Thursday, July 30, 2015

See Me Again Soon

"See me again soon" she gently suggested after the bell had abruptly halted our session.
"Maybe" I told her honestly as I grabbed my bag and left her office.
I was exhausted. Why did I feel so drained?
The hallways were teeming with students as I just stood there. I felt like a stationary boulder misplaced among the coursing rapids.
"You were speaking to the counsellor?" I turned. it was an old buddy of mine whom I had drifted from recently.
"Nah. She just wanted to talk to me about my classes." I responded a little too quickly. "Making sure I wasn't going to fail math this term."
He nodded his head; unconvinced. Asked me how I had been and where I had been and when we were going to hang out.
I looked outside at the pouring rain as if in a trance. My mind was playing and replaying the past half hour with her.
It was unmistakable; I did feel lighter.
"I'll message you" I told him, though we both knew that I wouldn't, and I plugged myself into my music, threw my hood over my head and braced myself for the elements.
The rain.
I love the rain.
The chill, the smell, the sound.
I remember my dad taking me for walks in the rain when I was a little kid. Holding his hand, splashing in puddles, feeding the ducks, getting soaked and not caring at all as we laughed and laughed.
What happened to that kid?
How did I get here?
Where is the exit door?
I walked home through a path in the park. Wet socks.
She was nice, that counsellor.
In the past, counsellors called home, talked to parents, broke confidence. Made things worse.
I wanted to trust her, but...
I was standing in front of the playground where I used to play often as a child. Swinging so high, almost touching the branches of the tree that we also climbed and ran around.
Happy memories.
Why was it so hard to talk about how I feel now?
I want to, but something always stops me.
Am I stopping me?
Rain drops were making a loud sound on the metal slide and rolling down forming a small pool at the bottom. Could I allow myself to roll down the slide towards feeling better? More like myself again?
I looked up at the sky. It had been a little bit sunny only a short while ago when I was sitting in her office and I smiled at the a-little-too obvious connection. Does she have that sort of power?
Sometimes, when I sit in my room, I just get so angry that I want to punch the walls or break my computer. I want to slap myself so hard that I feel something so I can change. Everything sucks right now and I hate it!
I wondered how I must look to someone sitting in a car driving by - standing in the wet playground, holding the slide for support, not budging. So stubborn.
She wants to help.
I need help.
It's so easy, and yet it isn't.
My phone buzzed. Mom. Wondering where I am and if I'll be home soon.
Staring at the words on the small screen as if they were a foreign language.
It buzzed again "Come home soon."
I had shut her out and treated her like crap, and yet, she was still there and I knew deep down that she always would be.
She had done nothing wrong. I had made her feel that she had.
I was exhausted, but I couldn't trick myself any longer as even that little bit of sharing and revealing how I felt did feel good.
I gripped the slide and whispered to myself "let's give that counsellor another try."
And I started off towards the warmth and dryness of home.

I Want You Back

"I want you back!"
I cried on the phone, uttering the well-rehearsed line that had been spinning around and around in my head like a broken record since she'd left.
She sighed a really long and exhausted sigh.
I sat there on the stairs with my eyes closed almost shaking as if an addict badly in need of a fix.
"I really don't know what to say Sam. We've been over this."
She's right, we had.
Many, many times.
The last one was in this very room like a war zone strewn with suitcases and boxes full of old CDs and recipe books and bent photographs of happier more peaceful times.
How I had tried and tried to convince her that I would change and that she shouldn't leave and that I needed her and would do whatever I had to to make her feel loved.
She had just shaken her head sadly, refusing to make eye contact as if the very contact would reduce her to a single, dead, weightless leaf falling and blowing aimlessly in the wind.
But she was much much stronger than that and me and she just put her head down, flipping yet one more page as she rapidly neared the end of this chapter, of this book eager to the go to the bookstore and buy a new one.
Deep down I knew that when her legs and feet carried her out of that door she would be gone forever. I could have been a statue or a mannequin or hibernating bear in my inability to halt her progress.
And now, on the phone weeks later, it was as if I didn't know her; had never known her.
The her I had known and loved and spent hours laying in her arms on bus rides and grass fields and my beat-up sofa were in the rearview mirror of a car speeding away at top speed as if it had just been involved in a bank robbery.
And I knew she was right. I had changed. I spent too many hours at work and with buddies playing golf and I had taken her for granted even though I always said that I wasn't and I never would.
In the back of my head, I thought she'd always be there until she wasn't.
"Please come back."
She paused and in that moment I could picture her crystal clear. Running her hand slowly through her hair, sitting in her wicker chair by a window, drinking coffee, picking the cranberries out of her cranberry walnut muffin with a wistful look on her beautiful face.
"Be well, Sam. I have to run."
And with that she hung up the phone and I was alone again leaning hard against the wall of the room that we had shared.
I needed to stop doing this to myself.
It was over.

Time Keeps on Ticking

Life is so busy.

What I would give for a day off, or a relaxing afternoon or even just a few extra deep breaths.

Give me a second, or two. Wow! Who knew breathing could be enjoyed so thoroughly or so deeply?

From my perspective, days just go flying by. Or it is possible that I am flying and the days are just stationary? And does it affect things at all if I ride a stationary bike each Sunday afternoon for 45 minutes although by the 40 minute mark a variety of parts of my body have gone numb. Numbness is not just a state of mind, at least not during those 45 minutes on Sundays.

Life would be so different if I did fly and I almost definitely would get over my fear of heights. People are always telling me "just get over it" and I want to yell back "it's easy for you to say, seeing as you are so tall!" If only getting over things was easy, I would have a lot of free time that I could finally dedicate towards stamp collecting, because, as my grandmother always told me "those stamps aren't going to collect themselves". No one, as far as I'm aware, was ever trying to argue that they were.

The months of the calender are always being flipped. Often by hands and once by a carefully constructed "hand" out of paper clips and popsicle sticks that got rejected by the local newspaper when a photo was submitted. I had always wanted to submit a photo, and then after I had, I felt so empty and wished I could have it back. I wonder if the months are excited when it is their turn? And how they must feel when the "party" is over? We so easily turn the page to the next month and never stop to consider how the old month feels. Well, I do. And my co-workers give me a whole lot more space now.

Winter turns to spring which morphs into summer and then it becomes winter again and sometime after that fall (I may have the order a bit messed up, but that's not important right now). Seasons come and go and come and go - it is almost dizzying! Or, there is at least some chance, that my spinning around while my wife rapidly flashes different coloured lights in my eyes, is making me dizzy. I wish more things morphed before my eyes - it just seems like it would be a good show and we are all craving new and better shows these days what with the almost literal drivel they are attempting to pass for shows.

As the song goes "to every thing there is a season" and I would counter, not every thing. Like probably most things have a season and anyone who claims that they all do, is trying to pull the wool over our eyes just like Paul, that guy up the block whose wool collection is "large" and "mystifying" and "eye-covering". Things do belong in certain seasons and when they aren't placed correctly it is like a fish out of water and not in the fish-having-evolved-past-the-need-for-water-so-watch-out-mammals sort of way. My favourite season shifts from day to day and week to week and month to month making the word "favourite" moronic and totally incorrect, which was my intention all along.

I wish there was an announcement of sorts or a warning that is sort of like an announcement, only slightly more ominous and foreboding, when the last day of summer is here. Maybe I'd value it more and stop acting so blase about it. I am always going on and on about the summer ending and I always have so much attitude about it - I'm like "Oooh! Summer is finally deciding to end! Oooh! I'm soooo scared! Please, pretty please don't end Mr. Summer. Oh, I'm soooo sad. Boo hoo hoo." I see the errors of my ways and I also hear them as I made a series of voice recordings talking all about the various errors that I have made and how my "ways" have been adversely affected. Coincidentaly, I was once voted most likely to adversely affect others in my kindergarten class. You were right afterall, Ms. Brown.

Times passes so quickly, or at least it seems to, that it always seems like it is Wednesday, or Sunday or sometimes Friday. One time I swear there were two consecutive Wednesdays, but on second thought I was most likely wrong. I had a dream once that I was put in charge of everything - a reoccurring nightmare of sorts - and my first order of business was to make an entire week comprised only of Fridays because they are so amazing. But after day 2 I become so depressed and am the target of hate mail (and copious amounts of regular mail too due to a postal error) as Fridays had lost everything that had made them special in the first place and had been reduced to any other "loser" day like Tuesdays. The dream always ends with me eating peanut butter sandwiches on a raft accompanied by a recently fired accountant who may or may not have been born in Russia.

Many mornings I wake up with a start and I find myself sitting up in bed spending far too much time thinking about what day it is and not nearly enough time on more pressing issues like how to get out of bed and where to go once I do this and what would a day be like if I woke up with a stop? 

Mornings often have a feeling of déjà vu accompanied by freshly steeped aromatic tea and flyers demanding that I buy a new table. If I bought a new table each time I was prompted to by these flyers that claim they are my friends, I'd have enough tables to open up my own table store on the side. I always wanted to provide others a vehicle with which to eat upon or under - plus they make great barricades in case you want some alone time and don't feel comfortable using your words.

I really want time to slow down. I'd love for time to quit with the marching already and try a leisurely stroll down on the promenade for a change. "Time stops for no one" is a slogan that I once naively had printed on a 1000 tshirts in hopes that the participants at a forensic scientists conference would purchase them like hot cakes, when in hindsight I should have gone with plan A of just trying to sell them hot cakes as it is a well known fact that after a long evening of DNA work nothing satisfies quite like a plate of hot cakes sans tshirt.

My kids are growing up too quickly, my hair is greying at the temples and a large number of my microorganisms have run out of whatever it is that I was providing them that kept them alive and they have decided to go find a new sugar daddy, literally, as me as a source of seemingly never-ending sugar, was inaccurate on at least two levels.

I'd love to freeze things just as they are right now. Life is pretty great and we are currently experiencing a heat wave, so any spare ice would come in handy. But, you know as well as I, and most likely quite a bit better and more accurately, that time just keeps on ticking as does that timer that says my turn is just about done.

Monday, July 20, 2015

I'd Love to Know

"I'd love to know what you are thinking about right now" I said as yet another long expanse of silence had descended upon the room.
Silence was like snow as it blanketed everything in sight.
He shifted around again and again and again, as if in time with the ticking clock.
Nervously fidgeting, trying to get comfortable as the floor he had so quickly chosen almost 30 minutes ago wasn't at all cushioned or warm.
I am fighting off tiredness that often hits near the end of the day.
Trying to focus.
I take a small drink of water, move my chair closer, sit on my hands.
Encouraging him to speak, to share, to say anything at all in anyway just to get a conversation going so that I had something, anything to work with.
He looked up at me, as if to judge to me. He seemed to be telepathically asking if he could, in fact trust me, and I was emphatically responding "yes, yes you can!"
My voice had been the sole sound in the office, aside from an errant phone call that was probably a frustrated parent, an overworked social worker, an exhausted teacher.
Focussing was such a challenge today.
Blocking the thoughts, important ones and random alike, as they attacked and assaulted my brain.
Staying present, for him, for my own sanity, was so key to my work.
Yet so hard some days.
This was one of them.
My mind drifted to a conversation with my husband that morning that did not go well. Why was it so hard to take my own advice?
Work was providing an escape from the constant challenges outside this room. 
"Here things were easy" I thought as I looked at this sad and angry young man who seemed to be going out of his way to make things not easy for himself.
"I can tell you have a lot going on in your head and I know how hard it is to let someone in, especially someone like me, who you barely know. But I also know how good it feels to share, once you have."
I had spoken words like this countless times to countless students similar to him in the past.
It was an excerpt from one of my many short speeches that I truly believed.
But did he?  
I was playing the part of the used car salesperson, once again, trying to get him to buy the sedan with low mileage that I knew he'd love.
Could I crack his shell?
Refusing to look at me, he mumbled how life sucked.
It was a start.
"I'm so sorry to hear that. Do you want to tell me more about how life sucks for you?"
He quickly looked up to meet my eyes. Did I really care as much as I sounded, he must have been wondering? And why? Why would anyone care for me?
"I really care and I want to listen and to help. It doesn't have to be this way."
He opened his mouth and he was shaking slightly. He looked away. And then he spoke about being alone. A lot. Like all the time. 
He spoke about not caring. About anything. At all.
He spoke about being alone in his room, in the school, in the world.
I fought the urge to tell him I knew how he felt, because did I?
And then just as it felt like we were finally starting, the bell to end the school day rang. 
An odd half-smile crossed his lips and he looked at me as if wondering if he was allowed to leave.
"Well, I guess it is time to go home. I really hope you come see me again soon. Tomorrow?"
He shrugged his shoulders and rose off the floor shaking his leg. "Maybe"
And he left.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Trust Me

"Trust me" she said as I sat cross-legged on the floor of her office refusing to make eye contact.

Pissed off.

Wanting to swear.

Hating everyone and everything.

I have never trusted counsellors or therapists or shrinks and I wasn't about to start now.


Aside from the trickling water from her water feature.

And the ticking of the clock.

Is my time done yet?

Can I retreat again to my world, my room, my head?

Called down to the counsellor; how embarrassing.

I'm sure they all had a good laugh.

She explains her job and then starts asking questions that I have no interest in answering, tells a joke, trying a little to hard to be my friend.

Acting like she knows me but she doesn't know me at all.

She's a stranger.

But there is just something about her and this room and I am surprised that I am actually tempted to finally open up to someone about everything, but it is so hard.

Sometimes my secrets feel like all I've got.

I'm trapped like sand in an hour glass; shifting and moving and pouring but never really going anywhere.

Where to start....

I gaze up at the windows.

It is so bright outside and I feel so dark inside.

Is that a paradox? I know it's something. 

I catch myself before a small smile crosses my lips - did she see?

I must be super-interesting or maybe it's just a slow day because she just can't take her eyes off me. 

Am I on display here?

Is she going to observe me like a biologist tracking the patterns in animals in captivity?

Is it my move? Which piece to play?

But...maybe she could help and maybe I could feel better if I lifted the veil that has been figuratively covering me for so long I can't remember but maybe I like it better this way as everyone leaves me alone all the time like I'm contagious except for that nosy English teacher who just had to read my poem and freak out.

Or maybe I wanted that all along?

Was I crying for help?

Was that my plan?

Did I want to be here, sitting with her, opening up and being helped and actually listened to and finally heard?





It would feel good to share.

It would feel good to tell my story.

I look up and meet her eyes and she smiles.

Almost literally trembling, I open my mouth as if to speak, but I pause, and look down at the worn carpet again.

What to share and how much and if I start to talk can I control myself as I do want help with certain things, but don't want to share everything and I definitely don't want to cry, not here and not in front of this lady I barely know.

Her phone rings.

She ignores it and slides her chair a little closer to mine.

Tells me she is here for me and wants to help.

Tells me what I'm going through is normal but that it doesn't have to be this way.

"Talking helps."

I look up again, meeting her calm and caring eyes.

Is this a trap?


Take a deep breath and another.

And then as if a scarecrow giving in to a heavy wind, I begin.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ride Off Into The Sunset

People are always stopping me and asking me if I "want a free sample of toothpaste" or if I "like to party with the horses" to which I want to either give them an emphatic "maybe" or a limp hug depending on the genuineness of their smile and the direction of the wind. It was a westbound wind and I enjoyed my sample of toothpaste much more than I should have.

In some areas of town, I can't help but feel out of place as the locals are all roaming the streets like ants on their way to a picnic or just excitedly on their way to a picnic themselves and are just the roaming types. "Types That Roam" was coincidentally the name of my thesis in my failed Ph.D.

Just when I think I've seen it all, a woman I've never met wants me to inspect her freshly manicured nails before she proceeds to don her wolf suit so she can terrorize her father's sheep who have grown very complacent. The nails were immaculate yet nothing special.

The other day at the library, a fellow lover of dictionaries was overly aggressive and downright acidic with me due to my excessive chortling regarding some of the 'X' entries which I was trying to explain was mostly a result of my parent's insistence that the spots in our house must be obviously and accurately "marked". To this day, I believe that drawing an X on a floor gives me a least partial ownership or at least a place to recite Shakespearean monologues.

While urgently buying breakfast cereal the other morning a group of random tourists insisted that I read them bedtime stories at lunchtime and them treat them to a round of golf followed by a staring contest that was rigged from the beginning. Those random tourists are the bane of my existence! 

My sister is constantly telling me that there is no mountain I can't climb before she laughs uncontrollably for a good ten minutes before not only popping all of my  balloons, but also deleting my internet browsing history before I had the time to say goodbye. I'm just not the same without some record of my browsing history.

On Monday, I was patiently waiting in line at the bank to inquire about the chance of being given my withdrawn money by a teller dressed as a circus clown and a rabid dog ran in through the open door and skillfully removed everyone's toupees just as I was starting to appreciate them. My bank is a constant source of strangeness and velvet.

Doctors have always told me "that doesn't look normal" and "you need to book an appointment first" and "no, we aren't auctioning off the equipment" before continuing to eat all my yogurt and show up around dinner time impersonating my wife. Wife impersonating is a dying art.

On my way home from the florist where I had my heart set on purchasing a bouquet perfect for an evening of high treason, I ran into some old high school friends who had spent the last bunch of years doing something so excruciatingly boring that not only I could I not hear what they were saying, but I also couldn't taste it, and believe me, I tried. Just once I want to enjoy an excruciating experience.

Whenever I'm out and about, random dogs accost me on the street and bark at me vigorously as if they are attempting to scare me or send me a message from the "head" dog who doesn't seem to like my stance on leashes and free trade. Just for once, I want to bark vigorously to send my messages.

While standing in line to buy my daily hot chocolate and blueberry muffin which helps me reclaim some of my lost sanity, the manager of the cafe stood on the counter and announced to everyone that after much careful consideration he had selected me to buy him some new soap. Yippee!

Whenever I'm inundated with surveys about local politicians' desire to dig series of new holes and petitions trying to save endangered species but still preventing them from purchasing real estate and amazing deals that can't be turned down no matter how adamantly I try, I put on my trusty shoes, pack a light snack, and ride off into the sunset.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dear Diary: October 16th

Hey Diary!
What a great time I'm having at my new job! My only regret is that I'm just too busy to tell you about it more often.
It did take a while, but I am finally starting to feel comfortable in this new position which was at least partially due to my finally being allowed to sit on a cushioned chair and a regular desk in an office. My bosses apologized profusely about my having to work in the receiving area in and among boxes, packing tape and piles of bricks for the first month. I told them not to worry, as I figured it was just part of an initial "feeling out" period that I was quite happy to endure. Happy is almost definitely the wrong word to use, but I didn't want them to think that in any way was I unhappy here as a book I once read told me how important it was to do whatever you had to do and say whatever you had to say to make your bosses happy.
To be honest, diary, I did have a few low moments where I did consider either complaining or quitting, but I persevered as I remember my dad always telling me about the benefits of working hard and putting my head down, which I did continually and I have the bruises and cuts from the bricks as proof. I should also thank the series of inspirational posters I put on the wall for strength. As you know, inspirational slogans, especially when written in bold letters on colourful posters, have always confused me and helped me through tough times.
Since I've been in my office, a few of my co-workers have been playing a prank on me - an innocent "new guy" hazing ritual that I'm sure they all went through themselves when they first started. Everytime they see me, wherever I happen to be - at my desk, eating lunch, photocopying - they ask me "what are you doing here?" followed by "you have five minutes to vacate the premises" followed by threatening to call security.
In the end, alarms would sound, security would arrive, frisking would occur and my proof of employment was produced and everyone would walk away shaking their heads in disbelief. Oh diary, what a bunch of jokesters I am so lucky to call my workplace colleagues! I wanted to refer to them as friends, but they had me sign a number of forms in triplicate legally barring me from doing so.
This past Friday was my first staff social - a beer and pizza night at a local restaurant. I was so ready to kick back and relax and enjoy hanging out with the others after a bit of a stressful week full of rapidly approaching deadlines. True, I haven't been given any actual assignments at the moment aside from licking and sealing envelope after envelope as well as keeping an eye on the envelope supply and ordering more envelopes when the supply is low. It is fairly easy, but I am taking the job seriously as I want to show everyone that my skills are not limited only to tasks involving envelopes and I am ready for more responsibilities.
The social was fun! I went in with a commitment not to drink too much beer as I didn't want to make a fool of myself so early in my employment period, but I sort of lost track and may have had a few too many as a number of photos circulated over the weekend and the next few weeks with me doing my mime-trapped-in-a-Russian-gulag impression, talking to the coat rack and eventually being convinced to buy life insurance from it, attempting to french kiss the plastic cactus on the table, frantically swatting away what I thought were bats and literally cutting the rug.
But, it was all in good fun and I love that I am really starting to feel like part of the team here at work! If we were a football team, I wouldn't be the starting quarterback or even one of the defensive lineman. No, not yet. I would be the back-up placekicker with the heart of gold who is supporting the others with good spirits and cheerleading and back rub after back rub after back rub and I am just waiting for my turn. I know that my turn will come and I am ready. I am so ready. Diary, my readiness is almost impossible to describe in words, but not quite as evidenced by these words I am writing to you right now.
I have a huge file of advertising ideas and plans and the file is almost bursting at the seams. I know, I know, I should have invested in a better file in the first place! And who has even heard of a file with seams in the first place? But I was young and naive when it came to buying files and I was just ready to tackle the advertising world as I announced loudly and even took out a radio public service announcement stating as much. Later on I grew to learn that the metaphor of tackling a world made little to no sense and only made others a little worried and on edge around me. I always thought others being on edge around me was silly, considering how round and edge-less a person I am.
I know that I just have to keep working hard and my day in the sun will come, as well as my day to lead some projects and do more than just be in charge of the envelopes. I know I can do this diary and I know I am not the black sheep as my older brother always referred to me and coloured on me while I was sleeping.
I know I say it nearly every time I write, but I need to exercise! My body is starting to resemble that of a jellyfish both in colour and texture. I need to either get up early and run or go to the gym after work. I also need to clean more often as I have been way too lazy with my cleaning and it is just so depressing coming home to such a mess each day that the other day I was in such a state of frustration that I came this close to throwing everything out the window onto the street. Lucky for me I am still living in a basement, so throwing things out the window up onto the street is harder and more exhausting than it sounds.
Everything will work out, diary! I have no doubts at all.
The next time I write, i hope to have some great news about work and life!
take care