Monday, June 30, 2008

dad, i need to tell you something

daughter tells me she wants to go out with me without her brother he's still sleeping (it's noon). they are at their mother house this week.

daughter tells me (among other things) that son told her that all he feels now is anger. he has no other emotions but anger. no happy. no sad. no joy.

just anger.

that he just plays computer games all day so that he won't snap on anyone...

i phoned to get him up awhile later. i told him that he should come stay with me for 3 weeks during the summer so that he can get a very serious wind down period.

and they are leaving for 3 weeks vacation starting this friday...


on a lighter note, i may be eligible for an annulment by the catholic church on the grounds that she did not disclose her mental illness to me prior to entering into vows


gotta run

have a hot tub birthday party to go to - hopefully nobody's fingers hit my asshole but Smitten's this year (if this reference confuses you, read here and here)

Friday, June 27, 2008


feeling a little lost

i am waiting for wednesday - my first day of classes (one class over the summer). perhaps that will ground me.

i feel like a kite being carried aloft with no string to ground it

this is perhaps the biggest flier i've ever taken

there's no landing spot

while i have made sure i am covered several ways for income

i am still feeling lost

i am not attached to any other unit than myself

there's just me here

i have my mom and dad

but i don't hang with them.

i have Smitten

but i cannot and will not hang everything on her

my kids are my kids - i will not rely on them for my place in the universe

i need to create the form of this new life

on my terms

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

ixnay on the ousehay

someone bid $15,000 higher than us

i'm not prepared to go there

there will be another one

the market is less stupid than it was

i will buy on my terms, for my benefit - not someone else's

oh, well...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

time investment, emotional investment

i am spending a bunch of time working on a deal to possibly buy a house through my parents.

we have found one that meets my needs, and is in a pretty good price range for our newly canadian average home price fucking marketplace...

(house prices have more than doubled in the last 3 years - we were chronicly underpriced against canadian average and even where we should be

well - not any more

the house is in a half-assed Ok area of town. it is an area that is next to be on the upswing because it is half-assed OK and half-assed affordabel - therefore young families are buying in the area. various slum landlords and non-profit agencies are cashing in their housing stock in the price boom, so the rental properties (and the less than desireable tenants that went twith those properties) are now becoming owner properties

so we found one. it is in shit shape. it used to be owned by a, um, non-profit dedicated to the housing needs of a visible minority underprivileged ethnic group. structurally sound but the interior is trashed. holes in walls, filth, no interior upgrades in decades - a hole in the bathroom floor from leaking water that is so old it has eaten through the lino and 2 and a bit layers of 1 inch plywood... i may be a lefty and a bleeding heart, but this house (among many) was owned and operated by the leadership of this minority ethnic group - it was in as bad a condition as mnay slumlord properties i have seen. i am appalled at both the maintenance and the destructiveness of the occupants... (not that much because i've been around the block helping "these kind of folks" before - but it still rattles my sensibilities)

the house needs a full gut. 2-3 months of almost full-time work - this is no cakewalk - it will be hard work and shitty work. every piece of drywall in the entire house has to come out. son and daughter will help me. son's friend T took a basic homebuilding course and is available as well. my parents long-time contractor/handyman guy (whom i first met when i was maybe 9 years old) is semi-retired and willing to take a project that involves someone else doing the really hard labour and him being able to supervise and do as much buying and building as he wants - with others to take up the slack. a good arrangement and one that is perfect for my needs - this guy has been working on renovating houses like this for longer than i've been alive - he knows his shit - it will decrease my anxiety a lot. i am capable, but less than fully experienced at all of this.

but the house does make the grade

even after the cost of renovations (because of all of my [and kids'] sweat equity) it will be about the net proceeds of my eventual settlement. that means i will be either payment free or almost payment free.

a good thing

it is a little small - but more than enough for 1 person and 2 part-timers (or even son as a full-time, if that comes to pass).

i am spending my time, emotion and inspiration trying to make it happen - and have not been blogging much.

i do not actually expect the deal to happen - it is just "too good to be true" that this could work. Smitten says that now that i am with her i need to get used to things "just working out" - some "laws of attraction" thing.

if it does work out it will be a run of positivity that will be unprecedented in my life

here's hoping

here's not expecting

but hoping

Saturday, June 21, 2008

talking to mom

as discussed in all men are evil... women are good and gentle and kind... which can be found just below, i hadn't ever gone to talk to my mom about the "answering for all men" and their crimes against women thing [later edit] that i have created for myself.[/edit]

[later edit]I had no idea of how to approach the discussion, so [/edit] I went to ask her if I am not "as useless as [my] father". I asked her if I was a male chauvinist. If i had "made the bar". If I was not like all those other men that i had vowed to not be like.

We talked. Maybe for an hour - I didn't get as much time to do the talk as I had wanted, but maybe it was just as well that it was time constrained.

My mother says that she cannot answer whether I made the bar. She doesn't know what I put in front of me [later edit] as the goal or "bar"[/edit].

She can say that she does not believe that I am a male chauvinist. She says that it is self-evident that i am not a man like those other men (and i named the ones i was talking about and the ladies that i listened to). Mom said that those men are for the most part not the men they used to be... mostly because they have been "beaten about the head" by their wives until they wised up.

And so it goes.

I explained much of what I have discussed with you here - not with any of the explicit sexual details, but with some reference to it because it is relevant to the overall discussion.

I discussed feminist theory and some of that - and had mom tell me that she does not call herself a feminist or pro-feminist because she thinks that lots of the angry feminist crowd are full of shit... (remember, this is someone who spent a lifetime surrounded by that crowd [and fighting with them])

We agreed that feminism as a definition of equality of opportunity was acceptable...

You know, like Smitten's definition "A feminist is someone who believes in equality of opportunity between genders socially, economically, and [something else - spiritually i think]."

I pointed out the sign on her fridge for over a decade "I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat" (Rebecca West)

She grudgingly had to agree that it was reasonable to call her a feminist.

According to mom ...I'm not a male chauvinist, I am an active and involved father, and I am aware enough of the everyday put-downs that women suffer. I have actively assisted female advancement in my life. I have defended women from gender bias and gender based abuse.

She has no issue with me on that front.


i guess i made the bar

Thursday, June 19, 2008

email from my sister

me to her:

i would expect the gossipmonger will have advised you already, but this is official word from me

i am no longer at my employer

it was time to leave
[SNIP - the rest of the details that you blog readers already have]


her to me:

Yes, actually it was mom who told me, although I had no details and no idea when. Good luck in this - it is a big step, but it will pay off in the long run, and is an important model for your children about being brave enough to do the right thing even when it has costs... All the best, love you. [initials]

At least I think it is.


Friday, June 13, 2008

last day at work

this is my last day at work

3 months vacation and banked time from now (mid september) i will be terminated without cause and given a package - the agreement is signed and filed with and through the union

not sure how i feel

i'm sad to leave some of the people

i'm sad to leave politics - who knows if i will ever be back in the day-to-day game. it has been a lifetime

i still believe. that's part of the reason i'm leaving. the crew i work for don't believe. that's why we lost. that's why they are directing fire inward instead of fighting the good fight outside.

even earning less, i was happier in my work running my own business some 10 years ago...

i have left the protective cocoon of my marriage. i have left the protection of my parents - i still have their support, but they are no longer strong enough to protect me - nor do i need them to protect me. i am leaving my workplace and the extended (dysfunctional) family of my party and politics

standing on the edge of tomorrow

this is sort of like the action movie moment when the protagonist (like James Bond are Arnold) jumps out of one plane without a parachute to get to the other plane...


giving up a pretty good paying job to go back to school...

hoping expecting to find a job when i'm out. i know i'm really, really pretty good at what i do... but i have been unemployed and underemployed so often. and told i suck so often that i am still second guessing myself

here's the plan:

get the computer science certificate

get a job - preferably with a bank

when my kids are out of school and on to university/tech school apply for a job at one of the canadian banks that operate in the Caribbean and move there. a friend of mine did it going to the cayman islands - he was a lawyer - so even less useful than a computer guy

more blithering later - the other staff are taking me for lunch

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

all men are evil... women are good and gentle and kind...

(hugely longwinded rambling warning)

some salient quotes from my post why did you take it? why did you take it again and again?

(re-reading the above linked post will fill in additional background context for this post - it is not necessary to understand the post, though)
"The ladies were always the ones who would get things prepared and make sure the function would happen. The men would stand around talking and being important. Self important. They weren't particularly nice to me. The ladies were. I would hear the ladies complaining about the schnooks they were married to, and how they all went for the glory, while the women did all the work. It was the ladies who trained me in politics. The men provided the intellectual cover and framework, but it was the ladies who actually did the work that got shit done.

I swore I would never be a man like that. I would be the guy who did all the stuff, and who was sensitive to their needs, and helped - participated."

"I was in contact with women who were feminist leaders in Canada and the U.S. I liked them. I liked strong women. I could never stand simpering incompetent girly-girl crap. I still like attractive women, though - I'm not into the frump zone.

I hated it when my parents argued. I swore I would never do that. I would be even tempered and try to be always polite and considerate.

I read Playboy. I read The Erogenous Man. I read article after article about being a sensitive and giving sexual partner. I swore I would be that.

I read all my Mom's women's magazines. I read the articles about how men should really be. About what women really want in a man. I swore I would be that.

I would be the perfect man. Always giving. I am a large white male born to privilege. As I have grown I have developed a deep voice and a commanding and relatively powerful presence. I have guilt about that.

I swore I would never be an instrument of patriarchy. That I would fight to make white patriarchal society more egalitarian."

from Tattoo (part 2)
"By being the anti-asshole I could meet the mark set in women's magazines and books (and in Playboy) for the perfect male. I would be "the man all women desire". Polite, pleasant, considerate, nice - to a fault.

Then women would like me."

from Tattoo (part 1)

"In an interview about her 1981 movie tattoo Maud Adams said "The tattooing in this movie is a metaphor for what happens in a relationship. Except you can see it outside instead of just having the inside of your head tattooed.""

my Mom on why she insisted we learn to cook and perform household duties:
"Because there's no way you're going to be as useless as your father"

my grandmother to my Mom, on household activities, when Mom married Dad:
"I've done the best with him I could... He's in your hands now"


I was talking to Smitten a week or so back. We were discussing our perspectives on feminism - on the role it played in the ideological underpinnings and the mood of Hillary Clinton's campaign. This was following some discussions I had been having with my kids on the topic of the Democratic primaries [later edit](for what it's worth, we're all Obama fans - including Smitten).[/later edit]

I was discussing how mad I was at the kind of attitude I had been running into with a number of women - including my mother - who viewed Hillary's potential success as an extension of their own life battles. That if Hillary won it would be striking a blow for all the shit they had taken in their lives.

I argued that while that might be the case, people who push for women candidates to gain office solely on the grounds that they are women are committing a logical and ideological fallacy. That a woman like Margaret Thatcher, for example, did more to set back women's rights and advancement by her policies than her advancement as an individual did for women. That policies must count as much as gender when looking at women's advancement (just to underline it - I do not believe Hillary is a Margaret Thatcher - that was just an extreme example of a woman leader with non-women friendly policies). In my political party a decade or two back we elected a woman leader nationally - the line used on the convention floor was "It's time for a woman". She was new - a blank slate that people wrote their own projections onto. No history in elected office prior to her election 2 years prior. She was awful. A complete disaster. We subsequently elected a second woman as leader - one who was competent and rebuilt from the disaster.

"It's time for a woman" doesn't cut it for me - not then - and not now. Gender is not the sole qualifier for anything (I say this as an ardent proponent of equity hiring policies and practices, though).

But all of that is a bit of a tangent to the original point of this post...

As we discussed some of the statements that had been made by Clinton supporters Smitten showed me a paper she had written on the topic of feminism in one of her social psychology classes. She talked about the methodology she used to do the interviews. She talked to her friends - she talked to her friends about their attitudes and whether they were feminists - her definition was something to the effect of: A feminist is someone who believes in equality of opportunity between genders socially, economically, and [something else - spiritually i think].

(her paper and words were more sophisticated than the above - but this is from memory)

She did a lot of gender role analysis.

She found that neither her, nor her friends and family were quite as liberated as they thought. Even (especially) some of the women who said they were post-feminist - that society had progressed to the point that feminism/women's rights wasn't needed anymore.

Smitten had two agendas - one was to complete her paper, and the other was to subtly propagandise her friends and family into rethinking their gender roles and ideas.

In our discussion one element of her approach stood out. That she was primarily talking about women. About women's actions and self concepts.

I pointed out that it was a pattern for her. That she was tougher on women than on men. I used a couple of examples between her son and daughter. I suggested that part of it was because the men in her life had been pretty useless clods - father (abandoned her), mother's various useless/alcoholic boyfriends, various useless boyfriends Smitten had, and her ex-husband (her husband was less useless from a functional standpoint - just emotionally absent). She said that men were so intimately absent from her life and her knowledge that she wouldn't know where to begin to give men advice about being men... That she knows what women are capable of - but that men are really a mystery.


Her analysis

No man bashing

This was completely new to me.

Most of the feminist analysis I have encountered to date has been man bashing. Some of it has been bashing man bashers.

I have encountered essentially none that focused on women and their self-concept and self-identity.

It was a new thing for me. Feminism that didn't require guilt on my part.

I don't know how to underline that strongly enough. Analysis that was not based in the "male as oppressor/aggressor", "all men are potential rapists" school of thought.

I thought about where my head had arrived at that spot - I talked about trying - ever since I was a little kid - to be the kind of male my mom wanted my Dad to be - drank in all those criticisms. The kind of man that my Baba and Grandma wanted to see (strong women - strong feminists [for their time] - as a young woman grandma was an active suffragette for a couple of years until women got the vote) The kind of man that all those ladies I worked with as a child - listened to their conversations - the kind of man they wanted to have around. To not have the characteristics that those men had - especially the anger and aggression - especially the bullying and the put downs - the constant put downs. Their criticisms of men mirrored my own experience as a child with boys and men (teachers) at school - what a bunch of miserable assholes - mostly mean - constant bullying and denigrating (except for two male teachers in grade school). Even our priest (Catholic School) was a miserable alcoholic bastard.

My Dad was nicer - but still bullied and intimidated to get his way. He was progressive for his day, but still did many subtle and not-so subtle put-downs... Yeah - I dare say that I can catch the subtle innuendo of sexism as fast as any woman can - I learned to identify it early - hanging onto the fingers of the ladies - standing with the top of my head barely above the counter in those community hall kitchens - and as I grew - adolescence - teen years - young adult - still helping in the kitchens - and setting up the halls - doing the stuff they had to bag at the men to do - the men would grumble about the nagging - I was the boy/man who just helped - it was my role - then they didn't have to bag at their husbands.

I'm still trying to be the answer for all those women - maybe if I'm perfect in my gender relations it will give hope to my Mom and any of those ladies that are left alive. Hope that someday things will change. Hope to my wife and all her pain. Hope to my sister. Hope to my daughter.


I'm all about hope

Dream no little dream

Smitten told me that was an enormous burden to carry - that answering for all men was perhaps a little larger task than one person should undertake.

She asked me if I had ever talked to my Mom about it - about how I felt and what I had tried to achieve - to fix things.

I haven't.

I hadn't really put it together coherently as above in one place before. I hadn't put all the pieces of the guilt and childhood intention together.

I was going to wait until I was off work to go talk to her. Pick a day when my Dad isn't around and go talk. Maybe reconciling my childhood ideas with her feelings will help either put things into perspective or perhaps allow me to achieve success. If I am not "as useless as [my] father" i will have achieved as much success as i need to... maybe.


I read a book the other day. Smitten lent it to me. Her brother had read it and thought it was quite powerful. Smitten hasn't read it yet. I thought it was a bunch of feel sorry for yourself, self-indulgent baby-boomer bullshit. It was Iron John: A Book About Men, a book by American Poet Robert Bly published in 1990. This is one of the books that you will hear comedians or movies make references to when they mock the idea of a group of grown men dancing naked around a fire to get in touch with themselves, and "talking sticks"...

(Smitten's brother is a baby boomer and fits the absent father profile the book is preaching to)

Anyway - Bly did have a couple of interesting ideas. His thesis is that men have lost their own culture - that they no longer transmit knowledge from old men to young men in ritual transfer of knowledge of what it means to "be a man".

He believes that men and women are different at a basic level.

Whatever you may think of some of the underpinnings of his ideas, or the hundreds of pages of bumph that he takes to say it (hey - he is a poet after all - and i do have a soft spot for poets - so i suppose he can be forgiven) - there are couple of ideas that hit home for me.

One of them was the notion that some men have tried so hard to reject their maleness, and have tried so hard to become women in an emotional sense, that they lose their identity and become something in between. Bly identifies men and maleness with the metal iron. He says that some men become copper - a conductor. They become a bridge or a channel for the women in their lives - and that these men become a conduit for the emotion from the women in their lives.

Bly on iron and copper - full text of the chapter

"What if we feel too young to inhabit the dangerous space between male and female? What if we don't like the fierce tension between straight and crooked and don't feel up to so many opposites? The child in a messed-up family may feel a ghastly tension between the addicted parent and the clean parent, between the cold of the angry father and the heat of the loving mother, or between the cold of the furious mother and the heat of the sorrowing father.

In such a situation it's relatively easy to give up iron work and take up copper work. A child can easily become a professional bridge. The child can become a conductor made of that good conducting metal, copper.

A man's copper work probably begins early by placing one hand on his father's wrathful chest and the other hand on the earth; or perhaps he places one hand on his mother's anguished heart and the other on the earth, or one hand on an adult's isolated head and the other on the earth.

The boy who becomes a conductor values himself for the complicated current that runs through his body, for his ability to conduct wrath to the ground by a quiet reply, for the self-sacrificing stretching out of his arms to touch each pole. Many of us know this sensation of conduction from early childhood: the mother and father talk to each other through the child. The shame of the alcoholic father, for example, goes through our body heading east, and the anxiety of the dependent mother goes through our body heading west. Fury and contempt pass each other, meeting somewhere in the son's or daughter's chest."

"When a man or woman becomes a conductor, the act of conducting gives us the sense that we are not shamefully narrow and limited, but that we have something for everyone."

"If a man has become copper as a boy, he will likely continue working with that metal when grown up. He may place one hand on the crown of his furious wife's head and the other hand on the earth. He may become a public apologist, conducting to earth-through his own body-centuries of justified female fury."

"The more the man agrees to be copper, the more he becomes neither alive nor dead, but a third thing, an amorphous, demasculinized, half-alive psychic conductor. I believe that a woman sometimes finds herself channeling the rage of dozens of dead women who could not speak their rage while alive. Conducting that rage is dangerous."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

still at it

i got a call from my daughter last night at 11:30pm

she was in her room on the cordless - door closed under her covers - so her mother wouldn't hear her talking to me

her mother had been spazzing on the kids for quite some time that night (daughter says stbx has been ranting at them each night this week). talking about how she didn't want any responsibility and she was sick of it and she didn't want to be responsible for anyone or anything anymore. alternating between crying and screaming - from abusive accusations to sobbing begging for forgiveness and expressions of love from the children - none of which they wanted to give as they were the targets of the emotional typhoon

son was still engaged with stbx, but daughter had gone to her room to escape(her word) from it. daughter was close to tears all the way through the conversation. she kept repeating "I just don't know what to do".

I understand. i've been where she is. trapped and not knowing what to do - actually knowing what to do - to leave - but not wanting to

we talked for about half and hour. she left the call when she heard her mother coming upstairs.

she called me back a few minutes later to tell me that her mother had come into her room to ask for a hug (which daughter was terribly affronted by - daughter found intrusive and wrong - given the other behaviours stbx was still displaying) and to "explain" how she was feeling and why she had gone on this rant. daughter begged off as being "too tired" and stbx left. son challenged her for interrupting daughter's sleep and they were at it again.

stbx went out to have more cigarettes - she had been smoking heavily all evening - daughter said that her mother coming in stinking of cigarettes gave her a headache - i suspect it is actually tension related, but that is my opinion - i was just listening to daughter

stbx is always ranting about money (something she did constantly when we were together) even though she still spends freely on take-out and restaurant meals. daughter and son criticise her to her face about the $300 a month she spends on cigarettes (about $10 a pack here). she was ranting about it again last night too, daughter told me.

daughter said that her mother was immature. that she was acting like a five year old. that her mother had no control over herself or her emotions. that it was pathetic that she (daughter) had her shit together more than her mother. daughter that stbx was acting like daughter did in grade 3 - when daughter was in the midst of some girl school/playground social combat with "in-girls" and "in-groups"

daughter kept repeating she didn't know what to do or how to handle it. i tried to reassure her that she would be safe at my place in a couple of days.

in the morning i called son to wake him up.

i call every morning now. i bought him a phone dedicated for his room so that he will always hear the phone. he answered and said he would get up.

i called back to make sure son was still up. daughter answered too. i inquired and they said they'd both made it to bed/sleep around 1am

son called me back awhile later and told me he'd sat down "for five minutes" once he was ready and had fallen asleep - and would now be late for school yet again.

i can only hope that we can just make it through the next weeks until school finishes. i hope son can make it through the attendance hurdles he has to complete his year

i am still on the hunt for a house. perhaps if they really have the option of moving out they will take it. stbx is tearing them apart. she is doing the same thing to them now that she did to me and i know their pain

they are only children

i am talking to my lawyer again

i don't know how i can intervene. i was going to call back to interrupt the fight between son and stbx, but daughter was terrified that her mother would figure out that daughter had called me and that she would pay for it and never be allowed to get to sleep

again, from Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care about Has Borderline Personality Disorder

"Some adults who enter into relationships with borderlines feel brainwashed by the BP's accusations and criticisms. Says Benham: "the techniques are simple: isolate the victim, expose them to consistent messages, mix with sleep deprivation, add some form of abuse, get the person to doubt what they know and feel, keep them on their toes, wear them down, and stir well."

Monday, June 02, 2008

signed and delivered

Agreement on settlement signed with office. Effective mid September I will no longer be employed. On holidays until then.

Registration for university accepted and registered in first class July/August - 6 week class

Looked at houses - some look good. Need to find out whether parents will move on putting a bid on my favoured choice (favoured at this time).