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Postcards from Vancouver

I’ve been at Mr. Canada’s for a week. I go home tomorrow.

I feel like shit. I don’t think my meds are working. I think it might be time to try something new. I need to find a doctor and a therapist, who will see me for free, of course.

I came here last Sunday night. Mr. C had to convince me. When he first suggested it I was pissed off because I had just suggested the same thing a few days before and he shot me down.

It was Canadian Thanksgiving and he had four days off. He had just been to Portland to see me the weekend before and his car broke down for the second time while visiting me. The repair had cost him and he needed to save some money for a while. Since I’m broke, he ends up paying for everything when he’s in Portland.

I thought about driving up there to surprise him but my license plate is expired and I was worried about getting through border control. Then I thought maybe I could take a train or a bus, but that was expensive and long. So I had the idea that I could take a bus to Seattle and maybe he could come pick me up.

“What if I called you tomorrow and told you I was in Seattle?” I asked him Friday night.

“I would drive over and pick you up!” he said.

“Really? Well, maybe I could do that,” I said.

We talked about it some more but in the end, he thought we should stay put and save money. I thought maybe he didn’t want to be the one who had to pay for everything. A perfectly reasonable thought. So, I agreed and resigned myself to not seeing him even though we both had the free time, which was quite frustrating.

I was already feeling weird. I had skipped a couple of days of one of my meds because of health coverage confusion. My scripts bounced back and forth from one place to another until I finally got the right place. By the time I went to pick up the pills, I was on the verge of tears at any given moment and ended up crying in front of the pharmacy person, trying to explain that it wasn’t the situation, it was the imbalance of chemicals in my brain.

So, Sunday came around and I was huddled in a corner of my bed talking to myself in my head. Get up. Go pee. Take you meds. Make coffee. You can do those things. That’s not too much. Then you come back to your corner and we’ll take it from there. Come on. You can get up. Then my phone made the tone that means it’s Mr. Canada. I glanced at it.

“What if I send you a bus ticket to Seattle and came pick you up?”

Son of a bitch. What the fuck?  That’s exactly what I suggested. I could’ve been there already. I started to cry. A familiar feeling overwhelmed me. That feeling of not being listened to. Of an idea being rejected until it comes from the other person. Mr. K used to pull that shit all the time. If I thought something was important, it wasn’t, unless someone else, someone whose opinion was important to him thought it was important. Then he changed his mind. This feeling was amplified when he said he was hosting Thanksgiving and didn’t want to do it without me there. Oh, that’s what it is. You want your girlfriend there when your friends come over. Now it’s worth the trouble.

I sat there in my corner, having accomplished the monumental tasks of emptying my bladder, swallowing two pills, putting some water to boil and putting three scoops of coffee into my french press.

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to go. Or maybe I did. I didn’t know if I had the energy to get my shit together and catch a bus. I was pissed off that he hadn’t agreed to the same idea before. I knew I wasn’t thinking clearly. My brain was paralyzed. I knew if I didn’t go I would be there in my corner while he was having a party.

I asked why he changed his mind. I told him I was upset and confused. He tried to call. I didn’t answer. All I could do was cry. I finally answered. I still cried. He begged me to come. He said he had been stupid for not doing it before. He said he fucked up and he was sorry and he needed me to be there with him.

I finally acquiesced.

“This better be good,” I said.

 

Monday morning he cooked and I cleaned up his apartment a bit. His big white fluffy cat leaves his hair everywhere. Only his friend Donna came over. It was just the three of us. We talked and ate and drank beer. I put up a good front. I’ve gotten good at that.

Mr. C wanted me to stay the week. I checked in with the doctor I was doing some data entry work for and he wasn’t going to be back in town until Friday anyway. So I agreed to stay.

I made dinner one night. My own weird brand of pasta sauce. We watched the first and second godfathers. We drove to the mountain and saw a waterfall and walked along the shore. I went for walks and did some job searching and washed dishes. We were supposed to go dancing last night. I told him I didn’t know if I was going to enjoy myself. My head wasn’t in the right space. So, we snuggled in bed, exchanged back rubs and watched a movie.

Mr. Canada is incredibly understanding and accommodating. He says he wants me to be whatever I need to be. He says he loves to be with me no matter what state I’m in. He says he loves all of me, even depressed me. His kindness is overwhelming. I don’t feel like I deserve it. I don’t feel like I’m the girlfriend he should have. Who wants a depressed loser for a girlfriend?

“You know one day you’re going to marry me right?” he said last night. I just laughed.

I don’t know if thats true. All I know right now is that I’m in a thick fog. And I’m so very tired of feeling so sad.

 

 

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I’m a Big Loser

Disclosure: Let me just start by saying that I realize that I’m being a spoiled, privileged, dramatic bitch. I know there are people way worse off than me and I have a long, long way to go before hitting rock bottom. But damn. 

Thursday at work I started to write what I hoped to be a funny blog about the bathroom. My desk was adjacent to the only bathroom there and I worked with four men and one other woman. Needless to say, there was some weird shit going down in that bathroom (figuratively and literally) and I could hear all of it. I had a whole bit in my head about it. But then something else happened.

Around 3pm, my boss and her brother asked me to come into her office. My 3-month probation period was up and I thought maybe they were letting me know they were keeping me on.

“This is never easy for us….” she began. “We’ve decided to go a different direction with our company….”

Blaa Blaa Blaa

They were letting me go. I was shocked. I sat there looking at my boss thinking about rent and bills and the fact that I have no savings.

Holy fuck, I thought.

I had made some mistakes. I fucked up the payroll a couple of times. The first time I left out a paid holiday. I used excel to make the calculations because I didn’t trust my own math. But that led to a big mistake when I didn’t copy the formula correctly. Last pay period, she had to void checks and write them over again because of me and everybody got paid after 2pm. I felt horrible about it and apologized profusely. She even said something like, “It’s ok. Mistakes happen.”

Apparently my other sin was telling someone we were open on the Saturday before Labor Day. I don’t know if I answered the question, “Are you open on Saturdays?” with “Yes.” or if I specifically told someone we were going to be open that particular Saturday. Either way, a customer came by and was pissed that we were closed and chewed out my boss.

I’ve made a few other mistakes here and there, but I guess it all added up to me not being worth the trouble.

She tried to claim that it was because they wanted a accountant, but they weren’t giving me two weeks. They were asking me to leave on the spot. It wasn’t even Friday.

It took a few minutes for it to sink in. I sat there longer than I think they expected me too. I tried not to cry. Then I started thinking about what projects I had going that I was leaving unfinished. But the truth was, despite my fuck-ups, the job was pretty simple. Anybody could take it over. A trained monkey could do it.

When I took the job, my predecessor gave me a word doc with a short run down of the duties and some explanations. I had been adding to it ever since. I was hoping to put together the ultimate handbook of the job, so I could easily hand it off to someone else. That’s the pathetic part. I was worried about finding a new job too soon. I didn’t think it would be right to leave them after only 3 months. I felt an obligation to the people who had taken a chance on me and allowed me to move out of my daughter’s house. What an idiot I was.

I’ll never make that mistake again. I’ve finally gotten it through my head that your employer is not your family. They are not loyal to you and they will fuck you over without thinking twice about it.

I e-mailed the document to my boss before I left, letting her know she could use it for the next person.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, here I am. I’m not out on the street. I’m not going to prison. I’m not a crack whore.

But for me, this is the lowest point I have ever experienced. I have enough money to make it about a month, maybe. I have no savings. And the self-confidence of……I don’t what. What’s the analogy that goes there?

I used to be a person that excelled at things. I was always an A student. I use to feel like there was nothing I couldn’t learn or be good at. What happened to that person? How do I keep fucking up so much? Is it the depression meds? Are they dulling my brain? Is it because I’m getting older?

I have become the woman with all the potential in the world who has no idea how to succeed. If I had a dime for every time someone told me I was talented, or liked my writing or thought my photographs were amazing, I’d be…..well I’d have a lot of dimes. I can’t even hold down one of the easiest jobs I’ve ever had.

I have never felt more like a total loser than I do right now. Not when I told my parents I was pregnant at 17, not when I got fired for saying “smart ass” on the altar of a catholic church, not when I realized I had lost my passport and was denied entry into Jerusalem. I could go on and on.

Now I have to job search again. I’m paranoid about applying for any job that requires dealing with people or administrative duties. You know how many job descriptions have “must have attention to detail” in them? All of them. What if I don’t have attention to detail? Attention to detail is not my forte. Where’s that job? Can I say in interviews that I’m the absolute worst when it comes to attention to detail? Fuck details. I’m more of a visual, big picture kind of person. Just let me make things pretty or discuss the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict for hours. Where’s that job?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wrote two emails. One to my landlord; a complete fabrication of my current situation:

“Yeah, that job was temporary and they decided to go a different direction and I have some freelance stuff going on and savings to fall back on ……so it’s all good.”

And another to my siblings:

“Yeah, so guys…I’m kinda in a bind because I suck at life and I feel like shit and this is how much money I have and how much I owe and I might be coming to you if I can’t eat or pay rent so……”

My sister was the only one to respond. She offered to pay my phone bill and send me some money. When I told her, “I’ll take the phone bill part but why don’t you hold off on the money and I’ll ask if I need it,” she replied:

“Bitch, who the fuck do you think you are? Don’t tell me what to do with my money. I’ll send you some fucking money if I want to.”

I laughed out loud. That’s my sister.

She had lots of suggestions, some a little patronizing but some that I should take heed of. She did exactly what mom would have done if she were alive.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lori and Mr. Canada have both been supportive. Lori said I could move back in with her if necessary. I don’t think I could mentally handle doing that but it was nice to have the offer. Mr. Canada is keeping my spirits up and he’s coming down next weekend. I wouldn’t blame him if he had second thoughts about having a relationship with me, but he continues to think I’m the most awesome thing in the world, for reasons I cannot comprehend.

And like I said, I know there are people worse off than me. Like everyone who lost everything in the recent hurricanes and floods, for one. I still have my health, a roof over my head, a working car, some money, a phone, a computer, a nice view, family and a boyfriend. I guess when I look at it that way, I should be more grateful than sorry for myself.

They say that’s the secret to happiness; gratitude.

So, maybe I should stop whining about what a loser I am and get off my ass and just make it work.

 

Ok. fine. I’ll get back to job searching.

 

The Weird Weekend

Mr. C came over again. We had planned to trek over to Newberg to visit the family, so he could meet The Baby. But earlier in the week Lori told me that Mr. K would be there the same weekend. I bowed out of visiting. I just didn’t see any reason to place myself in jeopardy of experiencing the awkwardness of seeing Mr. K and his new girlfriend and Mr. C all in the same room. So we stayed away.
I felt weird all weekend. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. We did lots of fun things, as usual. We picked marionberries in the neighborhood, Mr. C hoisting me on his shoulders to reach the high ones. And he made sorbet with them. We ate oysters at our new place. We shopped and cooked and I introduced him to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which I knew he would love. Trying to explain why I can watch such crude humor when I balk at such tropes in shows like, How I Met Your Mother (I just can’t get into that show.) I said, “It’s so over the top. So ridiculous. There’s no one in the world like this. That’s the irony. It’s so sick, it’s funny. Barney humor is just subtle enough that you’re supposed to be on his side. You’re meant to cheer him on. Nobody’s cheering on the Sunny characters. They’re monsters.”
Anyway, I digress.
 It was a pleasant weekend, but I couldn’t shake a feeling of unease.
Maybe it was just a normal downturn in brain chemistry. Maybe it was the fact that the mechanic who handled the latest in an eternal string of repairs on my Element gave me a list of all the other things wrong with it that I should fix right away, including brakes and rotors. Maybe it was the fact that I knew Mr. K was in the same area with his nice girlfriend and his success and happiness. Maybe I was comparing myself to him; me with my month to month salary with no wiggle room and my office assistant job at the trailer dealership.
Maybe it was Mr. C himself. I felt myself doubting whether he was the right man for me. I don’t know why. I suppose it’s normal. Maybe my brain chemistry was throwing me off. I felt kind of numb and detached.
He’s so in love with me. He’s so devoted and sure. I’m not sure I’ve ever been offered that kind of love before. It truly seems unconditional. But I’m scared. On my wedding day I was so sure that Mr. K was my soul mate. I had never been more confident of anything in my life than the fact that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. How can I possibly know that this is different?
And he’s so goofy. Tall, handsome with chiseled features and big, beautiful, brown eyes, he has the movements of Mr. Bean. I love that about him, too. No one ever needs to tell Mr. C to lighten up. He is eternally chill. Always up.
Sex has been a bit of an issue for me, too. I mean, it’s great. He definitely knows how to make me feel good. I love the way he makes me feel. When he was in Lafayette we had sex all the time. My head was spinning from the endorphins. He told me he had an unusually strong libido. I had been a bit worried about that actually. But now, when we spend 3-4 days together, we only have sex 2 or 3 times at most. Am I being selfish? Is it possible that my libido is greater than his? I know. I know. I should just talk to him. Whatever. Leave me alone.
I missed him as soon as he was gone. I miss him now.
I just don’t know how to trust my feelings anymore.
Of all the guys I claimed to be in love with since my divorce, Mr. C is the only one who is truly available. He’s the only one who wants to love me back and be with me. Hell, he wants to marry me.
Maybe I should just take my meds, go with flow, let him love me, love him back, eat oysters and chill the fuck out.
I went to see Lori last night. I missed the little man. He’s grabbing his feet now and he smiles a lot when he’s not screaming because he’s teething. He had a diaper malfunction when I was feeding him and peed all over my shirt. Improper installation, no doubt.
I asked Lori about her visit with Mr. K. She said he seemed happy. Like he was when she was a kid. She forgot how much she loved him. The girlfriend seems nice too, she said.
I felt happy for him. I remember wondering what he was going through years ago as his marriage and business were falling apart. He was so angry back then. It’s not fun to be angry. I’m glad he’s found a way out of that. It’s what I always hoped for him when I was his wife.
But…… I was reminded of a scene from 30 Rock when Jack’s ex-wife thinks Liz and Jack are getting married.
“…but you,” Isabella Rossellini yells, “You could actually make him happy. And I can’t stand to see Johnny happy.”
I think it would hurt to see Mr. K happy and laid back. I couldn’t understand before when we were together why he couldn’t see the big picture, to understand what was important in life. Like people and love. I think it hurts a little that he couldn’t find that with me. I had to leave his life in order for him to let go of all that anger and blame. It makes me wonder what it is about me that prevented that. Is that what will happen to Mr. C? Will he end up hating me too?
I don’t know. Maybe the bastard will end up convincing me to marry him and we’ll move to Vancouver and live happily ever after, eating raw oysters every Sunday.

I Don’t Want to Get Married.

Don’t make me get married.

Mr. Canada wants to marry me. He hints, cajoles and asks all the time. He claims to understand that I don’t want to but he thinks he’s going to wear me down. It’s a nice idea. It’s romantic to think about one day telling him yes. One day telling him that I want to marry him. I can imagine myself surprising him by asking him to marry me one day. I can imagine us walking into a government office somewhere, just us or maybe with a couple of friends, saying some quick vows and then it’ll be done and we’ll go somewhere and laugh and drink. And then we can both have dual citizenships.

But I don’t think I can do it.

I think Mr. Canada just might be the guy that I end up spending the rest of my life with. But why do we have to be a married? Why can’t we stay boyfriend and girlfriend? I like the idea of being Mr. C’s lover. That girl he’s been seeing. When you’re “seeing someone,” people ask  you, “How’s it going with so and so?” And it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “It’s going great. She’s great.” Or “Meh, it’s ok. We’ll see how it goes.” Or “I don’t know. It’s ok. Let’s see how it turns out.” And if it works out and it’s going good, then great. But if it goes to shit, then you cry and maybe exchange a few items left over at each other’s places and you get over it and move on.

Nobody asks married couples how they’re doing. Nobody says, “Hey, how’s the marriage going?” If you’re married, it’s supposed to be great, perfect even. And it’s not acceptable to say, “Meh, it’s ok. We’ll see how it goes.” That’s blasphemy. To admit doubts or problems or God forbid that there might be an end to the relationship is betrayal. It’s not allowed.

And yet, married people seem to be the ones that are not doing ok.  Marriages are always in trouble. They’re broken. Tension and blame and coldness and distance. That’s what I think of when I think of marriage. And facade. Most marriages are facades hiding dysfunction, despair and even abuse. Like that house Liz and I used to walk past in Lafayette. A perfect house with a perfect color scheme and a beautiful front yard garden and two matching plant boxes in symmetrical windows with perfect, matching purple violets. “I wonder what she’s hiding,” one of us had asked, laughing. We just knew, something wasn’t right inside that house. The outside was too perfect.

And if a marriage needs to end, you’ll have to go back to that government office to break it. And there’s negotiations and money and documents. And then you’ve failed because you agreed to a life together and your life isn’t over.

I know what Mr. C would say, what he does say, “I’m not him. You and I are different.”

But that’s what he had said too. I met Mr. K (my ex) when I was 18 and was not yet healed from a disastrous relationship that ended with drama and peace bonds and deep scars. The damage from that young relationship followed me into at least the first decade of our marriage. He had treated me badly. Mr. K was not him, he had insisted. He was a good man and he loved me. Until he didn’t. In the end I knew I would never be enough for him and he ended up treating me worse than that punk-ass 19-year old kid had.

Mr. C says he loves me just the way I am, unconditionally. How do I know…..I mean how do I really know that he’s always going to feel that way? Mr. K said he loved me, just the way I was too. He ended up hating me.

How can I ever be sure enough that our love is better than any I’ve ever had before to agree to take that vow again and become a wife?

I love Mr. Canada. We seem perfect for each other. Neither of us care what anyone thinks. We’re both awful people, yet kind in our own ways. Nothing I say or do shocks him or bothers him. He’s never fake and I’m never anything less than my truest self; good, bad and ugly with him.

The fact that he wants it…….to be married……and I love him, makes me want it too………just the tee-tiniest bit, but just for him, not me.

I just want us to figure out how to live in the same city so we find out if this long distance thing works on a day to day basis. And then I want us to have a life together, eating oysters and cooking and lying around watching movies and bickering.

Is that too much to ask?

Mr. Canada in My New Room

We were going to meet halfway, somewhere near Mount Rainier. I had found a cheap Air bnb apartment. But then I found my new place and moved in, so he suggested that he just come to Portland instead.

I ok’d it with the landlady and he drove in after work Friday. I was worried that he would run into eclipse traffic so he left early. Turns out he pulled a Marie and forgot his passport, had to pull over for duct tape when one of his side mirrors starting falling off and got lost a couple of times before finally finding the place. He rolled in around 11:30-12. We hadn’t seen each other since my birthday. I missed him. I hugged him tight and kissed him outside the gate.

I showed him around the house a little since it was late and then took him down to my room. He liked it. After talking and getting settled in, we snuggled in for the night, clinging to each other, not wanting to let go.

In the morning, he was upstairs meeting the landlady before I was. Just as I suspected, he chatted with her easily, finding out details of her life that I had yet to learn. Turns out, she a widow. And she used to have chickens. And the coyotes ate one and the dog, Snoopy is a survivor of a coyote attack. Etc…etc…etc…..

I took him up to Council Crest, the highpoint of the little mountain I live on. We picked blackberries or marionberries as they call them here along the way. We enjoyed the view, engaging in our usual banter along the way. Then we went out for salmon and bagels and I discovered potato bagels, like the donuts I used to get in Ocean Springs, Mississppi from Tato-Nut.

We decided to make to a stew. I wanted to learn to make something from cheap groceries that I could take to work. We discovered Winco, a low-cost, wholesale grocery store that has rows and rows of bulk items and cheap goods of all kinds. We were both in love.

I had a recipe from Lori. We cooked together in the little kitchen, he showing me techniques here and there and me repeating, “let me do it.” I browned the beef, deglazed with red wine, sautéd onions and carrots, added the Guinness beer and stuck it all in a crock pot to sit overnight.

I had fun cooking with him. I’d like to do that again.

We were supposed to go dancing that night. He found a place with a salsa class at nine, then dancing at ten. I was watching Rouge One while he was talking to my landlady again and petting the dog. He finally joined me and we lay in bed watching. I had the movie, Cloud Atlas, on my list and he wanted to watch that too. By the time it was time for us to shower and change, we were quite content, though I found the movie bloated and hard to understand.

“You know, I could just stay here,” he said.

“That’s what I said last time.”

“I know,” he said. “But I’m so comfortable with you here.”

So, we didn’t go. In the morning, I made coffee and orange cinnamon rolls, which Mr. Canada was aghast over.

“Bread in a can?!”

“Yes, baby. There’s a whole section of bread in a can in the grocery store.”

He looked for places to get oysters and found a couple. We decided to shoot for a 3 o’clock happy hour at a place across the river.

We walked along another path, the one I’ve been taking every day, my new Girard Park and as usual…no silent pauses with us, it’s constant back and forth, sometimes leaving me frustrated.

“You drive me crazy!” I yelled at him as hipsters smelling of pot passed us on the trail.

We ate a little of the stew which was pretty good, though the meat was a bit tough, then showered to go out.

I was drying my hair we he walked in the bathroom wearing two conflicting plaids. His shorts with light blue and neutral colors and his button down with reds and oranges.

“Those two things don’t go together at all,” I said, gesturing up and down.  I looked at him. So carefree, so easy, so happy. He really doesn’t give two fucks about what anyone thinks.

“I kinda like it.” I said.

We drove to the northeast section of Portland, found the address and a place to park a block away. The oyster bar was one of several businesses lined up in a block-long building, with a common, open area in front of each one. The minute we stepped into the place, we were both struck with a feeling of familiarity, of comfort. The walls were pale blue with writing all over them, peppered with a few framed things here and there. As soon as I stepped in, I looked up and saw a drawing of the quintessential “East Van” cross.

“Look, Mr. Canada,” I said, “It’s East Van!”

It was like a sign.

We stepped up to the bar and I instantly picked out our spot at the curve, closer to the sunlight. I asked the bartender, a big guy with a kind face and a halo of beautiful hair, if I could move some stools over. He said someone would move them for me, but I just asked the couple sitting there if they were free and moved them myself. Just over the bar we could see sacks of oysters in a sink of ice and evidence of shucking.

There was a  Bourbon Street sign on the wall and a picture of a crawfish boil stuck in a frame.

We were laughing with giddiness at how perfect the place was. It was our place. Just like that. Even the music was awesome. Old school Michael Jackson and some funky blues and jazz.

We ordered our first two dozen and some beers. We met Nick, the bartender and later Noah. All N’s.

When I got up to go to the bathroom, I put my arms around Mr. C’s neck and kissed him. I was so happy.

Later, I borrowed some markers and added our names in a heart and the date to the wall of writing.

Nick told us we were adorable as he shucked our third and fourth dozen and gave us little, rubber bracelets with the restaurant’s name on it.

It wasn’t until later that it dawned on me that it was a cajun-ish-themed restaurant. Hence, the crawfish boil picture and the Bourbon Street sign.

Stopping ourselves at 4 dozen, we walked around the neighborhood admiring the architecture, finding a swedish-looking apartment building and making fun of all the white hipsters.

We tried an ice cream place but it wasn’t as good as Borden’s in Lafayette. I think I just got the wrong flavor. The chocolate shell was too sweet, not like the dark chocolate they dipped it in at Borden’s. Got I miss that place.

We returned home so Mr. C could charge his phone and pack. It was that time again. I didn’t want him to go. Finally, he left.

I found a left behind t-shirt on my bed and put it on. I missed him already.

The next day, I looked at the calendar to find the next holiday. Labor Day was in just 2 weeks. I could go to Vancouver!

I mentioned it to Mr. C. He was off too!

“How about I drive in again?” he asked.

“Really? Ok! I’ll let Nick and Noah know to expect us.”

Maybe we’ll break the record and go for 8 dozen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Room With a View: Portland Version

Just as I did when I left my marriage some 6 years ago and settled for a room with an old college friend to escape my childhood home and my crazy Dad, I have found a room to rent so I can finally move out of my daughter’s house.

After searching every day for a few weeks, putting my name on waiting lists, driving to scope out locations and falling in love with places either unavailable, too expensive or not practical only to be crest fallen when I came to the inevitable conclusion that I couldn’t live there, I decided that it was time to give up the idea of a solitary abode and start looking at rooms for rent.

I came across one in southwest Portland, near the zoo and sort of in the forest. From the pictures, it seemed worth a look so I emailed the owner requesting a view.

“You should come soon,” she wrote back, “I have a lot of interest.”

I drove there the next day after work. I was surprised that it only took me about 40 minutes to get there. Not too bad a drive. I wondered if it would be the same the other way at 8am. Once I got into the higher elevations, the drive was beautiful. Nothing but forest on either side of the road and lots of bikers coming and going.

I parked outside a fence and Ms. J let me in the gate. The house is old with lots of windows. Wood floors and white walls, with a cute little kitchen that you step down into. Walking down a short, narrow flight of stairs, there’s a windowed door that leads to a platform outside and the room is to the right. It begins with a short hallway and opens up to a generous space with three large windows that look out to trees. It has light walls and wood floors and a private bathroom. It felt like a little studio and standing there, I felt somewhat disconnected from the rest of the house, which I liked.

Ms. J showed me around the rest of the house. Her belongings were not messy but not tidied either. She did not have everything in its place and perhaps each thing did not have a home. She had an interesting collection of books, revealing an interest in culture, history and art but on a sort-of surface level; a lot of encyclopedia-like collections, like her interest is more of a survey of things, not an in depth delving into one subject or another.

I didn’t like the idea of a shared kitchen, yet sitting there at her table, looking over at the well-lit kitchen with its black and white checkered floor and gas stove, I could picture Mr. Canada and I there, me sipping wine, he cooking and socializing with the other occupants.

There’s one other woman living there, a graduate student maybe or doctorate, I don’t remember.

The rent is $650 with utilities which is quite good compared to everything I’ve been looking at around here. I was beginning to view $800 as cheap. With utilities, the rent is really $500-550.

I told her I was interested and asked lots of questions. I was surprised at how few questions she asked me.

She was looking for someone right away, we were 2 days into the month, after all. I told her I might not be ready to move in right away but I might be able to put the deposit and August rent down.

As I said goodbye, another car pulled up and a young, Asian girl walked out and introduced herself to Ms. J. Competition.

I drove away feeling like this could be a good thing. A good compromise, but I wasn’t sure. I had felt the same way just a few days ago when I looked at a studio in the Pearl District. That place had its own little kitchen but a shared bath. And parking was tenuous and cost extra. Mr. Canada had talked me down from it, which at the time I found disconcerting. But he was right. It was a ridiculous situation.

I wondered what he would think about this one. I was crunching numbers in my budget spreadsheet when he asked about my day. I told him about the place and we discussed it by phone. To my surprise, he thought it was perfect and thought I should jump on the opportunity. I had already followed up with Ms. J by email and when I got her reply, I told her, “I’m in if you’re in.”

I went for a walk with Lori to tell her about it too. She was a bit happier about it than I was comfortable with. I think she’s been more anxious for me to leave than I realized. But it’s understandable. She, too thought it was a great opportunity, especially given the location and price. So, I told Ms. J I could bring her a check the next day.

I signed papers and got keys and found a way to scrunch the futon mattress I bought a couple of weeks ago into a ball and stuffed in the back of my element.

Place to live: check.

Next: Winter coat and boots.

He Makes Me So Mad!

Mr. Canada has this way of pissing me off. I often feel my heart beating faster and my blood pressure rising. I get exasperated and end up shouting and feeling anxious. It’s usually over some feminist or political issue. He takes a side, one he knows I will disagree with and convincingly argues that side with words crafted to antagonize me. Most of the time, he doesn’t really hold the opinion he is fiercely advocating. He just likes to get me all riled up.

“Why do you do this to me,” I yell at him, usually laughing at the same time. “You know, I don’t actually like getting all anxious and upset. I like being calm. I like my peace of mind and you get me riled up and angry and I feel like I have to defend humanity and shit.”

“I just like to hear you talk,” he said. “I like that you’re so passionate about things and I want to hear your explanations. I learn something, usually,” he said.

He also likes to fix things. A self-proclaimed problem-solver. Which means, sometimes he’s a terrible listener and when he thinks he has a solution or he’s just right about something, he’s relentless and won’t let things go. Like the gas can incident.

I was so mad at him. I was traveling from Louisiana to Oregon and I had found myself traveling a long, empty stretch of  highway with my fuel gauge falling dangerously close to the empty signal. Telling him this story, I told him of my intention to buy a gas can and keep extra gas with me at all times for the rest of the trip. Then I got stuck in Las Cruces with an inoperable key. He hounded me about getting a gas can over and over, even when I asked him to stop. I got so pissed at him one night, I didn’t speak to him the next day. In that moment, I wasn’t sure it was going to work out between us. Now, we call that The Great Gas Can Incident of 2017.

I’m getting better at reading his tells and knowing when he’s just messing with me. Sometimes I just ignore his attempts and tell him to fuck off. But he knows me so well, he knows what will set me off and he relishes in it.

And in his defense, while I find this habit annoying at best and anxiety-ridden at worst, I am usually laughing with him as I shout my arguments while walking the streets of Newberg.

But there’s one issue that really gets to me. A personal issue that I feel he is too harsh with me about. Yesterday I got so upset with him, I almost ended our conversation. It’s about my kids. Well, one of my kids. I don’t want to go into the issue because I’m honestly terrified that said kid will find and read this blog and be hurt or angry. (The blog reader experience was enough for me.) We’ll just call it, The Great Issue of Marie’s Kid.

Anyway, he’s always giving me shit about it. He thinks I should speak up and tell said kid how I feel. But I know better. I know I can’t. Or at least I’m too psychologically weak to. I don’t know. He tells me I’m afraid of my own child. He’s kinda right. But he doesn’t understand the dynamic. And he doesn’t get that sometimes you don’t mess with people’s lives and how they’re living them even when you strongly disagree. He doesn’t get the different dynamics that exist between mothers and daughters and sons. And I hate to present the card that non-parents hate to be presented with but…..he doesn’t have kids. He doesn’t get it.

Plus, he just doesn’t give two shits about what anybody says or thinks about him. Whereas I dread confrontation and tension with my children.

So, when I try to tell him about some incident or observation, he can’t help himself and he insists that I need to take action or speak up. Then I have to defend the very person I’m vending about. And it upsets me and makes me anxious. “I can’t talk to you about things if you’re going to pressure me to do what you think I should do,” I’ve told him.

Yesterday, he took a step farther by suggesting that when he was in said kid’s presence, he might just give said kid a piece of his mind. “No, you will not,” I said.

“Why?” he asked in his whiney, Mr. Bean voice. “Can’t two adults discuss any subject openly.”

“No, not when it’s my kids and I’ve asked you not to. If you love me, you will not do that.”

True to form he kept pushing.

“Ok. I’m not laughing anymore,” I said. “I’m really upset. I’m going to have to get off the phone if you’re going to continue.”

“Ok, ok…” he said. “I don’t want to upset you, baby. I never mean to make you anxious. I won’t bring it up again. I won’t push you.”

“Yeah, but you said that before,” I said.

“Yeah. Ok. I’m sorry, baby. I don’t like breaking my promises. I’ll do better. I’m really sorry.”

“Ok,” I said. “I accept your apology. Thank you for apologizing. I appreciate it.”

“Ok, then.” he said, begrudgingly subdued. “I love you baby.”

“I love you too. Now let’s talk about that position you said was your favorite. How come we haven’t done that very much? The one time we did, it was at my suggestion and you called me insatiable. I didn’t know what to make of that.”

 

“I don’t know,” he said. “I like to look at you.”

 

“See, how can I stay mad at you when you say cute things like that.”

My 48th Birthday

For my last several birthdays I threw myself wonderfully, self-indulgent parties at Pamplona’s in Lafayette. This year I was in Newberg and knew no one. I’m sure my daughter would have made an effort with a cake and maybe dinner out, but it wouldn’t have been the same as having the whole bar filled with friends, laughing and drinking and later dancing at the Moon.

So I was happy that I had Mr. Canada in my life instead.

The weeks that preceded my big 48, Mr. Canada came up with itineraries and menus. Oysters, of course. Lamb and hummus. And a cheesecake birthday cake.

I got there just after midnight on the 28th. That morning, he put 48 candles on the cake and sang to me as I blew them out. I had my first slice with my coffee. The next six days seemed to fly by. There were oysters and beer on Wednesday and shopping with his friend Ray the next day for a dinner the following night.

We watched fireworks on Canada Day from North Vancouver in a condo Ray and N were renting. Mr. Canada talks about Ray and N often and I was anxious to meet them. Ray likes to cook and the two of them discuss food and try to outdo each other. I found Ray a bit pretentious at first and both of them were not what I was expecting. Ray, a caucasian man had long dreadlocks. I was surprised Mr. Canada hadn’t brought this up before. It seemed like just the kind of thing he would make fun of. “Oh, I give him hell about that as often as possible,” he explained.

N looked much older than Ray, though I don’t think the age difference was much more than between Mr. Canada and I. She was Indian from South Africa, neither of which Mr. Canada mentioned. I suppose he doesn’t paint a very visual picture when describing his friends. He met N on a dating site, which I also found odd, since she was with Ray at the time. She claimed she was on it solely to meet new people.

“That’s an interesting way to make new friends,” I said.

“That’s what I said,” Ray replied.

N showed me her craft projects and we got to know each other a bit. I told them the story of Mr. Canada’s visit to Lafayette and how he had ended up cooking for everyone at Larry’s house and the wine coming out of the fridge.

After the fireworks, N retired to her craft table, which was a bit odd and Ray and Mr. Canada delved into one of Mr. Canada’s classic discussions in which he takes one side of an argument just for kicks. I was a bit peeved with myself when I listened to Ray present my side of the argument with an elegance and patience that actually convinced Mr. C where I had failed to many times. He’s a smart guy, I’ll give him that.

Having consumed three glasses of wine, I was pooped, so I sat on the couch and put my head on a pillow until Mr. Canada was ready to go home.

Sunday we went whale watching. They made us put on big, puffy suits that seemed like overkill in the morning heat, until we were over the bay in the cold wind and spray. We saw a pod of orcas frolicking about. I got a few good photos of some fluke splashing and breaches. There was a young girl with a rented 500mm lens. It was fun watching her try to catch the action. I’m sure she got much better shots than I did. Sometimes, I just put my camera down and watched the action. I wasn’t working or shooting for anyone after all and I wanted to enjoy it. The guide said she had never seen them so active before.

We both had a great time on that little day trip. It was one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever received.

The whale watching company’s office was across from The Lobster Man on Granville Island, where we get our oysters. We were about to walk back to the car when Mr. Canada said, “Let’s just go see if he has any of the royal miyagi’s today.”

“Why? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I asked.

“Well….you know…..I mean…..let’s just go check it out,” he teased.

They did have some for $9.95 a dozen, as usual.

“Well,” I asked him. “What do you want to do?”

“What do you want to do?” he asked.

“What we are talking about here? A snack, like a couple of dozen or are we going all out again?”

“I don’t know,” he said teasingly.

“Well, I’d be willing to put in for a couple of dozen.” I said.

“So will I,” he said in his weird, goofy Mr. Canada way.

We laughed at ourselves and he proceeded to pick out four dozen oysters for our second oyster feast.

The first time we ever got oysters there, we were helped by what seemed like a very ornery, unfriendly man. He didn’t smile, even when Mr. Canada prodded him and he slowly counted each oyster with precision. The next couple of times, there had been a friendly young woman who didn’t even bother counting but gave us our bags on the honor system.

This time it was the young man again. As he looked over each oyster carefully, he knocked them together and listened to the sound, tossing a few out, declaring that them to be “bad.” Mr. Canada went back for replacements as the family behind us waited patiently for their turn. I was glad he was helping us this time. What seemed like detachment before was good care now.

Back in his apartment, Mr. Canada presented me with the shucked oysters on ice and I used some of the juice from the ceviche he made before as a garnish. They were, as always delightful. When there was nothing but empty shells, I sat back with satisfaction.

“What if I told you there was more.” Mr. Canada said.

“What? Really?” I exclaimed.

“Yeah, I only shucked half of them,” he said laughing.

“Oh yay,” I said. “What a wonderful surprise.”

And we ate more oysters.

One day, I don’t remember which, I had a mild, little depression attack. I wanted to go explore Hastings Street. But every time I expressed this desire, Mr. Canada asked me, “What part? What do you want to see?”

I didn’t know what I wanted to see. I just knew every time we drove down that street there was so many weird and interesting places. I just wanted to explore.

“I know. I’ll take you to Gastown,” he said. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t go to Hastings. But I went along.

We parked a good bit away and walked to a very busy, touristy part of Vancouver with lots of bars, restaurants and high end shops. I could feel myself dipping into a slump. We saw a bar with games inside. I offered to play battleship with him. But when we got a table and found the game, it was missing all the pieces. I would have stayed but for some reason, Mr. Canada got up to leave, saying there was no reason to stay if we weren’t playing a game. So, we walked around some more until I finally admitted I wasn’t feeling well and asked him to take me home.

He was, as always accommodating and very understanding. He asked me lots of questions about how I was feeling but all I could say was, “I just need to lay down and be quiet for a while.” When we got back, I took my clothes off, put the Interstellar soundtrack in my ear and lay down on his bed. I was soon joined by his cat, Pixie who seemed to know that I needed comforting.

I fell asleep for a while and woke up to find him in the kitchen preparing dinner. I got up and gave him a hug and I felt better.

Monday, we did go to Hastings street and wondered around the weird little restaurants and thrift stores. We found one place, Burcu’s Angels that was like walking into a couture museum. Heavy, luxurious fabrics filled the racks of vintage 50s and 60s fashion. It was beautiful. I was entranced by every gown, jacket and after-dinner wear. Everything was expensive, of course but so lovely. The owner had Turkish music playing and was very chatty, encouraging both of us to try things on. I could have spent thousands there. Mr. Canada struck up a long conversation with the owner, as he is wont to do. He did the same thing in New Orleans when we first met, finding a Canadian in the French Quarter at a hat shop.

“See, that’s why I wanted to come here.” I said. “To see stuff like that.”

I was supposed to drive home Monday night to avoid fourth of July traffic but that afternoon, my stomach began to hurt. The cramps increased until I experienced a nice bout of diarrhea. I claimed it was the hot sauce Mr. Canada had put in the ceviche, remembering the time I got sick in Indonesia after eagerly eating everything in sight.

However, it was the cheesecake. We left it out for a few hours when I first arrived and found the crust to be a little soggy. Mr. Canada had insisted right then that we through it out but I had only had one piece. He pointed to a patch of discoloration on the top. “That’s just from the candles,” I claimed.

“It’s mold,” he said, reminding me that he was a professionally trained chef.

“You wouldn’t throw out a whole loaf of bread because of mold on one end, would you?” I argued.

“It’s dairy!” he insisted.

“You are not throwing away my cheesecake,” I said placing my body between him and the cake. I put it in the refrigerator and ate on that thing for the next five days before finally allowing him to throw away the last small portion.

He was right. It had spoiled and I was paying for it.

I decided to spend another night and hoping I would feel better in the morning. As I squeezed his arm every time my stomach cramped up, he scolded me for not listening to him. “It was worth every bite,” I said.

I left the morning of the 4th, kissing him goodbye outside his apartment not knowing when we would see each other again. It’s getting harder being away from him. We need to be in the same city. I want to know what it would be like to see other regularly like a real couple. This once a month nonsense is bullshit.

But…..it was a great birthday and I was so happy and grateful to be with someone who wanted to celebrate and make a big deal out of it.

He did good.

I Got a Job

So, I got a job.

It’s not a design job. I’m an office assistant at a small trailer dealership in a small town south of Portland.

I’m not exactly sure how I got it actually. At some point, I gave up on design jobs and started applying for admin stuff. After applying for a job on one of the sites a message popped up, “We found 20 other jobs just like this one. Would you like to apply for all of them? Click here.”

Sure, why not? I clicked.

Then one day a recruiter called me about this office admin job. “Why do you think you’d be a good fit for this position,” he asked me as I walked The Kid home from school.

“I’ve been applying for a lot of jobs,” I confessed. “You’re going to have to be more specific.”

I gave him some spiel about just wanting to get a job and how my work life didn’t need to be a creative outlet etc… I even threw in my theories about dating and job hunting. I told him I was willing to meet this woman who owned a trailer dealership if she was willing to give me a chance.

I had two interviews that day. The second one was an office job at a BMW car dealership. The trailer lady one went well. But I left thinking that I didn’t want the job. I just felt like it wasn’t my kind of place. What do I know about trailers? (Not the live-in kind; the kind people use for hauling stuff like cars or equipment.)

Then I drove into Portland for the second interview. I was early so I walked around the waterfront park and sat at a coffee shop watching people go by. I thought about what it would be like to live in a real city, something I’ve never experienced. I started to hope the interview would go well.

It did not. The job was making appointments for car owners who needed work done. But it was somehow incentivized so that you got bonuses for turning phone calls into appointments. I found this concept quite confusing. The woman interviewing me was the manager of the department. She couldn’t have been over 24 and she had been working there 5 months. She was terrible at interviewing. I asked most of the questions and she asked very little. Then she mentioned the work schedule. Monday to Saturday with Thursday’s off. As soon as she said that, I was out.

The trailer dealership was looking better.

I got the offer, accepted it and went in for a short meeting to talk about when I would start. I was smart enough to tell her that I had previously solidified plans for the 28-30 and would not be able to work those days. I was going to Vancouver for my birthday and I wasn’t going to give that up.

At that second meeting, the owner was kind of weird. She asked me more than once if I was sure I wanted the job. I asked her if she was sure she wanted me to have it. She showed me around and introduced me to people, which she had already done at the interview. I left feeling uneasy and wondering if it was going to work out.

I started training with the woman who was moving away. Ironically, the job was basically all the things I complained about doing at my last job, but without all the other responsibilities. It was light bookkeeping, answering the phones and other minor administrative work. They used a combination of up-to-date software on new computers and old-school paper packets written up in sharpies. I liked that. After the first couple of days, I felt a lot better about it. My predecessor went on vacation and I worked one full week alone and I actually liked it. It was oddly satisfying, like putting together a puzzle every day. And I could see that it was going to be easy. I started to get to know the people and their personalities and they seem like a good bunch, easy going and friendly. Plus the pay wasn’t half bad for the kind of work. It would allow me to get an apartment in a few months.

The next week I worked a couple more days with my predecessor and she tried to get me as prepared as possible to fly solo. By the end of the second day I was anxious to be alone in the job again. Her personality is different from mine. She was loud and kind of scattered in her tasks. There were too many piles going on at once. She had a habit of not finishing her sentences and I had to cajole her into getting the full thought out. By the end of the last day with her, I felt confident enough that if there was anything else I needed to know, I could learn it from the owner.

Speaking of her, as I get to know her better, I can see that we’re going to get along just fine. She has a sense of humor and a laid back outlook. I can see how she might be a little whiney sometimes when she’s a bit stressed, but she seems to be honest and to the point. Not the kind of boss who is going to be insecure and who needs constant validation or engages in ridiculous power-plays. Like someone I used to know. We’re going to fine.

So, it’s not the ideal job and I don’t think I’ll want to work there for years. But I could see staying there a year, maybe 18 months before moving on.

Next goal: A place of my own.

The Cover Letter I Want to Write

Marie
Today’s date.
Cover Letter

 

To whom it may concern,

What do you want me say? What are you looking for in this “cover” letter? Is this just an extra hoop you want me to jump through? Is this a way for you to know that I’m really serious about wanting this job?

Is it a test to see if I’ll take the time to customize the letter, adding details about the job description and your organization?

Are you looking for the ability to form a complete sentence and run spell check? Are you testing my maturity to see if I know how to write like a grown up and not just text-short hand?

Are you skimming over looking for relevant content? Are you looking for that one person who has a witty opening sentence? Something to make you laugh or say, ‘Now that’s funny! That’s a person with character!’?”

How’s this:

For the love of God, would someone just give me a goddamned job!? All I want is to make enough money to rent a crappy studio apartment near my family. Is that too much to ask? I can write. I’m a good photographer and I like to make things pretty. Just give me some creative work, a decent group of people to work with and a salary I can live on. Why is that so hard to find in this godforsaken wilderness?

Just give me a chance, please. At least an interview. If you’re going to reject me, do it properly by allowing me to be awkward and weird in person. If I’m going to be rejected, let me fuck it up properly. I’m pretty good at it.

I traveled all the way from Louisiana to be here. I gave up all my stuff, said goodbye to my friends and the weather and beauty of Louisiana. The least you can do is give me a chance to live here properly.

What do you say?

 

Marie
Contact Information Here