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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Some time ago my brother and sister-in-law were up for a visit from their home in New York, and we sat in the living room bull-shitting about this and that. Not sure how the subject came up, but my sister-in-law joked to Megan, about me, “We call Brian the lazy brother”. Offended? No. Hurt? No. It was pretty awesome, actually. I am pretty much satisfied with my level of accomplishment, and actually pretty glad that I am not an all-out achievement-seeker. I like to rest. I like to lie back and laze. I like to lie in the bath and read books. And sometimes – often, actually – I like to sit on the couch at watch the walls for an hour or so at a time, doing and thinking absolutely nothing. (more…)

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Been on a bit of Jesus thing lately. Thinking about religion, considering the role it plays in our understandings of the world, its function as an ethical code, a yearning for something more, a mark of community boundaries and so on. And generally considering the importance that religious symbols and religious communities have had at various time in my life. (more…)

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Lots of babies being born these days. Over the past six weeks or so, no less than seven people I know have had or are due to have brand-new gorgeous babies to welcome to the world. And that’s exciting to me, cause I love babies and I love to see new parents celebrate and find this whole new joy and love. Welcome, to all of you, to the very best of the world.

My own baby ain’t so little any more. A teenager now, and well on the way from the last of childhood to the meat of adolescence. It’s a time of pride in who she has become, a time of remembering that little girl who is, in a very real sense, gone, and a time of reflection on my relationship with her, my role as a parent. There is much to be thankful for. But also much regret and a whole lot of struggle with inadequacy. (more…)

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Well, since for the longest time I have either written nothing here or only come on to rant about what’s pissing me off, it is so so good to be finally back and writing something joyous. (more…)

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Damn. Again.

Damn. Again.

And again I wake up thinking about how to talk about it with my daughter, Mica, who’s twelve.

Two teen girls dead – friends, out partying, and though we don’t know exactly what went down, one of them was found by the side of a Burnaby road, the other picked up by ambulance at a drug house in Richmond. But too late.

I’m tired of it all. I am angry. I am scared for people I love. I am sad.

Many years ago now, my folks started doing respite care for some extended family, spending a couple of days a week watching the kids, at that time 3 years old and 6 months old. Mica was three, too, and the girls became like sisters to her, particularly after my separation, when we moved in for a time with my folks.

During that period we became close to this previously almost unknown part of the family. And it was good. The kids got a safe and secure place when they needed it, Mica got to know new cousins her age, and to learn how she was connected to first nations communities on the island and up the coast. My mom’s cousin, the dad in this group, was struggling with addiction and violence, and got some support in parenting, as did his wife, who tried to make the money to care for her kids working the sex trade in the Downtown Eastside. We got close. We got to know the web of aunts and uncles and cousins who collectively helped raise the girls. Struggles and challenges, to be sure, as mom and dad learned about Fetal Alcohol Effect and much more.

Then, one Christmas Eve. The girls were with my folks, and we were all sitting down to dinner. A, their mom, had been expected around 4:00 and hadn’t shown up. Strange for her. A had many days she wasn’t up for parenting, but when she said she’d be there, she was. So when the kids went to be at 10:00 and there was still no word from her, my mom and I made our way down to Main and Hastings to look for her.

No A in any of her usual haunts. No sign for a couple of days. Nothing. Until her body was found outside the city limits, dumped. One more to the rising count of women from the DTES disappeared and murdered. One more name to be remembered in each year’s memorial march. One more ‘just a hooker’ or ‘just an Indian’ to the ever-growing list.

Since then, my folks have taken full custody of A‘s daughters, asked by the dad and extended family to do their damndest to provide a safe and stable home. They moved out of Vancouver, back the island and close to the res so the girls can be in closer contact with the larger family.

On Valentine’s Day this year, the memorial march weaved its way through the downtown eastside, marking another year and still more deaths. On Valentine’s Day this year Mica’s mom spoke to her again about her cousins’ mom and why the march was so important. And then, just a couple of weeks later, the news of two teen girls. Two friends, two bodies in two municipalities.

Since A‘s murder, I find I pay a lot more attention to these news clips. Every time I feel my chest tighten a little as I wonder whether this is someone else from the family. Every time I follow the trail of small print, afterthought, space-filling news to see where it leads, and hope to hell it doesn’t lead home in some way. I had that reaction this time round, too. But for days, no new info, no identification, no names.

Til mom phoned last night.

One of those teens was family. The girl’s cousin. And a cousin who had often come by the house to visit, play with the other little ones – Mica included – and who provided a huge support to the girls after their mom was killed. She was the cousin most spoken about, most admired, most looked-up to – old enough to be a caretaker, young enough to inspire all those fantasies kids have of what life will be like when they get just a little bit older. Damn. Again.

Woke up this morning thinking how I would talk to Mica about it all. The basics: “Do you remember….?” “You’ve heard your cousins talk alot about….” “Well, there’s bad news…” And thinking about those cousins of Mica, those cousins of mine who call me uncle cause the generation gap makes more sense than the technical relationship, those girls who lost their mom, who were shuttled for so many years between homes, who are struggling to make their way to adolescence with the deck so stacked against them, who are just learning to head out on their own into a society that hates them for being Indians, who hang so fiercely to family, a family that faces death after death, violence after violence and works so damn hard to maintain community and love and support amid it all. I can’t help imagine all the worst for where they end up five, ten years down the road. I can’t help but imagine future phone calls from mom just like this. I don’t want to despair. There are many futures. But fuck it’s hard to be hopeful on days like this.

Waiting, now, for toxicology reports on what exactly happened. Waiting, now, to see what the investigation turns up to explain why this teenage girl was found in another city from her friend. Waiting, now, for all the family to be informed. Waiting, now, for the memorial to be announced, for my folks and the girls to come into town to stay and visit and grieve in our home.

Alot of waiting. Again. Damn.

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Post-Season

Feeling strangely unsettled today, and not entirely sure why. I think I awoke feeling fine, but within an hour or so I began to notice something just not quite right – a vague sense of worry, an unease, a disinterest in all around me. And nothing to pin this on, nothing that I can locate as cause.

In general, it’s a good time. The holidays brought none of what was expected, but a quite wonderful time of relaxing, of closeness, of quiet family time for Megan, Mica and I. Oh, there was tumult and anxiety as the weather threw constant changes at us – see Meg’s post here for the details. But with each anxious and frantic cancellation of plans, we relaxed into wine by the fire, songs with the guitar, boardgames with Mica, drinks with a few friends who live close, and lots of lots of time to just be with one another. Something so very welcome after an autumn of travel and work and travel and work.

The biggest news, certainly, is the home front. We’ve been planning for some time to move in 2009, but with the slowing housing market in Vancouver and some major drops in home values, we moved much quicker than anticipated, throwing my place on the market just before Christmas and just before the snowstorms hit. Expected that everything would take a good deal of time, and we’d move slowly into the Spring getting an idea of how things looked on the housing front before any decisions would need to be made. But then, just before Christmas we found a place that seemed perfect – a little cottage-like house on Charles, nicely laid out, a good size for the three of us, and in exactly the neighbourhood we want. We threw in an offer – conditional, of course, on my place selling in a few months – and were thrilled it was accepted the morning of Boxing Day. OK. The desired place located. Now to move the existing home.

The New Year appproached with yet more snow and roads across the city made entirely inaccessible because the city of Vancouver’s official snow-management policy is – yes, this is true – to wait for rain. But we got at least some interest, with a viewing of my place on December 31st. Well, at least that’s something, we thought, and should give us some indication of the kinds of questions people will ask. So, we head off to Victoria to visit Meg’s folks. The next day, the offer comes in. Wow. That was quick. Some frantic back and forth over the next 24 hours, and we’ve got a deal – subject to a few details, of course. Fuck. That was not expected. But so so nice to have it all sealed away – the sale of one and the purchase of another in a matter of a week.

Which means that now, as school and work gear up once again, we are handling logistics, dealing with the details to finalize these transactions, and beginning 2009 with visions of a new home, a private yard, summer parties and new luxuiries like hot tubs and saunas. It’s all super exciting, as you can imagine. Moves not scheduled til mid-April, which means we have lots of time to fret about things, but also lots to plan and conspire and pack and plan the details of the home we want to make.

All so so nice.

So tell me, then….why so blah today? Why the unease I am feeling?

Don’t know. Perhaps it’s the back to work routine. Perhaps it’s the catching up of all this activity as of late and the mental and emoti0nal energy it’s taken. Perhaps it’s the weather, less crisp and increasingly bleary. Perhaps it’s al;, perhaps it’s none.

But it will pass, I’m sure. And as I wait for that, I imagine the next few posts I might write to get back to this blogging thing. Today, though, I just needed to write something. To pass the time and give my head the shake it clearly needs.

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What Little Girls Are Made Of

It’s December 18, and my little girl is 11 years old today.
As I write this, I have just laid out all the newly-wrapped presents, called to sing to her – and woken up her mom in the process – and I wait to head out in the ice and snow to Burnaby Mountain for meetings.

Mica’s 11. Wow. And I can see so clearly now that the little girl years are done, and she’s moving into a new place. Just a short hop to adolescence, and I can see it already in her words and attitude, in her growing sense of individuality and her changing interests. And as sad as that sometimes makes me, it’s also very exciting, and I realize how proud I am of this kid.

When Mica was younger, I feared the pre-teen and teen years, imagining all the turmoil and pain and stupidity of my own life. And I’m sure some of that still lies ahead. But I also can begin now to see what this kid will be, who she is as she comes into herself. And she’s a kid who is caring, a kid who is confident and not afraid to speak her mind, a kid who is beginning to understand racism and power for herself, a kid who is asking interesting questions about the world and about human relationships.

Last week was report card week.  I looked it over, and the marks are fine. But what really struck me as most special was the teacher’s commentary. Mica is a joy in the class because she always works to ensure everyone is included in activities. Mica is particularly able to weather negativity around her without dwelling on it. Mica is well exceeding expectations in her ability to understand racism.

Y’know, this is the shit that matters to me as a parent. This is the stuff that tells me who this child is in the world when she goes out there on her own. And I couldn’t be prouder that those three concepts – inclusion of the community, positivity in her relations with the world, an understanding of power – are the three that her teacher sees in her and selects for comment.

It’s a funny time, that bridge from the child-years to the teen-years. Last week, I saw my kid and 15 more too-cool-for-school girls turn into five-year-olds again when they hopped onto a carousel at Heritage Village. This week my little girl asks her mom about some pretty sexually-explicit terminology and takes the answer all in stride without any discernable discomfort. Last week she snuggles up against me on the couch, her head on my chest like she did as a toddler. Yesterday she danced with a boy for the very first time.

It’s all bit overwhelming sometimes. It’s all a bit dizzying, as I watch this transition happen, as I notice how minute to minute the little girl comes and goes as the teen-to be makes more regular appearances. But I am mostly just feeling so so good about it. About Mica. About my ability to parent her through these next years. About the relationship developing between her and Megan. About the strength and optimism this child has shown over a very difficult year of much change and many hurt, tense, adults.About the family we are building with Megan, and Mica’s openness to that.

Happy birthday, kiddo. You have no idea how much you are loved. You have no idea that in writing this my eyes fill with tears and I can’t imagine anything better than you.

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