Archives for posts with tag: Kurt Vonnegut

In times of crisis or trouble, I guess it is true – we send out a burst of invisible, telepathic butterflies and they fly straight to the people we love and who love us and deliver the messages that we are unable to speak.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I suddenly, randomly heard from a few friends I have been out of contact with and many of my colleagues at different locations called for no reason.

I didn’t realize that I sent those butterflies until people started calling and saying “Thinking about you, miss you, get in touch, how about drinks tonight”. I didn’t mean to send them, but I’m happy they flew and touched the people they needed to touch. I needed those messages. I needed to hear from the people who love me.

I have been reminded moment to moment since that thing that happened that I am loved and valued and there are spaces for me.

And no, it wasn’t me, but witnessing violence, seeing something upsetting, it upsets us and causes us harm.

I realized today that I’ve constructed a mental map of my workplace, which resembles many other mental maps that I keep – it shows the “safe” and “unsafe” spaces. Where I know I go and be protected and those spaces that I’m afraid to go.

On the map, this map in my head, I revert to colour coding – green is “safe”, red is “unsafe”.  IT is a safe space and I brave the scary back stairs to avoid the front stairs becuz they now make me nervous, as does the reception area. I’m friendly with the receptionists, so this makes me sad – I don’t visit them as often as I did before this all happened, becuz the last time I saw the manager was at reception so the space is now shaded in red. Project Management Office is a safe space – I have a bunch of friends over there and it is totally unrelated to what happened.

I run into problems at my managers’ office, it is red. Her office is beside my desk, so bleeds red into my desk space, which makes being there for my usual amount of stretches of time uncomfortable. I can feel the red seeping into my lovely green space.

Where I eat lunch is still safe as are the places I get water.

But there are two meeting rooms and a couple of hallways that are in red.

And I’m not sure what to do about that.

I’ve never had red spaces at work before.

I’ve never needed strategies to avoid spaces at work.

We had a meeting with the new manager of that team today. And she is really supportive and cool-headed. And I think she will be very good for the team. And one of the questions the team asked was if I was staying with them and they were happy that the answer was “Yes!”

A lot of people have said to me since this messed-up thing happened that “Things happen for a reason.” and you know, I just don’t think that way. It seems to me that things just happen randomly and we impose a narrative on it and rationalize it to make ourselves more comfortable. I think that humans are wired for narrative, we are story junkies and when we don’t understand why something happened, we just say “Things happen for a reason”. This thing happened for no reason and is without reason.


I think if it makes someone feel better to say that, then I’m willing to hear them and take them to mean that they are offering support or whatever and I will accept hearing it, no matter that I disagree.

I think the reaching out, the expression of support, I think that matters, I think maybe those invisible, telepathic butterflies, they cast a wide fly zone and the people in our lives try to understand the butterflies and do the best they can with those confusing telepathic messages.

And that matters.







(with apologies to Kurt Vonnegut)

Alternate title for this post: Alt rock, depression, laundry and you

I misunderstood! My colleague was trying to tell me something about today being known as “Blue Monday” as it is, supposedly, the most depressing day of the year in North America. Between holiday debt, failed New Year’s Resolutions, cold weather and seeing the sun enough today is the day where people find themselves at their lowest emotional point for the year.

First, I thought my colleague was trying to tell me about the song  “Blue Monday“. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what the song had to do with people feeling so low. I like the song myself.

Once I got past that, I then thought she was making reference to a little piece in one of Vonnegut’s work where he explains about a slogan “Good-bye Blue Monday” being painted on a bomb. I think this is a fictional slogan and he explains how the fictional ad company who came up with it decided that people did laundry on Monday and to get white shirts white, a thing called bluing was added. I didn’t know what laundry had to do with people feeling sad.

Probably because I love doing laundry and it makes me happy.

She wasn’t talking about that either.

What she was actually trying to tell me was today is branded as “Blue Monday” by some marketing firm as the most depressing day of the year.

Sorry, Monday January 17, 2011 – this year you are the most depressing day of the year. Sucks to be you.

Upside: It is over.

Another upside: Now that we got through that, the rest of the year will be a breeze.

So, did you feel depressed today? Isn’t it good to know that, statistically, today was as depressing as this year gets? Doesn’t that make you feel good?

And if your New Year’s Resolutions have gone off the rails – just think! It is almost Lunar New Year, so you have another crack at them!

Then you can claim a historical nod and try again on April 1.

The year is filled with opportunities.

First Monday climb in almost 2 months!

Yeah, my climbs sucks, but whatever. We got out. We tried. We did a 5.10-. So that is all good.

The whole back of my body is hurting – I thought I worked hard at yoga yesterday and you know what? I did. Like whoa. Totaled a couple of my climbs, the arms hurt too, but it is a good hurt. I mean, I don’t like pain, but this just feels…stuff is enlivened, there is space, there is air.

I like it.

I like it a lot.


Spending the day at the positive deviance workshop – it is way cool, but not as cool as the name implies.  A good time was had by me.

Chatting with a friend online – clearing the funk out of my brain and readjusting my focus.

Hocus pocus.

Meandering conversation lead to thoughts of feeding cats pasta in Italy, turning into a tropical fish and living in a tank and speculative plans for a much desired visit.  Hmm, doable. More so than hopping a plane this week and going to that conference that looks kicking.  Yes, I do want to talk about the future of literature.

Bombing of Dresden – 65 years ago today.

Still missing Kurt Vonnegut.

Shaking off the feeling that I’m stuck in an after school special, things are better, in the here and now.

Thanks.  Knowing that you are out there helps.

I want to write something witty and funny, something that will make someone laugh or pause, think I’m really clever or lead some sort of semi-charmed, magical life.

After opening the car door, my key disappeared.  6:20am in the morning and defying the laws of physics.  I look for it – not on the floor of the car, not on the driveway, not in the backseat and if I keep this up I will late for work.  I can’t be late for work – I have a morning of training.

A frantic search yields – nothing.

I wake my dad and hastily explain the situation.  He comes out to help the search – nothing.

I ask for a drive a to work, he does one better and hands over his vehicle, with key for me to use.

I drive to work, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.

Defy the laws of time and space and end up at work exactly on time.  Without speeding.

How did that happen?

One parking pass card and one parking code do not work and my parking pass has the wrong plate number on it.  No tickets for these three violations.

Home after work and gobble a snack – dad found my key.  And made me five extras “For when this sort of thing happens again.”  He knows my luck too well.

Drive over the train station – find the best possible parking spot.

At the climbing gym – lean against the freshly painted white wall and no paint gets on me.

Have a panic attack on a 5.9 – never done this route before and it is a challenge, but good and I live through it.  Manage not to freak out, but one long, shuddering breath when I’m back on terra firma means that I have inhaled someone’s…something…that I’m allergic to…

Have to stop my climb partner so I can cough, run to the front door for fresh air and I can’t stop coughing, throat closing up and struggling for air.

We leave.

But, we are early, it is almost an hour to my train, so we go for sushi, which I originally planned to miss.  It is awesome and good to talk and talk and talk.

Miss the train I wanted to catch so have to wait almost an hour.

I’ve brought a book with me so make it through almost all the short stories – stop at the sketch of the “Tree Trying to Tell Me Something” – yes, Vonnegut again.

My mind was on tectonic plates all day. My thoughts in Haiti.

I am in love with this book.

When I grow up I am going to marry this book and have, like, ten thousand of it’s babies.

Finished it off today and I can’t even begin to express what a great read this was – for me – it had everything, total sensory experience, due to the music it invoked, quoted.  When certain songs were invoked or quoted it was impossible not to hear them in my brain.

Lovely writing.

I loved that the author got everything in – comments and observations about animal behaviours, human behaviours, evolution, brain chemistry, literary figures, certain songs, certain song writers (Joni Mitchel, Sting, Johnny Cash, Elvis, McCartney and Lennon etc. etc.), brain structure, types of love, Kurt Vonnegut.

The last was a bit of a surprise and sometimes I wonder if there aren’t secret languages and codes out there, I mean yes, Kurt Vonnegut had a lot to say about a lot of different things and the passage that is quoted in this book is one of my favourites from “Slapstick”, but I didn’t think people read and quoted Vonnegut as much as all that…it is like there some sort of intellectual shift, I’ve been hearing more and more about Vonnegut.

It is interesting and reveals my bias – someone says “Kurt Vonnegut” or when a writer writes “Kurt Vonnegut” or quotes from one of his works, there is something in me…dog-like…I sit up straighter, I feel my ears perk up and if I had a tail it would wag.

This is the moment that I most understand dogs welcoming their owners home.

I mean, before this part of the book, I thought “this author is really smart and has great taste in music” but after I read the part where he quotes Vonnegut I thought “This guy is a friend of mine.  We are so similar!  We even have friends in common!”, I started thinking about the author as Daniel, rather than as a really intelligent professor.  It made me think  about a conversation, an idea, piece of music, hanging out and having tea and something really tasty to eat.

I think this makes me kind of easy.  I mean say someone were to find out about this, they could just quote me something from Kurt Vonnegut and I would go all slobbery.

I guess some of us go weak over red roses and some of us go weak over Kurt Vonnegut.

This book also invoked a lot of buried memories – he talks about how people who have the name of a popular song often get people quoting the song at them…I did this to a young person I taught at summer camp, his name was Daniel and out of all the songs I could have quoted at him (“Daniel” or “Danny Boy” – also noted by the author) I would always say to him “Daniel, Daniel by the bonfire”.  He would quirk his head at me and ask why I say that to him, I told him about the song and said how it was one of my favourites.

He is grown man now and if ever this bugged the heck out of him, I am truly sorry.  But it is a really song, just think I could have tried singing “Danny Boy” at him!

So a big thank you to Kathleen, who found this book on her trip to the UK last fall, saw this book and thought of me – it was exactly what I needed.

Completing this book means that I have now finally completed my reading list for the week between Xmas and New Year’s Day.  Yay!

I’ve decided to keep up with regular reading this year and renew my library card – I could go broke buying books!

This book is a friend and I can’t wait to share it with someone I love.