Saturday, August 30, 2008

Random: city living, levi's, and anna finally comes up with a use for princesses

We live close to a main road in a small city. Since we are fairly close to downtown, we get and expect the usual: people who walk down the street and shout at everyone, or scream about the Pope, or assault their girlfriends in plain sight. We have our share of kids with nothing to do, who congregate in the parking lot of the building across the road, or who ride weird contraptions such as shopping carts and old rusty wagons down the hill next to our house. We have a neighbour who is evangelical and mentally unstable. That's a lot of fun. It's noisy, during the day and sometimes at night because we live a few blocks away from the hospital.

Last night, at about 10:30, I was dozing off in E's room (she has a lovely rocking chair that puts me to sleep) when I heard a loud noise - not the squeal and impact noise of a car crash - more like somebody sent a very large item tumbling down the hill beside our house. I heard N go outside, and then I heard a lot of shouting. I looked out my front door and discovered that something had tumbled down the hill - an SUV. It was upside down on the street, across the road from our house.

A teenager who lives in the neighbourhood told us that there had been a big fight in the parking lot of a local grocery store - the people who had started the fight had piled into the SUV, tore out of the parking lot near our house, failed to properly negotiate the corner and flipped the car. When they saw what they had done, they didn't hang around. Four or five of them crawled out of the crushed vehicle and took off down the street, with N and another neighbour chasing them, shouting after them to stop. The EMS and police arrived seconds later, too late to stop them.

There was no one left in the car. Any injuries they had would seem to be minor, which is a good thing. According to N, the SUV reeked of alcohol. There were fortunately no pedestrians nearby at the time - and our sidewalks are well travelled day and night - because the car crossed the sidewalk and took out a no parking sign on its way to its final destination.

I think what gets me is the absolute lack of concern for any rules, any lives, including their own. They didn't stick around long enough to see if anyone was hurt - they left their (or likely their parents') car in the middle of the road and went racing down the street as fast as their teenage legs could carry them.

Some of the other teens at the accident scene knew who they were, and did give their names to the police. One had a lot of explaining to do when his mother turned up as one of the many spectators who passed by.

In almost four years of living here, this is the first serious accident we've seen. People get stuck in the snow in front of our house all the time, thanks to the aforementioned hill. I worry that someone will be hurt, because cars come around the corner and tear down the street like they are late for their own wedding, or the second coming. Luckily, nobody was hurt (that we know of), but it easily could have happened this time. I wish people would just think....

I haven't owned a pair of levi's since I was 12 years old. I wore those pants out, and when I finally consented to getting rid of them, they were way too short for me, and full of holes. I loved those pants, loved the way I looked in them, loved the fact that they were Levi's just like everyone else wore. I have longed for Levi's since then, for no real reason other than I would feel like I'd accomplished something if I could walk in and buy Levi's off the rack, take them home and look at my shrinking self in those beautiful pants. I know, there are probably tons of pants that would look just as good, but my inner child still wants Levi's.

I finally have some, courtesy of Value Village (I seldom buy anything new for myself - why bother when there is a shopping mecca full of lovely clothes in my size a few minutes drive away?). And they look every bit as good as the imaginary Levi's I have conjured for myself ever since I was a kid.

I look good. I mean, I look really good. I keep thinking that I still weight three hundred pounds, and I surprise myself when I look in the mirror. I don't look like an obese person anymore. There are a few extra pounds, but nothing like before.

So, why do I still think I'm ugly? Why, in my lowest moments, do I worry that no one would want to be with me? It's like the stories I told myself for years are still alive inside my body, still insisting on spreading their dark energy around, keeping me from really loving and accepting who I am. I must work on that. The stories I tell myself keep me from a lot of things - they keep me at arms length from people I would like to be close to, they keep me from revealing my true nature to most of the world. Why would I keep telling those stories? The only purpose they serve is to keep me here, keep me safe, except that being alone and isolated doesn't feel safe any more. it's time to start telling myself some new stories, to start believing in myself again. Or for the first time ever, depending on how you look at it.

I've been struggling to find a way to explain our family changes to E. Since M is eighteen, telling her was a different story - with more explanations, but at least she understood, and could respond. How do you tell a five year old that her mom is gay? And that mom and dad care about each other, but they are not together as a couple anymore (we aren't married, bu we've lived together for more than eight years).

I used princesses. And I hate princesses, specifically the Disneyfied feminine ride off into the sunset with the prince and live happily ever after kind. Oh, they bug me.

Yesterday, E said "Let's pretend there is a princess and she wants to marry a prince and hug and kiss him."

And I said, "Well, what if the princess wanted to marry another princess?"

She looked at me for a second and then said "That would be okay, but we would need to have two crowns."

Two crowns? Fine by me.

So today, we took our regular excursion to the local market. We walk down, she complains all the way there, and then we get a snack and listen to whichever local musician is entertaining the customers. Quality can vary, but I must say, today's folk-style guitarist was quite good. She drinks chocolate milk and eats home made apple fritters with ice cream. I drink my coffee, and occasionally indulge in an fritter, sans creme glace.

She was sitting and wiggling, and being silly as usual, and I told her what she needs to know. I asked her if she remembered how yesterday, the princesses in our game got married. She nodded her head. And then I told her that if I was a princess, I wouldn't want to marry a prince, that I would rather marry a princess. That I would have a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend. And then I told her that her dad and I were going to change things around in the house, so that I could look for a "princess."

I am talking to a five year old, after all.

She looked at me with her beautiful brown eyes and said,"Will we have to move?"

No, no, I reassured her, we would all live together in the house, and mommy and daddy would still be her mommy and daddy. But I will sleep in another room, in the room I use as an office. Is that okay, I ask her.

"Yes." she says, "See my straw? It can dance up and down to the music."

So I guess it's okay. As long as we don't have to move. Which is not part of the plan for at least a year, and possibly more.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

I wrapped my fear around me like a blanket, I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it

But I definitely haven't been closer to fine for the last few days.

I started to wrap a cloak of depression around me. Home with no space of my own, teenage niece with the television on all the time, all this stuff I need to do, being mostly not out because my family doesn't know yet, working at a job that is not fun anymore and leaving my little one behind for two weeks - all of those things are factors.

I've been crying a lot. More than is healthy. And I tell myself, well, hey, at least I'm feeling. I'm not numb. That's something.

But fear, fear is always behind my negative thoughts.

I don't have to come out to my family right now. I get to choose the time. But not telling them is slowly killing me. There's a great big secret that I'm keeping, and I feel like every time I'm around them, I can't be myself, I can't tell them the things that are important about my life. N and I are not together anymore and they don't know yet. I need to tell them, I need to get this out because I want to move ahead with my life and I'm stuck in one place until I can tell them.

And why am I scared? Well, there is a fear of losing them, or at least being cut off temporarily (the cut off I refer to here is emotional because my family is pretty darn good at not talking about things, at glossing over the unpleasantness that they feel. Some of them, anyways)> and the actual telling of it. What do I say? When is a good time to sit down and have a nice little chat like that? And I love to put unpleasant things off until they disappear.

This won't disappear. But as long as I'm not open, I feel like I'm ashamed of who I am, that there's something to be embarrassed about. When there isn't. And if I'm truly proud of who I am, why am I not shouting it from the rooftops, instead of merely whispering it to friends that I already know will understand? I'm not a rooftop shouting kind of person, and I've always kept certain things contained.

I promised myself I wouldn't do that any more.

And then I start thinking about this whole socializing thing. I really don't know many people in the city where I live, and I really should get out more and meet people...except the mere thought of doing that, or anything approaching socializing with people that I don't know is enough to send me straight back into the turtle shell I build for myself when i was fifteen.

I actually feel like I'm fifteen years old a lot of the time. With the same anxieties and insecurities that I never really resolved when I was fifteen. I just ran and hid from everyone. I know that being around adults is (not very often) not like being a teenager at all. No one is going to judge me based on my appearance, and if they do, what should I care anymore? I'm not fifteen, remember.

Except that I am, and when I even think about having to talk to people that I don't know, or heaven forbid, going into a situation where I know absolutely no one I feel like I'm about to freeze. My throat starts to close up and I get that awful choking feeling I used to get when life was just too much for me and I wanted out. Out.

Here's the silliest thing about these fears. I drove myself all the way to Michigan, walked into a place where I knew no one at all, and went home feeling strong, loved, and valuable. So how is that experience different from others I might have?

I had a dream the other night, and in my dream I was wearing a backpack. it was extremely uncomfortable and I refused to take it off. I wore it everywhere. And I had some friends with me that I kept leaving behind. I kept forgetting that they were even with me, and I'd take off without them.

That's not an obvious message at all. I don't need the defenses anymore. Instead of protecting me from whatever threatened me when I was fifteen, they are hurting me. But I keep them around, just in case I need them, just in case some day I have to validate my insecurities by saying "See. I knew all along that I was unlovable."

I fear that most of all. That underneath this skin, there really is nothing of substance to love.

I was so excited the other day when I found out that Amy Ray is coming to Toronto in November. I've waited a long time to see her live, and I actually started thinking of not going - because I don't know anyone who listens to Amy Ray (solo) and I am terrified of going alone. To a club, by myself, where I actually might have to talk to people.

Yeah, I know, it's bull**it. Why would I do that? But when the fear overtakes me, I lose all rational thought and I just think about everything that can go wrong.

And really, I'd rather not be in Toronto by myself, navigating the bus/train/car whatever, but I've already assumed that nobody will want to go, so I've already planned in my head that I will be going alone. Does this make sense?

But it's real, and it's my own way of escaping from stressful situations. I just worry my way out of them, and rationalize all the reasons why I shouldn't go.

And then, N offered to take me. Perish the thought. I think I'll find a way to get there without him. Because I know that once I get there, get through the doors, find a spot for myself, I actually might meet people and have fun.

I can do this. I will.

If I had someone to talk to, things might not seem so scary.

Monday, August 25, 2008

dream intepretation, anyone?

It's 6:00 am. I'm writing this instead of doing my usual morning pages in my notebook. my head is still full of this dream, long and vivid, and I must write it down.

I dreamed that I was going camping. I was alone, I had all the equipment I needed and a commercial sponsor. My sponsor was the father of a former boss of mine named David. Suffice it to say that David is a rather shady character, and I should never have trusted him in the first place.David's father runs a sporting goods store, and he has offered to pay all my expenses. David explains this as we are standing in the store, a store that looks more like dingy warehouse with shelves that are stacked with goods and that reach the ceiling.

So I leave and go to my campsite, which is one of the worst campsites I have ever seen. Had this not been a dream, I would have gone back and asked for another one. I am camped in a dry riverbed, with banks that are about seven or eight feet tall. The spot was chosen for me by David's dad, who may also own the campsite, not sure there. The ground beneath my feet is wet and spongy. My tent is set up at right angles to the campsite entrance, around a corner, away from the riverbank. There are woods nearby as well, I can recall seeing the trees and thinking that as long as there are trees here, I will be okay. I'm wearing these great boots, courtesy of David's dad. I have my recepits in my pocket and I'm going to take them with me to get my money back. I don't want to lose them because I know this guy won't take my word for it.

In my dream, the sky is cloudy and grey. I know it's going to rain, but I decide to make the best of it and light a campfire. Aside from the boots, I'm using all my own equipment. I have a tent, and my new guitar (which IRL is sitting at Long and McQuade waiting for me to take it out of layaway) and a backpack full of clothes. I have my car as well, but is parked far away from me, on top of the riverbank. I have my ground seat to sit on, and the ground is a bit spongy, but I make do, and sit with the fire for a few minutes. It starts to rain, harder and then harder still. Before long I am up to my knees in water, water is rushing through the stream bed in a torrent and I realize that there's going to be a flood and I have to leave. I try to get to my tent and retrieve my backpack, but it's being borne away by the current. I don't think I even have my car keys.

There are trees on one side of me, and the embankment on the other. In order to leave, I have to climb the embankment to get to the main road. I stand at the foot of the embankment and strategize - how will I do this? I can only climb, trust my boots, and hold on. The ground beneath my feet is getting softer and softer, like the mudflats on Ferron's river, and it is hard for me to lift my feet, but my boots hold, and I am somehow dry beneath my clothing. I look up and see, with horror, that a giant wave is about to breach the embankment and wash over my head. I brace myself, and I am soaked through, covered in mud, but still standing after the wave rushes through and past me. I climb the embankment, pulling one leg after another because they are sticking in the mud, fighting the current as I move against it.

I make it out, and make my way down the road towards the sporting goods store. I am livid, that the store owner has put lives at risk by allowing people to camp in a dangerous area. In my mind, he is responsible for replacing what I lost, for compensating me for the horrors I have been through. I go into the store, which seems to be located in some kind of mall, because there are windows that look out into a hallway. I stand and look through a window. My brother (not the one who was hurt) is there, and we are looking out the window as I tell him my story. He is shaking his head and saying "I don't know. Good luck getting any money out of this guy," when a kid, a very tall teenager, comes along and stands at the window between the two of us. he is deliberately blocking us from communicating, and I'm angry to begin with, but now I am angrier. I ask him to move, and he refuses, so I nudge him aside, and he goes away.

I am tired of waiting, and I ask a store employee to take me to David's father. He says "One minute ma'am and I'll go get him," and he disappears. I am waiting in the aisles, with my mud-stained sweatshirt, khaki pants and kick-ass boots, and I'm dripping wet, getting all the equipment on display wet as I wait. the customers who are in the store make a wide arc around me because I am quite a sight to behold, woman in all her beauty. After a long wait, David appears, with his hands out placatingly. He means to put me off, I can tell by his body language. I stand my ground. I tell him I am not leaving until I speak to his father, and if he wants to call the cops and have me dragged out of the store I will stand here and tell every customer that I lost everything, and almost lost my life, on his dad's campground and I want the compensation that I'm owed right now. Imagine the previous sentence liberally laced with expletives because anna is not a happy camper at this point, she's a rather pissed off and powerful woman who is not afraid to use her voice. I imagine sitting on the floor when asked to leave, I imagine the nonviolent resistance stance, where the protesters are carried out because they refuse to move, and I plant my feet firmly on the earth, prepared to sit if necessary. For crying out loud, I've asked to meet with this guy and it's not a lot, considering what I've just been through. Why don't they just let me in to talk to him and pay me - that might keep me quiet. But they refuse to meet with me, and I stand in the store and shout my story to every customer within earshot. Many are leaving and I am proud of my ability to sway opinions.

David comes back and asks me if I mind waiting elsewhere. he has a much more comfortable spot for me, he says, but I refuse to go. I will not be ushered out, I tell him, because all I want is to speak to his father, and that's not a lot to ask for. But suddenly (as dreams go, I am transported) I find myself in a day care waiting area, with child's furniture and its very quiet. There is an office nearby, not sure if it's David's dad or not who is in there. (the David in my dream is the former owner of a day care that I once supervised, the worst job I ever had. He and his business partner were badly inexperienced and thought they could make a profit in child care, and when they realized they were about to lose their shirts in their business venture, they started cutting corners and cheating the staff out of wage subsidies provided by the local municipality. I didn't stick around for that - I was out of there before my three month probation was up).

I wait in this quiet area, and because I have nothing to do, I start looking at a catalogue. It's some kind of fundraising thing, I think, but there are weird products in there. There's a bench with a plastic seat, and you can record subliminal messages that are played under the muzak. People sitting on the benches have no choice but to listen. I realize that I am sitting on just such a bench, and I have somehow been lulled into inaction. I stand up and walk into David's father's office, where he is sitting alone. I am going to confront him and get what I am owed.

And just at the moment when I am about to reclaim my full power, I wake up.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I don't do memes...oh wait, yes I do

Tagged by OC

A. Attached or single?
Newly single, but nobody in my family knows yet.

B. Best friend?
Not really. I have a few close friends. I'm close to my sister. My best friend from high school is still a good friend of mine, especially since my parents unofficially adopted her last year.

C. Cake or pie?
Carrot cake, but I can only eat a little bit.

D. Day of choice?
I like them all. I always look forward to days that I can have to myself.

E. Essential item?
My desk, my pens and notebooks, my laptop, my ipod and itunes.

F. Favorite color?
Green, the colour of the summer earth.

G. Gummy bears or worms?
Gummy bears. Gummy worms are too slimy

H. Hometown?
A small town in southwestern Ontario

I. Indulgence?
Chocolate. Pita chips and hummus from Al Madina in the market. A long meditation in my back yard. A good book.

J. January or July?
Do I have to choose? I love winter, the snow, the turning inward, the storms that race through here. I love (now that I've lost 105 pounds) the heat of summer, the growing things, the promise of harvest. Every month has its beauty for me.

K. Kids?
M, age 18, and E, almost 5.

L. Life isn’t complete without?
my girls, my family, my writing

M. Marriage date?
N and I never married.

N. Number of brothers & sisters?
Three brothers and one sister.

O. Oranges or apples?
Whatever is in season. Right now, peaches and Paula Red apples.

P. Phobias?
I can't climb higher than the third step on a ladder. And while I've dealt with many bodily functions at both ends of the age spectrum, the one I really,really can't handle is phlegm.

Q. Quotes?
Two: Be the change that you wish to see in the world - Ghandi

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study

and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. (Rumi)

R. Reasons to smile?
My daughter.

S. Season of choice?
the change of every season is the time I love best

T. Tag seven peeps!
I'm going to cheat here and not do that.

U. Unknown fact about me?
I used to run away from home every summer, legitimately. I would go work for an aunt who lived on a farm. I spent the summer I turned 16 in Alberta babysitting my cousins. The next year I worked at a summer camp. I hated being at home in the summertime, and needed the escape.

V. Vegetable?
Whatever's in season, fresh and local. Right now, tomatoes and zucchini from my garden.

W. Worst habits?
I swear like a truck driver. I leave books all over the house. I'm not very tidy.

X. X-ray or ultrasound?
I've had both of them. At least with ultrasound, there was happy news both times - my babies were there with their beating little hearts.

Y. Your favorite food?
Must I choose? There's not a lot of food I don't like.

Z. Zodiac sign?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

catching up

I'm tired.

I came home from Michigan on Sunday night and started work on Monday, a two week stint as a school-age teacher at my friend's ESL child care centre. I really wish I hadn't said yes. I really wish I had more time to process, but that's the way it is. I'm coping, better than coping to tell you the truth. Things are really moving, and I'm moving with them.

I showed up for work on Monday morning expecting to work with children who are six, seven, or eight years old. Instead I am pseudo-camp counselor to a group of eleven to thirteen year olds. They're way too old for the program, and too old for a lot of the toys and equipment that are on site. Most of the time, with ESL, you get kids who have a mix of different languages. Not this time. In my group, everyone speaks the same language. Except me. As a general rule, when we have a mix of kids, they need to use English to communicate with each other. It strengthens their skills, and allows them to build friendships with new people.

Not these girls. And they're typically pre-teen. They're cliquey. They like to giggle at everything. They are embarrassed about their language skills and so they avoid talking to me at all. The first day was a hard slog, and I was ready to quit at the end of the day. There was nothing, really for them to do. By Tuesday I had solved that problem with a combination of Dollarama shopping and plundering my own storeroom. And I learned once again, that some languages are universal.

Soccer. We played Tuesday, but almost everyone had arrived with some type of summer footwear. Today they were ready - with running shoes on their feet. We have a tiny little playground that's full of playground equipmend designed for four year olds, but we make do. Next week, we'll be able to use the gym.

Music. Specifically, for these girls, Hannah Montana. They like Hannah Montana a lot. They, with little English, can tell me all about Hannah Montana and what channel and what time it's on. I know nothing about Hannah Montana and I'm taking a crash course in order to have something to talk to them about. But one topic of conversation led to another, and today we talked about the things we like, the things we don't, the things they miss about their home. They miss the river they used to swim in every day. They miss their families, they miss the food.

There's always one that tugs in my heartstrings. This time, it's a small, athletic girl with hair in her eyes, who is a fantastic soccer player. She hates Hannah Montana, she tells me. But her English is not as good as everyone else's, and this makes her defensive. She acts out. She gets the other girls going. She talks about me, and I know it because the girls give me these little sidelong glances as they titter at me. They all look up to her, and I don't even think she's aware, that they wait to eat something new until she's tried it, because they know she'll try it. They circle around her, the girl/boy with the defiant scowl and the crossed arms.

I like her a lot. But she's afraid of me, afraid of my authority, not sure how this adult will view her penchant for soccer, and running, and her dislike of fine motor activities.

The writer's workshop was amazing. I met some fantastic people, had some wonderful mentorship and I am inspired. Going to work, to a life I haven't lived in months is very jarring, after living in peace, freedom and companionship for five days.

And coming home was hell. For about an hour until the dust settled. We go through these phases, he and I, where I move ahead and he stays in place, or moves backwards. it's the opposite of Sally Field saying "You like me, you really like me." He has to remind himself, when I get back, that we are really not together anymore. He wonders why I don't tell him everything. I never did, but there are things I choose not to share, sweet little gems of moments that need to be kept sacred, kept for me alone. And so we argue until he repositions his mind into the correct frame, and then we continue along as before. Separate, but sharing a house, sharing a child, sharing the finances and the workload.

I can't see this lasting indefinitely. I have stuff to do, and I don't think he's going to take it very well, even though he's the one who's talking about dating again. But there's, thankfully, no pressure for me to work outside the house, no push for me to get a job and forget about the freedom of creating, no push (now that he's reconciled himself again) to be anything other than who I am.

And it's good. But out there in the world, there are people who know, that I can be completely relaxed and comfortable around, and people who don't know. I decided that the barrier's not going back up again, so whether the people in my life know, or don't know about my sexuality, they get the me that I've always been, from now on. Barefoot. A little wild. Free. Honest. If they ask me, I will tell them.

But I'm starting to push it a little further. I have this urge to tell everyone, now, if not sooner, because I think they deserve the chance to know the real me. They've been missing out on the fundamentals all this time, and they need to catch up. And if they don't like it, well, I'll deal with that if I have to.

Someday I might even want to date again.

I have to drive my niece home this Friday. I have to go back to my hometown Saturday for my brother's birthday (yes, the brother who was almost killed two and a half weeks ago, who is home and almost back to normal). And then I have to pick up my niece again on Sunday. Three trips in the car in three days. Too much time and money - and so N suggested that a weekend at my mom's might work well.

Except I am not out. And I need to be, in order to be comfortable spending any more than an hour or two with them. I don't have two lives anymore, there's one fantastic life that I'm living and I absolutely refuse to compromise for the sake of keeping secrets. So I go visit for the weekend and tell them, or I don't go at all.

edit: Not this weekend. I've spent the whole week without a minute to myself and I am craving time alone. The worst thing I could do to myself is spend a weekend at my parents and again have no time to myself. It would end badly, because I would be tense and angry. I need to be good to myself and take the time and space that I need.

Stay tuned. Things are only going to get more interesting from here on out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

easy out

So I came out again last night.

It seems that I will be doing this a lot in the next few months. This one was easy. I came out to my coven. Three (out of four) of my coven sisters are gay, and were as sympathetic, understanding, and loving as you could imagine.

I really needed that.

Even though I was with a small group of people that I trust completely, it was still hard. I started babbling at one point, and ended up talking in circles a little bit. But it happened, and it was really heartening. I can do this! I can do this!

Of course, coming out to my parents will be a totally different experience.

We shared a beautiful ritual, and then I played my guitar for them, for the first time ever.

Last night N and I had a serious, and hilarious heart-to-heart. Emotionally, I have been preparing for these changes for a few months now. He hasn't had the same amount of time to absorb things, and he is, naturally, grieving. Except, when I grieve, I react a lot differently than he is. I tend to cry a lot, and write, and seek a lot of time to myself, which is the story of my summer. He wants answers. He wants to understand. He doesn't react with the same emotional force, although I know he's hurting. It's the reserve he's always had, the reserve that began to divide us long ago.

He needs to analyze everything. So he starts asking me, again, about the first time I had feelings for a woman. And the next time, and the next and then he tells me that he can't figure out why I just didn't tell him in the first place. Well, I was in denial, and all of the social conditioning, and the risk of losing my family, yadda, yadda. So he's okay with all that. But he really feels like he needs to start moving on, meeting new people, perhaps dating again.

I want you to be happy, I tell him. I want you to meet new people and start dating. Let's do what we can to make it happen. He thanks me, because he feels that he needs to start moving ahead and building a life for himself.

Listen, I can't even begin to think about dating yet. WTF? I need some time, please. But apparently, he needs to move on. Which is fine with me, as I have no emotional investment, no jealousy, nothing. As long as our daughter is in no way involved, I'm happy to have him do whatever he wants.

This conversation is taking place at 1:00 in the morning, while we are both lying in bed, being very careful not to touch each other, as we have not yet changed the sleeping arrangements.


On Wednesday morning I'm leaving for a five day writer's workshop in Michigan. I am so excited!!! I have been looking forward to this all summer. Through all the chaos that has become my life, I have never been so creatively charged as I am now. I think that good things will arise from my experiences there - I already know that I'm about to meet some fantastic people.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

a moment of awareness

Life has thrown a lot of stuff at me over the past few days. I'm managing, although sometimes I am aware that I'm starting to compartmentalize things again. Put that feeling away for later, I tell myself, and then I put the box in the back of the closet where I may never find it again.

When you're being strong for someone else's sake, it's easy to talk yourself back into that numb state. But it only lasts as long as you're in the hospital, sitting by your brother's bedside as the nurses initiate hypothermia protocol, in order to minimize the impact of the heart stoppage. Once you've done your bit, and you're free to go home, reality begins to bite at you again. Not like a gnat, or mosquito, more like a large dog that's been chasing you down the road and telling you not to kid yourself anymore.

My dreams have been filled with dogs lately. Sometimes they are just there, and I know they are protecting me. Sometimes I dream about my dog with his beautiful eyes. Last night I was poop-scooping after a dog I'd never seen before. Like most of my dream dogs, he was a Lab. Someday I will have more than one dog.

My brother is slowly getting better. His short-term memory seems to be improving. When I wrote my last post, he was still unconscious, we didn't know if or when he would wake up. And then there was a day of agony, when he had to be told repeatedly that he'd been in an accident. If someone wasn't with him, he would panic, because he didn't know why he was there. Yesterday, when I saw him, he was tired and weak, so unlike himself, but he had a grasp on what was going on. They're moving him out of ICU as soon as a bed becomes available on another unit. My sister-in-law slept at home for the first time, two nights ago. His recovery will be long, and no one really knows what the long-term prognosis is yet, but he is with us, and there is a chance that he will lead some kind of normal life.

In the midst of all this, I am dealing with my own issues, somewhere, somehow in my few minutes at home, in the seconds I grab on the phone. While we were camping, I told him a bit more. He has a way of drawing out the truth, and the truth is that I am queer, and that I cannot be with him any more, for that and other reasons. And over the few days we've had since returning, we have had conversations about next steps. These are painful, heart-wrenching exchanges for both of us, not angry, not disrespectful, but a sad acknowledgment that our relationship as a couple is over.

We are friends, we are co-parents, we care about each other. This is important and heartening for me, because we can work together to make our transitions easier. Materially, for now, nothing changes. It would be silly to sell the house now, and we would end up with nothing. In two years, urban property values will skyrocket, as people who are car-dependent move away from the suburbs and back to the city. E needs the stability of home and school, and I need to finish my degree. I will not compromise this time, I will not make practical and safe choices for the sake of feeing safe - my goal, when we moved to this city, was to get my degree and I am going to finish it. Our house is large enough that we can share the space - I have turned M's old bedroom into an office, and I can easily convert it to a bedroom and still have room for a desk.

I think it will work. I can't see this lasting longer than a year, or two. As long as it takes me to finish, and decide what my next steps will be. And in the meantime, E can have both her parents near her, and we can make a slow, gradual transition.

In all the chaos, over the weekend, I had a few moments when I realized that I seriously underestimate my family. On Sunday, we were all together in the ICU waiting room. My sister and her husband. My youngest brother and his wife. My nieces and nephews. My brother the priest, or should I say, monastic brother. He wore his brown robes, looked imposing as usual, and did not try to spout platitudes, for which I am grateful. He traveled from northern Quebec to be with us. We were all there, my parents, my SIL's family, my best friend from high school, and it was chaotic and noisy and there was so much damn love in the room that I thought I would explode. Sure, there was friction, and not everything went as planned, but we were there, together.

So, if we can all come together in a time of crisis, and be there for each other, what makes me think that my family wouldn't do the same for me??? They may not understand me, they may not agree with my lifestyle, but they love me just the same. I can tell them who I am, they will accept me for who I am (after the shock wears off) and we will all be better for it.

Sunday night, when I came home from the hospital, I watched Amy Ray TV. I am becoming obsessed. I heard Rabbit Foot for the first time, and it seemed to capture everything that I had been feeling since Friday. I sat in front of the computer with my headphones on, watched the same video three times, and wept. I needed the release so badly.

Thank you Amy. And thank you, my wonderful, strange family, for teaching me so much about who we are.

For some reason, I can't add the widget, but you can watch Amy perform the song here.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

12:40 a.m.

And its not like I have insomnia or anything.

I'm sitting in a hospital in SW Ontario. Having not been in a waiting room in a long time, it's interesting to note that there is a computer and internet access here. Anything to take my mind off....

It was better when my family was here. It was easier when my SIL needed the support. But she's in the trauma unit with my brother and I'm supposed to be sleeping. Or resting, because nobody really sleeps when they're in a waiting room, do they? Fortunately I've had limited experience with these sorts of things.

My brother always got away with everything when we were kids. He was the one who got everyone else in trouble, but managed to stay clean (until middle brother took over, but then again he never really did anything wrong). He had (and has) a wicked sense of humour and a mostly positive attitude about everything. He would hide my things and watch me look for them. He once filled an eggshelll with water and broke it over my head. He knows how to organize people to do his work for him.

When we were both in a minor car accident, when he was three and I was five, his nose started to bleed. The nice lady who helped us gave him a cookie, but I didn't get one. I rubbed my nose and complained a lot, but that didn't help.

When we were older, he would save his money and buy things that he knew I wanted in order to make me jealous. He admitted to this many years later.

He was eighteen when he had a serious car accident that could have taken his life. He managed to get through with a lot of broken bones, but no internal injuries.

We have always been close. He drives me crazy. I love him.

Today he was electrocuted at work. We won't know for at least another twenty-four hours, how much, if any brain damage he has sustained. It is hard to look at him, so still and quiet. I gather my strength and send him what healing energy I can. I wait quietly, and I do things to keep busy. Make phone calls, offer to drive, sit and wait.

Sit and wait.

I hope that his good fortune and strength are with him. I can't bear the thought of him being any different than he's always been.