Monday, October 29, 2007

are you the same person?

are you the same person?

am i the same person?

I have lost a lot of weight. People see me differently because of that.

Does changing your physical self change the essential you as a person?

Does changing your activities and actions make you a different person? If you didn't do things you wanted to before, for whatever reason, and now you do them - are you a different person?

Do your actions constitute who you are? even if you have the secret area inside of you, if you don't act - is that secret self really you? If you are with someone who doesn't love the same things as you, and so you don't do what you love - does that make you a different person than if you did do those things?

These questiona are prompted by 2 things: Signgurl and her transformation and discussion of those changes and a discussion I had with Smitten.

I told her that i was mad at her ex-husband the other weekend.

I was mad at him while we were shopping. I was angry that he would have never taken the time to experience the joy of getting her new clothes. I was mad at him for denying her the joy of receiving such gifts, of denying her the appreciation of him watching her as she smiled.

I was mad at him for being so stupid as to have let this woman go. I thought to myself "What the fuck? What the fuck, man? What could be running through your head as to not do everything in your power to keep this woman with you?"

I talked to Smitten about it.

Among other things she said "I'm not the same person as I was. I don't know if I would have shined the way I do with you. The way you make me blossom. I don't know. I didn't ever experience it. I was dead before - numb - and I'm alive now. So I don't know if he could have the same experience as you, because i don't know if i could have."

"I was a different person."

was she?

am I?

can you be a different person?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

on busy, on clothes, and on eating right

I'd like to write about things that are funny or full of pathos. But it's all used up right now. The conflict is grinding on. It's the end of week two. Two more weeks to go.

It's like a football game that is scoreless and all gets played mid-field with no real gains on either side. Like an NFL game - a rushing game - a game where it's just linebackers slamming into each other.

(or it would be if I had ever actually watched an NFL football game... but my sports inclined buddies used a hockey metaphor and i figured that i would translate it into a more U.S. centric version)

The hours are long. It has been a bit of a lull for the last 5 days for me. My hell time was getting the IT infrastructure up and running in the week prior to the beginning and for the first 7-10 days.

Network install orders gone wrong, missing computer shipments, missing screens and missing computers, server issues, email issues, blah, blah, blah. The expected kinds of start-up problems when you trying to simultaneously start about 60 offices and some 600 full-time volunteers in 3 days. Offices that have to be up and running in 24 hours or so... yep - didn't happen - well, it did, but not fully. As for advance prep - well you can plan, and you can put in standby orders, but we don't have fixed conflict dates here like you do in the U.S. It can be at any time - we knew it was probably coming - but we got about 5 days notice that it was a for sure go, and we can't spend much money in advance under the law (also just being really cheap bastards) - leaves us in a hellish scramble to put it all together as soon as the launch happens.

It's actually better this time. I was pretty much alone in IT infrastructure last time. Now there's 5 of us. We are doubling as the data people, but most the central data work doesn't happen until after the initial set-up.

There has been no defining issue in the conflict so far. A set of published statements by each side and the slow attrition of "you suck" - "no, you suck" - "no, you suck more". The press doesn't help. They are interested in so called "Human stories" rather than substantive debate of issues.

Our opposition doesn't help either. They are trying to cover up their real agenda by watering it down into milquetoast so people won't be scared or their hard right agenda. And the fucking press gives them a pass. We have years and years of the other guys on the record with really fucked up ideas (like no minimum wage, hacking at occupational health and safety, getting rid of source water protection [environmental regulations designed to protect drinking water]) - but the press ignores it. Yet stuff our people said in the 1930s gets air play.

Fuck I hate the press.


The conflict has been interfering with my time with my kids and with Smitten. They accept it as a fact of life.

Even the kids have lived through several conflicts before - even in their short lives. They accept the necessities of the fight. They understand the duty. Son has been working the phone banks. We did literature drops previously, but this is his first full involvement. He's 16. I am pleased he is interested enough to do it (the $12 an hour he's being paid is a motivator too... i am sure). Daughter, at 11, is still too young - in my opinion. I was knocking on doors as a full canvasser at the age of 9. Different era - different parents. I won't do that to my kids.

They are believers, such as they can be at their ages.

Smitten has been gracious. We have watched several historical works together - they describe the beginnings of the movement and the call to action. She has listened to me go on and on about what I believe. She has bleeding heart tendencies already, though she has not been active or involved in my particular turf, so it's an easy sell - her long history of community involvement makes what I do a short step for her.

The passion for a better world. The call to action. The will to stand up for it.

She says this is part of what attracts her to me. That she understands that the time spent is part of the cost of that passion and belief.


I got part of the proprty settlement. I was able to liquidate part of our stock holdings. A substantial chunk of change. Paid down some debt. Paid some bills. And bought a swack of new clothes. Threw out a bunch of old clothes.

I like wearing clothes that I bought. That I picked. My own taste and style.


I spent some money buying Smitten some clothes. And some boots. She thinks the boots are for her. I say they're for me. They are up to just under her knee, are shiny black leather, have interesting buckles and spike heels. You figure out whom they are for [heh!].

She works at a community organisation - a helping the poor place. She makes a lot less money than she should. For years she has bought clothes that were on sale and were just classic styles in order to stretch her dollars. she had complained one time about just having old stuff - and that she is looking forward to getting a new job so that she can afford to actually have a clothing budget.

Smitten is applying for new jobs right now - I think I mentioned that in previous posts - she is tired of living on the edge financially because of the wage constraints of her current organization.

I wanted her to have some clothes that were just for her (well, for me too - i like to look at her a lot - but clothes that are her decision). So we went shopping. She has always been an on her own kind of person - I've talked about that in the past - she was essentially abandoned when she was 16/17. It has been a big hurdle for her in our relationship - accepting my help - being reliant on anyone else.

At one level it was pretty hard for her to accept me doing this for her. But it was also joyful. She likes to look good and be stylish.

We got some really nice stuff that day.

We are also going on a trip in the near future and i wanted her to have some new clothes for the trip.

I also wanted her to have some new clothes for any interview she might have.


Made waffles for Smitten last weekend. She hasn't had waffles in about 15 years since her dietary issues became troublesome. These were made from bean flour - a friend of mine gave me some 5 bean flour and a recipe. I went out and bought a $10.00 waffle iron just for the occasion.

they were really good - couldn't tell they were bean flour. I'll post the recipe somewhere (here or eat it and weep).

Smitten was delighted. It was a big deal.


I have been buying food and cooking for some of the people in the central office. Offered to do laundry for a couple of the other IT guys, but they found time last weekend.

A lot of delivery restaurant food was being consumed.

I made a bunch of healthy stuff and put it in the fridge so they could eat vegetables and light fare.

16 - 18 hour days under huge stress and eating shitty food - recipe for problems. I've been pressuring people to eat healthily. Many of them - this is their first time in central office in a conflict. They don't understand the pacing or the realities of surviving.

I pissed a few of them off by harping on the subject, but to a person they came back and apologised for getting cranky and said that they realised after eating decent food that I was right.

Even if they were just jollying me (which I doubt), I'm just happy they are starting to eat better. They've also offered money to pay for the stuff. I've been bagging at them about sleep and taking walks too. I have harped on a few to go take walks around the area during moderate downtime. They went.

As one guy told his mom (who's been giving him grief too) "Don't worry Mom, I've found a surrogate mother in a large hairy deep voiced straight guy*. He's been making me eat right and sleep." His mother has been working conflicts since he was in utero... (*he's gay - so that's where the "straight guy" thing came from).


Sorry if this post was a little disjointed, or incomplete, but I wrote it in a small gap in time.

Friday, October 19, 2007

run for the cure

a couple of weeks ago we went to the local run for the cure - the breast cancer run.

Smitten and her dance troupe were out and belly dancing as part of the entertainment and "festival" that surrounded the run. there were dancers, drummers, bands, food, and other stuff - across Canada they raised almost $27 million through the run (if that doesn't sound like much, remember - we only have 30 million people in Canada).

i played taxi for smitten - dropped her off because there was no parking nearby - by the time we got there (10 am) there were over 4500 vehicles there already - most of the cars with multiple people - this is in a city and region with only about a quarter of a million people - pretty good turnout.

i was general pack-boy, water bearer, and photographer. most of the pics were on other cameras, but i did manage to get a couple on my cell phone. i still hadn't figured out how to set the size of the picture properly on this day, so these pictures are enlarged from their original tiny size - that's why they are shitty.

it was a beautiful fall day. pretty cold in the morning though - i felt sorry for the dancers who had worn costumes with bare midriffs - they were cold...

in the top two pictures the colourful blobs in the front are the dance troupe. the other pictures are of runners crossing the finish line.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

pumpkin patch

At the beginning of October we went out to some market gardens near our city. These are some pictures of that day. I took them with my cell phone and accidentally turned down the picture size while shooting - that's why some of the pics are so small.

I have always loved the fall market trips. stbx-Mrs_C only wanted to go a few times in all the period we were married. Smitten jumped at the chance.

stbx-Mrs_C told me she loved to do such things before we were married but then dragged her feet about going. Eventually I just didn't bring it up anymore. Bait and switch, I guess...

As for Smitten, going to the gardens was one of the things she wanted to do, and talked about when we first met. She was very happy that i would put together the plan for the activity and then execute that plan. In her marriage she had to do the planning and follow-through.

Yeah - I know - I shouldn't compare so much - but I do. I review and I validate. I ask myself how I feel about how my life is going and if it is happy. I ask if my life is fulfilling my needs at this time, and i ask if my life is changed/changing in a manner to address things that made me unhappy in the past.

If something makes me unhappy - i'd better have a good reason for doing it.


The Mexican figure that greeted us at one of the market gardens.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"the conflict"

it begins formally today

i literally don't have the half hour to do a decent post

posting will be pretty spotty this month

i feel like a ship that has a pump that is slowly losing the battle with the water coming onboard - stuff is getting tossed my way faster than i can deal with it all. the usual confusion of the first part of a conflict. in about a week it will be smoother and much of the stuff will be dealt with or just won't matter because it wasn't done in time - such is the way it happens

i feel like when i exercise - the first part it is kind of shitty - your muscles are complaining and don't want to work, and then it gets smoother and you start to enjoy the body feeling and you hit your stride.

that's how i feel - like i'm hitting my stride. it's game day for just over four weeks - every day, every waking hour.

the adrenaline rush is incredible. there's nothing like it. at least in my world - strategy, tactics, media, marketing, conflict, subterfuge - and minutes can count.

i was born to this world

and while it may have permanently altered me in some ways - made me a little different - it's still one serious fucking rush.

i was pretty anxious about preparations over the last couple of months. a lot of responsibility dropped on my lap because a couple parts of the organisation (volunteer) literally collapsed in the lead up to the conflict. there is also the possibility of a higher conflict overlapping with ours - and some of the people we had been promised from other regions of the country are spoken for in their home regions - so we lost some outside human resources. i had to go recruit some of the retired folks to come back for one more. some of them are cranky with our current client group (who are responsible for the withering of the organisation - hence the crankiness of the old ones) - but because i am old blood (my family helped found the movement) i can talk to them in the old ways with the old language - and find the buttons to push to get them to come out and work one more for the cause.

this is the most responsibility i've ever had in a conflict. many things i can let slide and be sloppy - but this event is not one of those. my concern for quality in regard to the conflict borders on the obsessive. i was worried that i was not up to snuff. it's funny, but talking to the old ones and the retired folks to bring them back to fight one more has filled me with a lot of confidence in the job i am doing. these are people whom i've known since i was born (literally) and they don't mince a whole lot of words... you know - the whole bullshit walks thing...

i briefed them on what i'm doing, and on what other true believers inside the org are doing - they said i was doing pretty good. these people fought the good fight. some were thrown in jail in the 30s and 40s for being activists. some were beaten by gangs of men with axe handles when they tried to organise the movement (really), or lost jobs and had family members threatened (even my sister when she was 5 year old - my family was threatened with guns in the '60s [before i was born] - i personally got beat up in school). surviving such experiences bring about a purity of purpose and language. they persevered and succeeded - for decades now. when they say i'm doing OK - i know i'm doing OK.

it's game day for just over four weeks

the IT and rapid response units (my groups) are primed and ready.

if we pull this one off - it'll make history - literally

game day

Monday, October 01, 2007


Pissy, eve, Cole: Thank-you.

A lot.

Thank-you for your affirmation.

(this references the last post and its comments)

I want to quote a paragraph from September of last year:

I cried
"I'm not capturing it well, but I think you get the idea. You have some idea of the kind of person I am, and you understand the pain this point of entry would cause. I tried so hard. I loved that woman with everything I had. And in my mind, now she's saying one more time that it just isn't good enough. That on top of all the other times I just didn't make the mark, now the amount of love that I had/have isn't enough either. That if I just loved her a little more it would work. In my mind she's pointing out one more deficiency and one more shortcoming - just like the last 18 years of never quite making the mark."


You see, I re-read my post I Rock The Party and I heard the stbx's voice in my head "You only do all this stuff for show. To make other people think you are such a good guy, but as soon as there is nobody watching, you turn into a lump. Something else."


The fact is, I did put extra flourishes on when her family was around, or other people were around. Her family often treated her like shit - so I would put on extra show so that she could wear it like a badge of honour - Look what [cadbury] did for me. So that she could be the princess, instead of the stepsister...

But I tried very hard to do things and say things when it was just us as well.

As I look back on our relationship, and as I understand her more - I realise that she probably didn't get the same kind of rush when I did something in private as when it was in public - so that made my private efforts less worthwhile - a BPD person gets their primary sense of self externally - so the higher the level of external positivity - the higher the internal feeling.


Pirate: Prompted by your comment, I just did a search on "characteristics of an addict" and this is a list from the first hit:

"To gain insight, consider carefully this commonly accepted list of personality traits found in the addicted person. These are characteristics that occur in normal people, but in the addict are exaggerated and uncontrolled. These things render addicts incapable of being at peace."

Low Frustration and Tolerance

The page referred to above has a detail on each characteristic.

You've mentioned the behaviours before - and each time it kind of throws me.

It all fits stbx-Mrs_C. It's kind of weird. My former boss - who's Dad was an alcoholic - said that it's a personality set that precedes alcoholism - and that alcoholics are just self-medicating their pain. My stbx had a (and now has a larger) problem with alcohol, but didn't drink much because I took steps to make sure alcohol wasn't readily available. So I don't normally think of her as an alcoholic.

Smitten did the 12 step program for family of alchoholics (al-anon) while as part of her search to deal with her issues with her Mom.

Your reference to co-dependent spousal behaviour - i think i need to do some more reading there. I have done a bunch of reading on PTSD and spousal abuse survivor stuff - but I think I need to look at some of the spousal behaviours you reference. I need to understand myself as myself - not just as a reactant to the stbx.