11.10.07

Autobiography: the beginning

If I were to write this properly--the story of my life--I would go into detail. Some of that detail would be "true" in the sense that events unfolded, and in such a way, observed by more people than myself, that they can be verified. Truths such as: I was born February 12th, 1980, at around 4 in the afternoon, in a little town north of Vancouver. Eldest of 4 girls. Walked at 13 months. Read "The Lord of the Rings" at 5. Moved 8 times, at least 4 of them within the same town. Was loved (this is perhaps the most true face, the most common thread in my life. I was loved. I am loved. It repeats itself in the most unlikely of places). Grew, both in height and weight and in spirit and personality. Lived in New Hampshire, Switzerland and Germany before settling in Toronto. Read voraciously.

The details which would tell you the most about me, however, are the ones which are subjective and refutable. These are the details which mean the most to me: not what really happened, but how it happened to me. These are the details which inspire me to write my life--the memories which are slightly malleable, which stretch to accommodate experience. They are filled and refilled every second that I remain alive.

When I was 5 years old my sister Emily was born. Our house was full of people--midwife, labor coaches, friends, children. Emily's birth was a celebration of life, and at the center of this celebration, my parents. Not just my mother, but my father as well. Jennifer and I flitted in and out of the spotlight as my mother pushed, feeding her grape juice ice cubes (true). We were determined--at least I was, at two and a half, Jennifer didn't really care--not to miss the baby coming out. As a veteran older sister--a slightly less busy celebration welcomed Jennifer, with myself as the lone ice cube bearer--I got to cut the cord. I remember my father's hands on mine, gripping the scissors, Emily squirming on my mother's bare chest, already rooting for a nipple. I remember the resistance the scissors met in clamping around the living flesh of the cord, the way the blades clicked together and the pieces separated. This is a piece of my memory. It evokes an emotional response.
What I describe did not "really" happen--at least, not the way I remember it happening. Emily was born while we were in the basement playing, tired of waiting to welcome her into the world. It's possible that I saw her cord being cut, but I was not (according to my mother) the person who cut it. This memory is untrue--in the most literal sense of the word--but it is important to me for a very simple reason: it is the way I wanted things to happen. I wanted it to happen this way because it puts me at the center of one of the most loving situations a family can experience, and there is nothing in the world more important to me than my family.

This is true: that my parents loved us and that we were so secure in that love that we never questioned it--rarely even thought of it, even. It simply was, like the treeline or the sky or the way my mother sometimes spilled over with emotion in a way that reached us even in our most oblivious child-ness. You don't think of it, mostly, unless it happens or turns a funny color. Simply there.

This is also true: that I felt an enormous sense of responsibility for my entire family, but my sisters especially, from as early an age as I can remember. On of my clearest memories (true) is of playing in a patch of tall grass behind our house with Jennifer. We were roughly two and four and a half. My father arrived home from work and, as was his wont, decided to pretend that he was a bear (we lived in a rural area)--and growled from outside our make believe house. We froze, and then, as the grass started to rustle, I put my arms around my sister and placed my body between her and the most likely point of attack. My father, coming upon this scene, was filled with remorse. I was angry with him for days.

Fast forward 14 years: I am 18, Jennifer 15, Emily 13 and Jill, 8. We have been in a car accident, it is August, humid and dark, 11 pm. My mother, the driver, is hysterical, climbing the 30 foot embankment we plunged over not 60 seconds ago, hoping this highway is suddenly not as deserted as it seems. She is yelling for me to "get the girls out of the car!" I pull myself out of the passenger window (I later find it was blocked by one of the trees we hit) with my blanket in tow and unfasten Jill's seatbelt. She is shaking and complaining of thirst as I gather her up and wrap the blanket around her, help her to walk as far from the car as possible before laying her on the ground. When she goes into organ failure 2 days later I begin to worry that my actions are responsible, even then she was bleeding into her abdomen: did I do something to make it worse? When she lives, and recovers, I am sick with relief. During the six weeks that my parents are in Vancouver with her I look after my two remaining sisters with obsessive care--so much so that Jennifer and I fight ferociously. This is true: that for years after this event I am terrified of being left alone; what is also true, and more lasting, is that no member of my family leaves a room or hangs up a phone to this day without somehow saying "I love you." We have all paid a piece of our karmic debt in cash, and are aware of what we managed to escape.

7.10.07

Ah, Sweden!

Alright. So I've been a bit nostalgic lately and, going through my old "memory" books (what a treasure!) I found a bit of writing that I actually really enjoyed reading through again. It was probably the worst day of my life at that point (well, not really, but almost!)--here it is, in the painful glory of a trip gone wrong....

I had just crossed the ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm on my way back from a wonderful trip to visit first Johanna and her family in Gothenburg/Salto and then Niclas and Karen in Helsinki for New Years and was on my way home to Stuttgart when.....

January 6th, 2003:

Marion Keyes once wrote (boy, does that sound cheesy or what?)

Everything was good or bad, fat or thin, big or small only by comparison with what surrounded it.

Keeping that in mind...the past 24 hours haven't actually been that bad!

I had just spent over 2 weeks of vacation traveling with friends

(okay, it was COLD, but so what? Some people never get to see snow)

New Years in a mansion


(thank god I picked up some "rules" in a book somewhere--you know, the ones about how to put your napkin in your lap properly, start from the outside with the utensils, sit up straight and don't drink too much--and didn't make a fool of me)

was driven to the ferry terminal yesterday afternoon after running out of money finally

(some people don't have money to run out of)

had normal cabin mates aboard the oh-so-tacky Gabriella or Mariella or what's-her-name, even if my cabin was below the water line and when we hit chunks of ice they scraped oh-so-slowly past the crown of my head, anyway, I wasn't sleeping on the floor...

(Some people probably had to swim.....)

Anyway, I spent 14 hours resting in my cabin

(probably why I didn't have a nervous breakdown today)

and when I reached Stockholm city terminal this morning had no idea how I was getting home because as I mentioned before, I had run out of money AND pay phones in Sweden only make collect calls within Sweden

(but some people can't make collect calls, they have no one to call, how sad!)

and so spent 15 Euros on phone cards, which I used almost exclusively to call Mom and Dad and harass them at 5 am because I didn't know what else to do

(poor kids without loving, understanding, with-senses-of-humor-at-five-am-even-when-grouchy-parents LOL)

...where was I?
Oh, yes, so after 15 Euros of phone cards--!mercenary rates!--and one indulgence

(the biggest cup of takeaway coffee I could get for ONLY SEK 150, or about 1.60 US/1.50 Euro--yes, the Euro is stronger than the dollar right now--with loads of cream and sugar)

and about 6 hours of waiting around the train station

(some very melancholy-looking, strange Russian man asked me very gently and politely if I would come to his hotel room with him, the dear)

Dad managed to work his magic
(THANKS!)

and I used my last SEK 75 to buy an SEK 80 ticket to Arlanda and here I am.
I had enough Euro change to buy a bag of chips and have refilled my water bottle from the bathroom sink
(bless Sweden, their water is always potable!)

and found the book I have read 3 times now--by Marion Keyes, who else?--and now I only have like 100 minutes left before my plane boards and I fly back to Stuttgart

(where it's probably raining--but I'm sure there's a drought somewhere soooooo)

and hopefully be home by midnight or so! Things could be worse.

(I am fickle, I didn't think so this morning when my doom-and-gloom male parent sighed heavily into the phone and said "I don't think I can do anything" or something equally spirit-quelling and I mentally put my face on a milk carton--not in Sweden, though, they put happy things on their milk cartons here--and attended my own funeral--purely ceremonial, of course, as my body was never found. I tried to hitchhike home and the gentle Russian got to me first.)

Speaking of Russians, there were tons in Stockholm today even though it's a holiday

(and did you know that it's impossible to buy an international train ticket in this country on a holiday? Future travelers be warned!)

and the women reminded me of Ekaterina Gordeeva with jaunty little fur hats and entire colonies of beavers or something similar as coats--and the men were nothing like Sergei Grinkov--all eyelashes and pouty mouths, sure, but short and squarely built. My other great encounter was on the ferry--did you know there are actual gypsies here? They wear floor-length show-girl-can-can dresses with ruffled collars and hoops! honest! and carry two squalling, dark-eyed babies apiece and ride the ferry endlessly back and forth between Helsinki and Stockholm to visit their "relatives" on either end--







30.9.07

So just maybe....


...the art gene in my family didn't totally pass me by!
Last night, as part of Nuit Blanche, there was all-night life drawing at an Art School in Toronto. Keep in mind that I've never EVER drawn before, so as crappy as this may look to some....to me it's amazing....
I'm contemplating taking a class.....

24.9.07

I want to know...

....why the internet has been down since Friday.....?
....why our professors make us do mock elections?
....why we're encouraged to speak our minds but berated when we do?
....why I'm so apathetic about politics?
....why I'm still sitting here when I should be swimming?
....why I'm procrastinating so much?
....why my legs are sore? (well, I know why, heh)
....when the next "big" thing will happen to me?
....where I'll be in a year?
....how I'll celebrate Thanksgiving this year?
....whether or not I'm going to have company from New Hampshire soon?
....why my throat is so dry?
....howcome I've been losing weight when I'm not doing anything? (not that I'm complaining)
....where my brian is?

20.9.07

I know a guy who's SMRT....

.....and we have a lot of fun. Luckily for both of us, the out-of-bed-fun is just as fun as the in-bed-fun.
That is all.....and, for once, it is enough!

Sleepy gurl, going to bed, 2 clients of my own in the morning (yikes!) so I have to be SMRT myself for 12 hours :)

But I'm really looking forward to the continuation of fun :) You know who you are :)

18.9.07

Despair and Breakup Songs :)

These are my favorite items of today (September 18th, 2007)-no particular reason, I like the song because it's silly, and I like the website because it's hysterically funny. I think I want a despair calendar for Christmas :) http://www.despair.com
I am adding Despair.com to my list of coolest things!

17.9.07

Shittily, almost bitten.


It would have been shittier HAD I been bitten, of course. But that's really beside the point. I had a record-breaking unlucky day today: first my flipflop fell apart in the middle of my jaunt to class this morning (I fixed it with a huge paper clip and it seems to be holding up well), then I had a massive attack of the shits which, of course, came just in time to make me late for my second class and when the entire bathroom was FULL of people I knew who were trying to talk to me through the stall door about school and assignments and finally, as I sat in lecture, eating my lunch and trying to half-heartedly follow what the "guest speaker" was saying, I felt this peculiar crawly sensation just above my kneecap. I immediately pinched up whatever the bug was between the folds of my jeans and, holding it as far away from my body as possible, squished like I had never squished before....then made Josh squish it again after I'd rolled my pants up to my thighs and ascertained that the still-wiggling bug was, in fact, a yellowjacket. By the time we were done with it, it was completely pulverised (better safe than sorry) and marinating in the puddle of juice under my chair that probably attracted it in the first place. Fucker.

So anyway, I'm not allowed to go to clinical for at least 24 hours (from the last explosive shit I had, which was around 2 this afternoon) so I have tomorrow off. Hurrah. The irony is, I now feel fine and have nothing to do.

Maybe I'll go buy a new pair of flipflops.

14.9.07

Angel Eyes is right....

















This guy is pretty much my dream guy :) Cute, brooding and ridiculously sexy!
Dunno why I'm stooping to the level of objectification right now...blame it on hormones..and me just finishing watching him make luuuuuurve to JLo on TV :)

You owe me for life....

My first 12 hour shift today and boy, was it a doozy! Because I seem to come into contact with the most amazing situations, though, I learned a lot.

From the top--my preceptor is fabulous. She's been working at St. Mike's for 27 years (if you include her two years of training) and knows EVERYTHING. She's this tiny Phillipino lady who swears like a trucker when she feels like it and has a mind that is sharper than a free razor. Seriously, you could probably shave balls with it.

Anyway, she went easy on me and let me do a lot of "shadowing" (joking all the time about how much bigger than her, her shadow was LOL) and we had 4 patients together--3 of them absolutely extraordinary examples of love.

The first two: a couple who had had kidney surgery--she donated one of hers to him yesterday, and they are two doors down from one another. They were calling eachother on the phone every five minutes, between naps, to say "I love you" and as soon as he was able he was up and walking to her room to give her a big kiss. Both of them are fiery Italians, solid and swarthy and passionate, and it was beautiful to watch. I wonder if I'll ever love someone enough to give them a part of my body?

Anyway, the funny part of that situation was making up the "honey, you still owe me" jokes with the female--he's going to be paying for this particular favor for the rest of his life :) I only hope they stay together!

The third was a patient with all sorts of problems, including Lupus, who is failing quickly and in a lot of pain. Her husband was the extraordinary part of the duo--picking her up to carry her to the washroom when it was too painful to walk, taking the bitter words she flung about and absorbing them with the most patient expression on his face--what a wonderful thing, to be loved that much. I hope she knows.

Next shift is on Tuesday, and I'm looking forward to it--the doctors are all around my age, and, male or female, they're HOT! :)

13.9.07

Today's Smallest Things

Walking home from my class today (we picked apart the Rise and Fall of Britney Spears for an hour) I was amazed at all the little things I saw--
--I walked by:
Throngs of freshmen waiting at the corners of Church & Gould--they haven't figured out yet that the lights never change in time for classes. I felt like pointing out the 2nd floor bridge between the Journalism building and Kerr Hall but didn't want to shout. They were almost all wearing black, what's with that? Probably some cool new trend I don't know anything about, as usual

The wafting of the bakery at Dominion--nothing smells as good as baking bread, it's fantastic :)

A young Jamaican man smoking a joint, strolling up Dalhousie

A late blooming bed of tiny pink flowers tucked away in a corner

A pink paisley couch, missing legs and cushions, looking utterly forlorn, waiting for disposal on Frank Natale Lane

The Good Tymez Cafe--'nuff said! Ditto for the Hasty Market

A young, blonde, Avril-esque skater girl, enjoying the sunshine as she pushed her way down Mutual street

The Jarvis Armoury (what DO they do in there, anyway?)

A squirrel playing with a nut the way a kitten plays with a ball of yarn--nobody else seemed to notice with the exception of a homeless guy on a bench across the street. He and I laughed out loud and the four bicycle cops shooting the breeze a half block down looked startled and suspicious....

One of those creepy men at the corner of Shuter & Sherbourne who almost whispers "hi..." as you walk by, leaving you wondering if you imagined it...

The first edges of rust on the maples in Moss Park

And, finally:

A young gray cat and an old black squirrel going against the grain and almost touching noses, one pointing down the tree, the other stretched all the way up against the trunk of it....

12.9.07

Why do breasts freak people out so much?


Starting to piss me off--how is it possible that pictures of breastfeeding mothers are "obscene" according to facebook, but I can post this picture and get away with it?

Boobs are great, people who are freaked out by babies nursing from them are eejits and need to mind their own business(es).

11.9.07

Music & Lyrics...

I'm just constantly amazed by the number of songs I listen to in a day--every five minutes another lyric will grab me and I'll want to live it. Jann Arden's "Where No-one Knows Me" is high on my list right now--that concept of just dropping everything and driving away is such an appealing one to me, no matter how happy I am. One day I'll do it--one day, maybe, I'll find someone who is daring enough to do it with me :)

Anyway--to say my life is touched by music is the understatement of the year, it's neverending. I love it. There's an extra dimension to my ability to express myself now--there' s a song lyric for everything!

Guess I understand it
Guess I sorta have to
Guess I kinda see

Even though it could have been
Doesn't mean it had to
Ever mean a thing....
(Jeff Healey)

This is kindof what I feel like right now......
with a healthy dose of humor
about it, of course :)



Of course, this is a picture I took on the same day--speaks volumes, doesn't it? :)

FutureSex/LoveSounds

10.43 am:
Nothing better than a little JT to aid in the frantic cleaning of the closet. I'm finding all kinds of things I thought I'd lost.....
Speaking of things I thought I'd lost--I'm happy to say my self-esteem is back :) I realized yesterday that I have been going about this dating thing alllllll wrong--suffice it to say that I will be putting in as much energy as I get back at this point, no matter how much I just want to crawl into a certain someone's skin--that initial intensity is really a lot of fun, but I'm more interested in that quietness, the ability to have a reciprocal relationship and spend time exploring one another. I've never really "dated"--not the way other people do--instead, I fall in and out of things and wonder why it burns so hot and fast. We'll see if the ingredients for a slow, steady burn are here this time, over some time, and in the meantime I am content to concentrate on this one thing and leave the rest of the men panting in my wake (LOL! Just imagine!).

There are so many aspects of my life that I've been neglecting lately--it's a little overwhelming to think about paying them the attention they deserve. I started by cleaning my room (rather significantly nicer, my room, when it's clean!) and have two goals today: laundry, and a swim :) It looks like I might be calling in sick to clinical tomorrow, stupid cold (you know who you are, thanks for sharing!) which might not be so bad, it'll give me more time to find my missing name badge :)

Life really is about starting over...and over...and over...and over...

10.9.07

First day of School? Again?

12:10 pm
It's my 4th year and I feel like it's my first day ever!

1.30 pm
I was right, in a way. Apparently the lovely self-reflections and peer reviews/practice reviews and FWord-ing LEARNING PLANS are being legislated to be mandatory for all Nurses, Forever. I will, in effect, be doing these little "assignments" for the rest of my practicing life. I KNEW there was a catch.

1.45 pm
475 of my peers are slowly glazing over. This class is going to be one of those "development" courses that develops us all into bare-minimum, last-minute slackers. The woman presenting is basically reading straight from the slides and I don't think she's anywhere near finished. Her shirt matches her PowerPoint color scheme :(
Group work and peer presentations until December! I can't wait!

7.30 pm
At least clinical conference went smoothly. Our faculty advisor is completely reasonable and will be a blessing to have this year.
Not quite such a blessing is the Simmons' cat (whose name I never did learn). He's the size of a small child--I suppose I should be glad he's only humping the stuffed lamb (Elmo, laundry pile, whatever feels nice, I suppose) instead of me or poor Tia, who I'm sure he outweighs.

9.9.07

Relax!

It's been a long time since I went into any aspect of my life without an expectation--the past year it has been the only control I have had (or the only control I have felt I have had). Having expectations was a way for me to be able reject things when those expectations weren't met--job wasn't good enough, guy wasn't interesting enough, I wasn't trusting enough--and justify the rejection.

Funny now, then, to be entering two separate aspects of my life with no expectations--just a sweet feeling of peace, and a willingness to see where I will end up next. Some sort of switch has been flicked--conscious or not, it is working :) I'm rediscovering how freeing it is to let go, after holding on much too tightly.

Good goddamn thing, because my arms are sore!

Character sketches (2002-2004)

I wrote these sketches from 2002-2004 in Switzerland and Germany. Many of the characters in them are still a huge part of my life, although not always a constant one :)


Switzerland:
Johanna is one I will miss dearly. Though younger, I feel as if she is sometimes an older sister, wise in some areas of life in ways I am not. Sure of herself in a manner I hope to learn, she is scared of my living and her being along, not realizing, I think, that she comforts. Ours was a slow-blooming friendship but the resulting flower is many petaled and an ezquisite huge--not a fading color, not a frail plant, this creations of ours.

Maria, this petite, shiny girl, hides a deep, sweet soul behind her young smile. She, like myself, is a searcher, not entirely sure for what she is looking but certain that there is more to life than this and determined not to miss any of it. Her smile lights up the faces of those around her and we are all captivated, wondering how so much personality is housed in such a tiny body. I have known her longer than anyone here and yet feel that in some ways we are very far apart. We have sporadic connections and when we are apart I sometimes forget how easy our company is and how much we actually have in common....

And Maria's letter to met at the very end of my stay....

Erin, Erin, Erin....
I am going to miss you so much. Our first party (beach-party without the beach!), first trains in mornings, cardrives at night (again), lots of parties and meeting new people und so weiter... We've had a lot of fun. You are a part of my Switzerland. You were the first person that I met and I was so lucky!
I am missing the words to describe your personality so I'm just going to do it in Finnish :) ; Tammia, sosiaalines, hirminkiva, hassu, ihaz, pikkivikkisen, hullu ja ystavallinen ku mika! I'm missing the words even in finnish, so you must be special!!! And you know it (I hope)!
Happily, you're not going to be that far away and I really wish that you'll visit Finnland someday--there's people waiting for you! We have a special link.
I have to warn you that I'm the world's worst person to keep in contact, but it's not going to disappear--connection, I mean. I wish you all the best my dearest friend. See ya :) Maria

Baas, who continues to fascinate me, is a surprise. Once over the initial wondering (on his part) whether I had designs on him he accepted my affection wholeheartedly and enthusiastically and is spontaneous and generous with his hugs and his time. We enjoy occasional quiet evenings over tea and though I do not know him well we are quietly close. I love that his relationship does not get in the way in the manner it normally does--though he understandably has less time he will still call me and want to visit rather than spending a night out in Zurich and I am grateful. We have a very surface relationship but one that will hopefully grow, there is a sweet soul underneath whom I am keen to get to know better!

Baas' letter to me later the same year:

Ope een mooi nazonmerse dag in de maand oktober kwam een dame met een ongeloofelyk intrigerende persoonlykheid zomaar opeens mijn leven binne gewandeld. Na een kort introduche klikke het gelyk en zee orrdal zelf wat ervan terecht gekomen is. Ondants de interesses die wy voon andera ontwikheld hebben in anze toeneiging tot elhaar blyven beskaan.
Ik reken erop dat wy elkaar blyven ziin en wanneer je ook naar wilt, kan me opzoeken. De deur staat vor je open. Bas.

Fred is friendly--no two ways about it. Underneath the coolness that is initially apparent he is a dear, sweet boy who enjoys people. He exudes buoyancy and it is impossible to stop him floating. I believe he takes every moment for what it is and makes as much of it as he can. One of the "centres" of the group, he pretends to be grown up but smiles like a little boy when people laugh at his jokes. He is sharp and, I think, innately kind and ultimately a dear soul.

N.B: Fred read the above and wrote something about me in my book--here it is, complete with original spelling and punctuation :)

Erin, is the one who no matter what always shows up to our gatherings. there is just no fun without her. Besides the fact that she brings so many new friends, I can speak dutch to her and of course also make fun of her--although she most of the time shoots back at me. Now that she is leaving us in a few weeks for Germany it just isn't going to be the same. I am going to miss her appearances, her happiness, her company. Damn, Damn, Damn, It won't be the same and who is going to keep me in line now? Fred.

Irene: The world is right when Irene is here. I can put it no other way! She is the heart and soul of the Krone--friend and confidante to all who pass through. She listens quietly and rarely offers advice and I always feel that nothing surprises her. She sees more, much more, than anyone realizes and I sometimes wonder if it is not a burden, to know so much about the people who come here and share it with no-one (because she does not gossip and, I think, has never betrayed a confidence, never told a secret given to her in trust). She has a quiet strength which shines through in everything she does and says. She is capable of giggling like a little girl and laughs with pure joy when someone or something truly amuses her. She is content to live her life day by day, though I sometimes catch a glimpse of a girl who has bigger dreams than any of us would ever imagine. We are often companionable in silence and tend to smile to ourselves over the comings and goings of those around us, amused by the way they scurry in and out. I cannot imagine my life here without her in it--more often than not I think of something crazy or funny and my next thought is "I have to tell Irene!" We have known eachother before, I think, in much the same way as Jurg and I have, because it is always right--whether we talk or not at all, read in silence or don't see one another for weeks, the comfort is always there. I have learned a great lesson from her: what it means to accept someone wholly, not expect a thing but take what comes without judging. What a wonderful spirit lives within this tall, slim, hidden Goddess!

I am sometimes so full of joy that I can hardly breathe. Lately I have found such a simple joy in loving those around me that it colors my world a rainbow. The more I reach out, it seems, the more happiness comes back to me.
The reactions of the people who have read my "sketches" in this book have been overwhelmingly positive, everyone surprised that I would take the time to think of them, that they look so through the eyes of another, that their good qualities shine through so clearly. Perhaps I have been lucky enough to meet those whose qualities shine the brightest, but I think it is rather that human nature is bright, that people shine, jewel-like: glinting quietly unless they have a bright light shone on them, then erupting into brilliance in an instant.

Viktor always laughs the loudest. No matter who makes the joke, no matter if it is about him or someone else, his laugh is the first to come and the last to die. His good humor is contagious, no-one can help smiling when he is around. He is the life of the party and loves to be surrounded by people, especially those he knows well. He is friendly and will talk to anyone about anything-he, more than anyone, has done a wonderful job of making me feel at home here. It is a joy to see him sitting here with his beer when I come in, to hear him suddenly break into song. That he loves music is obvious--he is always tapping, humming, or singing--it simply is part of him, natural, like the seasons or the weather. No matter where I go, I will remember his smile and love for life....

Germany:
Danny: At first glance he is utterly normal--moody, funny, temperamental. The more we talk, however, and the longer I know him, the more personality comes bubbling to the surface. He has a heart that is much too big for his body and I sometimes wonder that his entire being doesn't beat in time with it, visibly. He can be sharp-tongued and quick witted and knows so much more than people realize, being content to step behind his facade of player, coach, bartender, salesman. The capacity he has to give and to love those dearest to his heart is astounding--there are no bad intentions, ever, where they are concerned. Sometimes I believe he would cut off his own legs rather than let harm come to the ones he loves. Our evenings of laughs, 20 questions, and people watching are precious to me and proof that it is the people you least expect to teach you are the ones that teach you the most.

Jon: an enigma, he defines himself. One of the more fascinating individuals I have met, he puts paid to the idea that individuals are a direct product of their surroundings because he is entirely unwilling to be a product at all. So sure of himself in some ways--and so utterly unsure in the others, I see in him the capability to be so many things--but only if he sees them in himself. He is careful to a fault, sometimes absentminded, and often completely thoughtless, but never in a calculating way. He often bounces around in an entirely random manner, and then suddenly stops in med-bounce and utters a sentence that makes me totally incapable of answering because it strikes so close to home. He is capable of an infuriating logic and, at the same time, is incurably romantic by nature and always, always searching for those truths which speak to him. When he finds them and learns to live them the last barriers will crack and I am eager to see where this boyish young man will take himself during the course of this particular incarnation. It can only be good! Up! And I will always be grateful for the time I have had to get to know this gentle, questioning soul....

Ryan: I could devote pages to you and still feel there was more to say. Your brightness and capability to laugh astounds me--where did you come from, you wild, fey thing? Sometimes I think you are a sprite or a fairy--wicked and cunning, but only ever in fun. You are a sunny spot in my life, always willing to listen and turn my frown upside down! Is it possible that we were sisters in a previous life, making mischief and weaving our magic, mysterious veils drawn over our faces as we laughed together in secret? I believe it. I also believe that we are kindred spirits in a way that creates unbreakable bonds and memories that will last forever and beyond. I am very much looking forward to our later days, when we will sit together in our rocking chairs, self-knit, multi-colored blankets and calico cats in our laps, and make fun of the other old people. Love you forever! I'll miss you terribly when I go :(

Franze: oh boy, oh boy! He epitomizes the definition...cheeky and funny, he is much more, in and of himself, than anyone realizes. He has the wonderful gift of making people smile just by opening his mouth. He is always surprising me by saying or doing things that I don't expect and is easy to be around because he simply is, just him, nobody else. He assumes comfort and familiarity easily and is bewildered when those who don't know him don't reciprocate. I think of him as the Gentle Giant--there is no malice in him, and he is often underestimated!

Lexi's character sketch of me!

You are a hidden wealth of talent. Not hidden is your charm, energy, generosity, warmth and genius. Well, I say genius now, but that is what is partly hidden. And as it should be. Genius in friendship--on the sleeve. Genius in bringing completely different kinds of people together, and making them LOVE eachother--not hidden. But genius in Scrabble, under the radar! And genius in perogie making--who knew? Genius in getting to the very bottom of a person, in getting to know them to their very element, in understanding and accepting and embracing the very thing that makes someone SOMEONE, you have it. And you can communicate it! Here in this gorgeous book. Even better, you let each of us know that you KNOW us...and you do it with the simplest look. Thank you. You are amazing! I'll miss you :)


Nicky's quick note to me:

Erin means: reading books, best song ever, karaoke, broken brooms, fun, Teletubby beers, Tequila, B52 with cream, songwriter, babysitter, Crazy Chips, Taxi to Lug, Scrabble, Jalapenos, John, Bad Taste Party, cleaning the bar, Gauloises red, 400 Euro Italian dress, Ryan, Mark and all the others, long, long nights at Danny's, big Water but above all that: A friend forever :)

I can't translate this--but it belongs here :) Claudine's last words to me....

Liibi Erin,
Ich hoffe du verstosch uberhaupt es wort. Ich wuensche dir fur dini Ziit Ztuttgard. Ich finds extrem cool, dass ich dich noch minere Ziit in Baldingen no beeser ha Choene kenne-lere. Du besch e Person wo mich total beidrockt het. So erfreschend, erlech und offe fuer alles was dir gegaegnet. Ich werde dich vermesse. Wennd Luscht hesch eimol weder Schwiizerluft s'schnoppere, chasch jeder Ziit zo ois cho, mer hend eimer es Bett Fuer dich parat. Und ergend einisch mached wir vellecht werklech ein Pischamaparty Z'Stuttgard.
Alles, alles guti
don't forget me
Claudine.


And from Johanna:

My dear Erin,

So, the day has come. The day which I never longed for. I'll miss you so much. So far you've always been there. Even if I've been down and been talking about depressing things you've always smiled. You wrote that I comfort people but it has been you comforting me most of the time.

I've decided to see the positive things about your departure. It was hard but I realized that I now at least for one year have a friend in Stuttgart who I always can visit. And instead of having deep talks in the car I've to learn how to write it down so I can send it to you. Like a long-distance thing.
I've learned a lot of things from you. How to give everyone you meet a chance. I hope that I'm improving. So you have my address in the back of this book. Feel free to come and visit whenever you want for how long you want.
I don't for a second doubt that you're going to have an amazing time in Stuttgart. Just don't get too European. Erin is from the other side of the Atlantic and I hope you will always stay the way you are.
So anyway, good lucky with your "people hunt," you're one of the best.

You will always have a place in my heart,
Love, Johanna.


8.9.07

Sweetly Bitten

By the writing bug again, that is--I couldn't stop wishing I had a good notebook, sketchbook, any odd scrap of paper as I wandered the city today. I wanted to write about the way the water in the pool makes me aware of every muscle I have, how sweet it is to sit alone among people and quietly listen, the impact a good short story can have. In my mind I wrote reams of perfect phrases about the way the air smells when summer turns to fall and how beginning anew is the scariest thing I have ever done, and the most exciting. I wrote a book today, and no-one will ever read it but me, and somehow that makes sense.

I haven't been inspired in a while, will have to get back into the habit of writing down every little thought that crosses my mind, and then picking through them and developing the gems, one in a million, I stumble across them by accident. Somehow I've been clearer about myself lately--finally embracing the idea of being happy again, and the possibility of opening myself up the way I used to. It's frightening, how far from myself I was, and exhilarating, feeling myself start to return.

So if you see me wandering around town, looking vaguely distracted, wait until I come back down to earth to interrupt. I'm finding myself, and I occupy some odd spaces, so it might take a while :)

Pulsars should be regulated

....I just bought one, and used it, and my fillings almost fell out. I can't feel half of my face and I think I'm getting a headache :(

I'm doing my own archiving...

So the posts which have only dates as titles, are things I wrote on that date--but blogger won't let me retroactively post :(

Hope Springs Eternal....

I am walking home, enjoying a little buzz from the cider I'm not used to drinking, and beside me is a man who, in less than a minute, will utterly surprise me by kissing me goodnight. When he does, he will put his hand not on the small of my back, where they usually put their hands, but on the curve of my bum, just low enough to tug at a piece of me that is usually quite well hidden.

The next day I will spend countless minutes during the day remembering the feel of him--the energy that spills off of him in palpable waves when he twitches one eyebrow at me and whispers "I'm hungry," before kissing his way in a slide of colours down my stomach. I will tuck that feeling up against me and use it as an affirmation of the ability of two human beings to connect. Later I will wonder if it is possible for us to keep connecting this way, and I will ask him, and together we will decide to take it dinosaur exhibit by afternoon spent reading in silence.

For now, though, I am walking home....and the buzz from the cider is just as much a buzz of hope, and I am very alive.

November 26th, 2005

Snow is what I woke up to on Thursday morning. I always get this funny little rush when I wake up to the first snow--you know how when you let a dog out into the snow the first time it runs around and goes a little nuts, snuffling and bounding? That's how snow makes me feel.

It's funny to watch people here during the first few days, though--everyone is a little more careful. My bellydancing class on Thursday night was only 4 of us, which is less than a third of what it normally is!
Speaking of which--yeah, I joined a bellydancing class. I've been going three times a week for the past two weeks and it was a slow start--I like the movements, like the idea, but kept looking in the mirror and thinking "this doesn't look very natural to me!" after our instructor telling us that these are some of the most natural movements a woman's body can do :) Thursday night I looked in the mirror and saw something different--a confidence, a smile on my face that hadn't been there before. I feel different when I'm moving that way, like there is something older working through me. I have the urge sometimes to just start dancing away on my own, complete
improvisation. That night I felt like I was worthy of the hundred dollar hipscarf I splurged on! (Jeff is going to hate it, I wear it around the house and practice jutting my hips side to side....it's pretty loud!)

Thursday was also the day when, on my way to bellydancing, something interesting happened. I got on the bus and a few stops later this beautiful older woman got on--she was about 60, with this wonderful way of moving, almost like a dancer but more slowly, gray hair pulled up and off of her face, and extraordinary cheekbones. She would have been fascinating all on her own--but she was also singing hymns in
latin, not caring that people were unabashedly staring at her and whispering to one another. She had this beautiful, strong, low, carrying voice and was perfectly on key. When I got off the bus at college she was still singing, looking straight ahead and completely lost in her own space.
I had my first exam yesterday--psychology--and was amazed suddenly to realize that we're already pretty much done the semester--next week is our last of classes, and my last exam is December 15th. I feel like I've been sleepwalking through everything, paying a lot of attention to myself and not too much to anyone else.
The attention is paying off, though! I still have on and off days--but they have more to do with my working out than anything else.
As the naturopath explained to me, when you skip meals and/or work out (I've been doing the latter and not the former) your body starts to use your stored fat as energy--and that fat has toxins stored in it as well, which are then re-released into your system and have to be dealt with. So for the past couple of weeks I've been noticing that directly after I work out, I feel blech for about a half hour, and a
little weepy even. I'm wondering if there is some toxic BCP stuff left in there somehow, that is slowly leaving my system. Whatever it is, it was a little disconcerting but after that half hour I feel wonderful, so it's onwards and upwards for me!
I also had an interesting talk with a friend yesterday who is seeing a counsellor about some stuff--and he's given her some homework, which includes catching her thought patterns and working through them in reverse to look at exactly how an overreaction or a particular pattern comes about. One of the things on the piece of paper he gave her was a description of something I do myself--justifying your negative thinking or feelings by saying something akin to "if I feel this way
now, it's valid that I'll always feel this way." I catch myself doing this a lot--over the summer especially, if something made me upset, I would justify myself, even if it was irrational and people were telling me to give it some time, by saying "this is a really strong reaction and this is obviously how I will always feel about this."
Obviously not true--but when you're in the middle of it, it seems that way. I'm going to get ahold of the whole sheet, which is about different ways we trick ourselves into thinking things are worse or different than they actually are, because I noticed that a lot of them are things I sometimes do.....

This evening I'm looking after Theo and Rosie and man, did I ever miss kids this fall! Probably good that I wasn't babysitting too much or working but I forgot how much fun they are. I haven't been four months without a nanny job in over 5 years! Crazy to think about. At any rate, we played in the evening and Rosie made me a lego birthday cake, which I was expected to blow the candles out on. Theo made himself a huge lego sword which fell apart promptly, and Rosie reacted to his distress by offering to wrap him up "all cosy" and serve him some "tasty cake" which he refused, sending her into a small fit.
Then it was up to the bathtub, where they played in the bubbles and made me wish I had remembered my camera. Finally, a show and some milk, and when I asked where I could sit, Theo beamed up at me and said "wif me." and made me rub his feet while we watched! He has such a wonderful solemn expression when he's concentrating, and then he smiles and his whole face crinkles up into this imp-like countenance that is absolutely irresistable. And Rosie is simply more precocious than any two-year-old I have ever come across. I keep telling people that even if only half of that gene pool is blood relation to me, I'm going to have damn cool kids!

Anyway....I'm drinking a Stella that Mel was good enough to put in the fridge for me earlier, the dear :) She really is something else--she always looks at me and sees the best part of me, no matter what I feel like inside. Being able to do that is truly a gift.
Tomorrow I start a psych essay due next week, and put together my not-so-professional professional portfolio for Friday morning, when I have my midterm evaluation with my clinical instructor. I'm liking clinical more and more--it's overwhelming, and there is always something new to learn, but I don't ever find myself bored! Which is pretty amazing, considering it only gets more complex from here. Next semester we'll do wound dressings, catheters, postop medication via IV, ostomy care....I'm really looking forward to working with only RNs as well, I find that the personal support workers add a different dynamic.

November 13th, 2005

November 12, 2005
Paula and I went to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair today and it was
wonderful. I watched showjumping all the time growing up and I haven't done so in a long time--today I saw Ian Miller ride in person for the first time in my life. Not only that, I got to watch him warm up before the Big Ben Jumpoff.

Walking into the fair I was struck by how funny it is to have an agricultural fair indoors--the Fall Fair back home in Quesnel was outdoors, rain or shine, and it seemed a little ridiculous to have all of the animals indoors making a mess when there is all of that unused outdoor space available.....I guess things really are different in the city!
Paula had told me that the attending patrons of the evening show always "dress up" but I didn't realize that she meant in EVENING WEAR! Apparently the box seats have a dress code, and it was something to see--the men in their tuxes and top hats, the women in floor-length gowns....it was like we were two overlapping worlds--the normal people in their jeans and Ts, and these ghostly, floaty, perfect people from another dimension who slipped in among us for a while and then disappeared.
I found myself the slickest cowboy hat ever made--in lime green felt! with beads and tassles! and paid more than I should have for it but it makes me look pretty edgy LOL. I also found all kinds of great christmas presents--it's a huge trades show, on top of the agricultural part, and I was constantly having to tell myself that I don't need anymore silver jewellry!
The best part of the day, though, was at the beginning--before we bought fudge, before we ate potato pancakes with sour cream, before we found our way into the barns and stables and found out where the expensive and "famous" horses are kept--right at the beginning, at two o'clock, when the Canine-Equestrian challenge began.
For those of you who don't know what this is--basically you have a horse and rider pair teamed up with a dog. The horse and rider have to complete their jumps in the fastest possible time, and as soon as they are done, the dog runs an obstacle course with a trainer. The fastest combined time wins, with penalties for knocked down jumps or missed obstacles.
The dogs were hilarious--big dogs, small dogs, purebreds, mutts--but the stars of the show were a small jack russell terrier who was quicker than anything alive and jumped a little doggie-oxer with 5 rails (about 8 times his own height) and a french bulldog named Pot Roast who refused to do the course pretty much completely. He even went so far as to label a barrel in the ring "public enemy number one" and launched himself over it, knocked it over, and then stood guard.....when his trainer finally got him to pay attention he reluctantly finished the course (walked through the fences
instead of jumping over them, which was hilarious) and then returned to the barrel, which someone had picked up, and knocked it over again by launching himself at it bodily--it connected with a huge thud--and could only be tempted from the ring with one of the bars of the jumps he had knocked down! When they all came out for awards at the end of the show he was STILL HANGING ON TO THE BAR! All in all it was amazingly exciting to watch. Afterwards came the junior amateur speed jump-off and then the unicorn match (three horses pulling a carriage). At the end (before the welsh pony pleasure driving class) came a troup of horses from Quebec along with their two trainers and riders.
They proceeded to perform the most astonishing tricks, and I walked out of the ring feeling like a little kid who has seen something that will stay with them forever.....
I have three weeks of class left, imagine!
Hugs
Erin

November 6th, 2005

I realized today that I've been missing a huge part of myself for months--the part of myself that looks beyond herself and gets involved in life. I was so focused on myself over the summer and into the fall that I let go of some of the things I enjoy the most about myself. I spent a lot of time avoiding anything that could possibly stress me out. This weekend I found, among other things, my ability to converse again. I rediscovered the social part of myself--the part of myself that has an opinion, and a voice, who can make a good argument. The part of myself that will volunteer to help someone without worrying about whether or not it's going to be too much, whether or not the stress will cause me to burst into tears at some unforseen point in the future. I missed myself. It feels so incredibly good to be back--this evening I took countless pictures of fall leaves on my new digital camera, and made my little cousins pose for me so that I could capture those beautiful faces. This weekend I had a glass of wine and a great conversation with someone I don't know very well because I didn't have the energy to get to know him until now. I revelled in old musicians that sound new to me because I haven't listened to them all long. I didn't rush from point A to point B and back again. I made a new friend or two, and cooked them squash soup from scratch, and they loved it. I found a new pub, and took a long walk. And somewhere in there I managed to re-certify my CPR course....
I don't know if this part of me is back around for good, and I'm sure there will be times when I don't see it for a while. But knowing that it's there, and remembering what it feels like to be completely myself and content......I appreciate what I have been through for the opportunity that it gave me--not to take myself for granted.

October 1st, 2005

So lately I've been having some self-esteem issues (which are really new for me) and today I got MAD. I went shopping....Eaton Center...and I walked into my favorite cheap store, H&M, only to find that they have STOPPED SELLING PLUS SIZE CLOTHING. I was like "what do you mean, you stopped selling it?" and the lady said "It didn't sell well enough." She was the only person under a size fourteen IN THE WHOLE STORE. Jeez. Anyway, on to Old Navy, where I had little luck, and finally to Addition Elle and Reitmans, which both sell "fat clothes" (but most of it looks like something an 80-year-old color blind woman would wear). I looked in the mirror in Additon Elle and saw myself, just for a second, skinny--like my head on someone else's body. And I wished, for the first time in my life, that I was invisible. I felt that bad about myself. It's a strange feeling--I had, of course, had those off days when I looked in the mirror, but never had I compared myself to some ideal. It hurts to do that--for those of you who haven't, trust me, don't.
On the way home I happened to see the Dove Campaign--"Fat or Fabulous?" and wondered once again--why can't I be both? Why is it that people who are larger than models and porn stars are automatically seen as less attractive? Why is it that the abnormal is considered beautiful and the normal considered "average?" I mean, I love Dove and what they're trying to do, but there is not one seriously overweight person in their ads---there are normal-sized people, yes, but their idea of fat is pregnant.
So here's my feeling this evening--I am pissed right off and very much wishing that I could move to a part of the world where some solid curves are considered the epitomy of beauty. A place where I don't have to worry that my stomach isn't flat and my breasts sag....a place where someone has an appreciation for a healthy butt and a strong set of legs.....and one where I could feel a little less self-conscious walking down the street.
I'm sure this won't last....but it was eye-opening.
Off to the wedding tomorrow morning, and so excited!
Love and hugs
Erin

September 29th, 2005

Would you believe the sun is still shining?
I woke up last night to the sound of torrential downpour and the push of cold air against my feet--it had been warm enough before I went to be to leave the window open--and figured it would be overcast and gloomy when I woke up. Lucky me, the sun was out and it looked warm and bright....Too bad it was FREEZING when I walked out the door! Very deceptive, Canadian weather :) When it's 35 below here, it's sunny and looks like shorts-and-tshirt weather. But I'll take sun over the gloom we're bound to get in the next few weeks any day.
School continues to be incredibly stressful, but we all seem to be learning a lot. I've spoken to a number of students who are struggling with the courseload--sheer volume of readings is really the problem. On the bright side, we're adapting to clinical extremely well and I'm really enjoying it. There are, of course, things that break your heart, like the poor woman with MS I helped to bathe on Wednesday who is so obviously mentally sound but cannot speak and is thus treated like she's "not all there." I'm going to try to maintain contact with her in the next few months, we had a great connection yesterday when I fed her both of her meals. I even made her laugh! It's a wonderful feeling to make someone feel good--especially someone who so obviously doesn't often feel that way. The one thing that I am very very sure of is that when any member of my family needs long-term or complex continuing care, I will be extremely proactive in choosing a facility, and one staffed with well-educated professionals.
I've been listening to a lot of music lately--most notable an artist called Bird York, who did a few songs for the soundtrack to the movie Crash (which is, btw, fabulous). She's very mellow and fluid and great for relaxation.
The other movie I watched, just last night, was Red Eye, which I recommend for some supreme butt-kicking scenes at the end :)
There is a very active family of finches living in the heating vent across from my window. I wonder what will happen to them when the heat gets turned on?
I had a wonderful visit back to NH this past weekend, one that really revived me and allowed me to relax and say goodbye to people properly, instead of rushing to pack and leave! Today I mailed out two large emails to professors of other Nursing programs--one in NH, one in Montreal--so that they can look over my transcripts and course outlines and tell me where they would place me in their program, if at all. It really is a pain, transferring between programs, but I'm hopeful. Montreal would be nice, I love that city :)
Found out that my mother is almost always right--I should have known--and that the emotional ups and downs I have been going through--at least the overreactions--are due to my BCP, which is a huge relief. It's never fun to think you're mentally unstable, which is the direction I was leaning in. Hormonal reasons are much more acceptable LOL. So now I'm off of them and have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow afternoon to follow up and make sure I'm doing all I can to help my body work properly and recover from believing it was in the first trimester of pregnancy for over a year. Poor, confused me!
On Tuesday I'll fly to Vancouver and then drive up to Quesnel for Marci's wedding, and I am ecstatic at the thought of seeing "my girls" so soon. There are three new kids to be met and welcomed, and so SO much to catch up on....conversations that we could never have over the phone, and three years' worth of hugs to administer! These women helped shape who I am--their friendship is an essential part of me--and it will be wonderful to have them all around me again :)
Despite nuttiness galore, I've managed to get ahead in most of my classes as far as readings and assignments are concerned, which is fabulous. I'm going to go keep with that trend and do a few weeks' reading in each of my classes so that I'm all set when I get back from yet another "vacation."
Big hugs and lots of love
Erin

September 16th/17th, 2005

September 16th:

Today I saw two things that were of extreme interest to me. One was hilarious, the other heartbreaking:

First of all, this morning there was a well-dressed man at the bus stop with a furtive air about him. He glanced around casually, reached beneath a shrub on a stone wall, and pulled out two oranges, which he then stuffed into his pockets and took away with him. Why did he leave them there? And why come back for them at all? Hmmmm....

On the way back from school this afternoon the bus pulled up next to a telephone pole, to which was pasted a handwritten, photocopied letter. It read something like this:

Dear son,

It has been almost a year that you've been gone. I wonder where you are and how you are doing? I wonder if I would recognize you if you walked by me on the street? We are worried about you, please come home. We are moving and our new phone number is ....
Remember, we are your family and we love you. We can work together and be happy. Please come back to us.


The same sign was posted on every pole for blocks up and down Ossington. Who is this family? What happened to their son? How old is he? What does he look like? I had an almost uncontrollable urge to phone the number written on the paper and ask them these things.

Sept. 17.

Jeff and I headed down to Ricoh Coliseum this afternoon to watch the Maple Leafs play their "Blue and White" game. For those of you who don't know, it's like a preseason warmup, and a chance for people to get to know the newest players and watch their team play for fun. It was a great experience. The Coliseum was packed, about 9000 people. There were children everywhere, everyone was wearing jerseys, and the excitement was tangible--FINALLY, after a huge draught, the NHL is back! Finally, a chance to drink beer and yell and smell the ice! I have never heard such a roar in my life as I heard during the last verses of "Oh Canada," sung by a tiny little girl with a larger-than-life voice who stretched those last notes out to beat the noise of the crowd like a true professional. A close second was the reception when Belfour and Sundin skated onto the ice, and then Lindros! What a great sight.

I was so excited about the game that I went and found myself tickets to the preseason game against the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night at 7.30--this time in the Air Canada Center. I figured that in a few weeks or months I would be too busy to go and enjoy a game, might as well get it over with now.
These past few days I've been needing to keep busy. Not having Emily here, having Jeff gone during the week, and having all of my "school friends" in the 'burbs has made me feel more than a little isolated, to the point where, when Chris told me tonight that he had been invited out by my NH friends, I cried because I missed them so much. It's not that we go out and do crazy things, earthshattering things, it's just that we're together and laughing.
Yesterday afternoon I had an interesting conversation with my friend Stephanie--sitting in the Wayne Gretzky pub on Blue Jays Way. A lot of us (girls in school) have had stressful summers, and we all seem to be dealing with it in the same way--crying a lot over stupid things that shouldn't bother us, needing company and above all, needing to talk about our lives, what's bothering us, why we hurt or feel scared or are just strung out, stretched out, and need to rest. I know others in my life who have been feeling the same way. The amazing thing is, all of us have had the feeling that there is some taboo against talking about these things, against telling people that we cry on a daily basis, against saying the words "I'm scared," "I'm angry," "I'm sad," "I'm hurt." I want to know where that comes from. I want to know why, even with supportive families and friends, society has somehow managed to instill in us the idea that having these feelings is a shameful thing. I talked to a counsellor this summer, he told me that I didn't even have to have a REASON to be sad, or hurt, or angry, that saying "I feel this way and that is okay" would be enough to help me work through it. That advice was the best I got all summer--better than the "you'll be fine"s, better than the "you have lots of support"s. All I needed was for someone to tell me that the way I was feeling was acceptable. I talked to a dear friend who is having an extraordinarily hard year last night, and she was in tears, saying that she is angry, frustrated, sad, exhausted, hurt....and feels like nobody would understand if she told them those things. Again, I wondered--her family is wonderful, more than supportive, she is in a loving relationship, has good friends--where did she get the idea that these feelings aren't okay? I don't know what the answer is. I do want to remind everyone who reads this: at some point in your life you will be faced with a friend, family member, partner, or even acquaintance who will be going through some hurt, some stress, some uncertainty. The best thing you can do for them is to convey that the emotion itself is acceptable and does not necessarily need to be justified. If anyone knows the answers to the questions I've posed above, I'd love to hear them.

Hugs
Erin

February 9th, 2005

Alright! Finally, 5 minutes to sit down and fill everyone in on life
in the big city....
....which I have been missing, unfortunately! I came back from my wonderfully relaxing Christmas holiday to find that the professors for my year have turned into raging sadists, determined to weed as many of us out as possible. They are doing this by:
a) lulling us all into a false sense of security,
b) telling us in week 2 that "by
the way, 40 percent of your mark in this class is due by week 5," and
c) hiring idiots to teach classes.....

Luckily I have the most proactive class of fun, smart, and far-
from- spineless ever! We
a) saw through the lulling crap,
b) worked our asses off to create a KICKASS presentation (which we are due to
present tomorrow morning at 8.20), and telling the head of the school that our teacher was an idiot, which resulted in...well, let's just say our political issues teacher no longer reads out of the book or makes inflammatory remarks about abortion. She even brings overheads to class now, and tries to act like she knows what she's doing!

I forgot to mention that they also have us on 3 mornings straight of 8 am classes--and once clinical starts (February 28th) we'll have Mondays at 7 am as well....yikes!

I am more excited about clinical than I have been about anything else this year. All 600 of us, across three different sites, will be going into long-term care facilities all over Toronto--known collectively as the Metro Homes for the Aged--and spending four hours a week applying all of the theories we thought were a waste of our precious time on helpless senior citizens. I have no idea how the residents feel about this, but it should be interesting. I've been placed at Castlewood Wychwood Towers, which is (by some twist of GREAT luck on my part) located about a 20 minute walk from where I live. Some people in my class have a 90 minute commute to their placements, so I'm counting myself blessed....

I've been varying my route to school lately, getting off at different subway stops, taking the streetcar or bus even though it's slower--just to see what I can see. St. Andrew station is definitely the most boring/interesting of the stations I get off
at. ALL of the business people in Toronto--bankers, Price- Waterhouse-Cooper employees, etc. etc.--get off at St. Andrew. I ride the train down, scruffy, carrying my backpack, amidst sleek, peacoated/leathercoated/furcoated streaked/dyed/tinted/ 500-dollar- pant-wearing business professionals and, while it is utterly boring to see so many similar people in one place at one time, it can be utterly fascinating as well. Who are these generic people who read the paper and don't talk to one another? Every person must have at least one interesting story to tell...and so I sit in the middle of thousands of interesting stories I will never hear, and make up my own to pass the time.

A few days ago there was--heaven forbid!--a mouse in Emily's room. He steadfastly refused to leave and she stood on her chair while Jeff and I laughed loudly and tried to chase him into the kitchen, into which he eventually vanished. Yesterday morning, eating my breakfast, I watched him sneak back in and decided not to tell her.
Poor thing is at a risk, the way that room is arranged, so if he's going to brave it.....:) I never knew anyone actually stood on chairs around mice before I saw Ems doing it, thought it was an urban myth :) We are toying with the idea of getting kittens but can't figure out
a) where to put the litter box,
b) who will look after them this summer while we're gone, and
c) whether or not we can afford to adopt them and pay for food and shots etc. So it'll be another plan "in the works" for now.

I've been burying my head lately and it's paying off, which is a great feeling...but I'll be more than happy to ditch the books *mostly* at the end of February and head down for a 9 day shackup with my sweetie and visit with friends and family! I've managed to get my crazy-barn-nanny-surrogate mother-all around buddy-job back for the summer, in New Hampshire, which is exciting. So now all that's left to do is sublet my apartment, from May 1st to September 1st, and decide what I want to take with me and arrange strategically around Chris's house. I figure if he can take all of my random belongings, he can probably handle me in the long run :)
That's it from this side of the country/ocean/whatever.
Miss all of you, even those I see on a regular basis!
Hugs from
Erin

October 6/7 2004

October 6, 2004

I saw two old friends meet at the bus stop this morning and had a sudden ache to be with those who know me best. The downside to travelling is that wherever I go, I miss someone :(

Realized this morning that I can no longer simply use facewash on my entire face. My once resilient skin is protesting--around my eyes--and I will now join the ranks of those who use eye makeup remover. I always thought that when this occurred I'd be a bit older than I am now and am disappointed when I think of all the time in the future to be wasted on a skin care regime. And I blame it all on the skincare companies--if they didn't constantly advertise and get people worried, we'd never know anything was wrong....

October 7, 2004

You can definitely tell a lot about someone's personality by watching them on the subway. For example: there are people who get up and stand next to the door a stop (sometimes TWO!) before they actually have to get off. These people are time-managed, probably a little uptight, always in a hurry, etc. Then there are people who wait until the driver announces the next station or a little longer before stirring themselves--they're pretty normal, no major hangups, can be time-managed but generally aren't, worry less.....Last of all come the people who get up as the doors open--or space out and almost don't make it off/ride to the next stop by accident. I fall into this category most of the time. These people are a little lazy, forgetful, the least stressed of the bunch and spend a lot more time than they should analyzing the other people on the train......................................................

October 24th, 2004

7 am
Running with Emily. Except I am up and she is still in bed. I think I need to get her her own alarm clock so that I don't have to live in fear of oversleeping mine on days she has class before I do....
It's dark in the mornings now and I hate it. I want to hibernate.

10.15 am
Survived the run. We were gone for what felt like an eternity but was sadly only about 20 minutes. Since when am I in such bad shape? Must improve.
The man across from me on the T looks exactly like "Schultz" from Hogan's Heroes--bulbous, blue, watery eyes, protruding nose and all. He is the only interesting person on the train, everyone else is either a) sleeping or b) looks like their mom just died. What is it about mondays?

My cheque should be here today, thank God. I am holding out hope
that, since September was terrible, October will be brilliant in
compensation. What are the odds, do you think?

12.21 pm
On my way home to get my loan cheque. Praying it arrived safely instead of being eaten by the post office or stolen from our mail basket. The mail situation at our house in intolerable.
Discovered on Saturday night, thanks to a friend, that it is possible to get into our house with a credit card, metropass, or even a stiff business card. Slept surprisingly well, considering. On the bright side, none of us have to worry about forgetting our
keys.
Yesterday we went to the cheap theater (4.25 for a matinee) and watched "Shaun of the dead," almost the whole thing! The fire alarm went of 3/4 of the way through and we all had to leave. We got refunds (4.25) and free tickets as well (7.50) so we came out ahead. We then spent 40 minutes looking for a sushi place before giving up and going to Flatiron & Firkins for "traditional pub fare." This is all around the corner from my campus.
This morning, while on my way to school, I walked by THREE sushi shops. Hah.

7.10 pm
I got my loan cheque and, in between classes, managed to get it certified by the school and processed at the Post Office. The only bad news is that the school is taking 50 percent of it (about 2100 instead of 1670) so I am definitely going to have to find a full- time job this month. I'm sure 80 hours a week of combined classes,
work, and studying won't kill me, other people have done it, right?
I want to move to Sweden where school is free, it's ridiculous. The guy said "well, your first responsibility is to the school" and I said "but if you take ALL my money, fool, I will a) not be able to FINISH school and b) thus not be able to EVER pay back my loans."
On an interesting note, there is a professional prostitute coming into our Deviance and Society class on Friday morning. We get to ask her all sorts of questions. I wonder if she's hiring? I now understand how people get into that line of work to pay their way through college, it would be ridiculously easy to make 200 bucks a night. Too bad I have morals. Pain in the ass, those are.

September 27th, 2004

Hey everyone!
First off, apologies for the mass email. I really do mean to send
personal notes to everyone and sometimes it actually happens, but lately things have been crazy around here and so I beg everyones'
forgiveness :)

Our neighborhood is amazing--besides our wonderful, hilarious family of three next door (Luther, his mother, whose name we still don't know, and his sister Andrea) there are three girls two doors down a little older than Emily and I who are all working. Their landlord's name is Elvis, of all things, and he's hilarious. Then there is the old Portuguese woman across the street who washes her car about 4
times a week and gets in waterfights with her friend and neighbor.
Emily and I often sit on the porch and watch them and giggle to ourselves. There are no end of little, non-English-speaking children running around and they are a joy to watch--playing hide- and-go-seek behind parked cars while the younger ones watch from the porch and point to where their older siblings are hiding. Across the street there is a man who's car alarm goes off 2 to 3 times a day--we never can figure out if it's actually being broken into or if he just can't figure out how to open it without setting off the bells and whistles.

Speaking of bells and whistles, there is an icecream truck that makes the rounds here at about 10 pm--the song it plays is nothing short of creepy, it reminds me of something that should be on the TV version of "IT."

I am starting to really get into my classes--getting to know the professors and other students, re-learning my learning styles and study habits, teaching myself to write papers all over again. The more I practice, the easier it becomes.......

Next week will be our one-month anniversary in our house and hopefully things will settle down a little as of then. My student loan documents got "lost" in the mail and I had to fill out a form to get them reissued--that was on Wednesday. Unfortunately, when I called today to get the status of the re-issue, they informed me
that they never received my fax, so I had to run home and get the form and refax that as well. Now it should take two days to have it reissued, another day to have it couriered here, and then a week to cash it. We are hoping that our landlord will be lenient with us this month because....

....to add insult to injury, when I arrived home to grab the papers I needed today, I found Emily in the kitchen with her feet up off the floor. Apparantly there is a mouse living in the living room sofa--it came with the house--and this fuzzy thing decided to hop up through the cushions while she was sitting on the couch studying!
After that, emboldened by the fact that she was terrified of it, it took to popping up and running the length of the back of the couch, rustling through the little garbage pail at the end of the room, and running around through the wires behind the CD player. Emily will sleep in my room tonight (I'm upstairs) and Jeff is bringing home mouse poison and an extra trap or two, for which Farley assured me we will be reimbursed. We are entertaining the idea of a pair of kittens to help keep our living quarters rodent-free, but we'll have to wait until we're in a position to take proper care of them!

The next month or so will be ultra-busy--all of my professors seem to have given us assignments due the first week of November, which is crap, most of them are worth no less than 15% of our final grades. But I'm excited about one of them in particular--a Cultural Diversity study on a place called the Adam House, which is close to where I live. It's a half-way house of sorts for refugees who have been in Canada less than 2 days. Our job is to find out as much as we can about how nurses would be able to help people in this situation--do they have immediate health concerns when they come into the country? Do they speak the language well enough to enter a health center and be sure that they will be understood and well- provided for? Do they have emotional health issues that need to be addressed, perhaps coming from areas of strife in the world?
Hopefully we will be able to do it justice. I have an interesting group to work with--assigned by our professor--which consists of 3 18 year olds and a girl named Sarah who is about my age, perhaps a little older.
Anyhoo. Lots and lots going on. I've heard from some of you, some of you have been out of touch for a while. I'd love to hear everyones' news!
Big hugs from
eRin

February 9th, 2002

So, as promised, a little more about the family!!

Jan is in his mid forties (45 or 46, not sure which) and used to be a crazy hippie-style man. Now he wears expensive suits and drives a Mercedes but still has his wild side. He seems to be especially happy when people are smiling, he loves to sit down in the evening with a glass of wine or beer and talk. He also loves music of all sorts, and their music collection ranges from Kuschelrock collections to David Usher and Diana Krall. He was married once before and has three other children--15, 16, and 20 or 21. The younger two are girls and the oldest is a son. He adores his children and loves spending time with all of them. Also gets easily overwhelmed. He insists on speaking German to me almost exclusively now, which is wonderful because of his "high-german" accent from Hanover--everything is beautifully articulated and I have no problems understanding him whatsoever.

Deb, who is 39, is a riot. She is a little bemused, often seems scattered, but is really a driven, self-made business woman. At home she wears whatever she wants, the minute she has to work out of the house, however, she is transformed by teased hair, perfectly applied makeup and wonderful flowy outfits that make her look very capable.
She also dotes on her children and I laugh at her sometimes because she worries so much. She is much the type to make more out of a bump or scrape than the girls do themselves. We have established quite a wonderful friendship already, yesterday evening we both went to test into our respective German courses--she for a simple Grammar course and myself for two evenings a week of German level three and one a
week of a simple conversation course with seven or eight other au- pair types. Afterwards we went to Danny's and ate Frenchfries with Heinz and gossiped about nothing in particular for some 2.5 hours, which was amazing. She and Jan have decided that, since I have never seen a real ballet, that will be my birthday present--two tickets to the ballet of my choice (that and dinner, at Jan's insistance, on
Tuesday night). It is nice to have a bit of a fuss made over me.

Amanda, who is five, is a born actress. Whatever emotion she decides to play is honed to perfection in action and facial expression in that way that only five-year-olds can pull off. With her bright blond curly hair and vivid blue eyes she looks like a little Drew Barrymore and is very sweet. She is still a little jealous of Kyla and I like to spend time with her when Kyla is napping as her personality is something quite different when we are alone. She draws and paints and dresses up and speaks perfect German and English. She is, in every sense of the word, a little girl--pigtails and tights, the works. I have not spent as much time with her as I would like to but look forward to getting to know her very much.

Kyla, who will turn 2 on the 1st of April, is a gem. She talks and babbles away to herself and her favorite song is Baa Baa Black Sheep. She will sing it to herself for hours on end when we are walking....She calls me "Ewr" and seems to be as comfortable around me as if we had known one another since she was born--no problems with naps, diapers, etc. She seems to have very little problem with her mother working--always happy to see her, but never ever crying when she waves goodbye in the morning. I think she is very well adjusted. She is young enough to still smell like a baby and I love rocking her before her nap every afternoon. She lays back in my arms and quietly grows sleepy and slowly waves one arm back and forth as I sing. She has a small vocabulary and a mixed one--both German and English words, with funny little pronunciations. She understands everything, though, and I love to talk to her. We walk most mornings for at least an hour, sometimes two, usually down to town to make trips to the post office, market, or grocery store.

Another fantastic member of the family, whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, is Jan's mother. She is 65 years old and lives like a 25 year old, travelling a good 6 months of the year all over the world, staying in youth hostels and camping sites. She is currently in New Zealand for 6 (or is it 3?) months and sends postcards of the most beautiful places. She also sends the funniest gifts--one Christmas, for example, she sent an entire Coconut in the mail, simply drew all over it and wrote their address on the front in black marker and dropped it in the mail! It sits on the shelf above the stereo and is an object of great curiosity to whoever comes to visit. Jan loves telling me stories about her and I will pass them along diligently.

Last, but certainly not least!! Frau Baumgart. I had the pleasure of meeting her yesterday evening and I will never, ever, in my whole life, forget this woman. I opened the door to a woman in her mid- sixties with teased, puffed up, dyed-blonde hair and coral lipstick (!!!) and enough blue eyeliner to last me the rest of my life. She wears enormous glasses, the kind that have a funny curve at the bottom so the lenses actually rest right on your cheekbones and perfectly matched, acrylic, twinset sweaters with gold embroidery and matching, gold-accented, wicked pumps. Delicious. She wafted into the room in a cloud of perfume and said to me directly "So you're the new one, eh?" in English (she used to work as a military nurse or something and is quite proud of herself, called it working for "The Forces"). I introduced myself and she stuck out her left hand as she walked by me, twiddled my fingers, and said "you can call me Mrs Baumgart," and with that I was dismissed. She absolutely terrorizes
the household, takes no nonsense from the children at all and bosses Deb around thoroughly, which is very amusing to watch. She was a huge support before I got here--Deb would have her over two or three afternoons to cook and watch the girls for a few hours--and I hopeshe sticks around. As we began to talk (my offer of coffee got her attention, she says she chainsmokes and lives on coffee, hot, lukewarm or stone cold) we started on (of course) the dieting topic and when I said I was also watching what I was eating she peered around behind me, patted my bum, and said "Yup, you could stand to lose a few kilos!" Luckily I escaped into the basement at that moment
to fetch her some onions (which she hates, but insists on using because "nothing tastes good without them, the nasty things") and almost peed my pants laughing, it was simply too much. Her next question was whether or not I had read Harry Potter, and when I said I had she grinned at me and said in a "just between us" voice that she has bootlegged the entire movie off the internet--that and LOTR, which she is just reading for the first time now and finds fascinating. She has 3 sons (had 4 but one was killed in a car accident a few years ago, he was a test-driver for Mercedes and was killed testing the same car that Deb now owns. Therefore, upon arriving the first time, she announced that she hated that car and thoroughly berated Deb for buying it) and 4 Persian cats which she breeds, then sells the litters to loving homes. I have extracted a promise from her to let me come and see the next batch, which will arrive in two weeks or so. I am sure there will be more Frau BG stories but this will suffice for the first one. She is the kind of character every book is looking for and I am delighted to have met
her!

That's it for now,
Love,
Erin