Saturday, June 25, 2011

Searching for the Words

In the story of my life, my Catholic Confirmation was really the beginning of my honest-to-goodness questioning of what faith was and what was expected of me. I remember going through the whole religious process with not a whole lot of concern for the spiritual aspects of confirming my belief that I would be a Catholic for the rest of my life. I remember being concerned that this was far too large of a decision for a 10 year old to be making. I remember really wanting my confirmation name to be linked to my family some way. (I chose Theresa, my great grandmother’s name) I remember being upset that my aunt couldn’t understand why I would ask her to be my sponsor because she didn’t remember that she was my godmother. I remember giving far more consideration to my appearance and remembering things we had to repeat than I was about any relationship I was supposed to be developing with god or Jesus.

Part of the process was going on a “spiritual retreat” to the convent nearest to our school. Worst. School. Trip. Ever. We went to the convent at Mount St. Joseph for a full day of prayer and contemplation of our future life as “full patch” members of the Catholic faith. I recall a nun and a priest giving a speech to us. I don’t recall any of my classmates taking it all that seriously. I spent some time just wandering around the grounds trying to figure out what the nagging feeling was. It was a feeling that something wasn’t right, not necessarily that something was wrong, but just… not right. I don’t know that I could put my finger on it even now, but I found myself walking in circles around the garden path trying to figure something out, to no avail. I remember a classmate teasing me for taking all of “this god stuff” too seriously. Was I taking it too seriously? Probably, but not in the way that I was being teased about. I was not devout. I was sure I was not doing the right thing.

What I really wanted was to grab someone and beg them to help me find the language to put that feeling into words. But I was there in a convent, surrounded by people who’s job it was to make me a good Catholic and my peers who were just thrilled we weren’t at school. I just wasn’t sure that confirmation was right for me, but I knew that I didn’t really have a choice about it. My robe had been rented. My stole had been named and symbols of my Catholic faith dutifully glued to it. My aunt was coming to be my sponsor and family was coming from out of town. I even managed to score a new 10-speed bike in black and silver out of the deal. I was going to be Catholic for life because that’s what my parents were and as their child I was going to be Catholic too. Catholicism was the only religion available to me so I didn’t know that there were other options, other than the faiths that would go door to door trying to spread their faith. I didn’t know then that a few short years later I would increase my vocabulary when it came to all things of faith.

This entry is an edited excerpt from the as yet untitled memoir I have been writing this year.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Because You’ve Got to Have Goals

I have been thinking a lot about never giving up on your dreams since last night when Lady Gaga won a Much Music Video Award. She said to never give up on your dreams. For most of my life I don’t think I had any dreams. Or at least not specific ones.

According to The Change Blog STEP ONE is Make a list of what’s important to you.

Here is my list of 10 things (in no particular order of importance):

The internet

STEP TWO is Ask "Why is this important?" for each item on your list.

Security because having it is the only reason I have to live.

Joe because he’s the reason why I show up for my life every day. I owe him so much and I do not want to let him down.

Walking because one day I may not be able to.

Comfort because, along with number security, it is the only reason I have to keep breathing.

Writing because it is the second thing I showed some aptitude for and enjoy.

Pajamas because when I am wearing them I feel comfortable and secure.

Intelligence because it is what keeps us from killing each other.

Sex because it is the first thing I showed some aptitude for and enjoy.

The internet because without it Joe would be the only person I like that I talk to on a daily basis.

Organization because it is the third thing I showed some aptitude for and enjoy.

STEP THREE is Use your answers to identify your values.

The things I value are security, being good at something, and self-preservation.

STEP FOUR is Use your values to set your goals.

I guess I’m going to have to get a little free associative with this goal setting thing because the only thing I’m getting from this list is that I want to be Hugh Hefner, only with a way better publication and brand to control.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I don't believe in happy endings

A man I once loved said to me, “No matter what, unless we die together, it will all end in tears.”

Happy endings seem to presuppose that changing the legality of a relationship, leaving a crap job or getting out of a place you don’t want to be is an “ending”. I have never known a single human being who’s life stopped at the point where John Hughes would end the movie. An ending, happy or otherwise, begets a beginning.

I have been laid off from jobs that I hated because of financial cutbacks no less than 3 times and was able to collect federal Employment Insurance benefits whilst I tried to find something more suitable. I have yet to find that job. I don’t believe it exists. So while the ending was filled with relief the subsequent financial instability and settling for yet another job I knew I would hate didn’t really make that ending happy. The new beginning it begat wasn’t very good either, and I suspect that when my current job does come to an end I will feel anxious relief. I won’t know where I am going, but it will be different from where I was.

Having never been involved with a team or project that had an ultimate goal or finite outcome, I guess I will never feel the intense emotion of that kind of happy ending. Upon further consideration I suppose that some of the work I did in politics could have been considered to be happy endings, but the election outcome was never the end. Winning political office is never the end all and be all. The work begins the next day to begin to hold office. Just shortly after you start to feel that things are flowing as they should, it’s time to run for re-election.

What I do believe in is happy beginnings. The stereotypical “Boy marries girl” is not my idea of a happy ending. In my case it was the happiest beginning of my life. If our relationship had a “Happy Ending” I would have to say that that was the day he moved to Canada to be with me; one month before the wedding and 10 months after the first time we spoke. It was the end of long distance phone calls, the end of trying to carve out time for travel, the end of trying to find a way to work out our schedules so that we could still have lives and take care of each other across two time zones and an international boundary.

I wasn’t sick then. He was just a month after donating his mum a kidney. He had just dropped everything - the life in the city he had lived in for the better part of two decades, the job he’d had for most of that, the apartment he’d rented for years and years at that point - to give his mother an organ, move to a foreign country and marry a woman he had known for less than a year.

I have been kissed a hundred thousand million times but there are three that I absolutely won’t forget. The first one ever, the first one with Joe, ever, and the first one with Joe on the platform at Main Street/Science World Skytrain station as I went to pick him up from the station. That was the first kiss I ever got from him that wouldn’t start a countdown to his departure. He was home, and I knew that I was ending all of the long-distance bullshit that had taken over my life in the previous 8 months.

That was the moment in my life when John Hughes would end the movie. But as suddenly as that happy ending was realized, it was over. That was a new beginning. That was the start of something that we carefully considered, planned for and fretted about for the previous 6 months. That was the moment our new life had begun.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Hockey players wear numbers because you can’t always identify the body with dental records."

Duh da duddada - Duh da dadada



(your transcription may vary)

Now that summer is here (we hope) my biological clock is confused about my desire to spend a Saturday evening indoors watching hockey. My team’s been golfing for weeks, but the team of my adopted home is in the Stanley Cup final. (Game 3 is live from Boston as I type.) Watching the lifers and long suffering Canuckistanians get into it and celebrate has been inspiring.

I haven’t watched a Stanley Cup final with such interest in years. (18 to be exact - but who’s counting, other than every Montreal Canadiens fan in the world.)

Some of my earliest family memories - vague as they are - involve church-hockey-euchure on a Saturday night. I have quoted The Theme Formerly Known as the Hockey Night in Canada Song above. I am pretty sure that I could name that tune in two beats.

I know all of the words of the Star Spangled Banner - not because I’m the wife of a patriotic American, but because I was once a 5 or 6 or 7 year old Canadian who happened to watch or overhear a LOT of hockey. When I was a kid I thought that O Canada and the US anthem were just one long song. They just reversed the verses for what city they were playing in.

What’s weird is that there were certainly no classes or tutorials on this stuff - I just know it. I know at some point someone taught me the icing and offside rules but I don’t recall when or by
whom I was told. I suppose it was my dad, but it could have been an uncle or a family friend.

Just as I do not have a memory of not being able to read, I don’t remember not knowing about hockey. I don’t remember, even in my surly-anti-establishment-queer-community days, ever turning down the opportunity to watch a game.

Even as I write this the TFKatHNICS is ringing in my ears. That song is as much a part of my identity as my eye colour or where I was born. I have so few specific memories of my past anymore that I cling to whatever vague assurance I can get from my past.

The Canucks killed me tonight. My hatred of the Bruins is greater than my love of Vancouver. I am taking this humiliating loss a little more personally than I should.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mi amore vole fe

What do I want? I am far more certain of what I don’t want. What little I do know I want are small victories or pie-in-the-sky outlandish, never to really happen dreams.

One of the small victories I want would be to have then spastic tension in my left calf let go for just a day.

One of my pie-in-the-sky outlandish dreams is to write a memoir worth reading that won’t make what’s left of my family angry at me or get me sued.

I want to be able to smell coffee without wanting to puke, but I also dream of winning the lottery and living it up.

I want to know what the future would be like if I didn’t have MS. I dream of the day when MS is cured and I can stop holding my breath, waiting for the next bad thing to happen.

I want to have a spontaneous memory of my past that does not include an anxiety attack. I dream of the day when I can afford to have my hair, nails and toes done, brows and a wax job all in the same month. That dream seems pretty out there right now. I have expensive maintenance costs.

I want to be joyful a little more often. I dream that the next time my grandma sees me she will remember me. I want to be more creative on a daily basis, but I dream of being able to dance again.

I want to know what I am good at and I dream of the day when that is obvious. I want to show the world that logic isn’t terrifying. I dream of a day when all my friends are equal in the eyes of the law in every country around the world.

I want the day to come when I am able to stop making lists. I dream of the day when I am able to get through a day without forgetting something important.

I want to quit my job. I dream of the day when I own a real sofa. With cushions and stuff. I want to get more out of what little time I have. I dream of the day when I have enough energy to even attempt to take advantage of that time.

I want the Montreal Canadiens to win the Cup next year. I dream of the TD Garden and the Wells Fargo Center blowing up and taking their respective teams with them. (Not the players... but the buildings and franchises.) (Well, maybe some of the players.) (And Bobby Clarke... and hopefully Garry Bettman is visiting.)

I mostly want security; a most likely scenario going forward that gives me the odds on what kind of life I am going to end up with. I want to love my life and dream of knowing for certain what I am meant to do. I want to continue to love Joe.

I want to believe in myself. I want to believe that if I were tested I would stick with my values. I want to believe that there are few things worth dying for and that if I was faced with them, I would. I want to believe that I am a person of character. I want to believe that my personality doesn’t sell out my character.

I dream of loving my life.
(love needs faith)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Turn my sorrow into treasured gold...

I'm trying to change. Still.

The past couple of months have been a lot about just trying to find the energy to get through my day. 10 days away from work seems to have helped. 9 days being reminded of where I came from and recalling how I ended up where I am now has been emotional and at times difficult but probably what I needed.

I am hoping that the last half of this year brings more change.

The future starts now. I know that. I've probably always known that.

Oh, and in case you were wondering... it is not enough for the Canucks to win.