A day in the life

Thursday, September 25th

5:00 am
The alarm goes off. The CBC is broadcasting the news from Australia, because apparently no decent Canadian would be up at this hour and wanting to listen to current events. I am lulled awake by the bouncing accent of the broadcaster and finally get up enough energy to bang the off button. I wake up, go to the bathroom and pour some coffee.

Now coffee deserves its own paragraph, because every morning, at around 5:10 am, I thank the stars that I married a man who preprograms the coffee machine for me. I am not saying I couldn’t do it myself. I just don’t. Either I forget, or I come across a mental wall at bedtime, an invisible forcefield that does not allow me to do anything in the kitchen, because I am done, off duty for the day. So, the coffee is ready for me when I wake up, fresh, hot and caffeinated.

I take my coffee and sit down at my computer. Now, in the old days, this would be my sacred writing time, where I would not do anything else but write. Not so lately. I am too busy you see, and my time in the morning is considerably shortened. So I check email. I deal with all the professional association stuff, the volunteer work, the emails from the kids’ teachers. I also spend a couple of minutes writing everything I eat down. Why? Because, like that ol’ professor Moody maintains, I must exercise constant vigilance lest I become an obese Jabba the hut unable to lever herself off the couch. So I dutifully write everything I eat down, and dutifully count the calories I should not have eaten, and dutifully feel guilty about it for about a minute. Really, it is such a good idea to start the day feeling like you failed already. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi, un petit goût amer if you will, to the day. If I have time, I try to write a blog entry. But usually I don’t.

5:30 am

I go running. I am longing to run today. The coffee has kicked in and I have the chocolate chips from late last night as fuel. I also have stress. Stress of not much sleep, of not seeing my kids enough this week, of never making enough money. You know. Stress. So I run. I run hard today. Past the construction in the underpass that makes me cross the street. Across the train tracks, where the darkness swallows their path. This is the first morning where it is completely pitch black. This means that I will be running in the dark until March. I keep on going until the mountain, where the only light is the glaring overhead by the statue. I run and meet nobody. Up the stairs and back down through the cemetery. I try to get a glimpse of my fox, the fox I see when it is early in the morning and we are alone. I like to think that he is my spirit animal, this beautiful sleek fox with the red fur and the bushy tail, but I know that I’m kidding myself. I’m more of the chipmunk type.

6:30 am

Back from the run. I have half an hour to take a shower, get dressed, whip together a breakfast before I have to leave for the train at seven. I do this, passing my kids on the way. In fact, this morning, my youngest daughter wakes up a bit early and I force her to stay in the bathroom with me while I have a shower just so I can talk to her. “How was your day?” I ask, trying to keep the desperation out of my voice. I really want to ask, “Who are you? What are you thinking?”, but I know these questions are unanswerable for an adult let alone a 7 year old as well as being a little too intense for this hour of the morning. She is like my husband, not a morning person.

7:00 am
Out the door and to the train. I am lucky enough to be doing an against the traffic commute. Which means that I must wait for seas of people to get off before I can get on. I stand there, letting these commuters flow by, amazed at the variety of people in the world. I try to guess where they are going, whether they are receptionists, bussinessman, lawyers,etc. by their shoes. I also wonder in amazement at all the women in uncomfortable high heel shoes. This constantly amazes me. How do people walk any distance in those torture devices? But I know the answer to that. They don’t. They walk from the train to their work back to the train and to their car. Walking is out of the question when you insist on placing your feet on top of spikes.

7:25 am
I arrive at my first stop where I have a half hour to wait before I catch my next train. I sit at my usual bench. Soon it will be too cold and I wil be forced into the stuffy old station, but for now, it is still bearable, even pleasant. I get out my breakfast and my book (always a book) and prepare to dip into some cottage cheese, bran flakes and blueberries. Today I am reading Canticle for Leibowitz, a post-apocalyptic novel that is also a satire on organised religion and our own human folly. After I finish eating, I put the book away and take out the writing books. It has been hard lately to write. I have this half hour between trains and I have written all the train inspired poems I can. I have started a short story and should be editing my other work, but somehow I don’t. I feel empty inside, like this part of my life is being squished flat into a little corner of my heart where it doesn’t dare take up too much space.

The school boys have arrived in their uniform navy blue pants and white shirts. I am surprised at how large they are. They stand there and talk loudly and crassly as if they invented arrogance and youth. They reek of cologne and I can almost see the streaks of the sweet sticky odour emanate from their necks à la Peppy Lapue. Writing time is officially over. They decide today to sit on the bench and I can’t stand the idea of them looking over my shoulder. I put the books away and take out Canticle again. Better to read about human folly then witness it.

8:25 am
I arrive at my train station. Just a 15-20 minute walk to work now. Although I am glad for the exercise, the walk itself is a suburban nightmare. It is on a busy street that cuts right through the residential areas, where all the houses look alike and I am usually the only one on the sidewalk. The cars go whizzing by and the buses come precariously close to the sidewalk. I trudge on, my heavy bag making me bend over a little.

8:40 am-4:50 pm
Work. I work. I have story time, where I read stories about wolves and sing songs about wolves and make up my own version of ring around the rosie:

Ring around the rushes
The wolf is in the bushes
Oh no! Oh dear!
I’m fainting with fear!

The three little girls who attend look at me like I am a crazy person when I fall down in a wonderfully acted faint. I try to get them to do it and finally two of them comply while the other looks at me from these distant three year old eyes. Nobody shows up for the french story hour.

After lunch, I am on the reference desk from one until I leave. Today is not so busy, but I still get questions. A woman comes in asking for travel books on Prague, Madrid and Barcelona. She explains that she and a group of friends go to a different city each year for five days. They decided this when they turned forty. Since I have been to all these cities we had a great conversation. She had this unsure look, this vulnerability that older women get when they are no longer sure of their role. Her children are hitting the teen years. She seemed to me to be put together like a house of cards waiting for any little movement to make her crumble into herself.

4:50-6:20 pm.
In transit. Back on the train. On the way back, I don’t even bother to write. I read Canticle and try to avoid anybody I might know by never looking up and concentrating on my book. I get to my station at 6:00, but tonight I am not going straight home. I have to get to an event that I organised but could never make it on time. I did make arrangements for my tardiness, but didn’t account for all the construction in our area. The even is about a fifteen minute walk away, but for some reason I think it would be faster to take the bus. Until I see the line up that spans a block. I then hurriedly go home to pick up my bike thinking that will be faster, only to find it locked to my husband’s bike. I then have no choice to walk and end up way later than usual.

6:20 pm
I finally arrive at the event. Unfortunately, hardly anybody has shown, which seems to be the case with everything I organise these days. I am beginning to get a complex about this. Still, the fruit and veggie plates are popular and I like the people who do show. Less people also means that the event ends earlier. I go to pay and the owner of the café is there. We met each other in the summer and exchanged numbers. She has two boys the same age as my daughters and we seem to have a lot in common. Of course, neither of us phoned each other. We talk about school and homework, and I find myself reiterating my “I refuse” mantra, as if I was a petulant three year old. But I am beginning to think that my refusal is actually the more responsible tact.

We chat about it for a minute. She reminds me of my sister, with the same dark, flamboyant look to her. But we are holding up the traffic and people want to pay so I quickly finish my transaction and leave with my friend.

7:40 pm

I am standing by my friend’s door saying goodbye when I get a telephone call. Nobody ever phones me on my cell except my husband and Fido. I rummage through my purse before I finally find it.

“Hello?”
“hi.”
“Um, yes?”
“Look across the street.”

I look and there is my husband and my two daughters waiting in the car for me. Ballet has just let out and they are on their way home. I say goodbye to my friend and cross the street. I have a big grin on my face because I haven’t missed bed time tonight.

8:00
The kids eat the rest of the fruit and cheese plate while I read to them. Beauty and the Beast tonight, retold and illustrated by Jan Brett. Beauty does the right thing, is able to turn her beast into a prince through sheer love and my kids go to bed. There is no complaining- they are bone tired.

8:30
Dinner. Toast with almond butter and banana again, with some yogurt and chocolate chips for dessert. While I eat, we watch the rest of a documentary called Control Room, about Al-Jazeera. Although it was interesting, I felt like it was a little muddy at times, like it didn’t know its own purpose.

10:00
In bed again. I finished Canticle for Liebowitz on the train and am now reading Haruki Murakami’s “What I think about when I think about running.” It is speaking to me on many levels and already I feel a door opening inside my head, as if the book was the key to this small part of me.

10:30
Lights out. And we start all over again…

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One Response to A day in the life

  1. Carrie says:

    I like your makeover. Also am jealous that the banner goes to you as I was not-so-secretly hoping it was for my personal design use as I watched it being made.

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