16 June, 2016

there are things that need to be dealt with

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

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

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

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

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

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

06 June, 2016

brain be like gone

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

05 June, 2016

settling in or just settling?

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


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

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


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




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

most boring post ever. over and out. 

31 May, 2016

bamboo gone wild

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

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

and there you have it.




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

30 May, 2016

50/50

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

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

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




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

29 May, 2016

simmer the hell down

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

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

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

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



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

28 May, 2016

(un) sociable

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

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

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




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

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

27 May, 2016

an (unofficial) guide to living in the woodlands

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

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

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

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


24 May, 2016

tidbits


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

22 May, 2016

(living on) the edge

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

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

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

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

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


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

20 May, 2016

bad porn done badly

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

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

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

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

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

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

moi: rawr!

cj: oh yeahhhhh! installl that internetting!

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

16 May, 2016

hi!

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

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

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


01 May, 2016

not the dalai lama quite yet

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

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

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

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

29 April, 2016

acute assholism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

28 April, 2016

strawberries and deer blood

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

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

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

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


27 April, 2016

spring

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

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

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

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


26 April, 2016

an evening in with kim crawford

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

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

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

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

oh what a day!








25 April, 2016

recipe for self


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

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

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

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

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

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

21 April, 2016

untethered

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

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

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

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


20 April, 2016

and another thing!

aside from all the psychological benefits of an awesome bananologist, here's an unforeseen benefit:

i was kvetching to her about how the movers won't take food, including canned and bottled stuff and my glorious collection of spices and teas, and the gorgeous golden creature asked me why i don't simply pack it all up in a box or container, since they take big bin containers as-is, without repacking their contents. i almost kissed her! once i'm done interwebbing here, imma head home and box up my shit!!!

(see? this is why it's good to see a bananologist!)

out of the hole, baby

if you're ever in need of a bananologist, may i recommend mine? she's nothing short of brilliant, as well as being witty, funny, insightful, and warm. i saw her twice over the course of my visit home and each time she managed to get to the root of something that's been bothering me, sometimes for years!

today we tackled my visceral reaction to certain people. one person, a family member, saw me yesterday and, very first thing, asked me in a sad-saccharine voice if i was SO tired, and if i was SO sad about leaving my beautiful condo. my reaction was immediate stabbiness that, as always, i had to squash down to the level of civility. my response to the first question (still not quite civil) was to ask if i looked so bad that it warranted concern. no, they answered, they were merely concerned about all the things i have to do. i said i'm doing them and i'm handling it and i'm fine, thank you. my response to the second question was to say that while i loved my home and really enjoyed my five years there, i had made the choice to sell it and was fine with it. i was taking the situation as it was, accepting it, and moving forward with my life.

the thing that my bananologist and i unpacked today was my immediate anger and my self-blame for it. i feel that in the case of this particular person (and a few others), i feel like i need to take my inner bitch in hand and work really really hard to keep her quiet. rather than accepting that the problem is my out-of-control inner bitch, my bananologist suggested that i resented what the seemingly concerned questions were aiming at. so what were they aiming at? well, they were aiming to make me a victim, rather than a person with agency and a choice in how i respond to my life. as you well know, i spent enough time in the dark hole of depression, and have worked my ass off to get out and stay out. this much i knew. but i never saw that comments like those above (plus the assumption how miserable and out of control of my life i really am!!! poor me!!!) were an attempt to put me right back in that hole. the person speaking is not an asshole. the person speaking is truly concerned. but their way of expressing concern shows much more about what they need from me (to be a victim they can sympathize with and comfort) than actual curiosity about how i am handling the current challenges of my life.

the best questions asked of me - how are you? are you busy? how do you feel about the move? how do you feel about the new place? how do you feel about leaving the old place? are the questions that allow me to tell my truth. i resent it when i am required or expected to be sad or broken or inconsolable, when i am, for the most part, none of those things.

since the last few years and especially the last year of my life has been a journey of discovering my agency (see previous posts), is it any wonder when i respond stabbily to someone who, for their own messed up internal reasons, wishes me to sit in a deep hole of despair, just so they can toss sandwiches and tissues to me, while shaking their head in sympathy, fostering a dependence that would do nothing for me, but would make them feel needed and loved.

amazing how much you can learn about other people from how they treat you and what they expect of you, and how much of it is about them. i wonder how my inner bitch will react to this new information.

also, speaking of agency and choices, read this, cause it's bloody fascinating!!!


13 April, 2016

SOLD! to the one-eyed woman in the back wearing a duck!

well, my little poultries, our condo is pending, which means that if the financial institution okays everything, our lovely edmonton home will soon be our home no more.

it's been a good ride, a fun ride, a warm and loving ride, but it's time to move on. i'm doing that thing where i accept the inevitable and look on the bright side because the alternative is essentially a toddler-style emotional meltdown and we know that is not a good look on a "large boned" middle aged polish lady. my peace and acceptance feel pretty solid, but i always fear i am teetering on the edge of a precipice and, having on more than one occasion spent months in the deep dark hole of depression, i'd rather stay out of it and coddle my inner polyanna. besides, if there's one thing my advanced age has taught me it's the inevitability of change: all things end*.

okay, enough weak and obvious philosophising - i'm slowly running out of cliches and my coffee's getting cold. raise a glass of something cold and bubbly to the end of an era, and the start of another!



*a nugget of wisdom from me to you. you're welcome.

11 April, 2016

a handful of diamonds

it's easy to get lost in all the bullshit of the world, the shiny trinkets, buzzing wants, desires buffed to the high gloss of needs, but in the end when all is said and done i think i'd be just fine if all i had was my mind (though one could successfully argue i'd be even happier if that was the very first thing taken away from me) a handful of music; the freedom to think things through; the time and latitude to imagine alternatives to This; the sheer entertainment value of brain power.

oh yes, do let's not forget that the interpersonal connections i have are some of my most precious possessions (if you can call them such; if you can truly possess a connection with another human bean), but at the end of the day, even if all that was lost, i'd be left with the ability to say, what if? how about? and, on the other hand...

so there you go. love your brain, kids. love your people, but truly love your brain.

are the contents of my fridge preventing me from selling the condo?

as i said before, when you're selling a home, you're selling a lifestyle (assuming, in an entirely statistically reasonable manner, that the majority of the human population lacks imagination and thus needs to be shown the wondrous possibilities inherent in living right here in this very house). my home right now shows them what it would be like to live in the heart of a city, to love art, and to lounge on the fuzzy skins of various dead ruminants. it shows them the svelte and sexy dazzle of urbanity. the floors gleam; the stainless steal glows; the vast expanse of counter space speaks to them of dinner parties with beautifully dressed, perfectly coiffed specimens of young professional urbanites. the pristine white bed hints at sexual shenanigans and breakfasts in bed (ew). the bookshelves...well, you get the idea.

and if i'm selling a sexy urban lifestyle, my fridge is selling...well, i'm not entirely sure exactly what my fridge is selling. behold, the contents of my fridge and the kind of lifestyle they suggest:
  • an almost full bottle of prosecco.("we drink, but elegantly! and in italian!")
  • an almost empty bottle of white wine. ("sometimes we drink a little less elegantly...and forget to finish the bottle.")
  • 4 litres of organic kefir ("we really, really, REALLY like dairy products and feel a little uncomfortable about it")
  • 2l of skim milk ("we are normal people concerned with weight and fitness.")
  • 3'4 of a cream-filled family-sized slab cake from my cake craving sunday ("we...eat cake? A LOT?")
  • 1 jar half filled with goat's milk dulce de leche  ("we conduct strange scientific experiments in the fridge.")
  • 1 half empty jar of plum butter ("we keep what looks like a dried up placenta in a jar in the fridge for reasons we'd rather not discuss, thank you very much.")
  • 1 half empty jar full of booze-infused cherries ("...to add flavour to the placenta.")
  • 1 bag of carrots ("oh thank god, we're healthy again!")
  • 1 bag of celery sticks (ditto)
  • 1 small jar of bacon grease ("oh, for fucks' sake, we fucking give up. realtor, show us another condo.")

10 April, 2016

exploring planet earth

the first steps took us outside of our understanding. the first words showed the breadth and depth of our ignorance. the first thoughts were unformed beasts swimming in oceans of ineffability. we looked and understood nothing of what we saw. we listened and failed to grasp the import of the sounds we heard. we opened our mouths and tasted we knew not what. we breathed in scents we could not begin to describe. our hands flailed, reaching for something we could not define or touch. our feet stepped, uncertain, on the earth we did not know. we were worse than children because we did not have a parent to show us the way. we stumbled and broke things, roared with animal frustration at the lack of order in the world around us. we laughed and cried never seeing our emotions for anything other than a reflection of reality, never knowing there was more than pure reaction to the stimuli of life. we knelt, we prayed, invented gods so we would not be all alone and meaningless, thereby giving up meaning, sifting it into the imperfect vessel of belief. we were born, we lived haphazardly, we died and rotted where we fell because we knew not that our dead ought to be buried.

the ghosts we raised through tales of childish ignorance continue to haunt us, haunt our politics, religions, art, and what we teach our young. these ghosts still walk among us, wear our coats and eat our food, while we stumble naked and hungry, wondering why. we offer up the sacrifice of time and love, effort and hope, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, burnt lambs and doves heaped high to reach the non-existent ghosts, who hunger ever more for what we give them. when will we move away from ghosts and tales of ghosts and paths laid out by ghosts? we have been given so much information, so much choice, and still we choose to put our trust in ghosts whose hunger never ends.

the light comes first in fits and starts, flashes and glimmers, grows stronger over time, flooding the darkness, then fading into it. sunlight in trees, the leaves trembling in the breeze setting their shadows dancing, flickers of light and darkness on the bark, the grass. the growing light of dawn becomes the white hot light of noon before it mellows into afternoon and trickles into the magic of the golden hour, then back to dusk and night. stars pierce the dark, flashes of diamonds, shards of glass, celestial reminders of how small we are, and still afraid of darkness. the endless loop of light and dark, our fleeting time in ribbons, black and gold, turns, turns, and turns again, a carousel we ride and think we're getting somewhere.

there's hope; there is no hope.


i dream of cake

i'm finding that the more i sit home alone, the more i want to sit home alone. granted, i had a good day yesterday breaking fast with g, and then hanging out with my wee girls and their mom, but when i came home and saw that there were no more showings that evening (there were 3 during the day, fruitless so far), i washed off my face, put on my sweats, and got down to the business of serious bed-sitting. a glass of prosecco, a bowl of cow-share cottage cheese, and a couple episodes of "the last kingdom" completed my wild and crazy saturday night.

i do make a point to leave the house not only during showings. i see family and friends and enjoy seeing both, but i also see how much i adore being by myself. my mom has begun checking in with me via skype text, which is good, because i've been forgetting to keep in touch myself. she skype-calls occasionally and when she does i respond and chat amicably, but the thought of actually calling anyone seems vaguely unpalatable. i just want to be by myself, in my home, alone, eating my cottage cheese, listening to the radio, and watching man-candy on the small screen. is that so very bad?

i think the weather is partly to blame. the spring (at least alberta spring), like the fall, offends my body and soul. the wind, the dull greyness, the slooooowww coming of green, the bitter cold interspersed with the glorious sunshiny warmth. it's just too fucking confusing! and when the sky turns grey, i hunker down and dream of cake in my little fortress of warmth and comfort. when mr. monkey is around i tend to get out more, which is odd because i'm the social one in our little duo. but when he's not here, i am perfectly happy to not see anyone ever. this go around, i must remind myself that i am here for a limited engagement and so must resist this intense hermitishness.

alas, today i'm devoting to organizing this year's taxes, lest they become an unreasonable burden to tomorrow me. but first, i will brave the cold and wind, walk two blocks to the store and get myself some cake. there's very little to say about this gloomy grey cold windy sunday, other than that it's definitely a cake kind of day.

08 April, 2016

eat your salad noisily ELSEWHERE, madam

sleep has been problematic. the bed is glorious - mine, made of some woo organic free-range non-VOC-generating memory foam woven by free elves singing chi-aligning hymns. the bedding is fabulous - charcoal grey linen, wrinkled in just the right way, breathable, soft, beautiful, woven by handsome bearded hipster scandinavian fans of sigur rós and dyed with the essence of nightshade. the pillows are exceptional - filled with the underarm fuzz of virginal ducklings fed on nothing but non-GMO artisanal ancient grains and watered with artesian springs. the duvet is sublime - brimming with the pubic hair of buddhist goslings raised on the music of enya played by tibetan monks on singing bowls. the room is cool and dark. the night is long. what, then, is the shit?

imma go out on a limb and blame the endless stream of adulting i've been engaged in: buy a house, sell a condo, get taxes ready for the accountant, phone bankers, email bankers, email realtors, visit bankers, sign papers, sign other papers, all the while dealing with unexpected things that pop up...unexpectedly. last night was particularly special: i drank several glasses of red wine at my cousin's place, walked home through a beautiful mild night, got home exhausted and ready to sleep... which wouldn't come. i must have eventually dozed around midnight only to jolt awake at 3am with a raging headache. i got up, took some meds, lied back down and took a hell of a long time falling back asleep, knowing full well i had to get up early because of a morning showing. the cherry on the insomnia cake was a dream about the evil boss who made me quit my job, wherein she demanded that i pack up my salad and eat it elsewhere because my crunching was offensive to her.*

by lunch i was loopy and by the early afternoon i decided that barring an unexpected showing (i never say no to a showing!**) i'm spending the rest of friday at home. to be more precise, because of the location of the strongest interwebs, i'm spending the remainder of today in bed, its northwest corner to be exact. i have my laptop. i have my books. i have my cup of herbal tea. i have my sweatshirt and leggings. i have netflix. really, it's all that i need. and at precisely 10pm, i shall take half a sleeping pill because if there's one thing i've learned, it's that a night of really bad sleep rarely translates into a good sleep on the morrow; on the contrary, like an overtired toddler, i can be sure to toss and turn tonight unless i medicate the hell out of the situation.

and unto you, my gentle readers, i wish a great and wondrous weekend.



*i think night brain might be running out of plot lines
**which is why i haven't cooked once since i've been back. garlic smells nice to dinner guests; not so much to potential buyers***
***we're selling a sexy urban lifestyle, baby, not just a condo!

31 March, 2016

foots

file this under "boring shit about aging and bodies" but i'm hoping it'll help some poor schmuck out in the blogosphere. you're welcome, schmuck.

my feet have been hurting. it's been getting progressively worse to the point that my first few steps of the day are comical hobbling things that make mr. monkey laugh at me like i'm kidding. i'm not kidding. each time i get up after sitting for a while, the pain is incredible. because i'm an avid walker (and by avid i mean that walking tends to be my default setting above driving, cycling, rollerblading, shimmy-shammying, riding a donkey, or skijoring at any given time) so the feeling that my primary mode of transportation is under serious thread is pretty terrifying.

over the last 6 months this has gotten so bad that, in my typical cool, calm, and collected fashion, i decided that this was surely Something Serious. foot cancer. or raging arthritis of the type that would render me immobilised within five years...if i was lucky! when i finally went to my doctor (remember? the super expensive doctor? that i had to actually pay money to see? where currency had to change hands in order for me to receive medical attention in what is generally seen as a civilised first world country*? yes, THAT doctor!) she didn't even look at my feet, but gave me a referral to physio. that's fine. i'll go to physio. but WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?!? shrug. sometimes feet hurt.

a day or two into my trip home i finally decided to ask the googles about this and in my journeys, i stumbled onto a blog by a podiatrist who proceeded to yell at me. she yelled at me for going barefoot as much as i did (a lot) and she yelled at me for buying into the whole barefoot running movement. in my defense, the only reason i ever "bought" into it is because i've always felt best in nearly nonexistent non-supportive shoes...until about a year ago when it all went to shit. wearing my flip flops and walking to get the mail at the front office of our beige apartment complex has become excruciating, so obviously something had to change. after reading all this (very nice) yelling, i decided to see if a change in footwear would produce different results. i found a pair of mr. monkey's faux birkenstocks which fit me perfectly and started wearing them around the house all the time, including the occasional midnight trip to the bathroom. out and about, i wore only my blundstones and relegated the cute ballerina-style flats to the no-no pile.

well, whaddya know? within a day, a single solitary day, my feet started acting...normal. they still get a little sore after a long day of walking, hauling (mr. monkey's) shit, doing stuff, and so on, but it's the kind of soreness that feels non life(style)-threatening. my first few steps of the day (in my sandals) are maybe a wee bit stiff, but lord almighty! i can walk again!

so the moral of this story, kids, is that just because something worked for you for 43 years, doesn't  mean it'll carry over seamlessly into your 44th. bodies change. we get older, more fragile, more prone to idiotic pains, stupid aches, systemic failures, and annoying discomforts. don't be daft like me, respond accordingly and in a timely fashion.



*my apologies, americans, but seriously, this is not normal by world standards. know this. educate yourself on this. and then do whatever you need to do to change it, including sharpening your pitchforks, cause this ain't right, my friends, this just ain't right.

30 March, 2016

this or that

one of the most important lessons i learned from my journey with my bananologist is that far more in life is a choice than i used to think. attitudes and reactions to the things that happen are well within my own control, as difficult as it may be to see based on the initial involuntary response. i saw her today and told her about how hard i found the early drives around texas, seeing gorgeous forests torn up for ugly parking lots and grocery stores to service the ever-spreading subdivisions of identical beige houses. my reaction was deeply visceral and extreme - i simply wanted to cease being*. when i sit down and talk to mr. monkey and tb about this, it's easy for me to lose myself in the river of resentment and that most dangerous (and useless) of drugs - righteous anger.  i've written before about righteous anger, and what a danger it poses because it is addictive, destructive more often than not, and feeds beautifully on itself. well, self-immolation isn't something i'm planning on quite yet; continued survival is.

listening to tb defend our species recently made me realise that there are two sides to this, like any other story, and that once again, i do have a choice in how i react. yes, this part of human "progress and development" will always bother me, but i can choose to reframe my response in a way that will protect me from lasting emotional damage. my bananologist also suggested that the deep visceral response to what i see is a good way to get a glimpse into my soul, and to learn what matters to me and how much. she also likened it to an allergy - you don't expose yourself to the allergen unless you have to, you limit your exposure while taking steps to protect yourself during the time when exposure is unavoidable. well then, it seems i'm allergic to the human race.

so, choices - i think the idea of having the power of choice in reacting to external stimuli was an incredibly empowering discovery (and i shamefully hesitate to use the term discovery because it seems so obvious, i'm sure, to so many people) and i need to remind myself that like any skill, this one needs to be practised and practised and practised. so here's to the power of choice.



*nothing suicidal here, believe me, more of a deep dark wish to unexist myself in some final way so that i would no longer have to count myself among the human race. 

29 March, 2016

home is where the lard is

in order to get me to the airport on time, we had to get up at 4:30 and leave at 5am. with today's technology this should have been easy; with the two of us setting separate alarm clocks this should have been infallible. nope, neither. when mr. monkey's alarm went off, the first words out of his mouth were, how is it five o'clock? this propelled me out of bed and into the bathroom where i took a nanosecond look at my greasy bedhead and knew that it would have to do. we did manage to get to the airport on time, and all my flights went well, but it's hard to relax when your morning starts with a surge of adrenalin and a deep seated sense of incredulity that two intelligent highly educated people can't manage to get the wakey-uppy technology to work.

one problem that popped up fairly quickly is that my wifi cellphone is very limited in canada since when i'm not on a wifi network there isn't the backup cellular network that takes over in the states. as a result, i've been thrust into the deepest, darkest pre-cellular era. it is a truly frightening place that makes me wonder how anybody ever managed to have a social life, make plans, or ever be in touch with anyone ever. no, seriously, how did we do it? smoke signals? carrier pigeons? i honestly can't remember and even thinking about it makes me shiver. alas, if not for the charitable donation of my next door neighbours' internet (first night home had me push the laptop up against the wall and type lying on my side - as uncomfortable as it was inefficient) i would be cut off completely, forced to wander the streets, hoping against hope that i run into someone i know, or drinking countless cups of crappy coffee at the nearest starbucks just so that i can be connected.

all this wouldn't be that big of a deal if i was merely here for fun. heck, it might be kinda cool, in a techno-hermit sort of way. alas, i need to be in touch with our realtor, our tax accountant, and various other boring-as-shit people related to various other boring-as-shit grown up activities in which i must engage whilst here. there is a sense of panic that comes when you find yourself unable to communicate with others, sort of like helen keller, but in an electronic way.

i have now borrowed an unlocked phone from a friend but instead of going out and buying the first available pay-as-you-go plan for the visit, i'm treating this (at most 100$) purchase as something worthy of the type of serious research and worry normally reserved for buying a start-up company in the silicon valley or serious real estate in manhattan. in the midst of dealing with our inordinate amount of shit (i'm looking at you, mr. monkey!!!!!!*), i remain phoneless because i just can't seem to decide. i guess this is exactly the type of behaviour one can expect from a person who doesn't know how to operate an alarm clock.


*he doesn't read this blog

23 March, 2016

design flaws

i went to see a doctor today to renew my prescriptions and to get to the bottom of my mysterious and continual hand and foot joint pain. the shiny medical centre had that new house smell and was decked out like a very nice mid-range hotel: nothing medicinal about it! good to know that this is what a five figure deductible and a 40$ per visit co-pay gets you, although i think i'd rather take the utilitarian decor of canadian medical clinics, seeing as they're free and all.

the doctor was nice and happened to be a specialist in musculoskeletal issues, which seemed like a bonus, since i chose her mainly on the basis of proximity and femaleness*. she also happens to be married to a sports medicine doctor, which was a double bonus because they talk shop at home, and as a result of her knowledge she told me that if i have proper footwear, there's really no reason why i shouldn't start running again. osteoarthritis of the hips notwithstanding. given that my blood pressure shot up** when the nurse read out the number on the scale (they should NEVER weigh people and then immediately check their blood pressure - how irresponsible is that?!) i think this is a very good idea. we'll see how that goes.

as we sat there and talked, she mentioned that we are rather poorly designed (at least as far as our knee joints go). i said that we were probably very well designed for a 45 year life span, which goes a long way to explaining why everything seems to be falling apart on me, from my rapidly dwindling eyesight to my variously inflamed bony bits. as i'm determined to survive another decade or two (or at least one summer in a house with a pool) i'll have to take these problems in hand and get myself all fixed up.



*i'm not dead set against male doctors even when it's time to get my nether regions looked at, but if i have a choice, and here i had a choice, i'll go with a fellow vagina owner.

**i forced the nurse to recheck my blood pressure because i normally have textbook blood pressure. my newly discovered weight caused me to hit a whopping 139/90! when she rechecked it, i was back down to normal. at least one thing still works!

where the buffalos roam

i've been letting people know i'm coming home and the responses have made me stop and think and appreciate, once again, how awesome my life was in good old edmonton. i still remember the first year back from our constant moving, the year we knew the position was finally permanent and stable, the year we bought our sweet condo. it was the year we lived in relative stability before i went off to school and it was one of our best years - we did the things that normal people do: we hosted dinners, we met friends, went to concerts, hit up the fabulous downtown farmers' market every saturday, saw family regularly, went for walks, sat at home and relaxed. all things that one can take for granted but that our decade of constantly being on the move made us see as precious.

i'm doing my damndest to look at the bright side of texas - after all, we have little choice in the matter; we're here whether we like it or not, so we might as well try to like it. and i do. i do like it. it's green, beautiful, lush. the people are friendly and warm. i have good friends here and nearby. but all that pales in comparison to my regular life back home - wine, steak tartare and politics-and-vagina-themed conversations at our favourite czech restaurant with my ladies; friday drinks with bta & co.; taking the littles on the lrt for fun; fabulous dinner parties with the closest bunch; biannual bashes...i could go on.

our condo's location meant that, unlike here, i could walk everywhere in under half an hour - movies, theatre, concert, restaurants, bookstores, shopping, farmers' market, friends. i love my kitchen, my floors, my balcony, my view of edmonton's legislative grounds. i love being simultaneously right at the edge of downtown, and right at the edge of the river valley with its wild trails for walking, cross-country skiing, skating, and running. along with the friends and family i had a great dentist, a great doctor, a fabulous (and very inexpensive) hair stylist, a really amazing bananologist. for its size, edmonton has an excellent arts and restaurant scene and i loved going to gallery events and great dinners. the woodlands, in contrast, is predominantly restaurant chains and a distinct dearth of art spaces. sure, houston is practically next door, but what i loved about my life in edmonton was the proximity of everything i wanted, needed, liked, and loved.

i realise, my poultries, as i've said before, that edmonton is no paris, but it is home and i love it. i'll do my very very best to get the most out of texas because i know it has a lot to give, but right now as i pack for my trip home, allow me this little bit of nostalgia for a really really great five years.