Monthly Archives: October 2013

autumn fog

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It’s been foggy most mornings and evenings, which lends a veiled mystery to the beginnings and endings of days. I took this photo Monday night.

Last night I took some antihistamines and went to bed fairly early, intending to read but incapable of even doing that. Instead I had a round of Sweet Tooth 2 – something like Candy Crush (I hear) only different.

My dreams were crazy wild, something about attending a wedding and getting lost on my way to the reception and losing my date (whose friends they were) and then finding him and the wedding party again, and having crazy long and artfully painted nails (if you know me, you know that my nails are paper thin, and short down to almost quick is how I sport them).

I awoke this morning with the realization that I was breathing deeply from my belly and thinking how good it feels – how much better rested I feel when I’ve had a night full of those. Mostly I don’t, my breathing abbreviated and mirroring the stress that hides itself so well in my body.

truth or consequences

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The school year is only a month or so in, but already the emails start coming, from the teachers, from the counsellor. My son will early next year officially be of voting age, and yet, and yet…

A friend asked about consequences for his not showing up and going to school. The onus is on him. The consequences for him not following through are his failure to thrive. So no punishment, which to my mind, as far as he is concerned, has not worked since elementary school (and I question it’s effectiveness, even then, in retrospect).

We did, however, have a talk. I talked, mostly, and he listened, mostly, but when asked he did reply as best he could, and that’s all I can expect. I told him to reach out – that he is never in anything alone – and if he needs assistance or just a sounding board, people who love and care about him are around him and always available.

I did not get preachy (much) but I told him that some people are lucky and some people struggle and some work really hard and we all attempt to wring out of life what we need and want, and what that means to each person is an individual thing, but we each need to spend some time with ourselves to figure out what that is.

I told him that I struggle, that I struggle to provide us a good life because I didn’t think much about these same things when I was young and life made choices for me. I told him I struggle as a human being and at almost 50 I am still only now figuring some important things out about myself and life.

I told him I struggle as a parent, excruciatingly making choices for the both of us that will permanently, in some way, affect both our lives. Tears were shed, by both of us. I think I got through. Maybe.

rainy days and mondays

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It’s too dark and too early and raining.

It’s sort of how it happens here; the light switch gets turned off, as if the earth has a wobble in it that suddenly makes it so that the sun is all of a sudden beyond the earth’s rotation, not the gradual shifting that I always imagine it to be. I showered last night so there is less to be done this morning. Just dressing and making a coffee and drinking it, packing up my things. The cat’s taken to sleeping on my office chair, which I find annoying because eventually there is a layer of fur that coats everything she chooses as a resting place.

Last night I spent way too much time on Pintrest, looking at and saving pictures of France. There is something about that place that excites me, its colours and history, and how beautiful the esthetic is. Cities that were planned rather than mushroomed, and even though we have entered a modern era, the craftsmanship in the old things that have withstood the test of time are a testament to beauty and good work, embarrassing our current disposably inclined culture to step it up a notch when comparisons are made.

I’d like to make snow angels in the Père Lachaise Cemetery. I’d like to ring in a new year from the top of the Tour Eiffel. I’d like to roam the Provençal countryside on a bicycle with a big basket on it’s handlebars, filled with picnicking things and bring back an armful of lavender to where I am staying. I’d like to go to Grasse and sink into rose petals. I’d like to sunbathe nude in St-Tropez in the late afternoon sun without any sunscreen on. I’d like to eat macarons and sip espresso at LadurĂ©e, and walk the banks of the Seine in spring. I’d like to see what’s left of JosĂ©phine’s garden at Malmaison.

Did I ever tell you that the bourbon rose, “Souvenir de la Malmaison” is my favourite? The palest of pinks, it’s the kind that is so densely petalled that it feels like a powder puff against your skin, and the smell, oh how lovely it smells! It smells rich and sweet and fruity, the kind of scent that would make all other scents try just a little harder if they were able to.

I’m on the bus, now, having managed to put a comb through my hair and dress and sip two thirds of my coffee and pack my lunch and my iPad and keyboard in case inspiration strikes during my lunch break, or if I want to read an e-book. I’m not ready for the week, or the day, really. It’s the kind of weather that drives me indoors and keeps me there, snuggled in a blanket with a coffee to warm me from the inside.

It’s not really cold outside – in fact it’s quite mild, but the blue skies from yesterday have become washes of Payne’s gray and all it signals me to do is rest. And I have been. In fact I feel guilty that I don’t get more done. I do what is necessary to keep things going and then I indulge myself in lengthy periods of daydreaming. I’d stopped doing that, and wondered if I would be able to do it again. It’s been a long journey back to it, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.

thoughts on a Sunday morning

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It’s sunny this morning. I sit comfortably on the couch in the living room, watching steam rise from the roof as I gaze outside the window. A manic little fruit fly is insisting that it do a kamikaze nosedive into my coffee mug which rests upon, along with my feet, the wicker chest across from the couch. The sky is still a rich blue, not yet washed out by weeks and months of rain. The trees, some of which have been spewing leaves for at least a month, are still mostly green leafed, though some have been nipped by the chilly night air and are showing signs of yellowing. The sun feels warm against my skin, bits of leg exposed between where my flannel pyjama pant ends and my knit slippers begin.

My cat, unimaginatively named “Kitty”, restlessly paces from room to room, mewling quietly in frustration; she wants to be let outside, because the rain has stopped and it’s sunny, but I can’t risk her coming up the back porch, which is still tarped and received another layer of plastic coating recently, requiring 48 hours to set properly. Soon the view from the rear of the house will be restored. All is quiet and still in the house, besides the cat, but street noises filter in through the slightly cracked windows: a car alarm, emergency vehicle sirens (I have never been able to distinguish the separate agencies), the acceleration of buses and the shushing of tires against pavement, the squawking of crows and geese spearing their way through the sky in arrow formation.

I have things to do today. Chore things, and things that I’ve signed up for that I haven’t done, like reading pages of a book, and spending some time on self-contemplation and journaling, and to make moussaka (which will probably be made very late, because I only remembered to thaw out the frozen ground lamb trays at 4:15 this morning while sitting on the toilet contemplating what it was that I would have to do today because yesterday I mostly did nothing).

I wanted to write, too, to work on my story (or one of the many), and this is where I balk. Which one? Where to take it? I’d rather read some more on technique and how-to and endless pages of online text and blogs and Facebook wall posts than sit down and figure that out. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because I really don’t know, or the inkling is so faint that it will take too much work to unearth, and there is already enough work that I have to do, isn’t this supposed to be the pleasurable part?

And then I think of pleasure, that kind, the kind that is mostly absent from my life and is otherwise self-inflicted if it happens at all. I miss it. I love the textures and the smells and the feeling of skin against skin and coarse pubic hair and how a person tastes and of course the obvious things as well, but it always has been more for me than plugging things into orifices -it’s a means of connecting with a person in physical and superphysical ways- and it’s obviously not that way for others; not all others.

The kettle has boiled and I’ve moved from coffee to tea. A stream of engine rumbling comes in from outside, perhaps a motorcycle procession, with lots of horn honking and intermittent whistle blows. I’m tempted to go outside to see what is going on, but I’m not sure which direction it’s all coming from, and I am, after all, still in my flannel pyjamas. I open the back door to see if the coating on the deck has set – it has. I let the cat out and she listens to the rumbling for a moment and decides she wants back in.

The rumbling persists, along with the honking and the whistle blowing. I am finally intrigued enough to move off the couch.

[* * * Pause while I go to the end of the street to investigate, in my flannel pyjamas and knit slippers slipped into my Birkenstocks. * * * ]

It turns out that there is an annual Vancouver Motorcycle Toy Run that starts from the Coquitlam Centre parking lot and rides up the road by the house up to the PNE. Mystery solved.

I resume my position on the couch with my wireless keyboard set cross on my lap and my iPad propped up on my knees. The cat wants onto my lap and decides that the iPad will serve as a suitable object to rub against, for the lack of a hand. I observe the little clumps of cat fur that litter the living room floor.

The cat has taken to yanking out tufts of fur with her mouth. This started shortly after her run in with another neighbourhood cat that ended in our living room and with her limping around for the better part of a week. She seems fine now, physically, but she is a tender thing, neurally, and it takes her lengthy stretches of time to come to terms with things that rattle her.

I find it difficult to ignore the mirror she holds up, parallels in our behaviour, since under high stress I have always reached for my hair and yanked, not figuratively but literally. During a particularly trying time in my early twenties I’d fully razed a whole area along my temples, so much so that it hurt to the touch, it had become so raw. It was then that they named it for me, this thing I was doing: trichotillomania. Along with the lip biting and inner cheek chewing, I’m sure they all relate to how I’ve learnt to deal with anxiety, and they all have fancy names in the DSM for body focused repetitive compulsive behaviours.

But the tufts of fur are yet another reminder of the growing list of “things” I must attend to but tend to ignore until I don’t. There’s laundry to be done, too, and dusting. I can’t seem to find it in me to do these things routinely. I used to. I was regimented, which perhaps had been worked into me by my mother despite them being unnatural inclinations. I love spatial esthetics and tidiness, but the clean part doesn’t bother me as much, not anymore (though truth be told, I will admit to being a bit of a germophobe, so while dust and cat fur balls don’t really faze me, I’ll wash my hands a gazillion times while preparing food, and will scrub the sink out to make sure that it doesn’t become a petrie dish of sorts).

Much has changed since I’ve ventured off on my own, without eyes to judge the places I fail to live up to invisible expectations. After her death ten years ago, while I missed my mother terribly (still do), as time went on it was as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, as though I could finally be who I really was and wanted to be.

It’s been a messy ball of yarn, this untangling of self, this figuring out which part was me and which part was conditioning and which parts I wanted to keep and which parts could use a fresh coat of paint. I never imagined that it would be so… complicated… but it has been.

This slow unfurling of self has been good, though, allowing for mindful and gentle observing, because if we can’t be that way with ourselves, how can we be that way with the world? It all starts with ourselves, it seems, no exceptions, otherwise we will judge the world and those in it as harshly as we judge ourselves, whether we admit it or not, and that is an epic fail, in my opinion. It hobbles us emotionally and keeps us from being able to connect with each other in meaningful ways, and what else, besides connection, is the highest goal of human life?