Monday, May 29, 2006

Ups and downs

I'm being to feel slighly manic-depressive again. On Saturday, I expereinced a brief moment of pure contentedness, for the first time in a very long while. It had been a gorgeous day and I'd spent some time in the garden weeding and planting perennials. In the early evening, my husband and I assembled this outdoor fireplace I'd bought a couple weeks ago. The finished product was rather nice.

Feeling very satisfied with our work, we built a fire and sat in front of it, sipping some wine. It was lovely to be sitting out together on a lovely evening, with the wine and the dancing flames. At that very moment, I felt very, very content. But all good things must come to an end and the next morning I woke up feeling as distraught as ever. I felt trapped in suburban hell, in an unstable childless marriage and it all seemed so pointless. I work at an unfulfilling job, just so that I can have the privelege of living in a house that I spend more time maintaining than enjoying. I thought about what I would do if I didn't have to spend my weekends taking care of this house and garden. I specifically thought about what I would do if I were living in London and not here. I'm beginning to think that a change of scenery and a fresh start need to be more than metaphorical.

I've been going back and forth these past few months about the idea of selling my house and moving to the UK. My husband is from London and we had often talked about moving there once we were financially stable. Now I'm thinking that maybe I should sell the house and just do it. I have a couple of friends with IT companies in London that would potentially have work for me and with the proceeds from the house I would have a nice cushion to last me in case a job wasn't immediately forthcoming. It's certainly doable. And maybe my husband could even join me after a few months. After we've both had some time to think about our lives and what we want. The more that I think about it, the more it seems like what I really should do. Because I feel like I'm going to dissolve completely if I stay here much longer, and I'm too young to fade into the sunset just yet.
:: posted by Ann Howell, 8:26 AM | link | 4 comments |

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Goodbye Nelson, we hardly knew ye

Well, I'm back from visiting my parents. It was a bittersweet visit. I had brought my dog Nelson down with the hopes that we could find a new home for him, or at least a shelter that would take him. Neither of these options panned out, so I had no choice to bring him to the pound. It absolutely broke my heart, but there was nothing else I could do. The bigger he got, the more evident it was that there was a lot of pit bull in him and without extensive training and constant vigilance, he was going to be a potential threat. On separate occasions, he attacked both of my parents' dogs when they went after his food, and his viciousness really frightened me. I had a long conversation with a close family friend who happens go be a vet and he concurred that Nelson would need life-long training and could never be left alone with other animals. The fact that we live in a densely populated area with an unfenced yard compounds the risk. He was not a good match for us and had I known that he was a pit bull, I never would have taken him. But that doesn't do much to allay the sadness I feel about losing him. It's going to be a long while before I will wake up in the morning and not instinctively steel myself up to take him outside. Despite everything, I miss him and am heartbroken that it had to end like this.

Other than that I'm just getting over a nasty bout of food poisoning that voided me of all fluids and solids in my body that weren't permanently attached to a vital organ repeatedly Sunday night. It took me a day and a half to recover and I'm still not 100%. On the bright side, I've probably lost a pound or two.

That's it for now. I'm too sad about Nelson to write about anything else. Who knew I'd miss the spastic, shoe-destroying nutcase so much? I'll catch up on the ponderings from the weekend some other time.
:: posted by Ann Howell, 4:17 PM | link | 2 comments |

Friday, May 19, 2006


I wrote the last post in the heat of the moment after my husband and I had the little tiff over the car situation. Those kinds of arguments are rather cathartic for me and I usually end up feeling better for them, but I don't think it works the same way for my husband. I think instead of a release it just adds to his stress level, so I guess we should learn a compromise way of handling disagreements. My parents had the occasional ring-dinger in earshot of us, but they always seemed to make up afterwards, so I'm able to roll with the ebb and flow of emotional uprisings fairly well. I don't know much about the details of my husbands childhood (except the big stuff, which was pretty nasty), so I don't know if there were many arguments or if there were what the aftermath was like. Anyway, I just wanted to add that despite everything that has happened, I still really do love my husband dearly and if I had one wish (besides the obvious of having my daughter with me) it would be that we could heal together and rebuild. I know that may not be possible, but the wish is still there deep in my heart.
:: posted by Ann Howell, 11:49 AM | link | 2 comments |

There's no place like home

I've decided to go down and spend the weekend at my parents'. I need some space to think and this house is way too claustrophobic at the moment for major contemplation. This makes things a bit difficult for my husband since I'm taking the car, but there's a bus within easy walking distance which takes him right to his office, so he's not exactly stranded. Never mind that when I suggested the bus option, he reacted like I just asked him to perform his morning toilet in the middle of the street. It was all right for me when I had a contract downtown for a few weeks in December and bus fare seemed like a more reasonable option then paying extortionate parking fees. Ah, the fond memories of waiting for the bus in minus 20 degree weather, cars splashing up dirty slush onto my ankles. But for Lord Man it's completely out of the question.

Anyway, hope everyone has a super weekend. They say that the rain in finally going to let up on Sunday, which would be fantastic. For the past couple of weeks I've felt like we were in that Ray Bradbury story about life on Venus (or was it Mars) where it rains all the time except for one hour every seven years. Now that I think of it, that pretty much sums up the past couple of years of my life...
:: posted by Ann Howell, 9:02 AM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Shaking the etch-a-sketch of life (and a little bit of baby puke)

I have an old acquaintance who I knew just before she got married 8 years ago or so. Since then, she has had two children and keeps everyone in her life updated on her family via a blog. She started writing it back in the days before blogrolls, so we all get emailed when there is a new post. I followed her through the first pregnancy, but the second one coincided with my loss, so I stopped reading. I couldn't stop the update messages from coming in (there was no way to unsubscribe and I didn't want to hurt her feelings by asking to be taken off the list), so I just made a rule in my email program to automatically delete her messages. Anyway, she must have changed her email address, because one slipped through the other day and instead of binning it right away, I took a deep breath and followed the link to her blog. And, of course, what do I see but that this barely 30 year-old woman with a four year-old and an 18 month-old toddler is expecting again! They had just moved into a new home and they had just started talking about having another child when, surprise! And of course there is no history of loss to prevent her from immediately informing her family, friends and children about this nascent pregnancy, so she starts blathering on from day one about how hard it will be to have three small kids but of course she wouldn't trade it in for anything, blah, blah, blah (who me, bitter?). I quickly scrolled back through a few of her recent posts and found that she wrote about almost nothing else besides the cute antics of her children and what colours they should paint the rooms of the new house. Hmmm...

As soon as I got over my short-lived pity fest, I immediately started thinking about her situation. Living in uber-suburbia in some milquetoast midwestern town with three small kids and nothing to talk about besides baby puke and wallpaper samples -- okay, it's probably bliss for her, but it doesn't sound like living the dream to me. I guess I'm just trying to count my blessings right now. It's not sour grapes (a big part of me would love to be covered in baby puke right now), I swear. I have an opportunity to shake the etch-a-sketch of life and get a fresh start. Find out what I'm all about, with most of my roles stripped away from me. I won't be a wife or partner or mother (except in my heart). I'll have a clean slate. Albeit full of eraser marks, but ready to be drawn on. That's a poor analogy, because I don't want this to be a passive exercise. This next stage is going to be about me exploring my own desires and motivations. And if there happens to be some baby puke involved, I'll try not to blog about it too much.
:: posted by Ann Howell, 7:38 AM | link | 5 comments |

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day to the rest of us

It's Mother's Day, and once again there will be no handmade cards nor breakfast in bed nor even dandilions in a jar to mark the day. There will be nothing, in fact. Nobody in my own family (not even my husband) has found it necessary these past two years to recognize my motherhood on this day. Perhaps they're trying to be kind by not reminding me of my loss, as if I would forget on such a day, or perhaps they just don't consider me a mother. Either way, it amounts to the same thing.

So, as another Mother's Day is upon us, I just wanted to wish all of you in blogland a peaceful day. Whether you have children by your side or just in your memory, I hope you can find some small way of celebrating your strength, beauty, compassion, creativity, and loving nature -- all of the qualitites that make us mothers in our hearts.
:: posted by Ann Howell, 7:26 AM | link | 7 comments |

Friday, May 12, 2006

Highs and lows

As a few people have pointed out, it's been a roller-coaster week here in blogland. It's been largely overshadowed by Catherine's devastating loss of Travis in the same week that marked the first birthday of her first "too-good-for-earth" son, Alex. The fact that she has one healthy, breathing child toddling around doesn't make her situation any less horrific. That's just way too much sadness for one family.

And then we have the wonderful news of the safe arrival of Jill's new daughter Caitlin. A hopeful, jubilant event that deserves to be celebrated with all of the love and joy that we can muster.

And in between there were a few early and mid-term pregnancies that had their share of scary, trepidatious, and also cautiously optimistic moments.

I think the most heartening aspect surrounding all of the news this week is how everyone rallied round those who needed comfort and celebrated with those who had happiness to share. I was particularly in awe at the tremendous amount of grace that Catherine displayed when she joyfully posted the news of Jill's healthy delivery, just days after losing Travis. When most of us would be subsumed with grief, unable to think of anyone or anything else other than our own horrible loss, she was able to share in Jill's happiness with complete sincerity. That is a strength I envy and as I wade through my own petty problems I hope to use her example to help me act with as much grace and forebearance as I can muster.
:: posted by Ann Howell, 7:48 AM | link | 2 comments |

Sunday, May 07, 2006

There are no words

Two people who have already been through a lifetime of hurt have been dealt another horrific blow. Catherine and Steve have lost their baby. I don't know what else to say at the moment, except the obvious, like this shouldn't be happening. My thoughts are with them.
:: posted by Ann Howell, 9:56 AM | link | 2 comments |

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Fear and fertility

As I start becoming more and more comfortable about my decision to pull up sticks and move away from here, I find that fear is kicking in. Fear of being alone, fear of being overwhelmed by grief again, fear of regretting my decision. It reminds me of when I got into the 5th month of pregnancy and I was starting to show and feel the baby move. All of a sudden it dawned on me that in just a few months I'd have a real baby to deal with -- how would I cope? I was afraid of post-partum depression, being bored staying at home all day with the baby, not knowing what to do if the baby wouldn't stop crying, etc. Ironically, I don't think I spent more than a few random seconds worrying about the baby actually *dying*.

On the fertility front, I've just come back from my appointment with the specialist. It was a bit of a let down, as all he did was order some blood tests. I mean, really, the whole thing could have been conducted over the phone (which would have saved me 3 months waiting for this bloody appointment). The next available slot for my follow-up was July 19, so I'm just going to have to not think about this for a while. Off the top of his head, his hypothesis was either a thyroid problem or PCOS. I have no idea if either are treatable, or what the treatments would involve. He was encouraged by the fact that I respond to Provera (meaning I can actually menstruate), which probably rules out early menopause (which is what I was most worried about). For the time being, I'm just going to enjoy being period-free. I can wear white shorts whenever I want, woo-hoo!
:: posted by Ann Howell, 8:06 AM | link | 1 comments |

Monday, May 01, 2006

I love the smell of W getting flayed in the morning

As someone on this blog commented, this could go down as one of the best pieces of American political satire of all time:
:: posted by Ann Howell, 6:31 AM | link | 2 comments |