Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Making it through

Christmas season plus Life plus four exams in eight days ...

I'm not really sleeping.  Most days I'm sitting at my desk looking through notes, making new notes, feeling horribly sick to my stomach because there is no possible way to Know Everything.

I take breaks.  I read a few blogs.  I check Facebook.  There's a lot of crank and angst (crank'n'angst.  Fun if you say it fast!)  This does not calm me down.

And then I remember ...

My personal mantra.  "Read the Boys."

This mantra makes no sense until you realize I'm talking about three poets whose work touches me:
Stephen Berg, Malcolm Guite, and John Blase.

Today it was Stephen's lines that made me exhale.

"How exquisite to hear the lyric required to kick-
    start every stalled moment of your broken life."

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some more studying to do.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The one with the flicker

Here's a flicker:

Point #1.  I had never seen flickers until we moved into our current house, and they started showing up at the birdfeeders.  They're large-ish birds, and they have brightly coloured under-wings that flash beauty when they fly.  They're one of my favourite birds.

Point #2. I haven't seen one in a long time because I haven't filled the birdfeeders lately.

Point #3.  Today I was sitting at my kitchen table eating lunch and trying to slow down my breathing in an attempt to calm myself before going to write a final exam in my online course.  While I knew that I was panicking needlessly, I was nevertheless panicking.

A movement on the deck caught my eye.  There was a flicker hopping around on my back deck, fluttering its wings now and then, and just generally hanging about.

Point #4.  Jesus loves me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Things I Did Today. You may notice a shift.

1. Woke up dreading the day. 

2.  Stayed in bed staring at the ceiling until my mother phoned and asked if she'd woken me up.

3. Had a short, pointed conversation with my mother in which I may have used the phrase "I have repeatedly reminded you that I rarely have time to talk in the morning."

4.  Drove to the school I park at for free.

5.  Caught the bus without having to run.

6. Wrote an exam in which I used the phrase "This may be what social feminists are referring to when they talk about the structural violence inherent in a patriarchal system."

7. Took time out of my exam to memorize that sentence so I could poke fun at myself later.

8.  Mused about the difference between *exchanging* ideas and *parroting* ideas.

9.  Sat in the sun till I was freezing, muttering about the temperature.

10.  Went to my second class and found out it was cancelled.  As I wrote a midterm for that class that was gobsmackingly awful earlier this week, I was relieved the class was cancelled because that gives me five more days to forgive the prof for a frankly "two by four to the side of the head" blindsiding. (I'd rant but I'm in a happy place)

11. Went to my third class where I fell in love with Shakespeare's sonnets.

12.  Seriously.  There is both a maturity and a melancholy to Shakespeare's sonnets that just isn't there in Spenser's sonnets.

13.  Wandered to the bus stop in the sunshine with my head full of iambic pentameter and angst.

And now I'm going to go watch my son play hockey and read about Rogers Theory of ...well I don't know, I haven't read it yet.

It's a lucky life.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gonna talk about mental illness. Not gonna be cheerful.

So there's this "mental illness awareness" push going on. 

I think it's great, but it also frustrates me, because it feels like "mental illness" has become a sort of code word or even synonym for "depression."

In both my opinion and my experience, this misses the mark.  There are many times that depression itself is either a symptom or a side effect (or both) of a particular mental illness. 

Being open about depression is still different from being open about a mental illness, where, for instance, you have to lie in bed for several minutes after you wake up trying to figure out how old you are and what year it is and once you do that, figure out how many other people of varying ages you're sharing headspace with on this particular day, and reassuring them all that where they are today is safe, so you can stand up and get out of bed.  And then maybe one of the people you live with who isn't a morning person frowns on their way past you on the stairs, and you have to start all over again.

Or one (this one doesn't happen to me personally) where you love to have people over, but if someone puts their street shoes on your couch, your brain instantly becomes an uninterruptable loop of "germs germs germs must clean clean now germs germs GERMS" and then you don't get to visit anyway because that part of your brain just took over your entire personality and yet you know if you SAY anything, your company will laugh it off and suggest you lighten up.

We'd sort of prefer it if people didn't talk about those kinds of mental illnesses.  They make us nervous. There's no box for them.

It's just so much easier to put mental illness in the "Depression" box.  We understand it, and we're pretty sure there's even a pill for it.  It can all be fixed and tidied up and we don't really have to work out a response.

Those other mental illnesses, a lot of which ALSO lead to suicide ideations ?  Let's put those ones in a different box, maybe a box labelled "Get Professional Help and while you're at it, hand me some earplugs."  That's a good box for those ones.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

She's still got a bit of feist

Stopped by my Mom's for an hour or so today.  Sometimes we run out of things to talk about but today we were on a roll.  Somehow we ended up talking about music, and I looked up a few songs on YouTube.  Her two favourites?

Little Blue Man, by Betty Johnson


Diamonds, by Hawk Nelson.

I wish I'd video'd her rocking to Hawk.  Even so, I doubt I'll forget it any time soon.  Picture a wizened little old lady, grey hair, no teeth, totally bedridden, moving whatever body parts still move (mostly her head and arms) in time to the beat at the beginning of that song.  Made my week.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

No time like the present

I was going to do this yesterday and before that I was going to do it a different day and before that I was all tied up in knots trying to figure out how to break this long silence and today I'm just done overthinking it and here I am.

September is back to school month.  There are three of us returning to school, and because life is sometimes like that, we are returning in order of most reluctant to least reluctant.

B started Grade 11 this morning (which, hello, what, how? etc) and the most enduring image I have of this morning is him standing in the kitchen staring blankly into space saying "I really don't want to do this."

A starts at the Alberta College of Art and Design (YAY.) on September 8 and while she is pleased at the idea of most of her course work, she is not delighted at the hours, as ACAD apparently opens before noon.

I start into the second year of my BA (when we got married, we said he'd get his degree and then I'd get mine, so that's what we're doing.  33 years, before anyone asks) on September 14 and mostly I feel like that is a VERY LONG TIME from now and LET'S GET ON WITH IT.  (talk to me in November, when I am whimpering from the work and the reading and the papers)

And if that's not exciting enough for you, Brad and I went on a road trip this summer that was so laid back we had time to video a wasp harvesting bits of lunch from a scrap of ham on our picnic table.  I was going to post it here but I didn't because OneDrive/Luddite/SharyPantsMcConfusedHead.

But it's really exciting.    Two minutes and 20 seconds of Wasp on Ham, and 10 seconds of Overloaded Wasp Attempting to Fly. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015


If you had approached my bedroom window fifteen minutes ago, to take a look at the weather, you might have seen three bright yellow goldfinches dart away.  You  may have taken a look at the finch feeder and seen a bright yellow goldfinch having a leisurely lunch.

But here's what I saw.

I love goldfinches.  We used to get them at our feeders way back when we first moved into this house, when A was 3 and B wasn't here yet.  I haven't seen goldfinches at our feeders since we moved back from California in 2003.

This last week has been difficult and tumultous and last night I slept about an hour.  I went back to bed after Brad went to work and managed a few more hours of fitful sleep.  As I was getting ready to go to my class this afternoon, I walked over to window and a flurry of bright yellow caught my eye.  I looked down at the feeder with tears in my eyes and watched the remaining finch calmly eating his heart out and heard God whisper "I see you."

This morning I am praising God for finches, and for the blessing that needed a twelve year wait to reach its full power.