Friday, 31 December 2010

Like flies (Here, while I'm getting ready for my night).

The company is mine now. Well, mine technically. Outwardly (thankfully) nothing will change. And this hits just in time for year-end which is handy. Really. Get it done before 2011 and he did, a rather important step in this renewed effort to be sure that the things you plan for after you're gone are precisely what you intended.

I hate living like this, but we do.

I stared at Caleb's face for the better part of twelve hours, through the night. We had our war, waged across the marble island of his condo while he shouted and pleaded and I looked for knives to throw and heads to roll. Bowling for psychotic sister-in-laws, outrage for how good they all are at keeping secrets that should never have been kept and spilling ones that have no business seeing the light of day but it keeps leaking in around the edges and we're all fucked and now bad luck is coming to take us away.

Caleb has been trying to head that off with some just-in-case business decisions that I can agree to but on the other hand what happens when I'm not near my wits and flying by the tips of my tights instead? What happens when the sideshow rolls back in and the logic packs up and leaves, terrified of clowns, even more afraid of acrobats and jugglers and their big stupid generous hearts?

I guess we will cross that Bridget when we see her next.

In the meantime we'll do everything we can to protect our collective demons and their big stupid fully genetically defective, faulty hearts. Because sometimes more than good looks and violent romance runs in the family.

Sometimes medical advances prove to be too telling and infarctions leave behind telltale signs that they have paid you a visit and your days might be numbered and they might not and it changes absolutely everything, like it has for Caleb now, and no one wanted to tell me.

Just like death, only it's like you still have something left. Something serious and important and all of it makes the past pale in comparison with the future, which rests with an eleven-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy now.

And God help us if any of us ever fucking forget that again.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Got it.

I can read. It's TONIGHT. Jesus. I possibly need some live-in lawyers to go with everyone else in the house. I can't get the lawyers by tonight. ARGHHHH.

Like a shepherd but with lawyers instead of sheepies.

This is getting difficult. This, in particular.

Another meeting tomorrow. Warning that this isn't over. Would someone please just tell me why he has to make taking every single breath I can so fucking DIFFICULT?

Thanks. I'll be waiting for the answer. I think I AM the answer but whatever, I'd like to hear it from him.

My last Christmas present finally made it!

*(This is not the day's post. Just give me a few hours to absorb Eastern Hymns for Western Shores. It's that awesome. Also Bro-Am tee!!! Squee!)

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Musical dirt worship.

Do you know why all staircases descend to the right? So that knights could fight with their swords in their right hands, their dominant, strong hands, while coming down the steps, defending, and infiltrators would be forced to fight with their left. A decided disadvantage.

Oddly enough, both subjects today are left-handed. And hippies, not knights.

The boys are loading up trucks right now. There's a little shift going on in the household. August is moving into Dalton's place, citing a need for more mirror time (this is not even a joke, jerkfaces, August has (okay, had) his own bathroom).

Dalton is moving into my house. In a sense I am trading one friend of Jake's for another. Even though I don't have to give August up, it just won't be the same.

There are a combination of issues that led to this. Beginning with the fact that Dalton isn't used to housing prices here (with a long history of issues related to that subject, frankly) and was on the verge of giving up a six-month investment because he's in a little over his head and refuses help or basic budgeting lessons.

Throw in a little bit of stubbornness on my part and August and I have butted heads a lot lately. He is supposed to easily separate his professional and personal life and he isn't having much luck because he lives with his charges and really I can corrupt him faster than I can hang up the phone. He's as easily charmed as Jacob always was. And he's enough like Jacob that I get to remain mired in some sort of paralysis between the present and the past and that's an unhealthy place for me. When I feel fragile I can just go tuck myself under his arm as he reads and he's the closest living, breathing ringer to Jake there ever was. Right down to the Newfie accent. The mannerisms and the unintentional enthusiastic volume sometimes makes me jump right out of my skin.

But it's okay. It was sort of a surprise that he lived here at all and I have a feeling I got to him during a moment of weakness and now I have gotten to him during a moment of strength and he's standing up to me, taking an opportunity to help fix something important while gaining a little space for himself in the process.

I get to spend the late winter/early spring teaching Dalton the basics of money management, like why paying your mortgage and electric bills before you go shopping for new amps is a good thing. I really hope he's ready for this. I can be intrusive, interruptive and incorrigible.

He says he's totally ready. We shall see now, won't we?

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Shack wacky.

I'm very out of sorts today, though Ben has been eyeing me particularly hungrily since I came downstairs dressed and ready to conquer whatever the hell it is I'm supposed to be doing today. I used my new Philosophy vanilla birthday cake shower gel and I smell so delicious you might find me in the corner later gnawing my own arms off after consuming my delicious knees first.

It's that good, yes. I've tried the other ones, this one seems heads above the rest in boy-popularity.

Lochlan is singing Lucky Man (The Verve, not Emerson, Lake and Palmer though on some days, you might be surprised.)and he won't stop and it's sort of beginning to seep into my brain and really I just need a little fresh air (because I ADORE the song) and maybe it's time the Christmas tree was removed because it makes me a little claustrophobic even though the house is huge and I can get away from it and I don't really know...I'm sure it's just cabin fever. Everyone is still too sick to go very far, however.

Some of you have sent in some ridiculously awesome suggestions too, regarding last evening's request for requests. Thank you. Look for them in the coming days because otherwise I will be out in the orchard in the pouring rain imploding. And smelling really good while I do.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Water wings.

If I owe you any stories, I may have forgotten. You can email me at saltwater princess at gmail dot com and I will do my best to post some catch-up entries. Sometimes I wade too deep into my own words and I dip underneath the rope that divides the swimming area from the drowning area and frankly I'm not sure what possessed me to come to the beach today anyway. It's not even warm out.

Lost my place. Long evening. Not sure what you WANT to read so why don't you just tell me.

For once. While I am open to writing for you, as opposed to writing for myself.

Thanks. :)

Christmas cravings.

The candy canes begin as a lark and quickly because weapons, bitten off and sucked to sharp points, crushed against bone and splinted into glittery mint fragments all over the bed. Pieces stick against my shoulders, in my hair, between my fingers. He is dusted with tiny shards. He is the most exquisite broken glass.

It hurts so much but I am loathe to give up first. Not a chance. I smiled and grit my teeth and he grabs a handful of my hair, pulling my face up, crushing a handful of candy canes with his fist, pouring them into my mouth and nose. I shake my head and lick my lips. I am sticky all over. I can't breathe. I fight for air, pinned down, feeling him eating the crushed pieces off my collarbone. I spread my hands out and try and push the remaining canes off the bed, succeeding only in moving them around, making a candy-cane angel where I lie.

He laughs and finds one last cane still intact, licking it, tracing my lips, leaving behind a cool tingle that distracts me. He holds it out for me to take and I suck on it, I am the queen of lethal Christmas cheer. I am the sugar queen. And he is my minty vampire with one cane hooked in each side of his mouth. Fangs made of peppermint.

I start laughing and it's too late. I'm going to be bitten by the monster of Christmas present and there's absolutely nothing I can do.

Oh darn.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

tra·di·tion: \trə-di-shən\

Definition of TRADITION: A form of relaxation in which the entire household uses the holiday as great excuse to sleep in, stay in pajamas for the entire day, play with presents endlessly, catch up on laundry, claim leftovers (cake is mine, as always) and engage in low-level, inactive past times like watching things, reading things, listening to things and seeking each other out to have low conversations in quiet spaces.

I might even find the energy to light a candle or two but I doubt it.

Maybe later.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Light bulb.

We are full of turkey, stuffing, chocolate marquise and wine and still laughing after seeing Despicable Me.

The marvel of enjoying a bright Christmas day with temperatures hovering around ten degrees is such an incredible novelty I may never live it down. As does watching Ben expertly carve turkeys like it's something he does every damn day and now listening to Lochlan as he edits the pictures he took today.

Last night I listened to the boys sing for the candlelit service. Every blessing in my life has a name. Every gift I have ever received has a different combination of eye and hair colors, a different voice and a different hug methodology. They are my gifts.

I have been kissed and hugged and spoiled thoroughly. I have been coddled, in generous amounts of help with dinner, and I have been deceitful, in that I spent much of the day with a massive raging fever, unwilling to admit defeat because dammit, it's our first Christmas here and it was going to be perfect no matter what.

It was.
Will you read us a bedtime story?


Pretty please?

The physical appearance of the please makes no difference.

Merry Christmas to you. XOX

Friday, 24 December 2010

"The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul." ~John Calvin

I went outside to cool off for a moment and found him standing on my verandah, leaning up against the siding, looking out into the woods. One hand was in his coat pocket, the other was wrapped around the handle of a large paper shopping bag, stuffed with wrapped presents. I didn't wrap these ones and I was sure I looked after everything. He already dropped off the presents for the children and I. We always exchange something. Besides vitriol, remembrance and bodily fluids, I mean.

What are you doing?

Stopping in to say hello.

We're heading out in an hour, Caleb.

I know. I just thought I would pop in, I won't stay though. You're having a busy day. I just needed to see you. Just for a minute.

Ben's Superman hearing led him outside and he pulled the door behind him.



What brings you here today?

He changed demeanor before my very eyes.

I'm headed to a few functions tonight but I wanted to drop off a few things I had set aside. I don't have much time so I'll leave these with you. He passed the bag to Ben and shook his hand. Merry Christmas, brother.

You're not coming to church this evening?

We'll see. I'll do my best.

Fair enough. Ben took the bag and retreated back inside to a raucous amount of noise.

Don't, please.

Don't what?

Don't acknowledge my shortcomings, princess.

I had no intention of doing so.

You know, Bridget, they're very lucky. You're a gift. You know that?

I'm just trying to do the best I can.

I don't make things easy for you.

No, you don't.

It can't be helped.

Sure it could. And maybe you would be happier too.

If I made things easier?


If you did that I'd be alone. I don't want that.

You wouldn't be. You have everything to offer someone.

Except my heart.

It was never my heart you were after, you just wanted to take what Lochlan had. How does jealousy grow into this?

I didn't count on you.

He whispers the last word and I know our conversation is over. He's not going to give me the satisfaction of seeing him break. Not today. He moves in and wraps his arms around me tightly, kissing my temple, squeezing me hard against him. His coat is rough and I lift my chin up. He presses his head against mine.

Merry Christmas, Bridget. I am in awe of the beautiful woman you have become, in spite of all of us.

I shake my head. I want to fight but he won't. Instead he kisses me full on the lips.

See you tomorrow.

I nod. He is coming for the morning, because we put Henry first. Henry wants his dad there, then his dad's going to be there. Only Henry doesn't know yet. It's a surprise. I can be a grownup.

I can be generous.

I can be really freaking late for dinner. It's an hours drive. Goodnight. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Because he's incorrigible, here are Ben's jokes for the night.

How do you know when there's a snowman in your bed?

You wake up wet.


What do vampires put on their turkey at Christmas?



What does Dracula write on his Christmas cards?

"Best vicious of the season."

Princess flu bug.

I sat down with toast this morning and Lochlan slipped my wedding ring back on my finger without a word. He smiled, kissed the top of my head and Ben said Good Morning to him and poured him a cup of coffee.

Civility in the face of extreme weirdness always makes me so incredibly grateful.

I am burning up. A thousand degrees and my shoulders, knees and fingers ache and I'm loathe to admit that I think I have the flu even though I know I do. Everyone has taken their turn. Even Ben had one hell of a headache and was grumpy the past couple of days and he hardly ever gets sick. Henry is feeling better after struggling all week. Hopefully it's a fast-moving one because I have plans. Lots of plans that don't include curling up in the centre of my giant bed to ride out the worst of it.

I will blame Schuyler. He kisses goddamned near everybody. I'm going to start replacing his toothpaste with antibacterial hand sanitizer.

On that note, goodnight. Can't do it.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Christmas bonus (AKA pay the lady).

Ben leaves the front door and returns to the table with another envelope. This one is a pale pearl gold with a paper snowflake affixed to the flap. He puts it on the table in front of me and I don't need to see my name neatly printed on the front in Caleb's handwriting to know that it's from him. The color is new, however and so I raise my eyes from the envelope to meet Ben's face.

He nods. Ben just looks tired. Tired but beginning to relax and beginning to run out of patience and I'm not allowed out of his reach for the rest of my life, he says. I only wish he were serious.

I open it. Inside is a cheque for seven hundred and fifty dollars with a note on the memo line that says 'bonus'. A post-it note attached says 'Is this better?'

I stifle a laugh. The formality of this, what I asked for instead of the unwelcome entire legacy of our blended, dysfunctional family makes me feel vaguely silly. But the fact that Caleb wrote it out and had it delivered anyway after I asked for a fair amount based on the work I did for the company means I must be doing something right.

Small victories. Even as he surgically removes the rest of my dignity with his patented incision-free technique.
He pushed his head against mine. He's warm. I am cold on the inside, blood running over sheets of crackling thin ice, breaking with every breath. His hand drops from my head to my hand and he pulls it up between us and slides off my ring. I argue softly but he ignores me. His eyes are flashing, pupils dilated. He puts my ring in his pocket and I watch it disappear. It's a rule I don't subscribe to but I understand.

He bends his head down again and kisses my ear. I lift my chin up and rest it against his shoulder as his arms tighten around me. I whisper things under my breath and he responds with light squeezes. He can hear me. I cannot hear myself. I pull him in against me and he responds by pushing me down, his weight the only leverage he will need. His hands are feeling for the zipper on the side of my dress while his lips crush against mine, biting. Breathing me in. It's dark but our eyes are not adjusting. He gives up and reaches for the hem instead, pulling it up, shoving the fabric out of his way. The dress is between us, the beading digging into his flesh, straps pinning my arms down. He grabs the worst one with his hand and pulls until it rips away and I protest and he immediately covers my mouth. Silence is easier. I am lifted up and pulled in close against the uncanny warmth of his skin. All business now, we aren't going to give away anything here. We aren't going to bow to the whims of the shadows standing nearby, cuff links glinting in the pitch-black night.

His hand comes down from my mouth as he finds his way home and it wraps around my throat. I am helpless now, clinging to the waves of euphoria. It's an eternity. I know that he is close and he presses his head down against mine again and I am already turning blue, clawing for precious air with no strength, held captive with no means to save myself and all I can do is wait for rescue. I am three lifetimes ago and I can hear the calliope and his curls are in my mouth and his breath is hot against my shoulders and finally he lets go and he never fails to land a kiss on my shoulder as he pulls me up. I come back to life.

He whispers loudly that the shadows will fade. He takes his time. Checking to be sure he left no marks. Checking to be sure he left no feelings of afraid or of sad for Bridget to trip over or fall into. Telling himself it's all going to be okay because she can't hear him. He doesn't dare speak any louder.

While I slept on my ring was taken. When at last the shadows stopped watching I lost my mind.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


Don't come here. Don't come here. Don't come here.

Voted most expressive, much to her dismay.

I can hear the furnace humming quietly, probably because the cold air return is on the wall behind my desk. I can hear the ticking of the dishwasher as it warms the plates, because my desk is in a nook just off the kitchen. I hear a dog barking on a nearby street and Bonham is holding guard by the front door waiting for Ben and the children, who have gone shopping. I am supposed to be wrapping presents while they're gone but clearly I am not.

Today was a little rockier to begin. Not sure if we stayed up too late or it was just excess tension to blow off but we all started off on the wrong foot and I got very frustrated with some things that don't work and made a tearful plea for Ben to quit the mood swings and just fix everything please because I am tired of the pressure.

He is. Working away at it as we speak.

He waited a while to see what I would do but I don't have the capacity for patience anymore, I will go at it the hard way until I just can't manage it anymore and I reach that point where it's fucking stupid and pointless and no more.

There aren't enough hours in the day to fix things and yet there are enough hours to mess things up and break everything and become so frustrated I can't stop the hot tears that ruin my mascara and everyone's smiles in one go. I can't help it, it's been like this for a long time and it takes forever to come out of and really I'm laughing at the same time because it's ridiculous. I am blessed. The complaints would be welcome issues anywhere else and yet I have insurance against anything that goes wrong, so then when it does it will be the end of the world because that's precisely what I insured against, correct?

If only life worked that way, princess.

It should. I've earned it.

Sorry, baby. It isn't possible. It's called life.

Everyone makes it look easy.

They're better actors, that's all. Maybe your gift is that you give people permission to be honest and feel comfortable because you come to them with your heart on your sleeve and your guard already down.

I want to be an actor. Everyone can marvel at my perfection and the ease with which I live.

This is met with long, raucous laughter. I am annoyed.

Stop it, Jake.

I can't help it. You have the most fascinating thought-process.

I don't think it belongs to me, I must have picked it up along the way. I don't know how it works and therefore I can't control it. It's not mine.

It's the honesty, that's all. You never had a poker face.

Then that will be my resolution for the new year.

To learn to lie? That isn't a very good resolution, Bridget.

What would you suggest then?

Start writing again. Do the things that make you YOU.

Too hard.

You think learning the art of deception will be easier?

Works for everyone else.

Oh, Bridget, give up now. You'll never be anyone else.

My loss?

Your gain.

And you say my thoughts are strange.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Duck hunt.

(You always pick up the ones with the S and yet you're getting the L prize. Every fucking time. How are you doing that, exactly?)

Oh, Internet, seriously. Just stop it. You're wrong on so many levels it isn't funny. It's a freaking song. It wasn't meant for you, as I said right before I left it here.

But here, since one of my resolutions is to stop starting. Stop telling you things and then leaving you hanging with no resolution. The secret buried in the corn field? It's not a body so knock it off. The buried part is FIGURATIVE. Sheesh. I'm not very smart and I can figure out how to write about it, surely you can manage the comprehension part.

To retain my crown of intellect today I'll tell you where I spent last evening. Cruising the harbour on the yacht with Caleb. Because really, one whose life is in danger should always get on a boat with those who want to see her dead, or some such golden rule like so. He met us at the marina and began the evening with a toast, with small glasses of Stoli, neat, to finally having the chance to spend a little time together.

We had our toast, Ben drank to nothing, not even opening his vitamin water that Caleb keeps stocked for him and then they walked up to the bridge and I went out on deck to watch the open ocean, taking the bottle of Stoli with me.

Two hours later I had finished it. Sadly it was only half full when I began. Just enough to give me a lick of courage and a terribly adorable case of the hiccups and when the boys came back down I was wrapped in a blanket staring at the lights of the harbor, almost-crying and hiccuping. I'm telling you, you can't take me anywhere.

Ben told me that he made it very clear to Caleb why we didn't attend the party (right in front of him! He is learning!) and then asked me what I wanted to do now. He always asks, in case you think otherwise. Not because he's a pushover (he isn't) but for reasons that really are none of your business. You think it's easy for him? Jesus CHRIST. You know nothing.

My head is still playing the stupid song and I ask to go home. Caleb's eyes go black because he was hoping we would stay. I don't want to stay. I don't want to be here at all. I want to know what they have to talk about that takes two hours when Ben appeared twenty fucking years after most of our secrets were fixed into place. Don't be friends. Don't get along. Jesus Christ, don't ever align yourself with this man because all he's ever wanted to do is ruin my fucking life, Ben.

Truth serum, after a fashion. Why Caleb prefers other means of bringing me down.

That's not what I want, princess.

I meet Caleb's eyes.

Oh, I know what you want. And you think you have it but what you have is a fucking FRACTION of what he gets. I am poking my finger into Ben's chest. I think I've actually broken my finger against Ben's chest. It isn't the same, you know. It's like two percent out of a thousand. And it will never be any more than that. I laugh and it's cut off by another fucking hiccup.

I think maybe you'd better take her home, Caleb says to Ben. He's going to pretend the poison barbs aren't hitting him and I'm going to keep throwing them until someone stops me or I run out.

You're such a monster.

Goodnight, Bridget.

I really wanted to spit in his direction but I don't believe I know how. I settled for gracefully ignoring him. Okay, ungracefully. Stilettos + boarding ramp + dock + hiccups + disappointed ex-brother-in-law times Stoli divided by my resolve to leave before he changes his mind and keeps us for the night. It happens, sometimes. Beginning under the guise of working through my feelings and ending with me pinned to the floor and then dropping right through it into a world where he couldn't touch me if he tried.

He can't stand for being ignored. He follows us down the ramp and asks Ben for just a moment of my time, alone. Ben makes that face at him, that beautiful, angry face that pretty much answers the question, and so Caleb settles for a public exchange.

We'll talk later in the week, princess. Translation: I didn't get my revenge for you not showing up to the party I threw for you. Also: WANT.

Maybe. I love how he pretends that I have all the power when it comes to this stuff. I have now slipped out of his hands precisely twice in less than forty-eight hours. It's not going to be pretty when he blocks the next escape. Sure I hold all the power. And the moment I let go of that, I will lose someone else that I love very, very dearly (besides Ben). Caleb knows I'm not going to do that and therefore he will exploit me until the day I die. The one you should feel sorry for here is Ben, since the rest of us made our beds and he did nothing wrong. How incredibly amazing he is to put up with this in the first place. To want in when in seems to be a slow train to hell and back and we can never ever disembark.

Glad he's strong enough. I still don't think I am.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Journey (like the bat signal only slightly faster).

I have five minutes to myself on this boat and wi-fi only until he finds out and cuts me off. Tethering for the win, asshole.
Highway run
Into the midnight sun
Wheels go round and round
You're on my mind
Restless hearts
Sleep alone tonight
Sending all my love
Along the wire

They say that the road
Ain't no place to start a family
Right down the line
It's been you and me
And loving a music man
Ain't always what it's supposed to be
Oh, girl, you stand by me
I'm forever yours

Circus life
Under the big top world
We all need the clowns
To make us smile
Through space and time
Always another show
Wondering where I am
Lost without you

And being apart
Ain't easy on this love affair
Two strangers learn to fall in love again
I get the joy of rediscovering you
Oh, girl, you stand by me
I'm forever yours

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Another review from someone whose favorite movie is 28 Days Later.

(So take everything I say with a grain of salt. You know how my tastes run.)

Today I am in much better condition than yesterday and it's raining and dreary so it is movie review day! We snuck out before lunch for the earliest Tron: Legacy viewing of the day .

I am so glad we did. I had skimmed a few headlines and tweets about it, mostly from people who didn't enjoy it, so I reserved my curiosity like I always do and went to see it without having read any actual reviews. I mean, what in the hell is a movie review? It's a subjective opinion. Just like for fine art and music. Who goes to see something or stays home, or likes one band or one artist but not another based on a reviewers opinion? I would sooner shoot you in the face than let you tell me you can't or won't make up your own damned mind.

With that, here's my review. Haha.

I enjoyed the hell out of it, frankly. What a wild ride. The characters had chemistry, the plot was succinct and easy to follow. The nostalgia boot of the eighties arcade lifestyle hit me in the ass, and I thought Jeff Bridges as himself stole the show. He delivered a few lines that made me tear up even. The lightbike scenes were thrilling and the music (all Daft Punk) and the visual effects were stunning, making for some serious sensory overload. I loved the skies (look behind things). The story wasn't overly complicated so your average Joe can follow it without actually needing to see the original 1982 Tron (which is good because I slept through it last year sometime, not having seen it as a child)

So if I could keep track of what was going on, anyone could have, but no one will be bored by it either. It moves along smoothly and the action is fairly fast-paced. I did think Olivia Wilde's character was simple to the point of seeming to be gratuitous but then I figured out why. Duh. Except for the whole lounging in front of the fireplace scene..that was just freaking dumb. Sit up, for heaven's sakes. It was all sex kitten where it wasn't called for and really distracted me, as did Sam's one-off I'm so cool, I can outcool everyone lines in the 'real world'. He was cooler when he didn't try so hard, you know?

And damn. The best part. Cillian Murphy. I've had a thing for him mostly since I first laid eyes on him (in that most perfect zombie movie for ALL ETERNITY) and I had no idea he was going to be in this and it's only for one scene but it was worth it. I found out a few moments ago that he does indeed remain uncredited but he's impossible to miss. So hot.

Anyway, if you were ever a fan of the first one or like highly visual movies that leave you biting your lip and hanging on to the arms of your theater seat, go see Tron: Legacy.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Cold comfort.

We are supposed to be at Caleb's Christmas party downtown but here I sit in my purple striped pajama pants and a threadbare white t-shirt instead of the plum satin cocktail dress that is still laid out on the bed upstairs.

Ben did not make our excuses on my behalf, no one did, we simply didn't show. Ben wants to be home, wants to be with me and the children and live quietly for a while and I have one of those headaches, the ones that I won't admit to until the last moment, the ones that will see me shutting down completely in a few more minutes and curling up into a ball to withstand the night. Ignoring the angry text messages and voice mails. Caleb will be outraged. He can wait.

These headaches are the ones Lochlan would wish away for me, letting me sip brandy mixed in juice to numb the hurt, packing bags of ice around me so I could sleep, staying awake to wring out a cold towel to rest against my forehead. Always reassuring me my head was not going to explode. I was not going to die. I would be okay the next day. I would wrap my arms around his neck and hold on for dear life against the pain.

And bullshit, I would tell him through tears. How do you know it won't explode? I was afraid of that pain, because I don't feel pain like normal people, so if I can feel it, it must be very very bad.

Lochlan said the same reminders tonight, as Ben gently yelled at me to go to bed already, that there's no honor in suffering by trying to stay awake.

He's right. I'm going.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Now with extra noodles.

Ben took me out today for some shopping, and then a little more shopping, and then some window shopping. We went to the ever-popular ramen place that I fell in love with when I got here, for their deliriously good akaoni with bean sprouts, and then we did a little more shopping before finally getting the Christmas tree and bringing it to the school to pick up the kids.

Ben's so unconventional. I would tell you how unconventional but I'm pretty sure you can figure it out. He's awesome like that.

Sadly, I was on Robson Street a mere two hours before Katie Holmes went shopping there. I would have loved to have met her. Ben made some comment about how he would love to eat her. You can take that any way you want, just remember, he eats everything. He's already taken a bite of the Christmas tree.

He said it was delicious.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Caught in the crossfire of childhood and stardom.

Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
Rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!
The whisper-war this afternoon was quashed by Lochlan, who leveled a stunning reminder to Caleb that it was just fine if Ruthie wanted to wear her favorite uh..very casual shirt to her Christmas concert. She's almost twelve. She needs to make decisions like this. She needs to be considered for input into her own life.


I will be DAMNED if I let Lochlan and Caleb spend the next thirty years debating every single thing she ever does but it was nice to see one of them refuse to take it any further, opting to not engage in negative energy. Especially today.

I love hearing the children sing and dance their way through performances. I love the fact that they've made new, close friends and have fun at their new school. It's a safe place. It's a good place. Ruth played with the school band as well, so we were treated to multiple performances and both Ruth and Henry came home exhausted and elated.

I love to watch Caleb's face as he goes in expecting to add more fuel to his private-boarding-school fire and comes away with a renewed understanding of just how perfect it is for the children here because this school was chosen carefully. So carefully that the house was an afterthought, a stroke of pure luck as we chose to do things backwards on purpose.

So far so good, hey?

Speaking of backwards, Ben is off for the holidays and taking his own monstrously beautiful time to decompress. We spent a good hour at the post office today, attempting to fit all of the boxes my family sent into the car. Three tries, it took.

You would drive a tiny car around over a big truck if your gas cost $1.36 a litre as well, and frankly my trunk is a little crowded for winter. I have a shovel, a snow brush/scraper, jumper cables, kitty litter, granola bars, bungee cords, the big x-jack for actually changing a tire, over the stupid j-shaped thing that came with the car, and the cloth bags I use for grocery shopping, since I mostly forget them unless I keep them in the car.

Did I mention my car is tiny? Who cares? It has almost three hundred horsepower and really you're still marveling that people might willingly pay that for gas, aren't you?

I figured. It's okay.

Anyway, we dropped off the boxes and went back out and had lunch at KFC. For some reason vacation=chicken to Ben or maybe it's just comfort/reward food so since he's mentioned it three times in three weeks, off we went today. I had a big crunch sandwich and almost had to spend the afternoon trying to fit MYSELF into the car. If you don't know the big crunch story then I should probably tell it. When I was pregnant with Ruth I lived on big crunch sandwiches, mostly because they were one of the very few food items I could keep down. (Here is not the part where I do not tell you how many pounds I gained during that pregnancy because dear lord no one needs to hear that, now, do they?)

Let's just say it all turned out fine. I watched my little girl and my little boy (a worse pregnancy by FAR, made better only by orange juice) sing their guts out this afternoon and I figure the children got all of their talent from the chickens and the oranges because they put the rest of us to shame.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


I spent a long time outrunning Caleb. Life is a lot easier this way, alright? I have no need to censor yesterday's post about Batman offering to make my life 'easier' because it's been done by everyone (except the one who counts) a hundred times over and nothing ever changes. It can't be done. Besides. He is Henry's father. Henry has lost enough.

I am waiting for the day when Lochlan finally realizes he is fifteen years out of the circus and rejoins reality and fixes this. He's not going to, though. I've waited so long I know it now and the three of us are stuck like this until we die. Not the way I hoped to spend my grown-up years, if they ever begin, but good enough that with some effort and a lot of frantic peacemaking, it's tolerable.

In other words, money won't fix this. Change won't fix this and death certainly didn't fix it. It's just the way things are.

In other news, I just figured out how to pay the bills that come in from crossing bridges here on the lower mainland without leaving the house or giving anyone my credit card number. And I'm making fudge. Which is stupidly easy and prohibitively expensive all at once. I suspect once PJ finds out there won't be anything left but maybe it will deflect them from my mom's annual Christmas cookie tin, which is waiting for me at the post office.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Dead lines.

But just tonight I won’t leave
I’ll lie and you’ll believe
Just tonight I will see
It’s all because of me
Batman was thoroughly amused when I ducked into this little hole-in-the-wall exclusive grocery market on our shopping trip.

I held the can high when I came out. Cranberry jelly at last! We'll need a little bit, just a taste, with turkey or it isn't Christmas. And I've been looking everywhere. Sadly it didn't fit in my handbag, so he had to carry it until we bought something else and could put it in a bag. He looked ridiculous contemplating the Breitlings holding a can of preserves. Or at least the clerk thought so.

(We didn't buy any watches.)

Batman flew up to see what was going on with Caleb and also to help me shop for Ben, which I'm not going to say much about because Ben will read it. So we walked and shopped and talked and he prodded and poked my brain and asked his ridiculously blunt questions. I'm used to it, he talks a lot like Lochlan most of the time, there is never any attempt made at grace or tact, the questions are shot at me like bullets and my armor deflects all but the biggest one. That one goes right between the eyes.

Why, Bridget?

I don't know.

He paused and looked back at me, shaking his head. I am never less than one hundred percent honest with him. I don't ask him to call. I don't invite him to visit, I don't ask for or need the annual envelope that assures him of my discretion, as if I would give him anything less, and I have no need for his influence. He gives it freely. He cares. We're become friends.

Maybe you can find out.


He doesn't talk to me about the right things.

I'm aware.

He picked up a sterling silver bauble and frowned at it, showing me. I nodded and said he should take it home. To his family. He bought it for his Christmas tree while I picked up reflective ornaments and studied the girl in the concrete room. He startled me out of my examination with a hand on the small of my back and I jumped a hundred feet into the air, catching my coat on a sharp cloud, hanging by a thread before dropping gently back to the ground, falling in step with him as he hurried down the sidewalk with purpose.

Bridget. I can end this. Is that what you want?

I had lost track of what he was talking about. End our visits? End Christmas shopping? End impromptu brunches at overpriced restaurants?

End what?

Caleb playing these fucking mind games with you. You want it to stop, you say so.

I choked on my breath in the middle of the sidewalk, stopping only to be jostled by people trying to pass. Batman grabbed my elbow and pulled me out of the traffic.

Look, if you want it to stop, I can do that, but you can't play games either. You can't spend time with him. Only Henry can. You won't work for him anymore. You won't be ruled or punished by him but you can't want him either.

He isn't Cole. He will never be Cole and that's a damn good thing because one monster in your life is enough and Caleb tries but he falls short. Only he seems to keep you coming back. So I'm going to give you a little time to think about this and I'll contact you when I come back up in a few weeks. Either you cut him out of your life as much as possible under the circumstances or you admit that you're playing his game and we stop worrying about you where he is concerned. Does that work?

Yes. I am nodding slowly. I am twelve and overwhelmed with information and I just want the talking to stop. I want the concern to stay. I want everything and I don't want to feel guilty for it. But then I see myself in the shop window and I am not twelve. I'm in my thirties and I have a brain and a nice coat and expensive shoes and men are stopping to stare at me on the sidewalk and I'm giving my power away to someone who's taking this for granted and he can't control me anymore because I'm NOT TWELVE.

But my voice betrays me, just like it always does. Heart, in pieces, ruling over mind. I become twelve when I can no longer process horror, hunger or true love.

Batman has just become the babysitter. He sees this in my eyes, and he takes my hand and leads me back to the car.

Just under three weeks, Bridget. Let's meet again then and see how things are. At New Years.

I nod.

You're going to have a terrific holiday, Bridget. I can feel it.

I nod again and he stops trying. It's too late. This girl is gone in a blur of cranberries and adjuration.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Princess footnotes.

Benjamin wants me to point out why we haven't found a tree yet.

How about this one, bee?

It's too fat.

Too fat?

Yes, the branches. I don't want a Douglas fir.

Okay, what about this one?

Too fat.

It's a Fraser.

No, too fat around. It's wide. It will take up too much room.

This one?

Too pale.


Has to be dark green. It's not dark enough.

This one?

Dry. Look at the needles that come off when I touch it.

So fresh, narrow, dark and small needle length.


Okay, here. This is the one. A Noble fir. Perfect height and everything.

No, that's too skinny. Like pretentious designer skinny. I want homey.

Okay. Bridget?


Do you like any of these?

I'll know when I see it. What's your hurry?

Christmas is less than two weeks away.

Oh, you're right. Then we should probably pick one.

Yeah. Okay so which one?

Can we check that other place first? I'd really hate to get one of these and find out the ones at the other lot were perfect.

Does it really matter?

Yes. Christmas has got to be perfect.


Because last year was so hard.

His eyes filled up and he looked away for a minute. Then he spoke, clearly struggling to keep control.

We'll find one during the week, okay princess? It will be the perfect one. I think we're too tired tonight anyway. Let's go home.

He gave me a kiss on the forehead, not saying another word about how badly I need everything to be right for a while. He's the best Christmas present a girl could ask for.

Naughty or Nice.

(Thirteen days til Christmas! Hope we find a tree soon, and the hiding place for the cranberry jelly in this city.)

In my bid to retain my title as most irreverent pop-culture consumer alive, I finally saw Inception this weekend. Or rather, Ben poked me repeatedly to keep me awake while we concentrated very hard on keeping track of what was going on.

It was incredibly good. Sort of a blend of The Matrix, Flatliners and Paycheck, actually. Not "picture of the year" (as I have read so many people wax enthusiastically) by my standards but entertaining and very thought-provoking. Tom Hardy? Wow. He's slightly hot, isn't he?

In other news, we finally unlocked the Hockey Game without a Fight achievement in life, or rather Ben and Lochlan did, since I just watch. This could be because Caleb sent his regrets, but I won't call it a miracle until they finish the season peacefully and without incident.

Santa is watching, you know. Maybe that's the secret. Have the big man keep an eye on them and they will always be on their best.

Haha. Are you kidding? If only things were that simple.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Big fat drops of circumscription.

Another day, another rain warning. A sub-tropical system. My only goal is to get the Christmas tree and get it set up before the deluge hits. The sound of it on the roof is so lovely though. I daresay we're not going to get that white Christmas (though there are a few snowflakes listed in the advanced forecast).

Oh....well, darn it.


In other news, I held my ground against Caleb, who has now tried just about everything (short of telling the truth) to get me to assume control of the company. I'm doing okay with that. I don't really want to talk about it. It makes Lochlan tense, Ben is terribly suspicious and guarded and Caleb is confused by my inability to take him for his word.

Makes me wonder where he's been all these years.

Every single moment has been a trap, every word a lie and every time I let my guard down I wind up falling into a black hole and I've been doing so much better lately. The company runs well as is. My household runs well. My affairs of the heart seem smooth, presently. And he wants to fuck that up with a power shift and a whole lot of changes and some sort of underhanded, devious stunt to make good on his earlier offer. Leave Ben for me and I'll give you anything.

See? See?

He's not that bright I guess. If I wanted to be with him, I would have chosen him. He's lucky he's gets what he does, because the more he pulls stunts like this, the more afraid I become and the less interested I become in spending any time with him at all. I have a house full of perfectly good men, I don't need whatever he's offering.

Maybe he'll read this and stop. Maybe pigs will fly, the sky will fall and hell will freeze over. Probably not. Pigs need to evolve with wings first, the sky isn't going anywhere and hell is pretty damned warm.

Well, it is.

I have to go. Another long day of beautiful rain, even more beautiful boys and a whole lot of phonecalls to ignore lies ahead of me. Hopefully procurement of a Christmas tree too.

Friday, 10 December 2010

My Christmas 'bonus' was sent back a little while ago. It will be there at the front desk when Caleb picks up his mail.

As much as the whole Pepper Potts thing is fun and all, Caleb has no business dropping this in my lap, playing whatever game it is that he's playing, raising the stakes until I can no longer see them, let alone reach them, and getting to me since he can't go after the boys as obstacles in his way anymore because they won't allow it.

(Wow, I've become Lochlan's ventriloquist dummy. Who would have thunk it? Just picture him talking in my voice or something.)

I will wait for Caleb's own facial expression (inevitable disappointment, but with class and possibly french cuffs) and perhaps he can come up with an actual reasonable bonus for me so I can have that little thrill of some extra cash in my pocket instead of this wedge that he tried to drive between me and the boys or whatever trick it is that he's up to. Fuck the excuses and the imaginary white flags. I really should know better by now.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Occam's Bridget.

(Hi. New? Well, just remember when I'm very confused I have even more words than usual.)

He made salmon and scrambled eggs, coffee, English muffins and screwdrivers. I wondered how I was going to eat all of it when mornings find me mainlining a sixteen-ounce coffee and little else until I am fully awake. I was aware that my hairpins were far too tight, digging into my neck from a low chignon but he seemed pleased that I am beginning to look like myself again. I find that so interesting seeing as how the haircut was his spontaneous freakout and he has since removed the scissors, purchasing a better, downright dangerous letter opener and a set of box cutters to replace them.

Caleb invited me for a business breakfast, an annual tradition in which he sets holiday bonus amounts on an individual basis, and I lobby him upward, fairly detailing each person's contribution from a wider perspective, taking into account work ethic, hours spent and a host of other factors (including the budget). Today's was more difficult, after a year of the boys working for themselves and each other, with calculations that found me standing up and reaching over to grasp the pen from his shirt pocket so I could scribble notes on the palm of my hand. He frowned, going to fetch a notebook from the desk.

By the time we'd arrived at a concrete set of numbers the table was covered with balled-up pages from the notebook with my teenage block-print postmodern penmanship scribbled over everything. My champagne and orange juice remained untouched. Warm. Caleb finished it while he cleaned away the dishes. I had already taken over his computer to begin to input the figures, feeling tiny, swallowed up by his giant monolith of a desk.

And then he told me we had reservations for lunch and would I please go wash off all of the writing on my hands? Remember the facial expressions I have? I bet this one was epic, a blend of what the fuck and how dare you drag my day out any longer. The numbers on the screen were swimming. Ben and I managed a whole four hours of sleep last night. And where in the hell did I put my coffee tumbler?

I waited and waited for him to be ready, too. He was reapplying his evil on a quick call and finally he covered the phone and told me to go downstairs and John would walk me to the restaurant and he would be along in minutes.

My grand plan was just to have lunch with John instead and freeze Caleb out, only I wasn't about to let John in on my plan until we arrived and then I approached the host to let him know half the party had arrived (the little half) and was led to a beautiful little table in the corner, by the window. John wisely declined to join me. I waited, watching the rain bathe the glass in sheets of bright misery and wonder how I wound up here, in a place where I can admire the greenery and wear an unlined raincoat in the middle of December.

My admiration of the trees was cut short with Caleb's arrival. Or rather, I finally noticed he was standing there watching me. I smiled (whoops, he grows on me sometimes, like moss or it's the brainwashing. You choose.) and he sat down across from me. Without opening the menu he ordered for both of us (mushroom soup for me, baked halibut for himself), asking that the kitchen put a rush on it.

Then the interruptions ceased and we found ourselves without witnesses and without a looming workload once again. We never do well in these predicaments. It always seems to end badly.

He reached into his suit jacket breast pocket, pulling out an envelope which he placed on the table in front of me.

What is this?

Your bonus, princess.

I didn't bring any profit to the company this year.

You keep everything together. If it falls apart there's no company to be had. You have earned it. And there's something else.

What do you mean? What else?

Do you want your pictures?

What pictures? (I am not playing coy with him, don't misunderstand. There are Cole's pictures, and then there are Caleb's pictures. One set makes me sad, the other blackens my mail, if you get my drift.)

Cole's portrait studies of you, plus the ones I took.

What will I have to do to get them?

His whole face fell. The monster in the mirror, only aware of the true magnitude of his wickedness when the helpless twelve-year old points it out.

I'll bring them over on the weekend. They'll have to be couriered in from Toronto or I would do it sooner, Bridget.

What do you want for them? I'm repeating myself because if there's a catch, I don't want it.

Nothing. I didn't know how badly you wanted them. I was simply making sure Cole's work was properly archived and cataloged and I figured you didn't want to deal with it. You were sort of destructive with his things, except for the items you kept for me. Did I ever tell you how much I appreciated that? Well, I did, and if I can return the favor then I'd like to. And as a show of good faith, I will give you the other ones.

Why didn't you give them to me when I asked, Caleb? I've asked you a thousand times for those photos.

I didn't want you to be rash and destroy them. Cole's work is the children's legacy. Somehow I think you won't ruin anything now.

What makes you think that?

You seem different somehow. And I don't want to ruin anything for you.


Yes. In a good way. You seem calmer. More focused. Happier, almost. It's a contagious happy, and I forgot how incredibly good it makes me feel. All of us, actually. Not just me.

I am suspicious. Those photos are incredible leverage. There's no way in hell he's going to give them up so easily.


Oh, here we go.

You chose wisely. You chose interestingly. Ben was everyone's longshot, but he definitely makes you happiest. But he also doesn't cut you off from Lochlan, from the others, from me. That says a lot. That means a lot. So maybe this is for him, too.

You like him.

I always have.

Any love for Lochlan?

No. Not today, princess. On that note, I'll have John take you home. You can let them know I'm giving the photos back because you asked me too. They'll be suspicious, Bridge, but time will show them I'm less of a monster as time goes by. I'm getting older. I have a son who is beginning to become a man in his own right, I have no desire to make his mother unhappy.

A kiss on my forehead, a quick, strong hold and he was gone. I turned to look for John and he was right there. I never understand how Caleb does that.

He was right about the reactions.

Ben lifted his eyebrows right to the top of his head when I told him about my lunch. Lochlan was all words and outrage and mistrust to the point where Ben had to shout over him to get him to stop for just a minute.

While they continued the debate over Caleb's intentions right through dinner preparations, the meal itself and cleanup, I retired to my bedroom to change out of the dress and into my pajama bottoms and one of Ben's t-shirts. I won't be up late tonight, I'm exhausted. It was only then that I remembered the envelope with my Christmas bonus in my handbag. I figured it was a token amount, maybe enough for a very good haircut or a keychain from Chanel. Maybe even enough for a weekend pass for Whistler.

I slit the envelope with my thumb, giving myself a paper cut. Where is the eight-inch-long razor-sharp letter opener when I need it?

Oh no.

He gave me everything. All of it.

Controlling interest.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Shares of one soul.

Take me to another place, she said
Take me to another time
Run with me across the oceans
Float me on a silver cloud

If I could I would, but I don’t know how
If I could I would, but I don’t know how
If I could I would and I’d take you now

Stay with me till time turns over
I want to feel my feet leave the ground
Take me where the whispering breezes
Can lift me up and spin me around
I remember the lies Cole would tell me while he took my picture. Elaborate lighting, a table full of lenses and filters. Rolls of film lined up that would soon enslave him to the darkroom that would someday be shoved to a remote location by virtue of Ruth needing a bedroom of her own.

He would tell me things to evoke responses, capturing my emotions, shooting me when I was surprised, laughing, shocked or disappointed. Vulnerable. Pushing me, goading me, tricking me. It took me forever to catch on. For many years I thought he was simply only comfortable talking from behind the camera and he was saving those times for our longest conversations.

It was only toward the bitter, violent end that I understood he was harvesting my feelings, exploiting my face for his work in the worst possible way. He was making his living selling my feelings, and they weren't his to take. I have an incredible range of expressions and very little means of control when it comes to showing what I'm feeling. The moment it occurs, you will know, whether it's surprise, dismay, protracted grief or sheer panic. It is worse if I am angry or badly surprised. I have no poker face, I am the mask. My eyebrows and my mouth work in conjunction with my eyes and I will tell you I'm fine and you'll still know something is wrong, because it will be as plain as the nose on my face.

So when Cole exploded (because I don't say died. Even though it's been four and a half years now, I say exploded because that's essentially what his heart did and it wasn't his fault, alright? So just DON'T.) I burned every picture of myself that I could find.

Everything that was negative. Everything that was horribly invasive. If I never saw my face again on one of his brochures or on a bill advertising one of his shows it would be far too soon. The boys each have some favorites that they won't let go of, even though they have been so helpful with um..wheelbarrows and lighter fluid and long warm hugs, at the end of the day they have their own memories to keep and I don't have the right to rip those away.

I keep finding these pictures everywhere. They're tucked into books and slid down backs of drawers and scanned to websites faster than you can say smile so it's become a regular occurrence and I am all but immune to it now.

Except for one thing.

Caleb's collection of his brother's photographs.

It's immense, what he has. Possibly one or more copies of just about everything his brother shot, which means Caleb has the largest collection of photographs of me in existence. And not just any photographs but the most personal ones, the expressive ones that formed the backbone of Cole's portfolio. Those pictures became his breath. My soul was his life.

Caleb, not surprisingly, refuses to part with them.

Actually, he won't let me anywhere near them. He does not keep them at his penthouse, instead they are preserved in a private gallery somewhere (not on display) and the invoices are held so I don't even think I could find out where they were even if I dug very deeply. I can't trick him into telling me and asking nicely for them elicits a bitter laugh. And I have asked. Every week for a long time since I discovered the extent of his collection because Caleb slipped and threatened Lochlan in an email that I wasn't even supposed to see but did. I subsequently found scans of everything on Caleb's laptop, because what good are photos you can't look at when you feel the urge?


Cole's photographs were his words. They captured the moments he wanted to remember, he displayed them for all to see, he did not for one minute believe that taking someone's picture would shorten their shadow, hasten their death or force out their soul to be forever trapped within the borders of an image. He wasn't superstitious, forcing me to regularly walk under ladders, open umbrellas over my head indoors and lose my soul in his flash.

And I did, because I worshipped the ground he walked on.

He was God for so long I had a hard time believing Jacob when Jacob told me I was wrong and an even harder time believing that God even exists at all after Jacob flew and that maybe I had been right all along.

It wasn't until that Jacob was gone that I realized the gift Cole had left for me, maybe without meaning to, maybe without intending to. You see, he gave my soul to Caleb (or maybe Caleb just took it, like he's taken everything else) but in return he gave me Jacob's.

I have so many pictures of Jacob and even though it's difficult to look at them sometimes, okay, it still remains completely impossible, since my hands begin to flutter so badly when I touch the boxes I keep them in that I can't open the lids and I've continued to take that as a sign that I'm not really ready yet. (Besides, it's easier to flick the switch on the DVD player and watch him on video. Shhhhh. ) Even though I can't look at them, it's comforting to know that his soul is still here with me. Maybe he might be horrified to learn this, or maybe he already knows.

I am guessing he knows. He bore witness to my frantic attempts to destroy all of the pictures Cole took and he would laugh when I told him why. He agreed and brought out the lighter fluid, but not before selecting several pictures to keep for himself, pictures I have not found to this day and I'm pretty sure he took some cues from Caleb and hid them somewhere so that they would be safe, maybe it was an attempt, like the boys have made, to keep enough of me in the light so that Caleb would not wind up with everything.

You hear that? Listen closely. Caleb. did. not. wind. up. with. everything.

Today I am surrounded by stacks of photographs. These are the ones that will be distributed amongst everyone here, since I have already packaged up the prints that will be sent East as part of the Christmas gifts going to extended family, the ones taken several weeks ago by the poor photographer who had planned to stop by for twenty minutes and wound up staying for hours. In these pictures I am smiling. A contentment I didn't register until last night when I was pouring over them.

Photographic proof that I'm not as ruined as I once thought I might be. You should see my face right now, on realizing this.

Someone ought to take a picture.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Things that end in -five.

Ben left to head downtown to do some work this morning and I kissed him goodbye and then ran back upstairs to have a shower and when I started it (I give it a few minutes to get nice and steamy-hot while I brush my teeth) I noticed a big number five on the shower door, drawn with soap.



Five working days left and Ben is on holidays for the remainder of 2010. You know, the longest year of our lives. When I look at the calendar from last year we were putting plaster up on the ceiling, trying not to panic and generally NOT having any fun at all (massive understatement, but you get it).

He agrees, this Christmas will be different. He even begins his holidays three days before the children are off, which makes me laugh. It's going to be nice. We'll get a lunch date, maybe bring home a big crazy nice Christmas tree. Deliver presents. Go for a drive even. Sleep in. Read by the fire. We'll make love, make cookies, make resolutions and plans for 2011 and make up for lost time.

It's going to be great. I love having things to look forward to. Like time with Ben, all to ourselves.

Monday, 6 December 2010

The joy of painting.

This morning I ran the defroster for an extra minute or two to clear the fog off the mirrors on my car, I lamented the sweater I had on underneath my coat because I certainly didn't need it, and then I drove down the highway, marvelling at the hotel-art quality snow-capped sunbathed mountains to the north. Seriously, this is what Bob Ross saw inside his head as he spoke in soothing tones while he painted.

Every morning PJ and I exclaim with delight the difference between the temperature here and what the Prairies rest at. We're dizzy with maniacal glee, and I'm sorry, but I plan to relish it, at least for this first west coast winter. PJ it's five freaking degrees! I know, princess, the succulents in the front garden are holding. What the fuck. We're in paradise here. Total and utter paradise and I love it from one end to the other.

In other news? I have to buy two more presents and some cranberry sauce and then you can stick a fork in me, because I'll be FINISHED.

Ready for Christmas.

Easy-peasy, since I start very, very early so as not to have to spend the spring smoothing the inevitable ripple in my finances. And also to make sure I make good decisions instead of rash ones when it comes to gifts. Also? I don't think the twenty-pound turkey I wrangled into the front seat of the car is actually going to FIT in the oven but I also am dreaming of the hot turkey sandwiches with gravy in the days after the holidays.

Oh, shit, right, we need a tree. We did buy a new tree stand. Yesterday, in fact.

I want to spend this Christmas fully drunk on good wine and better love (What was that? Oh, right, Bridget just set a GOAL). A far cry from last Christmas, that consisted of panic and plaster and tears and the inability to catch my breath or unclench my entire body from the fear. Hell, no. This is going to be the best Christmas ever, and a green one, if PJ and I have anything to say about it. The boys would like white. I think I've had enough of that. Green isn't my favorite color for nothing, you know.
Geneviève Bergeron, aged 21
Hélène Colgan, 23
Nathalie Croteau, 23
Barbara Daigneault, 22
Anne-Marie Edward, 21
Maud Haviernick, 29
Barbara Klucznik, 23
Maryse Leclair, 23
Annie St. Arneault, 23
Michèle Richard, 21
Maryse Laganière, 25
Anne-Marie Lemay, 22
Sonia Pelletier, 28
Annie Turcotte, 21.
I can't believe this happened twenty one years ago. Time has flown and dragged and fumbled and sped past. I am not going to tell you you should wear a white ribbon or donate to a cause or even take a moment to reflect. This is just something I remember without fail, every year.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Fly-by, the Seattle edition.

The next time I leave the country for six hours I will be sure to ask Lochlan's permission first, rather than not at all.

Last time I checked Bridget was an adult and also when I checked, Caleb was the one who kept ordering the drinks for me. Foolishly I accepted (most of) them. Lochlan is vaguely pissed off anyway, because inside his thick skull, I'm the farthest thing from an adult that there is and a precious commodity to be protected, not flown across the border to attend some horribly socially-stunted cocktail party and fed vodka until I boarded the plane again, shoes in hand and somewhat unsteadily buckled in by Benjamin to come back home.

On the upside, it was probably the only chance I'll have to enjoy the strapless pearl-grey dress and the silver shoes I love so much and never get to wear because they are far too glitzy for most functions. Ben wore a pewter tie and a dark grey suit with a black shirt and we looked amazing together. He avoided the bar all night, holding a bottled water and chatting in the corner with the same group for most of the evening. Watching me watch him. Watching me struggle.

I wasn't exactly smashed, I was simply too tired for a plane ride, we somehow missed dinner completely, and then the boredom of being surrounded by boorish executives and sycophantic, disgusting, bottom-feeder industry-types left me entertaining the bottom of any glass I could get my hands on, standing beside Caleb as he repeatedly tried and failed to engage me in conversation. I played with my phone, I admired my shoes. I was impossible. I was sexually harassed within moments, within earshot of Caleb, who ignored the faux pas completely, pissing me off. Perhaps I brought the party down. I do know the pseudo-pop music was annoying me before the bad behavior, setting a tone that smacked of post-college forced sophistication. We endured. It happens. Not every party can be a smashing success, not every event is going to be Vegas in a snowglobe, not every stranger will behave with decorum, not every song will be of my choosing.

Sadly. It should be. I have earned that much, haven't I?

Not every drink will be a candy-apple martini either. The first one was amazingly good, the next two were bearable, the fourth one sickly-sweet, the last one declined. However, we've already sent our regrets for the next function. Apparently we weren't as joy-killing as we felt we were and garnered another invite before take-off. I guess that's a good thing. It is a pretty spectacular dress, even if it is wrapped around a scowl.

I chose not to tell Ben about the lewd comments I received until we were home, partly because he spent a fair amount of time resisting the idea of attending at all, and secondly because Ben acts first and thinks later when someone oversteps his boundaries. He seems like he doesn't have any at all, but the limits of his good graces are very clearly defined and God help you if you overestimate them.

I chose wisely to tell him afterward, he said. Caleb wasn't going to tell him at all.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Exclusively yours (okay not so much, really).

Don't misunderstand me. Lochlan did not take Ben's birthday dinner as a public opportunity to set up his soapbox, he only spoke to Ben's character in being passionate and generous and forgiving in the face of what is nothing less than an intricate operation, a complicated situation that finds everyone confused sometimes. If we keep the big picture in mind it's easier to exist day by day. Please don't ask me what this 'big picture' is of, I don't think I've ever laid eyes on it. I suspect it might be a portrait of me, probably one that Cole shot.

Besides, if I know Ben, he will simply store up his outrage and take it out on Lochlan on the ice in about thirty minutes time. I'm going to film them this time with the camcorder so they can see what I see when they go down swinging, helmets knocked off, sweat flying. It's the only time they will physically engage one another in front of the children, because of the padding. Because it's a game.

My life is not a game.

It's a penalty box with a power play for the away team.

Friday, 3 December 2010


Because you feed me fables from your hand
With violent words and empty threats
And it's sick that all these battles
Are what keeps me satisfied
His chin is pressed against my head. He shakes his head and mine spins in response. Ow. I try to pull away but he doesn't let me go.

If I can't have certain things, then neither can Ben.

You don't get to do that, Lochlan.

Sure I do. Last time I checked I was the adult in this relationship.

Then act like it.

As soon as you stop finding room for him in your mental circus. Or in our history.

My history is complicated.

I know, I was there.

The abrupt shock of his comment turns my skull into ice. I'm sure had he pressed down with his chin just right my head would have shattered and melted into the floor. Instead he finally loosens his hold enough to pull back and look at me. I meet his gaze. It's easy for me to push Lochlan out of my past and be alone there, tapping on the glass, watching events unfold like some sort of ignorant bystander. It's more difficult to push him out of my present but there he is like a persistent itch or a beeping reminder. One missed call. Voice mail awaits.

This voicemail is an endless repetition. I should have left the decisions to the grownup and then we wouldn't have gone hungry, and we would have been safe. Everything would have been different. But I am impulsive and impossible. The i-words. I hate them. I can't help them.

Lochlan thinks with his dedicated vigilance he can turn back time and change things, fix things so that his little girl can grow up and stop fantasizing about the circus.

Only he doesn't, so why would she?

When he stood up at the birthday dinner to level his toast at Benjamin, he described in no uncertain terms exactly where he stands. In life, with me, with us. Words that were found by Benjamin and tucked away for safekeeping. Words that Ben took seriously, while I swung my legs and chewed on my hair and wished for a stronger drink than cranberry juice, knowing I would never get it. I wished for a magic carpet ride that would take me away from Lochlan and I wished for a clone so I could give him one hundred percent. I wished for clarity and for strength. I wished for peace of mind and an end to the concrete room if that's what Jacob wants. I wished for comfort for Cole and for Caleb too. I wished for a million huge wishes and then Ben blew out the candles on his cake and vetoed every last one of mine with one single wish of his own.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Happy forty-second birthday, you big fucking freak.

I am at the studio today, watching Ben work. We have plans shortly. I get the big crazy Macbook for an hour. Here you go.
Look at him now
He's paler somehow
But he's coming round
He's starting to choke
It's been so long since he spoke
Well he can have the words right from my mouth

And with these words I can see
Clear through the clouds that covered me
Just give it time then speak my name
Now we can hear ourselves again

I'm holding out for the day
When all the clouds have blown away
I'm with you now
Can speak your name
Now we can hear ourselves again
He says my name and I inhale sharply, frozen in my position on the platform. Ben stands in the center of the wire, balancing. My heart is in his hands.

Main attraction. No net.

The wire strains under his weight. The biggest of men are relegated to the ground in the show for a reason, the strongman, the giant, other circus sideshow freaks because everyone is intimidated by them, so let's single them out because they're different and take the upper hand. The builders, the ones you don't pay attention to. You should pay attention to this one.

The wire bends lower still. He begins to inch forward.

A chorus of fear erupts from below and he smiles and shakes his head, squinting. He's amused that his certain death is going to be witnessed by so many.

No, it isn't.

I use my hand signals and motion for the spotlight. I'll fix this. I'll save the night. I'll save the clown, though you would never know it. Clowns never ever wear black.

I am blinded and I let my eyes unfocus as I smile wide, holding up the lace parasol and putting it over my head daintily, the worst thing a superstitious person can do with an umbrella, and yet the crowd has already turned their attention to me. Not only is he going to fall, but she's going to raise the bar of difficulty and go out and push him off.

The smile is beginning to hurt, and they think I am evil.

I weigh nothing, reaching him in seconds. Don't look down, princess, just play the role you were born to play. Walk the tightrope, leave them breathless. You are braver than anyone else on this show, in this world.

To my surprise, the voice in my mind causes me to falter. Just slightly but it's enough and I hear a tight scream from below. I can't see the crowd, the lights are between the ropes and the stands. A low murmur begins to reach my ears. The Ringmaster calls for quiet, please, so the performers can remain focused!

Only the one in the center isn't supposed to be here. Will he get credit? Will he get paid? Will he be asked to stay on through the next town? When the last question marks reach my eyebrows and raise them slightly my hand makes contact and he grabs it and holds on tightly. An uncontrollable cheer goes up from the crowd that is quickly silenced and he shakes his head again. We haven't done anything yet. Don't be premature.

I begin to slide down toward him.

I balance myself against his hand and let it happen. If I fight it we'll both die. Besides, the angle is ridiculous and I am wearing tights. The rope does not bend when I do this alone. I slide right in against his feet and the wire begins to wobble horizontally and I tell him to keep going. Keep moving. Come on! If you pause we're not going to make it. If you breathe, we're not going to survive the fall. We'll make the headlines and the show will come to a grinding halt forever. We can't let down our friends, and we cannot scar the crowd for life. People avoid circuses for the clowns but secretly they live for the thrills that lie behind their fears.

They live for this.

And so do I.

You can do this. Come on. Fast, baby. Don't look down. I am sliding. Backwards now. He is pushing me, with his hands in front, still holding my heart which he hasn't dropped, no, not even once and I am grasping his sleeves and shifting my balance to barely compensate for his errors. He has the important part and he trusts me not to let go.

We reach the platform. We are safe.

The tent erupts in a roar of relief and excitement. His eyes are bright. It is contagious, this feeling. You have pleased them, now reap the reward of applause. This is nothing new to him though, he did this every night for years. I turn and wave, blowing a few precious kisses to the crowd below. I still cannot see them but the sound is deafening to me, I can't imagine what's like for him. I must be underwater, blind and mute to this incredible moment. Giving a final wave, I turn back and follow Ben down the ladder to the relative security of the hard dirt floor, swept smooth.

And then he breaks into a run, leaving the tent, leaving the show behind, taking my heart with him.

We couldn't catch him if we tried.

It's okay. He'll circle around and catch up with us on the way to the next town. Somehow he won everyone's hearts, even though he only ever wanted mine.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Slow poison.

What once was a girl
Is now just a ghost
Is now just a ghost
And everyone knows it

Seen it before
And we watched her explode
Yeah, a high and a low
But nobody shows it

Nothing hurts worse
Than a hope that's deferred
Don't let it slip away
See you shining under the shame
Acqua Di Gio. Back when I was a child it was Azzaro. Not sure why, but he likes the very clean scents for aftershave and never bit into the craze for whatever was popular.

I can still taste it.

Ben put his hands on my shoulders. He was standing behind me silently. Possession? I can feel the stare, I just can't see it. A kiss landed on top of my head, hard. Resignation. I was mistaken. He turns and leaves the room and I am lighter in weight but heavier in heart.

Caleb has come back downstairs from Henry's room from their quick goodnight tuck-in time. I watch him unbutton a button at his neck. The tie is hanging out of his pants pocket, his sleeves are rolled up. Pale grey shirt, black pants, black socks because I make everyone take their shoes off in the front hall. The endless acres of white carpet require it. I'll be damned if I'm going to clean this house more often than it needs it simply because they want to wander around it with footwear on. The exceptions are my high heels because I need those precious meters to see if I can walk or if I should return for a more reasonable pair, and Ben, who is too preoccupied most of the time to pay attention and did not make it to this age to follow rules.

Except for these ones.

I'm drowning in the fucking aftershave. I can bite it. It isn't strong. He is just close and it was applied recently. I'm thinking he showered and changed and then came over. It saves him time and time is such a precious commodity to me I left my soul where I sold it and opted for visiting hours instead.

His concern is evident. My disdain apparent. Checkmate.

We should talk.

Is there anything left to talk about?

You still talk to Lochlan, don't you? It's been longer.

That's different.

Jesus, you're something else. He has just as much blame to share in as I do.

I shake my head.

I cannot believe that you don't see that. I thought for sure as you got older...

You had no idea you would still be in my life!

Cole did a fine job keeping me away most of the time.

I should have left well enough alone.

I'm glad you didn't. He is smiling at me. Every single day I am struck by how much contact they have with each other, my boys. Calls, letters, then emails. Meetings, sometimes here, sometimes far from where we are. A bond that I love to imagine they forged in the woods, stricken with cold and honor, clinking their armor as they all put their hands to the center, gauntlets touching to seal a promise.

(Oh, well, shit. Snap back to reality, why don't you, Bridget.)

Things would be easier.

Sure, if you liked remaining in that cold city alone, with the boys traveling.

Fine. You win. You're right. Happy now?

Always, when I am with you. I'm happy that I can be an active part of the children's lives. Of your life.

(Fantasy Bridget has decided he must have had the fastest horse, or something. Maybe enchanted armor or an epic mount. Spells that he put the others under in order to be a part of our lives.)

I nod and abruptly tell him I'm not feeling well and he frowns.

Then I won't stay long.

I nod again. Sometimes I wish he would just explode into a million fragments of evil that I could sweep out the door and other times I wish he didn't look so much like Cole in near-darkness.

When he leaves I am sick to my stomach. Not because I refuse to say goodbye anymore but because the aftershave has made my head pound and twist and it's all I can do to race back upstairs in time to let out the tension.