Never Mind the Quarks

I have a post I’m working on about ancient philosophy and quarks. Mostly about the fact that I think I got a lot of my physics knowledge from Aristotle and other hellenistic philosophy and that was maybe not a very good plan because I don’t know what quarks are and they are important and interesting.

Anyway. Not where I’m going with this. (But quarks are kind of interesting. Certainly more interesting than Anaxagoras, who thought that cheese was made of bone and flesh. Turned me off cheese for about two weeks.) 

When my house got broken into, a number of people insisted that I should get cameras or an alarm. I had always said the dog was my security system; but it turns out she’s totally useless if you give her a milkbone. Or several. 

I thought long and hard. I didn’t want the hassle of a security company. I suppose I could have gotten cameras, but in my experience that just means you can give the police crappy photos of the people who broke into your house. So I wound up with a smart security system. It’s kinda the compromise between all the other option (Except for the dog refusing to defending her turf. Not much I can do about her nature). 

That went really well. Seriously. It took like half an hour to set up. I can turn it on from my phone, if I forget. I can see my front hall. 

Then last week was time change. Each time that happens, my programmable thermostat loses its little electronic mind. My only option is to stay home from work on a Monday at 9 am, take the batteries out, put them back in and then carry on for the next 6 months. I finally had enough, so I bought a nest, which is a smart thermostat. 

From there, it isn’t far to wanting to be able to yell at the thermostat that I wanted it to turn up the heat. Which then meant I got an Echo. From there I decided it was going to be cool if I could turn on the basement lights (because I often forget to turn them off; also they are on pull chains and it’s hard to do that when your hands are full of laundry. 

Which lead to “wouldn’t it be nice to be able to turn off the living room lights, including the one that has the switch behind the couch.” 

Which has now turned into “Hey, I wonder if I can lock and unlock the doors remotely and can I turn off switched lights off remotely?”. 

It turns out, you can. 

I’m pretty sure that quarks are involved. 

Posted in It's a Wonderful Day in the Neighbourhood | 1 Comment

Swimming Alone

I owe you my annual post about what I plan to learn this year, for my birthday. This one is going to be a bit different. 

I have been taking yoga again. My balance isn’t as great as it could be. MS probably doesn’t help, but if you know me, you know it was never great. So yoga. 

There’s a moment now – different teacher, different place, different life. There’s a moment when I settle in. Before the class starts, when I sit on my mat, cross my legs, close my eyes and call my self back into my body. 

I’m a head person. I live in my head, I work in my head. As long as I have my head, I have enough to be getting on with.  It’s what makes me resilient. 

And I am resilient. Not the kind that bounces back with a perky smile after a minor set back, the kind that can’t be knocked over, not really. The kind that understands resilient is not about springing back into shape, it’s about being alive enough to spring back into any shape. I’m not memory foam resilient, I’m cockroach resilient. It’s not pretty, but pretty never really mattered much when the game was survival. 

This summer was bad – bad like it hasn’t been in 20 years. This summer was about knuckles – at turns white or bloody. This summer was about survival. This summer was about discovering when you swim out too far past shore; what happens when you swim alone. 

I thought I learned this in 2014, about saving something for myself. I did learn that. What I didn’t learn is to keep my eye on the shore line. You see, I thought that I would always be able to swim back. I rather foolishly thought that there would be someone to throw me a life preserver. There was neither, and I was too far out to shore, drowning, alone. 

The thing about resilience, the cockroach kind, not the foam kind, is that you are willing to do what ever you need to do to survive. In my case, I had to learn the equivalent of floating. This is a bit terrifying, it’s hard to believe that floating alone is much better than drowning alone, although you aren’t dying. 

I survived, as is obvious. I’m not at the shore, but the shore is closer. There’s still more floating than I’d like (because, let’s face it, I’d like none), but I’ve survived. Last year I learned to watch the shore line, because I swim alone. This year? This year I’m just going to keep watching the shore. I’m not going to learn anything.

That’s enough. 

Twice a week, at yoga. Legs crossed. Eyes closed. I call my body back to myself.  

That’s really enough. 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

What They Got

I went to my godmother’s for thanksgiving. It was like the holidays of my childhood, except there were no boiled brussel sprouts and I didn’t have to sit at the kids table (but my cousin did, and I told him that this year if he started the food fight again, there was no blaming it on me). If you asked, I would say that I went home for thanksgiving. It’s the closest thing I can think of to home, at any rate.

I got back to my house about 9:30 on Sunday night.

My house had been robbed. The police asked, insurance asked, kind colleagues and friends asked – what did they get?

I could tell you – they got Gabe’s bracelet, the one I wore to convocation, every single important meeting, to my mum’s funeral. They got the pearls I loved, my wedding band, my engagement ring, 20 years worth of earrings.

Gabe’s bracelet will be replaced. I’ve sent the woman who made it 11 years ago an email, asking if she can remake it. When I get the insurance money, I’ll replace the pearls. The earrings? They’ll take time but I’m sure 20 years from now I’ll have done it.

The more astute have asked if I feel violated. I suppose, a bit. There’s nothing quite like having a conversation with a lovely young constable while you are standing in a bedroom with underwear strewn over and a few unopened condom packages laying festively on top. I’m not so unflappable as I thought.

But the burglary? It was never about me. It was about people looking quick things to trade for drugs. It was about the misery of addiction and hopelessness. They didn’t see the bracelet or my dad’s lighter or my mum’s earrings. They just saw quick cash so they took it.

They didn’t get the memories. They can’t take the memories. My joy when Owen gave me the pearls. The comfort I felt when I touched Gabe’s bracelet as I crossed the stage.

They got stuff. Oh, important stuff, but stuff.

The police came. My friends offered me a place to stay if I felt unsafe. Insurance will cover the loss. A few weeks of sleeping with the hall lights on. I’ll get a security system and a safe to put the replacement pearls in.

Which makes me wonder about my robbers.

I see my Brownies – 7 and 8 years old, happy and giggling. They want to grow up to be unicorns and astronauts and mums. (I’m not kidding about the Unicorn). They don’t want to be addicts. They aren’t hopeless.

So the people who broken into my house – what made them hopeless? How did they come to be addicted?

It seems that long before my robbers stole from me, someone must have stolen from them. Their hope. Their dreams. Their sense of right and wrong.

And I wonder – who did that to my robbers?

Did anyone come when it was stolen? And perhaps more importantly, did those people know what they got?

Posted in Learning Life | 2 Comments

On the Night of my 40th Birthday

On the day of my 40th birthday, I got up and drank my coffee, opened my birthday cards. I wore a new dress and red lipstick and a beautiful pair of black heels. (I also forgot to pack a pair of flats, which means my feet and I are not currently on speaking terms.)

I got my birthday pumpkin spice latte. With soy. Large. No whip cream.

I got through my rather frustrating meeting, met with Kuri for a coffee and a chat and a very good almond croissant.

I sold the last two boxes of cookies today, which means I have sold 10 cases of Girl Guide cookies. That’s a lot of cookies and mostly equals the overnight trip to the zoo my Brownies and Sparks are looking forward too.

Iron Man and a cute little girl sang me happy birthday in a video and it was the best thing in the entire universe.

I went to dinner with a friend and her children. I teased them about getting enough sleep – telling that their brains and bodies grew while asleep. I laughed when the younger boy asserted that without sleep you’d be short and dumb.

I came home, did a bit of work on a project I’m enjoying, watched the Flash (I’ve become addicted), drank some very good scotch. Replied to a bunch of texts and facebook messages wishing me happy birthday.

It’s the night of my 40th birthday. I’ll crawl into a bath and then into a warm bed with a pink duvet cover and pink sheets. The cats will cuddle. I might bring a mug of Horlicks with me.

On the night of my 40th birthday, I can tell you there was no big magic, just moments of small goodness and joy. That’s magic all the same.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Tell me when it gets fun?

This week I figured out how to change the batteries in the number pad on my door. It was far easier than I expected and I was pleased.

I went to visit some family.

I took the car to the dealership and got the oil changed and the turn signal changed and they charged me $50 for a clamp. I thought about arguing, but frankly, I couldn’t work up the vim.

I made hot lunches for the week in the crockpot. One of my projects has to do with determinates of health, so I put in things like beans and extra vegetables because apparently eating beans and fiber can add 13.7 years to my life. I even made brown rice.

I did some more work on a data science course I’m taking.

I went to the gym and arranged stuff for brownies and did the laundry and housework.

I’m a week from turning 40. I think that’s an adult.

Everyone told me that adulthood was fun.

Is that a thing I should expect the day after my birthday?

Posted in Feats of Wonder | 2 Comments

Return to Sender

I thought it was the window cat bed.

Which I ordered. Because it was $17 on Amazon and maybe it would keep the cat off the chair. Nash likes sitting there because he can watch the birds.

I came home and saw the notice and figured the cat bed required a signature, which seems stupid for $17, but there you have it.

It wasn’t the cat bed.

My nephew and his husband opened it and returned it. Must have been the next day, given how quickly it came back to me.

It’s been 3 weeks. I’ve been mostly silent. There is so much I no longer understand about the world.

Posted in The language of families, the nieces and nephews | 5 Comments

A Cup of Kindness, yet.

I polished the silver salt and pepper shakers until they shone. Carefully washed the kindness cup. Pulled out the good notepaper and a wrote a note. I explained that the salt and pepper shakers belonged to my grandmother, they had seen many happy family celebrations and holidays; I hoped they would see many more at a new table. The kindness cup was given to my mother for her wedding, from a favourite aunt. I hoped for kindness for both of them.

I tucked the letter in the box, I wrapped it myself, tied it with ribbon. Signed a card. I’ve already arranged for delivery.

I’m not going to the wedding. I wasn’t invited. My eldest nephew and his now-husband have refused to talk to me for 2 years. I don’t know why. I’ve asked. They simply won’t talk to me.

I struggled, you know. I didn’t want the present to be passive aggressive. I didn’t want to upset them, to mar their day. It will be delivered after the wedding. The note asks no questions, just explains the history and wishes them joy and happiness.

I wanted to go to this wedding. I have wanted it for as long as I have known this together. There’s an asterisk when I tell anyone that I have 12 nieces and nephews – the part I don’t say. The part where I did something so unaccountably terrible that someone cut me out of their life without a word and I do not understand why. I have 12 nieces and nephews, but one of them doesn’t want me.

The role fo the self-chosen aunt can be dicey. I’m not family. I get that. I don’t get cards for aunts day. They are never here for Christmas. I’m not especially special.  I get that.

Still.

A smile on my face when I saw a wedding photo on Instagram.

Wishes for joy and happiness.

A cup of kindness, yet. For old time’s sake.

It seems like the least I can do.

Posted in the nieces and nephews | 4 Comments

Ordinary Time

This week is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Ordinary time is all the time in the Church Calendar which is not Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. Put another way, Ordinary Time makes up about sixty percent of the Church Calendar year.

This morning I got up, had coffee and something to eat, bought cat food, ran a few more errands, ran into a former classmate and chatted for a bit, and then picked up my dry cleaning.

It was . . . ordinary.

I say this because when I decided to defer my acceptance for the next Master’s Degree, I didn’t have good words for why. Oh, the people who know me understood what I was thinking – but I couldn’t really succinctly explain it.

I needed to figure out how to live.

My son died in December of 2007. I spent 2008 trying to figure out how to breathe without him. In 2010 I went to Calgary to train a few people in ARIS. I came back from that project, having worked 60, then 80 then 100 hour weeks. When the project went live, I said I learned to dance.  6 months after go live, I went to work for my first management consulting firm. 3 years. 3 Promotions. An average of 46 weeks on the road. I woke up and couldn’t see out of my eye. 2014 was the year I was diagnosed with MS, my mother died, my marriage fell apart. I switched jobs in 2015. Figured out how to live with MS. I started an MBA in 2016, I got divorced in 2017, finished the MBA in 2018.

I do not know how to live in Ordinary Time.

Oh, I have relearned how to live. With the death of my child. When I decided there would be no children. On the first big project. As a road warrior. With MS. While getting an MBA. As a divorced woman. None of that was ordinary.

I’ve regretted deferring my acceptance. There’s nothing to look forward to. It’s not easy. I’m bad at living in Ordinary Time.

Which is why I’m doing it.

 

Posted in Learning Life | 2 Comments

Possibly Not Solved by Numbers

I’m not doing well at the internet dating thing.

By not doing well, I mean I’m on week 2, I’ve been on 2 dates and I haven’t found the love of my life. Actually, I haven’t found someone I want to see again. I’m also not doing well at getting guys to message me. Or respond to the messages I send.

If you know me in real life, you know that I have a particular approach to challenges.

Find the problem. Make sure that’s the problem. Fix the problem. Move on.

Ok. I don’t know what the problem is. Something strange in my bio? I got a few male friends to look at my bio. They thought it was fine (and they’ve done online dating, and I’d be happy to find someone like either of them). So, that’s not it.

I don’t have kids. Well, I can see that might be a thing. I’ve put a note in my bio that says I don’t have kids, but I do have 12 nieces and nephews, so I’m fine if they do.

I’m short. Ummm. Well, that’s not really something I can fix.

Wrong Photo? Ok, fine, let’s try another one.

It also occurs to me, this may not be a problem that numbers can solve.

Huh.

Posted in Adult Dating | 1 Comment

In Humble Defence of Middle Age

A week ago Friday I posted a status update on Facebook.

I was poking fun at being a walking cliche.

Instead, I caught hell for daring to call myself middle-aged. I’m serious. Five different people felt the need to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to call myself middle-aged.

I’m sorry – allowed?

You know what? I am *exactly* middle-aged.  The average life expectancy for a woman with MS in Canada is 77.2 years of age. I’ll say it again – I am *exactly* middle-aged.

You know what else?

I’m happy being middle-aged.

I’m not kidding. I have ZERO problems turning 40. I’m excited about 40.

I thought I knew everything in my twenties. I knew almost nothing. My thirties were hard. They were a decade learning to bear far more than my fair share of sorrow and grief and tragedy with grace.

You know what forty is? It’s when I’m old enough to know who I am and what I want. I’m old enough to ask for what I want.  I’ve learned who my friends are and how to pick them. I’ve learned to say yes and to say no and when to do both.

There were times I wasn’t sure I would get to this age. I’ve earned those wrinkles and the sore knees and the fact I can’t stay up all night and go to work the next day. I’ve worked hard to get to this age.  I got to this age by living and sometimes – a lot of times – that was hard.

I’m sick – to death – of our endless fascination with youth. I’m bewildered that anyone would have the unbearable audacity to tell me I wasn’t middle-aged, that I had to stay young. I’m happy to move past being young – it was sometimes great when it lasted (see note knees and staying up all night). Now it’s time to let that go and move on to the next phase. There will be some crappy parts and I can see that there are going to be some fantastic things.

I’m not afraid of age. Age is not death. Age is not defeat. I’ll say it again. Age is not defeat. Age is a hallelujah victory. Age means you made it – not just to another year, but to another phase.

You stay obsessed with being young. That’s fine. You do you.

But don’t you dare tell me what to do. I’m middle-aged. I don’t put up with that crap anymore.

Posted in Feats of Wonder | 3 Comments