4 o'clock yesterday afternoon found me face down on a massage table, breathing deeply for what felt like the first time all week. ah, the week! what a week it was! aside from maintaining several smaller ongoing projects, i had two big'uns to contend with - one, an eye-rollingly pointless exercise, the other, a fascinating research report - the very type of thing that made me want to be an urban planner in the first place. both were due on friday and both stressed me to the hilt. the former, because it needed to be done, and the latter, because i wanted to impress. i came in early, took a short lunch (and only because my adorable coworkers bj and bta have now made it a daily tradition to come eat at my desk and dissect topics of import and complexity), and worked late every single day, feeling that ball of tightness just below my xiphoid process that prevented me from breathing fully.
thursday night i went out for dinner with a work friend because i felt a deep need to eat my stress in the form of steak. i had a misguided notion that i was over the hump and that friday would be smooth sailing. nope. a last minute mandated-from-the-top personnel switch in my document erupted on friday morning as a serious threat to the budget of the entire proposal (no, you don't need to understand any of this, and yes, it is as boring as it sounds). unfortunately, that morning the supreme boss was nowhere to be found, the boss-boss was away on vacation, and the coworker/mentor in charge of the budget was at that moment driving 3 hours to attend a family funeral. the onus was on me to make a decision that i was absolutely in no way capable of making. i think i may have been a little pasty-faced because when the supreme boss did make it in, she took one look at me and told me to breathe. then she promptly solved the problem and we were able to send the proposal off to the printers with time to spare.
this brings me back to the interesting research project. i dug. i wrote. i thought. i fought word* on lay-out step by step (a sort of trench warfare, with casualties, blood spilled, very few gains to speak of, and a very high chance of developing PTSD) and finally sent it off to a peer reviewer thursday night. friday morning, after putting the proposal to bed, i opened up the reviewed draft and faced a veritable sea of blue track changes. gulp.
ok, let's sidetrack for a moment here, and because this is my blog i will fight the urge to apologise for its navel-gazing nature. this last year has been a continuation of the frustration that began in grad school. i went from being someone comfortable with her skills and knowledge to someone feeling cast adrift. school was supposed to prepare me for the work force; it did no such thing. the year working has regularly made me feel stupid, slow, and unable to grasp what, i suspect, might be rather simple concepts. despite the management's words of praise at my performance (boy, they must have exceedingly low expectations), i feel like a bit of a failure - picking my nose, drooling a little, and gazing with blank befuddlement at the world of urban planning. there are two things that have kept my ego for utter despair - one is my people skills and the fact that people seem to not only like me, but actually respond to me and do what i ask. the other is my writing. having been told i was one of the top writers at the group was a salve for my wounds and i have held that assessment close to my heart in moments of turmoil: i may be an utter dolt, doofus, and dummy, but damnit! i can write!
facing that document full of edits and additions (by the company's premier writer, no less) was a punch in the gut. it hurt. and when i went over his edits, i found them so obvious and beautifully laid out that i deflated. i wanted this to be something i was proud of, instead i felt smacked down. i felt like the one thing i had going for me was shown up for the sham that it was. oh, granted - i had never written this type of document before, and the only template i had been given was much more technical in nature. granted, this was my very first attempt. but, logically or not, i wanted to be that unknown schmuck who shows up at the olympics and wins a gold medal out of the blue. realistic? oh sure!
i made my peace with it, i think. the edits made the piece flow better, added more flavour, not to mention his superior knowledge of the area in question from an urban planning perspective. overall, i think they weren't as ego-shatteringly extensive as they seemed at first glance. still, as i breathed on the massage table and had my tension knots worked out** i heard my work phone make that deceivingly pretty sound that announced incoming emails, and although i managed to breathe through it, the first thing i did when i got off the table was check my inbox - supreme boss liked the draft, and she doesn't throw praise around carelessly. despite knowing that it wasn't ALL my work, there was a feeling of some satisfaction.
so perhaps i needed to be taken down a notch. perhaps it is necessary to remember that while i may be good there are others better (oh god, how much of an asshole that sentence makes me sound!). perhaps i need to chill the fuck out and make my expectations for myself a trifle more realistic. lessons learned.
*am i the only one stumped why a program that has been around as long as word continues to exhibit the sort of inexcusable glitches one would expect of an untested newbie? microsoft, you suck!
**you don't HAVE knots, my massage therapist said, you ARE one big knot!
i woke up on this, the morning of my birthday, looking like death warmed over, thanks, in no small part to that third second glass of red wine last night. it seemed like a good idea at the time, embracing, if you will, that pernicious north american notion of "i deserve it!"- a marketing ploy as morally repugnant as it is successful*.
as i gazed at myself critically, i wondered if this would be the year i would finally welcome that aging woman in the mirror into my inner reality. having always been a firm believer in working what mama gave you, i.e. embracing your best bits, not spending 30 years of your life straightening curly hair, or curling straight hair, etc., i am having one hell of a time in this one area (as evidenced by these self-indulgent posts).
i have learned some valuable lessons in the last few years, and walked some interesting paths, so perhaps this, my 43rd year, will prove to be the year i get it. it doesn't help that so many of my friends are far younger than i am - people my age are, for the most part, armpit-deep in child rearing and don't have the time to drop everything and go for a drink. sometimes i stop and wonder if i'm a creepy old woman trying hard to recapture her youth by making "that's what she said" jokes and giggling maniacally. then again, second guessing who i am is counterproductive. as i said before, i is who i is and other than trying to buff that to a high gloss shine, trying to become something entirely different is futile. and stupid. and sad.
so why all this questioning and such (crusty juggler asked me recently)? because i think i am trying to find my footing: i was damn good at being a kid. really great at being a young woman. i kicked ass at my thirties. now, suddenly, my insides have stopped matching my outsides, and it's taking me longer than i'd like to figure out what is what. still, if there is anything i could choose to guide me, the love of my friends is a sure winner - if i was a creepy dirty old woman** i wouldn't be having as much fun with as many lovelies as i am.
so - onward and upward!
*does a woman in india getting gang-raped on a bus deserve her fate? does a homeless child? it's all an accident of birth, my poultries, deserving has sweet fuck all to do with it.
in this day and age of electronic and cellular communication, of e-mail and e-banking, the only mail that comes to one's mailbox is bills (or, in the case of me, mrs. monkey, tools or thingmabobs or whatnots for the volvobeaste from amazon). rare is the letter. much rarer still, the parcel. the rarest of these is the parcel from overseas (and i don't mean from china via ebay). a couple weeks ago was that most magical of days - i got the much awaited parcel from lucy and tom. had it held nothing but the little card, it would have been enough. alas, it also held the most perfectly coloured hand-knit little baktus/karius scarf ever.
if nothing else, this blog has helped me retain my sanity by letting me air my inner demons and finding an audience of the most beautiful people, some of whom i may never meet, but who nevertheless play a very important part in my life.
having consulted the interwebs, i have just schmeared some banana peel poultice on my butthole. yes, interwebs, you need to know that i have hemorrhoids and apparently banana peel helps. i'll keep you posted. science? i blow raspberries in the face of science! gimme homegrown grandma remedies anytime! and if it's food related, i'm all the more interested. chocolate chip cookie crumbs for inner ear infections? hells yeah! peanut butter for psoriasis? yes, please! bleu cheese and pear mousse for tennis elbow? i do believe i shall try it!
added bonus - you get to holler, i can't hear you! i have a banana in my butt!
so yeah. that.
have a grand weekend, poultries. i wish you smooth anal walls. it is a gift that keeps on giving.
a few days ago, m asked me if i would be her galentines date on friday as she had been invited to do a talk at a local independent bookstore. i gladly agreed since it had been a while since we'd seen each other, and suggested a fantastic local watering hole for a drink before the event. we met, we ate, we drank, we laughed and then we practically skated over to the bookstore because of the freezing rain that had covered the sidewalks with a treacherous glaze.
the bookstore talk featured three local writers, each reading a little snippet of her book. one read a piece about the stain and shame of menstruation; one read a piece about the gathering of metis women in a small cabin, and the illicit pregnancy of one of them; and the last one read a very evocative piece about a young girl envying her friend her beautiful communion clothes. it was heartwarming to know there was such talent all around. then it was m's turn to speak.
m teaches women's studies at the university and is intelligent, warm, and funny. she always pushes me to think, expands my mostly organic home-grown feminism with her academic perspective, opening my eyes to so much, causing me to rethink, and in no small way changing the way i see a lot of the things around me. she is the wife of a high school friend of mine, and i am ever so glad to have her in my life.
her talk began with a virginia woolf quote from a room of one's own about two women liking one another. she moved on to talking about a group of radical feminists who managed to maintain strong friendships despite being often vocally and passionately opposed in their points of view. she ended with the story of us - how when she first me me (at a gods and goddesses party, where both of us came dressed as fairies, and where i remember her husband wore a toga and a solitary horn attached to his forehead) she immediately decided she did not like me because i was tall, confident and the centre of attention. i, of course, don't remember that last part, probably because i was used to being the centre of attention and didn't think much of it. still, she had decided. much later, when we were both living in the east, she and i met again at a dinner where she was surprised to discover she liked me after all. now, all these years later, we live in the same city, and see each other regularly at parties, shindigs, firepit gatherings, and our annual folk fest hot dog and coffee breakfast and talk. the point was - that initial jealousy could have prevented what in the end is a really wonderful friendship. i am so glad it didn't.
as i have said here before, the older i get, the more i crave women friends, although i still enjoy my boys and men immensely. i am ever so blessed in both departments (to the point that k, my sanity salad, says i need to stop bragging about my friends quite so much!)
at any rate - happy galentines day to all my ladies, and happy valentines day to the rest of yous!
bta: it's been a long time since you dressed like a republican. lately you've been dressing like an undergrad fine arts student. moi: alright, which particular republican would you like me to dress like? bta: michele bachmann.
i started a post reflecting about the old year. i considered a post about planning for the new year. eventually i gave up on both - it feels so arbitrary, this shift from "old" to "new." i don't really believe in new year's resolutions - i think self improvement ought to be an ongoing item on one's agenda, or not at all. i understand the need some people feel to give themselves a sense of direction, or turning a new leaf, but perhaps because this last year carried with it its own momentous ends and beginnings (graduating from school, starting a new job), i feel the new year is merely a continuation of business as usual.
our christmas was quiet, with at least 2 or 3 days given over to doing not much of anything at all. crusty juggler and d spent two weeks with us, thereby raising the bar for guests for all time to come: coffee was made every morning, breakfast more often than not, and while we still worked, d would have dinner ready for when we got home. frankly, i didn't want them to leave. guests who feel like part of the household are the very best kind of guests!
we rang in the new year with a soiree that has become an annual event - this year our guest list topped 40 (including the shortest, cutest, and least reliably toilet-trained segment of the population), and much fun was had. whenever i start to question the quality of my humanhood, all i have to do is look around at the people in my life and i am forced to recognize that i cannot be all that bad when i am surrounded by friends and family of such top shelf quality. mists me up, it does.
i managed to drink relatively responsibly and was thus able to get up the next morning (after hitting the hay after 4am!) and vacuum the party room with very little physical or existential discomfort. mr. monkey and crusty juggler and i managed to clean up a lot the night before, but some decorations remained. turns out some intrepid fellow condo dweller figured the leftover decorations were fair game and took off with two of my dollar store snowflakes, which caused me more disgust than pain. boggles the mind, it does, but whatever: there goes $2.50 along with my faith in humanity...
we are now in the midst of our customary january deep freeze and tomorrow work begins anew. i'm just thrilled beyond anything that the thought of a work monday after two weeks of indolence and bliss doesn't bother me one little bit. and so, life goes on.
may the new year bring you a continuation of the good of the old, and a cessation of the bad!
i have two eggnog bread puddings baking in the oven, the table is set, the coffee made - brunch with my ladies this morning chez moi: i'm really really looking forward to it. k, my sanity salad, and m, of the broken bourbon fame, as well as k's friend whom i have yet to meet, along with crusty juggler, are all coming over this morning. k and m and crusty are women whose company i adore - intelligent, sharp, kind, witty, able to broach topics that some would consider improper for polite society, but what the hell, we're a new breed of lady: wicked smart and taking no prisoners!
i might have said so here before, but having always been surrounded by a gaggle* of male friends and one or two good girlfriends, i have found myself increasingly craving female company in recent years. don't get me wrong, i still enjoy menfolk, i enjoy them a lot, but what i need, in a pretty deeply visceral way, is female company. as we get older, we diverge - men get considered more attractive, grey hair is sexy, wrinkles a badge of honour, age a guarantor of financial success, while women, well…we turn invisible. at best, we are "previously beautiful," or MILFs, at worst, simply a butt of jokes: the cougar, the soccer mom, the chick lit/chick flick afficionada, not quite the wise old crone, but nowhere near the desirable virgin. men, as appealing and intelligent as they may be, fail to grasp the subtleties of this transformation. as a woman of a certain age (42, to be exact, and not willing to play coy) i need my ladies to help me deal with this. and so we brunch.
it's nifty, too, to have company on the road to dirty old womanhood - to sit and drink and feel at ease. AND it's fun to mispronounce "vaginal" (to rhyme with "spinal"), to giggle and guffaw and skewer the tropes that try to limit and define us, while critiquing society's expectations, swigging wine and reinventing ourselves as we shed our old skins. not hockey mom: feminist hockey mom. not cougar: self-actualised sexy 40-something. not desperate single: intelligent professional. in the company of other women my age, i become myself more than elsewhere. m, who had just come back from a feminist conference in puerto rico told me that the best place to make peace with your body was in a pool filled with aging feminists. this is the closest i have at the moment and i adore it.
to my ladies!
*seems like the wrong term. murder? host? harem? yes, i think i like harem the best.
my darling poultries, you who have been here with me through thick and thin, offering words of advice or support, waiting patiently on my silence, cheering heartily from the sidelines at my words, may you have the most glorious season, filled to the brim with warmth, cheer, loving people, delicious food, irrepressible giggles, restful sleep, and much much joy and happiness. i may have never met most of you, but that doesn't mean i don't appreciate your lovely e-presence in my life.
have the merriest of christmases and a splendiferous new year!
when k and i were gallivanting in las vegas (and by gallivanting i mean getting up at 6am every morning and hiking in the desert…then capping the day off by drinking a bottle glass of wine every night in our hotel room while yelling at watching terrible terrible television and eating junk food snacks) we decided to get cheap pedicures, because, as everyone knows, the united states of america is a place of contrasts: food deserts BUT trader joe's; designer everything BUT 20$ pedicures… i could go on but i'm bored, and thus i suspect you too are bored. so. pedicure. toenails.
an hour in a chair that vibrated in all sorts of salacious and sometimes vaguely disturbing ways, getting scrubbed, rubbed, having pounds of foot skin removed with what looked almost exactly like cheese graters, and eventually having polish applied to our shiny pink toesies. given the price, i didn't expect it to last, but alas, last it did: more than a month!
thing is (oh yaar, there is a thing. the thing is (another thing! the layers! they pile up!) one needs to wade through a whole lotta crap to get to the thing, eh? eh? well, so it goes. you read the fine print, no? no? well, then, i can't help you)…anyhow…where was i? oh! the thing! the thing is, several years ago i lost my second smallest left toenail after doing a marathon. every time i walk or hike a lot now, it comes off. just sort of peels off, painlessly but in a really rather yucky manner. i mean, it's a human toenail, not a fucking exoskeleton of a hermit crab. but there you have it: it just comes off.
so, to return to my really elongated and convoluted tale with a seriously underwhelming pay-off (consider this your foreshadowing, my poultries), i woke up one morning and saw that all my toes were still perfectly painted, except the second smallest left toenail, which seemed to have mysteriously shed its exoskeleton. i halfheartedly looked around the bed, under the bed, and inside the bed, but having found nothing just sort of forgot about it.
i was in bed with mr. monkey a couple nights ago when he gets this strange look on his face, reaches his hand under the covers, digs around for a bit while frowning and comes up with something small and dark.
mr. monkey: what the hell was that on my butt?!
yes. you guessed it. he was not impressed, and rightly so. at least hermit crabs eat their damn exoskeleton. me? i just shove it up my husband's ass.
this being the season of rampant consumerism, i've been doing my best to counteract it, or at least refocus it, by going to local events and supporting local artisans and the like. yesterday i met the lovely m at a craft show. it wsn't your grandma's craft show, unless of course your grandma is a moustachioed hipster who knits sweaters with skulls, rocks a kick-ass tattoo sleeve featuring illustrations from a children's book, makes her own bitters, and has nary a pink acrylic crocheted toilet paper cover in sight. the point of the afternoon was to do some christmas shopping* followed by dinner at my favourite bbq smokehouse restaurant named, appropriately enough, MEAT.
dinner was stellar (their pulled pork and garlic fries are divine), as was the conversation, and when m realised how early it still was when we had paid our bill, we decided to take advantage of her evening of childlessness and walk back to my place to have another bourbon based drink, because delicious. the walk was bracing, and as soon as we came home, i had the realisation that we did not, in fact have any bourbon in the house because mr. monkey bought scotch instead, and my body does NOT like scotch. or rye. or any whiskey product other than bourbon. it just doesn't. it makes a pfffft face and shakes itself dramatically and then pouts, no matter how fancy the scotch.
m and i decided to remedy the situation and walked across the little bridge to the liquor store where i bought a bottle of bourbon. we were laughing and talking and having a gay old time, until i hit an icy patch mere metres from my front door, and found myself flat on my back, having cracked my elbow on the ice, broken bottle in hand, bourbon and glass chips all over my shearling coat. while m hovered over me, trying to ascertain the state of my wellbeing, a man walked by, casting the kind of glance one reserves for drunk street people making up after a bitter fight. once i stopped laughing and gathered myself up (m was very concerned), we walked back to the liquor store and bought another bottle. as we stood by the till, i realised my left hand was gruesomely covered in blood, smelling like a wino, laughing like a mad person. yes, this is what living downtown does to you, boys and girls!
in the end, mr. monkey made us his utterly addictive bourbon-based drinks. i cleaned myself up. we shook residual glass off my coat. we sat around and had a lovely conversation while i iced my elbow. twas a good day, truly.
*for m, mostly, since i had already done mine earlier last week. and speaking of which, i am suffering, my poultries! since the kidlets have gotten old enough to appreciate a good gift opening, the sweet halcyon days of no christmas shopping are done. and now we have to negotiate that labyrinth of getting something that is attractive, not too expensive and small, because, like most other north american children, they already have everything…in triplicate. ugh. me no like. i mean, i like buying gifts and making the children happy but i also realise their spatial constraints and am not an asshole who will buy a mountain of plastic that will make negotiating a hallway treacherous. and they're too little for books in any meaningful way. ok. rant over.
every monday morning, precisely at 8:30, we have a planners' meeting which takes place in a glassed-in conference room just a couple metres from my cubicle. i routinely forget about the meeting because i rarely have anything to report or ask for from the techs, and so i find it's a waste of time. sometimes i have time to waste. sometimes i don't. still, the meeting: i forget about it and it's usually the stream of planners going by my desk or the constantly slamming door to the back staircase that clues me in.
this morning i went down to the third floor to make my social rounds, say my hellos, and show off my 1960's italian merino wool mustard striped sweater from the antique mall (as one does). i lingered and chatted and then took the back stairs up to my floor. as i walked by the open conference room, i noticed it was filled with boss, planners, other people, head people, sub-head people, and such, in a way quite similar to the usual suspects. i looked at my watch, saw it was 8:07, freaked out that i was late, and tried to sneak in (this was hard to do because the lay-out of the room means that the second i came out of the back staircase my every move was on display to the whole room). i said sorry, and sat down quietly next to m. everyone was looking at me funny, but that's ok, it was because i was late, right?
m quietly turned to me and said, this is not the right meeting. this is the financial meeting. your meeting's after.
the lights went on. the looks thrown to me by my colleagues suddenly made sense, as did the presence of people who are not part of the planning group, like b the a, whose head shaking and eye rolling suddenly took on a whole new meaning.
i apologised AGAIN, and turned to leave. as i walked out, my shoulder slammed into the open glass door which made a loud booming sound, not unlike a majestic fanfare. subtle it was not.
a while later, k, my co-summer student from last year and current co-worker, told me about how two weeks earlier he freaked out that he was late to the weekly planners' meeting, ran into the conference room, sat down next to m, who gently told him that he was at the wrong meeting.
there ain't much to report.
alternately, there's so much to report that i can't look at the keyboard without needing a stiff drink, and then getting distracted by some shiny new thought and entirely forgetting to come back and write.
september, despite some dark days (in the single digits, thankfully) is almost through, and despite my fear and trepidation, there hasn't been a repeat of last two years' emotional debacles. i keep on keeping on, and all that shit. fingers crossed, wood regularly knocked on, natürlich.
i was given a hint of a possibility of moving back to the third floor by bossman and immediately put the kibosh on that - the last few months have found me bonded for life (well, the 8-4:30, mon-fri portion of it anyways) with my fourth floor posse, "the johnsons". the neighbouring landscape architects continue to evade eye contact for the most part, though some have fallen prey to my indomitable charm and tenacity. some even say hello of their own free will!
my biggest challenge of late (read: since work began) is unprecedented: getting some sort of manageable work-life balance. my previous iteration as a dental demi-goddess had none of these issues - when work finished for the day, it was finished. overtime and deadlines were things of which i had no inkling, other than in a purely academic sense. well, it's a trade-off, innit? now i'm surrounded by people with whom i can have real conversations,* doing something that i give a shit about, and enjoying all the social side benefits (food truck events, scavenger hunts followed by pub nights, boozy barbecues, etc.). still, my cooking/exercising/down time have suffered, and i've taken september as my Month To Fix Myself. so far, so good.
heading off to a breast cancer fundraiser momentarily, where i shall hang with co-workers, dance to a live blues band, and likely drink too much. life is good.
over and out.
*granted, sometimes they are conversations that end with "nobody wants to see monkey genitalia " but still...
at work, i am the generally acknowledged purveyor of snacks - i have a drawer dedicated solely to microwave popcorn packets, rice crackers, chocolate covered raisins, dried pineapple and cherries, almonds, and whatever else.
b the a, a resident hyper-intelligent surly misanthrope with a sharp tongue and filthy mouth (and thus one of my particular favourites) often comes over with an almost dickensian look on his face ("please sir, i want some more"), and i toss him a snack.
friday, somebody was microwaving popcorn and, as expected, this brought b the a out of his cubicle, quite literally sniffing the air as he walked towards mine.
moi: 'twasn't me, b, but if you like i can give you a whole pack.
b the a: um, no. have you seen how fat i'm getting?
moi: a little.
b the a: wait. what did you say?!
moi: (confused) why, what did YOU say?
b the a: i said, have you seen how fat i'm getting?
moi: (relieved) ah. yes. and i said, a little.
as much as the man bitches about the beige police that influences much of north american life (ya know, perpetual political correctness, pasted-on smiley-faced surface politeness, paying lip service to diversity while terrified of anything truly different etc., etc.), i think he was truly floored that i said what i said. it's all good, though. we're still friends.
crusty juggler and i have been going to an antique mall around these here parts, and coming out almost invariably laden with lovely whatsits, trinkets, and doodads, mainly of the jewellery and linen tea towel variety, inexpensive and pretty and happiness-making.
the mall stocks everything imaginable, including, imagine that, a print from the munich archives of a watercolour painting by one adolf hitler. it's an innocuous and utterly forgettable work, if not for the artist. each time we go to the antique mall, i walk over to see if hitler is still there. he is.
post-antiquing, we went out for some hamburgers and beer. invariably*, talk turned to hitler.
moi: i keep checking to see if somebody's bought it. and nobody ever does. i wish somebody would.
d: i think you need to be the change you want to see in the world. buy the damn print.
*not really. we rarely talk about hitler. we're more likely to talk about vaginas which are a far more pleasant topic all around…unless you're in your twenties, i suppose.
last week i stabbed myself in the base of my left middle finger and promptly came as close to fainting as i ever get,* not because of the pain (which was nowhere near the worst i had ever inflicted upon myself over the many years of attempted self-mutilation), nor because of the blood (which, though copious, was neither worrisomely profuse nor oddly coloured), but because i immediately realised that there was a profound difference between slicing off even a generous portion of one's finger tip (guilty as charged on multiple occasions - one more reason i could not get into a life of crime: my papillary lines are far too peculiar for simple acid-based augmentation) and jabbing the business end of a sharp knife directly and rather deeply into a fairly complex piece of machinery that is the finger. as i stood there in shock, with my hand in my mouth (i was afraid to look), mister monkey calmly turned on the cold water tap and directed me to stick my hand in it while he went hunting for a bandaid. i stood there for a while and then got hit by said faint spell, and went down hard on my knees while my heart pounded in my ears and i began to hyperventilate. eventually i made my way to the couch (i may have either lurched or crawled; the memory is fuzzy), where i was brought water, hydrogen peroxide, and a band-aid by my ridiculously calm husband**. i eventually made my way back to the land of the fully conscious and went to work.
today i was slicing beets when mr. monkey came home. he came up to me and when i turned to give him a hug and a kiss, i inadvertently (and inexplicably) stabbed him in the sternum. it produced no more than a small red dot, but made me wonder if i should give up cookery all together, or perhaps blend the fuck out of whole things, just so that we both can live.
*close enough to wish i would actually faint. it is not a pleasant state. nothing even remotely dainty or elegant about it, thank you very much.
**you may or may not recall that he, and his entire family, is closely related to fainting goats and drops at the smallest provocation.
crusty juggler, miz meow, and i went to a pop up art show put on by two upstanding young men, one of whom is a co-worker of mine. there was alcohol (red wine? yes please! down the front of my silk dress? mais oui! how'd you know?!), snacks of various provenance and varying level of delicious greasiness, and hordes and hordes of adorable youthful hipsters. the crowd was pleasant, friendly, and perfectly willing to speak to the geriatric division (i.e. us). crusty took off early (i can completely understand - had i not been flying on the extroverted end of my 50/50 extro/intro spectrum, i would have done the same), leaving me and miz meow to work the crowd. a very hot sweaty hour later we too left and walked home together laughing about how absolutely delicious it is to shock the very young - and this generation seems eminently shockable - by saying things like…vagina, or talking about topics even vaguely sexual. they are so cute, these ones - they blush and stutter and you can actually see them cringe physically as their body attempts to get rid of the toxins.
if i can't enjoy my old age by randomly shouting "VAGINA!" at young people, then i refuse to get old.
last night we had an indian-themed dinner party. we made indian food and decided to forego the usual dressing up on account of it being goddamn fucking hot and humid, because, you know, india is an arctic country and all that. personally, i just didn't feel like being draped in floaty shit and the indian earrings that i do have are so heavy that my heat exhausted ears could not handle them. they are also likely made of the sort of metal that turns green when exposed to sweat, and not in a classy old world copper cupola sort of way, but more of a need-to-amputate, jesus-god-what-happened-to-your-skin sort of way. i mean, i don't know, they might be made of high quality pseudo gold, but i have a nagging suspicion that this is not the case. i refuse to place my ears in harm's way for a dinner party, you know?
the highlights of the night include me licking large quantities of delicious mango lassi from the counter after i spilled it. there are pictures. some are on facebook. i am ok with this because at the time, i was already rather tipsy, and thought that this was the funniest thing ever: pictures of me lapping up the lassi from the counter top, lassi on my nose and all over my face. ha ha! SO funny. ahem. yes. throughout the night i kept finding lassi on my top, then my pants. i'm fairly certain there was lassi on every part of my clothing. still, je ne regrette rien, on account of it being fucking delicious. crusty juggler can come to my house and make mango lassi any time.
sadly, much mango lassi also spilled on my delicious sliced pickles, and, rather than waste them i washed them in the sink and then revinegarated them. i am nothing if not crafty and dedicated to pickles. you know it's a good night when you find yourself washing pickle slices in the kitchen sink, amirite?
speaking of french, i announced at a certain point in the evening my intention to speak only french to the dog, mainly because i hate the dog*, and neither one of its owners speaks french, which then would free me to say what i really think without offending its wonderful owners. in unrelated news, my repertoire of french insults is sadly lacking.
at another certain point in the evening, we came up with an idea of a musical called "hello, hitler," the eponymous theme song of which became the theme song for the night. as a polish person, i feel i can sing about hitler - it's the entitlement of my people. yes.
there was also an entirely unscientific ear survey - turns out half of the group have weird ass squishy ears, and half of us have normal ears. there was much walking around and touching of ears…mainly by me. because science.
on the way home a possible conflict arose when crusty juggler asked mr. monkey to stop licking his tongue at her, sparking the discussion on whether one can actually lick one's own tongue. we tried and made the sorts of noises five people** would make when attempting to lick their own tongues. afterward, there was much speculation about whether we were, in fact, as funny as we found ourselves to be. i think we were. jury's still out.
*haven't met many dogs in my life that i hated. i've disliked a couple, but this one? hoooo boy. i. hate. this. bitch. seriously - a two-faced psychotic little yapper with some serious psychological issues.
i'm watching a tv show right now. the main character walks into a church and for a split second the vaulted ceiling of the church is in view. the ceiling is an unexpected periwinkle blue and i think to myself, this is perfect.
moments of perfection are little gems granted to us (or better: available for us to grasp, which adds an active dimension to it, one i feel more comfortable with since i don't believe there is anyone or anything out there to do the granting) and when we step inside them, they are a way out of the mundane, the dull, the grey.
i once talked to a patient whose husband was slowly and inexorably dying of cancer. we talked of living in the moment and she said that in the end, she doesn't believe we, as regular average human beings, are able to maintain that sort of existence for more than a few minutes at a time. i don't know if she was right or wrong; i know that i can't maintain it longer than those fleeting moments. these perfect moments, perfectly lit by the evening sun; perfectly captured by the song ideally suited to the time and place; perfectly coloured in a way that stops my breath just for a second, they are a taste of what it would be like to fully be present in all that life has on offer. but we hurry along, we run, plunge headfirst into life, buzz in and out of sensations, thoughts and feelings, hurtling through to the end.
so yes, a little bit of philosophy courtesy of HBO.
and yes, i realise i haven't exactly been present on here lately. it just feels like one more thing to add to my ever growing to-do list, and i don't like to lose the pleasure in the writing. i promise to try, though. truly.
anger used to rule me. i still sometimes get tangled up in it, but i have learned to let go of it quicker, disentangle myself, as it were, move past. it is useless. it spurs me to very little action other than hollering at the sun, which, as we know, accomplishes nothing other than a sunburn. my dad and i have had many arguments over this: he believes that a righteous anger at things that are wrong in the world is somehow useful or superior; i believe that even a righteous anger only turns inward and destroys, does no good whatsoever for the world at large.
i'm not going to go all preachy and talk about how "love is the answer" because statements like that are the gateway drug to sparkly unicorns and crystals and FREE HUGS, and i'm not particularly interested in any of those things,* but i will say that refusing to get angry and stay angry and carry that anger like some sort of weapon or a cause is exhausting and i am feeling much lighter now that i've given it up.
similarly, i refuse to burden myself with other people's problems. my mom and aunt and i used to spend hours getting all fired up over things that other family members were doing, and, just like the "righteous" anger, it accomplished nothing good externally, and a whole lot of unpleasantness internally. i dedicated the latter half of my thirties to teaching myself to let go of things that were not my problem. still not easy, that, but getting easier, and, like letting go of anger, it makes life easier, smoother-cornered. don't get me wrong - i can still see things that are wrong and that i would do differently; i just choose not to make a project of them if they're not mine to change.
i will not lie, i must admit that my little pink pills have been instrumental in helping, and that is one reason why i am nowhere near ready to let them go. i still think we overmedicate, i still believe there are alternatives, but having been on them for almost 2 years now, i feel like someone whose quirky adrenal imbalance or clonky elbow has been fixed - i don't want to go back to broken. the difference is subtle, even to me, but it is noticeable, and i am unwilling to go back to the old me because it was exhausting being angry all the time.
on tuesday night, mr. monkey and i drove to calgary. wednesday morning dawned bright and early, and our drive to the university was filled to the brim with swearing and frustration. perhaps i was nervous, perhaps i was emotional and it came out in the deep and earnest desire to kill calgary. all drivers on the road were incompetent assholes; all construction was specifically aimed at making me a. late and b. confused; all things conspired to make me as stabby as possible at a time when i should have been filled with pride and joy and shit.
i managed to meet up with c who escorted me to where our highly flammable robes, funny hats, and diplomas would be handed out. just seeing him made it all better and i entered the gym feeling good about life. seeing the rest of my classmates trickle in hammered the final nails in the coffin of my bad mood ("and the most awkward metaphor award goes to…") and i got robed and hooded and behatted with a smile on my face.
the ceremony was as such things go: many congratulatory speeches, applause, cheers, tearful bits, smiley bits, and then our class got called up. i made it up and down the stair sans either a wardrobe malfunction or a face plant, which, in itself, was a major success. and so i am now officially a master of something (notably a shitty phone camera because we forgot our actual camera at home. yes. yes, we did. i am just as shocked as you are, if not more):
the convocation was followed by a formal champagne reception (with no champagne, because…well, i dunno, you tell me!), which was followed by an informal restaurant reception. then mr. monkey took the bus home, while k and i decided that the way to truly celebrate this momentous occasion was to have as many different kinds of liquor in as many different venues as possible…well, we didn't actually decide, it just sorta happened. we drank ciders and wine at the restaurant, we drank really good old-fashioneds at b's place, we walked over to crusty juggler's place where i was staying and drank nearly half a bottle of champagne each, then took a cab to my favourite prof's place where we proceeded to (i think) drink a lot of wine, talk to a lot of people, and eventually be the very last ones to leave.
i am fairly certain neither one of us wore a lampshade at any point in the evening, and equally certain that no public peeing or nudity took place. we did, however, insist on walking home despite a less than perfect knowledge of the vicinity. turns out my drunk compass is pretty fucking great because we found our way home via parks, stairs and odd little neighbourhoods in record time. k made herself comfortable on the couch and, because our judgment was more than a little impaired, we dug into crusty juggler's special chips that she was saving for her dad (drunk people will eat your shit. know this) before finally going to bed around 1:30am.
we woke up around 6am (hello alcohol, you fiend!) and knew that no more sleep was to be had. frankly, i suspect we were still running on fumes from the night before as our ability to form complete sentences was less than stellar; our ability to form sentences that were a propos to the conversation at hand was even worse. despite this, we managed to:
a. (very slowly) figure out what time the breakfast place opened (7am!)
b. (very tentatively) capture a wasp and release it into the wild
c. (very determinedly) utterly fail to retrieve crusty juggler's mail from the mailbox (keys=hard)
d. (very embarrassingly) even more utterly fail to pick up the three items crusty juggler requested i bring her (she's in edmonton for the summer)
e. (very successfully) get in the car and drive home, laughing almost incessantly
i came into work at noon, expecting madness, only to find out that the project i was to be slogging my way through was deemed a no-go. my boss came by, took one look at my haggard old lady face and told me to go home. and so i went home.
overall, i'd say it was a raging success. all of it. every last damn thing.
* because seriously, haven't they changed it a bunch of times in recent decades? fitting, non?
aside from my recurrent bouts of depression, i think i may be suffering from emotional ADHD - things happen and i feel stuff and then i'm all, LOOK! shiny thing! and off i go, skipping happily into the middle distance. even my bouts of depression suffer from ADHD and just sort of bugger off after a while, distracted by something they'd just seen in a shop window. perhaps i am just a shallow fuck.
mommy, why can't i be utterly unique and unpredictable?
because if you were, my darling, you would seriously curtail the ability of other humans to relate to you in a meaningful manner. if you were unpredictable enough, you would even make it nearly impossible for you to live with yourself. a certain degree of predictability is what allows us to function as a single species. take it away, and you have a collection of selves unable to co-exit.
sometimes shit happens out of the blue. sometimes you feel feelings that you have no right to feel but feel them anyway. sometimes, those feelings make you all sorts of angry at the feelings you are feeling (thus adding beautiful feeling layers to the whole complex web of feelings), and then, when you feel sucker-punched and…feely (?) you suddenly remember that you have a sanity salad friend who is the best thing ever and then, when you've had a reasonably short phone conversation with your sanity salad friend, you think to yourself, you know what? i'm sort of over it, the feelings are gone, oh, but look at the floor! i need to vacuum! like RIGHT NOW!
and if needing to vacuum isn't the best response to what could have been a crisis of sorts (if not for sanity salad friend's singular good sense, kindness and, let's just say it, ability to hit the damn nail right on its damn head) then i don't know what is…oh wait, i'm also gonna run some stairs later (and by run, i mean initially walk briskly then very quickly run out of steam and eventually end up in a leisurely crawl, but for like an hour or so). and make some tzatziki. and maybe try my newly pickled radishes. and have some campari and tonic. BECAUSE I CAN!
recap? sure! some lessons that either are or are not pertinent at the moment, but are likely going to be pertinent at some moment in life:
actions have consequences.
self-care should trump most other things.
it's best to err on the side of compassion.
campari and tonic is the best summer drink.
CAPITAL LETTERS ARE FUN!
i think i'm out of ideas. anyone? toss me a good one, and i'll post it right here!
to counteract the deep and convoluted bullshititis of the previous post, and to show you that my life is actually pretty damn awesome at the moment, i shall tell you about my saturday.
i woke up too early, as is my wont, and headed out to the downtown market to meet the absolutely amazing k (seriously, my poultries, you should meet her - she is my sanity salad with nuts on top and was instrumental to keeping my head above water on so many occasions that you'd think she was circular and orange* and kept on boats for that express purpose). we bought coffees and vegetarian sammiches and sat amongst the beautiful crowds of the downtown farmers' market, discussing Things. there are few people i'd rather discuss Things with, and this time was no different. some satisfying answers were arrived at.
post breakfast, we wandered the market, then went around downtown checking out the various new holes in edmonton - the arena hole, the museum hole, the assortedcondominium and office tower holes and other things that make planner-girls like us salivate. watching the city that we love grow in wonderful ways is such a thrill! i can hardly remember the ghostly rail yards that are now full of bustling activity, parks and assorted human-centric development…but enough about that!
we hit up the pride parade for a while, and then mr. monkey and i headed off to buy tickets to the folk fest. each year it becomes more difficult to get said tickets as the organizers try to make things "fair" by instituting various lotteries, whereby, quite often, the first shall be last and vice versa, in all sorts of beautifully biblical ways that make me get all stabby, but tickets were gotten after a few tense moments. it's a good thing that folkies don't tend towards violence, though, is all i'm sayin'.
afterwards, we met up with our friends p&s and walked to downtown east to check out the city holes and new developments there, and ended up in a taco joint that's been garnering rave reviews, which turned out to be well worth it, despite retardedly loud mexican rock blaring from the speakers (note to restauranteurs: i want to eat in peace, not be yelled at. capiche?). a good sangria and taco buzz got us home and the real work of the day began.
the year i'd been away has seen the unprecedented growth of unsorted documents in various piles scattered haphazardly throughout the apartment. this needed to be dealt with. furthermore, the recently announced pregnancy of the dear friend who has been cleaning our place has resulted in her handing in her resignation and a proliferation of dust bunnies and mushrooms growing in the bathtub - t'would be nice to take a shower without catching six different venereal diseases, methinks. so that, also, needed to be dealt with.
a wild saturday night at the monkey household, non? sorting mail, shredding documents (always one step ahead of the IRS and the CIA, that's me!), scrubbing tiles and demushroomating the bathtub, while not high on a list of Fun Things To Do On A Saturday Night, can nevertheless engender a deep sense of satisfaction. after all, this is home and home should not inspire revulsion. we are one step closer to that lofty goal. revulsion-o-meter is waaaay down!
*she isn't. circular and orange, i mean. she's lovely, though, and highly effective.
i wonder if we, as a human race, are congenitally unable to learn our lessons and keep them learned. if we're condemned to perpetually repeat the same mistakes, chipping away at life in bursts of inspiration, pushing that damn rock up a hill, sisyphus-like, wondering philosophically what the fuck. then again, maybe it's just me. maybe others don't step in the same pile of shit twice…though i seriously doubt it, and not just to be charitable to myself because it's sunday and this is as close to church as i'm likely to get, but because there is compelling evidence that we are all, each and every one, committed shit-steppers: it is our way.
i feel like i'm once again exposing myself to getting hurt in a way that would seriously be too stupid if i let it, on account of work done under the same heading in the past. still, one thing i have carried with me over the years, is an (admittedly fluctuating) sense of self-acceptance: i will not, for fear of getting hurt, grow spines and wall myself off from the world and the (sometimes poky) people that inhabit it. some things are worth it, some are not, and the magic of living a life lies in finding and maintaining a balance that doesn't leave one flailing around emotionally while allowing for the various experiences you need to fluff out the resume of your existence. so you know, same old, same old.
ah, you say, you're being awfully enigmatic, the darling apple of our collective eye! yes, i answer, blushing prettily at such a sweet sweet compliment, i am being awfully enigmatic. you should have learned by now to expect full disclosure only on the emotional plane; the occurrences, events, happenings, and other whatsits that inspire said emotional responses are often off limits.
so what i'm doing is taking a deep breath, stepping back for a wee bit, and making a virtual in-my-head excel chart of pros and cons of a given situation so that i can make a cool and informed decision about where i stand…KIDDING! hell! seriously? did you think i could do that? really? because if you do, then you haven't been paying attention very well and should have marks taken off! because one of the things i rarely do is manage to plan out an emotional course of action. i'm ALL about flinging myself off cliffs, plunging into holes, and other assorted methodologies of light insanity. i just can't help it. so yes, right now, i am stepping back, taking a cool look at shit and analysing it and all, but i know that when the wind blows from a particular direction (or when i've got a couple glasses of wine in me) i will either slam that door again or fling it wide open, or possibly just maintain the fragile status-quo, and frankly, i have not a clue about which of the above is going to happen. i likely won't know until i've done it. i'm full of surprises like that.
so in the interest of full disclosure, i am now fine. my day of weeping gave way to a day of meh, followed by going on a work road trip that left me too busy to feel feelings. i have spent roughly 14 hours today working on facilitating a public engagement session put on by our provincial government, and as much as even typing that sentence makes me want to doze off (also, i am really rather tired, natch), it was actually a fun day and i think the boss lady might have been maybe a little not-wrong in placing me in this team because i think i may be good at this. who knew?! she did, that's who! sorry for doubting the wisdom of your ways, boss lady. and also? the small town catering thing was phe-no-me-nal! seriously! kale salad with pine nuts in (i shit you not) the white supremacist capital of alberta. good stuff, that!
to bed now, more of the same tomorrow. i suspect i won't get home until late evening and will fall face first on the bed sans brushing of teeth or washing of face. just kidding. that would NEVER happen. i don't ever ever ever ever EVER go to bed without washing my face and brushing my teeth…well, except for that one time and we will not talk about that.
this morning my boss (the woman who interviewed and hired me twice now) came up to see how i'm doing: great. great! everything is great. my face hurts from smiling, everything is so goddamn great. i spent the day doing this and that, and chatting with the lovelies who came up from the third to say hi to me, and then had a solitary lunch and a non-smoke break (quick walk around the block long enough to finish a cigarette if i were a smoker) and then a heavy duty post-work walk to meet mr. monkey at a doctor's office 7km away, uphill and running and trying to sweat some of the goddamn great out of me.
in the car, on the way back, the great broke and i started to cry like a fucking three year old because i hate being on the fourth floor; hate being dumped unceremoniously among the autistic landscape architects, hate being put into a team that is taking so long to warm up to me that i keep checking if i still have a pulse. i have made one new friend. i have had one guffaw at my plant decoration*, which made me feel that there are still people who get me… a little. and so i cried like a small child, blowing snot bubbles and derailing our dinner plans (nobody wants to go into a restaurant while blubbering like a spoiled toddler, even a cheap vietnamese restaurant), laughing at myself intermittently, knowing that i was being immature, unreasonable and emotionally fucked-up, and hormonally emotional. having spent the weekend in calgary, i was also emotionally messed up from realising how much i miss not only school (well, my school people) but also my fabulous roommate who really really REALLY is fucking fabulous. so yeah…having cried for the better part of an hour, i'm better now…ish.
i'm off on the road tomorrow night, going to start working for realz, yo. tell ya how it went. first stop? alberta's white supremacist capital! woot woot! if that doesn't make me appreciate the landscape architects, i don't know what will! i also am well aware of the fact that this is my typical transitional idiocy and that having found my pace, i shall do well… if the white supremacists don't get me.
*when i started working here last summer, my aunt gave me a small potted orchid to keep me company (not that i needed it last summer…sigh) and after producing its single solitary bloom, it went into hibernation mode. when i went back to school, i gave it to a co-worker for safe-keeping and only just reclaimed it midweek last. it isn't blooming now and has not bloomed since its early days, and so, because it is essentially just a small tangerine pot with some droopy-looking dark green leaves, i decided it needed a little something extra and i made a flag out of a pink post-it note. on it, in my best calligraphy, i wrote "herman the disappointing orchid," which i thought was pretty damn hilarious.
this weekend, when i told a lovely friend about it, he chastised me for being cruel: "sure," quoth he, "you could say a thing like that… IN YOUR HEAD!!! not to herman! how does that make him feel? maybe he's trying really hard and this is the best he can do!" needless to say i felt pretty badly about it, though not enough to take down the flag. herman needs tough love. life is NOT easy. why, sometimes you get put on the fourth floor!!!
thing is, i'm working now, and i know y'all are just dying to find out if it's all it's cracked up to be. short answer: no. why no? you holler like some sort of lightly deranged international greek chorus, complete with rending of garments and pouring ashes on your heads (seriously? enough with the drama already!) and lo, i shall tell you:
the best part of last year was being surrounded by heaps and oodles of like-minded individooooals who were funny and witty and awesome and friendly. this year, as some sort of bizarre punishment and/or an attempt to prevent me from decreasing the productivity of the entire third floor (as i suspect i did last year), i have been placed in isolation on the fourth floor. no big, right? wrong.
the fourth floor (a.k.a. the gulag) is home to just a small pile of largely absent planners (more on that later) and a whole host of landscape architects. what's wrong with landscape architects? well, given my less than stellar experience with the head of our school who was initially a landscape architect, i should have been worried. i wasn't. but i should have been. turns out she was a classic example of a typical landscape architect: socially awkward, unable to maintain eye contact, incapable of the simplest human interactions, and refusing to acknowledge the existence of Strangers. turns out, i'm a Stranger.
my desk is placed right by the door to the kitchen (my cubicle with window of yesteryear is but a faint memory…) through which pours a countless stream of landscape architects who REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE FACT THAT I AM SITTING RIGHT THERE. RIGHT. THE. FUCK. THERE!!!! like, right there! you know they can see me, because they would have to be legally blind not to, and yet as they near the entrance to the kitchen, their gaze is magically whisked away from me, and into the wildly exciting wall to their right. you know the way two magnets repel each other? that shit is what fuels the eyeballs of landscape architects.
so, since i tend towards egomaniacal paranoia (you likely have noticed but were too polite to say anything, i know, i know), i took it personally. it was one of two things: either a. word went out from the top, for everyone to stay the fuck away from me, or b. there was some sort of aura of ill-concealed violence and hatred emanating from me (what?! one doesn't always notice these sorts of things about oneself!). then i started talking to my people. turns out, it's not me, it's landscape architecture.
both the planning group and the environmental group, AND my boss, AND several unrelated people have told me, on their own, that landscape architects are an odd bunch. yeah. odd. rainman odd. i'm thinking low-to-moderate-functioning asperger's but less sociable. with a few exceptions, natch, like my old pal n, and the top boss who is a lovely lovely guy. but other than that? i feel like i am actually hurting them when i can't hold back any longer and say hello. oh, they answer, but it costs them a lot. i betcha they have had to up their meds since i arrived on monday.
but back to the whole work thing: it'll be fine. i have two neighbours who have the potential to be pretty awesome, and there is one guy whom i will LOVE (it has been promised. i'd better love him or heads will roll…) who is currently away. and really, i'm there to work and not to party. plus heading down to the third floor every once in a while and getting all the positive feedback is highly gratifying. and also, i am currently doing sweet fuck all, while on tuesday my real work begins. i am being tossed into the seething cauldron of public engagement and will be travelling all over alberta for all of june, during which time it is possible i shall be insulted, yelled at, and possibly even have projectiles hurled at me. at least that's what i'm told public engagement is all about. frankly, i'm pretty stoked: hell, i might even have to get a company american express card, and if that doesn't impress you, you are cold and dead inside.
as for the titular bozo? y'all will have to wait. i ran out of room and i generally hate lengthy posts like this.
last night a thing happened. i went to bed well before mr. monkey and promptly fell asleep. i have no idea what i was thinking or dreaming about, but i (half) woke when he came in and i must have figured he was either a stranger or god knows who, because i (apparently) tried to get up in a panic and managed, in a rather dramatic and spectacular fashion, to fall out of bed*…right on my tailbone. because i was half asleep when this whole thing happened, the first clear thing i remember is lying on the floor, tangled in the duvet, experiencing massive pain. it. fucking. hurt... mr. monkey, after semi-succesfully managing to stifle his laughter at what must have been a rather entertaining sight, grew alarmed at my continued distress.
i suspect i was on the floor for a good 15 minutes. the pain was so intense, i grew nauseous from it, and had to be given water. mr. monkey kept asking me if i could feel my legs, which did not calm me one bit but i could (and i still can). i finally managed to crawl back into bed and quickly realised i needed to ice my butt, so off he went into the kitchen to bring me my icepack, but instead brought me a cloth sack filled with plastic iceballs for chilling drinks. so i iced my aching tailbone with a bag of iceballs and was grateful to boot and every once in a while i heard mr. monkey chuckle, no doubt remembering the sight of me flailing out of bed, wrapped in a quilt, and landing on the floor. i'm sure it was funny. i just wish it hadn't been so fucking painful.
am sitting on the couch now, typing this, feeling rather tender. still, gonna get out there and do some stairs, because i haven't been running in a month and stairs are a reasonable alternative, plus, living as we do a short block from edmonton's steep river valley, we are blessed with a large variety of stairs to run. off i go. we'll see if i manage to do it without any more drama!
*a very tall bed. we have an extra tall bed, apparently for added drama in cases such as this.
i am back. almost two weeks in poland, followed in close proximity by almost two weeks with parents and mr. monkey hiking in the glorious parks of utah, means that although i have had good times, what i need more than anything else at the moment is to sit up alone, listening to my favourite radio show, doing things of no particular importance, at my own damn pace, alone, by myself.
how was it, you ask? (and i knew you would ask, my poultries, because you are sweet and lovely). 'twas good. my plans to pop into poland before whiling away the better part of my vacation in prague or berlin came to naught: there's a power to an almost-94-year-old grandmother, a power based on the ticking away of time… prague will likely be there next year, my grandma? well, the likelihood is nowhere near as solid on that one, and i chose the path that will give me a clear conscience. and also, despite the warnings of my parents who had spent 2 weeks in the old country just before me, it was actually a pleasant visit once i decided to embrace its pace, to acknowledge the power of the passage of time, and to take on the responsibilities of love. i am glad i did it.
the hiking trip to utah was pretty damn good, despite mr. monkey's…ahem...scheduling difficulties. my mom and i are early birds. my father isn't but is amenable to persuasion when faced with the prospect of physical exertion*. mr. monkey? not so much. some conflicts were had. other conflicts were averted. my people-pleasing nature kicked my ass once or twice and made me wanna give myself a nice firm talking-to but what's a girl to do? they're all still talking to each other and seem to have gotten to know each other a wee bit better. drinking in small hotel rooms will do that sometimes.
the parks in utah (monument valley, natural bridges, canyonlands, arches, and various assorted nameless bits of beauty) were breathtaking, human-friendly in scale (except for the rude bits that made my fear of heights go into overdrive), beautifully coloured and ridiculously photogenic (pictures to follow). spring in the desert is something that needs to be experienced - the way that everything seems to be trying to outdo each other in blooming profusion: shrubs, bushes, trees, flowers and cactuses, against the red rocks and bright blue skies, the honey-scents, the buzzing insects, the birds singing, the cicadas…seriously, i could go on and on and on. don't make me go on and on and on; just go already, ok?
at any rate, i am back, i have a bit of free time until work begins on monday and i shall attempt to clean up my act, which has gotten rather sloppy of late. i shall also try to keep in touch, ok? ok.
*the man who will take his sweet time getting up before 9am on a weekend, will jump out of bed with no incentive whatsoever when faced with the prospect of a marathon that typically begins at 6am and therefore requires at least a 5am wake-up. go figger...
i packed last night for my trip to poland. as usual, i had planned on only taking a carry-on, and as it was, i couldn't fill that darn thing. i added an extra shirt, an extra dress, and still, lots of wiggle room in there.
this morning, my mom called me and gave me a talking-to, because i had forgotten that a. i have one free piece of checked luggage and b. i would be coming back from poland with books and such, so i would need extra room. and so i grabbed a ridiculously huge* suitcase that mr. monkey had borrowed from his mom and hadn't gotten around to returning, and moved the contents of my half-empty carry-on into its cavernous interior. i added another pair of sandals. another two tops. a jacket. guess what - still half empty!
so here's my question to the interwebs: what the living FUCK do people put in their suitcases when they go for a week long beach vacation and bring three? full sized bottles of shampoo? six pairs of shoes including emergency hip-waders? fur coats in case the mexican evening gets a little chilly? i seriously do not get it and i'm a clothing addict - i have many lots of clothings and i love them to death and i like to look good, so it's not like i'm packing a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt (good lord, i'd have my polish citizenship revoked immediately, if not sooner!). so please, explain this mystery to me, oh people of the interwebs: what does it keep in its suitcases?
*likely a perfectly reasonable size…to most people. clearly, i am not most people.
right now everything is fixed, but i am still sitting here with a nauseous belly and residual redness draining from my face. why? because i'm an idiot… or a "moreon" as i appropriately texted crusty juggler the other day on an unrelated* topic.
i spent the last few days editing and polishing the crap out of our huge final report, as detailed in last post, and lo, today i get an email from the prof saying that a bunch of links are missing. yes. missing links. you're welcome, favourite prof - you want missing links? i provide!
so yeah, ok, not the end of the world, this. not even anywhere close to the apocalypse or armageddon or you know, a global outbreak of ebola or even a plantar wart pandemic. however, i have made a point to offer my editing services to said prof, going on at length how fucking detail-oriented i am. jesus. i could smack myself. even trying to quiet the nasty yelling voice inside my head by using the whole "would you talk to a friend like this?" thing isn't working, because if said friend had gone on and on about how she didn't trust anyone else with this job because of what a perfectionist she is and so forth and then forgot to link a bunch of stuff, i might not say these things to her face, but i sure as fuck would judge her on the inside. for being a stuck up moreon.
the only thing that is making me hate myself a little less right now is the fact that i almost used my grandma's possible lung tumour (she's going into the hospital right in the middle of my visit) as an excuse, and then felt like a triple asshole and didn't. because i only found out today. and because it's irrelevant. and because i may be a moreon, but i am not an asshole.
i fixed the problem pronto, by dropboxing him every single file he asked for within 5 minutes, along with other files and then some more files. i believe that's called a "snow job" in the industry…sheesh…what a moreon!
*well, related in the fact that i'm an idiot or a "moreon" on multiple topics. hurray for multitasking!
last night, after much back and forth'ing, toing and froing, fixing and refixing, promising not to reread and then promptly rereading, burning DVDs and then having to reburn them on account of all the revisiting of documents, i finally finished compiling, synthesising, and polishing my group's final project. i was supposed to be done by late afternoon. the last DVD got burned well after 10. i blame television (well, what?! all work and no play and yadda yadda), and my ridiculously tenacious perfectionism. and i can hardly blame myself when on the last rereading (the one i wasn't supposed to let myself do), i found a rather glaring mistake that could have cost us marks, not to mention a whole host of decidedly non-glaring mistakes that would have cost me peace of mind. but lo, it was done and i spent the next hour diddling around the interwebs chuckling quietly at the vague sense of guilt that kept trying to sneak in but which i kept at bay via judicious applications of reality.
this morning i woke up way too early as is my wont of late, and putzed around on the interwebs some more: it has become a habit to crawl downstairs, blearily open up the laptop, park my arse on the arse-shaped chair i have been occupying lo, these past two years, and begin work… except: no work. sure, i could sabotage my peace of mind by opening up the report yet again, and tweaking some glaringly obvious misuses of a semicolon that has miraculously escaped my attention last night, but that way madness lies.
i packed up my stuff, took a shower, made myself a protein smoothie, polished the stainless steel appliances for mfr who is getting the place listed and photographed today, and then, halfway down the stairs it hit me: i'm free! i'm done. it's over. AND i have a job. and also? it's over. and i'm free. and did i mention the fact that i'm done school? no? because hey! guess what?! i'm done school! forever, if i'm so inclined, though forever is a mighty long time as the minstrels say, and i still have a date with amsterdam linked with academia, so who knows…
but yeah, for a longish moment there i felt light and loose like a soap bubble, a butterfly, a balloon, or another light ephemeral item floating prettily through the air. free!
even this morning's migraine that i have no way of dealing with (all my industrial strength meds had been packed up and taken to edmonton last weekend: how handy! how efficient!) can't dampen my spirits. my spirits! they are undampable! undampenable? undampacious!!!
today, i go one last time to the hallowed halls of the place that has made me laugh, cry, kick things, swear (more than is typical), cry, weep, clench my teeth in frustration, cry, and all sorts of other feelings and actions like crying.* i shall remove my painter's-tape'd name off my locker. i shall take my monster lunch-pack filled with crayons and felts (do y'all remember how scared i was of the colouring? ha!). i shall pack up the bits of odd-shaped plexi that the architects leave all over the place that makes fantastic found art. i shall boil water for my tea in the shitty kitchen kettle one last time. i shall drop off my report DVDs to the best prof ever to grace these halls (he's getting DVDs that look like mixtapes, on account of my penchant for defacing every DVD or CD or whatnot that comes within the range of my sharpie). then i shall go and watch a final presentation by the second half of our class. then i shall go for drinks with whomever is interested. and then… well, y'all don't need to know my whole itinerary, but i will be in poland by friday.
it is done.
*the crying was mainly first semester. but hell, there was SO much of it! so very very much!
so i went out today filled with a certain amount of trepidation.
i came home with two chunks of very expensive and delicious cheese…and a job.
well, not A job, per se, but THE job. as in the full time equivalent of the best summer job ever of yesteryear. as in… boy, i was gonna make all sorts of "woot woot!" noises but then i realised that, really, i'm just very very tired. i suspect i'll be thrilled as soon as i get over this numbness, and in my head, i'm totally happy, just the rest of me hasn't caught up yet. too much to do, i suspect.
but no, really and truly: i got the job and i am thrilled beyond (evidently) my capacity to feel it at the moment. but yes: happy!
i just realised i put more excitement into my post about olive chicken than this, but my darling poultries, i really really am exhausted! why am i so exhausted? oh, yeah. the school thing.
alrighty then, back to the grind, but i wanted to take a few minutes to share my good news with you. seems like only yesterday i was telling you that i was going back to school, don't it? and now here i am! with a job! like a real honest to goodness adult! and a job that doesn't (hopefully) involve me coming home covered in blood and saliva, to boot!
c and i had a study date today, finishing the least pleasant of this year's assignments. he suggested we meet at a recently opened establishment called olive chicken. it had good online reviews but i wasn't leaving the house today (snow. more snow. snowing all day. i mean, i know this is alberta, but come ON! if i cared about weather, i would be livid. luckily i a. don't care and b. realise the very limited benefits of meteorologically-inspired lividity*) where were we? oh. yes. chicken. so i asked c to pick us up a take out order and hot damn! it was SO SO so so sososososososo so good. i am not generally a fried chicken fan, and will not ever eat the skin because ew, but in this case i caved and carnivorously consumed every crumb and crease (huh? yet another example of the failure of alliteration!). this is korean fried chicken and it's covered in a sticky gooey spicy gingery sweet hot chilli sauce that deserves more than these seven measly adjectives, and soon i had all those adjectives all over my nose, cheeks, fingers and likely elbows. it. was. good.
the restaurant must surely be a front for some sort of crack-based business because i have not been able to stop thinking about the chicken. i want more. i want some right now. right this second. as i type this, i am salivating uncontrollably at the thought of getting my hands on some more olive chicken**.
i'd just finished telling my fabulous roommate and the newly arrived mr. monkey about the chicken experience. i got so excited i got a little addled:
moi: it's SO good! it's fried chicken! it's chicken on the inside and fried on the outside! mfr & mr. m: …
moi: sometimes i amaze myself.
* yes, i realise that's not what this word means, but you know what i mean, so shut it.
** no olives*** on the menu. inexplicable. pickled daikon, though, is readily available and refreshingly delicious!
*** mfr came up with the name "o, live chicken!" which is slightly more appropriate in that it acknowledges the absence of olives, but simultaneously egregiously fails to acknowledge the death of the chicken.
p.s. final push. final push, my pretties. once this hateful pile of unpalatable donkey dung (wait, is there palatable donkey dung? i suppose for some species there is… no judgment) is finished, i can start my heart's work, i.e. compiling and editing the 40 or so page document that is our final project, which, by the way, we successfully presented yesterday. wanna see? here:
last night, after i blogged the darkness in my soul, i decided that the thing to do would be to step away from the computer and join my fabulous roommate in his dungeon where he was watching golf. i don't watch golf. why in the hell would i watch golf? why does anybody? but i needed some human company, particularly if it involved non-destructive humans i could count on, and so i took my residual wine and my residual tea and joined him on the couch.
the poor man. all he ever wanted of the evening was to sit in peace and watch privileged white men in polyester pants whack the ball around the course. what he got, instead, was an embittered cranky polish woman with a big mouth who proceeded to heckle everything from the men's names ("bubba? who the fuck names their child bubba? even as a nickname! southern US, you need to stop this shit right now!"), to their facial hair ("douchebag fort mcmurray facial hair, and you tell me he's SWEDISH? he's an embarrassment to the Scandinavian Way!"), to their pants (those are terrible pants! the blue, it is a smurf blue - one should never wear smurf blue once one is out of diapers!), to the outfits worn by the caddies ("white coveralls are so fetching…"). i made fun of everything, occasionally realising i needed to shut up and then utterly failing to do so for more than a minute at a time.
bubba won, and when he came off the course into the waiting arms of his tall blonde athletic wife and adorable toddler, the man was BAWLING. this is the point at which i lost it, because what the hell? mfr scoffed and said the man had just won the most prestigious golf trophy. yeah, golf. trophy. as in: golf. as in: a game played with sticks and balls. then i realised that large amounts of money were involved (like, some serious big ass moneys, people! for golf. ) and that made me swallow bubba's emotional outburst a little more… but then, when i waxed cynical about that, i suddenly realised that what i was doing with my big, loud, uncontrollable mouth, was kinda ruining the moment for mfr. so i left.
i can be a bit of an asshole sometimes. i try to apologise when that happens.
having asked my fabulous roommate if a glass of wine is an appropriate accompaniment to giving up on humanity, and gotten an affirmative, i am now sitting here with my glass, typing away my frustration, though perhaps a punching bag or a good cry would be more appropriate.
no, no, no, nothing really bad has happened, it's just that… well, imagine if you will that you have built an intricate structure out of lego. you moved things around and around until it's almost perfect. the red blocks are on the bottom, the white in the middle, and so on. this took a loooong time from the initial model that had the general look of what you wanted, but did not follow the rules assigned. see? there it is! it is a thing of great beauty and it fills you with pride, because you have spent a long time on it. you have buffed it to a high gloss shine. you have honed it to a fine edge. you have spent a long time loving it. a long time. it was an enjoyable time, true, but not as enjoyable as, say, watching some seriously crappy television sans guilt. so yeah, there it is.
so say you now ask your partner to add blue turrets to it, on all the applicable levels, as per project assignment. the partner knows where the turrets go. you trust the partner. perhaps you are an idiot. or perhaps you have so many other things to do you have no choice. and so you work on the yellow wingnuts and let the partner have at the blue turrets.
when you come back to the structure several days later, behold, there are the blue turrets, on all the applicable levels. but…BUT. but as you look closer, you realise that in the process of putting in the blue turrets (on all the applicable levels, natch), your partner has completely (though subtly) rearranged things so that that gorgeous and perfect thing of neat and clean colour coding you have spent such a long time on, is now disrupted. there is a yellow amidst the greens; a blue in the whites: a sort of lego-version of the most unwelcome benetton ad ever made. because in this one instance you really want white to stick to white, and so on… and so you take a deep breath, and then you start, AGAIN, to rework the very things you had already done (well) once. it takes a long time, and as you dig deeper, you realise that the structure has been altered in other ways, ways that make you want to sob, but ways that nobody but you will notice, and so, heartsick, you let it go.
and then you tell c that you are now officially over fucking group work and that you want out NOW. and then you ask mfr about the wine. and then you drink the wine and blog about it and realise that it can't be so very bad if this thought comes roughly 9 days before the end of it all. this thought tries to lift your spirits, but it's hard going. because you loved that fucking lego structure and you made it fucking perfect and you don't understand how someone would fail to see the importance of the details after a semester in a class that brought detail-oriented joy to your heart, the heart that is now, if not broken, then seriously bruised.
i am standing on the edge of a precipice. the wind is whipping my hair into my face. the waves are crashing into the rocks below me and it seems like it's an insurmountable distance. there are voices behind me, and a huge sky in front. i know the water is bone-shatteringly cold, but i also know i cannot stand here for any length of time. after all, the way leads forward, doesn't it? i am filled with the same kind of excitement and fear and exhilaration that i felt last september: a sort of death-wish coupled with the awareness that to stop or go back would cost far more than the temporary comfort of no-change is worth. there might be sharks, sure. but maybe not. or maybe it doesn't matter, i mean, jesus - there are sharks everywhere (metaphorically speaking, of course).
all of last week or maybe two (you should seriously just make peace with the fact that the passage of time is beyond my grasp these days), i have been walking around with a knot in my belly. oddly enough, it's not the same sort of stomach knot that depression brings me - this one is a sort of deep visceral fear mixed in equal measures with excitement, elation and something i can't quite put my finger on, some sort of feeling of the beginning of another era, i suppose…
i think that it's essential to note that the feeling i have right now is a sort of uncontrollable giddiness not because i'm almost done, but because i'm in it. it's the being in it that's making me thrilled and scared and overwhelmed and fucked up and and and… you know, feeling feelings.
what i fear is that i won't be good enough. that they (those not-so-mythical "they" who STILL HAVEN'T CALLED ME BACK ABOUT A JOB!!!) will see that i am a stoopid fraud with only her big mouth to fall back on. but that's not the biggest fear. i fear a new life, not seeing the goofy mugs of the lovelies who have made me happy these last two years: k, with her quiet calm and ability to listen and say the perfect thing; c, who has taught me that in friendship age is irrelevant and who has continued to amaze me both with the unexpected depth of our connection and the shallowness of our gossip; mfr, whom i will miss for his kindness and caring and patience, and for being there and NOT being there precisely when i needed it; j, for her tranquil vibe and much-needed lessons in self-care; dd, for her frenetic energy and huge heart; and others and others and others…
i remember each time i left school for any length of time i felt i would die of loneliness, and then swiftly found myself splashing joyfully in the world that awaits me 298km north of here, and found i didn't die after all. except this time it's for good and i'm a big enough girl to know that friendships don't always last when the string gets pulled too taut.
but that's not all: this is big. this is the new me, diving into the ocean like a girl who forgot her fear of heights and sharks. watch me: this is big!
two weeks, my bunnies, two weeks. in two weeks i will be as close to done as makes no difference.
am i happy, you ask? well, you'd think i would be, no? done with the drudgery and idiocy and frustrations… instead, i seem to have come down with a nasty case of stockholm syndrome, and find myself maybe not dreading the light at the end of the tunnel but definitely wanting to curl up in the dark where i know it's safe(ish).
the thought of being out in "the real world" doesn't phase me. nor does the fact that i have not yet heard back about my job prospects at My Number One Most Awesome Choice Job Ever and have neglected to apply ANYWHERE ELSE.* what it is, is a feeling of security and comfort in this dismal institution. why, even the second-in-command has become all smiley and friendly-like since we've gotten our official accreditation! i know where i stand here. i know that the amount of work i am expected to complete is simultaneously unreasonable and completely doable. i know that these hallowed halls (with electrical outlets so badly decayed that they sprayed c with dramatic electrocution sparks as he tried to unplug his laptop three times!) are a sort of home. i know these people (some of whom i have wanted to murder on multiple occasions) are a sort of family. and given that this last semester has been a challenge nirvana for this poor beast, this beast just sort of wants it to continue. see? classic stockholm syndrome.
my fabulous roommate and i have this ongoing thing - he watches sports on television and i make fun of him for watching sports on television. we also have a disagreement wherein i say i don't care about hockey, and he says i want to not care about hockey but in my secret heart of hearts i do, in fact, care about hockey. the truth is, i used to care about hockey, but i no longer do. my heart was broken too many times. i have moved on. as it is, he continues to inform me about games featuring the edmonton oilers (the team that broke my heart all these years ago) even though i don't care.
case in point, this morning:
mfr: the oilers beat one of the nhl's best teams last night!
my fabulous roommate and i were watching the last two hours of the godfather II (we started the 3h 20 min movie last weekend). halfway through, i went upstairs to pee. having noticed that my toenails were getting unreasonably long, i decided to grab the bull by the horns, as it were, and cut them right then and there. because i happened to be in the wine, i stabbed myself in the finger. i came downstairs, bleeding.
moi: i stabbed myself.
mfr: oh yeah?
moi: aren't you gonna ask how i did it?
mfr: how did you do it?
moi: cutting my toenails.
mfr: yeah. i like to do that during a break in a movie, too.
moi: well, they were getting so loooong!
mfr: well, it is a long movie.
later, we were discussing my pen situation (i.e. good pens, versus floor pens). mfr mentioned that the mysterious, almost brand new bic floor pens i kept finding in studio were likely planted there by bic as a marketing ploy. if so, i said, it failed; i prefer my fancy 4$ pens.
moi: i am a penisseur!
moi: … that's not what i meant.
mfr: (still laughing)
moi: i meant a connaisseur of pens and you know it!!!