My Thoughts

my thoughts on art, and on life.

My Photo
Location: California, United States

I'm an artist, recently moved from B.C. Canada to Sonoma County, California. My art revolves mainly around photography/modeling, sculpting, writing, drawing, and making weird, witchy dolls

Thursday, May 10, 2007

All She Wrote

This blog was started when I began my new life as a single woman, three years ago. Now I've begun a new and wonderful life in California with my man who loves me. It's time for this blog to end, and a new one to begin.

I'd like to thank everyone who has been reading my words here. You followed me on my journey, and now, if you like, you can follow me in my new adventure.

My new blog is here ... Hope you stop by.

Cheerio ~ Marian

Thursday, April 05, 2007

My Life Has Begun Part 3

this post is continued from the one below:

For the next two weeks, my days drifted from one to the next in a dreamy haze. I was beautifully warm from the California sun, relaxed and feeling beautiful just cause I was with Mike.

He treated me like a princess. He made me the best sandwiches I've ever had, he showed me his art, he washed my hair, he massaged me. We woke up when we wanted, climbed down from the loft and wandered out to the deck to feel the morning sun. We had yogurt for breakfast, out on the deck, sitting on a bench.

I walked on his back. I showed him my art that I'd brought along in my suitcase. We played music together - me on piano, he on guitar. We went to the coast and stayed till after sunset, taking pictures and just sitting on a rock, watching the pounding surf. We fell in love. He invited me to live with him.

After a beautiful two weeks, I returned to Canada to get my affairs in order. I gave myself till the end of the month - three weeks never looked so long. I ended up getting the majority of it done in one day. I was anxious to return to Mike, and didn't want to spend one more minute in Canada than I had to (no offence to Canada, lol).

Mike and I chatted on yahoo every night, as we'd done for years before. It was different, now that we'd met in person. I had more insight than I'd had before. While we voiced, I continued to pack my things, and to take care of stuff online that needed to be changed. I did nothing but tie up loose ends so that I could leave. Within the first week there was nothing left for me to do. We decided I would leave early.

So I did. But I ran into a big snag and ended up having to wait another week.

I stayed with my youngest sister and her family. Some of my stuff was in her garage, my piano was in her computer room. I tied up some new loose ends, and then sunday rolled around. It was time to go again. My mom, two younger sisters, and my young niece drove with me to Bellingham where I boarded the bus. What an incredible feeling to be taking this trip again, only this time it was for good. I wasn't coming back.

So here I am now, living in the sun with the man I love. The man who loves me. I'm the luckiest woman in the world.

Friday, March 16, 2007

My Life Has Begun pt 2

This is continued from the post below ....

My visit:

My two younger sisters and our mother drove with me across the border, so that I could catch the greyhound bus in Seattle. I was nervous about crossing the border, because of my past history. I have some old stuff that I feared would prevent me from entering the States. Prevent me from meeting my Great Friend whom I love with all my heart and soul.

We joined the line of cars gradually approaching the booth. I flipped down the windshield mirror and combed my hair, I erased my fears and lulled myself into a state of serenity. Finally, after about 45 minutes, it was our turn. The American border guard leaned forward to look into our car. He barked at us to show our ID. My sister in the driver's seat handed it all over. The guard stared at each of us in turn, and then his gaze landed on my youngest sister - her driver's license had expired and she had no picture ID. He barked at her to produce something. She offered one thing after another, but he kept barking. Finally she found something that suited him, and he quieted. Then he waved us through. We were across the border! I didn't let out my breath until we were up the road quite a ways, and then I laughed and clapped my hands. I'd been so worried I would be turned back. Now I was on my way to California, and my Great, Great Friend.

After a day spent together in Seattle, my sisters and mother saw me onto the bus, and the bus pulled out of the station. I was so excited! I alternated between reading, and snapping pictures of myself and the passing scene. I had the entire seat to myself so I could stretch out. The bus rolled along, stopping at a dozen or so stations along the way. I tucked my camera away and my book, and lay across the seat to sleep. It was surprisingly comfortable. With the sound of the tires toiling along the highway, and the muted conversations of other passengers, I was lulled into sleep.

I woke once, and saw the fat moon high in the night sky. All around me, the other passengers were gently snoring. It was absolutely cosy and beautiful. I sat up crosslegged and looked out the window for a while, then lay back down to sleep. I woke shivering, to the sound of chains outside. I sat up - we were in a mountain pass outside of Salem Oregon (I can't remember what the pass is called). Outside I saw a night time winter wonderland with deep snow, and the forest trees dusted with flakes. The bus had stopped, and the driver was putting chains on the tires. The interior of the bus was dark, everyone was sleepy, my hair was knotted, I yawned and rested my cheek against the back rest of my seat as I gazed out the window and the driver reboarded the bus to resume our journey.

As we emerged from the mountain pass, we came across a bus that had pulled over to the side of the road. Our bus stopped, and the driver went to investigate. The bus had broken down - its passengers were freezing inside. We were hero's. All the passengers crowded onto our bus with their babies and strollers and bags. I shared my seat with a friendly man who didn't talk much, which suited me. I didn't mind sharing my seat, I'd gotten as much sleep as though I'd been at home in my own bed.

Finally we reached Sacramento, where my Great Friend was to meet me. I combed my hair and tried to freshen up - not an easy task as I was folded up with my feet on my backpack, and my knees under my chin.

My bus had been late, so my Great Friend had already been there, and told to come back in a while. I waited for just a few minutes, and then there he was! I'd known what he looked like, from seeing him on webcam, but of course, seeing someone in person is ever so slightly different. Still, I recognised him right away when I saw his head and shoulders through the window in the front door of the bus station. He's even more handsome in person. I waved, and felt shy, then I rushed up to him and we hugged so hard. It was wonderful. A beautiful first touch.

We gathered up my heavy suitcases and lugged them out to his car. As we pulled away from the curb, he handed me a pretty little potted crocus that he'd bought for me. It's flowers were just opening. We both felt instantly comfortable with each other - it was exactly as I'd hoped. As we left Sacramento and began the two hour drive to his home, we talked about many things, and sometimes we were both comfortably silent. It was as though we'd been together in person all our lives.

to be continued....

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Life Has Begun

Hello, I haven't posted here in a while. Not one of you will ever guess the exciting things that are going on for me these days....

You might have noticed me mentioning someone whom I called my "Great Friend". This person has been a positive force in my life for four years now, though we'd never met in person. Our friendship was online, we visited pretty much every day in our yahoo chatroom.

He's the first true gentleman I ever met. Somewhere along the line, I fell in love with him. My biggest dream was that we would meet in person, but I knew it was possible this might never come to pass. My heart swelled with love and joy in the fact that I had him in my life, yet it was breaking from the knowledge that I might never be in the same room with him. I wanted so badly to build a life for myself - I had my job, I had my family, but I didn't have substance. I tried to make plans for my future, but I always came back to the fact that I wanted to include him in them, and I didn't know if that was in the cards, and so I'd lose interest in making plans.

It's been hard, and it's been beautiful, and I've learned more lessons than I can ever tell you.

A few weeks ago he invited me to come and visit him at his home in California. We were in yahoo chat, with voice turned on, and he just said it. I was instantly speechless. I wondered if I'd heard correctly. I wanted to jump up and hug my computer monitor.

From that moment on, I did nothing but plan for this trip. There were many details in need of ironing out. I borrowed suitcases from my mom, and laid them open on my livingroom floor. I packed and unpacked a dozen times as I tried to figure out what to bring. As I went about my days here in my apartment, I would suddenly burst into giggles and hug myself, I just couldn't believe my fondest dream was actually about to come true! For so long, my last waking thought each night had been 'will I ever meet this man whom I love with all my heart and soul?'. Now I fell asleep each night with a wonderful smile on my face.

At first I planned to fly there, but in the end I decided I would take a greyhound bus. I wanted to watch the scenery as I traveled along. Bus travel is quite thrilling, I've always enjoyed it. It's hectic and a little bit messy. A person has to be on the ball - snag a good seat by a window and not too close to the stinky washroom ... if the bus is only partly full, take up two seats ... at stops where all passengers must leave the bus so that it can be cleaned or a bus transfer made, you have to be careful while waiting in the station, because those places are scary - keep an eye on your bags, make sure you get a reboarding pass from the driver, don't miss the call for reboarding, know the door number where you need to line up with the others, get your fantastic seat again when everyone returns to the bus (leave a magazine on the seat). So cool. I love bus travel.

That was two weeks ago - I've been there and back. I had the best experience of my life. I met my Great Friend, and he is even more wonderful in person. I'm in love. I'm happy beyond words and I can't believe my great fortune. The long wait was worth it. Somehow I always knew this would turn out well.

to be continued....

Friday, January 26, 2007

Just a Little Note About Nothing Much

In my comments to the post a couple below this one, it was suggested that I should send that post to the local newspaper. Thanks guys, I really appreciate your kind words about my writing (hi Tante Lois!) I'm thinking of sending something to the paper, but unfortunately, letters to the editor have to be shaved down to 200 words, and that would mean removing 600 words! I'm trying, but I don't know if I can do it without totally messing up the point I was trying to make in that piece. I do think it's a great idea though, so I'll work on it.

I have a new client in my home business! I've been hired to design some business cards for a plumber in the States. I'm so excited about it, because it shows that, even though it's very slow, still, my business is moving forward.

Plus ... I have begun to teach myself violin. I've always wanted to play, but never did anything about it. In fact, I hadn't even so much as touched a violin in all my life, until tonight. My oldest sister loaned me two of the violins she had around the house (her kids had learned on them when they were small). Tonight after work, I played for hours on end. The noises I produced were phenominal! lol. If you can imagine a cross between a chicken and electronic feedback.... But I did manage to make a few beautiful sounds, which encouraged me to keep at it. I play piano and harmonica, but have never played a stringed instrument. For the longest time I couldn't figure out how to make more than four sounds (with the four strings). Then I noticed that if I press my fingers down, it makes another note, and finally I realised that if I move my pressed fingers up the neck of the instrument, the notes continually change (duh, lol). So I learned "twinkle twinkle little star" already! It sounds horrendous, but it's a song! I feel quite comfortable at it already. Even though I sound awful at this point, I know that I will soon be playing better. I just feel that it's my thing. So cool.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Least Among Us

I've been following the Robert Pickton trial - for those of you who don't know, he is a pig farmer charged with murdering prostitutes. His farm is right here in my area.

I was working on the streets in Vancouver during the time that some of these prostitutes went missing. Although Robert Pickton was choosing his victims from a different neighbourhood than the one where I worked, I think it's possible that I had a run in with him. When I saw him on t.v. when they first arrested him several years ago, I recognised him as very likely being the man with whom I had a very eerie, frightening experience. Not that it matters if it was him, or some other freak. There are millions of predators out there. Street people are no more safe now that he's been captured, than they were when he was free.

What strikes me as more tragic than anything else in the Robert Pickton case, is that these women spent their final moments facing the awful truth that they'd been right - they were the garbage of humanity. This monster could butcher them one after another after another, and it didn't matter all that much because they were whores. They'd known it all along, and acted accordingly, and now the truth of it was so awfully brutally shoved home. I envision Robert Pickton laughing at them, gloating over their terror, shaming them, despising them. Their vulnerability tears at my heart - even in death, as he chopped them up in his personal slaughterhouse kept for his poor pigs, they were being laughed at. They were whores. They never got to regain their dignity. They died surrounded by evidence of their utterly low place among human kind. Just this thought alone makes me feel screamingly naked and exposed.

I had a lot of bad tricks during the years I was on the streets. I was raped at least half a dozen times, I've lost count of the exact number. Once I was drugged by something, I don't know what, but it literally paralized me. He drove with me up a mountain logging road. I came to, sitting in the passenger seat with my head lolling sideways and my eyes gazing blearily out the window as we bounced along through the moonlit forest. He turned off the logging road into a cleared area, where he suddenly noticed a truck parked there, and the driver fast asleep inside. He began to punch the steering wheel and shout and swear. I was so drugged I could do no more than sit there, watching him lose control over the fact that this witness was there, cramping his style. Maybe he had planned to kill me, I don't know. Maybe he decided to let me live because the trucker was there and might be alerted. Maybe the trucker was my guardian angel who saved my life by making the choice to hole up in exactly that spot in the forest for his nap. At any rate, the man who had drugged me and taken me up that mountain, finally quieted from his outburst, and slipped the car back out through the opening in the trees. Back to the logging road where he eventually pulled to the side of the road and raped me. Then he drove me back to the city and dropped me off.

Once I was choked nearly to death. The man sat on top of me with his face inches from my own, fascinated as he watched me struggle to live as he squeezed my throat. I put out my cigarette in his cheek, but he didn't flinch. I heard my inner voice scream inside my airless brain "so this is how I died!" I went limp. He gave a final long squeeze, and removed his hands. I gasped a breath and he shoved me into the back seat where he raped me. After, he shoved me out of the car.

I don't know how many times I leaped out of moving cars, somersaulting head over heels down the road, finally coming to a rest and quickly picking myself up to run before the man could park and come after me. Brushing myself off and returning to my corner where I hoped the next man who enticed me into his car would not be a predator. Once a man shoved his sock down my throat. Once I thundered my feet against the face of the man (actually a teenage boy) who had been raping me. I believe I broke his nose, but I didn't wait to find out. As he reared back I wrenched down the passenger window and threw myself out, landing headfirst on the ground.

Once I leaped out of the truck of a would be attacker, only barely escaping his flailing hand as he swiped at my back to drag me back in. We were in a locked underground parkade. I took off my shoes, unfolded my knife, and tiptoed around the circular wall, looking for an exit. I heard his engine roar into life behind me, and just in time, found a shallow depression in the wall where I could hide in the shadow. He drove right past me, so close I could have touched the car if I'd reached out just an inch or two. He didn't see me.

I didn't hear the garage door open, so I knew he was still in the parkade. I tiptoed along the wall, and saw a door. I had to run across the open floor, I didn't know if the door led outside or was merely a storage closet. I didn't know if it was locked. I ran toward it, letting out an involuntary scream when I heard his engine roar into life just yards away. His headlights beamed on and his truck leaped toward me. I heard him yell "FUCK!" when he missed hitting me by a fraction of an inch.

These are just a few of my recollections, I have more. I keep all of this memory deep inside my head, and rarely look at it anymore. I'm telling you now, so those of you reading might catch a glimpse of what it's like out there. How scary it is for those unloved people who, even now as you're reading this, are struggling to survive. Some of them are dying right now, they didn't make it. They didn't get to find out that they were, after all, priceless.

Think of the victims who died on that pig farm. Their final thoughts might have been "so this is how I died!" And for them, it was true.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Yesterday and Today

It still amazes me that I'm so comfortable at my job. I'm sure none of you reading this would ever guess exactly what I mean by this statement.

I sit at my desk, creating purchase orders for music books, receiving books that have come in, scrolling through the computer files on all the books we carry, editing out of date information at my own discretion. I look online for new books to order and make my own decisions on whether they would sell - whether I should order some. I use my calculator to figure out how much we should sell them for. I wander up and down the shelves of books with my clipboard and pen, jotting down titles that are running low and should be added to the next order. I fax the order to our distributor. When a box of books arrives, I sign for it and tear the tape off the box. I understand the invoice and use it to receive the books into our system. I phone customers whose specially ordered books have arrived. I make a package of books to be sent to our sister store in the next town.

During all of this I answer the phones, I take customer's money or swipe their credit card, I fill out their invoices. I make myself a cup of coffee blended with hot chocolate. When I'm asked, I sit down at one and then another of the pianos to play a song for a customer who wants to hear the difference between the two, but doesn't feel comfortable playing. I joke around with my co workers. I lean back in my chair to look into the office of my favourite co worker, whose desk is near my own. We have a lot in common and have become good friends, we talk about a lot of things. When one of my other co workers comes to the front of the store to hang around my desk and talk, I easily join in the conversation.

Does all of this sound ordinary to you? I suppose it would. I suppose it is ordinary, but not to me.

When I was on the street, the people I work with today belonged to the segment of society that was greatly intimidating to me. People who worked behind desks, who wore dress clothes, who didn't have anything to do with the dark side of life. People who lived conventional lives, and only knew about my kind through what they might have read in the newspaper, or the glimpse they might have gotten when they drove through downtown late at night.

I hated them. The people who lived conventional lives and didn't give a damn about people like me. I knew they rarely thought about my kind, and that when they did, it was with disgust. They wanted the streets "cleaned up". They wanted us to disappear, they didn't want to know where or how, just so they wouldn't have to look at us. They believed we'd brought ourselves to that end, that we deserved our lot. If they were wrong, they really couldn't care less.

I hated them because I felt their hatred for me, and it left me feeling baffled. I took it personally. Though now that I'm viewing things from a different angle I know that they were simply lumping me with all the others. They hated us en-mass, I was not being singled out. And I, after all, was doing the same to them. My hatred for members of society didn't single out individuals, I lumped them all together. If I ever found myself considering the possibility that one or two of them might feel compassion for me, I quickly dismissed it. I didn't want to weaken my armour.

I was intimidated by them because I believed they were well adjusted, while I had fallen apart a long time before. They were smooth and capable. They were confidant. Beside them I was an uneducated urchin without a single social grace. They made up the traffic through the downtown streets where I worked. They sat in their heated cars, drumming the steering wheel as they waited for the light to change, staring at me standing there on my corner, as though I was an alien. I hated them.

I sneered at them because I knew they feared me. They were afraid to leave their cars because it was dangerous. I laughed at them because I, a girl of 100 pounds was unafraid to be out there night after night, while they couldn't wait to get out of the neighbourhood and into their familiar suberbs. I saw the fascination on their faces as they watched the streetlife happening beyond their windshields. I knew they would tell their families all about what they'd seen. The mundane happenings in a usual night - things that had become ordinary life to me, these were, for them, exciting scenes to be remembered and told later that night.

I felt that their fear of me and my kind was my one advantage. And I knew that I would lose that advantage if I left my world and tried to make it in theirs. Everything I knew about survival on the streets would be useless to me. I would make a fool of myself as it became immediately obvious that I didn't know the first thing about life in society. This made me hate them more. As I suppose, their own hatred for me and my kind escalated when they remembered that they would be just a helpless if they tried to make it in my world.

Strange to think - we were, after all, very similar.

When I worked at an office supplies store last year, my co workers watched the homeless junkies in Jubilee Park across the street, as though they were watching t.v. As the street people sat at their picnic table for hours, occasionally getting up to cross the grass, my co workers stood among the office furniture for sale, rivetted to the scene. It was not in the least boring to them, because it was a glimpse into a different world. They commented on the street people with such vehemence, I truly believe they were jealous. It was a gut reaction they wouldn't begin to understand. It would be too much for them to handle. Instead they dismissed their powerful emotions as hatred. Nothing more, nothing less. And they continued to play audience unable to tear their eyes away. Imagine their horror if they'd known about me. Imagine their shame if they'd known they had exposed themselves to someone who knew the other side, and used to fear them.

It was this experience that helped me to lose my intimidation of society. I saw them with their guard down, though they were unaware of what was happening. Now I'm working at a different job, with people I have come to like and respect. Yet some of them, (not all), will sneer when they see a homeless person passing by the window. They stand and watch and let their emotions spill out. And I watch them as I sit at my desk, and keep my knowledge to myself.

I don't hate members of society anymore, and my intimidation has faded away. I'm left with a feeling of sadness I guess, because people are so blind. And because sometimes, now that I've been away from the streets for over a decade, I find myself judging people who live the lifestyle I used to live. I have to remind myself of what made me tick, before I joined society. And sometimes I forget.

Friday, January 05, 2007


It's January in this ugly wannabe city in B.C. Canada where I live. Blah. Days and nights on end of rain roaring down from the sky, pouring from the gutters, turning all grass to mud. Traffic on the street outside my apartment has a wet sound as though the road is actually a shallow river that the tires are rushing through. The window at the head of my bed rattles with every gust of wind and the single pane of glass cannot hold back the onslaught - I feel the cold shiver of wind over my body. My bathroom sink does not drain in half an hour. I imagine all the drains all over town, all the pipes and sewers and manmade conduits meant to rid us of this excess of water, backed up, clogged, glub glubbing pathetically as more and more rain pours down.

I'm bored. I'm lethargic and find it hard to do anything other than read. I lay on my bed and think about things I'd like to do - art projects I'd like to start, or finish. I get up and head for the pantry where I keep my art supplies, only to turn like a sleepwalker even as my hand pulls open the pantry door, and walk back to my bed and my book. I'm uninspired. I'm tired from too much inactivity. I'm boring. Better to lay on my bed and think about the things I'd like to do, the art projects I'd like to start, or finish, than to actually do them. January in this ugly wannabe city in B.C. Canada when the wind pelts the raindrops like birdshot against my frozen face and the sun is believed to be extinct. Blah.

I'm glad I have a job that gets me out of the house every other day. If not for that I would surely sink into depression. ...oh did you think I was already depressed after what I wrote above? Nope. Just bored. And boring.

I feel like this every year at this time. This is a difficult month for me. As is February. As is March. April is better, but not if it rains, as it often does in this part of the world ... all the way till ... ohhh ... June.


It's not all bad news. I've painted a dull picture, but really, I'm feeling optimistic. Well I guess my optimism is a little stifled at the moment, under the drab, grey woolen blanket of my boredom, but it is there ... I'm sure it is.

I'm sure it is.

Anyway, I'm optimistic because I believe this will be the year I realise at least one, or maybe a couple, of my modest dreams. I think this will be a good year for me. I know for sure that one of my goals will be met within a few months. And I feel certain I will, once again, emerge from this horrible lethargy and do something useful - after all, I managed to find the energy to post this. (pfft .... don't laugh) And before you think I'm spending every off work day laying around with books - I'm not. Not every off work day, but I must admit, I do it too often these days.

I'm beginning this year in a much better position than I began last year. Last year at this time I was shivering in a one room cement block room. My neighbours were down and out (no offense to them, but it was disheartening). My window, which took up the entire fourth wall of the room, leaked from one end to the other, pots and pans and jugs and waste paper baskets lined the sill, catching the drips that suddenly turned to streams, then back to dripping again, the sound of it gradually changing as the containers filled up to their brims and I must empty them into the sink. The room could not hold any heat, it all fled through the window, or was stolen by the frigid cement block walls. For heat, I kept my oven turned on full, and opened its door. I sat with multi layers of clothing and a blanket and book, with my feet resting on the open oven door, listening to the unmusical notes of rain falling into my kitchen containers behind me. Adding to this dreary picture, I was unemployed. After three months of manic service to the cruel slave drivers at Sears, I'd been told I would not be needed after Christmas.

I didn't know it (thank goodness), but the rest of that year was not going to be much better. Actually the year really sucked in a lot of ways and I'm glad it's over. But I did make some positive changes. I moved out of that crappy apartment, and I finally found a job that I love and have no worries about losing (I've actually gotten a small raise already after only three months). I've created my little home business and have one client (hehe!) If you want to see the website I created for her, click my business website link at the side of this blog. When my site opens, click the 'website design' button on the first page, when the website design page opens, scroll down to the bottom to where it says 'website designed by ... and click the link to her site; called RRR's Consignment.

I'm still living in the same poor, infested neighbourhood, but not smack in the middle of it as I was before. In fact I've discovered some very cool places close enough to walk or bike (if the sun would ever come back out). My apartment is poorly insulated and difficult to heat, but I have a working fireplace, and soft, thickly padded carpets. The neighbours above me have a routine of jumping on my ceiling every evening for hours, but I have my piano. The hallways outside my door are littered with old lettuce and fastfood wrappers, and the walls are often punched through, but the management is quick to fix things, and the cleaning lady never fails to find any mess before long. For every negative there is a huge positive. It's a beautiful apartment actually, a real find, especially in this part of town. The building is huge, the hallways go on forever. There are several laundry rooms on different floors. It's a ten minute walk to get to the garbage bins. There are hundreds of tenants, mostly new Canadians trying to build a new life. My own suite has become a real home for me, very comfortable and cosy - as my apartment was on the Island where I spent 2005; the first year of my new single life. And so, this year I'm starting out in an optimistic frame of mind.

It's strange to be feeling such opposing emotions. I'm bored, but I'm interested in the process of creeping toward my goals. I'm lethargic, but my brain is turning fairly steadily as it comes up with more ideas for artworks I'd like to try. I'm blah ... unbelievably, extremely BLAH, but I'm excited too, because, no matter how lazy I'm being lately, I know that it will pass, as it always does as soon as the sun comes out. Even if only for a day. I have plans for this coming year. Some new plans, some old ones that will reach their conclusion in the months ahead. Some are simply a new twist on a tentative goal I set when I first left x ... new ways of looking at the picture and fresh ideas on how to come out on top when all is said and done. Or at least, to come out even with x. That would be okay too.

I think now I will bake some cranberry/apple muffins. That sounds like a good plan.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

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My Secret

I always say I LOVE Christmas. And I do ... parts of it. I love the emotions that overtake me when I least expect it, as I'm decorating my tree, or shopping for gifts, or making a gift for my great friend. It's a feeling of inspired joy. It's pure and innocent and doesn't depend on anything outward - it simply comes over me at this time of year. I like the idea that it's Christmas time. I like being at work, turning to look out the front windows at the darkening street, or walking up the dark street from my apartment to the corner store, and knowing that it's The Season.

My Christmas is very understated. I have no children. I'm single, and a real loner, so I don't go to parties or Christmas concerts. I buy a gift for my mom, and one for my Christmas box person (one of my sisters or a niece whose name I chose from the pile of names, on Thanksgiving Day). I might make gifts for my youngest nieces and nephews, if I come up with ideas. And I make a gift for my great friend. My ideas for home made gifts are always spur of the moment. Some years I don't think of anything. I begin to wonder if this will be a year when I don't make anything, and that's okay, I don't stress over it. But then I suddenly think of something I'd like to make, as I'm laying in bed trying to fall asleep. I'm always glad when I think of something to make, because I consider this act to be a vital part of my Christmas celebration. Making the gift is as much for myself as for the one receiving it. I make a point of going to the mall a few times each Christmas, even if I don't have any reason for being there. Even though the mall is notorious for its mindless tackyness with the canned music and plastic junk for sale. Somehow I feel an exitement for the Season as I wander around the mall. At home, I enjoy the Christmas specials on t.v., I bake some cookies. I light my fireplace, and play Christmas carols on my record player, or sit at my piano and make my own Christmas music. On Christmas Eve this year, as I did the first time last year, I'll join my sisters and their families at mom's condo for a little get together. I'll join some of them at mom's church beforehand. On Christmas Day I'll join the family again, at my youngest sister's home for a big Christmas dinner and opening gifts. It will be my second year doing the family thing, after many, many years of not seeing them at all.

I find that my love of Christmas is mostly inside my heart. I find that it's very precarious, and easily disappointed. And ... I have a secret I've never shared with anyone ... Christmas has, for years and years, been a little bit sad for me.

I didn't enjoy a happy childhood, but Christmas was a time when I felt a special difference in our home. Somehow the tide turned each year at Christmastime - my childhood Christmases were wonderful. Then when I was about twelve, something changed, and Christmas was never again the same for me. I don't know what caused this, I believe it was more than just the fact that I was twelve and beginning to leave childhood behind. Suddenly we didn't join our many relatives for Christmas dinner anymore. On Christmas Day our family was alone, bored, begging our parents to do something special with us, but they didn't want to. Mom, who had always made each of her daughters a new Christmas dress, no longer made one for me, though she continued to do it for my sisters. I wore the same hand-me-down for years in a row. When mom made us gifts, she announced several times "Marian's has mistakes in it, it was only a practice, but the rest are perfect". I didn't enjoy a happy relationship with my mother as I was growing up, but Christmas had always brought about a change in her treatment of me, that lasted until the New Year. Then it stopped. Somehow, the Christmas spirit no longer came to our house.

During my teens, I was no longer living at home. For a time I lived with a foster family. That year I made the bus trip from the town where I lived, to the city to see my family for Christmas. It was then I understood that my family Christmas memories were truly a thing of the past. The following year I was back in Vancouver, living as a squatter in an abandoned house, and I met Doug (known here as x) and began my life working on the streets. Every year I returned home to see the family on Christmas Day, loaded down with bags of gifts I'd made. Every year my sadness in the season deepened. At home in my little apartment, I decorated a tree, I listened to carols on my player. Nights I stood on my corner where I worked, and looked at the Christmas displays in the store windows. Every year I insisted more loudly that I LOVED Christmas.

Now I'm living my brand new life. I left the streets behind fourteen years ago. I left x behind two years ago. I've reestablished ties with my family, after I learned that forgiveness does Not mean I must forget, or never again mention, what was done against me. There is nothing tragic about my life anymore, and I'm happy. And ... I think it's time I admited the truth, that Christmas is still a little bit sad for me. I understand that it is this way for a lot of people - it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with a person's lot in life. People are feeling lonely, and remembering loved ones who are no longer here. People are feeling left out, ignored, forgotten. Some, like me, remember wonderful Christmases of the past, that will never, never again exist.

It's precarious, this feeling of joy at Christmastime. It comes over me unexpectedly, and I embrace it, and then it's gone. That's what Christmas is like for me. It's time I said it, it's time I was honest. I didn't want to admit it before, because I believed that the admission would break my tenuous hold on the little bit of good feeling I have managed to retain over the years. It's precious to me. The idea of losing my Seasonal joy completely is frightening, and so I kept my secret. But now it's out. Maybe it will be okay.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Some Catching Up To Do (part one)

Well it's been a while! I've fallen very behind in posting, as well as writing emails. I'm doing very well though - my job at the music store is great (except for today. grrrrrr! I'll tell you all about it.) My apartment is very cosy even though it's raining monsoons outside these days (salmon were actually leaving the river and crossing the road into the woods! Poor things. As though they need this hardship on top of everything else). My little home business is beginning to limp forward after a disappointing beginning (I'll tell you all about that too.) Well maybe I should just end this introduction and get on with the actual post.

First I need to take out my contacts and put on my glasses.....

...which reminds me of something eye related that happened to me.

I have very poor eyesight, I'm pretty much legally blind without my contacts or glasses. I have astigmatism (how do you spell that) so I really shouldn't be wearing contacts, but I feel unattractive if I have to wear my glasses all the time so.... I also have cataracts in both eyes, but they're not very bad yet, and maybe they never will be. Anyway, I really don't need any more eye problems, so I was very upset to hear, when I went to a recent eye checkup while ordering a new supply of contacts, that I had holes in the skin of my retina! The doctor explained that because I have astigmatism, my eyeballs are shaped like eggs, rather than round, and the skin of my retina has to stretch over the fat part, and has now torn. yuck. (believe me I was in mental agony just thinking about it, I had to keep pressing my eyes with my hands as though that would stop the tearing.....arrgghhhh! The whole thing made me sick.)

The only good part was that since retinas are covered by medicare, I was reembursed the money I'd payed at the start of my eye appointment that day!

I was given an appointment to see a specialist who was going to give me lazor treatments, and also to see if there were any other holes (arrgghh!!!). Well guess what?! The specialist found that I don't have any holes in my retina at all! I don't need lazor surgery. I can stop pressing my eyes now. What a relief! Hopefully medicare won't make me pay back the money they reembursed me.

Today I had a horrible day at work. I really love my job, it's part secretarial, part taking customer's money at the till. I love the secretarial part - I have my own desk and computer, and I have a good understanding of what I'm expected to do, so that's all good. The problem is with the other part where I have to work behind the till. Usually it's fine too, but today it was not.

The day went well until I decided to pop into McDonalds next door for a quick bite to eat. Big mistake. When I came back, the man who is in charge of selling pianos had taken over the till. Of course he had to since there were customers, but the trouble is, he has a bad habit of doing things wrong, and then acting as though he did nothing wrong and I'm just an idiot for being frustrated as I try to understand what he did. Anyway, when I got back from McDonalds, there were a couple of customers at the front desk with a gigantic box filled with some instrument stuff they had bought. I squeezed past the box, and the piano man shoved some money in my hand. "Here" he said "You can finish this now that you're here" (wouldn't it be easier if he had just finished the transaction since he started it?! But no - this is what he does - he messes things up, and then when there's an opening he passes the buck and pretends he just did you a big service as he saunters away. You just know he knows he messed up and has now left you with it, but he doesn't want to own up. So he doesn't) Long story short, he had done three other transactions incorrectly as well, while I was away. I saw the paperwork there beside the till where he'd tried to disguise it by mingling it in with the other invoices of the day.

For the next several hours, I tried to make sense of what he'd done. It took me that long because I was constantly interrupted by the ringing phone (it's my job to answer it), and by customers, so I lost track of what I had already done in fixing his mistakes, and I think I did a couple of them twice. Meanwhile, the piano man noticed that I was getting frustrated, and because it's his way, when he knows he's caused someone's frustration, to try to cover up his tracks, he went out of his way to treat me as though I didn't know my job. He would stand over me and say things like "now you have to punch in that key there ... now you get the customer's information and put it here ..." I wanted to shoot him.

Meanwhile he made more mistakes that he passed on to me. He sold a couple of instruments and since I was busy with other work, he filled out the price and taxes himself (bad bad bad, but there is no way to stop this man). He swiped the customer's credit cards and did all that stuff, leaving me with the paperwork to finish. (this would be fine if he wasn't so BAD AT IT) When I went to finish his latest paperwork, I saw that he'd added incorrectly, and so now I had to use my calculator to fix it. I put these new mistakes on top of the earlier mistakes and got up (AGAIN) from my desk so I could help (shut her up and get her out of the store) the woman who was demanding I give her the address of a rival music store while her kids climbed right up onto the counter.

Meanwhile someone's child had seated himself at the grand piano nearst my desk, and was playing LOUDLY and VERY BADLY. Nobody stopped him. I wanted to smack him off the bench. I know that sounds awful but I don't care.

I finally found a few moments to sit at my desk again and try to organise the growing pile of invoices. I was very obviously busy, with one fist gripping an invoice, and the other digging through my hair, and my eyes bulging as I glared at my computer monitor, and the constant interruptions of the phone (which I miraculously answered with a pleasant voice). But of course, the piano man did not recognise any of this. Nope. He had a customer who had tried to buy a piano with a credit card that did not go through, or something, so he expected me to make a phone call for verification. (WHY could he not do it himself?!) When I hesitated, because I'd never done one of these phone calls before and wasn't sure of the procedure, he said "Surely you've learned this by now." I swear, the more frustrated I got with him, the calmer he became!
So anyway, the day ended, and I still had a pile of unfinished work, including his mistakes that were never corrected completely.

Well I'm not going to worry about it.

Here's some good news - I have a client for my homebased business! My first client turned out to be a bigtime dud. That's another story that I will talk about in my next post, since it's kinda longish. My new client has hired me to build her a website, which is very exciting for me. I'm very inspired, though I ran into a major roadblock right away (of course!) I will tell all about it in my next post.

Also I got a letter from the government, saying I owed them nearly $200.00 because my taxes were filled out incorrectly. I'd had an elderly man do it - he does my mom's taxes (scary scary thought). I phoned the government offices to get to the bottom of the mess, and the woman on the other end would not let me get a word in. She barked at me as though I'd tried to rip off the government. She interrupted me every time I tried to speak, and finally when I blurted "Would you please let me speak!" she said "I'm going to put you on hold until you can get control over your temper!" (as though I was a child who needed a time out!)

Anyway, I called the old man who'd wrecked my taxes, and he came over to go over it. I could tell right away he had no clue. The guy is just too old to be doing anyone's taxes anymore. He mumbled as he moved his finger over the pages. He finally said he didn't understand where he could have made a mistake, and that it was all correct and I should just pay the bill. Now I'm no math whiz, and I certainly don't know much about filling out a tax form, but I was able to see that he'd entered twice as much income as I'd actually made. I pointed this out several times, but he wouldn't listen. He put his calculator away, told me a little anecdote about his youth, assured me that he had made no mistakes, and left.

I knew he'd messed up. I couldn't just leave it, so I phoned long distance to my former employers (remember when I worked as a dishwasher?), and asked what my income had been. Sure enough, the old man had entered twice as much. I asked which form should be used in calculating my taxes, they said the T4 slip - the old man had used my ROA plus the T4, adding them together. So, it turns out, I know something about tax forms after all! So I took my incorrectly filled out forms, and all my other paperwork to a professional, (who couldn't believe the mistakes the old man had made). He corrected everything, and it turns out the government owes me almost the exact amount they were saying I owed them! TaDa! So that cheque should be in my mailbox in a month or so. Unfortunately it will just be swallowed up by my visa bill, but still.....

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Bike

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My Birthday

This Friday is my birthday. It also marks the one year anniversary of my moving here to this city. I remember last year on the morning of my birthday, standing in my little apartment where I'd spent the first year of my new life as a single woman. I was surrounded by packing boxes, waiting for the moving van to arrive. I was very emotional. This was a huge move for me, both physically, and psychologically. In moving off the Island and leaving x behind, I was making the statement to myself that I had truly turned my back on my past. When the moving van rolled into view, I cried a little bit, and hugged myself. To most women of my age, arranging a move might not seem a very big deal. For me it was giant, because I'd been led to believe that I was incapable of taking care of myself.

So here I am now. I'm living in a nice apartment with a fireplace, I have my beloved piano. I've found a wonderful job where I fit so perfectly its as though I've always been there. With my other jobs I couldn't stop the feeling that something was wrong. There was always a tension there. I knew somehow that the job would not last, and sure enough, none of them did. But with this one, everything has quickly fallen into place! I'm confidant in my work, and I get along wonderfully with my co workers. My boss is kind and helpful. The work is enjoyable. I get to wear nice clothes. I get to play the piano, choosing from among about twenty pianos - grand pianos, uprights, electric pianos.... During my days off, although I enjoy the time off, I actually look forward to going back to work. I'm so glad all of this fell into place in time for my birthday.

I've received two great gifts already. My brother-in-law, his wife (my sister) and their little girl came by a couple of weeks ago to bring me the gift they'd gotten for me. I came out to my patio where they were standing, peeked around the fence surrounding my patio, and there was the most beautiful bicycle! My brother-in-law actually built it from three seperate bikes. He used to work in a bike shop, so he's very talented in this. My neice helped him put on some stickers, so it was a real family effort.

The bike is just fantastic, as you can see in the picture above. I go zooming through the city streets, toiling up steep hills just so I can fly down them again. I'm getting to know the city in a whole new way as I explore new routes to my favourite stores and other places that I used to get to by walking. I love to feel the wind in my face, blowing my hair back. I love the sense of getting all that excersize. I love it that I can get to a place in minutes, whereas it used to take much longer when I had to walk. Now, if I need something from the store, I can combine that mundane act with the fun of bike riding. The bike came with a good lock, and I'm very careful to use it every time I have to leave the bike outside somewhere. I feel as though that bike and I are partners. When I come out again I always pat her seat.

My mom gave me the gift of a backpack. It's a beautful pack with a multitude of pockets. Perfect for carrying a few groceries, or my library books, or my camera gear ... actually that's another thing I'm really looking forward to - taking my bike out into the countryside to spend a day riding around and stopping to take photographs of old barns and cows. I haven't done it yet, somehow every time I've planned it, something thwarted my plan. But it will happen. I'll take a little bit of lunch, and a few other odds and ends that will make my day comfortable, and help me to fill my camera's memory card with great shots. I can't wait.

Happy Birthday To Me!

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Rogue Walrus

Whenever I'm in between library books, I go through my collection of well loved books that I found in second hand bookstores years ago. Some have been with me over twenty years and I will never part with them. A number of these books are all about animal life. Incredibly interesting books, written in such a way as to make scientific fact about flora and fauna read like beautiful prose. One can enter into the daily life of these animals, come to know them (as much as that is possible), learn fascinating truths about the ways of nature and how individual animals survive. And all of this learning is not dry or tedious, but beautiful as though it were poetry. These writers are genious in their ability to teach, using such beautiful language. They have combined animal science with art. I admire them a great deal.

My favourite is Sally Carrighar, whose books were published in the 50's and 60's. Her knowledge is stunning. She writes in detail about animals from great whales, to miniscule ocean living shrimp. She describes their lives in ways that the reader feels close to the animals, just as we feel for human characters in the stories we read. She's unafraid to show the animals' emotion, which is a real plus for me. I don't appreciate nature writers who insist on depicting animals as emotionless beings who operate strictly on instinct. Sally Carrighar has found a perfect balance. The animals she writes about are real. They are obviously natural and animal, she doesn't "humanise" them, but she shows their maternal feelings, their love displays, their tension, rage, terror. She describes their methods of evading predators, or, in the case of predators - their strategies for capturing prey. The animals are marvelously intelligent as they call upon their aquired knowledge to survive another day.

The scenery description is breathtaking. She has a thorough knowledge of what takes place in all the seasons. She describes the process of ice floes breaking and crashing down river, seeds bursting open underground, currents undercutting the banks of rivers to expose the roots of trees growing along the shores. The whole thing is a scrumptious smorgasboard of NATURE. Reading her books, I always get the sense of digging into a decadently healthy banquet. All the while, I'm learning facts about Mother Earth and her creatures. Sally is the ultimate teacher.

The book I'm re-reading now (for the dozenth time), is called Icebound Summer. It covers the time of ice breakup in Alaska. Each chapter showcases a different animal, and what happened to it during the few days that make up the timeline in this book. A lemming, a beluga whale, a hair seal, an Arctic fox, a loon, an Arctic tern.... their stories are fascinating and often heartbreaking. I'll tell you about one of them - a rogue walrus.

Walrus live on clams. Their bodies are perfectly built so that they can balance on their head, scraping the ocean floor for the tasty molusks that make up their diet. For the first two years of a young walrus's life, it does not develop tusks, and so it can't dig up the shellfish and must depend on its mother's milk for nourishment. If its mother is killed during these first two years, the little walrus will likely die for lack of food. The motherless animal starves to death surrounded by food, because it does not yet possess tusks.

Some orphaned walrus manage to find a horrific way to survive. They become cannibals. These are called rogue walrus. Through accident, or driven by desperate hunger, they discover that they can kill and eat other seals. Over time they hone their predatory skills as best they can. Their bodies are not built for agility - they are suited for balancing on their heads and scraping up their dinner from the sea floor. They are not intended for rushing after swift prey, but these rogue walrus do their best to stay alive. They use all their skills to do what does not come naturally to their kind.

Because of their diet of flesh and blood, they grow much larger than others of their kind. Their tusks, instead of growing long and curved downward, remain short and curved to either side. Over time, they take on the odour of a meat eating predator. The other, more natural walrus whose own milder scent is that of an animal whose diet consists of bland foods, smell the difference, and avoid the poor, lonely rogue. They know that the rogue will kill their young, and so they refuse to allow him anywhere near. He becomes an outcast. The price of his survival after the untimely death of his mother is a lonely, solitary life. The rogue will never mate, or lay with companions on the ice, or play with others. It's mood is rarely calm. Rage and frustration rule its existance.

Natural walrus who live to old age, enjoy their golden years in lazy companionship with others who have lived as long. No longer making the difficult and dangerous passage North with the rest of the herd, the old ones stay in one place where food is plentiful, and their days can be spent relaxing in the sun. Like octogenarians taking their retirement in Florida, these fortunate beasts live out their remaining days. Not so for the poor rogue. He has no friends, and must continue to hunt for prey, forcing his aging body into feats it was never meant to accomplish. It is a tragically sad life for the rogue walrus.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

One Good Thing Anyway

Well ... I've escaped the bakery at last. I have a job as receptionist at a Music store. We sell pianos and other small musical instruments, as well as sheet music. One side of the store is dedicated to all things sewing.

This store has been around since the 50's. I remember passing it in the 70's when I was a kid, with my family in the car on our way to visit my uncle's farm on a sunday afternoon. Our family lived in the nearby city then, coming to this town for days in the country. When we passed the store, my dad always made a joke about it being "our family business", because the name of the store is our last name. Funny, now here I am thirty years later, working as receptionist there.

Next week I begin my official employment, after having spent last week training under the girl who will be leaving. She's taught me what I need to know, and has left me to it. She told me she believes I'll do very well, and I believe her. I know I can do it. I can't wait. I have my own desk and computer. I'm in charge of ordering sheet music and books, and doing all the other receptionist work, as well as taking care of customers at the till. The store has a nice relaxed atmosphere, there aren't crowds of customers, I won't have anyone (boss or co workers) looking over my shoulder, tsking when I make a mistake, making me nervous. I get to dress up, I get to use the office skills I learned as assistant to that flakey realtor, I even get to use the math I learned last year in my upgrading.

I am SO glad to be out of the bakery! That place was a horror show. For the past month it's been hotter than hell around here, and my boss at the bakery turned off the air conditioning! He turned it off as punishment because one of my co workers accidentally left it on all night. She quit in disgust, but the punishment continued. The air conditioner remained turned off, and all of us suffered. Customers complained loudly, food went bad, me and my co workers were irritable and slick with sweat as we tried to do our jobs. In the two months that I worked there, no fewer than eight employees quit. By the time I left, the only original girl was the mean, bossy cavewoman looking one. I imagine she's in her glory now that she's the veteran there. lol.

This summer has been a little bit strange for me. I'm at a place where I'm beginning to feel the need for something to happen, and soon. I have some plans, but don't want to talk about them. I've learned a couple of hard lessons and am trying to make some changes in myself as a result. Building some walls, trying to be cool, stuff like that. I'll say one thing ... I have never met a person that didn't suck. Sorry, I don't mean to insult everyone reading this. And I haven't forgotten that I myself am a human being, therefore I probably suck too.

I don't know how to say what I want to say, there are too many words in my head all trying to come out at once. Too much of everything I guess. I need to fix that.

Anyway ya, I have a great new job. yay.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

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My Houseguest

A couple of weekends ago I birdsat a little lovebird named Cricket. He belongs to my cousin's former wife, who went away on a little holiday. We had the most wonderful time together - me and the little bird. I've been petless since my elderly cat; Catherine - the only pet I took with me when I left x, passed away in my arms just one month after we moved into our little batchelorette pad two years ago. It was nice to have a little living creature in my space again. Someone to welcome me when I got home from work, or to bug me to get up in the morning.

My cousin's wife told me she often lets Cricket out of his cage. Sure enough, as soon as I brought him home, he was banging away at the bars, demanding to be let out! He was just like a kid with a babysitter, I'm sure I let him get away with twice as much as what he is allowed at home! He spent most of the weekend on my head, or climbing all over my body, or prancing around on my keyboard, pecking my fingers as I tried to type. Even when I changed clothes, he stayed on me, moving out of the way as I pulled my shirt over my head, and hopping down through the neck hole or sleeve, clinging to my skin, climbing up over the fresh shirt as I pulled it down over my shoulders. Occasionally he would fly across the room and land somewhere. When he wanted to return to me, he launched himself into the air and flew frantically, aiming right for my face - what a freaky sight!

He actually would come looking for me when I was in another room. I would hear him calling, and then the furious flutter of his wings as he flew across the apartment in search of me. I saw him fly down the short hallway, and actually take the corner. When he saw me in the kitchen, he braked in mid air and turned sharply into the room, landing on my head. He liked to take showers under the running tap. I turned the flow right down so that it was just a little more than a trickle, and he would rush down my arm into the sink. Running back and forth under the water, he looked just like a little kid playing in the sprinkler. Once he got caught in my hair. I was reading in bed, while he amused himself running around on my head. Suddenly I realised it felt like he was caught. I held onto his little body, and rushed into the bathroom to see in the mirror. Sure enough, a thick clump of my hair was wound around his little ankle. I wanted to avoid cutting my hair, but the more I tried to unwind it, the more frightened he became. I was afraid of him having a heart attack, and so I grabbed my scissors and snipped off my hair. Now I have a piece right at the top parting, that is just one inch long, and sticks straight up! I'm able to press it down though, and sort of tuck it under. I suppose it will take about 8 - 10 years before it reaches the length of the rest of my hair.... Anyway, the little bird was saved. I pressed him to my chest so he would be calmed by my heartbeat.

I took a bunch of photographs of him. I got some nice ones. Some of them are posted on my website

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Summery Memories

Well, summer is half gone I guess. I haven't done anything special. In summers past, I used to spend a lot of time around the ocean. I can still hear the gentle slap of water against the boat (the ocean at Baynes Sound is calm as a lake). I remember gigantic sea lions swimming barely two feet from the boat, snorting at me. I have wonderful memories of lazy days on the secluded beaches of Tree Island (aka Sandy Island Marine Park) - a tiny, uninhabited Island with sand throughout, even under the trees. I remember the drugged feeling from the sun and heat. I remember wandering along the sandy paths in my bathing suit and moccasins, and climbing a huge old tree with limbs thicker than my waist. There is something so primal about naked, or near-naked tree climbing (I've done both, lol). It's animal-like. It's Tarzan/Jane-like. It's wonderful and I recommend it to everyone.

I recall the wonderful feeling after returning home at the close of a sunfilled day - my long hair slicked back and oily with sun lotion, sand under my fingernails and between my toes, my skin hot from the sun, all that tangy ocean salt that needed to be showered away. I'm a bath person. I love love love my baths. But after a day on the ocean I always took an invigorating shower. After washing away all the oil and sand and salt, I combined two or three healing lotions to massage into my skin. The coolness was absolutely marvelous on my sundrenched face and body. I used to love the homey feeling of sitting out on the porch in my nightie after the sun had gone down, combing my wet hair. The slightly cooler air felt so good after all the day's heat.

I haven't done any of that for the past two summers, since I've been single. It's definately something I miss from my former life. The weather this summer has been beautiful though. It's nice, walking to the nearby fruit market in my sundress, wandering through that rustic store to choose locally grown fruit and vegetables. Or sitting out on my patio with a book, listening to the birds in the trees, keeping an eye out for the little grey squirrel who sometimes comes right into my apartment.

The other day I went for an evening drive with my mom, through the farmlands that surround this town. We passed the old farm where my uncle and aunt used to live with their youngest daughter who was my age. Where my sisters and I spent a week each summer, and I always chose to spend most of that week alone in the hayloft with the kittens. One wall of the hayloft had an opening into the loafing barn - a large open room for the cows to gather during bad weather. I was able to climb through the opening, from the hayloft down into the manger where hay was piled for the cows to eat. I sat on top of the sweet smelling hay, gradually sinking lower as the cows pulled the hay out through the manger's slats. Eventually I was sitting eye level with the animals. Hours had passed. Now I would climb out, back into the hayloft. The kitten I had been holding was returned to its family among the straw bales, and I climbed back down the rickety wooden stairs to the barn below. I remember the feeling I had was much like the tired contentment I felt years later, after a day at Tree Island.

That farm is now a public market. The shed where we played is arranged with bins for fruit and vegetables for sale, the barn is used for storage of flats and boxes and bins. When I first moved here last fall, and visited the farm with my sister, we went into the barn. The stanchions where the cows were milked, are still there. The pens where calves were kept ... the low wall where chickens used to roost. I wandered down the center of the barn, remembering. I pulled open the old wooden door leading to the hayloft, crept gingerly up the crumbling stairs and peered into that huge and dusty room where I spent so many solitary hours. Strange how things change, yet remain the same.

Well, I was going to write about a little lovebird I'm sitting this weekend, I even had pictures ready to post, but it looks like I got sidetracked. I'll talk about that next time. I've enjoyed recalling these lazy, summery memories for you.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Looking on the Bright Side

I've discovered a silver lining in my hated bakery job! It's great for my stomach muscles!

Last year this time I was working as a dishwasher, which was great for my abs. I had to lift down 20 lb trays of bar glasses from a high shelf and carry those heavy trays across the room and carry stacks of heavy plates across the room and reach up to place them on a high shelf, etc. My stomach muscles were T.O.N.E.D.!

Then I moved here to the mainland. All my jobs since moving here last September have been easier (labour wise) than my previous jobs. At Sears, at Taylors, at the Real Estate office ... I was run off my feet but I didn't get any real workout. The rest of me was still in great shape, because of yoga, and all the walking I do - it's nothing for me to walk for an hour or two, to get to a place, and then back again carrying heavy bags - but, I was sad to see, my abs were not quite what they used to be.

But ... tada! They're back! Working in the bakery, I have to lift heavy pans and carry them across to the sink and manhandle the bread laden trolley into the freezer and mop the store and carry stacks of 8 chairs at once and stack two tables atop each other and carry them and ... well as I said, my abs are back! Hooray! It didn't even take long. I've been working there for, what is it now, a month and a half? Something like that? My stomach is toned again Hooray!

I'm still looking forward to the day when I can quit this job in favour of a wonderful secretarial job in an office, but, now that I've noticed this silver lining, I will be more grateful.

Or at least I'll try.

The job really sucks big time. My boss is actually quite a friendly guy, he has a good sense of humour and when I've happened to bump into him around town, he stopped to talk to me and was very friendly. But he's a slave driver!

At the bakery, we do all the usual bakery stuff - fresh bread is made every morning, and pies and cakes of all kinds, and pastries. Along with this we make specialty sandwiches and soup. I work mostly in the front behind the counter, occasionally I get asked to work in the back where I roll out dough and press out pie shells. We have a seating area where people can eat their sandwiches, and a few tables and chairs outside.

We get phone-in orders for sandwich trays - people want them for their office meetings, or for funerals, etc. Some of these orders are HUGE! It isn't unusual for an order to be for 300 sandwiches, all to be made in an hour or two, while we're trying to do our other jobs. We make a variety of five or six different types, and cut them into quarters held together with fancy toothpicks. All the sandwiches are arranged on round trays with a little cup of pickles and olives in the center. Meanwhile, customers are coming in, so we have to make their sandwiches immediately while they wait. We're all rushing around, bumping into each other, trying to find room on the narrow sandwich counter, running out of ingredients and quickly whipping up more, mashing a bowl full of two dozen eggs, slicing meat and cheese and bread, the butter is melting, the toast is burning.... Most of the customers are very nice, elderly folks. But some of them are unbelievably annoying.

My co workers are very nice, I get along with them well, except for one who is so bossy I want to rip her face off. She's like this with everyone, it isn't a personal thing against me, still, I want to rip her face off. She's very strange looking - a large girl with a fatty neck and a low forehead. From the back her head looks much too small for her body. From the front, you realise that her face is the correct size, it's her forehead that is out of whack. Her hairline begins low down, and her head is flat on top, so that you can't see any hair, it's just forehead, and then the head stops. Kinda like a caveman/woman/person/whatever. I mostly ignore her. When she orders me to do something, I pretend I don't hear. But when she barges up to interrupt me while I'm taking care of a customer, I speak my mind. It's a fine line - I don't want to appear that I'm fighting in front of customers (lol) - on the other hand, I refuse to let her get away with giving the customers the impression I don't know how to help them. It's a huge pain, and my patience is worn thin with her.

My boss, although a friendly enough person, is another pain in the ass. While he himself commits incredible attrocities (using rotten berries in the pies, eating over the customer's food so that crumbs drop from his mouth into their food, smoking while he makes the pies so that the lit cigerette hangs over the pies, picking up food that had dropped on the floor, and mixing it back in with the rest....), he demands that the rest of us work double time to keep the place clean. He makes us stay late, to mop the floor a second time. He comes back to the bakery just as we're about to leave after a long 8 1/2 hour shift, and piles on more jobs. Did I mention that it's boiling hot in the bakery?! So hot, I can feel sweat running down my back all day. For all of this, we get paid minimum wage, and we get docked in pay if we take a break. As I said, the job sucks.

I'm scanning the paper every day, for office jobs. Unfortunately there aren't very many, but I did apply for one today by mail. Wish me luck!

Meanwhile, I will keep reminding myself of the good things, such as ... sometimes I get to write on cakes, with icing ... and, um ... at least I'm not unemployed ... and, um ... hmmm ... oh ya, my abs are back! My stomach is T.O.N.E.D. again! Yeah!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Caveman Above Me

I'm so unbelievably bored lately it's not funny. I can't get interested in anything. I have folders full of pictures to photoshop ... I have story and poem ideas I could be writing ... I have a (pathetic excuse for a) garden I should be trying to revive ... I have a messy apartment/unmade bed/unwashed dishes but I don't feel like cleaning ... I have no food in the place, but I'm too bored to care about that either. I'm bored. And I'm boring. Blah. anyway last night I was awakened by the familiar sounds of the couple in the apartment above me, having sex. I had thought I wouldn't be hearing them again, since the sounds of a toddler running across my ceiling replaced their nightly routine (I don't know who the kid was, or who it belonged to, but since it - he? she? I don't know - moved in with the amorous couple, they stopped having sex, but now it looks like the kid is gone, and the couple are back at it. So.

Their apartment layout is exactly like my own, with the bedroom directly above mine. When I glanced up at their bedroom window from the sidewalk below, I saw their bed's headboard against the window, and so I know that their bed is placed exactly as mine is ... if they crashed through my ceiling, they and their bed would land on me as I lay in my own bed, sandwiching me neatly in between the two. One of these nights, that just might happen.

BANG!BANG!BANG! of the headboard thumping against the wall. SLAM!SLAM!SLAM! of the bed leaping up from the floor and crashing down again on my ceiling. THUMP!THUMP!THUMP! of the (I imagine this is what it is...) boxspring disconnecting from the bedframe. And rising above all of this is the steady, ever more high pitched screaming of the woman. lol.

As I lay in my bed last night, listening to them, the thought occured to me, as it has every time I've listened to them, that there is something ... something wrong with their routine. Something doesn't quite sit right, something is missing, something something something ... but what?! I asked myself as I lay in my little bed and their thunderous sound effects roared down from above. And then it came to me. AHAH! (I didn't actually say this outloud, but if I had, my voice probably would have been drowned out anyway, so who knows but maybe I did say it...?)

Okay, here's the problem with my neighbour's sex life, as I see it....

Despite all her shrieking, I think, really, the pleasure is all his, if you see what I mean. Perhaps you don't. I'll try and explain.

The way it begins, is as follows - I hear her talking to him from the bedroom, as though he's in another room, which he is, as I know because soon I hear his heavy footsteps coming into the bedroom from the bathroom (I know the layout of their apartment, remember, since it's the same as my own). About, oh, maybe a minute at the most, after he enters the bedroom, he enters her. I kid you not. No foreplay, no nothing. Just her talking normally, then him walking into the bedroom, and then ... okay this is how it sounds to me - blah blah blah/1,2,3,4,5 footsteps/squeak squeak squeak/oh oh oh/thump thuMP THUMP/SLAM SLAM SLAM/SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM ... and then I hear his heavy footsteps to the bathroom again.

I swear it is wierd to listen to, because there is no interlude at all. Nothing. Nadda. Absolutely no segway between him coming into the room and him pounding the life out of her. (lol).

Now, if anyone reading this knows anything about women, you will understand when I say again that, no matter how loudly this woman is shrieking, I don't believe she's having fun. It's just ... her shrieking doesn't sound very pleasurable. Okay I realise I'm probably coming across as a little bit wierd for all my analysing here (lol), but I can't help but notice there's no buildup to her sound effects. I mean, if she was getting something out of all this, there would surely be some softer moaning before the real screaming begins? Rather than starting at 100 decibals right off the bat? Do you see what I mean? It's as though this couple's sex begins at the end, without the trip it should have taken to get there. Ya know? Being a woman, I know that when a man just barges up and ATTACKS like that, without any preliminaries, it's, um, not a good thing. It's a wonder she can walk.

And you know what's wierder? He probably has no idea. Not just because he's a clueless caveman, but because ... well because she's such an enthusiastic cheerleader who can blame him for believing he's scoring a perfect ten every time?! People are wierd. Couples are wierd. I'm wierd. And I still feel bored.

Monday, July 17, 2006

What The Camera See's

When I was a kid, my mother and one of my sisters convinced me I was a hunchback, that I had a pot belly, a giant nose, a unibrow, bony knees, deformed toes, hair like straw, oversized hands, buck teeth and a non existant chin. These lies were reinforced throughout the years of my childhood, and I believed them. I stared at myself in the mirror, and recited the litany of flaws I'd been taught were mine, and the mirror responded in kind. I saw a monster looking back at me. Every once in a great while, when I looked in the mirror, I noticed that my defects had disappeared - I actually liked what I saw in my own reflection. But I always made the mistake of telling my good news to my sister, who would tell me I was mistaken. I looked again in the mirror, and sure enough, the defects were back, worse than before. It was a wierd phsychological game that I now understand had no basis in reality. The mirror was unable to overcome the lies that had been planted in my head.

It's interesting that I became an avid photographer of myself. It was the camera that helped me take the first tiny step towards viewing myself in a more honest light. It began with my knees. The summer of my eighth year, I saw a photograph of myself in shorts, and couldn't help but notice that my knees were not bony after all. The camera had succeeded in what the mirror had failed to accomplish. After that, I developed the habit of scrutinizing every photo of myself. I wanted to see if the other defects I'd been taught to see in myself, might also prove to be unfounded. It didn't happen overnight - there were years of conditioning to overcome, but gradually I came to believe that I was not grotesque afterall. The camera did this for me.

Now that I've grown up to become a photographer/model, I still depend on the camera to refute the lies told to me by my mirror. When I go for too long without eating, and my body is beginning to look frighteningly thin, the camera tells me. It always catches me by surprise, because in the mirror I feel I look almost chubby, yet photographs taken on the same day show me as anorexically thin. When I stand on my scale to see which is telling the truth - it is always the camera that proves the honest one.

Conversely, there are times when I think I'm in great shape, and then the camera shows me I need to taylor my excersize routine for a specific area that is in need of toning. Standing in front of my mirror, I wasn't able to see this, but in bending my body into poses for my camera, I discover things I would never, otherwise have known. I can fix these things before they get out of hand. I have a scar below my hip. I've worked for years to smooth it out, and for the most part, it has disappeared. Even in photographs, the scar is nearly invisible. It is only in certain light that it shows itself again. Still, it's in my nature to keep working to rid myself of that scar, and so I do.

I think it's true that my childhood experience with my mother and sister is what drives me to work so obsessively on my appearance today. And I suppose I sometimes carry these things to extreme, but on the other hand, it's my way of feeling beautiful. It's my way of loving myself. It's a matter of self esteem, I believe. As a child, I was vulnerable to the powers of my sister and mother's suggestion, because my self esteem was non existant. Now that I've learned to love myself, I can look at the camera's evidence with a fairly open mind. I'm pleased with my appearance, and want to look my best, and so when the camera shows me something in need of fixing, I can't wait to get going on it. I am no longer the child who cried in front of the mirror, despising her own reflection.

Monday, July 10, 2006

It's Probably For The Best

I believe that, for the most part, life is a lonesome experience. We emerge from our mothers as solitary beings. We are handed to our mothers who look into our newborn eyes and believe they can see into our soul. Then the truth becomes apparent - we cry, and our mothers fail to understand what it is we need so desperately. "Why are you crying?" a mother will ask her child who has not yet learned to speak. No matter how deeply she looks into her baby's eyes, she cannot see the answer there. She can only guess ... a good mother will continue to guess and guess and guess.... The baby is a solitary being. She lives within her head and learns who she is, and as she grows she learns that no one, not one person will ever really know her.

It seems to me that life is an endless search for that one person who will truly know us. Someone who will pull up a chair beside us as we sit inside our own head, looking out through our eyes. Seated there beside us, this person will have access to all the filed information we have gathered since the day of our birth. All the details that make us who we are, that cause us to react in ways that baffle those around us because they don't know what came before. This person will be able to say "Ah! I know why you feel this way! The reason is right here in your memories from when you were six!" Every once in a while we find someone who seems to be on the same page. We find a kindred spirit, and believe we can see into their soul, and they into ours. Sometimes it lasts a lifetime - the lifetime of one player in the partnership, after which the other is left to live on alone. The survivor goes on believing they were truly understood by the other, their *Self* was made known. Perhaps that is true, but only to a point. There is always a part of us that remains unknown. We are all solitary.

No one can know me as well as I know myself. Others will only know what I choose to show them. Sometimes I think I've explained myself in minute detail, only to discover that my words were misunderstood. It may be a lack of ability to articulate what is on my mind, or perhaps my words, though well expressed, are blocked by impressions carried by the other. Others may watch me as I live my life, and believe they see things in my body language, or in the lines between the lines. They may well be on to something, but it's just a likely they have misinterpreted everything. No one can really know why I do what I do, because my actions are coloured by my life experience ... and no one knows my life experience as well as I do. This is the plight of all of us. We are all solitary.

I think it isn't such a bad thing. A little mystery can be nice. I think if it was possible for one to truly enter another person's head, the detail they might find there would cause more harm than lack of understanding ever did. Maybe the quest to make ourselves understood, helps make life more interesting. Perhaps, if we were each to find one person able to enter our head and know us completely, we would resent them for knowing too much.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Dating (it's about time I started)

I've added many more photographs, as well as drawings and poetry, to my fineart site. If anyone is interested in seeing them, the link is along the side of this blog.

I've been thinking about dating again. I think I'm finally ready to start, although I have no intention of ever getting involved in a *relationship* again. I'm not avoiding emotional attachments - If I end up loving someone and/or being loved in return, that will be nice, but I have no interest in being anyone's girlfriend. I plan on staying single the rest of my life. I made that decision when I left x. I believe that's the way I was meant to be.

So ya, it's time I started dating. It's been two years (!!!) I definately needed this time to think my own thoughts and get over some things. I'm glad I didn't jump into dating right away, after I left x. It's been healthy for me to just spend this time getting to know myself, and grow up a little (or a lot). I'm still in the process. This past month, for example, I experienced some things that forced me into a major emotional renovation. I think I've come out of it a stronger person. Maybe I'm more emotionally mature after all of it is said and done. Maybe I discovered some more things about myself, and about my feelings, and about the necessity to take my heart off of my sleeve for once and, I guess, erect a little bit of a barrier around it. Not a thick barrier - I don't want to become a cold sort of person who keeps her emotions locked up in a cage. Still, I've been a little bit too vulnerable, and it's left me with some wounds. So the best thing for me to do is build a little protective wall.

The problem I see for myself, in dating, is a lack of men. Since I moved to this city, I have not seen one man I'd be interested in. Although, I admit, I haven't really been looking too hard. Still, I think I'm right when I say it won't be easy. I think most of the men around here are not my type.

A funny thing happened the other week. I decided to check out Yahoo dating. I didn't sign up or anything - I'm not about to meet men that way, especially since my x is a member.... I simply wanted to see what sort of men were available in my area. But I forgot to change the setting that specified the search area, and ended up including Vancouver Island where I used to live with x. Who should appear as the number one pick for me? You guessed it - my x. There he was in his photographs, posing in the house where I lived with him for seven years, and in my garden that is now overgrown with weeds. Anyway I quickly changed the settings. Unfortunately I didn't fare any better with the settings changed to my own area. There are no interesting men for me in Yahoo.

Strangely, a week later, I received an email from a member of the photography club I belonged to on the Island, during the year I lived alone in my little apartment. It was a mass email to all the members of the club, including me because they haven't taken me off of their mailing list. Attached to the email was a photograph of the Canada Day celebrations at the local park. There was a crowd of people sitting on the grass before a stage, listening to live bands. And there was x, sitting in his lawnchair while one of his girlfriends sat on the grass (no chair for her). He had his oversized cup with a lid, and I recognised my former oversized cup in the hands of his girlfriend. At least the cup is being put to good use.

How does a girl meet men anyway? I seem to be clueless. Well I don't know how to close this rather boring post, so I guess I'll just say goodnight and go to bed.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


I guess I might as well say it. training as a realtor's assistant was going very well and then everything collapsed. Actually it was more of a fizzling out. After three weeks training, I was growing in confidence. I was taking phone calls and faxing and photocopying. I was calling lawyers offices to ensure that everyone was up to speed on a recent sale. I was calling tenants living in homes that were for sale, to set up times for buyers to look at the home. I had developed my "office voice" and (if I do say so myself) I sounded very professional. I took notes from the first day, on everything I learned, and once I was home I transferred the messy notes into a clean little notebook I bought especially for this. I knew how to fill out all the various real estate forms, and I understood why certain things were done a certain way. In short, I knew the job. I was good at it. The woman training me (my bosses assistant who was to be leaving soon because she was moving) told me she was pleased with my progress. She tested me on various things, and I knew all the answers. My sister, who works as assistant to another realtor in an office just around the corner and down the hall, told me that my trainer kept telling her she was pleased with me. My sister doesn't lie, she would never tell me I was doing well at something if I really wasn't suited to it. I'd made three brochures for my boss, and my sister told me he was proudly showing them to other realtors.

One day my boss asked me if I would mind spending my work day at his home, helping his wife get their receipts etc. in order so they could be submitted for taxes. I was to be paid my regular wage. I thought it a little bit strange, but agreed to do it since I was hoping to make a great impression. And so he dropped me off at their house, and I spend an entire afternoon at their home with his wife and their two young kids, sitting at their kitchen table and sipping tea as I stuffed a full year's worth of receipts into their respective envelopes - an envelope for food receipts an envelope for gas receipts an envelope for client expense receipts ... you get the picture. His wife was friendly. She talked with me quite easily, and made me a sandwich. She was still in her pyjamas when I arrived at two in the afternoon, and hadn't combed her hair. The house was a mess, and she kept telling me she was exhausted, though the entire time I was there, she didn't do anything more than take the dog outside to do his business on the lawn, lethargically pick up a couple of receipts in a token attempt to help me, and occasionally pick up one or the other of her sons to hold him in her lap. She disappeared for an hour, and when she showed up again, she told me she’d fallen asleep. I got the impression she was depressed. She seemed to like me though. At one point she even asked me to hold the baby while she took a phone call. When my boss finally arrived back home, I'd finished the job. He beamed at me and told his wife "See? She's really good!"

One day I walked to work in sandals that broke when I was only halfway to my destination. It was a stifling hot day, I was irritable because I worried I'd be late to work. My sandal strap broke. I crouched on the sidewalk to find a safety pin I knew was in my purse, and tried to pin through the thick leather of my sandal, to hold it together. The pin bent, I jabbed my fingers, I swore. Finally I got it done, only to find that it wasn't holding my sandal together - the strap was too loose, my sandal flopped sideways with every step. Finally I took off my sandals and walked barefoot. The sidewalk was boiling. There were tiny pebbles that cut into my feet. Then I realised I'd missed the side street where I was supposed to turn. I'd walked too far. And the street I was on, was under construction. The sidewalk up ahead was blocked. I had to go back the way I'd come. Far, far back the way I'd come. I ran. I must have looked quite funny in my business-like dress pants and blouse, with bare feet, gripping my sandals in one hand, my purse in the other, occasionally reaching up to make sure my hairstyle (I had it up in a bun) wasn't falling apart. I sprinted down the sidewalk until I recognised the turn off. I still had a long way to walk. My cell phone rang, it was my bosses assistant, wondering where I was. I was five minutes late at that point, but luckily my boss wasn't in the office and was none the wiser. She offered to come and pick me up in her car, but I told her I would be there shortly. I didn't think it very wise to have her leave the office unattended while she rescued me. It took me another fifteen minutes to finally reach the office, and by then I was breathing hard, I'd run nearly the entire way, sprinting along the sidewalk, leaping over curbs, cutting through parking lots. My toes were bleeding, I actually left a trail of blood in the ladies room. I mopped everything up, applied bandaids, and began my day's work. I really wanted to make a great impression, and according to all I was being told, I was doing exactly that.

After three weeks, my boss and the woman training me, sat down with me to discuss things. Together they told me that they were happy with my progress, that I was doing well, and would make a fine assistant for my boss. They said the only thing they wanted to see improvement on, was my confidence in myself. I needed to start believing that I could do it, because, they said, I Could Do It. I needed to believe that. This is the one and only negative thing they mentioned. My boss told me I had a job, I was hired. I was to continue as his assistant after the other woman left in June. Besides the assistant job, I was to work from home, designing brochures for him, to sell him as realtor. I couldn't believe my luck.

One other thing my boss mentioned that day, was that I should think about the option of him hiring a second assistant to help carry the work load. He was planning on expanding his business, and there would be a lot of things to do. I felt a bit leery about this. I worried that this might be a bad move - if she showed more promise than I did, would I lose my job to her? I told him I would think about it over the weekend and he agreed.

When I returned to work after the weekend, I spoke with the woman training me, and told her I didn't want to share the job with another assistant. I could do the job myself. She told me she believed I could do it as well, but, she insisted, I really should reconsider the option, because, she said, the work load was going to get very very heavy. I would need the help. She told me she herself would have wanted the help if she was in my place. She told me my boss was planning to bring in his nephew and so I would be working for two realtors very soon. We discussed it some more, I thought about it more, and finally decided I should go for the deal. I worried some more. I felt somehow that I was possibly making a dumb move, but I decided to go for the offer. My boss arrived at the office and we told him he could go ahead and hire a second assistant. But, I insisted to him, I wasn't giving away my job. I mustered all of my confidence and declared that I knew I could do the job, and was only going for this option on the condition that I would be sharing the job equally with this other person. He assured me I had nothing to fear.

I was never called into work again. Several days passed, and I decided to email him to ask when I should come back in. He told me he would get back to me. He assured me I had nothing to worry about, the job was mine, but I should be patient. Another few days passed. I phoned him, and got the same response. A week, two weeks, three weeks passed. Once a week I emailed him to ask what was going on, with the same response. One day he emailed to ask me to come into the office to print up the brochures I'd created, so he could pen in some changes he wanted me to make. I did. I was alone in the office, so I left the printed brochures on his laptop. I never received any indication from him that he'd seen them. The brochures were nearly finished, waiting only for his changes, but he never bothered to tell me what he wished me to change. There was no word about any of it, and I hadn't even been paid for the work I'd done.

Meanwhile my sister was keeping tabs on things from her own office. She emailed me with any news that she heard, and all of it was bad. Baffling. My bosses assistant was telling her things about her own frustrations with him (he'd been driving her insane for a year, with his failure to tell her things she needed to know for the job, his tendancy to drop unexpected extra work in her lap without any notice, his infuriating style of leaving things to the last minute and then expecting her to fix everything....) She told my sister she had no idea what was happening with my job. So far there was no second assistant, and as far as she knew, I was still employed there, but that was all she knew. She left messages for him to speak with her about me, but he ignored them all.

Then one day, my sister told me, there was a new assistant waiting in the office to begin her training. No word to anyone from our boss, she was just suddenly there. She stuck it out for one day, and never returned. The woman who had been training me, worked her final day, and was gone. My boss was without an assistant, yet he still didn't call me in to work.

I had enough. I emailed him to ask pointedly what was going on. I reminded him that I hadn't been paid for the brochures, therefore he was not authorised to use them in any way. I told him I needed to know, definately, if and when he was planning to have me come in to work. Throughout this month long fiasco, my emails to him had been professional and well written. As my irritation grew, I'm sure it came across, but I did not give in the temptation to chew him out. I wanted to scream at him in writing, but I didn't. I kept my dignity. His emails were a mess. He often sent them unfinished, with just a half sentence cut off in mid stream. As though he had clicked "send" before he'd finished. Then a few minutes after that one arrived he would send a second, apologising for sending an unfinished email, and beginning where he'd left off. He emails were strange and rambling. "I'm trying to make everyone happy" he would write "I will call you in when there is work, I haven't forgotten you"

After I sent the email telling him he wasn't authorised to use my brochures, he became even more strange. He asked how much he owed me. I told him that although my prices had now changed since I'd done more research, I would stick to our original agreement for these three brochures only, even though I was, in effect, letting him have three for the price of one. He didn't appreciate my honesty. He argued over the price, he didn't, apparently, believe that 25 X 3 = 75. He told me he would not use the brochures. He wasn't going to pay.

My sister emailed me a week or so later, to say that he'd hired another assistant. Since the original assistant was gone, there was no one to train her, and she was lost. She had no idea what to do. My sister saw her standing by the front desk, waiting for someone to help. No one did. Everyone had their own jobs to do and she was on her own. I got an email from my "boss". Suddenly he had a cheque for me, to pay for the brochures. I went to the office and picked it up. Then I went home and composed a short email, telling him what I really thought of the way he'd handled things with me. I kept it civil, but I let him know he'd made a terrible impression. His response was a screaming tirade. First the familiar email with the cut off sentence, then the remains. He swore at me. He told me I had no talent. He told me he was throwing the brochures in the trash. He declared that he'd done nothing but his best for all concerned and deserved to be praised. He ended the email with a very childish "anyways, this conversation is over!" I had to laugh.

A day later, my sister emailed me again. His office has been cleaned out. He's gone. His new assistant probably wasn't even told.

And so, I'm no longer a secretary. But I learned a lot of things. I learned that I can do the job, and do it well. When another position opens up, I will apply. The best thing I learned is that I am good at designing brochures. If not for my boss asking me to make brochures for him, I would never have started my own business. So it isn't a step backward after all, it's actually a long stride forward.

I have another job now, though it isn't even close to what I want, and I have no intention of staying, once I find something better. I’m working in a bakery. It’s okay. I make sandwiches and serve customers and manage the till. I hull strawberries and cut pastry dough and scrub pans. I make egg salad and chicken salad for the sandwiches and I take cake orders. I slice meat and cheese, I ladle out soup. I cut down boxes. When I’m working a closing shift, I mop the floors and scrub the public toilet. It’s not the most difficult job I’ve ever worked, that prize goes to my dishwashing job at Boston Pizza. Still, I’m exhausted at the end of the day. My feet ache and my back aches. I feel greasy because I’ve been around food all day. The pay is minimum wage, and we’re docked in pay if we take a break, even for an eight hour shift. Saddest of all, to me, is that I have to wear a hairnet again. I had thought my hairnet job days were over. I’ve discovered though, that if I have my hair in a bun, and arrange the hairnet further back from my hairline, it’s almost disguised. But not really.

But none of this matters, because I know I won’t be there forever. I know now that I’m able to work as a secretary. I did it, and was told by everyone including my boss, that I was doing very well. I don’t know what happened to sour things, but it had nothing to do with me. One day I will be back in an office. Maybe soon, who knows? And I have my brochure business, which is already paying off. So I’m happy.