21 April, 2017

public service announcement

this is not a blog post. this is an article that i think EVERYONE should read.

my only wish is for a government that makes evidence-based policy decisions. all else would fall into place. but, as crusty juggler just advised me, i'm not holding my breath.

read this and share it. please.

12 April, 2017

fashion tips for the apocalypse

so here's my looting shopping list for the apocalypse. tell me if i missed something and why you think that.

1. antibiotics. broad-spectrum, narrow-spectrum, ointments, pills, whatever i can get my hands on.
2. bandages
3. duct tape (works best for blisters. ain't nobody wanna die of blisters in the apocalypse!)
4. comfortable boots. steel toed and heavy duty leather if possible.
5. toothbrushes and toothpaste and floss (ain't nobody wanna die of sepsis from a dental infection gone bad in the apocalypse!)
6. light down-filled jacket
7. good warm hat
8. sunglasses, several pairs - i can't live without sunglasses: my eyeballs are sensitive and hurt and no, i'm not trying to be cool, i'm just trying to be comfortable.
9. tarp
10. down sleeping bag
11. water purification tablets
12. water bottle (large, insulated)
13. chocolate and nuts (fast source of energy and protein, that's why!)

ok, i'm running out of steam. anyone wanna add to this list, please do so in the comments which have been so sparse lately i'm thinking nobody loves me anymore* except for a couple voices (and you know who you are). the apocalypse is coming - what do YOU want to pack*?

*pack yer bags! we're going on a guilt trip!

03 April, 2017


i walk along the bayou on an almost daily basis and each time i go, i see turtles. usually they are mere panicked splashes in the murky water as i approach, but on several occasions i have had them cross my path: big and little; with tail and without; plain and patterned; skittish or resigned.

this morning's turtle was a big'un, sitting there in the grass, looking up at me in a decidedly pissed off manner:

i squatted for a while and looked it in the eye (i ain't gonna take no shit from no turtle!) and eventually decided to see what the hell was up - i.e. why was it just sitting there and looking at me instead of a. shutting itself up in its handy carrying case or b. fucking off.

i told mr. monkey all about my adventure just now:

moi: i saw the turtle today. i think it was laying eggs.

mr. monkey: how do you know?

moi: i lifted it up and it had its butt in a slimy hole.

mr. m: well, there you go. you just witnessed the miracle of birth!

i sure have. and it was just as heavy on mucus as i expected it to be.

29 March, 2017


we spent four days in new orleans, taking in the colourful cacophony that is mardi gras. my second year, mr. monkey's first. i think i'm good now - not with new orleans, heavens no! but with mardi gras. it is fun but it takes a lot out of you, and it seems that i have less and less to get taken out before i am done. it's something that i'm glad i experienced, but it made me miss quietly meandering through the city's neighbourhoods. each time i walk the streets of new orleans, i am struck again with how much i love its uneven sidewalks, its tangled electrical wires, its tiny neighbourhood bars with their hand-painted signs, and the uncontrolled profusion of greenery.

new orleans is enchanting and charming and perfect in its imperfection in a way that our neighbourhood in texas will never be with its almost sterile elegance - each house similar in scale and style to its neighbour, tasteful landscaping, matching brick facades. it's pretty, sure, but it lacks soul, something that i manage to forget pretty successfully until i walk down a living, breathing street any place that feels distinctly like itself: suffused with a sense of its personality, history, vitality and identity. you can master plan a community, you can build a "main street," you can even throw in public art, but unless it is organically nurtured it becomes little else than a stage prop, a faux place, a photo op for the wealthy to pretend they're somewhere real. all you'll have is a pretty face with no soul.

much that is wrong with north america (from an urban planning perspective) comes, in my mind, from a  ubiquitous car-centric placelessness - you could be driving through kansas or winnipeg or tampa, and their outskirts would be indistinguishable from one another. sure, there is a certain safety to it, but it also means that you are always separate from where you are, a passerby, with no voice and no emotional investment. you are in a place with home depot and a walmart and a thousand faceless restaurant chains that will serve you entirely non-challenging food. granted, i live in the nicer end of the beige spectrum (shall we call it snowy cashmere? or translucent silk?) but it is beige nevertheless. i try to focus on the beauty that surrounds me, lest i go mad from the ugliness we keep letting be built around us.

takeaway: go to new orleans!



mr. monkey and i were on our way home and as we walked along a fence, one of the hundreds of squirrels currently terrorizing the neighbourhood ran across our path, freaked out at our presence, changed course in mid run, took a running leap at the fence and bounced right off. it immediately got up and scaled the fence again, this time with perfect precision and aplomb, but it was too late: we were howling with laughter, doubled over, weeping with mirth. idiot squirrel.


walking home one night we had the following conversation:

moi: you're not worried about snakes in the dark?

mr. monkey: no. not at all. at night snakes sleep. it is known.

moi: where do they sleep?

mr.m: generally they sleep in the forest, upright.

moi: upright?! how do they manage not to fall?

mr. m: they lean against trees, mainly.

moi: wouldn't they just slide down?

mr. m: no. they hang on with tiny little snake hands.

moi: what kind of hands are they? like gecko hands? or something else?

mr. m: sort of like gecko hands, but with long fingernails.

moi: what?!! why?!!

mr. m (rolling his eyes at my inability to think for myself): to pick mouse fur from between their teeth!


this went on for a while, eventually an obvious difficulty presented itself to me:

moi: how come we don't ever see snake hands? where do they keep them?

mr. m (incredulous at my idiocy): in their pockets!

24 March, 2017


whatever my feelings may be about the united states of america (and lately, baby, you ain't been doing so good!) or texas (and that's double for you!), i have to say that spring here is a thing of great and overwhelming beauty.

i discovered that you can walk along the storm water management bayous that criss cross the township and it reminds me of nothing so much as my childhood walks with my grandma along the fields in poland. ever since those youthful days, when i see wildflowers blooming, i'm in a little bit of heaven.

these are the bluebonnets that texas hill country is famous for. i was surprised to see that they were actually lupins, but that's ok - they just grow on the sides of the roads and make the world beautiful so their nomenclature is irrelevant.

this is literally 5 houses down from where we live, and since discovering it, i've been walking here daily. i envy the people whose houses back onto the bayou. there are always egrets, great blue herons, turtles and butterflies to keep things interesting.

i found wild strawberries and almost did a little dance right there. alas, unlike the wild strawberries i remember from poland or the ones i unexpectedly found in eastern canada, these have no taste. literally. biting into one is like biting into a little red styrofoam ball. highly photogenic, though, so i forgive them.

morning cobweb bowls. as you can imagine, the photo doesn't begin to do them justice.

another shot of the bayou. tends to be filled with skittish turtles and tiny fish.

who can walk by hundreds of wildflowers and not pick a single one? not me, that's who!

well, there you have it. an atypical photo essay because i wanted to share the beauty with y'all.

16 March, 2017

this ain't that kind of blog

but it's my blog, so i can make it any kind of blog i want. and today, i want to make it a "caring for your skin the non-waste granola way" so pull up a sustainably hand-made chair and listen up.


i don't drink a lot of coffee (and when i drink too much my body quickly reminds me to ease off, what with the jittery giblets and all) but i do drink it occasionally, thus generating coffee grounds. what the azaleas don't get (those azaleas love coffee grounds, i'm told!) usually gets tossed, but since my face occasionally reaches the consistency of late february gravel in northern alberta, i like to scrub it with the coffee grounds.

i take a puck of well pressed grounds from my trusty aeropress (thank you, crusty juggler, for introducing me to this flavourful caffeination miracle!!!), throw it in a small bowl, add a teaspoon or two of base oil (jojoba/argan/avocado etc. based on the dryness/oiliness of your complexion), and a couple drops of essential oil (frankincense is my favourite, but patchouli plays well with coffee as well). i mix this well, and keep it by my shower, so that i can exfoliate/moisturize my face whenever i feel like it. you can use it all over your body for a moisturizing/exfoliating fix.

bonus: when my hands are covered in some nasty shit like glue or paint or epoxy, the coffee scrub works like a dream - as well as the specialty stuff!

gentler exfoliation:

if you don't like to scrub yer bits, that's fine. but if you're ever eating fruit, you can take advantage of the alpha hydroxy whatsits contained therein and gently exfoliate yer face. whenever i cut the tops off the strawberries, i'll take one more generous snip and rub the strawberry top all over my visage. i do the same with pineapple, taking it a step further - when i peel pineapple, i cut the peel into small pieces, pop them into a freezer bag, and voila! a soothing, cooling, exfoliating glow miracle in a baggie. remind me when you're staying chez nous, and i can hook you up.


is any of this making me better/younger looking or in any way more appealing? likely not, but it makes me feel like a. i'm repurposing things and b. i'm taking some care with myself which seems important given that i will sometimes go whole days without once looking at myself in the mirror, other than to ascertain the presence or absence of spinach in my teeth.

11 March, 2017


as we arrived at a destination and started getting out of the rental suv, a strange ditty ran on repeat in the background. eventually we realised it was 4, stuck in the carseat and unable to unbuckle herself. instead of screaming/whining/yelling/snarking, she made up a song and sang it until someone clued in:

i just can't unbuckle
i just can't unbuckle

it had a catchy rhythm and melody and soon we were all singing along while i freed her. for the rest of the visit, one of us was always spontaneously erupting into the song:

i just can't unbuckle
i just can't unbuckle

or making up our own lyrics:

my name is larry*
my name is larry

lest you think there is a nursery rhyme cadence to 4's oeuvre, think again. it's really rather hip-hoppy and invites the listener to shake and shimmy rather than polka with a teddy bear. mr. monkey's singing it as i write.

*names have been changed to protect the innocent and the not so innocent

09 March, 2017

3 little girls

after the almost constant whining and out of control mood swings of the 4 year old nephew that characterized my SIL's visit, i was naturally a little apprehensive about how my 3 little nieces would behave, or, more to the point, how the occasionally-melty-downy 4 year old niece would behave. turns out my fears were unfounded - other than the occasional moods brought on by delayed nap time or hunger pangs, 4, just like her sisters (2 and 6), was a delight.

first day here, all three of them jumped straight into the pool, the younger two in water wings, the oldest proudly showing her not inconsiderable swimming skills sans any kind of floatation device. the pool and hot tub were definitely a most favourite item on their vacation menu. unlike my nephews, who barely dipped their bits into the pool and then only buoyed by various inflatables and/or parental cajoling, these three little chicks took to the pool like proverbial ducks to water.

and watching them eat! i wax rhapsodic and cannot tell you how my heart sang when 6 came back twice for more helpings of roasted brussels sprouts, hoovering up salad as fast as i could make it, eating fish and shrimp with gusto, and routinely asking for spicy soup. no pre-cut nibbles or dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets for them: each one, including 2, got a plate filled with grown-up food that they then proceeded to devour. i swear, i grinned like a fool each time we broke bread!  they turned up their noses at store bought toaster waffles leftover from the nephews' visit - one taste and a polite but firm no thank you. 6 took one bite of a krispy kreme donut and pushed her plate away, moving on to polish off an entire large bowl of fresh berries all by herself. 2 grabbed a container of carrot sticks from mr. monkey's lunch bag and hopped all over the backyard crunching them like a manic bunny. (in case you think all this is too good to be true, they also love skittles. LOOOOOVE skittles. god knows why...)

we did a bit of travelling and a bit of hanging around. we spent 4 days in galveston and on the way home from the cold and windy beach weekend we played multiple rounds of "guess the animal." it went something like this:

(my animal: hippopotamus - in polish, hipopotam)

6: is it a land animal or a water animal?

moi: it's a little bit of both, but you could say it's a land animal.

4: is it a fish?!

6: NO! she said it's a LAND ANIMAL!

4: oh.... is it a beluga?

6 (rolling her eyes and sighing dramatically): no!!!

4: ok.

we went on in this vein for a while. it was becoming clear i'd stumped them.

4: is it a camel?

dad: it begins with the letter H.

4: is it a hamel?

all: (laughing) NO!!!

dad: it ends with "tam".

4: a TAMEL!!!

6 (more eye rolling): grrrrr!


several turns later:

(my animal: dog)

6: is it smooth or furry?

moi: it's furry.

6: how many feet does it have?

moi: 4.

6: does it live on land or water?

moi: land.

4: is it a chicken?


4 (shrugs, clearly not giving a sweet fuck): is it a fish? is it a beluga?

6 (at a loss for words): !!!

my stomach hurt at the end of the trip from laughing so hard.

if i sound a little bit in love it's because i am. they are fierce, sweet, cuddly, joyous, adorable, rambunctious, warm, funny, cheeky (especially 2!) smart, kind, loving, beautiful, active and brave, and i am absolutely tickled to be their aunt.

they left this afternoon and the house is nice and quiet and in dire need of a thorough scrubbing but i miss them already. they're going to grow into some seriously kick-ass women one day (though it's unlikely that 4 will find a successful career in either marine biology or poultry farming) and i sure hope i'm around to see it. postpone the apocalypse.

22 February, 2017

checking in

all is fine...ish.

doing US taxes:
makes me swear in polish. very few things make me swear in polish. paperwork of the tax variety does it and does it thoroughly. i've come up with some interesting combinations that would make my dad's ears fall off, i'm sure. he'd say, ladies don't use that kind of language, but who the hell is a lady around here? it's an antiquated concept anyways. normally i self-censor because i seriously hate it when people swear in polish. oddly enough, i have no such problems with swearing in english. you may or may not have noticed this.

today's food intake:
a big bowl of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries with really really good yogurt (low fat and fat free dairy products can fuck right off: pseudo-healthy bullshit based on outdated science that also taste like shit.)
½ bowl of cheerios
½ bowl of cheerio dust-flavoured milk
several miniature peppers filled with hummus
glass of bourbon on ice
bowl of blackberries

all the berries are really good right about now. i seem to not be hungry much. i blame the taxes and swearing. and maybe my latest meds.

social media:
the attention span that's been growing back after i'd given up on facebook seems to be in remission, since i am currently obsessed with waging war on twitter. i.e. waging war whilst on twitter, not waging war against twitter, though i might reconsider if i continue to obsessively waste my time preaching to the choir while america regresses into lower and lower and ever more colourful but increasingly terrifying levels of idiocy and what-the-ever-living-fuckness.

tweeting gives me the illusion of being in touch, of doing something, of being an active member of the #resistance, but damned if i believe that i'm changing any minds out there. trumpnation's  unfailing ability to look incontrovertible facts in the face and still kick them under the filth-encrusted mattress of ideology for the sake of convenience is as incomprehensible as it is reprehensible. i'm supposed to want to understand them. i don't. i want them to fucking stop lying. the end.

i've said it before and i'll say it again - for this reason, and this reason alone, i hope god exists, just so those filthy hypocrites can get their comeuppance in hell, where they rightfully belong.

whoa - a little brimstoney there, wasn't i? oh well. between the taxes, the limited food intake, and the political situation, it's surprising i'm still functioning fairly well.

following lucy's goodbye post, i felt myself slipping away from this here little page. i feel like all i ever do here is complain and whine and cry and weep and gnash my teeth while rending my clothes and pouring ashes on my head. not every day, mind, but often enough that i feel like there is nothing really that i can say that will add to the sum total of cool shit out in the world.

so why post today? i blame the bourbon. frankly, i thought today's food intake in itself was interesting enough to warrant a blog post. so there you have it. i'll take "what i ate today" for 200, alec!

not saying goodbye, just saying i'll see ya around. i will continue to write shit when shit demands to be written. and in the meantime, hey, take care of yourselves; hang in there. the world will either right itself or we're in for a sweet little apocalypse and y'all know i'm excited about that!

03 February, 2017



mr. monkey's family is here - mother in law, sister in law and two wee nephews. because of how many of us there are and the volvobeaste's spatial limitations, we decided to rent a minivan for familial weekend trips. alas, hotwire royally messed up our reservation which, coupled with the super bowl that's on this weekend, meant no minivan for us, which translates to alone time for me while mr. monkey takes his family out to see the alligators, the zoo, NASA, and the gulf while i sit and read in peaceful and much needed solitude.

it's been a good visit so far (my deep fear leading up to it meant my expectations were niiiiice and low) although there have been moments where i seriously considered murder*. the high point of the visit is easy to pinpoint: the wee one, the 2-and-a-bit-year-old, is cute as hell and he and i have gotten a schtick that goes something like this:

moi: platypus!
j: no, YOU're the platypus!
moi: no, YOU're the platypus!
j: no, YOU're the platypus!
moi: no, YOU're the platypus!
j: no, YOU're the platypus!

we can (and do) go on at length, both of us highly entertained. if i start off whispering, he'll whisper it back at me. if i yell, he'll yell. if i speak in polish, he'll revert to polish. the way he says platypus is something to behold and it makes me want to eat his adorable round head even more.


the day mr. monkey's family leaves is the day my dad arrives, driving down a car my parents are generously giving me. he will run a marathon (my dad never ever travels without running a marathon; thinks it's indecent or something) and take off several days later. a couple days after that, mr. monkey and i go off to new orleans for mardi gras and then, on the day we return, i just found out my cousin, his wife, and their three children are flying in and staying for 2 weeks. this means that from january 28 until march 9, we will essentially be non-stop hosting or guesting. the rate things are going, i suspect somebody else will announce their arrival on march 10, but that's ok. as long as i get some down time, i'm good... i think.

*yes, it was the 4 year old almost every time. how'd you guess?

24 January, 2017

toxic masculinity

i'm currently both watching and reading the expanse. it's a very good series, finally something sci-fi i can sink my teeth into. when you read and watch simultaneously, it can bring out problems all too clearly but the tv show seems like a solid adaptation of the books except for one thing: the male characters in the tv show are continually whipping out their dicks and waving them about (figuratively, not literally - that would make it an entirely different sort of tv show). there is constant testosterone-fuelled posturing and if not outright violence then at least the threat of violence is never too far removed. in the book, the same characters cooperate; in the book they act as if they were living precariously, one wall between them and the vacuum; in the book they talk things out, carry out orders, and might, at worst, mutter under their breath. but in the show each move forward is accompanied by such rich outpourings of testosterone it's a wonder anyone can breathe. i started watching the series before starting the book but even then i found the men's attitudes puzzling - why this bristling barely-suppressed rage at anyone and anything? why this inability to work together towards a common goal? is this really the way human beings would act in space?

i have written here before about the way television portrays feminine strength as essentially humourless bitchiness. think PMS all in extra big capital letters and you've got what tv execs think a strong woman is like. i'm glad to see that more and more television shows have gotten over this - think good wife, where female characters are shown as strong and funny and kind and confused and sometimes bitchy and sometimes emotional: all the things that make one human (imagine that! a woman who is also a human!) it's not perfect, but there does seem to be more writing that catches many of the nuances of full personhood.

i haven't really noticed the male portion of the equation until recently - if ever you think feminism is irrelevant, think of the ways that popular culture teaches both young men and young women to act. at its most 50's nuclear family basic women are to be coy, quiet, uninterested in sex, interested in relationships, caring etc. etc. men are to be aggressive, sexually and otherwise, uninterested in cooperation and all about their ego. sure, this is a gross oversimplification, but watch enough television and you will see these stereotypes play out again and again. if feminism is partly about letting women be all that they actually are (complicated humans!), it is about letting men do exactly the same. i do wish the writers of this really rather excellent show had taken a page out of the book, and let the men focus on getting the job done, rather than having to prove, again and again, just how macho and tough they are, while the world around them falls apart.

21 January, 2017


i can pickle that:
i know i'm finally home because on my kitchen counter i have a jar of red cabbage sauerkraut, a jar of lacto-fermenting pickling cucumbers*, and a jar of homemade yogurt. these, as much as the curtains and the art on the walls, are clear indicators of my nesting instinct. together we put up a storm door that had been waiting for some TLC for months (it took some pretty nifty engineering solutions from mr. monkey - thank god we each have our own talents, because putting things together in ways that are superior to their original design is definitely not something i am capable of.) mr. monkey reorganized the garage and i've been airing out feather pillows that had gotten musty. i only wish we could have a laundry line out back, but i'm pretty certain it's outlawed here - disgusting and shameful behaviour of the poors and the immigrants. don't want none of that here!

we had friends over last night helping us move the last of our (very heavy) polish stuff from tb's house to ours. the night ended close to midnight for me (already past my bedtime) but it ended much later for mr. monkey. i came down at 4 am ready to tell the guests to go the hell home, but they'd beat me by no more than an hour and all i found was mr. monkey sleeping sweetly on a quilt, covered by a sheepskin rug. he was convinced (and thus tried to convince me) that when he lied down it was the opposite, and far more logical, set up: lying ON fur, and UNDER a quilt but i remain unconvinced, especially in light of his inability to take the stairs up to bed. this sort of thing happens rarely, thank god, though it does tend to happen whenever these particular friends come over. god love them, they're very nice, but they are good neither for the liver nor for the old circadian rhythms. i've said it before: my ideal social event starts right after work hours, and ends by 8-9pm at the latest. anything beyond that and i get resentful and cranky. still, it's nice to be able to say goodnight and know that nobody will be offended.

sometimes you know your mind is entering a place that is one smidgeon removed from full on madness. it's good to catch yourself and step back before you plunge into that abyss. thursday i found myself standing at the back door, talking to the squirrel. it's been coming around daily and rummaging in my flower pots which are already pretty precarious because of the recent frost, and to distract it i threw down some peanuts for it. peanuts it just ignored like the dumb little furkin it is. so here i was, standing on the back stoop, talking to the squirrel (slowly and clearly, so that it might understand me):

moi: look, you moron! i gave you some peanuts! PEA-NUTS. RIGHT. OVER. HERE. don't you want them? listen, dumdum! PEEEEEA - NUTS. HERE!!!

then i realised what i was doing and i went sheepishly inside. the damn critter continued to ignore them and, with my track record with squirrels, i really can't blame it. but this batch is most certainly not poisoned, and i want it to leave my poor plants alone. but how do you reason with a squirrel?

march on:
on the topic of politics i will only say that i am so proud of all the women (and honorary women) who walked out today and spoke out with a big beautiful united roar. you go, ladies!

*yes, it's cucumber season in texas. go figger!

20 January, 2017


while driving today i turned the radio on to my usual station (NPR, no surprise there) only to be greeted by the unctuous voice of the incoming commender-in-cheeto. i quickly smacked the off button and resigned myself to radio silence. if the united states has gone mad and i have to live here, i refuse to be exposed to the mouth-breathing diatribes of the millionaire vulgarian any more than necessary. when his voice graces ALL the radio waves and the secret police knock on my door, only then will i "voluntarily" turn my eardrums to what comes out of his tiny cat's anus of a mouth. enough about that.


searching through the airwaves for something else to listen to, i realised that the smorgasbord of radio stations around houston is really rather limited. what you have is this, in descending order of frequency:

1. the jesus stations. these occasionally play music that initially seems normal, but i have developed a hypersensitivity to content: i can scent "our lord and saviour" in 3 seconds or less.

2. the spanish stations. no problem with these, but there's only so much mexican polka music that i can listen to before i throw in my sombrero.

3. country. no, just no.

4. classic rock. not my kettle of fish. never was a fan, never will be. will stop on occasion when something nostalgic comes on.

5. rap. i'm not dismissive of rap as a whole - while i might not appreciate all of it, i don't make the mistake of an old person hollering, THAT'S NOT REAL MUSIC! and HEY, YOU KIDS, GET OFFA MY LAWN!!!  however, i'm not a fan of this particular sub-genre (don't ask me what it is, but it seems... i dunno... extra rappy?)

5. 80's music. when it's the stuff i love, it's great; when it's the stuff i hate, it's another channel i get to skip. seems about 30/70 not in my favour.

6. NPR, my beloved public radio. sadly, all too often of late they talk politics and my tolerance is low. i keep waiting for the secret police to shut them down. that day might be coming soon. i don't know. i don't wanna think about it.

when i do turn the radio on, i drive nervously jumping from station to station, knowing the pay-off is limited and unlikely, but hope keeps me alive.

oops! i totally forgot the ubiquitous pop music station, brought to you by anonymous hook-ups,  a growing lack of respect for a solid arts education, and autotune!

13 January, 2017

genius of the wee hours

the night before last i couldn't sleep. unlike my typical insomnia* nightbrain™ was running full tilt on the hamster wheel. i tried to think calm soothing thoughts but instead, nightbrain™ kept whispering housekeeping suggestions to me: "pssst! the cereal shouldn't be in the laundry room**, why not do a little switcheroo and put the cereal in the pantry, where it belongs?" or "if you stack the metal boxes, you'll free up some shelf space in the office!" and so on. i eventually fell asleep some time before 3am, but it sure was worth it because the next morning i got up and implemented all of nightbrain's™ suggestions and you know what? nightbrain™ is fucking genius! i have spare booze in the laundry room now and cereal in the pantry! i have liberated 3 shelves in the office! we installed a lamp! i'm working on cafe curtains in the kitchen! granted, not all of the above is nightbrain™, but the fact is, i'm totally nesting.

what's cool is that i haven't really thought about these things. nightbrain™ came up with them all on its own, which means that i hadn't been thinking about them overtly, but somewhere under all the junk mail and dryer lint that constitutes my mind of late, there were plans being made. decisions decided upon. organization considered. now let's hope nightbrain™ can help me find a job.

* i'm tired. i'm NOT thinking about stuff. i can't fall asleep. my off switch is clearly broken.

** as i've said before, for a big ass house, this place sucks at storage. i keep one cabinet in the laundry room filled with pickling jars and lids, cereal, flour and sugar, as well as a big bottle of alcoholic plums***

*** the plums aren't alcoholics; they've been sitting in booze for so long they have now become one with it. boozy, boozy plums! come to think of it, they might very well be alcoholics by now...

12 January, 2017


on monday i had an endoscopy. i felt calm and relaxed about the whole thing right up until sunday night when it hit me that, hey! someone's gonna be sticking a very long tube with a camera at the end right into my giblets and rummaging around. then i got over it and slept.

when i got to the medical clinic and got presented with the nearly 1k bill, i almost decided, right then and there, that i could very simply stick an elongated selfie stick down my own throat, with similar effect but for far far less money. alas, common sense prevailed. having said that, i'm still not used to being billed for medical procedures and find it an absolutely odious way to run a country.

i was told to take off my wedding/engagement rings and because i so seldom do it, it took a whole packet of medical lubricant and some heavy duty contortions to get them removed. i told the nurses it clearly showed i don't pop into bars and pretend to be single on a regular basis. they had a chuckle over this (although it might have been the sight of red-faced me, grunting and twisting into bizarre postures to get those damn rings off).

in the pre-op room, i changed into a fetching butt-flapping robe, got fitted with a stylish hospital bracelet, and hooked up to IV. once in the operating room, i was told to gargle something vile-tasting, nearly impossible to gargle because of its viscosity. when i half-gagged, half-gargled as much as i could, dreaming of spitting the whole mess out, the nurse told me to swallow. low point of the day for damn sure.

in went an oxygen tube and a bite block. by then the drugs hit me because the last thing i remember is the gastroenterologist sticking a black thing in my mouth and then i woke up in the post op area, mr. monkey sitting beside me, stroking my head. i'd had full anesthesia before, and waking up from that is pure hell. whatever they gave me this time (some gorgeous thing ending in "ol", i think) was a down duvet of a drug. all the way home i went back and forth between slipping into a glorious semiconsciousness and talking ceaselessly. it was a strange combination, albeit a pleasant one.

i slept the rest of the day away and the following night. the verdict? my giblets are lovely to look at with the notable exception of my stomach lining which is the wrong colour apparently. funny how all these years nobody thought to mention that to me. too polite, i guess.

08 January, 2017


i don't know if it's the living out of a suitcase for 3 months that did it. or the glorious relief of the return to some semblance of mental health. or maybe it was the twinkling christmas tree that greeted me in my living room upon my return. perhaps it's simply a switch in the way i think about things. all i know is that this place is starting to feel like home. a proper MY home. i sit on the couch and take in my surroundings with pleasure. i'm filled with desire to tweak things, put up the remaining art, switch out a lamp - all indicators of nesting.

when i left, this place felt temporary and, in some small measure, hateful. i had little desire to do anything other than leave and make my home elsewhere. once again i'm surprised at the power of attitude, because i do think that above all else it is my decision to come back and make this my home that contributed the most to it starting to feel that way. sure, driving along the highways plastered with advertisements for medical procedures and gun shops still unnerves me, but i'm not going to let it get in my way of embracing the good. after all, edmonton has its own wealth of hateful ugliness to it, and since it's home i simply chose not to dwell on it. surely i can do the same here.

when i packed up my stuff for the move back south i wondered if i'd ever get a chance to wear my cozy scarves again. two days ago i got my wish - it went down to -4°C and we had to put our lemon and lime trees in the garage. for good measure we took in the potted rosemary too. yesterday morning we awoke to carnage: the ginger plants, the elephant's ears, the gorgeous huge bird of paradise by the pool, and many others seem to have taken a beating. i was surveying the front yard with a friend who said they would likely come back, but i've seen frost damage and this looked pretty serious to me. sigh... the first world problems of living in a sub-tropical region. we walked out and saw that the neighbour down the street did the right thing and covered nearly everything in his front yard with multicoloured sheets and fabric.

looks like laundry day, i laughed.
yeah - in africa! my friend, who is from south africa, answered.

fair enough. people aren't very likely to put their laundry out for display in north america, are they? still, next time these types of temperatures hit, i'll be sure to take my own load of laundry and scatter it about.

who'd have thought that -4°C would ever freak me out?

05 January, 2017

squirrel in the attic

mental health

the drugs seem to have kicked in. i'm in that sweet spot of not really feeling much of anything most of the time, and while i've heard people complain about this particular aspect of taking antidepressants, i'll take numb over miserable any day, thankyouverymuch.

i've gone off facebook and twitter. i've stayed away from the news. i'm working hard on maintaining my equanimity and separating myself from the shitstorm of "out there" seems to be a good start.

one thing that this whole adventure exposed is how far i am from real self knowledge. it knocked me off my smug complacency and it continues to do so in small after-shocks. but that's good, innit? it's good, sometimes, to be shown the limit of one's self-awareness. it just means i'll keep pushing ahead... in a while. in a little while. right now i'm taking a wee break.


one of the benefits of giving up social media and making a conscious effort to focus my energies on one thing at a time is that i'm back to reading books. it seemed for a while there that i was no longer able to sit and read for longer than mere minutes before i started itching to see what else was happening out there (an anxiety-promoting electronic FOMO). thankfully reading is back. phew! now i'm ready for the apocalypse.*

auto-complete is the window to your soul

i was texting sanity salad the other day and when i typed "talked about," one of the phone's autocomplete options was "vaginas" which made me super happy. apparently i type "talk about vaginas" often enough that my phone recognizes it as a pattern. sanity salad and i were tickled pink.

the eponymous squirrel

i'm assuming it's a squirrel. it might be an entirely different texan beast. a possum, perhaps? at any rate, something's up there and it's making a racket. might be time to revisit my old days of squirrel huntin'. this here's the country for it, that's for darn sure.

*it may be argued that i am always/never ready for the apocalypse. depends on the day.

01 January, 2017

happy new guy

2016 was an interesting year. i'll give it that. here's hoping 2017 is less interesting, and more given to peace and joy than the wanton decimation of democracy and beloved icons like its predecessor. let's all raise a glass to that, shall we?

we spent new year's eve with friends: eating, drinking, soaking in a hot tub, enjoying the balminess of the night, and generally being low key. after the last several years of hosting large new year's eve gatherings, it was lovely to simply sit on a couch and be.

when it came time to ring in the new year, we sort of missed the boat because PBS inexplicably played commercials at the very moment of midnight and by the time we got back to a commercial station, it was already after the fact, so we awkwardly clinked glasses of bubbly, hugged and kissed and then sat down again to watch a movie.

perhaps because i've been so... ahem... excessively mobile in the last year or so, i feel like all the usual trappings of tradition have become loosened, as evidenced by our unconventional christmas celebrations. with the socio-political changes in the world, too, it seems that tradition for its own sake is something to perhaps view with a degree of suspicion, or at the very least hold up to the light and question: why are we doing this? is there anything meaningful for us in this? what aspects are important enough to keep? what can be relinquished?

i see now that without the whole family around, i really feel very little need to have a traditional polish christmas celebration. it's definitely more about the people than the food, and when the people aren't there, it becomes stripped of meaning. grocery store sushi will do just fine, thank you.

i am reminded of our first few christmases in canada, just my parents and i: there was a poignancy to the fact that after all the preparations we would sit down to a meal of 3 just like any other day, that without the bustling noisy atmosphere, it never really felt proper, despite my mom's best culinary efforts. very quickly we started sharing our christmas eve supper with other polish families who were in the same boat, and having 10 people around the table made it seem festive, special, even without any blood ties.

it's quiet here, peaceful. green and warm and pleasant, and i'm working on getting the best out of it, and out of the new year.

dearest poultries, may this year bring you relief from ailments, anxieties, and uncertainty; may it bring you health and hope and joy; may you be loved and understood; and most of all, may you be at peace!

28 December, 2016

things fall apart (with sauerkraut and mushrooms)

eating inappropriately seems to be a thing. as stated before, christmas dinner consisted of leftover tuna casserole. tonight's supper is a glass of sparkling white wine and a bowl of cheerios.

it's worth noting, however, that today i did several loads of laundry, ironed some seriously wrinkled pants, helped mr. monkey with certain work-related documents, and started working on a giant batch of bigos, having recently been inducted into the family culinary secrets.

it must be said that from its description, the dish sounds rather... unappetizing? if properly made, however, it is of surpassing deliciousness and my uncle's version (originally made by my maternal grandfather who made this part of his Manly Cookery repertoire) is the very best i've ever had. my mom's, my mother-in-law's, anyone else's, really, simply doesn't compare, and last week my uncle allowed me to participate in the blessed event: watching, sprinkling things judiciously into a Very Large Pot, mixing, tasting, and mixing some more. the end result was phenomenal (each year we say he has surpassed himself, though how likely is it that perfection should get ever more perfect?) we'll see how mine turns out.  because it is a two day process one typically makes large amounts and freezes them for future consumption. i'll let you know. better yet, you can drop by for a taste!

so that's that.

things that happened, in a vaguely chronological order

i gave the 2 year old a black eye. not my proudest moment, and entirely accidental, but it happened: my elbow made contact with her wee little face and an hour later she looked like a total bad ass.

side note: i sure am missing hanging out on the bed with the small cuddly humans watching movies. mr. monkey, sweet as he can occasionally be, is not anywhere near as cuddly.

saturday (christmas eve):
woke up at 3:06am, 14 min before the alarm was scheduled to go off. the sky was that particular snowfall pink and a fine sparkling dust was blowing everywhere. the drive to the airport went off without a hitch, but the sheer madness there made me vow never to fly on christmas eve again. i was forced to unpack bits of one suitcase and shove it into another one, as one was too heavy and one was light. not sure why this couldn't have evened itself out, but what do i know of the science of stacking suitcases in an airplane to prevent listing? nothing, that's what.

arrived in houston in one exhausted coughing snotty piece. came home to find a christmas tree decorated by 3 lovely elves. mr. monkey was not one of them, but he did give them access, so that counts for something.

christmas eve, the biggest of big deals in polish culture, passed us by. we drank a way-too-sweet lambrusco and ate grocery store sushi and gyoza. no biggie.

sunday (christmas day):
drank coffee by the pool. mr. monkey tinkered with the volvo. i read a book outside. our supper was left-over tuna casserole. not particularly christmassy either, but it was a nice quiet day. if i wanted to run away from my excessive social life and fall into a fluffy quietude, then i have succeeded.

monday (boxing day):
went to a walk-in clinic. looks like it's bronchitis II. came out with antibiotics, cough syrup, and some wee pills that are supposed to stop the coughing. went to see star wars: rogue one, and enjoyed it quite a bit (hurray for low expectations!) the last scene was super cool and also very poignant in light of yet another celebrity death.

drove to austin in the evening.

did some official stuff in austin. the state capital office was in a gorgeous old building but seemed logistically stuck in the early 1980's: we had to fill out chits with our credit card info, and watched the lovely lady punch things into her surprisingly modern computer. i was expecting a typewriter and carbon paper, but nope, just lacking basic* credit card infrastructure. tiny cheap pens: small government apparently means tiny pens.

walked around austin for hours, hoping to adopt a stray agave pup, but alas, those things are hard to rip out of the earth sans shovel. we were ill equipped for this.

drove back home. went to sleep.

*once again, as with american banking, i'm shocked at how many years behind they seem to be here in certain areas: did i tell you about seeing a young woman paying for groceries with a cheque? or people lining up at a bank window to withdraw money?! i know, right? while also simultaneously boasting futuristic weaponry and state-of-the-art computer technology. a country of contradictions, this is.

15 December, 2016

exeunt, pursued by a bear

for the three months that i managed to hold an adult office lady job, one of my small daily frustrations  was the battle with the toilet paper dispenser.

our office had typical toilet cubicles, each equipped with a spinning 4-roll dispenser. in the morning, it was more likely than not that i'd come upon a dispenser filled with 4 virgin rolls, which meant that i had to start the damn thing. since the spinning mechanism was rather loose, each time i almost managed to grab a roll, it would spin away from me, leaving me holding the tiniest piece of paper, roughly of a size needed to daintily dab the lips of a fruit fly.

after several such attempts, i would find myself still toilet-paperless, having produced nothing but a sizeable pile of wee little paper scraps on the floor and having also pretty much managed to drip dry to the point of toilet paper pointlessness. by then, though, i was committed to the process.

eventually i'd get frustrated (this took longer than one would think) and start tearing the nearest toilet roll with one finger, while jamming my other hand into the receptacle to stop the inevitable spin. this, more often than not, ended up with me pulling out a mangled chunk of toilet paper that was only about 2 squares long, but approximately 47 layers thick, i.e. exceedingly comfortable to use.

take that, toilet paper bears!

14 December, 2016

a barber shop quintet (badgers not included)

heading south in 10 days. in the meantime i've got good days and bad - i haven't had a weeping episode since i quit my job but the purple bad boys don't seem to be kicking in quite yet. yes, i'm supposed to give them 2-4 weeks, but i was really hoping for the same sort of nearly immediate miracle that the pink pills brought me. or how the steroid injection in my elbow 36h ago (damn you, tennis!) seems to have completely taken the pain away. perhaps i need a steroid injection in my soul? brain? heart? not quite sure where it would have to go, although i do happen to know exactly where my anxiety and depression sit* (thank you, mindfulness!)

i'm doing good things like: seeing people, tickling kids, buying barbie dolls (ptooie!), drinking drinks, discussing skinny house blueprints, going to movies, etc. i'm also feeling deeply overwhelmed by relatively small things like: do i replace the battery in my car (linked to - do i keep the car? do i drive the car down south in the near future? do i give the car to my parents who might or might not be moving west this spring? do i sell the car? what do i do with the damn car? (again)) do i pay my urban planning association dues for this year (linked to - am i running away from this profession again? is this a cop out? what's wrong with me? etc.)? and if i pay the dues (i probably will, just in case), what do i do about my continuing education courses that are required?

the good thing about being a depression pro is that i know none of these things are insurmountable and can be attacked in small manageable pieces. the bad thing about being a depression pro is that i know that logic can be used as a blunt weapon with as much force as i can muster and it still won't make a dent in the darkness.

still, some light in said darkness. i saw my bananologist and we discussed what i have learned regarding future jobs/careers: i don't care about status (clearly if i did i'd have some by now). i don't care about being challenged (hey, living is challenge enough). i don't care about money (a position of privilege of which i am fully aware). what i do care about is relationships. the primary measure of any future professional success, or lack thereof, will be predicated on the quality of the relationships that i can build at work. N1 and N2 were clear indications of this and it's a good and handy thing to know. plus the most cursory glance at my 20 years of working reveals that i have not held any one job for any length of time. i have temped and part-timed my way through a big chunk of my adulthood, and not always because of moving. it's one way to keep one's feet out of the quagmire of politicking and bullshit. it's good to learn things.

and that's it for now.

*my depression sits right at the xiphoid process; my anxiety sits higher up on the sternum. now you know.

09 December, 2016

freedom or failure?

i resigned from my job on monday. i worked my last day yesterday. it was all done in a positive and classy way with no feelings hurt or bridges burned.

what i feel:

relief: from the increasingly overwhelming and ubiquitous misery and uncontrollable crying.

shame: what is wrong with me that i can't handle working a job like regular folk?

residual sadness and confusion: not expecting that to end overnight.

excitement: at going back to mr. monkey AND the 2 weeks i now get to hang out with my people.

hope: that i will figure something out to be a semi-productive member of society. i have some ideas but i'm not supposed to say because apparently that can take the place of doing, and we don't want that.

cold: it's been  hovering around -20°C here all week and it's showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. oh well, i have the clothes for it and i'll take -20°C over any flavour of september any day.

sick: i can't seem to shake this respiratory shit that's been hounding me, but hopefully once i'm back in texas, i'll be able to breathe properly again. one thing i'll give texas: i did not get sick once.

cautiously optimistic: i will work on embracing the good in my chosen home base. after all, i lived for 5 years in fort mcmurray; i think i can handle living in a beautiful-if-dull community in texas. besides, i was only dissatisfied living there, not sobbingly miserable. there's a difference, i have found out, and it's heavily skewed towards dissatisfied, as it's more easily remedied, and with less dependence on pharmaceuticals.

grateful: for the unfailing and ever patient support i have received from all the people in my life, and that includes the emails and comments from you, my faithful poultries.

i'm hoping that this blog can stop being a platform for my mental health issues, but if not, well, so be it. it's a surprisingly effective form of mental health support, and i won't shy away from using it but here's hoping i can fill these here pages with the occasional guffaw to take the edge off.

01 December, 2016


how do you explain to someone who has only ever had a situational depression that your depression is based on nothing but the chemicals in your brain? how do you tell someone you love and who loves you that you are broken and scared that he will stop loving you because of how illogical and broken you are? how do you explain to him that his attempts to make you look at this logically are not only fruitless but also hurtful? i know none of this is logical. i know i've only been here two months. i know he only left less than a week ago. none of this matters. what matters is that i'm broken and sad.

i am a broken fucked up nest of snakes, inextricably tangled, hopeless and stupid and annoying and useless. i know none of these things are true but the point is, they FEEL true, and feeling will always beat knowing when it feels this real.

mr. monkey told me to see someone. not a counsellor, someone else. i don't know who i'm supposed to see. a psychiatrist? he'll give me more drugs. i already have more drugs which seem to not be working. unless their point is to make me cry uncontrollably for long intervals, seemingly out of the blue in which case, they're working brilliantly.

seriously, though, if you have any ideas about how to explain depression to the un-depressed in terms that they can understand, i'd totally appreciate any links or suggestions.

took half a sleeping pill.
seem to be drying off a bit in the eyeball department.
good night.

30 November, 2016


a poem that took a long time getting written:

A river of bunnies, real loathsome and vile
Are strutting down Champs Elysees single file

A river of hedgehogs, hopped up on pink pills
Hot-wiring cars for some cheap nighttime thrills

A river of donkeys, so tough and tattooed
Could talk to your grandma and not once be rude

A river of weasels, all dressed up in blue
Went into a deli and ordered a stew

A river of swordfish, très fancy and suave
Picked up a marshmallow but ate a guimauve

A river of turtles, with wind in their hair
Are burning down Main Street to outrun the hare

A river of monkeys, bewildered by sin
Drank liquor and let all the strippers come in

A river of aardvarks, astute and aware
Uncovered deep truths and laid secrets bare

A river of kittens in warm fuzzy hats
Decided that dogs were superior to cats

A river of lizards, amazed all the while,
Walked in looking blah, but walked out in style

A river of hedgehogs, entombed in despair
Walked slowly with ashes and rain in their hair

A river of puppies came up with a plan:
They all quit their jobs and ran off to Bhutan

A river of possums, morose and uncool,
Picked up some plastique and blew up the school

27 November, 2016


the upside of minimalism:

  • fewer dishes to wash
  • reduced capacity for entertaining and elaborate meals
  • easier household maintenance
the downside of minimalism:
  • cutting your toenails with utility scissors 

black and grey

it seems like we haven't had sun here for weeks. this is most likely not the case, but that's what it feels like. all grey skies all the time, inside and out, baby!

this morning i put mr. monkey on the plane and only shed about 17 tears. i then went to the doctor and got myself diagnosed with bronchitis. the examination was perfunctory at best, and i feel that had i shown up with a leg bitten off by a tiger, he'd have diagnosed me with the exact same thing. still, he's the one with the M and the D after his name, so what do i know? maybe there's a particular sound that unwell bronchioles emit which all doctors can immediately recognize.

two of my ladies, knowing full well that i might be a bit of an emotional mess today, stepped up: sanity salad took me out for breakfast, and then, joined by crusty juggler, we headed for a day at the-formerly-largest-mall-in-the-world-alas-no-more-but-still-damn-well-big-enough-what-with-the-ship-the-amusement-park-the-waterpark-the-whale-the-skating-rink-and-the-walruses-or-whatnot. there's something about that particular mall (since i despise malls in general) that soothes me. perhaps because it is the mall of my youth, the place i'd go to hang out with my best friends when i was but a girl. there's also something strangely comforting about being surrounded by masses of humanity that you don't actually have to interact with. it's not a mood i get often, but when i do, west ed hits the spot.

we walked, we shopped, we tried on expensive penis-shaped hats, we laughed our asses off, and sat watching people skate,. after the mall, we went to crusty and d's house, where d made his Amazingly Delicious Udon Noodles and then crusty finished the night off with Ridiculously Yummy Lime Bars. i'm now in bed, feeling the greyness settle on me. perhaps i'll watch some telly and then catch up on my sleep. i pretty much decided that i'm taking tomorrow off work - the cough/chest pain combo, even though it doesn't pack the dramatic punch a heart attack, is doing a number on me.

this big empty house sure seems extra big and empty tonight. as much as mr. monkey's presence seems to immediately result in a mess, i would welcome it with open arms. i have a bananologist appointment on wednesday. hopefully she can help me unpack some of the bad decision-making that's been happening around here of late.

this is one of those posts without a satisfactory denouement, so i'll just cut it off here and bid you all adieu and a sweet night. know that your words of care and your encouragement and your worries about my health are most appreciated and really do help to lift the grey a little bit. you are, by far, the best poultries a woman could wish for!

things that go "plop" in the night

this house is noisy. all manner of snaps, crackle, and pops, but i don't really care all that much except when they wake me up at 4am and my body cares because it is jolted awake by an adrenalin surge. but otherwise, meh.

mr. monkey is here. this is making me see that he really is some sort of anti-depressant in human form, since i'm only now FINALLY realising that each time i leave him, i fall into deep depression. perhaps i ought to stop leaving him.

here's the thing: he wants me to come back. he misses me. he wants me there BUT he wants me to prove myself first (to the office, sure, but to myself predominantly) and the very possibility of going back to texas, while not at the top of my hurrah-list, is making me rethink my definition of home. because, sure, edmonton is home, but you know what is home most of all? mr. monkey. i bet y'all knew that already! i bet y'all were sitting there in your various arm chairs looking at my life choices, shaking your heads, and saying, tsk, tsk, is it really such a good idea to leave your man behind when you actually super-like him? my mom recently told me that for a person with depressive tendencies i seem to make a lot of life choices specifically designed to make my life harder. she's got a point.

granted, i was supposed to be the avant garde, the scouting mission, the one sent to prepare the way, all john the baptist like, but now that mr. monkey's horrid boss is no more, he is suddenly sleeping and enjoying work and not thinking about coming back right away at all. sure, who knows? with the inflamed orange anal gland in power in the US things might get all sorts of interesting (shudder) but for now, he's happy.


he's flying out tomorrow morning and i've been bawling my eyes out like a crazy person, complete with snot bubbles and strange guttural howling noises and wheezing because i have no voice (see below) and here's the kicker: i've been suffering from some sort of respiratory infection that has me hacking out my phlegmy lungs, but in the last 2 days i've developed increasingly sharp pain in my chest and, because decisions are HARD, i'm having this super awesome wish that maybe it's a heart attack (hey! it could happen!) and if it is, then i won't have to go to work and i'll have a most excellent excuse to go be with mr. monkey while i recuperate! so this is where i'm at, my poultries, wishing for a heart attack, or trying to figure out what exactly a nervous breakdown might look like, because i seem to be too highly functioning for that, unless you count all the crying all the time, (although i do seem to manage to keep that outside of the 9-5).

ah, fuck. look, people, don't worry about it. or, you know, worry about it as much as you wish, but writing here is a strange and free therapy that i engage in, and i know i've been dumping a lot on you lately (worry not! i have a possibly funny post about toilet paper in the works! the chortles never stop here!) so if you're fresh out of words of sympathy etc. don't fret about it. just do like you do on zhoen's blog and drop me a stone (o) to let me know you're here, but no need to try and make me feel better because i have just recently added another pretty pill to my repertoire (a purple round one to go with the pink square one! hurray for pretty colours!) so hopefully that shit kicks in in a few days. hell, who knows, i might stop caring so deeply and thoroughly that i'll just stay here in this big shiny empty echoing snapping house, all by myself, and continue to go work for someone who, i'm fairly certain, has not yet said one positive thing to me about me or my work, and keep doing this corporate thing that i am evidently utterly unsuited for.

anyone wanna start a commune or something? i'm SO damn good at escape fantasies! if only one could get paid for that shit.

17 November, 2016


i have another 2h before mr. monkey lands so i might as well talk to you. hi. how are you? are things going well for you? i certainly hope they are. i like you. i want you to be happy. am i happy? why, no, no i am not. i have my moments, sure, but i'd say that overall, the prevailing winds have not been happy winds.

the other day at work i gradually realised i was so anxious and tense that all the muscles in my head were feeling super twangy, like tightly wound guitar strings. TWANGGGG!!!! TWANNGGGGG!!! i had to use every power in my meagre considerable mental health arsenal of mindfulness to de-twang my muscles. i didn't manage to do it all the way, just enough to enable me to breathe properly. breathing is important, i'm told.

why was i so stressed? ah, see, there's this vicious circle that happens when you're depressed/anxious: you feel like shit, and so you come to believe that you're shit, and the work you're doing is shit, and you're liable to get fired in approximately, oh, say 5 minutes, and the anxiety caused by those thoughts causes you to become dull - all of that mental energy focused on the fight-or-flight response doesn't give you all that much intellectual wiggle room so you miss things, obvious things, and because you already feel like shit, you think, hey! i'm missing obvious things because i'm a shitty idiot who's shit at the job she's doing and that she's about to be fired from. this doesn't tend to make you feel better and so the spiral continues.

i'm currently learning to use the practice of mindfulness to nip this in the bud, but boy howdy, this particular anxiety attack was a doozy! (huh - is that how you spell doozy? seems weird, no?) at any rate, it happened several times and because my tennis elbow* was becoming seriously painful, i decided to go see my doctor. ok, confession time: i'd decided to go see my doctor about a month ago but somehow something always managed to come up and so i put my health second. tonight i finally saw my doctor and now i'm getting cortisone shots in my tennis elbow (whenever i get around to it).  i also told her that my anti-bananas medication isn't working any more. and i need more. please and thank you.

ok, let's reframe. i suspect that if i lived a normal life in which i lived in some sort of stability, with one job, in one place, with one husband, the anti-bananas medications would function quite well. alas, i keep engaging in massive upheavals like a crazy person (ha!) which means that my life choices have resulted in chaos that is far beyond the range of what your average decently acting anti-bananas medication can handle. the fault is not in the anti-bananas medication; the fault is in my life choices. i admit it, but nevertheless, i need more anti-bananas.

my doctor will consult her wise books, she will converse with a shrinkologist, and she will write me a prescription for something to will fill the gaps in my sanity. perhaps all this will work and it will result in me 1. not being fucking miserable all the time, 2. not having a twangy head, 3. figuring out what the hell i want from life (other than mental health, again, please and thank you).

in the meantime, mr. monkey's going to be here in just over an hour!!!!!!!!!!!!

*this time it's my left arm which i use to play tennis exactly as much as my right arm, which suffered from tennis elbow several years ago. i'm SO giving up tennis.

14 November, 2016

seven smiles

i've been wanting to write since last tuesday but, as you can well imagine, anything i'd have written would have been well marinated in tears and bile and a deep visceral anger. i didn't write the post i'd meant to write* and so i didn't write at all but then sweet lucy presented me with a meme that counterbalances at least some of the darkness: 7 good memories, an easy task, i'd think, given my ability to dress my past in garlands of joy (it's the present that is difficult, innit?)

  1. my first christmas outside of the communist block - we walk the streets of a tiny mountain town in austria where we are waiting out the seemingly endless immigration process to canada, and i am astounded by the sheer beauty of the store windows: lit up, filled to the brim with lights and decorations, sparkling and joyful. this is new to me after the dour greyness of the poland of my childhood. it seems like the very soul of christmas - snow, candles, toys, colours, and beauty - so much beauty!
  2. i'm walking to my university class, the first class i've taken since becoming a dental hygienist several years earlier. i'm excited at the intellectual stimulation that i'm finally getting but it's also summer - may? june? it's early afternoon and the sun is golden and syrupy and it lights up the cotton willow fluff that seems to be dancing from the sky in slow motion. years later, this moment comes back to me again and again as a confirmation of  quotidian magic. 
  3. my cousin calls my cell just as i leave the gym. i sit in the volvo in the rain and he tells me he has a daughter and i immediately love her, sight unseen, and sit in the car and we cry over the phone, both of us loving this small first child in the family. 
  4. i walk up to a street at the university and mr. monkey is there, waiting for me, standing by his bike, wearing one of his awful striped shirts. i see him and i feel my face breaking into a smile so huge it threatens to fall right off my cheeks. it's not dramatic. it's not romantic. it's just love, that's all.
  5. we're walking along a fern-leaved path somewhere in oregon. it's damp, green, misty and absolutely lush. the stream we are following weaves in and out of the foliage and then, suddenly, without any warning at all we find ourselves in a deep valley, the walls covered in a multitude of terns bedazzled by dew, which opens up to a wide white beach. you can hear the ocean out there... i don't think i've ever seen a place like this - elves should live here, not humans, and yet here we are. 
  6. i get off the tram and am walking to school. i can see my shadow on the sidewalk and i've got two huge red bows in my hair. i feel so grown up, such an independent girl. i'm in grade 1 or 2. 
  7. i've only recently gotten my driver's licence (late bloomer that i am) and i now have a brand new second hand car to go with it. i live in calgary but my friends and boyfriend are in whitecourt. it's a bit of a drive but when i fly along the secondary highways of central alberta, i feel indomitable, the world belongs to me: it's not the car but my own damn superpower that drags the highway beneath the wheels, pulling me along home. i am a goddess!
my natural tendency in these dark days has been to hunker down in the land of fantasy, or at the very least to stay away from the news. between that and full immersion there must be a happy medium that will keep me informed but not broken-hearted. i'm still looking for it. and in the meantime? books. 

* about how, at 44, i've finally been given to understand the full depth, breadth, and sheer unadulterated ugliness of misogyny in a way that evades my ability to forget the bad. oh, world, you are an ugly place right now!

06 November, 2016


i was living in my cousin's basement up to a week ago. that's where i had that breakdown from the last post. sitting on a sofa bed in the dark at 2am, bawling my damn fool eyeballs out. things feel better now.

last thursday i moved into my cousin's gorgeous brand new house that's huge and airy and modern  and white and echoing in all sorts of magical ways. it's never been lived in and because he feels it won't sell over the winter, i've been set up as a sort of house sitter. my rent is exactly what it would be in my parents' rental plus it's about a 7 min walk to work. i feel like a rich person without the encumbrances of furniture. just me and some beautiful art on the walls. i do get a bed. and a couple towels.

the night i moved in here, i went to the grocery store and bought myself the makings of a greek salad. i realised i had no knives so i bought one of those and only when i was unpacking the groceries did i realise that i had neither forks nor spoons. i cut the salad fixin's into large pieces and ate it with my fingers. the next morning's planned yogurt for breakfast didn't happen for obvious reasons and i broke fast with a glass of milk and granola eaten straight from a box. posting my plight on facebook (#nospoons) caused a friend to give me a beautifully bundled bunch of mismatched spoons from a second hand store and yogurt has become a reality. funny how simple life can be. i wanted to minimize my possessions. i wanted fewer spoons. joke's on me!

the house is right on the edge of downtown, and right on the edge of a ravine. there's the constant comforting drone of traffic on the road below but all i see is trees. it's a strange sort of lot and it's the reason my cousin bought it - best of both worlds. yesterday morning, i looked out the window of my upstairs bedroom at the large sloping yard and noticed that one of the pieces of recently laid sod was flipped upside down. i walked down in the afternoon and flipped it back over. this morning, another piece was upside down. i admit i was a little freaked out - animals don't scare me; bipeds with a bizarre sense of humour do. i called my cousin and found out the likeliest culprit is the coyotes that lived on this lot until it was taken from them by the development. coyotes i can deal with, though i do wish they'd leave the outdoor "carpeting" alone.

work goes. it's interesting and some days fulfilling. personality issues are being ironed out. i'm teaching myself that part of choosing to put my big girl pants on is growing a thicker skin or at least learning to take things less personally, or, at the very least, not considering running away whenever i feel mistreated or disrespected. most days i succeed. i meditate daily. i walk more than i have for the last year in texas. i miss mr. monkey and am consistently failing to get him to pick up his cellphone when i call, so our communication is limited to daily morning calls to his work landline and late evening skype sessions. clearly, he's not a fan of the telephone portion of cellular technology.

i will try to blog more, but right now i'm relishing my silence and peace. trying to piece together some semblance of balance and inner peace in what is really a rather unhinged time in my life.