November 30, 2004
The Hap...Happiest Time of the Year...
Ok, whoever wrote that song did not know my family, nor did they have 4 brothers+wives, 5 nieces, 4 nephews, parents, aunts, cousins and friends to buy presents for. Nor did they have a manic-depressive Sister-In-law that makes the thought of slowly clawing your eyes out a great alternative to turkey dinner.

It's that time of year again. I want to be happy. I want to be festive, but the last 30 years have taught me that I would be better off to take up drinking like the rest of the family. My Dad quotes this Yorgi Yorgesson (who?) tune from the 40's called "I yust go nutz at Christmas", in a screwed up Swedish accent every year, and every year we get to hear the story how Dad actually met good old Yorgi in some bar up North on one of his business travels. I still have no idea who the hell the guy is.

So now I will begin the jousting festival at the mall with the masses. I usually love shopping. I live for it, but it makes my blood run cold right now. I've decided to make it even that much more fun by travelling down to Seattle on Sunday for a little extra something. The dollar is strong against the US and there are definitely a lot more choices (or maybe just 'different ones'). Somehow now my Mother has decided she'd like to tag along. She and I do not shop well. She looks for bargains. I prefer the 'Magpie Method' (Oh, look, it's shiny and pretty, I must have it, ching ching).

Sister-In-Law from Hell has decided it's her year to feed us. I had really hoped to have it here but now that she has thrown the gauntlet down, we will traipse across town for dinner of dry turkey and invitably burnt vegetables. Then, the wine will flow, the rellies will get drunk. The nephews will go outside for a 'walk', but oddly come back all glassy eyed. And then SIL will take offense to some slight (last time, it was me taking a picture of my nephews, go figure) and will cry and yell and rant and call us all ungrateful for coming to her house and eating her food. It's textbook. It's happened every time. Of course, my Mom pointed out today that she was good in 1995. Ok, once and that was only because my Uncle had died 5 days before Christmas and trumped her bad mood.

Apparently, I'm jaded. I wish I could muster up some excitement, but the whole holiday just seems to wear thin. It's a lot of money for people I see once or twice a year and I usually end up feeling very alone and out of place.

At least it only comes once a year, I guess.
November 29, 2004
Neck wringing!
I am so furious at Shannon and her dad, for that matter, I could spit blood!

On Friday, Shannon was diagnosed as having gestational diabetes. She's not a small girl, by any means, but it was still a surprise to find this out. When she was pregnant with Hayley, it was text book. No problems at all, and labour for only 2 hours. Of course, at the time, with living conditions how they were, she also didn't have a doctor. She basically showed up at the hospital in labour and went from there, so she was extremely fortunate that there were no concerns.

This one has not been quite as easy. She's carrying heavy and low. It's giving her a lot of back pain and leg swelling. Getting Shan into a doctor is like drawing blood from a stone. But she has been going, mostly at the insistence of her Mom and I. The last month or so, she has been feeling really poor. Headaches, backaches, etc. but will not go to the doctor outside her regular monthly appointment. And even then, if she's not feeling something at that exact moment, won't think to bring it up.

Last week she finally took the gestational diabetes blood test. She should have had it at 28 weeks, but delayed until 33 weeks. Well, the test came back positive. So she was into the doctor on Friday and was booked for a long consult at the hospital this morning. Over the weekend, she had a 'false labour' episode. For about an hour and a half, she was having pretty deep contractions but they dissipated on their own. She figured since she was going into the hospital this morning anyhow, no point in doing anything sooner.

This morning, I researched and completely freaked myself out about what can happen with GD. I was very worried for her, and waited to hear what happened at the hospital.

At 2pm, my mom called. Apparently, Shannon didn't even GO to the hospital! After fasting overnight, she woke up to find my brother had gone out somewhere and having no way to get to the hospital herself or anyone to look after Hayley, she decided to forget it and just have breakfast.

Maybe I'm a freak but I can't believe how non-chalant she is! Especially after the doctor explicitly gave her instructions to be at the hospital at 9am this morning. Ok, wasn't totally her but I would have hoped my brother had half a brain! They both make me so mad. They seem to take health so for granted and it just annoys me completely! I have had to fight for my health every step of the way, and have to take different medications every day just to be able to lead a normal life. It just completely baffles me how they can take such risks with this little baby!

Oh, I am just so angry right now. Of course, now she's not answering the phone, so either she's caught wind of my annoyance or she's sleeping.

November 28, 2004
I'm worth $1,938,874.14! How much are you worth?

Your Boobies' Names Are: Abercrombie & Fitch

Tired today. Couldn't sleep until 5 and the phone started ringing at 8am. Argh. No, Mom, I don't know what time I'm going to Troy's birthday. And no, I don't know what time the rest of the clan is arriving either.

Last night's 'gig', was, um, fairly artsy. It was on the campus of our university and I alternated between feeling like I was somebody's Mom watching a school Christmas play and feeling mighty cougar-like. Leigh and I couldn't even look at each other in case we started giggling. We laughed so hard on the way home that the car shook.

Our friend's band was pretty decent, I guess. But when you follow a celloist who looks like he's had his stick broken a few times, and two guys from Hamburg singing the Beatles (She waaaaz yust know vaat I meeeen.), it's not too hard. Sadly, Dave got a little too into his solo on 'Back in the USSR' and popped a speaker. At the end of the day, it was about supportiing a friend, right?
November 27, 2004
Weekends are too short...
It's only Saturday morning, but I'm already feeling like this weekend is going too fast. Felt really crappy last night with a pretty severe migraine. Pain meds didn't touch it so I ended up in bed at 9pm.

The dreams were pretty damned colourful though. I dreamt I was on some South Pacific island (why do I keep dreaming of Hawaii or things like it?), where there was an erupting volcano. Bright orange lava dancing on the horizon. I walked into an orchid farm, where the flowers were a calidoscope of every imaginable hue. Then it was down to this little hallway with a door into some sort of marsh with Easter Island-ish type idols fallen in the water covered in moss. At least the meds keep me from being bored, anyhow.

Thankfully, today, I'm feeling actually pretty good. Wishing I knew where to go get a good haircut though. My hairdresser retired a few months back and I've been waiting it out for about 4 months now. It's getting to the point I may have to find a Supercuts afterall. Cringe.

This afternoon, I'm off to a baby shower for my friend, Tanya. She's due with her first babe on Christmas Day. It's been a fun ride watching her change shape and get closer to being a Mom. She lost her Dad to cancer in May, the same weekend she found out she was expecting the new addition. So in a lot of ways, this is a regeneration of life for her. The baby will be named after her Dad.

Tonight, we're off to see a friend's band play their first (or maybe second?) gig at a pub near the university. Dave's a great guy, plays a mean guitar and well, can't hold a note to save his life. From what I've heard, he's the best vocalist in the group so that doesn't bode well. But we will go and enjoy it all the same. We will clap and tell him how great they sound. Because even singing poorly on a stage in front of a crowd is more than I could ever do.

Tomorrow's my cousin's little one's 2nd birthday. So it'll be a whole fam-damily kinda moment. Cake, kids running around, general craziness.

At some point, though, I really need to start seriously Xmas shopping. Two presents down so far, about 40,000 to go.

Haven't heard from Todd in a few days, although I'm not all too concerned. He was going to visit his parents for Thanksgiving and apparently there was a whole going-away party being thrown. Tonight is his last night at work before he leaves. I suspect I'll either hear from him later today or tomorrow. But I'm in a much better frame of mind about the whole situation. Somehow all this blogging helped me come to terms with how I was feeling and helped me let go of a few things. Can't complain there....
Company Christmas Party
So our company is throwing a big bash Christmas Party on December 10. At a swanky hotel, with great food, and a 'play' casino event.

My first inclination was to decline. Well, more than an inclination. I actually did decline. Then started getting flack from those that I work with.

Most of the time, I really don't mind being single. But there is something about walking into an event like the company Christmas Party with everyone dressed up and their sig-oth's proudly displayed at their side. I always feel like I have this big sign saying "Can't get a date to save her life" hung on my back. It's the one time I feel wholely inadequate.

And there's also the whole "incident" in 1999 that tainted the experience as well. I'd been dating a co-worker for about 4 years on and off. We were on the downhill side of the relationship at that point, and although we did try to keep our relationship private, it was the worst kept secret in the place. I have a whole tirade of why workplace relationships aren't the best plan but that's for another day. Anyway, JB and I had arrived solo that night since we were a little rocky. I had, however, booked a hotel room because I had figured once we got there, things would smooth over (which they usually did). Of course, you know what they say about 'best laid plans'. There's a joke there somewhere (grin). He got drinking, and then he got drinking some more. He never really was what you would call a Happy Drunk. The next thing I knew he was on the dance floor with some co-op student checking to see if she still had tonsils. Let's just say I did not handle myself decorum and poise. The best part, however, was later in the night. I was in my hotel room when the girls who won the 10-pound box of chocolates in the raffle arrived where we promptly sat on the bed and ate 'til we felt sick.

The funny part of the whole thing is that JB is now one of my closest friends. He's the guy who puts my head on straight when it needs adjusting. But we now at least have learned that anything more than that leads straight to hell in a handbasket.

Anyway....the Christmas Party. After that incident, I have been loathe to go. However, I have been convinced this year, I have to give it a go. Who knows? Maybe they'll be right...

November 25, 2004
Inferiority Complex
Everyone has one to some degree, right?

Mine pops it's inflated head into my life quite a lot more frequently than I would like. It started pretty much from Day 1. When I was born, I was already at least 8 years behind my 4 brothers. They were athletic. I was not. I have an old memory of my mom trying to comfort me after I fell rather spectacularly during a hurdle race, that while it may be my brother's calling, it wasn't mine. At 7 years old, I can still hear those words 'Some can do well. Some are better watching'. She certainly didn't mean to instill any inferiority complex in me but it happened. Besides, they were big boys who nothing ever bad happened to, and I was this little girl who tripped on her own feet.

Fast forward many a year, and I spent a much-too-long time with my ex who took pride in putting me down to cover up his own securities. He took it personally that I was a little more intellectual than him, so he made sure I didn't feel it. By the time we split, I couldn't even make a simple decision like what to order in a restaurant. Unrecognizable now!

Now, in my 30's, I find I face it every day working in a pharmaceutical environment where even the receptionist has a University degree. I went to high school, and even though I graduated with honours, I was finished at 18. At the time, it seemed reasonable. I had the illusions of grandeur of marriage and all it's glory. And I couldn't afford to go either. So I went to work. I've worked my butt off in a variety of jobs, learning a lot of different businesses. I've been with my present company for the last 9 years but haven't changed jobs because I limit myself in my own head that I'm not competent. I constantly hear that little voice inside me that says 'Well, you never went to university so....'

Why do I do this to myself? I have 18 years of work experience. I'm good at what I do. I know my stuff and most of everyone else's too, just from how the company has changed over the years. Meanwhile, my boss went to some preppy school in England, has degrees out the ying-yang and has only been in the workforce for about 7 years and he's older than I am.

Lately, our business has gone through some major upheavals. We acquired another company, and brought in a bunch of changes to the way we do business. I've been working many late hours re-writing polices, procedures, manuals and debating processes over and over again. It came to the point where we had to present all my efforts to the CFO, the big dude on the top floor. I asked my boss who was going to present and he looked down his nose and said 'It's a high level meeting'.

Cue me feeling all those self-imposed inadequacies rushing to the surface as I slink back to my desk for another late-night go at the project. Of course, BossDude goes home to his wife and 2.2 kids while I slave away...

Yesterday, BossDude came in with an apparent change of heart (AKA talked to the wife who's an HR Chick) and asked if I wanted to present with him to the BigDudes. I was really nervous but of course, jumped at the chance. We went in, and not only did I completely hold my own but made BossDude look like a chimp a couple times because he usually relies on my answers a little too much and it showed. Not only that, I was shocked at the fact that most of these execs in the meeting acted like complete baboons. One was playing with his tongue (I kid you not!) and another with his contact lenses. And went things got tough, I thought BossDude might actually burst a vein!

Since then, I've been in quite a few meetings and emails with the execs and I've now begun realizing that I am in the right place. I do know my stuff. BossDude even did some silly little 'I bow down to you' move when I started discussing the technical aspects of our computer system. Freak.

Now if only I could get this little voice to believe it...

November 23, 2004
The Little One
Much too young to feel this damned old
Funny story from a friend about her 5-year old daughter. Last night at dinner, Anya began asking for her desert. And as 5-year olds tend to do, asked repeatedly. Finally, in desperation, her mom said "Anya, stop it. You sound like a broken record". Anya looked up at her mom, confused 'Mom, what's a record?'

Ah, youth. =)

Speaking of which, my niece is cooking up her second baby now. Shan had her first, Hayley nearly 3 years ago at the tender age of 19. Now, at 22, she and her husband will have their son in early January.

It's been an amazing stretch, full of so much drama and turmoil, you'd think we were all living a Hallmark Sunday night movie.

Shannon was one of the kids who knew everything from Day 1. She didn't like being told what to do, and thought she was always one step up from everyone else. She met Tom when she was 15 and would have run away with him then. But her parents made her a deal. Tom could live with them (in a separate bedroom, though!) and in return, she had to finish high school. So the next 2 1/2 years went relatively smoothly until she graduated. A week after that, she and Tom decided to conquer the world and took off to the next province. No jobs, no money, no brains, just their love. At the time, she said her theme song was Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer".

It broke her parents' heart, and none of us felt all that pleased at the time. But she and I bonded much more over that time than I could have ever hoped. I always been close to her, from the time she was born when I was 12. She was the little sister I never had. As she grew up, I was the one she confided in, the one she came to when she was in trouble, whatever was needed. So when they moved to Alberta, I missed her terribly.

They moved into a house with 11 other people. Some were Tom's family. Some who knows? I'd use the term flop house, but it's got such negative connotations. Ah, what the was a flop house. Shannon and Tom moved into the storm cellar, the only unoccupied room.

Then in the summer of '01, she phoned up crying. I flew her home on the next flight. But something was different about her. I swore she was pregnant but thought 'Naaaaah'. As it would turn out, I wasn't wrong but she was only about 4 weeks at the time. She says lucky guess. I say psychic bonding. Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to.

She went back. The living conditions weren't great but what can you do with a strong-willed teenager who would rather gnaw her arm off before admitting things weren't perfect. When she got too big to fit through the trap door of the storm shelter, she and Tom traded with some of the others in the house for a room. Her mother and I went out to visit her when she was about 7 months along. Her mom cried the entire time. I tend to keep that side of me a little more silent, and went about the business of befriending the rest of the housemates. It worked. Not only was Shannon still confiding in me, I now knew I could count on the rest of them to make sure she was ok.

In February, the baby was ready to arrive. She went into labour around 3am on February 22. Her parents, her sister and I got into the car and began driving to be by her side. This is a story in itself, but in a nutshell, we soft Vancouverites forgot what winter means to the rest of Canada. We anticipated a 10 hour journey (which it is in the summer time). It ended up being a harrowing 22 hour trip through mudslides, avalanches and whiteouts. Thank "insert deity here" for cellphones so that we heard the news that Miss Hayley arrived perfectly at 5:43am after just 2 hours of labour. When we arrived finally, it was the most amazing, beyond description moments. I held that little girl, and looked into her eyes and knew that she would change my life forever. And she has. I looked up at Shannon, and saw too that our relationship had also turned a corner. She wasn't just my niece anymore, she was my friend.

Of course, her sister had a different response. My younger, much more sarcastic niece's first words to her big sis on becoming a mom was 'Gee, Shan, how does it feel to be a teenage statistic?' Ah, can't live with them. Ya can't kill 'em.

We stayed in town for a few days while Shannon settled. Her parents and sister went to visit friends while I stayed with Shan. That night was a tough one. Shan was having some serious difficulties with pain (let's just say nipple piercings should be done by a professional, not a boyfriend, or you'll have hell to pay when your milk comes in). I went to be with her and it was another lifetime moment. With one hand, I'm cuddling the baby and with the other, reading the manual ('The Mother of all Babybooks'). And Shan's curled up with her head in my lap. I never felt more at peace than I did at that moment. We have since come to refer to it as 'That Night'.

Fast forward over the next year or so...I ended up flying out to be with them every 3 months or so. And yes, my life did change. I have no idea if I will ever have kids, or if I will even be able to. Hayley is my bridge to that. I look in her eyes and I'm golden. But Shannon and Tom's life was none too shiny. Tom worked only sporadically and Shannon not at all. They got married when Hayley was 6 months in a backyard wedding that could only be described as Trailer Park Boys meet The Trashy Girls. There was more backcombed hair and beer-fueled bravado than I have ever seen, but it was one hell of a party!

When Hayley turned a year old, it was a bittersweet trip. Shan and Tom were in a bad way. Money was non-existent (even though her parents and I had been seriously subsidizing). They were proud, but it wasn't enough. The place they were living in was not suitable for a baby, and now that Hayley was walking around, I couldn't bear for that kid to grow up in squallor. I am usually not a judgemental person, but it was beyond description. I told them they had to come home. They were a family and it wasn't about them anymore.

My brother and his wife decided to buy a new house with a basement suite. The caveat though was that it wouldn't be built for a year. The kids intended to stay there until closer to the time the new house was ready, but things took a turn for the worse. During a drunken fight, one of the housemates stabbed the other and in the melee, Tom also got injured. (Told ya drama finds us!) It was a jolt to their senses, and they made the trip back home.

This past year, while the place was being built, they've rotated between living at my place and at my brothers. And now that the place is built, Shan and Tom are finally living on their own (more or less) and beginning their life together properly.

Hayley is a witty little 2 1/2 year old. Already potty trained and smart as a...a....really smart thing. Not that I'm biased or anything. And now #2 is baking, and due to debut January 12-ish. Hayley's named the baby Skizzy. Not quite sure where she got that from. Shan, Tom Shan's mom and I know it's a boy but no one else in the family wanted to know just yet. I'm happy for them though.

But I'm also really excited. Shan asked me the other day to be there for the birth. I wasn't sure about it. I mean, it's a pretty personal experience. But she has insisted. She said she gets strength from my strength and besides her husband, she couldn't imagine doing it without me there. Damn it if it didn't get a little dusty in here...damned allergies.....

November 22, 2004
November's casualties
Over the past month, as the news reported heavily on the Fallujah offensive, and then on the situation with the Marine that shot the insurgent in the mosque, it occured to me that we haven't really been hearing enough about the numbers of casualties on the coalition side. Why is that? Why is it we can hear all about everything that goes 'wrong', or could be negative, but hardly anything about how difficult it is for the Coalition soldiers. Sure, we see the names of the fallen come up on the screens during newscasts but after a while, it almost gets the feeling of another commercial. The media doesn't let us think of this as anything more than statistics. We'll hear 4 marines were killed today in a roadside bombing, but even that after a while, loses it's impact.

I read a blog the other day (can't for the life of me remember where) of an Iraqi person asking why we found beheadings so intolerable. It made me sad. I don't ever want to live in a world where this type of torture and cruel treatment passes for just another statistic.

I did a little experiment over the past 16 days. On November 6, I went and jotted down the number of fallen soldiers and wounded based on CNN's Casualties report. Then today, I wrote the numbers down again and did some very quick statistics.

On November 6, 1134 US soldiers had been lost. Now, just over 2 weeks later, that total is 1228. 94 men and women have died as a result of direct enemy combat in this short period of time! This is not a small number! It averages nearly 6 a day. A full mini-van of people every single day!

There have also been losses for the other countries in the coalition, 1 Brit, 2 Thais and 9 (NINE!) Ukranians.

Looking at the wounded category now - it was 8287 just 2 weeks ago and now it's at 8956. An increase of 669 men and women who have had significant enough of an injury to make it on the casualties list. Nearly 700 people? That's an entire packed movie theatre or a maybe a nightclub! Look at it another way, it's 42 people a day get sent for significant medical treatment.

Imagine the space nearly 800 people take's not insignificant. These are your brothers, your husbands, your wives, your cousins, your neighbour down the street. These are not just numbers. And in just a two week span - 1 pay period!

These numbers astounded me and make me very sad. Why does the mainstream media not focus on this, rather than the armchair critiquing it's doing now? If we are going to have embedded media, the whole story must be told. Not just bits and pieces and quick soundbites to grab a headline. It's a disservice to those men and women who have put their lives on hold, and gone to do their duty in Iraq.

November 21, 2004
Grey Cup fever and updates on Mi Vida Loca
Today is Canada's equivalent to the Superbowl. Since Hockey died, somehow CFL football has made a remarkable comeback and now the BC Lions are in the championships today against the Toronto Argonauts. My brother is a football fanatic, and my friend Leigh is too. Usually I end up at some sort of Grey Cup home party enjoying chili, beer and side bets. But today, I am riding the pine or more appropriately, the couch. Love it when my Crohn's decides to wake up and remind me that I am surely not in charge of my reality.

Anyway, Go LIONS Go!

Last night Leigh Joe and I went for dinner. I was still quite down in the dumps, but good friends and good company got me in the spirit. Joe reminded me that Todd is a good guy in just a screwed up situation. I want to believe that so badly!

I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. I admire the military, police forces etc. Always have. I have cousins in the Canadian Armed Forces. My grandfather was in WWI, and also RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary). My uncles all served some time in the military. I was brought up to believe these people were our true heroes. Also, it's something I enjoy learning about and there's something very primal yet securing to know there are people who will put their lives on the line in a dangerous situation to make sure the world is a better place. My brother has been a cop for 20 years. I've heard stories from him that make my spine shiver, but I know that he does what he does for a better cause. It sure ain't for the money.

After 9/11, I was so fired up about political situations that I had an argument with my nephew-in-law about him and his friends getting off the XBox and go join the army. They were all unemployed, but were healthy strong guys that just needed a sense of direction. It made me so annoyed to see them sit around all day while his little baby girl needed food in the fridge. It's obviously a longer story than I want to go into here, but when he told me that he'd rather shoot himself in the foot than ever serve in the military, I just felt so sad. This generation just seems to have lost the plot on what heroes consist of. I have just so much respect for the men and women that see it differently. That can and do serve. While political opinions may differ, at the end of the day, these men and women do everything they can to make the world a better place. Even if that does mean leaving those they love, their safe lives, and their comfortable homes and jobs. It's one thing to talk about it but completely another thing to do it.

I think that's part of the reason I was so attracted to Todd. And as I got to know his inner spirit, my admiration got stronger. He's an intelligent guy who knows what he's up against. Or at least as best as he can. He knows leaving his daughter at this awkward age has major ramifications for their future relationship. He knows that our relationship has to go through this crap long before it really needed to. But it is something that he truly believes in and from his very soul, he knows this is the path he has to take. That sort of determination is very sexy. =)

I've spent the past few months trying to understand the American military. I now understand it's more than just "Officer and a Gentleman" (although a damned fine flick) and I've learned what Semper Fi means. I am beginning to understand the concept of the Band of Brothers, and the pride and honour that is attached to the concept. I still can't quite understand the difference between the Navy and Marines. Both make you think of water, but they aren't. I figure, no matter what happens to Todd and I in the long run, I did make the promise that I would be there for him while he deploys. I don't make false promises. While as a couple, what we have is rather murky to say the least, we are friends and I don't intend to let that change. I have read in these blogs stories of wives and girlfriends leaving their significant other either during their deployment or on return. I can't begin to imagine how hard that has to be on these guys. Relationships are never easy but to come back to emptiness must be staggering. So in honour of my promise, I spend hours learning what I can to be informed and topical and to support him. Where that leads in the long run, I don't know but it's a path I am determined to take.

So after dinner last night, we went to the new casino. It's recently opened nearby and is turning out to be the great destination on the weekends. Not just for gambling, but the food is great, the lounge acts rock, and there's free pool in the sports bar. We were playing the slots last night when my stomach zagged and I had to run the ladies. I'll spare the details except to say anyone who has any sort of colitis type disorder will know the pain associated with this is truly not fun to bear. And it makes it all the worse when an attack arrives in a public place.

There I am in the ladies when the cellphone rings. It's Todd. The call I've been waiting for so fitfully these past few days. ARGH! Why now???? So I pull together as much dignity as one can in a public stall, whilst trying to squat and not touch the seat.

It was a sweet call. He told me to keep my chin up and stop being sad about everything. He sounds almost excited about leaving and I have to admire that. We talked about some of the scary events in the news of late and my nightmares of him not coming home. I can just imagine what that must have sounded to anyone else in that bathroom hearing my voice emanating with 'And don't forget about Mosul too' . It was his daughter's birthday last week. She turned 10. Again, he spoke with pride and disbelief that his baby was in double digits. I felt verbally hugged and thankfully, he never did ask what all the flushing noises around me were.

So other than feeling totally physically disgusting today, not to mention floating on the codeine, I feel much better than the past few days. This is going to be a rollercoaster. I suspect I don't even know the half of it, or what I am to learn by being here. But it's where I am. I don't expect others to understand or even be accepting.
November 20, 2004
Running in one spot
I've been really down since Thursday. I still can't put my finger on it writing this blog is bringing my feelings to the surface? Or is it because I miss Todd more than I want to let myself?

I'm a strong person. Adversity has found me through my life, but I'm not one to hold onto it for long. I do know how to get up, shake my head and move on. Usually. So why am I not doing it here? Why can I not harden my broken and bruised heart back up so it can begin healing for the next adventure? It frustrates me.

I haven't spoken to Todd directly now in 16 days. Although he's called once, and emailed, and I've emailed him. He made reference to calling me 'on the weekend'. My strong side says Whatever...I should go out and do what I have to do. But I'm not listening to my strong side. I physically need to talk to him. I'm scared about him going to Iraq. Maybe I watch too much news, or maybe I have an active imagination but I'm so worried for him. How do people come to a reasonable state when those they love go into danger?

My sister-in-law has been married to my brother, who's been an inner city cop for 20 years. She does it with a smile and their love is as strong now as when they married 27 years ago. But I know it bothers her. I guess she's found a way to put that part of herself in a box and let it go until she knows.

Last night, I dreamed I was at an airport and he was coming home. All these soldiers came off the plane. Hugs everywhere. Mayhem with everyone trying to find everyone else. Suddenly everyone's gone and he never was there. I wait and wait. I'm crying in the dream. Then some high-ranking officer takes me aside and just shakes his head. He didn't come home.

I have been very careful in all my conversations with him never to promise anything I couldn't deliver. I don't like it done to me, therefore I won't to others. I have said I will stay in contact with him while he's there, but I've been noncommital about it being any more than friends. Of course, my heart screams something completely different but I'm careful with that. His home life is a mess...I'm not sure I even fully understand the situation myself. I'm 35, I don't want to be single forever. Time will tell on that one. Maybe my heart will disengage in time, I suppose, or if it is meant to be, like he wants me to believe, the purpose will come clear.

But as a friend/girlfriend, or whatever my status is, I won't know if he gets wounded or worse when he's there. It's a huge fear, and now that I'm dreaming about it too, I need to address it. His brother knows of I just have to make sure Todd tells his brother to let me know.

I am in such a vortex of emotions right now. As I write this out, I am disappointed in myself that I'm not strong enough to walk away. The situation is not clear and is rather messy to say the least. The smart, strong thing to do is to be appreciative of what we had, hold that warmly and move on. But I can't. And I don't even know why, except I keep hearing in my brain, 'you'll know what to do in time.'

I tell myself if situations exist, I'll still date other people. But who am I kidding? It's not like that happens much in my life. In the 3 years I was single, I had 2 dates. One set up by my Mom, who turned out to be this little creep shorter than me (I'm 5'2") who kept looking at things in my house and saying over and over again "You gotta a lot of stuff." as he walked through my home like he was casing it and his shining moment was winning a Kraft Dinner contest when he was 14.
So in the meantime, I wait for the phone to ring, cursing myself. I continue to download music for Todd to take in the MP3 player I'm buying him for a Christmas/Deployment gift.

Time will tell whether I'm still being played for a fool or not, I guess. The chapter just hasn't ended yet.

November 19, 2004
Love is a battlefield
So now we're up to the stage I'm at now which I don't even know myself how to describe.

That first week, the week I was supposed to be in the US, was a rough one. Not only was I heartsick and kicking myself, I had to do it in front of everyone I knew. I was home when I shouldn't have been and it wasn't fun explaining. I went to the store on Sunday and met my cousin who cocked her head to the side, and patronizingly said 'How are you doing?'. I lost it again...

But there were bright spots. I had a lot of support too, from strange places. Friends that I'd previously considered just acquaintances got promoted. And I got the weirdest compliment from an old boyfriend..."ya still got nice knockers, you'll do ok". From him, it was meant with heart - and it made me laugh.

I decided to make it a full week of hell. I had two root canals that I had been holding off on, and for fun, I tripped on the stairs and fell down the whole flight. Oh, and I caught the flu by the end of the week. I mean, if it's gonna be bad, why not throw it all together at once?

The hardest part of it all was that I still had feelings for him, but I knew I had to learn to let go. And I was angry...I debated calling his wife but what stopped me was how I felt when that happened to me 10 years ago. It hurt worse, not helped.

About 10 days later, the phone rang. Guess who? Well, he was in Hawaii now on some training exercise. I was still angry, and told him so. I said I started at zero trust, and now you've dug a hole so deep, you can't even see the top. He pleaded with me to try to understand his situation. That this was all just bad timing and that he couldn't bear to go overseas knowing I wasn't there for him. I told him he was living a fairy tale. Show me the signed divorce papers and then we'll talk.

We've talked a few more times since then. Nothing specific. He knew he'd hurt me, and he knew it wasn't the same anymore. But a part of me wanted to keep in contact too, and I'm not sure why. I need to know what happens to's probably wrong of me and maybe it'll fade with time. I tell myself this is the closure part. What I need to do to properly close things in my mind and heart. But I also need to remind myself not to let my emotions get the better of me. I still contend we met for a reason, and I haven't fully understood why that is. I went 37 months being single, and now I was reminded that I was capable of loving again.

Where is it now? Well, he deploys in 10 days. He called this week but I missed it. He said he'd call on the weekend. I guess I'll know then. Last night I got very sad about it all, and wondered why it had all happened and if this is all really worth it. Still don't really have answers but I guess time will tell.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to move on. To forget. To walk away. And I will. I've survived worse before and I'll do it again.
November 18, 2004
Martin fires Parrish
I know this won't make huge news globally but I was happy to see it. Our Prime Minister fired one of his cabinet today for making anti-American statements.

While I am all for free speech, this lady went way over the limit given her power and position. She most certainly has a right to her opinion, but to use the public forum in the way she did was unfortunate and in poor judgement.

Putting a different spin on this, if this situation happened in a boardroom setting, she would have been let go long ago. Her behaviour is counteractive and disappointing.

There are many differences between Canadians and Americans, but there are also a lot of common wants, needs and dreams. I'll be the first to admit there are days that American policy leaves me scratching my head - same can be said for Canadian - but at the end of the day, we are both working towards the same cause. A good, safe country to raise our families and live in. How we get there might be slightly different but we're both brothers from the same Mother Earth.

American Soldier
I happened to catch this song by accident today while listening to a US radio station. I don't think it gets much airplay up here, but it had me in tears. I am really missing Todd tonight. It's very close to the surface.

Toby Keith American Soldier

I'm just trying to be a father
Raise a daughter and a son
Be a lover to their mother
Everything to everyone
Up and at 'em, bright and early
I'm all business in my suit
Yeah, I'm dressed up for success
From my head down to my boots

I don't do it for the money
There's bills that I can't pay
I don't do it for the glory
I just do it anyway
Providing for our future's my responsibility
Yeah I'm real good under pressure
Being all that I can be

And I can't call in sick on Mondays
when the weekends been too strong
I just work straight through the holidays
And sometimes all night long
You can bet that I stand ready when the wolf growls at the door
Hey, I'm solid, hey I'm steady, hey, I'm true down to the core

And I will always do my duty no matter what the price
I've counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice
Oh, and I don't want to die for you
but if dyin's asked of me
I'll bare that cross with honor
'cause freedom don't come free

I'm an American soldier, an American
beside my brothers and my sisters I will proudly take a stand
when liberty's in jeopardy I will always do what's right
I'm out here on the front line
Sleep in peace tonight
American soldier, I'm an American soldier

Yeah, an American soldier, an American
beside my brothers and my sisters I will proudly take a stand
when liberty's in jeopardy I will always do what's right
I'm out here on the front line
So Sleep in peace tonight
American soldier, I'm an American
An American, an American soldier
What goes up must come down...
Nothing is ever simple in my life. I don't say that in a negative way, just simply as a fact. I don't even think I'd want it any other way, really. I often argue that I don't get the concept of Heaven because I can't imagine a life that always is perfect. What's the fun in that? If you never ever had anything go wrong and were always deliriously happy, wouldn't you be bored? And how would you even know you were happy if you never felt any other way?

Anyway, back to the program. This one's harder to write because it was a week of Hell without a doubt. And I'm not entirely proud of my own conduct either.

It's 6 days before I leave to see Todd. I need this vacation more than family life is in shambles. My parents are getting elderly and having serious health problems. My Aunt had a small stroke and driven her car into a wall. (Thankfully no one hurt!). My brothers, or rather my sisters in law are fighting over something that happened 15 years ago. And I'd been having a migraine on and off for about 3 weeks. I needed to get away more than ever!

Didn't hear from Todd on the Monday but on Tuesday, he called and was all excited. He got his papers! He was going to Iraq in December! I got caught up in his excitement, and told him how proud I was of him and how happy I was too that he got his wish. Then, he told me that Bethany did not take the news well. Not a surprise, I said, considering she's just a little girl! He said he was puzzled by her hysterical reaction because she had always known it was a possibility. I said, did you realize that you were reasoning with a child? Of course, she's upset! A year in her world is forever!

Then he said the strangest thing. Because Bethany was so distraught, he felt his only option was for him to move back in until he goes. I was floored. What the hell was going on? I said, Ok, well...I'm not happy about that but I guess we'll work around it. Then he threw me for another loop with 'Well, I'll just sneak out after everyone's asleep to be with you." Dude! What the hell is happening here? I flipped out a bit and said if you guys are really split, what does it matter where you are? He couldn't answer me. There were other bombshells he couldn't pick me up at the airport anymore, and that he'd be working at the base all weekend and wouldn't be able to see me until about 3am the night I arrived. I think more was said, I can't really remember because my head was spinning and I felt like I'd been played for a fool.

I didn't sleep that night. I tossed and turned. I was mad at myself for not seeing the situation clearly and for getting involved more than I thought I was. And also, worried for the trip. Here I was flying out in just 5 days to a strange city and quite possibly, was going to be alone completely. I've been fortunate enough to have travelled a lot in my life and that part didn't bother me. But I am nervous of driving in cities. The hotel he had suggested was about 45 min. from the airport and the thought of trying to find it in a strange city made me uncomfortable. And that was the other that he wasn't picking me up from the airport, I now had to rent a car - which was another $200 I hadn't expected to spend.

He didn't call Wednesday. This is the guy who was calling me daily if not more than that. My spidey senses weren't just tingling, they were ringing off the hook. But I felt trapped. That I couldn't really do anything but let things play out.

All day Thursday I felt sick to my stomach. I didn't want to tell anyone yet, as I really wanted everything to be a bad dream and not an 'I told you so'. I was stressing large though. I couldn't seem to pack, or do anything to get ready. At 11pm, the phone rang and jogged me awake. It was Todd. A 30-second phonecall to say he was at work, things were swirling out of control for him and that he just wanted to say he missed me and would call tomorrow and explain everything.

Friday arrived. Last day of work before being away for a week and it was busy. I was feeling queazy. Todd called at noon. I should also add I work in a cube too, so there's not much privacy, but thankfully, all but one person was on lunch. He told me that I needed to change hotels as he had moved back home and he wanted me closer to where he was so he could sneak out. I lost it. Big time. I don't remember a lot of what I said, but I do remember making references to Amber Frey, to the fact he had played me for a fool, that I didn't deserve all these lies and how dare he do this? How dare he play with my feelings? How fucking dare he? I told him I was cancelling the trip immediately...

I called my travel agent, and barely able to talk told her briefly why I had to cancel the trip. Or at least I think I did. I still don't know what I said. But she is a miracle worker and was able to not only cancel it, waive the fee somehow but also got my Aeroplan miles back. She is truly an angel.

I still had to work the rest of the day, so I suck it up and got back to it. As luck would have it, my boss asked me to resource companies in the very city I had just cancelled my trip to. It was a painful task! But I did it, business is business and my personal drama needed to be put aside. Then around 3, my boss asked me my finding and then asked if I wouldn't mind doing some site visits during my trip. Now I had to tell him I wasn't going! I was so embarrassed! He took one look at me and told me I could leave early if I wanted. And this is coming from a guy who actually called me while I was in the hospital last year to get me to help him with something! I must have looked a wreck!

I muddled through getting home, calling those that needed to know I'd cancelled and then asked everyone to leave me alone while I worked through it and was ready to talk. I had so many strong emotions. I was crying, I felt sick, I felt humiliated, betrayed and most of all, furious at myself. All those things I thought I'd never let myself become, I had become.

He called that night. I was still crying. I let loose again. I told him he had made me feel like a whore. His response? "No, sweetie, if I thought you were a whore, I never would have told you any of this. I would have let you come and done what I wanted with you. It's because I love you so much that I told you'. What kind of screwed up logic is that? He kept trying to assure me that this was just poor timing, that he knew we would be together always. That he was living in a separate room to his wife, and only staying with her to ensure she get survivor benefits if something tragic happened in Iraq.

Suffice to say, I did not deal with this well. I cried more over the next few days than I knew I could. It's like every little nick and scratch of the last 4 years bubbled up to the surface and I cracked. When I wasn't crying, I was walking around like a zombie. My friend took me to the mall (retail therapy always works, right?) and I saw a Hummer in the parking lot, and I started to cry again. I was a mess.

Well, that's enough of the story for's getting busy around here again.

You know you live in British Columbia when...

You might be from British Columbia if:
1. You know the provincial flower (Mildew)
2. You feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash.
3. Use the statement "sun break" and know what it means.
4. You know more than 10 ways to order coffee.
5. You know more people who own boats than air conditioners.
6. You feel overdressed wearing a suit to a nice restaurant.
7. You stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "Walk" signal.
8. You consider that if it has no snow, it is not a real mountain.
9. You can taste the difference between Starbucks, Blendz, and Tim Horton's.
10. You know the difference between Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye salmon.
11. You know how to pronounce Squamish, Osoyoos & Nanaimo.
12.You consider swimming an indoor sport.
13. You can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Thai food.
14. In winter, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark - while only working eight-hour days.
15. You never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho.
16. You are not fazed by "Today's forecast: showers followed by rain," and "Tomorrow's forecast: rain followed by showers."
17. You cannot wait for a day with "showers and sun breaks".
18. You have no concept of humidity without precipitation.
19. You know that Dawson Creek is a town, not a TV show.
20. You can point to at least two ski mountains, even if you cannot see through the cloud cover.
21. You notice "the mountain is out" when it is a pretty day and you can actually see it.
22. You put on your shorts when the temperature gets above 5, but still wear your hiking boots and parka.
23. You switch to your sandals when it gets about 10, but keep the socks on.
24. You have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain.
25. You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists.
26. You recognize the background shots in your favourite movies & TV shows.
27. You buy new sunglasses every year, because you can't find the old ones after such a long time.
28. You measure distance in hours.
29. You often switch from "heat" to "a/c" in your car in the same day.
30. You use a down comforter in the summer.
31.You carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them.
32. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit under a raincoat.
33. You know all the important seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Raining (Spring), Road Construction (Summer) & Raining Again (Fall).

November 17, 2004
a little closer...
Ever been this close to a plane crash?
From the set of Lost in Hawaii

One of our more interesting finds during our trek in Hawaii was stumbling across the set of the new show, 'Lost'. We were a little lost, and if truth be known, I was feeling absolutely gross. Too much sun, and a pretty serious headache. I hear L. gasp from the front seat (I was sprawled out in the back) and sat up to see this plane all munged up on the beach.

We stopped the car and got out. J. has a great gift for gab and asked the security guard what it was and if it was ok if we took a look around. The security dude was very sweet and told us to have a blast, just don't touch anything.

To walk around a plane shell like this is very odd, and rather disconcerting. Because of the attempt at making it look as real as possible, there were pieces of luggage and burnt clothing all around. A baby's shoe. A stroller ripped in half. Even knowing that this was all staged, it still gave me a deep feeling of sadness.

Definitely an experience! Now I'm addicted to the show...I can't wait until Wednesday nights and when they show pics of the plane wreck or the beach, I am transported back there.
A poem for the day...
A friend sent me this..I thought it was appropriate for my feelings of late.

When I stand up for myself and my beliefs,
I'm called a bitch.
When I stand up for those I love,
I'm called a bitch.
When I speak my mind,
think my own thoughts
or do things my own way,
I'm called a bitch.
Being a bitch means
I won't compromise what's in my heart.
It means I live my life MY way.
It means I won't allow anyone to step on me.
When I refuse to tolerate injustice and speak against it,
I'm defined as a bitch.
The same thing happens when I take time for myself
instead of being everyone's maid,
or when I act a little selfish.
It means I have courage to be ME
I won't become anyone else's idea
of what they think I 'should' be.
I am outspoken, opinionated and determined.
I want what I want
and there is nothing wrong with that!
So go ahead .
try to stomp on me,
try to douse my inner flame,
try to squash every ounce of beauty I hold within me.
You won't succeed.
And if that makes me a bitch, so be it.
I embrace the title and am proud to bear it.
November 16, 2004
The Hawaii story continues....Reality Bites!
As I flew back to Vancouver from Hawaii, my heart was heavy. I'd been here before and I knew that the chances are not good for us. I have a terrible habit of falling hard on last boyfriend was from England. A few years before that, South Africa. I've tried to analyse it. Is it because I'm finally relaxed when I'm away? Or some sort of self-abuse of having a relationship that really has no chance and that way I ensure I don't really let anyone in too close? No idea. Still pondering that one. My family was less than overjoyed with my news when I returned. My (not very tactful) sister-in-law said "I don't get excited when you meet anyone anymore. It never works out anyhow". I love her to pieces but she can certainly cut deep when she wants. My mother took every opportunity to make some Navy sailor joke she could think of. I think she'd been saving them all up since WWII some of them were so corny. I figured time would tell. I told myself that I was in control, that I wasn't going to let this amazing, romantic week screw with my head too much.

But Todd surprised me. He called daily. He gave me no opportunity to forget him and we continued to have these amazing talks. My bitter side told me,'ll die down in time. But it didn't. When he wasn't calling me (I never had the chance to call him as he seemed to be calling me often enough), he was emailing or sending text messages. My heart stayed melted and I thought 'Hmmm...could this really be something?'

When he flew home to his midwest US city, he continued to call me often. Then about 10 days after we last saw each other, he called with a different tone to his voice. 'We have to have a serious talk today', he said. I'd heard that before and it was never good. I steeled myself to the whole buh-bye story but that wasn't it. He levelled with me that he hadn't been truly honest about how ex his ex-wife was. It was still a very new situation, he told me. So new that while they were legally separated, he still lived downstairs in the basement suite. And the reason for that, he told me, is that they had a child. A 9 year old girl. I took a deep breath in...what had I gotten myself into? He explained that he hadn't told me about Bethany, his daughter because he hadn't wanted to involve her unless he was sure we had something special. I didn't know what to say. Part of me screamed run away, but I heard my voice saying something else.

I told him I did not feel comfortable with him living in the basement suite. As while I realized I had no place to say anything - I mean I hadn't even known him a month - I refused to be the "other woman". I have been in the opposite position many years ago and felt humiliated then when I found my ex had been with his new girl for over 6 months when he left me. I felt very strongly about it and told him so. But I did tell him that I was pleased he felt comfortable enough to tell me about his daughter. Children are so very important and I appreciated how he put his daughter first in everything. When he talked about her, I heard this pride in his voice that made my heart swell. I knew then, that while a very complicated situation, I would continue on.

We hung up and when he called the next day, he said he had given a lot of thought to what I had said. He realized that there was no further reason for him to live in the house any longer and had made arrangements to move in with his brother. It was something that he had been partly considering for some time but hadn't taken the leap. My feelings had given him the strength to make that move. It would make things difficult for him as he worked nights, but would still have to pick his daughter up from school, and be with her during the day but he felt it was time. True to his word, he moved into his brother's place 4 days later.

We began talking about where we were headed. To write this all down still seems so unreal to me. I am not one to take flights of fancy, but this whole thing just seemed so right. So real. I told myself even if I did end up getting hurt, feeling this euphoria and this happiness that I felt now made everything worth it. When I talk to him, I feel so safe, so serene, so at peace with myself. How can that be wrong?

Over the next few weeks, he told me that he had decided to try to get transferred to a base in Washington state. It would allow us to be closer, and be able to visit each other while we got to know each other better. He talked to his superiors and put the word in that he would be interested. I was over the moon. He introduced me to his brothers over the phone, but I made it clear that I didn't want to 'meet' his daughter or for her to know about me until it was much more solid than where we were now. I think it's so traumatic and difficult for kids to deal with divorce without having to deal with their parent's new friends at the same time. I knew his ex did have a new boyfriend though, so the poor kid already had enough to deal with already.

He wasn't hearing anything about the transfer, although in hind sight, it does take time so it shouldn't have been surprising. So I decided to book a trip to see him. I booked a week off work, and arranged my flight for 4 days in mid-October. I was so excited. My family thought I was crazy. All I knew is that I was going to be in his arms again and it made my soul sigh. He was thrilled too, as things had been so full of upheaval at home for him he had been a bit down. Even slightly depressed, I think although he tried to hide it.

It was now getting towards the end of September and we were still talking every day. My defences had gone down, and were staying down. It just seemed like everything was exceeding both of our expectations. We had met at a time that wasn't ideal for either of us, but even with all the drama and complicated lives, we still managed to forge a very deep bond that neither of us could explain or for that matter, slow.

Then he got the call. His unit was deploying to Iraq. I knew it was a possibility, but I hadn't let myself think about it. I thought it was a long shot, and while it was something that he truly had hoped he would get a chance for, I had told myself based on his age (he's late 30s) and the fact he had a young child, he wouldn't be called. I know. I'm naive. The whole Washington state transfer was no longer in the cards. Our whole situation was on hold. I felt sick. But at the same time, I was so thrilled for him. I knew how much he wanted to do his part, and that this was something that was more important to him than most anything else. What a contradiction!
I told him my selfish feelings, and he consoled me with the fact that at least we would have October's trip. He made the comment again about me being in his life forever and that maybe even as his wife. I shy away big time from that talk, but this time, I allowed my heart to flutter just a bit. Even though I was and am still extremely aware that the odds are not in our favour.

The next couple weeks, he began to change somehow. He got so wrapped up in nerves, and worries about leaving for a year. Or that this was some sort of dream, and that they would suddenly call and say he wasn't going. He didn't know when he would deploy but only knew it was on the horizon.

What a way to start a relationship! This whole crazy time has been so incredibly intense that it seems like we've already been together for years and not months. We had hoped to take things a bit slower with him moving closer, but now, everything was so uncertain. I had a lot of difficulty getting my head around the news. I didn't know how I could wait, or what would happen in a year. But as I told him, "I'm in this for the long haul, baby". For whatever reason, I meant it.

Now it was the just 6 days before I was to fly to be with him and then that's when the world zigged while we zagged....

Thought I should put something up that made me feel happier than I have been all day. I have been so angry and in such a bad mood all day...

It was one of those days at work where everyone was barking orders all at the same time, expecting unreasonable amounts of work to be done in too short order, and also a day that I had to apologize for losing my temper a couple of times. I guess I did miss that sleep last night more than I thought I did....

And to top the crappy day off, I missed Todd's phonecall because of those damned deadlines and now I won't hear from him until the weekend. I miss him so much it'very heavy on the heart these days but I guess it will only get worse before it gets better. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for the military spouses with kids doing this full-time, not the half-assed part time that we're doing.

Sunsets have always been something that has made me feel peaceful. I moved to my home 5 years ago and one of the biggest reasons I chose where I did was because I'm at the water's edge and when the sun sets, it's absolutely breathtaking. When I was about 16, I was dating a guy who lived in the general area I live now. We sat on the balcony at his mom's place watching the sun set. That night, it was one of the most incredible reds, oranges turning into sultry purple and finally, when the sun fully set, the stars were so bright I felt I could reach out and touch them. I said to my boyfriend that if I ever was able to afford my own home, that this would be where I would live. He laughed. We were young. Being grown up seemed so far away.

I never forgot that moment. The guy was out of my life a few weeks later and I barely can remember what he looked like now, but I remember that sunset like I saw it yesterday. In 1999, I knew it was time. I was looking around and found my home here and it felt like it had been waiting for me to arrive. I bought this place and I could never imagine ever being anywhere else.

When the sun sets, it's like all the trials and tribulations are laid to rest and that tomorrow holds promise of everything good.
Posted by Hello
Margaret Hassan's death
Another news item that has made me angry today. It just proves that these evil people will stop at nothing to get their point across. This lady devoted her entire life to the betterment of others and did not deserve this ending to her generous life.

I felt sick when the news broke, much like I did after Paul Johnson, Ken Bigley, and the others that have begged for their life in a public for nothing more than a mockery.

I'm trying to get things into words today and nothing seems to make the point as strongly as I want to. This world is a very scary place these days and I'm not feeling very good about it.

Wow, I'm on a tangent today....

Casualties of War
I woke up in the night at 2:30 in a bit of pain from my lingering migraine. I decided to get up and as a tried and true news junkie, check the headlines.

Yahoo declared 11 minutes before that US forces had launched an offensive into Mosul. It made me feel very sad and worried for the families that are still there. It's hard to imagine looking out your bedroom window, the same window you looked out since you were a toddler, and see tanks rolling down your street, helicopters flying low or maybe some rebel guy on the corner with a rocket launcher. I know the coalition does try to minimize civilian casualties, but I can't help but think about the psychological scars. I have a friend at work who is originally from Tehran. She once described how she had to write her final exam for high school in a bomb shelter. I have another friend who lived in South Africa and was caught in an ANC triple-bombing outside a movie theatre. It's a life I can hardly comprehend.

Then my mind started to wander. I started thinking about the graphic footage of the Marine shooting the Iraqi and I got a little angry. Who are we to judge something we know nothing about based on a 30 second snippet on tv? We don't know where they'd been all day, what they'd seen or how many insurgents they saw lying pretending to be unconscious until they could cause harm. This is war. It ain't pretty. It's not all over in 30 minutes with commercials. Never before in history has a war been judged in real time and even being as much a news junkie as I am, I am disturbed by the whole negative attitude. I feel for that Marine and what he must be going through now. It's like the old saying 'Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6'. Turn the situation around. A wounded US soldier lying at the edge of a building and an insurgent comes by. You think he's going to tend to his wounds and make it all better? Not bloody likely...and sadly, the chance of him just being shot would be the nicest thing.

Until we've walked in their shoes, seen what they see, smelled what they smell, it's really not our place to lay judgement.

The media being imbedded is a double edged sword. The people want to watch the war unfold from the comfort of their lounge chairs, but are not ready to accept what they see. I believe there is a ban against showing Coalition soldiers wounded or being wounded, but I think if we saw more of what they are going through, public opinion would be much different.

All that wonder I'm so tired this morning! Pain's gone though, thankfully!
November 15, 2004
I think that's how you spell it....

We finished dinner, and the three of us were quite tired from the hikes of the day but we still decided to go to Duke's anyway for the last drink. There was one table free on the beach and we took it. I decided to have another 151 Pina Colada to calm my nerves. It was 9 when we got there.

10:00 came, then 10:30. Now I had convinced myself that what was meant to happen did. He was just a figment of my imagination. All was done. Fair enough. Good story to bring home.

J was just about ready to ask for the bill, when I look up and see him at the top of the stairs looking for us. He looked so happy when he saw us there...I had to smile.

He apologized for his lateness as he had been kept busier than he thought he would be and wasn't off duty until 10, and not 8 as originally thought. We continued our conversation from the night before and it seemed just so easy to talk to him. We found quite quickly we had differing views on world politics, among others. We talked about his dancing career, and that I didn't find it impressive but rather off putting and that it made me feel very uncomfortable about him. He took that to heart, it seemed and understood where I was coming from. Every conversation just seemed to get that more intriguing...

It was getting later in the night, and he asked if I'd come back to his place. L and J decided to walk with us part way and as we turned to leave them, L asked me to call her in an hour just to let her know I was ok. I also told her where I would be staying and the room number. I didn't feel scared but the cold hard fact is I was taking a risk with someone I barely knew. Not something I can ever remember doing before....

Suffice to say, we had a fantastic night.

The text message I sent to my friend back home simply stated 'The streak is over.'

The next few days are a whirlwind. It was extremely intense. Passionate, definitely, but even so much more than that. We spent hours upon hours discussing what was wrong with the world today, and other very deep topics that usually take people months, if not years to get to. We spent every moment we could together. He worked during the days but often called me during the day just to say hi. We knew our time together was precious, and I steeled myself to the fact that this was all a mirage. It wasn't real and would soon end when I left Hawaii.

A strange thing happened on my last day. My friends had gone off on their own trek, Todd was at work and I was spending the day shopping and lounging around. I saw a sign for a psychic and decided to throw caution to the wind. I was a little melancholy with this being the last day as well. I walked in, sat down and the first words she said were 'Who is this Leo you've met this week?'. I'm glad I sat down first!

She told me that we were both wounded, tortured souls that had seen something in each other that would never let go as long as we both lived. I must have looked a little sceptical, and said I'd only known him a week. She laughed and said 'Well, the damage is done. He's in your life for good now'. She talked a bit about him, and about his ex-wife. At this point, I didn't know of that. While we had spoken a lot of many deeply complicated topics, past relationships had not surfaced. I think we were both afraid of that one. The psychic went on to say that while as a couple, our future was murky but as friends, we were to be there for each other always.

I left the psychic and went back to hotel, confused and taken aback by what she said. Just as I got back, Todd called and was going to be downstairs in 15 min.! Uh oh! I hurried in the shower and met him as quickly as I could. He had been in trouble that day because he was so tired, and his CO finally sent him off with a warning to be back the next day in better shape. I felt so guilty. Here he was trying to work and further his career, and I'm keeping him from giving his all. It became clear that our last night together would be much shorter than expected and that he would be leaving to go back to his hotel alone so he could get some rest.

That last night was, in a word, magical. I couldn't even begin to describe the night. We walked all through the streets of Waikiki. We toyed with the idea of getting tattoos. We sat on the beach and let the waves hit our feet. Finally, I felt strong enough to tell him a bit about what the psychic said.

I was surprised that he felt positively about psychics but I didn't feel totally comfortable about blurting out all she had said. So I held back, I told him that she felt we had a strong bond and that I was shocked that she knew about him even before I had said anything. Then I dropped my big question...had he been married?

He seemed taken back by my question, but answered rather honestly. Yes, he had been married. It hadn't worked out and was something that he was still coming to terms with. There were tears in his eyes and he said that it was a part of his life that he was not proud of. We talked a little about the wedding, the engagement but then it seemed to be cutting deep so I let it go.

We finally realized it was time to say good bye. He began to cry again. I am really not used to guys who show their emotions so strongly! I assured him that we would see each other again (even though I wasn't sure myself). As I entered the elevator and looked back, my mind was racing and it was all I could do not to leap out and never let him go.

I returned to the hotel room and my outer shell broke. I began to cry hard. I was surprised at myself for getting so involved in such a short time. We were from different countries, and we are both very patriotic towards our homes and that was only the tip of the iceberg about the negatives in our relationship. Besides, what relationship? I said - I'd only known him such a short time so I couldn't understand what was happening to my usually logical, analytical self.

The phone rang about midnight. Of course, it was him. He was very emotional and to avoid waking L & J, I went out on the balcony. We talked for nearly an hour (on my cell, Oops! $$$) and he was having the same confusion I was. He said I had rocked him to the core and that he didn't know how to handle it. That this was terrible timing. That things were wrong for so many reasons, but that he couldn't listen to that. All he could think of is to be with me, any way possible. He offered to buy me another ticket home if only I stayed with him for the next week, but sadly, I had commitments at home and couldn't. I told him I was confused and surprised by my feelings too, but we had to let time tell what would happen. Then he said the strangest thing..."Mark my'll be my wife 5 years from now." I told him I was flattered but knew that many things would have to happen and life is not that easy and perfect. We hung up, both drained, with the promise to see each other as soon as possible.

He's a WHAT??
The next day arrived, and I had mixed emotions. I was definitely feeling butterflies, which was something I'd so long forgotten I didn't know what it was at first. But I was scared. Terrified at the prospect that it was all some sort of cosmic joke. Here was this great looking guy, interesting, fun to talk to, etc., and why the hell would he be interested in plain old me? Mercy date. Easy mark. Oh, the whole gamut was run in my head.

I debated with J and L what I should do. L wisely didn't really give me much advice but listened to my insecurities and let me work it through on my own. J's advice - you're on holiday...go with the flow. Seize the adventure.

And there was a small part of me that's been 1142 days. What if this is my last chance to get some? That part of me was DYING inside!

I knew he was on duty so there was no chance to see him again until that night. What a long day it was though! We spent the day hiking through the rainforests, and saw amazing vegetation. Bamboo centuries old. And humidity that made my hair frizz like I didn't know it could!

Finally, it was later in the afternoon, and I had mustered enough courage to call him and leave a message for him. At this point, I was at the 'You're on holidays...take a chance!' stage. I took a deep breath, tried to sound casual and left a message on his voicemail that we would be back at the bar at 9pm.

Hanging up the phone, I looked up at L and said, What the hell have I done? She said something I wasn't expecting... She said 'Well, there's more to him that meets the eye. Now I have to tell you what I know about him."

Um, 'scuze me??????

She told me that when I was in the bathroom the night before, he started talking to her. Turns out he had a different career before the Navy. He was a dancer. Well, not just any type of dancer...a Chippendale!

I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach. OHMIGAWD! It was obvious now that I was just a conquest. It made me feel so gross.

I said to her 'You let me call a flippin' stripper?' 'You didn't say anything?' 'Are you insane?'

Her response 'I wanted you to be sure of why you were calling him and based on what YOU knew about him. But now that you know, be careful'.

L, J and I went for dinner. During dinner, I convinced myself that I was going to be ice-queen if he showed up at the bar. One drink and then walk away. No harm, no foul. I had made a commitment to be there and I would be but it would end there.

Ha!...funny how things change from your plans....

Where ya been?
My last post was about my disasterous adventure with Veet. Pretty superficial stuff, but I did mention that it was 15 days until I left for Hawaii. So much has happened since then...

I arrived in Hawaii on a beautiful summer's evening in July. It was absolutely gorgeous! I had been there before but this time felt so different. Maybe because I was with two very good friends of mine, L. and J., or maybe because the last time I was there I was with my ex and it was definitely not a good time. That first night, we walked along Waikiki Beach listening to the sounds of the water and a local band playing Hawaiian music on the sidewalk. I looked up to see the first star of the night and said aloud 'Starlight, starbright, first star I see tonight'. What did I wish for, you ask? Well, let's put it this way...I hadn't been on a date in just over 3 years and was definitely ready. =)

Expanding on that just a touch, while I would absolutely love to have one of those storybook romances that the rest of my family seems to have found, it hasn't in my life. 3 years ago, after a particularly disasterous ending of a relationship, I swore off ever becoming involved again. I meant it and for at least the first 2 years felt very strong in my decision. I found that I liked the person I was, and that I savoured my time alone. I didn't have to answer to anyone, I told myself. Then L., my best friend for 12 years, met J. L. was like me - single and more or less loving it. J. fit in immediately and became my friend too. It made me realize I was truly missing something in my life. As I approached that 'dreaded 30 1/2' it seemed to be looming large. I'm a shy person by nature, until I get to know someone and I don't really have too many opportunities to meet people.

Oh, and I don't drink. Usually. You can probably see where this is going...

On Friday night, L, J, and I went on a sunset cruise out of Honolulu. It should have been a great time, and was, but the boat itself was terrible. Too many people crammed into too small a space. I'm not a claustraphobic person usually but this was insane. Our table was a very eclectic group...two postal workers from Odessa, TX (we thought they were like Thelma and Louise but ended up being really sweet), an older lady from New Y-aark dripping in jewels and telling us over and over again the man she was with was her late husband's brother, and a ex-hippie couple from Michigan covered in tattoos but mostly just worried that their son wasn't getting into trouble while we were on the boat. Because we couldn't get out of our seats very easy, we didn't enjoy much of the smorgasbord. However, the waiter kept bringing drink after drink of this lovely pineapple concoction. Oddly, I don't really remember a lot of the rest of the cruise... =)

By the time we docked though, we had become fast friends of the Michigan and Odessa people. The Odessa girls asked us to join them at the beach bar called Duke's. Highly out of character, but we decided to try it out. The Michigan man, reminding me very much of my older brother, bought me a drink 'for not judging him by appearance'. Little did I know that it was a pina colada made with 151 rum.

We sat at a table and soon a player arrived to chat up one of the Odessa girls. He was a riot! He thought he was Joe Cool and was giving all Canadians a bad name with his highly exaggerated stories. He thought we were all from Texas and it was a bit of a suprise when I finally opened my mouth to tell him we were also Canadian, and that No, Calgary is not the capital of Canada!

He motioned to his friend at the bar, and asked him to sit down with us. The guy sat down beside me and my alarm bells immediately started ringing. He was absolutely beautiful. Yeah, I know...I had my drunk goggles on. =) Turns out the player had just met him that evening and he was actually just killing time as he had duty early the next morning. We talked for a cynical heart feeling cracks in it's outer exterior. His name was Todd, he was a Petty Officer in the Navy and was in Hawaii for military duty. I had stopped drinking by this point as I wanted my head to clear. L and J were ready to leave and gave the hint that it was time. Todd looked sad that I was leaving, and gave me a kiss. L snapped a shot off at the same time, so now I can say I have a pic of our very first kiss. ;-) Again, I told him we were leaving and if he wanted to find me, he would. He leaned in and told me his room number where he was staying and told me to give him a call.

It was such a fun night, and my bitter side was silenced at least for that moment. We walked back to our hotel and I was on Cloud 9. No, higher than that, really.... I went for a swim in the ocean in all my clothes!

By the time I got to the hotel, I told myself this was a one-off. Nothing more, nothing less. I said to L that he reminded me of my ex, JB. JB was a serial dater, not that he mentioned it to me at the time. He never liked my 'one at a time' rule and hence, we found were better off as friends than as anything else.

Who knew what the next few days would bring? Whatever that star was, it was definitely listening that first night....

I started this blog a few months ago as a way to decompress from all the crazy stuff going on in my life. What happened after that? I got busy, life got even crazier and now I'm addicted to reading everyone else's blogs.

At first, it was to try to get some insight into what it was like for the U.S. military personnel deployed in Iraq (more on that later...), then from there it was to read about what it was like for the loved ones of those deployed. Finally, and where I'm at now, is to read what it's like for those in Iraq and those living through this time. The stories of the two Mosul girls have stuck in my head and my heart aches for them, and their families. I want to comfort them, tell them it will all be ok, but who am I to do that?

Last night, I was trying to fall asleep and the fog horn in the distance was driving me crazy. A combination of the fog and the still air made the horn sound like it was in my bedroom and I couldn't settle. Then I thought, who am I to complain about a fog horn, a beacon of safety, when others in the world can't fall asleep because of the sound of bullets and bombs?

Needless to say, I definitely had a hard time sleeping last night....

So today, I am going to restart my blogging. Not even sure if it's all that productive, but if I enjoy reading them so much, maybe writing will be cathartic as well. I have always dreamed of writing my own book on the adventures and insanity that crowds my daily life... Now if only I could figure out this HTML business, we'd be golden.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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Turning thirty and a half
  • July 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
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  • January 2006

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