At work today, the nicest guy ever retired. He worked his last day for the rest of his life, or as long as he lasts in retirement before going crazy and picking up where he left off.

And as I sit there, a mere five months into my first, real, grown-up job (we won't count that awful experience from before - it never happened, got it?), I can't even imagine what that would feel like.

I have a feeling, though, that it won't feel as victorious and freeing as I imagine, sitting here bogged down with deadlines and too much work. I imagine it might feel kind of lost and maybe even a bit hard. Because how do you turn off a lifetime of something? Not easily.

But as I sit with my deadlines, crunching me as I come upon this long weekend (Happy Birthday, Canada!), I am imagining it to feel victorious and freeing, because that is what will get me through the next 40 years of deadlines and crunching.

Happy Retirement, Bill! May it be long, fantastic, and filled to the brim with good health and life. :)



Somedays it's hard to breathe.

Hard to take a breath big enough to reach into the bottom of my lungs, filling them to capacity, puffing my chest out, and giving my body enough oxygen.


This past little while has felt a lot like that. I have been really, really, really busy lately, and everything in me just wants to lay down and sleep until I'm all out of sleep. And then get up and relax, doing stuff I actually want to do, not just stuff that is scheduled, and then oversheduled, and then triple scheduled (who ever heard of a stag and doe, and a part-time job, and Father's day on ONE FREAKING WEEKEND???).

Every new entry on the calendar feels like another puncture in my lungs, stopping me from breathing, from living, from enjoying. I feel burnt out. Again.

This feeling is not new or different from any other time that I've burnt myself out, but this time I feel like I have no way out. I feel as though this kind of thing could carry on forever and I don't know how to stop it. At least at school I could calculate, down to the minute, the moment that I would experience relief. Exams and due dates will help you do that. But in a grown-up life, where I get to "pick" my activities, it just doesn't work that way.

My husband says I should just tell them all no. No to your committee, to your brilliant idea, to your cause, to my God. Just say no.

That is the hardest thing to do. Even as I type this, picturing myself saying no, my stomach is tying in knots.

I keep saying that I don't know how. I'm not sure how to turn it all off, find peace, and refrain from participating. The troubling thing is I don't think anyone can teach me either.

So here I sit, slowly getting swallowed up whole by my schedule, slowly getting eaten alive, and all I can do is pray I can make it through the next thing without getting mad, freaking out, and potentially killing a friendship or seven.

Deep breaths, right? That will help?

I think I need more.

At the very least I know I'm in trouble. I mean, anyone who can fall blisfully asleep, complete with snoring, during deep tissue massage therapy 2 sessions in a row, because it is the only time that person is allowed to stop and close their eyes and just be, needs some downtime, right?



Why not?

An English major by trade, I have been trained to read the good stuff. Like a wine connoisseur, I can sniff out the books that will pack a punch for me and the books that will leave me wanting more and hating the fact that I've wasted my time.

There are, however, times where I will delight in reading something that's not completely heady, but sincerely well-written. In my humble opinion, and this is only my opinion, I love the Emily Giffin books Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and now, which I have just started reading, Baby Proof.

The premise of Baby Proof is this: Claudia, a 30-something woman, doesn`t want children. She knows she will not be the mother that she should be and she makes the decision to not have the bouncing babies society tells her she should. This, of course, puts her in a tight spot to find a mate. Eventually, though, she finds her soul mate, Ben. He is perfect and, to top it all off, he also doesn`t want children! A match made in publishing heaven.

They get married and are enjoying the single life when all of a sudden Ben wants babies. This of course throws their whole marriage off-course.

Now, I am a firm believer of making babies. I want them. Ask my husband - I ask for them ALL THE TIME. And although I know that waiting until we move out of our apartment and we have bought our own house with our own space is the best plan for baby-making, (which I heartedly agree with), I still WANT them. NOW. My poor husband. Anyway, I digress.

In the book, Claudia postulates the following question as she is getting bombarded with Ben's protests and arguments, and her best friend's concern: Why, when a woman says 'I don't want children,' immediately everyone asks, "Why not?" but when a woman says "I want children," everyone just understands?

That, I think, is a fantastic question. Why do we do that? I think there are a couple of really good spin-offs to this question.

Of course, the feminist rant comes first.

We harp and harp about women having choice - you can pick a) babies! or b) career! or c) BOTH, but in essence, we are only really offered option c.

If you only choose to have babies and no career, watch as the noses of people who are more professionally-minded start to stick up. Their mantra of career, career, career suddenly gets so resounding you can't hear anything else. Why would you choose raising your children over a fulfilling, rewarding, independent, freedom- and power-filled career? Why???

I remember getting a lot of these looks in just choosing marriage over grad school when I finished my degree. Why wasn't I heading up the mountain of success, and why on earth was a strapping myself to a man??

Well, have you seen my husband?

In all seriousness, I chose what would make me happy long-term, what I wanted, and what I have loved every second of since. Obviously, snooty career-snobs, I made the right choice FOR ME.

If you choose only career, though, like Claudia, you become the anti-mother, shunning all things maternal and gooey. How could you be so cold? So selfish? How could you give up your crowning achievement - your offspring?

Women fought for choice, but it certainly is portrayed that if you don't choose career-woman with 4 kids, you're picking stay-at-home drudgery or workaholic egocentric land. There is no choice. Let's be honest - we fought hard to "have it all" as defined by others, not to be realistic or aware of our very basic wants and needs.

Whoo. Feminist rant gone. Next order of business - BAD mothers.

We all know people who shouldn't have children. We watch them use, abuse, ignore, and forget their children. We watch them mistreat them or not treat them at all. We watch them as their children grow up to be the worst versions of themselves because their parents couldn't get it together long enough to teach them to be and express the best versions of themselves. And we cringe when we hear that they are pregnant. AGAIN.

And we all know people who would make fantastic parents. Give them a baby and it just starts purring. We all know them. And sadly, these star parents-in-training can't have children, for whatever reason. Can't procreate because reality is a big meanie.

And we wonder why?

What if each person who wanted children asked themselves, why? Why do I want kids? Why do I want to bring children into this world? And if they were honest about it, I think that people wouldn't have babies so quickly.

I know of a couple who are having huge marital trouble. They need to fix a lot of holes before they can call their relationship healthy. And yet, she wants children so badly. And she doesn't want to wait. And she has actually said that it's not fair that she's ready but he's not - why should she wait for him when she can have what she wants NOW. Because she wants it NOW.

But, as the age old war cry states, what about the children? How many kids are born into this kind of environment? And they're not just "kids," but human beings with rights and freedoms and purpose. Don't they deserve their best shot?

Which is why my husband and I aren't having babies now (even though I ask relentlessly, and I'm so sorry to make you be the stronger guy). We are waiting to give our children the best shot, not just any shot.

And the next time someone says, "I want children," I think I'll ask them, why? Why kids? Why you? And maybe a child won't be born without some thought behind it.

Because children are more than worth a second, third, fourth thought. And then they are worth your best. Always.


Rest and Peace

Sarah Toller
February 7, 1977 - June 12, 2007

To Sarah,

Rest and be peaceful.

To Derek and family,

I'm so sorry. Let peace and comfort be with you in this time of mourning. I hope you find light again.


Observations from a coffee shop

Out on a field trip again today...enjoying the coffee shop working day.


On the way to work, as we sped along the on ramp to the highway, I noticed that the once bare hill that banks the left side of the ramp is now covered with long, skinny, shiney grass - the kind that picks up the light in a wave formation. As we flew by, it danced and shimmered, picking up the summer light, showing off its growth and greeness. It was a moment of nature among the hustle of highway, cars, contruction, and gridlock. I'm sure if the windows were open to let in the smell of pollution and "forward thinking," the moment would be ruined - but of course we had our earth-sucking air conditioning on, like any good citizen would.


The wind is here too, at the coffee shop, making the trees that were planted the day that the building was finished dance and play. They're tall and thin, showing off their delicate age still. Teenage trees that frolic, their rounded, full heads of hair bouncing around, nodding and looping, flirting and reaching to the sky, just as young people should. Enjoy, enjoy, but reach and soar. And if for one moment you forget that the trees are lining roads and parking lots, and if for one moment you pretend that you are in a field, carpeted with natural grasses, wild flowers, and unicorns, you can imagine that the trees are as happy as the wind makes them look.


Older people look so worthy to me - they don't look cocky and arrogant like young people, who feel like they know everything, while making ignorant decisions; they don't look like the middle group, of spit and polished corporate workers, or laid back relaxed corporate workers. They look refined, worked, weathered, strong, and calm. They don't have the nervous energy of youth, who can't sit still, who have to keep moving, keep busy, keep jiggling, keep up the facade of "I know!" They don't have the loud confidence of cologned and perfumed 30-somethings. They have the look of quiet power, of quiet knowing. I want that. I want, when I have reached an age to consider retirement, that kind of simplicity and wisdom.

Saw a woman on the way to work today - she had a shock of white gray hair, cropped short in a very hip way. She must have been 55. She was fit and was wearing a bright sundress, walking up the street with confidence and poise. Sunglasses, class. But then a peek at her bra under her arm mid-stride - not flashy, not patterned, not black. Pure white - the show of care for her clothes, for her bras, for the colour white. You know her mother told her to care for her undergarments. You just know. And you know that she listened now. And she may not have before, but now she knows, this is true. And she walked like she knew, but didn't have to tell anyone. Lovely. Perfect. My wish.

Man in the coffee shop who is tall, with white hair and conservative glasses. He is carrying a satchel, which could hold a computer, maybe. But instead he pulls out paper and a pen - old school. And he sits there, quietly, alone, working and thinking. Reading. Absorbing. And you know this is something he has perfected over the years. And his knowing is there too - as he watches the younger polished and the younger casual workers, chat and be excited, with their oversized coffees and laptops and cell phones (yes, me too). And he has a small coffee, a small notebook for notes, and a book open on his lap. And he knows, but we don't need to know that. Because he knows. Solid. Wise. My wish.


I want to be skinnier. Not in a starved way, but in a fit way. I want there to be a graceful curve to my neck, not rolls. I want my belly to be flat so when I'm pregnant you'll see my bump, not just exaggerated chub. I want gorgeous legs, or at least the the little bit of leg that I do have be fantastic. I want it. And I will get it if I get my round bottom off of the couch and out into the world.


Gentleman beside me recently lost his job. As I write about bankruptcy, where one of the main reasons people go bankrupt is because they've lost their job, my stomach hurts for him. He has a girlfriend and no job. Remembering my husband's and my unemployment I feel for him. The frustration, the worry. I have to breathe more...and remember that his plight is not mine. But I do hope that he finds a resolution sooner, rather than later. Hope, hope, hope.


Sleepy-headed boy, nodding off in a comfy chair. Brings back memories of when I was in school and I would head for the basement of Dana Porter Library, sink into one of their comfy chairs, and study and doze the day away, getting more work done than anywhere else. Granted, this groggy lad doesn't have any books with him, but he looks about the age that everyone assumes has the most energy. Truth be told, the most energy requires the most sleep. I miss the sleep of my university years, the frequent napping, and the flexible schedule. But the homework? That I will never miss. EVER.
Paris Hilton is going back to jail after she was released. Apparently, being Paris Hilton is not as glamorous as it seems in the photographs. Her head tilt, her model body, her sex on the internet, her television show, and all of her inheritance isn't saving her. And although the world is crowing about how awesome it is that justice is being done, don't you feel a little sorry for her? Not for going to jail and not for getting what she deserved, but rather for the fact that she has deluded herself into thinking she has real love in the world? That in her hour of need, the media-hooked-up world is calling for her hanging? Not petitioning that she be let go?
Can you imagine how isolating that must feel? Thinking you are beloved and then finding out you are reviled?

That would be awful. That's the part I feel bad for...her ignorance. And how stupid of her parents for supporting her delusions. For telling her she is loved. For telling her she is worth the world. For telling her that she is a celebrity. For telling her that she is precious. For telling her all that and then not mentioning that love only works unconditionally with her parents, not for the rest of the world. That she has to contribute and be something bigger than herself and her riches.
Poor, Paris. I hope she can see past her delusions in prison and figure out who she really is and who she really wants to be. Best case scenario? She does some soul-searching and finds a charitable, compassionate human being, instead of a cold celebutante.
Can you imagine a world where Paris is human and not fake? Where she practices humanity instead of toxicity? That will be a better world for her.
Now if only we could toss George Bush into jail, along with all of his idiot advisors. Those guys deserve to do some serious time. Stop killing the world - start making it a better place. Please.