Lost Together

Every so often I hear someone bemoan ‘Cancon’ rules. For those of you who aren’t familiar, local radio stations must play a certain amount of Canadian Content per hour.

The net result is that you hear music that you probably wouldn’t. Stuff that maybe wouldn’t edge out a top 40 Playlist.  Here, in Edmonton, where I live, it’s how you come to hear Blue Rodeo play Lost Together instead of the Backstreet Boys.

We lived in an apartment complex at the time. It was grey and industrial and I was sad and lonely and badly battered. I heard it the first time sitting on a bench with my back propped up against a concrete garbage container, crappy FM reception through hard, foam covered earphones that always crushed my ears.

Strange and beautiful are the stars tonight. . .

I was transfixed. It is a song about being lost but not alone, and even 12 year old me understood that I was lost and very much alone, but maybe, just maybe there was hope I wouldn’t always be alone.

You know,  it’s not my favourite song. It was the song that made me buy the album and through that I fell in love with the band.

Through clock radios by my bed, car radios, through tapes and cd’s and digital downloads. I have listened to them through all of my schooling, laying on the couch in my house with a glass of bourbon.

And last night, for the first time, live.

It was worth the wait.

Posted in Feats of Wonder | 1 Comment

Stronger Now

There are some falls that are almost cataclysmic. Things wobble and weave and you can see it coming. There are crashes so loud the very air echoes.

And there are crashes that you only understand after they happened. Crashes that you only perceive when stop long enough for the sound to catch up to you. Or something.

I don’t know. I know who was the proximal cause if there is such a thing.

That was the moment I called friends and got the name of a therapist and showed up and said “I don’t really know why I’m here, but in the last year I was diagnosed with MS, my boss quit and I had to take on part of his job, I was promoted, worked two truly terrible projects, almost had my marriage implode and last month my mum died and I think I’m maybe not ok”.

Last Friday I woke up exhausted. I am anemic, I have an ear and sinus infection and my MS Infusion was the next day. I needed my strength for Saturday. Infusion days are hard days.

I texted my minion, told him to take my meetings and called in sick. I went back to bed. I have been  thinking about how much I have grown and learned in the last year. How much healthier and happier I am and I thought about all of the ways  I am kinder and gentler to myself and the ways that I practice self care. I could tell you about all of those or I could just tell you  that I called in sick.

Posted in Learning Life | 1 Comment

Options Analysis

Perhaps it was the whiplash. I grabbed a tea with a friend yesterday at lunch and Gabriel and his death came up. The article – the whiplash as it were – was from a study reported in a national paper. The headline published on twitter. I read the article not quite an hour after my tea. Strange to think of my baby’s death twice in one afternoon.

It took me 3 years to come to terms with the facts – that my son suffocated to death and suffocation is a painful death. It is a death that we did not allow his grandmother to face. We gave her drugs to ease her pain and her fear. We didn’t hasten her death exactly, but we did smooth it. I made sure she was not alone and modern medicine made it as pain and anxiety free as it could be. This is what we call dignity in these rough and raw places. The article, with it’s references to accidental live births came crashing into my life.

The use of accidental is, well, it’s curious to me. It’s not wrong. No one intended for these babies to be born alive, no one even expected them to be born alive. That’s not what’s supposed to happen.

Except, let’s be clear, it’s not like any of this is planned. Planned is giving birth to a living, healthy happy baby at 40 weeks. Planned is a knitted hat and a cute outfit and birth announcements from Costco. I  think that those of us who live through the whole debacle that is perinatal demise have long since left behind anything you might call planned. Planned fled down a dimly lit corridor. We got dropped off at another destination. I think I saw the name “survival” as they threw me out of a moving car. Call his live birth accidental. I don’t know what else sums it up.

I’m not angry that it wasn’t offered. We walk the path we walk. We do what we must. On the whole of it, the nurses in the delivery room were kind and compassionate. Gabriel was loved and held and never alone.

But if his father and I could have chosen no pain? If he could have died in time with the heart beat that he had always known? I rather suspect that his father and I would have given that to him.

Posted in Baby Loss, Gabriel, Pre-Eclampsia | 2 Comments

Monday Miscellany

  • I’m doing sort of ok on most of my resolutions. I mostly make lunch and I mostly put my clothes out the night before.
  • I am not so awesome at blogging. I’m sorry.
  • It has nothing to do with anything, but I listen to an economics podcast today about a guy who not only collects sneakers (running shoes), but he has built economic models that analyze which ones will have the greatest secondary value.
  • What blows my mind is not that someone collects sneakers, but that someone has figured out the rules of a secondary market.
  • It’s here, if you were wondering.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Meant to Tell You

Ms Fab and I got fed up with fashion and we decided the rest of you should see our texts about fashion.

So we started a blog.


We are really funny.


Posted in And the Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth | 1 Comment

Past Tense

I remember this discussion with Kuri years ago where we she commented that if she really wanted to learn astro-physics, she figured she could.

I am like that too. I flunked calculus twice. I really believe, in my heart of hearts, even knowing how weak my advanced math skills really are, I could learn single variable calculus. If I needed to, if I wanted to. If I was willing to put the time into it. The reality is that in this world, the world I live in, I don’t need calculus. It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t use it. My days of calculus are past tense.

At least when the receptionist asked, I could recall my student ID number.

I talked to the faculty today about getting my Masters Degree. It turns out I can, provided I retake about 15 courses. That will bring up my GPA to an acceptable level.

Let me put it another way. This amounts to about 8K and another 2 years of senior undergraduate classes, before I can even think about starting my Masters. Classes I would have to ace, while working full time and having a life. I would be in university for another 5 years. For a Master’s Degree.

It’s GPA based. You either have the grades or you don’t.

I thought about writing to the advisor. I thought about reaching out to a friend who works at the U of A and asking him for help figuring out the appeal process. I had clinical depression. It was bad. It was really bad. It was a miracle that I didn’t flunk out of school. It was a miracle I didn’t kill myself.

I go back to the bit about calculus and astro-physics. Sure I could learn it. I could take a class, buy a text book and get help learning all of the wobbly bits of math I would need to learn, but why? It’s not going to make my life better. It’s past tense.

I need a master’s degree for my career. It’s the next logical step. I want one because  I love learning. It really doesn’t matter, within a few options of degree type and location, where I go and what I do.

It turns out I can go to another University, be done in 18 months, get an MBA and carry on. It turns out that this is exactly what I will do.

Depression is past tense for me. I’m mindful of it, I’m angry it has cast such a long shadow, but really?

I started out this post angry. Angry at intractability, angry at stupidity. That’s past tense too.

Posted in Learning Life | Leave a comment

Randomly On a Tuesday

I am so frustrated – I run and I get the worst leg cramps. I sit and I still get leg cramps. I appreciate that this is part of running, but I am crippled. Last night I couldn’t run.

I eat a lot of bananas.

I am trying to drink more water.

I have booked myself for a massage.

Anything else I can do?

Posted in Running | 5 Comments

Monday Miscellany

  • It was a lovely break.
  • Christmas was terrible (and deserves it’s own post) but the break was nice.
  • I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. I have decided to get back into some habits.
  • Cooking dinner, packing lunch and laying out my clothes before I go to bed.
  • Writing a blog!
  • It’s not much, but it’s the nightly rituals I missed all those years I was on the road.
Posted in Salmagundi: A collection of various things | Leave a comment

It’s a Sad Story

I find myself in these places and someone asks a question about him and, I, well, I sigh.

I will tell you, I say. It’s a sad story. It was a long time ago and it’s ok now, but it was a sad story. 

It is a sad story.


There was a woman, a mother. There was a husband, a father. There was the baby boy they waited so very long for.

And then the mother got sick. And the baby died. And the father was bereft.

They were broken for so very long. Hurt and lost and confused and angry.

They found their way back. They look like a normal, healthy and happy woman and man and that’s because they are. Most of the time.

Today her alarm went off at 6:10 am. She made herself a cup of coffee and she sat on the couch until she woke up. He got up and put on his running clothes and went for a run. She will wear a suit and go to meetings and facilitate. He will write a final report and plan out inspections. Normal woman. Normal man.

And their son will live in the space between their heart and their lungs, just like every day. This evening there will be a piece of cake and a candle and they will sing happy birthday to a little boy who turns 8.

Today they will be a mother and a father and while they sing him happy birthday, he will be with them.

At the end of the song, the mother will post a photo of the candle and the cake to facebook. And the father will wish his son happy birthday. Because the son is real and here and so very loved and for a little while, she was a mother and he was a father. He was and still is their son. He just couldn’t stay.

It’s a sad story. From a long time ago. And if you ask, they will tell you about their little boy. Because they miss him. Today and every day.


Dear friends and loved ones,

With great joy and heartbreak, we wish to announce: at 10:26 PM on December 10, 2007, Gabriel Anton was born into the hands of Cathy, his midwife, sang to in the arms of his mother, rocked in the arms of his father, bathed in the arms of his grandmother, and baptized in the arms of Regula, his Parish Priest.

At just after 11 PM, he was carried to Heaven in the arms of the Angels, where we will meet him again one day. At 520 grams (1 pound 2.4 ounces), and 33 cm (13 inches) he was wee, with 10 fingers and toes, and a full head of hair. He was a perfect, but very tiny baby.

For where your treasure is, there also will be your heart. Luke 12:34

Posted in Gabriel | 12 Comments

Across the Bridge

I am thinking – rather seriously – about going back to get my Master’s Degree. This is what happens when you only work 50 hours a week. You take up training for a half marathon and you have time for a social life and then finally it still seems like you aren’t working enough so you decide to add on a course load.

It started as I looked at my transcripts. It turns out that the intervening decade had erased some memories. If you wondered where the 37 year old woman who works in 3 cities and keeps all those balls in the air came from? She’s based on an 11 year old that took over the cooking and housework and worrying about money. The woman who works harder than everyone else? That’s because nothing she did was ever good enough and they made sure she knew that every day. The woman who always has a plan B?  That’s because she was locked in closets and fed from dog food bowls when she was 5.

It all fell apart in the fall of 2000 when I moved out on my own. I can trace the trajectory in my grades. GPA dropping – 7 to 6 to 5 to 4.7. I can see it in the 1’s and 2’s with notes that I didn’t show up to the final exam, didn’t submit assignments. I can see it in the marks, but more than that, I can remember it. I could not leave my apartment. I couldn’t grocery shop. Figuring out which room the exam was in was overwhelming. I submitted papers by email. Everything was terrifying. All of the memories, all of the abuse, all of those terrible words came crushing down in September of 2000. I cowered under the weight of it.

I can trace the path back in the fall of 2001. Married, on antidepressants, my mother gone from my life. I could not really advocate for myself at 20. I got help at 21 because Mr. Spit went with me. His drug plan paid for my antidepressants and the university paid for years with a counsellor. I somehow didn’t every completely flunk out of university, but I’m not applying for grad school this year.

It’s different now. I look at myself and my transcripts. I sit on the train in my suit and I wish I could go back. I wish I could get her help. Tell her that there was a glorious future filled with joy and some despair, a home filled with things she loved. The laughter of friends. People who loved her.

I can’t. And my academic record is a mess.

I’ll fix this. I’ll go into the faculty and I’ll sit there with my briefcase and my transcripts and the story of a young woman who got lost in the morass.

I’ll go take some senior level courses. I’ll tell my boss and my friends the truth – I struggled in University. The weight of years of abuse almost crushed me. I made it out and now I have to go and do a bit of back tracking to get where I want to go.

There’s always an answer, always a fix. I know that at 37. You get to ask for a do over.

Posted in The language of families | 3 Comments