Monday, October 28, 2013

Rough weekend

This ended up being a particularly frustrating weekend, since the elements for having a good weekend were in place, but things either didn't quite gel or ended up being pretty negative all the way around.  It doesn't help that the way I am "built" I always glom onto the negative aspect of things and that ends up overwhelming the positive aspect(s).  So the difficulties in getting home from the hockey game on Friday will loom larger than the experience of being at the game (and even the fact that my son was so thrilled to go*).  Why can't I let this go?  After all, we managed to get home, even though I had to pay for a cab.  But I really can't let it go when events or people in particular let me down, and Car2Go and the TransLink bus system really did let me down, leaving me feel completely stranded and upset.  Probably I just hate the feeling of helplessness of being forced to rely on the bus system so much that when it lets me down (as it has so many, many times over the past 2 years) that it just magnifies the negative feelings I have about Vancouver.

My wife has not gotten over some cold, and I keep worrying I will catch it from her.  I found myself pretty exhausted all weekend, so when things did go wrong that just magnified them that much more.  Anyway, while the weather wasn't great, I did take the kids to a local Halloween party on Sat.  And that wasn't too far away, so we were back within about 90 minutes.  Then I cooked some slightly odd butternut & potato pie (probably would have been better with white flour but I used whole wheat flour, making it even heavier).  But I just felt kind of drained.

Sunday the weather was much better, so I planned to go early to Stanley Park for the Halloween Ghost Train.  It takes freaking forever to get there from our place.  My daughter started complaining that she was starving while we were waiting for the second bus.  I told her she was just going to have to wait until we got to the park, and we were maybe 1/3 of the way there when she threw up on the bus.  This is starting to become an on-going thing with her (barely making it out of cab to the airport (and throwing up in the airport itself), then once throwing up on a plane).  It's so upsetting because you feel helpless and a bit guilty for not listening (not that I thought this would happen) but then ultimately so frustrated because I can't tell if this is related to motion-sickness or an over sensitivity to gas fumes or just boredom and her way of getting us to listen to her.  (But at the same time, she just won't tell us -- clearly -- that she thinks she is going to throw up and give me any warning.)  Would this still have happened had she had lunch first?  Quite possibly, and that would have been even worse, but maybe not, and that doubt makes me doubt myself as a parent.  Mostly it makes me feel completely trapped.  I cannot take her anyplace that involves being in a bus (and probably a car) for over 45 minutes.  That means the trip to Seattle is out-of-bounds and definitely Portland is off (again, totally undermining any point of being in the Pacific Northwest).  Maybe a train ride would be possible, but not even sure I want to risk that (to say nothing of the fact that the schedule for trains leaving from Vancouver is so sucky).  It just reinforces so dramatically that living in Vancouver without a car (where virtually every bus trip takes over 45 minutes vs. 20 minutes in a car) is not working for us.  I really have come to hate this place now (and am so disenchanted with the Vancouver planners & politicians who want to drive car drivers out of town).  I would definitely have gotten a car by this point (and maybe been able to make some of these local trips that I have now ruled out) except that we won't be here all that much longer.  But I can't wait until this particular phase of hers is over -- will it be another year or two?  There was some science fiction story about a boy that kept pressing this button to skip over the tough parts of life -- and then found he has grown old and has given up most of his life.  However, I would be willing to skip over two years of my daughter's childhood if it meant being past the vomiting and other body control issues.

Anyway, after this happened, I had to take them off the bus and clean her up and then find some kind of bar for her eat.  At least, they were just in regular clothes so her Halloween costume wasn't ruined...  I was so frustrated and flustered that I decided we were not going on to Stanley Park.  I found a place to eat close to the Central Library and then after she claimed she was better, we went to the library and got a few more books and CDs.  (It turned out that the big library Book Sale wrapped up on Sat., so even that didn't work out for me.  Just one more damn thing...)  Anyway, we got home fairly uneventfully, though I decided we would do the Canada Line rather than take the local bus, which shaved 15 or so minutes of travel time off the journey.  (I don't think I will risk her being on a TransLink bus that takes more than 30 minutes from here on out, but just in general I am going to cut down on the times that I take her anyplace.)  This experience really drained me and I didn't get a number of things done the rest of the day.

In an effort to be a bit more positive, I should not forget that, even though she spends a lot of time shunning me in favour of her mother, my daughter still wants to play a lot of games together in the evening (and she has a pretty good imagination.)  Also, Sat. was not such a bad day, and I should try to hold onto it more -- and to look forward to trick-or-treating with the kids on Thurs (and hope that the rain does hold off).  It looks like I should manage to get through Swann's Way before November begins.  Apparently, November is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Swann's Way (and Proust had to pay to publish it -- how fitting for today's economy where self-publishing is again on the rise).  I will also be able to finish Munro's The Dance of the Happy Shades and presumably review it this week.  The first few stories seemed totally unfamiliar, but I did recognize (very vaguely) 3 of the middle stories, so I assume that I did in fact read this for a CanLit class at UToronto.

Anyway, I have decided that in the month of November, I am going to focus more on writing, probably writing on the bus, since I have quite a bit of time to kill and a relatively compact notebook that should work well for this task.  I'll start off working on the sestinas and then work on this play (basically a reworking of Lear) and see how it goes.  Obviously, this means I will read less, but I think that is an acceptable tradeoff.

I decided I would start off with the grocery list mentioned in this post, but I went back to the original, dropping coffee in favour of ice.  This is the first stanza, and I'll see how much further I can get tonight:

In many ways, I seem a child of snow and ice,
receiving no warmth from my mother's milk --
and later rejecting the heart-warming properties of beer
or other libations.  As for the comforts of bacon,
those too have been forsaken, leaving (buttered) bread,
cookies and cake as my main vices, which, under my frigid layers, smoulder and smoke.

Signing off for now...

* My son said several times it was one of the best times of his life, and I when I probed (asking didn't he say that delivering the mail to the neighbours was one of the best times of his life!) he said that he could think of 100 "greatest moments" out of millions of moments that he had been alive.  What a great attitude, but not one that I've ever been able to adopt (I think he is more like my parents in having a fairly sunny attitude).  This isn't precisely the same as counting one's blessings, but not that far off.  There is an interesting character in Rajiv Joseph's play Animals Out of Paper who fills notebooks with his "blessings," including some things that are quite painful, but he reckons that even painful events are part of the "blessing" of being alive.  I would certainly be happier if I could adopt such an attitude, but I know it is beyond me.

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