big feelings, elderly parent going downhill on the Prairies and such

Dad is not downhill skiing.  Rather, he is going downhill.  Rapidly.  Suffice to say great denial on his part, male part surgery a few months ago, a UTI (TMI on the UTI) and falling and denying and falling and odours and everything is everywhere and he’s lost his mind.

Finally he fell and was too weak to get up.  And so, ambulance.  He’s been in the ER in Winnipeg for the past two nights – on IV antibiotics and is very weak and is being assessed. He, of course, wants to go home.  No no no no no.

and finally no.

Talk of some home care, thank goodness.  My sister thinks a walker might be recommended but dad will say no to that.  His desperation is deep.  He is terrified at having to move out of the house.  He’s had a rough go the old man – his wife of 54 years dying, his own downhillness on top of his usual anxiety disorder and vague craziness.

Sister Sherri is in Ottawa, I am here and falling dad is in Winnipeg.  The ups and downs with mom the last year of her life were insane.  We thought there’d be a respite but no.  Here comes dad to up and down.

And down.

Sister Sherri, as she did with mom, is on top of calling the doctors and the ER people and dad’s friend, B.  Thank God for B.  He is odd, his wife is odd but they are there for dad.

So yeah odd but he has been helpful, B.  Thank you, B.

B. does not read the blog.

Anyway, I could do a whole blog entry or 10 on sister Sherri’s greater role and my need to crawl under a rock but I will not.

Big feelings.  I am having big feelings.  Big anxious, grief feelings.  I don’t know what to do about that.

I am not comfortable with my big feelings.  I can’t run away even though what I want to do is jump out of my skin.

People do this every day of course, deal with the downhillness of their elderly parents.

B.  is ‘taking care’ of the house although I don’t think there is much to take care of.

“It reeks of urine,” he told my sister who told me. (Too much information for the blog?).

Home care is hopefully being set up while he is being assessed.

So I have big feelings.  All the mom stuff is dredged up from where it has gone which isn’t far.  I get that people go through this every day, elderly parent stuff.  Probably twice a day (half an hour later in Newfoundland).  My big feelings really hate it.  It’s like a big pit of big pit-ness.

And such like that.

So my UBC job ended on Friday and there was the usual lunch with the students which involve endless speeches (very nice for the students though), crying on some of their parts, and eventually, hamburgers.  By the time the hamburgers come out the students and everyone else is ravenous.

Oh I’m thankful for the hamburgers and the chips.

It was exhausting though and I was thrumming from the grief of another job ending, the dad thing and my usual.   So I’m back on the job hunt and living off of my savings.  Same old, same old although up until this point I’ve always had a bit of EI EI O.

There’s a possibility of a part-time teaching gig downtown but I’m not thrumming with excitement about it.  It’s not my thing constantly going into new job situations.  This downtown school seems very slightly less exploitative than the rest, so we shall see.

The Glenda is delightfully back from almost three months on Hornby Island so she and me and her sister Gloria got together and went to the PNE.  This exhausted us (the crowds, the rides, the deep fried everything) but I came away with some well priced 2100 count bedsheets.  I haven’t bought bedsheets in a long time, due to chronic unemployment or something.  But these are divine.  Later, spent, we sat on chairs set up in front of a guy doing displays of his $3200 pots and pans and etc.  While we were there, a couple and their daughter bought the $3200 pots and pans and etc.  You could kind of tell the guy was thrilled with this sale but was attempting to not get hysterical about it.

Then we went to Superstore as Glenda needed groceries. This was lovely because I don’t have a car so it is always an epic event to go to the evil Superstore.  We agreed to meet at the exit.  Glenda and Gloria show up empty handed.

What happened, I asked.

Seems they were tired and waited 8 zillion hours in line and put all their stuff on the conveyor belt and then the cashier said, you’ll have to go to another line up because this price check is going to take two days.

So they abandoned their stuff.

I am so so sorry, I said.

It’s okay, said Glenda.

They dropped me off and headed out to go grocery shopping.




cycling, sunny days, returning to old church stomping grounds – uh huh

Okay, yeah over cycled. But I like to think that over cycling now makes up for the winter months when I’m unemployed, bored eating and not exercising nearly as regularly. Something like that.

Feeling antsy as we know is my fairly chronic condition. Various levels of dread and the like. I’ve been meaning to check out the Vancouver Eastside Vineyard again. I went there from, let me see, 1995-2001 I think. What I always liked about it was the feeling of community and in many ways the intensity – the intensity of the music and the being prayed for/praying for. For an emotional person like me, it felt, well, intense. And that often felt good, almost addictive. Hard to explain. It’s like if you feel like there is a hole in your soul, the Vineyard experience is going to fill it up. Bad explanation. There is a book by psychological anthropologist, T.M. Luhrmann, called, “When God Talks Back,” that I recommend if you are interested in knowing more about the Vineyard and the experience of it. She spent a couple of years visiting a few different Vineyards in the U.S. I found that she really nailed the experience and it made me long for that time again. She is impressively non-judgmental I found.
I never could – I couldn’t really reconcile the experience with the reality of the Bible and so after about 13 years in evangelical Christianity, I left. I went to Anglican churches for awhile, then nowhere for a long time and then for quite awhile, The United Church. I’d say the United Church (in Canada, there is something similar in the U.S. but I’m not sure what denomination it is) is the closest to what makes sense for me anyway.
But then my wee United Church moved to East Van from four blocks from my apartment and many of the people left and etc. etc. I sometimes go to their East Van. location but not as often. I’ve dabbled a bit in Canadian Memorial United Church which is a bit closer to me. The minister was at the small United Church for awhile and is amazing. And yet . . . it is so liberal as to almost be Unitarian, not that there is anything wrong with that. And it is big and hard to get to know people.
Right after my mom died I tried an evangelical church near my abode but there too it was hard to get to know people. And I still didn’t believe what they believed and got antsy.
I’ve wanted to check out the Vineyard again for awhile. I’ve always liked the pastor and we’d met up a couple of months ago.
“If it is the gay issue that is the deal breaker for you, we no longer hate them,” he said. Well, he didn’t say it at all like that but that is what it boils down to. “The gay issue” is admittedly my litmus test for how much a church makes sense. Anyway, I got on my bike this morning, antsy, and cycled the hell of a way across town. I get there on time because I find it very difficult to be late for anything. Very small gathering – maybe 30 people – and I only knew a couple that had been there for years and years. They have three kids who are much older than I remember and they are super great folks. I didn’t really know anyone else – it is very transient this church and often filled with, well, the transient. That was a big draw for me – the least of these and all of that although it doesn’t make for stability really.
Mainly I was excited to see Dan and Kirsten. Dan let me talk his ear off during the coffee break and after the service. He and his family had spent a year in Rwanda while Kirsten worked on her PhD in international development.
“Wowza,” I said.
It has generally mellowed this Vineyard. No sobbing as far as the eye could see – not today anyway. They have incorporated a tiny bit of a more liturgical thing with some readings at the beginning. Still of course was a bit of people saying they’d gotten a word from god or that god was lifting up the people and etc.
It is a powerful thing of course to believe that God is using you to do this and that; a way of being known. Powerful. Heck, it’s what I’m searching for. And I see it in the Buddhist meditating and the Centering prayer and the Healing Touch and the people who read Elizabeth Gilbert (I can’t do it I can’t do it I can’t do that – she’s become Oprah-fied and to me is turning spirituality into a brand. As such, I should read, “Eat, Pray, Love” so that I can get off of my high horse.) I’ve been told of the Buddhist teaching of radical acceptance that reminds me a lot of certain aspects of the Vineyard and its ilk. And there is a sense in the Vineyard – in the one I went to today anyway and used to go to – of this radical acceptance. In some ways. In others, there are still trappings that I tried to shake off years ago.
Lots of young kids which is great. And after more than 13 years at its location in a Sally Ann church, it has to move. It might be moving into an unused Anglican church in a few weeks. The very Anglican church that shut and my friend had to leave because the Anglican church does that it seems – shuts its doors if there are only a smattering of folks leaving them to go wherever. Or it might not.
“Keep checking Facebook,” suggested the pastor.
They’ll know for sure soon.
What I want is a community of people that are my people. The place where people always know your name and are generally glad you showed up. Holding me back I think are a general laziness around cycling/busing to a location and also, a general I don’t know. Don’t know.
Do not know.
I’ll wait and see if the Vineyard finds themselves a building and maybe check it out again. In the fall there will be more people I imagine, more folks that I remember – well a few.
I’ll keep ya’ll posted (fan base of two but there was a high of 22 the other day; I think because I had a link to Arash’s blog).
Fall’s coming – job’s up, summer’s up, Kits. pool is up (shame that is). Dan told me to invite myself over one day to catch up, to hear about Rwanda, probably to eat their food. Like old times, that.

long time no post

Tis mid-August.


I’m finishing up my summer contract at UBC’s English Language Institute.  It’s been generally part-time-ish for seven weeks, so no great money.  But a pleasant atmosphere and great colleagues and boss.

“There will be no work here this fall,” announced boss at a meeting last week.  This didn’t surprise, well, me, because I know the ways now.  And I am no longer working on the Masters because there are no jobs in doing that and etc.  But I could feel a general letdown in the room.

All these Masters in TESOL folks and nowhere to go.

Not true, most seem to have somewhere to go, including returning to the worst school I’d worked at in 15 years of teaching a couple of years ago.  Great hourly pay but toxic students and management (trust me).  So I blurt out to the teacher who tells me that, “Oh boy, that was the worst school I’ve worked at in 15 years.  Toxic students and staff.”

I apologized for my intensity later.  “Tis okay,” she said.

So three years in and I’m still unemployed a lot.  Oddly, my bank is offering me a $9,000 line of credit (which I am not taking, hello) so they must know something I don’t know, doo da, doo da.  Good to know it is there though and yes, I know about the interest situation.

To survive, I figured I need about $blank a year.  I’ve somehow made that much all ready this year.  To survive mind you, not like to buy stuff other than food and the like.  Somehow, I’ve managed to save a bit of money as well.  It won’t be fun dipping into the savings but I’ve known it was coming.

I’ve somehow fallen into job after short term job but I’m not feeling like that is necessarily what will happen in September.  Oy.  And I haven’t had my teeth cleaned in over two years, that kind of thing.

Same old story I’ve been repeating for three years now.  And as I get more afraid, I get more afraid.  I don’t want to end up so afraid that I can’t move.  Close sometimes.  Close.

Part of me wants to chuck it and go to Spain.  Shake it off in Spain or somewhere like that.

Probably not though.

I spent a lot of time alone this weekend – partly choice as there were a few things I could have gone to.  But . . . nah.  Yeah, kinda stuck.

The weather has gotten warm again so I swam in the mighty waters of Kitsilano Pool.  That was good.  That was very very good.  Might have a pool meeting with someone or two tomorrow afternoon and that is also good.

Oddly, I’m being observed tomorrow for two hours by two head teachers.  Well, not odd really, tis part of what they do up there at UBC.  I have been observed a whole lot in my career and it never gets fun.  We are asked what we would like advice on, so I took them up on that, gave a few specifics.  My class this month are 15 silent young and overwhelmed and low level English Japanese students so an interesting time to be observed.  Last month I had much more talkative folks.  What can you do.

When I’m out and about with people and have something to focus on, my brain does much better that is for sure.  Gentle to self always A.T. reminds me and then tells me about the great and unfortunately too early late John O’Donohue.  Irish Catholic, his voice entrances.  A.T. is a Buddhist so I like that she knows for Christian mystics.

I used to work with a lovely and whip smart fellow who has a great blog.  In a recent post, he writes about Tolstoy writing about the Kingdom of God – great stuff –  Tis folks like you, I comment, that keep me from throwing out the Bible.  I wouldn’t have thought he was interested in that kind of stuff.  But I’m learning.

When I posted on FB about O’Donohue, he mentioned that he liked his work.  Excellent.

I spend a lot of free time thinking about how hard it is to be me sometimes.  Hmmm, that is self-obsessive and probably depressed but there it is.

And so I’m still reading, thank goodness. Caroline Adderson’s latest book is set to come out tomorrow I think.  And the fall brings lots of good books.  Fabulous I say.  My brain works thusly:  I am working for two more weeks so I can still buy a book or two.  Yes, libraries, yes I am all about VPL, NVPL and the like.  Indeed.  In fact, the one thing that makes my two hundred hour transit journey from UBC to my North Van. GP on Tuesday afternoon is the North Van. city library.  Indeed.  But I get a vague high is the thing.  If I find an excellent book and get it, I’m like phew.  Connected to dopamine in the brain or something.

Or something.

I have finished finally teaching the Bodhi meditators.  They rarely showed up for class and I found out that they got the class for free (can’t say how or why though, oh the mystery).  It was frustrating.  But then they gave me an orchid that I haven’t killed yet, knock wood, a box of chocolates and a lovely card signed by most, some of whom rarely attended.  Jenna came to every class though and she wrote (she is bit flowerly as can happen):  “Thanks a lot for your great teaching.  Even though we have encountered the poor attendance; you have performed all classes so productive and creative. You are a very professional, kind, full-hearted and hard working teacher, to whom I’m respect.  From the bottom of my heart, I need to say thank you very much.”

I don’t include the grammatical errors for any mean reason – just want to do a bit of word for word there.  The professional comment was interesting since I showed up for every class in shorts and spent a few minutes complaining about the lack of attendance.  William also came to every class.  He did a couple of presentations on how to Bodhi meditate and his voice is so relaxed I nearly fell asleep.

The lovely linguistics professor showed up for the last class and gave a short lecture for his presentation on some second language learning theories.

“Don’t want to bore you,” he said.

“God no,” I said, “I am finding this fascinating.”  I was.   I love learning.  Nice humble guy.  He and his wife are opening (yet another ) Chinese secondary student cram school in Richmond.

Jenna gave a presentation on life vests, as she is a life vest designer.  Who knew?  I did not know.

I’m hoping there will be a course or two running this fall at Langara – it is not enough to pay any bills really but it keeps my brain going.

On Wednesday, my mom will have been, well, dead for eight months.  Still blows my mind sometimes.

So yeah, check out my former colleague’s blog.  Oh and I enjoy this one:  Not sure how I stumbled upon her blog, might have been one evening when I googled, ‘my child is severely disabled.’  I know, right, why do I do that.  Uh well.  She is a good writer though and a tired warrior for her daughter.  Let me know what you think.