Posts Tagged ‘grandma’

Thirty facts about me/my life/etc on my thirtieth birthday!

September 5, 2008

My father has borderline personality disorder,
my mother went into labour with me
on labour day,
my grandmother marched in the first
union march in the
country I was born in.

I love buying journals and have trouble
finishing them. I have five holes in my
ears and no more hole
in my tongue.
I have one crown in my mouth,
no tattoos, and
a serious distaste of earthworms.

I’m 5’8, taller than my mother (only just)
and shorter than my
father. Once, playing under a sleeping bag,
I watched my sister swallow a
I met TMD in 1998, I moved to this
country permanently in 2001 (we can
ignore the extensive visiting in 2000).

My grandfather had a huge collection
Reader’s Digest books,
and he ate popcorn every night from
a giant wooden bowl.
He and my grandmother were
first generation in my home country.

I never thought about being
from that country until I moved
far away from it, and my accent and cultural
habits made me an oddity.

I dislike cutting my toenails (because it’s
icky, not because I want long claw hooks),
I’ve worn glasses since I was eight,
I lost my virginity when I was 16. My wife
has a killer voice
and plays the guitar like a dream.

I have never met my father’s side
of my family,
I have never met my grandparents’
across-the-ocean family,
I wonder sometimes how they fared in
the Holocaust, with all those
death camps sprinkled around.

I am not German or Austrian.

I’ve slept with more boys
than girls
but been with TMD probably longer
than all other relationships combined.
I’m a serial monogomist.

I used to tap dance.
I cannot do a cartwheel.

(I think I counted correctly. Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday in one way or another. The first fact of my 31st year: I love comments on this diary. It makes me feel listened to, valued, and like someone has reached out to make a connection with me. Love to you all!)


August 22, 2008

My grandmother died three years ago this past Wednesday. I was just flipping through my old diary, and found something I wrote very soon after her death:

I guess the thing that’s hard is that life goes on. I mean, that’s the beautiful and correct idea, and also the way my grandma would have wanted it to be.

I’ve been thinking about life going on this week. About how I no longer feel full of razors and pain every time I say her name outloud, and about how I find myself surprised to be able to mention her life and death and just feel…okay.

I think feeling okay with feeling okay is the biggest challenge. The me of three years ago was in a dark place – the funeral would be tomorrow, TMD was still in this country, and I was just – broken. I would return to this country to lay on my couch for two months straight, never moving, not going into work, crying constantly.

It was my grandmother’s death that finally pushed me into therapy, but only once I had healed enough to be able to move. I wish I could hug my self then, but I think it would hurt the me of right now too much.

I miss you, Grandma.


August 12, 2008

Had what some therapists would call a ‘big dream’ last night/this morning. Kleinette was there as a main player; I suppose this isn’t terribly surprising as I have been thinking about her for a couple of days.

I’m not sure why, though. I have just thought that next week is my grandmother’s death anniversary, and Kleinette and my grandmother have been interchangable at points in my dreams.

No matter the why, it was an illuminating dream. It involved my father, abuse, and some unconscious bits becoming conscious. Rather than feeling terrified or overwhelmed, I remember (very vividly) feeling like a light bulb had clicked on. A moment of clarity that I knew would last, a sort of ‘so THAT explains it.’ Maybe a relief.

And Kleinette was there in a supportive way. I was quite mean to the younger version of M, a girl I went to primary school with. Kleinette was there to witness what might have been perceived as meanness (though it wasn’t, really). She was just sort of there while I spoke my mind to other people, a comforting presence. Can’t totally remember her connection to the whole understanding of my past, but I just remember a background sort of reassurance.

Weird to dream about her. Dreams featuring Kleinette, even when I was in therapy, were few and far between. I don’t want to be a head-up-their-own-analytical-ass type of counsellor here, but I do think this may merit thinking/feeling about. At any rate, it was nice to see her face.

Fifteen minutes – breast reduction the second.

July 12, 2008

Fifteen minutes of loving myself, my body, my breasts – why is it so much harder than fifteen minutes of painful memories, of stories I’ve told myself so many times they are bleached clean? I don’t think it’s because I have a hard time loving myself, though if I was my own therapist I might consider than hypothesis, refuse to drop it no matter how vigorously I protested.

I think it’s because the guilt I’d been feeling about my breasts was looming large, and I gave it a voice. Just speaking out can sometimes shrink things, excise the tumour. Hang on a minute…been reading a book and have a quote on this..

I remember that I spoke to her about the power of naming. What we cannot name, I said, we cannot talk about. When we give a name to something in our lives, we may empower that something, as when we call an itch love, or when we call our envy righteousness; or we may empower ourselves because now we can think about and talk about what is hurting us, we may come together with others who have felt this same pain, and thus we can begin to try to do something about it.  (Marge Piercy, He, She and It, page 66)

After writing that admission of the going-along-with nature of my breast reduction, I felt lighter. I stood in front of the mirror that evening, the black lace cupping my breasts, and as I pulled it off I felt an awe at my breasts. They are so beautiful, and they are mine. They have not been lessened by the surgery, but they have taken a long time to become mine. And they are the same, and different.

I wanted to come here to acknowledge all the things, great and small, that the surgery has offered me. Pretty bras, affordable bras, off-the-shelf bras. Breasts that are full and soft, but the exact right size for my body. Breasts that do not hang to my stomach, breasts that mainly stay in place when the pretty bras come off, except for the soft weight of time and maturation which offers them the shape of a woman.

My breasts are amazing, awesome. I look at myself with and without clothes, and they are one area I have no cause to find complaint with. I suppose that’s why I’ve felt bad, wondering what it meant to have breasts that were not the breasts I was born with. Though they were not shaped, were not changed in any fundamental way, though mass and weight was removed – what does that mean to my self? My body?

I had a connection with my grandmother through my breasts. I remember being a little girl and walking into her bathroom. She sat in a few inches of water, in that bathtub with the magical sliding glass doors that allowed me to create a whole space apart when I was a little older. My grandmother’s pubic hair was sparse, her body already that of an older woman. Her breasts coated her stomach, hid her stomach, were just the entire front of her body. She lifted a breast and rested it on her shoulder in order to wash her stomach. That image has stayed with me, though I must have only been about four or five when I witnessed this.

I will probably never have that experience, being in an aging body that has been mine for 89 years, taking for granted that my stomach is there, though I cannot see it. I wonder what pregnancy will do to my breasts, and I fear they may become smaller. I also fear them becoming larger. I wonder what stretch marks and pulled vaginal muscles and chapped nipples will be like. I want to hold a baby to my breasts, to allow her or him to get all the sustenance they need from my body – a miracle that my family never had. Bottles are all I ever considered, and now I am in this country with baby slings and breasts, handmade diapers and organic homemade foods.

My body will be changing again, and perhaps the key words are: my body. This is my body, this is the consequence, this is the sum of the years I have spent on this planet. I have made some choices, I have neglected to make others. I have gained weight, and lost weight. I have decided to have my breasts radically resized, simply by the omission of really thinking about what I was doing and making a conscious choice. My unconscious guided me to this place where I am right now, the afternoon sunlight shining across my hands. Shadows slide across the keyboard, dancing as my fingers shift and dance.

My breasts were what they were, then I had surgery. They grew back – not all the way, but most. I lost a lot of weight, and I lost a lot of breast mass again. This time it was an accident, to change my breasts as the result of changing my body. Once more my bra size changed, my body shifted, and once more it felt out of my control.

That’s been sixteen minutes. I’m surprised. This entry was to say that I could not fill six minutes this evening, let alone fifteen. Peace.

More femme than a butch, less femme than a straight girl.

June 4, 2008

TMD and I are so stupidly relaxed about some things I think we make other people nervous. Our legal wedding, for example. We ‘planned’ it about a week beforehand, which entailed booking a room over a pub and asking people to bring food.

We’ve just had The Bathroom Man round to give us an estimate for getting a new bathroom, minus the floor (which we, as proud cheapskates, are going to keep). Part of this was him bringing along a catalog of stuff he gets at wholesale prices. I just said, ‘We want something plain, white. And while cheap is an ugly word, we want something very affordable.’ He took it like a trooper and showed us a bathroom suite he recommended.

He then offered to leave the catalogue and asked if we wanted to go see the suite before booking a date for him to do the actual work. We were like, ‘Nah, why bother. I’m sure it’s fine.’ His face went a little blank, and then he jollied us along – as we were obviously some sort of lesbian lunatic breed.

So. Estimate about exactly what I was willing to pay (which was less than TMD) and work that should be done fairly quickly. Touch wood. I think I am a little nervous about the fact that I’m not nervous, but what can you do.

I am also trying to not be nervous about the fact that I’ve got me a little groin lump and am being referred to a ‘lumps and bumps’ surgeon to remove it and check it out. Fingers crossed it’s just a cyst (cebascious? something that sounds like that but is spelled correctly) or a hair follicle gone terribly wrong. I’ve had discomfort in the area since my doctor’s appointment this morning, and I’m not sure if that’s because the doctor angered it with her poking and prodding, or because I am a hypersensitive nutcase.

It’s odd. I can be very calm and know that, chances are, nothing’s wrong. Yet a deeper, fearful place instantly thinks, ‘CANCER. What if it’s cancer?’ At least I have a doctor willing to make a referral for ‘surgery’, as opposed to a typical doctor who would just tell me it would be fine. Thought it’s not technically okay, I’m not going to change doctors. We should move to a local doctor, but I think the one I have now would actually be more convinient as it’s right near my new job. The wife specialises in maternity, and the husband in skeletal-muscular stuff. It’s like my dream ticket for non-political healthcare.

My little bumpie is semi-hurting right now. Well, to be specific, an area about an inch south of it.

On the bright side, I got to prance around a doctor’s office with my trousers around my knees, yanking my polka dot underwear to the side while some lady plays with my down below. That shit is always a good time.

You know what else is a good time? Someone saying, ‘Did you move to the new place with your boyfriend?’ And I explain I’ve got a wife. Now think of all the possible replies someone could have.

….Are you thinking? Ready? Now tell me if this was one of them:

‘Really? You don’t look like one.’ (‘One’ being a lesbian, we assume.)

An entry of needed clarification(s).

May 12, 2008

I am childishly pleased to be welcomed into the circle of Women Who Temp. Got a lovely comment which coincideded perfectly with my first panic-wave. I cannot seem to be taking temps at the ‘right’ time. I also notice that my normal temps are much lower than what the ready-made charts in the book talk about. I recollect reading that lower temps equal some sort of bad thing, but I’ve not gone back and reread it.

Welcome to any more women who bump into me! Perhaps I will go overboard and not only post pictures of my charts, but go ticker crazy. I actually went to last week and had a good long look. Perhaps this is what Winnicot means by ‘primary maternal preoccupation*.’ I should do some research and write a book called Preliminary Primary Maternal Preoccupation.

Didn’t mean to come here and write about charting; as a matter of fact, I was going to write about how we participated in a real life ‘Wickerman’ event yesterday. I even took pictures. I guess I will save that for the future.

Ack. Tomorrow I’ve got out-of-town counselling gig, with the group of teenagers who do not talk. I will welcome the substantial amount of money when it comes in, and it’s sort of sad that that is the only thing making me not regret this twenty-week contract. Aside from the fact of how good it felt to be offered paid work. I’m still in a state of mild shock that soon I will not use ‘counsellor’ or ‘therapist’ to describe myself in the same way I use ‘writer,’ as merely (‘merely’) a core part of my identity, but not my day job.

I popped into Day Job’s old head office to have a little chat, and when I described my new job as being a family therapist, I suddenly got the heebie jeebies. A family therapist? Me?

I bet this will give my sister a giggle, as it will anyone who knows my family. Crazy is our GAME, people. We invented it.

In other news, I packed Fat as I decided it is too crap at the moment. I think my drive to be The Best Writer In The Fucking Universe is going to go on crippling me quite fantastically for the near future. I really want No Plot, No Problem because it injects a little fun back into life. I have been thinking about nanowrimo ** a lot lately, and just realised it may be screwed as my mother is coming for a week-long visit in November.

I am chilled about this***, because she is due to come right about the time my period is due. I have fantasies of getting pregnant the first go and having my mom there when we realise there is no monthly outletting of cooch blood. Oh, baby baby, it always comes back to you.

Also: When your grandmother was pregnant with your mom, you were in your grandma’s body. Female fetuses already have all the eggs they will ever have. I think it’s beautiful that ‘I’ was in my grandma at one point. I think I am about to enter some hardcore feminist phase, for real. That Taking Charge of Your Fertility book is so goddamn awesome it makes me want to rip through the packed boxes until I find and devour The Feminine Mystique.

I want to buy a Moon Cup, use my menstrual blood to nuture the rainforest, and live on a commune. Failing that, I had a pretty good time giving my cervix a little heavy petting this morning.

* Primary maternal preoccupation, in a nutshell, is the state of new mother madness. Every thought is about the baby, every action taken to meet the baby’s every need. This is a natural event, needed for the baby’s development. The interesting bit is that it’s like a mental illness, and would be classified as such if it was not at this one time in life.

** nanowrimo : National Novel Writing Month. See if you wanna have some fun in November.

*** ‘I am chilled about this.’ As in, ‘I am relaxed that nanowrimo might be screwed up’, not as in, ‘My blood is running cold that I will be seeing my mother.’

Thank you, Postal Service.

April 2, 2008

Met Epilady for lunch at 2:00, and we’ve only just went our own ways – at 6:20 pm. I’m feeling so much better courtesy of the omlette, pizza bits, and assorted endless drinks. All for the bargain price of 6.20. Epilady ran out of the cafe about halfway through to get the Wednesday paper. As anyone in my sector probably knows, Wednesdays are the day The Jobs For People Like Us come out. We poured over the paper, talking about our dream jobs, our shit jobs, and all the jobs in between.

What we wanted to achieve, what we’d settle for. I like Epilady because with her I can be full of despair or joy –  often both in a short period of time. I’m so pleased to have met her.

I feel more empowered and capable, with a few job leads I will follow up on. As I was walking down the street to get home, I thought about all I’ve achieved in the past couple of years.

1. I landed my dream counselling placement, which I have adored every minute of. I love the people there on Monday evenings, the client base, the serene counselling room itself.

2. I lost 58 pounds. After a literal lifetime of wanting to be ‘normal sized.’

3. I was offered a paid counselling gig out of nowhere. Clearly those people really liked my work from when I volunteered, and I’m the first ever paid counsellor they’ve had. That makes me feel good.

4. I’ve finished a demanding, draining, and enlightening counselling course, and am now qualified.

5. I had two excellent years of therapy, which taught me more about counselling than the course did. I am stronger and more vulnerable as a result; I do not see these things as mutually exclusive.

6. I survived a devastating bereavement.

7. We got legally hitched. We got a kitten. We are buying a property. We are moving out of this giant, overcrowded, and overpriced city.

If I can do all these things, why should I not be able to get a new job? I may need to be more flexible than I have been. I have taken to listening to various podcasts – after thinking I would never be someone who got on with audio-anything. One phrase yesterday stuck out, and continues to echo:

Getting free isn’t easy, but it’s easier than a lifetime of bondage.

If I expand this, it could apply to anything in my life – publishing, job hunting, private practice. I am frustrated by keeping myself hemmed in, and part of that is TMD rubbing off on me. She is very careful about money, while I tend to be more free and easy. Not that I throw money around – I don’t. More that I trust I will have enough for what I need. TMD seems to always worry there will not be enough.

This is definitely due to our different upbringings, and it makes me conscious of how parental attitudes and actions can have a lifetime effect on children. My family was quite well off, I suppose, before my parents got divorced. If we weren’t rich, we never wanted for anything, and I never noticed money problems. We went on lots of holidays, had a huge house and swimming pool. My parents drove expensive cars and bought toys like fifth-wheel travel trailers.

This imbued me with an early sense that life was abundant, protective, safe – at least financially.

I opened an email today advertising properties in the area we are buying in. The recent housing price crash means that three bed houses are cheaper than our property. I am tempted, egged on by Epilady, to see if we can see one particular house this weekend.

Yes, I’m crazy.

But at least now I’m hopeful crazy, instead of the deeply depressed crazy of this morning. Epilady is having a hard time with the transition at work as well, and wants to move on. I feel she will be accepted to her educational psychology training; I hope I move on as well. Everyone I get really close to at work always finds another job….except those of us who are complacent. You know who you are.

I don’t want to be complacent. I want to be courageous.

Arriving in every moment.

March 19, 2008

The thing is, I don’t need Jesus or Buddha or Oprah to tell me how to live. There’s nothing wrong with listening to the words of those who came before, but there is no substitute for listening to yourself.

I could say all sorts of things about what life is, or what I want it to be. About how I fall short every day from some crazy idea of perfect. But would any of that matter? I think the most important part of being human is to really experience it. That doesn’t mean life is all about attracting wealth, living every day in a haze of joy.

Really being human means much more than that, and it will mean something different to you than it does to me. But I suppose one possible baseline lies in really just experiencing who we are in each moment. Knowing ourselves intimately, the best we can, and trying to love ourselves anyway. Realising we don’t have to forgive all those qualities we see as faults, because actually, they are just part of who we are. Every moment is full of choices, and we make them whether we want to or not. Sometimes doing nothing is the most powerful choice a person can make.

I’ve been a do-nothing and a do-everything, and now I’m trying to just be enough. As I am. In my crazy panics on the bus about not having any money, to those times when I’m walking down the street feeling about as fantastic as it is possible to be. All these are on my spectrum, my own personal capacity to experience life and myself as it is. Not to wish away every single moment, or want to trade it in for something better, but to recognise and accept it for what it is.

If I love myself a little bit more in the here-and-now, perhaps I can make my future brighter. Or maybe, just maybe, all I have to do is pay more attention to what is happening right now. I don’t want life to slip me by because I was too busy being resentful, envious, depressed. I have the capacity to feel everything, and as much as I want magic solutions or a magic religion to sort me out, that’s not going to happen. I have self-determination: only I can make the choices and take the responsibility for my life, within the larger web of my family, friends, community.

I can only try my best, and I haven’t been doing that for a good long while. I don’t beat myself up for it anymore. If I want to sit and watch tv all afternoon, that’s not a waste of time – maybe that’s what I need to do. I’ve needed time to hibernate, insulated from the larger world and the demands on my time and attention I have felt overwhelming at points.

I allowed myself the space to grieve, to bury myself, and now I have to allow myself the space to blossom. I’m going to try, and right now, I’m engaged in creating my own life story. Different from yours, but important. Even when I sit here with my ever-growing hair in a messy bun on the top of my head, a tight purple sweater under a dubious grey sweatshirt, I am important. Just as I am. I have something to say, I have a person to be, I have much to explore.

Trusting has never come easily to me, not when it comes to trusting other people or trusting myself. I could probably touch everyone I truly trust without stretching. These people I trust to hold my heart, to witness my trials, to laugh with me. These people I love, and believe they love me as well.

These people send me love letters in the mail, and even though I asked for them, the words show me how truthful they are. If I could offer my own self the level of trust I give to some others, what a shining possibility life could be. But as I am, this slightly messy, hurting, creative, genius-sitting-in-a-chair, I am nothing but possibility flowing in every direction. And it all comes from this moment, right now.

I need some time to breathe this moment in, to really understand what sixty seconds are – or can be. Sun setting, back hurting, fearfully hoping, comfortable pants. It’s enough.

I’m enough.


February 19, 2008

What a string of surprises.

Two days ago I popped a memory stick into the computer, intending to transfer some files to another computer. My sister had sent me the stick in with a bunch of other stuff, and I just assumed it was blank. No – it’s full of blended music, genres, words. I’m listening to Nick Drake now, and his music is making it easier to write my case study. Also easier to breathe, to just be.

Yesterday I received a card from her at my work – the first time ever. It felt like a blessing to have a little bit of her energy and love inside that place where I feel oh so comfortable, and oh so bored.

Today I got something from Cookie. A few weeks ago, I sent an email to some friends. We had a weekend on working with survivors of sexual abuse. One of the healing tasks was to ask close friends to write you a letter telling you why they loved you. I semi-forgot I had done this. Well, I opened the door this evening, on this day when I have been questioning things and loving myself just a little bit more than usual. Trying to figure out how to honour that love.

On the floor was a big manilla envelope, and inside was one perfect piece of photo paper, full of a riot of colours and words and honest truth. And love, so much love. It was a bit overwhelming and special, and I’ve tucked it back into its envelope, to keep it safe until I figure out what to do with it. But to have merited the time and thought this creation speaks of. It makes me feel special, and it reminds me how superb and miraculous it can be to have people in your life that you love no matter what.

I’ve got a handful of those people, and if I think about it too much, I might just melt in surprise, uncomfortableness, and happiness.

What other surprises will happen this week? I am making the decision to open up my heart and mind to new growth, to potential, to trying it all out. I keep repeating that I want to live with risk-taking and creative thought right now, and these things coupled with self-belief could be pretty powerful. I might be more powerful than I ever dare to think I am, and that brightness and responsibility is too scary, really.

But then I hear this music, touch that card, look at my new letter. I am surrounded by love, and I don’t really know how that happened. How did I end up married, walking down the street and stopping to kiss in the fog? How did I make these friends, how do I open myself up this way? What happened to that wounded, lonely, and fearful child? I am her, grown up and grown stronger. She is still there, looking out of my eyes and around her, wondering where all this love and hope has come from.

I don’t know.

But I’m glad it’s there, when it is.

Even if she never did this, she’d still be the best.

January 30, 2008

Follow up email from my aunt:

Just a bit more on A working at K______’s.
I spoke with Esha this morning.  She confirmed that A started working at K_____’s when she was 16.   So when Hoffa started his first union activity at K_____’s most likely A marched in the first union strike!!  I don’t think she marched along side Hoffa but he was the best dressed man from the whole bunch in the photo.   It makes me wonder???

And the picture:

 my fantastic grandmother