Monday, December 15, 2008

Fierce love... ferocious affection

Dear People Who Love Others,

I read an interesting thing the other day on one of my favorite web-based time wasters. Here is the quote from

"My sister's boyfriend came to find her after she left him.
I greeted him at the door holding a shotgun.
I'm afraid of what I would have done if he hadn't walked away."

While I'm not an advocate of gun ownership in general, unless you use it to feed yourself and your family, I thought, what an interesting expression of love. What a fierce expression of love. This PostSecret resonated with me because of what you will read below.

I grew up in tandem with a girl from elementary school. Born less than a day apart, inseperable twins from separate mothers, we began a tentative friendship in grade 7, when we were entering into the strange new world of our teenage years. We spent our last years of elementary school fairly innocently, and even the first few years of highschool were unremarkable. We got into the typical troubles that other kids got into, experimenting with new relationships, dealing with temptations and the introduction of vice.

Somehow, in our last few years of highschool we diverged. She went away to school, I stayed home, and we diverged. I went away to school, she came back and stayed home, and we diverged even more. In that time, she sunk deeper and deeper into something that I can't articulate; bad choices, depression, a series of choices based on impulse... I don't know. But these things led her to a lifepath she didn't predict for herself in the optimism of her youth. She had dreams of becoming a writer; a dream that grew more and more distant as her grades sunk, and as she later found herself quagmired in the consequences of adult opportunities.

Her family watched. I watched. I felt helpless and unable to help her. I felt powerless to control her path, or steer her path, or even to offer guidance. And I didn't feel it was my place to interfere with her choices. I could not choose her friends. I could not choose how or where she spent her time. I could not choose what she put into her body. And I had no role in who she chose as partners in her relationships. It's not that I wanted, really, to control any of these things persay, but truly, I could often predict where she was headed for certain pain, and I wanted to help her avoid that because I loved her.

I have no idea what her family felt through all of this, but I can imagine. And I've heard the stories from my friend herself, of how her family had to bail her out of troublesome places from time to time. I'm sure these weren't easy choices for her family, there is a fine line between "enabling" and helping, but how can we watch the ones we love remain mired in the consequences of bad choices and circumstance?

At our most recent visit, over two years ago, her and I talked idly about life. She expressed a certain amount of regret, without ever specifying what it was she was regretful of. And I worried about her for all the things she did not say. The man she was living with was abusive. I knew the signs. Having to call in every 10 minutes, complaining of the consequences of raising his ire, and hiding the bruises under her eyes behind darkened lenses. I asked her about those, and she said that she'd provoked him. No, he's not such an asshole, I did it, I pushed him into it. He's rough around the edges, but he's really a decent guy.

A decent guy who happens to hit the woman he loves?

I knew there were no magic words that could convince her that she did not deserve any of her life as it was at that moment. All I could do was let her know that if she ever needed a break, or an escape, that she could come to my house.

I wish she would run to my house. And when he came looking for her, I wish I would be brave enough to love my friend ferociously enough to worry about losing my own sense of control.

I wish I could do more than offer an ear and a place to run to.

The season for giving

Dear People Who Love to Give,

I love gifts, but this year, I'm unusually poor due to a confluence of circumstances that have arisen and expectations that I just cannot fulfill at present. This is not a complaint, rather it is an unfortunate fact of life that has caused my previously (more) prosperous pocketbook to languish in pools of dust from lack of use.

In particular, I love to give gifts. As you can assume, it is fairly hard to "give" a tangible thing to another person when you don't have the means to gain access to tangible things.

And so, I've let myself off the hook as far as actual, real, material gifts go, and I plan to make the following pledges, and hand them out as gifts:

My gifts to you:
I promise to love you, the best I can.
I promise to listen to you when you have things to say.
I promise to be there for you in your hour of need.
I promise to care, and be concerned, and to worry about you should painful/unhealthy circumstances arise.
If I am able to, I promise to help you.

Simple things. I suppose if I were to summarize the list, I offer to my loved ones, to be the best friend that I can be. This gift won't be perfect, but I promise I will do my best.

Every Christmas I also like to get a gift for myself. In the past I've given myself new shoes, or a little piece of jewelry, or the luxury of a meal at a decent restaurant. This year, since my pockets continue to wheeze dust and moths, and since I can't even get gifts for my loved ones, I especially cannot afford a token for myself. And so, I will make a pledge or two to myself; and instead of gaining in material goods, hopefully I will gain in that special way that only the immaterial can allow.

The gifts to myself:
I promise myself good food, and a healthy life.
I promise myself the love of good friends, and the will to expect that from others and to seek that out.

Happy Holidays!
XOXO Olivia

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Dear Lovers of All Things Cookie,

My holiday gift to you. For those whose holiday celebrations involve fasting, I sincerely apologize for tempting you. Rest assured, this recipe will be waiting for you when your fast is done.

Do make these, they are soooooooooo good.

***GrownUp Chocolate Chippers, Perfect for Santas and People Who Like CoOkies***

3/4c. butter
1 1/4c. brown sugar
1 egg
2tbs. milk
2tsp. vanilla
3/4c. flour
3/4c. high quality cocoa powder
3/4tsp. baking soda
1tsp. cinnamon
1 package bitter sweet chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add egg, milk and vanilla, and mix until slightly fluffy. In a smaller bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, soda, and cinnamon. Stir with a whisk to blend well. Add all ingredients together, mixing until dry mix is incorporated into the wet mix. Fold in chocolate chips. Add 3/4c. pecans or walnuts for a nutty twist. Spoon onto oiled cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 to 15 mins, or until you start to really smell the cookie goodness.

With Holiday Cheer,

PS. If you make these, please drop me an email or a comment to let me know what you thought of the recipe.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Grrrrrr... Student Loans and Poverty

National Student Loans Service Centre
Somewhere in Nowheresville

Dear To Whom It May Concern Loan Officer,

RE: Student Loan Number: ##-######

The following is a letter that outlines my proof of income for the month of December.
Holiday Cheer,

In this glorious Christmas month of December, I predict a $0.00 gross income due to my continuing inability to secure permanent employment and also due to the drying up of employment in the ever reliable temporary work sector. It is possible that Canada's recent shedding of some 70,000 odd jobs has something to do with this, but one can't be too sure. I'm currently "on the list" at a temp agency, a wonderful agency, with kind staff, but alas, it seems they too are running out of tasks to delegate to lowlies like me. I've been out of work for two weeks, rather distressingly, and I can't imagine a call coming in announcing work any time soon.

Currently, the bulk of my "explanation about how [I'm] living without any income" is based on desperate appeals I've made to family members to pay for such incidentals as food, shelter, and electricity. I have been told by several family members that I should give up on my "big city" dream, and move back home to live with my parents and work at Zellers. This, despite my university education and multiple years of experience in the field of mental health. I don't have a problem with working at Zellers, it's just that I'd hoped, after investing 5 years of my time, tears, and energy, that I would be qualified to earn at least slightly more than the minimum wage.

As further explanation for how I plan to make ends meet, I am hoping that the $65.00 that is currently occupying my bank account will begin to mate vigorously, and will reproduce enough funds to cover my expenses at month's end.

Failing this fervent wish, and since I believe that prostitution contradicts my personal and sexually conservative values, I plan to pimp my rabbit to passersby in the town square for $5.00 a pop. I'm hoping there are no anti-prostitution laws that cross over to the domain of domestic animals, otherwise, my plan will be thwarted. If you would like to partake in a little rabbit-cuddle-action, call me at 555-555-5155 to arrange a meeting. I offer in/out services. Ask for Surly. Surly is very cute and soft. He has a velvety nose, and if you are very nice, he may lick your fingers for free. If you're not into rabbits, I also have a cat, but she is fairly skittish and tends to bite. If you're into biting, I can accommodate a visit with my cat for the usual $5.00 fee, plus a $3.00 "kink" tax. Ask for the Nervous Tiger if you are are interested in cat-cuddle-action that includes some biting.

And so, long story short, I'm relying on the generosity of family members, the benevolence of a kind friend, plain old ingenuity, and my credit card to make ends meet.

I hope this letter is satisfactory and gave you a bit of a chuckle.

PS. I would love a job. If ya'll are interested in hiring, I'm a skilled writer, and a very good teacher.

PPS. If you are interested in donating Christmas gifts to needy, unemployed-but-trying people, then here is my wish list:
1) A stable, meaningful job
2) A new laptop, as mine is dying
3) Maybe a Shopper's Drug Mart card to pay for my prescriptions
4) New glasses, as I haven't updated my lens prescription in 3+ years and the ones I have are old, scratched up, and are giving me headaches.

PPPS. Yes, I'm crazy as hell. I have a letter from my psychiatrist to attest to that fact, but crazy or not, at least I have a sense of humour.

PPPPS. If you don't laugh, you cry, no?

PPPPPS. It costs me $1.00 per page to fax these letters to you. Can I be repaid for that? $7.00, to me, equals eggs and bread. This is food for at least three days.

PPPPPPS. Did you know that vinegar is a great non-toxic, all-purpose cleaning agent? A 2 litre container lasts me (and two pets) a month! I mix a 1/2 cup of vinegar, a couple of drops of dish soap, and a cup of water, and put it in a recycled spray bottle. Tah -dah! All clean! It's great.

PPPPPPPS. Dish soap is really good at killing plant pests. Mix in a small squirt of biodegradable dish soap with a cup of water and spray on your plants. Tah -dah! No bugs!

Ah the things you learn when you are broke ass broke. :D

Monday, December 1, 2008

one day out of a year... January 31

Dear Cold, Humbled, and Huddled Masses,

I have heard of an interesting event taking place January 31st:

A Light in the Dark: A silent stand in the night.

A Light in the Dark is a quiet show of solidarity and support for people living with a mental health condition.

Let a flicker of compassion become a fire of solidarity.
Light the night with love and hope.

January 31st.
8pm to 10pm or later.
Light a candle, put it in your window.
That is all you have to do.

Are you a mom, a dad, a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, spouse, or friend of a person living with a mental health condition?

On January 31, be a light in the dark, and show your support for the people you love and for the people who love you.

Light a candle, or put a small bare lamp in your window in a silent stand of support.

Stand up against dark mythology. Be a light in the darkness of discrimination.

Show your compassion, show your solidarity - Show your light. January 31. 8pm.

Stand up and let the light shine in.
With love,