Practising

Apr. 24th, 2010 10:52 pm
dreaminghope: (Flying Demon Girl)
My favourite moment when taking a plane trip is the take-off. I love trying to pinpoint the exact moment when the tires leave the tarmac. I love watching the ground fall away.

My first paragliding lesson is in one week (weather permitting). I've been practising. When I've got a stretch of sidewalk to myself on my walk to work, I imagine pulling controls to turn right, then left, making s-curves. When I'm in areas where such behaviour is likely to be noticed, or in bed before sleeping, I practise the feeling of taking off. Over and over, I imagine the exact moment when my shoes leave the ground and when the earth falls away from beneath my feet and I go from jogging on the grass to breathless, weightless flight.

I'm feeling a bit heavy these days, so I'm even more eager than usual to take off.
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
The facts were these...

To add to my list of little quirks*, I've developed a minor fear of the light bulb in the bathroom at work exploding and somehow electrifying the drippy faucet and electrocuting me when I go to wash my hands. I do wash my hands anyway, because I hate dirty hands more than I fear death by soap, hot water, and bad electrical wiring.

Despite my zinc lozenge regiment, which usually prevents me from getting sick, I succumbed to a nasty cold this weekend (at 3 AM on Friday; it woke me up), which meant accomplishing little and watching a marathon of Bryan Fuller's Pushing Daisies. I've owned the DVDs since they came out, but never watched them because watching the last episode - which I missed when it aired on TV - meant that there were no more episodes to look forward to.

Two days of "Pushing Daisies" let me get lost in the world, including the always present possibility of bizarre death. The same thing happened when I watched a marathon of Dead Like Me (also created by Bryan Fuller), after which I developed a minor fear of tripping at the top of the basement stairs while wrestling a full laundry basket through the narrow doorway, tumbling to the bottom, and getting impaled on some of the old venetian blinds we keep stored at the bottom.

I'm still very careful descending the basement stairs, especially if my hands are full, and I'm pretty careful about what media I consume, especially in binge forms.

*Quirks that include, but are not limited to: An inability to sleep in a room with a mirror because something might come through from Mirror World; a deep reluctance to read new books by my favourite authors because I can only read them once for the first time, to the point where I have two Charles de Lint books on my bedside table, both unopened; a physical inability to blow my nose; and a disturbing fascination-revulsion relationship to rotting food.
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
I have fairly poor eyesight. I don't see well without my contact lenses and I have poor night vision, so my morning journey from my bed side to the bedroom door can be a bit of an adventure. I've ended up tangled in Russ' robe, I've run into the end of the bed, I've ended up crossing most of the room on the diagonal and missed the door altogether. Luckily, Russ is a deep sleeper and rarely wakes as I fumble and stumble my way out.

There are few things I do before putting in my lenses in the morning, but one of those things is petting Puck, who demands attention and affection immediately upon seeing the first human of the day. That means that I'm living in a blurry world for five to ten minutes at the start of each day.

When the world is out of focus, certain details disappear. Details like drifts of cat hair, a fine layer of dust, and the kitty litter that's been tracked across and then ground into the bathmat. My house looks very clean and perfect through the blur; even though it's an illusion, it's a nice way to start the day.
dreaminghope: (Clueless)
Oxam's Razor: The simplest explanation is usually the truth.

I've got this pair of jeans that are made of stretch denim. They don't have a fly, so getting into them involves no small amount of twisting and bouncing. On Wednesday morning, I wiggle into them, but they don't seem to be fitting correctly.

Did they shrink in the wash? Nah, they're still the same length.

Did I gain some weight? But I just wore these pants yesterday.

Am I bloated? Is there something wrong with me? What could cause overnight weight gain?


I stare down at my jeans, tug at the waistband, trying to figure out why they don't feel right. Then I clue into something odd: there are flaps on my front pockets.

My pants are on backwards.

As tricky as it can be to get into the pants, it's actually even harder to get them off while laughing. My only witness, the cat Puck, looks up from his breakfast to glare briefly: my silliness is disrupting his enjoyment of his gooshy food.
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
I wake at about four in the morning. The wind is pushing against the city. It voices its wildness in the shake of windows, in the screech of tree branches across glass, in the rumble of recycling boxes tumbling against fences. My house groans under the assault; its old bones creak.

Part of me wishes that the power would fail. Nature could win, just for a little while, and the constant lights of the city would go out. Part of me wants to go out into the storm: to stand barefoot in the empty street, let the rain soak my skin, and howl back to the wind. Be a wild thing in the wild dark.

Our ancestors hid in caves from storms and animals and the dangers of the wild; I feel the tug of blood and instinct to build a fort of pillows, a cave of blankets with a flashlight campfire to hold back the unknown. I pull my blankets over my ears and sleep fitfully, between freedom and fear.
dreaminghope: (Baby DreamHope)
I've fallen in love with The Chai Company's chai concentrate. It's not too sweet and it's smooth (I find some other brands have a sort of gritty residue towards the end of the cup). Donald's Market has had it in the past, but they ran out and haven't restocked in months, so I was on a quest. I checked every health food and grocery store on Commercial Drive – a time-consuming task – then started expanding the search outwards by phone. I finally located stock at "Whole Paycheque", which I don't normally support, but for my chai... About a month ago, when Russ was already in the area for work, he bought me a half-dozen tetrapaks. I've got one left. I'm considering taking on a new supplier at work solely to get myself cases of chai concentrate conveniently and at wholesale.

I've been hunting for Dark Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for a couple of months, as I am a huge dark chocolate fan, but they have proven elusive in Canada. My sister had seen them in a 7-Eleven once, so I have been checking every 7-Eleven I pass, in addition to every grocery store, corner store, and dollar store I enter. Elaine brought my impossible quest to an end by bringing four packages back from her recent trip through Seattle. Thank goodness, as there are a lot of stores to check. They are very tasty, and slightly less sweet than the milk chocolate versions. I approve.

My newest quest was triggered by a desire for s'mores. The craving was completely random, especially considering that I haven't eaten marshmallows since going vegetarian about thirteen years ago. But once I decided that I wanted them, the search for vegetarian marshmallows was on. I considered making my own; there are a number of recipes online, but they all mention being messy, and I don't like messy. So I found one store in the Lower Mainland that sells vegan marshmallows. This past Friday, I went for a two-hour-ish round-trip by SkyTrain and foot to a vegan store in New Westminster and acquired my marshmallows (at the remarkable price of $9 for a small container of maybe 15 of them – I hope they are good).

I want what I want, and I tend to get it.

I haven't had a s'more yet, though. The quest was too short; from craving to acquisition was only about a week. I haven't savoured the anticipation enough. Soon, though, and it will be so good.
dreaminghope: (Giggle)
I have a problem with admitting when I don't know something, and I seem to encounter a lot of people who just assume I know the things that they know – I tend to just go along and hope I figure it all out. And I usually do.

I do it at work a lot. I have a lot of regulars, and all my customers know me because I'm the one who answers the phones and answers their emails and calls them back when they need to make last minute changes and I don't have to let them, but I do. When people call me at work, I act like I know who they are until I figure out who they are. When Dave Allen calls, I'm typing in "Allen" in the search box for my customer database as he says hello, and when it doesn't come up with any results, I wonder if it's under "David" or maybe "AllAn" instead of "AllEn", and that's when I realize that he isn't asking about apples or soy milk but is talking about RRSPs, which makes this Dave Allen, my banker, and not a customer at all, and it takes me another 30 seconds or so to shake my head into personal finance mode because I was so ready to talk about fennel recipes and this week's great deal on almond butter.

As far as I can remember, my mother-in-law has never told me what her health issues actually are, but she makes passing references to them. I know she can't eat seeds and that her feet are often cold because her circulation is poor and she's got swollen hands and she's often achy, but I don't know which symptoms are of a disease and which are the results of all the meds she has to take. There's been talk of colitis and lupus and arthritis – tests and theories – but she's never sat down and told me what's officially going on. She probably thinks Russ has told me, but he sometimes seems a little confused too.

My Mom's more of a straight shooter. When she was diagnosed with cancer, there was a full discussion of what that meant. Now, mind you, she didn't tell us about the cancer scare, but only once it was cancer, and I really think we all would have preferred to have been a little scared with her during the cancer scare instead of being thrown straight into the full terror of cancer – especially my poor sister, who found out first through a call from my mother's doctor – but that's my mother. She got her diagnosis and she laid out the plan: surgery – lumpectomy if possible; mastectomy if necessary – and if there's lymph node involvement, then chemotherapy and radiation and this dreadful drug that threw her into menopause and she got these hot flashes that was like an out of control sauna from the inside. And it was all laid out like a check list: cut, poison, burn, drug – check, check, check, check. It works with my Dad's way of being – the engineer in him isn't good with grays and hinting and suggestion. He likes lines and black and white; he ignores vagueness.

My mother-in-law's all vagueness, and it gets to a certain point where it feels really weird – really embarrassing – to straight out ask "What's wrong?" What's really wrong with your hands? What is your diagnosis? This is the disadvantage of faking it; if you don't figure it out, it's really hard to back-track, and say, maybe fifteen minutes into a phone conversation, "I'm sorry, who is this, please?"
dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
We all have our stories, right? The ones we tell while getting to know someone; the ones about funny things, about slightly embarrassing things, about our personal quirks. We have the stories we tell when everyone's talking about childhood fears and beliefs, and the ones we share about food, about sleep, about bad sex.

My bad sex story has made the rounds. Any day now, I expect it to be told back to me as something that happened to the friend of a friend of a friend.

The story evolves a little with each retelling, so when it comes back to me, I may not recognize it. Or it may be someone else's story; I'm sure I'm not the only one this has happened to.

This happened years ago, when I was still living with my parents. They were out for the day and Russ came over and we were... hanging out. In my room. Naked. Right... so we were having a good time, when I started to feel a burning sensation in an unfortunate place. I excused myself and tried peeing, thinking about bladder infections, but this felt different. I went back in to the bedroom and confessed to my naked boyfriend that something was wrong and that there wouldn't be any sex, given the uncomfortable circumstances.

Russ blushed. He isn't normally a blusher, but this time he was red.

"I swear, I washed my hands."

"What?"

"Before coming over, I was over at Shane's. And we were making chili."

"I know."

"And I was chopping the fresh jalapeños. I washed up really well after, but maybe I missed some of the oils."

The burning took a couple of hours to complete go away.

It's a good cautionary tale; they might want to add that to some sex ed courses where they still have such things.

The other day, a friend started to tell one of my stories to a mutual friend, but she'd already heard it. I can't remember if I was the one that told it to her. I don't think I did. Maybe I did. It's a good story for telling to new friends.

There's a point in a new friendship that requires a little self-deprecation; a little revealing of a weakness or flaw. Nothing serious – not kleptomaniac-tendencies, homicidal fantasies, or a little problem with compulsive lying – but more like always pronouncing "animation" incorrectly or forgetting to turn the clock back every Daylight Savings Time. I like to tell this story:

Some friends and I meet at a major bookstore at a major cross-street. We walk along a major street for about seven blocks to a restaurant. Once at the restaurant, we only have enough time to get menus and order drinks before another friend called; she's nearby: can she join us?

She's familiar with the bookstore but not the restaurant, so I volunteer to meet her at the bookstore. I get there fine – seven blocks in a straight line – greet her and we head back. I set out with confidence; after all, it's a seven block walk, in a straight line.

We're chatting as we walk. We walk for about six blocks before I notice that we're not on the bright main street but strolling alongside dark office buildings. I don't know where we are.

We turn around and walk back to the bookstore: six blocks in a straight line. Once there, I figure out where I went wrong: when we headed out, I went at a 90 degree angle from where I was supposed to and got us lost even though we only had to travel straight back the way I had just come. There were four other people there that day, and they will never let me live it down, and neither will all the friends they've told, nor will the ones I've told. It works for me; I really do have an awful sense of direction, so the spread of the story means that people don’t expect me to lead, give accurate directions, or follow them.

I have saved some stories; held them close, for the right moment. A story about stories needs, perhaps, a story about story-telling.

When I was in grade four or five, the story of Bloody Mary went around the school yard. Our variation involved entering a dark room at midnight, spinning around several times, flashing a flashlight on and off several times, and then looking into a mirror. Several girls claimed to have tried it and to have seen an awful figure coming through the mirror before they fled the room.

In the schoolyard, I was a voice of reason:

"If you spin around fast enough, you will get spots in front of your eyes. And if you are flashing lights on and off too, you are bound to see things. The other morning, when my mom turned on the lights very suddenly, I saw a spot in front of my eyes shaped like a pony."

Others seemed to believe me. Fears quelled, the myth of the murdering woman in the mirror disappeared from my circle of friends quickly.

In the dark, however, the story still had power over me. I developed a fear of seeing a mirror in a dark room. I never told anyone this fear, so to avoid seeing the mirror in the bedroom I shared with my sister, I would sleep with Susie the Seal on the outside and cover her with a thick duvet, to make the pile high enough to block my view. To this day, I don't allow a mirror in my bedroom.

The stories of other people were stronger than my own. Perhaps it is often that way.
dreaminghope: (Cherry Blossom)
There are several pictures under the cut.

For my birthday, Russ bought me a gorgeous wool cloak in the colour of my choice; some assembly required. )

Once the loom was warped, I found myself making excuses not to weave. I made soup and Cornish pasties. I re-did our budget. I created an unnecessary purse out of another piece of woven cloth. I figured out how to use Twitter to follow some of my favourite celebrities (hey, I wonder if Ivan E Coyote is on Twitter...).

As long I didn't start weaving, there were no mistakes, no messed up salvages, no tension problems, and no worries about the length of the warp.

As long as I didn't start weaving, the project was still perfect.

It took me two weeks to work up the nerve to make the first shuttle pass. I've now done about four hours of weaving and created the first 35 inches of my cloak. There are already mistakes all through it, but it is its own kind of perfect, and it is started.

Woven fabric so far
dreaminghope: (Starry Starry Night)
No matter how much I scrimp and economize, I never seem to save. I budget and plan, but no matter how much I save by doing things the most efficient way, I never seem to have extra time when I want it.

I want to bank time; earn some interest on it. I feel safe with something extra in the bank, just in case.

I want to hoard time. I want to tuck minutes away in a box under my bed. I want to collect minutes until I have hours, and hours until I have days. I'd even hoard seconds, each one tiny and precious. I want to be able to take them out of their box and admire them. Minutes like shining jewels, to take up by the handful and let them slip back through my fingers. I wouldn't spend them; just keep them... just in case.

There would come a day when someone would be looking for a pen, and they would find in the desk drawer a stash of shining bits of time. And they would find another stash under the scrap paper, and more in the bedside table, and maybe some in an old spice jar in the back of the kitchen cupboard. And I would never have to worry about running out of time again.
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
This is it... the end of my twenties. I'll be thirty tomorrow.

My uncle took it upon himself to tell me that turning thirty was the only birthday he had trouble dealing with. That's when he realized that he would never be twenty-nine again – that he wasn't a "young person" anymore – and he wondered if this was all there was to life.

I'm not having any such concerns. I've already had my age-related existential crisis.

My tough birthday was my tenth.

The night before I turned ten, I lay in bed, sleepless, restless, for hours. I would never be nine again. I would never be a little kid again. Was this all there was to life? Nothing was ever going to be the same ever again. After all, from then on, my age would always have two digits in it.
dreaminghope: (Squinty Puck)
Our back screen door doesn't close on its own. Unless deliberately closed, it hangs open and squeaks in the wind. Russ doesn't care, but it bugs me. It takes about ten seconds to close it: notice that the screen door's open, flip both locks (the bottom one sticks a little), open door, close screen until it latches, close door, flip both locks (wiggle the bottom one). Repeat about twice a day.

A couple of times a week, often on Clean Laundry Day, our abundance of socks or underwear will overflow, resulting in a gaping drawer. Open drawer, tuck offending item down, attempt to close drawer, find second offending item (or that first item hasn't been tucked enough), do more tucking, close drawer. It takes five seconds or so, about twice per week.

There are also the wardrobe doors, the kitchen cupboards, and the kitchen drawers; maybe two seconds a piece, which is mostly for crossing the room to close them after Russ hasn't; about once a week each.

Allow five seconds a week for closing the shower curtain after Russ' shower...

While I'm on the subject, I'd best mention straightening the living room throw rug (15 seconds, twice per week) and making sure the tie-backs on the living room curtains all line up (only once per week, after vacuuming the curtains, but it probably takes me 45 seconds to get them satisfactorily tidied).

I don't mention the basement door or the toilet lid because they absolutely must be closed. If the basement door isn't almost hermetically sealed, Puck, our big cat, will open it and descend into the basement, which he seems to think is one big litter box. If the toilet lid is left up, you get wet kitten cuddles courtesy of Zoey the Mini Kitty, who likes to sit in the toilet.

So, altogether, I spend about 236 seconds per week closing and straightening things that only I notice. That’s 3.41 hours per year.

This domestic math has been brought to you by a woman who is not going to leave the living room couch for the sole purpose of tucking away the strap that's peeking out from under the bedroom closet door... really, I'm not.

Where I am

Apr. 2nd, 2008 12:02 pm
dreaminghope: (Dancing Cat)
Where I learn that cookies won't keep you together

Two people who were customers of mine as a couple split up recently. He moved out, and she kept their old apartment and account. He opened a new account from his new apartment across town. They order the same ginger spice cookies in their deliveries every week.

Where I feel bad for the dog

The dog next door has a thick, tightly-wound tail that coils on his back. When he is happy or excited, his tail twitches like a snake dreaming of swallowing a fat mouse.

Where I am pedantic and get a new enemy

Someone called me "caustic" yesterday and told me that I must be a very unhappy person... or maybe it was a very angry person. To be fair, I was rather condescendingly correcting her grammar and spelling in an email at the time. I maintain that I was provoked: she works for a book publisher and she sent me an unsolicited sales pitch wherein she spelled the title of the book wrong, spelled "distributor" wrong, and neglected to use full stops on half her sentences (amongst other problems). In the final email of our correspondence, she told me that "grammer [sic] doesn't matter in emails", which is when I gave up - anyone who believes that good writing doesn't matter when selling a book cannot be saved.

Where I want the unwanted

This week, I keep encountering random cases of black jellybeans being used as a metaphor for something or someone unwanted and left behind. To that I say: Send me your black jellybeans. I always leave them for last because they are my favourites. I always like the underdog.

Where timing oneself by others gets confusing

I know that I am going to be on time for work when I pass Marionette Man at the corner of Hastings and Clark. We pass each other somewhere along Clark every morning. It is a non-encounter; we don't even nod to each other. All too often, I pass him many blocks farther up, as he turns off Clark towards his workplace and I start walking faster towards Hastings because I must be running late.

Today, I got to Hastings and Clark and Marionette Man was nowhere to be seen. He is distinctive: more than six feet tall, lanky and long-limbed, and his is arms only swing forward of his hips and his knees seem to bend too much. This peculiar rise and fall to his step makes him appear to be controlled by invisible strings and a not-entirely-talented puppeteer.

I finally saw him a couple more blocks along, turning on to Hastings from McLean. I wasn't early for work, so he must have been the late one today. I wonder if he knew that by when he saw me. I wonder if he'll notice when I'm not around for the next two weeks.

Where I realize that even if I write this in an email while in my office, it does not count as work, and I have far more tasks to complete than I have time to do them in as it is...
dreaminghope: (Waterbaby)
Childhood clings in random and unexpected ways. I still step over cracks in the sidewalk to save my mother's back. A certain damp snowy Spring smell can immediately take me back to walking through the wetlands, collecting pussy willow branches and admiring the soft cat-tails. Today, I found myself singing "little bunny Froo-Froo, hopping through the forest, picking up the field mice and bopping them on the head..."

Middle of the night, I'm suddenly awake for no discernable reason. There's a hum from under the floor: the dehumidifier in the basement. It's faint; I can only hear it when I listen for it in the quietest dark.

When I was a kid, there were a lot of rules, some stated and many not: no TV before the dinner dishes are done (unless Mom was watching talk shows while she did the ironing), only two cookies for dessert, no after school snacks, soda only with permission. Right from when my parents first started leaving me home alone, I started breaking those little rules: sneaking extra cookies and cups of chocolate chips while watching lots of forbidden television. Later on, it was reading naughty websites and fooling around with Russ in the living room or my bedroom.

The key to never getting caught was always the same: listening for the sound of the automatic garage door going up. No matter where I was in the house, I would hear that hum and would jump to turn off the TV, switch to a different website, put away the sugary evidence, and get dressed. The things my parents would have caught me at if they’d just once parked in the driveway and walked in the front door...

More than ten years after moving out of my parents' place, in the middle of the night, the dehumidifier comes on automatically. The hum – the low hum from below my bedroom – brings me awake and ready to hide my childhood crimes. Deep breath, a smile at my child-self, and I roll over and go back to sleep.
dreaminghope: (3-Day Novel)
When I was a very little girl, I wanted to be a vet. That I was scared of every animal that walks, flies, jumps, or crawls - everything but snakes (slithers) and fish (swims) - didn't seem to me to be an impediment. I was aware that most pet owners have either cats or dogs, which were the scariest creatures in my small world. I knew, from friends' tragic incidents involving goldfish, that vet assistance is rarely sought for fish. But I also knew that being a vet was a Good Thing, so that's what I wanted to be. My Mom is incredibly generous of spirit: she never laughed at six year old me who declared that she wanted to be a vet. At least, she didn't laugh at me to my face.

When I was a slightly older little girl, I wanted to be a nurse or a doctor. That I felt sick at the sight of blood and had to cover my eyes even during fictional medical procedures on TV didn't seem to be insurmountable problems. I knew that doctors and nurses made people feel better, and that’s what I wanted to do.

When I was graduating from high school and trying to decide what to do in university, I decided that I wanted to be a journalist. I didn't take into account that I dislike talking to strangers, that I get claustrophobic in crowds, and that I don't deal with stress well. Journalists were noble, and smart, and they gave people power through information, so I wanted to be one of them.

Through it all, what I really wanted to be was a novelist (and a drag queen, but that's a story for another day). In many ways, I'm well suited to it: I'm imaginative and a natural people-watcher and eavesdropper, and I like spending a lot of time alone, writing. I wonder that I never mentioned it in the "what I want to be when I grow up" field in the memory books I would fill out with my Mom at the end of every school year.

Maybe I didn't mention it because I took it for granted: I couldn't not tell stories; I couldn't not write. It didn't matter if anyone else was reading or not, I would still write.

Or maybe I didn't mention it because, even as a kid, I've always been a practical person, and I knew that I would need a day job too. Vet by day and novelist by night! Or, you know, office manager by day and novelist on long weekends.

I mailed in my early registration for the 2008 3-Day Novel Contest this week.
dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
Whose LJ is it Anyway?

When I was in grade two, I read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I curled up on the orange and brown couch in the living room and balanced the big hardcover book from the library in my lap. I read while my Mom was making dinner.

They had just started to cross this queer bridge when a sharp growl made them all look up, and to their horror they saw running toward them two great beasts with bodies like bears and heads like tigers.

"They are the Kalidahs!" said the Cowardly Lion, beginning to tremble.

"Quick!" cried the Scarecrow. "Let us cross over."

So Dorothy went first, holding Toto in her arms, the Tin Woodman followed, and the Scarecrow came next. The Lion, although he was certainly afraid, turned to face the Kalidahs, and then he gave so loud and terrible a roar that Dorothy screamed and the Scarecrow fell over backward, while even the fierce beasts stopped short and looked at him in surprise.

But, seeing they were bigger than the Lion, and remembering that there were two of them and only one of him, the Kalidahs again rushed forward, and the Lion crossed over the tree and turned to see what they would do next. Without stopping an instant the fierce beasts also began to cross the tree. And the Lion said to Dorothy:

"We are lost, for they will surely tear us to pieces with their sharp claws. But stand close behind me, and I will fight them as long as I am alive."


I was so scared for the Lion that I immediately did what I did when something on TV scared me: I closed my eyes and covered my ears with my hands.

I sat there for a moment before I realized that my plan wasn't going to work. I couldn't hide until the scary part was done; the story wouldn't go on without me.

*****

My childhood attempts at diaries were small black notebooks with two stickers stuck to the cover to look like eyes. I started every entry with "Dear Diary", and almost a third of my entries start with "sorry for not writing sooner". Lacking an audience, I imagined one.

I went flipping through my childhood diaries expecting, I think, to see the kind of brutal honesty that kids are known for. When we are young, we're supposed to be too naïve to hide our true feelings; the resulting writing should be a kind of real that adults can't easily achieve.

I did find a peculiar kind of honest: Over the Christmas holidays I misplaced my old cloth purse. It had over $12 in it. I found it in the most oviouse (sic) place and my pride couldn't take it so I hide it in the basement. Of course I couldn't let the money go to waste so now, quite a while later, I am 'smuggling' it with me. (March 8 – 12 years old).

There was also a lot of self-consciousness and self-censorship: Boy, do I have a snoopy good sister! (April 26 – 9 years old).

Though my imaginary audience wasn't motivation enough to write frequently – as evidenced by gaps of months or years between entries – I wrote for the possibility that other people would read my words one day. I wrote who I wanted to be as much as I wrote who I was.

*****

Write. Edit. Proofread. Edit again. Write some more. Edit. Proofread. Post.

Wait.

Wait.

Refresh.

Wait. Refresh. Wait.

A comment!

The story isn't complete until someone reads it.
dreaminghope: (Sleeping Zoey)
Saturday, not yet ten, and it's another gray and sodden morning. Up and out of the house so early and heading to the gym; I feel very virtuous.

I cut through the flat city park in front of the bus station, following one of the many paved paths that cut across the open space. Someone is still sleeping under one of the trees, but most people are up. One bench in the middle of the park has two glass beer mugs and an empty cigarette package laying on it. The mugs have an inch or two of rainwater in them.


It's called "sleep restriction", which makes it sound like something done to a prisoner. My doctor at the Sleep Disorders Program prefers to call it "sleep compression", which sounds nicer.

I think the torture name is more accurate.

When you start a diet, suddenly everything is about food: food you can have, food you can't have, how much to eat, when to eat, counting calories and fat grams and fiber content.

I'm a sleep diet.

The bench is pretty far from the bar. Two people must have stepped out of the bar, mugs in hand, for a cigarette. Must have been a man and a woman; I just can't picture two men wandering that far for a private chat, and it isn't the kind of bar that gets a big enough female clientele for two women to be likely.

There are a lot of rules:

No bright lights, television, or computer for at least an hour before bed. Have some carbs and warm milk. Go to bed at midnight, and not a moment before. Stay up later if you aren't tired.

Get up at 6:30, and not a moment after, even on the weekends. Thirty minutes of daylight every morning. No napping. No laying down during the day. Thirty minutes of exercise in the late afternoon or early evening.

If you are awake for more than twenty minutes in the middle of the night, get up. No television or computer, and no novels; do something boring, like folding laundry.

I'm not good at boring myself; I end up telling myself stories when I try. I think about empty mugs sitting on a park bench.

A man and a woman happen to go out the bar's back door at the same time for a smoke. He grumbles about not being to smoke inside anymore. She has a lovely smile. To keep talking, he lies that he left his cigarettes at home and bums one off of her. She listens while he talks about the weather, the crows, and the library strike. She watches his mouth and his hands. He listens while she talks about the transit system, the squirrels, and the punk show. He watches her eyes and her mouth, and her breasts, when she isn't looking.

He buys her a beer – to repay the cigarette – and smuggles the thick glass mugs out of the bar under his jacket. She giggles as they sneak into the shadows of the park, away from the crowd and the street lamps. They take a bench and drink their beers and smoke the rest of her cigarettes.


Two nights of sleep restriction and my body decides to stop fighting the virus that's been threatening for the past week. I've got a cold, and all I've wanted to do all day is curl up in a blanket and sleep. But I don't, because I am far too stubborn. I've drunk a gallon of peppermint tea and taken Advil for the sinus pain. I have to pee every half-hour. I do anything but sleep.

It starts to rain. His apartment is nearby. They leave their drained mugs and an empty cigarette package on the bench.

It's almost time for my hour of screen-free time. I've got a magazine at the kitchen table, where hopefully I'll be too uncomfortable to fall asleep while reading. I did manage to stay awake on the bus this afternoon.

Get through the next five days, and it'll all be better. So the doctor says.

Did she walk through this park this morning and see the empty mugs and the damp cigarette box?

It's no wonder I don't sleep.
dreaminghope: (Quiet Gargoyle)
1
The SkyTrain's pulling into the station, and it is packed. She'd wait for the next one, but it's rush hour; the next one will be just as bad. Or worse. Her heart is pounding and her palms get moist.

She starts counting – one, two, three, four; one, two, three, four – trying to turn all her thoughts to the numbers and away from her oncoming panic.
2
Picture a red number one. Picture an orange number two. Picture a yellow number three. Picture a green number four. Repeat.

It takes a lot of layers of thought to distract.
3
Touch index finger while picturing a red one... touch middle finger with orange two... touch ring finger with yellow three... and touch pinkie with green four... repeat.

The physical action, the recitation, and the detailed visualization still leaves room for an underlying mantra: "Just keep counting. Just keep counting. Just keep counting."
4
There's a lot going on in her mind, but the panic is still there, simmering quietly. It is amazing how much her mind can hold all at once. That thought takes its place too: Red one – keep counting – orange two – how much can be thought at once – yellow three – keep counting – green four – thinking so much – red one... repeat. Get on the crowded SkyTrain car.
dreaminghope: (Starry Starry Night)
I swagger when I wear a tank top. It's a tight white tank top with wide shoulders; the kind often called a "wife beater", but I don't call them that because that's an ugly name, though I understand where that comes from because wearing one does give me a sense of bravado. When I wear it, I swagger, I stand with my legs further apart and with one hip out, and I take up more room on the bus. A tank top brings out my inner Tough Broad.

I'm restless today. The weather's nice but cool - sunny late summer meeting early Autumn - and the Tough Broad wants to go.

I want to grab my keys and a twenty dollar bill and walk. Walk out. Walk until my feet are sore and the sun has dipped below the tree tops, then stop and spend all twenty dollars on whiskey shots in a bar that plays Tom Waits too loud. Tell anyone who tries to buy me a drink or strike up a conversation to piss off. Keep walking.

What do you do when your other self – your wild self that only comes out when you wear those boots or hear that song - tells you that you are too domesticated, too tame, too content?

Keep swaggering.

I need to hang my laundry.
dreaminghope: (Confused Zoey)
I stand in the bank, wondering why the ATM won't take my bus ticket.

That didn't really happen. But it was the kind of day where it could have.

I consider waiting for the bus even though it'll take longer to get me home just because the up escalator at the SkyTrain is broken and I hate walking up still escalators.

That part is true. Does it matter?

I decide to take the SkyTrain despite the dizzying climb up the escalator. The woman climbing in front of me has a red tote bag covered in quotes. The one near the seam facing me says "Do one thing every day that scares you". I'm scared of so many things. I'm used to pretending that I'm not scared; I do it all the time. I pretend I'm not scared that the escalator will start unexpectedly under my feet.

I have my MP3 player on. It's still a new experience wearing one; I've never even worn a Walkman before. There's an instrumental playing as I get on the train and take hold of the center pole directly in front of the door. I sway with the train's motion, the music playing directly into my brain, and stare out the window at the world passing in a sunny blur. I get off at the next station. It's a dreamy movie scene, from an artsy film in which nothing happens.

The woman and her tote bag was actually at the gym and not on the escalator. My MP3 player's batteries died earlier today, but I have worn it on the SkyTrain a couple of times before.

That's the kind of day it's been.

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February 2014

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