For you, the dress code is casual.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Terrible, but kinda true.

Writing, You Fickle Bitch

I'm having a hard time coming to terms with writing of late. I think this is an ongoing thing, I doubt it's going anyplace fast. I love it, I hate it, then I hate it some more, but it compels me, and being a bear of little spine, I allow myself to be so compelled.

I have a book I read from time to time to remind me of what it is I get from writing. It's an anthology called Why I Write and it has a hell of a mix of writers in it, everyone from Norman Mailer and Denis Johnson (who my fiction has been compared to, whoo-hoo) through to Pat Conroy and William Vollmann. The passages are widely varying depending on the author, but the gist of them comes down to why, indeed, they write.

I ask myself that a lot. Why bother? I don't get anything out of this. I make no money because I don't have a freelancer in me, and because I don't feel I can work for a periodical. So, I plug away, hoping maybe I'll make some money through it one day, but mostly doing it because I just don't know what I'd do if I didn't.

So, it was with great "a-ha!" that I was read a passage of Vollman's in my book earlier on the bus when I came upon this single brilliant line, Now I feel instead that the tale is a block of darkness that I chip away at deliberately until I begin to glimpse tiny stars within.

God. Sometimes I hate writing. It's so pointless. Does anything really come of it? Why bother? Why put myself through this? When did it change? When did the mission get confused?

Sigh. Bah. Damn you, writing. I feel like listening to that stupid song by the old hair band, Poison, "Something to Believe In." I find writing harder and harder to do as I get more tired and jaded at the end of a long year. I want to believe in it, though. That's the trouble. I KNOW I believe in writing as being a noble, powerful, important work. I know that we writers are the observers of the world. We document the passing of time and the changing of civilization. We are the keepers of your pulse. It's what WE do.

It's strange. I feel like there's a story or an article or just a thing inside that wants to come out of me, but I'm not sure what it is, what it's about, or how to help it emerge. So, I keep sitting down to write, hoping This Is That Time. Yet, no. No cigar, Pedro. Not tonight. Not ever? Nah. Sometime. Just... not now.

Whatever. Tomorrow I will do what I had planned when the Rolling Stones rudely availed themselves to me, smiting the plans that were (I jest, surely) -- I will tote my laptop to work, and after work, find myself a good place to settle in and write and observe.

I think the time is nigh for me to tap into my old fiction roots and see if I write a story or something, just to get myself out of this rut. Work on some imagery or something. Unlikely it will ever see the light of day for you folks -- as you've probably noticed, you've seen sweet fuck all of my short fiction and it's staying that way.

Like most writers, deep down inside sits a wishful novelist. Apparently the average age of the first-time novelist is 34. I'm 33. There's time, by god! There is! Snicker. No. No. Novels are way the fuck down on my list. Still, it'd be cool.

And I'm in a writing rut. I need to shake the foundations. Write something different. Remind myself I have the smarts to capture cadence and twirl some words.

Back in the day, I had this notion of writing a novel within a novel within a novel. Sorta like standing in between those mirrors that reflect ad infinitum, but the literary version. I couldn't solve it, though. It's still a good idea, and I'm sure that if I tear apart some of the old boxes with my shit in them, all the stories are there.

But I'm all right with flash fiction. I doubt I could hold it up over a few hundred pages. I don't know if I could live with myself if I pulled a stunt like Anthony Bourdain does in The Bobby Gold Stories, which take place chronologically with all the same characters, but they're "stories" and not a novel. I dunno if I admire him for knowing his limits and sticking to stories, or if I think it's a copout at making a novel work in the hardest spots there are, the in-between bits. I suspect I think it's a copout, even though I liked it. So, I could never just sell short stories. I've never taken acclaimed short-story writers seriously. How bad am I? Such a snob.

Maybe I find them easy enough to conjure when the mood's right that I think it's a wax job when they make their 8-12% on their cover price.

I dunno. Whatever the fuck. Writing's a chore these days, but I'm working on it. Tomorrow I spend the night solo and try to tap into some stuff. Besides, I have a whole new podcast to write since I finally have a subject to use: returning to the dating game and all the bullshit that comes with. My podcast will entirely be about my life. There's a subject I can manhandle with authority.

(But in the end, I keep remembering the quote in the sidebar here -- writing for a living is a privilege, not a god-given right, as the opportunities are few though sought after by many. Years of rejection serve as a crude winnowing, after which those left standing are those who simply must write, said by Richard Ford. Well, I know I simply must write, and I'll do it to the day I die, pay or no. I know what my spots are, and I don't see them changing.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ranting about weight or something (Sigh)

So, I'm addicted to the show The Biggest Loser. It's a weight-loss reality show. It's starting to psyche me up.

Weight isn't really something I'm a big fan of discussing. I'm overweight. Let's not mince words. And I'm tired of it. Ever since Dad had his big scare, I've been realizing just how fucking tired I am of the weight.

I'm starting a new exercise thing. I live on the third floor of a brownstone. There are six flights of stairs, compared to the 30 in the 15-floor building down the street. So, I'm now running up and down the 6 flights a total of five times, at least. I was gonna do it three days a week, but now I think I'm gonna aim for four or five. I mean, I don't have to leave home. Brilliant.

And it kills me. It doesn't seem like that much, really, but whoosh. I weigh a good bit so there's all that gravity battling going, plus the real elevation gain. Beats the shit out of the stairclimber in the gym. I was in agony for two days. I just did it this morning and I already feel all my ribs tightening up and my abs. Woot. This is easily the best exercise I've ever done, even compared to all the cycling and shit.

Hiking's one of those things that freaks me out but I'd simply love to do at a more ambitious level. I have a little fantasy of being able to hike The West Coast Trail sometime in my life, and I'm not getting any younger. (The New York Times rated it as one of the top 10 treks to take in the world, up there with finding gurus in the Himalayas and shit, I think. And it's here in BC, just four hours from my digs, and several days of some of the hardest hiking there is.) I'm a photo nut. If I can take pictures like I do in the city in the woods, man, I'd have some pretty dang good shots out of the deal.

Actually, all my big travelling dreams have to do with activities and nature, and I've never been able to do any of them. I'm at the point now where I'm thinking, well, that's unacceptable. That's what that is. Unacceptable.

So, I'm trying. It's hard, though. My body doesn't like exercise. It's a hard adjustment to make. As an ADULT, in the last 12 years, I've been literally thrown from a horse, I fell down a flight of stairs (unfinished stairs leading to a concrete floor, which I landed on), and I've had no fewer than four serious accidents, including my being thrown off my scooter into an intersection, and then there's the three blown knees I've had. I'm fucking telling you here, getting in shape HURTS every fucking minute. Not just when I'm exercising, but for about six weeks solid. I hurt. Everywhere. All the time. Burning, aching pains that feel like I have some Bavarian wrenching every muscle in my body while Satan lights a fucking barbecue on top of it.

THAT's what it feels like. I cannot express to you how incredibly uncomfortable I become within my own body when I'm adjusting to this. So, now I'm stretching and I'm icing and I'm doing all the well-behaving shit one ought to do when rehabbing, because that's what I'm doing. I'm rehabilating myself. Period. One big fucking achy mess from top to bottom.

I don't live with chronic pain, but I live with chronic discomfort that often elevates to pain. Simple things like stress can exacerbate how I feel. My body acts out when I'm stressed. Grr, body. Quit acting out. Grr. Right now, definitely chronic pain. Ah, well. Life's a bitch. But my ass is feeling tighter. I'll take that.

So, having such an easy exercise be right at my doorstep, literally!, not cost a dime, not be weather dependent, not be a dangerous activity on city streets, not be easy, might just be the ticket to me keeping regular about this. 15 minutes is enough, believe me, on those stairs. Throw a few free weights and some yoga in the mix, and I shouldn't need anything else. Food isn't going to be an issue. I can always have bigger goals down the road.

But I'm just sick of being overweight. I don't believe there are a whole lot of "happy" overweight people out there, and I speak as one of them. I don't care about being some overweight, but this isn't acceptable, my weight now. Not medically, not spiritually, none of it. I deserve better. I know that totally religiously stretching and icing morning AND night will make this transition 90% better than it has been in the past, but it's going to be a boring routine, and I hate routine.

And, like I said, I want to be one of those people that really uses this world in their time here. I'd love to get out into nature more. It's unforgiveable that I've not been. (This may be the year to ressurect the Xmas day hike I used to take. Seriously, two, three hours in the woods, then off to see the family.)

I said earlier my big vacation dreams all have an active side to 'em: cycling Mongolia, surfing Morocco, trekking in New Zealand, the Mayan and Aztec stuff would be cool and that's some jungle walkin' to get there, the cliche motorcycle trip through South America (Viva Che! Heh.)... Then there's just traipsing around Spain drinking wine and eating myself to a slow death, after which the cycling Mongolia tactic might be brilliant strategizing. Death by gluttony followed by death by mutton. Or crushed in a horrific yurt incident. (I still dream of getting a made-in-BC yurt and setting up camp on some Northern Light-viewing plot of land up north.)

So, I love watching the Biggest Loser because I've kept hoping someone would wind up being the underdog who takes it all. Big Erik looks to be the guy I've been waiting for. 407 lbs when he showed up, something clicked after five abysmal weeks never topping six pounds in a week, and whammo -- he's at 112 lbs of loss now. I figure that if someone who had as bad an attitude and was as much of a quitter as Erik was can become so radically turned around now, then hey, so can I.

'cos I tend to get pretty hard core in my active phases. It's hard for me to GO to the gym. Get me there and I'll kick your ass. I just don't go. Cycling, I might be fat, but I can haul this ass all over town. So it pisses me the hell off to be out of shape and overweight. I think I always thought of myself as a fat girl, but the older I get, the more I realize that stuff like hiking extreme trails, surfing in foreign countries, and shit like that actually SUITS me and that the person living this life is just an impostor taking up space.

I betcha this stairclimbing cheap-ass at-my-door exercise changes my life. Betcha it does. 'course, having a positive attitude and just wanting this to be over with in a I'm-getting-MAD-now kind of way doesn't hurt too much either. I have something to prove to myself. Fuck anyone else. I just want to prove something to me now. And, yeah, okay, it'd be cool to show how ass-kicking I can be to a few other folks, too. Couldn't hurt. ;)

Ironic. There's a goddamned world out there filled with ice and snow, and I'm about to go put ice on myself on purpose. I need my friggin' head checked, doc.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Great Freeze of 2006: Some Photos v1.0

I'm enjoying the change of scenery! Here are some photos.

Hey, look, fungi.

I live in a nice treed area. But a lot of trees have been falling in the snow. Sigh.

I like the options offered by paths.

Empty benches always fascinate me.

Nice sky.

Stop. Snowing.

And one I didn't leave the house for, but for some baffling reason love, my sliding door handle:

a trudging we will go

the snow has been coming down for nearly 45 hours now. it's heavy, wet snow. looks pretty, but it's hell to get around in. i've been caving. hanging out with toasty clothes on and warm beverages in my belly.

i need things. food type things. safeway's a rip-off, but i don't see myself making the effort to go anywhere else.

when i went to bed, the temperature had fallen to about -1, but today it's fallen to -6. there are brand-new icicles lining up and down the roofs across the way -- some a whopping 16" long. it's cold. cold!

yeah, safeway it is. brutally cold out there is what it's looking like. on the upside, vancouverites can finally drink tap water after what was about 10 or so days of a boil-water advisory. this is shaping up to be a winter like no other, and it's not even winter yet!

oh boy oh boy oh boy! yeesh. arduous is a word that springs to mind. hot chocolate are two others, tho! ha. bah. i shall bundle up shortly and make a trek to get stuff.

i have decided to make a mock cuban chili tonight. black beans but with beef. maybe corn. cilantro. i have canned cherry tomatoes. should be good!

i hate walking around with packed ice or wet snow on the streets, and right now, it's both. ugh!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Steff's Dumbed-down White Bean & Garlic Sausage

Soup's the bomb in the winter, so it's rather tragic so many recipes are for 6-8 or more servings. I have a single-person city apartment. It's itty. Then it's bitty. Then it's itty some more. The fridge was made to its proportions.

I got no space to freeze leftovers, and I don't want to be eating it for six days, either.

So, here's my "it's too fucking wet out there to go to the store, what's in the kitchen?" made-for-one recipe for White Bean & Garlic Sausage soup.*

Take a couple garlic sausages and chop them into bitsies. You're going to put them in a medium stock pan and saute 'em till they're rendered down and nearly crispy.

Put them aside in a bowl and save a tablespoon of the fat. Add a teaspoon of butter and a finely chopped leek and shallot. If the fatty bits are starting to burn on the pan bottom, toss a tablespoon of stock in and deglaze it. Cook the leek and shallot for five or 10 minutes, until they're caramelizing. Add two or three cloves of minced garlic, depending on your braveness, and cook a further 2 minutes. Add a teaspoon of chopped Herbes de Provence, or you can do rosemary or thyme. Yer choice. Mix and saute another minute.

Rinse a 19-oz can of cannellini beans well and add them to the pan. Toss and saute for about 2 minutes to get the flavours into the beans a bit. Add a couple cups of stock, to cover the beans.

Cook about 15 minutes on a good simmer. Then, puree the beans with stock. Return to the pan, mix. If you like the consistency, great. If it's too thick, add more stock. Bring it back to temperature, add the garlic sausage, and let it simmer another 10 to 15 minutes.

THEN you want to taste it. Don't season it BEFORE the sausage, because the sausage has lots of salt. Let it simmer, get happy, and then you'll know where you're really at. Now, season with sea salt and pepper.

I had it by itself, but some bread with oil and vinegar would be yummy. You'll have enough for two servings with this recipe.

*I went to the store but not a food one, those were the opposite direction. I got professional-grade muffin tins, a flexible cutting board (why'd I wait so long?! killer $3.99 purchase!), a retro silver paper-towel holder that's wall mountable, and over there still, awaiting pickup, is my set of bowls! Five stoneware bowls in pretty Martha Stewart-type pastels, all the way up to a 3.2L bowl, $12.99! I got soaked! So wet feet. Wah!

snow and the rolling stones

snow, snow, snow! everywhere is snow!

you know i have nothing better to do if i'm taking IQ tests. i'm testing between 128-137 today on two different tests. i'm quite sure there's nothing i need to know further about toogs and bekes today.

now i can venture out into the STILL-SNOWING wonderland. a quest for muffin tins. then, i'll come home all tired and grumpy and wet, rest, and then will leave again in quest for: soup ingredients.

i see a hot date with white bean soup and garlic sausage in my future. hubba-hubba!

or, if i'm too tired to head out again, i'll cop out and make carrot-dill soup. either way, my sexy chicken stock is the base of it.

have i moaned and bitched about the world of hurt i've been in since my stair-climbing experiment? any doubts i had about its effectiveness are GONE, man. HURT. HURT BAD. i had to hike up the ramps at BC Place, whining like an injured puppy, to see the stones.

which i should comment on.

there's this part of the Wonder Boys movie where Robert Downey Jr reads this cliched passage written by Tobey Maguire's character about "an aging prize fighter" who's lost his steam.

yeah, that applies to Mick Jagger. i've never seen the Stones live before but you could tell they were hurting at the end of this long tour they've been on. Jagger was forgetting words, mixing up choruses, and the guys weren't moving around like all the footage i've ever seen had 'em doing.

there were bright moments, but it was sort of sad in parts.

they hammered out seven or so of their new songs all in a row at the beginning, likely because they know the audience is there for the classics, and probably also because traffic was hell due to the early arrival of snow. by the time they got into their classics, the stands were full.

they were engaging, nice, fun to watch, but they were certainly older than any rocker has a right to be, to be honest.

this was the last show of their tour, which some are saying might (and should likely) be their last ever tour. you'd think they'd thought so by the way that they took nearly five long minutes of standing on the stage after the song ended, hugging each other and all the backing performers, and drinking in the standing ovation of some 50,000 plus screaming fans.

i think we all knew it might be the end of an era, standing there looking at what seemed to be a pretty sad but triumphant moment on mick jagger's face.

i'm glad i was there. i'm pissed i didn't take my camera, since they never searched us after all.

i'm glad the fans stayed until the end. i'm sure the band knew the concert itself was missing the mark. too bad. it'd been nice to have seen 'em go out on top. still, they got their ovation they deserved. for their age, they put on a hell of a show, considering the length of the tour.

and just a final word: i'd like to beat the hell out of the bastard who thinks 12 chips with a huge glob of cheese on it constitutes "nachos."

i bought the $4 bottles of diet pepsi and the fucking joke of nachos to thank GayBoy for the spontaneous tickets by way of a sick relative. "well, i hate to admit it," i said, "but i bought these thinking i might thank you--"

"but you mean to insult me with this shit instead?" he scoffed.

yeah, exactly. fucking BC place better get their culinary shit together before the olympics.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It's Great Being Green -- And Me!

Woo hoo!

I have work guaranteed until the New Year, at the very least! I can buy Christmas presents! YAY!

AND... AND... AND!!!

I'm seeing The Rolling Stones for free tonight! Last second luck! I'm too ignorant of their music to deserve 'em, but I'm going! Yep, methinks my luck's a-changin'! AND I'm getting my haircut in 36 hours! AND it's snowing!

Did I mention I have a JOB? Yeah, THAT.

Tomorrow, I officially kick off the hunt for presents! Happy me. HAPPY me! Okay, I don't have time for real food. Must fry and egg and fuck off to see The Rolling Stones. (Up there with Santana, methinks. That was a great gig. I bet I HURT tomorrow!!!)

White Nights and Write Nights

I'm watching Die Hard again, this time with the commentary on. I have a bad headache. I'm writing in between, both here and on the other blog. Taking breaks between each activity for the other activity. Balance. Good.

My laptop computer is charging up. Hopefully by the time my headache dies down, it will be alive again. I'll take the laptop with me to work, and I'll go to work, say, from about 4 to 7, and then take myself out for a bite at a coffee shop and tap away at my computer by candlelight. It's been a long time since I've done that. And it's supposed to snow tonight. I hate being single when it snows. Isn't that weird? But if I am single, then I love to be out in the world on the first snowfall of the year. Usually, I see a movie. This time I think I'll write by a window at one of my fave coffee haunts and watch the world fade to white.

I've told Dad I'm not coming out there. Surrey sucks most of the time, heh, but it sucks more when transit is compromised. Nuh-uh. I fancy a day of housecleaning and walking around the neighbourhood for goods needed.

Like, a muffin tin. I've not had muffins in weeks. Last time: I made muffins for the people at my old job. And as if the Gods were declaring the evilness of that employment, I was never again able to use that tin. Cursed me, methinks. Somehow, the rice flour detonated the nonstick surface and charred remnants fused into that malfunction of a muffin tin. I tossed it. Canadian Tire now has the expensive nonstick pans on for 65% off this weekend! I smell MUFFINS!

Huzzuh. Muffins and snow and blankets and books and movies and all things good for a snowy day.

How I LOVE a snowy day! And a Sunday is the bestest day ever for a snowy day! Like the gods looking down on you to say: You are to do nothing. Stay home. Wander around. There is no need to venture into the world. Behold, a blanket of white goodness.

Want to hear my all-time favourite snowday story? It's my all-time favourite story about my mom, too. I told it at her funeral. I actually got a laugh at her funeral. THAT is how funny I am. Take that! But everything I loved about my mom comes through in this story. Wow, hadn't thought of this for awhile until just now. Okay, I'll tell it to you, then.

Anne of Green Gables is one of my favourite stories ever. My folks are both from PEI. My mother's name was Shirley Ann-without-an-E instead of Anne-with-an-E Shirley of Green Gables. Mom even had red hair. I loved that character, her ability to see beauty everywhere and her romantic view of the world at large. I loved her drama and her self-importance. The Americans have their Scarlet O'Hara, but if Scarlet was lowkey, a good friend, and grateful and never spoiled, she'd be Anne Shirley.

In 1985, the TV movie was released. My mother had been anticipating this movie for a long, long time and was so excited when it was coming out. She decided we could stay up until 11 that night to watch the first part of the movie and even the next night's too. She wanted us to see what kind of place PEI was to grow up in (even though my 1981 summer spent in PEI stands as the happiest memory of my life). My dad was out of town on a hockey trip, so it was the three of us. We had hot chocolate with marshmallows and sat glued to the tube for the whole movie.

Unbeknownst to us, it'd began snowing practically the instant the show began. All the curtains were down, so when we began ascending the stairs to the second floor, it took us by surprise to see through the bay window at the end of the hall that monstrous white snowflakes had consumed the night air, coming down in a furious flurry.

"Snow!" we cried, my brother and I, and we rushed to the window and looked outside. We went to school out in the valley in a private school, so this meant one very likely thing to us: Snow day! Closed for snow! NO SCHOOL! Likely. Probably. Oh, goodness, we hoped so!

Much to our surprise, my mother had a huge smile on her face and was looking at the now-white world splayed before us, and said, "Go get dressed."

"What?" I blurted.

"Well, you're right. There's probably no school tomorrow. Get dressed. Let's go get some pizza."

"All right!" my brother exclaimed.

We got dressed faster than we ever had. By 11:30, we were running through the forest, the soil and snow crunching beneath our feet, wind causing snow to flutter and fall upon us. It was the perfect snow, too. Not too powdery, but definitely not wet. Perfect for snowballs and snowmen.

We got to (the original) Ocean Park Pizza and ordered some pepperoni pizza and milk. I don't think we got into bed until nearly three that morning. With all that warm pizza in our bellies, we made a snowman and we had playfights with the snow.

The snow acted like a buffer, blanketing the world with silence. No one was out there, no cars, no pedestrians. It was my brother, my mother, and me. We ruled the world that night.

We all slept late and had pancakes for breakfast. Later that day, Dad returned home, and for some reason, none of us told him what we'd done. It was our little secret. Just like when Mom would go away, Dad would buy us Honeycombs and Apple Jacks, my brother and me's fave sugary junkfood cereals. (Mom was a Corn Flakes kinda mom.)

So, even today, there's something I absolutely love about going for a walk after midnight in a fresh-falling snow. I do it to this day, and every single time, I think of Anne of Green Gables and my mother, her romantic hedonist compatriot.

I think one of the best gifts my mother ever gave me was the ability to appreciate the little moments in a great big life filled with them. I suspect I do it better now than she ever did. It's funny what we take from each of our parents. These past couple of weeks have given me a new appreciation for my father, too, in that I know what I almost lost, and I'm glad I didn't have to go there yet. So, I'm not going out there tomorrow, because I'll be at home enjoying a new snow. My camera's coming out, and I'm going exploring. We're going on a photo hunt, boys and girls.

Soon, my laptop will be recharged, and I can venture out in my soon-to-be-white world. Insert giddy shiver here. How fun. :)

(Incidentally, this was going to be a thing about why Die Hard is such a great action movie and me writing about why I love and hate action flicks at the same time. The commentary had me thinking. I think a good action movie is the hardest thing to write. You know, so many people do them badly, et al. Funny how writing sometimes takes a hand and turns the tables on a topic. Most of the time lately, I've not enjoyed writing. It's not been organic. I've really had to manipulate things and force the topics. This is what I miss, the ease at which a story can just unfold itself. I wish it was easier like this more often, the writing thing. Who knows. Maybe I'm coming back to that place again. That'd be nice.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

ergonomics and the ethic of flow

i've had a long couple of weeks. i took it easy tonight. came home armed with frozen pizza and a bottle of wine. yet another wine i latched onto BEFORE the critics bit into it. french. la bastide, 9.99. top 100 of 2005!

but i've had a little much too soon, it seems. i never usedta be this much of a lush. i usedta be able to outdrink the boys. now i drink like a girl. quel lame.

a lovely wine though.

i have to tell you, my derriere hurts a-sumthin fierce. i marched down to the highrise in my hood this morning and hiked the 15-floor building and headed home. i figured it'd be challenging, but i got home with spaghetti legs, man! i can cycle 35-kilometres, and that kicked my damn ass!

'course, i've been lethargic for a while. gotta say, though: loved it. LOVED it. very cool. beats the shit out of the gym. had this bliss-in-transit mode of thought yesterday where i decided i would take a metaphorical look at the stairclimbing as it being part of my daily struggle towards success.

i know how to emotionally blackmail myself, okay? work with me here.

i've been avoiding people. a few demons to conquer or something. i gotta tell ya, 2007 is starting to look mighty fine to me. 2006 has sucked ass, you know. (a few bright bits, but largely ass-ish.) but for everythign that's gone down this year, i know who i was, i know who i am, and i know what's what. it's all good, and i'm glad of where i stand on, um, well, a few points.

every now and then, i just step back and remind myself: one of seventy-five years. not so bad. numbers one through seven, good. eight, passable. nine, not so good. ten, ass...

but, fuck, man. with this age thing comes a reality check: going with the flow takes so much less energy.

way back in the day, '92 methinks, i was thrilled to sign up for the Tragically Hip's first-ever Another Roadside Attraction tour, featuring Husker Du, Hothouse Flowers, World Party, and Midnight Oil, out in the middle of goddamned nowhere, on a native reservation in the middle of god's own mountains, Seabird Island.

Midnight Oil blew a gasket when the moshing started to breach a fever pitch. the lead dude, Baldy, started ranting that they would cut short their performance if the unrulyness wouldn't cease.

well, then. grudgingly, it settled down.

then the Tragically Hip happened, and so too did the unruly moshing. the sunset was coming on now. i was hanging with a truckload of strangers and we were all well into a mix of vodka and watermelon. the moshing, it seemed, was getting wild.

gord downey, one of the most charismatic canadian performers ever, started drawling, "whoa, whoa, whoa! yer doin' it wrong. yer doin' it wrong..."

the crowd sorta went from a dull roar to a curious murmur, because it seemed that the King of the Monologue was poised to go off.

"no, no. you're wasting all your energy. you gotta... i don't know, just vibe it. just..." and his whole body pulsed with the still-rocking slow-but-good bass-line beat in the background of his throaty, raspy voice.

"see, you keep doing that thing you do, and you're gonna go home hurtin'. hurtin' something bad, and you're gonna call into work, "dude, i died last night, i'll see you next shift," and me, i'm just doing this thing i do, and mellowin' in action here, and i'm gonna feel good, feel happy, go home all blissed out, shag my wife, and get into work just fine tomorrow."

a smattering of laughter emits from the crowd.

"you see the reasoning, now, don't you? settle down. be well tomorrow. be happy tonight. let's get back to the show. mellow, now, yeah?"

next thing you know, 20,000 strangers standing in the middle of a sacred plot of native land in the middle of a summer night in the middle of an island, well, we all got into a vibe like none we'd ever known.

i tell ya, i've never had a better three-hour drive in my life than the one i took home that night, the gig still playing in my ears.


my point is, going with the flow: not just energy smart, but smart!

my life right now ain't what i want it to be. point established. let's now find a vibe, shall we? a nice easy repetitive pace where things are a challenge for me but they're not insufferable. all this fluctuation can really ruffle a girl's feather.

ah, well, a girl can hope. in the meantime, i think i wanna listen to "Cordelia." (about both shakespeare and margaret atwood's cat's eye. now there's a great rock song.)

or then again, i could have a glass of wine. oh, and in the spirit of christmas, i bought one of the "anti-christmas" christmas movies i most love, die hard. hans and john mcclane have just met. ooooooh.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I've decided that gym passes are too frugal an expenditure right now. Instead, tomorrow morning, I begin something new. Gonna head down to the office highrise near my place and climb their stairs. 15 floors, see how I do. My starting goals are low, see how my bum knee holds up, considering that it's the real deal, none of this hydraulic gym equipment crap.

Indoors, free, and a bitch to do. Ha.


Will Smith has taken on a pretty challenging role in his new flick, The Pursuit of Happyness. Thing is, he's always had some pretty good skill in him. He blew me away as a legless homeless guy in a wheelchair in Where the Day Takes You, long before Independence Day and Men in Black.

The film flopped, and he stayed pretty mainstream after that. Great flick, tho. Hopefully he continues to try to have a little more depth on the screen. I think he could be a lot less shallow than he has been, but maybe I'm overrating the dude.


Yeah, okay, Michael Richards is an asshole. Can we move on? Yes. Biggoted statements were made. Down right pointy-white-hat things were said. What makes Mel Gibson so special that everyone's moved on from his antics? Oh, that's right, he's an irresponsible alcoholic. The demon drink made him do it! Richards was just born ignorant and yellow, right? According to the pundits, Richards' rant is supposed to be a career-ender.

I dunno. Giving people a second chance seems to be an all right notion in my mind. If he's so sorry, let him prove it. It'll do more good than sitting around flaming the fucker.

I never just accept apologies. It's always "prove you're sorry." Prove it. Let him. What's the worst that can happen, some guilt-ridden public service? That'd suck.


I took the bus this morning. I was doing some writing. Some of my then thoughts:

I think I'm deliberately starting work late so I have more excuse to avoid writing. "Didn't get around to it" in the morning and "too tired to bother" in the night. It's hard right now. Real fucking hard. Takes too much. So, I'd rather not try, just scrape the surface in an effort to distract you from the fact that I ain't cracking much of a nut.

(An image I wrote: I feel like some horribly disfigured survivor of an unthinkable accident, staggering through her days, doing almost anything she can to avoid catching her reflection. In this analogy, the reflection is the introspection of writing. Twisted, eh? Yeah, you don't get to see my journals, boys and girls. We're rated G, as in games the whole family can play.)

I was watching the Kennedy Center Honors last night, when Neil Simon received the Mark Twain Lifetime Achievement Award. If anyone deserves it... (Now why did Steve Martin get it before Neil Simon?) Paul Reisner was telling a story about how Simon would travel to his set with "that PBS bag that they give you and you never use? Well, Neil uses his!" for carrying five or six ragged notebooks, each with a work in progress. Some going well, most not. Problem plays that needed solving and his next big production.

Reisner remarked about how it seemed so easy, since he was Neil Simon and all. Simon responded, "Writing is always hard. It is never easy."

And then it hit me. Of course I don't want to write. Right now, I'm not wanting to go spelunking through my inner self to churn up more deep, dark secrets. I'm pretty damned tired of adversity, and the problem with writing is simple: All writing, whatever the topic, whatever the genre, is about conflict. Hell, all life is. And writing is life. Cliche, cliche, sound bite, ad nauseum.

Whatever the case, I don't wanna fire up the goddamned microscope and get analysing. I don't have anything to really say about society, not in the way I want. Something has jarred me -- could be any number of things. The recent weirdness with Dad's illness, work instability, "who am I" bullshit 30-something when-am-I-gonna-be-THAT wonderings, "the Right Stuff" internal queries I've begun, the seasonal "wish I had a mom" mundanity. Or, PMS.

Thing is, I'm not begrudging life too much. It's all right. For the moment. There's an element of volatility I hate. Suspense is not my friend in most aspects of life. Far too many of my surprises have sucked ass. No, no suspense for me, pal, unless it's a la Spanish Prisoner or the Game or something.

If I felt creative, that'd be different. My new extreme idea of doing the real-life stair-climbing for exercise is also as a result of realizing I need some blood flow going on or nothing's gonna flow, period.

* * *

So it's interesting, then, that I should learn tonight that experts say the three best places to develop creativity are: The Bed, The Bath, and... wait for it: The Bus.

I do love to write on the bus. This is bus season. Bring it on. Riding the bus has given me a great many good writing moments and has planted the seed for some darned good pieces. The bed's a good place. Baths, yeah, I get out of it often and get hit by something to write. More than a few things have been done in a towel, I must say.

I'm gonna hope the turbidity (level of silt and other matter in tap water due to storms of late) has decreased enough that having a bath doesn't seem so unappetizing now. I could use one. It's a cold world out there tonight as the cold front gets closer. Throw the warm air in the mix and a nasty chilly bank of fog is forming to my immediate south. I'm gonna bundle up somethin' fierce for bed tonight.

It's nipply. Brr!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Return of Dad! And Food!

So let's hear it for Pops, who made it home from the hospital today. Wahoo.

He and his lady have adopted a radically healthy diet since they've both apparently had the crap scared out of them. He needs to take it easy for two, three, four weeks, and then he plans to get back to swimming pretty soon. In the meantime, I say siddown and chill.

My dad's about as stubborn as the day is long (sorry, Dad) but he's not a stupid guy. It'd be hard not to learn a lesson or two after all he's been through. I think he's going to go like gangbusters into this healthy new life. I think the price he paid was ultimately too high, and he's looking for a better deal.

Nice to see. I'm pretty optimistic about that.

And the job thing of mine might still work out. All I need is three or four production assistants to drop the ball and Bob's me uncle.

I've got my fingers crossed that, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and, yes, incompetence and/or forgetfullness and/or missed deadlines are still aplenty out there in the world. Hey, something new to pray for. We likes variety.

Oh, and I made chicken stock. Two carcasses of roasted birds, roasted veggies, and a few other things. I'm trying to mimic the rich stock of The Stock Market on Granville Island. The best stock ever (theirs). Too much clove, I fear. Such a hard thing to judge, clove. Next time, half the cloves. But, still. The rest of it seems a thing of beauty. I have every confidence I'll crack their code. Part of me suspects I'll beat its ass, too. I usually tend to one-up these things. They're seasoning to accommodate slightly better than the lowest common denominator. A mean, of sorts. Me, I'm seasoning for my tastes, and those of discerning snackers everywhere. I make better hummous than the Parthenon, even though I've stolen their idea of using the chickpea canned water for getting the consistency right. It's my cumin. See? Season!

It's fun... Like a contest you play with yourself. Good stuff.

Tomorrow, I test-drive it with a single-serving batch of potato-leek soup. Should be wicked good.

Woe is Steff is Steff is Steff is Not? Is? Something.

I'm having a tumultuous time of it still, I'm afraid. While my father seems to be rediscovering a desire to be a healthy, alive person and has made health and his recovery his priorities in life -- a great gift to me, and I'm thankful for whoever out there might've pulled the strings -- I'm falling into yet another employment woe scenario. I may be out of work before long.

I'm very formulaic in how I attack my problems. I accept the problem, but I try to find a way out, and if/when that fails, I think "Just how bad can this be?" And then I totally worst-case it and assess all the collateral damage of just how bad things might get. And then I try to figure out how to avoid all that. Knowledge is power, right? Sure. Why not.

Truthfully, I can handle the joblessness if I have the safety net under me, but it's the safety net I worry about. EI now requires 700 hours of work before eligibility -- or that's what I was told three weeks ago. If things work out, at the end of this payperiod, I'll have just achieved 740. If I wind up unemployed with exactly one week past the required amount of labour, why... That ain't gonna look sharp. Shitty way for it to work out. Just luck. (Isn't everything?) In the morning, I'll pop 'round their office on my way to work and see what my odds look like.

Hopefully there'll be work there, but the bosses were decent enough to give me a heads up that 10 days or so from now it looks to come to near a standstill, which would be not to my advantage, to be sure. But knowing has been an advantage, because I'll take care of business while I can.

Whatever. I can't change what is gonna happen, right, but I can try to minimize the blowback. That's the mode I'm in. What if, and ifs being what they are, and probability being what it is, well... I feel like I'm standing by a fencepost, waiting for the quarter to decide onto which side it's going to fall.

There are certainly things I can control. What happens to me? Outta my hands. What I do about it? All me. All the time. So. I'm considering possible courses of action. I'm going to put some immediate job things out there, but I'm not going to overreact. Legally, I qualify for EI. Whether it gets rubber stamped isn't something I can control.

So, I wait. If it gets rubber stamped, I will apply for work, four or five jobs a week, conscientiously. IE: Actual jobs I want, that I'm actually trying to get. I will also look into schooling options. Hey, you never know.

I was in a bad situation when I was looking for work in June. I needed it. More than any thing in my life, I needed a job then and there. It's like they can smell it on ya. Hungry. Needy. If there isn't a saying about "never trust a hungry person with a fork", well, there damned well oughta be. Maybe a hungry unemployed person is something to be feared. Who knows. Never give them a fork! I think my nerves showed a little too much. Plus, I was having trouble with my hearing aids then. Betcha that didn't help matters.

That, or it was your classic over/underqualified conundrum. Heard a lot of those friggin' words.

Whatever. Mentally -- far better place this time.

I'd just rather not have to go there right now. Oh, well.

My house is clean. There's that. I've adopted a simple belief: I cannot control the world around me, but I can control my own little world. I'm creating order, and then with it should come that Zen calm old merchants go hiking mountaintops, seeking gurus for. That, or I want my money back.

I'm about to deliberately go out and fall asleep on my couch. It's blissful out there. I even rearranged my furniture and I swear, snicker, that my chakras tumbled into the right places when I feng-shuied the shit out of that place. Clack-clack. Hear that?

My living room is almost as clean as it's been in years. The only thing out there that still needs cleaning are the cupboards under the kitchen counter, and they scare me 'cos I see silverfish there. I'm gonna try to be big and tough and clean it out this weekend anyhow. Storage: clean. Balcony: clean. Pantry: Clean. Broom closet: clean. Hall closet: clean. Coffee table innards: Clean. (Must tackle a few clutters of paper yet, though. Eeps.)

I'm freaking myself out! This is how clean I wanted to get my house when I *was* unemployed. I'm employed now and this is nearly incredible! If I wind up unemployed, I can focus on things that actually need doing. This kind of order's easy to maintain once it's had. Or so I'm willing myself to believe. My bedroom is next.

But that's why I'm sleeping on the couch. :) Purty and nice out there.

Monday, November 20, 2006


But of COURSE it would be victory! I have eradicated the evil moths that have invaded my home.

Due my keen eye and superior powers of observation [I flex my eye at you!] I noticed the moths early. After all, it was four moth-sightings in that I astutely noted this was the beginning of an infestation. Aha! Why, elementary, my dear Watson.

I had seen two in my kitchen, two next to my kitchen, and one in my bathroom. The two in the kitchen were closest to the Raisin Bran.

The Raisin Bran was one of the first things I attacked. A moth in the box, another in the bag. Gone. Inside the box, I later noticed another moth and some eggs, it looked like. GONE so fast.

Nothing else had evidence. I've thrown out some high-risk items, like flour and stuff, but in all, I think it's only about a $40 loss. Not too bad!

Evil moths! Grrr! Just another meaningless step in my march towards total world domination. Notch up another victory for Citizen Steff. [Insert triumphant theme here]

The Shot of the Weekend

A shot I think I timed well, going over the skytrain bridge, whatever it's called again. I was at the front of the train for a change, so I thought this was kind of a neat perspective, but I just woke up from three hours of sleep on the couch, so what do I know?

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Moths! I've seen a few... gypsy-ish looking ones. I think my dry goods may be at risk. Tomorrow morning, apart comes the pantry. I was already planning to get a few kitchen essentials at Ikea: plastic and glass storage items are on the list.

God. I hope this isn't what I think. BAH.

Well, I've been planning to take stock of where I am dietarily. This certainly motivates me to do so in a thorough manner.

The pantry will come apart. The fridge will be cleaned out. Sigh.

I foresee this not being a cheap measure. Does anyone know if I should be chucking spices, too, or are they not likely to be desireable moth homes?


BLAH. Motherfucking blah! Grr!

"But when you're done, it'll feel incredible!" Yeah, yeah. But this is the fear and loathing stage. Apprehension. Dread. Hell, plain old heebie-jeebies. Bugs SUCK.

Must. Get. Rubber. Gloves.

I will be unclean. Icky! Bah! And even the WATER is blah! Have a shower -- it's turbid water. Unclean.

It's like a horror movie. Insert the screechy organ music here. Woman shrieking. Rapid zoom-in close-ups of things like... a moth. Larvae.

WAH. Why ME? The horror. THE HORROR.

I'm about to get medieval on some moths' asses. I'm setting the alarm for 7:45. Too bad, I can't go to Ikea now. I'll go to Superstore at, like, 8:15. Cleaning products, gloves, paper towel. I may go for overkill and get some bug spray.

Then, storage stuff at Ikea. Never again. Never forget.

Like I needed a bug epidemic on my last weekend off. Yeesh.

I should come with my very own soap operatic theme music. Some days, man. Good god.

Down with moths. Huzzuh.

Fine, No Game, Then

I went through all this effort to try and get a TV for my dad's hospital room, and came home from my hockey game to a message on my phone last night from his nurse -- he doesn't want a TV, doesn't care to watch the Grey Cup game with me or anyone. But he does want a decaf coffee with double cream and an artificial sweetener.

Ha. Well. All right, then, pops. I can deliver.

So I guess I'll watch the end of the game later, when I get home from the visit. Geez, and I was so sure he'd love to see the game. No accounting for whatcha wanna do when you're sick, I guess. C'est la vie. Coffee, indeed.

The weather's not as bad as last Wednesday or last Sunday: 190 millimetres of rain last Sunday, 110 on Wednesday, but the winds are about the same as last Sunday, up to 70. It's bad enough. Fun. Sort of. Blah. Dreary day for travel. Busses and books. First a belly-filling brekkie. Wonder when the boil water advisory is to be lifted. I was wagering closer to Thursday, GayBoy, who works for Starbucks and who is not making any coffee at all right now (most Starbucks have ceased drink production due to water quality issues -- WEIRD) is thinking Tuesday. Hmm.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Food, Food and Lazy Days

I put my brain on pause this morning. Soon I need to get going out to see Dad, but I was intending for a later visit anyhow. I'm not doing anything tonight, and I'd rather travel later for some reason or another. My main goal today was to sleep late and move slow. Success!

I woke at 10:30 and then jetted around to get the makings of a great breakfast. It's my time to indulge, so I had my favourite chicken-apple sausages, fried eggs, baguette, and some really dark French press coffee. Bliss. I've been good and eating steel-cut Irish oatmeal all week long, the kind that takes 20 minutes to cook. That, and salads for lunch. I'm behaving really well, and the weird thing is, I don't feel like I'm giving anything up. The salads are awesome, filled with roasted chicken and nice veggies like yellow peppers and grape tomatoes. A little provolone and all is good. It fills me up for hours, too, which I never thought would be the case. It's all the chicken, I'm sure, but hey. It's all good.

I suspect I'll lose weight now. I go easy with the dressing, a 2:1 vinegar-to-oil ratio, and seldom any sweetener (honey, if I use it, though). No croutons. Sigh. No bread on the side now. Yay.

I suspect I'll be feeling pretty different in a couple of weeks. I'm not going to go all Nazi with the food. I love food. I will not deprive myself in the name of being all insanely healthy. I will never be "Granola Steff". Dessert cheeses are going to continue crossing my threshold, and now and then the dark chocolate will appear, too. I won't slum it when it comes to indulgences. If I'm indulging, I'm indulging. Yep. Moderation.


They're calling for another storm. There's respite right now. Sunny. Nice. Cool-ish. Tomorrow, wind and rain. Again. We've had something like more than a third our annual rainfall in the last 10 days or so (something like 500 mm+ has fallen, and 85 more is forecasted tomorrow), and we've had the largest boil-water advisory in the province's history, with 2.5 million people affected by it, and 1.5 million still are, after three days. Landslides have been bringing "many organisms" into the reservoirs. Meaning feces and corpses, really. Flooding is everywhere.

I'm still riding my scooter. I had to haul my 160-lb bike up onto a 10-inch platform yesterday because the rain had formed a lake in our frigging parking lot. Middle of the day, my bike's in 6 inches of water. Shit, man. Ha.

But I left the bike at home Wednesday and will tomorrow, too. There's a chance I'll go to an open house tomorrow, but if the weather's shitty I am NOT bussing it. Jesus. I'm so sick of getting poured on. It's ridiculous. I'd rather get cozy and watch the Grey Cup. (Canada's Super Bowl.)

(I was writing away, but now I took the last chunk out because it's about wanting to date, et al, and I'm gonna move to to the other blog. One less make-work project for my weekend. ;)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday Night Thoughts.

I'm having a pretty decent day, if I may say so. Scratch that. A good day.

While the whole office was having a weird day of unruly incidences throwing them off their game, I was on mine. Got just under 80 minutes timed. I was pleased. Then visited my counsellor for my monthly visit. She got me all jazzed up and positive. That was nice.

My dishes are now clean. My kitchen almost so. But that's all right. I've got this weird calm going on. I like this feeling. It's what euphoria would be like if you didn't have to do all that damned dancing. Okay, really mild, almost subliminal euphoria.

I don't know. I'm feeling like luck has kind of conspired to give me a good go of it for a change. May not last long. So, I'm capitalizing and enjoying the moment. Seems like the right thing to do. I can go back to worrying again on Sunday or something.

I sold my second ad on my blog. This is good. Promising. Looks like I have a new pair of jeans in my future. Insert giddy clapping and gleeful utterances here.

You know, I had this moment back in July, I think it was, when I just stood still, looked around and thought "Gee, this looks like shit, but come a year from now it's gonna be a distant nightmare." It just seemed to me that there's a shelflife on all this shit I've been going through. Through it all there's something inside where I feel like I'm glad to be getting made a little stronger, you know? Strength can't hurt a damned bit. But, seriously, a shelflife. And it's not that I HOPE things are going to settle down. I don't. I just know they are. And I know my luck's going to turn. And I know that I've done a lot towards setting the groundwork towards things I really, really want.

I feel like, right now, I have sweet fuck all to lose from just saying fuck it and really going after what I want. No kids, no man, no mortgage, nada. When it comes to low-maintenance, I'm as low as they go. And when it comes to this, time to go balls-all-out as Dad would say, there's not a whole lot preventing me from doing just that.

But the point is, despite ALL this shit, there's that feeling underneath that it's all meaning something. It's a lesson. Something to learn, extract. And I have this unending source of belief in myself right now. I don't need anyone's approval, and I don't need much help. I just need to keep doing what I gotta do to get by, and do whatever it takes to nurture belief in myself. I think that's what I get from my counsellor when I visit her. She sort of looks into my POV and points out what my strengths are and kind of helps me see patterns in my faults, too. I need the objectivity. I get all the --PERCEIVED-- fluffery from my friends and family. I know my friends and family are discerning individuals and I'm sure they mean what they say when they're complimenting my pursuits like writing, but. But. There's always a but.

But it's easy to shrug off their comments with "they're biased." It's easy to dismiss internet readers or even "fans" with some sort of "yeah, but, what do they know? They're on the computer all the time anyhow." dismissal.

It's petty and uncouth to be so dismissive, I know, but some of us come with very bruised egos and it's hard to sell us on our merits.

Ah, well. Anyhow. Despite my optimism, I'm a worrywort by nature. I overthink things. What is an asset to my writing is a curse to my reality. I need to learn how to shut the fuck up and enjoy the moment a bit more than I do. I know. I know. Note made.

But I've been worrying a lot about things -- how to juggle all the things I need to juggle yet still have a fun life. And I realize my greatest problem: Time. The lack thereof. Yet I find untold hours available to me for worrying. Now I realize a new perspective: My greatest problem is time management. Aha. Well. A solution might yet be had. I know myself to still be confined to a mere 24 hours a day (you too? pity!) so if managing my time better and possibly even practicing restraint mean I get more done and then have a life besides, well! I'll take that.

I fear my English is a little on the starchy side. I've been working on a lot of Victorian English shows lately. I even affected a little brogue for a bit there.

So. I need to learn time management. Getting up earlier would be a start. Alarm clock: Set. (I never use an alarm. I'm like that Bret Easton Ellis line: "Richard didn't use an alarm clock. He was comprehensively alarmed.")

For those playing at home, Dad was moved out of ICU yesterday. Still in the hospital, but doing better. Insert happy dance.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I have no idea how I became so popular in Nigeria. It seems I'm in the running for millions after I send off all my banking information!

Hey, wow! Good things really do happen to good people! Just when I was about to pay my bills, too! Holy smokes.

I hear that spam email is Nigeria's second highest grossing industry.


Thinking about Depression and Psychosis

Oprah's got me thinking. I overslept so I'm all pensive now. She's doing a show about a guy who killed his two kids. She's having a hard time believing depression can cause something like that to happen.

Apparently the guy had just started new meds and all that, too. I won't begin to understand how a father can kill two five-year-old girls, but I could certainly understand a psychotic break or having thoughts that black. Not that I've been there.

I remember walking with an ex once and we were talking and somehow the subject of insanity came up, insanity and artists. The question was asked, did each of us think we had the capacity to become insane? He steadfastly denied it would/could ever happen to him (I strongly disagree) while I said it could easily happen to me.

I don't think I'm any more liable to go off my nut than the next guy, though. I think depression and psychosis are something we haven't even come close to understanding yet, and I do not underestimate their potential. Some people are lucky, they have no idea of what depression entails. Lucky. Some of us know it a little too well.

When I'm depressed, I tend to be very stoic about it most of the time, and I can do so because I tend to avoid people. I try not to let them in too much. I've never had violent thoughts. I've never thought of hurting myself, let alone killing myself. I wouldn't think it'd be that much of a leap from some of my darkest days, though.

The only things that possibly separate me from the rest of the pack when it comes to giving control to depression is that a) I know a lot about it and b) I tend to be a very open writer, and that openness sometimes gives me an element of control over certain things and certain perspectives that I might not otherwise have.

Chemical depressions, however, scare the hell out of me. Organic depressions are a matter of will. You simply need to recognize the fight, and then fight that fight. Chemical depressions are a world apart. It's like there's a puppet master behind the scenes and there's only so much slack in your strings.

This year was the first time I've ever endured a chemically-induced depression. I write this now about three months after the worst of it, but that three months feels like a year. I'm a completely different person. I feel stress, but I cope well with it. I have focus, I'm more grounded. Just a little over three months ago, I went through a few months of harshness that culminated in a four-day descent that I never, ever want to feel again. Had I not already known I was depressed and begun taking steps to fight it, I'm not sure I'd have come out of that quite so unscathed.

The worst of it hit me when I was not expecting it. I thought I was going on the mend. I'd begun meds already, a couple weeks prior, and then this freefall hit. When I remember that last week, I feel like I'm spinning. And it was the meds I was on. The pill, the last of a three-month suppression cycle -- four consecutive packs. A break in my emotions came the moment I got my period. Suddenly, a split in the clouds. Literally. It was incredible how much my mood changed within hours. I went from weeping on the phone with a counsellor in the morning, shaking with anxiety, to feeling like everything was going to be all right. And thank god. I don't know what might've happened had I sunk any lower than I did that last day there.

I will always, always have medical supervision when I take hormones or meds of any kind, is the outcome of that experience.

No, I can't understand how a parent could kill their own children, and I hope to God I never understand that. I don't, however, doubt the possibility that a psychotic break could cause a loving parent to do something as horrible as that. I don't doubt my ability to succumb to psychosis, though, nor should anyone else doubt theirs. The mind is a vast and infinitely powerful thing and we'll will never understand it. In fact, I sometimes think imagination and intellect could be a liability when it comes to psychosis. Look at John Nash. Intelligence doesn't mean stability. The greater the mind, the further the fall?

It'd be nice if more people could understand the blackness of depression. There's still so little understanding of it, and very little acceptance. Even having gone to the dance a couple times myself, I know I still judge mental illness. I find it hard to accept. And I know better. Hell, there's a long ways to go. Until we get there, though, people will continue hiding depression as a secret shame, and more people will continue to be hurt by actions that might've been prevented had they felt they could ask for more help. Ah, ignorance, you're such a bitch.

Post-script: My god, this is one of the hardest rains I've ever, ever seen. It's pounding against the windows. I need to head to work in this. I'm moving very slowly. The bus will be evil. There is no way to stay dry on a day like this.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Whining about Weather

Honestly, this is one of those mornings I'd like to slap all those people who profess to LIKE fall. I sort of do. Really. Just... not right now. Another rainfall warning has been issued for tonight. It has rained, I think, somewhere around 400+ millimetres in the last 10 days. Another 60 or so is called for tonight. (Yesterday they predicted 50 -- it in fact was 85 mm.)

To put this in perspective: Vancouver is in a rainforest, basically, and we get 1200+ mm of rain per year. Yet a THIRD has fallen in 10 days. Say it with me: MOTHERFUCKER. Jesus CHRIST.

Make it stop! Make it stop! Okay. I'm done whining. I'll still scoot today but tomorrow's looking dodgy. Yeesh. Motherfucker.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Holy Fountain of Youth, Batman

So, my pops looks about 10 years younger, at least. His hair's gone all grey, funnily, but he does look quite a bit younger. His skin's shiny and piable and has lots of colour to it. His face is smooth and clear and his eyes look nice and vibrant.

Today was his best day yet. He's sharp, alert, no longer slurring words, quick to answer, drawing on long-term memory, the whole shebang. He says he thinks he'll do a full recovery. But he says it'll be a couple weeks until he's likely to be released from the hospital, which makes sense to me. Still! He looks better than he has in abour four or five years today. What a load off! And he confessed he's going into withdrawal without reading my blog. He says he reads it religiously, which made me grin.

I have to try and get my energy up so I can accomplish something today. I got out there right before they were about to put Dad through the paces, changing over all the bedding, washing him up, et al, so he told me to vamoose and have a better afternoon. I'm pretty whiped out, though. Just been a long couple of weeks, and now that I don't need to worry, I'm just plain bagged. SMARTLY, last wednesday, I called the doc's a booked a flu shot for friday a.m. I've been way too sick too often this past year, so I'm being vigilant. Grr. No flu!

Yesterday was a pretty slack day. I obiously went out for my photographs. It rained about 85 millimetres yesterday, so it was one hell of a wet day. I tell you, never was there a better test for my raingear. Got home, and not a stitch of me was wet under my raingear -- after three-plus hours in the rain and riding home in a blinding torrent with rivers in the street. Now that's a fucking good jacket, man! I knew I had the best rainpants ever already though. They're holding up great. Dry as can be! Wet through to the bone with the humid air, but a half hour in a nice hot tub fixed that but good!

I got a chicken, which I'll soon be roasting, and I dropped into my beloved cheese shop. A creamy cheddar with mustard seed and ale in it, which is Italian meat-strong type cheese, sure to be great in chicken sammiches! A white stilton with candied ginger -- awesome. Next time I'll try the ginger and mango stilton, though. And I got a bit of white stilton with cherries. I'm enjoying dessert cheeses these days. Nice. And I snagged some Lesley Stowe seed crackers, which are influenced by pumpernickle, I think, with lotsa tasty seeds in it. Wonderful for a sweet cheese. Yum. This is my rainy afternoon snack, and then I need to clean this dive up. Yeesh. Outta control, man.

And I need to roast the chicken tonight. Grumble. It'll be great for work, though. Oh, and I bought an orange honey mustard that I suspect will be lovely for salads. Something zesty and fun. I like food weekends. Fun. Next week, though, paycheck's gonna buy some gym visits. This girl's way overdue.

Oh, and I sold my first blog ad today. Woot. Just a cheap one-week thing, but it's promising. The first! Yippee.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cemetery, Train, and Granville Island Pictures

Some pictures from today (cemetery & Granville Isle), and a couple from yesterday (trains).

You want a revolution? All right.

Yes, yes. I'm a raging liberal. I've got a great big mushy heart in which I think all god's children deserve freedom and goodness and fresh-baked donuts. I just can't help myself.

Yet, still. Every now and then, I reach the conclusion that the world would be a better place if democracy had an IQ prerequisite. I think stupid people deserve dictators. It would just make things a little less complicated, don't you think?

Case in point.

Yesterday, to make my commute to Surrey a little less painful, I rode my trusty scooter to the skytrain.* This time, I chose to ditch my ride at Joyce Street Station, my first time taking that one. Okay, second, actually. So, I get off my scoot and out of the corner of my eye I spot hippy boy and hippy girl. He's got the floppy long blond hair and unkempt beard, stretched out taupe wool sweater over a dark blue retro collared shirt, which also hangs untucked at the bottom, over his shitty brown cords. She's little Mary Sunshine with her tangled long red hair, big, big smile, jeans and '80s grey-blue ski jacket. They're protesting.

Hmm, so, I stand there taking off my helmet, swapping my rain coat for my brown seude car coat, wondering who they represent. A little unruly for Doctors Without Borders. Way too obvious for Greenpeace. Women Against Violence Against Women? He looks like exactly the bleeding heart type to use a cause as a fuck button. So to speak.

Finally, I'm ready to head to the train. I step around the parked station wagon that's obscuring my view, and I see the sign on their information table: The Trotskyist League.

Suddenly War and Peace starts drumming in my head and I start laughing. Then I see the next sign: "Defending North Korea's right to possess nuclear weapons!"

Not only that, they had their propaganda written in Korean, too! Turns out it's a Korean neighbourhood. All the old Korean folk passing them by would shake their heads and scowl.

Nothing like young students who are too fucking stupid to read up on what they're protesting for, huh? Yeah, let's sit idly by as a guy who orchestrated a massive famine in the '90s, killing untold quantities of the peasant population, builds himself a little mass-destruction arsenal. Good plan, Stan. Some estimates say his policies starved as many as three million, or about 8% of the country. Sure, yeah, let HIM have the little red button.

I'm anti-war, but I'm sure as hell anti-nutbag-with-nukes, too. I mean, I'm used to hippies protesting for peace, but protesting for the right for everyone to run out and buy nukes? Jesus. Is it just me, or is freedom of speech getting weirder and weirder? Boy, oh, boy. Fucking Trotskyist League.
You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
All right All right

You say you got a real solution
Well you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
All right All right

You say you'll change the constitution
Well you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know know it's gonna be all right
All right All right


*I've been measuring the distance of all the skytrains from my house, and weirdly Granville, Joyce, and Nanimo are all 10km. Hmm. I wonder if that's some inane metaphor for my life.

**In other news? Dad's on the mend. I think he's gonna pull through and be okay. Insert collective sigh of relief here. ;)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

shit, man, it's cheaper than therapy.

god, what a long week this has been. yesterday was a hard, hard fucking day. the term i use for such days is "emotional marshmallow." i was definitely one. i cried probably a dozen times, most of it before work. my eyes were raw all day, but i didn't feel like buying Visine. man, it was hard. i suspect i've just been feeling terribly guilty and bad for not being out there with Pops, but he's the kinda man who's as pragmatic as i am: earn your paycheck, make sure your bills are paid, then come see me. he'd give me a royal drubbing some weeks down the line if he learned i was behind on bills just because of him, but still. i didn't expect it to hit me as hard as it did yesterday. still, i sat the hell down and bulletted through my work again.

i have to head out to surrey today to see my pops. blah, i hate the commute. it'll be great to see him, though, and this time he should be able to speak a little bit. hopefully he's doing better today. my brother fucked me up last night by telling me a few details of a humiliation that befell my pops yesterday, one i witnessed with my mother before her passing, and i couldn't get the image out of my head of my mother on that day for a while last night, and i had nightmares about that incident often in the first two years after her death. and, no, i don't want to share it.

tomorrow is A Day for Steff. and, god, do i need it. i can't believe how much has transpired this week. i can't even believe how much work i got done on the job. i'm really happy about it, what i managed to churn out. i've never been able to focus like this under duress before, so i'm pretty proud of that. i think i timed 185 minutes worth of shows in three days, so that's 60+ minutes per day, which means jackshit to you people, but if i tell you that i used to think a 50+ minute day was an accomplishment, you should have some grasp of the difference between the steff of old and the New Killer Cool Focus Steff of now. being productive is AWESOME.

i dunno where the hell the change came from, but somewhere, somehow, from last year to now, i have more focus, and probably better quality work, too. which is good. i've always WANTED to do a good job, y'know? i hated -- absolutely hated -- that i was unable to bring the kind of focus one needs for a job like this. but i'm glad to see the change has occured. i just wonder where and when it happened. weird. i ain't complaining, man. it's one thing to think you're just not built a certain way but to wake up one day down the line and realize you had it in ya all the time is a weird fucking trip. (actually, i suspect that using a PC keyboard at home now instead of an iBOOK laptop might be part of the deal, too. one less thing to slow me down.)


i didn't eat a lot yesterday (probably because i was an emotional marshmallow). i'm going to change that this morning with MONSTER brekkie. i'll be riding the train to surrey and hanging with my pops, so i won't have much of an appetite out there, so my MONSTER brekkie will tie me over for a number of hours, i'm sure.

i'm having steak and eggs. hell, if i had a beer, i'd have that, too! but i don't, so good black coffee, a good steak, eggs, and some toasted baguette. a manly meal. hah. i haven't had steak'n'eggs for a good long time now. usually, i just have leftover steak, but today i'm having the whole damned thing, fresh-made. fuck restraint. i'd barbecue, but i suspect i'm finally out of juice. tomorrow maybe i'll do a propane run. a 20lb propane cannister on a scooter. there's a sight.

like the notorious gayboy, i take great pride in seeing just how much i can carry on that itty-bitty damned thing. i tell ya, it's like a sport. hell, i've taken insane amounts before. once i took a whole new convection oven on the back of it -- 18x24x31". fucking NUTS. it was fun, though. heh heh. i took a 5' long set of bamboo blinds, too, once, and that was a bit of a challenge. (the crazier things tend to be bought closer to home so it's usually only several blocks i need to ride, except the oven, that was about 45 blocks. ha. i thought i'd be able to ride with it between my knees, but discovered i misjudged the size when i got to the scoot. two wordz: bungy cables!)

the propane can only go in one spot, though, so i'll see if i can manage that. weight's the problem there. otherwise: shopping cart! the ghetto-mobile! makes me wanna watch Requiem for a Dream or something.


anyhow. must get the steff show on the road. gluttony, then transit. oh. joy. at least the suspicion now is that dad will do a recovery from all this -- depends on whether they finally find the infection. should just be a matter of time now. but those infections can be a pretty bad thing. i'll know more once i'm in there today. as long as he's still in Intensive Care, there's an element of fear behind the mystery. but we're hopin' good things come down the pipes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mornings Suck, Part II

The worst thing about all this worry is how endlessly tired I feel.

This morning, I got up and felt dead. Just completely dead. I went out to the couch, figuring I'd watch yesterday's Oprah with breakfast then head in. I sat there and the weight of the world felt like it was smothering me. I looked around and literally muttered, "Fuck this." I adjusted a pillow on the couch, laid down, stretched my Vellux blanket around me, tucked in, and fell asleep for an hour and a half. I feel a lot better now, but I shouldn't need nearly 11 hours sleep on a fucking work night -- and that's after a pretty healthy couple days, too.

This is also one of the only times I really, really despise wearing hearing aids. When I lay me down to sleep at night, I'm enveloped in a world of near silence. I don't hear traffic, nor winds, nor rain. And I seldom hear phones. But I have an active imagination and last night when I went to bed, I just kept thinking the phone was ringing. I got up twice, and then I tossed and turned for an hour. Sigh.

And because I've been so tired, I'm taking my stupid scooter to work even though it's raining hard and windy. I'll take side roads for better safety and wear my reflective vests. But anything's better than last Thursday, when I stood for a goddamned hour watching buses passing me again and again in the rain. No, I'd rather bond with my Goretex, get blustered about by the wind, pelted by rain, and have control of my own time. Thank you very much.

But it's Friday. Today I'll call my boss and tell her I haven't got it in me to work this weekend. I'm feeling so fucking guilty for not being out there with my dad, even though he's completely out of it. I'm angry, I'm frustrated, I'm scared. I'm everything I don't wanna be, and if I at least get out there, I'll feel like I'm doing something -- anything -- and that's the only power I have right now. Good thing is, I know she'll understand. Sure, she'll be stressed that some work's not getting done, but she's been putting me on less important tasks all week "just in case."

God. I hate this fucking waiting. And I hate that his condition isn't changing. That terrifies me. The longer it goes unchanged, I suspect the harder it will be to overcome. But what do I know? Like my uncle said yesterday, "You're not a doctor, are ya? So, what the hell can you do about it?" 'xactly. Still.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Livin' Large -- Solo, Even

Trying to be a smidge more health conscious in the face of a nasty diabetes-in-Dad scare doesn't mean I can't enjoy food. (No change in Dad's condition, if you're wondering.)

Here's my adaptation of one of my faves -- the low-fat, simpler way.

Steff's Pan-Roasted Ribeye Steak
with a Brandy-Dijon "Cream" Sauce

Take a good, thick ribeye (mine was 1" thick), and, if you like, put a little bit of dijon on each side of the steak, and cover liberally with either cracked black pepper, or Montreal Steak Spice. I use hot deli dijon for this, but there are any number of good dijons that will work. Whole-grain dijon will not work for coating the steak, as it will dry out and crack off, remaining in the pan instead, but it'd be fine in the sauce made at the end. I think. I think you'd be better off with some whole grain mustard, but not all.

In an oven-proof frying pan, melt 1/2 tbsp butter with 1/2 tbsp olive oil, and turn to medium-high heat. Get it really hot, then sear the steak for TWO minutes on each side. Pop in the oven, and continue roasting for FOUR minutes for a rare-ish steak, five or six for medium-ish, and about 7 or 8 or so if you're dumb enough to like well-done. (Fools! Not in MY kitchen, you don't!) You're looking at about 8 minutes for a proper tenderloin medallion (med-rare or rare), though, I think, for which this recipe is also killer. (Don't even READ MY BLOG if you like your tenderloin well-done! JESUS.)

While the steak's roasting, prep your salad. When the steak's done, take it out, loosely cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Now's a good time to put a dash of butter onto sliced baguette and top with a bit of parmesan, and broil until the cheese is bubbly and brown. (I use provolone piccante instead of parmesan, to save money.)

In the pan with the steak drippings, over medium-low heat, add about a teaspoon or so of dijon, mix with a whisk, add a tablespoon or two of good brandy, and about a tablespoon or two of skim milk. Mix, and serve over steak.

If you wanted something heftier for the sauce, you could do port, but I think you'd need real cream for that one.

I made the salad, even the dressing, the bread, and the steak, and dinner was ready in 15 organized minutes. Easy as pie and a hell of a treat on a work night.

(I got seven of these incredible ribeye steaks for $28 at Stong's Market here in Van. Good Uruguayan cows lived a free-ranging life before giving their lives for my yummy meal. I'm touched. Nice cows. Very.)

The Cloak of Dawn... Not all it seems.

Mornings, for me, have always been something I’ve protected and kept to myself. I like my alone time. Being in a relationship is weird, because then I need to share the morning, and there’s something odd about that. It removes a little of who it is I am – a secret hoarder of moments and time. A solitary port in the storm, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Most of the time.

Mornings are virginal. The sins of the night are washed away and the world wakes up, fresh and new. There’s this naivety we all have, that if it’s daylight, it must be safe. It’s why things like 9/11 jar us to our core, because it’s daylight and we see it all. Horrors should be confined to nighttime, we would think, but it’s seldom ever that way.

It’s times like these that I despise mornings. I know the truth, that thing we try to pretend isn’t so, that horrors happen in all hours, and daylight doesn’t protect us from anyone or anything. After all, there are no vampires.

There are so many hours between dawn and the nothingness of night. So much can happen. When someone’s tied up to machines and the threat of surgery and illness looms, every breath is an effort, every fresh breath is a gift. It’s unpredictable. Everything can change on a dime, and it often does.

Mornings at these times of my life simply remind me how utterly powerless I am to effect change. I can’t make change happen. I can’t have a wish and command “Make it so”. I’m just a girl with a sob story and a hope things’ll pick up and move on. My mother died at the crack of dawn. 4:20am in the early days of August, when the sun’s already above the horizon. No, I don’t like mornings in times like these.

I’m still gravely concerned for my father. I have to be. I’m his daughter. I have a big heart, just like him, and I suppose that if there’s anything I really get from my father, it’s my kindness and generosity. I would like the opportunity to thank him for his values, and I hope to have that chance this weekend.

I can’t explain my uncanny knack of know-it-allness without sounding like a flighty fool. It sounds so dumb, to be able to claim to know what’s coming down the pipes. I don’t think I’m prescient and I don’t plan on setting up a fortune teller’s booth anytime soon, no worries there. But I just know that I have this instinct that seldom ever steers me wrong. I know when things aren’t right. I know when certain situations are going to fail. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but I just often know. It’s not very often that I get surprised in life. I almost half expect any misery or tragedy that comes my way. It works with people, too. I’ve always accurately known who would betray my trust and who wouldn’t. I guess I pretty much sense adversity before it hits and I brace myself, like someone who sees an accident about to happen. I can never change outcomes or anything. I’m no sorcerer. I just have an early warning system, is all.

Last week, I knew something worse was going to happen to my father. It’s funny, everything happened on Wednesday, but I never found out until nightfall. I woke up last Wednesday in a horrible mood. I went into work and told my co-worker I couldn’t figure it out, but something was wrong, and I was really feeling it. When I got that call Wednesday night, it all made sense. Yet I knew it was going to go downhill. When I saw him Sunday, something broke inside of me. I was absolutely miserable on Monday. When I heard he’d been moved into ICU, that, too, made sense and wasn’t a huge surprise. I hated to be right, but it wasn’t a surprise.

I traveled out there Tuesday to see him, and somewhere on the transit line, something hit me. I just felt like this was going to be the worst of it. A weight evaporated and I just adapted to the heady reality of the moment, with less fear of the future.

So, part of me believes the worst is over and things are going to improve. Not all of me. Not by a long shot. I don’t know if it’s just me wanting him to be better, or if he’s really going to get there. The heart’s a mighty organ and emotions are tough to navigate. Sometimes we want something so bad we don’t know where our thoughts are really coming from – pragmatism, realism, or the realm of fantasy. So, I really don’t know what’s going down with my father. Somewhere inside, I think he’s got another lease that he’ll get to live out. I don’t know. All I can do is hope, and instead of hoping I was wrong last week, now I’m hoping I am right.

All I know is, I hate mornings right now, and this one is no exception.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Remembering Myself

Geez, the first thing that goes out the window when a loved one is ill is all thought of yourself. You juggle your schedule to make yourself available, and then you do a lot of phone calling, and then you sit on your hands in between it all as you wait for news of any kind.

Well, I've been eating lousy, not being particularly nice to myself, and on top of that, I was smoking a little too much weed after everything hit me late last week. It's a stressor thing. You know, "shit! this is too much -- gimme reprieve."

So, yeah, done with that. I worked a full day today, picked up some veggies, and made myself a monster salad tonight. Used pomegranate seeds for the first time ever, and that was interesting. Tasty goodness in a salad. I have more left for my work-lunch salad for tomorrow.

Now, I'm doing a facial, since all the stress and bad food has made me break out like a teenager on the verge of the prom. Yeesh. I'm 33, thank you. Fuck off, zits.

And to top everything else off, I've finally hydrated properly, AND I changed my bedding and flipped my mattress.

So, maybe I won't wake up feeling like trash in the morning. Yesterday and this morning were both hard as hell on me, for different reasons. I sort of dread going to bed as a result, honestly, but I'm about to do just that, having been underwhelmed by the election coverage on The Daily Show. Except one observation about something that pissed me off: Why, when there's a new female speaker of the house, does there HAVE to be a Vagina Monologues joke? Can we stop having grade-10 level male humour at all times? That one pissed me the hell off, even though I love TDS. I think it's highly unlikely a guy would get the Speaker nod and then have TDS make jokes about him wanting lines about his penis in the Pledge of Allegiance. It's just stupid.

In other news, I'm a happy kid that Rumsfeld is out. I think Bush was a moron to be so firm about the unceremonious turfing of Rummy in advance of an election, and I'm baffled by his explanation that he didn't think it was fair to do it right before an election to score political points. I dunno what I think of Gates. I don't think turning tail and running from Iraq is the answer, I just know that the status quo wasn't working, and change was needed. Rumsfeld lost the war from Day One by failing to commit enough troops. I dunno what's going to change things now, but the perspective change sure can't hurt.

In totally honest news, I'm really impressed with how well Bush has handled the "thumping" they received, and I'm also concerned that he just may be wily enough to make this into a positive for the Republicans over the next two years. I'd really rather not see them get their shit together, and I'd love to see what fiscally responsible Democrats might be able to manage, if that's not an oxymoron.

But tonight I just don't care. My bed -- clean and firm and good -- awaits. Yay.

But the news down south is welcomed in my home and northern native land. Many of us are relieved to see a more liberal administration taking shape. It's been a scary friggin' six years. 12, if you count the last real majority seen. I was in the Yukon and remember pacing my apartment, listening to the returns on the radio. Ahh. God, how much has changed since then. Wow.

Bed. Right.

Some Thoughts and a Story or Two

I was just watching Oprah and drinking my morning coffee. I've had to ice my neck and back as I think I'm under sufficient stress right now that I've had nasty patches of inflammation breaking out all over the place. Grr. I feel better now.

Soon, I'll head into the office. I've done the morning calls -- the hospital, some family, so forth. No change in my father's condition from yesterday, but he had improved some since I'd seen him Sunday. I'm hoping that's a positive. I hope he has the strength to fight this. I'm going to let him rest, though, because having visits seems to take a lot out of him.


Oprah featured a bit with Emilio Estevez and his new bio pic on Bobby Kennedy, Bobby. I don't know enough about the man, and something struck me watching it: Wonder what Dad thought about Kennedy's death?

I want to know, now. I want him to live so I can ask some more questions. Is that selfish? I dunno, maybe.

I think the thing about illness and life-and-death scares is that it provokes people to spontaneously remember the sick person. They tell stories they've bottled up for years and remember things even they thought they'd forgotten. What I keep hearing about Dad is what a kind, kind, loving man he is. And I'm angry about it sometimes, because my dad changed when I was a kid -- he's never really been the same and I've never really gotten to know the real guy.

Sometimes you know when someone's thrown in the towel in life and my dad always seemed like that kind of person. I've resented it, because I wish he'd been more enthused and could have shared more with me before now.

I do remember one story, and it makes sense to me... My father should've played a larger role in my life. The rare times he's had influence on me have been great. As a kid, 12 years old, he bought me a book about children in American slavery, a black history book. That thing changed my life.

But the story I remember is of he and my mother, when they were dating or something, about the early '60s, and they drove down into the States and got lost in some poor neighbourhood. Being Canadian and somewhat ignorant about how pervasive American race problems were, he pulled off to the side of the road and told my mom to wait in the car. He strolled into a coffee shop, wandered right up to the counter, and as he was about to say "Excuse me" and ask for directions, EVERYTHING in the shop stopped. He said he looked around and saw about sixty black faces. All not talking, no cutlery clinking, all the black faces staring at him aghast and bitterly, like the devil just strolled in. My dad said, "We're lost." The black woman behind the counter looked him up and down and replied, "Well, I should say so."

He says he took a cup of coffee and got the hell on out of there.

He told me that story last year. I never hear stories like that from him. I write a lot about communication on my other blog and the irony is, my own family's communication's been shit from the time I was a child. All this shame and secrecy, you know. Sigh.

My pledge now, though, is, if Dad pulls through this, I'm going to get some more stories out of him. I know he'll enjoy telling them if he knows I'm interested. I think too many of us kids forget that a life existed before us. I wanna know about that life.

Truth be told, I sometimes feel like my brother and I and a couple incidents in my dad's life all colluded in order to wreck my dad's enjoyment of life. And I know it's not that way. It's more like a guy who was in love with a woman all his life, a woman who stopped loving him when their kids were little. We always saw that in his eyes from a long, long time back. I honestly don't know when I last saw a zest for living in his eyes. Yesterday, I saw a glimmer of hope and want in his eyes, and that's the thing that's keeping me hopeful. I want to believe he has this fight in him. I really wanna believe that, and god knows I'm trying to.

Well. I should work. Coffee's done. The day's a sunny day, so I'll take a more scenic route to work and enjoy the break in weather. Here's hoping most people in the office know to ignore my presence. I got the word out I hope that I'm not to be pestered with well-wishing and checking-in. People mean well, but when others are constantly reminding you of the bad shit it your life, it's hard to maintain control over it. People who've been THROUGH shit know to just nod or pat you on the back or offer a good smile. But, hey, a little small talk never hurt.

Off I go.