One thing about growing up with secrecy, silence, and paranoia in an authoritarian family is that it gets really hard to untangle the effects of emotional abuse from one’s actual personality.
Until recently, for example, I rarely asked questions. Part of that is because because so many of my childhood and adolescent questions were answered with :
contempt: “You stupid kid”
ridicule: “I can’t believe you don’t know that”
silent treatment: absolute silence as if I had not spoken
dismissal: “You don’t need to know that”
anger: “Don’t ask things like that!”
annoyance “Don’t bother me with that”
mockery: “Why do you care about that?”
impatience: “I don’t have time for this.”
I learned that questions are irritating, intrusive, inappropriate, and unwelcome. I learned that I would be mocked, ridiculed, and subject to anger or silent treatments if I asked questions or showed curiosity. Continue reading →
The other night, I went to a retirement party. I almost missed it, but remembered about it at the last minute, and managed to get my ticket and figure out an outfit and show up. That’s the best kind of timing for me: not enough advance warning to get anxious about it, but just enough time to make sure I have a clean bra and to polish up my boots.
I first met the new retiree, John, when he taught a few of the undergrad Conflict Resolution Studies classes I took through the U of W. I liked his teaching style, but what I really appreciated the most was how strict he was with my papers. I am a wordgeek who loves researching and writing papers. A well-crafted endnote is a thing of beauty. And a well-placed semicolon? Well, that’s better than ice cream. Continue reading →
Every year, I dread February. But March usually brings some relief. Even though it’s still winter, the days are obviously getting longer, and spring is coming. March is a often sunny month here in Winnipeg, and most years, I start planning my garden, spending a bit more time outside, and generally perking up after the February slump.
This year, though, I just kept sliding downward despite the longer days, the mild weather, and the promise of spring. Continue reading →
Every year, February hits me like a tonne of bricks. I don’t know why February is so hard. Part of it, I’m sure, is that the winter has gone on so long by now, and the end is not quite in sight yet. But on the other hand, the days are visibly longer, and this is usually a sunny month (goes with the cold, dammit).
Part of it is maybe that the pattern of difficult Februarys means that I start dreading it in advance, before anything bad even happens. As soon as I stop stressing about Christmas, I start dreading February. Maybe there’s no way I approach February with an open heart anymore. Continue reading →
Someone at work died last night of a heart attack. I barely knew him, even though I’ve worked here for a decade and he’s been here longer (it’s a large institution). But the whole place is walking around in shock. People are talking about him, about his death, and about their past interactions with him.
But I can’t be the listener. I just can’t. I know I have trouble understanding and dealing with attachment. I know I have bad reactions to loss. I know that I have spent so much of my life both ruthlessly suppressing my feelings while simultaneously trying to learn how to understand and express them. All of this is part of it. Also, I’ve been carefully and cruelly trained to always make other people’s feelings more important than my own, as well as to meet other people’s needs at the expense of my own, and I have worked so very hard to try to unlearn this. So to suddenly find myself in the middle of this sea of shock and grief, with people wanting to talk, or even when they don’t, when every instance of eye contact is accompanied by sad faces and head tilts and resigned shrugs and meaningful sighs… I just can’t. Continue reading →
People at work keep stopping by my desk to harass me about Christmas. Well, to be fair, they are stopping by everyone’s desk, and they probably think of it as “small talk” rather than “harassment.”
But honestly I am getting so sick of deflecting the casual questions. Are you ready for Christmas? Got your tree up? Have you done all your Christmas shopping? What are you doing for Christmas? Got a big Christmas planned? Spending time with your family for Christmas this year?
I used to just go along with it and shove down all my holiday stress to not make the conversation awkward. But now, I think screw that, why should I be uncomfortable because you are asking some personal questions loaded with cultural assumptions and obliviousness? Continue reading →
A few days ago, whereshappy posted about getting a horribly disappointing perm when she was eleven years old. That post made me laugh and it made me sad. I remember well how disappointed I was with a couple of perms I had when I was kid. I went in envisioning lovely big loose curls and I ended up looking like a poodle. But my mom and aunt (who performed the act) were so pleased with the results that I pretended I was delighted, although inside I felt uglier and more loserly than ever.
So apparently “sleep” is something I don’t do well anymore. The last couple of weeks have been a stressful struggle to figure out how to get more sleep. I’ve tried chamomile tea, and I’ve tried warm milk with honey. I’ve tried Gravol and Melatonin and Zopiclone (not all at the same time, but perhaps that would be worth an experiment?). No caffeine after 10 in the morning. Exercise early in the evening (long dog walks) but not too close to bedtime. No electronics in the bedroom. No heavy reading or political discussions before bed. Slowly trying to get my daily life under control so I have less things to be anxious about (that’s an ongoing life project and probably won’t get solved, but hey). Eat healthily but not too close to bedtime. Go to bed at roughly the same time every day. Some solutions I’m not willing to try: alcohol or pot, for example. For one thing, if I drink, Continue reading →
My improvised laptop stand: a thin wooden box decorated by yours truly. The grey cat is inspecting it for crumbs.
This past Saturday, I did my first ever solo DJ gig. All me, all night, booked for three hours. I was excited and terrified, since the longest set I’ve ever done in public before was only forty minutes, and I have always had sister DJs with me as mutual backup and support.
The venue was a downtown restaurant. They don’t have a dance floor and they weren’t expecting dancing, although they did know I mostly play house music and were okay with that. I planned to tone it down a bit for the beginning of the evening and so I prepped a lot of chill house, like St. Germain and Laurent Garnier.
On the day of, I had slept well but then couldn’t nap much during the day. Was starting to get nervous by the afternoon so I didn’t eat much. Continue reading →
A few days ago, I was complaining about how hard it is to be a vegetarian among meat-eaters, and I realise I probably gave a misleading impression of my weekend at the lake. It was fantabulous! The food issues were a very small part of the whole experience, and I was pleased and grateful to have had the chance to head out to Lake of the Woods for a lovely weekend.
I’m absolutely a city person. I want to be close to everything, can’t abide the idea of not having quick access to grocery stores and art galleries and friends and work. But at the same time, I really hate the city. I hate having neighbours so close, I hate the noise, I hate the light, I hate the compromises and disruptions. Continue reading →
Right now there are five fresh lists between me and my monitor: stuff I have to ask the plumber to do, phone calls I have to make, ideas for blogging with a side list of songs to download, stuff I have to do at work, and the start of a grocery list.
Now that the Brindle Dog is old, I expect her to drop dead any minute. Which is obviously ridiculous: this dog is like the Duracell Bunny. Or maybe like a Timex (if she’d ever taken a licking, that is). Some days, it seem like she’ll keep on ticking forever.
After all the things she’s been through, the emigration from her birth country, the mast cell tumour in her neck at the age of two, the removal of a canine (root and all) after she snapped it trying to uproot a tree stump, the country life with skunks and the city life with racoons, the bone spur in her spine that sometimes makes the pee-crouch difficult, the recent liver problems, the canine and feline friends she has outlived and grieved, it is sad and rather pedestrian that what might finally kill her is a rotten tooth. Continue reading →
What stops me from doing new things is that I can’t instantly do them perfectly. So frustrating! All those years of being an A-student don’t seem to translate into instant skills in other areas. I’m no Ella Fitzgerald, no Emily Carr, no Margaret Atwood, no Scratch Bastid, no Frida Kahlo. But I read a post by a sister blogger the other day (I Can’t Turn my Head to the Right) and it reminded me—again—that the trick is to do it anyway. Continue reading →
I love the Internet. I’ve loved it since I got my first email address in 1992 and built my first web site in 1994.
Meatspace is not always comfortable for an introvert like me, but I have met friends, colleagues, partners, and a whole whack of other fascinating people online. Some of these connections have moved from “virtual” to “real” life. Many haven’t. Either way is a-ok. Continue reading →
Took this pic on a walk in the Exchange last week.
I resist doing the things that are good for me. I hate the little voice that snarls and nags at me to eat well, exercise, keep my house clean, be polite, stand up straight, be silent, be nice, keep up appearances, worry about what the neighbours will think, don’t rock the boat. That fucking awful voice from the past mixing up the things that would really work for me with the things that harm and crush and make a life small. Continue reading →