Nobody loves you when you’re down and out


Or something like that, a la Eric Clapton.

Well, I’ve finished up my three weeks teaching at UBC – that was a good experience I think.  The weather was amazing most of the 15 days so I managed to ride my bicycle up and back nine times.  That was great because it saved on bus fare and helped build a little more cardio/leg muscle.  In fact, I think I overcycled a bit.  Now I am not working again and the weather has turned very fall like – rainy and cool, windy.  The roads aren’t very conducive to cycling since the weekend’s windstorm uprooted many trees (often dangerously unfortunately).  I believe one young woman was killed when a tree fell on her car.  Tragic.

I am really hoping not to backtrack from my summer of intense exercise but alas, it is what happens when the weather turns like this.  I braved the elements and swam at Kits. Pool today – it is only open for 13 more days and I wanted to take advantage of it.  But swimming in the cold and rain is not for me – muscles tense up and it is generally just much more difficult I find.  I know that some people enjoy it.  I had a lot less stamina – not sure if that was from the cold water.  It is supposed to rain pretty much all week – excellent news for plants, lawns, wildfires, etc.

But wow, the deep cloud sets in and it feels like summer never happened kinda sorta.  Everything is dark.

I imagine it is not true that no one loves me when I am down and out but long dark days make it feel a bit like that tis true.  I return rather instantly to a ‘bored coma’ from which it is tricky to emerge.  Days are long.  I might have an evening thing or two to do but it is hard I find to get into it after a coma type of day.

Gack, I always feel like that ends up sounding oh so self-pitying.  But then I think that most people who have been unemployed for four years and counting with little spurts of work in between might get close to feeling the same way.

I get panicked about it – like how do I fill this time?  I’m always looking at my bank account and thinking about my life and there is just too much time.


Seriously, ugh.

I have been trying a bit of an experiment –  I note that when I am writing like I am doing now, my brain is physically unable to obsess negatively at the same rate.  Hmmm, maybe something about the brain only being able to do so much at once or something.  Interesting.  I haven’t found any information on that in my wanderings on the internet but there is probably something to it.  I do remember being told that the physical act of handwriting is supposed to calm the brain.  Also interesting I think.

Uh yes, it is very windy out again.  Hopefully no more trees will fall.  Lots of streets are closed and Stanley Park was even closed for awhile on the weekend.

I don’t know – don’t have much else to say really.  I try and get together with folks and they are busy or what have you and I get annoyed out of all proportion really.  My brain comes at it from a rather exhausted perspective rather than I guess sort of an accepting perspective.  Difficult.

There had been a possible couple of job leads but those came to not- one place that trains immigrants (almost entirely Filipino women) to be health care aides was looking for an ESL teacher.  I could tell they were trying to appear very very professional in terms of setting up the interview, etc but I knew there was something rotten in the state of D-M when I left a phone message.  The outgoing message spoke of how this one call to D-M would be life-changing – how taking their health care courses would transform people’s lives.  Uh huh.  The interview itself – bright and early on a Saturday! morning had been so-so – the owner/boss was icy and seemingly deliberately so.  Very dismissive.  I hadn’t heard after a few weeks but I was annoyed so I sent an e-mail saying surely they must have e-mailed me back but I must have missed it.  “It would obviously be the professional thing to do,” I wrote.  The assistant, so insistent on professionalism before, merely wrote back that they had ‘obviously found someone else.”  Lovely.

The other place was a Chinese cram school that seemed to pay fairly decently – but then they just disappeared, poof.  This was after they had sent me e-mails trying to set up what were basically some illegal English classes.  Long story, ridiculous story.short – they disappeared on me.  If you heard at all about the school that against the city’s wishes put up a neon sign at Granville and Broadway – that might be them.

So much cowboy school everywhere.  Gross.

Depressed and bored, no way around it.  I am always trying though – some days are just longer than others.

Don’t want to end on a depressing note – because that is, well, depressing.  Let’s see, let’s see.  The blurry picture above is a picture of a card.   The woman who did the picture has a whole series of these, some available at the downtown library shop.  I have it by my bed.  Makes me smile.

Some folks that I know

I’m always looking for more, tis true.

More to fill up the whatever whatever.  You know how that goes.  I hear tell some folks use alcohol, some drugs, some sex, some all three and then some.  I don’t use any of those things.  To be clear, I don’t think that makes me more will powered or stronger in any way.  I do have a liking for Ativan, which is a benzo and deadly in its own way in terms of how it changes the brain permanently.  Just typing the word Ativan I smile a bit.

I use other things I guess – reading, exercising (in the summer), a bit of art now here and there, hanging out with people, churches of various sorts (and I rail against all of them fairly evenly), and a general desperate feeling of needing more.  And yet, I have amazing people in my life.  But because they are not there enough according to my standards of enough, I do not feel, well, grateful enough I guess.  Loneliness can cover up gratefulness sometimes I think.

I was reading a blog recently by a friend’s niece, who is I think about 21 years old and making her way in a city that is new to her.  It is quite lovely to read – her fears and the excitement and discoveries around the whole thing.  When I was 21 (well 20 but basically almost 21) I moved to Vancouver from Winnipeg.  I knew one person.  Jobs were easier to get then of course and I began to attend a church and to make some friends.  Then I went to SFU for a year to finish my degree.  I got involved in IVCF – I guess that is still around?  A Christian university organization.  This is where I met M, way back in 1988 holy cow.  She talked off my ear while we sat on a gym floor is about all that I can remember.  And there was a corn roast.  And Ben Johnson won something in the Olympics.  M. and I are still friends – she has married and has a place in East Van.  Her job stability is much more stable than mine and she is I think the most emotionally stable person that I know or have ever known.  Kindness and generosity ooze out of her.  No really, you can actually see it oozing.  When my mom died, she and her husband invited me to spend two nights before I had to fly off to the frozen prairies.  I spent the two days in their spare room watching the Good Wife on Netflix on my phone.  Everything felt overwhelming.  I would text her that popcorn would be nice and sure enough there’d  be popcorn.  I was craving a three cheese macaroni dish and there it was to be followed up by the greatest dessert known to humanity, the apple crisp.  M. once rubbed my back a bit (I’m usually not one for the touchy-touchy although I crave the heck out of affection) whilst I proceeded to vomit.  That my friends, is a friend.  “You know,” I told her, “I don’t think I could do this for you.”

“Oh I know,” she said.

A lovely woman really.  She is an atheist now but when I told her that I had to remember to pray for my niece at an appointed time whilst she was on a mission trip, it was M. who texted me to remind me.

“So it’s lunchtime,” I sometimes call her on a weekend and say, “If I happen to pop by say would there be lunch.”

“Indeed,” she generally says.

The other day while we lay by the pool!!!!! I told her that she, T, and G. had to get on planning my 50th (good lord my god) birthday coming up in eight months.  “And it has to be really good otherwise I will be more depressed than usual and oh my god my singleness sucks.  Maybe crayons should be involved.”


“But not just crayons that would suck.”


T. and M. planned my 40th way back when.  T. I’ve known I think since about 1995.  We met at the Vineyard.  Then she was married, had a child and got divorced and we both left the Vineyard and yelled at each other a lot due to both being a yelling type of people.

“I think some friendships go entire lives without yelling,” I sometimes note.

“Really?” she said, puzzled.

We argue and sometimes text argue quite badly and I get all thumbs.  But we also get each other in a way that is kind of rare I think.  T. is strong and loud and loves the least and works at the safe injection site sometimes and its accompanying housing for the hardest to house.  I recently visited her (briefly! should anyone in authority be reading this) at one of the places where women came and went and there was a general feeling that things could become chaotic.  “Holy smokes,” I said. T’s own life is quite chaotic now – she’s got her mom living with her, her daughter, some other folks, she works a lot and has a chronic illness that sends her to the ER more than it does not or something like that.

“The doctors need to figure this the heck out!” I announce to her once in awhile, “This is insane,” I bluster on in that direction for awhile.

It is T. that has made me feel more comfortable and have a better understanding of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

Years ago she ran many blocks, stuffing her then three year old into her stroller, in order to meet the ambulance at a coffee shop when I had felt faint.

“Does she have anxiety?” asked the paramedic.

“Well . . .” said T.  “Well, well.”  I think she somehow preserved my dignity.

I miss T. a lot, so chaotic is her schedule.  T. has a heart for people (that is an expression I don’t like but I will use it) that you can’t fake really.  At some point my mom, who had met her once, friended her on Facebook.  That was sweet.

T. and I know C. from the Vineyard days.  We re-connected a few years ago.  C. has a deep ability to sit with people for hours in emergency rooms and be this completely calm presence.  When I had pneumonia a couple of years back, she sat with me at VGH for a good long while.  My obsessing was quite high because I was sick (well, higher than usual) and I was obsessing over this and that, waiting for that and this as you do in the ER.

“You could close your eyes,” she noted.

“What hmmm what hmmm.”

“That’s it, close your eyes.”

I closed my eyes.  That was a good thing to do it turns out.

C. has discovered recently from a doctor that she is one of the few 50 year olds (I have stated her age!) with spina bifida left on earth.  Spina bifida is rare now due to folic acid being taken by the pregnant.  Or the fetuses are aborted, says the doctor.  Because of all of this and a lifetime in a wheelchair, C is having a lot more chronic pain and sudden pain and infections and all sorts.  She handles that with a striking calm, with a striking, ‘oh well.’  C. allows me to complain, both in person and on FB chat.  I think I did this once and she informed me at the end of the conversation that she had to go to the ER.

“Christmas cake, C!  Why didn’t you say that at the beginning?”  No need, she said.

She’s had an inordinate amount of death in her life since I’ve re-connected with her and she was so helpful after my mom died.  Caregiving in a gentle and profound way is a skill that is underestimated I think, vastly actually.  Society in general doesn’t seem to give it the respect it deserves.

I think I have written about these people before but it never hurts to do it again I don’t think.

Let us not forget G., who is also extraordinary.  We sometimes hotdog at Costco.  Everyone should have a G. in their lives.  Those who know G., agree.  That rhymed.  T. has at times tried to develop a separate friendship with G. which has been distressing but one must put up with challenges in this life.  When T’s daughter was younger, she usually took awhile to warm up to people – not a hugger, that kind of thing.  But within five minutes of meeting G. and me in a park, she was snuggling up to G.

“Wow,” I said.

“I worship G. and her husband I.” T. has said many times.

G. is also an amazing cook and baker.  She has let me host some weird events in her home.  One time, not many people showed up.

“I hate everybody!” I announced to those who did come.

“Well, don’t take it out on us,” said G.

That was true.

I think I often do not appear thankful.  But really, I feel the thankfulness so deep in my bowels (ick) that it would make me weep all of the time if I didn’t stop it with my busy brain that exists on a more angry level.

I have not forgotten S. and S. and C.!  I was focussing on Vancouver people here.

I shall end with a poem that I found on another blog.  I read it to A.T. yesterday and she teared up.  It is an amazing poem I think.

Pray for Peace by Ellen Bass

Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekhina, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Then pray to the bus driver who takes you to work.
On the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus,
for everyone riding buses all over the world.
Drop some silver and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

To Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already prayer.
Skin, and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile cases we are poured into.

If you’re hungry, pray. If you’re tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else’s legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer as the earth revolves:
less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas–

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Scoop your holy water
from the gutter. Gnaw your crust.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.

colour, books, heat, cable and etc.


Those are the crayons I like – cheap little oil pastels from London Drugs.  Sixteen of them, woot woot.  Thick, rich colour on paper, canvas, cardboard, and probably on whatever the heck.

Last Monday morning – because I don’t work at all except for three weeks starting next week so have upped my Vitamin C – I was able to attend a two hour FREE drawing class on the patio outside of my local library.  I’ve never drawn – hmmm, maybe as a child I did.  I’m realizing I don’t remember much of my childhood.  Anyway, I forged on in.  Something seems have clicked in my brain after over a year of art therapy and I find myself not only enjoying looking at art (who knew used bookstores had so many great art books with great pictures?) but playing around with colour.  I’m the can’t draw a straight line with a ruler person.  Really, not.  And my hands shake (benign essential tremor, which always sounds to me like the tremor is essential and I really need it).  I go on over and it is being led by two young recent Emily Carr graduates.  Mellow, East Van kind of girls.  Coolio.  I over explain my lack of skills and terror and blah blah.  They’ve got pastels and crayons and pencils and pictures of wildlife.  They give us a brief here’s how you do it and then we go to it.  One of them comes over to help me – the other two women are happily drawing a giraffe and a dolphin, respectively.  I kind of get it so I decide to draw a bird and then a fish. Lots of colour involved.  The bird actually ends up looking like the bird on the page.  Vaguely.  The fish looks like a fish.  Go figure. “A fish in the sky,” says one of the instructors, “nice and surreal.”  “You like colour.  Colour might be your thing,” one tells me enthusiastically.  Indeed.  I take home the bird and the fish and send a scan of it to A.T.  I’m not going to show it to anyone else because, well, it’s not a talented thing.  But a fun thing really.  There are four more sessions of the free drawing (it started in June but I had never worked up the courage) but I can only attend the last one due to aforementioned three entire weeks of work.  Meanwhile, I’m colouring at home.

Craziness really.  Art and me.

I went to the Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver on Friday afternoon and an artist I like was selling Image (10)

some postcards of her paintings.  She paints local Vancouver scenes, sometimes with a cute kind of touch.  She did one of Kitsilano pool which I thought was awesome.  I’m not sure if this is cheesy or not but I like it.

So, yeah, this is all new for me – this art stuff.  I mean I will never be an artist but I’m really liking colouring more than I can explain.  I haven’t bought the ‘adult’ colouring books mainly because I can’t colour in lines well and it feels constricting to me because of that.  So I just, well, colour.  go figure.  On a deeper level, maybe this shows that my brain, my rigid insists on rules and black and whiteness brain (an odd thing for a writer perhaps) can grow and welcome in a few new things.  Nice.

I’m looking into sort of an open art space that S.T. suggested – not sure if that will work out but I am checking it out.  There are free things in this city and ways to get things for free – but you have to fight for it, to advocate for yourself.  So I’m learning.

The same group that runs the free drawing classes also has been offering free yoga on Kits. Beach over the summer.  Might check it out tonight.  Apparently upwards of 200 people go.  My muscles are always tight so this might be good.

I’m excited (nervous) about the three weeks of work I have coming up at UBC.  I’m all ready getting e-mails about which desk will be my desk and etc.  Makes me feel human.  It’s been sooooo slow though – there is work up there over the summer, I just haven’t gotten any.  Yikes.  Come next month – come the end of the three weeks (knock gosh darned wood that I don’t get sick) all work will be done.  The downtown school I haven’t worked at really in 2.5 months, tell me that the busy season will be over.  “Oh,” I said.  And the pool will be closed and the rains will come.  I will need . . . something.  The what remains the question.  Another sub at the downtown school has gone off to Taiwan to teach, smart man he.  But I’m here and I think I generally want to be here.  As such . . .

I cut my tv cable!  Cut the cord and what not.  That is a good savings of $30 or so a month.  I’ve been watching Netflix and live streaming other channels.  Listening to the radio more.  But it’s a bit tricky because living alone, I need the noise.

I sold some of my books at three different used bookshops yesterday and made about $45 so that was good.  I’ve got a few record albums to bring to a record shop and then I’m kind of out of things to sell!

I’ve been enjoying tutoring a student on Saturday afternoons for an hour in library square downtown.  He is from Iran and did his Masters’ in film editing in India.  His work sounds so interesting.  We’ve been working on the present perfect, something he is content to do for a few weeks.  So that’s $30 a week for however long it lasts.  And it gets me out of the house!

Hmmm, what else. Well, I had been hoping that going back to the Vineyard might have resulted in a bit more of a community for me, but that has turned out not to be the case really.  Well, most folks are busy because it is summer.  Fair enough.  I don’t schlepp out there every week because it is quite far actually and I am often quite lazy.  I imagine if I volunteered to help out that I would meet more folks.  It’s a really small church but there are some people I have never met and after months of going it becomes tricky for anyone to say hey and what not.  Most people seem to have lots of connections all ready – family, friends, etc.  One woman in my wee home group (not meeting in the summer) noted that she has enough friends and is so busy that she has had to back away from new friendships.  Fair enough.  It’s tricky.  No one to blame really – just the reality I guess.  I’m not certain that I will continue attending because there is just so much I do not believe – and yet, I don’t know.

Eeek, that all sounds lonely and vaguely sad.  On a brighter note, I do enjoy my Monday evening writers’ group which isn’t meeting tonight for the holiday.  I probably won’t be attending during my three weeks of working but will after.  I look forward to it.  Hopefully, the two Langara evening classes will run again starting in Octobet but that is a never known known.

Gosh, this is a bit of a dull blog entry really.

Well the federal election is in 11 weeks – who knows, we might end up with an NDP government holy cow.  Lots of folks are ticked at Harper that’s for sure (for example, and

Also, people keep dying in Vancouver from fentanyl overdoses – including a married couple who had a baby.  Yikes.

Off to free yoga.