Life goes on, but it’s not the same

I’ve got the “I beat cancer” blues.

Am I still a mountain biker when I haven’t been on my bike in years? Am I a runner when I haven’t gone running in months? Am I a writer when I’m not actively writing? Am I a musician when I haven’t been playing my guitar? Do I have value to anyone when I’m not doing something valuable?

Two years ago I beat* cancer.
*which just means it hasn’t yet come back in two years, and it may never come back, but then again it could.

I think there’s a time, just after cancer has been beaten*, when survivors feel more alive and connected than they remember feeling before cancer. It’s an incredible experience. You have no patience or time for bullshit, and you act on things that are important to you—even little things—right away because you know how close you came to having no time left. There is no should when it comes to doing – only will and won’t. You feel overwhelming impatience for meaningless or frivolous delays. If something is worth doing then it’s worth doing it right now—or at least taking the first difficult steps—and it’s exciting.

My husband and I had talked for years about our next pet being a dog. When I was done with cancer, I pushed hard to get that dog. I had been thinking for ages that I should improve my guitar playing through lessons, so I went out and found a teacher. Everything that seemed important to me — from taking a course to riding my bike 200 miles in a weekend to finding a way to get into community theatre to just getting outside — I was ready to act on each and every item in the moment it occurred to me.

My productivity was off the charts… but only for a little while.

As my strength came back and the chemotherapy drugs wore off, I felt unstoppable. And then life started creeping back in.

It’s hard not to believe that once your cancer is in complete remission that there’s nothing you can’t overcome. When life starts throwing exciting challenges (stressful situations) at you, you’re confident that you’ll breeze through it all.

The adorably troublesome and neighbour-irritating new puppy gets pneumonia and nearly dies on the same day that my husband’s grandmother across the country passes away suddenly? That’s awful. But the expensive emergency vet trip saves the dog, and the expensive private training sessions make it less likely that our neighbours will hate us for the dog, and we’re grateful we took our daughters to visit Bubbie a few months earlier. We can recover from a little credit card debt. And it’s nice having a puppy.

My husband starts having seemingly undiagnosable abdominal pain? Okay, well we survived cancer, so we can get through this and figure it out and move on. No big deal. And when it turns out to be a pulled abdominal muscle gone rogue with PTSD, we breath a sigh of (painful) relief and laugh nervously about the strange post-cancer side effects we never expected.

Our ground-level apartment floods, leaving us homeless in the most expensive housing region of the country with possibly the lowest vacancy rates? I guess we can take our family of four + puppy and sleep in our friends’ basements and guest rooms, and stay at hotels and short-term holiday rentals, and try to buy a townhouse in a seller’s market that’s just gone from barely affordable for us to completely unaffordable. For six months.

And then I didn’t feel unstoppable anymore.

I didn’t float through problems secure in the feeling that everything was going to be okay. Everything consistently wasn’t okay. I wasn’t okay.

And now that things are settled — the dog is healthy, the family is healthy, we’ve uprooted ourselves and settled down in a new town in a house of our own, and everything is feeling deliciously normal — I’m still not okay.

I’m supposed to be okay by now.

I held it together for two years of crises. Nobody — myself included — knows exactly how. That’s okay — how doesn’t matter.

What matters is that I’m not holding it together anymore and I feel like I should be. My life is as stable as I could ever hope it would be. And I miss that feeling I had when I first beat cancer — that I could do everything and I could start right now, so I did.

Some of that feeling has stayed — specifically, the part where I want things to start or change or be the way I imagine they should be right now. I’m in a new town, why don’t I already have all sorts of new friends and social engagements and volunteer work? Why am I not already involved in everything? I want it to happen right now. I have no patience for pointless delays like small talk and trying to meet people in my usual awkward ways. Not that I have skills to do it without the awkward.

But the other side of it, the side where I feel alive and unstoppable, where I’m excited about every new idea I have and the new friendships I’m about to discover… that part has disappeared. More than disappeared, in fact. It’s gone into negative space, and it’s feeding the imposter syndrome I’ve felt for as long as I can remember — about my career, about my hobbies and interests, about being not a real cancer survivor because I didn’t have it as bad as a lot of other people. I don’t feel like I’m a real anything, so I don’t want to do anything.

The combination of stress whiplash and the jarring feeling that my ambitions and motivations no longer exist make me suspect one thing. These are the hardest words to say aloud, the hardest ones to even write down on a page:

I am depressed.

I shouldn’t be depressed, because everything is okay now. I don’t have cancer anymore, and it’s been two years since I did. I have a home and a great relationship and family. I have a job with a great team who have supported me through every hurdle I’ve faced in the last couple of years. I am not allowed to be depressed because there is no valid reason to be depressed. My life doesn’t suck enough for me to be depressed. I still play with my kids and laugh with friends and make terrible jokes and sarcastic comments. On the surface I’m perfectly fine.

I know better. I’ve walked this path before, though it’s been a while. I remember how it felt the last time I went through this. It felt exactly like I feel right now.

I’ve talked to friends who also survived cancer; they say they went through that period of feeling alive and motivated and excited about everything, and that it went away, and that they miss it now that things are settled and normal. I haven’t asked them if they, too, struggled with feeling worthless, pointless, fraudulent. I haven’t asked if they got depressed, because that would be telling, now wouldn’t it?

Am I still a biker, writer, runner, musician? Am I valuable? I don’t feel like I am when I can barely find the motivation to sit on my couch and play my video games once I’ve taken care of all the standard mom responsibilities.

I’m terrified of telling anyone my suspicions — that I’m actually depressed — because they’ll look at my life and wonder how that’s possible, when all the bad things are over — I won. They won’t believe me. They won’t know how to help. I certainly don’t, and I’ve been depressed before.

Do many cancer survivors have this much trouble resetting themselves into normalcy?

I don’t know the answers. What I have done is started seeing a therapist regularly. Unraveling the weave that has made me who I am means walking through a lot of things that I’ve been skirting around for the last twenty years. I’ll see you on the other side.

Life after cancer: Trying to find a balance

It has been just over two months since my last chemo session. Although Adam has has unexplained abdominal pain for three months now, I’ve been doing my best to start fitting some normal activities back into my life. I took two good, long road bike rides to kick off my training for the BC Ride to Conquer Cancer that I’m doing in June — one on the weekend, 32km or so around North Vancouver, East Van, and Stanley Park, and another on Tuesday, riding home from work in Gastown to Port Moody, which is around 25km. This week I had my first-ever actual guitar lesson, since I’ve reached a point in my playing where I would like to improve my technique (or possibly even learn some). My brain is starting to feel like it’s firing on all cylinders, finally, after months of a forgetful haze where I felt like every thought was being dredged through molasses.

The clarity in my mind has been a welcome change, especially with regards to work. I started a new job a month before I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was another month before I started treatment. Instead of going through the usual process of learning my new role, picking up new skills needed for the job, learning internal processes, and figuring out where I fit in the grand scheme of the organization, I got distracted by things like confirming a diagnosis, going through test after test, getting a treatment plan, unexpectedly weaning a toddler earlier than planned, and actually starting chemotherapy. It was difficult.

My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in?

I kept on working as much as I could through the chemotherapy experience because it gave me some focus that wasn’t the cancer, or how terrible the treatments made me feel. Looking back now, with a clear head and a different perspective on everything, is a strange thing for me. Instead of that six months of figuring out where I fit, I’ve found that my first six months at work are a haze. I feel like I’m effectively starting at this position now instead of last August.

This week we had a retrospective discussion about a project that I worked on over the winter (though not in a principal role) and I couldn’t remember what I did. I know there were things that I did to support the project, and I remember being involved in it, but it’s like there’s a hole in my memory — a gap where the details should be. Looking back on that with a clear head it’s become obvious that the entire six months of diagnosis, tests, and treatment are a muddled haze of feeling physically awful, incapable, and forgetful. It’s frustrating to have a shroud over my memories.

Once again I feel incredibly lucky to be working with the co-workers and organization that I am, because they can’t have known how useless I would be during treatment, but they put up with me anyway. They gave me things to do, they respected the fact that I wasn’t at 100%, and they gave me the room I needed to get better without making me feel like I was a burden. And they barely knew me; I never had a chance to really prove my value before this all began.

Now that I’ve started to feel more like a functional human being, my lack of capacity over the past six months has started to bother me. I feel like I actually just started this job a couple of weeks ago, and my lack of real contributions up to this point had me feeling a bit depressed and anxious over the last few weeks. It’s frustrating, this feeling that I’m so far behind where I should really be after eight months of a job. I have to remind myself that six months of that time — the six months I normally reserve for learning and settling in to any new job — were commandered by captain cancer. I’m back at square one, starting fresh and new, and trying to find my place, to fit into the appropriate gaps and figure out where I can contribute the most with my skills and strengths. I’m finding it a challenge, though, and have had to fight a bit of anxiety/depression over it.

I didn’t expect that the experiences of my treatment and its side effects, like the mental fog I had the entire time I was in chemo, would only be accessible as memories through a translucent curtain. The memories are there. The detail is not. I’m glad I wrote about it all, because otherwise so much of it would have been lost. I can’t entirely recall how I felt emotionally, although I have body memories, like the drugs burning my veins, and the thick headed feeling I got from the extra saline they pumped into me before the port was installed, and that queasy feeling in the back of my throat that was my constant companion for months, and how the chemo side-effect drugs made me shaky. The physical memories may be more clear than the experiential ones.

But moving on to some random thoughts…

Jennylee and family
We’re getting on with our lives as best we can.

By some coincidence, although it does represent my tastes, for my three PET scans I chose three Canadian bands to listen to while the radioactive dye made its way through me: Delerium, Barenaked Ladies, and the Tragically Hip. This is a random detail that amuses me and that I want to remember. I couldn’t tell you why, or why I need to write it down here; I think I just want to make sure I don’t forget.

Today I started to wonder a bit about blood and organ donation: can I still donate blood or organs when I’ve had cancer? After doing a bit of research I found that, for some blood cancers (like Lymphoma, which I had) they don’t allow you to donate, at least not in some countries. I couldn’t find an absolute rule for Canadian blood donors, however. Either way, in Canada they do want you to be at least five years in remission before you donate blood.

As for organs; well, I couldn’t find much on that at all, except that maybe you could donate organs but maybe not. I couldn’t narrow down the exact cases for either side.

This makes me strangely sad. The idea of donating blood is currently a disturbing one, just because the physical memory of IVs and such make me queasy and uncomfortable and makes my arms feel a bit sore even though they’re not. However, I wouldn’t rule it out in the long term just for that reason. For as long as I can remember, though, I’ve had an organ donor card or been registered for donation. The knowledge that pieces of me could be used to save another person has been comforting to me. It didn’t occur to me until today that that could be taken away because of cancer.

But at least I can still happily donate my body to science when I’m done with it. Dear family and friends; in case I haven’t mentioned it, please donate my body to science, should the opportunity arise and I don’t need it anymore. I mean it.

Otherwise in our lives, Adam’s been sick. We can’t really get back to a normal life until he’s not in pain anymore. That likely won’t happen until they figure out what’s wrong with him and it’s kind of exhausting for both of us. But in the meantime we do the best we can.

Working through chemotherapy

Life hasn’t been put on hold while I undergo chemotherapy. I’m not really one to put life on hold, in general, and I haven’t felt the need to do so. I have been taking it easy when I need to, taking shorter days or entire days off, choosing not to commit to things because I don’t know how I’m going to be feeling when I get to the date in question, and that sort of thing.

And I’m still going to work. This seems to be catching people off guard — from family, to co-workers, to random other folks who hear about it. But It is honestly the best thing I can be doing right now, for my own sanity.

I have some good reasons:

  1. Work keeps my brain occupied. If I were to sit at home and spend my time relaxing, I would get bored. I don’t enjoy being bored. It’s really not for me. When I get bored, I get sad. When I get sad, I get apathetic. When I get apathetic, I have no energy to pull myself back out of being bored. And if it goes on too long I start to feel completely drained and depressed. It’s just a bad thing. Plus, right after chemo, I can’t even play video games to entertain myself — they trigger nausea. Nobody wants that.
  2. My workplace is interesting, fun, and understanding. You may remember that I just started this job at Affinity Bridge in July. I’ve only been there for four months now, and I’m still learning the ropes and figuring things out. I like the challenge. But I feel like if I take too much time off, I’ll forget things. Not that they would hold it against me — they’re among the most understanding, supportive, and fantastic bunch of people I’ve ever been able to call my team. If I need time to focus, or to go home early, or an unexpected coffee break, they get it. I fell asleep in a meeting one day last week when it descended rather deeply into programmer-talk. They may have made fun of me for it, but they certainly won’t hold it against me. And that is just what I need right now.
  3. I don’t feel that bad. Yes, I’m doing chemotherapy. Yes, there are some crappy side-effects that include dizziness, chemo-brain (aka forgetful absent-mindedness with a side of  inability to type accurately or remember words), occasional narcolepsy, and a general low-level energy drain that slows me down a bit, among other things. But it’s really not unmanageable. I can still get things done and contribute in some sort of valuable way. I can be useful. I am not a fragile little snowflake who will melt if you breathe on me wrong. And that makes me happy.
  4. Keeping things somewhat normal while something entirely abnormal is happening to my body helps me stay grounded. The chemo and anti-nausea drug side-effects can be strange sometimes. If I have too much time to sit around just feeling things, and thinking about everything that’s going on, I could get lost in it. I’d prefer to be stable as much as possible right now, for my own sake and for my family. It’s good to have external things to think about.
Dominion building staircase
Keeping my perspective at work helps keep me sane. Just keep climbing those stairs.

So I go to work when I feel up to it (which is most of the time), or I work from home, or I take shorter days, or I nap when I need to. I’m in a bit of a haze sometimes, and I can feel my brain acting sluggish, but when I work through it I feel better. I want to keep my brain working, even when it doesn’t want to. I’ll use whatever memory tricks I need to, I’ll ask questions when I have to, and I will try not to be too apologetic for things that don’t matter that much, because I am not a rocket surgeon and no one will die if there’s a typo in my documentation.

When I’m in a low phase and immuno-compromised from the chemo, I may not go to work if people are sick, or if I’m worried about the commuter train. The family and I have have our flu shots, at least, but the kids and Adam all had colds in the last week and I had to do my best to avoid too much contact. It’s almost easier to avoid contact with people at work. They don’t drool on me. At least not so far.

Working has been good for me through this. I am lucky to have such a fantastic and understanding workplace, boss, and set of co-workers. I feel comfortably free to do what I need to do to take care of myself through this, while still feeling like I am a part of the team — still needed, still important, but with the freedom to step back when I need to. I don’t know if everyone else going through something similar has the same kind of support network around them when it comes to their workplace. I’m sad for them if they don’t, but I know that there are also resources out there through the Cancer Centre that can help for that, if needed. There’s a social worker on my cancer team who told me that specifically, so I guess it’s an issue for some. That is unfortunate.

I am lucky. My workplace is understanding. My co-workers are awesome. I feel support from them throughout this experience. I have it pretty good, for a cancer/chemotherapy patient. And my life feels nearly normal for enough of the time so that I can be a stable, functional member of society and my family.

Maternity leave and spending time with my daughter

I’m in the last few weeks of pregnancy, and have now had the last two weeks off work. Maternity leave in Canada is a wonderful thing.

I spent my first week of mat leave just getting things done and relaxing around the house. I got to put in some quality time on Mass Effect 3, after having lost my save game 25 hours into the campaign during the epic failure of Adam’s computer. I haven’t yet caught up to where I was, but at least I’ve restarted with a build from ME1 & ME2 savegames to make the ME3 campaign as close to my own character as I could without replaying the first two games. I was able to do this because Lyra was still in daycare for the week – and it made me happy.

It was undeniably strange to be away from work without the feeling that I should check in to see how things are going, to make sure nothing was terribly broken before I had to go back in. By the time I have to go back a year from now, nothing I have worked on (and half the people I’ve worked with, especially interns) will even be there any more. Last time I took maternity/parental leave, by the time I went back my team had more than doubled in size and my job was completely different. It was a hard transition, but I eventually found my place and helped build a strong team to support the organization. And now I’ve left again, and who knows what things will look like when I go back, and it’s strange and unnerving if I let myself think about it too much.

Fortunately for me I guess I won’t have that much time to worry about it in a little while.

Learning to spend all of my time with a little girl

My second week of mat leave Lyra has been at home with me. It’s been challenging, since I’m not used to keeping her engaged and entertained all day, every day. Weekends are different – we have things to fill up our time, activities and visits and stuff that just needs to get done in the short time we have, and Adam is usually around being a parent. Spending all of my time with her alone is hard. I knew it would be. It’s harder being this pregnant, with my energy reserves running low and my general awkwardness making it tough to play with a nearly 4-year-old high-energy kid. I’ve been trying to think of things to keep her busy, but early in the week I definitely relied heavily on Netflix and computer games while I just lay around being tired and pregnant.

And then I felt guilty about it.

She’s reaching a stage of pushing every boundary she can find, and trying to claim more power in her relationship with us. She’s more wilful than she’s ever been before. It’s exhausting, and my patience is at a remarkably low level these days, so she can push my buttons without even trying. I don’t want to feel frustrated as often as I am, but I am. I need to find ways to keep her entertained and get her out to see other kids that don’t ultimately exhaust me too. It makes me wish I had managed to get her into preschool for September, but I had a bad few weeks of anti-social, I don’t want to deal with anything mental breakdown during the window when I could have done so, and I missed the opportunity. I should have gone ahead with it when I could, and I didn’t, and it’s entirely my own fault.

I am immensely thankful that Adam has two weeks off when baby Dragon arrives. I would probably break down completely if I was on my own with the two kids right off the bat, so I’m glad that he’ll be home to wrangle Lyra while I try to figure out the new arrival.

I’m also nervous about when he goes back to work and I really am on my own with the two of them every day. Spending every day with Lyra alone as a newborn and for the first year was easy. Juggling the needs of a newborn and 4 year old is not going to be nearly as straightforward. I’ll figure it out, but it’s really, really not going to be easy.

Lyra is truly a person now. It makes life interesting.

Outside with Lyra on a sunny day

Who needs a job description?

It’s come to my attention that I have a tendency to get involved in projects at work that land outside the Web Strategy Coordinator title I have. Titles are really more of a guideline anyway, right?

According to my job description, I do web strategy, social media strategy, email marketing, web marketing, reporting, intern & volunteer management, and general web grunt work. I think. I haven’t looked at it in a while.

I also fill in the gaps whenever there’s something that needs doing. If I see a problem, I want to fix it. I like to sum up this part of my work by saying “I do things.”

For the past few weeks, however, I’ve spent a lot of my time working with one of our interns (another misleading title, I think) to create a documentary about the people and work of the David Suzuki Foundation. At some point she asked me for help on part of the treatment (kind of like a pitch document, I guess) for the film, which evolved into helping flesh out the script, which moved on to helping find the equipment we were lacking for filming, and finally to assisting with many of the actual film shoots themselves. I’ve done second camera, I’ve done boom op and sound engineer, and I’ve done all sorts of running around to various locations to shoot on-site some of the varied work and personalities that are part of the Foundation.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity, applying skills that I haven’t used in years and learning new ones. I don’t even know how to credit myself on this film – which might show up as a special feature on an upcoming DVD release of another film, if we do it right and the stars align. I don’t know enough about film credits to even know where to start.

I just do things.

Filming on the beach
Claudia setting up for the shoot with David Suzuki at Kits beach

I am my network.

MuddBunnies Labour Day Trip

I started this on New Year’s day, but didn’t have the time to really focus on it and finish it – so I’m doing that now. It’s a few days late. I’m sure you can deal with it. Happy New Year!

The rain greeted me for new year quite effectively – the mountains were invisible in the mist and cloud, and everything turned that pallid grey that Vancouver becomes in the winter.

There are plenty of things about 2010 that are worth noting in my life. For one thing, I’ll have been recording my life online for ten years as of May 2010. Adam and I will have been married for five years as of September 2010. I’m in my fourth year at the same workplace (an unthinkable anniversary, if you look at my previous job record of approximately 9 months per company.) How very strange.

This time last year was all about Lyra. Naturally, it is this year as well. Babies and toddlers pretty demand nonstop attention, and being a parent doesn’t just go away at night when I want to sleep, or during the day when I’m at work. It’s such a fundamental shift that it’s part of everything I do now, even the things I do just for myself.

She now picks up a word or two (or more) an hour, and recognizes and names objects, people, animals, and food regularly. She pointed at the Cookie Monster on my Sesame Street google doodle shirt today when I asked her to find cookie monster… and then she growled and went OM NOM NOM. She then moved on to pointing at Elmo and saying ‘Emmo’ – because it seems there’s no way to escape the little red monster. She meows back at Dayle and Sera if they make any noise, and knows them both by name. If I ask her what a cat says, she says MEOW. And she’s trying to say more complicated things, like octopus (ocopo) and alligator (agaga). She loves fish (ish) more than I can possibly explain, and will yell BALL before she bounces one across the room. She’s listening and learning, and it’s more fun every day.

I’ve been back at work for half a year now, and finally feel like I’m figuring out what I do again. It didn’t help that what I used to do basically changed while I was on maternity leave, and when I got back there were a bunch of new people on my team… and I had a team, which was also very weird.

It would seem that social media, that which I have been partaking in since about 1995 or so, has actually become a part of my job. I’m pretty sure I’m qualified (as much as anyone is, and more than most people at my office I think) to navigate these strange social waters, but it’s a weird thing for me to contemplate. Fifteen years ago I was lonely and bored and the computer became an outlet for me. The people I found on the far side of the magic box became my friends, therapists, family, critics, editors, supporters, fans, enemies… the online social realm was at one point more real to me than the physical world. My online life help me rebuild my offline one; it was good for me. I am a better me for having been a part of so many of these things, and in no way do I feel like I lost that time, that I should have been doing something more constructive.

The fact that my job actually integrates this part of my life now is, in a very real way, satisfying. The online world isn’t evil, or stealing my time from more valuable interactions (if I want to go biking, facebook and twitter aren’t going to stop me), and I don’t feel like it’s all taking over my life. I was addicted at one point – the late 90s and early 00s was probably the peak of that time for me – but there’s so much more to my life now that isn’t online that I’m pretty confident in saying that it’s not like that now.

Sometimes I do feel like I need to defend myself from the haters. There’s such a huge backlash against the internet from the folks who rant about how much they hate social networks, cellphones, or video games – much like when I first got involved in IRC and was labelled an antisocial nerd type. It was a way to make friends for an awkward nervous girl, and it worked rather well. I’m still friends with people I met online in social networks over 13 years ago. This is a part of my life, and I probably don’t really need to defend it anymore. I am my network. My network is me.

Fifteen months and counting

If we’re counting months (and at this point we still are I guess) Lyra is fifteen months old as of yesterday. A year plus three months. She’s practically in college!

Touristing at Granville Island

This week she transitioned from walking occasionally as a novelty into walking as a means of getting from place to place. She’s still quite wobbly, and it’s very cute to watch her step oh so carefully in sock feet on the slippery hardwood floor. In the past two days she has also neglected to take a morning nap, simply because she didn’t seem tired enough to actually sleep. This makes me incredibly happy.

I’ve never really liked naptime. For the first few months she mostly napped with me all the time, which I was fine with. I was very well rested. When she got older and started napping on her own, it was tough for me – she never stayed asleep for longer than a half hour to 45 minutes, so I never had time to really do anything but try and decompress – but since I was on edge the whole time listening for her wake-up, I never felt relaxed. I was better off napping with her, but I really didn’t want to… I wanted to do things that I could only do when she was asleep.

Once she started daycare, her napping became a lot more consistent. I once asked them how they managed to get her to nap… I didn’t really learn their secret, other than the fact that they aren’t me. Something about not being mommy or daddy (and also having years of experience convincing babies to nap) seems to work quite well for them.

Yesterday she and I slept in till 9am, which was fantastic. Morning naptime came and went without a hint of her being tired, so I didn’t bother trying to put her down. Afternoon nap was a bit earlier than usual, but she went down easily and then napped for an hour and a half. It was good.

Today she was up by 8am, which is still sleeping in for me, and is awesome. We went out for a walk, and spent some time playing at home, and generally had a great morning, followed by lunch. After lunch I put her down for her nap (and again, she went down easily) and she’s now been out for an hour and a half again. I feel awesome about this. I have some quiet time to myself (Adam’s out riding with Chris) and I can do things like write this stuff down, make myself lunch uninterrupted, and maybe play a video game. And I don’t feel on edge waiting for her to wake up.

So I hope this is a trend, and that maybe the two short naps a day are going to become one longer one.

Some random Lyra observations and developments:

In other news, we got Katamari Forever, and Lyra loves to help her daddy play it:

Playing some Katamari Forever

Today we watched a bit of a baby video that has Twinkle Twinkle little star in it. She started to sing along – not with words, but she was saying bah bah bah bah along with the tune. It was so awesome. She has also learned how to not only pull the fridge magnets off the fridge, but also put them back on so they stick. Knocking them off the fridge is a lot more fun, however:

My older brother Mike and his fiancee Norina came to visit a couple of weeks ago and brought her a little rocking chair that used to belong to my little brother & sister in Ottawa. It didn’t take Lyra long to figure out how to climb into the chair, turn around, sit properly in it, and then slide back out. This kept her entertained for hours.

In the mornings when I’m at home on my own with Lyra, we often walk together to Brazza (the coffee shop around the corner.) She holds my hand and we slowly make our way there, where I get coffee, and then we slowly make our way back. She loves climbing up the stairs by holding both my hands and walking up them very, very clumsily.

Her favourite foods are currently applesauce, grapes (cut up into bite-sized pieces), plums, cheese (old, mild, stinky, whatever, just bring on the cheese), goldfish crackers, and really just about any fruit you offer her. She’s not really interested in much meat, although she likes pasta and breads from time to time. And she’s got at least twelve teeth in her mouth with which to chow down.

And some random news about non-Lyra things

My birthday came and went last week with little fanfare. Adam kept asking me what I wanted to do, and I was too busy with work things and a sick baby (and not getting nearly enough sleep because of it) to really think about it. Ideally I wanted someone else to throw me some sort of party or something, which eventually kind of happened on Sunday. I got some cash, which I promptly went out and spent on some awesome new shirts and a necklace. And I got a giant ball of Edam cheese, which was fantastic.

Work has been absolutely crazy lately, with all sorts of changes afoot. I’m carrying on doing what I do, coasting along with the changes as they happen. It is an interesting time.

I have tried riding to and from work a couple of times, but it has been really hard. I’m still not equipped enough for it to be easy, and I am not a morning person, so it kind of has to be easy for me to get it done. The riding itself isn’t easy – but that part I’m fine with. It’s the complications of getting up early, getting Lyra ready and dropping her off, and then getting myself to work, without having more stuff than I can manage with me on the walk down to Daycare. Panniers are my mantra. If I had panniers, that’d fix everything. At least that’s what I tell myself. I could’ve bought panniers instead of shirts with my birthday money, but I really needed the shirts, too. And I desperately want an Android phone, but that won’t happen for a long time I think. I also have to get pants that fit me, since I have none that fit properly at the moment. I’m still between my pre- and post-pregnancy sizes for pants. It is frustrating.

None of these things can be acquired this month, however, because for Halloween weekend we’re going to Tofino with Chris & Jinni, and that’s where I’m putting extra cash right now. It will be nice – the first time I’ve gone without camping. I don’t think we’ll have enough for surfing lessons, sadly, but it will be lovely nonetheless.

And that’s an extremely long update on my life at the moment. Things are pretty good. Lyra is changing every day. The world keeps spinning round and round.

Going back – to work, and to mountain biking

Tomorrow morning I pack up Lyra first thing in the morning and walk her to daycare before heading on to work. I am of mixed emotions about this, as I am sure many others have been before me. There are a lot of random thoughts cascading around in my head tonight. I worry that Lyra’s not going to get enough to eat at daycare – she’s not all that into food, most of the time. I worry that I’m going to spend my entire lunch pumping milk without having a chance to take a break and eat. I worry that I won’t fit into the new format and team that they’ve developed at my office in the year I’ve been gone. I worry that my daily two hours of commuting time is going to make me crazy. I worry that I’m going to be exhausted, that getting up extra early and getting out the door is going to be incredibly hard, that I’m not going to get enough sleep to be all that functional, that I’m going to spend too much money on expensive coffee because I don’t really like the cheap stuff.

All this worrying is not really something I do much, so it’s making me kind of moody. I’m already exhausted and I haven’t even gone back yet. We can’t afford for me to not go back, and to be fair I really do enjoy my workplace. I should be excited. Instead I’m just kind of worried. I can accept that, tomorrow I’ll be at work either way.

Today we went to a mountain bike trail building day on Fromme, which got me thinking more about my relationship with riding these days.

Lately I’ve also been trying to get back into biking. What I’ve figured out is my lack of fundamental skill and learning is a problem lately. I’m afraid of momentum, I’m afraid to go too fast or feel like my bike is leaving me behind, which sometimes you have to do to get past obstacles. I’m nervous about riding in general, so I hesitate rather than make plans to get out on my bike – and end up not going at all. I’ve been out riding twice I think in the past few months, because I don’t make plans to get out. I don’t really want to ride the trails that are close to me, they’re all at a level that I’m not comfortable with, and rather than going out to practice on them and try to develop skills I just feel like crap because I can’t ride anything. I get filled with panic and freeze up. It’s not fun, and saying I should just keep riding till I get over it doesn’t help. I know, I’ve tried telling myself that.

Plus with Lyra I’m more worried about hurting myself badly. This is a sport where you expect that you will fall, because you aren’t always going to ride perfectly, you can’t predict changes in the trail, and things can happen that are entirely out of your control. It’s part of what makes riding fun.

At least I feel a bit like I’ve figured out that problem – I need to go back to the basics, to learn beginner skills that I’ve never really had, and to ride trails that aren’t full of technical features that freak me out. I need to pretend like I’ve never ridden before and start from scratch. I need to ride places that aren’t on the North Shore. I really need to get out and actually ride, but I know now that means I have to go out and do trails that no one else feels like doing because they’re too easy. I’m not talking Floppy Bunny easy either… I’m not there yet. I used to be, but I’m not anymore. I’m just barely able to deal with riding the Richard Juryn trail, and I still walk stupid little things on that because I panic. I think I need to do some XC.

So maybe with going back to work I’ll feel more comfortable spending the money to take out a co-op car and go riding from time to time. I miss the times when I really enjoyed riding. I’m not really interested in going to Whistler, or trying to push my limits by riding on the North Shore. I want to start slow and easy. And I don’t feel like joining another club. I barely make it to the rides the club I’m already in does. I guess I should really start there with the weekly XC rides, and see what I can figure out beyond that.

I guess there’s a lot on my mind tonight. Hopefully I will sleep just fine – I’m certainly tired enough.

It’s just one of those days

I am frustrated, exhausted, and have a headache. Also I have too much to get done right now and not enough free hands. Lyra’s currently on the floor on her play mat, but she’s been there for about ten minutes while I put away laundry, and is likely to get cranky and loud at any moment. She’s already complaining.

Yesterday was the first day I had to recover and relax from visiting family. I rather wanted to just sleep in (hah!) and maybe just relax and play games all day, but there was other stuff I had to get done around the apartment instead. I managed to get some of it done, anyhow – some laundry and the kitchen (although then I went and messed it up by having lunch. Stupid lunch) and a little bit of tidying up, but not nearly what I wanted to get done. I was just too exhausted to finish everything, and I knew I’d be home today to work on some more. Which I am. So now I’m putting laundry away and starting at least one more load, and doing the kitchen again from dinner last night, and just generally tidying up the living room. Plus I’m trying to clean up the bedroom too, which looks like a tornado hit it.

To be honest, I’m just feeling frustrated and flustered and I keep getting annoyed that I have to stop in the middle of everything I’m trying to do because Lyra needs changing, feeding, playing with, naps (which this week have only worked when she sleeps on me, which is the most frustrating part of all.) So I’m kind of irritated and headachey and while stuff’s getting done, it’s a very slow process and I can’t see my way to the end of it yet.

On top of that it’s lunchtime and I need to figure out what to eat, and make it. Might as well leave the kitchen clean-up till after lunch, I guess – that way it’ll all get done at once. Oh yeah, and I need to do some pumping of milk so I can go for a bike ride tomorrow.

On the upside, there is a single deciduous half-way up Grouse Mountain in amongst the pine trees. It’s turned bright orange – a weird orange spot against the deep green. I had to pull out binoculars yesterday to identify what it was… it’s pretty. I do love fall. I should be outside enjoying this nice day, it’s going to be miserable tomorrow I think. Maybe later, if I get stuff done and it’s not dark yet.


So I’m becoming more forgetful. I start to do things on my computer (for example, I went to open semagic to post in lj) and forget before I get there… I basically opened program files and stared blankly at the possible options (there are many) with no idea what I was looking for. It took me about two minutes to remember that I wanted to post in my lj.

So now I’m at a loss as to what to talk about. Go figure.

Let’s start with something easy. We went to see The Incredible Hulk last night. I liked it. The baby was awake for most of the movie, as it usually is when I’m in loud places (restaurants, pubs with live bands, theatres.) Yes, everything these days relates back to Ultra Magnus.

Sleeping is still elusive. I wake up frequently in the night to roll over and/or go to the bathroom. By morning I just want to stay in bed, but since I’m still working for just over two weeks, that’s not really an option. I can work from home occasoinally, and I’ve done so a couple of times, but there’s a lot I have to wrap up before I hand over my job to my replacement. Next week I’m only working Monday and Tuesday, and taking the rest of the week off to pick Adam’s brother Jordy up at the airport (he’s moving out here.) The week after that is my final week at work before I take maternity / parental leave. Scary thought, that, but exciting too. I very much look forward to the time off… need to clean the apartment and get whatever I can ready before Ultra Magnus shows up to destroy the place.

The other benefit of being off work is not having to focus on work – the forgetfulness is impacting me a bit there, too. I start projects and have some trouble focusing on them. I can’t imagine working right up until the end. I guess I’m not that hardcore.

Adam’s away this weekend in Whistler, biking at the bike park with Chris and Lorne (and Sean, but he can’t bike.) I’ll probably go see my mom on Saturday – my first attempt at driving the Car Co-op Prius, which should be fun. Adam’s usually the one to drive, but now that I have the car co-op I have the option of getting myself around.

I’m becoming hungry, and pondering taking a nice warm bath to relax.