10 February, 2016

death wish? no thanks, i've just eaten!

so this thing's been popping into my head of late and i know how horrible it sounds, but really, it's just a thought and it's an honest thought and it's actually fairly positive, although i realise it's hard to believe. anyway, here goes the back story.

i'm happy most of the time. or at least not unhappy. i'm fine. the world is...well, sorta fine, if you sorta squint, and cover your left eye, and only look RIGHT THERE, but you know, for me, it's ok. most of the time i focus on the stuff that's happening, speak to my friends, do the mindfulness schtick, etc. etc. yadda, yadda. and then, when the weight of politics or parking lots or bloodshed or hatred or rampant consumption gets too much, i wilt, and it is then that i have this thought that on the surface looks horrible but i find really really comforting:

i look at my face, i see it getting old and i think to myself, thank GOD imma die some day and i won't have to worry about this shit any more. and it makes me feel good.

so there you have it.

09 February, 2016

singing songs for solitary sturgeon

you know that moment when you're so tired of looking at a real estate website that you start making up songs that make fun of the houses you're looking at and serenading them in a falsetto? no? so it's just me, then?

some of my songs got a little political...

08 February, 2016

rock it like the gardeners

you just know it's not going to be hard to stand out in a sea of shiny beigeness when you pull up to pick up your husband from work in a '98 volvo station wagon with the inexplicably jammed back window covered with a garbage bag to keep the rain out.

a shiny new SUV is just not our style.

07 February, 2016

down south, y'all

i'm back. i'm here. i'm fine.

at first, there was too much to process and write about and i felt i needed to sit on it for a while before i wrote. then, too much time had passed, and i felt that anything i wrote would be perfunctory and too late.

now i think i'd best get in here or i'll never get back or i'll write random posts while completely glossing over the fact that i am now living in the united states of america, in a very pretty and beige little community, in texas, for christsakes, the one place anyone who knows me would most certainly not put me, and overall, it's all good.

highlights - 4 day drive south turned into 5 day drive south because of an overzealous customs agent who made us retrace our steps (over 6h in total) in order to get a letter from the nearest volvo dealer, at which the customs agent we lucked into the following day didn't even glance! luck of the draw is one of my great annoyances with the grey-assed muddle of bureaucracy - ask seven bureaucrats a question and you're liable to get nine different answers. but we made it.

montana is big and open and beautiful and mountainous and empty. ditto wyoming plus wind. new mexico we zoomed through, and texas welcomed us with one of the most spectacular sunsets of recent memory, and although it was just meteorology and shit, it felt like it meant something.

the thing with texas is that it taps into two things for me: 1. familiarity: much of it is very similar to alberta, although the particular bit we're in, is not. and 2. my not particularly well advertised love of the western genre - driving through amarillo i felt a thrill that i could not easily explain - something about the name conjured up cowboys and lassoes and camping under the stars, although it was really just a city we drove through on the way south. even signs outside restaurants denying entry to individuals carrying weapons, well, at this point it still seems cute. armadillo roadkill, great mexican restaurants, and good bbq round out the things i like. there are things i don't like, but that's the price of admission to life, so i'll deal.

at any rate, my poultries, i'm alive, i'm here, i'm happy. more later!

11 January, 2016

yaaaaawwwwn

hi. i've been meaning to come here and tell you some of the stories of my life for days now. alas, i didn't. the fact that i am here today is testament to how badly i ought to be packing right about now since we leave for our 4 day drive south on saturday or sunday. procrastination is the name of the game!

i'm so stressed out right now that all i want to do is lie down and sleep. i remember this strange reaction to stress at school where i would routinely go to bed at 8pm. each day this week has a lunchtime appointment, an evening appointment, and things to do in-between. some of these things i need to do now. some of these things i could have (should have!) done last month or two months or hey, three months ago!



the inexcusable laziness of yesterday me fucked over tomorrow me, who is now the really sleepy today me. learn from my mistakes, little poultries, don't leave it all till the end!

ok, off to do stuff. can't even remember what stuff. just wanna lie down and close my eyes and sleeeeeep...... but i shall persevere!

04 January, 2016

goodbye

yesterday morning i was awoken by a phone call at 5am. as soon as i saw the last name i knew my grandma was gone. bleary eyed in the pre-dawn darkness, i thought it was my father phoning but it was my grandma's wonderful neighbour, H, who came down to her place (hence same last name on the phone display) and phoned me to let me know she'd passed 15 minutes earlier and they couldn't reach my father. i thanked her, rang off, and phoned my parents. oddly enough, my father answered even though he rarely answers the phone. it was 7am and he was clearly still asleep when i shared the bad news.

my grandmother was 94 when she died (94 and a half, as little children tend to put it). she had spent new year's eve in the hospital with a stomach ailment but was rallying and had been eager to go home when H went to see her the day before yesterday. she asked for specific pieces of clothing to be brought to her and chatted amiably. and then she was gone. the reason: her body simply gave up. they managed to resuscitate her once, but when she went again, they let her go.

right now my parents are boarding a flight to warsaw, then another to wroclaw, from where they will be picked up by a dear family friend and driven to nysa, our home town. there, they will begin the process of getting rid of all the things that remain of my grandmother's life. i will not go (although i reserve the right to change my mind). i have often said i don't do funerals and find them useless. i asked my parents if they needed me - they said they did not, knowing full well i am in the midst of packing for my own move. that's not the point, though - i don't need to go. i don't need to be there to remember her. she is in me and all that she taught me will always be a part of who i am. my cousin told me that if she died i should go to her funeral, and because his words matter to me, i stop and ponder if i really should. but in the end, she is gone, and what isn't gone stays in me.

nysa, the city of my birth and childhood

the first two years of my life, when my parents were gathering up their master's degrees and PhD's, i lived with my grandmother and subsequently spent every summer and most holidays and long weekends with her. we walked forever along fields, forests, rivers, and gardens. she taught me to love flowers. she taught me the names and uses of plants. she taught me to care for animals, though i never matched her heart - up until last year, she would still walk all the way to her garden every single day to feed the feral cats that had taken up residence there. she collected bread crusts and assorted odds and ends to feed the magpies and other birds in the winter. because of her, to this day, my favourite place to walk is alongside fields, on grassy paths, picking leaves, berries, and seeds. my parents took me to the mountains and the sea, but my grandma taught me about the beauty that surrounds us in the most mundane places. she always had a garden full of flowers as well as the practical fruits and vegetables, simply because they were beautiful.


the road we walked together a million times when i was a child

a couple trips back, after my grandfather's death, my grandmother opened up and talked about her marriage, which had been awful. i never really liked my grandfather and her stories did nothing to change my mind. after his death my grandmother stopped wearing patched and darned house-coats and started dressing fashionably, finally wearing all the things that had always been in her closet, but which seemed to be waiting for the blessed days of freedom. years fell away from her; she looked better, younger, happier. she still had her son to parent, but my grandfather's death was evidently a blessing.



my mom has always had a fraught relationship with her mother-in-law. my father's relationship with my grandmother was less than ideal - she was great with children, but lacked the ability to let them grow up into independence. my uncle, who died in recent years, remained her small wayward son despite being an elderly man with a serious drinking problem. my father was a dutiful son who phoned his mother once a week, and visited once a year, but had very little to say to her besides talking about the weather - he tried, and she tried, but the walls between them were too high. i was the beloved (and only) grandchild who visited every 5 years or so and tried her often less than stellar best to phone once a month. but i was the person who could talk to her. i could laugh at her (gently) and point out her foibles and she would laugh alongside me. i have always known that my grandma was not the same person as my father's mother or my mother's mother-in-law. i got a different view of her. we approached each other differently. i think i got her very best.

my last visit in 2014

i was in poland two weeks ago and made a conscious decision not to visit her - i could have seen her one last time, but i didn't think i had the time. i am making a conscious decision now not to feel guilty about that - the feelings would overwhelm me if i let them and nothing would change. i can't seem to be able to rustle up any tears. i can't seem to feel any deep emotion. but i know that the sorrow is there and it is real and i will miss her and i will remember her and i will see so many things through the prism of all that she taught me.

 my favourite sort of walk

 forget-me-nots


goodbye, grandma - even though your view of the afterlife was pretty close to mine, still, i hope the gardens in heaven are beautiful!


for you

happy new year!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=59&v=bHOHi5ueo0A

27 December, 2015

soul searching, end of the year edition

the time of the year is upon us again when we take stock of our sins and successes, our goods and our bads. there's something to this season that invites us to take a deeper look at where we're at and where we're heading.

i'm not one for new year's resolutions (i believe one can make changes at any time of the year and fail at them in a far less public manner) but i have found myself inadvertently learning a lesson in recent weeks, a repeat, if you will, of a lesson i'd smacked up against this fall. it's a painful lesson because it's never particularly comfortable to see oneself as a thoughtless selfish asshole, and this is precisely what happened. and no, the lesson isn't that i'm a thoughtless selfish asshole - though it's probably good to be reminded of one's faults every once in a while. no, the lesson is this: when faced with the choice of kindness or its opposite, it's best to err on the side of kindness. i've hollered and thrown myself about in anger at something that, in the end, was not only not worth that much negative emotion, but was quite literally the opposite of what i perceived it to be. the ways in which i saw myself being used were not there at all. the advantage taken was not really taken at all, or, at most, tiny crumbs thrown to the hungry, far far less than what i could easily spare.

i'm sorry if i'm not being more explicit, but there's really no need. suffice it to say that twice i acted like an asshole*, and twice was proven painfully wrong in my assessment of the situation. will i remember this lesson? one can hope for the best. if nothing else, not only for the sake of the world (because sometimes it's hard to care about the world, innit?), but for the sake of my own internal wellbeing, it is almost always better to err on the side of kindness. period.

stay koselig this winter, my beloved poultries, and stay kind!


*this particular flavour of asshole. i'm sure i've acted like an asshole far more than twice this year.

26 December, 2015

reason #483 why i am not a mother

i gave my oldest two kids a sort of velcro-based dartboard type toy for christmas. you toss these vaguely sperm-like balls at a spiderweb and because it's velcro instead of darts, nobody gets hurt...much.



my oldest nephew immediately fell in love with it and started tossing the balls in a manner that three year olds accomplish such feats: badly.

this is the conversation i had with my sister (and myself):

sister-in-law: this is perfect! he loves throwing!
moi (in my head): he's not very good at it.
moi (still in my head): granted, he is three....
moi (thankfully still in my head): but he really sucks.


24 December, 2015

merry christmas and all that jazz

you know you're polish when you've burned your thumb on beets before 9 am on christmas eve morning. it's a kind of test, i suppose. good thing, too, because i keep failing the vodka test - can't stand the stuff!

listen, my darling virtual poultries - may your holiday season be filled with all the cheesy goodness of your favourite christmas film, up to and including the sexy leading man/lady if you so desire. also, remember, there are no calories in christmas dishes, mulled wine is compulsory, as is cheese, in vast and unlimited quantities. may you be surrounded by as much love and support as you've given me over the years on this here wee site, and may the glow of joy light up your gorgeous mugs. mwah! giant and vaguely inappropriate christmas kisses to you all!



09 December, 2015

say CHEESE!!!

we're running around at breakneck speed mainly because there's so much to do, but also because mr. monkey knows this place inside and out, including all modes of public transit despite having left in 1988. on a recent trip to resuscitate his phone from a near drowning incident, we jumped from bus to metro to tram to another tram to...well, i sort of lost count. on another day, we went hither and thither, doing this and that, the holy grail of a hot meal and some reasonably priced sheepskins shining before us. we were both sick, bleary-eyed and congested, leaving the house only because it was absolutely necessary. i hadn't bathed, put on make-up, or even combed my hair that day and the weather necessitated a wooly hat so i was not at my best when, mid-run through the metro tunnels, mr. monkey suddenly turned into a wee shop that took passport photos and bade me sit in front of the camera.  granted, i'm not one who takes hours on my personal groomage, but when being recorded for posterity i prefer to be given enough of a heads up to at least run my fingers through my hair and slap on a bit of lipstick. the elderly couple who ran the shop were adorably supportive of my crankiness, and the man did his magic with photoshop (though he refused to sharpen, smoothen, smallify, and biggify appropriate facial bits). alas, age does its thing twofold: it makes me care less, and it makes me see less, both of which combine to make me find myself as good looking as i would like to be...most of the time.

but back to the various sheep products, which i mentioned merely in passing, but which ought to have been serenaded with an ode at the very least! walking down a side street the other day we passed a table laden with slippers, hats, cheese, and skins, all of sheepish provenance. turns out this is the exact same seller from whom i procured my wooly slipper socks that i wear to this day and his pile of sheepskins offered up for sale made me swoon a little. there were white sheeps! there were cream sheeps! there was a very large and fat beige and grey sheep! a long-haired pure white and a perfectly skunk-coloured icelandic sheeps! we were merely passing by, but the wanting burned deep within me until the day we returned and bought ourselves three sheeps. the prices were seriously good, and the cheeses even better! we bought (or were given to sweeten the deal) several of the smoked polish sheeps cheeses that are shaped vaguely like footballs but far more tasty:


they are salty, slightly squeaky, and quite delightful. we walked away with a couple kinds, and this marvel of cheesemaking technology that made me want to weep with joy:


i'm sure you've seen string cheese in supermarkets. this is nothing like it. this is what string cheese aspires to be and fails: the perfect beer snack, the perfect portable food, the perfect THING. i couldn't stop eating them until they were gone.

and since i've shown you the cheese, let me also show you the skins. this here is skunky (not actual skunky, but close enough as makes no difference):


this is fabio (again, not the actual fabio but an internet lookalike). note the long flowing locks through which i will run my fingers:


vaclav the grey is my last purchase and is simply a very large, beige-grey sheep, who's known a lot of love in his life, i'm sure of it. there's no photo on the interwebs that'll do him justice, so you'll have to make do with my craptastic camera shot:


and so, after a day of much adventuring in the hinterlands, we gathered up our sheeps, we headed home. that's that in a nutshell.

08 December, 2015

communist milk bar

after running errands we decided to hit a local milk bar for dinner. for those unfamiliar with the concept, the milk bar is a cafeteria style establishment typically run by grumpy but efficient middle aged ladies in nylon pinafores, serving ridiculously cheap home-style meals on trays and chipped china predating the cold war. what you lack in terms of ambience and charm, you gain in economy and flavour. because i'm super picky when it comes to dead animal flesh, i tend to stay away from the meats but always make out like a thief as far as the dumplings and salads go.

as we were starving, mr. monkey ordered a large bowl of tomato soup with pasta that tasted like it was made by an actual human, along with a huge chunk of meat with a side of raw potato dumplings. i had a plate of pierogis with cottage cheese and potatoes, a plate of potato pancakes, a side of sauerkraut slaw, and a side of hot beets. although it was hardly an instagram-worthy meal, we enjoyed every last bite and ended up paying something like 15CAD. 

these places tend to cater to students, the poor, and the curious traveller. if you live in poland and are doing ok, it's unlikely you'd eat at a milk bar, and that's a shame because the food was really really delicious. granted, when i went to drop off our empty plates and peered into the kitchen to compliment the cooks, the looks i got were somewhere between bewildered and suspicious (the default setting of a polish lady of a certain age). 

07 December, 2015

welcome to nightvale

our flight to amsterdam went off without a hitch. 7 hours, typically dwarf-sized* leg room, ok food, and an early arrival. we wandered around the city for a couple hours, caught the train to cologne, tried to enjoy the sparkling christmas market around the cathedral but by then were too drained and dispirited by jet lag and a run in with an unscrupulous train official who overcharged us for things. when it came time to get on the overnight train to warsaw we were good and ready for some shut eye. alas, it was not to be...

the overnighter to warsaw had, by far, the most comfortable seats of any of our modes of transportation, including actual leg room for people with actual human sized legs, seats that reclined in a way that wasn't merely frustratingly perfunctory but actually fairly close to horizontal, and a width that allowed for untucking the elbows from their chicken-like position mandated by air travel.  in a word: perfection.

unfortunately, the train also came with a drunk, high, exceedingly chatty, enthusiastically friendly, highly philosophical, and really loud dude, who immediately took a major liking to mr. monkey and promptly changed seats so he could more comfortably regale us with tales of his drug use and transport, theft techniques, and various family dysfunctions. it would have been entertaining for about 15 minutes had we not been on the road for well over 24 hours at that point; as it was, except for moments of peace when he went out for a smoke or a drink, it was exhausting. mr. monkey, never great on the instinct of self preservation front, failed to adequately feign sleep. worse still, he gave dude the sort of verbal cues normally missing from any conversations with me, i.e. "really?", "huh!", "he did what?" etc. which kept the conversation flowing. i managed to sleep a bit, but not nearly as much as i needed to.

eventually i did fall asleep until the train stopped for a longish time to get cars detached, attached, and otherwise seen to. i woke up, saw that we were in a big shiny station that looked like an american mall, saw that it was berlin, and promptly fell asleep again. 20 minutes later i woke up at another lengthy stop, looked outside and saw it was berlin-wiener-schnitzel. several small stations later, came another stop: berlin-schlauch-und-scheiße. feeling like we'd passed into an alternate universe that was all berlin all the time, i woke up for reals and started checking out the names of places we passed. berlin-schaf-wurst followed. then berlin schadenfreude. then berlin-schmutzig-löffel. then the train kept moving for so long that i fell asleep, secure in the knowledge that berlin was now gone for good. surely an hour later, awake again at a large station, i turned to mr. monkey and jokingly said, i wonder if we're still in berlin, ha ha, turned my head to look outside and saw a huge sign: berlin lichtenberg**. this was enough to shake my equilibrium so much that i fell asleep again - after all, if we were in the twilight zone, i may as well be rested.

we made it out in one piece, got rid of our travel companion (he got off 3 hours before us, assuring us at least a tiny bit of peace and quiet), had breakfast in the dining car, and arrived at our destination. we've been giving away furniture and things at breakneck speeds, seeing and being seen by friends and distant family, sorting the belongings of the dead, facing our own mortality and eastern european plumbing. i feel i may make it out alive.




*whatever the politically correct terminology is these days. short people? little folk? i really don't mean to be offensive, so let's just assume i'm talking about the dwarves of fantasy. ya know: can't tell the men from the women, great love of gold, really handy with an axe, huge beards, ok? ok.

** if you haven't already guessed, only this last name is a real and actual place. the rest i may or may not have made up. after all, i don't really speak german.

03 December, 2015

this is how much i adore travel:

while wiping the biggest gunk off the fridge shelving so that d and crusty juggler won't think i'm gross when they come to stay:

moi: (wistfully) if you went to poland by yourself, i could stay home and clean the fridge...

no word of a lie - if it turned out i couldn't go for some reason, i would clean the fridge and i'd really really enjoy it.

02 December, 2015

alligator tears (for greater zoological and geographical accuracy)

as you well know, mr. monkey and i are heading to poland tomorrow to deal with his aunt's estate. this morning i posted several ads in an online forum - most of the items i posted are free. within literally 2 minutes i had 20 responses. i left the house to run errands and when i came back there were nearly 90 messages, and they continue to trickle in while i write this.

as i went through the messages and answered them one by one, the stress and anxiety i'd been feeling for the last couple of days decided to take the emotional route as my imagination filled in the stories of all these people who were desperately interested in free furniture. before long, i was crying onto the keyboard. oh fuck, in my next life, i'd like to come back as someone who will actually DO something to help mankind, or else not give a shit. this in-between state i find myself in is as useless as it is painful.

meditation (and medication) or not, right now i'm feeling that we're not a very great species and all these tales of hardship and woe, all this unalleviated poverty, all this illness and damage, all these wars and shootings and terrorist attacks are making me ill.


UPDATE: last count, i had well over 300 responses to my ads. america's leaders, in the meantime, are praying and keeping victims of gun violence in their thoughts - very VERY useful.

27 November, 2015

bring on the plague of locusts!

i may (or may not) have mentioned that for the past innumerable months mr. monkey's been hanging out at the junk yard, taking apart broken volvobeastes, taking out their useful bits, and putting these volvobeaste bits into our own forever-ailing volvobeaste. my own wee toyota is the overachieving child in this family - so routinely coming home with gold stars and straight A's that we pay only enough attention to it to make sure it's fed (gas), watered (oil change) and shod in seasonally appropriate attire (winter tires). the volvobeaste, on the other hand, despite our high expectations due to its impressive swedish pedigree is so far knocking up girls, doing drugs, beating up kids, bullying little old ladies, and talking back. of course, that is the car that gets all of mr. monkey's love and attention. after many many weekends spent under the hood, he finally fixed the thingamajiggledy whatsitator that caused the car to not run since the summer. he was so proud. i was so proud of him! not everybody can singlehandedly fix a thingamajiggledy whatsitator! it takes both skill and patience, both of which mr. monkey has in spades. so that was good! i got my wee car back, and mr. monkey got to drive his beloved volvobeaste again.

monday morning the car stalled somewhere en route to work and he had it towed to my cousin's place where he left it until he could figure shit out. he was cranky but thought he could, once again, fix this latest volvobeaste mess. he bought a gallon of doomaflickey anti-enbubblification fluid, poured it into the appropriate doomaflickey anti-enbubblification fluid orifice, and lo and behold! the volvobeaste roared to life again. i walked over to my cousin's today to pick it up. it started, it drove, then it got a little wobbly though i blamed my own lack of experience driving it, and then, pretty much in the middle of a busy intersection, it gave up the ghost. again.

between this, mr. monkey's reluctance to pay a mechanic to fix it in a nice tight amount of time*, the fact that the crown came off my implant last night and i needed to get to the dentist ASAP, the upcoming trip to poland, and the logistics of the move to the US, i think i'm going to make myself a cup of hot cocoa, wrap myself in a blanket, and watch a show. i officially give up.


*more of a point of pride and ambition than finances, i'm sure.

25 November, 2015

rocking it like zaphod beeblebrox

since we received our shipping out date (11 january! that's in, like, 5 minutes, y'all!), i've been vociferously vacillating between a sense of excitement and a sense of dread. the end result is a sort of floaty numbness that's making it possible for me to get (some) shit done, i suppose.

the fact that my fabulous roommate and his wife will be our neighbours is wonderful. the many places we can see and do in the area is fantastic. the barbecued animal bits that make up a large part of local cuisine, along with real mexican food, cajun, crawfish, and nearby seafood is the bomb. as is the warmth. and the greenery.

but then there's the other side. when i think that d and crusty juggler are moving back to edmonton this summer, that sanity salad is even now looking for work here, that all my people are here, nearby, walking distance mostly! well, then the sadness hits. or not sadness. i don't even know what to call it because i think it's an emotion currently mediated by medication and shock, so it's more of a wide-eyed bewilderment.

and then i think: life! it's an adventure! let's be adventurous! and see new things! and i'm fine.

and then i think: life! it's all about your friends and family! and you're leaving them behind! and i'm not fine.

i suppose given my commitment to trying to work with rather than against reality, the fact that mr. monkey has to move there means that if anything, it's the positive side that i tend to focus on. why dwell on the sadness of something i cannot change? after all, they will visit, those lovelies; i know they will. many have visited us before as we made our nomadic way around north america, and they will do it again. but every once in a while, it just hits me and i sit there for a bit, feeling slightly shellshocked and confused.

at this point, i just want it to move forward. get this highly inconvenient poland trip out of the way, enjoy my days in amsterdam, come home, visit with d and crusty over the holidays, and relax into the sweetness of my life here, and then move and try to create a sweetness over there. it will be a different flavour, but i know that it can be done. and it will be an adventure!

24 November, 2015

leftie loosie, rightie tightie

our financial advisor (and yes, i do throw up a little in my mouth when i write that, thanks for asking!) doesn't get it. he talks to us as though we are firmly on his side politically, which couldn't be farther from the truth. he's a young guy, but he actually ran for the provincial wildrose party in the last election, a party that is the albertan version of the american tea party, and just as willing to stick its racist, homophobic, uber-conservative foot in its mouth. i had to put on my best polite laura bush smile when he proudly informed us of this:


thing is, he must assume that because of our financial situation we're as right-wing as he is, and because both alberta and canada recently voted overwhelmingly* in favour of returning to our traditional leftist tendencies, he insists on making idiotic negative comments about the new government, thus forcing me to continue to:


i have made subtle comments. i have made less subtle comments. today, when i left his office, i went so far as to mention the high quality of alberta's solar power that has been sadly underutilised but that offers a viable alternative to the oil sands. if that doesn't convince him of my leftie pinko hippie commie tendencies, then nothing will. if, however, that doesn't work, i'm not worried. by now, i'm really, really good at this:



and let's be honest: it's likely to do me good when politics comes up in texas!


*well, as overwhelmingly as our stupid political system allows where 33% translates to a majority, but i shan't bore you.

21 November, 2015

dirty

mr. monkey and i were working on a piece of translation for someone (long story, makes me stabby, let's not get into it) and when we finished he asked me to check the email he was sending to this person. when i sat down at his computer (gmail), i had to teach him about the hangouts  chat box on the sidebar, and it was then i noticed he has 655 unread emails.

moi: how can you do that? how can you have so many unread emails?!!

mr. m: (defensively) i don't spend every waking hour on social media!

moi: but it's disgusting!

mr. m: not really.

moi: yes! it's a matter of hygiene!

mr. m: well then, i guess i'm filthy!

moi: yes! you have a filthy inbox!


I AM NOT A ROBOT....or am i?

in the last few months, the usual captcha images that allow you to comment on blogs have changed from the irritatingly illegible wavy writing that one had to decipher, through fuzzy photos of numbers and letters, to a glorious return to the games of our youth, namely "one of these things is not like the others."  the new captcha  shows a series of images and asks you to pick all the things that match the top image, say a cat, or a stack of pancakes, and such is my paranoia, based on my previous inability to decipher the writing, that i second guess myself about whether or not i know WHAT A TURKEY IS and how it differs from a giraffe or something. i narrow my eyes suspiciously and look for a trick. perhaps it's not really a turkey; perhaps it's all animals that start with the letter T in a germanic language. or maybe what i think is pancakes is actually an interesting rock in a national park and instead of breakfast foods i ought to be looking for geological formations. or what if...well, you get the idea.

part of the problem is that i am also asked on a daily basis by a computer to state unequivocally that i am not a robot, which is all kinds of judgy (what if i AM a robot! can't a robot comment on a blog?!) and is not something that i know how to deal with. it's messing with my sense of identity and shaking my faith in a common reality.

now i know what you're all going to tell me. you're going to tell me to dip into the cistern of calm and stop overthinking things because sometimes a pancake is just a fucking pancake, innit?

20 November, 2015

self improvement classes for billy goats and meerkats


it’s worrying how much i had on my to do list following quitting my job and how little i actually accomplished. yoga? nope.  exercise in general? nope. printmaking classes? nope. art in general? nope. finishing my weaving? nope. i suppose i should focus on what i did accomplish: meditation, a whopping 10 days’ worth!  and it seems that i've finally been able to curtail my panic at the passage of time. after all, other than attempting to be mindful of life’s small steps, it makes little sense to wail at its speed (à la my mother in law). wailing at anything, at this point, seems stupid, wasteful. i like the woman, but hate her attitude of “oyoyoy! that's how people are - awful!” or “time is passing by so fast! oh my!” none of which is even remotely useful, other than encouraging a sense of panic and malaise, and hells, my hormones do that just fine on their own and hardly need any help from me. 

in my experience, while there are awful people, people as a rule aren’t awful. time passes how it passes. shit happens but good happens too. if anything, i am noticing a more balanced attitude in myself. oh hell, not always and not fully, not to sound smug and superior, but i think i’m getting better at it. i see the passage of time in my weekly pillbox, and when i have to refill it, seemingly mere minutes after i’ve just filled it last, that's when i sense the surge of panic at the gates, but i’ve been managing to keep it at bay, and fairly fully, too. once again, pounding your fists on the stone wall of reality is idiotic - might as well be angry that the sky is blue. what i'm finding the most surprising in this whole journey is that much of how we react to life's slings and arrows is actually within our control. what a strange and ultimately freeing revelation, though once easily lost amidst the turmoil of, say, the rush hour drive. 

so what am i getting at? just this and that. thinking about the good i've learned of late. thinking about the gratitude i feel that the daily meditation seems to have punctured the out-of-control anger i'd been feeling earlier. i suppose i'm surprised at the sense of pride i feel for all that i've accomplished, even though none of it is materially significant or possibly even noticeable. who knows, my friends and family might look at me and think, man, she's still the same spastic, overly emotional person she's always been and not see that buddha-like inner me smiling at life's vicissitudes. i never said the change was big (or even noticeable) but it's meaningful to me, and i suppose that's what matters in the end. 

over and out, dear poultries. thank you for your patience. 

18 November, 2015

cognition? what cognition?!

today, over breakfast with a new acquaintance, i forgot how old i am. not the forgivable lapse that usually takes place a month or two after one's birthday but a serious confusion that had me adding and subtracting* my birth year (thank god i still remember that) and the current year (that bastard keeps changing, but so far i'm keeping up). i blame the fact that last year i was 42, a number deeply imbued with meaning. 43, on the other hand, well, that's just the number that comes after 42. 43 isn't bad as far as my synesthesia goes but it comes across as a bit anticlimactic. still, i ought to know my own age, non?


* god knows, nothing good has ever come of that.


spray paint visions

because i'm unemployed and miss feeling useful i volunteered to refinish the furniture in our building's common room. the furniture is ancient and as solid as it is ugly, and because we're trying to be economical in our actions, it was decided* that repainting was preferable to either large expenditures or continued ugliness.

now lest you get inaccurate (though highly complimentary) visions of me meticulously stripping the varnish, painstakingly sanding the nooks and crannies, and then lovingly applying a homemade mixture of beeswax and lemon juice to allow the beauty of the wood to shine through, stop right there - one word: spray paint. ok, that's two words, but having huffed roughly 37.2% of four cans of metallic spray paint in a work room with less than existing stellar ventilation, i'm just glad i still know how to type. or blink. or breathe. for a while there it was touch and go but i rallied.

spray-painting furniture is quite fun, especially since the wonders of modern chemistry allow you to dispense with the dull bits like thorough washing or sanding and go straight to the meat of the matter: watching an ugly behemoth of a side table get magically transformed into an almost handsome piece of furniture is a great pleasure. granted, getting high on all the lovely VOCs might have increased the perception of delight  but who am i to argue with nature science fate?



*i love the impersonal feel of this sentence, as though stone tablets proclaiming this decision appeared suddenly in the common room or the lobby couch spake with the voice of angels. alas, it was merely the condo board of directors, which, come to think of it, also sounds far more ominous than it actually is. after all, mr. monkey's on the board, and his ominousity quotient is nothing to brag about.

17 November, 2015

that brain thing

i've been meditating for 9 days now. i don't know if it's helping (helping what, exactly?) but maybe? i seem to have discovered an access, a shortcut if you will, to a cistern of calm. i sometimes forget to actually dip into it, but there've been times when i have and it seems that with meditation it gets closer, easier to access. apparently science is all on board, and if science is on board then who am i to argue?

baby steps towards enlightenment sadly count for little plot-wise, but there you have it: a short update about my adventures in getting my brain into a better place (metaphorically speaking - literally speaking, all other things being equal, i'd sort of prefer that it stick around in its current location).

05 November, 2015

wrong word

there are words out there that have clearly missed the mark:

"crampon" for instance, is immediately recognizable as the linguistic offspring of cramps and tampon and, rather than helping you climb mountains, looks like something that would much prefer you to lie  quietly on the couch with a hot water bottle and a nice cup of tea instead.

"mentor" is sneaky - it hides one of its unpleasant prefixes ("de-" or "tor-") and stands casually in front of a nondescript white van, offering to help. all i'm gonna say is, DON'T DO IT! DON'T GET IN! it'll end very very badly.

"gastrique," seen recently in food blogs and finer restaurants, is meant to tempt your taste buds. unfortunately, instead of caramelised-sugar-based sweet and sour sauce, it clearly evokes the stuff you bring up once you've emptied your stomach contents but the heaves won't stop.


01 November, 2015

like, whatever, man

i've been having a hell of a time lately being kind to people close to me. oh, i think i manage for the most part (though my track record with mr. monkey's been pretty shitty of late, and my mother's two week visit pushed me to the limit) but it's hard work. i feel like my default setting in recent weeks is to snap, to growl, to roll my eyes, and to get immediately annoyed at bloody everything. that seething anger one gets behind the wheel of a car in rush hour traffic is the feeling i've been experiencing a lot. i'm mad about so many things, some of which are tiny and some of which are large, but my anger seems fairly democratic in its approach. so, without further ado, here is a list of things i am currently angry about (varying levels of rationality, randomly laid out for your reading pleasure):

1. plastic storage containers - when you bring me food in a plastic container i will eat the food, wash the container, and then RETURN IT TO YOU BECAUSE IT IS YOURS. apparently this is a little too complicated a concept for some people, as a result of which, i am constantly buying new ones. or asking for them back. because it's HARD to return someone else's shit. this makes me stabby. very, very, VERY stabby. i am also aware of how petty this is, which doesn't help at all.

2. RSVP - when i send out an invitation (and crusty juggler will attest to the fact that i put a lot of time and effort into my invitations), i expect people to RSVP.  they don't. because they're busy. they're apparently too busy to press a button attached to an email, choosing one of 3 options (yes, no, maybe), which takes a whole 5 seconds to do. let's be generous and round it waaaaay the hell up to a minute to allow for checking one's calendar. perhaps it's because people don't know what the letters mean. FYI (though, as far as i'm aware, none of my readers have ever done this to me) it means: répondez s'il vous plaît, which, in the language of our lord jesus, means respond to this invitation, for the love of god, so the hostess can ensure an adequate amount of snacks, drinks, and seating. with a hearty emphasis on respond.

4. my "career" - so i changed careers, went off to school, blah blah, yadda yadda, y'all've been around for that particular ride. then i got my dream job. then i quit my dream job because it turned out i was working with a bully. fine. shit happens. that should have turned me off that particular job. and it did. but there was an underlying disenchantment with my profession as a whole. an unhappiness that was reiterated each time i went to yet another inspirational talk/conference/symposium/lecture about things that were exciting, good, evidence-based, clearly superior, that WE WERE NOT IMPLEMENTING BECAUSE. because the transportation department. because the engineers. because the developers. because the public. because the businesses. because bureaucracy. because FUCK YOU.

so here's my response - screw you, north america, if you want to continue building strip malls, overpasses, multi-lane highways, cul-de-sacs, big box stores, and profoundly uninspired beige subdivisions that are responsible for mental illness, loneliness, obesity, and death: fuck. you. i'm done. i was told once that my kind of passion was needed to make a change, but ha ha, turns out that my kind of passion is no match for the institutionalised inertia, short-sightedness, greed, and conservatism that characterises this business. screw evidence-based decision-making. screw building a great public realm. why do all that (and hell, it's not even news! most european cities have that shit covered!) when you can breed a populace that thinks it's ok to drive 45 minutes to a poorly-lit mammoth grocery complex to buy flavourless vegetables from china and a 6lb bag of cheezie-whatsits, along with a gallon of antibiotic-infused milk that tastes like nothing that ever came anywhere near a cow (because ewww!); a populace that lives in their navigators and escalades and other obscene gas guzzling monstrosities because it's their fucking human right to have the biggest car on the road; a populace that sees taxes as evil as opposed to membership dues for society; a populace that is fat and sullen and angry and lost but fears any kind of change.

if my last 3 weeks have taught me anything, it's that if someone offered me a job putting together ikea cabinets at a decent wage, i'd take it. and flip a bird to "urban planning." which, of course, makes me angry, considering how this was supposed to be my thing. my path. my fucking shiny unicorn farm.

5. basic grammar - i listen to public radio (big surprise there) and am appalled all too often of late. if i wanted to hear someone pepper their speech with "like" and "sorta" i'd go hang out at the local high school or listen to a commercial radio station. hearing public radio reporters or even the allegedly intelligent researchers being interviewed sound like pimply 14 year olds makes me despair for humanity. i realise that intellectual snobbism isn't really fashionable, but why in hell can't public radio be a bastion of sense? thank god the bbc still retains its standards...for now - i have yet to hear vocal fry, "like sorta," or that recently fashionable little girl voice on that network, but that day is coming, i'm sure. because elitism...

6. my body - each morning the joints in my fingers are stiff and painful. the arthritic big right toe hurts pretty much all the time. the place where i squashed the top of my hand with my bed 3 months ago is getting worse not better. my back is sore. my head hurts. i feel like an 80 year old. the doctor tells me i'm fine. i beg to differ, and want something to be done. but what can be done when blood work, bone scans, x-rays and other such methodologies yield no useful results? i've got a way to go to 80 yet, and i'd prefer it if it didn't feel like this.

7. my ideals - i'm pretty much ready to toss those useless things aside, as evidenced by my enthusiastic embrace of our plan to move to texas, where i will live in a large suburban home, with a front-facing garage, likely on a cul-de-sac, too far to reasonably walk to anything useful, and as far from the "densely populated urban centre" of which i'm such a fan, as possible. hell, maybe i'll even buy an escalade, and shop at costco for 20 gallon jars of mayonnaise.

8. my anger - it's exhausting. it's exhausting fighting it; it's just as exhausting feeding it. i'm tired of this and am considering doubling up my horse tranquilizers or giving myself a lovely artisanal DIY lobotomy - after all, if you've got nothing nice to say then perhaps sitting in a corner drooling quietly to myself isn't really a bad option.

29 October, 2015

sisyphus

my life for the past 3 weeks has been like a sisyphean nightmare, except with ikea cabinets taking the part of the boulder. i've put together roughly 7,432 kitchen cabinets, 691 storage units, and endless doors and drawers. just when i thought it was over (as recently as yesterday!) it turns out that the kitchen that we had measured with rigorous exactitude, has wiggled itself within the space time continuum and made room for three more cabinets. which i went and bought today. which i will be putting together tonight. because there's little on this planet as exciting as putting together ikea cabinets with a head cold.

ok, i'm being a trifle dramatic - i actually don't mind the labour, back-breaking though it may be, as it gives me a sense of purpose that unemployment fails to. it's also kind of fun: i'm agog at the sheer genius of ikea cabinets - there is quite literally only one way to put them together, so they are foolproof. which doesn't mean you don't have to go back and unscrew a couple screws and then rescrew them in their proper location, but still, it's like a jigsaw puzzle where the final result is a piece of furniture. with top of the line internal mechanisms (i'm told).

but there comes a time when feeling useful and gazing admiringly at one's screwdriver callouses gets old, and that time is now upon us. alas, i must go. my allen key awaits!


21 October, 2015

the wrong colour

several nights now, i've lied in bed craving escape, craving the wooliness of benzodiazapines or chemical fuzziness of anything else because i'm unhappy with the colour of the world. there's something off, just ever so slightly, that makes me wish for vaseline on the camera lens. i'm not sure what it is, but there it is: a new flavour of unhappiness. i hesitate before i even write that last word because it's not as serious as all that: unhappiness has a deep portentous sound, and having been there before i can honestly say i'm not there now - this is different, lighter and temporary feeling and very very odd.

i'm fine during the day. my mom's two week visit is drawing to a close and aside from a heated argument at its very beginning  it's gone well. exhausting, but well - we've gone in and out of home improvement stores, IKEA, other home improvement stores, IKEA again, still more home improvement stores, tile shops, IKEA, plumbing supplies, and IKEA. we put together a whole IKEA kitchen by ourselves, and washed and re-washed freshly laid, and then again, freshly grouted tiles. we've bought paint, carried boxes, organized the removal of old appliances, and shopped for new ones. each evening we come home, sit on the couch and sigh with exhaustion. then each night i go to bed and find myself dissatisfied with the colour of the world i'm in.

wine doesn't seem to help nor do i want it. i am not drawn to it, and so i pass for the most part. and each night i am unhappy because...well, why? i can't quite pinpoint it, but when i look at the evidence (and i should look at the evidence, being a fan of evidence-based decision-making in politics at least), i think it could be something simple. it could be something as simple as leaving my hidden introverted half utterly starved of late. a guest with whom i spend all day, family dropping in, babysitting children, weekends in the mountains with family, more family dropping in... the constant and relentless pressure, on top of a summer that felt particularly overwhelming socially for some reason, is bound to have some effect, isn't it? and the effect it seems to be having is making me dislike the colour of the world late at night, and looking for some chemical way to change it back to normal.

right now, i feel weighed down by guilt for not wanting to spend more time with the kids, for not wanting to spend more time with anyone, for not wanting little people to jump on my couch or touch my stuff, for not inviting the family over more often, for not being a perfect hostess, for not keeping the bathroom shiny for my guest, for not wanting to chat in the morning at all but to be left alone to read the news. i feel like all i want is to be alone. i feel too tired of being a daughter to be a good daughter. i feel too tired of being a wife to be a good wife. i feel too tired of being a human being who owes other human beings parts of herself to be a good human being. if i'm alone, i don't owe anybody anything.


09 October, 2015

good job, princess!

i've spent the better part of my adult life judging people for their parenting choices. i've made fun of and despised the whole self-esteem movement wherein children are indoctrinated into a cult of their own greatness, regardless of skills, circumstances, or reality. well done, they're told when they finish last in a race. good job for only hitting their little brother three times instead of the usual sixteen. you're so artistic, this to the toddler that's just decorated the bathroom with her poop. you'r so smart, here's an A+, from teachers, professors, educators of all kinds. you're a princess and can be anything you want. this is not the way i was raised. as i've said before, i've held it as a badge of honour that when i came home with a 98% exam, i was always asked why i didn't get 100%.

i'm rethinking my stance. perhaps the little darlings raised this way are absolutely horrid to be around (hello, grad school!), and their expectations irrational, but you know what? they're horrible to others. i'm sure they love themselves plenty (after all, why wouldn't they? they're so fucking special!) and at the end of the day, it's yourself that you spend the majority of your life with. so what if you're a dick - if you think you're awesome, you're likely a dick who's much happier than i am.

henceforth, i shall attempt to love myself unconditionally. so if you see me walking down the street giving myself pats on the back, high fives, enthusiastic self-esteem building exercises, and excessive praise, know that i'm just trying to get over my childhood which attempted to make me grow up to be smart, useful and kind...to others. it's time i tried some of that kindness on myself.

good girl!

08 October, 2015

when you gotta go, you gotta go

yesterday i woke up super early, showered, dressed, drank a litre of water, held on to my pee as best as i could, went to leave the house, and realised that the lab visit wasn't yesterday, it was today, so i peed and went back to bed.

this morning, i woke up super early, skipped the shower, dressed, drank a litre of water, held on to my pee as best as i could, and am about to head off to the lab.

funny how many things we do instinctively, without a thought. several times already i have gone into the bathroom (to brush my teeth, wash my face, pick something up) and each time i'm this close to taking a pee because one generally does that sans thought.

à propos: what is the geneva convention stance on this? drinking a litre of water on an empty stomach and then holding it for more than an hour seems to me a rather cruel and unusual punishment.

05 October, 2015

renovations for the damned

my parents will eventually be moving back here and in preparation, my cousin is renovating their rental flat. my job in their absence is to coordinate with my mom regarding finishing choices: tiles, shower heads, shower cabins, all of the things my cousin needs now, as opposed to those that can wait until my mom arrives later this week. today i embarked on a quest for tiles, and lo, it illuminated the very clear limits to verbal communication: describing the EXACT amount of beige in what is being marketed as grey is rather difficult on the phone. questions like how dark is it? are similarly problematic. there isn't a scientifically accurate scale of greyness, beigeness, and darkness that one can carry in one's purse. i mean, sure, i could have RGB'd or CMYK'd the fuck out of those tiles, but i sort of lacked the technology then and there. so instead i used vague and less-than-satisfactory words to describe the tiles. eventually, having extracted a promise that my choice would not result in any unpleasantness if it were less than perfect, i bought a pile of tiles.

i grabbed a heavy duty home depot cart typically used to haul unwieldy things (sides of beef, dead moose, giant pumpkins come to mind) and pushed/pulled its reluctant metallic bulk to the flooring section. it exhibited the type of orneriness one usually expects from a shopping cart, but which, coming from a conveyance of this size, became rather more problematic. when i got to the tiles i began the nigh impossible search for help. a small wizened old man told me he couldn't handle the weight of the tile bundles (no! he could not!) but his attempt to rope in a muscular young buck failed, and he came back with a man of only slightly less advanced age but a much more positive attitude. this fine gentleman piled seven heavy boxes of tiles on the cart and off i went.

by off i went, i mean i used my entire body strength to push the protesting cart which, to add insult to injury, emitted the sort of noise one associates with a particularly inept abattoir or the less pleasant regions of hell  - it screeched and howled so loudly that every single person in my path looked at me in shock, horror, and/or merriment and promptly got out of my way. covered in a thin sheen of sweat and feeling as unladylike as i had all day (what?! sometimes i feel a little ladylike!), i arrived at the cashier who began scanning each box individually. i was about to roll my eyes at this when she discovered that one box was not like the others. naturally, the impostor was right at the very bottom of the pile, because where else would it be?

i managed to turn the cart around (accompanied by more screeching and metallic yodelling) and retraced my loud and laborious steps to the flooring section which was now as bereft of staff as it is possible to be in a pre-apocalyptic world. giving up on extracting the wrong box, i simply grabbed another correct box and hefted it onto the pile. then one more graceful pirouette, and yet another stately procession down the isle. when passing the incredulous ladies at the paint department, i suggested to them that this particular vehicle had outlived its usefulness and ought to be taken out back and shot. they agreed. possibly they couldn't hear me over the shrieks of the damned and merely nodded to make me go away.

i paid, had a young man transport the whole pile of tiles to my wee car and took it to its final resting place.

i came home utterly exhausted. and possibly slightly more deaf.

benzodiazepines

you're lying in bed and it's very late and you realise that the dis-ease you feel, while initially mild, soon threatens to permanently take away your sleep for the night. you're in the sharp and pointy arms of anxiety caused by any number of things, big and small, each of them projecting an almost physical sense of discomfort like experimental electrodes in your brain shooting impulses and shocks. you very quickly realise that if you are to get any sleep you need to go for pharmaceutical help. you get up and find your magical bottle of lorazepam.

you take the pill, wash it down with water and go back to bed, vowing to stay awake to watch it take effect. you lie there and think of the things whose sharp edges are even now intruding into your peace of mind. the move south is a big one - so many things to take care of. so many pieces of information to gather and weave into a whole. your inability to have a meaningful conversation with mr. monkey on the topic of the move (it weaves from exasperation at your wanting to know more to frustration with your lack of progress in finding detailed information on all aspects of the move, both fuelled, i'm fairly certain, by his exasperation with your continued unemployment. all this he would deny.) does not make the process easier.

the fact that your mother is coming in less than a week contributes a rather significant sense of discomfort. you love your mother, but the passive-aggressive melodrama that accompanied you merely asking her for the dates of her trip doesn't make you feel particularly calm about things. you are already angry and resentful and trying really really hard to actively use buddhist philosophy to calm yourself down and realising the absurdity of it. things aren't helped by the fact that you spent the day with your aunt and you told her all your mother-related problems, which made her floodgates open on her sister-related problems, as a result of which you learned some new things about your mother that you didn't necessarily need to know. and the bitch session only made you feel more anxious, and then guilty for not being loyal to the woman who bore you.

there is the shoe fetishist saga (in another post. once it's over. if it's ever over.) which, under normal circumstances would likely just make you vaguely uncomfortable but now adds another layer of pokiness. you are starting to hate those shoes, but are appreciating the great blog post it will eventually turn into.

there's the renovation your mom will be overseeing when she comes, but which you must oversee in her absence, ensuring satisfactory tiles and whatnots are chosen for the bathroom and the shower head will please everyone. but no pressure!

you lie there and enumerate all the points of discomfort, waiting for the sweet wash of benzodiazepine relief. you open your eyes in the dark and look at the colour-sapped still life on the bedside table and wish someone could capture that in a painting - the lack of colour that is not quite black and white, the fuzziness of edges and outlines, the clear perception of more hiding just out of the range of visibility. it's really rather beautiful.

you lie there and feel the knot relax a bit and you perform the psychological version of poking around to see if it still hurts or if the painkiller is kicking in. somewhere during this time, you finally fall asleep.

the alarm (birds singing on a too-short loop) wakes you. it's in the other room so, fuzzy or no, you need to get up. and now you're up and another day begins.

deeeeeep breath in.

24 September, 2015

self-improvement

i saw a very inspirational TED talk about gratitude. first thing you're to do every morning upon waking is to think of five people you are grateful to/for and express that gratitude in your head. this, before your feet ever touch the ground, is supposed to ground you firmly in positive emotions, feel goodery, and general unicorn fodder. i did it right after the TED talk. and then i never did it again.

my bananologist told me to write 3 pages of stream of consciousness every day when i first wake (i assume this is after i've expressed my gratitude to the special five). i've so far failed at that with an admirable degree of thoroughness.

each time i see my massage therapist he gives me exercises meant to make me feel less like an arthritic octogenarian. i have yet to do even one of those exercises, despite walking out of there with a very firm intention of doing them regularly.

my sports medicine doctor once showed me a simple and quick way of strengthening my core muscles. i did it three times. maybe four.

there are amazing people out there trying to help me get better at being human. they will fail every goddamn time, because i seem to have taken up the call of self improvement once when i started to floss daily all those years ago and apparently that's all that's available to me in terms of internal resources.

i am in the enviable position of having many toddlers available to me for close inspection and study without actually having to keep one in the house and i am appalled at their behaviour - they are tiny little emotionally fucked up sociopaths, a fact both mitigated and exacerbated by their short little attention spans; they are demanding; they have zero concept of time; they get frustrated by the dumbest things; they are terrifyingly egomaniacal; they are often violent; their mercurial charm is equalled only by their malevolence; they are dirty and loud and have those eternally sticky hands (ok, that last point is not really a propos to my subject) watching parents navigating the toddler years is magical and heartwarming, because my own auntly heart is often filled with feelings of loathing, frustration, and intense gratitude for my own child-free life. why am i going on at length about this? because i realised today that parenting toddlers is actually unnervingly similar to my own little journey of self-discovery and self-improvement.

each day the same questions need to be answered; each night, the same demons faced. each week or month the same lessons need to be learned. come to think of it, self-improvement is actually WORSE than raising toddlers, because they, at least, are sponge-like in their brainal area, meaning they learn things quickly. me? not so much. oh hey! you hate your body? i thought we worked this shit out! no? we have to go through this AGAIN? sweet jesus on a pogo stick! why? why? WHYYYYYYY? if i was my own parent on this little journey, i'd have dropped me off at the nearest orphanage and gone off "to buy a pack of smokes" because enough is enough.

but on i trudge, because, as the man says, it's the journey, not the destination. and if you think about it, it's kinda true because what is the destination if not death?

think on that!

23 September, 2015

dum-dee-dum

bananologist told me to write stream-of-consciousness, three pages worth, every morning. leave it unread for a while, see what comes out, but not for public consumption. then later in the day write for an audience like this here blog. we'll see what happens, see what we uncover, see what monsters lurk beneath the cool calm exterior i like to cultivate (yeah, yeah, i know. shut up.)

i spent several hours today scraping the old mould-blackened caulking from around the tub: on my knees, poking, prodding, pulling, scratching, wiping, vacuuming up the silicone bits. a satisfying bit of work, and, as noted by sanity salad, quite reminiscent of my years in the dental field, but far less gross: no blood, no smell, no awareness of picking my way through someone's meals of yesterday (or worse, yesterweek!). i will let it dry, then recaulk it.

i wanted a renovated bathroom (well, the finished product, not the work we'd invariably be doing ourselves) but now that we're moving and renting out the place it makes little sense to sex it up with shiny new tiles and tubs and taps. sexy shiny new caulking will have to do.

a truly boring post, no doubt, lacking juiciness, pithiness, foul language, and/or adventures. no rock'n'roll to speak of and the only mention of sex is in relation to plumbing. my apologies. i'll try to do better, but i make no promises.



18 September, 2015

the forest for the trees

we arrived in houston after dark, picked up the rental car and drove north, windows open to that undefinable smell of the tropics. i spent the week exploring, floating on an inflatable mattress in the world's best roommate's backyard pool, evenings in the hot-tub listening to the cicadas, looking at the stars, relaxing: relaxed, relaxed, relaxed... i feel like my thoughts and feelings are taking a bit of a breather, as they tend to do on occasion, and i enter a sort of slowed down state, a whisper state, a mental hiatus, a glorious fogginess - i may feel a situation should require a particular response but i cannot actually manage one, and so i spent many an hour feeling my body relax into the space around it and thoughts disintegrate into fragments, and i breathed.

you know what? the woodlands is all sorts of things i don't normally like but i like it: it's humid. it's suburban. it's all cul-de-sacs and lack of sidewalks. it's rather obviously well groomed and well off. there are far too many squirrels. but: it's warm. it smells nice. at night the cicadas sing and the geckos come out to feed. there are protected bike paths along pretty much all of the streets allowing me to bike sans fear or helmet. the beach is close enough to drive down for the day. there are so many birds! the people smile and say hi even though they don't know you from adam and might very well be packing heat. rents are so low as to be ridiculous. driving through it feels like driving through a forest of pines and oaks and who doesn't like driving through a forest? 

i came back early so that i could volunteer at a planning conference but there is a whole lot of me that thinks i may not even work as a planner again. i mean, sure, if you offer me a job then i will. but perhaps i just want to write and edit, because that's my favourite thing to do. writing and editing would be just fine. i'm not ambitious. i'm never going to amount to anything spectacular. i'm happy with that. 

at any rate, i did volunteer today: i introduced two speakers, i directed people to a mystery gala location, and then i wandered the gala, ate nibblies, drank drinks, talked to people, and fastidiously avoided talking to the person who made me quit my job. i made one half-hearted attempt to say hi when she was obviously busy talking to someone else, and then i stopped. she never came up to talk to me. i think she knows but what're you gonna do?

then i walked home with my lovely boss who happened to be walking to the office to pick up his car and on the way, tongue loosened by wine and time, i told him the full reason i left, and he told me he knew. i told him i should have been fully honest from the beginning; he told me he should have tried harder to make things better for me. we blame ourselves, not each other, we're both of us right and wrong. it was a good walk. it was a good talk, but in the end, it changes nothing: i'm still not working, and me not working has facilitated our move south, however that may turn out to be. 


08 September, 2015

futura (century gothic light?)

today marked the (entirely self-imposed) day i had to get back to the work of being a productive human. i'm very very VERY tempted to tell you how very productive i actually was today, but, as per my bananologist's recommendations, i'll resist the urge and instead tell you that this thing is happening and i figure since you've been around for quite a while now, you deserve to be told.

august long weekend, mr. monkey and i were walking home along the river after heritage festival - a.k.a. "international dumpling, fritter, and meat-on-a-stick festival"*, and i turned to him and surprised both of us by saying, "ok, let's do it! let's move to texas!"

the idea of moving to texas first came up when mr. monkey got his promotion almost two years ago - his boss and the team are in texas; they expected he'd join them eventually. alas, he had a wife who, at the time, appeared to be in the middle of first grad school and then a respectable and enjoyable career, so that was a no go. turns out (oh, marital communication!!!), for the last few months, mr. monkey has felt increasing pressure to actually make the move: the canadian branch of the company ain't doing as well as it could be, while the texas branch seems to be needing him, and soon, so....well, no brainer, really. we could stay here and be unemployed in tandem, or we could move to a master-planned gated community** rife, granted, with trophy wives drinking white wine spritzers at lunch while fluffing their faux breasts, but also heavily forested and boasting a metric shit-tonne of green spaces. and kayaking. and an hour to the beach. and an hour flight to new orleans. and all the crawfish i can eat (i can eat a lot of crawfish!). and the world's second best roommate mere minutes away (because this is where the silly man moved to right after i finished grad school), and the roommates's adorable wife, crazy joan, available for drinking coolers and talking shit from october till april. so, ya know, not that bad at all!

i fear, just a little bit, that this sudden inexplicable desire to move to the woodlands, tx, is nothing more than a desire to escape what i still sometimes unfairly term my failure to cope***. and, having just spent a week camping with the female littles (oldest little/my goddaughter/my unofficial favourite (shhhh! don't tell!) slept in my tent the whole time and was goddamned ADORABLE!), i realise that what i'm giving up is bloody significant: the opportunity to watch the littles grow on a regular basis - these children, that i had nothing to do with but who have made my heart an inexplicably mushy organ. because, goddamn, sure, i don't want them to come to my house and put their sticky little hands all over my nice stuff but i would fucking take a bullet for them, so that should sorta even things out, non? but yes, seeing them will definitely take a nosedive if we move to texas. and all my people. all those wonderful, glorious, sweet, adorable, beloved members of my tribe. but there are cheap direct flights, so they'd best pack their speedos and come on out. still, sigh....

so there ya go. the news is out. we's movin' to texas! but not until the new year. whoop, whoop!



*seriously, how widespread are those three food groups across the many continents? VERY widespread.

** if there's one thing a planner is viscerally opposed to, it's gated communities: we're all about the public realm, man!

*** i have more than ample evidence that this failure to cope is not mine. why, just today, i ran into another coworker who is heading HRward to discuss evil mistress and the effect she has on her underlings (hint: not good.), so i'm far from alone in this, but still, the immigrant sense of self-esteem is unwilling to just go all american dream and declare the failure entirely external, ya know?