Adaptation, colouring, blue

the deck

Blue all over my fingers from colouring on Roma’s deck.  Well, on paper but sitting on her deck.

She is away but said I could sit on her deck whenever the mood struck.

It struck.  I walked across the street in bare feet,  the cement hot as heck.  Hot hot days around here.  So hot that thinking gets kind of blurred.  So hot I go down to the swimming pool twice – once to swim eight lengths of the mammoth-ness of it, and once just to bob.  Hot hot.  Children crying, tantrums, and one young man who didn’t seem to understand the need for a bit of space between towels.

Blue everywhere.  On my pants -oh yikes and chocolate too.  Must change before writing group tonight.  A small group no doubt – most have gone off to do their summer somewhere other than here.

How do I write what I want to write without sounding ever repetitive.

I had to turn down three afternoons of work this week because one of the afternoons I could not make it.  Seeing S.T.  I tried calling her, asking if we could re-arrange but she never got back to me.

Once a week, she has said, once a week or you get charged $160.

Fair enough I guess.

But crazy in a way to be turning down the tiny kernels of work.  The three weeks in August at UBC we have agreed I can do whatever hours they give me.  Phew.

Phew S.T.

It is so hot out have I said.  Have I written that.

After almost four years I would think my brain would be more able to accept what is what is what is.

And yet no.

But now I colour and collage and paint when it isn’t too hot to take it all out.

And write once in awhile.

And write.

I don’t know how to write this in a new way; in a way that won’t make people sigh and think she has written that so many times all ready how much more can there be to say on the same topic.

Sometimes the clunky hamster wheel I am on makes me think I am crazy.

But less so, I think that less often now.

This is life, seems to be the point.

Clunk, clunk, clunk.

It’s like the restlessness you get (or maybe you don’t, maybe this doesn’t happen to you) you get when you have a fever.  Like everything is all ganged up inside and you can’t sit still.  Your body so uncomfortable from burning up inside.  Ugh.  When I have a fever I seem to move my legs around a lot and moan and wait for the Tylenol to kick in or not.

Poets could express this more clearly probably.

Oh for sure. they could.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with a fellow named Justin at TD “Wealth Management.”  Can’t we do this over the phone, I asked, it is so hot out.  He seemed to find this out.  No, he said, it is more of a meet and greet.  Justin, I don’t have wealth, I tell him.  My financial windfall that you’ll note I removed from your bank immediately was a one off.

No, no, that’s not why we want to see you, he says.  I can be your financial planner, he says.  I’ve seen some bus ads where TD is giving away an I Pad to new customers.  I am not a new customer but I want the I Pad.  It is with that hope and the chance to talk to someone that I shall cycle down to the morning meet and greet tomorrow.

On Friday morning I am subbing for three hours with LINC and immigrants in North Vancouver.  That is an hour commute but I am oddly not dreading that.  The lesson will be planned for me, the students lovely as they are.  I randomly get calls from there to sub – rarely and randomly.  Viva Friday.

In six weeks, I shall be doing the three weeks at UBC.  This is repetitive;  I have mentioned this before.

Sorry, it’s the clunk clunk.


I haven’t spoken to anyone in a couple of days so I hope my re-entry tonight goes smoothly or at least not roughly.

I queried the Courier about doing an article on the strike but alas, no freelance  budget and apparently I am too close to the story to be objective.

Uh yes, I wrote back.


Everything is so tight around here- no budget for a thing.

I shall be an activity worker at a nursing home!  S. College offers this program.  $14,000!!!!!!!!!!!! for like 8 months.  If you go online, you read nothing but criticisms of this college.  That’s a lot of money, I tell the recruiter who phones me seconds after I request information.  “More students are happy than not,” she says.  “Maybe but the reviews are horrible,” I say.

“Well,” she says.

Apparently there aren’t many jobs in that field anyway, which is odd considering the baby boomers reaching that age.  It is not the most well paying but certainly better paying than the nothing I get now.  $14,000!!!! and no work again at a questionable college.  Hmmm . . . .




The ESL school I used to work at is on strike

And I don’t think things are going to work out so well, sad to say.

So I have been an ESL teacher for 15 years now (eeek).  I’d been a journalist in Alberta, returned, played around badly at some administrative jobs, and then, along with a whole lot of other folks, took some training to be an ESL instructor of adults.

I bumped around a few downtown schools and then ended up at what was a great school (with the previous owner).  ESL international schools were a dime a dozen back 10 years ago and still are but to a lesser extent. Most pay poorly and have no benefits, etc.  ESL teachers of adults are for whatever reason on the lowest tier of teachers kind of thing.  Here in Canada anyway.  Vancouver because of its location on the Pacific Rim and its beauty attracts thousands of international students each year, with summer being the high season.  In 2004, I lucked into a school that had a union (not common in ESL schools then or now).  I was there for seven years, until 2011.  I had benefits and was making upwards of $40/hour and I was on the lower half of the seniority list if you can imagine.

And then, it all fell apart and fell apart quite badly.  I won’t go into the long and tedious and frankly really strange details, other than to say that the owner, who also had school in three other locations, wanted out. Some teachers bought the school (and those who did not lost their seniority.  I did not because I didn’t want to take such a huge risk with most of my savings).  They pretty much immediately flipped it to L. group.  The CEO made lots of promises that he did not keep.  The teachers, who had all ready taken a 25% pay cut to help save the school, took another 15% hit immediately with removal of all benefits.

I was laid off because I hadn’t bought into the school initially.  This has led me to a variety of different contracts at other places and more recently a whole lot of nothing unfortunately.

Anyway, four years after the L. group nastiness, the teachers got fed up.  Most who had been there when I was there were now gone but some are still there.  There are also a whole bunch of newer teachers who came in at a rather wretched wage.    So they are all fed up and formed a new union (the other one dissolved when teachers bought the school) but the L. group refuses to negotiate.  They are offering a 15 year pay grid with seriously something like an increase of a $1 in hourly pay every four years.  It is craziness but it is typical of many ESL schools.

So this week the teachers went on strike.  I popped by the picket line and saw some folks I still know.  It was surreal.

I honestly do tip my hat at them for trying.  I believe that they are desperately trying to make a difference for ESL schools in general and for themselves.

But here’s the rub:  the L. group, which is publicly traded on the TSX, has gone crashing down.  Stocks are down 80% (as per my very limited understanding of how the heck this works), the CEO fired – he dumped a million shares recently, and all in chaos.  I’ve been interneting around a bit and it seems some think that L. Group will keep the strike going as long as possible because they can’t afford to pay anyone anyway.  Students are arriving or are all ready here and asking for refunds but L. Group is refusing (which if not illegal is highly unethical).  Agents are scrambling and will obviously never send a soul to the school again.  Agents have all the power in the international school industry.

I believe the school has been on strike for three days now.  Strike pay it seems is more pay than the lowest level of teachers there are getting paid.  That kind of thing.

Surely teachers (in the ESL industry) get a cost of living pay raise every year, said a friend of mine.  I would say yes, this happens in about three downtown schools – the unionized ones that play decently.  When I was at the school when it was fair, I got nice raises every year.  That bubble burst though and I guess I haven’t really accepted it!  So I get the need of people to do what they have to do and hope what they have to hope.

I very luckily got a small to medium sized (depending on perspective) financial windfall a few weeks ago so my immediate financial concerns have been dealt with.  In a way, this keeps me in denial of my situation for longer but it is also quite frankly and quite simply a relief. I am definitely applying for other types of work but people with more experience in those types of work are, well, getting the interviews and the jobs.  I have an hour long tutoring gig with a student at lunch time today – and that $30 will feel like manna from heaven, not to be too dramatic.  And I do have a short and well paying three week gig in August (barring colds and other viruses and the like).  Beyond that into September I am not sure yet again.  And the fact that it is almost July and I am swimming during workdays . . .uh huh.

Anyway, sort of tangenting but sort of not.  The ESL industry had its heyday about ten years ago.  Then came the economic recession and more recently Harper and his cronies have instituted massive cuts to the industry (see VCC for more on that) and put into place student visa rules and immigration rules that have gutted the industry.  Most ESL teachers are like me – middle-aged and with lots of experience in, well, ESL teaching.  So it is tricky.  Many are getting out, going overseas or starting their own businesses.  Or, like me, wandering from contract to contract.

So back to the strike.  I honestly applaud the effort and will watch to see how it plays out.  I hope I am wrong that the school will shutter and/or be sold (although I am not sure that anyone would buy it at this point).  The sad irony remains that the teachers themselves sold the school to L. Group – but that was naivete and an attempt to save jobs and not something for me to be pointing my fingers at.

It is a rare industry where most of the employers (but not the ones that I choose to sub at) are paying less than what I was earning 15 years ago.  It is also disturbing to see so many people clinging to these jobs because there is nothing else out there.  I get it because I have done it (again, the schools that I sub at/have short term contracts with are the exception and I have nothing bad to say about them!).  It is so wearing and so sad.

So that’s it, wee fan base.  The beat goes on.



That is some Kitsilano pool water there. A.T. suggested I take a picture of water since I love, well, water. What I am really trying to do is to learn how to paint or colour so water looks like water.  I like this photo taken with my cell phone quickly so that no people got in there.  The lights, the different kinds of blue, that kind of thing.

It is cloudy today but muggy.  Rumour is that on the weekend it will be up to 30C.  My my, that water will be packed.

I am sooooooooo not working at all.  Just the two nights a week at Langara which ends next week.  The next courses, should they run, don’t start until the beginning of October.  I do have three weeks in August at UBC but that is it.  Done, it.

I’m applying for different kinds of jobs and of course, hearing nothing.  This is a problem.

The never ending problem.

I got a small to medium (depending on one’s perspective) sized financial windfall two weeks ago and that has been helpful in relieving the financial stress a bit.  Unfortunately, there is a large chance that the government will want a chunk of it back, due to some unfortunate this and that.  But for now it is there.  The windfall seems to have resulted in my bank calling and asking do I want to come in for wealth management.  I think the bank thinks that this one off fall will keep falling.

I have no wealth, I mentioned.

Come in and see Justin.

All righty, I will then.

Justin or Jordan I don’t remember.

Justin will ask how much my income is.

Well, Justin, it’s like this.

I did take the windfall and remove it from the Justin bank into the virtual Canadian Tire Bank.  No fees and slightly better interest.  Some say an RRSP, I say I need the money to live off of.  Never end a sentence with a preposition.

I had a student interested in tutoring but he has disappeared as all tutoring students like to do.  I wonder if they are all in one place or some such.

The sound of a dentist’s drill x 10,000 is going on across the street.  R. is having I guess some work done on her garden.  Might ask if they can work on my teeth.

Speaking of teeth, I bit the bullet (well actually the flouride trays) and got a cleaning after 2 years of not.  Financial windfall and I am responsible.  No new cavities and a possible solution to my two chipped front teeth but $600 and no guarantee the stuff put on won’t chip off.  Chew apples on the side of your mouth, suggested the in a hurry dentist.  The hygienist, a super compassionate woman, was annoyed that he just wouldn’t sit down and tell me the deal.  I do have massive and rapid recession of one lower front tooth due apparently to chipping up upper front teeth.  Still, it was nice to get it all scaled and cleaned and flouride – d, x-rayed.  Less than $200 too so that is good.

Emotionally I was doing a bit better this week (only Wednesday I realize).  Saw A.T., went to writing group, swam and soaked up the sun yesterday, bobbed, rode my bicycle to and from the evening job at Langara.  I discovered a new bike route home – down 45th to Cypress.  I wouldn’t do it on the way there as it is way too uphilly in that direction.  But  back was nice – through the beautiful manicured homes of the rich.

I realize I keep putting off the major career change.  Mainly, because, well, what the heck am I going to do.  Magical thinking or some such.  But I have worked not a day in over two weeks and before that it was just for a few hours.  I am absurdly excited that on July 20th I have three hours of subbing, in the bowels of North Vancouver in the evening.

I must stay healthy for the three week gig at UBC.  Or go in sick or something.

I seem to be telling myself that after the UBC gig I will start ‘getting serious’ about a job.  Um, yeah.

My appointments with S.T. are Thursdays at 3 pm and the time is non-negotiable so I am told and even getting that time was remarkable.  That’s tricky.  Not sure how I could tell a new job, well, I can’t work from 230 to 4:15 pm or some such.  Sigh.

Not that there will be a new job.  I am okay with mixing and matching different jobs as is required.  BUT THERE IS NOTHING.

How do I keep my head from exploding.

Oy, it is super muggy I must say.

I might go to the art gallery tomorrow – Italian masters’ paintings and there would be a tour.  The tours are great and it is included in the price.  Then S.T. and then Langara.

Friday is the bank! for the wealth appointment.  In this episode, Justin becomes really disappointed and his face falls when he finds out my financial situation.

Saturday I think I am seeing V.C. who I used to work with.  She now works at Langara during the day so we bump into each other once in a while.  The day bosses won’t even interview me.  Bizarre, blah.  K.P. also works there.  We had been good friends for a long time when we worked at the school that paid $40/hour with benefits and then fell apart, but then we had a nasty and bizarre friend breakup.  I used to make the effort to say hello but now I just can’t be bothered.

Today I am meeting C. at 2:30, prior to an appt I have at VGH.  After that – well, the home group is not meeting in the summer, not that I went regularly when I was working.  Of course I could go now but alas, summer break.  Fair enough, some of those folks work really hard.  There is the ‘intellectual’ United Church Bible study nearer my place tonight (10 minute walk versus an almost hour commute to the home group) and there is always some kind of good dessert on offer.  That study is big on the intellectual part which I love and which challenges me but not on the say bonding and sharing part.  Uh well.  It is all about getting my butt out of the door and around people and interacting.

When the financial windfall appeared in my bank account it was more than I thought it would be and I danced around and paced, uncertain what to do.  Paid a lot toward MSP to keep them off of my back for now, went to the dentist, got a six month People magazine subscription (the treat part of the situation), bought a couple of books and magazines and a pair of runners (from Winners, much cheaper there).  A bit toward a few more visits with A.T. which realistically I have to cut off soon.  The rest – the bulk of it – went right into savings.  It will provide three and a bit months of living which is helpful for sure for sure.

I do have a nice tan I must say.  I never try to tan and can’t tolerate lazing about in the sun.  I guess it is from cycling and swimming and such.  It always looks so healthy but alas, is probably not.

Collaging is fun and relaxing really.

But when I’m sitting here collaging or trying to colour water I’m realizing it is the middle of the damn day and I am alone and don’t have a damn job.

Like that.

I realize I repeat the negative at all times.

I love photographs that were taken in the early 1900s or even the mid twentieth century.  Shows such a different time and I love looking at black and white photos of people from those eras, especially when they are doing something like walking down the street or whatever.

Anyway, guess that is all for now.  I have been overcycling, something I must repeat today it seems.  I like to use my bicycle as transportation whenever I can.  I don’t cycle much in the winter.  But right now, I seem to be in good shape – cycling up and down hills, swimming, etc.  Three months on, nine months off.

Sitting around, swimming, and organization

Organization is great, yes?  I don’t have strong skills in the figuring out de-cluttering and best use of space.  I live in a very small one-bedroom apartment (but in a great and amazing area of town) and don’t have masses amounts of stuff.  For someone of my vintage, I have hardly anything at all.  But still.  Clutter clutter everywhere.  I spend a lot of time in my bedroom and not in the fun way sadly.  I write in here, sleep in here, watch Netflix and etc.  The clutter was driving me batty but I could not figure out how to make it better.  I tried various things but, not really.  M. swung by my neck of the woods yesterday and we ended our visit with a little visit at my place. Once I said the words ‘too cluttered’ and ‘I need calm in my living space’ she set to work, invading my bedroom like a team of silverfish.  “Get rid of that chair!”  “Move that table!”  “Get rid of that storage bin you aren’t using!”  “Move that bookcase to the living room and the other one into here!”  Now!  Do it now, she demanded.  She went home and I did what she suggested.  Much, much, much better.  Still more to figure out but this was a good start.  Funny how just moving a smaller, calmer bookcase into a room can help.  Luckily, she let me keep the bed.  The next time she comes by, she said, we will be working on organizing my clothes (which I thought were organized) and my two wee closets.  Phew.

And there shall be swimming today.

Bored coma.  So little work, although there might be some teaching this week.  I will find out by I think the end of this very afternoon the scoop on that. All the boss ever says to me (I went in for an hour today to do intake) is that my shirt has lifted so as to show my belly.  This has happened twice and she has mimed that, twice.  Lovely.

There was an advertisement on Charity Village today for a Marketing Coordinator with the VGH Foundation.  I applied, even though I don’t have the experience required. People who do, the young ones fresh out of PR programs at Douglas College or SFU will apply and they will get interviewed.  It didn’t hurt to put in my resume though.  I forget so much and so often, while I am sitting around waiting to see if I can get three hours of subbing in a week, that I can write.  That i can write in a way that gets a wee fan base and that makes people want to read.  I forget this. I don’t value it in myself in a proper way.  Yeah, life grinds you down or my head grinds me down and I begin to believe that all I am worth is being called once in awhile to teach a class.  I am not moving forward for a lot of reasons – not the least of which is the brutal economy out here – but in there too is my inability to remember that I can write.  Yeah, but lots of people can write, I tell myself.  A zillion blogs by a zillion writers not having jobs writing.  And I’m too old to have my writing be of value to anyone, I tell myself.  Everyone writes these days and so what do I have.

A zillion writers writing and I put my head on the ground and do not pursue that which I can do.

Instead I sit around.  I get all unstructured.  I watch Netflix.  I don’t attend writing things I could attend.

A zillion people.

Writing a zillion things.

In a zillion ways.

A zillion reasons why I don’t figure out that this is what I do, this is what I can do.

So I don’t pursue things much.  I get ground down by the endless brick walls that fly up.

Instead I wait to be told I have three hours of teaching this week.

Or nothing.

I watch other pursuing and pursuing and getting somewhere within where they want to go.

I read a zillion books by a zillion great writers.

I keep forgetting.

I can’t seem to remember my talent.

Or I do and then ground myself down into the ground thinking that it doesn’t matter.

So today I had a tiny flicker – not sure from where – that there is no need to forget.  That remembering it is good.

with abandon


I often feel abandoned.  It’s a . . .. thing.  Probably and certainly something it would be good/nice/delightful/relieving/age-appropriate to have worked out by now.  But there it is.  I can’t merely talk myself out of that one.

I sometimes feel like my strongest connections these days are with my A.T., who I have to pay and S.T., who gets paid quite a lot to hear me out.

It’s weird/interesting because that is not really true.  I rarely give credit to what is often right in front of me.

Friday was a day.  It was, of course, a non-working day.  A day of non-work.  I forget what I did in the morning but in the afternoon I went for a wee swim since it was uber hot out.  Not as hot as it is now but still, hot.

Then I puttered around, eeek, gack.  There were a few things I could have gone to, places I could have been with people I didn’t really know.  I did not.

By around 6 pm I was going out of my tree with myself.  I toodled :(or angst-ed) over to R’s across the street.  I believe I have mentioned R. here before.  I met more than 11 years ago at my Monday evening writing group which I seem to sporadically attend.  Almost eight years ago she kind of got me into the building I am living in now, the one with the rent too high for my unemployment but ‘cheap’ for being right by the beach.  Yeah, like a ten minute walk from the beach and a great view of it if I step outside. R. is in her 70s now and living with her are a series of young people, formerly troubled, and really generally awesome.  “They find me,” she tells me.  Friday night it turns out was F’s birthday, he is 81 and still basically R’s long time partner.  He himself is awesome.  So I stepped into the middle of a birthday party – F’s son and daughter, the young adults who live there, and a few other folks.

“Oops, R, I had no idea,” I said.

“Sit down.  Eat.”

“I have all ready eaten.”

There was spanakopota and all sorts and a homemade pie made by Fred’s nephew.  I was fitting right in.  The young folks R. brings in can be extraordinarily welcoming and really nice and super comfortable with people of my vintage.

“Hey, Karen, great to see you!” they both said.

Fred’s son, B, plays Sam on the TV show Rookie Blue, a show I have seen exactly once.  But I love to talk about Hollywood but he does not and Roma insisted on a topic change the second I brought it up.  Oops.  These are intense folks and there was intensity but there I was, having angst-ed over from my abode across the street (my bedroom window faces her living room window) and I was welcomed.  Last week R. gave me Epsom salts for my back/shoulder injury from my fall.  “Just don’t slip in the bath afterwards,” she said.  Indeed.

The more time I spend alone, the more abandoned I feel.  I have figured out that particular math but am not sure how to solve that equation.  By today, Sunday, I was losing it a bit again.  My solution for this is to often go to Chapters and buy books I of course can’t afford.  Darned if there wasn’t a text from G. this morning.

“Gl. (her sister, visiting from the east) and I are going to Squamish to ride up on the gondola.  I have a free pass;  do you want to join us?”

“This is lovely,”  I texted back.

I hadn’t known that the Squamish Chief now has a gondola.  It is almost $40 a person but G. had a pass as she does.  The drive to Squamish, while treacherous, is beautiful.  By 10:15 am we were on the nine minute gondola right up the mountain.  Beautiful, if not a bit scary.  “Hail Mary, full of Grace,” I intoned.

We got to the top and went on a few wee hikes and G. had made pasta salad and put it in three containers;  one for each of us.

“This is the best pasta salad I have ever eaten,” I said.  “Mazel tov.”

It is so beautiful up at the top and not too crowded although there was a tour group of Japanese seniors, many of whom were in wheelchairs.  That is the great thing about the top now – the suspension bridge is full accessible as are some of the walking trails.  We were going to get a tour from the tour guide but decided not to.  He is also the First Aid person up there.  It seems one of the Japanese tour group people had passed out in her wheelchair.

“The guide didn’t want to take everybody down yet and the woman said she was fine, that she passed out all of the time.”  Good then.

Gl. and I snapped photos on our phone at fairly regular intervals.  The suspension bridge was very cool.  I usually find those scary but this one is so new and safe seeming that I even bounced up and down on it.  Living on the edge, etc.

Then we drove home, catching some Upper Levels Highway/Lions Gate Bridge traffic chaos.  Gl. was cool and calm throughout that whole experience.  “Get out and walk if you don’t like it,” she pre-warned me.

I got home around 3 pm and then cycled over to Main Street for an art show by various artists.  I’m all about that now, art and artists.  Collaging and colouring, a bit of painting.  Cycling home it was uber hot.  This necessitated a stop at Starbucks for an iced tea/lemonade situation along with a Chapters visit where I purchased not a thing, phew.

Now it’s evening and while I’m tired (and rather nicely tanned if I do say so.  A tan is so not healthy but wow, it can make a person look healthy), I’m back on the abandoned ship.  No work this week, except an hour and a half first thing tomorrow morning to intake a very small amount of students.  That’ll be me up for the day.

“I don’t get why you are so bored,” noted T. on the phone the other day, “I know lots of people who don’t work and they are never bored.”

“Uh huh,’ I said.

There is a risk of course in writing about these things – it can sound self-pitying and it an actually be that too.  And that can alienate the wee wee fan base.  I shall risk it.

It is so hot here at 8:15 pm.  But I’m not complaining!  Well, I am complaining but . . .

It shall be nice all week so I shall be pooling it all week.  It is thankfully much less crowded during the week.  I overheard this conversation there on Friday:

“So I met this woman at my gym and she has kids too so we decided to walk in the mornings although jeez why did I tell her 6 am.  She told me about a recipe for a protein shake and she e-mailed it to me and I love it.  I am so content with my fabulous Kitsilano life I can’t begin to tell you.”

Something like that.

Cycling, boredom, seriously, and really

This blog will not be mentioning any Jenner people. How unique.

Middle of summer and so little work.  Crazy.

This morning I had to get up before the ducks to go and get paid 1.5 hours to invigilate a mock FCE.  I was allowed to read or I think even sleep during this event, as it was only a mock one.

“I can mock,” I noted to boss D.

Then I was up right.  No going back to sleep and the day stretching before me until one p.m. when I had an S.T. appointment – my first in her private office.  Hallelujah.  The office is downtown as opposed to at VGH.  Both closer and farther in a way.  Turns out is right beside an ESL school.  Must have been break time as eight zillion Saudi young men were smoking.  There was a teacher out there so I chatted to him about the dire state of the industry.  This school is one of the three not gross downtown schools (one is not hiring, one I am at randomly, and the one next door to S.T. ignores my resumes repeatedly).  The guy was startled I was talking to him because nobody talks to anybody in Vancouver really.

“Most Saudis are going home for Ramadan,” I say.  Tis true – daylight hours are much shorter there so, you know, less hunger.

“Oh, not ours,” he said.

He’s been a sub for three years.

“They teach subs fairly well here,” he noted.

I take that to mean that the de-humanization process is slightly slower.

My appointment with S.T. was not bad – she has literally 10 degrees hanging up on her office walls.  The office is bigger and less hot than the one at VGH.  We are on for weekly so that gives me a reason to carry on I suppose.


We are on for the middle of the day on Thursdays – tricky if one works.  Hey, lucky!  I do not.  She said she might be able to let me off for three weeks for my gig at UBC.  Otherwise, if I miss, it is $160.  Yowza.  She makes about twice that per session I think.

Whatever, she is good and I got her after a year and a half of steadily suggesting it.

“You are good at getting what you want,” she said.

“That must be why I am so happy.”  I said.

I cycled downtown and back and had time in between the invigilating and the thingy to go to North Van library on the bus and get some books – two I’m excited about, the rest, meh.

I have also now cycled to Langara for the evening class.

Without structure and people, I am edgy ( ier), tedious(er) and more depressed.

“What’s the point.”  I enquired on FB, where all good depressed questions go.

A few people responded with loving others and being loved and helping humanity.

I guess.

Marianne Faithfull sings that she has so much love left to give.  Yes, Marianne, I agree.  I’ve got all of this love and nowhere to put it.

Self-pity and depression can be hard to distinguish.

My pals, my people?  They are busy building their lives and working and such and such.  I hang around the edges of it all.

Anyway, the days are now going to be sunny and Kitsilano Pool is going to be free for me.

I need to get out of this town for a week, an hour, a few days – something something recharging.

Okay, gotta wrangle my bicycle to the classroom and get my brain back into people mode.

Hourly, clutter, art, swimming, inside the brain, water


I like the colour blue it seems.  Since I’ve been playing around with paints for the last several months – it seems blue is my favourite.  Blues all mixed together, maybe even a bit of purple.

“How do I draw water?” I asked A.T. this morning.

I say this morning because there was no work to be had, except for an hour this morning to help intake 20 students into the downtown school.  Rode my bicycle downtown, interviewed (including a really interesting young woman from France who has been accepted into the London School of Economics), and returned.  Schlepped about, vaguely exhausted from a night of insomnia, capped off by some young folks screaming all around at 4:30 am.  My shouted out, “shut up!” from my window did not work.  Must get ear plugs again.  Decided it was better not to nap.

A.T. and I drew what was said to be water.  I didn’t think mine looked like water.  But, alas, water.  The ocean, Kitsilano Pool, lakes, Musee D’Orsay lights shimmering off of the water in a cool picture I cut out and put on black matte (thanks A.T. for the matte paper).

I have ideas and pictures for collages floating around in my brain.

My brain.  I was sidelined this weekend somewhat by rather epic pain in the shoulder/back I think from a fall I had last week where my weak ankle twisted and I violently fell to the ground.  Boom on the ground.  Time slowed down.  Boom there on the ground at the corner of Robson and Burrard.  A few days later the pain came and it is an odd injury – breathing, coughing, sneezing, moving – pain.  Ow.  I was also sidelined by my own brain really – sloppy, floppy, overfocused on myself, rather deadly.  People need people, says A.T.  Yes, I say, and indeed I do.  I get my energy from them and it can shake me from my brain.  I didn’t do enough with people this weekend – except for an emergency massage for the injury with a new to me therapist.  I’d seen a therapist in the same practice before when I had a job with benefits but he is now apparently in Nova Scotia.  The new fellow was good but alas, no relief.  I also spent a few minutes with T. because my massage was right near the hospital where she had to go for work.  It was a nice day so we plopped outside the side door.  A whole lot of interesting folks come out that side door.

“I’m in chronic pain,” I told her, pretty much over and over.

“You don’t say,” she said.  T. has migraines and all sorts of chronic pain.

“It’s like a migraine in my shoulder and back,” I insisted.

“Okay,” she said,  “I don’t have my painkillers with me or I could give you one,” she offered.

On Sunday, I popped into across the street R. who has the best view from her house’s balcony of the ocean anywhere ever.

The crows kept coming because she feeds them and loves them and calls them in the morning.

“Somebody is giving them peanuts,” she tells me, “Because they keep dropping the shells here.”

I used to think her crow thing was creepy, now I find it comforting to hear her banging on her balcony in the mornings and evenings, calling them for food.

She also calls her cat, J. every morning.  Comforting sounds for me.

She gave me some epsom salts.  “Enough for two baths,” she said.  “Just don’t slip when you get out of the tub.”

She also wanted me to watch a new reality show called, The Briefcase, where two broke couples are given $100,000 and have to decide if they will give it all to the other couple whose house they root through, or not.

“That is surreal,” I said.

R., who takes in street kids and raises them, who fought for civil rights in the 60s in the deep south of the U.S. and whose heart and strong personality exist hugely, loves the reality shows.  Undercover Boss is another favourite we have watched together.

“This feels more exploitative than even I can handle,” I would tell her as we watched some big boss giving a profusely thankful worker a toaster or something.

“It’s beautiful,” she said.

There is no room in my tiny abode for my stuff or for all of the art I want to put up and collage and worship these days.

I’m not getting much work this week which is tricky because the summer is supposed to be the (only) busy time in my field of work.  I never know from week to week.  I do know that playing by myself is getting harder and harder.  My pals are busy or away – and I spend a whole lot of time Netflixing in my bedroom.

No need for violins playing only for me.  I see the luck that I was born into and exist in in this life.  But still, hard.  After so much time alone it takes me several minutes or hours or something to get used to being amongst the living again.

I would like to sing a new song.

This Sunday it seems there is going to be an art fair on Main Street and I googled some of the artists and holy cow amazing.

I notice flowers more – their vast array of colours and trees holy cow at time of year are amazing.  I owe this to A.T. pretty much who slowly opened up this kind of creativity to me.  And still I fight her compassion and her kindness.

I both cycled and swam today – despite the injury – so that has got to be good somewhere at some point.  It was cool and raining so the pool was pretty free of a lot of people but still, many lappers were lapping.

Loneliness is hard almost always.  I’m figuring out that some that I know also suffer with this – but more silently than I do or in a different way.

Maudlin, alas I am being a bit of that.

It’s apparent a visit to some North Shore libraries is in order.

Thanks for reading, wee fanbase, this was a bit more scrambled than usual.  I’m going to my writers’ group tonight where I hope my brain adapts a bit quickly.

“If you slow down your painting, it might change,” noted A.T.

Interesting.  Also learned that one should not over water one’s paintbrush.

Oh and hourly – I get paid hourly when I do teach.  Not enough of that hourly to go around it seems.