I feel like I say this a lot but an absolute fuck-ton of stuff has happened to me in the last little while and I’m not even really sure where to begin explaining it all.
The other night, I had a very candid conversation with my mom (something that almost never happens these days). We talked [and disagreed at times] about our beliefs, about death, and about guilt. It was nice and for the first time in a long time, I felt like we were real life grown-ups just engaging in an educated conversation about things that were important to us. I don’t remember a time like this between us ever. For the longest time, I was the child and she was the adult, and then in recent years, I feel we Freaky Friday’d it up a little bit – I was the one initiating the hard conversations, I was the more sober one, and I felt like I was the one carrying the relationship.
On November 9th at a little before noon, my dad passed away in the hospital in Stratford. I was there. I was, at that specific time, the only one who was there. I didn’t see it [thankfully and maybe not so thankfully, who knows] and despite the condition he was in at the end, I didn’t expect it to be then. Despite the fact that I knew it was coming, I almost had this feeling, in the back of my mind, that maybe he would wake up, be pissed off that he had just spent 5 days in the hospital, and go home. In my head, I kind of thought I might start my new job that following Monday instead of planning the funeral and being a confused mess at the visitation. I kind of thought that my grandparents MIGHT have something [anything] to say to their grandchild who just lost her father but I over-estimated their ability to be decent human beings yet again.
I thought, maybe, I might get to write him an insanely long letter that he’d probably only partially read and understand, and that we’d go on pretending that the 3 years we didn’t speak just didn’t happen. I thought I’d get another chance to say the hard things I didn’t want to say but knew I had to.
I haven’t dealt with his death yet. I don’t know when or how that will happen. What I am dealing with, however, is the guilt. The guilt that, in those 3 years we weren’t speaking, he only had wonderful, proud father-like things to say about me, and all I had were things like this.
When I was younger, he had a drinking problem. When I got older, I assumed that it was the drinking that was responsible for the way our relationship had turned out. Now, I don’t know how long his sickness was being masqueraded as alcoholism and that makes me feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach every time I think about it. I’m not pretending our relationship wasn’t complicated – people have a habit of reminding me of that all the fucking time – but that almost makes the fact that he died worse. I didn’t have the opportunity to fix things and now I’m stuck dealing with death and guilt; likely the two worst things to deal with at the same time.
4 days after the funeral, visitation, and burial were over, I started a new job. I can say, being at the job now for about 2 weeks, that I didn’t give myself enough time to just… be. I didn’t give myself enough time to start giving a shit about things again and I already feel like kind of a shitty employee. Having said that, I haven’t heard that many* shitty things being said about me yet, so that’s a bit of a relief.
I feel like I’m barely responding to texts or Facebook messages lately [sorry if you’re on the receiving end of this] and the level of effort I used to put into things like being concerned about ______ or cleaning the house or just being a good person, has greatly decreased. I guess you see who your true allies are when your life falls apart – they’re the ones who are there bringing you wine and guacamole and driving 2 hours into a snowstorm to hold your hand and tell you they love you.
Despite the fact that I was starting to become annoyed by all the people constantly checking on me [which, don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate at the same time], I’m glad that I’m now being afforded the time to deal with my grief without being bombarded by people who are worried about my mental and emotional states. It’s like having a week full of birthday parties – eventually; you just want the spotlight off of you.
In other terrible news [side note: every time I write the word news, I want to write the word “mews” instead because, cats], my mom’s puppy has to have emergency stomach surgery today and has an unsettlingly low chance of making it through to recovery. She - Jersey - isn’t my “family dog” - she was a rescue my mom got a couple of years ago after my childhood puppy passed away, but she is the sweetest, most snuggly dog I’ve ever met and what with all the crap that’s been happening lately, she really, really needs to be okay.
If I die of vagina cancer [which, hey, I might - the gyno gave me some questionable MEWS this morning], my mom’s going to need her puppy. And I need Christmas in Stratford to not be any more depressing.
* but I have heard some. Which is unfortunate. But apparently people’s loyalty is a pretty fluid thing these days, which isn’t unfortunate at all.
Things I probably shouldn’t say.
This is not how I expected my week to go.
Two weeks ago this past Wednesday, I resigned from the job I’d had for the past 2.5 years. I truly didn’t see that coming. Not only was it the longest job I’d ever had, but it was the type of place that you could really easily just stay at forever. I felt sparkly there. I felt like I was good at my job and that people appreciated me. I could easily have spent another few years there before I got restless.
The new place is just that; new. It’s uncomfortable and unfamiliar and I’m scared to effing death about starting from the bottom [cue Drake] all over again. And despite my extreme opposition to change, I think it’s the best thing for me. It’s way worse when I start feeling stuck.
Wednesday was supposed to be my last day. I was supposed to transition all of my projects to their new Producer, pack up the 10 pairs of shoes I kept under my desk [seriously] and go out for goodbye drinks with my favourite, now ex-employees. Thursday was supposed to be spent in bed, hung over, totally wasting the only day I got off before starting my new job today.
I didn’t expect that, instead of doing all of those things, I would be taking shifts, sitting around a hospital bed, waiting for my dad to pass away.
It feels so morbid to even type because it hasn’t happened yet. It feels like I’m wishing it to come sooner out of selfishness and boredom but I’m honestly not. Staring at the paint chipped walls and listening to the sounds of the nurses discussing treatments and drugs isn’t boredom; it’s patience. It’s difficult but not hard.
I’ve started talking to my dad because they say that hearing is the last thing to go. Just like I am with children, I am terrible at talking to people in hospital beds because I mostly don’t know what to say. So I’ve been talking about the fact that right now, I’m not technically even employed anywhere and how scary that is, and about how the Leafs are probably going to kill Boston in hockey this season.
I keep trying to think of some happy memories we had together and honestly, it’s a struggle. I’d be such a hypocrite if I said all these flowery things like “you were a great father” because the truth is, he wasn’t all the time. We had just started speaking again around my 26th birthday, and things weren’t quite comfortable or good again. He’s been sick and I’ve been spending more time with him, but it was kind of like we were getting to know each other all over again. I’m not going to pretend that I was daddy’s little girl because I wasn’t, but at the end of the day, he is my dad and seeing him like this isn’t remotely easy. It’s terrifying and heartbreaking and confusing and draining and all of those typical but still horrible things that dealing with death means.
In my late 20’s, I’ve become the type of person who dislikes public cries for sympathy. I hate RIP Facebook posts and tweets and the like because I feel uncomfortable liking or commenting or responding to them. Am I supposed to like the status you posted about your _________ passing away? That seems so wrong.
So instead, I changed my Facebook profile photo to a photo of my dad and I where he actually looks happy [he didn’t, a lot, in photos]. People who are close enough to me will know what that means to me and those who don’t will just think I’m being a sweet daughter.
[Sweet ‘stache, bro]
I spent a few minutes trying to remember when the last time my dad and I had a photo taken together. I’ve decided that it was probably at my university graduation, which is both sad [that was 5 years ago] and also a little hilarious because he and my boyfriend at the time both showed up wearing exactly the same outfit and I was totally creeped out.
The most recent photo before that one? Who knows. I mostly only have baby photos with him, which is fine because I was cute-ish and he had a hilarious mustache.
I’ve been sleeping incredibly sporadic hours and in some uncomfortable chairs and have been eating either complete shit or nothing at all because I know that someone would be doing the same for me.
So yeah, this week hasn’t exactly gone how I’d expected. But I guess that’s just life reminding me that I’m human.
I know you’ve been dying to know..
On days where I’m supposed to be somewhere at a certain time [work, mostly], I find it incredibly difficult to drag myself out of bed. Regardless of whether my alarm is going off in less than 10 minutes or not; I simply refuse to actually commit to being anything more than comfortable until I absolutely have to. Even if that means holding my bladder until I’m ready to burst. Especially when the bathroom is downstairs.
In yesterday’s instance; I actually “got up” at 7:21am.
On work days, I spend 30 seconds curled up with the boyfriend before I get up, I brush my teeth, check The Weather Network app, shower, hope that my neighbours [specifically the boyfriend’s family, who live directly behind our apartment] can’t see me naked via the window in the shower, feed the cats, clean the litter boxes, check The Weather Network app again because I actually just checked Instagram the first time to see how many people liked my most recent selfie instead of actually checking the weather, do my makeup, blow dry my hair, spend 20+ minutes changing outfits until I find something that doesn’t make me look fat and that I haven’t worn the day before, check The Weather Network app again because I’ve already forgotten whether or not my outfit is weather-appropriate, occasionally straighten / curly my hair if I’m feeling higher maintenance, and leave in a small little whirlwind where I am constantly hoping I haven’t forgotten anything like my laptop or my sweater [our office is always freezing].
It’s usually a painful, non-relaxing 70 minutes, and it never involves breakfast like I seem to think when I’m buying oatmeal or bagels at the grocery store. A lot of the time, it involves me leaving my packed lunch in the fridge, half by accident, half on purpose because I know I’m probably just going to get a burrito or fish & chips instead anyway.
I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t a complete mess. My purse is rammed full of makeup, change of clothes, shoes, a book, 30 lip-glosses and sticks and moisturizers, and some sort of snack 99% of the time. I can never actually use the purse for aesthetic purposes because it’s basically like carrying a tire around at all times. I literally [accidentally] smash children’s heads on the subway with it, it’s that big. By the time I’ve actually started my trek to work, my makeup is a far cry from perfect and my hair is completely flat or straight or the exact opposite of what I’d intended it to look like.
I look at the girls on the subway who have tiny bags and perfect hair and wonder what the hell I’m doing wrong to constantly feel - even after a 70 minute morning beauty routine - like I just got finished a vigorous workout. I decide that they must be soooooo unhappy to be so perfect because it makes me feel better. Except it really doesn’t.
I get to work usually 20 minutes later than I think I’m going to, every day, without fail but thank G, I’m still usually one of the first ones to arrive. If I get there later than a certain number of people [5 usually], I feel self-conscious and wonder if people were wondering where I was. My mind instantly goes to what I would do if I got fired. How long would I be able to live in Toronto without a constant pay cheque? My guess is 1 month, which makes me feel terrible about the state of my life.
Throughout the day I check emails, I peruse Facebook [and allllllllllll of the weddings that keep happening every single weekend lately], check in to make sure everyone is properly briefed on my projects, take #ootd selfies in the bathroom [new / cute outfits only], snapchat some babes, ask the boyfriend for kitty photos, and run around like a crazy person trying to get stuff done and saying “EOD” [end of day] in every other email, which I’m sure drives everyone insane. Sometimes I’m so glad phrases like, “you’re da best” and “thankssssss :)” are work appropriate(ish) because I exploit the shit out of them when I need something done that’s going to make someone late for happy hour or picking up their child.
When I’m having a bad day / when it’s not raining / when I’m just being stupid, I sometimes go shopping after work. Or I bust my ass to get back to the beaches in time for after work drinks with my besties. Sometimes I say I’m going home to go for a run but really just go home and do arm workouts with my weights, which I actually really try hard at because I hate that my mom has better arms than I do and she’s 54.
Yesterday, I went out for dinner and drinks with a friend to celebrate her recent d-word [which stands for divorce but I feel bad writing about it when it’s not my story to tell]. Since it’s quite hard to find a card to celebrate such an occasion, I ended up getting one that said “married,” which I stroked out and bought her dinner and drinks instead. Friends buy each other shit when one is going through stuff, which is why she also got me some relax-y type products because I clearly have no idea how to just be a relaxed person in light of recent events.
After dinner, I drove us home in a car2go which I use way too often but can’t help because I actually kind of love driving. Even in Toronto, somehow. I came home to find a living room full of the boyfriend’s boyfriends playing video games and being boys, which was actually much more comforting than it sounds. After some mild flirting, brushing my teeth, not taking my makeup off just in case I had to come back down and see people, and changing into my pjs, I hopped upstairs and into bed to watch Grey’s Anatomy. The episode was strangely coincidental; part of it was shot in Toronto [establishing shot at the Eaton Centre - what whaaaat?!?!] AND it was about a guy with an aneurysm which they detected because the patient had a “blown pupil” which I actually literally was at the hospital for only a few days before. It made me feel weird, but happy at the same time, because I felt like for the first time in forever, everything was just as it should be… In bed by 10:30pm on a Monday and happy as a clam.
It is an absolute fucking miracle I don’t have a reality TV show already.
I wear my heart on my sleeves.
A few months ago, I was out at a friend’s birthday dinner. I got there late and ended up sitting beside a girl I’d never met. It’s funny how people meet other people later on in life [I say “later on” like I’m much older and wiser than 27; I’m not] - birthday parties, wedding showers, cottage weekends - and making the crossover into legitimate friendship (especially friendship independent of the person who initially connected you) is so, so rare. Facebook friendships? No problem. Real life friendships are the hard part.
So I sat beside this girl at a restaurant I barely like anything off the menu of (seafood), her talking about her child [I’m not really into kids – hahaha understatement of the year] and somehow, through outgoingness and kindness and whatever else, we found hilarious common ground in the form of getting drunk and accidentally giving away our clothes to girls we don’t know that well but really like.
But it’s true. Give me a couple glasses of wine and some new girlfriends and I end up just wanting to give away any article of clothing anyone has ever expressed interest in. Whether I wanted to get rid of it or not.
This past weekend I was at a cottage with a bunch of friends, a bunch of friends of friends, and a bunch of people I didn’t know. I don’t know what it is about wanting people to like me, even at the expense of my own self-preservation and, in this case, warmth.
For some reason, I even felt compelled to offer one of the 2 sweaters I brought with me to the girl that spent the entire weekend blatantly eye-fucking my boyfriend. I guess it’s not exactly the same thing as full-on giving stuff away, but 100% if that girl had taken my sweater, I never would have seen it again.
And those Wilfred sweaters aren’t cheap!
But that’s just what I do, I guess. I want to make sure people are looked after, even if I generally think they’re shitty people. In fact it’s mostly the shitty people I feel like I need to look after. Like I’m going to mother and hostess and love away their shittiness.
I don’t know why I always want to believe in the good in people.
Even the crazy weirdos who stop me on the street all.the.time.
I’m no stranger to really fucking nutty guys talking to me. I don’t mean that my milkshake brings all the boys to my yard; it’s just that looney toons men looooove to approach me in public and say and do weird shit to me. A lot. Honestly, I’ve accepted it so much so that it doesn’t even really surprise me anymore. I like to think their intentions are good – maybe they are lonely and maybe I give off the “I’ll care about you even if you’re crap” vibe - but I can bet with almost 100% certainty that the guys who approach girls the street have a better chance of being a bit murdery. Who knows.
All I know is, last week, a relatively normal looking dude started following me to the streetcar stop and just did not understand the phrases, “I’m not interested,” “I have a boyfriend,” and “please stop following me”. I did my usual glance and gave him my “I’m obviously wearing headphones so fuck off” look and continued walking until he physically went and stepped in my path so I would stop or walk into him [perv].
I took one headphone out. Strangers get one headphone. Max.
He introduced himself as Matt or Chris or Dan or something not worth remembering and he asked my name. This is the part where I usually make up a name or tell them I have a boyfriend and walk away, but after reading some stuuuuuuupid article online a few weeks ago about how awful Toronto women are, I thought I’d be polite and tell him instead, that he was keeping me from my streetcar and unfortunately, I had to go. Maybe I’d even smile or make eye contact!!!! [I didn’t.]
He followed me. He followed me right to my streetcar stop in broad daylight with a bunch of witnesses who clearly knew he was following a girl who neither knew him nor wanted to. And then he tried to hug me. HUG ME.
I’m not one of those people who don’t like to be touched; I quite like it. I AM one of those people who does not like to be touched by STRANGE MEN ON THE STREET, however. So as soon as his arms opened and he started to lean in, my instant reaction was to put both hands straight out in front of me and push him in the chest as hard as I could. And so putting both hands straight out in front of me and push him, I did.
Figures me trying to be nice and polite would get me almost-hugged on the street.
I’m just glad that the usual reaction to my being nice and caring and giving-shit-away-y is to love and appreciate me and love me, so at least I’ve got that.
Now I just need to learn how much I value actually wearing the clothes I’ve purcahsed myself, instead of seeing other people wearing them and looking 10x better in it than I did.
Like I said, I’ve got issues. But so do you.
It’s crystal clear to me.
My dad has a “Terri” mug in his cupboard. He doesn’t have an Internet connection at his apartment and most of the photos in frames and albums are ones that have been scanned and printed on plain, white 8.5 x 11 printer paper, in black and white. His TV, like my own was until last January, is one of those tube ones that stick so far out that you need a special wall unit to make it not look weird. His decorations are eclectic – clearly a mix of things he picked up at Dollarama and random gifts people gave when they didn’t know what else to buy.
His DVDs are dusty and he always, always has gummy candies, PEZ, or Rockets sitting in a bowl on one of the end tables in his living room.
My mom kept the house in the divorce. The carpet on the stairs (which I can only imagine applies to everywhere there is carpet in that house) wasn’t installed properly and is just glued to the floor. The living room always looks like Christmas (red walls, green furniture) and there are hardly any photos up anywhere besides my horrible Grade 8 graduation photo that I, for some reason, decided I wouldn’t wear makeup for.
Neither house feels like home. And honestly, even just being there sometimes causes me anxiety because it’s so so far away from everything I’ve made my home for the past 5 years.
Because my dad is sick, I’ve been spending more and more time in Stratford, and on busses to and from. I’ve been working from any wifi connection that will let me, and I’m getting to be kind of pro at packing light and being low maintenance. I haven’t worn hair extensions (besides 4 special nights I felt the need to be extra fierce) in 5 months, which is something that I’m embarrassingly proud of. People have even stopped asking me if I cut my hair because my real hair is growing to a length that I’m starting to feel more confident with.
On week nights, I often sit on my front porch with my favourite new (but not that new) group of girlfriends and drink white wine and mimosas and smoke pot because I actually unclench my body a little when I have a joint between my fingers.
Sometimes, I hang out with the boyfriend and his boyfriends while they play video games or watch sports, because sometimes it feels nice to be the girlfriend who can hang out like a boy. I like feeling like I’m part of something; I like the feeling of being surrounded by people who don’t judge me and who don’t need or expect anything from me but my company.
I think a lot about how I wish I could be more honest with people and more honest with myself.
I don’t like you.
I miss you.
I wish you weren’t in my life.
It’s hard because no matter how many awful things you think or say about people behind their backs, the reality is, you probably still need them in your life. And sometimes, you need them in your life more than they need you.
I feel like I’ve aged 10 years since I found out my dad has lung cancer. I’m never not stressed, although I’m doing a good job of keeping my personal life separate from the life of chemotherapy appointments and radiation mask fitting appointments and seeing my dad laying in a hospital bed. I used to like taking care of people; I used to always, always, always want to be the hostess. I finally see the appeal of running away to a new place and starting over completely, although at the same time, I would never in a million years want to actually do it.
I miss things like sitting on the couch with Red Room takeout and not having to clean 2.5 floors of apartment every few days, but I also wouldn’t trade my new “regular” for anything. I’m happy with the path I’m heading down and I know that in ______ long, I’m not going to regret being this person.
I’m only going to regret the amount of shopping I do on a weekly basis. And maybe how many burritos I consume. But nothing else, really. At least not much.
xo sleep tight.