April 11, 2011

miss judgment

Posted in herstory at 9:58 pm by ben

I could not be friends with someone who would take my confidence and use it against me.  I walked away again.

My son was in high school by this time and she taught him several times over the five years he was there.  I wasn’t worried about her getting involved with him but the thought of ANY teacher with my kid (or any kid!) made me ill and only added to the revulsion I felt for her.  She did however ask him about me often and tell him to tell me she missed me and blah blah blah.  Her husband had gone to work in the same mill as my husband by this time and he too passed on similar messages.  I wasn’t hearing any of it. I didn’t need her and her bullshit drama in my life.

To be honest Trixie fueled the flames as well and made me even more resolute to delete Marie from my life.  Why did Trixie hate Marie?  I bet you can guess.  Before he met Trixie, Harry used to sleep with Marie.  DUN DUN DUHHH!  The plot thickens.  Now I am not so shallow that I would ever dump a friend because another friend didn’t like them – or slept with their husband – but Trixie made it easier NOT to want Marie in my life.

When my mother-in-law died, Marie came to the funeral.  They went to the same church and my MIL thought very highly of her and vice-versa.  Marie offered her condolences to us at the tea and she sent a beautiful card detailing what a kind and generous woman Katy was.  It meant a lot to me and my family.

Therapy is a funny thing, sometimes when you’re talking about something, dealing with a specific issue it brings other things to light.  Early on in one of my sessions I expressed how hurt and angry I was that Trixie could throw me away so easily without any explanation.  How could she not even give me a chance to defend or explain myself?  How could she just walk away from a lifelong relationship?  I am not disposable!

Later as I pondered these questions I felt a pang of something akin to guilt, maybe mixed with a little regret.  Despite our issues (and they were big ones, at the time at least) Marie was a huge part of my history and at any point in the past, present or future I know without the slightest doubt that if I needed her, for ANYTHING, she would be there for me.  I have some really amazing friends but I can count on one hand the number of people I can truly say that about.

I started considering that perhaps I was out of line.  Maybe I was hasty in cutting her out of my life, maybe I should have heard her out or at the very least told her why I had such a problem with it.  I can’t control other people’s actions or reactions but I am in charge of my own and I started to realize that I didn’t handle myself very well.  Walking away without notice was judgmental, immature and selfish.

The Dalai Lama says, “When patience is combined with the ability to discriminate between the action and the one who does it, forgiveness arises naturally.”

Yeah, I know!  Look at me quoting the Dalai Lama!!  More on that later.

Marie had done some shitty things over the years, to me and to herself but she was never a bad person.  Besides, who was I to judge, I’ve done some things I’m not particularly proud of as well.  I expressed my thoughts to my son one day and told him I was thinking of giving Marie a call.  One week later she called me.  Dakota wanted her legs done.

When the now eleven year old came in to see me it was like we were long lost friends.  I feel such a connection to this kid, it’s bizarre.  We chatted and giggled and I fed her chocolates after I ripped the fuzz from her legs.  When Marie showed up to pick up her daughter she asked “So Kody, how was it, did it hurt?”  To which the kid replied, “No it was fun!”

They hung out and visited for a while and when they left she suggested we get together for dinner and drinks soon and I said, “That’d be nice.”  I meant it.

Since then we’ve gotten together several times with our husbands (I am thrilled to report that Marie’s husband has become somewhat less of a dick), Dakota came out and spent the night when her parents went out (she was offered to stay at friends or get a sitter and she asked if she could come stay with me) and twice they planned to come visit us when Kody was busy with her friends but the child had a fit saying “You can’t go out there without me!!”  She was especially excited when I invited them camping this summer.  Kody loves camping but since they only have a tent they don’t get out very often.  Marie says she has been babbling and planning incessantly about spending time with me this summer.

Of course it wasn’t until after I invited them to the lake that I realized the discomfort that might cause for my cousin.  Oh well, maybe it’s time to be a grown up.

My husband is the kid magnet in the family.  From newborn to adulthood they gravitate to him… probably because he’s like one of them.  When His Highness is around I usually cease to exist.  Dakota is the exception to that rule.  She doesn’t even notice him, it’s all about me.  I love that!

Marie and I have not had a chance to speak of the past, but I am prepared for that conversation and I do want to air it all out.  I’ve spent enough time in my life sweeping shit under rugs, it’s time to get rid of some moguls and put the dirt outside where it belongs.  The relationship I have with her now is different from before, we’ve both changed and grown, but we still have the history that binds us and that bond is strong.

 

April 4, 2011

miss adventures

Posted in herstory tagged , , at 3:45 am by ben

When I was ten years old we moved into the house across the street from Marie, she was two years older than me but thanks to proximity we became instant friends.  We went from sneaking treats from her mother’s freezer and reading Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys in her basement to stealing from my parents’ booze cabinet and getting a sexual education (via dirty books not experimentation) in my basement.  The internet really has changed everything.  Kids have access to so much more info (and pics and videos!) than we could have even imagined.  And it’s more sanitary, when I think of those ratty books with pages stuck together it makes me cringe.

In our late teens Marie and I started hanging out with a group of guys who we knew did a lot of drugs.  In an effort to not look ridiculous, know what we were getting into and not cough our guts out we decided to practice smoking dope before we did it with these guys or at a party.  Hey, it made sense in 1981!

We bought some pot but we didn’t know how much to buy so when Marie coolly said she wanted a pound of pot.  The dealer almost pissed himself.

Lesson number one learned.  Pot is not sold by the pound unless you’re a peddler.

We took our score to the elementary school playground and we sat atop a wooden structure that was sheltered and private.  We didn’t think/know to buy rolling papers so we figured a piece of regular old lined paper out of my science binder would work.  We also didn’t know how much to use in a typical doobie so we poured half of the ounce onto the paper and I rolled it up and twisted the ends creating a joint that’d make Cheech and Chong proud.

We lit the behemoth blunt and the paper burned  and most of our weed fell from the flames and subsequently blew away.

Lesson number 2 learned.  Rolling papers are not the same kind of paper as foolscap.

Our attempt with hash didn’t go much better.  We knew what hot-knifing was but we weren’t brave enough to abscond with our parents’ knives.  Science bitches that we were we thought that tinfoil would be a suitable substitute.  We folded a sheet of foil into a square about 3X3” and we even turned up the edges to form a makeshift tray (we didn’t want the hash to be able to roll off and escape like our pot did!).  We placed a small lump of the black tar on the foil and held a lighter beneath it.  We knew that when it started to smoke that we should start inhaling so we had even been prepared (Girl Guides all the way!) and brought a pen without the innards.

As the little wisps of smoke began to rise we took turns with the pen, inhaling and holding it in.  It was about the third hit that the lump of hash fell through a hole in the foil and onto the ground.  We had burned through the tinfoil.  We hadn’t been smoking hash, we had been smoking burning foil.  Harsh.

Lesson number 3 learned.  Nobody notices missing knives from restaurants.

And so went our teen years, adventure after misadventure, lesson after lesson learned together.

Marie’s father committed suicide when she was young and she and her little brother were raised by a strict religious mother.  In my armchair psychological view I think because Marie  never had it she craved attention from men.  By the time she graduated she was out of control and would have sex with any guy who was even remotely nice to her… and some who weren’t.  The information passed quickly between the boys and they practically lined up at her door.  Now I will admit I was no angel back in the day but in my mind at least I was discerning about who I gave my body to.  One night when I was drunk (not that that is an excuse) I referred to her as a slut.  To be honest I don’t remember saying it but I was disturbed by her behavior and I certainly thought it.

A short time later she and I were having coffee (smoking and eating fries) at our favorite hangout, a chinese restaurant where I later worked, when something came over me.  It was one of the strangest moments in my life and somehow I knew she’d slept with the boy I had been head over heels (and occasionally heels over head) for for several years.

“Did you have sex with Joe?” I asked point blank.

“Yes.” she answered as brutally.

“Why?  You don’t like him and you know I do.”

“You called me a slut, I wanted to prove you were right.”

Betrayal.

Of course I couldn’t see past my own hurt, all I could see was what she had done to ME!  I walked away from her then.

I was still bitter over it when I met my husband.  We had been seeing each other for a few weeks when I asked him if he knew her.  Fortunately he had no idea who she was because if he had it would have been a deal breaker for me.  I must have mellowed a little with motherhood because a few months after my son was born she approached me and for the first time in years I was open to it.  We started hanging out again and soon it was like the old days but I always kept a thin buffer of mistrust between us.

It was nearly ten years later when Marie met and married Jerry.  He was ten years her junior and frankly we thought he was a bit of an arrogant dick.  When their baby Dakota was born he proved his dickishness when he told her “You wanted a kid, you deal with it!”  When she got upset he said that he only married her because she was “set up”, she had a teaching career, a house and a car.  I didn’t have much respect for him already but I lost a lot for her because even after that she stayed with him.

Dakota stole my heart.  Marie had had a C-section  and she didn’t have a lot of baby experience so every night after I got off work I would go to their house and bathe the baby and help Marie out… since her husband was a useless twat.

A couple years later Marie took me aside and said “Remember when you cheated on Tom with that guy who was younger than you?”  I cringed and nodded as I recalled my less than stellar moment.  “Well, I am kind of seeing someone.”

I winced, not really surprised and wanted to plug my ears and chant “LALALALALALALA”

I should have because it got worse.

“He’s a student.  I was helping him out with some after school study sessions and we’ve gotten involved but you can’t say anything because you did it too.”

It was that moment of emotional blackmail that put the nail in the coffin of our friendship.  I could have dealt with her husband being an ass and her sticking with him, I could have dealt with her having an affair and I might even have been able to deal with her having an affair with a student (maybe not) but using something I told her in confidence as a tool to keep my silence and to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to judge her because what I did was similar??!  For starters what I did was nowhere near as extreme, the boy I cheated with was only three years younger than me and he sure as fuck wasn’t  a STUDENT!

to be continued…

 

March 25, 2011

minding my own business

Posted in getting nail'd at 3:19 am by ben

The thought of opening my own salon scared the everlovin’ shit out of me.  I have such a fear of failure and having had my character assassinated atop that fear made me just want to shut down and disappear.  We did talk of leaving town, I couldn’t stand to run into her (unless it was with the front bumper of my car!) and I didn’t want to have to deal with the looks, the questions, the accusations, any of it.  I was afraid to be her competition, I was afraid I’d fall apart and lose everything and I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough clientele to make it worth it.  I considered quitting completely and going to work at McDonalds.  I am however incredibly grateful for my husband, my family and my clients who all encouraged and coaxed me to carry on.

My husband has always been a stand-up guy but in my time of strife he truly saved me.  I was ready to walk out of my entire life and he brought me back.  He talked to some guys he works with who have rental properties and he found me the perfect location (it’s twice the size of the place I shared with she-who-will-not-be-named and the same price) above a gym and a dance studio.  The space needed work though, it was filthy and the carpet was orangey-yellow, snagged and stained, the walls and ceiling tiles were yellowed and it smelled a little like dusty cat pee.  We cleaned like demons for two days, tore up the old carpet and painted all of the ceiling tiles (twice).

One of my clients and her husband have a flooring shop in town so she offered to trade her husband’s services for mine so he installed new flooring and supplied the paint and I worked the balance off in her hair removal.  Another client is a professional painter so in another exchange she helped me pick a color (blue of course!) and she spent a day helping me paint.  They saved me over $600 that I would otherwise have had to pay up front.

There were a lot of costs I couldn’t defer to trade.  I took everything from the old place that I had bought but there were many other things I needed.  I had to buy some chairs, a mirror, some miscellaneous supplies and my husband bought me a used bar fridge from one of the hotels (there is wine and water in it).  I wanted to find a pedicure chair and I scoured the internet and my suppliers for one I could even remotely afford.  New they cost $3000-$6000 so I was thrilled to find a used one in amazing shape for only $600.  It needed some serious cleaning and disinfecting and I ran enough bleach through that thing to kill a small nation.  We didn’t have the money to spend on the chair and really the hair removal is my moneymaker but it is a service that I am trained for, good at and enjoy and it brings in a few hundred dollars a month just with regulars so my parents offered me the cash and I will work that off doing my mother’s feet, nails and hair removal.  Basically she just prepaid for about a year’s worth of services.

His highness built a wall of shelving down the middle of the room so that I could have a private area for when I am dealing with people’s private areas.  He also built a vanity and hired a plumber to plumb in that and the pedicure chair.  Too bad the plumber wasn’t into trading, it would’ve saved me a small fortune!  Not that I particularly wanted to get near that crack.

I LOVE my space.  It’s big and bright, professional looking and comfortable and in my humble and unbiased opinion it is much nicer than any of the other salons in town.  The new flooring and paint banished the old stench and now it smells clean and fresh.  I am happy to go to work every day, no more ativan, no more work stress, it’s amazing.  I called all of my clients and let them know I had moved and all but two of them followed me (they are loyal to her and I’m quite ok with losing them) plus I pick up new ones all of the time.  I offer people a deal on their services if they send someone to me and it beats the hell out of advertising… plus it’s cheaper!

Last week I was approached by a client who does massage and she wanted to know if I’d be willing to share my space with her.  I told her the only way I would do that is if she wanted to work Fridays. Saturdays and Sundays because those are the days I don’t want to work.  I don’t mind working weekends in winter but come camping season I’m at the lake those three days a week.  There is no point having my own business if I can’t choose which days I take off.  This girl is taking some courses during the week so the she ONLY wants to work weekends.  Eventually she hopes to find a place of her own but for now this is the perfect situation for both of us, she gets a place to work and I get paid for taking off the days I don’t want to work anyway.

A new client today told me that I have an amazing reputation around town.  She was thrilled with her service and said she planned to tell everyone she knows about me, what I do and that I’m awesome.  And the best part is that I can be awesome without having to ask if you want fries with that!

March 15, 2011

derailed, deranged and dejected but not defeated

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:45 am by ben

It has been nearly a year since I last posted.  Sounds like confession.  Fortunately I am not catholic so there are no confessions for me to have forgiven.  I have to learn to forgive others and forgive myself, never mind looking for some divine absolution.

I fully realize I may just be shouting into the breeze here and the truth is it’s ok if I am.  I’ve been a bad blog friend as well as a crappy blogger so I completely understand if I’ve been blogballed.  I just made that up!  It seems also that facebook and twitter have further diminished bloggery and for that I am sad.  I will forever lament the MB days and I will always be grateful for the connections and friendships I found there.  I am missing writing however and I figured what better way than this to reconnect with words?!  Speaking of forgiveness, please go easy on me, it’s been a while and my writing tools and brain are a little dull.

Since I have been away so long I figured an update was necessary, so here it is, my year in review…

Trixie and I fell apart.  The story is long and painful and perhaps at some point I will get into it on here but I have told the story so many times I am sick of hearing it.  Suffice to say that she wounded me deeply, she took from me my job, my family (her family), my happy place (the lake will be awkward and uncomfortable with all of the bitterness and anger between us) and she tore me down to such depths that I thought I might never rebuild.  Her reasons were petty and don’t make sense yet she justifies everything and has turned me into the villain.  I really still don’t understand completely where the animosity and venom came from, I just know I was the target and it hurt.  A lot.

I was so devastated by the loss (it was like a death) that I fell into a pretty dark despair.  I didn’t want to live anymore.  I wasn’t suicidal, I just didn’t care to live.  If it hadn’t been for my husband I might have just stopped breathing.  He urged me to continue what I do and he found me a new office space (that is three times the size of the one we shared and cheaper rent!), he helped me renovate, he built cabinets and a vanity and dealt with the plumber and the landlord and everything else I couldn’t handle.  I was afraid of my own shadow.  I still didn’t know what I did wrong so I was second guessing every move.  I was also incredibly depressed and spiraling deeper every day.  I didn’t recognize myself.

As if the devastation of my personal, familial and work life wasn’t enough to deal with, I had surgery to boot.  I finally got my nose fixed.  No, not a nose job, it is the only part of my body that doesn’t need work!  They did a turbinectomy and septal reconstruction to adjust my septum so that if and when I get bloody noses they will now supposedly be easier to stop.  Of course I won’t know if it worked until I get another gusher.  I do plan to write more about the surgery one day, it was a nightmare, I was awake!  Yes, fully aware of the chisel and felt the tapping and the doc had to tell me to close my eyes!  More on that another time.

In the thick of the ugliness (which didn’t need to get ugly to start with had she just been honest with me) I was taking an ativan (sometimes two) before going in the door in the morning because I was so on edge and so afraid of how bitchy she was going to be that day.  It was one such morning when her perfunctory “good morning” was snarled through gritted teeth that I made my way down the hall and into a counseling center.  I had been wanting to go for some time to see someone, it took her pushing me over the edge to be able to walk through the doors and say aloud, “I need help.”

In some ways I felt like an abused spouse.  I took a lot of shit for a long time and never said or did anything about it because I wanted to keep the peace and I didn’t want to upset the family balance and I didn’t want to hurt the children and husbands.  Wow, it’s so bizarre to look back at it now with some distance and a little more clarity.  My therapist says there are lessons in all of the bad shit that happens to us and we discussed what my lesson in this might be.  I told her I am smart enough, I really don’t need any more lessons!  I thought then that maybe I was meant to learn that I was stronger and could endure more than I thought but it wasn’t until this moment that I wonder if maybe I was meant to grow a backbone.

I am not spineless in general but I learned at a very young age to keep my mouth shut and avoid confrontation at all cost.  I learned that lesson thanks to the sharp tongue and backhand of my mother.  Funny though, I have always been able to stand up for other people, just never for myself.  I guess if you paint “doormat” on your forehead you shouldn’t be surprised when people walk on you.

I am learning how to defend myself without being defensive.  I am learning how to accept what is and let go of what was.  I am also learning who my friends are and who really just wants to play the game.  I am letting go of the people who don’t love me for me and holding tighter to the people who really know me and see my warts (metaphorically speaking) and love me anyway.  I am also trying to cut the negativity out of my life.

That said, financially things have also turned further sour this past year.  We have considered bankruptcy, and although I am loathe to admit it I am doing so because with that admission comes a deeper truth and if there is any place (besides my therapists office) where I can be brutally honest it is here.  Instead of filing chapter 11 (or is it 13?) we have put our house up for sale.  If it sells we will be completely out of debt.  If it doesn’t we will have to reconsider everything.  I always feel the need to justify our debt.  It’s never been easy for us financially but the past few years have been one hit after another.  My husband’s job has been unstable, I had to start over in a new place and although I had help it still wasn’t cheap, we are supporting two households and as much assistance as we can give our kid… which is obviously not much at this point.  He has had to rely on student loans and it’s been a tough (no frills) road for him too.  We are not foolhardy with money, we aren’t frivolous and we don’t have expensive toys.  Our TV is 21 years old ffs!  It’s embarrassing to be in this position but it is what it is and hiding it won’t make it better.

So there it is, in brief (or as brief as I can be) the past year.  In a nutshell I’ve been disposable, broke, chiseled, bruised and in therapy but it’s getting better, I’m working on it (and me) and I hope it’s making me a better person… though I didn’t exactly think I was an asshole before.  My world is not all gloom and doom of course and soon enough I’ll get into that too.  Sometimes apparently you have to endure the dark before you get to see the light.

It feels good to be back.

 

April 26, 2010

diggin’ it

Posted in shit happening, Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:40 pm by ben

This is the second time I have been on my computer in almost three weeks.  I didn’t think it was possible for me to go this long but apparently it is and I didn’t spontaneously combust or go into DT’s.  My iphone is to blame.  I can check emails and such instantly on there so actually having to deal with dial-up again has become work.  3G has ruined me for all other forms of internet.  The only thing I can’t do (easily) on my phone is blog.  I could do it but I’d lose my mind typing a real post on such a tiny keyboard and my sanity (such as it is) is worth more than that… slightly more.  It’s not like I really have a lot to say anyway, as soon you too will note.

I’ve been gardening and yardworking like a fiend.  I am over the moon that I actually have something to work with this year.  We got a load of manure from a neighbor and I spent two days sifting it through a screen to break up the lumps and remove the rocks and sticks.  Sticks and stones won’t break my bones but wholly fuck is it backbreaking and wrist-cramping to filter them out of shit.  My dad helped me build an 8’x16’ raised bed for veggies and it’s awesome but the tough part about building any garden in this area is finding dirt to fill it.  We live in the Rocky mountains and they are indeed rocky.  There is no topsoil here, just a layer of dust that blows across the rocks.  A little birdie told me that she knew of a fellow who had some peat moss for sale and it turns out this guy is friends with my parents so I had them put in a call for some goods.  For 100$ we got a dump truck load of the most beautiful peat delivered to my back yard!  Sweet!!  I doubt anyone gets as excited about shit and dirt as I do.

So the giant new garden is full, turned and ready but I have to wait another couple weeks until we stop dipping into the negatives overnight to plant or all of my seedlings will freeze.  The seedlings that I planted in February!!  Most of them are full-on plants at this point.  My living room has become a greenhouse with over 200 plants that are eager to hit the outdoors so that they may go forth and be fruitful… or veggie-ful.  I have three different kinds of tomatoes which is funny because I am not particularly crazy about tomatoes.  There are peppers, pumpkins, three varieties of squash, gourds (I am a gourdener!) and a bunch of flowers.  I don’t usually grow flowers from seed but I swore I would not be buying annuals this year which means I had to start them myself.

I have this thing about annuals.  For those not in the gardening know, annuals are the flowers that have to be planted every year (annually!),  as opposed to perennials which return year after year making them a far wiser investment.  Annuals are lovely and showy and smell good but they remind me of strippers.  I’m like the guy who goes into the strip joint (garden center) to just have a look at all of the pretty things.  I swear I won’t spend any money on something that will only give me a small window of pleasure but once I am there I find myself shelling out for lapdance after lapdance and shoving 20’s into g-strings.  I can’t help myself, it’s a sickness!  By the time I leave I’m broke and feeling the pang of regret that I didn’t invest in a girlfriend (perennial) that would give me years of happiness instead of that sexy bitch with the big blossoms.

Wow, can I stretch a metaphor!?

The asparagus that I planted last year is popping up and it is so sweet and tender straight from the garden that it will never make it to the table.  It makes a lovely snack right out of the dirt!  My strawberries however did not fare so well over the winter.  Most of the plants are dead so I am looking to replace them.  The jury is still out on the blueberries, they don’t seem to be dead but they aren’t doing anything either… comatose maybe?  And I did some research to find out what went wrong with my raspberries last year and I think that they didn’t produce because I didn’t water them enough.  I am rectifying that this year… now I’ll probably drown the suckers.

Three weeks away from the computer and this is the best I have.  Sad for you.  ‘Specially the non-gardeners who are subjected to these filthy ramblings of a dirty girl.

We did build a fire pit in the back yard, that is exciting!  We’ve had the bricks for six years so it was well past time to put them together.  It looks a little like a well.  Actually it looks a lot like a well, maybe I will make a “Timmy” to put at the bottom of it.  We went to the lake (which is little more than mud at the moment) last weekend and kicked off camping season a month early.  It was a bit chilly but I got to rest my body and spend some time in “the library” by the fire, reading.  I am half way through Stephen King’s Under The Dome.  I am having a hard time putting it down so it must be good.  He rarely disappoints me.  Anyway before we came home from camping we stopped at a slate pile and picked up some of the flatter rocks to put around the “well” as a kind of rock patio.  It is going to take some hard work to get it all leveled and set in sand but it will hopefully look less like something baby Jessica could get stuck in by the time we’re done.

In other news, we may be the last people in the damn country to do so but we are finally getting our passports.  No plan (or money) to go anywhere yet but hopefully someday and when the finances become available we want to be ready.  It’s not all that complicated but it’s certainly a pain in the ass, I didn’t know what to put for hair color, I don’t even know what my natural hair color is anymore!

I think that’s it.  I hope nobody has cardiac arrested from all of the excitement.

One little story before I go.

Nana is still kicking and just when we think she’s checking out, she springs back.  They play a weekly Bingo game in the home where she lives and usually she is too out of it to play but last week she sat in on the game.  She stamped her card as the numbers were drawn and excitedly she shouted “Bingo!”

The lady across from her said, “No dear, you stamped a number that wasn’t called, you don’t have a Bingo.”

To which my Nana replied, “Fuck you!”

She might be losing her shit (literally) but bless the woman for being able to hold her expletives.

April 6, 2010

points of view

Posted in shit happening tagged , , , at 9:20 pm by ben

I try to be the kind of person who looks at everything from as many perspectives as I can.  I make every attempt to see where a person comes from and what their motives are before I make any kind of judgment.  I was not always this way.  Age, experience and the past week have enlightened me a little.

My brother Bob, his wife Candy and their three teenage kids were here last week.  This is the first time they have been here since I made peace with him three years ago (after several years of not speaking) so that they would come out for my dad’s 60th birthday party.  This was the first time they have ever stayed to visit for longer than a few hours… ever.  I was beyond shocked when Candy (who I have always had issues and a barely cordial relationship with) called me to say they wanted to come spend spring break here to visit us and my parents for the week.  I was too surprised to even question why they were coming.

Candy puts us all on guard.  She has a history with my family that is something we always felt was barely shy of evil.  She has hurt us.  I could reel off many instances where she appeared to go out of her way to damage us and our relationship with Bob but at this point that would serve no purpose and I really want to get to the good stuff.  It is enough to say that she puts our hairs on end and makes us wary of her every move as if she might attack at any moment.

The visiting was all quite superficial on the first day. Most of the chatter surrounded the kids and funny anecdotes.  Since we see them so rarely it was easy to keep conversation light.  It wasn’t until the evening of day two that things changed.  I invited the kids down to play Wii after dinner and my brother and sil came along to hang out.  Once we started talking the floodgates flew open.

Candy had been preparing for the conversation, I could tell, since she spilled her guts about a few things.  She said she was very shy and never felt like we liked her so she kept her distance.  We saw someone who didn’t talk to us, didn’t seem to want to fit in to the family and appeared to look down on us in general.  She said she had been hearing from my brother what a nightmare all of our family gatherings were so that put her on edge before she even arrived.  I still haven’t figured out why Bob had such issues with the family (everyone thinks he’s Mr. Wonderful) but again perspective comes into play.  Bob saw things differently than the rest of us.  He was uncomfortable in those situations as a kid and they grew in his mind and festered and became more and more unbearable as he got older.  Candy picked up on it, reflected it, and it made her an outsider.

That was where it started.

Bob also admits to having serious middle child syndrome.  He saw me and our youngest brother get everything we wanted (material and otherwise) while he felt slighted and even blinded to what he received.  He had many misconceptions about what we were given.  He didn’t know I paid for my first car and that our brother’s trip to Europe was earned through fundraising etc. etc.  His memory is selective, like he stored the bad stuff and forgot the good stuff.  Once we talked about it for a while he began to see that maybe not all of what he remembered was accurate and it opened him up for some forgiveness.  To me, Bob was the one who got away with everything and Chris (the baby) was spoiled rotten.  Chris knows he was the golden child and Bob admits he was a shithead of a kid and that I got the worst of mom’s hand… and her vicious tongue.

My mother has often tells the story of why she stopped working.  I was 11, Bob was 9 and the baby was a year old.  My dad worked away from home during most of our younger years and he was rarely around on weeknights.  I would go home after school and have to watch the boys and prepare dinner while my mom worked evenings at a diner.  I was a very responsible kid and I took my “job” very seriously, plus I feared the hand of mom so I tried hard not to fuck up or giver her any reason at all to find fault with my efforts.  Bob hated Chris.  He was jealous.  For eight years he was the spoiled mommy’s boy and he lost that title to this mini interloper.  Most of my time babysitting was spent playing referee as Bob tormented his younger brother endlessly.  Chris told me recently that he used to keep a tally on a calendar of the days when Bob didn’t make him cry.  He said there weren’t very many.  Sad.

One afternoon, while mother was working and I was fixing dinner,  Chris found his way (crawled) into my parents bedroom and ate a bottle of baby aspirin.  When I went to check on him he was still playing with the open (and empty) container.  I called mom and she came home and took Chris to the hospital where they pumped his stomach.  He was ok, no harm done and nobody was more relieved than me.  My mom still refers to this as “The day Brenda tried to kill Christopher.” And since I was so irresponsible she had to quit her job.

As Bob and I were talking this incident came up as one of those things our mother wouldn’t let go of, he began to get teary.  It has only been the last few years that I have wondered how the baby got the lid off of that pill bottle.  I assumed that it had not been on tight or that he managed to chew it off somehow.  “I gave him the pills.” Bob admitted.  “I didn’t know you got blamed for it.”

I didn’t even know how to react.  I didn’t ask him if he was trying to kill our brother or what his agenda was… mostly because I didn’t want to know.  He thought he should confess to mom.  I said “No.  She wouldn’t understand.  She would be hurt, angry and bitter and it’d put a whole new wedge in the family.  The only reason to tell her would be to exonerate me and to cleanse your conscience.  I know the truth, I wasn’t irresponsible (she should never have left a child in charge of children to start with!!) and your confession to me is enough.”

“But she will always blame you.”

“She does anyway.  I can take it, I have for thirty years.”

I had a lot of revelations that night and I hope this is a new beginning for us.  Mom and Bob had a talk after I helped her to see where they were coming from and explained the whole perspective and perception phenomena to her.  She (as well as the rest of us) is at least making an effort to see beyond her own blinders and that is a start.  I want Bob and his family to be as to the rest of us as we are to each other.  It means a lot to me to be part of his kids’ lives, to be a real aunt to them.  I feel like at least some of the weight of the past has been lifted and although there were a lot of bridges burned in the past I am hopeful that we’ve managed to look beyond the gap and build a footing or two for some new ones.

Memory is all about perception.  People can have the exact same experience yet see and recall it completely differently.  The best we can do is try to find some common ground and look beyond our own understanding and acknowledge that nobody is right and nobody is wrong and accept history for what it is.  We can’t change the past so it’s better to look forward and  make a better future.

March 13, 2010

fair trade

Posted in shit happening tagged , , at 5:30 pm by ben

“Life isn’t fair and nobody promised it would be.”

My therapist had me write this on a post-it and put it on my bathroom mirror.  This was about sixteen years ago, I am not currently in therapy although I could probably use it now more than ever.  Or maybe I just want some psychotropic drugs, to take the edge off.

I kid!  Mostly.

A friend of mine recently asked me if I really thought I needed therapy.  I told her I have more issues than National Geographic… although my tits are higher than most of the women in that magazine.  I can’t flip my boobs over my shoulders FTW!

My life (particularly my childhood) has been riddled with injustice.  It wasn’t fair that my brother was allowed to stay up ‘til nine, when I was his age I had to go to bed at eight thirty!  It wasn’t fair that my mom made popcorn when she thought we were asleep so she wouldn’t have to share.  It wasn’t fair that my parents gave my brother his first car and I had to pay for mine.  It wasn’t fair that I looked after my teeth and still had cavities while my lazy sibling never brushed or flossed and always had perfect check-ups.  There is no worse feeling for a kid than to know you’ve done the work and someone else gets the accolades (rubber balls or stickers as it were).  His picture went on the wall with fanfare, I got the “tsk” of  shame and an appointment for yet another filling.

Through my teens it didn’t get any better.  It wasn’t fair that the boy I liked preferred my best friend.  It wasn’t fair that other kids could eat all the junk food they wanted and never gain an ounce while I was on the eternal diet.

I could go on but I don’t want you all sobbing on your computers and getting tears in the circuitry and electrocuting yourselves.

Now just because I found so much inequality through my life doesn’t mean I kvetch about it.  I’m not a whiner by nature but I am a rememberer.  I might forgive, but I never forget.  I bitch about stuff on here and my friends have heard it on ocasion but generally I try not to be that person.  I know women who are all about the negative, “Oh woe is me, everything sucks and I am so hard done by.” Eat a bullet if it’s that bad.

I am callous.

Not really.  In person I would be kind.  In text it’s easier to be bitchy.

So where am I going with all of this?  I have no fucking idea.  Sometimes these things take on a life of their own and I get led astray.

My cousin/business partner Trixie, her husband, their kids and her parents are all in California for the month of March.  My own parents are headed to Vegas for two weeks and then to California to spend a few days with the family.  It’s not enough that I get left behind, I also get swamped at work (looking after her clients) plus I get dead Nana duty.

My mom had the papers drawn up last week.  If my grandmother dies while they are gone I have to deal with her remains.  Now it’s not like I have to perform an autopsy or do her hair and make-up or anything, I just have to deal with the cremation and her ashes until everyone is home and we can do some sort of memorial (she doesn’t want a funeral).  It’s already been decided that they won’t cut their vacation short if Nana kicks it.  There is no point.  She won’t be going anywhere.

What are the odds?

Better than me winning the lottery.

Grandma has Dementia/Alzheimer’s and there is nothing left on her cracker but a trail where the cheese slid off.  She is on a swift decline, most days she is completely out of it.  She doesn’t recognize anyone and she’s all but stopped talking, unless she wants hot chocolate, she is obsessed with hot chocolate.  But, in fairness maybe it’s not obsession as much as she forgets she’s had one (or six) already that day.  She has had two mini strokes and she is now incontinent.  For her sake I hope it ends soon.  There is no dignity in shitting your pants and not knowing if you’re Arthur or Martha.  We put our pets down when they are old or ill.  We spare them the pain and indignity, why can’t we do the same for people.  My grandmother would be mortified if she knew she’d go this route.  She was far too classy to go out this way.  That is the epitome of unfair.

So, while everyone else is funning and sunning, I will do what needs to be done here whatever that entails because no matter how unfair the situation is for me, it’s so much worse for my grandmother.  When it’s my turn I hope that with a little help from Karma someone will be there for me, and that there will be a better way to go.

I am writing a new affirmation for my mirror.  “Suck it up Princess, life is hard… the alternative is worse.”


March 3, 2010

true patriot love

Posted in shit happening tagged , , , at 4:28 am by ben

The patriotism is running high here in the great not-so-white north.   From sea to shining sea we are celebrating.  We love our country and without being gauche or in your face we’ve become a nation of red and white wearing, flag wavers.  I’m really digging it.

Canada tends to be a bit like the wallflower at a high school dance.  She is content to watch others in the spotlight, she applauds the prom queen without malice or petty jealousy and she’s pretty happy to be at the party even if her dance card isn’t full.  (“Dance card” is me showing my age… not that I am quite old enough to have ever had one.) When she does dance, she doesn’t need a partner (or she can choose one of the same sex) and she bops to her own beat even if it’s not quite as popular as what the other kids are doing.  These Olympics have made her the belle of the ball, it’s given her a little taste of the limelight and I think she likes it.

The furor is over the 2010 Winter Olympics.  We had high hopes of finally winning a gold medal on home soil and instead we broke the record for the most gold medals ever won in a winter Olympics.  This is huge for Canada, though in all sincerity we’re the kind of people who take pride in effort as well as achievements.  Our athletes and all of the people involved with the games did us proud.  It’s not just about winning, we’re not the type to brag (most of us anyway) but finally we are more than just a cold weather joke.  We’ve shown the world that we have what it takes to win and throw a wicked shindig.

It’s been said that we have no culture, that because we are a melting pot we don’t really know who we are.  I disagree.  We know exactly who we are, we are everyone from everywhere.  This is why we are tolerant.  This is why we don’t discriminate.  We aren’t a melting pot, we are multicultural and there is a difference.  Melting pot infers that we all must blend into one.  The only people who have been here forever are the First Nations, the rest of us came from somewhere else.  It would be hypocritical to expect immigrants to become us when we’re not exactly living in teepees and eating pemmican ourselves.  What makes us special is that in this country blending is not necessary, we don’t just appreciate individuality we embrace it.  From one end of this land to the other are entire communities and communities within communities celebrating their culture.  Vancouver has the largest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco, the east coast is a bizarre and wonderful Celtic mix and there are little Italy’s, India’s, Poland’s, Ukraine’s etc. all over the place and my own town was founded by Swiss guides.  Our culture, our heritage is that of the immigrant.  We all strive to give our children a better life than we had, we share with our neighbors and help them out whenever they need a hand whether it’s building a barn or rebuilding Haiti.  We preach and practice compassion and a “live and let live” philosophy.  I am proud to live in a country where my freedom really means something, where my voice is heard and no religion or religious ideology (or idiocy) is forced down my throat.  I can choose my faith as I can choose to have an abortion, marry another woman and smoke weed… all at the same time if I want!

What ties us all together?  It’s a shared experience in a land where we can live free of persecution, full of hope and opportunity.

We believe that health care is a right not a privilege.  Our system (like our country and indeed those of us in it) is not without flaws but we’ll keep working on it until we get it right.  We are of hardy stock up here, perseverance is something we’ve gotten pretty good at.

Something is different in this country today, we might be walking a little taller, we might even be strutting a little, and dammit, we should be!  We rocked it, on and off the podium.  I think Canadians have always been proud of who and what we are, this whole Olympic thing just gives us a reason to shout it out.

February 16, 2010

herculean efforts

Posted in shit happening tagged , , at 5:06 am by ben

I have always been somewhat anti-Olympics.  For as long as I can remember (and at my age it’s a miracle that I can recall anything) there has been arbitrary and unfair judging, the professional vs amateur debate, bribery allegations, corruption and scandals within the IOC and numerous inconsistencies in the games themselves.  The IOC is not accountable for it’s actions and without accountability there is no justice.  If there is no fair play in the biggest competition in the world how can we expect kids to behave on the playgrounds?

My biggest beef with the Olympics is the amount of money spent on the event.  In our current financial situation we should be reserving our resources for healthcare, infrastructure (beyond the lower mainland) education and the betterment of or country in general.  The dough that’s been divvied for these games could have done some really positive things for this country.  Some would argue that hosting the Olympics are positive and that they offer us the opportunity to showcase Canada and to let the world know who we are and what we’re about.  That all sounds lovely and kumbaya and shit but I am pretty certain that the entire planet is already well aware that Canada is peaceful, gentle and polite and the only thing harsh about us is our winters… although this year ironically is quite the exception to that rule.

As of the beginning of February, the total cost of the Games, including all the improvements for the region is estimated to be about $6 billion.  About 580 million was allocated from the taxpayer budget (in a country of 33 million people) and I am not convinced that we’ll see a return but I know we’ll feel the deficit.  Projected revenues to the city and province are expected to be in the range of $10 billion.  Whether or not that comes to fruition remains to be seen.  It’s a big risk.

Was all of this spending necessary?  I think not.  The Torch relay, for example, that was intended to get the country fired up (pun intended) about the event began in Victoria and spent five days on Vancouver Island before flying to the Yukon, crossed the northern region of the country to the Atlantic coast, then proceeded west through the provinces to arrive in Vancouver for the opening ceremony.  The relay lasted 106 days and covered 45,000 km, it passed through 1,000 communities and grand celebrations were held in 200 towns and cities.  The cost of the entire trip was $30 million, with two thirds of this funded by the federal government.

The torch traveled to within 50 km of every town in the country.  Sounds nice, yes?  Necessary?  Not so much.  I will admit that when it arrived in my village we attended the event as did the majority of our populace.  It was undoubtedly the greatest turnout this town has seen for anything.  It was exciting and full of fanfare and entertainment and I couldn’t help but get sucked into the mob induced enthusiasm.  That said and upon closer scrutiny it was really little more than a smokescreen so we wouldn’t notice the real spending and an advertising opportunity for the corporate sponsors.  Maybe I am just a negative Nelly, maybe the relay did bring the country together.  If my cynicism is unjustified it wouldn’t be the first time but I couldn’t help but feel we’d been sold some colas and some banking and snowed (pun intended again) on this whole Olympic deal.

Further on the financial note I also think that some countries have taken to buying and building Olympic athletes and the purity of the sports are marred by the fact that those who can afford it get better training/coaches/facilities etc. than the countries who simply don’t have the funds.  I find it ironic that what began as a pure competition where buff, naked, young, naked men ran naked and tossed things has now become a penis measuring contest and everybody wears clothes.  And it’s all done in the name of bragging rights because a gold medal and a buck (or four at Starbucks) will buy you a cup of coffee… and for the athlete a longshot at the front of a Wheaties box.

All of my issues aside I watched the opening ceremony on Friday night.  At first I did so with the intent to mock and belittle the extravaganza but I became so engrossed and impressed that the urge to scoff left me completely.  Well, almost completely, I did think what they did to our anthem was ridiculous, I can’t stand Nelly Furtaco and I don’t think she belonged on that stage and the whole Foxy Cleopatra opera chick singing the Olympic hymn was just odd.

I have watched other Olympic ceremonies and maybe I am biased but I think this was by far the most impressive and way beyond spectacular.  Certainly it would be tough to beat the show in Beijing but at 10% of the cost I still count us as the win.  I was awed by the pageantry, impressed with the use of technology (both simple and complex) and goosebumps rose on my flesh as the whales appeared to cross the floor of the stadium.  I rolled my eyes when the poet was introduced and then had to wipe tears from them as he spoke.  Shane Koyczan captured Canada in words as eloquently as anyone could, he took our national pride to a whole new level.  So brilliant.  If you haven’t hear/seen it I highly suggest you check it out on YouTube or read the transcript.  Koyczan really does define Canada as much as one can define a country that is so diverse.

I was blown away that we had the talent and the capability to pull off something of this magnitude.  Of course there was the glitch when the forth pillar of the indoor torch stubbornly refused to rise.  Shit happens.  They made it work.  That is also the Canadian way, we deal and move on, no point crying over faulty mechanics and the inability to get it up.

Something happened after the ceremony, something I didn’t expect at all.  I got a dose of Olympic fever and now I can’t get enough of the games.  I’ve watched all of the coverage from NBC as well as the Canadian reports and I actually find myself cheering aloud… they’re 500 miles away but they hear me.  I am watching sports that I couldn’t give two shits about a week ago and I am doubly excited to see the ones I had some interest in already.  The figure skating is always worth watching no matter who wins the medals.  The other is curling, I love curling.  I know to the untrained eye it’s about as exciting as watching people throw rocks on ice but the game is far more intricate and skillful than it appears… and it helps that I am in love with the third from the Canadian team.  John Morris is my boyfriend, he just doesn’t know it yet.

I fully expect to see the Kevin Martin team take the gold.  I also guarantee that I won’t miss a single game.  If ever there was a time that we should revert to the purity of the original games that had the men competing naked, this would be it.  Then again there is that cold weather shrinkage factor to consider.  I guess the tight black pants will suffice after all.

If there is anything I would like non-Canadians to take away from watching my country, my province, I would hope they see that we truly are kind and generous hosts, that we rejoice in the effort not just the win and that there are far worse ways to be defined than as polite.

I also hope the world finally realizes we don’t live in igloos.

February 9, 2010

pharmaceutical pursuits

Posted in whine and cheese at 4:23 am by ben

I heard this morning that there is a new gum for men that works like Viagra.  Seriously?  We’re still researching men’s equipment failures when there are real diseases without cures?  And not only do we have to spend kajillions to get their tackle up but we also had to find an easier method of dosing to provide erectile functionality.  If pills are too complicated how do they plan to fuck??  Or maybe they need a little gumming there too.  I shake my head.  I guess it shows who’s financing research… soft rich men.

I have often wondered if women held the purse strings what they would be researching.  I’d be willing to bet there’d be a lot more done in children’s medicine and maybe someone would finally give a shit about women’s health.  Menstrual cramping, PMS and menopause relief (that doesn’t require the use of pregnant horse piss) are still in the dark ages technologically speaking and really, do we not complain enough about these things to make them worth finding cures for just to shut us up??!

If  men were really on the ball (so to speak) they’d be coming up with drugs (gum, CHOCOLATE) to turn women on because that would be even more to their benefit.  How many men would love to be able to skip the “work” of foreplay and just have their wives (girlfriends, interns, hookers) pop a pill and be good to go.  But no, the men who SHOULD think that way don’t think that way.  They are the kind of men who are only concerned with their own needs and who really believe that as long as their penis is rigid, that in itself is gift to the woman.  This kind of man can (and should) be replaced by a zucchini.

Now I’m not saying that all men who use drugs to stiffen their staff are selfish and self absorbed, I’m just saying that great sex requires more than just a a hardon… for a woman at least.  Frankly I am surprised more women don’t invest in saltpeter just to keep that wily one-eyed worm at bay.  Or maybe they do and men just THINK they have erectile disfunction.  Now that’s an interesting concept.  How awesome would it be to discover after all these years that men really don’t have erectile issues at all, instead their wives were just dosing them with phallic softener.  Brilliant and cruel, I love it.

Speaking of cruelty, whatever is going on in my head has surpassed cruel and moved on to viciously sadistic.  I was very careful with my nose and did nothing to disturb it all week but on Sunday morning I blew it without thinking and the geyser began again.  Fuck.

My husband wanted me to go back to the hospital but I just didn’t have it in me to go through all of that again so after about an hour I managed to get the blood to stop gushing.  I used a tampon to plug it, very absorbent those things, it worked great (I did cut off the string, I am not completely vulgar).  I spent the rest of the day being very still and trying not to aggravate it and get it pouring again.  The headache is the really sucky part of it all, it’s constant and it feels like my head has a lead balloon inside of it.  My sinuses feel full of what I can only imagine is dried blood and the steady dull pain radiates out from deep between my eyes.  I will go see the doctor to get it checked out in case there is more to it or even just to get some better drugs for the pain.  I’m popping Tylenol by the handful and it’s not even touching it.  I have convinced myself it’s a tumor and I am naming it “Tina”.

Tina Tumor!

*slaps knee*

Speaking of drugs and entirely off topic, I have been thinking I’d like to try growing a little cannabis.  I don’t want to smoke it or sell it, I just think they are cool plants and I want to try to grow a few.  I have a client who is in the know about all things Mary Jane so I asked her if she’s ever started hers from seed and how I would go about it.  She gave me some tips and said she only grows three or four plants but that is enough to last her all winter… for ‘medicinal’ use of course.  She offered to get me a few seeds so I am totally excited to try it out.

When I told my husband I was planning on growing a couple pot plants he said “Meth is easier to make.”

I didn’t even know how to respond to that.

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