Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Um, hello? Is this Siberia?

Tonight's forecast... 15-20 cm of SNOW.


This is just wrong.

The kids are thrilled, they want to Trick or Treat in the snow. They have no clue.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The elephant in the room

My father passed away two years ago today.

I have no idea where I am going with this post. I think I am trying to find some kind of peace with my father, with his life, with myself... I don't know what I am looking for.

I was in Montreal when my dad died - I had seen him 4 days before, after not seeing him for close to 2 years. The decline in his health was unmistakable. I didn't know what to say or think, I sort of filed all the feelings inside me, waiting to get back to Luxembourg to deal with them.

I was home alone that trip, and not in a good place. I was working too much under a great deal of stress, Marc was travelling frequently (too much in my mind), the kids were at a new daycare and not doing well - they were unhappy and sick. We'd been badly hit by rising mortgage rates. Everything seemed wrong. I had said to our minister that I felt like I was running on empty. I had nothing left to give anyone.

So my dad's death was not something I was at all prepared to deal with - I know, when are you ever really prepared to deal with a death, but I was particularly low.

I am ashamed to admit that I think about my dad more since his death than in the last few years of his life. It's as if him passing away has opened some great Pandora's box and things in my life that were so neatly labelled for years became ambiguous.

My father was an alcoholic. He had a bad drinking problem - he was never violent, but he was neglectful. And absent. It was easy to label him a bad father. And I know that he was not a good father. But since he died I have been able to see other things - that he was not a happy person. That as much as he hurt me and others that he hurt himself far far more. We all survived his drinking - he did not.

The need to protect myself and my family from my father was gone once he was gone. I remember my first visit to Canada with Stuart. He was 3 1/2 months old. He was colicky, I was exhausted and had just been diagnosed with post-partum depression (which they don't seem to treat in Luxembourg when you are nursing). I know that I had taken my baby out to my grandparents and my father was there. I know I did this, but I can't remember it, no matter how hard I have tried this morning. What I do remember is the second time my father saw Stuart a few days later.

He engineered a meeting - calling my mother's house, insisting I had to meet my aunt who had just flown in from Vancouver. I said no. He badgered. I gave in eventually. When we got to the MacDonalds where we were meeting it took all of about 30 seconds to realize he'd been drinking (though he would swear up and down later that he hadn't). And that day I went right back to needing to protect myself and my baby from his drinking.

Since his death I have wondered if maybe I took it too far. Is this what guilt makes you do? I saw him whenever we were home, sent cards, most years called for his birthday. I know now how every photo I would send was treasured, every card. It would have cost nothing to me to send more, yet I didn't. Maybe it felt like giving him false hope. Maybe I was so overwhelmed with my life that I was already not doing enough for the other people in my life who I had much easier relationships with.

Seeing my dad's house 2 years ago was a shock. I had not stepped inside for close to 22 years. And I could see the disrepair, the neglect, the clutter. My father did not know how to care for himself. He did not respect himself enough to take care of himself. I found receipts for anti-depressants. It should have been obvious to me that he was depressed - who wouldn't be living his life - but it still surprised me.

I have wavered dangerously close to absolving my father of any wrong doing. Of casting him in the role of victim. He grew up in a home that is purported to be perfect, the family a loving one that most people would want to be part of. I know now, with all the wisdom of age, how disfunctional it was (then again who have a fully functional family?). I have found excuses for him. Imagined pain he must have felt. Blamed things on others.

But at the end of the day, my father had choices to make in life and he made them. I don't like the choices he made. I miss him. I miss the little girl who thought her daddy was the most wonderful man in the world. I see Julia looking at Marc with such adoration and I em envious.

I said I don't know where I am going with this post. Maybe I am just trying to put some of it down in words so that I can find a way to reconcile some of these conflicting feelings.

And perhaps put the man to rest finally.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'd like to think I'd spend the money in better ways

Yesterday I went and carried out my civic duty by voting in the federal election.

Deciding who to vote for took some time - I have typically always voted one way, but did not like the party leader. I was not convinced that the party in power really should hold a majority. And to be blunt, no one was out there telling me WHY I should vote for them. No, instead of telling me what they would do for me, there was a lot of mud slinging and telling me what was wrong with their opponents.

I have to make it very clear that I am not a politico. I usually have a basic grasp of things, like to think I am making a somewhat educated decision, but I did not follow the campaign day by day (though I know a little too much about Sarah Palin just from the trash talking magazines at the grocery checkout). I admit that I fell asleep in the Stu's bed the night of the big debate. Oooops.

But I did try and think through my decision. And you know what? I don't think there was really much need for an election. Apparently other Canadians didn't either as Harper is returning to office with a minority again.

In the end I decided to vote locally. As in look at the candidates in our riding and figure out who I thought would best represent our interests. We had three strong candidates in this riding - even the Green Party candidate had some great credentials behind him (I was impressed that he founded monthly dinners between Jews and Arabs a few years ago to try and forge a trail for peace in their countries).

And so off I went yesterday to my polling station to vote. There were 6 candidates on the ballot. Six. I really need to figure exactly what a Libertarian advocates. Apparently ours is "the Rad Man" because he repairs radiators. Hmmmm.

I am not impressed with this election. I don't see why it was necessary. I realize I am probably not sophisticated enough to get why Harper, only 2 years into a term decided that he wanted a majority. Really - I think he could have tried to prove himself a little longer. I understand that he could get more done (jury is out on if that is a good thing) with a majority. In a world where things can turn on a dime (the economy Mr Harper!) I think that the money spent on the election could have been put to much better use.

Imagine what it could have done for our failing medical system - imagine that much money going towards Canadians health.

But I voted because I think you have to vote. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we get a vote, and that vote is ours to cast without strings attached, you can post signs on your lawn showing your support for a candidate without fearing repercussions. The man who rented out our house is from Saudi Arabia and he could not get over a candidate coming into mosque (not interrupting religious proceedings) to ASK for his vote. In his country you have a vote - but you are told who to vote for or it brings unrest to your region.

We take a lot for granted with this freedom of ours. But I don't think we should celebrate it by calling elections that aren't needed Mr. Harper.

Now go play nicely with the Opposition please and see what you can do about our greenhouse emissions or the healthcare issue.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Primal Scream Yoga

I've signed up for a yoga class at the community centre. I continue to have faith (?) that I will find a class there that will be what I am looking for - though the first two really did not do much for me.

The first was taught by a woman who I would later see on the soccer pitch during Stu's games. Shall we say her instructional voice was the same for her yoga class as it was for 6 & 7 year olds playing. One night when her team was playing on the field next to us I said to Marc, "That's my yoga teacher." to which he replied something like "Good God, no wonder you don't want to go!" The woman didn't believe in Savasana. There was no relaxation in her class. I felt there was no "soul" to it.

I thought I had struck gold with the second class. A teeny tiny black woman named Jackie (I mention the black thing because she would go all in the hood sometimes on us) who came in talking about chakras. Okay, here's some "soul" I thought. (note: I am not sure about all this chakra stuff, but I figure someone who does was at least worth listening to. I am a great fan of people being impassioned about things). Yeah, well. She was a doll. Really. But after a few weeks I got tired of having to holler out "yes!" to the question "isn't this YUMMY?!?!?!" after being in plank position for what seemed like 10 minutes (apparently it was three). I came out of the classes completely and totally physically drained. And it really wasn't yummy.

So I figured third time's a charm and signed up for a new course called Meditative Yoga. I figured there's at least be some savasana right?

The first class was two weeks ago. It was fine. The teacher is a lovely woman named Jade, who seemed very soft spoken, busy setting a soothing atmosphere in class. She is Polish and has a lilting voice that is at the same time nasal, if that makes any sense. She informed us that she would talk a bit in the first few weeks of our classes in order to guide us, but that as we neared the end we would be mostly practicing in a quiet room. Fine. Her voice was a little like catching a sweater on a nail at times, but overall not bad. She played a meditational cd for the last 15 minutes that was rather soothing, even if I am not all that in to that type of thing. I left quite calm.

I missed the second week because Marc was away.

Last night I went, prepared to relax.

She began by having us lie in Savasana (yeah! my favorite pose) and talked to us about centering our minds and our breath. No biggie, maybe not everyone has done yogic breathing, I would want it explained to me if I hadn't. Right? Yes, but not for 35 MINUTES. Honestly, the woman didn't stop talking for 35 minutes. 35 I tell you. I wondered how she wasn't keeling over, because she certainly couldn't have been taking her deep yogic breaths, or even shallow rapid ones. She went on and on and on and on and on... and then on some more. Her voice got louder and louder and louder, her harsh pronunciation of some words feeling like nails on a blackboard. She spent so much time telling us how to pay attention to our breath that I couldn't even hear myself breathing. At one point I gave up, opened my eyes and watched her for a few minutes, standing with her eyes closed, swaying and "instructing" us. At various points I toyed with the idea of leaving, blocking my ears (I kinda did, it didn't work) or screaming out "BE QUIET!" at the top of my lungs (okay, so maybe what I was thinking of screaming wasn't so polite).

Honestly, if I had to hear her holler "feel your deeeeeeeeeeeep, smooooooooooooooooth, LOVVVVVVVVVING breath calm your body" I would have had to toss my water bottle at her head.

After that we had to do some stretching "with loving awareness" and loving something else and find our place in the universe where we were at one with ourselves and therefore at one with her. Whatever.

Then came a tape of affirmations. The theme was affirmations and we were supposed to find one to use. The ones we listened to and were supposed to repeat to ourselves? Yeah, not for me. Things like "I feel good health, happiness and financial benefit flowing into me." Huh? Financial benefit?

The last 15 minutes were another meditation cd. It was better than the rest of the class (at least he talked in a calm soothing voice) but even at that the swami on the cd had a little too much to say.

It's bad to leave yoga more stressed out than when you went in, right?
Yeah, I figured as much.