setting the attractions of my good parts aside I have no other charm

I have faults. I’m, uh… easily mesmerized by people who use multi-syllabled words and, um, men who can discuss Tolstoy. Diane Lockhart, Good Wife. 

Maybe you have been somewhere and you observed a couple on a date. You have recognized it is going badly. He’s having a great time and she’s wishing she could be having a pap smear.

While in line for the women’s washroom, wishing the line were ever so much longer, I realized that I was that woman.

Worse still, I did this to myself.

I can’t tell on first dates. I can usually tell by the second date.  The date tonight was supposed to be a second date, but there was an unplanned sushi date on Thursday. I knew at the end of Thursday’s date that he was a non starter.

The plans were made, the tickets had been bought. It seemed kindest to just go and end things with a nice text on Monday.

So, he had a great time. I was thankful that you can’t talk during a play. I’m sitting in my backyard, drinking wine.

When I left Owen, I did so knowing that I would be happier alone. I knew how painfully lonely I could be while still married. It wasn’t that I didn’t expect to be lonely while single, it was that it would at least be a more understandable sort of lonely.

I am, therefore, a bit of a snob. I don’t care if you haven’t ever seen Shakespeare. There’s tons of stuff that I haven’t seen. Admit it. Or be silent. You give yourself away when you call Romeo and Juliet a Comedy.

Maybe I find a guy who uses multi-syllabled words and can discuss Shakespeare. It isn’t this guy.

Posted in Dating Causes Indigestion | Leave a comment

In the Window (Staring Back at Me)

A few months ago I drove past the thrift store near my house and my wedding dress was on the mannequin in the window.

I suppose this wasn’t a surprise. I had donated it some months previously. I held on to the dress for more than 15 years, porting it from place to place. I wasn’t ever going to wear it again and after I tried it on (having lost enough weight it fit again), I donated it along with some other odds and ends. There was no point in keeping it.

It was, well I suppose it was a bit odd, to drive past and see your wedding dress, the one that you wore to get married to a guy you aren’t married to anymore. It wasn’t upsetting or painful.  It’s the sort of odd that english, with all it’s words, doesn’t quite capture. I thought about blogging about it, but honestly, what could I say? It was just odd.

All of that is connected to this – today is, or I guess is not, my 16th wedding anniversary. I’m still technically married to Owen, so I guess it’s still a wedding anniversary. Except, well, you know. It’s mostly not.

And today is a bit like the wedding dress. I’m not sad. Maybe you might think I should be, and I guess you could think that. I mean, I would understand why you might think I should be sad, but I’m not. I tried really hard to stay married to Owen and it just wasn’t going to work out. So not sad. Not wounded, not forlorn, mournful, lugubrious, gloomy, downhearted, woebegone.

But not joyful.

I am pensive.

It was a long time we were together. So I thought I would at least tell you. 16 years ago today, at the ripe old age of 22, I married the love of my life. I thought we would be together for ever.

Instead, through a window, I’m staring at the reflections of memories. What was, what I thought would be.

I thought I would tell you what I was staring at today.

Posted in Divorce, irrelevant reverence, Learning Life | Leave a comment

Ceterus Paribus

20 years ago September I was sitting in a very large lecture theatre, learning about the laws of supply and demand.

The law of demand says Ceterus Paribus, when price increases we consume less of a thing, but if our income increases, we consume more of (almost) everything.

This is reasonably true. I buy more coffee. I buy more clothing, I buy shoes. (Well, I always bough shoes). Indeed, I actually buy groceries. I make more than I did 20 years ago,  and I consume more too.

In what passes for encouragement by economics lecturers, they tell you about Giffen Goods. Giffen goods are the reverse. As income increases, you consume less of these goods. University lecturers always use ichiban noodles to illustrate this – once you leave university you don’t eat ichiban anymore. I suppose this is so – although a friend did buy me some when I was accepted to Grad School.

Ceterus Paribus – all other things held equal – these laws hold. They have not changed.

On Friday night  I ate my sushi. I wore jeans and Birks and a t shirt. I am, again, single. I still have pets. I made notes on the laws of supply and demand.

Ceterus Paribus.

There’s comfort in that.

Posted in Divorce, Grad Student | 1 Comment

Reminders –> Dismiss All

I replaced my Mac last week. This is a mostly seamless process, with a few things. (The new mac doesn’t have an ethernet port. That was a startling realization at the office, where we are completely wired!)

Outlook spent most of yesterday evening importing emails and calendars. Working backward from Yesterday (PG for SF Convocation), I watched netflix and watched outlook work through the last 10 years of my life.

I was still married (Date Night. Star Wars!) I was still friends (Send Matt’s birthday card, Adam’s birthday). I was still working for my old firm (VBE trip, staying over weekend). I was still at ATB (Daily Defect Call). My mother was still alive and in my life (hold for Mum’s cataract surgery). My father in law was still alive (Mail Otto’s Birthday card). I was still going to church (Hold for Altar Guild Lunch and Training). I was still trying to get pregnant (Hold for HSG). I was pregnant with Gabe (Midwife Appointment).

Possibly it’s because I’m “Home” this weekend. Staying in a hotel where I last stayed for another niece’s grad. Only that time I was still married. The church I was baptized in is a short walk away. The funeral home we held my father in law’s service in is a quick drive. The hospital I was born in is just out of view from my window.

The reminders were mostly innocuous. Things that I didn’t even remember. (I went to a doula workshop? Really?). Lots of bookings for nieces and nephews. I didn’t realize I had been meeting the same set of friends for a drink’s night for quite that long. Some transported me. (Jamaica, San Francisco, Florida). Some took my breath away (Gabe’s post mortem).

Not quite 2 months ago I was inexplicably stricken with anxiety. Not for a single thing, but a nameless sort of dread which stalked me. I could and would calm myself down. I would go from short of breath and pounding heart to calm again. Several times a day.

I spoke to professionals, did much soul searching. It could be MS. Perhaps also this: There has been deep and profound change. They kept telling me this and I kept brushing it off.

And then I watched the reminders roll past me. Outlook took me past what my life is now and what it was and there is very little that is the same. This morning I find myself both weary and sad.

This was not the life I thought I was going to have.

I am working through the anxiety in a variety of ways. I know it will be ok.

That’s the other thing that Outlook did for me. They were just appointments, but they took some strength to get through. Sometimes they gave me strength. All of those things, all of the things that took my breath away, all of the times I wondered how I would cope –

I managed.

Just like I will this time.

 

Posted in Divorce, Feats of Wonder, Tiny Points of Light | Leave a comment

Do Not Say We Have Failed

I am “home”, which is Prince George. I am here for one of the nieces’ graduation. This means that at 8 am this morning, my ex husband picked me up. He came in the house, carried my bags. He asked if I wanted to bring a pillow and blanket, and when I demurred, he reminded me that I like to nap on the drive. We chatted off and on, caught up on what we have been doing. We stopped at the Willow River, where we spread Otto’s ashes.

We had a coffee, Owen signed the cards. He transferred the money for his share of the gifts. We drove past his dad’s old place, past the garage his father and mine built. I am staying at a hotel tonight. He is staying at friends.

I say all of this against a back drop, an idle comment from someone that they are sorry my marriage “failed”.

I was and still am surprised.

Failed?

Tell me, what has failed?

We spent 8 enjoyable hours together. He reminded me that I should have a nap and I put my hand on his shoulder as I saw him think about his dad. We signed cards for our nieces as we ever have.

That’s not failure.

Failure? Failure would have been an inability for both of us to be at a grad. Failure would be uncaring. An inability to laugh. An inability to talk about our memories and the good times.

Failure would have been contempt, it would have been hatred.

Is the only successful marriage is where you die at the end, still married? Even if you hate each other?

For almost 16 years we were married. We loved, honoured and cherished each other. And then that didn’t work for me. I tried to make it work. I tried for years. I just couldn’t. Contempt would have come.

We aren’t married any more. Something else has taken its place. Something that still involves love and care. Something that still has space for history and memory. Something that still has laughter. It still stops, without asking, at Willow River. It still drives past the old house and remarks that Otto would have been glad they kept the Canadian Flag.

Do not tell me my marriage failed.

It, like all things, has simply changed.

Posted in Divorce, Mr. Spit | 3 Comments

Still Hanging Mary

I wrote about the friend-ish and how he says I am driven and determined and how he doesn’t get it. If I’m honest, he’s scared of me. I suspect. I can’t quite understand why anyone would be scared of me. It seems to be common.

I often refer to the two Margaret’s. We have 2 Canadian authors and they both shaped me as a young woman. I have words from Margaret Laurence inked on my shoulder. I liked her better. I liked her characters, her form of storytelling, the world she built.

I love Margaret Atwood’s poetry. Mostly because I loved Half-Hanged Mary. As a young woman, discovering what it meant to have a uterus and be a threat, it was the verses about living alone, having breasts and some property to call yours. They gave words and shape to what it meant to face sexism.

After my son’s death, when I ate a lot of casseroles dressed with loneliness and recrimination, it was the verses about compassion being in too short of a supply to go around. Enough to understand that when tragedy strikes people flee.

As I struggled with my faith (and struggle still) the verses about being angry and trying to understand. The verses about changing your relationship with God. She expressed rage so much more powerfully than I.

And now? In the midst of freedom and overwork and constant anxiety? When I have over spilled myself on many someone’s, wishing I would learn to be more mindful of investment?

Before, I was not a witch.
But now I am one.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Half Hanged Mary

A friend-ish frequently comments that I am driven and determined. He simply does not get it.

I am neither.

I live with almost no fear.

It is simple and profound. The sort of thing that cuts beyond the quick and leaves you breathless (well it should).

I held my son for half an hour while he suffocated to death and died.

There is no amount of money that could stop his death. There was no Plan B. No risk mitigation. There were no guidelines, no checklist and there was nothing to be done.

He dies or you both die.

Sometimes that’s the way life works.

****

So I sang him lullabies.

Someone took a photo.

It sits on my dresser.

****

And then I came back, slowly. Painfully. Found ways to integrate the sorrow in my life. Reasons to smile again. New sources of joy.

I am not driven and determined, I am fearless.

What more can you take from me? What do you think you could do that I could not survive?

Gabe’s tree is taller than 6 feet.The main trunk is thicker than my arm.

I pruned it heavily this year, taking two branches to make a wreath. I think of this, of the little boy who isn’t, of the size of his memory, the size of his tree and the depth of my reserves.

And I am comforted.

Posted in Baby Loss, Gabriel | 1 Comment

I should learn this

In certain circles, possibly after a few drinks, I’ll tell you the story of the call I took with a very, very senior executive. The call lasted for half an hour. I took it completely nude, standing in the bathroom, the shower I had just gotten out of running behind me. I stayed in the bathroom for the duration of the call. I was realizing that I hadn’t brought the towels up from the laundry when my phone rang. So. Nude it was.

In certain circles, I’ll point out that the call yielded a quarter of a million dollars in work for my team. The client never knew. I’ve never told him. It’s a funny story, mostly because if you know me you can see how I did it and how strange it felt and how perfectly capable I am of compartmentalizing the fact I am nude in my bathroom and still talking about my professional skills. The fact that I was on medical leave in 2014 was immaterial.
All of this to say that I was getting dressed this morning, about 10 minutes before 8 am. My phone rang and I answered it. I carried on a call about a project plan with my bra half on.

These men. They wonder why I have a hard time meeting their eyes sometimes.

Don’t answer your phone.

I should learn this.

Posted in I'm With the Cool Kids | 3 Comments

Public and Private

For the most part, you build a sort of scar tissue. On Monday morning, you exhale.

Mother’s day is not for me. The only thing Mother’s day does for broken children,  for the bereaved mother and the barren woman is to remind us of how we are not whole. Of how we are superfluous. I turn off social media, hide and simply endure. I used to say it was the second worst day of the year. This year I have decided it’s the worst, simply because it is so public.

This morning I went into the office on the exhale. The last of the statuses on social media were gone; I could return to my usually scheduled 2 cats, 1 dog, 0 houseplants workaholic persona. I wasn’t an abused child, I wasn’t a bereaved and barren woman. I was just me. My brokenness and tragedy were not on display.
***

The colleague is a bit of an imbecile. When I told him I don’t celebrate, he demanded to know why.

Let me step back. There were many things I hated about the tragedy of Gabriel’s death. One part, the part that stayed with me, was the visibility of it. I was the woman whose baby died. When your baby dies, I promise you, they whisper about you in hallways, in offices. Rooms go silent when you walk in them. Everyone knows and no one says anything. You are very visible and very ignored, all at once.

Time has passed and fewer people know.  The 10th of December, it is a private remembrance.  If I take the day off, I don’t tell you why. If I am sad in the days leading up, no one really notices. I mostly glide through the season now – stumbling over some of the larger waves of grief, knowing I will wind up under water on the 10th and on the 11th I will have survived.

No one is looking at me. No one wonders. No one knows there is a reason to wonder. I carry Gabe in my heart and share him with few. It is my private tragedy.

I excused myself from the conversation. I was polite and dignified. Just as I Always am.

This is what I did not say.

Dear Nosy Colleague –

My mother didn’t like me. She locked me in closets. Made me stand perfectly still in the so she could scream at me for hours. Broke rulers and wooden spoons over my hands for the crime of having a snack.

My son gasped for breath and died in my arms while I sang to him. My babies bled from my body and I was powerless to stop it.

I am broken, bereaved, barren.

It’s not precisely a day of celebration.

Posted in Baby Loss, Grief | 4 Comments

It isn’t Me

Patently the virtue of a day’s grace in editing is that you can find your errors quickly. I use this trick when writing papers. It is not a surprise that I find them on my blog.

I would look at my blog entries as I was looking at the comments and I would see a typo. I would wonder how I missed it. Surely in my quick scan, I could not have missed a half written word? You all must have thought I was becoming a gormless idiot.

It happened again this morning. This time I remembered the editing process. I know I moved that paragraph around and it wasn’t altered in the posted blog entry.

I don’t know why my edits aren’t taking but at least it isn’t an inability to write legible prose.

Posted in Grammar | Leave a comment