Saturday, March 31, 2007

I am a corporation.

You're not the boss of me.

Here in Chez Spryfield, the problem is that no one is the boss of me, which leaves me as my own supervisor. Around the time of the divorce, I used to imagine that when I became supervisor, executive director and president of myself and my free time, I would write the Great Canadian Literary Non-fiction masterpiece or at least publish a few magazine articles or perhaps Do Good Works. I imagined that I would cook healthy meals without wads of dead flesh in them and go to the gym regularly. Things, things would always be exactly where I left them. No one would cut electrical wire with my good sewing scissors. I would keep a journal in which I wrote brilliant insights (as opposed to perpetually whining.)

I have approximately seven years of proof that none of this is will ever happen.

First of all (although this is very old news now) I cried for three months. I did (on the up side, if you can call it that) lose about 25 pounds, 10 of which were necessary to actually sustain life. I began to talk to plants. I lived on a diet of coffee, wine and cigarettes. I wrote volumes - of email to a long-suffering friend, who did his best, from a couple thousand miles away, to keep the sinking ship of my sanity from going to the bottom and me from walking off into a snowstorm and having a sleepover in the woods with a bottle of wine for company. Other than that, I developed a writer's block the size of the western hemisphere. But I looked great in my jeans.

Because no one is the boss of me, I've developed the different voices that exist in everyones heads (do NOT tell me you don't have them) and I've made sock puppets out of them. It's a regular puppet festival at my house. One of the puppets is my supervisor and is in charge of phrases like "you should," "you have to," and "when are you going to..." get off eBay, stop watching your bid on a Pietersite cabochon, start drinking water instead of coffee, get the laundry done, catch up on correspondence, do some writing, develop some for-gawd-sake ambition, wash the floor and so forth.

Another one, The Hanging Judge, comments on my life. It inquires as to when I'm getting one. It remarks that it is Saturday night and I am not on a date. It ruminates about the notion that everyone on the entire planet has a close and loving family and/or a mate, except me. It sighs and expresses the thought that I might have had talent but I'm too lazy and addled to use it and besides, it's too late now. It advises me, unnecessarily, that my place of employ is in the financial toilet and that morale is already on its way to the sewage treatment plant. It opines that my ankle will probably never heal and I will have to wear sensible lace-up shoes until I die. And support hose.

There's the child, who wishes everyone would shut up and let her watch the sky in peace and eat cake for breakfast.

The Piss-ant I picture as a belligerent 11 year old with scabby knees, curses and swears and leaves flies in the drinks of grownups, is in charge of answering the above characters. Her favorite lines are:
"Am not," "Fuck you," "Bullshit," and "You can't make me."

Lately, another voice has joined the crowd. This one is an actual adult, calmer, quieter. She listens a little to the Supervisor and gets some of the work done. She lets the kid watch the sky for a while. And she mostly dismisses the Hanging Judge.

She's saying, right now, that it doesn't matter that some rat-bastard just outbid us for a world-class piece of Pietersite for a lousy two buck difference. The rest of us are just plain pissed off about it. Except for the kid, who wants to watch a movie.

If you feel that you could coordinate in any kind of helpful way, kindly leave a resume. We are in dire need of a corporate takeover.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Can't help,la,la,la...

Pity the puny of ankle and narrow of foot who, brainless but fashionable, purchase the knee high black suede boots with the wedge heel and zero ankle support, for lo, she has forgotten that two or three inches is a long way to fall if you happen to be a calcaneofiblular ligament attached to the ankle of a stork- like woman of sadly little grace.

No need to send thugs. I'll break my own kneecaps, thank you. I'll sprain and resprain the same poor old cancaneofib until it resembles, but is less resilient than the elastic you lost in your toilet tank three months ago. I will become so used to (as Marko says) "the annual wrecking" that as soon as my kneecaps are not grapefruit sized and the skin around my ankles has almost returned to the usual Caucasian fish-belly white tone, I declare myself well and strong and immediately spend days slogging up and down three flights of stairs carrying items heavy enough to tear my equally puny arms out my shoulder sockets. I move furniture. I haul bags of garbage, recycling, laundry and groceries. I dance spontaneously to Dead Can Dance (and I am not making that up.)

If this not stupid enough, I walk on uneven pavement.
You heard me.
I walk on uneven pavement.

Weedy has put in her customary keep-you-company appearance for my Doctor appointment. We sit there in the nine foot square room papered with anatomy of disease drawings like (thin gorgeous perfect red-headed) versions of Tweedle-Dee-Dee and Tweedle-Dee-Dum. This is the reward room. It means that after 45 minutes in the snot-infested, virus laden outer room, you may some hour actually see the doctor.

Dr. Margaret proceeds to poking and prodding the sore parts of my ankle very hard indeed and asking the rather redundant question, "Does that hurt?" as I yank my foot away, whimpering.
"It's a sprain," she says. And explains, "A partly torn ligament." She says the second part slowly, so that we, as laypersons, and I, as a person of drastically average IQ, can comprehend.
I explain that it was sprained but it got better and then worse.

"What did you do?" Oh god. This means remembering, which I'm not good at.

"I hauled heavy groceries and stuff up three flights of stairs." I don't tell her about the dancing or the decision, Monday, to walk up and down over a hundred stairs at work for fitness sake.

"Well, this is a common sprain if you go over on your ankle. It gets worse if you overwork or walk on uneven pavement." She explains the stuff I already, rest, physio, tape etc. while I consider moving to a city with more than two square feet of even pavement. Then, because I look unsuitably happy, she inquires, "Have you had your pap test this year?"

"No." Shit. Busted.

"Would you like to have it now?" Weedy's eyebrows shoot up to her hairline. She offers to leave for that part if I'm considering that.


Weedy, posing as the Cavalry, heads the conversation back to falls. She's fallen three times this past while, cleverly using her face as a buffer when she hit the ground. Margaret is her doctor too. The diversion is a partial success but I have to promise I will have a pap test. Soon. Damn. Is there no pity for the humiliation and suffering I've already accumulated for the month?

As we leave, I tell Dr. Margaret that really we are conducting do-it-yourself bone density tests where there is no waiting. If you keep falling and you don't break a hip, get pneumonia and die, then you aren't actually old yet and your bones have not yet turned to powder. I don't mention ligaments.

Weedy and me flee to MacDonald's to shorten our lives with transfats.

Stay tuned for "Running with Scissors."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Love song

I have friends who moved from Rural to Urban Nowhere and learned to survive. Some grew up suffocating in the suburbs, some on reservations, some in small towns or large cities, some in the ghettos. Some live in beautiful houses and some in jail cells and some in areas where you can't walk outside, even at ten in the morning. Some are nostalgic about the past and some have a suitcase full of nightmares. They have survived poverty. And the middle class and even wealth - and all of them still fit through the eye of the needle, far as I'm concerned. Poets, computer geeks, artists, administrators, librarians, counsellors. Married, single, divorced, straight, gay, Buddhist, Atheist, Evangelical Christian and...undecided.

A diverse group with one thing in common.

When the wolf came, in the hour particular to each of them, they turned to face it. Some, more than once.

This is a love song. Make no mistake.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

India calling

The Scorpio advises me that my "I'm giving up men" post could be read as judgmental, that I left lots of room to offend. Being a male who was magnanimously excepted by me from the uncouth lot I referred to giving up, according to him, was not reassuring because it was so uncomfortably ambiguous. (I hasten to add that he does not read my blog, but got the idea pretty quickly from a verbal summary.)


I hate when he does that.

And he's right. You have to know me. Anyone who has known me for over five minutes realizes that the idea of me giving up men is a bit like the idea of me giving up breathing or orange lipstick or red hair. Not that I can't carp and whine with the rest of my beleaguered gender, and not that I don't have genuine complaints - but then, so do most of the men I know.

The entry was a little clip of my life. I was amused at how quickly my oldest friend dispatched the idea with the lack of ceremony it deserved. I was amused at KD, sarcastically offering to keep the ying/yang balance straight. But lest I offended more than one male person...

Here is a little background for those of you who have not been following along: Meeting few (as in no) new men (who are age-appropriate and interesting/unattached) in my daily life, and being in the situation of adoring a man who is (as I've delicately put it in the past) "mostly unavailable," I took a shot at the Internet. And it shot right back.

Case in point: Let's call him Dr. G. He is a tall, very good-looking man, 39 years of age. He is of East Indian descent, born in Toronto, and lived for some time in San Diego. His profile is literate, witty and blunt. All the things that appeal to me. I send a wave. He sends one back. We begin to email enthusiastically back and forth. He does volunteer work in India. He's writing a book. I give him my phone number and he calls immediately.

We talk for an easy, lively hour and decide to meet for a drink the next day. He asks if I'll be home for a while because he needs to do something and wants to get back to me. Sure. No problem. At 10:00 o'clock, I email to let him know I'm going to bed and ask that he email or phone the next day to confirm a time and place. So far, so good.

By 3:00 p.m. the following day, he hasn't done either and so, in a fit of pique, I make a disastrous date with the man I end up calling "Fish Stick." This is where some of you came in, I believe. I'd run my profile on the Internet site for a short time and had already managed to figure out that the vast majority of men who were contacting me want to have sex before they knew my name or possibly without ever knowing my name. Even worse, a fair number of them were more interested in just having phone sex. But I've never been a person who's put off by reality, so I persist.

And it isn't that I got to be this age without figuring out that men are interested in sex. Hell, I'm as interested as they are, but I'm damned if the first warm body to arrive on the scene is going to be the one I have it with.

Is it generational? Am I the only person who likes to meet someone before beginning a sexual relationship? Am I the only person who's heard of HIV? And in truth, I was perplexed because the men I know, the ones I value, who are just as interested in sex as any other man, actually prefer to like a woman they're having sex with and even to have a vague notion as to who she is before indulging...

But I digress.

I take the date with Fish Stick Man because I'm at the fuck-you stage with Internet meeting. If you're dealing with a wolf pack, best to be a wolf. Didn't call on time? Next?

Moving ahead a few days, and one very weird but fairly funny (in retrospect) date later - Dr. G. calls back. We have another lively, interesting discussion. Suddenly I hear a sharp tone. The exact tone you hear when you accidentally hit a key on your phone while talking. "Is that your phone?" he asks.
"Nope." We continue for another minute or two. We've been commiserating over the crappy way people act on this Internet site. We're at the point in the conversation where I say, "I'm at the point where I've heard from so many idiots that I'm ready to give up sex entirely..."

And the sharp tone sounds again.
"Is that your phone?" he asks again.
"Just a minute.....Oh. It's India calling. I'll call you right back, okay?"

And that's the end of Dr. G. Leading me to the conclusion that, in terms of Internet dating, even the smart people are stupid. The most galling part, of course, was that everyone on the planet knows that a call waiting signal creates a second of silence, not a beep.

As it turns out, the galling part, like the bad date, turns out to be the best part of the whole Internet dating experience in the long run. I tell KD about the "call interrupt" and she can't stop laughing. Now, every other phone call we share, one of us will hit a button on the phone and announce that "India is calling" and the two of us nearly pee our pants laughing.

So, my friends...that was basically the origin of the "I'm giving up men" blog entry. Or at least part of it. I yanked the profile. But I burned for a while over the general lack of even common courtesy.'s to the men I care about...who are interesting, street-smart, slightly insane, honest, funny, educated and not - but all intelligent, all trying to live consciously...

To: the Scorpio, to Mark, Coyo, James C., Doc, Minor Diety and the gentlemen of my acquaintance from the blogsphere - I send you a curtsy. And apologies if they are in order.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hobbies that can kill you

Saturday, as we approached what is in most of the civilized world, spring, my alpha rhythms went delta. All of them. Outside, it blew fat wet snowclods, which changed to sleet and freezing rain and finally to rain. The streets were as sloppy and grey as my state of mind.

I'm not one to sit and conduct a pity party for any more than a few days or weeks, so I decided to cheer myself up by taking an online IQ test. The results (the ones you didn't have to actually pay for) declared me to be stunningly average. (As Weedy says, "Remember that part in American Beauty when the girl wails 'I am not ordinary'?" Matter of fact, yes. Matter of fact, I was howling something just like that to my walls.)

And it seems, from the scant information they deigned to provide free of charge at the conclusion of the test, that it is visual pattern recognition that lowers my score. You know: the part of the test where they show you four objects that look like squared off, tortured drain pipes, and ask which one doesn't fit? I flunk those.

Once, during the Christmas season in Toronto, when I was working in my business partner's store and ripping yet another folding box, my partner exclaimed merrily to the customer, "Can you believe she can work with all those teeny little beads and she can't fold a gift box?" So, I ask you, how am I going to manage the twisty drainpipe problem?

And I've taken that round peg/round hole test too. And the psychologist, in an amazingly unprofessional display (I thought) remarked, "I'm surprised. You're such a bright girl," as I attempted to squish a triangle into a square hole.

Just thank the gods I didn't take up driving - or architecture.

I do splendidly on general knowledge and communication. I can easily figure out what number comes next in a sequence. But there's another area that drags my score down, too...

If four trucks with six wheels each are travelling down a highway carrying eighteen bicycles and it is snowing in Japan, what direction are they going and when will they get to Memphis?
I'm not kidding. This is precisely how these questions look to me. And then, instead of trying to figure it out, I stare at the screen and say (usually aloud because I live alone) "Who the fuck cares? Are you serious? Who needs to know this kind of shite?" My brain grinds into reverse. I can almost feel my brain hurting. Don't tell me about having no pain centers in the brain. The brain knows when it's being asked to imitate a seal balancing a ball on its nose. And then I guess.
Eight o'clock p.m. Why not? Who cares? Personally, I'm wishing flat tires on them all and urging the drivers to stop and have a nap.

Afterwards, I turn my average talents to thinking up solutions to the intricate problems of world peace. Stay tuned.

Something old and calm

These are my new treasures. Ammonites, possibly half a billion years old. I'm planning to make pendents and pins out of them - perhaps one framed piece with a fossil in the center. I started out buying four. The next trip it was ten. I couldn't seem to put them back in the display box and just leave them there. Next piece of jewelry is for my boss - a Happy Sabbatical present.

Just so you know. I do stay out of trouble now and then. And you can only iron your wimple for so long, right?

An actual post, I dearly hope, will be coming soon.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

She begins in the middle and ends there, too

A week or so ago, I gave up men. I announced it to Weedy.
"I'm giving up men," I said. "Except for the ones I already like."
"No you're not," she replied. This is what happens when you're friends with someone for over 30 years. They go around thinking they know you and they say whatever they think.
"Yes I am. I'm keeping the Scorpios, though. Well...maybe I'm keeping the men I'm already friends with, as well. And the blog guys."
But that's it. Scorpio the Older and Scorpio the Younger. Maybe one Virgo (if he ever writes again). And okay, I'm still talking to Minor Deity. But I'm giving up on the rest. Absolutely.
"I'm giving up men," I tell K.D. "I told Weedy that today."
"And what did Weedy say?"
"She didn't believe me."
"Well. I'll believe you then. Just to keep the yin-yang balanced."

I'm going to sit around waiting for the end of the patriarchy. And ironing my wimple.

Meanwhile, can someone tell me why men who blog don't seem to have the a**hole quotient of your normal average male? If you can't tell me, then just pat yourselves roundly on the back, crack a beer (or a jar of olives stuffed with feta cheese) and do an entry so that I can keep hope alive.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Fogbound. Outside, the sky is a dirty white. Now and then rain erodes the snow that fell last night. Fogbound inside the cranial unit, too. Moving in slow motion...a kind of fugue state. Disassociated. Not sad, not happy, not anything identifiable...just...
Passing weather. Excuse the silence. I send you these flowers from my living room as an apology for the long gap. Please stay tuned while we adjust our psychic state...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

PS on yesterday (Teri similarly captured at a stop light)

The Scorpio, who has spent his work morning coaxing teenagers to hand over lethal weapons to him and trying to drum it into their heads that they're being played, groans as I start into the story of giving cash away to a dubious stranger. "Linda, tell me she isn't sitting on your couch. Tell me you didn't bring her home."

No. Didn't do that. Made a couple crucial errors in judgment, but not that one. Jeez Louise.

And ever since then, I've been pondering the idea of hypothermia. Normally, I would have been out of there, away from that woman in a New York minute. The abused woman story has been abused so often in the same circumstances that I absolutely knew better. I consider how my brain wasn't registering the familiarity of the story. Her jittery speech patterns. The lack of presence in her eyes. How, a few minutes later, my brain wasn't even in charge of my feet.

And then I consider the fact that I feel no animosity about the whole thing now, when I am warm and passingly lucid. I don't feel like a person who tried to do a good thing. I'm just a person who wanted to get warm. "She knew that," the Scorpio says, "she counted on you needing to just deal with the situation fast, without thinking.."

More surprisingly, I realize I don't feel like she is a person who did a bad thing. Everyone did what they had to do to get their needs met. It wasn't personal. On either side. If she hits on me again, I'll grin and tell her, "You got me once, toots - but not twice."

Now the sidewalk. The bloody knee-eating, ankle-twisting vicious murderous sidewalk? That's another matter. That's personal.

Links. Lynx. Lincs.

New people to read, stolen directly from Ariel's links list. If you have not wandered over to read about The Sad Case of Mr. X or visited Edvard Moonke, I have added links. Now Mr. X is simple enough to find. Just go here. Mr. Moonke, however, has a blogspot blog (must read "the laptop fairy of Darlington") but has recently moved to a new spot here! In my links list, I've entered his new wordpress URL - in anticipation that the pressure will force him to write copious amounts of words.
Enjoy. And thanks Ariel. I don't think I'm finished cribbing from your links list yet!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Double hump

I can be forgiven for my silence, perhaps even thanked, but that aside...

It is Wednesday. Hump day, as they say, meaning it in a good way but not that good way. As it turns out I am humped. Twice. The other way. And the day, considering it starts out at a balmy -18C, starts well enough.

I make it out of bed and do not greet the wall with my lips (steps 9-12). I shower without slipping on the wet porcelain and suffering a concussion. I make coffee without pouring boiling water on my hand. All of this before I am actually conscious. Semi-conscious a short while later, albeit unwillingly, I make it to the bus stop on time, to work on time, all this without freezing to death.

Did you know that there is a very, very narrow range of temperatures in which the human brain can function properly? They say so. And we all know, they are experts.

As a person's body temperature falls, brain activity decreases-a serious problem when body temperature falls below 95o. A person's ability to reason and make logical decisions becomes seriously impaired. For every drop of one degree in Fahrenheit temperature, cerebral metabolism decreases by about 3.5%. Individuals suffering from hypothermia often appear to be drunk. They may be incoherent..."

Imagine then, how my ability to make logical decisions is impaired at -18. And so, I leave the relative warmth of the office to run an errand at the drugstore and a woman steps into my path, blocking it. Her age is hard to determine...40? 50?...She is wearing a thin beige ski jacket and jeans and looks to weigh about 60 pounds. The bones of her face stand out in relief like a death's head and she's shaking from the cold.
"Are you from here?" My brain numbs as I pause in the wind.
And she launches into her story.
"I hitch-hiked here I never hitch-hike but he, my boyfriend, beat me up so bad and he broke my fingers..." she holds her bent, battered fingers up. She isn't wearing gloves and the skin is blue where there aren't bloody scabs." The monologue proceeds. None of the shelters have a place open for her, none except Byrony House and then not until three in the afternoon. She has her period she says, and no Tampax and had to throw her underwear away in a public bathroom and now she has to be careful how she sits and who would expect that after 14 years and...

I'm leading her back to the library and she's talking without pause. I can't stand the cold another second and I can't leave her there. As we walk, I pry twenty bucks out of my wallet and hand it over. I get her inside and tell her not to wander in the cold and to get some food after she's warm. I show her where she can use a free phone. And then I return to my errand at the drugstore, only now I'm picking up Tampax too.

Hurrying back, I trip over nothing. "Individuals suffering hypothermia may appear to be drunk." I crash forward, cleverly breaking my fall with kneecaps and the heels of my hands. One of my ankles decides it's not joining the rest of me and I sprawl on the sidewalk, dazed. A man passing by asks me if I'm ok and I give my habitual answer as I turn very slowly to a sitting position - "I'm not exactly sure yet. I think so." But the brain (poor drunk thing) cannot transmit to my body and I remain seated. He approaches cautiously, as if I might bite, and extends a hand. I take the hand, because I realize I can't get up without help, and I manage after teetering for a moment, to limp inside.

She's gone, of course. She's a junkie. At even -3C I would have known it instantly. Would have said "Sorry" with my face a neutral mask, would have swerved and kept walking. "She went to the drugstore," my student assistant says. Yep. Yep. Bet she did.

The knee of my favorite pair of jeans is ripped and underneath, there is a cut and a large, circular red scrape which is swelling. A bruise is beginning to bloom blue on the heel of my left hand and my ankle, the one I've sprained umpteen times before, is throbbing.

I sew the rip in my jeans up. Neat, even stitches with the frayed threads folded inwards. I sit at my desk doing this as if it was important to get it right. A little later, in the warm office, I'm starting to shiver and so I go home and throw the deadbolt of my apartment into locked position. As if the lock would hold.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

More words

Here is my theory, and please pay attention because I've worked hard on this and put in precious seconds of the very limited time I've just realized I have left on earth.

As we age, we become increasingly stupid. Eventually, if we wrinkle up in an appealing way and manage not to drool, if we assume a slightly crafty look and say very little, our stupidity is sometimes mistaken for wisdom. And usually, it is younger people who make the mistake.

This is because, at 29 or 35, for example, we are possessed of the odd illusion that eventually life will make sense. It's what we cling to as life buffets us about like little rubber dingys in the midst of a category five hurricane - that feeble little hope that we just hang in there, we will achieve wisdom. The notion that the Monty Python sketch that is, in fact, our daily life, will assemble itself into a coherent picture and we will achieve the big Aha moment.

As resident "wise woman" in the lives of some younger friends, let me assure you that it is a Monty Python sketch, so we should all eat, drink and be merry. I believe that's from Ecclesiastes, originally. From the New Testament: Jesus wept. And by the way, didn't live to be old.

Self-portrait Saturday

Someone asked me what color my eyes are. I took this photograph. No makeup except for my beloved orange lipstick, no tricks, no digital alteration, nothing to hide behind. And I still don't know what color to tell them...

As I'm lazy and wordless, I'm sharing the photo. Still here. Thinking of you all and reading...reading...keeping up with your lives...