Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Went to England again, last week.  No, wait.  Week before last.  Good conference, stayed in a hotel on the beach in Portsmouth, presented my research, got to hang out and be a student for a while.  Came back to piles of work, but oh well.

John and Jill live near the conference venue, so John came and got me on the Friday afternoon and took me back to their place for dinner.  We discussed Brexit.  No-one I met in England was for it.  We also talked about me leaving England for Canada when I was in elementary school, and how that affected my life.  It occurred to me, while I was wandering around listening to my music, on the waterfront in the rain, on the way to the university from my hotel, that my life would have been very different if we'd stayed there.  I'd maybe feel a sense of belonging, at least in one of the countries.  But as I get older I find that I don't have the self-consciousness I used to have, I don't hear my accent as different, I say what I think and then grin and mostly people deal with it.  I don't want necessarily for people to think I'm English - I am what I am now and whatever they think is not really relevant.

Having said that, I got up at 5am the morning of my presentation and paced around the parking lot at the hotel, rehearsing it out loud.  It went well, I managed to say everything I needed to say in the 15 minute time slot, my slides all worked, and the audience said nice things afterwards.  The students I travelled up with told me I didn't seem nervous, but I do have a poker face when I need one.  

Thursday, June 02, 2016

I have, of course, acquired, with much cursing at Ticketmaster, three tickets to the Tragically Hip in Edmonton on July 28th.

But first, I would like to point out that the universe is inherently lacking in fairness.  Why does the dangerously cheesy Donald get to continue to deposit slime on the world stage and Gordon Downie gets a brain tumour?  Who decides these things?  I'd like a word.  Selfishly, I need Gord to live forever and continue to sing the contents of my thoughts to me, the thoughts I didn't realize I had until he growled them.  Which, i believe, is the real purpose of poetry.

Years ago, when the kids were very little, I went drinking with Graeme, between Christmas and New Year, in Lake Louise.  It was a good night, with an excess of beer.  Something the bar under the Lake Louise Inn specializes in:  surfeit.  Graeme and a girl (I'm sorry, it was a long time - I forget her name.  Hopefully she's forgotten mine.) were walking behind me, and I shuffled my feet through the snow, that sparkled unbearably under the streetlights, over the tourist bridge behind the Post Hotel, after last call, singing Cordelia at the loudest possible volume.  I remember feeling the song with my whole body - "Just to see how alive you really are..." and in that moment, being elated and sad at the same time...  Graeme and girl were laughing at me.  I didn't care.  I sang all the verses and didn't get arrested.

Rachel and Ian are coming with me to the concert, Kirsten will be on her honeymoon with Jorden.  Which I suppose is only right.  

Saturday, May 14, 2016

So in the middle of the night a couple months ago, I'm home alone and I can't sleep.  the dog and I are watching the Investigation Discovery channel.  which, if you've never seen it, is all true crime, all the time.  addicting.  anyway.  I quit smoking with Champix, which was amazingly easy and painless, with the added bonus that all the noise in my head tapered off and I was calm and even.  no problem.  didn't even want to smoke.  three months without smoking.  magic.

then the Champix had to stop.  and within a week, the stuff in my head came back, and having had a nice rest, it was raring to go.  middle of the night, as I mentioned, and my brain is suddenly in full-on 'you should kill yourself' mode.  I don't know why my brain is so bent on self-annihilation.  usually it takes a few months to get to that point, during which time I can get used to it, talk to it, tell it to fuck off.  use all my coping mechanisms - long walks to get physicality, music to get a bit of joy, dog cuddles, obsessive work...

anyway.  my response to the sudden rush of suicidal ideation was to get out of bed, go in the other room, find an old tin of tobacco, and make myself a cigarette.  the strong urge subsided to a manageable level.  I'm used to this...

in the morning I had a health centre appointment, a weekly bp check as they still don't like my numbers.  the nurse says to me, "how did you do with quitting smoking?"

I'm exhausted, reeling at my near-miss (or near hit?) and I say, unwisely, "I started again last night.  It was either that or kill myself"

how fast do you think I was seeing the mental health guy?

anyway.  long story short, the doctor is making 'you're bipolar' noises.  I've backed off.  I shucked my last appointment.  I don't want drugs.  (I won't kill myself.  Promise).

But the interesting thing out of all of this is that although I've known about the depression being a factor for so many years, it never occurred to me (and I'm bright, aren't I?) that the other side of it, the high points were also an altered state.

And I don't want to think that everything I am is attributable to some sort of brain chemistry imbalance.  awkward.  more obsessive rumination is needed.  In many ways, the depression aspect of me has driven a lot of the things I've done.  proving to myself that there was meaning in life, forcing myself to perform difficult juggling acts and get every last drop of work out of myself.

If I relax, how will I finish my Phd?  hahahaha.  I'm pretty sure that starting that was a definite sign of mental illness.  although I am enjoying it.

This week I'm vibrating a bit.  Just a mild undertone.  listening to X Ambassadors' Renegade on repeat.  talking too much.  getting the urge to write blog posts :)  wanting to go for reallllly long walks.  (dog doesn't mind this phase).  but that's fine, because I've got a presentation to finish for a conference in June.  and an ethics document to write.  which I should get back to...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Last night I dreamt that the world had come to an end, that I was in a huge, ruined, pitch dark city, huddled in a dingy room with candles and the last of the food, terrified and alone, not knowing what to do next.

This morning, it makes sense.  Prince is gone.

It's strange, because David Bowie dying was a shock, I thought he was hyper-real and possibly alien and not capable of dying.  But Prince, he has always seemed to be on the edge of mortality, understanding that the line between here and gone is always moving.  Now he has stepped over.

When I was a teenager, I dreamt that I was folding laundry and he showed up, wearing his pretty clothes, and wanted to kiss me.  To do so, he was forced to stand on a box, and I dissolved into helpless laughter.  (please note, I am not tall enough for this to be true, I'm sure).  I hope he's forgiven me.  And that wherever he went, he knows we all loved him, back in 1984.  Everyone is quoting appropriate lines from his songs today, I won't do that.  I don't need to.  They are the soundtrack in the back of my mind always.  so long, sweet prince.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The road goes on. Upwards, apparently.  In April, I walked almost 400k around the coast of Devon and Cornwall, and I only got soaking wet two days.  Miles and miles of cliffside walking, punctuated by bed and breakfasts and a satisfying amount of fish and chips.  But it was good to get home.

In September we are going (Miguel and I) to Peru, to visit Machu Picchu.  We were told to be careful of altitude sickness, but when I looked it up, the top of the Lake Louise ski hill is higher than Machu Picchu so I'm hoping we will be ok...

Miguel is going to cook for a hunting camp next week.  Originally the plan was that I would go too, but in the way of things here, plans changed and there isn't room on the plane for me.  So I guess it's more working for me.  I'm sad, because I was really looking forward to it, but there will be other opportunities to get out on the land, I'm sure, and we're fixing up our new cabin...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

ok, so it's that time in the essay-writing process when I've got a week before two papers are due and they are written but I've decided I hate them both and I'm going to just fail...  I feel like messing with them is just making them worse.  total drivel.  argh. blurgle. meh.

Miguel has gone off to Edmonton today, I won't see him again for 37 days...  but we've both got adventures to go on, he's going to Europe with the high school kids (shudder) and I'm going to England.

It's getting warmer, here, finally.  I'm looking forward to getting back and doing some more kite-skiing when my feet don't freeze off.  I managed this week to fall while kiting and get back up again without downing the kite, taking off my skis, and clambering to my feet - I just used the pull of the kite to right myself, which is what you're supposed to do.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

20-some-odd kilometre an hour winds.  But, I got the kite up in the air and kept it there for a while and skied across the bay.  In the other direction from last time, so a different view on the walk home.  When I am able to go upwind, the fun will last longer and there won't be as much walking.  But the flying bit is very fun.  Now someone has removed my legs and replaced them with gummy bears.  Using muscles I didn't know I had.  At one point I crashed and was lying on the ice totally out of breath, but perfectly happy.

Making banana bread this afternoon.  Someone (maybe me?) froze some brown bananas and they are happily cooking into a loaf.  House smells good.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Indian food tonight.  Butter chicken and curried carrots and peas, and I made naan.  Haven't done that in a while.

Justin Timberlake is on SNL tonight, but I had actually forgotten that fact, because I was looking forward to Miguel coming home from Igloolik.

Court week is over.  That's the thing about court week.  Although so much of my workload is geared towards having things done for court, when it comes it just goes the way it goes and a bunch of stuff gets either withdrawn or adjourned and suddenly there is no point in some of the work I've done - transcripts for a matter that goes nowhere because witnesses don't show, and then it's over.

Rachel and I were talking about parenting, today.  She told me that we never grounded her.  Which is funny, I guess, it never occurred to me.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Went to Rachel's grade twelve class yesterday and facilitated a consensus exercise.  Pulled Korinne's class apart and put it back together as a circle of chairs, just like AVP.  Told them they all had to participate all the way through or it wouldn't work - and they did.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy facilitating.  I really love consensus, I love how it looks at the end, when everyone is leaning into the circle in their chairs and they're in agreement.  Asking them how they felt afterwards they had some insightful things to say.

Guarded last night.  Nobody wants to do it right now.  But it means I can't get on the internet and I get more schoolwork done that way.  I'm just editing, both papers due at the end of March are written, and I'm editing them and adding bits.  Slow going.  My supervisor for my dissertation had an aneurysm, poor thing.  The lady they gave me in her place in the interim is very sweet but doesn't know anything about my topic.  (Interviewer skill and training in victim and witness statements....)

But I'm tired today.  Thinking about cigarettes.  Not having any.

Monday, March 04, 2013

The dogs are making dog noises at me.  Since they have both recently been outside I am ignoring them.  They persist.  Neither one is bright enough to be trying to warn me of some unspecified danger, so I am assuming sheer boredom motivates them.  Perhaps I should teach them to knit...

Watched the movie "We Bought A Zoo" last night, as I think I drank a cup of caffeinated coffee at 7pm.  Dumb, really.  Well, the movie was fun but the caffeine not so much.  Miguel didn't like my idea the other day that I was going to quit my job and start a hamster farm.  He says no rodents.  So tigers and such would be better, I'm guessing.  But the movie has an interesting piece of advice.

The father in the movie tells his children that in order to go and say something potentially embarrassing to a girl, all you need is 20 seconds of courage.  Which will launch you, apparently, into the middle of the situation, which will then play itself out.

I've always found, however, that this strategy works better in person, where the embarassee can see me grinning maniacally while I tell him or her the potentially embarrassing whatever.  Looking for jobs has a similar 20 second thing.  Or showing up for a dreaded appointment.  Generally, when all is said and done, it turns out the doctor/teacher/future employer already has an agenda and all I need to do is sit there and nod.

Someone called me at work on Friday, and when I answered, the caller gave an address and asked to be picked up.  I said, "Excuse me?"  Caller replied, a little annoyed, "I want a taxi at XX Arctic-Animal Street."  I said, "You've called the police."  "Oh, sorry, don't come pick me up..." 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

So I am procrastinating.  Lying on the bed with the dogs (black and blonde) and Rachel and my cell phone in case Miguel texts me and video-on-trial on tv.  I should be working on the literature review and the formal proposal for my course - dissertation is on track but it's an incredible amount of work.

Went to San Francisco, last month, which was totally amazing.  I seemed to have suddenly discovered how to re-engage with my own life.  No explanations have presented themselves and been convincing, but, suddenly after a couple of years of miserableness I'm happy and involved and reading books again and watching whole movies and being my SELF.  I want to draw pictures and hang out with Miguel and I'm learning to kite-ski which is tremendous fun.  Like flying.  Except for the crashing part.  Oh, and the bit where I can only manage one direction and have to walk back across the bay after the triumphant sail towards the Loran tower.

Anyway.  San Francisco.  Crazy place full of crazy people.  All the street people have a gimmick, they want to tell you jokes or startle you or play an instrument for you and you're meant to give them money.  What mostly happened though is that we gave them cigarettes.  We were smoking in the street outside the hotel and the coffee shop down the way and Miguel made some 'friends' who would come by and ask for smokes.  We shared with them.

Alcatraz also was cool - high windows and tiny cells and a panoramic view of the mainland like they're tormenting the inhabitants.  Look at all this wonderful city.  You can't have it.
hey they let me back in!!!!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011


So I decided. Or did I? I can't actually remember. But somehow along the way I enrolled in a Master's of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice. I do remember the period of time when I was hoping they'd accept me but terrified that they would at the same time, because it would mean that I would have to do the work. And so once again I'm chasing articles on sentencing policy, cognitive behavioural rehabilitation programs, lalala. I woke up in the middle of the night last night thinking about how I forgot to include a report on sentencing reform in the paper I'm currently writing. Strangely, also, the program is at the University of Portsmouth, in England. I've seen Portsmouth on a map, haven't been there that I ever remember, but I have a library card, in case I ever wanted to go. Although my body is here, my brain is spending an awful lot of time studying contemporary criminal justice policy in England and Wales. Like a vacation without leaving home.

I was looking online the other day, to answer a question of Ian's. Someone told him that he could claim British citizenship based on my birthplace, and that turned out to be true. He would love to go and live in England. I think he'd enjoy it. The interesting thing that I didn't know, though, is that his children will also be able to claim a 5 year residency in England if they choose, because I'll be their grandmother and you can claim that if one of your grandparents was born in England...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

life goes on

I had fully intended to post a complete account of my wanderings in Spain. It was a wonderful experience and although I didn't finish (I knew I didn't have enough time when I started, but decided to start in Pamplona cos I've always been a Hemingway fan, and in the end I got almost to Ponferrada) I did walk 500k and pushed long past the limits of what I thought I was capable of, both mentally and physically. But on getting back I plunged back into life (including beginning a Masters in criminology) and lost track of the posting here. So instead, here's a belated update.

I'm going back to finish next year. Gonna start again at Burgos and go all the way to the end.

In the meantime, I got a tattoo.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Every day when you get to the albergue, the ritual is the same. Pay your money, hand over your pilgrim passport (mine is lime green) for a stamp, pick your bed. Then you spread your sleeping bag out on the bed so that no-one takes it. I like top bunks, I find the bottom bunks claustrophobic. Then find toiletries, take a shower, put on semi-clean clothes, wash your socks and t-shirt for the day and maybe your underwear, hang them out to dry. Then, the rest of the day is just hanging out.

Castrojeriz has a castle. It doesn't however have a bus until Monday. So Tina took a taxi back to Burgos, after we negotiated that with the elderly driver, and now I'm sitting alone on the sundeck of the albergue, wondering what to do for dinner. Although it took us two days to walk here, I'm sure Tina got back to Burgos in about half an hour in the cab...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hornillos del camino

My feet have almost stopped hurting. They are still tired at the end of the day, but not swollen and immovable in my boots anymore. At one point today, walking by myself, my spirits lifted and I'm walking with the unalloyed joy I remember from Nepal.

Hornillos del camino is tiny, one main street, and most of the houses are unoccupied. The population seems to consist of three elderly ladies who are roaming the streets in their bathrobes.

Tina and I sat most of the afternoon outside on the steps of the church. We talked to Ursula from Ireland, whom Tina met this afternoon on the trail.

I'm in a one-horse town in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of strangers (I should explain that really Tina is Jessica's friend and I had only met her once briefly before this trip. Jessica is in Burgos, we think, waiting for Tina to come back, but there is no bus from Hornillos and no taxi... so it will have to be tomorrow.) and I'm perfectly happy.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I'm sitting in the square outside the cathedral, with the backpacks. The bus to Burgos was too fast, but the alternative was nerves frayed past the breaking point and feet that shouldn't be in boots. For the grace of their company, it was necessary. God will understand.

In the last couple of days I've been feeling closer to Him, stranded as I have been in a strange land. I want Him to come and have coffee with me, so we can talk about what I should do next. I'm thinking he'd probably tell me to brush my hair.

A little while ago, we had lunch in a sidewalk cafe where the pretty waitress served us happily. A real contrast to the service we have had to wring out of other establishments... It was a shock at first, when she came to give us menus and started explaining things to us, we waved her away. Jessica said, "How do we explain that we're not used to this any more?" And lunch was filling, I had salad and calamari. They had garlic soup. But, we're staying in pretty close quarters.

St. Augustine says, "My life is full of such faults, and my only hope is in your boundless mercy."

Jessica doesn't want to walk any more. Tina's knee still hurts from her injury in Nahera. Tina has decided she will walk with me tomorrow, to make sure I'm ok, and then take the bus back to Burgos and they will go to Portugal on the train. I told them, gently, "I came here to walk. I don't want to stop yet." And so I will be alone.

I got a ribbon bracelet with the Lord's Prayer on it in Spanish - cute pictures, too. The first thing I've bought other than food. And Tina and Jessica bought me a bracelet with an arrow on it, like the ones that mark the Camino, friendly yellow arrows on the road and on buildings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

carrying things

Every morning I get up and pack everything I'm not currently wearing, put it on my back, and set off... it's a wonderful feeling. I have an orange and grey backpack that I bought to take to Nepal, it's 35 litres, and in it I have:

sleeping bag

inflatable mat

three tank tops, three t-shirts, a pair of capris, a pair of leggings, a pair of shorts

three pairs of socks, four pairs of underwear, two bras, one bathing suit

backpacking towel, headlight, solar panel- which charges - my ipod, guidebook, journal, very small book to read (The Confessions of St. Augustine).

the white ugly sandals talked about earlier and a green cotton sundress, both for evenings

raincoat, rain pants, hat, backpack rain cover

two sweaters, one is neon green and has a hood and cool thumbholes in the sleeves, and the other is fuzzy

water bottle, pocket knife

two little pouches that contain: a small bottle of shampoo, bar of soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, tiny hairbrush, and the tape and gauze for my feet, sunscreen, Fisherman's Friends, Tylenol, bandaids

a jar of apricot jam...

The last item is because sometimes breakfast is provided in the albergues, but it doesn't always feature jam. So I'm carrying my own. I'm a little tired of the clothes I brought and they don't get terribly clean with the hand washing. I'm worried that I smell.

We are in Belorado tonight. Jessica and Tina want to take the bus to Burgos tomorrow, because they've been told it's a steep hill out of Belorado. I've said I'll come with them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Santo Domingo Part 2

Went to see the cathedral, after the laundromat. And so I sat in the cathedral, with my sore feet on the prayer bench and looked at the stark black cross suspended from the ceiling in the intensely ornate nave and somehow we both seemed out of place. And I thought, "What am I doing HERE?"

Tina and Martha made a very tasty supper, pasta with what they thought was ground beef but turned out to be ground turkey. We gave the leftovers to various folk. Which was kind of satisfying in itself. The visiting foot guy has bound my big gross blister that developed on the pad of my left foot - after popping it and filling the holes with iodine. Yick. But it feels much better tonight (I stopped and took my boots off after lunch today because I was convinced that one of the bones in my foot was poking through my sole) and I think I'll be able to walk on it tomorrow. I know, eh? Again with the feet.

But really. Does God want all of this? The pilgrimages, the cathedrals, the gold and jewels? How does he let us know what he wants? Telegrams?

I feel as if I have been walking my whole life. As if someone said, "Walk!" and I set off, but not knowing why. The days, although I feel them so strongly as they happen, are beginning to run into each other, bleed into one big puddle of Camino-ish-ness. Walk, rest, walk, rest, walk, eat, walk, walk, shower, eat, look around, eat, sleep, get up, walk again. What day did the apple come through town? What day did I buy the ugliest plastic shoes in the world? What day did I eat the immense croissant?

I forgot to tell the apple story. We were in Cirauqui, which is a town on the side of a very steep hill. We stopped at a little grocery store because Tina wanted fruit. I had a sore tummy and didn't want food, so I was sitting on the wall outside the shop. Tina and Jessica went in and looked around, and came out with something, I forget what, but Tina was saying, "I can't believe they didn't have any apples." Just after she said it, and I'm not even kidding, something came bouncing towards us, it had come down the steep street behind us and was going quite fast and bouncing pretty high, it went past us and I said to Tina, "There's your apple" and we all started to laugh.