She did try and E-Learning

Just a short post as my goodness I got up at 7 am and need a nap.

I never wake up that early without force and/or employment, so this was surprising.  In my e-mail was an urgent! from Luciano, my pal in Brighton, England.  He is an E-Learner content guy he is.  And he’s married to Dale, who I met travelling 11 years ago.  Dale and I met at a particularly raucous hostel in London called the Generator.  I was 10-15 years too old for the raucous nature of it and 24 year old Dale took me under his wing kinda thing.  Geez I got really sick there because I’d been travelling non-stop for eight weeks and was at the end of my trip.  He brought me food and tissues. 

Anyway, Luciano knows that I’m trying to get into E-Learning content writing which unfortunately involves some knowledge of authoring software.  My ability to learn software programs is abysmal but one must not give up just yet.  Seems there was an online introduction to a cutting edge authoring tool and it was happening right when I woke up, late by an hour due to some glitch.  So perfect, there I sat at 8 am listening to a guy in Brighton go over the features.  Then I got myself a free trial.

There’s a job I ACTUALLY HAVE AN INTERVIEW FOR – instructional writer for blah blah provincial government company.  It’s next Friday and it is a two hour bus/skytrain/bus commute each bloody way.  No matter.  My resume indicates I have more experience with say Powerpoint than I actually do so I’m doing a little catching up.  I don’t expect to get the job – they had zillions of time slot choices for the interview – but practice, practice.  I’m amazed I even got an interview – I don’t have technical writing experience at all.  It must have been a combination of a swanky resume and my teaching and writing experience which were all jazzed up on said resume.

At any rate, E-Learning is the wave of now and I want to try and get in on it without having to go to school for 12 years learning technical writing which doesn’t interest me.  Luciano describes contenting E-Learning as ‘tech writing lite.”  Indeed.

Luciano and I are going to Skype on Friday to talk more about all of this.  Thank you, Luce!  If ever you happen to be in Brighton, look  up Dale and Luciano because they are awesome.  Luciano writes dark poetry and such so we get each other.  The middle-aged single woman and they gay mid-30s self-described pretty boy. Go figure randomness.

Like I say, the call for the interview was totally unexpected due to my lack of experience.  I nearly fell off of my futon and such. 

But either way, I’ve got Explore coming up and must start preparing.

Yesterday was a difficult day as can happen (often) – lots of unstructured unstructured again.  By the time I got to the follow up meeting with the career planning facilitator, I was surly and anxious.

She tried but I was presenting a wall I’m sure – although her ideas were all things I had thought of and some that, while sweet, wouldn’t make me a dime – could I make money on a blog, she asked.  Could I teach a creative writing course in a church basement.

She tried; she really did.  I was surlier/anxious-er coming out of that meeting.  She suggested I take their day long (I think) learn how to network workshop.  Yeah, I said, but I’m not sure what I want to do so I’m not sure who to network, well, with.  I guess I could cold call companies and say, hey, I don’t know what I want to do or how I could help your company but please have me in for an informational interview.

Ugh, informational interviews.

Anyway, I’m going to keep looking into E-learning, can’t hurt.  I don’t actually think I am unteachable in regards to learning new software, I just think I’m slow at it and get anxious when I can’t figure it out.  Hmmm. . . .

Tis the update.  I announced my interview to the world on Facebook and elsewhere, that was a bit premature really.  Usually I like to keep these things to myself.  Well, between me and helpful Luciano.

geez, Vancouver School Board

Just watching the noon time news and geez the VSB is planning on cutting sports, counsellors and on and on.  Yikes.  Apparently I shouldn’t go back to school and become a real teacher, not that I really wanted to.

Oh, now the news is talking about how tough it is to meet basic needs in Vancouver – two working parents with two children must earn at least $20/hour each to survive in this city.  Yup.  I earn . . .

Uh well.

Yesterday, was the Explore lunch for, well, Explore instructors.  It was held three weeks early because some of the seniority (blah, blah) teachers are going on holiday until Explore starts.  I shall say I’m on holidays too.

It was nice to see the coordinator Matt again – I worked Explore two years ago and met him then.  He’s young, bilingual and spent all of last year meditating in Paraguay I think.  I have to look up the type of meditation again – he told it to me and I wrote it down.  I must ask H.C. about it next time I see her as she is big on the meditating.


Sorry, bored.  Oh yeah, the lunch.  I get all tangented out very quickly.  Well first we had a two hour meeting and then lunch at this swanky place up at UBC.  No Big Mac!  But there were fries, steak and the like.  It was so filling I didn’t even have the shared dessert.  Very odd of me.  So yeah, after that only four hour work event, I was exhausted!  I didn’t go to my writing group last night. I have become very very wimpy tis true.  Explore:  what doesn’t kill you doesn’t kill you.  Anyway, I have three weeks to prepare as much as I can, although you really can’t until you meet the students, see the whites of their eyes.

Been filled with insomnia again after a whole two nights where it was better.

There is a bee flying in my little abode.

Back to the lunch.  It was nice to BE AROUND PEOPLE AND TO BE RESPECTED FOR MY WORK.  Seriously.

This afternoon I have an appointment with one of the facilitators who well, facilitated, the career planning two day workshop of two weeks ago.  Because I haven’t spoken to anyone all day, I will probably speak even faster than usual.

“So,” I imagine her saying, “Did you get any ideas about what career you could shift into?”

“Other than astrophysicist/chemist, not really.”

“Oh, well, there must be – “

“But I had grilled sirloin at a swanky bistro at UBC yesterday.  I was going for medium well but the swanky waitress was like, no, no, this you want medium.  Okay, I said and she was right.  I mean otherwise it just gets all hard like a rock the steak does. The fries were great too.  I’m teaching for five weeks at UBC and I keep dropping ‘UBC’ because it sounds impressive.”

“Oh, so you have a job then?”

“Right, yes, for five weeks.”





“Will the government fund a trip to England so I can see my friends Dale and Luciano because they make me feel happy happy.”



“Are there donuts?”



“Can I have a yearly bus pass?”

“Yeah, no.”

“A pack of bus tickets?”

“You are saying what?  No.”

“A bus ticket?”


I’ll report back on how accurate I was.

Oh, Karen, your cynicism is exhausting for us.  Seriously, come on now.

Fair enough.  I mean the facilitators are super nice people.



insomnia, nightmares and maple dip donuts

That’s all I got for today.  Insomnia uber exists in my life – and in the lives of others or so says their Facebook updates at 3 am.  It’s been over a week this stretch for me and last night nightmares were added during the actual light sleeping part.  Yuck.  It is the kind of nightmares where I can tell later that my brain was desperately trying to wake completely up, but couldn’t.  Instead it skidded just under consciousness.  Ugh.  Makes me not want to go to sleep at all.

The cumulative effects of the insomnia are many, that’s for sure.  The effects on my emotions are the ones I notice the most.  Not sure how to describe it other than to say it’s like I’m skidding just under hysteria.  Yuck.

Not fun.

I’d be interested to see what is going on in my brain – what areas light up and such – during the insomnia and during the nightmares.

Not helping is my unstructured life.  I had to go over to Langara College today to speak with my boss about my business writing class – just brainstorming on ways to improve it, no horror.  There is still no one signed up for May which is good because of, well, Explore.  I mean I could teach two evenings a week and do Explore for the month – it would be exhausting but I could and would.  All or nothing.  Nothing or all, that kind of thing.

I made the mistake of riding my bicycle to Langara – it was cold, raining and I was underslept and hadn’t really eaten (I find with insomnia I often don’t feel like eating). Alas, I had a maple dip donut at Langara’s Tim Horton’s.  I survived the meeting and took the skytrain part of the way home.

Sorry, I realize this is a tad dull.  Hmmm, let me liven it up.  Oh well the weather has improved and it is now a bit sunny.  So that’s exciting.

Mormons were in the less scary part of my nightmare – I was staying with some of them and then took an elevator and the elevator started racing toward the basement but I survived and then eight old or middle-aged men tried to worm their way out of the elevator responsibility.  Interesting, because all of the Mormon ‘prophets’ are middle-aged or old white men.  Funny how the subconscious works.  Take responsibility Mormon prophets for your broken and very dangerous elevator!

The rest of the nightmares were much more intense, way too intense to describe.

It may be time for another maple leaf donut.

A good night’s sleep would be so awesome and helpful.


cherry blossom walks

Twas a year ago when I first started going on cherry blossom walks.  Unemployed then (what a recurring theme) I was looking around for things to do during the day when I wasn’t focussed intensely on finding work (hello, Service Canada).  A cherry blossom walk.  A tree walk.  What the heck, I thought.  I think I cycled over to mid-Main Street (couldn’t do that today for two edge of your seat reasons:  a.  my bicycle was locked in the locked room in the basement of my apartment building, along with the locked room key) b: even if my bike had been available, I overbiked yesterday (see: Lions Gate Bridge) and figured I’d better give my (aging) body a bit of a break.  Bored, restless, endlessly insomniaed, I skedaddled out of my abode well ahead of the scheduled time and wandered around Main Street for awhile, eventually eating a hamburger at the great hamburger place whose name I forget (see: don’t go spending money when you have no income).

About seven of us met up at 1:45 pm and off we went.  Wendy is the cherry blossom walk leader.  Her knowledge of the blossom seems unrivalled.  Since last year, I’ve been on several of these walks with her as she does them all around the town.  She knows for cherry blossoms.  She’s quirky, vaguely edgy, originally from a small town near Philadelphia.  Coincidentally, Laura, a fellow walker and leader of other types of walks, is also from there.  She is also edgy and has full time permanent work teaching ESL at Douglas College but I don’t hate her for that, although you know I want to.  They also belong to a band together – Wendy on bass, Laura on singing I think.  It’s a Greek band.  They are not Greek.

“Oh so this tree is a insert Japanese tree name – and it has these things that show that it is this and not that and it’s quite unique and then there is grafting and Latin words and flowering and leaves and holy cow look at that.”

Laura stands in the middle of the street to take a picture for the website.

“Car,” someone calls out.

Honk, goes the car.

“We are all going to die,” say I.

I never seem to retain the information that is freely given out on these walks.

“What kind of tree is this?” asks Wendy.

“That,” I pipe up, “Is a tree.  That is definitely a tree.”

We are mainly a group of middle-aged and on up women, probably because I’m not sure who else has Wednesday afternoons off.  I think most are retired.  There was one fellow today who wore a sweat suit that showed a. his belly b. the outline of his, well, penis.  Hmmm.  He referred to an ex-wife.

“I like the slow pace of this walk,” said he.

Indeed, I thought.  Seriously, the fast walks led by some others can be so fast you feel like vomiting the whole time.  I can bike up the mighty UBC hill but eeek on the fast walking.  I really need to stretch more.  I had a fantastic massage the other day but who can afford that every week.  Once a year!  The massage therapist was a kind of edgy woman which I’m not used to of late since I  have surrounded myself with more compassionate therapist type folks (see: art therapy, hospice counsellor therapy, not the temporary shrink though although a bit at first).  I overlooked her edginess though because the quality of the massage was fabulous.

One tree walk I couldn’t complete was back in December, in that week whilst mom was dying in Winnipeg and my sister was at her bedside (a place I had been the week before and not eaten anything or slept more than an hour and where I spent the majority of my time Ativan-ed up in the lounge.  I couldn’t even eat the butter tarts at the weekly tea for people who are watching people dying).  I kept checking texts from my sister.  “I’m going to go on a tree walk to try and get my mind off of things,” I had texted her.  “Mom thinks she is on an airplane,” she texted back.

I felt overwhelmed during the walk and ducked out early, kind of in the middle of nowhere.  Luckily, I found a Car-2-Go and drove (a great thing to do when emotionally overwhelmed, uh well) and toodled over to the grocery store and bought a Christmas cake.

Generally though, the walks have been a nice distraction.

Hmmm, revisiting those times of December I’m feeling a bit PTSD-ish.

Okay, so, I’m going to be teaching in the Explore program at UBC from May 20-June 20.  That pays well and is challenging, exhausting, invigorating all at the same time.  I really need to start getting up early so that my entire system isn’t shocked and overwhelmed.

After June 20th?  Who knows.  Who knows again and again.

“I shall call myself a starving writer,” I texted my sister today after I found out my little piece on grief is going to be published in the Vancouver Courier, “Sounds better than a chronically unemployed person.”

“Ha, ha,” she texted back.  I wonder what it’s like to have a sister who is chronically unemployed and really hard on herself.  I don’t know as I have a sister who has been successfully employed for years.  Well, opposites balance each other out or something like that.

Finally, thank god for potato chips.

And Rumi.  Seriously, read some Rumi.  I’m not implying that you haven’t.

And Miriam Toews although the last 1/4 of her book I didn’t care for.


art therapy

I started getting art therapy.  A few years ago I would have found that maybe kinda too woo woo.

Now I love it.


Because I sit there and colour or paint or play with clay and I talk to the art therapist and we talk about healing and compassion toward myself in ways I had never thought of or been open to before.  Turns out my description of Centering Prayer and the mysticism of Christ reminds her of her own path through Tibetan Buddhism.

At Centering Prayer last week, we talked about the Welcoming Prayer.  As in welcome all the pain and the thoughts and the horror and don’t run from it because where does that get you and indeed, where has that ever gotten me.  And then after welcoming and welcoming and welcoming, you (one, me, everyone) invite the Divine in as well.  I find this so profound and potentially healing that it makes me weep.

There’s a song ‘Bring Em All In” by Mike Scott (much covered) that resonates with this for me.  I especially like the Wailin Jennys cover of it. 

Amidst all of it the last several months, there have been placed in my path a few folks that have just bled out compassion on to me and for that grateful, grateful.  Endlessly.  It brings me closer to an ability to stand on my own.  Not yet not yet but yes, in that direction.

Grace really.

It’s not easy is it, this life, eh (a little Canadian-ism there).  Days I spend so much time alone that my brain turns on itself.  And then from somewhere, compassion.  Uh yes.

I squish down my creativity when I fear all that dark, I think.  But it never seems to lose hope, seeping out of my pores in one way or another.

The goal, the long shot.

Compassion for myself.  So that even in the dearth of others, I can see beyond the patterns my brain has built in its attempt to keep me upright.

Just thinking out loud here.  Trying not to self-critique myself out of existence or into anxiety which is where I think the creativity goes when I try to discount it.