The Fish Bowl — Chapter 3

Needless to say at this point, my answer put quite a damper on the rest of our holiday. The time immediately following this trip was uncomfortable because once he had asked me to marry him and I had declined it changed the relationship. I remember there being this awkward feeling of not knowing how to proceed, what to do next.

The distance between us was palpable. I knew that I had to make a decision. I either had to rethink my initial response or I had to end the relationship with this guy.

On a particularly memorable day I had coffee in the main administrative building on campus. This was a large building that originally had been paid for by the students, if I remember the story properly. Not only did it contain the administrative parts of the university, it also contained offices for the student newspapers and clubs, a bar, the graduate student lounge and a cafeteria of sorts.

The place that contained the cafeteria tables was affectionately called the fish bowl because it was a large open space that had glass on four sides extending up two or three stories and forming the roof. This area overlooked the centre of campus that had a lawn with walkways through it and was home to the cannon. These were some of the places that I used to sit with Bob the first summer when we both worked on campus.

I’m not sure what the initial significance of the cannon was, but it became a symbol on campus. Various groups and individuals would go out and paint the canon. Sometimes it would sport the team colours. Sometimes it would have slogans or messages on it and sometimes it was painted to look like something else, a zebra perhaps. Occasionally, particularly ambitious groups would steal or move the canon. That meant the university employees would have to retrieve it and replace it.

http://elementalview.blogspot.com/2010/07/iphone-diries-200-cannon-old-jeremiah.html
http://elementalview.blogspot.com/2010/07/iphone-diries-200-cannon-old-jeremiah.html

So, my best friend and I sat in the fishbowl and had a coffee together. The conversation started with my admission that Bob had asked me to marry him and that he wanted to start a family. I wanted to have a family as well, so it was something that was being discussed.

This friend and I had become acquainted during our pre-vet year, a year that was tacked onto the beginning of the veterinary degree to essentially make a four-year program into a five-year program. We both sat at the front of the class and quickly got to know one another. She had been with the same guy for a few years by the time that I met her and she was still with him at this point.

On this fateful day we started to do the math around becoming mothers. First, we had to finish veterinary medicine. Then, it was advisable to practise for a year in a city that you did not want to stay in. As new graduates, you are more likely to make a mistake so you are advised to not start where you wanted to end up.

Then, we would move to the city that we wanted to live in more long term and get a job. Once we had established ourselves in that community, we could then start our own practices and then we could start our families. So, lets see three years of schooling, one year of practice, then another two and by the time that you could establish your own business you have to add two or three….

The math said it all. We would both be well into our thirties before we had even begun to start to try to have babies. As biologists we knew the problem with this. The older you are when you start trying the harder it is to get pregnant. Some estimates put the decline of fertility beginning in the early twenties. On the other end of it, we would be in our sixties before our children were through university.

This just wouldn’t do. After a long discussion with Bob, held over several days, it was decided that it would be possible to start a family right away. He had already suggested that we have a baby sooner rather than later and he said that he wanted both of us to have part time jobs so that we could minimize childcare. He would be finished his degree before the baby was born and he would stay at home full time and care for our child while I finished my veterinary program.

I felt that it was more responsible to get married to have a child. In my estimation of things, that showed that the father was committed to the relationship and that he was in it for the long term. It was proper to be married if you were choosing to have a baby. So, we got engaged.

To mark the occasion Bob rented two videos and we had a take-out pizza. The movies that he rented were, “Lost in America” and “Paris Texas”. It is eerie to think back to this selection now. For those of you unfamiliar with these films, in the first one a couple liquidates all of their assets and then loses all of it gambling and in the second a man becomes so obsessed with his wife that he ties her to the stove. At the time I found it unnerving but how much can you read into the movies that just happened to be chosen at a video store?

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Admission — Chapter 2

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The only thing that still remained unresolved was my application for veterinary medicine. In order to apply to veterinary medicine there were several things that you had to complete. First, you had to fill out the paperwork and sign a release saying that they could access your marks. Then, you had to write an essay explaining why you wanted to be a veterinarian and finally you were interviewed by a panel of professors that would evaluate your suitability as an applicant.

The essay that I had to write was a disaster. I wrote it while I was still working on the dairy farm. I was not given time off or allowed to leave the farm, before I quit the job, so I had to make due with what they had on hand. What they had on hand was an old typewriter that was in need of repair.

When you insert paper into a typewriter, the paper goes down the back of a barrel that is slightly longer than the paper is wide and it is guided to go around this barrel and come up at the front of the machine. The paper is held snug against the barrel as you type. The typing mechanism moves to the right the distance of one letter each time you hit a key stroke. At the end of each line a bell rings to let you know that you have five spaces left before the end. When you reach the end, you use a return paddle to move the paper up one line and move the typing mechanism back to the left so that you can continue.

This particular typewriter had something loose inside. As I typed the page would shift down giving it a droopy appearance. The essay had to be typed, that was stipulated in the application, and I had no other typewriter that I could use so I would type a bit and then try to pull the paper up to where it was supposed to be. It is painful now to think about this.

I likely could have used a typewriter at a local library or hired someone to do the typing for me, but I did not know this at the time. Even though the farmer’s wife was a teacher, she did not offer any insights into how to improve the appearance of the essay. It brings into focus how much of a disadvantage students are at if their parents did not get any higher education. So, my essay was probably a frightful mess.

The interview went OK, but I have learned that unless you know what they are looking for there is no way to tell if you have given them what they want. They asked me some specific questions about the Pre Vet Club. I had been elected to its board, but I had never done any work. I did not know what I was supposed to do and the other people on the board never let me know.

In general, my marks were all good except for two courses. During grade 12, I had made the mistake of taking grade 13 biology. The high school I was attending went on strike the year that I was in grade 12 and we missed several weeks of classes. Many of the people that I was in grade 12 with never did graduate, or did not graduate that year, because the teachers were on strike so long that the students got full time jobs and then it didn’t make sense to go back to school.

The drawback for me was that the instructors for first year Zoology assumed that you had learned the material in grade 13 biology. I had not. I had been given the credit, so it would appear as though I knew the stuff, but I hadn’t even seen most of it before. The course amounted to a huge amount of anatomy of various creatures and it required a lot of memorization. I am explaining this in a great amount of detail because Zoology was my lowest mark, by far.

The other course that I got a poor mark in was an accident. It turns out that this particular professor was the father of a woman that would later become one of my best friends, but I did not know her at the time. There was a mistake in recording my mark. When I calculated how poorly I would have had to have done on the final exam to get my final mark, I would have had to have received less than zero. I knew it was an error. I went in to see the professor and he acknowledged that it must have just been an error and assured me that he would change the mark. He never did.

So, I waitressed for the remainder of the summer and eagerly anticipated a reply to my veterinary application. I knew that I was going back to university regardless of whether or not I got accepted. I did not get accepted.

The letter that came with my rejection said that I could go in to the office of the veterinary college and find out why I did not get in. So, I decided that I would do this. In those days, computer paper was about 20 inches wide and had edges that were separated from the main paper by perforations. These edges had holes in them. The holes fit over the mechanism that moved the paper through the printer. Computer paper was not similar to regular paper in shape or texture. When I went in to see why I had not been accepted, the man explaining it to me pulled out this long piece of computer paper that was probably three or four feet long.

Each line of the paper had a name followed by the overall average that the person had on the test scores. This was followed by the mark given for the essay, the average mark from their course work and the mark that they received for their interview. The most important mark was the overall average and the list had been organized with the highest average at the top and decreasing averages below in order.

Some very talented individual had taken the time to highlight a large block of names in pink. So, when he held the paper up, there were a bunch of names at the top, followed by a huge area of pink and then the vast majority of the names were below the pink area. He explained to me that the people in the pink area all had the same overall average. About one third of the way down the pink area was a bold blue line that had been drawn in to mark the bottom of the list of accepted applicants. I was in the pink, just below the line.

Being that close is a strange feeling. I was just as good as a group of students that were accepted that year (based on the way that they were evaluated). Unfortunately for me, my last name was not ‘Abbot’ or ‘Burns’. Several things could have put me above that pink patch: taking grade 13 biology in grade 13; having the professor actually correct my grade; and having a decent typewriter to do my essay on. Any one of these things could have given me a fraction of a point advantage and I would have been accepted. I did not know if I would ever be accepted. It felt like there were a few fail-safes to make sure that I did not get in that year.

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Milk is For Cows — Chapter 2

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I would get up in the morning and help the wife make breakfast. She was a teacher in town, so she would leave right after breakfast and I would go out with the men to milk the cows and do the chores. At break time, the men would come in and I was supposed to get the coffee and food out and then clean it up. When I was done doing this, we would go out and do more work on the farm.

This pattern occurred at each break and mealtime. The men would plop themselves down, often complaining about how tired or overworked they were and I would be expected to get them food and clear things up and go back to work when they did. Interesting.

When I asked to have an evening or a weekend off, I was told that they couldn’t spare me. This was not consistent with what I was told by the fella from the Farm Labour Pool. I called the fella that had interviewed me and brought this to his attention and he was evasive and said that there wasn’t anything that he could do. He represented the farmers, not the people that he hired.

A few weeks into the summer a guy that I had been dating before I went to university decided to come up and visit me at the farm. I explained that I couldn’t get away so he took it as an opportunity for a road trip. The family that I was working for acted as though they had struck gold. Here was a strong, healthy, young man that had just showed up on their doorstep. When he asked if he could stay for a night or two I was worried that I would be back in the closet. The “spare room” that I had stayed in when I first arrived and they had company staying with them in my room.

They welcomed him with open arms, originally. Then came the dreaded day of the misunderstanding. In case it is not clear at this point, I did not grow up on a farm. Some of the things that would be considered common sense are actually learned and so common that most people already know them. It is only common sense, once it has occurred to you.

I was asked to plow a field. I don’t remember exactly what type of equipment I was using or what purpose there was to plowing this field. My fella came with me and it seemed like a lovely day to be out on the land, even though the roar coming from the motor of the tractor was deafening.

I was supposed to go back and forth on the field and drag this piece of equipment in rows. Not actually having any experience with this, I decided it was best to be thorough and to overlap each row a bit. This was wrong. The most efficient way is even to leave a small patch between the rows. So, instead of needing to go back and forth lets say 10 times, I needed to do it about 15 times because I was overlapping. The proper way to do this was never explained to me.

When I got back to the house the farmer was furious. I had taken a considerably longer amount of time than I should have. When I tried to explain that I was not doing anything wrong and I thought that there must be a misunderstanding he started to yell and scream.

I have been treated poorly before. I thought nothing of driving my mother to the States to go drinking and driving men home for her. I know what it is like to work hard. I worked full time while going to high school, so none of that seemed to be too crazy, but I draw the line at being accused of lying, being yelled at and most importantly being called names because he figured that we were plowing, just not the field. I packed up my stuff and left the farm shortly afterwards.

I did not leave the farm without more drama. The farmer’s wife was emotionally distraught. They had finally found someone that was willing and capable of taking care of the cows so that they could get away for a while together. I’m not sure what she felt this respite from the farm would have done for her quality of life, but she desperately wanted a break from the day to day labour of taking care of animals.

She pleaded me to not go. These situations are difficult for me and I know many people that would have made a different choice, but I had learned already with my mother that just because it might “kill her” did not mean that I was less important than she was.

Yes, I felt sorry for this woman that worked all day as a teacher, lived in a house that was desperately in need of some organization and cleaning; that lived with a man that was so oblivious to the world around him that he simply could not understand how she felt, but that was not my fault. I had been mistreated for a few weeks at this point and being accused of lying, being yelled at and being insulted were enough for me to leave. I will never know if she ever got away from the farm for any length of time, but I would never wish to trade places with her.

I drove back to my hometown and knew that my first priority was to get a job. So, I went straight to the restaurant that I had worked at before I started universityl. I was surprised to see that they had gutted the place. It was no longer a burger joint with a diverse menu. It was now a prime rib restaurant with a bar and softer lighting. It had the same owners.

As if the universe was congratulating me for standing up for myself, I walked up to the restaurant to find it closed. From the door I could tell that they were having a staff meeting inside. The owner could see me through the windows on the side of the restaurant and came to the door to let me in. I told her why I was there and she told me to take a seat. I would be paid starting now. I had arrived at the first meeting to let the staff know the ins and outs of the new restaurant and I could have my job back. When I pitch in a little to take care of myself, the universe pitches in a lot.

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Happy New Year — September is the real beginning…

IMG_2198This is the first day of school and it is still my New Year. I have started a new cycle each September for as long as I can remember. New Year’s eve may mark the actual change in the calendar, but September changes my life. The days of summer are waning. My focus changes from holidays and relaxation, from sunshine and time away from work to planning for the year ahead.

Every year either I’ve personally gone to school, or one of my children has. This year is no different. My daughter starts a new program and things will once again change for her.

Living in a university town means that the students are coming back and some have already arrived. This changes everything. Grocery stores will be depleted (this week at least!), traffic is snarled because everyone is trying to avoid the roads around the university and don’t even try to buy alcohol; the parking lot is jammed.

I myself feel like I am at a new beginning. I started a simple program. Instead of letting my workday pull me along until I am exhausted, I’ve carved out time in my morning for meditation, reflection and writing. Sitting down each morning and having time set aside to write has had a huge impact on my entire outlook.

When you stand up and say to the world, I am making myself and my interests my priority, it shifts things. After just over a month of doing this, my entire attitude has changed. I am writing prolifically, both blogs and fiction (I’m testing the waters with fiction which is unpublished-even as blogs) and I seem to be drawing opportunity into my life.

My book sales have skyrocketed, my website visits are way up and I am receiving more and more requests for coaching. I have developed a whole new style in what I wear and how I present myself to the world and things simply feel like they are expanding. I will continue to let you know how this plays out, but let me put it this way, “I’ve put myself first and the universe has responded in kind.”

Milk is For Cows — Chapter 2

20130813-155655.jpg
I would get up in the morning and help the wife make breakfast. She was a teacher in town, so she would leave right after breakfast and I would go out with the men to milk the cows and do the chores. At break time, the men would come in and I was supposed to get the coffee and food out and then clean it up. When I was done doing this, we would go out and do more work on the farm.

This pattern occurred at each break and mealtime. The men would plop themselves down, often complaining about how tired or overworked they were and I would be expected to get them food and clear things up and go back to work when they did. Interesting.

When I asked to have an evening or a weekend off, I was told that they couldn’t spare me. This was not consistent with what I was told by the fella from the Farm Labour Pool. I called the fella that had interviewed me and brought this to his attention and he was evasive and said that there wasn’t anything that he could do. He represented the farmers, not the people that he hired.

A few weeks into the summer a guy that I had been dating before I went to university decided to come up and visit me at the farm. I explained that I couldn’t get away so he took it as an opportunity for a road trip. The family that I was working for acted as though they had struck gold. Here was a strong, healthy, young man that had just showed up on their doorstep. When he asked if he could stay for a night or two I was worried that I would be back in the closet. The “spare room” that I had stayed in when I first arrived and they had company staying with them in my room.

They welcomed him with open arms, originally. Then came the dreaded day of the misunderstanding. In case it is not clear at this point, I did not grow up on a farm. Some of the things that would be considered common sense are actually learned and so common that most people already know them. It is only common sense, once it has occurred to you.

I was asked to plow a field. I don’t remember exactly what type of equipment I was using or what purpose there was to plowing this field. My fella came with me and it seemed like a lovely day to be out on the land, even though the roar coming from the motor of the tractor was deafening.

I was supposed to go back and forth on the field and drag this piece of equipment in rows. Not actually having any experience with this, I decided it was best to be thorough and to overlap each row a bit. This was wrong. The most efficient way is even to leave a small patch between the rows. So, instead of needing to go back and forth lets say 10 times, I needed to do it about 15 times because I was overlapping. The proper way to do this was never explained to me.

When I got back to the house the farmer was furious. I had taken a considerably longer amount of time than I should have. When I tried to explain that I was not doing anything wrong and I thought that there must be a misunderstanding he started to yell and scream.

I have been treated poorly before. I thought nothing of driving my mother to the States to go drinking and driving men home for her. I know what it is like to work hard. I worked full time while going to high school, so none of that seemed to be too crazy, but I draw the line at being accused of lying, being yelled at and most importantly being called names because he figured that we were plowing, just not the field. I packed up my stuff and left the farm shortly afterwards.

I did not leave the farm without more drama. The farmer’s wife was emotionally distraught. They had finally found someone that was willing and capable of taking care of the cows so that they could get away for a while together. I’m not sure what she felt this respite from the farm would have done for her quality of life, but she desperately wanted a break from the day to day labour of taking care of animals.

She pleaded me to not go. These situations are difficult for me and I know many people that would have made a different choice, but I had learned already with my mother that just because it might “kill her” did not mean that I was less important than she was.

Yes, I felt sorry for this woman that worked all day as a teacher, lived in a house that was desperately in need of some organization and cleaning; that lived with a man that was so oblivious to the world around him that he simply could not understand how she felt, but that was not my fault. I had been mistreated for a few weeks at this point and being accused of lying, being yelled at and being insulted were enough for me to leave. I will never know if she ever got away from the farm for any length of time, but I would never wish to trade places with her.

I drove back to my hometown and knew that my first priority was to get a job. So, I went straight to the restaurant that I had worked at before I started universityl. I was surprised to see that they had gutted the place. It was no longer a burger joint with a diverse menu. It was now a prime rib restaurant with a bar and softer lighting. It had the same owners.

As if the universe was congratulating me for standing up for myself, I walked up to the restaurant to find it closed. From the door I could tell that they were having a staff meeting inside. The owner could see me through the windows on the side of the restaurant and came to the door to let me in. I told her why I was there and she told me to take a seat. I would be paid starting now. I had arrived at the first meeting to let the staff know the ins and outs of the new restaurant and I could have my job back. When I pitch in a little to take care of myself, the universe pitches in a lot.

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Guardian Angel — Chapter 1

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A synchronicity joined the two major relationships that occurred during this time in my life. My heart knew that it was only fair to end the relationship with the older fella that I had had in my life since before my mother left my father. He wanted to get married right away and I did not. I still had my sights set on going to university and I did not plan to finish up high school and get married to him, or anyone else for that matter. It was difficult to end this relationship because he had seen me through so much. We had spent almost all of our spare time together and he was easily my best friend at the time, but I had to let him go.

There had been some on again, off again, as I tried to break out of this relationship, but I had finally ended it and it had been a while since I had seen him. One afternoon there was a knock on the door and I opened it to find a delivery guy that was bringing me a dozen roses. These were my old boyfriend’s signature flower. The attached card said, “Meet me at Cosmo’s at One O’clock, your Secret Admirer.” Since Cosmo’s was also our favourite restaurant, there was no doubt as to the identity of the admirer.

I did not want to resume the relationship, but I was not willing to hurt this guy by not showing, so I went to the restaurant on the date and at the specified time. It was a small restaurant that had been around for a long time. The building was roughly the shape of a rectangle with the kitchen area occupying the entire one end of the space and the seating area was straight out front. There were large glass windows on all three sides that gave a panoramic view of the outside of the restaurant. The centre of the dining area had a block of booths that afforded some privacy, and there were tables along the outside walls. In the middle of the far end, there was a space where tables could be combined for larger groups or kept separate for smaller ones.

I drove up to the parking lot and I was surprised to see that his car was not there. Was it possible that it was someone else? I entered the restaurant and came up the stairs to the level of the seating area and I did not recognize a single person. There was a possibility that there was someone in one of the booths that I could not see, so I walked into the restaurant, to the end of the seating area and came back through the only other space between the tables. There was no one there that I recognized.

I wondered if he could have possibly meant One in the morning. It occurred to me that he could have been playing a joke on me. He could have had me dress up to go out for a meal, drive over in the middle of my Saturday looking for him and he would not be there. This was not consistent with the man that I knew and I doubted it as an explanation. There was also the possibility that he had decided not to go. His family knew how hard our break up was on him and they might have talked him out of showing up and trying to resume the relationship. Who knew?

The invite had said one o’clock, so it could have meant one in the morning. This did not seem likely, but I was going to show up anyway, just in case.

That afternoon one of my friends invited me to go with her to a Church teen group. Churches often had these casual meetings that were more or less mixers for the young teen age group, with a little teaching thrown in. I thought that it might be fun, so I decided to join her to see what it was like. I met my next significant boyfriend, the one that looked and acted the most like my future husband, at that mixer.

I went by the restaurant at one in the morning and it was dark and the parking lot was empty so I did not bother to stop. I planned to call him and ask what had happened.

Call it a coincidence or a synchronicity or the work of a mischievous guardian angel, but the card had been written wrong. The person that had taken the original order over the phone had written a sloppy “7” and it had later been transcribed as “One”. If I had gone at the correct time, I would have had dinner with my old boyfriend. We may have seen each other a couple of more times, he may have been going to propose that night for all I know. The fact is that I did not show up at the right time.

The significance of going to the Church mixer instead was that I met my next boyfriend that night. I dated this particular guy for a couple of years. He looked a lot like my husband. He had the same mannerisms and even smoked the same brand of cigarettes. I still think that one of the reasons that I immediately found my husband familiar is because I dated this other guy first. A sense of already knowing someone, that would, unfortunately, lead me in the wrong direction.

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Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job

20131108-090107.jpgThis is an excerpt from my first book, “I Woke Up in Paradise“.

was receiving cheques from the government. They had started to come again after my work at the emergency clinic, but they were about to run out. I had been applying to jobs and despite Bob’s insistence that I work; he was actively interfering with this process.

One company called to set up an interview. The job would have been in sales. Bob told the person that called that I was pregnant but that it would work out really well because I could take the baby with me to the sales calls. He explained to me afterwards that he had told the guy this. I was never interviewed for this position.

One job that I did get interviewed for was with the federal government. Not an ideal job but government jobs have a lot of benefits and security. On Thanksgiving weekend that year I got a call saying that I could start on the Tuesday. There were twelve weeks of training set up and if I could start right away, I could attend the training. If I could not start away I would not be able to start until they ran the training course again and that might be a year or so.

It was 12 weeks until the baby was due, so if all went well, I could work the twelve weeks and then the baby would be born. A woman that I had met through the playgroup said that she would take my youngest daughter for the twelve weeks. I explained that I would only need day care until the baby came. My daughter and her son were the same age and had gotten to know each other pretty well.

So, I took the job. When animals are being used for food, they are brought to slaughter plants. These places are more or less disassembly plants. The animal comes in one door and it is processed until all of the edible parts have been removed and all of the inedible parts have been disposed of.

Unfortunately, one of the known drawbacks to working in slaughter is that you become exposed to all of the bacteria that naturally occur on the animals. All of the caution about cooking your food before you eat it does not apply when you are not actually eating the animals. There is no way to protect yourself from exposure to these bacteria. They are in the air. You can inhale them on a water droplet.

All this to say that near the end of my pregnancy, I got a type of food poisoning from my initial exposure to these bacteria. When the smooth muscles of your digestive tract contract to aid in the removal of these pathogens from your body, it stimulates the contractions of your uterus. Some of the things that pregnant women are told to help bring on birth are based on this understanding. Eating spicy foods, for instance, can cause your digestive tract to become upset and have extra movement. This movement stimulates the uterus as well.

I can’t describe how awful it was not knowing which end to put closest to the toilet and having a contraction, each time my body tried to expel the toxins. I managed to call Bob at work and told him about the situation. He assured me that there was nothing that he could do about it and he was quite upset that I would not be able to pick my daughter up from day care. I guess I was not doing my part. There was no question that I was completely alone in the world.

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

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Crazy Stairs — Chapter 3

IMG_2812It is much colder out now. We are into the fall colours, but most of the trees still have their leaves. The temperature is supposed to be between 50 and 70 F over the next couple of weeks. I have left the pool open because next weekend is Thanksgiving. It is earlier in Canada because we have an earlier harvest. It is nice that way because it is separated from Christmas by over two months.

My dog is incredibly restless. As a whippet, he has an inborn need to run. He had surgery a few days ago to help deal with the fact that he started to mark his territory on my carpets and I’m not supposed to walk him off leash for another few days. This is the worst thing for him. He does not understand why he is not getting to go out and he is unhappy.

As I write the stories about Bob and how bad things were back then I find it easy to be very hard on myself for not putting it all together at the time but I must remember that things always look different in hindsight. I have described a couple of events that stick out now when I look back, but the fact of the matter is that there were still some nice bits in our lives. We still rented movies together. We would walk to the grocery store together and then walk back with our bags of provisions. We had found our own rhythm.

Part of our strength as a couple was that we were both independent. So, not being together every moment was not seen as a problem, before the baby came. If I wanted to do something different from Bob, I just would. The problems arose when we had shared responsibility. Suddenly, one of us had to be taking care of the baby all of the time. That meant that if I wanted to do something that precluded taking care of the baby and so did Bob, one of us did not get to do what we wanted. Bob always won.

I had heard rumours that he was taking her up to the University Centre, the same building that had the ‘fish bowl’, and basically entrusting her care to all of the young female university students that wanted to hold her and feed her and otherwise indulge their desire to be mothers themselves. So, he was providing “day care” by just having her where there were a lot of young women that would entertain her.

An interesting tidbit comes into play here. Canadian law does not allow underage individuals in bars. The idea is that there is no way to ensure that they are not drinking alcohol, because even if they are not served directly, they could be drinking. When Bob was at the bar on campus, I could not go in with the baby. She was underage. This meant that if I made the trip up to campus and he happened to be in the bar, I could not reach him.

I had a choice at the time. I could drive myself crazy keeping track of where he was and who he was with and what he was doing or I could just live my life the best way that I could manage. My friend suggested that I drop out of final year and focus on just taking care of the baby but my instincts would not allow me to do that. There was no way that I could take care of a baby without finishing university. At least I knew enough to not rely on Bob to take care of us. That is saying something. It may have been harder to stay in school at this point, than it would be to delay for a year, but I may never have finished if I had left school at this time.

A repeating thing in my life is the appearance of the drawing “Relativity” by Escher. For those “Family Guy” fans, it is referred to in an episode as, “crazy stairs”. It is a black and white drawing that shows staircases going in different directions. If you follow one of the staircases you will see that they are optical illusions. The top of the stairs at one end of the stairway is not the same at the other end. It is quite interesting to look at.

The first time that I had seen this drawing was during my first week at university. It was not lost on me that this was a major point of change in my life. As it happens, each time I see this drawing, my life seems to change dramatically. I just looked up the drawing now to make sure that I got its name and the artist’s name correct, but I think that that is different from seeing it randomly in my life—I hope.

Bob’s “friend” that came to the house on occasion, because they were “friends” gave me this drawing as a Christmas present. I did not keep it. I told Bob to take it with him. He left with her before Christmas that year, so I did not feel like keeping the gift that she had given me. To say that my life changed dramatically is probably an understatement. For the second half of my final year of veterinary medicine I was a single mother.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

To Be Single or Not To Be Single

www.wendypowell.ca

Guardian Angel — Chapter 1

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A synchronicity joined the two major relationships that occurred during this time in my life. My heart knew that it was only fair to end the relationship with the older fella that I had had in my life since before my mother left my father. He wanted to get married right away and I did not. I still had my sights set on going to university and I did not plan to finish up high school and get married to him, or anyone else for that matter. It was difficult to end this relationship because he had seen me through so much. We had spent almost all of our spare time together and he was easily my best friend at the time, but I had to let him go.

There had been some on again, off again, as I tried to break out of this relationship, but I had finally ended it and it had been a while since I had seen him. One afternoon there was a knock on the door and I opened it to find a delivery guy that was bringing me a dozen roses. These were my old boyfriend’s signature flower. The attached card said, “Meet me at Cosmo’s at One O’clock, your Secret Admirer.” Since Cosmo’s was also our favourite restaurant, there was no doubt as to the identity of the admirer.

I did not want to resume the relationship, but I was not willing to hurt this guy by not showing, so I went to the restaurant on the date and at the specified time. It was a small restaurant that had been around for a long time. The building was roughly the shape of a rectangle with the kitchen area occupying the entire one end of the space and the seating area was straight out front. There were large glass windows on all three sides that gave a panoramic view of the outside of the restaurant. The centre of the dining area had a block of booths that afforded some privacy, and there were tables along the outside walls. In the middle of the far end, there was a space where tables could be combined for larger groups or kept separate for smaller ones.

I drove up to the parking lot and I was surprised to see that his car was not there. Was it possible that it was someone else? I entered the restaurant and came up the stairs to the level of the seating area and I did not recognize a single person. There was a possibility that there was someone in one of the booths that I could not see, so I walked into the restaurant, to the end of the seating area and came back through the only other space between the tables. There was no one there that I recognized.

I wondered if he could have possibly meant One in the morning. It occurred to me that he could have been playing a joke on me. He could have had me dress up to go out for a meal, drive over in the middle of my Saturday looking for him and he would not be there. This was not consistent with the man that I knew and I doubted it as an explanation. There was also the possibility that he had decided not to go. His family knew how hard our break up was on him and they might have talked him out of showing up and trying to resume the relationship. Who knew?

The invite had said one o’clock, so it could have meant one in the morning. This did not seem likely, but I was going to show up anyway, just in case.

That afternoon one of my friends invited me to go with her to a Church teen group. Churches often had these casual meetings that were more or less mixers for the young teen age group, with a little teaching thrown in. I thought that it might be fun, so I decided to join her to see what it was like. I met my next significant boyfriend, the one that looked and acted the most like my future husband, at that mixer.

I went by the restaurant at one in the morning and it was dark and the parking lot was empty so I did not bother to stop. I planned to call him and ask what had happened.

Call it a coincidence or a synchronicity or the work of a mischievous guardian angel, but the card had been written wrong. The person that had taken the original order over the phone had written a sloppy “7” and it had later been transcribed as “One”. If I had gone at the correct time, I would have had dinner with my old boyfriend. We may have seen each other a couple of more times, he may have been going to propose that night for all I know. The fact is that I did not show up at the right time.

The significance of going to the Church mixer instead was that I met my next boyfriend that night. I dated this particular guy for a couple of years. He looked a lot like my husband. He had the same mannerisms and even smoked the same brand of cigarettes. I still think that one of the reasons that I immediately found my husband familiar is because I dated this other guy first. A sense of already knowing someone, that would, unfortunately, lead me in the wrong direction.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book.

Keep Reading: Perpetual Motion

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