Doors Closed

Friday, December 28, 2012

I spend a great deal of time trying to puzzle through my relationship with Terrance.

On nights like this, when he has called me a selfish and miserable bitch and I follow him to tell him that he has my full attention and what does he need which causes him to tell me through clenched teeth and bulging veins to leave him alone, I wonder why I stay married, why we stay married.

I do not claim to be innocent. I ignored him as he comes moaning into my bedroom, seeking my attention. This is because he does this constantly. He moans, he groans. He tells me that he thinks his chapped lips mean that he has cancer, or that his stomach ache is an ulcer. He interrupts what I am doing to make me look at the cut on his foot, or ask me to put a band-aid on it. While moaning.

This drives me fucking crazy.

Then he stands in front of the television. Like a three year old.

I do not give him the attention he craves so he, like a toddler, amps up his requests for attention.  Then, like a toddler, he storms and rails against me. Unlike a toddler, he knows my soft underbelly and rarely holds back.

He uses the words I use to describe my mother: Narcissistic, self involved, selfish. Why does he fucking put up with me?

The truth is that I don't know.

The other truth is that since 1991 I have been building my walls against his disapproving anger. I insulate against the punishment, the disappointment, the litany of words that describe what I am not for him.

I have deadened my reactions to him because the alternate would be to live on tenterhooks. This state of being is not conducive to attempting any kind of normalcy.

The other mind fuck is that I can no longer tell you if it is him, or if it is me or if it is neither. I have no grasp of what is real in this relationship. I do not trust what I see nor what I feel. I certainly don't trust the person who has told me that I am neurotic and have low self esteem for 21 years. I recently asked him to introduce me to the person he thinks he is married to since I have no idea who this person might be. She doesn't look like the person I know internally.

Goodness knows that the person he presents to the world in no way resembles the man with whom I live.

So many of these doors are closed and I have no energy or desire to open them.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Something arrived in the mail last week.

I am not yet ready to write about the murders of children in Connecticut. Suffice it to say that I have cried more than I can quite understand. Emily has been comforting me as I weep. I do not like for her to be my comfort, for it is not her job in the world. That is my job in her world. Yet, those events broke something in me. Perhaps it is because I have loved and taught children just like those children. Perhaps it is because I am now teaching young teachers, just like those teachers.

All I know is that I continue to cry, even now writing this.

Chip off the old Baleful

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The drive home tonight after I pick Emily up after school:

Emily: "Eli asked me if I knew the reason we celebrate Christmas and I said "I dunno - gifts? Trees? Family?" and he said "NO! We celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ!" so I just shrugged and said..."Uhhhhh......OK."

Me: "Was Eli upset?"

Emily: "Yeah, he was getting all stressed about it. Then I started to giggle and he asked me what I thought was so funny so I told him "Easter." That is when he asked me if I knew what Easter was all about then proclaimed "Our savior rising from the Dead!" That is when I said "Do you know what my Mom and I call it?" and he asked me what, so I told him."

Me: "Oh, no......"

Emily: "Zombie Jesus. I thought his head was going to explode he was so angry. I asked Eli if Zombie Jesus needed to eat braaaaiiiiinnnnnssssss and he just didn't think it was funny at all."

Me: "I'm not sure you are going to be invited over to have pizza at Eli's house anymore."


Sunday, December 09, 2012

I had been watching the men working on the lot across from my office for quite a while. There was a house there that suddenly one August day .....was not.

I thought not much more about it. These things, houses and people, come and go. One is best served to not resist the flow of the tide, but rather observe and remember.

I settle into the flow of my days, of classes and students, of new names and faces. I settle Emily into her new routines and smile to myself as she begins to socially blossom. My smart ass sense of humor flows directly through my daughter. This does my heart proud.

By the beginning of December the work men come back to the lot across the street.

I am getting tired, although I dearly love my job and the students.

Later that night, I am leaving my late class. The sun has already set and it is getting cold. I walk towards the parking lot.

I watched the men pour the concrete that day. The tug of longing to stick my finger in the rough, cold cement and make my mark surges up, a remnant of childhood.

I look around. Surely, no one will stop a professor on the way back to her car. It will just look like I dropped something and bent down to retrieve the errant object.  My finger touches the concrete. Still damp and rougher than sandpaper.


My giggle erupts after I finish, snap the picture and walk elegantly back to my car.

I remain incorrigible.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Therapist: So how are you feeling?

Me: Fine.

Therapist: Are you happy?

Me: Happy? What do you mean?

Therapist: Happy. Are you happy?

Me: I don't know. I'm not unhappy.  I don't know if I have ever been happy though.

Therapist: Would you say that you are depressed?

Me: No. I'm not depressed. I know depressed, this isn't depressed.

Therapist: Have you considered the mood stabilizers?

Me: Yes...And No. I read up on them and the side effects are unacceptable. The Pristiq is doing fine at controlling the depression. I'm not adding a mood stabilizer that might make things far worse. Maybe I am just not meant to be happy in the way other people think of happy.


What is happy, my internet friends? Where does satisfaction with some of your life become enough? When does one stop looking for or expecting something that is not meant for you, by virtue of brain chemistry? When does the desire for that something spill over into the unobtainable which keeps you chasing the elusive desire that it might be just over there...just beyond that house, around the corner?

I'm not talking about giving up, but acceptance of how it is?

Is this the midlife crisis? Trying to figure out how to reach some kind equilibrium?


Monday, November 19, 2012

I've mentioned that I really like my job, haven't I? I do. I like teaching and I like the students. I like poking at their brains and hopefully making them think beyond what they know now or what they might assume.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The students are kind and respectful. If I have failed them - as I surely have on some days - they seem to forgive me. Emily visited one class and told me that I am goofy even as a Professor. Utterly NOT shocking, that news.

We are heading for Thanksgiving break and I am glad. I need the break, even the two day break. There is reading to do and lessons to plan. While I am teaching the same three course next term, there are tweaks to make and readings to change. I scan, I make lists, I try to respond to emails promptly.

I tell them that I scaffold.

Inside of me, the mist still remains. In the few quiet times, my tendency towards melancholy returns. I struggle with this part of my being.

I understand with pinpoint precision why I allow work to overtake my life. In work I am engaged. A busy brain means no room for the other parts, the doubts and the sadness.

I wait for that part of me to fade, to return to some hibernation so I can live inside the pleasure of my work, my vocation. 

Sigh of relief

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

We voted in our new home, Wisconsin.

I like to think we helped to tip the balance.

Emily asked me to wake her when the election was called. I just shook her gently and whispered that President Obama had been re-elected. She sighed, "Oh good" , and rolled over and went back to sleep.

Yes, my love. We can both sleep easier tonight.

Skin Flick

Monday, October 29, 2012

Several months ago I made mention that I was now wearing makeup daily.

What I failed to mention was my habitual obsessive need to encompass as much knowledge as humanly possible about all things "makeup" since I had shown an interest in the topic.

In those short months, I have developed a stunning amount of knowledge about makeup and skin care. I actually stunned a Sephora sales girl recently as I waxed poetic about the different types of BB creams, and why I preferred the one I was currently using...although I was interested in trying out a different line once this tube I have runs out.

I went from a makeup a makeup hero in several short weeks.

Of course, I took care of my skin in a cursory way. I washed with the cleanser that my esthetician told me to use, and followed with the toner/moisturizer. I wore sunblock. I added eye cream when I turned 40.

Now? Oh. I have a regime. Care to hear about it? Good, because I want to share.

I've kept my G.M. Collin organique cleanser and moisturizer. It reminds me of Montreal, but I have to have it shipped here. Thank goodness for the internet, I say.

What I have changed is this: Ole Henricksen Truth Serum, day and night. Ole Henricksen ultimate eye lift gel (night only) and Ole Henricksen  invigorating night gel.

This stuff is magic. Pricey - but magic. The products don't smell overpowering and the results are fairly solid. The eye gel was the first part of the line that sold me, with the truth serum and night gel following quickly. Although Terrance says he can't tell any difference and that I am ridiculous for purchasing this, I don't care. My skin looks smoother, my pores are smaller and I think I am looking pretty good. At a faculty function recently, I said something about being 42 and a much younger faculty seemed genuinely shocked at my age.

Then again, it could have been the t shirt and rocket dog skull sneakers.

As for BB creams, primers and eye shadow primer - I am all Too Faced, baby. Again - the stuff works for me. I tried the urban decay primers and ....meh. Not right for my skin. Didn't feel right.

I most likely will try to Dr Jart's BB cream at some point once I get my hands on a decent sample size to give it a few days run. I use an air brush to apply my BB cream, to which I add the tiniest dot of Kat Von D foundation. I do mean the tiniest dot, because the description isn't kidding when it notes that this stuff can and will cover tattoos. On the other hand, it adds a seriously beautiful finish to your skin.

I don't dig Kat Von D, overall, but her makeup is pretty kick ass. I have three of her Tattoo Liners and prefer them to my other liquid liners. Yes, you read that correctly, I only use liquid liner now.

While I do have some Urban decay eyeshadow and will absolutely agree that this is pretty great eyeshadow, my real eye shadow obsession is Concrete Minerals. I am embarrassed to admit that I keep a spreadsheet of which colors I have, including the ones I picked up as limited edition releases.  I was super nervous about using loose mineral eye shadow - However now that I have converted, I can't imagine going back to "regular" eye shadow. Same with liquid liner - I simply can't imagine using a pencil anymore.

Want to guess how many I have? Huh? Huh?
Ok. I have (whisper)....35.

Yes. I wear red eye shadow to work. Lime green, orange - Yes. I wear them all. Fierce heels need fierce eye shadow.

Lipsticks are still being tried and worked through. A friend has spoken highly of the OCC Lip Tar  and I will most likely make a couple of choices to try out in the next month or so. I have a multitude of handmade lip tints and stains that I use as I prefer the staying power of the stains to a lipstick and can not bear to have anything drying on my lips. I layer a balm, then lip tint in layers until the right color is achieved.

So how long does it take to get a PhD? Six years. How long does it take me to learn 40 years worth of makeup and skin care knowledge? 2 months.

*No promotional consideration was received for the mention of these products. No free stuff at all. I bought all this stuff with my own cash. Being the contrary bitch that I am, I most likely would have hated anything I had received for free - being suspicious of companies that want to "influence" me.

*Stop crying, JB, I know how proud you are. 

Except some things, which mean everything

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I found a new massage therapist this week.

The timing was perfect, as are all of these discoveries when I open myself to seeing them. I was achy and sore, my hips were hurting and the miserable twinge in my  left knee had begun to flare.

The knee is a pain I have known before. It flares when I feel powerless, as I seem to hold some kind of energy in an injury I incurred on the night of my 40th birthday party. It wasn't a fear of getting older, of course, but the dawning realization that I had no control over my world and was losing love.

I had tried to ignore the hip and knee pains, telling myself that I was just getting used to wearing heels all the time again. This body is different now. This body pushes back harder when I try to ignore it. This body begins to rob me of sleep.

Sleep is the delicate fulcrum on which my sanity balances. Mess with that and you get my attention quickly.

This massage therapist is not like my beloved Sandra in Montreal. He is a big guy, maybe 270 pounds. I believe he was a biker or may still be one. He has old tats and piercings. He may be the age of my father. Yet, he is good. He warns me that he applies pretty deep pressure and to tell him if I start to hurt.

Hah! You've got no idea what I can take, buddy.

His hands are very different, very big. Yet I still feel the tingle of energy leaping up when he begins. He works on my legs and knee first.

With Sandra, I could feel the energy moving from her hands into my skin. It was a direct transfer. James doesn't transfer as much energy in to me, as he does push my energy around. He knocks down barriers in my body, brushing them out of the way.

As always, I lay on the table listening to my inner reactions, breathing through any discomfort.

Once again, my grief surges through me. This fucking grief that I can't seem to shed surges back every time. My inability to understand why people that I love abandon me, or to adequately defend myself so that I am not in a place to need to understand never fails to push its way to the forefront. My anger at my feelings of dissatisfaction re-emerge, asking me what exactly am I looking for and do I really believe that anything better lies beyond the horizon?

After the massage is finished, he says to me: Your aura is dark.

Yes. I know. 


Thursday, October 11, 2012

The way to make my spouse lose his ability to speak?

My daughter: "What's the KKK?"

Yes folks, someone has dropped the race ball...and that someone isn't me. Now, to be fair...we lived outside of the US between her years of 7 and 14. Canada has a very different history when it comes to race. We didn't have the same sort of conversations because the context was so very different.

Moving back to the state has reminded us that there are some areas in which our child has no deoth of knowledge.

Terrance reacted out of fear yesterday, driving Emily to tears and me to exasperation. He tried to explain that there are people who will hate her for her skin color, and she said "But I'm not black, I'm biracial..."

And his head exploded again.

Later, I tried to explain that to some people her skin color designates her as only black. That those people can't imagine the concept of people being more than one thing at the same time. I tried to find the words to explain that her father wants to protect her and that part of that protection is for her to identify as black.  I had to explain the history of the more favorable treatment of light skinned black people, and the idea of trying to "pass" as white.

At all of these things I feel inadequate. Terrance is angry at Emily' lack of knowledge...yet he does not move to fill in the gaps, opting to lecture me about our failures as parents. When he paused for breath mid-lecture, I interjected: "It is as if you are asking me to teach her what it is to have a penis. I can't do that. I am not qualified to do that. I don't have that base of experience. The best I can do is to tell her what I think  it may be like to have a penis, which isn't the same."

I can't tell her what it is to be black.

Pistachio Pudding

Sunday, September 30, 2012

This past Friday, I was one of a very small amount of faculty in my department who were on campus. The combination of a conference somewhere else and Oktoberfest meant that few people were in the building.

I don't mind this, of course, as I tend to get an inordinate amount of work done. Grading, planning, responding to emails that I failed to return. You know, stuff.

I should have know the day would not go as planned when, at 9 a.m., as I was walking towards the child care at which I was going to be doing a student teaching observation I passed a young man dressed in lederhosen.

Not joke lederhosen, but real, authentic lederhosen. He was not being ironic. Oktoberfest is a really big cultural deal here.

"Oh!", thought I, "There is a young man of about age 19 in lederhosen. Huh."

Then I walked into the child care and began my observation, placing the young gentleman in elk pants out of my mind.

Later that afternoon I sat in my office, grading quizzes. I have one class of mostly sophomores and I am training them to do the reading I assign by giving quizzes based partly on lecture and partly on reading. As I sat in my (truly lovely with large windows) office, one of the maintenance gentlemen stopped by.

I should mention that I have made a concerted effort to say hello to everyone in the building. I am an introvert who disguises this well, knowing the value of appearing as a friendly and reasonable person.  Any of you reading know that this exhausts me - By Wednesday night, I fall asleep between 5:30  and 7 p.m., my internal energy resources entirely burned up.

I am also not a fool. I know how important support staff are in the scheme of "things running smoothly." I've been that support staff. I push myself through the motions of "normal human relations" hoping that I can use my astute observation skills to "learn" how to behave.

I've only just met the maintenance gentleman who has now appeared before me a few days prior. Of course it occurs to me much later that he knows exactly who I am in the way that maintenance people become intimate with the inhabitants of their buildings. He has watched the transformation of my office over weeks as the former inhabitant disappears and I exert my personality through things brought in and arranged. He sees photos and art appear on the walls. He sees what sits in my bookshelf, and what appears, then disappears on my desk. He knows I don't take my work Macbook home and have a "French Baguette" scented candle sitting over on the sideboard.

I lift my eyes and smile when he enters my office. I am recording grades into the computer, saving after each one so the system will remember them. I am careful to check and double check when I do this, fearing the fallability of my short term memory. The late afternoon sun is beginning to stream through the glass.

He sets a metal baking dish on my desk. He explains that there was a pot luck and they have leftovers. He wants to give the few faculty the leftovers.

"It's pistachio pudding.", he explains. "Pistachio is a kind of nut."

Perhaps I looked as if I was unfamiliar with what a pistachio might be and he felt the need to reassure me. In truth, I am well versed in varieties of pistachio. Iranian? Californian? Soaked with Lemon and Salt? I did not share my expertise in things pistachio, however.

"Oh.", I say. "It looks delicious, but I don't have a plate or bowl for you to dish me out some."

The pudding is green and has a cool whip topping. I suspect the bottom is nilla wafer crumbs. It is the type of pudding I have seen several times here at picnics and potlucks. I think of it as a very Midwestern dessert.

His solution is direct. He takes a box which recently housed a desk copy of a book I am considering for use in class next term and rips off the shortest flap. He then slides the cardboard under a section of the pudding and presents it to me.

I sit at my desk, holding a rectangle of cardboard topped with pudding and coolwhip.

I smile. I then do the only acceptable thing I can think to do at that moment. I eat the pudding off of the cardboard. I have no fork or spoon. I simply lift the cardboard to mouth and begin to gracelessly slurp pudding while making sounds of delight.

Later, as I recounted this story to my child and she was doubled over with laughter I remarked:
"If I hadn't just lived that, I may not believe that not only was I offered green pudding on a piece of cardboard - but that I licked it off in front of another human being."

And this, my friends, is how I live now.

Conversation Interruptus

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No. wait. Let me stop you there.

Did you just say to me that you think that Kristen Stewart is a great actress?

You aren't saying this in an ironic manner, correct?

You've seen the same movies as I have, right? The ones in which she exhibits the exact same expression (that of bored indifference or annoyed indifference) in every scene?

Because up to this point, I've really really been liking our conversation and am experiencing a sort of glittery   feeling that I rarely feel with any adult human. One in which I am attempting to seem not goofy and maybe even impressive and mysterious.

If you truly feel this way about the quality of this non-actress then I suspect a deeper character flaw than I may be willing to ultimately forgive.  Bored indifference/disgust in an expression does not equal deep thinker...and it definitely doesn't equate to passion.

What it equates to, overall,  is my desire to punch her in the face and tell her to shut the fvck up.

I also think that it is a testimony of my glittery feeling that I was able to keep my facial expression from going complete "YOU HAVE GOT TO SHITTING ME?!"

The fact that I didn't make the face of utter contempt OR the face in which I am very obviously not saying the words playing through my mind only speaks to how much I was trying to seem normal. Also see glittery feeling.

However, you are WRONG. Badly, terribly wrong about Kristen Stewart. She is a terrible actress.

You are also wrong about the douchiness of St John in the context of Jane Eyre.  He is a douche. You will never convince me otherwise.

*A conversation I should have had six months ago, but instead said nothing. It has bothered me ever since.

Terribly unwitty

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I wish I had some energy to report the news of my life.

Not that there is news at the moment. I seem to be wholly within a sphere of prepping for the next class, grading and meetings. Oh, the meetings. Lots and Lots of meetings.

I quizzed myself this week, matching students names to faces - a task at which I am lousy. I seem to be up to about 80% success, so I feel a bit better about addressing people in class.

Emily is slowly settling in to her routine. She takes the school bus to and from school. I am honestly surprised that Terrance doesn't follow the bus to and from school, as he frets everyday about whether he should drive her to school.

Not I. The bus is fine and she is absolutely all right with taking it.

I fuss at my syllabi, not liking what I wrote a month before I met the students. I fuss at my lectures, not liking what I wrote the night before.

Some nights I get 4 hours of sleep before lectures and others find me passing about at 9:30 p.m.

The rhyme and reason of my life right now is "get through the next class."

First week as a University Professor

Monday, September 10, 2012

Holy Hell, I'm tired.

One week down. I don't think I have failed too spectacularly as of yet. A couple of lectures were a little too long, a couple too short. One thing even went really, really well - better than I expected.

Everyone seems to believe that I know what I am doing, even when I am hearing the small voice in the back of my head yelling at me to throw the glitter bomb and make a run for it.

But Tired? Good gravy. I'm tired.


Monday, September 03, 2012

I had a funny story about thinking I was going blind, only to find that my liquid eyeliner had run into my eye - causing a thin film of black to disperse over the lens.

This caused me to mention that I could no longer see out of one eye. In turn, Terrance went into the store and rather than getting me the 2 buck saline drops I requested came out of the store with some crazy homeopathic eye drops. As he muttered bitterly about 10 dollar eye drops, I attempted to clean out my clouded vision.

There was no immediate success, but I was able to wash enough eyeliner out to get a smallish portion of my eyesight back. By that point, however, I had ruined my eye makeup in totality.

Emily starts school tomorrow. I start school tomorrow. As one might expect, having two anxious ladies in hizzie is a real barrel of laughs.

She worries, I soothe. It is a circle unto itself. This is something I do well, soothing her, reminding her that there is nothing to fear, nothing to worry about.  She still allows me to soothe her, my voice is still able to find the space in her head that calms her.

If all else fails, I make her laugh.
She is soooooo my kid. If you can make us laugh, we can't stay worried or angry.

Sadly, Terrance has never acquired this skill set.

Tomorrow, we both set out on new adventures.

New things to see

Monday, August 27, 2012

 Bits of the landscape are so familiar

Not mountains, but coulee's. Just tall enough to make me feel at ease.
A childhood in Vermont, a young adult hood in New Hampshire. Both rural states.
 The rock here is what throws me. I am accustomed to granite. Marble. Speckled and resolute. Stone of the ice ages.

That is not this rock. This rock is sandstone, crumbly. Full of fossils and older than time memories of riverbeds long gone.
 The smell is familiar.

Hay, not yet cut, at its high summer sweetness.

The cicadas sing constantly.

Swallows dart and weave.

I feel like I am ten years old and sent out to gather cucumbers. Lifting up cool spikey leaves, I find garter snakes staring back at me.

That smell is this smell.

And then I see the absurd.

Two adults, dressed as Thing 1 and Thing 2, biking down the sidewalk.

I giggle and snap a picture.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First I would like to address an unusual search question which brought some unknown person to my blog:

"Why can't women wear stirrup pants?"

Well internet stranger, because no woman has ever looked attractive in stirrup pants, ever, since the beginning of time. Even women who are 5ft10in and weigh 100 pounds do not look good in stirrup pants. That is why women do not do this. We have enough body image shit to deal with, let us not add naturally unflattering pants to the mix, shall we?

So now that I am a PhD and all, what have I been up to? Well..revisions. And more revisions. The damn thing became a fetus that was refusing to vacate. It finally was deposited on August 15th and I was able to breathe a small sigh of relief.

As part of my practice for going back into the workforce, I have taken to attempting to apply makeup every day. In particular, I aim to master the liquid eyeliner.

Yes. I plan to make liquid eyeliner my bitch. 

Here I am after an attempt with green eye shadow which caused Terrance to ask me if I was soliciting for customers. Since I know that he is 1.old and 2. immune to any charm I may possess, I ignore him.

Frankly, we can all agree that I am pretty hot for a lady doctor of 42.

Although I have found myself feeling a bit vain, fretting over the fact that my eyelids don't seem to be as taut as I recall. It isn't that I want to be young....I do not.

I have no need or desire to return to those places. It is simply reacquainting myself with me. 

It is written that we renew ourselves every seven years. Seven years ago, I started this blog.

I lived in New Hampshire next to a lake and was terrified to leave, although I knew it was for the best.

Seven  years later, I return to the United States to move to a part of the country in which I never imagined myself living...let along as a Professor.

I am becoming. Still.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

It must have been around 2:30 last night.

I lay in my bed, my body stretched diagonal across the mattress. The fan spun above me.

I waited for sleep.

My eyes closed.

The yearning hit me so hard I almost began to sob. A vision of my beloved city rose up behind my eyes. I was driving over the Champlain bridge and knowing I was home. The far off landmarks rising up from the St Lawrence.

I did not live there any more. It was no longer my home.

I have a new home now. Or at least a new place to build a home. A nest to feather.

I weave the bittersweet.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Emily went to camp on Sunday. Six days of horseback riding and walking around in 90 degree humidity. Woo Hoo!

Six days in which I can attempt edit, and think of syllabi and start to figure out the classes I will be teaching as of September 2nd.

Six days to re-litter train two obstinate rabbits who have gone all "Attica! Attica!" on me - parsing their protests in urine and the throwing of hay.

On Monday, the phone call came at noon. The message on the answering machine was vague.

"Great", thought I, "the kid has melted down and is sobbing in the office of the camp director, demanding to be sent home."


Emily and I have been taking the Cousera course on Vaccines.

The format is hardly intensive. Listen to a lecture of about 20 minutes, answer some questions at the end. She and I watch the lecture videos together and answer the quiz questions.

She has been interested and attentive in the history of vaccines; how they were made and the diseases they were developed to combat.


When we finally got to speak with the camp director, it was not an issue of homesickness.

"The girls in your daughters cabin opened up the side vent and they think a bat flew out. Since no one can tell if the bat was in the cabin all night, and bat bites are very small.... the Health Department recommends that the girls all receive the vaccine for rabies as a preventative measure."

Come again? 

I might have started to giggle before the death ray glare from Terrance snapped me back to the present.

"Oh my. What a way to start camp...", my voice is sympathetic to this young woman calling us; one of 4 parental groups to whom she has to break this bizarre news.

Terrance glares at me.

The rest of the day is a blur as we talk with public health officials, local doctors, and the camp director. We learn about the "new "rabies vaccine which is only 5 shots over 2 weeks in the shoulder instead of the "old" series of 23-30 shots in the stomach.

I know that Emily knows what I know about rabies. We watched the lecture together, after all. Louis Pasteur worked first on the attenuated version to fight rabies in Paris. It was later that the vaccine available today - the killed virus version - was created. The attenuated version occasionally killed the human subject, but given that rabies without vaccine is 100% fatal? It was a risk worth taking. Even today, rabies is fatal once the vaccination window closes.

I know she knows all this.....

We finally speak with her on the phone. "What do you think,sweetie?", I ask. "Do you see any new red bumps? Do you think you have been bitten?"

She is oddly calm. "Well, I would rather be safe than sorry", she says. "If I have to get the five shots, it's no big deal", she trails off.

Huh? This child flips the frak out with dry heaves at having a blood draw and now she is cool and collected about having 5 shots to prevent rabies?

"Well", she reasoned, "I don't really want to die..."

In the end, we decided to not have her vaccinated and she was all right with that decision.

She never ceases to amaze me.

I think the kid is all right.

Anthill of Madness

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It isn't enough to move across a country, and international border.  No. I have to work on revisions as well.

Yes. The madness. It is upon me.

But I will stop and gorge myself on these treasures for  little while. Emily would tell you that I squealed with delight when I found them yesterday at the library. (You know we found the library within our first week in    residence and presented our selves for cards, right? I mean we have priorities here, people). I had read the first one ages ago, but assumed it hadn't been picked up for more issues. Templesmith, sigh.

I am such an easy date. Truly.

new soil

Friday, July 06, 2012

We are here in a new home.

Five days of driving, five days of no A/C in brutal heat. Five days of packing the rabbits around bags of ice to help keep them alive as we drove and drove.

One day of unpacking in brutal heat, sweat rolling off of us as we carried things and boxes.

Four days of trying to find things in boxes.

Two days of looking for Loki who escaped on the first night we arrived. He returned after the fireworks on July 4th to a much relieved family.

The landscape here is strange to us. We wander stores and I am overwhelmed by choice and colour and LOUDNESS. There is far too much to choose from and it makes me irritable. I don't want a four page menu. I want a menu like I grew accustomed to in Montreal. One page. It is what it is.

People apologize too much. They are all sorry for making us wait. At one restaurant, we three broke into giggles at the waitress. Wait? Oh honey, you don't know from waiting. We had barely sat down when she arrived. ....Wait? Snort. Hardly.

Next week I will go to the University and complete more paperwork, but not yet.

Right now I work on getting my bearings and writing the final edits to the dissertation, dipping my toes into this soil. 


Monday, June 25, 2012

The defence is scheduled for Thursday morning at 9:30. Provided that I do not burst into flames or begin throwing my own feces like an angry monkey, I should be a doctor by about 11 a.m. or so.

The house is a maze of boxes and bags, half packed and overflowing.

 I continue to fill bags for the local goodwill, carting off bits and bobs of my life. I took my Gamecube and N64 systems( with games) to my local Second Cup, where the systems were re-homed. I must face that the odds of my hooking up the N64 to play Conkers Bad Fur Day ( one of the most spectacular games of all time, complete with a squirrel who swears and a Poo monster that throws corn at you) is so remote that I can't justify the movement of the crate across the border.

I wept a bit as I watched my beloved Zelda games depart.

No matter.

Onward, intrepid traveller.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

I saw my massage therapist on Sunday.

I went because I needed comfort, my body felt adrift. I wondered if my medication was lagging, as the sensation felt a little like a depression spike.

I wasn't entirely shocked. I expected that the laser beam focus that got me through the dissertation would crumble and the exhaustion and fear would sweep over me; a tidal wave that had been straining to breach my levies. I was prepared for that.

Yet, it stretched on past week two, into week three. I was snarling and snappish needing no excuse to open my jaws and clamp down on the nearest throat.

I felt lost. Alone on a sea on which I was repeatedly throwing my tow rope into the vast dark water, hoping for it to catch on anything. Exhausting my arms with pulling the rope back, only to futilely cast it out again.

As Sandra put her hands on me, she found the spot deep in my lower back. There was another at the bottom of my shoulder blade, equally sore.

"So tight, my god Dawn. What is this?"

I knew what it was. I always know what it is.

"I don't want to move. Which isn't really true. These years have not been happy ones. I don't Love the place, but I set down roots and then resist pulling them up, even when the roots are in toxic soil. I resist so fiercely that I hurt myself, even as I logically know that it is for the best, that moving is better..."

I trail off, the pain is brutal as my body refuses to release.

"I guard the castle even as it falls down. Even after everyone else leaves, I still remain."

I don't love this personality trait. It has never served me well and I end up brutalized at the end of any transition, even good transitions....long overdue transitions.

Two weeks later, I was back on her table...working through the anger that I had locked in my lower back after another brutal argument with Terrance.

The routine is the same; her hands find the sore and tender spots and I tell her what it is that resides in that part of my body. Anger. Powerlessness. Fear.  She pushes and kneads until my muscles give up the energy of those emotions.

I need to build a new home. I need a home where I am safe. I need a place in which I do not fear constant anger and disappointment radiating from a partner. This house is toxic and it is killing me.

Slowly but surely.

Go Ahead, Judge Me

Thursday, June 07, 2012

These are only the ones in boxes...prepared for transport.

The ones in bags are not shown.

My joy at figuring out the clever way to make parcels of 4 using packing twine did not impress the spouse.

Yet, I care not.

Here is a garter snake who has taken up residence in my side garden. I am delighted to see him and have spent an inordinate amount of time watching him sun himself.

Shoes and snakes. I am so easily amused. 


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Weave yourself around me

In and Out

Ramble your brambles along my length

Decorate me with your foliage

Peek out of my hidden spaces under cool leaves of green

Breathe me in

I wait. Constant in my changeability.

Red riding

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

So I have been working on Red Riding Hood, and despite having some worries, I am intrigued with the progress.

There are many things about this rug which are still unknown to me.

The wolf, for example. I have the roughest of ideas as to the stance, the intimacy of nose to cheek.  I have left space on the side of the cloak for the tail of the wolf to wrap up, curling into the the fabric.

I know the way the cloak should be moving. The swing of the fabric as she turns to the side to listen to what the wolf wants to whisper in her ear.

He is desire. He is lust. He is longing.

I started at the bottom of the cape, building it upward. I was sure that it could be constructed no other way, for the motion moves from the ground..the last edge of the cape swings furthest away.

The ripples of black had to be thick pieces of wool, much thicker than what I normally use to outline my figures.

The reds are lush. I collected these for nearly a year before I started, looking for mottled deep scarlets and burgandy. Pinks, purples and orange tones speckle the wools. A cacophany of Red.  For me.

This cape is my desire. My lust, my longing.  All the things I want, all the things I suspect that lay somewhere just past where I can see.

If I go further into the woods, I might find them.

Maybe, like the fairy tales, I will find only ruin. Another woman fallen.

I build it all into this living palate.

Waiting for the day when my wolf whispers into my ear.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Cooking at the children's museum

If it looks scary, make a scarier face

Gah, Mom.

A very windy day

York Beach Maine

The ghetto binky...before I found one she would really use

Sometimes they don't make proper rain gear small enough

Sleeping Baby, exhausted mommy

I keep trying to write this post, but nothing seems to be flowing. So I will keep it simple.

Happy 14th Birthday my love. You are, by far, the most amazing thing I have ever created.

Also, thank you universe for giving her my sense of humour. If we can laugh, we can make it.

I love you Emily Damali.

*Schmoopa - the pet name that I have called her since birth. She hates when other people hear me call her this, but I don't care. She remains my schmoopa.

Good For her(s)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

So, what do two bestest friends do when they take a road trip to a large city?

I wish I could say that we rocked the hizz-ouse, went bar hopping and stayed up until the breaka-breaka Me.

But I would be lyin.

Instead, this is what they did:

1. They lay in the gi-normous king sized bed - laughing at penis pictures while having room service deliver lunch.

2. They lay in the gi-normous king sized bed - laughing at the weather reporters, as a blizzard engulfed the city in which they were staying. P.S. City of Toronto, you need to calm the fuck down about snow. And get some plows for christ sake.

3. They eventually took a cab to a Moroccan restaurant, where they drank a bottle of wine, ate a HUGE meal, and one of them got up and belly danced (badly) with the professionals. While I will not reveal exactly Who danced, I will share that the non-dancer told the dancer that she looked as if she was trying to do the "chicken" - which was clearly NOT the sensuous writhing the dancer was going for. Ok, I am the dancer.

4. They woke up many hours after falling asleep with no child or husband to poke them.

5. They decided to walk to a feminist sex shop and peruse the goods. There were purchases made. Wink, Wink.

6. They found a shoe museum and walked in, only to be repelled by the Polish Folk music festival occurring inside.

7. After eating a late lunch ( which served the best French onion soup either had ever tasted), they bought copious decedent desserts from a lovely high end bakery. This was to serve as their dinner, in it's entirety.

8. They thought about going for a drink at a bar - until the hostess told them it was a 5 dollar charge to get into the bar, at which point they both laughed at this waifish girl, for there can be no bar awesome enough to pay to enter. Do we look like women who PAY to hang out in bars?

9. They took naps in the middle of the day!

10. They both went out the night before leaving to find gifts for their respective children....because all of the fun Non-mommy time was coming to a close and their progeny expected some kind of tribute to be paid for the alone time granted to them.

A draft post from February 2009. 

Happy Returns of the Day

Sunday, May 13, 2012

There is an uncommon stillness in my life at present. An in between time of waiting, and preparing for something which is both known and hidden. 

I turned 42 a couple of weeks ago. I am never sure how to feel about my birthday's...not because I have any ill feeling about getting older, but simply because it often seems overdone to me. All the fuss about the one day.
I don't mourn any loss of youth, since I never felt young. I am curious about the next part of my life to come, though. I suspect that it will be nothing like I imagine since that is always the case. I do not know if Terrance will continue to be a part of it, at least as my partner. He is always Emily's father and his steadfastness is a wonder to behold, particularly to a girl whose biological father ran at the first chance he got.

The dissertation gift rug is given away. I love it more than I realized, partly for the absolute way that it emerged from my hands. I look at the rug and it pretty well sums up my path to Ph.D., insomuch that there is a pattern, it just isn't linear.  It swirls, it dances, it moves back and forth, it is light and dark.  An apt metaphor, I think. There is a pattern, when you step away from the individual pieces. I am an all but defence doctor. That makes me giggle subversively. 

I've learned that I can really take the hits, emotionally, and survive. The year between 40 and 41? I was't sure I was going to survive it. Not that I actively planned anything, but I spent most of the year wishing that my existence would just...stop. The year between 41 and 42? A rebuilding year. This one upcoming too. Rebuilding everything, to different specifications. Maybe the wall around my heart will be built a little less thickly. Hard to say as of yet as I am not naturally careless when it comes to that particular fortification. 

I've started the next rug. I was hesitant with this one, wanted to get it "right" in a different way. Finally I just threw caution to the wind and started sketching. When I fuss over details, I can get mired in inaction. Fear of non-perfection becomes inability to move. The bottom of the cape needs to be fixed, but I think it is going to be frakking amazing.  The wolf still needs to be fine-tuned in my brain, but it will come.

bottom edge of cape
I continue to practice letting go of the things over which I have no control, be they people or events.  All I can do is continue being myself and trying to be transparent and honest in all things. I can only hope that those qualities are enough to bring the people and things I need into my life.

Where my wild things are

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

I was six years old when I first saw the book.

My surroundings are what I imprint upon. I was on the floor which had your standard issue industrial school carpeting. The cubbies were to my left and formed the wall that ran the length of the room. The bathrooms were behind me.

The teacher whose name could have been Mrs Walker (?) was sitting on a blue chair in front of us.

Now, books and I have always been friends. There are pictures of a sleeping three year old Dawn, hiding in her closet with the lamp, surrounded by books. I remember being in those closets - small, dark, tight spaces of safety. Me and My Books. Later on in life when I felt stress or anxiety, diving into a book was my first reaction. My college room mate would laugh as I would bring home a massive stack of fiction to read in between studying for other exams. "They relax me", I would explain.

This book, however, was different. From the moment Mrs Walker held the book up I knew that this was special - something I maybe shouldn't be seeing - and so I held my breath throughout the reading and when she had finished, I stood up and asked if I could hold this book. I needed to absorb this book. I needed to possess this book.

In fact, the next library day found me at the librarians desk asking about where I could find this book to borrow and my first memory of ordering from a book club was my amazement seeing that this prized book was one of the ones offered and begging for the 50 cents to order it.

The book was, of course, Where the Wild Things Are.

Now, psychologically, the adult Dawn could deconstruct why the book was so important to First Grade Me. A tale of the Wild Things who were both menacing and loving - terrible and fierce and Max - the boy who tamed them with a magic trick - this tale was not so far off from my life in the world of Adults. I navigated some pretty Wild Things in my day to day life, and while this was perhaps the most stable time in my remembrance of my family life, it was still business as usual.

It was in 1976 that my father threatened to kill Santa if he came into the house on Christmas Eve. I locked the door behind him as he ran out on the porch with his loaded shotgun, looking for Santa to shoot.  I had the sense to hide before my mother got the door unlocked and my father began to search the house for me.

Now, I had seen my father shoot things. Our Pet Dogs when they wouldn't stop barking. Rabbits. At the car as my mother pulled out of the driveway...with his child(ren)in the car. His unpredictable behavior made him the undisputed King of the Wild Things.

My mother, while a bit more stable in her overall demeanor, had her own role in the kingdom of my Wild Things. A role which would take center stage  once my parents divorced. As long as I did as she wanted, she was a benevolent ruler in the Kingdom. Benign neglect, I have called it - feral childhood. Yes, we were fed and clothed. But there were conditions - always conditions.

My mother was not Max's mother. There would be no hot dinner waiting for me when I woke. No, more likely I would be told that I was ungrateful and didn't deserve to have dinner - but if I insisted than I could make it myself since she was not my slave and furthermore since I had the audacity to complain, I should really start saving up to buy my own food.

First Grade Dawn didn't know all of this. She only knew that there was a book that whispered to her in a way she had never experienced. It was a book that told her that it Knew Adults were not what they seemed, and revealed them for what they were. Odd monsters with feathers and fur, feet and beaks, human noses on animal faces.

The book knew that the Wild Things Roared and Gnashed and Stomped as they pleased. However, when Max saw the Wild Things he was not afraid. No. Max was in charge of the Wild Things. He was the Adult in the world of Wild Things, the voice of reason.

And Like Max, First Grade Dawn wanted to be in control, to tame her Wild Things with her magic tricks. And also like Max, First Grade Dawn wanted to go home and be someones child, somewhere where he was loved best of all. Loved Unconditionally.

It was the first time I heard a book speak to me in the secret language of the best stories. Maurice Sendak winked at me from behind the pages of the book - He knew what adults were and had hidden the truth in those pages, right in front of them. They read the pages to us, and I felt delightfully subversive as his critique of the Big People in charge of our lives was laid out in front of them.

A door was opened for me as Mrs Walker read Where the Wild Things Are to me - and 18 other children - in 1976. I sailed over and across weeks and years and a day - and have never looked back.

Thank you, Maurice. You were an adult who "got" it.

Three in a Bed

Sunday, May 06, 2012

For those of you new to my family, we have some "issues" around bed.

Yeah, I know she is eight. Spare me any piece of advice you may have about how to get her to sleep in her own bed. I assure you ,we've tried it. We've tried EVERYTHING.

Now, here is where my first dilemia came in. I have very specific professional ideas about children and sleep. The philosophy to which I subscribe, RIE , teaches that children should be assisted to sleep when they indicate they are tired. Believe it or not, this worked with nearly ALL the babies I cared for in my years of teaching. I would have babies crawl to the edge of the nap room and sign to me that they were ready to sleep.


Nearly all of my babies in care over age 3 months would be put in their cribs when awake and allowed to fall asleep. Did I mention that this worked on nearly every baby I cared for from 1992 to 1998?  I thought I was the shit when it came to babies and sleeping. It is a well known and documented fact that I can get any kid to settle and sleep, newborn to kindergarten.

Until my child was born.

Emily was very alert. Hyper alert. Nursing perked her up. The midwife would say "She nurses and then falls asleep?"

Nope. Not my kid. It only seems to invigorate her.

"Do you try driving her around in the car?"

Of course we do. She hates the car. She screams the entire time she is in the car. I have been known to fling myself in the back seat and wrestle a breast out in a valiant effort to get her to stop. I once was let go by a cop who, after stopping me because a tail light was out, took pity on me due to the fact that my child was WAILING in the back seat. I also may have been in a full body sweat with crazy eyes.

Warm bath?

Every night.


Of course.

Stories and routine?

Yeah. I may have some depression issues, but the professional Dawn? She has the mother-trucking routine down pat.

The pediatrician whispers: "Did you try a little benedryl?"

Uh, Yeah - You know I did. Also seems to perk her up. She doesn't get sleepy at all.

When Emily was 6 months old, I bite my pride bullet and thought - OK, I'll try to Ferber her. This went against every fiber of my being, but I was desperate to get some sleep. The child had been awake and nursing for six straight months. She was also crawling at six months. Full on crawling. She was starving mobile zombie baby.

I expected the first night to be bad. I expected the second night to be a little better. I didn't expect a WEEK long marathon of screaming that would go on for the entire night. You know how you go in the room in five minute increments? 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes?  We got up to HOURS. HOURS, PEOPLE! With no break in the screaming. She could go to child care with me in the morning and sleep. I, sadly, did not have this option.

And her scream? Makes me sweat. Actually makes me sweat. I get these prickles in my arm pits and then it starts. I get frantic, the oxytoxin in my brain kicks into high gear and I-must-stop-the-screaming.

We tried a gate. She kicked it down. We made a sticker chart and took away things. She laughed in the face of that. She lost her birthday party this year, and her ipod. She's lost her American Girls at various times, her telescope....and the list goes on and on. She has nightlights, she has body pillows, she has everything we can think of to make her nest as comfy as possible.

And where was she this morning? Asleep. On my back. More specifically, in the middle of my back. My left arm was completely dead from lack of circulation. And my husband? On the living room couch. Also asleep. A typical morning in my house.

Update: 2012

She no longer sleeps in my bed, thankfully. She did until she was 10, though. At some point, she got too big and floppy. She now nests, just like her mom, in the middle of her bed, surrounded by huge nests of pillows and comforters.

Terrance and I never ended up sharing a bed again. Something about 10 years of not being in the same bed makes it difficult to go back. Which is fine. I really like my own bed. Which is where I am right now, snuggling in to go to sleep. Night.
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