Tag Archives: autumn

on reading piles, writing


It’s chilly outside today. I can feel the bite in the air hinting at what the fallen leaves that have begun to litter the walkways for the last couple of weeks have been soundlessly saying: fall is almost here. It’s my favourite time of year.

Nothing is more appealing on days like today (or yesterday, for that matter) than to cozy up in a quilt and read. I can’t resist a good book, even though I should be writing one instead of diving headlong into my reading pile.

I read through Harry Potter and the Cursed Child yesterday. Since it essentially is a bound version of the play, it consists mostly of dialog and scene set-up.

I loved the story.

I think we often (as we move through our lives) wonder about the choices we make, and how a different one would have changed our circumstances. This story provides a means for us to vicariously travel along with these characters and see different outcomes. It highlights the perfect imperfection of the human condition, and how much of who we become depends upon those we choose to journey with during our lifetime, and how gracefully we accept our own and others’ periodical defeats.

Prior to even receiving the book (which was an unexpected and most appreciated gift from my son and his girlfriend) I had read through many online critiques of the plot line (and the spoilers, because that’s just who I am). They were a bit off-putting, to be honest, and so when I began to read yesterday I was pleasantly surprised that it was an immersive experience and brought me back into the make believe world that I’d come to love so much.

A week ago from last Friday I took a spill while rushing to the train station between jobs. I injured my right shoulder and it’s been slow to recover. I probably should go to the emergency unit and get it x-rayed but I keep putting it off because I have such little spare time and don’t particularly relish spending it in a hospital line up. I set yesterday as my getting better or going to have it looked at limit and ended up resting instead of going to hospital. It’s getting better but I still can’t properly lift my arm from a certain angle.

I plan on working on one of my own stories today. I have a four hour shift late afternoon but until then I want to get to know my characters a bit better, perhaps write some back story. Maybe I’ll even get to start on the next book in my reading pile. And there will be Dutch Babies for breakfast.

What are you reading these days?

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autumn flotsam
Each week I share Rob Brezsny’s weekly astrology report for our signs with a friend of mine. Mine for this coming week is:

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Here’s your assignment: Get more organized and purposeful about having fun. Think harder about what makes you feel good, and plan more aggressively to bring those feel-good experiences into your life. In offering these prescriptions, I’m not advocating irresponsible hedonism. Not at all. In my view, you will become a better servant of those you care about by boosting your commitment to pleasure. You will carry out your duties with more aplomb and effectiveness. Raising your joy quotient is actually a formula for becoming a better human being.

I’m not in a very good place, right now, although it varies greatly from moment to moment. My own vacillation is driving me a little nuts. Or a lot. I guess it depends mostly upon who’s looking… or when. ::smile::

pretzel_traypretzelsCU

Gabriel made home made pretzels yesterday. I love the smell of yeast, which in turn reminds me of the yeast-risen doughs my mom used to make some of her pastries with (one favourite was an apple pastry, called almàs pite in Hungarian).

 

The sunsets have been gloriously beautiful. I didn’t get an email last night requesting that I show up to any last-minute temporary assignment, so guess I won’t be working today.

Maybe I’ll actually stick my nose outdoors. On second thought, I’ll absolutely have to stick my nose outdoors because I must run some errands, deposit the cheque I received for my work from last week, most of which will be vaporized on last month’s cellphone bill and food. I’m not quite sure yet in which proportion that will be – there won’t be enough to pay the whole bill and have enough for food. The money will get portioned out so that each area is a little, but not entirely, satisfied. I can’t allow myself to dwell much on the other bills that are coming in and stacking up like planes on a runway.

I never thought I’d ever reach this level of financial instability. I mean… I’ve never been one of those financially savvy people – ever – but when there was enough I would manage decently well. I know how to tighten a belt with the best of them. I also know just how much I am missing, having been fortunate enough to indulge in many things that are so far out of my reach at the moment that I can’t even entertain thinking about them. They get pushed out just as quickly as they come. Anything in the “it would be nice to have, but…” category. Certainly anything in the “I can make this at home myself, but…” category. (I’m definitely making at home everything that is necessary and humanly possible to make at home.)

I’m blaming myself for this tactical error much of the time…
for waiting to act upon getting another job (as though a perfect one would present itself like some kind of manna offering from the heavens)…
for waiting to try to see about shifting into another industry area…
for wasting precious time that I wiled away because I was incapable of making any choices, especially of the good kind.

I can say the same about my handling of money. I could have tightened the belt another notch; put even a tiny bit aside to compensate for the not enough that I now have.

I needle myself with worry. It takes the joy out of things, even the good stuff. So, essentially, this week’s astrology pep talk presents me with yet another growth opportunity, a challenge I’m not entirely sure I can live up to.

Mostly, my imagination has taken me to some pretty grim places. Some days I imagine that I’ll be stricken down with an as yet to be identified ailment of the terminal kind. I mourn my impending passing and imagine (to some extent) the relief of no longer having to worry about anything… about leaving behind things undone but being at peace with all of that, and getting to the place of “good enough” when the final moment comes.

Some days I think that I’ll be dragging this painful process out until the bitter end… until something shifts (in a way I could never have imagined because otherwise it wouldn’t come as a complete and utter surprise at the very moment when I’ve run out of ideas).

Some days I just enjoy the moments, as they come… like the musical clanking of the pipes in the forced air heating ducts in the Sun Tower building, or its beautiful frosted windows initialed with a “W”… like the swish of wind that briskly gathers up and ushers dried leaves off of tree limbs, lifting them high into the air and then letting them land askew, in random but perfectly beautiful mayhem, on the back balcony.

It’s on the days when I am at my lowest – and I express my alarm about things to those around me – that I most rue hearing “you’ll find something”. I know the intention is to reassure; it feels anything but. Dismissive rather than what I’m sure is intended as hopeful and bolstering. On those days my optimism levels are anemic, amnesiac.

I don’t know why I keep writing here. I guess in this place of not feeling heard, I may as well voice myself in a familiar place. Sort of like yelling at the edge of a precipice to hear the echo of one’s voice speak back. At the very least it makes me feel just a little less silent, a little less alone with what feels like the weight of the world on my shoulders.

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.

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?