Sunday, 22 May 2011

It's been three weeks since I moved out of my parents' place. On Friday, Josh helped me haul my shit from his place to mine; a basement suite being rented out by a Mexican couple with a 3-year-old son. Thankfully it wasn't as if I had a lot of stuff to worry about; I packed the entirety of my belongings into two garbage bags and a suitcase belonging to Josh's parents, which he let me borrow.

My new place is in a picturesque but less-than-obscenely-rich neighbourhood in the northwest part of the city, within reasonable distance to my place of work and my parents' house and a couple minutes' bus ride to the c-train. There are big old trees with great thick trunks growing in people's front yards, casting shadows over the streets, and the day Josh helped me move in they were raining fluffy little seedlike things shaped like caterpillars on the road.

When I'd first met with the woman who was renting out the basement, Sarah, she seemed... not rude, exactly, but impatient. She didn't sit down and talk with me or anything and gave me a lot of information very quickly. It might've had something to do with the fact that I got there almost an hour early and must've caught her off-guard, because the whole famly was still in their PJs. Anyway, she seemed much better on the day I moved in. She sat down and chatted with me and Josh, talking about the guy who had lived there before me (a slob, apparently, who'd ruined her pool table) and the home business she was trying to get off the ground. I didn't have work until three and Josh didn't work until five, so he sat down with us in the living room and flipped through a set of encyclopedias Sarah had bought second-hand for her son, mostly listening quietly.

On our way out the door I said to Josh, "Oh, and before I forget," and grabbed him in a hug as tight as I was grateful.

"...You're welcome," he said.

Josh has done so much for me, starting long before he drove 20 minutes into the city in the dead of night to help me escape from my parents' house and letting me live with him for a week and a half while I got my shit together. He's been supportive of my decision to move out, never once made me doubt myself, believed in me, been there when nobody else was, and gave me a few much-needed kicks in the ass to get me going. When it comes to offering warmth and comfort, he kind of sucks; he refuses to coddle anybody. But he is, all things considered, my best friend.

. "So, yeah," I started to explain when we were in the car. "I wanted to thank you, but I didn't know where to start." Josh said he understood, and mentioned vaguely about having been in my position before; that "it's probably best not to say anything" because he knows exactly how I feel. I was curious about what sort of situation he'd been in before that was similar to mine, but I didn't pry. Josh doesn't give up his secrets easily.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

On exes

I can't remember much of what happened on my second day out of my parents' house, but I do remember Tuesday night, or rather, early Wednesday morning, when I saw/talked to my ex-boyfriend Cory again for the first time since we broke up.

Cory was my first boyfriend. We dated for a grand total of three months, but when you calculate in all the intensity packed into those three months it was probably worth twice as much in emotional weight than what was on the price tag. There are a number of reasons for that. We were both pretty lonely. I caught him in the middle (and, I like to think, subsequently cured him) of a mini-depression and he had the misfortune to be the first person I felt like I had emotional security with since I first came to the realization of how much my parents sucked at taking care of anyone's emotional needs but their own, and that was many, many years ago. Not to mention, I'm told that your first relationship is always weird. I quickly fell into a role I never thought I'd find myself playing, and between my poor acting and my emotional neediness things started falling apart pretty quickly, and it weighed our relationship down like rocks. We backed ourselves into codependent corners. It felt like death at the time, and it was a miracle we both managed to escape with only a few bruises on our egos. There were a few fundamental problems that made us poorly-suited to each other, too, but those are best saved for a later post...

Anyway, I was the one that most definitely came out the worst for wear at the end of it, and up until a week ago I couldn't stand the thought of seeing him again. Two weeks ago, another mutual friend of ours, Jordan, tried to pressure me into getting together with him, Josh, my best friend Leslie, and Cory, and the thought filled me with so much grief and anxiety that it pushed me to the point of tears.

However, the nice thing about having to run away from your fucking house is that it tends to put your problems in perspective. Worrying about where I'm going to be sleeping a month from now made the prospect of seeing my ex much, much less threatening. Cory called Josh sometime between eleven at night and one in the morning. He was going on a drive through the city. "Cory drives, and he muses," Josh explained. Cory was aware that I was listening as Josh put him on speakerphone. Josh and I bummed around his kitchen eating Kraft Dinner as Cory ranted about his uncertainty over his destination and his purpose in life. I may have dated him, but Josh and Cory have been friends for over half their lives. I'd never heard him that insecure, that vulnerable, before. I shouted whatever insightful advice I'd had for him floating around in my head for the past two months. Eventually, Cory came over that night and we all got fucked up.

We flirted even while we were still sober, brushed legs in Josh's hot tub, hugged once and mused incomprehensibly about life. Josh was mostly silent. At the end of my night I went up to my room, shut the door behind me and hesitated. I heard Coketalk in my head telling me to do whatever would make the better story, so I did. I crept downstairs to the room in the basement where Cory was sleeping, knocked on the door. When I said his name my voice was high and tentative and childlike and uncertain. I opened the door a crack and wished him a good night. He responded in kind, and his voice was full of warmth and affection. I went back upstairs to my room and went to sleep. That was it. That was all.

Monday, 9 May 2011

On new beginnings

Welp, I just got back for a walk in the quaint little town Josh helped me abscond to. I failed to get lost, in spite of my best efforts, and discovered that if one follows the train tracks they run through the whole town and straight into the heart of a cluster of stores, gas stations, banks and restaurants, although I failed to find the either the particular bank I need to go withdraw money from to pay Josh for gas, or a Tim Horton's, where I planned to get myself some dinner because I feel weird about taking food out of someone else's pantry. Oh well. In place of Timmie's, I went to a grocery store and bought myself two bags of chips (on sale for $0.99 each, and taste just as good as regular chips despite being a generic no-name brand. Yeah, fuck you Lays), a chocolate bar and a can of coke out of the vending machine outside. I also discovered food is FUCKING expensive. $3.19 for a box of popcorn with 3 bags of popcorn in it? $3.60 for a can of soup? Yeah, I don't think so...

Here's a summary of what's happened since I went AWOL from my parents' place...

Day One: Monday
It was three thirty in the morning when Josh arrived to pick up me and my shit. I dropped my crap in the first room he showed me, one downstairs with a fireplace, and since neither of us would be able to sleep for a while we decided to watch a movie. No Country for Old Men. I barely processed any of it. I stared blankly at Josh's laptop screen until we were both too exhausted to stay awake any longer, then stumbled downstairs to my new room. The fireplace kept the room nice and toasty despite the fact that it was in the basement, but the shift in temperature made it creak periodically, wake me up and scare the shit out of me.

Mom called sometime in the morning, and I ignored her the first few times until I was ready to be awake. She demanded to know where I was, but all I would tell her was that I was with a friend, and that I was safe. When I got upstairs, I found a guy sitting in the living room, who I knew immediately was Josh's younger brother, Jordy. Josh and I sat on the couch and watched the rest of No Country for Old Men while I waited for my brain to turn back on and start processing what had happened. It didn't, so eventually I just got up off the couch, took a shower, and then started making a list of things I needed to do and stuff I needed to buy. Eventually I begged Josh to take me to the grocery store where I work, then Wal-Mart. At the grocery store I updated my address and phone number, and applied for another position as a gas bar cashier in an area a little farther into the city just in case I don't get the cashier position I wanted. Afterwards, Josh and I jaunted off to Wal-Mart where I spent about a hundred bucks on basic amenities, namely socks, underwear, and a personal hygiene toolbox.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Following our will and wind, we may just go where no one's been...

Jesus, the past couple days have been a hell of a ride...

My family situation deteriorated so rapidly it left me reeling. On Sunday morning, I was tired and sore from working out the previous day, then working an 8-hour shift on Saturday and not being able to get to sleep until two and having to get up early to make it to work by 9:30. (Yes, eight o'clock is, by my definition, early.)

I work as a service clerk at a large grocery chain in the city, which is a fancy name for someone who bags groceries and wheels them out to peoples' cars. I also do a bunch of miscellaneous chores around the front end of the grocery store. It's definitely not the most glamorous job (in fact, it's probably the *least* glamorous job in the store), but my supervisors are usually tolerable, my coworkers are pleasant and easy to talk to, and the customers are almost always polite. I also get paid a fairly decent wage since the employees at this particular chain are unionized. Not enough to live on, mind you, but enough that I managed to save up a decent amount of money over the summer, and the subsequent school year when I worked about 14 hours a week.

When I got to the breakfast table, my dad sat down and started talking about how "livid" he was over my work schedule. (I was surprised he knew that word.) I was working a lot in the next coming weeks, since I'd bumped my hours of availability up to 40 per week. I wanted to work and save up as much as possible during the summer. I didn't tell my parents that the reason for this was because I wanted to move out by the start of the next semester. The problem was, a couple weeks ago dad had offered me a job in his construction company. The hourly rate he offered me was much better than I was about to find anywhere else, and I actually quite liked the idea of doing some manual labour so I could get in great shape, work outside and maybe get a nice tan, too. Problem was, dad's business ventures have always been shaky at best, and he only had three weeks' worth of work lined up for the summer; just enough to take me out of prime jobhunting season and leave me sitting around with my finger up my ass for the rest of the summer. Plus, since my references are outdated (and weren't that impressive to begin with), and I don't have a whole ton of work experience, I was worried about finding another job once my dad ran out of work or I started back to school next semester. (Since I planned on moving out, I would ABSOLUTELY need another job, no question, and the construction industry typically tends to halt as soon as snow starts to settle on the ground, which, in Calgary, is eight or nine months out of twelve.)

Well, I tried to think of a way to somehow keep my job and work a little with dad as well, so I hemmed and hawed. Dad hadn't given me a definite start date for the projects that he'd been contracted to do, only said something vaguely about having a better idea when we'd be starting working in a week or two. In the meantime, I tried to figure out a way I could have my cake and eat it too; work with dad while keeping my job at Co-Op. I hadn't given him a definite answer.

That morning at the breakfast table, dad went from talking to shouting really quickly. He took it as a personal insult that I wasn't jumping all over the chance to work with him and started yelling about how my employers are "using" me and that they have terrible safety regulations. (They don't; their practice of safety policies is fine, he just wanted to paint everything in an extremely negative light.) He said that he'd been waiting for me to figure my work situation out before he could start working on the construction projects he'd been contracted to do. He hadn't told me this at all, mind you. Eventually he stormed out of the kitchen . When my mom asked him if he wanted her to drive me to work, he shouted "I don't give a FUCK! Either way, it costs me money!"

I made a desperate plea to my mom to talk to him while she was driving me to work. I was crying noticeably on my way into the store to start my shift. I wanted to curl up in a ditch and die, that's how badly I felt, but I had it under control by the time I left the staff room to start my shift. I managed to calm down over the course of my eight-hour shift, convincing myself that my dad would've calmed down by the time I got home and would probably just drop it.

While I was there, I decided to apply for a cashier position I saw upstairs on the job postings board by the staff room. I'd been thinking about becoming a cashier or moving into some other, slightly higher-paying position than the one I'm in currently for quite some time. Applications for the next set of job postings were due by the 3rd, and the adrenaline still racing through my system from my panicked fight-or-flight response to my father's yelling gave me the motivation I needed to ask my supervisor about the position and fill out the necessary paperwork.

When my mom came to pick me up from work, I asked her if dad was going to start yelling at me again. "I doubt it," she said. I don't remember what we talked about on the way home, but it was the same old bullshit. I was so tired of it all; the relentlessness of my father's insanity, my mother's unwillingness to do anything about it, the blanket of disapproval that surrounded everything I chose to do with my life and my time and everyone I chose to surround myself with, and the constant struggle for power over my simple desire to do the normal, everyday things that normal young adults do. My father didn't seem to like anything about me or my life; he hated my job, hated my friends, didn't understand my career ambitions, and looked upon the school I was attending as a necessary evil at best.

I let my mom know that I had applied for the cashier position, and she told me that I owed it to dad to let him know that. I said I would, but I'd wait until he'd cooled down a little bit, and would appreciate it if she didn't tell him. Well, mom must've told him almost as soon as we got home because I overheard him ranting to mom again and halfway through dinner he started ranting at me again. He wasn't yelling that time, just being extremely condescending, and mom wasn't on my side either. They would take turns ranting about me to my face, and I chose just not to say anything. I had learned a long time ago that there is no way to reason with my father, and trying to argue with him only makes him angry or, in his mind, proves whatever point he's trying to prove. Dad seemed indignant, nay, downright offended that I was trying to get a better job at Co-Op. Near the end of the whole ordeal at dinner, dad said that if I didn't work for him in his construction business until I found a job related to my field, I'd have to start paying for food and rent. I thought, "Well, I'll be FUCKED if I pay for those things while living with two people I can't stand and having absolutely no freedom."

I let my dad have the impression that I would agree to work with him that summer, and quietly slipped away once they were both happy they'd sufficiently put me in my place.

I avoided my parents for the rest of the evening and that night, I started looking for rooms for rent on Kijiji. I figured I could stay with them and put my dad off only as long as it took to see if I'd gotten the cashier position I applied for. I was up until two in the morning browsing the 'net on my laptop, looking for rooms, taking down phone numbers and sending out e-mails, until my dad knocked softly on my bedroom door.

As soon as I heard him coming down the hallway, I turned off my desk lamp and shut off my laptop, hoping he'd just go back to bed and leave me alone. He knocked once, softly, and I ignored it. He knocked again. "What?" I croaked quietly, and got no reply. He kept knocking, and pausing, until I got up and opened my bedroom door. He didn't say anything, just stood there in the pitch black, and all I could see was the white of his t-shirt. I was terrified. I turned on my bedroom light, and he just stood there, glaring at me disapprovingly. He started lecturing me again quietly, but I was scared, and completely exhausted from two long days at work and being constantly harassed. I felt cold and numb, and my legs were trembling uncontrollably. When I started sobbing a little bit, he told me to stop it, and blamed my crying on my staying up too late all the time. Of course. He started talking about all kinds of new rules he was going to make - rules that would stop me from going out and seeing my friends without a ton of hassle, rules that would take away my privacy, rules that would make it impossible for me to lead any kind of normal life outside of the house whatsoever.

At the end he said, "And if you try and move out, I'm going to do something - well, I don't know what I'm gonna do, but it's not going to be pleasant."

That scared me more than anything. Because you see, my dad has a history of violence, and I was afraid he was threatening to do something to me. Either that, or he was threatening to do something that would take away all of my freedom, maybe ruin me financially. Because in dad's eyes, the law that makes people legally free when they become 18 is flawed, and he doesn't respect it. He left me alone, finally, but all I could do was lay in the dark and tremble in fear of what was going to come next. I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't see now how I would ever be able to find a place to live on my own without my dad interfering somehow. I hated my father so, so much, and I wanted out. I couldn't take it anymore. I felt like if I stayed, I would die.

I was shaking so hard from fear and exhaustion that it was very hard trying to keep still as I crept down the stairs. I went into the kitchen and searched around for some big orange plastic garbage bags I could pack my stuff into, but I couldn't find any, so I went back upstairs and tried to quell my fear without success. Finally, I threw off my comforter and tore the bedsheet off of my bed. I sent a text to my close friend, Josh, who I'd been talking with a few minutes before on MSN.

"Any chance you wanna drive 20 minutes out to my place in the dead of night and help me run away from home?"

Josh texted me back a minute or two later. "wtf"

"I wish I were joking."

I packed my stuff in about half an hour and Josh made it to my place in 25 minutes. I threw most of my wardrobe and some blankets onto my bed sheet and wrapped the whole mess up, then threw a few more essentials into my purse and my backpack. I wanted to slip out the door as unnoticed as possible, which was one of the hardest things I'd ever done in my life between the tons of shit I had to carry and my trembling muscles. I focused all of my mental energy on not shaking uncontrollably as I picked up the pile of clothes I'd wrapped in my bedsheet and carried it down the stairs. Once I'd made it down successfully I threw on my coat and shoes, but as I emerged from the laundry room where the coats were kept I heard my father coming down the stairs.I threw on the lights and he stood there, his arms crossed disapprovingly.

"I have a friend waiting for me," I said. "If you try and stop me, he'll call the cops."

"Why does it have to be this way?" He asked. I ignored him. I knew he didn't want an answer; my dad had stopped listening to me a long, long time ago. Now that I think about it, he never has. As I was on my way out my dad tried to call the cops on me because I wouldn't tell him where I was going or who I was going with, and he phoned presuming the cops would accept that I was in some sort of danger. I didn't stick around to see how the call turned out.

I threw on my coat, I threw on my shoes, I grabbed my stuff and somehow managed to drag it halfway down the block before Josh pulled up and I stuffed all of it into the back seat of the car. I remember thinking that my parents really would've thought he looked like some sort of criminal, with his loose-fitting gray sweater and toque pulled over his head. He sped me off to his place 20 minutes out of the city, where I couldn't possibly be found.

And here I am.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

ad meliora

It's a little windy out this morning, a little chilly, but the reason I notice might be because I'm up earlier today than I have been in the past, oh, four months or so? I had to set my alarm for 6:30 today in order to make my Astronomy 209 exam, which I, in all likelihood, just failed. It's alright, though; my first year was a write-off, a free ride, paid for by the scholarship money I earned from a lifetime of sitting around with nothing better to do than earn good grades in a cushy home schooling environment--so, not really earned. What I did earn were my life experiences this year. I fought tooth and nails for those, wrested them from people who would much rather see me safe and sheltered, stunted and antisocial and culturally illiterate than taking risks and learning about life in tangible ways, growing up and growing out.

In the past year, I've been drunk twice, despite my father's desire that I should stay stone-cold sober for my entire college experience. I've experienced altered states of consciousness. I've sat in classrooms of 200 students and felt my mind being opened like a flower blossoming to the sun, enlightenment streaming in in response to the passion of my professors and hundreds' of years worth of work in the name of knowledge and science. I've fallen in love, though I didn't stay there. I've made good friends. I've made bad friends. I've made best friends, whose gift of faith will strengthen me for the rest of my life. I've stumbled upon dark and terrifying truths in my simple quest to live my life the way I want to live it, been presented with one of the scariest challenges a middle-class white girl will ever have to face.

I'm still here.

The miserable, home schooled, sheltered girl I was would've trembled in awe of the experiences I've had over a nine-month time span. I'm so far away from where I started I can no longer imagine what I would've felt if I could see into the future and know what experiences awaited me. I am euphoric that my life has spiraled out in so many tremendous ways.

I don't intend to stop now.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Late Night Introspection

Why are late nights so conducive to introspection? In the relentless restlessness of our Western society, where time is packaged into neat little squares, perfect little rounded numbers cordoning off our existence and named hours, minutes, seconds; in this merciless atmosphere where our lives are ruled by the digital clock, early in the AMs is the only time when North America finally fucks off, and it's the perfect opportunity to sit alone with your thoughts. When the last generation, the one that keeps telling us our lives should be measured and parceled off in neat little squares and carefully planned out in our daytimers until the day we die, is too old and too tired to stay awake is the same period, the sacred late/early hours when we can reclaim our youth. Do like we did when we were young and naive to the concept of clocks and just... live.

What's the opposite of introspection? If introspection is when you peer deep into the dark yawning caverns of your own soul and try to fish out meaningness to your existence and your identity, what's the word for when you dance into the darkness of experience hoping it'll sear itself across your skin and brand you forever like a scar in the shape of a lesson, of your purpose? Students of the universe throw themselves before their teacher, prostrating themselves, begging for him to bestow some wisdom upon them, bless them with meaning, help them understand his unknowable mind in attempts that can only ever be shallow and subjective...

I'm sure there's a word for it. I'll call it "outrospection", because I like mine better.

So much of my outrospection took place in the great empty hours of the late night and early morning. I remember how the lights of the city trembled under the might of the big black night sky, a tender ocean of light and promise shimmering and spread out before me, pregnant with potential. I hungered, I thirsted, I lusted for adventure. I still do. To throw wide my arms and know the unknowable, to peer into the mind of god, my greatest challenge in this life is to stare into the darkness without blinking.

There are those who would shelter me from it. And there are those who have taken me by the hand and by the heart and led me into it blindfolded, eyes wide open. These are the people I will love forever, in the only way that anything is forever, in that time is an illusion, and love dies only under its power. Meanwhile, I've sewn my experiences with them into a patchwork blanket that I can wrap around me from time to time when I feel cold or lonely.

You know who you are.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


What you are reading is what I intend to become a loose chronicle of my life, a record which (I tentatively hope) will help me to chart my evolution through my college years as I continue to learn, to grow, to expand in all directions, and perhaps to figure out how to operate in the real world in a way which bears some resemblance to what most people would call normal. The name of this blog is an homage to the song "Lateralus" by alt-rock band Tool, from which I draw a great deal of inspiration...