Time Doesn’t Stand Still

I went in the back door. In truth, while I know there is a front door, I don’t think I’ve ever been through the front door. I go to the back door. I don’t ring the door bell and I just walk in.

This is what you do in the old places. The thing you have always done – in my case you walk through a back door your have been walking through since you were 4 years old. This will be the last time because the house is sold. My god parents are moving to a Condo. I didn’t ever have a single childhood house, this place was as close as it gets. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, random weekends, long summer vacations. This was my other home as a child.

It’s a combination of things really. It’s close to my mother’s birthday and I find myself especially missing her and now the house has been sold.

I was out of kilter that night. It’s hard to say goodbye to your childhood. We, or at least I, seem to want some portion of life that stays the same. I don’t have to be a part of it, but somewhere and somehow it would ease the ache in my soul if I knew the home I spent my childhood in would continue on, just as it was.

If there was a place that I could turn up, should I need it, and I could walk in, drop my keys in the basket, pour myself a cup of coffee and grab a cooky from the jar and collapse into a heap on the sofa. A place where time stood still, even if that is an utter impossibility.

Even if I never need it, I liked knowing it was there. And now it’s not.

And I’m a bit sad.

Posted in The language of families | Leave a comment

Taller than I

I took my niece to the 100th anniversary of universal suffrage at the Alberta legislature, and as I stood behind her, with my hands on her shoulders, I joked that I needed to weigh her down. By this time next year she will be taller than me.

She asked if that was ok, if I really did want to keep her short. As with all of my nieces and nephews, I am crazy in love with her. No, I want her to grow up, grow wiser, find her voice. I want her to be an adult, to leave home, to find her way in the world and have magnificent adventures. She had to be taller than me to do this.

His tree is taller than I am.

I don’t remember when that happened.

Was it so last year? Did it sneak up on me? It’s just the passing of time. Water and sunshine ever did create growth.

He is tiny: in the urn that holds his ashes, in the handful of people who remember that once I was a mother. For a short period of time, his heart lay under mine and I tried to shelter him as best I could. He is tiny.

He is not tiny in the way I love him. He does not occupy  a tiny part of my heart. With me like the breath in my lungs, his memory and my love remain as boundless as the air I have breathed in and out of my body since the day he left me.

Gabriel’s tree is tall and strong, the branches full and the leaves whispering in the breeze.

Taller than I.

As it should be.

Posted in Gabriel, Gardening, The language of families, the nieces and nephews, Tiny Points of Light | 3 Comments

Would She

The day my mother died, well, the night before really, I was talking to her nurse. The nurse commented that she was so glad I had arrived in time and asked if I had a nice flight.

Now, on the face of it, in 2014, it was not crazy to ask if I had a nice flight. I spent a lot of time on planes. But Edmonton, it was home. I hadn’t been flying. By stroke of goodness, I was in Edmonton the day I got the call that my mum lay dying. I came to the hospital from my office, just across the river.

My mother had told this nurse, told everyone, that her daughter was a partner in a major law firm in Toronto.

That was the person my mother wanted me to be. That was what would have made her proud. To her dying day I don’t think she forgave me for not going to law school. I wasn’t the daughter she wanted in oh so many ways.

I was accepted to an MBA program today. I had a discussion about promotion today. It was a good day.

It’s ok that I wasn’t the daughter my mum wanted. I’m the kind of person I want to be. That feels like enough for today.

Posted in The language of families | 1 Comment

But do I miss it?

I was on a plane for the first time in 8 months on Friday. I went to Vancouver to meet a new baby. (He was adorable and is now well swathed in wool). I saw former colleagues, now friends. Family.

I planned on seeing the Sea Otters at the Vancouver Aquarium and having sushi. I did not do either.

I saw people I loved. Everyone asked if I miss the travel.

I miss it now that I no longer have status. I miss the ability to sit in a quiet lounge with a glass of wine and some food and I miss getting on the plane first and not having to fight disorganized people. I miss putting myself on the standby list and knowing that I will get on the plane, even if they have to upgrade me to business class.

I miss the ability to plan fun meals in multiple cities.

And then I think of the quiet joys of home. Cooking soup and bread. Buying vegetables on a Sunday and cooking them on a Wednesday. Curling up to Mr. Spit.

It’s been a big change. On the whole of it, I miss parts and I love parts. Not so bad.

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Jumping Up and Down in Rage

I have a lead foot. Well, it’s not really lead. I feel like maybe I should start there. I don’t have an aluminium foot, barely on the pedal, but it’s not really lead. It’s probably more like stainless steel.

I go maybe 10-12 kms over the speed limit. And yes, before you say it, that is speeding.

Might I point out that often enough I’m going with the flow of traffic? If I’m speeding, so is everyone else and I’m not sure that it’s safe or wise to not be going with the flow of traffic. A couple of times a year I’m going with the flow of traffic – more or less – and I don’t even notice. At least, until the envelope from the city arrives. With my ticket.

The ticket is invariably for 11 or 12 Kilometres over the speed limit, which is, as I admitted above, speeding. But again, in my defence, it’s the same speed everyone else is doing. More to the point, my city says that they are doing this to improve my safety . . .  and the stats are sketchy on that point.

Broadly speaking, at known photo radar locations, speed tends to decrease over time, as more and more of us pay attention to the speedometer (and not the flow of traffic or the other drivers). This doesn’t necessarily mean that safety increases or that collision rates go down.

Which takes me to my point. Well, my intermediary point at any rate. The reality is that photo radar is a cash cow for the city and they are charging me for going with the flow. And I suppose fair ball to them, I ought to be an upstanding citizen who pays more attention to her speedometer and does not go with the flow. I ought to be this sort of person in the same way that I really ought to like cauliflower and I ought to meditate a bit more and I should really pay attention to my fibre consumption. I should do these things because I am an adult.

I suppose the genius in being an adult is that you can decide what you are actually going to  focus on, which is, for me, things like running and having healthy relationships and going to bed a decent hour. I get a few speeding tickets a year. I’m sanguine about the whole thing.

But, as I stood with the ticket in my hand and for a moment, – a brief but glorious moment, I thought it was actually Mr. Spit’s ticket. I was not the culpable one. I did not waste the family finances and was not an irresponsible and perfidious adult. Heaven’s no.

A quick trip to the calendar put paid to that notion, I was indeed driving the car that day and my oh so helpful partner could tell me exactly where I had been and where I was coming from. He also pointed out that he sees them in that spot . . . often.

I may, just possibly, have done a bit of jumping up and down in sheer frustration. So close at being able to blame someone else.

I’m still going to get speeding tickets. I might want to be less blame-ish about it.


Posted in Marriage, Ministry of Funny Walks | Leave a comment

An Agnostic’s Lent

A friend tells this hilarious story about a meeting where one of his female staff announced that she was giving up chocolate and coffee for lent. He asked if she was also going to give up the affair she was having with one of his staff. (He meant that part to be only in his head). He got a meeting with HR.

We might say that she didn’t quite understand the true theological concerns of lent.

I spent enough time as a youth pastor and, well, as an Anglican that I do understand the theological concerns of lent. Agnostic me thinks that giving something up for lent makes me a more mindful person. It makes me live a bit more in the now.

I gave up social media for lent this year. Not so much to experience a sense of denial, but because I had a vague sense that it was making me  . . . unhappy. In ways that I could not define, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram were sapping me. I deleted them from my phone. I didn’t tell anyone. I just quietly went away to think about it.

I didn’t really miss social media. I missed people. Nothing much changed for the first two weeks. I had some more time for reading. I spent some time each night thinking about various life issues. Change happened about week 3. I got a bit happier. Mr. Spit made a joke at a time when it would have normally annoyed me, and I consciously chose to respond with wit and not annoyance. Half way through lent, I found myself feeling lighter. Joking more. Having fun. Connecting with real things.

The observant of you will notice that Easter was a week and a half ago. On Easter morning I added Instagram and Facebook back on my phone. Facebook lasted until noon before I deleted it again. Instagram stayed. I’ve taken the week and a half to figure out why.

My Instagram is real stuff and people. It’s not curated. It’s HerewegoaJen’s smiling babies Fivestick’s smiling children and meals you have prepared and Phil Plait’s goats and Lindi Ortega’s cats and finished knitting projects. It’s not arty or fancy. It doesn’t make a social point. It’s not marketing. It’s just every day life. It feels a lot like someone sent me a text with a picture.  “Share this cool thing with me”. If there’s a sniff of the hipster, of the need to curate, earnest use of hash tags, the constant one upmanship, I’m happy to unfollow you.

As it turns out, every day life makes me happy.

I didn’t give up social media to edit my life. I didn’t give it up to make a social or political statement. I gave it up because I didn’t think it was making me happy. It doesn’t. It makes me thin and stretched and frazzled. It doesn’t connect me with you. It’s not every day life for me.

So, if you were wondering where I’ve been on social media, now you know.

Posted in irrelevant reverence, Learning Life, Living Deliberately | Leave a comment

The Confidence of a Mediocre White Man

On Wednesday I was drinking scotch in the middle of the afternoon.

(Thank beneficent deities I have the sort of career where this is ok. Thank the Scots for making the good stuff and thank the Irish for bottling the mostly ok stuff we were drinking on Wednesday)

Gratitude aside, I arsed up on Wednesday. Sort of. I keep going back to it, trying to figure out how it happened. I was asked a question in the middle of a presentation and somehow the question threw me. It was:

  • Worded a bit strangely and asked in a slightly combative manner
  • Referred to data I had not looked at in 2 weeks. Indeed, I have my head buried in another set of numbers entirely.
  • I hadn’t expected problems with this presentation.
  • I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in about 2 weeks and I’m a bit off.

What I should have done is take a few moments and stop and think. Instead for some reason, I absolutely panicked. Was the data wrong? Was everything I was saying wrong? Was I am incompetent idiot batting above her paygrade? Was this the moment when everyone found out that all I should have ever been allowed to do was sweep the floors and make coffee and I have been fooling everyone for all these years.

It’s called Imposter Syndrome.

Post a few ounces of Irish scotch, I headed into another meeting where I was capable and confident and I have heard nothing from anyone about my arse up. Indeed, they are handing me another pile of work.

I was having lunch with Kuri and she told me about this moment, this tshirt she bought.



It’s Sarah Hagi’s quote and they made, briefly, tshirts.

Which I want. Because that’s my new litmus test.

Posted in Feminism, Flying with Warthog Air | 5 Comments

That’s A Bit

Mr. Spit is home for the week and he’s done a bit of clean up in the basement. Including clearing out paint cans.

It may just be that we have done a bit of painting in the 11 years we have lived here.


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What are we Saving Again?

Some of it is perception, and I freely acknowledge that.

Just this morning, Mr. Spit was driving me into the office (He’s on vacation) and I was blasé about the speed of traffic and he was going nuts. Perception is everything.

I seem to have been more aware of the light lasting longer into the evenings this year. I was more aware of the light in the morning, of watching the sun rise in the mornings.

This year I didn’t want or need daylight savings time. I didn’t want that awful feeling yesterday where I thought I had more time and would look at the clock and realize that I didn’t. From waking up late (well, 9 am that felt like 8 am and would have been 8 am were it not for lunacy), to eating dinner at 4:30, because  I was hungry. It’s all off balance and out of kilter. It’s just perception. It’s just an hour on the clock.

I just didn’t want to save that damn hour. I wanted to spend that hour, thank you very much.

I can, from time to time, be quite funny about the foolish, inane and asinine stuff of life.  Daylight Savings time is this and by rights I should be able to mange to bring the funny.

And maybe I will. When someone gives me that hour they decided to save from me.

Posted in It's an Ordinary Day | Leave a comment

Faint and Few

A few nights ago I was at the gym and while I was signing in, the receptionist asked what I did for a living. She explained that she was looking for a new career and she didn’t know what she wanted to do.

In her early 20s, betwixt and between, I made a few suggestions that might have helped me at her age and told her that I had been similarly confused but found my way.

In times past, before becoming the cheerful agnostic, I would have prayed for her over the next few days. Not that she would find God or Jesus or anything like that, but so that she might have some care and concern around her as she found her way. 20 is hard. It’s confusing and scary and filled with big things.

I would have said that God was awake when I was asleep. Praying didn’t obligate him to do anything, but God was awake and all I could do was pray that she found her way because that felt a bit more proactive and engaged than a generic “well, I hope it works out ok for you”.

I told Whytelash that I missed praying and she asked why I couldn’t just pray to the universe.

There was a contract of sorts (if you want fancy theology language for $1,000 Alex, it was a covenant) between God and I. I upheld the rules as best I could, did what I could, went to church and tried to be a good follower. He had to listen to me and be awake when I supplicated. He didn’t have to agree, he didn’t have to do anything, but he had to listen. He was an entity of sorts and he had to listen.

The universe?

I don’t think it owes me anything.

My prayers aren’t much. In truth they never were. They aren’t selfish, at least not any more than anyone else.

They are profoundly human. Born out of my limitations. Often birthed in my wishes for others. They are small and faint and few.

But they matter.

And I do not know what to do with them.

Posted in The Cheerful Agnostic | 1 Comment