Thursday, 31 December 2009

Black tie optional (New Year's Absolutions)

Here is an education, the lesson professed is quite cruel
There are some things worse than death
And one of them is you.
Oh my goodness. All that hard physical work this week and one piece of cake yesterday is going to ruin the tenuous relationship I have with this dress.

I just won't breathe. Which is fine, since if I breathe I might take in cold air and it's freeeezing tonight. The dress will be hidden under a suit jacket most of the evening, unless it's very warm at the loft.

Caleb is throwing a New Year's Eve party.

He came back early after going to Montreal for much of the week and managed to pull together a huge soiree for this evening. The children are going to PJ's mother's house for a sleepover and we are all in our best right now, something I generally only see for memorial services and other people's weddings.

I borrowed an iron from my neighbor for Ben's shirt.

He looks amazing in a suit. I think I've said that before. Ben's linebacker shoulders squared up in a plain black suit and a dark grey shirt and dress shoes make me melt. Perhaps I can have Caleb teach him to shoot his cuffs and then my knees would be even more wobbly than they are when I look at him now.

This is the last party in this city. The last time all of us will be together here. The last New Years we will celebrate at thirty below and the final time that I visit the loft, since it has already sold and Caleb is actually staying at the house with us.

All of my boys look so handsome when they put some effort into finding something to wear other than their usual uniforms of flannel shirts, jeans and beards. And I think I look almost okay in my Marchesa dress. Okay enough to leave August speechless for the first few minutes when he arrived and I answered the door looking like a ballerina on a coffee break. Dress. Hair in curlers. Bare legs. Now that my hair is finished and I've found my garters and stockings and shoes the look is complete. Maybe he thought I looked awful.


Ben just stares and smiles, happy that the diamond and the amethyst rings that dangle off my finger came from him. Oddly still relieved on major holidays and events that I didn't marry Lochlan as they really and truly thought I would had all the planets aligned when we were teenagers. Now everyone seems to have come to a place where they leave Ben and I alone. Save for Caleb. He doesn't leave us alone. Lochlan does, because Lochlan is aware that major holidays and events belong to the devil. He doesn't like it, he is just aware.

This will be the last night we spend at the loft and I'm relieved for that. That is what I'm celebrating. The end of that place as Caleb's evil playground. Happy New Year indeed. I'm hoping that maybe he leaves me with enough dignity that I can show my face at New Year's Day brunch tomorrow without wanting to crawl into a hole until I'm given the signal that I am not blamed for the appetites of others and that it's merely a source of massive relief when I walk out of a room after being touched by Satan himself, instead of being carried out or led out unsteadily, painfully. I won't say bruised because bruises are a given. Bite marks too. Twisted, twitching muscles and mollified expressions a staple the day after.

I can only walk into the party tonight with the hopes that it runs long, which makes the endurance that Ben and I submit to shorter in length, and that Satan is feeling generous instead of selfish. But that's the thing with hopes. They are something that optimists hold. I never claimed to be one of those.

Happy New Year. Tomorrow if I have any wits left I'll share my resolutions. I hope you will too. I always love to hear what others have in store for the upcoming year.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Too tired to be dramatic tonight. Sigh.

Every single cut we made today had to be some sort of lazy parallelogram, a listing rectangle, screwed into the studs with a hope and a prayer and more swear words than ever before. We went through fourteen sheets of plasterboard and three hundred screws, suffering a host of injuries.

I wound up under a falling sheet once again and Ben didn't happen to be handy enough to catch it today so as a result my head is a little flat now in one space so there will be no words that begin with a D until it returns to normal. Ben carved up his knuckles and stepped on a huge rusted staple which wouldn't come out easily. I'm sure it hit bone and tetanus will befall him shortly.

But we're finished and he never nailed me to the wall by my hood and I never attempted to accidentally stab the crowbar into his back. We even cleaned up together, put away all of the tools and remarked on how good the porch looks now. And how warm it is. Amazing.

And then we had cake. And now coffee. And looked at our phones and found a second round of missed calls and orphan messages that will be returned tomorrow because tomorrow will not be spent working.

All of the very major construction-type thingies are finished now and I'm so happy for that tonight it's hard to be freaked out that I can't lift my arms anymore and I have splinters in my splinters and plaster in my hair and I may have killed another vacume (yes, spelling) cleaner with errant screws and construction wreckage.

So happy.

I will never put up plasterboard again. Ever.

(Find any d-words yet?) <---epic princess FAIL. Look at the title.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

It started off sweet enough.

I was sitting on the floor trying to loosen the chuck of the drill or whatever that thing is you do when you want to change the bit when I heard a yell and saw Ben's feet appear beside me, then his face. Above his shoulders and resting on his back was the eight-foot sheet of heavy drywall that would have fallen on me otherwise.

Had it happened two hours later he probably would have let it fall on me and no one would have blamed him.

We managed to get eight sheets of it up today after finishing the framing-in and are planning to get the rest done tomorrow. My back and my legs are aching, I failed to sleep much again last night am I'm frustrated that we're mired in his last week home doing work on the house and I pretty much had a very unpretty meltdown just as we opted to hang it up for the night, after hours of bickering and admiring our work, alternately.

I hate tomorrow already but I plan to drag my sorry little aching butt to the grocery store first and I'm going to buy a giant chocolate cake or six so that when it's all done the princess gets a treat. Seriously, fuck these crooked walls and unsquare floors, all will be well when it's finished and we can have dessert. Dessert makes everything better.

Monday, 28 December 2009

It's Monday, I think.

I have twenty minutes to myself before the laundry will be dry and need folding so I end up here, knocking lightly on the door to my journal, hoping to stop in for a quick coffee before the day continues. I have coffee with me, a big fresh cup from the pot I made a few minutes ago because Ben wanted some too. I have some every day between two and three no matter what or I'm a narcoleptic nightmare after supper. Coffee does bad things to Ben's guts and he shouldn't have any but he does it anyway. He is here beside me working on his macbook.

Today toward moving we went and got the drywall screws and tape to go with the drywall they brought in on the twenty-third, and we worked for a couple hours finishing up the shelves in the kitchen. We had shortened the counter space a few years ago to accommodate the pastry station/chopping block end, and were left with an odd little open corner where the drawers met the rest of the cupboards.

Ben finished all of that off today, adding two shelves for cookbooks or wine or trays or whatever you want to put in them. They're cubby-holes and they work very well, adding a little more character because that's what we are good at. I will paint them after he goes to New York. I'll be painting a lot of things. For today I was content to assume my role of sitting on the floor handing him drill bits and levels and screws, burning his image into my brain as if I haven't already done that a thousand times over.

Also toward moving today we gave away Butterfield's big metal cage to a neighbor. It's far too large for little Bonham, and it's been sitting in the back porch for two years. We're going to need to empty the room in order to get the drywall up tomorrow.

I also had much success in shoveling the end of the driveway. After our Christmas storm, we were finally plowed out this morning, and I took the shovel down to the end of the driveway to clear the ridge of snow-plates that wind up blocking my escape and the bulldozer operator saw me and came back and scraped all the snow away from the drive before I had a chance to level my shovel at the mess. Bless him. I blew kisses as he drove away, went inside and fully half the boys in residence expressed doubt that I had finished that quickly. I said nothing and they went and looked and saw it all done and since I have no poker face I told them about the driver who came back and cleared it and they are content now that my charm still functions well enough to get the job done any way I can.

(Which is a total double standard in that it's okay for snow-clearing but not okay for anything related to Caleb. Surprise.)

Tonight I have to take a pill to summon sleep and possibly will hit my head a few more times to spool up the birds and take myself out of evil consciousness for a brief respite. I didn't sleep for five minutes last night and am frustrated with just about everything today as a result. Which is silly because I had a lovely night wrapped tightly in Ben's arms while he took away any chance I'll ever have again of being regarded as a lady proper, and then when he finally fell asleep I was wide awake and unable to quiet my head but not able to identify anything I could actively work on which defeats the purpose of being able to talk myself out of panic and that isn't fair.

For the moment, however, it is good to know the house is almost done, the roads are driveable again, the coffee is hot Sumatra, Ben still has this whole week here in within reach of the princess, which is nice. Time finally moves a little bit slowly. Or so it feels today.

Tomorrow the framing will be finished and the drywall goes up in the porch. It's going to be a busy day but it will be satisfying too to get that big job underway at last. I'm almost excited. And I HATE renovating. Think I can get a new house next time? Yeah, me neither.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Bridget's going to earn her merit badge for post-apocalyptic survivalism.

And if you were with me tonight,
I'd sing to you just one more time.
A song for a heart so big,
god wouldn't let it live.
May angels lead you in.
Hear you me my friends.
On sleepless roads the sleepless go.
May angels lead you in.
Twenty-four hours later and I am marginally better, trying on this whole inevitable being alone for a couple of months thing under different lights, with different shoes and bracelets even. I've found a couple of angles that work and some that spell certain disaster. Overall it's a ridiculously bad idea and I've spent much of the day fidgeting with my new Blackberry, that now has ten different methods of instant-messaging installed and tested. God help us all, if someone wants to get a hold of me I'm pretty sure I won't miss their attempt. I can also sound the alarm a hundred different ways. Not like it will matter though.

August came seeking absolution on toast for breakfast this morning and he got it, because like I said last night, none of this is his fault by any means. A lot of the mannerisms and actions the boys display mirror each other, from years of being friends, brothers, roommates, bandmates, and rivals. It's inevitable. And the initial disapproval over Lochlan choosing to give Bridget a few glasses of wine rather than wait out the inevitable blonde tornado and her subsequent destruction was appreciated in the end in spite of the hypocritical nature of our actions. This is a house full of hypocrites at the end of every day. We are nothing if not humble and transparent and fallible and apologetic. We are equally narcissistic, veiled and unconquerable, refusing to be held accountable for what is surely an emotional wasteland that we will pick through for treasures, sustenance, adventure and safety, too.

Such is life really.

I see no point in sugarcoating bad things to make them taste sweeter. Shit is shit after all and artificially-sweetened shit is even more disgusting. Who am I fooling? I'm not okay by a long shot. But I'm a functional, darned cute little lunatic and that's what butters my bread for now. Just insane enough to make people laugh and suck them into my vulnerable, dark and beautiful world before letting them become aware that everything here is glass painted black and they have morphed into a bull with no room to turn around.

And wow, someday I'm going to run out of my ridiculous analogies. That's going to be a sad day indeed.

In the meantime, the boys say they love them and that's all that matters to me. This week I'll be helping them finish the house, everything but the paint and plaster gets done this week. There isn't all that much left. I will cover painting and minor plasterwork after they have left and then as Ben returns here and there (once in January and once in February) he can inspect my handiwork and look forward to those trips instead of imagining this as a blanket absence like those of my past. The hard part is expecting change over expecting the same experience, time after time. Apparently I will need to experience this to be able to see it for what it is.


Character building is difficult and complicated and we have run out of wine. At least I have. I'm off to have a hot bath and then curl up in my flannel pajamas with Benjamin the Stoic to watch a movie and finish off the Christmas cake. I guess that is something to look forward to. Instead of cooking dinner for between eight and sixteen people every night I will be cooking for three and I could actually just cook for the children and sit with them and eat cake instead of dinner.

That might be pretty cool, come to think of it. I find it utterly fascinating that the boys can spoil me so thoroughly and yet I remain incredibly hard on myself. So much work to do and so little time to do it in. I guess I'd better get started. It's a pretty big freaking list and I've gotten great at putting it off.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

The natural fool (excused for her behavior).

(Lit like a fibre-optic Christmas tree and back to sober in a three-hour span. Welcome to my rollercoaster. No pushing.)

I wasn't contemplating any of Lochlan's wine until August walked in through the back porch door, hung his plaid coat on a hook in the hallway and then reached for my ear with his thumb and forefinger as he was putting his arms around me for a hug, ostensibly checking to see if I had my hearing aids in.

I wouldn't be drunk but that's exactly the routine Jake would carry out when he came home from the church or from the university and I know damn well August didn't mean anything by it. Hell, I just typed something to that effect the other day about my bobby pins always falling out because the boys are always touching my head, it's a given, they check for the hearing aids daily or whenever they come in, all of them so I don't really think about it much, and my head is at midchest level for most of them which means it's far more comfortable for them to put their arms around my head (blockouttheworld) than around my shoulders or waist or something. I'm five feet tall. Try it. It's just weird to reach way down, I bet.

In my peripheral vision I could see August greeting the guys, their routine of grasping hands and thumping backs a few times swimming in blurry flannel when it became too much, when my knees were too weak to hold me up because it was the single most painful case of deja vu I've ever felt since Jake died. The tea towel fell on the floor and I sat down heavily in the chair by the dining room door and started hyperventilating. So so quietly. They don't need this. They've had enough. Pull yourself together and just relax. Only it wasn't working and I could hear the little tiny gasps and I couldn't keep them silent anymore and I banged my head against the wall and oh Jesus Ben came running after the third crack into the plaster and I pointed out the stars around my head and asked if maybe they were accompanied by birds and into his arms I went, shaking like a leaf.

Jake was-

I know, princess.

No, August was here and-

Holidays are hard, Bridget.

He squeezed me in his arms and I squealed and he let go and looked at me. I looked at my knees (Flutterbyesbrowneyes). I sat on my hands. I did not meet his eyes. A hard holiday indeed when missing someone two years gone grinds a perfectly reasonable season to a halt. A feeling I wish I could bury forever.

Lochlan was in the doorway and he crossed to the cupboard and took out a glass and the bottle of red wine from last night that we opened and did not get to. (DullthepaindullitdullitquietnotSatansway)

Just for tonight.

Yeah. Just for tonight. Bring me the wine and bookend me. Keep the ghost away and don't let him come back. He doesn't deserve to take responsibility for how I feel.

Has she already been drinking? (Andrew, surprised by such a rapid decent. He doesn't see so many of these.)

I don't think so.

Where is August?

I'm right here, Bridget.

It's not your fault.

I know.

I don't think you do.

Yeah, I miss him too. It isn't easy not having him here.

Everyone nodded. Which seemed comical. They were standing in a semicircle around where I sat, like jokers performing for the princess. Make her laugh. Win her favor and you will become the court jester! Everyone loves to laugh. Ben was on his knees in front of me, Lochlan had already turned his back and was pouring me a glass of wine because I won't take pills to feel better because pills take away the sad but they take away all the other feelings too and you wind up with cardboard-cutout Bridget and she's dull.

Bookends, Lochlan.

I'm right here, princess.

Don't go either, Ben.

I'm not going anywhere tonight, bee.

No, don't go away. You can't. I can't do this.

We'll be okay.

Why won't you LISTEN?

Three glasses of wine now and I'm not angry with Ben anymore. I know if we had a choice this would not be it. I know that I'm a hypocrite for taking the night off from my feral emotions, my vehemence and using alcohol to do it, and I know that August is not Jake. Okay, well, sometimes he is and those are the times you really must look out for Bridget because she goes to hell in her handbasket, handwoven from the bones within her flesh and really they will just ride this out.

A good crack on the head should always feature birds for entertainment, shouldn't it?

No, bee. It shouldn't.

Oh, well, in a perfect world it totally would, Benny.

Bridget, in a perfect world you wouldn't injure yourself on purpose.

Right. No one would, would they? Not me, not you, and certainly not Jake.

Jake didn't-

I know what Jake did. I hate him. And I love you.

Then put down the damned glass and come sit with me for a bit. Read the paper. Write something while I work on emails. Just put the glass down.

I can do that.

No ghosts?

No birds. Good enough, I guess.

You're disappointed, aren't you?

Yes. I think birds should fly around my head perpetually, don't you?

I can do pathetic. What I can't seem to pull off is progress.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Latin lovers.

Merry Christmas, or maybe I should say hilaris sarcalogos!
Wake up, it's Christmas mourn
Those loved have long since gone
The stockings are hung but who cares
preserved for those no longer there
six feet beneath me sleep
I'm stealing a few moments for some latin between peanut butter and banana sandwiches and turkey proper. The turkey smells heavenly, we put it in just before lunch so it will be ready in hours. I need to go soon and pat it with more butter, lingering in the warm kitchen for a bit. Puttering.

Christmas this morning was a laid-back, relaxed endeavor. Coffee, juice and icing-sugar doughnuts and a quick dog-walk in the blizzard blowing outside. Ben in pajamas. Then Ben in his big warm sweater and jeans. Still riding the ridiculous confidence high of his spotlight among his peers, relishing his chance to serenade us publicly. He and Daniel sang Adeste Fidelis just after the sermon and then at the end of the service Ben sang Red Water (Christmas Mourning). A capella. Alone.


I wondered for a moment if Ben had tricked Sam, or if Sam knew the basis for that song since it's something you would never hear in a church, let alone as part of a Christmas Eve candlelight service, but when I looked at Sam he was mouthing the words, hypnotized by Ben's voice. Sam began his ministry here as such a hard ass and wound up more laid back than Jacob, if that is possible. You'd have to be lying down to be more laid back than Jacob was. Sam has achieved the impossible. Or better yet, has taken Jacob's place in areas I did not expect him to embrace.

I'm losing my train of thought. The phone keeps ringing. People wishing us a Merry Christmas. People complimenting Ben's singing. People telling us they wish us well, they wish we'd stay, they wish I felt differently about how accepted or unaccepted I have felt since moving here. Not that any of it is more than holiday lush-service, since moving is a good thing, not a bad thing, and since most people have already lit into the wine or brandy. The blizzard here means wherever you are is wherever you will stay for the remainder of today and maybe tomorrow too. I'm almost glad for that. It's a quiet little Christmas where we had strict rules. Presents must fit in the palm of one's hand, must cost under a thousand dollars and we must enjoy every moment because time is running out on routine here and our snowglobe is due to be picked up and shaken hard. Or so says Christian and I believe him.

And so Ben ticked off everything on my list this year, bringing me Mary Weiland's book and the Blackberry Bold 2 (the 9700) that I've been seriously coveting since using the Bold 9000 for work. This Bold kicks that Bold's ass alllllllll around the room and I love it to pieces and him too. He is my gift. Every damned day.

The kids loved all their presents too. They got pajamas and books and games but the best gift of all for the children and for Bridget was Ben going to Build-a-Bear and while we thought we were just checking it out and then left to continue browsing in another shop, Ben wondered aloud if he had locked the truck and went to check.


Lo and behold this morning Ruth, Henry and I opened our own custom-chosen bears, made by Ben, who says he stood on the pedal to stuff them and chose hearts to put inside and made the wishes and everything else you have to do to make a bear, plus he recorded a goodnight message for each of us to listen to when we miss him, which plays when you squeeze a paw. Which made all four (okay twelve) of us cry and I don't think anyone could have come up with a better gift unless it included winning the lottery and paying off the record company so he would be released from his obligations once and for all.

I will squeeze the paw on my patchwork bear to hear Ben's voice every night that he is away from us and I will laugh when I think of him having to go through the 'construction' process at the workshop with the workers in their aprons and then having to sit and fill out birth certificates for the bears on the low stools meant for people much smaller than he is.

He didn't think it would mean so much but it does. It means more than he'll ever understand. It's such a departure from belting out holidayesque gothic metal songs in a darkened church or skating out of his net swinging in the middle of a friendly hockey game. It gives his big scarred boyheart a new purpose and it makes him the giant goof that makes Christmas fun, bringing light and music to a house ruled by the tiny glowing-haired tyrant and her ghosts of Christmas past.

Dinner will be ready in just under two hours. I have turkey, stuffing, gravy, braided buns, baby red potatoes, peas, wine, cranberry juice and chocolate cake and fruit for dessert. Plus we have Christmas crackers to pull with trinkets inside, which always brings a mad effort on part of Benjamin and PJ to set the table on fire with the biggest sparks they can make. That probably wasn't a good idea but I won't leave the crackers off the table, because they contain our crowns, and dammit, this Christmas in this kingdom, we are royalty.
Red water chase them away
My tables been set for but seven
just last year I dined with eleven
goddamn ye merry gentlemen
Whoa mistletoe (It's growing cold)
I'm seeing ghosts (I'm drinking old)
Merry Christmas to you all. Hope you have snap-crackers, turkey and loved ones to enjoy tonight too.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Teflon Jesus calls it Chutzpah and that makes me laugh.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of Light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.
Supper will be late tonight.

I've got my stiletto boots on, and my dark green silk Valentino and I'll keep my black wool coat on throughout the service tonight, because it's been a little over two years since the church was warm. I've got around seventeen bobby pins holding the usual braided knot in place because the wisps began to escape early because the boys are always touching my hair, holding my head for a kiss or a hug, stroking a cheek or an ear, dunking me upside down in the snowdrifts. The usual.

I'll climb the steps of the church and go inside, clutching Ben's hand with both of mine, spinning his rings, Lochlan not far behind to catch the princess and help her find her balance. The stares will be unavoidable. Half of this congregation hates me and the other half wants to be me. Equal feverish hopes unspoken in which they wish to alternately spend a moment or two in my six-inch heels or burn me at the stake, laughing all the while. I'm not oblivious, I just pretend. It's been this way since I left Cole.

Ben is going to pry my hands from his just after Sam gives him the nod and he will advance to the front of the sanctuary and sing Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence while people finish filing in and get settled, their eyes taking my inventory. Judging me. Judging us.

The children appear to be well-dressed, neat and content.

Yes, all of the boys are here too. What goes on in that giant black house with the white gingerbread anyway?

He doesn't SEEM all that frightening right now.

She does. It's always the ones you don't expect.

I've been grinding my teeth alot lately, but I did my dutiful Christmas preparations. Everything is wrapped and most of it hidden away in a little-used room in the basement. The tree is decorated and lit. I left it plugged in. Dinner will be a casserole that will bake slowly while we are out tonight and the sparkling water is chilling in the refrigerator door. We leave the Christmas lights on in the porch around the clock and the children will work on the gingerbread house later on when we get home from the service.

I have cookies, groceries, and a new cake from the bakery. The sidewalks, walkways and driveway are shoveled. It's done. I'm ready, just as soon as I walk the gauntlet of churchgoers and hypocrites, who smile to my face while they're thrusting knives into my back, jealous of God only knows what, but loathe to admit it. Hateful because of their envy.

They should not envy me.

Satan hovers close, a malevolent satellite keeping things calm, far more frightening than Benjamin could ever be. Ben is a lion who can be tamed with a lip balm, a set of headphones and a Big Mac. Caleb's appetites see no end, he's the moebius man, content to hide his deadly fetishes behind his generosity and his charm. Sort of like I do, except I am not generous, I am selfish and spoiled and I have earned every curiosity they've ever guessed at and then some. They only think they know what sort of life I lead, what is real and what is imaginary. Sort of like believing in the spirit of Christmas versus believing that there is a Santa Claus.

Some people just don't know the difference.

I was not put here to educate them just like I know how to tame Caleb, but I can't pull it off. I've tried. I'm just not ready to die at his hand. I would die for others, not for him.

I will not go tonight to laud my current choices in front of them, I'm too fragile for their brand of neighbourly derision. I'll go tonight to listen to Ben sing Christmas carols and possibly a secular song (I don't know which. I think I know but he's not telling) in the sanctuary and I will go to listen to Sam and to represent the failure of God to drive me away just because I still think he has it in for me and I like to thumb my nose at him every chance I get in proof that he won't win either.

I'll go to spend extra time terrorizing and arousing my neighbours as I alternately accept hands to hold and arms to tuck under, just to keep them all confused. I'll go to support Sam as he prepares to soon tell his congregation that for the second time in three years they are losing their minister and I'll go because it's Christmas, pure and simple.

And I'll go because this dress is beautiful. I didn't buy it, it was a gift. One I can't return because it was custom-made for me. Just like my soul. You can't have either so take both items off your list and be grateful for what you do have.

It works for me.
“The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind”
~E. B. White

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

He won't even tell me which song!

Well, holy shit. Ben is going to sing again this year in the Christmas Eve service at church. I don't know how Sam managed to exact that promise this year. It was probably the cupcakes and fellowship bribe of this afternoon that sealed the deal.

We're in for such a treat. I'm excited.


Today toward moving we took the final load out to the landfill, mostly pieces of wood from building the fence and the old barbecue that isn't worth taking or giving away and the contents of the rafters in my garage. Most of the guys were free to load the truck and everyone just wanted to get the outside work finished before the snowfall that I see in the forecast. I helped bring armloads of wood and verified that yes, that's it for things that need to be taken away. I made sure they had cash for gas and load fees and then they were off to do man things, surely stopping at the hardware store on the way back because we need plasterboard. There's still the back porch to finish, it was stripped right down to the studs and now it's freshly wired and insulated and ready for actual walls again.

Other than that we've been laying low, sleeping in, eating out, holding each other, making sure everyone is okay with changes coming up. With the plans falling into place slowly but surely. With making sure the children are informed and okay with what happens next. It's not an easy undertaking, after all. We're a very large family.

Ben has been surprising me often, which is nice because he seemed to be pulling away again., like he always seems to do before tour, before anything that takes him away. Withdrawing even to the point where by yesterday afternoon I was jumping around him waving my arms like a stranded hiker in the woods who finally spots a helicopter. He noticed and I was rescued from the certain boredom and stinging dismissal with a trip around town, out for dinner and then a final round of Christmas shopping. Then home and everyone scatters to their favorite haunts in the house to unwind. It's like a tiny little poignant vacation at home before all hell breaks loose and I'm grateful for it.

I don't sleep though, not enough and so I'm pretty much worn out and overwhelmed by everything that's going to happen sooner rather than later. I lie awake in the dark and tears just roll and sometimes he notices those and sometimes he is already asleep. I can't help it. That's when the fear takes over. It's hard to force myself to think about good things or other things but eventually exhaustion takes over, at least for a few hours and then it all begins again.

This is the hard part. The same thing happened last time. We knew everyone was coming out too, but there were months in between, in transit where we were all in different places and things were tough and we all felt disconnected and the boys were quieter than usual while they dealt with missing me and each other and the children too. I don't like the quiet times, I'll take the fist-swinging and the big pounding hugs and the rock-bottom pleas and boisterous laughter any day over this uneasy peaceful quiet.

Oh yes I would.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Strange circles and narcoleptic records.

I had my annual check-in call from Batman this morning. Interesting. He usually calls on New Year's Day but he wasn't sure he wanted to interrupt the final days of my sanity and security. I didn't really think he read here but I always mind my words anyway. In that I don't care if certain people read, I'm going to say what I came to say and only what I came to say.

We had movie night last night. Went and saw 2012 and The Hangover.

Here's some reviews:

2012: I am not a John Cusack fan. His face is virtually expressionless. I feel nothing because he looks like he feels nothing. Dead eyes. Add to that cheating death a hundred and fifty times and I was left thinking the director's mission was to out-big Independence Day. Fail. One should not be bored by a movie.

The Hangover: Hilarious. All of it. Even the weird parts. I spent the whole movie wondering why I knew Bradley Cooper's face and had to look it up this morning. Lonely Planet on television a lifetime ago. Peru. Aha. PJ and the bearded guy are personality twins. Bradley's character in the movie was so laid back I was jealous. I laughed and I only fell asleep in one tiny part and only for a second and Ben checked and I was busted and therefore, awake. I heard they are making part 2 and I will go see it when it's out.

I really hope no one is offended when I check out of consciousness during a perfectly good movie. It has nothing to do with the quality or I would have slumbered right through 2012. Seriously. I like apocalypse movies. That one was a joke. It's just that when I stop moving, I fall asleep.

Today I'm sort of sitting here not cleaning my house, and after lunch we're going to get a big load of Christmas groceries, run a few errands (I need a weird light bulb for my range hood, Ben has to drop off his studio keys, etc.) and then we'll go and see Santa, because we haven't yet. I couldn't do crowds. I just couldn't. I'm hoping since it's a Monday afternoon he'll have a few moments for us. Then maybe out for some Thai (YAY!) and then some movies tonight at home. Whatever's on will be fine. I'm enjoying Benjamin until he is gone. That's all I can manage and I'm mostly able to push away the scary thoughts right this second.

A tall order on the shortest day of the year.

The strange part of today is Caleb's willingness to blend in, go with the flow and be mellow. He spoke with Batman, spoke with Sophie (I could hear their conversation and God is so playing a bad joke on me with this) and has been learning how to play video games with the children.

Everyone is focused on the children when they aren't shoving each other around and jostling for Bridget-time because apparently I am not the only planet in this galaxy. Which I knew already but frankly my kids are way more mature and well-adjusted than I am and so they need less reassurance and more fun, while I need more reassurance and perhaps a very thorough lobotomy.

Off to get the day underway, it will probably be a busy afternoon.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Learning as we go.

Daddy's little girl paints the world with her magic wand
Let's see now. It's Sunday night. The sun is going down which means the ghosts are waking up, Sam yelled at me (how could you have him in the house!), Ben and Caleb are arguing over Lochlan (which yeah, well, interesting) and I somehow have to tell Ruth that Molly died.

At least once a month Ruth and I snuggle down on the couch and watch Uptown Girls. It's our favorite afternoon activity when she's not feeling well or we're tired or just because. We know all the dialogue and the words to the songs. We cry when Molly or Ray cries onscreen. Now when we see it it's going to be unbearable, and it's just one more reminder that joy is measured in moments, and you can't let them go to waste.

I really hope Ben and Caleb can put their tempers away for the children's sakes. For my sake. So far so good. You know, I don't care how awful a person is or how much out of my comfort zone I end up, Christmas + alone is just not a combination I will let anyone take on. Even Satan.

I'm hoping for a peaceful supper and an escape kind of night. I have a couple of movies lined up and I'd like to learn to pass the time instead of enduring it. You know, taking my own damned advice.

No room at the inn.

My actual Christmas bonus wasn't the money put into funds that might mature when I do in order that I don't wind up playing airplane tag with kids in tow. Caleb isn't dumb. That money, along with any other money save for about a hundred dollars in my purse is out of reach unless I ask for it now. Mainly because if I have it, we will run. I don't lie.

The bonus was supposed to be Caleb leaving town for the holidays.

I was going to drive him to the airport myself this morning. Or rather, Ben would have, since it's slippery today and snowing.

And yet here he is. Still in town.


There was snow in Montreal. So much of it that rather than mess around with changing his plans or possibly getting stuck there when he is on a tight schedule, he opted to stay in town. Right. This is the part where I point out that since he's here, we'll have to see him and since there is nothing more depressing than a hotel during the holidays so...

He's staying here.

Sigh. I know.

He already asked where I keep the clothing steamer.


Do you have an iron?

Um, nope.

Jesus, Bridget.

We're not barbarians. I don't iron. Period. Not anymore. I have. I will sometimes. Like once a year. If that. So when the iron looked slightly rusty I pitched it. So he's going to have his laundry picked up to be done. Which is fine. I would have loved to shrink all his favorite bespoke shirts and lose one sock out of every pair but really it's better this way.

Wait until he finds out the thread count in my sheets are close to zero.

Wait until the dog poops by the door instead of outside. It happens once a week or so.

Wait until he finds out I reheat coffee sometimes, if the boys are busy and no one brings any home for me or takes me out for some.

Wait until he really understands the gravity of staying in a hundred-year-old house with seven other people and an emergency-grade shortage of bathroom facilities.

Maybe, since it's Christmas, I should cut him some slack. I considered this briefly on my way into church and then as we were stepping around a group on the icy steps, both Caleb and Ben reached out, each placing a familiar hand on my back, one of which was very quickly withdrawn when treated with the dark flash of Ben's temper, ever so quietly over my head.

And so today instead of praying for patience, I was forced to pray feverishly and silently that no one murders Caleb in his sleep this Christmas season.


Saturday, 19 December 2009

Right now.

We saw Avatar yesterday afternoon. And evening. It's a good almost three hours long, which is usually a lot for me. I only technically hold a thimble-full of pee and couldn't make it through King Kong even though it starred Naomi Watts and I have a huge crush on Naomi.


Okay! Avatar. It was so beautiful! The forest at night was amazing. I wanted to go there. I wanted the people to be happy and safe and I cared about them. Which is pretty significant. You forget they are aliens because humans are the aliens in this movie, the bad guys, the one ruining everything. I held my breath when the Na'vi flew through the skies and I cheered for them when they fought against their obstacles, both within their ranks and without. It was an adventure, an event, something not to be missed. Go see it, okay? You'll be glad you did.

Today toward moving we took the three very fat, very ancient goldfish to the pet store to be re-adopted. Then we tore down the tank and took it out of the house. It's very quiet on the main level now. I'm so used to the burbling and knocking noises from the tank and the ambient light from the corner of the room where it sat. Now Ben's guitars are stacked there. They will not be re-adopted but instead packed lovingly and the good ones carried on the plane or in the truck, we still have not decided if we will go by land or by air. It's too bad we can't fly on giant bonded-to winged critters like in the movie.

We also went for a drive around the city, a big loop from west to south and back again, stopping for coffee and donuts with Christmas sprinkles and Boston Cremes, which I lick all the filling out of and Ben makes lewd comments the entire time. I am still enjoying my coffee because I put it in my big Starbucks steel mug so it stays hot for days. So yummy. I'm hoping for equal yummies by going out for dinner and then maybe another drive to look at the lights.

I have started to work on this years resolutions for January first and beyond. I believe I have gotten off easy in the past. 'Stop missing Jake' is no longer the fallback goal of my life maybe. In around the edges there is light. It's faint but it glints just enough to be noticed. I have to work now. I have to make plans and look forward to things and move.

Dammit, Bridget, move, he says. Go, now, silly princess. Stop missing me.

I'm trying!

The balance of power shifts and it's awkward and exposing. Frightening when I let it get to me but empowering when I don't. Right now it's 75% frightening and 25% empowering but I'm working on a 60-40 split the other way. Trying to keep my eye on the prize.

Damn...wish my prize was Naoooooomi.


Friday, 18 December 2009


I'm going to check out of today, which hasn't gone all that smoothly but it may be because of the chip on my shoulder and go worship the velvet curtains and mid-black screen of the movie theater for three speechless hours of escape. Sorely needed, and long overdue.

Movies are my escape and they're been few and far between as of late. I'll be able to rectify that once Ben is away but for now I'm kind of a barnacle on his underbelly, content to cling and feed off his existence, a pretty parasite of the unnoticed kind. That is the hardest part of this move. I can pack things, I can arrange for things, I can coordinate things. I cannot process being away from Ben for weeks at a time anymore. Maybe I used to, maybe I never did.

God, this sucks.

On the upside, the kids are off for Christmas break, Ben is home for the next two weeks straight and okay, no, I really need the escape. Bye.

I'll have a review of Avatar later on. Possibly tonight.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Sweeping out the holly cart.

Leave me here forever in the dark.
I ran this morning. It feels like it's been ages, and my head felt heavy, my knees felt unreliable and the mittens I grabbed on the way out the door were the wrong ones and I wound up running with clenched fists and had to work very hard at keeping myself from jamming my hands under my arms. Have you tried to run like that? Exactly. At the speed I travel I need my arms for balance.

I can't keep up with Corey or Dalton. They maintained a two-block lead. Ben and Lochlan ran half a block behind me. I was the outcast and so I turned up my music and let a different Ben serenade me this morning.

And damn. I really love this record. My Ben still maintains this Ben is a lightweight. Benjamin is jealous of mainstream rock success maybe. The kind that his very incredibly heavy metal does not seem to enjoy save for large parts of Eastern Europe and a niche market here in the Americas. My Ben could turn on all that but he won't sell out to things he doesn't believe in and neither will I. I'm not saying the other Ben did, but the other Ben's music is just that much more palatable for radio, and for Bridget's worn out, broken ears.

There's room for everyone.

I think my Ben is jealous. I'm not sure I've ever quoted a song from his old band. Wait. I did once and some of you got it and I freaked out and left the internet. Then I came back, because fuck you, this is my page. So there.

I don't entertain the email questions about my Ben any more just like I don't sell out my blog for product placement or paid reviews or whatever else people ask me to do because that's not what I want here and I was royally pissed to see several formerly well-loved and anticipated blogs go that route recently. Ah well. Delete, delete.

To each his own, right? Room for everyone. Just not my thing. Just like I am not your thing, and that's okay too. I'm not dumb. I know you read it because you're curious. Everyone is curious. Even me.

So, back to my run.

Outcast novelist bookended by beards in a morning run that felt downright warm compared to temperatures as of late that had PJ offering me the stupid treadmill because he didn't want to chase me into the frostbite. I declined and ate cookies instead. Do you know I paid for those cookies this morning by bringing them in the form of extra pounds on my run. I will not make that mistake again. (Hey, mom? The cookies you sent are gone. Please send more. Thank you, love, your youngest daughter.) Damn cookies. They are so good.
Give me a sign
There's something buried in the words
Give me a sign
Your tears are adding to the flood
Just give me a sign
I'm taking some of today for non-moving things. I'm going to wrap presents, holing myself up in the library with the paper and the bows and the sharp scissors which I will be permitted as long as I return them to the keeper when I am through. Invisible tape and a black Sharpie for the tags. Silver and black for the colors this Christmas and a separate hidden roll of Victorian sleigh patterned paper for the gifts from Santa because my children still believe in the magic of Christmas, just like we do.

Just like you should, maybe.

This afternoon I will go to the box offices and pick up our Avatar tickets for tomorrow and our Switchfoot tickets for after New Years. Yes, I know, so not heavy but I really really like them, they sing my battle cries. All of them.

I have one more moving estimate to collect for Caleb (because I want to make sure you have the best of everything, princess.) and tomorrow is the final day of school for the year and soon the house will revert back to the chaotic bliss that it turns into when the children are home, from the shadow-filled mausoleum it is when they are away. Good. We have all kinds of plans to exact upon this city so we can wring the very best out of it before we go.

Cole asked me to do that. Last night when his hands slid around my neck as I slept into wakefulness, breath choked away from me because he's always liked to keep it, he reminded me that I am always running on ice that is thin, and resolve that is too fresh to stick and that there will be a fall, eventually. But he never says where and he never says when. It's always positively wonderful to get confirmation that leaving him was smart and that I have to keep the guards in place for his brother because I like evil.

I let his hands slide over my eyes (because I want to make sure you have the best of everything, princess.) so all I could see was the dark and I could see his face smiling at me and telling me to run. To leave this place where he died, leave the cold, leave the lights in the sky and the roads that go nowhere and live because he can't and so he needs me to. I'm not sure why Jacob let him take direction. I haven't heard from Jacob lately. I will ask.

You tell that to Lochlan or Ben and they frown and look at each other and it's almost comical because I highly doubt Cole talks to them in their sleep and that's okay because he's mine and they would never listen to him anyway except for the very major things like who gets Bridget when everybody dies?

We're ALL still waiting for the answer to that one.

And you thought it was neat that my Christmas ribbons are black. Bet you changed your mind just now.

Ben gets that look. That Jakey-resolve look that says he's going to fix everything and then he realizes he can't. So instead he does the best he can, and he knows that when push comes to shove, I can outrun anything.

He believes in me, just like he believes in ghosts and the spirit of Christmases past and Corey the wonder-gazelle, half human, half flying beast. Man, he goes so fast. I'm never running with him again.

I'm kidding, Corey.

Everything else is serious.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The mistress of disarmament.

After nine hours of running around doing things and being nice to people I am once again taking a few minutes to sit and have a coffee and do my daily word-arranging for your consideration.

Nine hours! What the hell? I'm a writer (read: unemployed). I really don't get how people with jobs get anything at all done. My bobby pins are off to you, in lieu of a hat. You have my admiration.

I've gotten twenty letters of thanks this morning from everyone born in the seventies for reminding them of that Chris De Burgh song last night. You're welcome. It is amazing, isn't it? It's made me cry every time I've ever heard it, starting when I was four years old. Neat.

I've done a hell of a lot of cleaning and organizing toward the move, and entertained the second of three moving estimators. I'm practically a pro this time around. Great fun. I'm feeling better about the packing part. I think I have that part under control.

Not sure I will ever be a pro at Missing Ben. And Ben has been gone a billion times before. That was then, this is now. Now he is mine and I finally have him to revolve around, tiny planet-moon that I am, without distractions and bullshit and whoops, there he goes again. He is very grumpy today. It isn't helping but I have been a worse pain in the ass than usual.

Ah well. Hopefully the time will go fast. I was talking to a military wife today who moves every nine months or so and she was incredibly supportive and encouraging and oddly it helped. I'm a detail person. The boys fly by the seat of their pants. They assume all will be well and I ask questions and organize things so that I don't have to assume. Otherwise I just wind up picturing the worst or wishing I had asked more questions.

I try to temper my rigidity with honesty though. The very first thing I do is thank people for their help and point out I am apprehensive/worried and then everyone is rocked off their guard and I get actual help. If it's a gift I don't know how it translates but it's always been the way I do business. Don't give me your spiel, give me your heart. Maybe that's how I wind up collecting so many, I disarm.

Now that the coffee is gone and the words have arrived I notice the children should be home any minute now. It's a lot warmer today, still cold by most sane people's standards. I am feeling better too. I still have a bad headache but the queasies and achies have all but vanished after three days of yuck. Whatever it is thankfully moves fast. No fever anymore either which is nice and I managed to achieve a full six and a half hours of sleep last night.

The sun is going down. Early next week is the winter solstice and then I will await the longer days with hope. I don't enjoy the very short days. It seems to make everything harder altogether. The first day of winter marks those precious moments of daylight that are tacked on to morning and night and I count every last one of them.

Every last one.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


Ben is singing A Spaceman came Travelling.


Better for it.

Today I have the usual confidence daylight seems to bring.

I'm wrapping presents and cleaning and doing things toward the move and I'm battling an epic headache and chills and flu and really I'm thinking this is just all more life experience that I'm supposed to get and then maybe I'll be promoted to the next level.

Oh, wait, this isn't Warcraft and I don't get to level up. I won't be sainted or martyred and apparently Dirt Devil is not going to read my mind and send me a vacume to roadtest because I still can't spell vacume and guess what, I now refuse to ever buy another Dirt Devil again because it can't manage to do fuck-all on the four carpets in the entire house, two of which are actually classified as throw rugs, I would imagine. Seriously. Whoever designed these things should be crucified slowly and obviously has all wood and tile floors and a really kick ass broom.

Let's see. What else? The children are home because it's Fucking Cold Out and they are battling the same headache/chills/mild fever thing I am. Really going to school to watch a movie and decorate a gingerbread house is not as exciting as doing it here and not having to wait turns, miss pivotal dialogue because someone is talking or watch the other kid that you hate put the last gumdrop on the roof. Fuck it, kids, stay home and we'll build a whole gingerbread village, or maybe a city, or perhaps a municipality! And you'll hear the movie you watch and I'll make popcorn and you don't even have to put on snowpants. Not even once.

I am the coolest mom ever.

Well, I am.

Maybe you are too. It's okay. We can share the trophy and the glory. Or maybe you don't have kids but you made a kick-ass lunch or had a good sleep last night. Here, grab a hold, hoist it high.

I'm going to need to go scrap some of this confidence into a jar or something so I can bring it out when the vampires come. Nights and early mornings are no longer doing me any favors. I just lie there and imagine the furnace breaking, the car not starting, being out of liquid assets and having the rapture break loose all in the same night and winding up outside with the kids when it does.

That seems to be my nightmare.

That and missing Ben. You haven't met him, you don't understand what he means to me or how much I love him. If you have met him then I know you understand, and that this is practically incapacitating me.

I am trying to remember it's less than a deployment, less than a season and less than a lot of people endure. I am loved and spoiled and the odds are those awful vampires from 30 days of night probably won't find me. My father says the odds are small, if any.

He has not seen the movie.

My dad likes movies like Out of Africa. I did too, but I doubt it's for the same reasons. I don't think one of my father's daydreams involves Robert Redford washing his hair.

At least I hope not.

I am finished shopping for Christmas, the flu hasn't brought me down yet, and I'm caught up on laundry and cleaning now. I have not hired any Russian, Polish or Belarusian hit men to take out my evil brother-in-law yet (I SAID YET) but I do have their numbers in case I decide to later and I am grateful that the dog has finally learned he doesn't have to go out every two hours anymore. We are up to four or six. Which is nice in the cold.

I would babble at you just a little more but in the feverish, overtired state I am in, I would just stop making sense (what?) or say too much and then everyone would freak out. Instead I'm going to go rustle up some lunch and do a little more towards the move. It's a big job moving a spectacle of this size across the country. Didn't I tell you that last time?

I guess you didn't believe me.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Home Alone.

It's been a long day. A long day with Caleb's choice of soundtrack leaving me just about blind with a headache. Add it to the other aches, I'm curled up now in a heated blanket nursing my cold, tired self and happy that the day was a success for so many others.

The music in question was church bells. Central European church bells. It was pretty but after an entire day of it fading in and out I found myself hypnotized and distracted by them to the point that my head continues to ring and I've been home for quite a while now.

Today Caleb and Mike picked me up just after nine. Mike driving, Caleb smiling and handing me a coffee, made just the way I like it, Second Cup to prove he is always paying attention to the details. Infuriatingly smooth. I thanked him and took a sip, burning my top lip just enough to scowl a little and retire the cup to the holder beside my seat.

You look beautiful.

Thank you. You don't look so bad yourself.

I could be in rags and no one would notice with you there.

Sure they would. Hugo Boss doesn't put out a rag line.

He laughed and then settled back to look out the window and listen to the music. I could only hear a little and I squinted at nothing in particular and Caleb pressed a button on the console that sent the bell ringing swelling to the forefront.

I looked at him and without saying a word, was treated to a rather strange peace of nostalgia I didn't know he even held. Some of the years that Cole kept Caleb absent from our lives are still a mystery. He is the most well-traveled man I know.

I did give it my best shot. I was hostage to it anyway, between the car and the day's schedule and the take-no-prisoners shoes, the six inch ones with the satin ankle bows and the lovely dress that was so festive and yet seemed garish and fabulously inappropriate for a Monday morning wasn't going to allow for me to become part of the landscape.

We spent the first three hours riding elevators and walking labyrinths of corridors to surprise most of the recipients on Caleb's list with cheques and small gifties and wishes that they enjoy a wonderful holiday. Polish businessmen with their brittle hugs and humble tears and mobsters with their questionable glances and bruising cheek-kisses and semi-false dismissal of Caleb's gestures in order to cover their joy. It became exhausting. If there is one thing Caleb is known for, it's his generosity in rewarding people who work hard. If he benefits from it so will you.

(Nevermind the other things Caleb is known for, this is not the day for that.)

We took a long lunch, fueling up on Pad sew, coffee and sugar cookies and then ventured out in the cold once again, surrounded by bells and cash, and I had a positively hilarious conversation with one man who asked me if I knew where he was from and I guessed Georgia and he said Belarus and laughed and laughed like I was the most delightful girl, because I at least chose the Russian Empire. He said most people say France. I told him I had been to France, for a day, and his accent was definitely not French.

He howled and told me his mother was French.

Then I noticed he passed a padded envelope to Caleb and told him that he should treat me well, that I was positively engaging. Caleb said he would do his best. I was more interested at that point in why they were trading bonuses but on the way to the car Caleb took my elbow and squeezed it harder than I liked to keep my attention and changed the subject to dinner out, later on, with the children and some of the boys, to cap off a wonderful day.

As in, you saw nothing.

Right. Bridget sees nothing. Just words. Words to arrange. Words to pay for later.

I'm not sophisticated enough to want to take that further. It just looked weird and that's when I pretty much stopped enjoying myself and hung back a little more, prompted politely but forcefully more than once to inject the situation with a little more of the morning's brevity. But I was getting tired and we had crossed off the entire list by four, and I called Daniel to make sure the children were home from school and warmed up and then Caleb said he wanted to stop by the loft and then we could continue to the house.

I rolled my eyes.

You really don't want to miss this, princess.

I can wait in the car.

I promise. Just come with me. Mike will leave the car running.

Sad that I expect that promise and you make it without being led.

It is, but I deserve it.

I was happy to escape the bells, so up we went.

I waited by the door. He disappeared into his office for a moment and then returned with an envelope. A large manila one, like the ones I keep in his desk to keep his travel itineraries organized. He passed it to me.

What is this?

Don't you want to look inside?

I frowned at him and then looked inside. It took a moment to pull out a heavy sheaf of papers and I started going through them. Arrangements for trips to Vancouver and New York. For everyone. Everyone except for me.

What is this?

This is your independence, princess. You've spent your entire life hiding behind Cole, and then Jacob, and now Benjamin and the others. Only in a few years you're going to officially be a grownup and yet you don't qualify. Not yet. So this is your chance. Ben and only Ben will be home on Jan. 16 for a weekend, and then not until mid-February. Then mid-March. There will be one trip for you and the children to go and see him and then you all fly out to Vancouver once the house sells. For everyone who fights your battles for you and keeps you handicapped by your own fears and doubts I'm going to play the bad guy one last time and give you a little tough love. Just a little and just for a couple of months. You can do this, princess. You're going to do this and you'll thank me when it's over.

My whole head tightened up and began to throb and I started to cry before I even finished working through what he had said. And he smiled like I was the most pathetic thing he had ever seen and said this:

My God, it's so easy to want to save your life. I'm sure now my brother died of a broken heart and I can't say I blame him. And Bridget, I am not trying to be cruel. I need the boys to help get this show on the road out west, Ben needs to go to New York and then join us later and you need to show the children that you are strong, and capable, and confident. Do it for them and do it for yourself.

I nodded. (Words. I need words and there's nothing there. I can't find any. I can't say don't. Please don't.)

You will thank me.

He took my hand and I followed him back onto the elevator, down to the car and then we were back at the house.

In the car on the way here he said not to worry, that my Christmas bonus would be in my account on Friday as well as gifts that he would bring over closer to Christmas day and that he would be flying into the city regularly as well to check on us and that no one would ever be more than a couple of hours away at any time, and that our extended families and all of the boys were already aware of the situation and supportive of it.

(Traitors.) My mind found a word!

Everything will be fine, Bridget.

I know.


I know. I'm not thanking you though.

You will when it's over. And your bonus? The largest one I have even paid out.

I don't want your money.

Why not? You could use it to play airplane tag.

The kids have school, idiot.

That's the smartest thing you have ever said to me. Wait, no, second smartest. The first was when you said to make the pain go away.

Was it tough keeping the evil all bottled up inside all day, Cale?

No, actually. I've learned to harness both the good and the evil inside. Just like you, princess. Just like you.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Where I explain Warcraft to the masses.

I swear I could have gotten away with remaining in pajamas today. Ben even sat up at eight and offered to walk the dog. I usually take the dog out for his first walk of the day. I declined. I don't have to walk him after dark. Not yet, anyway. Ben went back to sleep for an hour or so and I made coffee and had breakfast with the children, who are completely nonplussed that so far their advent calendars have yielded five poinsettia-shaped chocolates, which is five too many considering we are only thirteen days in. Next year we're going to do a fun-activity advent, even though every day we do something.

Today it appears to be eating Pringles in our pajamas, playing Warcraft and reading (Ben and the children play the game, I try to read in between shouts of joy for leveling and finding razorbacked critter pets.

Ben yells CONSECRATE! and I jump twenty feet. I would play but it seems rather agressive and involved and I like games to be short and sweet. Like Pac-Man. Half the level cleared, killed by ghosts three times and YOU LOSE, BRIDGET.

But the wackawackawacka noise is supremely comforting somehow. Much better than these squealing pig sounds during battles. I can sit here and picture them being attacked by roving bands of wild boars dressed as characters from Lord of the Rings and every now and then everyone starts dancing onscreen and it looks funny.

So there you have it. They could kill whole days doing this but I have managed to kick them off at least a few times for meals or non-essential events like..oh, bedtime.

But I try. Someone has to be the bad guy and keep order in the guild.

Or something.

(I really have no idea, but they seem to like it.)

Saturday, 12 December 2009


Indict the blameless, transparent designs
Pathetic and shameless, crucified
A legend in his own mind, enthroned by lies
A cheap Machiavelli plots his demise

Caught in your words, sever the knot this time
Somebody show me their true face
Face me once as I leave all that I despise
Face me as I unleash this hate refined
Face me as I leave all this far behind
Good evening.

It's three hundred and twenty-four degrees below zero tonight and I just stopped moving. Which means I'll probably get cold. I just went around the house delivering steaming mugs of hot chocolate (the kind with the sugar cane and coconut bits) to everyone. I've got a big warm black sweater on. I even took my hair down and I still find my shoulders creeping up and the shivering settling in. I turned up the heat. The woodstove is all but red-hot. There isn't much left that I can do so my action of choice will be to find the warmest guy and curl up beside him for a bit. It's always too bad that's never ever Ben.

This morning we had wind chill warnings and slippery roads to wake up to so I took my car and went and got some gas and a load of groceries. Why? Because it's too easy for me to depend on the boys and I need to get away from that a little. Maybe a lot. Do one thing every day that scares you, she said. Sometimes I actually give that a shot. Driving on slippery roads may not be scary for you but Cole taught me how to drive when I was sixteen and we lived on a hill until I was thirty years old and it was always easier to just stay home.

I dunno. I'm still having a hard time with being able to get through a day without dissolving into huge blubbery inconsolable tears at the thought of Ben being away for such long periods into the new year. He hates the blubbering because it makes him feel bad and it makes him sad so he's trying to just keep busy/occupied/removed which only succeeds in making me feel worse.

More than a few moments have completely degenerated into who is going to be more miserable.

Obviously I will win. I am Bridget. Hear me cry.


Aw, geez.

Hence the never-ending busywork. Only I think right through whatever I'm doing. I can't get away from it. In my head my fucked-up brain is telling me I'm being abandoned. It's relentless. A fucking woodpecker inside my head that just makes every step some sort of agonizing litany of every last unhappy ending I must be in for between now and the spring.

Only I'm fighting it.

So hard.

You wouldn't know it by the way I can fall apart but at the same time I am making a concentrated effort to have fun over the next twenty days. We're winding down the involved work on the house, just a couple large projects left and the rest is all little projects I can manage and enlist some help with. Painting. Finishing up things here and there. Heavy cleaning once the house goes to market and continuing to keep things ordered and neat as a pin. Like it always is, because I insist. Even the messes are neat. Even the ruin orderly.

Ben worries. Oh, how he worries. Only I'm torn between feeling sorry for him and the doubt inside my head that ruins everything good. I'm working on it. Slowly, not in a procrastinating way, just in the Bridget-way. Damn thoroughly.

The good news is that for tonight my raging insecurity is frozen solid and the only heat signature in sight is soon to be joined by the princess and her petulant little icy scowl, that one that she wears when she's pretending everything is a-okay.

She's still not sure if it is, though. It is far too soon to ask.

Friday, 11 December 2009


PS! New Foo! EPIC!

(and if anyone knows how to shut off all this new writing all over the videos on Youtube, please drop me a line. Drives me knucking futs.)

Ruling planets: Venus Rising.

Since I'm in an upswing right this second (because hallo, sometimes I am not), I thought I would get a lot of things done.

My mom sent me out a package containing her famous cherry-chocolate chip jewel bars. All is right with the world for the moment.

I weeded through the camping equipment, out of season clothes and holiday decorations and took out another rickety chair, table and chest to the garbage. I called two moving companies to come to the house to provide estimates next week and I put the last load of laundry for today in the dryer and I'm out of dryer sheets and everything is going to be Static City in an hour.

Okay, I ate a jewel bar already. Give me credit, it's been four hours since breakfast and I've been crawling around in the basement for two hours already. Cottage cheese on toast doesn't go very far.

This weekend we're taking the kids to see Santa for their devil horns photo and we'll go to Build-a-Bear. Ben wants to let them each design a stuffed animal and you can record a message that they will play when hugged so he's going to sing a lullaby to each child that they can listen to whenever they choose. I would like one too. I know what I'm in for with this move, the children were toddlers when we moved here. They don't have a sweet clue. Which is good. It might make things easier.

Whoops. I lost a rung right there.

I am still hunting down a third number to call for moving estimates and then I will consider calling my real estate agent. The moment I do that I'm living on borrowed time and that's tough. We're planning to do the usual work one day/rest one day this weekend and I really really need the rest day. I'm considering sleeping pills tonight just because I seem to wake up every hour sometimes. Bad dreams, noises, dog rearranging himself on the bed. Or no dreams, no noise, dog in his own bed on the floor by the fireplace. You pick. I'm awake.

The good things list for British Columbia includes moving next to the largest ocean on the planet, a one-piece driver's license, easy access to epic snowboarding and beaches and islands, beautiful Haida art and culture, big ass trees and mountains and we can transfer our MEC memberships painlessly.

And donairs.

Oh yes.

It's been rather hellish getting them here. I made them myself once, and people have brought them back from Halifax for us and you really have to be from home to get it right. Ben doesn't understand. Haha. He will when I find a legitimate one for him to eat. Fresh instead of coolered.

Ah. Such is the stuff of dreams.

Back to work for me. Organizing! Chucking stuff! Lamenting just about everything I've ever bought. And five more days until the children are off school for Christmas. Monday is going to be my last day out, hopefully and then I am hunkering down for the holidays. Wringing the last few weeks of love out of this precious house.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Thursday afternoon and it's not so evil after all.

I'm finished pulling together all of the cards, tiny packages, cheques, cash (where necessary) and gift cards for Caleb's Christmas and I have his flight booked. He is spending the holidays in Montreal (!) and will be returning prior to New Years to see us and finish up at the loft. It's already been sold. Ye Gods, I can only wish and hope that my house sells as painlessly as the loft and Lochlan's house did. John is also hoping much the same thing. His house is smaller though, it will probably go quickly.

Monday we will head out and distribute all of this goodness. Caleb is generous to a fault around the holidays and forgets no one. Right down to the postal worker who delivers his mail, his dry cleaner and the suitmaker who sends his bespoke jackets from overseas.

I think everyone's going to be very happy.

Apparently I will get something as well. I really hope it's a gift card for the Keg. Bridget loves the Keg! I said that to Caleb over lunch (which was not at the Keg) and he almost spit water all over me.

You're family. Number one on my list.

List of what?

People I want to be generous with.

Oh, that list.

I'm trying hard to act accordingly, princess. To make you comfortable around me.

It's been better recently.

I'm pleased to hear that.

I wait for the other shoe to drop though.

Maybe you should give up that wait. I'm not as young as I used to be.

I look at him and he does look older. Like James Bond meets Tom Ford. Lines around his eyes but little else to reveal his age. Dresses better than both and has the manners of a king in mixed company and a wolf alone.

Things will be different when we get you out of here, Bridget.

This is a rescue mission then. I was right.

Of sorts, yes. It will also be good for business and I'm sure that you, Ben and the children will find life more rewarding on the coast.

I hope so.

We'll make it easier, princess.

He smiled then, but I knew he wasn't lying to me. He doesn't lie about the very big things.

Why are you really going to Montreal for the holidays? To see Sophie?

I will see her while I'm there, yes. Montreal at Christmas is spectacular. Not to mention Ben has two weeks with nothing scheduled so I want the two of you to enjoy your holidays together before he leaves. In private.

I nodded. I still can't wrap my brain around that. Two whole weeks with Ben at home. We'll kill each other. In a good way.

So now you have a long weekend ahead of you and I will see you for breakfast on Monday?

Yes. What time is Mike coming by the house?

Eight-thirty sharp. He'll take the kids to school and bring you to me.


And Bridget?


Everything's going to be fine.

Tell me that on the other side.

I promise I will. Goodnight, princess. Be happy, princess. You're not. Not yet.

It was an odd thing for him to say but I think I understand.

A good jolly December wind.

Next person who starts a fight finds somewhere else to live. Now who is coming to watch the movie?

It was a sentence I heard clearly as I contemplated the shelves full of soups and spices in the pantry and wondered why I should be the one heartbroken by their behavior when they should have to deal with it instead.

The door opened and Ben poked his head in and he laughed when he saw me standing there holding bottles of tumeric and oregano.

What are you doing, princess?

Rearranging my spices alphabetically.

I see. Do you think you'll be finished soon?

No...see, there's so many. This could take all night.

He came inside and tried to close the door behind him but he's too big and there's too much stuff inside and he tried to straighten and the shelf of candy boxes behind him lifted and crashed down onto the pasta shelf below it. He gave up and threw the door wide open and ducked back out.

That's too bad. We're going to call the kids down and put on a movie.

Are you going to stop fighting?

Yes, princess.


We've already kissed and made up. Your boyfriend doesn't like my lip gloss.

He's not my boyfriend, and yes, he's very picky.

I told him I'd try all different kinds of flavours until we hit on one that pleases him.

What did he say?

He swore at me.

I'm not surprised.

You think it's my breath?

No, Ben. It's not your breath.

Come on, princess. Everyone is waiting.

I'm coming. Here's the popcorn.

Oh, it's really handy, you living in there.

Yeah, see?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Part 2: Where I lose track of everyone's agendas completely.

I've spent the better part of the evening deflecting Lochlan's request to remove the previous entry. He used to be my biggest champion for having this outlet, a place where I mostly work through the words I need to arrange. Probably because I looked up to him. I craved some kind of approval and affection from Lochlan that I have chased since I was a child. Even when Jake and I were newly married it was so easy to go find Lochlan and curl up in one of his arms and close my eyes and I know Jake worked very hard to make peace with that history. Most of the boys have. It was a given and I would not apologize for it. I don't apologize for much of anything. I haven't had to.

What's interesting is that when I stopped regarding him as the hero in the words here, he stopped advocating for the lack of censorship here. I stopped seeing him as the hero when I realized that in a misguided attempt to continue to play the role of the good guy in my eyes, Lochlan had inadvertently driven me into the arms of his intended fall guy. He left Ben to do the dirty work and through that I came to see how selfless and compassionate Ben could be. Maybe he wasn't the shallow fratboy of our group. Every other emotion towards Ben quickly followed and it was an epiphany of the grandest sort to get another chance to see Ben the way no one else does. He doesn't let people in, he'd rather pretend to be the monster, and then he doesn't have to let people see that sometimes he isn't fifteen feet tall, and he doesn't have to be strong. He just stays mean outwardly and then it's easier. Push them all away and keep things light.

Ben still attempts to live this philosophy even though we all tore it down a long time ago. True to form tonight he came barging into the house, took a quick inventory to ensure that the children were in another part of the house entirely and gave Lochlan a shove that sent him stumbling backwards onto the couch in the living room.

The shouting commenced, as Ben tried to intimidate and Lochlan chose to reason, charming the ever-loving shit out of impressionable unrefined Ben, extolling the virtues of being permitted close access to Bridget and how perfect she is and how lucky Ben is.

Compliment everyone. Diffuse the bomb. Quiet the monkey. Reassure the princess. Everyone settled back in and for once I spoke up. For once. Jesus, I never bother but sometimes I have a question and I'll be damned if I'm going to take a hug over an answer.

Okay, most times that's preferable. Sometimes, though, I really want to know.

Are we going to keep living this way forever?

True to form, I was given hugs instead of words.

Answer me, Ben. Please.

Nothing. He just held on tighter.

Death by frustration! Who knew it was an option? If anyone needs me, I'll be in the dumbwaiter banging my head against whatever's hard enough to knock me out.

The human cannonball.

On the road we pass the time playing cards behind the tent.
So save your breath, I will not hear
I think I made it very clear
You couldn't hate enough to love
Is that supposed to be enough?
I only wish you weren't my friend
Then I could hurt you in the end
I never claimed to be a saint
My own was banished long ago
It took the death of hope to let you go
Lochlan wasn't getting enough attention so instead of just acting like a grownup, he decided to take the princess route and throw a shouting party with me in the driveway this morning. I'm guessing my neighbors are thrilled we're leaving, in spite of the fact that their leaves are raked and snow is shoveled year after year. Lochlan waited until I dissolved into tears and flutters and THEN he dropped the subject. Or maybe it was because PJ finally came out and threatened to put him in his place, which was ten feet straight down into the frozen ground. And I had to come inside and hold ice under my eyes and try and fix myself up to deal with Satan all morning, working on his Christmas cards/bonuses/everything that has to be wrapped up for the end of the year here business-wise.

Lochlan is capable of acting exactly the way I do, which flies in the face of how generally logical and steadfast and stern he is. And it was the same old argument we always seem to have. The one revolving around why I rejected their grand polyamoric plan in favor of marrying Ben, so I will save you the nitty-gritty shout-for-shout repost and Lochlan the abject embarrassment. Besides, it was disconcerting enough to watch him weasling out of PJ's good graces. I almost felt sorry for him.


But not.

Because he is hard on me.

Or maybe it's because I know had he played his cards a little better he wouldn't be in this position and neither would I, the open secret that waits like a disloyal, eventual trophy on the shelf to the winner with the strongest hand. Ben got a royal flush, Lochlan revealed a full house. It isn't my fault he sucks at cards. He said he wanted to sit in on the game so he can't complain that he doesn't understand the rules. The rules are so very simple but he won't listen.

And I don't mean eventual trophy, because there is no eventual for Lochlan, except maybe in his dreams. He does not believe me and just about every week now he comes to me with threats and ultimatums and figures I'll throw in more value if he raises the ante.

I ignore the threats and life continues on. Seriously. It does. It's sadly comical and frustrating and maddening that sometimes my neighbors probably don't understand the history here or the arrangments but we all just point out that we are co-tenants who are also friends and the big old house is subdivided and everyone seems satisfied and says they hope we can reach a resolution.

The resolution here would be for Lochlan to learn what "good enough"means and eat some goddamned crow of his own because he's cutting into the joy I feel for knowing we won't leave Sam behind, that Ben managed to get another chip and spend another week learning how to put things behind him instead of pushing things along in front of him, and for the fact that Lochlan totally ruined a day that I was going to spend eating chocolate-covered cherries and writing cheques with a four-thousand-dollar fountain pen. Instead I stuck pins into Loch with my imagination and fended off Caleb's inquiries into where I was with feeling feverish enough that he didn't even want to speak on the phone for fear that he might catch something and ruin his perfection somehow.

I suppose this entry will out me in that tiny white lie but really when it comes to Lochlan barging through my heart and throwing pieces around until the whole thing collapses like a house of counted cards, there is a sort of fever that makes me want to go sleep until I don't feel sad anymore and avoid him until he has a change of heart and comes crawling back for absolution from both myself and Ben, because messing with me is messing with the big guy. Only I worry because Lochlan knows how to play Ben and Ben hardly notices because he is busy Not Drinking and busy Holding Bridget's Heart.

Those are full time jobs and Lochlan is the homeless ne'er do well on the corner of my life.


It doesn't matter. I have to work tomorrow now because I didn't work today. I have to contend with Ben's sidelong glances when he thinks I'm not paying attention and wonder what's inside his head but then he'll encourage things and feelings and actions that lie perpendicular to what he should be feeling and that I will never understand. I am such a reluctant prize.

Lochlan is a con artist. If this were Vegas he would be in prison, but since it's the circus he's one of the star performers. (Just keep your eye on your valuables, namely your wife!)