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Another Bullet Point Update

I don’t know why I haven’t had the urge to write long, self-absorbed paragraphs lately. Maybe it will come back to me. So, here are some bullet points:

  • I’m still in love with the Canadian. He drives me nuts sometimes. I often find myself thinking, I want this to work out. I want to like him but why does he have to piss me off so much? He likes to argue and debate and he often takes a stance that he doesn’t even believe just to watch me get all flustered and indignant. And I take the bait every time. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about him. He’s incredibly kind to me. I crave being with him. I love being with him. I love his big eyes and his smell and his height. I  love the way my head fits just under his chin and the way his kisses the top of my head when I hug him. I love the things he does to me. I love how positive and happy he is. I love his impatience for bullshit of any kind. I love his confidence and his cooking and even his cat.

 

  • I’m running out of money. I have shockingly little money left to my name and lots of debt. I’m at the point where I’ll have to start negotiating with my credit card companies soon. I’ve applied for as much public assistance as possible, but I need an Oregon plate and license for some of it and that will cost about $300 and I can’t afford it. I’m still getting weekly unemployment and I’m pretty sure I’ve applied for every possible writing, photography or graphic design job in the Portland and Seattle areas. My next step is a self promotion piece that I can mail out maybe.

 

(Ok, so the bullet points are turning out to be actual paragraphs after all.)

When I thought about moving here, I thought, I’ll do anything. I won’t settle for something in my field. But the thing is, people want to hire people with experience no matter what the job. A secretary job requires experience being a secretary. Same for administrative assistants, sales clerks etc… I found a lot of opening for sheep herders. I don’t know how to do that either.

Last time I looked for a job it took 3 months. I keep reminding myself of that. It’s only been about a month. But I’m not in my own apartment and I have a lot less money now than I did then.

  • That being said, I’m trying to remember the true key to happiness: gratitude. I know I sound like a self-help book, but I think there’s some truth to the cliché mantra. It’s always a glass-half-empty/glass-half full-thing. I have a place to live. My daughter seems to be ok with me being here. She’s been understanding and patient. I have some money. Not much, but some. I have my health, so far. I’m stocked on anti-depressants for a while. I found a free therapist that I’m meeting tomorrow. I made myself a little workspace in the garage. I have Mr. Canada who is positive and encouraging and is ready to marry me at a moment’s notice. (For now.) I have skills and talent and experience. It’s a long way down to rock bottom. I’m not even close.

I might try to drive up to East Van soon and maybe stay with Mr. Canada for a week or so. I just gotta keep plugging away and hope something comes along soon.

Bullet Point Update

  • I’m still seeing Mr. Canada. I cried in front of him during my last visit. We had a fight over the comedy of Bill Burr. That being said, I still like being with him. I think maybe, I might possibly have a future with him???
  • I love Vancouver.
  • Last weekend I got through border control coming and going with no problems! That was very exciting.
  • Lori, my daughter is a little over a month away from her due date. She looks like a fertility goddess. She walks around with her voluptuous, hour glass figure….giant boobs and protruding belly, always in a long skirt with a different graphic t-shirt stretched over her stomach each day.
  • The mother-daughter role is weird at times. I helped her put her socks on the other day, the way I did when she was 4. Then that evening, I sat with the kid at the table waiting for her to serve us our dinner. She’s an amazing cook.
  • I’m feeling very claustrophobic and in need of control and privacy. I desperately want to be around my things, by myself.
  • Apathy and discouragement are my biggest enemies and I wish, as I have for most of my life, that I was a more driven, ambitious, positive and energetic person.
  • I’m scared.
  • Everyone who said it was beautiful here was right. There’s so much to photograph and see. I like being around such spectacular nature.
  • I’m obsessed with the green moss.
  • Mr. Canada thinks that he can handle having me stay at his place for a week or more and rearranging his apartment. I think he has no idea what he’s in for and I’m scared to take him up on the offer.
  • I still haven’t found a job.
  • It’s raining. Again.

Mr. Canada, Pixie and East Van

Mr. Canada took me up to his studio apartment. I was relieved not to be met with the smell of cat litter or ammonia. I finally met the infamous Pixie who I instantly began calling Mr. Kitty because I had become accustomed to saying that name in Lori’s house. It took me a minute to correct myself.

The place was simple and cool with a great view of the city and mountains. It was pretty clean. I could see that he had just mopped the floors and the bathroom and kitchen were spotless.

There was, however Pixie’s long, white hair….everywhere! Over the course of the weekend I had to simply adjust to its presence. I think I had some in my lungs by Sunday. I half expected to cough up a hair ball when I got back.

I did come to love Pixie, though. He’s an old, spoiled, soft as silk, all fur, pure breed, hot mess who basically spends his life sleeping in corners and meowing for either food or attention. Mostly attention.

We went to a liquor store for wine and while we were there one of his good friends called him and when I told her hi from beside him, she asked to talk to me. She told me how much Mr. Canada loved me and how he talked about me all the time.

“I’m so jealous of the story of how you two met…..it makes me want to slit my throat,” she joked.

“Awwww…….that’s the nicest thing anyone could say,” I laughed.

I showered and pulled up a bar stool that he had on his balcony next to the stove and drank wine while he cooked. He made duck breasts and potatoes cooked in duck fat. It was easy and fun being with him. He talked the whole time. Mr. Canada’s a talker.

I looked around at the surroundings I had seen so many times through skype, sitting in my apartment in Lafayette. I couldn’t believe I was really there. Just over a month ago I was in Louisiana and here I was sitting next to my tall, dark, handsome boyfriend watching him make me dinner in fucking Vancouver, Canada.

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

The next day, we walked out for coffee and he made me breakfast.

And then I had what may very well be one of the best days of my life.

He drove me out toward Granville Island, isn’t really an island. He took me through some cool neighborhoods with high rise after high rise of new condos. I’ve never seen so much housing in a city before. What do all these people do? I wondered. He drove around until he found a good parking spot and we walked towards the island and market. It was a gloriously beautiful sunny day. Just cold enough to have a jacket on. Not wanting to stumble around with my camera bag, I brought one body and my purse, putting a couple of small lenses in it.

Nevertheless I was as goofy as ever and Mr. Canada took great delight in laughing at me.

“I’ve never seen anyone have so much trouble getting out of a car,” he teased.

The island was filled with New Orleans-like eclectic shops. It was well designed without one big open area that might attrack large crowds. It was touristy, of course but Mr. Canada claimed that Vancouver-ites shop and eat there regularly. It had a nice flow. There was an art school, a conservatory and a few theaters. I found a shop that sold umbrellas. Just umbrellas. It was beautiful. I want to own an umbrella shop.

The willow trees are a different color here in the pacific northwest. They’re very tall and a shade of neon green. Almost yellow but not quite. They almost match the color of the moss that grows on everything. I’m quite taken with them. And there’s cherry blossoms everywhere. I always regretted not going to D.C. during the cherry blossom season but now I see them all the time. Why don’t we have cherry blossoms in Louisiana?

Mr. Canada took me through the island commenting on things here and there. Pointing out good restaurants and places he’s been. We spent some time looking at house boats and dreaming of living in one some day.

I like being with him. I like being with him more and more. We often walk arm in arm or holding hands. He turns to me and kisses me often and sometimes I can’t stop looking at him, which I think makes him a little uncomfortable. I’m not sure. I want my body to be close to his all the time. I can’t get enough of his energy and warmth. We laugh a lot and have fun together. Life with him is easy going and relaxed with lots of walking and talking. Sometimes more walking than I can handle. Either I’m horribly out of shape or I need to get my heart checked again. Every time I have to climb stairs, I feel like I’m going to die. But Mr. Canada is patient even while teasing me.

We’re better in person. We need to be with each other. The ways that he gets on my nerves and upsets me over the phone are easy to mitigate when he’s next to me. I just punch him in the arm or shove him aside and he comes back and holds me and kisses me and says, “What?” or “Whhhyyyyy?” in that weird whiney way he has.

We got a pot pie from a place that Lori insisted we go to and ate it together in the market. We perused shops and I bought a Canada sticker and magnet for my collection. Sometimes he would hint at buying me things, asking me if I liked this or that. I commented on the things I liked and didn’t, warning him, “I have very particular taste. You can’t shop for me.”

“I’m figuring it out,” he claimed. But he knows I don’t want him to buy me things. He knows I have issues with money in relationships. Besides, as I keep warning him, I’m just going to lose anything he might buy me.

We found a little place near the water with lobsters, crabs and oysters in bins of water, fresh off the boat. Mr. Canada was delighted with the prices and suggested we have oysters for dinner. He knew all the different kinds and what their names meant and what they would taste like. My mouth was watering over the huge lobsters, imagining a giant pot of them, boiled and thrown onto newspaper on a long table and eating them like crawfish. I want to have a crawfish-style lobster boil!

We walked back over the bridge and through some lovely neighborhoods with meandering walkways and inviting landscapes. I marveled at the elegant architecture and we discussed which styles we liked better. We walked on the edge of the bay, viewing the city and sailboats and waterfront condos with modern, colorful doors and big windows.

Then we went back to the oyster place and Mr. C picked out two dozen oysters with my contribution based on the appearance of their shells. The guy who helped us was very odd in both look and behavior. He was all business and tense, untying the bags and spreading the oysters out to count them carefully. He barely made eye contact and never smiled. As we walked out Mr. C said, “Thanks man.” The dude didn’t look up. “Thanks a lot. See you later,” he tried again with his insistent politeness. The guy finally looked up and said, “Oh, yeah, ok, yeah.”

Crossing the bridge we had seen a fisherman with a big, fresh salmon below in the harbor. He was holding it up showing an older Asian couple as they looked down and took pictures. When we walked back over, the couple was on the dock, the woman gesturing profusely, trying to communicate. We stopped and watched and the fisherman put the spine with some meat still on it into a plastic bag and gave it to her. She used classic charade methods to explain that she was going to make a good soup from the gift. They all took a picture together.

“Shall we go to the car?” Mr. C asked.

“No, I want to stay here for a couple more hours.” I joked.

He took me to Kits beach and we walked along the shore and in the neighborhood, again comparing taste in house designs. I liked more contemporary looks. Mr. C tended to like an old English style. The beach was weird and different than the Oregon coast. Lots of big rocks with kelp and barnacles and crows every where. It was beautiful. The sun was going down and we could see Stanley Park across the bay that was filled with tanker ships moored, waiting for their turn to deliver their contents.

I could see why someone would want to live in this amazing city. No wonder the border officers were worried about me sneaking in to stay. I wanted to stay. Portland’s got nothing on Vancouver. Portland seemed boring compared to this.

We left the beach and he drove to the grocery store to pick out supplies for a charcuterie board he promised to make me for dinner. When we were in Portland we had ordered one at a bar and I was very disappointed with both its contents and presentation. Mr. C later told me he had been proud of my instincts. So, he was going to do it right.

We went back to the apartment and I showered and changed and watch him shuck the oysters. He told stories about working for Gordon Ramsey. We watched Home Movies and ate oysters on the patio table he had relocated inside. I was in heaven. We drank wine and he sliced and arranged his creation. We nibbled and laughed our way through the spread. We were supposed to go out to a bar but Mr. C can’t hold his wine so we stayed in instead.

We laid in bed and watched t.v., making out and pushing the ever-needy Pixie off the bed.

That night I slept like a baby, turning over to snuggle with him or putting my arm around him.

The next day we slept in then went out for coffee again and he took me to an Italian store and bought a large sandwich-like creation. This was on Commercial Drive and I experienced the same feeling I had when I drove in but this street was even more remarkable.

Coffee shops on every block (not Starbucks, but little, individual cafés), restaurants from every culture and nation on earth, vintage stores, import stores, a butcher, a tailor!….a fucking tailor! Block after block of interesting businesses, organically assembled. This was no River Ranch! This was no planned community. There were dives and graffiti but also high end boutiques. I bought a pair of boots at a vintage store for $40 (that’s 30 American dollars!). We went into a childrens’ boutique and I saw a pair of toddler pants with a big fox on it that I knew Lori would love.

“Are you going to get it?” Mr. C asked.

“Yeeesssss,” I said as I turned over the tag to see that it was $26. “Noooo.” I then cooed. No article of clothing that will be outgrown in a matter of months should cost that much. I was walking out when he grabbed it and took it to the counter and bought it for me. Lori loved it.

We walked up and down, people watching and teasing each other. I was head over heels in love with Vancouver. I had never been anywhere like it.

“I hate for you to leave this place,” I told him.

“Well, maybe you can move here then,” he said.

I just sighed. Not that I wouldn’t want to but it’s not easy to immigrate to Canada. I wasn’t sure how we could make it happen. Yet, when I think of him leaving this wonderful place to come to Portland……it seemed like a tragedy.

Mr. C often jokes with me about getting married. Mostly, he claims because he knows it makes me squirm. When we were on the beach, he said it again, that I could live there if I married him. We stopped and I hugged him close and looked up at him.

“What if I said yes and I wanted to get married tomorrow? You’d do it?”

“Of course I would,” he said.

“You’re really that sure?”

He looked down at me and kissed me.

“I told you. I know this is going to work. I’ve never had a doubt in my mind.”

“You’re so stupid,” I said. (This has become a running joke I say to him anytime he expresses his confidence or unconditional love.)

He laughed.

But I don’t want to get married again. Or at the very least, I’m not ready.

Walking back to the car, arms around each other, the sun in our eyes he said, “I could see you staying close to Lori and the baby and the kid for about a year or two then maybe coming up here to live.”

“You think we can sustain this for a year or two?” I asked.

“Yeah, I think we can,” he said.

When I think of all the wishy washy, flighty men I have attempted to date over the past five years. Mr. Houston who said a three hour drive was too far. Pumpkin Patch who couldn’t give up his Baton Rough girl, the guy from Gramercy who couldn’t be bothered to drive an hour and a half….etc…etc….

There I was in Vancouver, Canada walking with a man who I was crazy about and talking about our future.

Maybe I finally found my Mr. Moon.

We went back to the apartment and I gathered my things and we carried them down. We said goodbye by the car and I held him tight, putting my head on his chest.

“I’ll see you Friday,” he said.

“Yeah, that’s right. I’ll see you Friday, boo boo.” I said.

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

At the American border, the car got searched again and they asked me lots of questions again. They were surprised I had been let into Canada with all that stuff.

I think Mr. C and I should have special speed passes that we can put on our dashes.

At the very least, I’ve got to convince Lori to let me put all that stuff in her crowded garage. For once in my life I’d like to go through a border without being questioned.

 

The Border and Vancouver

I have to admit. I was worried about crossing the border. For one, I had a bad experience (read that story here). For another, I had all that stuff in my car. I didn’t have a place to put my belongings at Lori’s house so my element was still stuffed with boxes and a t.v. and a chest of drawers and paintings and all kinds of shit. It looked like I was moving because that was I had just done.

Mr. Canada advised saying that I was headed to Alaska. He said border control heard that line all the time from Americans. But I’m a terrible liar. That claim would be followed by endless questions that I would have make up answers to on the fly. I can’t pull that off. My policy is: Tell the truth if for no other reason than it’s the easiest to remember. Especially when speaking to government officials.

I got to the border crossing and approached. There was only one car ahead of me. I came up to a large, green traffic light so I pulled up just behind the van ahead of me.

It was my turn, I handed over my passport. The man asked me to remove my sunglasses.

“Are you allergic to stop signs?” he asked.

Apparently I wasn’t supposed to take the green light literally. I was supposed to wait behind the light. He then proceeded to ask a plethora of questions. The usual stuff. Narcotics: no. Guns: no. Etc…etc….Then he asked about all the stuff. I gave him my story.

“Have you been to Canada before?”

“I have not,” I said.

“I didn’t think so. Well, since this is your first time, we’ll give you a proper Canadian welcome. Pull your car up over there and the officers will show where to park.”

It was the Canadian version of “Step aside, m’am.” Here we go.

I went into a large, lovely building with high ceiling and lots of modern, wooden and stone interior treatments. A woman asked me more questions then said they were going to look in my car. “Do you have anything you’re concerned about in the vehicle?” the officer asked.

“In what way?” I asked her.

“Like valuable or breakable things.”

I thought for a minute. “Well, I have camera equipment……and oh, there’s a t.v. in there……….and a computer and I guess some dishes and stuff……”

They went out to my Element and asked me to have a seat. When I was sitting there I thought about how I had jammed a bunch of small stuff on the passenger side. I went up the counter and said, “Excuse me, I forgot to mention, if you open the passenger side door, everything will fall out.” I laughed a little. The officer didn’t laugh and she informed the officers outside through her walkie talkie.

I sat and waited with nothing to read or look at. I was a little nervous but not I’m-stuck-in-Tel-Aviv nervous. The worst they could do was ask me to turn around. I was five hours from Portland, not on the other side of the world.

Coming back in, they asked to see my phone and for my password. Luckily I had recent texts from both Mr. Canada and Lori about the ultrasound she had earlier that day, both corroborating my story.

The tall, blond stout woman called me up again and said they were letting me through.

“If you’re going to come through the border again, you might want to find a place to put all that stuff,” she said, completely straight faced. “It just looks like you’re trying to move here.” I smiled as she said it and agreed. “Yeah, I think I’m going to do that,” I said with a laugh and she finally broke out with a little smile.

I found my way back onto the highway and followed Nigel’s directions. I was in Canada.

I drove into Vancouver around 5ish. It was a sunny day and I could see all the mountains, topped with snow. They put Mount Hood to shame. I drove in on Hastings street and was blown away by the row of weird and delightful shops. It was compact and thoroughly interesting. I could have pulled over and spent hours on that one street. There was something organic and wonderful about the line of businesses. It was like New Orleans, but not quite. It was like no other city I had been to. I suppose it might be more European but I’ve never been to Europe. I was instantly falling in love with the city.

I was having trouble following Mr. Canada’s directions, especially since he didn’t give me distances between points the way Siri and Google maps does. And my Element was sputtering a little. My silver box does not like going up inclines. I think it misses the flat streets of Louisiana. So, I pulled over and checked the oil, basically the only thing I know to do when my car is acting weird. Then I plugged in Mr. Canada’s address and let my phone take me there.

I found it easily and let him know I had arrived. He wouldn’t be off of work for another couple of hours. I went for a walk and found an empty chinese restaurant for some hot tea and a couple of spring rolls. I knew Mr. C would be mad if he knew I was eating. He, of course had cooking plans for me.

I walked around a bit more until Mr. C told me he was on his way home. I got my stuff out and took it to the entrance of the apartment building and sat there like a vagrant. Just then, his blue car pulled up and he walked up to me.

“Who is this stray dog waiting here?” he joked.

I got up and hugged him. He was dressed up for work in dress pants and an argyle sweater vest and yellow tie.

He smelled beautifully familiar and his lips were as sweet as ever.

Looking up at him, holding him tight, his hands pushing me hair away from my face as he smiled down at me, I felt a shiver come from somewhere inside my stomach and travel up to my head.

I was really falling in love with him badly.

Every time I met him again, I was a little farther gone.

Mr. Canada had me under his spell.

 

One Night in Seattle

It was my turn to visit Mr. Canada. It’s a five hour drive to Vancouver, so I was going to go up early Friday and leave Monday. Then I got an interview request for Monday, so I’d have to drive back Sunday. That’s a lot of driving for what would essentially be one full day with Mr. Canada. So, I decided to drive up to Seattle Thursday to break it up. I found a hostel a block up from the Pike Street Market. You know the famous one where they throw the fish? It was only $31 for a bunk bed.

At first, I wasn’t going to tell Mr. Canada what I was doing. I don’t know why. I thought he might worry about me the way he did when I was on the road trip? I thought he might give me an opinion about why it wasn’t a good idea or try to convince not to do it? I didn’t tell him until I had booked the room. I mentally prepared myself to defend my decision and politely tell him that it’s what I wanted to do. When I told him he replied, “That’s a great idea, baby.”

I read it and thought, Huh. Interesting. Why was I expecting him to react differently? I realized, my fear wasn’t about him. I was still thinking like the woman married to Mr. K. I was expecting the kind of reaction he would have had. I’m still not used to being respected as a grown woman, I guess. I mean, let’s face it, I do a lot of stupid shit that would justify concern from anyone. But it’s nice to be treated otherwise. I’m learning that I can be myself and be respected at the same time. I mean, not that I have a choice in being myself. It’s all I got.

Sometimes I’m reminded of what they told me in that divorce recovery group I attended years ago. For every four years you were married, you should give yourself one to recover or some such bullshit. I don’t know if that’s true, but I know I’m still adjusting to not being in the sphere of influence of Mr. K. And anytime Mr. Canada does or says anything that feels like he might be judging or controlling or trying to influence my behavior, I jolt and react and bring out the old frog in the pot analogy. Now when he tells me something he teases me saying, “I’m not trying to frog-in-a-pot you,” with that weird Canadian accent.

I took my time that Thursday morning, hanging out with the kid, washing clothes and packing and didn’t leave until 1-ish. I arrived in Seattle after dark, fighting the downtown one way streets, trying to find the right parking garage assigned by the hostel.

I made it to the bustling hostel, took a shower and went out for a drink. I settled on a sushi place and had an amazing octopus carpaccio dish. It had some kind of frozen, shaved, orange stuff in the middle. The combination of flavors and textures was delightful. I was reminded of what Amy had said once, that the food at Pamplona was losing its edge. Tasting this dish, I thought she might be right. When Pamplona served octopus it was sliced on a plate with a dipping sauce. That’s it. This dish put them to shame.

When I got back to the hostel, I was the only one in the room of four beds. I wondered if, like at the one in the Gila mountains, if I was again the only person there. I talked to Mr. Canada on the phone for a while then went to sleep listening to my rain sounds on headphones.

Eventually, two quiet Asian girls came in followed by a loud girl who took her little lamp and swung it every which way making a spot light through out the otherwise dark room. Maybe she was high. In the morning, the Asian girls got up and moved around like quiet mice. I caught a glimpse of one putting lotion on her face. The loud girl got up and left the room saying into her phone, “Well thanks for telling me.”

I got up and showered, not saying much to the Asian girls who didn’t make eye contact. I checked out and put my stuff in my car and went to explore the area.

I liked Seattle. It was more like a real city. My daughter Lori chose the Portland area over Seattle because she said she didn’t like it. Walking around, I couldn’t understand why. It was full of cool, international shops. The market was fun, if not touristy and overpriced. That’s to be expected. There were flowers and chinese pastries and delights of all kinds.

I decided to walk out to the ferris wheel to see how much it would cost to ride it. I remember seeing it from the airport years ago when I was on the way back from Indonesia. I walked up to the counter. It was only $14 but there was a long line. I didn’t feel like waiting.

Mr. Canada and I had once considered using Seattle as a meeting place since it’s almost exactly midway between Portland and Vancouver. Seeing the city and finding the cheap hostel, I was beginning to think it might be a good idea. We would have fun there. Maybe I would ride the ferris wheel with him one day.

I headed back to my car, climbing steps from the waterfront back up to 1st street. I found a cute little coffee shop and stepped in for a shot of caffeine and a bagel.

It was really hot inside the shop, so I took my coat and sweater off, fighting with the sweater like the ridiculous klutz that I am. My tank top was not hiding the bright pink, floral print bra underneath, so I quickly pulled up the front and tugged down the back.

Across the room, I saw two older men reading newspapers at a long table. By the way the staff talked to them, I guessed they were regulars. They were both tall and distinguished. Well dressed and confident. One was black and the other was a balding Indian man (I think). I amused myself by watching them as they letched after every woman who passed on the street or entered the café. They looked my way a couple of times as I tried to keep my tiny bra in check. I just laughed at them. What a couple of dirty old men, I thought.

I checked myself, wondering at the fine line between the harmless amusement their behavior inspired in me and the fear and disgust it might have just as equally caused if a few details of the instance had been different.

Oh well.

I made it back to the car and asked Siri to help me to the I-5 north. Mr. Canada had given very specific instructions to a less busy border crossing. I got some gas and a snack, made sure I knew where my passport was and headed out, finishing off the audiobook I had begun on my road trip.

Next stop: The Canadian Border

 

Newberg and Mr. Canada

So, I’m in Newberg now.

Living with family. Sleeping on an air mattress. Looking for work.

This is a cute little town, but this whole area is constantly tinged with cloud cover and a drizzle. I think I might be getting used to it. I’m not sure.

I saw Mr. Canada again. He drove in last weekend. We stayed at a motel just outside of Portland proper. I think we walked all of downtown Portland. Lots of food trucks and girls with blue hair.

We had fun together. We always have fun together. It’s on the phone that things get dicey sometimes. He gets on my nerves and says the wrong thing too often. He makes me anxious. We had something of a big fight while I was on the road trip. I wasn’t sure it was going to work out. But…so far, he always seems to know how to pull out of it.

In person, I can’t stop looking at him. He’s so goofy and ridiculous, yet he has this dignity and elegance about him. I wanted to kiss him all the time. I felt at home hugging him tight against the drizzle as we waited for a train. I like being with him.

He wasn’t as great with directions as I assumed he would be. That was funny. We fumbled our way across downtown, often walking in circles.

On Saturday, after a morning of walking we went back to the motel for a nap then headed back for dinner to get oysters at a place we had spotted during the day. We passed by a strip club. I suggested we go in after dinner. He thought I was kidding.

Portland is known for its many strip clubs. They consider it performance art. I had never been to one before. It was among other cute little restaurants and bars in a sort of alley with street lights strung across it. It was called the Kit Kat club. I couldn’t resist.

It was less sad than I expected. More funny and entertaining. It was interesting to watch the different methods of attempted seduction and physical skill on the pole. It was like watching Michelle Kwan….but not really. I thought the best one was the blonde who took a more Marilyn Monroe-Josephine Baker approach. She was old school sexy instead of raunchy.

Now, I’m curious to see others. I mean there’s got to be levels, right? Some more talented, more…professional?

Anyway, we had fun. Friday I’m driving to Vancouver to find out just how much his studio apartment smells like cat litter.

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

Speaking of cat litter.

So, it’s been a week since I arrived. It took a while to feel comfortable in my daughter’s house, as is expected. The kid (as I will call my grandson) is always in trouble and it’s often tense in the house. It makes me uncomfortable. But, Lori and her husband are pretty silly and loving, so when he’s not in trouble it can be fun place to be.

The space I was in was a bit cramped so I rearranged it, went to IKEA and got some storage boxes and arranged all my clothing so I can find things without rummaging through suitcases now. It’s getting better.

I love Mr. Kitty and I’m growing to appreciate the dogs. The roomba Mr. K bought them helps a lot! But that kitty litter. I’m sorry but there is just no amount of litter-science or upkeep that can completely eliminate the undercurrent smell of ammonia. I hate it. I am just not a kitty litter kind of person. That’s not how we rolled on the farm.

The housing here is crazy expensive. I’ll be lucky to get a decent room for $500. A studio apartment will run me a minimum of $800. That probably doesn’t seem like a lot to most of you, but I was renting a huge apartment downtown for $525 in Lafayette.

I told myself I knew how to do this. I’ve started over before.

And this time it’s easier. There’s no divorce. No hateful e-mails and lawyers and emotional drama. It’s just me this time and Mr. Canada bugging me to spend time with him and driving me nuts on the phone.

If I can just get a few freelance gigs under my belt, save some money, build a reputation…..maybe I can springboard from that.

And get used to not seeing the sun.

We’ll see.

I’m in Oregon now, bitches!

Ok, so I did it. I moved to Portland. It’s actually a small town outside of Portland but my daughter doesn’t like it when I tell people exactly where she lives.

Anyway, it was quite a harrowing road trip. You can read it here if you like: leavinglafayette.wordpress.com. I think it might be time to give up the farce of anonymity.

Anyway, as usual the real, cynical, depressive, angry, happy, sappy, self-absorbed nonsense will continue here.

So far…I’m freaking out. I miss the sun. It’s fucking cold. People are weird and really white. And I want to have my own space.

Also, Mr. Canada has been great except for this one time (perhaps his strike two) and we’re spending the weekend at a cute, weird motel in Portland this weekend.

That is all for now.

The Peacocks Love Me: Marie Visits Jefferson Island, Again.

As long as I’ve lived in Lafayette, I had never been to Jefferson Island until Mr. Canada came to visit. It’s much smaller than Avery Island but it has a different character that I found enchanting. I took Lori there too when she visited.

We chased after the muster of peacocks that live there. (Did you know that’s what you call a group of peacocks?) Lori had a bit of food and she cajoled them closer so I could take photos, despite the fact that they scared her a bit.

So before I left Lafayette, I wanted to go there again.

It’s only the beginning of March and as Mr. Canada has shown me in pictures, it’s still snowing in parts of North America, but according to the oak trees and azalea bushes, it’s spring in Louisiana.

While the visit with Mr. Canada had come just after a hard freeze, with sad looking, droopy plants…..I arrived on the island to witness roses in bloom and bright green things pushing up and back to life.

I savored each step as I made my way to the Hindu gate, the weird frogs guarding the entrances of bamboo framed paths leading to the Japanese-style square structure. It was a Monday afternoon so there were only a handful of other people there. I had no where else to be that day. I had no obligations, no projects due, no expectations of any kind. It was me, my cameras, the island and freedom.

I sat on the porch of the Japanese structure for a long time, just soaking in the serene view. All of a sudden my stomach reminded me that I had not eaten. I also realized I hadn’t seen the peacocks yet. Then I heard one of them call out. I looked down the path and they were all gathered on the steps and porch of a small house. I’ll go photograph the peacocks then I’ll get something to eat at the café, I thought.

I made my way over the muster of colorful males and neutral-toned females. One of the males with short, stubby plumage was facing a female and shaking his upright feathers. It was mating season, I realized. They let me get remarkable close as I inched my way towards the amazing, bright colors of their feathers and chest plumage. How can a green like that exist in nature? It was neon.

Then, one of the males with an impressive array of tail feathers stepped out into the path, eager to show off for the females who seem to be nonchalantly lying about. He spread out his big semi-circle tail, separating the layers of feathers, slowly moving the whole fan back and forth and generally showing off his agility in controlling his magnificent appendage. When I tried to get close to him, he would back away just a bit but when a female was in front of him, he would shake and ruffle his feathers frantically, looking only at her and ignoring me and the clicking of the shutter.

Of course, I snapped away furiously, crouching to their level to get a better view. This went on for at least half an hour and I was in heaven. The male, let’s call him George stomped and turned and flitted about as I tried to create interesting images from his dance.

After a while, my hunger got the better of me and I walked back to the café only to find that it had closed ten minutes before. I went to the gift shop and reluctantly bought a honey bun. I scarfed it down in my car and drank some water, then walked back through the shop and out to the garden and its roses.

The wind forced the roses to dance and gyrate uncomfortably as I tried to get my lens to focus on one or two. I took a video to send to Mr. Canada. I was just about done with my visit, feeling content and peaceful. I decided to go back to the Japanese building one more time. When I arrived a male peacock was hanging out on the corner. We sat there, examining each other. I put all my camera stuff down and tried to be still for a little while, failing on occasion as I picked up one my Nikons to snap at the peacock.

On my way out, I walked through a decorative gate to nothing, as if to tell myself I was walking away from one phase of my life and into another. I can get pretty corny when no one’s looking. As I found the path again, George was once again strutting for the ladies, having moved away from the house. I couldn’t leave without taking more pictures so I joined him. After a few minutes, I sat down on the gravel, picking up a camera once every few seconds. George seemed to be showing off just for me. He let me sit very close as he turned slowly around, looking at me with a cocked head, the brilliant, psychedelic blue against the unnatural green of his chest.

After I had my fill of brilliance, I got up and told George goodbye and walked back toward the gift shop exit. I turned around one more time to see the Hindu gate.

I drove back to the compound continuing to listen to “26 Seconds,” in anticipation of my grassy knoll visit, which at this point would be about 4 days.

After a hot shower, I settled on the floor of the living room, set up my computer and began choosing my favorites of the day’s images.

Just three days left.

To be continued……

 

My Brother and I are Assholes

My brother Paul followed through on his promise to spend time with me a few Saturdays ago. Well, I say “spend time with me” but what it really was, was him sitting in between me and his new boyfriend. So, it wasn’t like it used to be when he would come in from New Orleans and we would sit at the bar at Pamplona, huddled together giggling, people-watching and venting about our lives in general.

This time it was awkward. I liked his boyfriend at first. He seemed funny and down to Earth and his family was hilarious. But the more times I was invited to “their” house in Breaux Bridge, the more it seemed like Paul’s life wasn’t his own. He had, once again, melded himself into someone else’s life. Even at Paul’s birthday party, the crawfish was cooked and eaten the way his boyfriend’s family did it. The music was country. It was like Paul was a guest. His daughter and I didn’t feel comfortable.

Then came the comment at Pamplona. Somehow we got into a conversation where Paul was jokingly asking if it was ok that he and his boyfriend call their black dog the n-word when they called him in from outside. I assumed this was a joke. “No,” I said laughing. “That’s not ok.”

Then the boyfriend, speaking softly with his somewhat hoarse voice so I had to lean in to hear him, started spouting some conservative, Fox News talking points about how he didn’t think it was fair that white people were not allowed to say that word but black people are.

“Uhhhh,” I stammered. “Yeah it is. Makes perfect sense to me,” I said.

He continued on about how everyone was too sensitive and got their feelings hurt; the spoon-fed snowflake theory that is popular with right-wingers these days.

“Well, if you call me a cunt right now I’m going to be offended and say something about it,” I retorted.

He kept going and I just repeated, “Yeah, no…I don’t agree with that. Uh, sorry, I’m going to have to disagree with you there.”

Meanwhile, my brother sat silently, just looking from one to the other. I looked at him thinking, What the fuck are you doing? He doesn’t even share the same values as you.

A few days later, as I was clearing out my belongings in my apartment, I came across a painting Paul said he wanted so I texted him, saying I would leave it in the hallway if he wanted to pick it up.

“I don’t know when I can come by,” he replied.

“Do you want me to give it to someone else?” I asked.

“Ok. I’ll come by tonight,” he texted.

Oh, so, you do have time to come by after all, I thought.

I went to get some dinner downtown just to avoid seeing him.

“Are you home?” he texted later.

“No.” I replied.

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

When we were planning the Mansura trip, Paul said he was working that Sunday, which I knew meant he had to drive to Lafayette twice that day to walk the dogs at the vet he works for.

When we were driving back, Shawn, Amy and I, in Stephen’s car, Paul called Stephen. He answered, put him on speaker and informed him that everyone could hear him. After asking about the visit he said, “How was Marie?”

“Um, I’m right here,” I said from the back seat.

“Oh, Hi Marie,” he said. “We should spend some time together before you leave.”

“Well, you have until Thursday,” I said.

“I’m off tomorrow.” he said.

“Ok,” I replied.

“Why don’t you call her and make plans later,” Stephen advised.

The next morning I had bills to pay, a few loose ends to tie up and I wanted to go to Jefferson Island again. Around 9am, Paul texted, “Ian and I are going to a coffee shop if you feel like joining us.”

“Sorry, I can’t right now.” I replied.

Now, I know I could’ve gone and met them. And I know I’m being kind of a dick by not taking him up on his offer to spend time with me. But the last minute planning pissed me off. My friends have planned going away dinners for me. They’ve made every effort to spend time with me when ever they could. And here was Paul, three days out asking me to join him right then and there, without giving any consideration to the fact that I might have plans already.

Later that day he texted, “Are you free in the next few hours.”

“I’m on my way to Jefferson Island with a friend,” I said.

Ok, the friend part was a lie. One told to emphasize the fact that my friends are planning their time with me.

“I thought we agreed to spend time with each other yesterday,” he texted.

“You said you had the day off and I said, ‘Ok.’ I’m sorry if you misunderstood.”

I told him that other people have made plans to see me since I had only had a few days left.

“Got it.” he replied, the universal, two-word phrase for “Go Fuck Yourself.”

The truth is, I know I’m being just as much a dick as he is. I’m being stubborn and chicken shit. I would rather avoid him than have a confrontation and I know that if I see him there will be a confrontation. I’m doing that bitchy thing that I do by punishing him because I’m pissed off and hurt by how he lives his life. Is it fair? Probably not. Am I going to cave and be the bigger person? Nope.

I’m tired of being the big sister who has to smooth things over and be unconditionally forgiving. Fuck it. Just like the youngest child that he is, Paul has a sense of entitlement and a lack of empathy for anyone else than himself that, for me has reached a point of infuriation. If he wants to smooth things over, he’s going to have to put some big boy pants on and think about someone else for a change and make it happen.

I don’t have to be the better person all the fucking time, goddammit.

 

Ok, fine. I’m hardly ever the bigger person. I know I’m being a dick. But fuck it. I get to be a dick to my little brother if I want to.

I never said I was perfect.

The Mansura Visit

It was supposed to be fun. My sister Vivian had finally moved out of my Dad’s house and we had the whole house to ourselves. Me, my older brother, my son, his best friend and fiancé and Amy showed up in Mansura around 10am Sunday.

We walked in to find a giant mess left behind by my sister and her boyfriend. It looked like someone had walked in and given them 5 minutes to get their stuff and get out. There were boxes strewn about. Coat hangers laying on chairs in the living room. A giant bird stand with a tarp underneath it, both covered in bird shit. (The boyfriend owns a giant bird.) Dirty dishes in the sink, tools missing from the shed and one of my aunt’s best paintings, done from a photograph of mine, gone.

It was disgusting, disrespectful and ridiculously rude. The more I walked around, the more upset I became. I was heading for a full blown panic attack in front of my friend and my son’s guests. I knew Amy would understand and even commiserate. She had a crazy family too but it was still embarrassing for me.

If my mom could see this. She would loose her shit, I thought.

A few things had  Vivian’s name written on them in sharpie. She had little notes on other things that said, “This is Vivian Smith’s.” As if we didn’t know which Vivian it was. She had to include her last name. There was a pile of stuff in the shed with a tarp over it, similarly labeled.

I tried to calm down and concentrate on crawfish. I straightened up the living room so I could feel more at ease and instructed Shawn to go buy supplies. Stephen, Amy and I would go to Cottonport to get the crawfish.

Going to Bernard’s Seafood is a treat all in itself. I waited in line behind a woman in a blue robe with yellow stars on it, slippers blinged with plastic stones and a wrap around her head. She had a box full of raw chicken and other groceries, which seem to be the common method of buying meat from this establishment. She turned to her friend, pointing to the stud in her bottom lip, saying that she had just had it installed a few days ago and she thought it might be infected. Her friend reassured her, “No, it’s ok. I got some hydrogen peroxide I can put on that.”

The store was well stocked with alcohol of all kinds. It was piled up behind the counter, in the aisles and in the coolers. I know from my childhood and from the general manner and appearance of the clientele there that day, that the neighborhood might not be most educated or high-earning in Avolyelles Parish, which is not saying much. Not that my family is any better. Yes, we own a large piece of land and considered ourselves middle class and reasonably educated. But only two of us have college degrees and we’re not exactly the picture of success and stability. After all, I was taking my 40 pound sack of crawfish back to a house that was ransacked by the drug addict sister who was 5 years out of a prison stint and who didn’t have the decency to say goodbye to her father who was a few miles away in a nursing home; the same father she mooched free rent from and even outright stole cash from.

Looking at the woman in the robe and slippers buying beer and chicken on a Sunday morning, I felt no judgement.

We boiled and ate crawfish and bitched and laughed. My nephew even showed up in the afternoon, knowing that it might be the last chance he would have to spend time with this particular group of people in Mansura.

Later in the day, I took the weird box I had made in architecture class, with my wedding ring inside one of its secret chambers and walked out into the woods. (A large part of our property is undeveloped and unkempt and we always called it “the woods.”) I found a nice peaceful spot on a high point, overlooking the small water way that meandered through the woods and placed in the thick leaves. It was an overcast day with a steady drizzle and everything was wet, including my brand new Chucks. I said goodbye to my little box and imagined how long it would take for nature to break down the rosewood or cover the box with vines and leaves. I imagined some future archeologists, hundreds of years later finding that little golden ring, no stones, just a asian looking pattern on it with no context to explain its existence.

Standing there, in the place I used to happily retreat to as a carefree, happy little girl, I felt like a part of my life was really ending.