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