Writings

  • Know yourself Know yourself

    Know yourself

Know yourself

All week long I’ve tried to think about particularly insightful things to say here. I’m not sure I have any. Here goes: I went back to work. I was not planning on doing this, at all. It just kind of happened. I hate when people say things just kind of happen, but as it turns out they do. Summer rolled around and all I could think about was how bored I was. “Ride your bike,” I said to myself.  Twenty minutes after I was done I was bored again. I tried cleaning out the closet and and organizing the refrigerator (ha who am I kidding that last one never happened), but wound up lying on the couch. I was in a slump. Midway through the season something shifted. I decided to embrace the quiet instead of thinking of it as monotony. I went to the bookstore and got some books. I disconnected from social media. I turned inside and got very still. Maybe a season of rest is just that: a time to take advantage of being given time to rest.  I stopped thinking about what was going to happen next and focused only on each day. I REDISCOVERED SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM. I decided to visit my mom and dad. That is not my mom and dad. While I was in Canada I got a couple of calls from Santa Monica. I sent them to voicemail. While Chris and I were hiking in the Rockies my phone rang out in the middle of the wilderness. “I hope the bears can’t hear that,” I whispered, gripping the bear spray. Later while we were sprinting back to the car in the pouring rain he mentioned it was another call from Santa Monica, “You must’ve won a […]

  • Like a turtle, or maybe a cactus: The Growth Chronicles, Part I Like a turtle, or maybe a cactus: The Growth Chronicles, Part I

    Like a turtle, or maybe a cactus: The Growth Chronicles, Part I

Like a turtle, or maybe a cactus: The Growth Chronicles, Part I

I’ve heard it said that a turtle can only grow to the size of its enclosure. I guess I could hit up google for verification, but I’m tired of googling for answers I think I should already have. Kind of how I felt in the ER a few weeks ago. Over it. Carrie, how are you doing? I think I’m okay. Great, this next scan will take 5 minutes. It’s been three years since my first stroke. Three years. Sometimes it feels like a long time. And like nothing has drastically changed since then only everything has changed since then. Me, mostly. Everything about me. Seems like yesterday I woke up with my head pounding in a pillow unable to remember how to dial into a conference call I stumbled in the hallway trying to get to.  A number I’d dialed a hundred times. What’s my boss’s number then? I can’t remember. Panic. Everything will be okay. You’re fine. You just need rest. Why is my lip numb? Carrie, are you okay? How much longer am I gonna be in this thing? You’re almost done. Ten more minutes. You’re doing great. Okay, let’s do it.  This next scan will be three minutes. Try not to move. Try not to move. The irony is not lost given that’s all I tried to do last year before having to move. To a much larger enclosure. A space that, for the first time in my adult life, I cannot figure out what to do with. Is this a brain thing, another side effect no one warned me about? Moving to this new place meant having to get rid of most of my furniture, things I worked hard and saved for, things I loved. […]

  • The Growth Chronicles, Part II The Growth Chronicles, Part II

    The Growth Chronicles, Part II

The Growth Chronicles, Part II

I just came in from watering the lawn, a harrowing task in the California drought. Is it a watering day? How much is enough vs too much? Will a neighbor water shame me? When we considered moving into this house one of the first questions I asked was, why is this guy planting grass in the backyard on the heels of one of the driest summers on record? (see here). His response? It’s drought tolerant grass. And he had envisioned a family with children moving in; children who would love to run and play on the grass. Okay, point taken. Cut to scene and there is a big patch of grass that is…brown. It appears to be spreading so, in the interests of not staring at a sea of dead grass all summer, I have taken matters into my own hands. The past two evenings have found me in the yard on hands and knees clearing away dead grass with a hand rake. My neighbor has been “keeping me company”/charting my progress from his balcony next door, “You’re wasting your time, it’s dead.” Me (mumbling profanity): Actually that’s not true. I grew up on a farm- Him interrupting: ME TOO! I’M FROM WISCONSIN. Me: Well then, as I was saying, this is how you keep grass alive. Every summer when I was a kid my dad would have me rake the dead grass off our lawn so the new stuff could come through. Most of the times it worked, but you have to keep at it. There was a lot more talk about Wisconsin and wearing coats and moving and not wearing coats and so on and so forth, but as he went inside he said, “Good luck […]

  • Shake the dust off your paws Shake the dust off your paws

    Shake the dust off your paws

Shake the dust off your paws

The Bachelorette is on tonight at 9pm. Against my better judgment I am thinking about watching it. Why, you ask? Oh gee I don’t know. Maybe something about bringing the old (way old, before the strokes old) into the new or just stirring up the universe’s juju to finally get the DMV to send my registration renewal in the mail seeing as updating my address online 40x hasn’t seemed to work. Dear DMV I’ve moved, please don’t make me come down there. No really I don’t want to. Like, ever. Yesterday I got up and had a rendezvous on the back fence with my squirrels. I use ‘my’ lightly. I think these squirrels might actually belong to one of the neighbors on the other side of the fence because they are fearless. The squirrels not the neighbors who I actually haven’t seen once in over three months. Anyway, back to the squirrels. These squirrels run right up to my face. They stare me in the eye. They make clicking noises to say, “More peanuts please!” (at least I think that’s what they’re saying, can’t be sure since I only speak cat). At times I’ve actually feared for my life hair because they look like they are going to jump right in it. I should’ve saved the snapchat and shown it to you here, but I’m old so I forgot. Maybe next time. These squirrels were my second indicator that things in this new place might just work out. The first indicator was the cat who jumped over the fence the first time I visited. I said to Chris, “If there aren’t any cats around I can’t move there.” I said this because I was leaving […]

  • romeo, romeo wherefore art my levi’s romeo, romeo wherefore art my levi’s

    romeo, romeo wherefore art my levi’s

romeo, romeo wherefore art my levi’s

I have this recurring dream. In it I’m reunited with my favorite pair of Levi’s. The ones my brother abandoned and I took over, wearing on repeat through nights at Barry T’s (for all you old school YEG-ers) and days slogging to Romance Linguistics, the smell of Molson Dry on my breath. *Répétez après moi* how the hell no one ever keeled over in my presence remains a mystery to this day. Come to think of it, it was probably the jeans. The act of religiously wearing them transformed them into a thing of beauty. Girls asked where I got them. A famous football player who shall remain nameless sent his friend over with a bottle of champlagne in thanks for my booty in the jeans. Kinda sexist when you think about it, but when you’re 21 and still learning about football players and champagne and men in general, the result is a memory that sticks around fondly. Back to the jeans. They were just starting to wear a tiny hole near the right rear pocket, something I was insanely proud of. The frayed hems from my scissor job looked just as good with gladiators as they did with my faded black suede cowboy boots. I had arrived, a member of the paper thin Levi’s club. Then I went home one weekend to hang with the parents and my mom took hold of the dirty laundry. When it came time to pack up, my laundry basket was parked by the door, its contents fluffy, folded and clean. Thanks mom! At the top sat my Levi’s, safe and sound beneath a bag containing a few dozen homemade perogies. I hit the road back to Edmonton. When I got […]

  • It ain’t over til the cat lady sings It ain’t over til the cat lady sings

    It ain’t over til the cat lady sings

It ain’t over til the cat lady sings

Every night when I crawl into bed I close my eyes and pretend I’m in my old room at the beach. I don’t think this is healthy. I don’t care. Three months ago I cleaned my way out the back door, stood up and paused with my hand on the knob. I couldn’t bring myself to do it and sat back down, staring into the empty kitchen. How did this happen? I knew when I stood up it would be the last time I’d ever close the door. I wasn’t ready. Instead I turned around and stared at the empty deck, the formerly plant-filled sanctuary I’d poured so much of my time, energy and love into. My heart sunk. Deep breath in, deep breath out. You have a whole house! My drunk neighbor Laurie pulling her car into the open moving pod someone left blocking our garage.  You have a soaker tub! “Carrie the police are on their way and I’m going to need you to talk to them because I’ve had some wine.” You have a big yard!  Monkey and Lil sunbathing under the chairs, the time she got hit by a car on my birthday and I slept by her crate in the living room for two months. The bobblehead guys and their garbage can find garage sales. Hanging Christmas lights on the palm trees. The ripped guy who tore through the walkway and rode off on Chris’s rusted out (but cool as hell) Schwinn. My first big furniture delivery. The time the bomb squad showed up to talk down the mentally deranged neighbor threatening to blow up his clogged toilet with a plastic gun. How was Laurie supposed to know it was plastic?  The day Frank appeared after my […]

  • the magic kingdom changed my mind the magic kingdom changed my mind

    the magic kingdom changed my mind

the magic kingdom changed my mind

Chris (reading sign): Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and FANTASY. Me: Scott Speedman must be in there. ————— Last week Chris and I went to Disneyland to exhaust his niece and nephew. I’m not much of a rides person but do love a Dole Whip, a churro and sometimes even a janky pretzel (no plastic cheese please).  So basically I go to Disneyland for the food. And the headgear. Before we’d even left the house I was already thinking about what lid I was going to get. Minnie ears? Already have two pairs. Mickey ear hat with my name embroidered on back? Stranger danger not safe for anyone to know my name. Princess hat with the veil thing? Um, hell no. We were about five minutes into the mob park when his mother needed a bathroom break. By then it was a full scale downpour and everyone’s clothes and shoes were soaked. All I kept thinking was, WE’RE GONNA NEED COATS AND SWEATSHIRTS AND SOCKS AND HATS AND AND AND, but no one was even interested in the $10 garbage bag poncho. Who are these people? While she went to line up, Chris stood under a dripping tree with the kids and I spotted a chipmunk hat and went in for the kill. This is the stuff dreams are made of when you’ve spent weeks sitting around your unfurnished home for 12 hours a day wishing you were back in your formerly furnished beach shack of ten years. More on that later. When no one would cave for a hat even after I offered to pay for it (several of its!) I knew I was on my own. Except […]

  • On aging (some more) On aging (some more)

    On aging (some more)

On aging (some more)

I was about to make a left on Temple when Richard Marx came on. “Damn Angelia, it’s been too long,” I said out loud turning up the volume as the light turned yellow, then red, and I pulled to a stop. For a second it was 1987, summer, and I could feel a warm breeze on my face. Then a skateboard hit the pavement snapping me out of it and two guys in their 20’s zoomed in front of my car to cross the street. I looked at them longingly, I bet their knees don’t ache. I wonder if they know who Richard Marx is. Or Sting. Do they know who Sting is? I bet he’s just some guy on a Police t-shirt to them. The light turned green and I zipped across the intersection, turning my car toward home. My mind quiet for just a moment. When I pulled in the driveway I kept the song on blast, wailing along at the top of my lungs until it finished. Then I shut the car off and stared straight ahead. “This is really happening,” I thought, “I’m getting old.” I tried Snapchat over the weekend and to be completely honest have no idea what the purpose of it is. Why can’t I find anybody on there? What’s the difference between a story and a picture? How do you share it? Should this be taking 20 minutes? I need a nap. Then it hits me, I’m my mother back in ’83 trying to figure out the VCR. It IS happening. Even though I’ve always known it would, I can’t believe it actually is. I’m having a difficult time dressing my body type, something I’ve never struggled with before. <Yep, […]

  • Unring the bell Unring the bell

    Unring the bell

Unring the bell

I haven’t written here for awhile because my aunt passed away suddenly and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and die, cry, lie in bed and be alone. I suppose this is the grieving process. I thought about including a picture of her, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. Something about it feels cheap and contrived. I don’t want strangers looking at her, this person who meant so much to me but nothing to them. It’s good to have someone who knows you; who sees you and quietly acknowledges you. I keep thinking about how I felt standing in her kitchen, squishy carpet beneath my bare feet, when she opened a tupperware container and handed me a tiny turnover that fit in the palm of my hand. When I bit into it, it was cherry, my favorite, even though I didn’t know it yet because my mom refused to bake with cherries. She hated them. I’d mentioned to my aunt that I’d really like to try a cherry turnover, that I thought cherry pies looked good. She had remembered that simple conversation for months. I can still see the look on her face, how her eyes lit up seeing my eyes light up after that first bite. I was nine. Nothing prepares you for death or how it feels in the aftermath, a person left behind. All my childhood memories have returned with a vengeance; rich, strong, burning my nostrils, gouging my heart. Campfires at camp sites hours from home, my aunt boiling perogies over an open fire. My mom and her sisters hoisting my grandma by the back of her pants into her deep freeze to dig out homemade cinnamon […]

  • 2015 Get Quiet Be Still 2015 Get Quiet Be Still

    2015 Get Quiet Be Still

2015 Get Quiet Be Still

When I turned the bend on 2015 I flipped 2014 the middle finger putting that September stroke in my rearview mirror. Peace out and don’t come back now, ya hear? My plan was to stay focused on my health, be in the moment and not look too far down the path. I thought I’d do this and things would all work out. What does that even mean anyway? I entitled this post (something I hate doing, coming up with the dang title) Get Quiet Be Still because every time I came up with some cockamamie idea this year, whatever I thought I was going to get out of it turned out to be not that at all. Don’t ask me what went on in January, couldn’t have been much because I don’t recall. Probably me on a bike looking for cats. February I do remember because we went camping to Big Sur. (Not to worry this won’t be a month-by-month recap). By camping I mean stayed in a fully heated cabin, wore sweaters and sat by the fire every night until we heard crunching in the bushes, got scared and ran inside. On one of the nights we drank wine and ate snacks (focus on drank wine) at Nepenthe next to a very interesting, well-traveled couple from Portland. The next thing I knew it was midnight and the hostess was stuffing matches into my pockets as I walked out the door. Where did those people from Portland go anyway? On the way back to camp, dear God don’t ask me why, we stopped at the local tavern where Chris happened to sit next to the sommelier from a swanky resort on the hill whose wife was, as fate would have it, that same […]