What Can I Tell You

Let’s see:

I have an obscure sort of leak from the corner of my house, which only leaks when it rains really hard and the wind comes from a particular direction. Mostly what is frustrating is that this is going to be a bugger to solve, especially as I have a feeling it will involve a number of people up ladders and small bits of flashing and caulking guns.

I had a job interview on Wed, did not get the job. Onward.

Finally, it will be sunny all weekend. So there’s that.

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There is no Rhyme

After almost a week of no anxiety, it reared its head last week.


If you are me, you try and reason your way out of it. You try and sort out what it is that triggered the anxiety and then you try and talk yourself down and use logic and breathe. You try and point out all of the things that you are doing to find a job, you remind yourself that you have enough money to get by for now, that you are not going to be homeless, that the world will not end.

You remind yourself that you are not a burden, that people still care about you, that they reach out. You try and substitute fact for feeling. It’s not a completely bad strategy. You eat, you go for a bike ride, you meditate. When your brain lies and tells you that you will become unemployed and homeless because you really aren’t good at anything, you remind yourself of all the reasons that’s not true.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes you manage the anxiety with an Ativan and Nutella eaten straight from the jar.

The anxiety? It’s not reasonable. It’s not a thing to be reasoned with. Nor seemingly is there any rhyme to it. Anxiety, it turns out is a feeling and not a fact.

Posted in Learning Life | 2 Comments

But Not that Kind of Cyclist

When asked about my bike, I tell people that she is a pleasing shade of teal, with a clever wicker basket that I can take into the grocery store and clip back on to the front of my bike. She has a very wide and padded seat and my bike helmet, which I wear faithfully is exactly the same shade of teal as my bike.

When bike people* ask me for more detail, say information about brands, or the type of shocks or how many speeds she has, I look at them over my glasses and smarten up my cardigan and tell them that my bike is named Lois. It stops the conversation in its tracks, which is exactly what I intended. There is not much you can say to a middle-aged spinster who named her bike Lois.

It’s a curious thing – I have a great many friends who are *bike people. They are the sort of people who own bikes worth more than my first car. I have a friend who is a family of 3 and, no word of a lie, the last time I counted, there were 15 bikes in his garage. I have friends who bike to work in snowstorms, exhorting the benefits of healthy exercise and bracing cold. I have friends who have bikes for various purposes, I think perhaps like I have seven different frying pans, because they do different things. Still, while I understand the theory of bikes for different purposes, Lois and I go to the Italian Centre (the small size of the basket limits cheese impulse purchasing), the drug store, and the library. Sometimes we bike to neighbourhood events, but only if it’s not going to rain, or we won’t be out after dark. Lois is not the sort of brave bike that has lights for after dark. She is the modest companion of a modest spinster.

All of this to say, she turned 10 today. I need to go to the drug store to mail a birthday card, so I think I’ll take her for a spin.

If you wanted, you can read about the day I got her here: The Wind in Your Hair

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

Connected to All the Other Parts

I get an MRI every spring and at the end of each spring neurology appointment, my neurologist offers to show me my scans. Honestly, I don’t especially care. It was cool the first few times, but there are only so many times you can stare at your brain, which, with the contrast is mostly dark since there is limited evidence of disease activity in my brain these days. I look at the scans mostly because my Neuro looks so excited to be able to show them to me and I think it makes him happy to be able to take me on the (same) guided tour of my brain.

This time I asked for a detour. We started flipping through scans, my brain getting larger and smaller, contorting and flipping through vague images until I asked if he could show me my basal ganglia. He paused, told me he needed to change the view, clicked around a few times. In an instant, he was reciting the names of all of them. Caudate, putamen.

The Scotch was right. They are in the centre of your brain, connected to everything else. I did not say it, but I imagine a sort of sadness played across my face. In my own brain imaging I saw the inevitability of Andy’s death.

Today I did a bunch of yard work, some laundry. I read a bit, watched Hamilton. As the day waned, as it gets dark and time turns toward when the US will have fireworks, I thought of 2014. Owen and I went down for the holiday, Andy’s brother Matt was there. We all sat at a dive bar called Jack’s, which was in a town so small I don’t think I could find it on a Map. I’m not sure my GPS knew where it was. Ben was 3, Emma was just shy of her 1st Birthday. It was the trip I became Aunty Smarties.

It was the last time we were all together for a happy thing. I told myself today, as my thoughts turned to that holiday that the cancer would not have been in Andy’s brain. We would not have known that marriages would end, that cancer would take Andy.

And yet.

Basal ganglia hold more than one secret. Everything is connected to everything else.

Posted in The language of families | 1 Comment

Not Quite >= Enough >= Too Much

If I close my eyes and really think about what I’ve learned in the failure of 4(!) relationships since I became separated, I’ve mostly learned that I need to cut my losses a lot sooner. You have to be, quite frankly, pretty damn dreadful to get me to dump you. Even when I do dump you, I feel badly about it, I’m not sure that I shouldn’t have given you one more chance and I keep telling myself that I’m not perfect either.

Reader, please believe me that while I am not perfect, I’m a pretty solid girlfriend and these guys did not deserve one more chance. Indeed, they did not deserve the chances they already got. In my head, up until the morning I got a response back from my goodbye text, I would have said that I was a screw-up.

Something about what he wrote made me see rather more clearly.

I am a lot. I am kind and loving and dedicated. I believe in goodness and mercy, I believe in second chances and that it’s a sin to be able to help someone and not help. I’m an all or nothing, burn the boats on shore kind of person. I don’t do things by half measures and I’m never going to be described as calm and chill. I get excited about things – about politics and star wars and lego and obscure economic points. I’m insatiably curious. I love shoes and makeup and I will scream with my last breath about human rights and feminism. I like my own company. I’m fine with nights spent knitting and staring at my fire. It does not bother me that I read philosophy as a hobby. While I have fewer friends, I will go to the very ends of the earth for my friends. I can call my friends at 7 am on a morning when I had to crawl to the bathroom and they will come.

Not a single damn part of that list is bad. Not a single part of that list is anything to be ashamed of. I’m a lot. It’s not a weakness, it’s a superpower.

Maybe there’s a guy out there. Maybe there isn’t. I’ve gradually come around the realization that unemployment and Covid aside, in January of this year, right before J. came on the scene, I liked my life. It was not perfect, but it was good. It was the sort of life, that if I lived it every day until I died, I don’t think I would tell you my life was wasted.

In a more perfect world I would tell you that I have it all sorted out. I don’t. I am coming around the the idea that I am enough.

Posted in Adult Dating | 2 Comments

Odds and Sods

I do not have Covid, which is exactly as expected. I went, I stood in line, they put a swab up my nose, and 24 hours later I logged into my electronic health record and yep, I had allergies and not Covid. So, that’s good.

I can also tell you, should you ever decide that you want to learn python and R, don’t do it at the same time. Both languages do some similar things, but they do them in very different ways and you can be mindboggilingly wrong.

Finally, since it’s Canada day here, Happy Canada Day. I am, as ever, very proud to be Canadian.

Posted in Salmagundi: A collection of various things | 1 Comment

But my Pants Still Fit

I have to go and get a Covid test today. This is partly because we are testing even the asymptomatic here in Alberta, and partly because on Fri-Sat I had a mildly stuffy nose and a sore throat and a headache. In any other timeline, I would have shrugged and thought allergies or mild cold, but in this timeline, well, testing it is.

I was talking to Christie yesterday afternoon and I commented that I unpacked all of my summer work clothes, ironed them, hung them up and I have worn. . . . Well, none of them. When you leave the house for groceries and pet food, you wear jeans and hoodies.

I put on a pair of dress pants and a cardigan and a nice shirt and even a necklace. I wore make up.

I am dressing up for a pandemic flu test.

But. . . .

My pants still fit, so that’s something good.

Posted in Pandemic | 3 Comments

Mrs. Spit’s Summer Vacation

The last summer in which I did not work full time would have been 1993. I was in grade 8 that year, and I remember I did a summer camp for technical theatre and probably spent the rest of the summer being a suburban teenager. I think maybe there was some babysitting.

From Grade 9 until now, I have worked. I may have taken off a week in the summer, but I’ve never had more than 3 weeks of vacation in a year; there were no extended summer breaks. My current employer has, from time to time, required me to take time off when I wasn’t billable, which further reduced my vacation available. Finally, there has been school and projects and vacation while I went to Montana to help with the kids and Chemo and Radiation. What there hasn’t been are days where I had no professional responsibilities.

The anxiety, between J. and my job loss, was blinding. Blinding enough for Ativan, blinding that my friends and my doctors have kept close tabs on me. Blinding enough that I was frightened for myself. I’m still anxious; still worried about what happens if I don’t have a job at the end of September.

But for now, for July and a part of August? I’m going to stop thinking of unemployment as a bad thing and start thinking of my great good fortune. I cannot work because there is no professional work for me to do. My protestant work ethic and workaholic nature must be still and silent. I am supported by a social safety net that I have paid into for more than 25 years. I have some savings. It will not be a glamourous life, but I will keep body and soul together, a roof over our heads and the animals and I fed.

I’m going to call this a summer vacation.

I will learn python and read novels and knit and weed. I will re-teach myself statistics and R, and sit in my chair in the garden and stare at the fire. I will restain the deck, but be glad that I’m not trying to shove it into a few hours because I’m busy. I shall do what suits me when it suits me.

Sure, I’m an unemployed bum. But this bum is on summer vacation.

Posted in Pandemic, Unemployment | 3 Comments

Do you Paint your Nails While you Cut your Loss?

When I got ghosted and then dumped, the dumping came with a “let’s have coffee and talk” sort of thing. I don’t remember exactly what the offer was. I sensibly, to prevent rumination, deleted the text. I said that I needed a couple of weeks to get my feet back under me and I would be in touch. He said he understood.

A couple is two (Don’t I know this), and that two weeks ended yesterday. It turns out, as the last two weeks have passed, that I really don’t have much *useful* to say to J. Please don’t misunderstand, I have *plenty* to say, it’s just not . . . . useful.

What I have left to say is the sort of thing that would be unkind and likely does not need to be true.

I thought about just never responding, but that’s unkind. That’s a form of ghosting too. The text is written. It’s polite, kind and ironclad.

I just don’t want to send it.

Posted in Adult Dating | 2 Comments

Back When We Were Babies

I woke up this am and Facebook told me it was my 19th wedding anniversary. Except, well, you know, not really.

Christie and I had this conversation. We had it a bit in December, we had it a bit when I was back in March, we had it when she was hunting for photos for Andy’s service. I thought about it a bit more when I was hunting for a particular childhood photo of me to show J.

I look at my wedding photos now and I am struck. Christie was right. We were babies. I was 22 years old. I was younger than most of the men and women I’m taking graduate classes with. I got married when I had not finished my undergraduate degree. I knew nothing about anything and you could not tell me that.

There are no photos of just me on my wedding day, and in some ways I suppose that says a lot. I’m not sure that there was much of a just me on June 23, 2001. A nascent just me. A small portion of just me, but not one who understood that she was enough, that she was tiny but fierce.

We could say it was age, the age difference, perhaps even temperamental unsuitability that ruined my marriage. It was all of those things; all of those things would have been solved if I had a better idea of who just me was.

That baby on that day? She had no idea of who she would become.

Posted in Divorce, Feats of Wonder | 2 Comments