Hard Things

On the wall, above my bed is the photo that is in the blog header, and printed over it is “You were made to do hard things”.

I sometimes think the lesson of 2014 was that I was made to do hard things, but not all at once and not all the things.

I have gotten so much better at self-care and essential kindness in the last 5 years. I went to see my old therapist a few weeks ago about something unrelated to self-care, but one of the things I was so excited to tell her about was how much better at self-care I have gotten. A few days before my appointment, frustrated at school, at work, at life, I turned off. I had a bath, went for a walk, read a novel, put myself to bed early. I didn’t even hit the overwhelmed stage. I caught it well before that, knew what to do.

In short, I’m not the woman I was 6 years ago. More and more I embed kindness to myself in what I do. I may not put myself first, but I’m on the list. I’m gentle with myself so I can do hard things.

The gig came to me in another form. It was supposed to be smaller, it was supposed to be simple. A bit of help. It’s . . . . not that. It’s bigger. For the last 5 years, when something has gone wrong, when there’s been a problem, I’ve reminded people that no one would die. I have closed my laptop with work to do, because the work will keep.

When they came and found me, I tried to demur. Tried to say that we could find someone else, pointed out that I would be oversubscribed. And then my boss, the one that came and found me – she reminded me. This time people are dying. This time the work won’t keep.

Hard things.

Posted in Warthog Air | 1 Comment

Dangerous

Years ago a partner who did not drink watched me pour half a glass of wine down the sink before we went to bed. He said he’d not had a drink in more than a decade but my casual discard set his nerves jangling. This is the danger in the parts of ourselves we cover over. There is danger in the casual offer of your heart’s desire. There is danger in what someone almost hands us, without ever realizing the value we place on it.

I adore the gentleman caller’s children. This isn’t a surprise, not really. I like most kids. As we made pizza on Saturday night, when I showed his daughter how to knead dough, laughed with his son about the salad, it felt . . . . comfortable.

Which is dangerous.

Posted in Adult Dating | 2 Comments

$50 Sad

The thing about where I live is that on the longest day of the year, it will be light for about 17 hours. Even when the sun goes down, it doesn’t really go down. The flip side to that is on the shortest day of the year, it will be light for about 7.5 hours.

This is the time of year that I look up from making dinner and it’s dark. I know that it’s only going to get worse. We still have another 2 hours of daylight to lose before the winter solstice. Normally I would count on the lights, the company, and the comfort of Christmas. I would start making plans for what I’m going to feed my international students. I would start building stockings for them, thinking about decorations. While it isn’t the same as having an actual family, for a few hours at least, on Christmas day, I get to be someone’s family. I’m a bit less alone.

Covid means that there will be no international students this year. There won’t be a trip to Messiah, there won’t be drinks with colleagues, there won’t be much of anything. I will spend the holiday completely alone, instead of mostly alone. I don’t know what to do with that. It feels so overwhelming that my breath freezes in my throat. I’m going to have to deal with this, but if Covid has taught me anything, sometimes you postpone your sorrow. Sometimes you go for a long walk or a bike ride or your dig in your garden and wait on feeling those feelings until it isn’t all too much.

It’s winter. My garden is not yet frozen, but it will be. I will walk the dog, but my bike is put away. Fresh air and sunlight will be harder. I need another plan. Someone on twitter (one of my main sources of socialization these days) suggested a SAD light.

I figured I might be about $50 sad. I can sit in front of it and play the Beach Boys, and just for a little bit, pretend I’m somewhere else.

I’m hoping it will help as winter sets in.

Posted in Pandemic | 5 Comments

Expunging Guilt

Dear Universe, I feel guilty. I feel guilty for a thing that is not my fault, but the fact I shall have the benefit of it isn’t fair either.

On the 20th of September, I was scrolling through the headlines of my local paper and saw a headline about a doctor being asked to withdraw from practice after he breached a chaperone rule. I was interested in the story because my Neurologist has a chaperone, and well, you know where this went.

My neurologist has been asked to withdraw from practice.

I have a chronic disease which requires monitoring. I have taken medications that require monthly bloodwork to ensure that I do not die, and that needs a doctor to look at lab results. I live in a province where the Premier and his cabinet decided to go to war with Doctors, in the middle of a pandemic. I know that one of the other MS Neurologists decided to retire this year, which means that there are already thousands of patients without a neurologist. Now there are thousands more.

I called in some, well, not favours, but personal relationships and got a recommendation to a good neurologist. I called my GP and got them to write a strong referral letter, noting that I’m a low maintenance and well managed MS Patient. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll have a new neuro soon enough.

I feel guilty because I knew professionals to ask for a referral and those people likely name-dropped me to the new neurologist. I feel guilty because I knew enough to know that I needed to be very proactive about this, and I have the sort of skills to know how to be proactive. I feel guilty because I have the sort of job that allows me to do virtual doctor’s appointments from the privacy of my home in the middle of the day. I feel guilty because my doctor is going to write a referral that makes reference to the fact that I’m low maintenance and compliant. I feel guilty because even when I ask questions, I’m a white middle-aged woman who is coded as curious and involved in her treatment, not arrogant and non-compliant.

Dear Universe, I feel guilty. None of the above is bad. None of it is my fault. It is a set of advantages that not everyone has.

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just’s umbrella.

Charles Bowen

Posted in MS Gets on Your Nerves, The Cheerful Agnostic | 3 Comments

The People You Love

A year ago, Andy handed me the results from the pathology lab. Results, which were, it turns out, his death sentence. I texted my boss and stayed an extra day and took the kids to the trampoline park and the bird sanctuary and McDonald’s. They went to the doctor. They heard a year, maybe 2.

In the end, it was a shade less than 8 months.

When I got past being angry at the universe, the shock set in. Sometimes I think I’m still shocked.

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All My Thoughts on Marriage

Dear Dean and Rachel:

You have asked for all my thoughts on marriage as you get married. I thought very hard I realize, I only have 2 thoughts about marriage. Still, you wanted them, so here they are.

While I was married for almost 16 years, the wisest among us will remember that I am not currently married. Should you find someone who has been happily married for 32 years, and should they make a suggestion contrary to my thoughts, I’d go with theirs.

With that limitation of liability in mind, I’d like to introduce the concept of the do-over.

You see, there will come a time when you will not be the person Mr Rogers knows you can be. Indeed, there may come a time when your promises to love, honour, and cherish your spouse fly out the window and your inside voice becomes your outside voice and things become rather ominous. This happens. I know you think it won’t, but I promise you, in the instant words, or a look or even just a door slammed loudly happens, you have the option of a re-do.

A re-do is simple. In the instant that you know you have not been your best self, you get to stand up and ask for a re-do. A re-do requires something from both of you: your ability to admit that you were not your best self – you need the re-do; and your partner’s ability to remember that we are all human, providing a bit of grace and mercy – granting you the re-do. A re-do does not eliminate the unkind words or actions, but it does let you start again.

My second bit of advice is this: there is no wallpaper simple enough or attractive enough, and there is no wall that is straight enough for any sane couple to wallpaper together. Hire someone. There’s no limitation of liability on this one. Anyone who tells you to wallpaper with your spouse doesn’t like you or isn’t in their right mind. Trust me on this.

Wishing you a life of care and joy. Sorry I cannot be with you, but you will be in my thoughts.

(As it so happens, I was asked to record this, so that the very happy couple could put it, and many other like it, in their wedding video. I miss the days of handwritten letters, but needs must. The blog worked because it was a place I’m used to writing things down, and more than that, I could read from here while recording myself.)

Posted in Marriage | 3 Comments

Domestic Failings

It was the start of June when my sciatica blew up and Kuri had to help me get dressed. She discovered that when I put my laundry away, I do not turn it the right way out. More accurately, I put my laundry in my basked however it comes off my body (that is, often, inside out), I wash it the same way (inside out) and then I fold it the way it comes out of the dryer (inside out). I turn it the right way when I’m putting it on. The only time this changes is when I have a stain on something because I need to turn it the right way to treat the stain.

I do not, for the record and because I am the sort of person who thinks about this, save any time with this strategy. It’s really the same time whether I turned it the right way as I was taking it off, when I was putting it in the washing machine or when I was folding it. I suppose the best thing I can say is that it’s just in time laundry storage. I mean really, you don’t *need* to do this until such time as you are putting the clothes on your body, so why bother before then.

This is the secret joy to single life. Unmoored of a partner who expects me to do laundry in a particular way, I can fill my drawers and closet with things awaiting the correct way of being and only do that when I need to.

I do not revolutionize the world with this. I know that. I am not committing an act of rebellion. I remain the same middle aged spinster I ever was.

It’s just a little thing. A small way of thumbing my nose at what I was taught and the expectations from the world.

Posted in And the Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, I'm With the Cool Kids | 1 Comment

And the Furnace Filters

The call came on September 12, which is a day I should remember. I was in the middle of the line up at Costco, buying Halloween candy and saran wrap and batteries. And furnace filters. Which were the wrong size.

In the year since I have not managed to get the right ones. I have ordered them on Amazon, I have gone to home depot and I now have 8 furnace filters in my basement in a variety of sizes not reflective of my actual furnace.

I’m going to Costco tonight. (I got to plan our date).

I may get nothing else on my list, but I will get furnace filters.

20 x 25 x 1.

Done deal.

Posted in Feats of Wonder | Leave a comment

Fall Out

On Friday, as the gentleman caller and I were trying to organize the dog, the potato salad, blankets and 2 adults out the door for a social distanced birthday (also, here, meet the gentleman caller) event, my phone rang.

I have come to dread these calls. No one calls to say hello and check in at 5pm on a Friday. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

A colleague is dead. We don’t know, and will quite possibly never know if it was Covid. He’s not that much older than me, he lived alone, and he was found dead on Friday.

This afternoon was a quick check in. Back to work means back to the administrative requirements of work – uploading documents and making sure that performance appraisals are completed. And this – we have work to farm out now.

Can I take some of it.

I will. Not only because work is work – although it is. I will take it because I liked my colleague. I won’t be able to fill his shoes – not completely, because they are big shoes, but somewhat. We both trafficked in consulting magic.

I ended the online meeting and I cried. Because he is dead, because he was alone, because at the end of of all of this, there won’t be a moment where we laugh and joke about his terrible condo board and the ridiculous demands of Covid.

I hate pandemics.

Posted in Pandemic | 1 Comment

Mid Point

It’s been a series of small snaps in the last few weeks. The frustration and expense of trying to print my school readings. I know, I know. There are apps to annotate things, but I like paper and notes in the margins and highlighting and underlining. I’m working, but it’s only a month and everyone at the office tells me it will be ok and my contract will get extended (they think). Forgive me, but things being ok hasn’t been my experience of 2020.

Way back when, when I used to snowshoe at boarding school, we did a last race of the season which was 40Km. A snowshoe team, a really good one, moves about 3.5 Km across fields. You can pick up some speed on flat roadways, but it turns out it’s harder to snowshoe on roads. Any way you cut it, with lunch breaks and rest stops, you are starting at 7 am and finishing at 7 or 8 at night. You start in the dark, you end in the dark.

If you were the team captain, if you were an Old Girl*, you knew the route and you could estimate, more or less, how much was left. I am not the sort of person who relaxes into things (I know this surprises you), so I was happier when I figured out how much time was left.

Where am I going with this? Well, I guess it’s that if you were going to lose it, if you were going to decide that you could not walk another step, you did that when you were both the furthest from home and when it was about the middle of the race.

Perhaps this is the middle. I hope this is the middle. It’s 6 months and I don’t know if I have much more than another 6 months of this in me.

** This term has a particular meaning in the boarding school world. Mostly, in this context, it means someone who has been at the school for a few years.

Posted in Pandemic | 1 Comment