Friday, April 14, 2006


So I managed to drag my sorry self back to the YMCA again today. That makes 2 days within a week! My body hasn't seen this much exercise in months.

Despite the dread, it actually felt physically good to be back at the gym, moving my limbs, stretching un-stretched parts, doing some cardio, and a few weights. If only I didn't have to be surrounded by wretched tanned, fit, cheery people. Who the heck has a tan in April in Canada? The fake 'n' bake crowd I guess.

Anyway, back to me: I've lost so much muscle and wasn't surprised to find I needed to drop all my weights back 10 or 20 lbs. I also wasn't impressed with how sickly I looked in the mirror, filling out my gym clothes like there was no tomorrow. But luckily the Y doesn't have mirrors everywhere. In fact, you have to intentionally position yourself in front of one if you want to admire yourself. This is a big plus.

It's amazing how the change in weather, the birth of spring, and the longer days make me feel alive again. I just want to be outside, commune with nature. Somehow, all winter I just wanted to hibernate, stay indoors, and comfort myself with food and sleep. Admittedly, my headaches were exhausting. But the cold darkness of winter really added to the gloom and despair I felt inside my head. It added insult to injury.

We all know that weather has a huge effect on mood, but the combination of chronic pain and a dark, cold, bleak landscape makes you feel simply awful. Awful. But then again, the grass is always greener. I imagine that being in a hot, bright, sunny landscape all year 'round would drive me up the wall as well.

So my spirits have lifted with the coming of spring.

Calgary has a late spring. And it's pretty arid in the shadow of the Rockies, so it isn't exactly lush here at the best of times. The trees on my street still haven't broken bud, but the grass is greening up a bit, and the weather is warm and breezy, about 15C today (59F). Calgary actually ranks at or near the top of the list as the *sunniest* city in Canada, but we don't get the heat and the rain, so gardening-wise, it's only a Zone 2 or 3. This depresses me, because I'm a garden lover. If I had a garden (and were independently wealthy and didn't have to work), I bet I'd never have another bad day.

For the past few years, I've taken an annual trip to visit a girlfriend in Victoria (my favorite city in Canada, my favorite girl-friend in Canada). Last year I travelled in January. It was about -20C (-4F) when I left Calgary, but Victoria-by-the-sea was warm, green, lush, and damp, in bloom with crocuses and daffodils. I was never so simultaneously happy and depressed.

I'd give my left arm to live on the west coast, but there isn't much demand for chemical engineers who specialize in petrochemicals. For now, I'm tied to the oil industry, so Alberta's the place to be. Alberta, where everyone I know makes $200k a year and drives a bloated great SUV and owns a 5000 ft2 house. Haven't they heard of global warming? I hate it here sometimes, because everyone seems rich and gloating and ignorant. Everyone seems to be all about the toys, the big tv's, hot tubs, excess. Everyone except David and I.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love a new BMW and a gorgeous house big enough to get lost in, but consumerism is not what we're about. But then again, I can't complain. We are so gainfully employed it isn't funny, compared to most places in Canada. And there are great people here too: thinking, conscious people. And Calgary is a blossoming place, if not literally, so we are here for a while. David works in the industry too, so we are kind of stuck making a good living but dreaming of the day we can move to Saltspring Island and start a goat farm (or something). I can do my pottery and photograpy full time and David can build furniture. We can be eccentric recluses who grow our own food and live on the sea shore. That is our whimsical dream. Gardening in the morning after milking our Jersey cows, organic of course. Reading Something Edifying in the afternoon. Cooking epicurean feasts with David. Drinking wine made from our own vines. Ahh...we dream.

Anyway, all that to say thank God that spring is here, and I wish I were on Saltspring. But I'm not, and I get depressed thinking about the fact that I'm not, so I better get back to what I was saying, which is:

Spring is making me feel better, more positive, more *sane*. I woke up this morning with a brutal headache when my alarm went off at 9:30. I got up and opened the window and went back to sleep, waking again just before noon. Waking so late, I was discouraged and annoyed with myself, because I'd wasted half theday in bed. But the extra sleep burned off the headache, so I couldn't be too sad. I awoke, albiet late, with birds chirping outside the window, and a soft breeze sweeping into the room. The cat was at the door, either happy to see me, or excited to get to the bird sounds coming from inside my room. I felt well for the first time in months.

So I went to the Y and tried to be happy about it, and come to think of it, I actually am happy about it. I'm looking forward to summer and feeling like change and renewal are around the corner. It's so hard with headaches to maintain any discipline in life. And it's also easy to get stuck in the mire when you're already feeling so physically awful. It is a downward spiral really, being in pain. I am just hoping I can keep my spirits up, and re-engage in life a while, now that summer is here and I don't have winter to hide behind.

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