big hair rock music. not sure whose idea of a grocery store soundtrack it was, but i would wager that most of the exhausted working stiffs could have also done without it: not one person could be seen banging their head in rhythm, hand raised in a defiant satanic salute. i turned to the young woman putting out olives and said, "wow! that's some pretty bad music!" in a come commiserate with me sort of tone. this is where it started to go wrong because instead of commiserating, she immediately got defensive and snarky and said, "i didn't pick the music!" as if i had thought that from her lofty heights of the deli department minionhood, she also directed the media. i walked away, but the snark had started.

after paying for my groceries and being very nice to the very nice cashier, i decided to walk over to the customer service to ask them to maybe tone down the tunes (this was not the first time bad big hair music had happened in this store). there was a blank faced young man at the desk who looked up at me, when i started to speak to him, with the expression you'd likely see on a butcher if the pig, lying in pieces on his counter, had asked him for the time. he seemed utterly flummoxed by either the english language or the peculiar nature of different beings making sounds at each other at all. i asked him several times to please turn down the music, eventually resorting to slow talk: CLASSIC. ROCK. MUSIC. TOO. LOUD. he stared blankly at me some more ("why is she still here? why is her mouth moving? what does all this mean?!?") then asked me, "in the store?" by then i'd had enough. "no," i said, "in my head. OBVIOUSLY in the store. this is customer service, correct? (a weak nod) and i'm a customer, right? (another weak nod). then i want some service! ok?" "ok."

i marched out of there knowing i accomplished nothing other than giving the teen another adult to despise. and i really wasn't proud of myself - aside from accomplishing nothing, i'd made myself angry and made someone else feel bad (if anything had penetrated). deep cleansing breaths, and onward home.

today i did it again - asked for a glass of water nearly 5 times at a restaurant before eventually walking over and getting it myself, snarking at the waitresses who watched me walk up with varied expressions of confusion. whoa, nelly, thought i to myself, i may be having some sort of psychopathic psychotic breakdown! and as i texted my tale of woe to sanity salad, it hit me: i have been sans internet entirely for 3 days, and prior to that sporadically for 3 days more, which translates into 6 whole days of no meditation*. could this have something to do with my sudden uncontrollable assholism? why yes, methinks it might.

sanity salad responded with an article that had this to add:
So stay the course. We need to be extra vigilant once we feel like we’re on a roll. Part of our practice is learning to come to the cushion under all different levels of enthusiasm: excitement, complacency, doubt, indifference, and every feeling in between. We practice not because of how we feel or what we need right now, but because it’s time to practice.

ladies and gentlemen, please excuse me while i go and chill out for a while and try to get my own self back. it's meditation cushion time!



*yes, i realise one doesn't need internet to meditate but i really can't do it very well without the guided talky bit - my brain flies off all sorts of handles and i usually forget that i was even meditating in the first place.

28 April, 2016

strawberries and deer blood

after the idiotic stresses of tuesday, i woke up wednesday feeling like i'd been beaten up. my bones hurt, my skin hurt, swallowing was traumatic, and my head was suffering from all the hangovers of my life put together. i crawled out of bed to go see my dentist, then crawled to starbucks for wifi to cancel all my social engagements for the day. i spent the rest of the day in bed, wearing a sweatshirt, leggings, and socks, shivering uncontrollably.

at one point i woke up from one of my many naps and realised i was hungry but had nothing in the house except for a bowl of strawberries and a pound of raw ground deer meat, which is exactly as strange as it sounds and just as unhelpful. i ate the strawberries and went back to sleep. i woke up in the middle of the night soaked to the bone, but my fever had broken. i changed into dry clothes, fluffed out my soggy bedding and fell back into a stupor from which i didn't wake until after 10 am.

i've been couch surfing at my aunt's today, taking advantage of her wifi, warm fuzzy cat, cabbage rolls, and tea. i think i will survive and it was stress that likely pushed me over the edge, but man, oh man, i really don't have time for this.

my next door neighbours are coming home from their long european trip today or tomorrow and i hope that translates into renewed fully functioning wifi (maybe all that was needed was a solid thwack on the modem, but since it's at their place, not mine, i could do nothing but howl with frustration and haul my carcass to starbucks), so that i can set up my official centre of operations from my bedroom again, and, if need be, never ever leave my bed again...until the movers and packers come on the 2nd, but that should give me enough time to recuperate.


27 April, 2016

spring

since we’re being philosophical on all sorts of fronts (when we’re not being pummeled by imperiously illogical bureaucratic requests from enigmatic purveyors of real estate magic), here’s one front i’ve been mentally pursuing for some time – the idea of deferred gratification. it’s quite possible that i’ve written about it before, but i’m far too lazy to search for the topic herein – these posts are like the children of some beast that values swiftness in its progeny; born, they must learn immediately to stand on their own feet and having once done so, cease being of any interest to their parent, namely: me. let’s assume then that this is a new topic, and if it isn’t, let’s assume i’ve got some new light to shine upon it, and if i don’t, let’s assume you don’t remember what i write anyway, which brings us, for all intents and purposes, full circle to the beginning of this sentence. swell!

those of us who live in winter cities and who don’t waste time stupidly wailing about the unfairness that it should snow and drop below freezing for a large portion of the year, those of us like to think ourselves heroic – surviving months of very cold weather makes us tough, we like to think. it makes us tougher and stronger and more badass than the wusses who inhabit warner climes. we’re so badass, in fact, that come february with the slightest hint of warmth, we gladly shed our parkas and enjoy our drinks outdoors. but what i believe makes winter dwellers tougher and stronger and more badass than their southern cousins isn’t just the ability to withstand wind chill factors, but the deferred gratification that every winter brings. we are good at waiting. we are good at waiting and hoping and wanting and hungering and thirsting for the slightest hint of spring, and when it comes, we pounce on it with the voracious joy of a small child in the 1980’s finally outwaiting the whole long week and pouncing on saturday morning cartoons.

society has made it hard to want and not immediately get. waiting for anything has become so rare that i fear we have come to see it as something to be eradicated, like measles or racism, instead of realising that the better part of pleasure is precisely in the wanting, the waiting, the counting down towards a goal. i was reminded of this today when i drove across the river valley and realised that the cottonwood trees were suddenly sprouting tiny leaves in that indescribable shade of green, still wet from the sap of their buds, all too soon to turn the perfectly respectable but far less exciting colour of fully grown up leaves. spring is the ultimate tease in the northern country – we want it so very badly, and watch for it with such keen eye, and never let our disappointment at yet another snowstorm stop that hunger.

i love winter, i truly do, but i stop loving it right around the time the days get longer and the snow melts, revealing my city at its worst and when, despite the most fervent wishes of my fellow citizens, winter persists for another month or three. but oh, when spring comes! it’s a miracle every single year. every year, no matter if it’s late or early, the coming of spring feels like rebirth and love and joy, and all because it didn’t come easy like yet another toy in the kinder surprise of life; like yet another cartoon pulled up on netflix on any old day of the week. maybe i sound like an old fart pining for the days when we had to walk uphill both ways to get to the coal mine where we worked (if we were lucky!) but i stand by my conviction because today when i saw the first poplar leaves i felt that after wading through the grey and brown of winter,  i was given a glimpse of a something priceless, and it was so worth it!


26 April, 2016

an evening in with kim crawford

all i want right now is several large glasses of wine poured into my mouth in quick succession, but first let me tell you the story of a banker for whom i may just leave my husband, and a lawyer who spent an hour with me and didn't charge me a penny.

ok, actually, the very thought of working my way back through the convoluted happenings of the last two days fills me with such trepidation that frankly i simply cannot face it. suffice it to say, i almost drove down to calgary to the american consulate for one stupid stamp, and i almost paid a lawyer for the same, but in the end i did neither and still got my stamp, which, you must admit, is pretty miraculous: i accomplished everything that i set out to accomplish and then some, all thanks to my mortgage guy (MG).

i've been dealing with this particular MG from the very beginning of our house buying adventure and he is a veritable powerhouse, a fixer of epic proportions, a man whose capability and effectiveness are rivalled only by the sexy timbre of his baritone and the warmth of his personality. do i sound like i have a bit of a crush? why, how perceptive of you: i have come to believe that any man who can make the process of buying a house relatively painless and actually somewhat pleasant has earned the key to my heart, even if he is an avid golfer.

at any rate, my poultries, i am now sitting, slumped sleepily, in my neighbourhood starbucks, trying my best to string a sentence together and having a hell of a time of it - i've deleted about six times more than what i've actually left written, and i'm fairly certain some of these sentences don't add up, for which i apologise. i think i may very well buy myself something yummy, go home, pop open my book, and start pouring the aforementioned wine into my mouth before passing out in my bed.

oh what a day!








25 April, 2016

recipe for self


i think it goes without saying that i'm not a believer in horoscopes. there is one notable exception to this rule, free will astrology, with a far more literary and philosophical approach than mere star-gazing woo. time and time again, i've plucked pearls of wisdom from his thoughtful and often irreverent words. this week hit one of the themes I’ve been exploring in various guises lately:

I've got a controversial message for you, Pisces. If you're addicted to your problems or if you're convinced that cynicism is a supreme mark of intelligence, what I'll say may be offensive. Nevertheless, it's my duty as your oracle to inform you of the cosmic tendencies, and so I will proceed. For the sake of your mental health and the future of your relationship with love, consider the possibility that the following counsel from French author André Gide is just what you need to hear right now: "Know that joy is rarer, more difficult, and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all-important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligation."  

i don’t think i've been a very good cynic in recent months – yes, it pops up on occasion but i feel that a great deal of my earlier cynicism has fallen by the wayside. that's not to say that i won’t engage in some good old fashioned skewering of our society over a bottle of wine, but i think i'm falling more into the other side (except when an overload of what-is pushes me firmly into the arms of team apocalypse). and even if i still engage in cynicism, i think i'm finding it a weight to carry: an entertaining friend who, over the years, has become a burden. i'm slowly working on laying that burden down. my choices have very little to do with the final outcome of our civilization, but a lot to do with the way i perceive and live my life. like another old friend righteous anger, i’m willing to back away from cynicism to save my own psychological skin.

a good friend sent me an article recently that at first made me very very angry. then, as i continued to resentfully work my way through it, it forced me to put aside some of my antagonism and to reexamine how tightly i hang on to my opinions. an adjunct, i think, to the idea of the moral supremacy of joy over sadness, is the idea of the moral superiority of compassion over smugness. step by slowly taken, hard-won step, i want to think i’m moving towards the idea that being right might not be as important as being kind, and being blasé might not be as healthy as being open to the wealth of the good things available in the world. both notions come hand in hand with my growing awareness of my own agency - if i have the power to choose how to react to what life throws my way, then i may as well choose the higher path. 

oh sure, some of you are vigorously rolling your assorted eyeballs: that'll be the day when you're some sweet-smiling pie-baking polyanna, spreading kindness and light across the universe. well, perhaps i will never fully be that person (for one, i think pies are far more trouble than they're worth), but i have moved far away from the person that i used to be who'd blithely join in the bitter squawking choir that certain female family members of mine engage in with chronic regularity. increasingly, i find it an exhausting and pointless exercise, so completely irrelevant and old that i just want to walk away as i have yet to find a way to make them stop. it is definitely a personality trait that's been undergoing a profound shift and for the better, if i may say so myself. 

so what final point am i making? not much of one, and definitely not one aimed at anyone other than myself. i really don’t want to be the person whose self improvement path becomes a weapon to beat her readers with – as it is i've already been proselytizing about meditation to anyone who will listen, though i have nothing to prove the efficacy of said exercise save the anecdotal incremental improvements in my own ability to function in this mess of a gorgeous universe. so take it as you will – the newest ingredient in my recipe for building a better me – not necessarily the recipe for building a better you. 

21 April, 2016

untethered

i’m typing this on word because for the last 3 days my relatively reliable borrowed internet completely stopped being reliable. it went from hours at a stretch of gently tethering my consciousness to the rest of the world, to dropping said connection every 15 seconds or so. this means that if i want to say, send an email, i must turn the wifi off, turn it on, refresh my email and find the email i want to respond to (quickly!), then press reply. by then the wifi is fully non-functional (though pretending to be fully functional according to the task bar icons). once my email is written and ready to send, i must turn wifi off again, turn it on, and in the nanoseconds following reattachment to the interwebs, i must swiftly and decisively press send before it drops connectivity once more. if i'm doing several things on several different pages, i need to repeat this process with every action. pages can only be refreshed one at a time in the nanoseconds following reattachment and all actions must be decisive. attempting to do more than one action at a time invariably leads to failure on all fronts and having to start from scratch again. turn wifi off. prepare stuff. turn wifi on. PRESS BUTTONS TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN!!!! turn wifi off. lather, rinse, repeat.

as you can imagine, this is rather time consuming and extremely stabby-making. as a result i’ve spent hours in local cafes, trying to manage my various realtors, bankers, lawyers and other assorted courtiers in the kingdom of my adulthood. i feel like don corleone holding court in the local pasta joint, but with fewer supplicants and far less pasta. mmmmm….pasta….. anyways, i seek out places where it’s not considered gauche to sit for 3 hours with one americano and a surprisingly delicious croissant, i.e. those favoured by the beautiful children of the university area. so young, so shiny, so very very clear-eyed and glossy-haired. was i ever thus? i assume i was, though it seems to be lost in the mists of time, a mythical yesteryear where the breadth of my youthful beauty was rivaled only by the depths of my youthful dumbness. truly they speak that youth is wasted on the young, though i do know several very notable exceptions to this rule.

the condo is sold in all sorts of official ways. sadly, it sold to the initial bidder and not to the much sweeter back-up offer we received on sunday. sweeter financially and sweeter in that the potential buyers seemed just as smitten with my home as i was when i first saw it; sweeter, then, in both the pragmatic and the fuzzy ways. alas, such is life, and i have found, once again, not to be particularly distraught over it.  now it’s on to lawyers and realtors and movers, oh my! the latter better not go rooting through my folded lady dainties, since i wrapped my teas and herbs in them. i’ll be damned if my good stuff fails to cross the border. you can take my nigella seeds from my cold dead hands, america!!!!

tonight, having accomplished much, i am heading out to procure some smoked sausage for a ladies’ firepit evening. what’s on the menu, you ask? why, feminism, cheezies, vaginocentric conversation, sausage, wine, and excessive amounts of laughter, appropriate and otherwise. i’m seriously looking forward to it. onward and upward, my poultries!