My Cupboards are Bare

the highs and lows of my kitchen efficiency…

I went grocery shopping for the first time in at least 3 weeks last night, so they are, actually, not bare. They weren’t exactly bare prior to the grocery shop either, because I can’t help but buy canned goods when they’re on for a good price (thanks Dad). I preplanned my meals for the next two weeks, though, so I avoided the temptation of buying a huge amount of random things in hopes of them coming together in some mystic ball of glory.

Last time I went grocery shopping I got, amongst other things, bread flour, an ENORMOUS round of brie and two sweet potatoes. I had plans for baguette with brie that disregarded that I am a person who lives alone and maybe shouldn’t have cheese sandwiches for all meals for three days.

They were delicious though.

baguettes
I definitely should have put something under the bread, though… Binging with Babish, if you too desire a fancy sandwich

On Sunday I peered into my fridge, hungry – condiments and pickled things, half a giant brick of brie and some very very sad celery.

My freezer – frozen veggies and fruit… and two tupperwares full of chicken bones (thanks Dad!). I put a pot of bones and water on to simmer, and added some celery.

I rummaged through my cupboards – chickpeas… chickpeas… canned soup… tuna… sad shallots… chickpeas… and two sweet potatoes starting to sprout.

I am aware that I described a decently stocked cupboard (didn’t even list it all – it’s called dramatic effect). I just didn’t want any of it. stomps foot. I also didn’t want to grocery shop, order in or go pick up takeout. Stomach, thou’r’t a fickle beast. I ate crackers and cheese and agreed that I should go grocery shopping on Monday.

On Monday, I… did not go grocery shopping. I did not want to. stomps foot. I am transforming into a recluse, going into public places is not the fun.

If preplans two weeks of breakfast, lunch and dinner is my Dr. Jekyll… my Mr. Hyde is googling “Sweet potato + chicken stock?”, rejecting all the recipes that I actually have all the ingredients for and then subbing things out that are sort of the same ish, but not.

Mr. Hyde butchered spicy thai peanut sweet potato soup…

Nice homemade chicken stock… salvaged shallots… celery… promising. Peanut butter and gochujang sauce. Bam. So maybe it turned out more Korean? It might also be very likely that it doesn’t fit any cuisine style outside of Mr. Hyde’s. It has been actually quite tasty, no complaints.

Dr. Jekyll is back in control again, though – I’ve got soup and salads and slow cooker beef and quiche and salmon planned, and have pre-prepped most of the vegetables for storage purposes. It’s gonna be niiiice.

Hopefully in two ish weeks, Mr. Hyde has an idea for a tuna chickpea combo. Maybe hold the peanut butter.

Working From Home

musings 9 months into working from home

I chose this March to finally paint my house. Or rather, I decided to paint the kitchen and living room. I spent a chunk of February scraping the popcorn off the ceiling(the spackly kind, not the tasty exploded corn), and was really nearing coming to a decision about what paint colour I would go with. Anything was better than the ketchup mustard and zombie skin combo my house’s previous owner decided to paint the place. Nothing says “Let’s Eat” like a kitchen the sickly green-beige of a Scooby Do villain.

If I had to do the popcorn again (and I do… in three other rooms)… I would do it SO very differently. Don’t trust that it can be vacuumed up! don’t do it!

A critical thing to note is that in order to paint my kitchen and living room, I had to move all of the things from there to the two bedrooms… so when the world started talking about lockdowns and working from home, I found myself frantically racing to finish painting so that I could set up a (LARGE) desktop computer somewhere other than in my bed or in the bathroom, the only two spaces in my house that weren’t stuffed with furniture or covered in drop cloths.

Gollum, as portrayed by Doodle, in the zombie-beige kitchen. The lighting doesn’t do it justice.

Covid got me to pick a damn colour (purple!) because it seemed very likely that the paint store would close at any moment.

Covid also gave me free labour in the form of a sibling laid off and living with me through the spring lockdown. Thank goodness, because she was able to progress the priming and painting while I was at my office during the day. By the time it was official that I HAD to go home, I had the ability to lay out my living room and include a desk area.

Why yes, I don’t have a real desk…

The first few months working from home were full of the constant overwhelming anxiety of the whole world going to hell in a handbasket, compulsively refreshing online news outlets, paranoia that I wasn’t being productive enough and would, at any moment, get fired, finding yet more dust from taking the popcorn off the ceiling, and melting in my un-airconditioned house in the summer.

Now that I’ve mostly acclimatized to the hell-in-a-handbasket element, and we all have rules to follow to keep each other safe, working from home has grown on me.

I can listen to my music without headphones, and no one can sneak up on me.

The coffee is MUCH nicer, though on the down side, I am paying more for coffee and cream than I was when I was only drinking the free stuff available at my office.

Pajamas/sweatpants/yoga pants. While I did try out camp “dress for work so you’ll do work”, I quickly decided it wasn’t for me. I really like being able to sit cross-legged in my office chair.

Functional breaks – when I need a few minutes to think on a problem or just be not-facing-a-screen, I can fold laundry, check on my plants, play with the dog, do downward dog, or any number of other things that aren’t limited to things-that-are-appropriate-at-work.

I miss being able to swing by my coworkers’ desks to catch up, but I mean… look at my new office buddy!

The couch directly beside my work area.

Where necessary – lunch naps.

Also where necessary, but less healthy… going back to work after taking the dog out at 5pm.

What was your biggest adjustment to working from home? What’s your desk setup?

Hello World (v3.0)

3 years gone, but we’re just going to keep swimming

Hey all, it’s been a while (years) since I’ve posted, but I’ve decided that new year new post seems like a plan. Especially since there’s no way to start the new year off with a half-assed attempt at going to the gym. Instead of buying a year of gym membership, of which I’ll use between 3 and 5 days in January, I figured I’d stay home. For once, it’s actually better for my health.

Why did I stop writing? Eeeh… nothing terrible. Life. Living alone = having to do all your own cooking and cleaning, and then there’s the draw of the couch and the tv and scrolling endlessly through social media… we’ve all lost hours to that particular Lotus blossom, right?

I seriously considered starting off on an entirely new blog, because there are a few people I know in person who started following this one near the end of my consistent writing schedule. We’re instead going to pretend that there is no one from my off-line-life checking in on this, because self-consciousness slows my roll.

While we’re pretending years didn’t go by between blog posts, I’ll still give a brief update.

Gwynn’s love of mud – eternal

The dog is dogging along. He has loved the pandemic, as it allows him to nap on the couch beside my desk while I put in my working hours. He’s 11! This makes people’s “… months?” response to his age just get better and better. He’s slowed down a bit, but he’s still enjoying his long walks and hikes, as well as some fun agility lessons.

The family is good now, though we went through a very rough stretch. My mom is down a kidney, my sister is up a kidney. One of the other health scares proved insurmountable, while the other few did not.

As mentioned in one of my most recent posts, I did move out of the city, and am loving it. I’m curled up between mountain and waves (well… “mountain”), with trails galore and an outdoor activity for every season. Since moving north, I bought a house, took up curling (the most rural-Ontarian winter social), and discovered that my green thumb wasn’t black, it was just severely challenged by living in the twilight of old-growth trees and woodlands. Living in a 15 year old suburb means that my back yard is South-facing and Full Sun. Yes, the lovely people working at the annual gardening club fundraiser sale were very excited. Indoor plants are also delighted with the lighting.

Covid – my sister got temporarily laid off at the first shutdown, and moved up to my place for a few months. This was great, as living alone during the most isolated part of covid would have been a lot more challenging. It was also great because I had chosen early march to start painting my house, and having a second person there to help with it meant that painting got finished in time for me to set up an at home work station. My work switched to being fully from home, and while some people have gone back into the office, I have not yet. With round two in full swing, I think it’ll be another month or two before I do start working in-office part of the time, but we’ll see!

Directly beside my home-office chair

What’s the new game plan, Stan?

Short stories will definitely recommence. I’ll find some new writing prompts, reconnect with some old ones and get back in the habit. Drag myself from my giant funk of apathy and do the things I enjoy doing.

House and DIY and Crafts – Having my own place means I’ve actually gotten to do some things like switching out lights and doing my own garden beds. I’m planning to do more of this, and you might see some posts documenting things I’ve done around the house. Also sewing – I’ve recently taken up sewing (along with everyone else, I’ve been making masks, but am also trying to expand into clothing and things).

Thoughts on de-popcorn-ing ceilings? Dusty. But at least I was fashionable while doing it.

I plan to start posting more frequently about things I enjoy. This is likely to include:

Podcasts – I upped my walk lengths by adding podcasts to my listening habits, and am a bit addicted. I try to support them where I can, and figure that I can improve my support of them by recommending them to you all! I listen to a pretty broad range of things, so if podcasts are a thing you like, at least one will likely be up your alley. Unless your alley is true-crime. I just can’t get into that.

Books – I’ll likely recommend books and series that I’ve read. If you’ve written a sci fi or fantasy novel, and want an honest review of it – definitely reach out! I would prefer if it’s available on the library system, because I’m really trying to keep the volume of things I own down.

Angel-wing Begonia

Stuff – as mentioned above, I’m really trying to reduce my buying wherever possible, but when I do find a thing I like and that genuinely works well, I’ll bring it up! Stay tuned for Lexy’s rant about the amazingness of Aftershockz Trekz Titanium. This is not where I’m suggesting people who make things send me their stuff for review. I genuinely… do not want stuff. Unless it’s plants. Want me to review your Hoya Carnosa Compacta? Send ‘er on over.

This is all, I guess. Seeing as how this is set up to post on new years’ day, and assuming I get a flock of visitors, let me end on this:

“The same boiling water that softens the potato will harden the egg.”

– unknown

I try to remember that when I start stressing about resolutions or healthy habits or whatever. Be kind to yourselves!

Le Picbois

In an unexpected turn of events, a lack of internet has brought me back to blogging (written in Word and hoping the internet returns soon).  That and someone starting to follow me in an impressive display of hope.  Some big changes have happened since last I attempted to bring my blog back from the dead.

I think you could probably trace my overall happiness with where I was in my life by how regularly I posted blogs – my level of enjoyment in writing, my ability to think creatively and write short stories.  Kind of sad when I realize how long it’s been since I last wrote consistently.  Or wrote fiction, even that not posted on this site.  Man.

That isn’t the important thing, though, so move out of the shade.  Listen to music, feel better.

 

The long and the short of it is that I realized that my obsession with finding/buying a house in Toronto was, to put it bluntly, an effort to distract myself from the actual issue. My strong dislike of where I was in my career and life in general.  Some things popping up at work, combined with the dog’s injury (full recovery, fyi), and my friend (and also coworker) leaving work to go on maternity leave brought things into focus.  So what if I bought a house in the city?  It wouldn’t change anything else, other than adding pressure to stay where I had an income. Not exactly a real solution to my ennui.  Enter thoughts of job hunting for the first time since I was in university.

In a twist of fate I promptly got called by not one, not two, but three separate headhunters over the course of about a week.  And unlike previous calls, I said “yes” to all of them.  Salmon Arm, BC?  Love the name, gosh that’s far, let’s give it a go.  Mississauga?  Why, it’s just down the road!  Collingwood?  I was there… once…maybe… as a child… it’s… northish.

Well, it turns out that the location in BC is one of the hottest dryest parts of Canada, and nearly impossible to even find a rental.  I was feeling my yes-man attitude, but I really like having a roof over my head… and the Ontario bears are more interested in sewage than hunting people.

Mississauga turned out to be a job in which my entire job would be construction site administration.  RESPECT the people working on construction, people.  LONG days, rarely any shade, and even as basically a photographer/construction journalist, just doing it for a month at a time leaves me completely drained.  Necessary work, but not for me.

Collingwood, though.  Collingwood hit ALL the marks.  Interesting job, interesting company, interesting place.

I quit my job.  I tidied up 7 years worth of deck clutter and paperwork, said seven years’ worth of keep-in-touches, and headed north.  To a town less than half the size of the smallest place I’ve lived for any length of time.  I QUIT my job!

And promptly realized that, while most places that aren’t Toronto and are much smaller than it would have much cheaper rent… places that cater to cottagers, boaters and skiers… do not.  Especially when you add in a dog.

It takes about 15 minutes to get anywhere in Collingwood.  It’s got a village-ey rural vibe with a great downtown strip, multiple grocery stores, multiple independent coffee shops and easy access to basically EVERYTHING outdoorsy, and an assortment of great local things.  For example, while at the local farmers’ market a few weeks ago… sampling some delightful Georgian Hills Wine and Cider… I met a couple who’d moved to this area for the rock-climbing.  After that, I checked out the local alpaca farm’s wares (and the two alpaca they brought with them!), and bought locally made pierogies.  Had this town ever been on my radar before now, I might have realized that I’m not the only one who thinks this is pretty cool.

I found a place and moved in the day before I started work at my new job.  And boy did I ever find a place!  My little cottage has cows down the trail in one direction, horses in the other.  Still within a 10 minute drive to downtown Collingwood, but unexpectedly rural.  I could go on and on, but sufficed to say: gas fireplace.

I’m a month into living here, and my only complaint is that my friends from Toronto aren’t quite as close as I’d like them to be.  Luckily, there’s a lot to be said for visiting me.

Work-wise, I hope I’m not jinxing it by saying I think I’m doing well.  A bit of a learning curve for sure, but my new boss is excellent, and I think that on the whole I’m taking on enough of the work-load.  My new coworkers are friendly, my new work really seems to care about its employees, and the cafeteria is full of fruit in a much appreciated display of that care.

Living-wise, Gwynn is adjusting to the new strange noises, my rental is charming, and I have mostly successfully adapted to living on my own for the first time since university.  Minor incidents of cheese-and-crackers for dinner aside.

I’ve still got things to do… but overall…

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Happy.

Quilt of Fate

What? Participating.  I feel like I keep having to start-up again, but at least I’ve always got some great prompts to start the gears turning.  Check out the rest of the responses at the link below, and add your own:

inmonsterpromo

Also check out the artist AquaSixio, otherwise known as Cyril Rolando.  His work is below, one of many works of art painting a picture of a story I want to know more of.  What I love about this particular piece is the eerie colour of the scene, and the way it makes me wonder if this person is running away from something or towards something.  Either way, sometimes making a choice, right or wrong, can feel like leaping from a moving train.  The artist also includes a piece of writing that perfectly describes that stagnation of routine, the reward of jumping from the train.  Read it at Train Train Quoditien.

train_train_quotidien_by_aquasixio-d8pvunq

My mother spent her life on scraps, collecting the discarded leftovers of other peoples’ lives and putting them together in new ways.  I spent my childhood desperate for the things that others took for granted.  Patches disguised the holes in my jeans from everyone but me, and the hand-made cardigan wasn’t at all like the GAP sweatshirts of my peers.

Just once, I begged, just once might I have a blanket all in one tone?  Monochrome, I pled, to the bafflement of my family.  New.

I rejected the colours, the patterns, recycling and making do.  I ran away to the real world,  and relished my drab wardrobe, cookie cutter condo and processed foods.  I became the happiest of cogs in the machine.

I met a perfectly ordinary girl and fell in love with her family’s staid ways, the generations of suburbanites and shiny new IKEA furniture.

My fiancée forced a strained smile and gave me a sidelong glance when I introduced my mother in her draped shawls and bangles, and I felt embarrassment.  My mother’s eyes sparkled with pride and love.

My bright-coloured family capered and laughed and drank, young and old dancing late into the night in celebration of my wedding to this woman they’d never met, in celebration of my future happiness.  A reminder of my fond memories of home on the open road, each wedding, funeral or crossing of paths a reason for joyous revelry.  My family brought us gifts handcrafted and brimming with love and pride.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when my new wife suggested that their gifts would fit best in our storage locker.  I was surprised I hadn’t suggested it myself.

But not the quilt, I said, stroking the colourful tree my mother had hand-sewn for us, a symbol of good fortune and happiness in marriage.  Every leaf stitched with a member of my family and hers, with room for new additions.  My wife gave me a strange look out of the corner of her eye and pressed her lips together.

Her mother had gotten the burnt umber bedspread on our registry.  Had no one in my family thought to look on the registry?  She clucked her displeasure at their selfishness in denying us a KitchenAid stand mixer in taupe, and I looked at this stranger and questioned myself.

I tucked it away in my closet and brooded.  I wondered if I’d actually intentionally bought 4 pairs of near-identical navy slacks.  Why I ate so many beige foods.  She, meanwhile, cut her eyes in disapproval of the introduction of brightly coloured dress-shirts into my wardrobe.

We scheduled date night in the same way as we scheduled dental work and with as much enthusiasm.  Every moment of my parents’ lives was a breathless run through the deluge of their affection for each other and for life.

When she left me, my first thought was for my mother’s quilt.  I took it down, spread it out and smiled.  My family spread out in beautiful chaos, with blank spaces for my future wife, her family and room to grow.  My mother spent her life taking up the discarded pieces and putting them together anew.

I left with only the necessities, including a vibrant purple shirt in need of mending.

Scattered Marbles and Physics

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I’ve lost my marbles.  I was so good for a while, with the healthy eating and the flexing of my imagination and the general adulting at life, and then the seam ripped and all my marbles scattered.

The fitness one rolled under the desk and wedged itself in the corner with the dust bunnies.  I keep trying to get it out again, but the gravitational pull between my bum and the couch feels insurmountable.

 

bernard-illust6The writing marble went off somewhere, I don’t know.  I keep catching sight of it out of the corner of my eye but when I turn to face it, it’s vanished, like the escaped class-pet in the ducts of every parent’s nightmares.  If the hamster came home not-pregnant and lived in the walls for all of Christmas break… then how is it now pregnant?  How?  I’d come up with a story, but my mind is a blank.

I keep finding and then dropping the arts and crafts marble – at this rate, those mitts will be ready to wear around June.  I’ll have to give them to my friend whose baby is due in June.  The magic eight ball’s sources say the likelihood of my starting and completing my baby themed project is no.

I know exactly where the ‘being a functional adult and taking responsibility’ marble is.  It’s kind of lego shaped, I step on it at the most inopportune moments and the instant stubbed-toe agony it produces tells me which marble it is.  I just don’t like it, so I leave it where it is, even if that means I’ll step on it again in a month or two.

Healthy eating is a slippery one, and I think it rolled under the fridge.  Every time I think I’ve caught it I realize I’m actually holding on to a gobstopper.  Which I then proceed to eat.  Lint and all.  Pretty sure there’s a magnetic field between junk food and my face.

This has been the status quo for more than EIGHT MONTHS.  Interspersed with random flare-ups of art or writing that are the equivalent of an “I aten’t ded” sign to the universe at large.  While this past summer can be blamed on my atrocious work schedule and location (10 hrs x 6 days of broiling hot site work for 3+ months WILL melt all the get-up-and-go from your body and leave you a dehydrated Iced Capp junkie potato), the rest of it is entirely on me physics.  I did the adult version of the toddler-flop and became an object at rest.

Has letting everything go made me happier?  More relaxed?  Surely I’m at least caught up on the laziest of pseudo-chores, the television? Hah.  My globe-trotting friend over at The Mundo Express is doing a better job of that while living out of a backpack and maintaining a blog!

 

Physics is getting tough on me and I hate shopping a lot, so with the goal of breaching the gravitational hold of the couch I signed up for Krav Maga classes last week.  This object had better get in motion if she doesn’t want to come down with a bad case of forcefully applied physics!

Next step: find something healthy and filling that’s faster to make than a  microwave chocolate mug cake (link… and paleo link… for when you want to pretend that it’s healthy.  Because I care about you and your sudden inexplicable desire for microwaved cake.  Blame it on me physics.).

Children

I recently had an experience that reminded me how important it is to be a parent.  I am not a parent, just to be clear.  I just spend a lot of time in parks, and in the neighbourhood so I have plenty of opportunity to judge them.

You (in general), as a parent, are responsible for teaching a brand new person the ins and outs of life, and interacting with the world.  That’s a big thing!

Scene 1:

I was walking Gwynn through High Park after he’d gotten his spring hair cut this year.  Right out of his haircut, he looks like the most delightful teddy bear on earth to cuddle and squeeze and pet.  Beautiful day, tons of people around, and I was on my way to the dog off-leash area to let him run around a bit (and, as is inevitable, get some mud on the wheels, as it were.).

With that many people around I pay a lot of attention – make sure to keep Gwynn close when walking past that person who is looking nervous of him, or that kid holding an ice cream cone at dog-level, etc.

So I noticed when a girl – probably about 10 – locked on to Gwynn and began speed-walking away from her mother and directly towards Gwynn (from behind him), hands already outstretched.

Gwynn is friendly.  But He. Is. A. Dog.  And coming up behind a strange animal and surprising him with a random pet from a stranger?  Nuh uh.  And this is where I judge the kid’s mom, and intercede in the teaching of life-interactions.

Placing myself between Gwynn and the little girl, I told/asked her, “You know you always need to ask permission before going near a strange dog?  Right?*

I got a blank look in response to this, but at least she’d stopped moving forward.

“You have to ask, because the dog might be scared of people, or mean, or sick, or not like kids or surprises, but if you ask, I might say yes,” I add, when it becomes clear that Mom isn’t taking advantage of this teachable moment.

I get through to her.  “Can I pet your dog?” she asks.

“Absolutely!  He’s very friendly.”

End scene.  I really hope I got through to her, but frankly, I. Am. Not. Her. Parent.  or friend, or relative, or teacher/person of authority in her life.  There is just as much chance that she will go off and complain with her mom about that weird rude (possibly even that B word) who tried to lecture her about dogs, when her dog isn’t even not-friendly, so why? why?  And if her parents aren’t bothering with agreeing with me on this, then why would she?

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Why yes, he is friendly… but I’m friendly too until a stranger surprise-touches my butt

Scene 2:

Gwynn and I are walking through the park near me last weekend, on a pretty high traffic multi-use trail.  Enter a little boy on a bicycle going the opposite direction to us.  I moved off to the side, but that wasn’t necessary, because he came to a stop, dropped his bike and says, “Hi,  my name is (Let’s call him Timmy), can I pet your dog?”

Delighted, I said, “Yes!  And thank you for asking!  His name is Gwynn.”  And we spent the next few minutes talking about Gwynn, and bicycles.

Younger brother caught up, asked the same question, and, getting another enthusiastic YES-and-thank-you, started walking with his bike towards Gwynn.  Mom shows up on her bike at this point, and immediately says, “Stop and put your bike down, you’ll make the dog nervous.”

Brilliant.  As I walked away, I overheard the older kid telling his mom about how “That lady with the dog thanked me for asking if I could pet him!”

It warms the cockles of my heart, it does indeed.

directly after grooming
directly after grooming… everyone wants to touch him

In conclusion:

Parents: teach your kids proper animal etiquette.  Always ask, and always be gentle with animals are the rules they need the most.  And try not to pass your own fears of animals on to them.  Also, you are doing a fantastic job, in general (not that my opinion matters, here, but still.), at raising children and handling the screaming and the constant energy and the many MANY ‘Why?’ questions, and oh god, it just seems exhausting.

People with dogs: also educate kids if they don’t seem to know about the ask rule… and if they do know – make sure to let them know that them doing the right thing is AWESOME.  Because sometimes hearing something from a stranger can reinforce good behaviours that parents are teaching.

*Blog readers – you know this, yes?  If you didn’t before, you know now.  “Is your dog friendly?”, “Can/May I pet your dog?”… “Is it ok for my (child too young to speak coherently especially to strangers) to say hello to your dog?” And, regardless of what size a dog is, how happy he seems to be to see you, and how experienced you are with dogs, if the owner says ‘no’, then give them space!

Walking on Eggshells

Dear Sir,

I wish I could say for sure that it was an accident – I’m not sure why, but I really believe that would make it better.  I think it’s because you would seem less selfish that way.  They don’t publish the non-accidents, though – like it might give someone an idea.  Someone like you, perhaps.  You weren’t in the newspaper.  I googled you.

I can’t and won’t try to imagine what must have been going on with you for this to have been the alternative you chose.  It must have been horrible.  I just wish you’d taken the time to imagine the consequences for those around you.  I wish things hadn’t gotten so horrible for you, but mostly, I wish you’d been able to step back and take a look at the future, beyond your choice.

Did you think of the driver, before you took that last step?  You might not have known that this driver is unlikely to ever go back to work after that.  Most, if not all, spend the rest of their lives on disability after going through that kind of nightmare.  You forced a complete stranger to blow out the unhappy flame of your existence – that’s not the kind of thing someone gets over.

What about the people who saw you?  Saw you close your eyes, look up and walk forward?  Were you too busy looking forward to look around?  You might have picked a less busy time of day, but that’s no excuse.

And the people who saw what remained?  Hollywood might numb people somewhat to violence, but not enough for this.  I wish you’d been able to think of this, make a better decision.

I wish that you had found a less final alternative.  It sounds selfish, but I wish I’d driven downtown.  I wish we hadn’t stopped for dinner before heading home.  I wish we’d taken the streetcar instead.  I wish SO MUCH that the man who opened the subway car door for us had opened one of the other two doors, instead of that one.  I wish I hadn’t looked back.  I really wish I hadn’t looked back.

I hope it was worth it – that you’ve found the happiest ending you could.  But I also hope you are in some way able to feel some compassion for the strangers you left behind.  The ones who walked, horrified, across the blood – your blood – spattered across the tiles, who looked back and saw what remained of the life you didn’t think was worth keeping.  I hope you feel guilty about the fact that you left behind strangers who saw you make your choice, saw you look up and take that step.

We don’t know each other, and we never will.  You made your choice on Saturday.  You left half an empty shell on the platform.  I looked back and left a little bit of my happiness.  I haven’t made it through a day since then without crying.

My condolences to your loved ones, and everyone you left behind.

AM

Have you got the Time?

I forgot my phone at work.  I also forgot my watch, from when I took it off for a gym class.  I take my watch off for classes because A, I don’t want it to get sweaty and gross, and B, there’s a clock in the classroom, and I can read its reflection in the mirror while flailing along in some semblance of what the instructor is doing.

I check the time a lot.  Sometimes, I check the time immediately after having just checked the time, to confirm that the time I thought I read was, in fact, the time that it actually is.  I only just switched from a waterproof sports-proof indestructible watch (one that allowed me to leave it on through showers, swimming, hiking, and whatever else) to one that actually looks good.  It ticks.  It ticks so softly that I only ever notice it when I am lying in bed at night, my left arm tucked just so, up near my ear.  It’s a strangely soothing sound.

My dad got it years ago.  One of his coworkers used to go to New York on a regular basis, and this guy got it into his head that my dad wanted a knock-off watch.  My dad never wears a watch.  Instead, he asks someone who has a watch something like this: “It’s about 10 to 8, right?”

The person who has a watch glances at their watch, looks suspiciously at my dad, and replies, “Yes.”

Because he’s always right.  And he never wears a watch.

He has no idea where his coworker got the idea that he was desirous of a watch.  He just thanked him politely and stuck the Swiss Fake in a drawer until a few months ago when I was bemoaning the fact that I wanted an analog watch, but hadn’t found one I liked enough to buy yet.  Change the battery, set the time and date, and bam.  I sleep to the soothing tick-tick-tick of a watch whose face glows in the dark, just in case I wake up enough to want to know what time it is, but not enough to put my glasses on and read the time on the alarm-clock-radio I’ve had since I was 10.

What’s this all about?  Well, it sets the scene for last night, when I realized, after pulling Gwynn out of the car and while heading towards Sadie’s house, that I didn’t have the time.  I looked around, as though expecting to suddenly find myself in the kind of small town with a clock tower that you can see from practically anywhere in town.  The kind of clock tower that bongs on the hour and half-hour, so that even though I might not know the time, I would know roughly where, in time, I was.

I went on a walk anyways.  We walked to the middle entrance of the creek valley, and headed north, to the furthest entrance.  The dogs raced around the field like it was the most exciting place.  I threw the ball a few times for them and lost myself in the complete happiness of two dogs running.  We headed back to the middle entrance, and I pulled back my coat to look at my wrist.  Oh.  Right.

Well, the sky isn’t all that dark yet, and it is still winter, so that probably means… something.  Too bad I have about as much of an internal clock as I do an internal compass.

It was light enough that I could go down to the south entrance through the woods without finding myself in absolute darkness.  It was a beautiful evening – the creek valley is protected from the wind, no one was about, and the dogs were staying out of the stinky creek, but still having a great time sniffling and snuffling through the underbrush.

By the time I reached the south entrance, the moon was high and bright in the sky, a narrow crescent not quite at the first quarter, so sharply defined that you could see the shadows and texture of the moonscape.  I seriously considered heading back through the park to the middle entrance, just to keep the walk going a bit longer.  The waspish hum of three cyclists as they dart past me, ninja-like in the darkness dissuaded me.  The path ended near the highway, so chances were good that I would see (or not see) them again on their way back down.  Someone needs to give them the memo about having a light and having a bell, and how it’s the law, but I’d rather not have it emphasized by a bike-dog collision.

It was getting a bit colder, anyways, though, so I headed home.

The whole walk took a bit longer than two hours.  If I’d known the time, chances are I’d have gone back up the way I came in.

There might just be something to the whole ‘living in the moment’ thing.

How Life is Like a Poorly Maintained Road that you Swim Through… or a box of chocolates, or something like that…

My sister (the girl who stands a few inches taller than me and goes clubbing in Hull, but is secretly still 8 years old and it was practically yesterday that she was a terrorizing toddler and bit me on the cheek…) is waiting for her final grades for her first term at University.

She reads this blog… we’ll see what her reaction to it is, hopefully not a resurgence of biting.  To be on the safe side, I won’t be trusting her innocent overtures of a hug for the next few days.  Fool me once, shame on you…

She’s worried.  From what I can tell, her main worry is that, in the worst case scenario of this particular saga, we will be too kind.  “We” being all the people in the family who have graduated from university.  I think the worst case scenario that she is picturing is rather like the scene where the Death Star blows up, but also where Luke loses his hand, and maybe mix in a bit of that awkward scene when Han is trying to establish what kind of feelings Leia has for Luke, and she doesn’t reveal the whole ‘we’re siblings, and just love each other as siblings’ thing for a long while, thus creating awkward.  Just remember bloglanders – Twihards make trekkies and star wars fans look normal.

... and the winnner is... the woman who tattooed the characters of Twilight onto her whole back!

I see it more as a speedbump or pothole… just a brief slowing, possibly altering of direction.

... but not quite this big a speed bump...

When I went off to University, my dad told me this: “University is like a big party, but with work.  It’s a lot of fun, but you have to do enough work that you don’t get uninvited from the party.”

Doodle is worried that she might get uninvited.

She’s worried that she will disappoint us, but that we will be so nice about it that we will never tell her just how disappointed we are… and, for some reason, part of the concern is that I got through high school and University relatively unscathed.  She seems to think I have never failed at anything in my life.

What do I think?  That I was basically ‘pity passed’ through most of elementary school, which is fair enough considering I once submitted a picture of a horse instead of a book report.

That one of my university courses was such a haze of incomprehension, that I came home from the final exam and signed myself up for summer courses.  While crying.  I passed the course… barely.  It was my lowest grade since high school gym class.  Have I mentioned how terrible I am at things requiring hand-eye coordination?  There’s another pity pass.

That it took me two goes to pass both the G1 exit driving test and the G2 exit driving test.  I curled up in the back of my car on the way back from the first G2 driving test and sobbed for an hour in the parking lot of a Sobeys.  I also cried at the person testing me the second time around when he told me that I passed (and listed off all the reasons why it was a barely-pass, and all the things he decided not to count that could have made it a not-pass), which is why my current drivers’ license picture is really truly dreadful.  I look like a prison inmate who just finished watching Marley and Me.

I was sure that I would never move back home when I was done university… It’s been nearly three years, now.

I suffered in silence through nearly 6 months of my crazypants cubicle-wall-neighbour’s crazy prostitute-murdering, cuss-filled mutterings before I got up the nerve to tell my boss about it.  Finally telling my boss was a tearfully written email (too chicken to talk face to face) sent once I was sure he’d gone home for the weekend so that I could escape without any kind of conversation.

I'm just so... *sob*... angry!

This is not my pity party.  I have failed and been rather pathetic at a lot of things in my life.  I cry if I’m sad, at sad movies, if I’m angry, if someone’s angry at me, if I have to stand up for myself… all the time, really.  I really need to work on that.  The point is that, if you look back, overall it has been pretty successful despite the road bumps.  The point is that we are all thrown into the deep waters and expected to swim like Gertrude Ederle (first woman to swim across the English Channel) and achieve great things.  And that we are all, at one point or another, going to flounder (like she did, on her first attempt to cross), but that the important thing is that we’ll keep swimming eventually, with or without the help of a life buoy.

If it turns out that you are a December grad, what do you do?  Tread water for a while, shake it off, and then keep swimming.  Your final destination might change a bit, so might the swim itself, but it’ll still be a fantastic journey.