Why does Gretta Vosper get under my skin

Article here about  the United Church’s decision on atheist minister Gretta Vosper – https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/09/11/flock-sticks-with-atheist-united-church-minister.html

Gretta Vosper annoys the heck out of me.  I had a brief e-mail discussion with her last year.  Meh.  I was rude at times – my bad.   I found that  Vosper was dogmatic about not being dogmatic as another United Church minister said.  Our e-mailing didn’t last too long.

She was defensive all over the place.  I understand that – obviously lots of people are asking her questions or criticizing her and etc.

And yet.

Psychologically, Vosper annoys me because I intensely dislike it when someone thinks they know and they know oh so much better than anyone else knows.  Vosper is pleased that she is ‘irritating the church into the 21st century’ (as per her webpage).  Vosper is going to be outspoken and going to stay in the United Church because she knows the Bible is all a horrible fairytale and that is where the church should be heading- out of the concept of a spiritual being and into let’s all just love each other.    I am oversimplifying, something I accuse Vosper of.  Meh, tit for tat.

She also claims that many, many other United Church ministers feel the same.  She speaks for them – they are too afraid to speak out (lest they lose their jobs and pension I imagine) and she is groundbreaking, she seems to think.

I have YouTubed her quite a bit – and made my brain calm the heck down when I did so that I wasn’t merely looking to be irritated by her.  What she is saying is that church is about community and she wants to build that community.  Her congregation – other than those that left when she came out as an atheist 15 years ago – are one hundred per cent behind her.  Many folks are on her side.  And as I mentioned, I imagine more than a few United Church ministers are quaking in their boots at the thought that they too could lose their employment and their pension – I  have never been able to find the part where Jesus had a pension and his cell phone bill paid for.  Hmmm.  But I digress.

Vosper had written a few books outlining her critiques of the Bible – I read one of the books and there were interesting points in there although none of it was new or radical.  It has all be said before – just not by a United Church minister.  I sometimes attend a wee Bible study in my neighbourhood which is led by a United Church minister who is now on disability.  She studies the Bible much like Jewish rabbis do – taking it apart piece by piece – debating the points, always open to hearing people’s views.   She is a Hebrew scholar and has a great and vast knowledge of the Bible, so much so that I often feel that I am drowning a bit.  She doesn’t take it literally and has a depth of understanding of the context, the time and place, and the original Hebrew and Greek.  I imagine she is smarter than Vosper, although that would be hard to prove of course.  No matter. For reasons I don’t completely understand, she, unlike Vosper, hasn’t seen fit to throw out the Bible or the concept of God.  Be she ever so humble.

In listening to Vosper, she vastly oversimplifies what others believe about God – she seems stuck on the notion that other people believe in ‘daddy in the sky’ (per her the National interview that I couldn’t get through I admit). That simplification is to her detriment, I think.  It oddly enough shows a rather black and white thinking that she looks down upon – Christians in her view all believe in a literal father in the sky.  She has no room for nuance it would appear.

I imagine her church and congregation are quite loving and supportive – it sure seems that way.  That is what she wants to nurture which is a laudable goal.  She completely dismisses the concept of any spiritual being – of anything beyond her plane, as it were.  She talks about how she was diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer which was later found to be wrong – she turned out to have a much more treatable kind.    If she believed in the concept of god, she said, she would then have to believe that this god chose to heal her from some divine reason.  Again, she seems to assume that that is what all Christians would think.    That gets under my skin because it seem so bloody arrogant.  Life can be random and awful and many people die no matter how much people are praying for them.  Some don’t but many many do. Cruel, awful.  I don’t believe that god chooses to heal some and not others.  Etc.

I have been following some discussions about all of this on Facebook.  United Church ministers getting all commenty on this article of faith and that article of faith – it all seems to me as a clergy outsider to be office politics on a large scale, jargon included.  It all seems so so far away from any kind of spirituality and rather a closed club of clergy (ccc?) a. fearing for their own jobs b. trying to reconcile whether the atheist minister should be kicked out of their denomination.  That gets under my skin too.  Perhaps the United Church should be dismantled – if it becomes more about who gets to keep a job or this article of faith and that one – what is there really.  But then again, I don’t really believe this to be the case.  I have had tremendous support at various times from a United Church or two – and their liturgy is not to be scoffed at.

Hmmm.  It is hard for me to write more coherently about this – my emotions get in the way.

Deep breath.

Ooops, need another deep breath.

For Vosper to dismiss the role of a spiritual being in the lives of others strikes me as arrogant.  Her position on the bible is no different than what millions of others think and what many others have expressed more intelligently.  I don’t find that there is anything new to be learned intellectually from what she is on about.  Emotionally, it seems she has taken her journey and come out the other side not believing what she used to believe.  She has found others (followers?) who believe the same as she does, who are relieved that their minister can guide them in this new belief.

Her folly is in deciding that her belief is new, radical, and needs to be incorporated into the United Church of Canada.  Rather than wrestle with the bible – which I find exhausting at best I must admit – she has taken what seems to be an easier route – dumping it completely.  She vastly (arrogantly?) oversimplifies the beliefs of other Christians in order to support her narrative.  Christians can indeed be darned self-righteous but ironically so is she.

Vosper has been invited by Unitarians to join them – and for sure their ideas align much more closely to her own.  Yet she won’t because she believes it is her mission to bring the United Church into the 21st century.  I suspect she will stubbornly hang on like a dog with a bone.  She is all ready booking up speaking engagements.  The American daytime talk show The View wants to have her on.  She wants her voice to be the voice of the United Church of Canada.

Were she to humble walk away of her own accord – maybe continue ministering (hmmm, wrong word) to those in her congregation in some way – that would seem to be divine intervention, yes?








Dad, tutoring, downtown school and the like. Maybe mice.

I have mice in my apartment.  Meece.  Mices.  Mouses.  More than one – so far I have seen a light brown one wiz by me and last night from my bedroom! (is nothing sacred ever) a little baby black one.

Finally connect with the owner of the building (no landlady.  Well there was but she was in her 80s and is now in a nursing home.  She had lived in the building since 1965, with her husband until he died) who tells me she will bring in a couple of traps on Thursday.

“Save the traps, okay,” she says.

“So, like, remove the dead meece and save the trap?”

“Or wait until I am next in and I’ll do it.”

No, I think the traps will be removed in their entirety.


I do not in any way want to do this but the mouse is becoming meeces so . . .

She regaled me with the story of the rats in the basement and the poison and oh that is why there was a huge dead rat in the bike room last year.  Oy.

I believe I prefer colonoscopy prep. to looking in the traps every day. You’ll hear them snap shut, she says.  God almighty, I said.

She is going to use cheese which isn’t the current thought on this but no matter.  Yuck.  Yuck.  YUCK.

No other apartment has mice or at least no one has seen them.  She gets confused the owner does and keeps telling me she will put the trap in the bathroom.  No the kitchen, I remind her.  One will go between the stove and wall and the other under the window.  Maybe I can then just hurl the lot out the window.  Probably best not to as I am on the second floor but my reactions may be such.  And I realize the mouse may actually not die right away and oy vay.

I think I could handle a dead cow more easily.  Not sure why.

I’m all dead mouse worked up.  I’m a light sleeper.  Snap!  Ugh.  Or I’ll wake up and there they will be all trapped up.


Weak and old dad is having minor surgery tomorrow.  This could be major.  He lives in Ottawa in assisted living near my sister.  Since my mom died he has gone so much more downhill poor old guy. My sister is going to spend the day at the hospital while he is in surgery.  Wait for the doctor’s report.  Make sure his wheelchair gets to his room.  The last time he was in hospital he needed to be in for quite awhile and he was a bit nervous about going back to the (lovely) manor.  His life has become infections and weakness – hopefully the surgery will help to alleviate a bit of the infection problem.

Enough said.  Well, other than it puts a giant lump in my throat.

Work.  Not much, as per usual.  The downtown school fills me with between 7-12 hours a week these days, sometimes at 1.5 hours a day which one would think is illegal as I’ve said before.  Apparently not.  Those hours will decrease pretty soon as well.  Newer teachers get more work because they get better evaluations, that kind of craziness.

I am getting D. back on Sunday as I have mentioned and I will be having a new 15 year old Chinese tutee, M, starting tomorrow evening.  It is about a 40 minute bike ride uphill or two buses or some such.  I’ll figure it out.  I wouldn’t go that far if it weren’t $40/hour.

Former student S. is back in town from China and I texted her but she doesn’t want further tutoring – too busy in her grade 11 year in the IB program in a private school.  Too bad.  She was lovely.

After a year of no classes because no students, I am hoping my two evening Langara classes run this year starting at the end of the month.  I am doing the intake interviewing next week in the evening so that is good.  Doesn’t seem promising though.

Oy.  So, as always, too much time on my hands.  I can’t go away because I can’t afford it and because I have to work around my 1.5 hour shifts.  Madness all around.

The Chinese cram school sent along an e-mail saying that if I don’t get my weekly/monthly reports in on time this year they will not pay me.  Well, they said if I am not on time, they are not on time.

Fair enough.  I shall report away.

The new student and I will feel each other out tomorrow evening and she will decide if she likes me.  Who knows.  Two hours is a long time with one student, especially since she won’t have any homework yet.  The cram school also keeps advising tutors of a four year old student who needs daily tutoring.  That must be really fun for the four year old.  Topics include social skills and manners, critical thinking, math and science.  The child is four.  What would one do?  Please say please and thank you.  Don’t eat spaghetti with your hands all of the time.  Tell me, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?  What is your take on the American election coverage?  Too much?

That would be tricky there with the four year old.  I would let her nap.  The mother would be like, hmmm, and I’d be like, we napped.  It was joyful.  Out the door I’d go.

Tiger mothers.

So same old same old – odd work situation (and the demoralizing downtown school that still pays more than the other downtown schools), under-ness and the like.

This morning I intook (not a word) a student at the downtown school – a young Brazilian woman who is a Bayer pharmaceutical rep.  Apparently Bayer owns Coppertone now.  Did she have any samples, I asked.  She did not.  The job pays very well.  She kind of knows it is a bit evil.  No matter.

I need to get out more.  I intook (not a word) a young handsome Italian student and felt myself staring into his eyes a bit.  And they are nervous because it is their first day and some middle aged woman with fabulous hair has taken them to a room by themselves to talk about themselves.

One young woman is from Belgium and her parents have paid for her to spend 39 weeks at the downtown school, as long as she gets a few diplomas – so IELTS, Cambridge, and general English.  She is just out of high school.

We have a couple of middle-aged students at the school, including a 52 year old Brazilian man (I haven’t met him) who apparently looks 82.  His wife had been at the school and complained hourly so we figure this may have aged him, this marriage.  No one really knows.  On Friday the school has me tutor (they like my tutoring because those don’t get evaluated by the students) a lovely Korean woman in her 30s.  She has travelled around the world and is really on the ball.  I feel badly she is stuck in classes with a bunch of naive 19 year olds.  She seems okay with it – her company is footing the bill.  We read from the Guardian online and chat about world events.

I went to the PNE yesterday for the first time in years – there were beef cows, piglets, dinosaurs that made dinosaur noises, and these really surreal dancing young people.  Had bad Mexican food.  Bonded with a new friend.  That kind of thing.

So that’s about it really.  Is that the mice I hear?!?!?!?  No, that was someone upstairs.  Where are the mice hiding?

You are all lovely – each and every one of my loyal fan base of two.



Whatever you do

Don’t let the sun go down on it.

Your anger.

The Bible, for example, a book that perhaps with some irony makes me angry, is often on about anger being a sin.

Don’t let the sun go down on it.

My mind for a minute there went to a sexually explicit place.  Go figure.  “Whatever you do, don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”  Well, yes, that would hurt – all of that burning down below.


I have always – probably not always, probably not when I was five – struggled with anger.  So it is chronic certainly and it always feels acute.  With age, it seems to be getting worse but who really knows.

It sometimes goes hand in hand with my anxiety – often with boredom, frustration, perceived helplessness.

Anger feels so powerful.  It is a double edged sword – toward myself more than anyone but also toward others.  Because I am so used to it, I don’t seem to realize the effect it can have on others.

I do know that other people’s anger scares the heck out of me or frustrates me or feels like it takes up too much space.

My father, now elderly and somewhat withered and having yet another surgery next week on the nether regions, had anger as big as a mountain I always thought.  He didn’t know what to do with it either I don’t think so it flew everywhere, often at me.  I felt helpless and hysterical during his rages.  By the time I was a teenager I was trying to clamp down my own rage and frustrated that he wouldn’t stop his own.

I am half a century old now and while he no longer rages – and his  physical helplessness and widowed-status make me sob from afar (yes, from afar far, a country apart) – I still do.

Gah.  I hate it and I hate myself for it.

He is the last person I wanted to be like.  And yet, there you go.  My boredom, loneliness and frustration over what seems to be my lack of control over my (non) work life and life life certainly flames it but is not the only cause.  It seems in my very marrow.

I’ve been raging of late at my 50 minute hour ‘fix me now!  Take away my anger!  Stop sitting in silence!’  She seemed worn out at the end of our 50 minutes today.  Not sure what her point was but I ended up feeling even more guilty.  I’ll bring it up next time.

Sometimes anything can trigger it – someone walking too slowly in front of me, feeling left out as the apartmentees in my building get to know each other better, Donald Trump, general death and destruction, despair, someone ahead of me in line who isn’t ready to pay and roots around for a quarter, happy families cavorting, dark dreary fall days and nights, aging, bad writing, too much diarrhea, hopelessness, little work, the downtown school hiring others over me, bad TV, fear of being left out, and on like that.  I don’t like being hair trigger and I shame myself for it.

So much toxic shame.

I read a blog of a whip smart woman whose daughter has had intractable seizures since she was three months old and now the girl is 21 and severely disabled.  The woman is a great writer and she has anger rising up through her so strongly that she says some in her family won’t talk to her.  She intimidates me (although I have never met her).    She doesn’t seem to hate herself for her anger – kind of flows with it as she cares for her daughter and goes through a divorce.

On my birthday I shouted at a homeless fellow on the street because he insisted I give him money.

Interestingly, my 15 year old (almost 16!) year old tutee, D., loves me.  I don’t express my rage with her obviously but my crankiness shines through.

“You are like a cranky old woman bitter at life,” she told me one day.  She was amused.  So was I quite frankly.  We shall be reuniting on September 11th for another season of twice weekly (I think) tutoring sessions.  Good for both of us. At the downtown library here in Vancouver you can book a room for two hours for free – glasses in rooms on each floor – see through I guess so you can’t be doing nefarious things in your two hours – and often you have to kick out the people before you.

“Oh, gosh, D,” I’ve often said, “Oh geez I have to kick these people out and they won’t want to go and I will have to get angry.”

She becomes positively gleeful at this.  Her own mother (‘she is your age but you look much older’) got out of her car once to kick the tires of another car that cut her off.

“This is awesome,” she tells me.

Treating anger like a sin should perhaps not be a thing.  I don’t think we treat depression or anxiety that way.  Although, yeah, people have to be responsible with where they throw their angry voices.

It’s difficult.  Anger.

Don’t let the sun go down on it wrote the ancients who also wrote of a god who constantly smote people with his own.


Should update the blog

For my consistent readership of two.

Thank you, wee readership.

Oooh suddenly a bit of sun in the sky.  This will be good for the folks at the Folk Festival – all those mellow folks don’t need to be rained down upon.

I popped by there yesterday afternoon – not too crowded yet and this morning to hear Twin Bandit – a wee group of two.  One of those two I have known since she was in utero so, you know, I am old.  No matter.  I walked through the masses of things for sale – lots of folky type stuff – scarves and leather goods and what not – came upon an artist I like and he had small blocks of pictures of his paintings on sale at a reasonable price.  Little blocks of pictures of his pictures

Speaking of not working, I’m not really.  The summer just slowed down bing bang boom – without my really knowing it.  I chose part time work at UBC’s  ELI over what would have been more work at the downtown school.   then the downtown school (the school that FM’edme lest we forget) hired a bunch of other subs because their busy season is when I am not there.  In hindsight, I should have stayed at the DSTFM.  But uh well.  Now I have – wait for it – 1.5 hours a day for four days at the DSTFM.  Except for Monday, those hours are smack in the middle of the afternoon.  Sigh.  Better than . . . working at Staples probably.

So I had good run of six months making okay money working three different jobs at times.  And now oddly the summer, the busiest season, is slow.

We carry on.

There is much horror going on internationally of course – but I feel inadequate to address any of it.  I will leave that to the more adequate folks.

I will say that it does seem that the murders had barely stopped before analysis appeared.  There seems no space anymore to grieve the dead.

All my time, all of this amorphous time – I should write more!  Perhaps I will volunteer to care for injured donkeys.

Well, must shower.  M. and I – in search of a movie that doesn’t totally suck (difficult)are going to see I think a spy one with Ewan MacGregor.  So so reviews but it is long so we will get our money’s worth.  M lived in Turkey for four years and her hubby is from there – so I think of her.  Her in-laws are all fine which is a desperate relief.



No rain?  Just a little rain?  Yup, that will do.  No jacket needed – going to be a warm day.  Hurray.  Perfect for this, yes?

I head to the basement of my wee building (actually a mansion from 1911! divided into 12 suites) and to the bicycle/boiler room.  Bikes, bikes everywhere, even from people who don’t live here I am convinced.  Surely a fire trap.  No matter.  I wheel mine outside and right in front of my building is a cycling street- cars still allowed on most of it but baby, this is a cycling route.

If I’m working at the downtown school I got fired from (odd how that works) I ride down that road for about 10 minutes and then head on over the bridge.  Burrard Bridge – a beautiful bridge made dangerous by all of the bloody construction.  Car drivers are impatient, everyone’s honking and horning.

In the morning rush hour, the cycle lane has its own rush hour.  Everybody and their grand dog – many wearing the holy grail of the bike outfit.  If you are wearing a cycling costume then no question you are going around me.

Hmmm – 20 minutes – 25? depending on the lights – it is a pretty speedy ride up there to the downtown school that fired me.  (Karen!  What if a manager reads this?!?!?).  My legs are chronically tired and unstretched these days from seeming vast amounts of over cycling but there is nothing better than getting here on my own steam – saving money and time and a bus ride full of stopping and starting.

I get so in shape in the spring summer and start to lose the weight I pack on during the endless rainy days of winter.

Cycling on city streets here is dangerous – no real question about that – I’ve narrowly avoided a few accidents and have been really close to being car doored. Even mentioning it feels like tempting the fates.  Five years ago when I started cycling again (as an adult) riding in traffic scared the non-cycling pants off me.  The theory has to be (and I’ve heard this before) that you have to pretend that all of the cars are out to get you.  Stay alert.

Vancouver is amazing with its cycling lanes though – Hornby Street saves me from the disaster of Burrard Street.

Hills are a thing.  The hills always seems to be going up.  The odd going down makes it all worth it though maybe – maybe not.  Do you ever get used to hills?  I do not think so.  The subtle grades are a thing – easy to walk up but cycling?  Holy smokes that takes some gumption, for me anyway.

I’ve started doing my longer rides again – the North Shore one is full of Lions Gate Bridge and Causeway (up, up, up up and up) and then more up and up. I am looking for new routes to conquer as I take my hybrid bicycle and 50 year old self all around the town.

Vancouver is a cycling city.

Geez- I just berated Oprah’s weight loss obsession in a previous post (that did not, sadly, go viral in any way) but wowza I was packing on the pounds this winter.  I had starred out with a commitment to weight lift and swim and indoor cycle but that died out soon enough. Rotator cuff injury was my excuse.    My 50 year old body wanted weight in the middle and it got it.  We shall see what this summer season shall bring.

Pool’s open and I have a week of not much work. There is some hope next week from TSTFM but who really knows.  Might try a few laps this week – Saturday’s attempt didn’t really work out – the pool was too crowded, it was really windy, and my bathing suit top kept coming off basically (yup).  Hoping for more success this week.

I say, if I can cycle up a hill, so can you.  Used bicycles can be had for not much, and a new hybrid doesn’t have to be that much.  Get a helmet and a bell.  Then go cycle the hell out of the city.


A blatant attempt at going viral, Oprah edition

So, you all know Oprah?

Massively famous American woman who had a talk show for a few years and then bought a network which she filled with reality shows about dysfunctional semi-famous people and briefly a talk show with Rosie O’Donnell.  Remember Rosie’s show from 20 years ago?  She never could quite re-capture that.

Anyway, so there’s been a lot of yada yada about Oprah’s latest weight loss – 30 pounds on Weight Watchers.  Oprah has also basically bought Watch Watchers so all weight loss is good for the company.  I saw a piece that Good Morning America did on this and commented that for god’s sake couldn’t Oprah talk about something else.  For all Oprah’s talk of women being empowered and own your power and quack your own duck and you can do it, women of America, she has never ever stopped talking about weight loss.  Oprah, who is a brilliant woman and a woman who clawed her way out of poverty and violence, refuses to stop adding to the obsession women have with their weight.  Such is her brand.  Her brand has always seemed to say ‘women, you can go this deep but no deeper.’  Her magazine has the odd article about women temporarily removing themselves from their (my, our) self-obsession and middle class lives to help other people.   But it quickly scurries back to women advising women on how to get over petty jealousies, succeed at work (get that promotion!), put on that makeup properly dammit, look years (decades?  centuries?) younger, walk across (or maybe up and down if  you don’ t have enough time) the country and heal yourself from emotional trauma, and where to get a really, really cool bag and thing a ma jig.

Hey, now, there is often something very comforting about reading O Magazine on the beach.   About checking out Gail’s page to see what/who she is promoting, er writing about.  And sometimes the book suggestions are not terrible at all, although they tend toward being books about women who either walk across the country to recover from some emotional trauma or who have tried to walk across the country to heal some emotional trauma but couldn’t quite finish because they got a fungal infection and had to stay home for six months following the attempt but that is when they really really learned about themselves.

Now, now, some of her fiction suggestions I have enjoyed.  Also, as a bit of a side note, if ever I met Oprah (why on earth this would happen I have no idea), I would certainly pass out.  Oprah is brilliant brilliant.  I must emphasize that I fully realize that Oprah is far more brilliant than almost everyone I have ever known, except my psychiatrist who seems to be so smart that I don’t know how she keeps all of that smart in her brain and have children and many patients.  Amazing.  So please, I do think that Oprah is amazing.

Sorry back to the point – the point!  First though, Oprah does, I realize, give away countless millions of dollars to charity, starting schools, etc.  Amazing.  Although she has so so much money (all of the money) I am not sure if this even makes a dent in her wallet(s).

The point!  The point!  Women (me me me too) will obsess about their/our weight forever and ever amen because we of course have been conditioned to do so.  We will continue to see rail thin 30 year old women playing mothers of teenagers (I am looking at you, Bloodline Netflix series. No way was that woman old enough to be Danny’s kid’s mother.  Otherwise though it was an excellent series) and diet and weight loss programs, forever and ever.  The weight loss industrial complex is worth billions.  Weight Watchers knows this.  Oprah knows this. All of the conversation she creates about women walking across the country to heal their emotional trauma and women who make cupcakes to  help grandmothers in Burma, are nothing compared to her constant uplifting and worship of weight loss.  Obviously, being heavy can definitely be the result of emotional trauma and that should always be looked at.  But none of that is what Oprah is even trying to do anymore – it’s all weight loss (join Weigh Watchers!  I bought the company) all of the time.

I realize that Oprah will never really deepen the conversation – that is not her brand.  But it seems she is shallowing the waters even more.



Prayers for the old man

Dad is in the hospital in Ottawa and has been for more than two weeks.  He went in with diarrhea (oy), a fever, and weakness.  Turns out is is pneumonia and E-Coli, amongst other things.  Dad is almost 81 (or 83, depending on who knows what but we have never understood it) and since Oct. 2014 has lived in a beautiful assisted living home in Ottawa near my sister unit, her husband, and their daughter.  Five minutes away by car type thing.

We never thought that dad would leave Winnipeg and the home he and my mom had lived in since 1967.  In the last few years of mom’s life when she was sick and isolated and scared she would have preferred to move to a retirement community, but he would not.  That sucked and he was quite selfish on that point but I shall move along here.  After mom passed at the end of 2013, dad quickly went downhill (er).  And so my sibling and her hubby amazingly got him out to Ottawa.

An adjustment period followed and at some points I think it seemed that my sister and hubby lived at the home themselves so often were they there.

Dad has his little place at a table for meals and apparently one of his table mates, a senior woman, has been missing him.  Sniffle.


I seem to be aware that often times seniors in hospital have a hard time, well, ‘bouncing back.’  And fair enough.  Seems dad is very weak (they took him off of a blood pressure medication which caused him to bottom out a bit.  He is now back on it) and not at all motivated to try to get back to the home.  His home now.  He is on a ‘rehab’ unit where they try to get him up and about a bit in an effort go get him back home.

My sister says he prefers the hospital food to the Manor’s which I can’t imagine – the Manor’s are homecooked and hospital food I think is pretty much the same Canada-wide.

My sister and her hubby do all of the leg work in our situation here with dad.  I blog and get vaguely hysterical at times – gah!  Too soon since mom died!

Dad and I aren’t bosom buddies – he was a difficult man to grow up with that is for sure.  I know that he has regrets about what happened – he has told my sister as much.

And now he is a helpless old man and that tears me the heck up.  He is still difficult as heck in a new way now but . . .

I haven’t seen him since mom’s funeral when he wasn’t nearly as down-hilly.  He could still walk then (albeit he fell an awful lot) and was basically him, emotionally broken, but him.  To see him now so many steps down the rung will be a shock no doubt.

In the end, he is one of my few remaining connections to the broken family from whence I came.

His own only sibling died about 13 years ago.  Of course he hadn’t seen his sibling in years as his entire family disowned him when he married my mom in 1960.  Messy messy cruelties.  He had never met his three nephews and their families – I met two of the wives once (they were visiting Vancouver) and I saw photos – bizarre to see features of my dad (and me) in their faces.  But they don’t care – have no desire for a relationship with he or me.  Fuckers.  Ooops, sorry about that.  But seriously people.


So there he is, hospitalized, weak, and unmotivated.

There is an expensive! private care home right near the beach near me. I often see workers wheeling these folks to the beach in the spring/summer (not winter, that would be cruel!).    That always makes me sniffle.

Old age.  Oy.

So perhaps a prayer for the old man, who to this day would call himself a Jewish atheist socialist.  Always seemed entertaining to me that Jesus himself was two of those three things.

Why I keep returning to a book that makes me so angry I am not sure.

Well, yeah, anger is a go to emotion for me – it developed long ago as a way to function I imagine and was perhaps present in the very fabric of my brain at the beginning of my time.  Don’t know.

But I digress.

I am always and always and always on the look out for community – I have had community at various points in my life, thank god.  Most memorable for me was way back in a year I did at SFU – I joined up with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) and that was really fun.  Cool people.  Not religious in the way you might think.  I am still friends with one or two of those people from way long ago.  One is now an atheist.  Wow, I was 23 years old and felt like I belonged with this great group of people.

I attended a Vineyard church for awhile (not a cult and becoming less cult-ish as time goes by) back in the 1990’s/early 2000’s and that too was often a great sense of community.  When I pop back now and again to visit, I see a few of the folks I knew then.  We still know each other’s name, that kind of thing.

I spent a few years attending a United Church near my home and for a time that had a small sense of community – the ministers (one retired after 12 years at the congregation and another came on for a very short amount of time) were very helpful during that time as my mom had been diagnosed with cancer, etc.  Later, when I was unemployed and bedridden with pneumonia, a minister came by my abode and handed me the $90 – receipt unseen – that I’d had to pay for some rather absurdly expensive antibiotics.  That kind of thing.

I now kind of attend a small Anglican gathering that meets at 5:30 on Sunday evenings.  It fancies itself a bit radical but I like the small-ness of it and the weekly eucharist.

A couple of my friends attend which is what got me going there.  It is fairly liberal in its way.

The wee church does ‘pop up’ Bible studies on a Sunday afternoon – five weeks or so.  The most recent is one on Acts and I attend because I intellectually like the study of text and because it gets me out of my own head.

Boredom fuels depression.  And depression fuels depression.  And it all is great food for anxiety and so I go.  It helps to get me out of my war zone of a head it does.

And yet – I don’t find in the Bible much that doesn’t make me angry.  There are glorious pieces of the book of course – places where it is clear that it is the ‘worst’ of society that are the goddamn best, to paraphrase.  Phew.  Those parts can hit me in a place as deep as grief – past defenses, past self-doubt/hatred, past any of that.  There be God.

And yet.  and yet.

So many passages in both old and new testaments are filled with god’s disappointment and rage and smiting of people who  just can’t get with god’s program.  So much of it seems so parochial and so of its time and place that has nothing whatsoever to do with what is happening now in life to anyone anywhere.  God, it seems, is constantly disappointed at best and enraged and smiting at worst.  In Acts – two folks who didn’t sell everything they owned to share with the group (an idea I like) were boom, dead.  And etc.

Seems God created humanity in order to be constantly disappointed with them.

Some swear this is not the message.  Things are metaphorical (which also makes sense) and really this smiting and disappointment, these rules and laws and etc. all actually make sense on a different level and what a relief.

And yet – the parochial nature of the entire bible is something I can’t get my head around.  This book, why?  The first portion is all rules and laws and men obsessed with virgins.  A couple of women do actually get named and are other than madonnas or whores but not many.  Not many make that particular cut.  David rapes Bathsheba and she gets blamed.  Hagar gets sex trafficked and she gets blamed.  So much sex all of the time the Old Testament.

Then there’s Jesus of course popping up in the New Testament.  Phew.  These laws don’t count anymore and we can stop wrestling with the Old Testament!  Phew.  Yet there is still smiting and anger and disappointment on the part of God towards the people.  And we again have to ferret out what the heck everything means and try to make it mean something today.

We twist and we turn and we pretzel, I think, in order to get that book to mean something that won’t make us absolutely crazy.  The place I attend has a pleasing interpretation of God coming to drastically turn the tables on a social order that placed so many people into an untouchable caste.  It is a political reading of the book and one that makes sense.  There is still belief in the Trinity and the working of the Holy Spirit and etc.  The eucharist is the centre piece which I also like – something always transcendent about the blood and body of Christ.  In that, there is peace I think.

And yet.  And yet.

If one takes the book literally, then one has given away all of their belongings and lives in community sharing everything.  There are no RRSP’s or retiring in Arizona.  Might be a mikvah or two.  Women’s heads are covered.  Jews are the chosen people (thanks, says half of me).  Celestial beings are all about and the unrepentant are, as we speak, perishing in eternity.    I am not being snarky here.  This is literal.

And if we are not literal (phew) then we are pretzeling it seems.

The book makes me angry and not in a good way.  Not in a way that transcends.  The book was written in a time and place for a time and place.  Messiahs were everywhere at the time of Jesus (really, it was kind of a thing).

Well then, why stick with it?  Why seek it out?  Why continue to read something that makes me so mad and really I have enough mad all ready.

I come back to the concept of community.  I am desperate for it.  And finding community in the city I live in a this time in history (dramatic a bit there) is just not easy.  And a Karen alone (I am working for the next four days for someone on holiday.  The school that removed me has unremoved me temporarily.  Yikes!  I will be tired, oh goodness.  But other than that it is not a great future scene) is an unhappy Karen.  I do try and join non-religious events – but that is not as easy as it sounds.  When I do work (thank you for the temporary unremoving, downtown school) I greatly enjoy the socializing amongst the staff although most folks are quite busy and the lunch hour quite short and the lunch room bizarrely tiny so much so that people are tripping over each other.  Nonetheless, I soak it all up.    Soak.  Soak.  Soak.

Soak!  Soak!!  Soak!!

Sorry, tangent.

For a time I attended a Buddhist meditation sitting near my abode.  The meditating was 40 minutes!!!!!!  I found it relaxing to sit in silence with others around but I don’t think I ever actually got to the meditating part.  If I focused on my breath I found that I actually ended up convinced that I wasn’t actually breathing.  After the meditating, there would be discussion of Buddha and the like.  Gack, I thought, I don’t want to exchange one book for another.

Anyway, these thoughts are all much deeper in my head (or somewhere, perhaps my bowels?  Maybe my thoughts are deep in my bowels?) than they may appear here.  I think that deep spiritual peace is not a black and white kind of a thing.

Now it is becoming clearer to me (thanks to the 50 minute hour) that I am black and white to the extreme – so I think I am being oddly literal about this and about metaphor.So perhaps for that reason too I don’t give it up completely.

All righty then, so ends my tangent.  My friend, G., crazy woman she, is going to swim in the might waters of Kitsilano Pool this morning (it is cloudy and about 14C).  I have been overcycling and I am not a fan of swimming in the cold (plus, I must try not to get sick as I have the aforementioned four days! of work).  We are going to meet for a wee chat before she dons her wet suit and heads forth into the wild waters of the pool.

To my loyal fan base of three – comments are always welcome on my posts.  Be not scared away by my tone.  I am mostly all bark.

Bark bark.








Above is a picture I took in Vinales in Cuba back in 2008.  It was so so dry there and hot.  Hot and dry.  The tobacco farmers used some turn of the century methods to farm – I wonder if this will be changing now that the U.S. situation is changing there.

Photos.  I have awakened to photos – taking them and looking at the work of others.  I have long liked looking at photos and yet and still it seems awakened somehow.

I have been thinking about how my life gets so wrapped up in one thing and tunnel visioned – the downtown school and my issues there of late, for example.  It does make sense this wrapped up-ness because there goes my income, such as it was, and also any work place socializing.  Up in smoke really.  Gone, not to come back.  I have been down this road more times than I can count actually, more often than most I know.

I keep forgetting that the world is bigger than that.  Seems obvious, yes?  Of course the world is bigger than that.  When I was in high school a century ago, I would get all wrapped up and stressed about a social studies assignment.  “Remember, Karen,” said Mr. George, my hot social studies and homeroom teacher, “One billion people in China don’t care.”


I find that extremely comforting really.  Photographs really tell stories of the world, yes?    My desire to learn more and more that is outside my tunnel vision is huge.  But I get wrapped up and nihilistic and lonely and hopeless.  That’s a fact that is.

But then – like London.  Let’s say London.  I could go there again and get wrapped up in the architecture, the museums, the bookshops, the Queen and all the rest of it.  And my tunnel back here – the one with cycles that I keep repeating and repeating – that would be smaller, yes?

The geographic cure in a way.

I realize that I have never been settled into a work situation – a situation where I felt safe, secure, like a layoff wasn’t imminent or like in a factory really, I wasn’t going to be replaced because  I couldn’t make the donut holes fast enough or the donuts didn’t evaluate me in a universally positive way.

I love chit chat and the blah blah that goes into a teachers’ lunchroom/breakroom/prep room.  Teachers squished in there, most with interests that make them happier than teaching but alas, they gotta eat, right?  Smart folks generally.  I need that, that slice of life, people around, people interacting.  I would get that from classes sometimes too – my most recent class (‘get out, you are not a 5/5 teacher all of the time and we can’t have that.   Pack your lunch pail and go.’)., a higher level (two students still insisted I spoke too fast, did not explain well.  If this downtown school doesn’t get an average of 5/5 or 4.72/5 then the multi national owner will descend with a hammer, I guess) and I got along just so well.  Bing bang boom.  I had them writing essays and reading newspaper articles out of The New York Times.  We discussed issues.  Way hipper and smarter than I will ever be, these young folks were lawyers and engineers and university students from different parts of the world.  That class flowed and we did more and more challenging work.  Uh yes, I thought, I’ve found my groove again and maybe I can keep the class through the summer when numbers are high and this will be like a real part-time job and I can save a bit of money and –


This week all I have had is a bit of tutoring with my lovely tutees but other than that I have been wondering the streets or binge watching, ‘Web Therapy’ (funny,  you should watch it).


It also turned out to be the week that a friend decided to tell me some stuff that well, fair enough, people have to say what they have to say.

Meh, life.  The world is giant and big, even.  It is a giant and big world.

Interacting with other people – interacting, not just observing the interaction (earlier this evening a guy and a  girl on Kitsilano Beach were balancing each other in some pretty amazing positions.  She supported him with just her outstretched legs at one point!  A remarkable world).  The relentless thrum of my brain and then I am at my student S’s last night and she needs to prepare for provincial exams and boom, I am out of my head and back in the land of the living.

Tomorrow late afternoon is D., who is also preparing for provincials.  It will be the first time she will be writing them – she is doing hers in June, three full days for goodness sakes.

Oh and on Saturday I am doing a 2.5 hour food tour of Gastown for only $15! ($59 for most folks).  This will be fun and interesting I think.  Not sure about the fish or beer but the tortellini, ice cream, and maple syrup will be divine no doubt.  Yay for Meetup.


Doing the same thing over and over

And expecting a different result is a definition of insanity – so said whoever is the latest person that that quote is attributed to.

As the joke goes, if there were a picture beside that quote it would be this one:


Caption:  person who does the same thing over and over and expects a different result.

I wasn’t able to see this with any sense of humour yesterday – golly no (remember how I am trying to incorporate the word golly more into my vocabulary.)

My experience in the ESL industry: “You are great!  What a great teacher you are!  We want to keep you forever.”

“You are the anti-Christ!  Depart from us!”

And that, well that says it all.