My Nose is Growing

Some people plant gardens and watch them grow. I need only look at my face. My nose is growing!


(photo from

It’s a known thing that the parts of you that keep growing after sadly your breasts have stopped are your ears and your nose. I just didn’t think it was a thing that happened overnight (like DJ’s friend in Full House). But I swear over the past two days my nose has looked wider in the mirror. I attribute it to a few factors.

– Summer is approaching and I have perhaps drank more beer as of late. I am developing that bulbous nose that Santa Clause and other drunks are known for.

– I have springtime allergies. But these last all year long, and include dust from poorly vacuumed floors and cats, who I surround myself with.

– My lies have been catching up with me. Someone (Geppetto) noticed that I have been claiming to be a writer but haven’t touched my novel in a week and the last post on this blog is from March.

– Like the grey in my hair, this year has aged me. I have been so busy learning to teach that I didn’t notice time, and suddenly a sullen, nose-filled face looked back at me in the place of my reflection.

Or maybe I am wiser. Maybe my body is telling me I need to give precedent to my senses. Maybe my body is literally saying: “Wake up and smell the flowers!” and is giving me more ability to do so. What next, my mouth? No, this one will probably get smaller.

As summer arrives, so do so many changes in my life. I have to pay my car insurance because this time two years ago I decided to buy a car. I am moving because this time last year I also moved. I am finishing the school year (not only because of the teacher job action but because this is when school actually finishes) and I am embarking on two months of WRITING. Writing with all capital letters!

My dreams are preparing me too: last night I dreamt up a dream schedule. I will wake at 8:00, my dream told me. I will read and drink coffee till 9:00. Then I will write! I will leave the house to take a walk or a bike ride. And then I will write!

My dreams are scheduling for me, and my body is equipping me with the nose I need to smell the world and write about it. All I need now are bigger ears and more sensitive fingers, then I’ll be ready to go.

Time in a Garden

There is so much more than you think there is in one armful of soil. So much more movement, so much more depth. I stared at a patch of soil today because I was asked to. When was the last time you did that? When was the last time someone asked you to?

We didn’t go outside enough in school. It’s a sad thing everyone talks about. I’m becoming a teacher, but in Vancouver. I can’t wait to ask students to put on their galoshes and stare at patches of wet, thriving soil.

I hope to start (or continue!) a school garden in the school where I work. I am this week getting my fingernails dirty in a practicum placement at UBC’s Orchard Garden. I’m realizing things like seeds are so small and salad mix is a real thing. I’m also learning things about time.



My sister just had Anya. That is what I will say from now on because my sister didn’t have a baby, she had Anya, and Anya is now here. Anya is my niece. I can’t stop saying her name, letting it out under my breath like witchcraft. We stared at each other for a while the other day, Anya and I, and I can’t believe she will never remember it. I can’t believe there’s a time when you’re too young to realize anything about time.

She knows when it’s time for sleep, and she knows when it’s time to eat. She knows when it’s dark and when it’s light. I assume she knows a lot more than we think. But does she know about time?

Does she know that The Orchard Garden is being relocated for a construction site? Does she know that the polar ice caps are melting? Does she know that every day we age and every day we grow and every day there is someone new and someone gone? Does she know that her being born has marked a moment in time in our lives? There was once a time, and now there is a new one.

I think a lot about time but I stopped this week, when I was in the garden. Instead I thought about life, and how easy it is to forget that time is only there as a byproduct of our living. I only worry about it because I’m here, because I’m thinking. When really, thinking about time takes me away from life. Plants grow because they’re getting somewhere. They use all the energy they have to go for it. They grow and grow, unconscious of what might happen were they to stop. Then time, as seen by the plant itself, stops. Naturally.

Too Stressed

I spent a year writing a novel and not once did I get stressed, though writing a novel (a part of a novel, a novel-in-works, a novelish thing) is probably the most complex, soul-biting thing I’ve done. Now I’m just busy and somehow that’s worse. It’s worse to know I have to wake up for something tomorrow. It’s worse to know that I had to wake up for something today. It’s worse to be tired all the time. I forgot I used to be tired all the time.

I spend days without thinking of my novel. Then I remember: oh yes, that is what I am doing with my life. This is just what I’m doing with my year, with my 9 to 5 hours. 9 to 5, I’ve come to realize, is an expression because it has a very clear meaning: 9 to 5 is most of your day. If you do something from 9 to 5, anything you do before or after is extra. Your body is done after 5, not ready yet before 9. I feel sad because I committed to someone wholeheartedly this summer that I will write for 90 minutes before school and 90 minutes after. I was told, with a small smile, that even one of those would be great. That would be great, I realize now, even one of those.

(from Google Images)

I will spend more of my day writing (and working on my writing and thinking about my writing). Annie Dillard, inThe Writing Life, calls working on her novel “sitting up with a dying friend.” I’ve left my novel, my lonely dying friend, alone for too long. It needs my warmth. It needs me to write little nuggets of hopeless words and laugh at myself, anxiety-free, because writing is producing bad stuff and then working at it. I might be able to calm the anxiety taken up by time, time, time, if I were to devote some of it to the thing that makes me relax. I need to start biting my soul again instead of eating up time.

A Time Monster

“How much have you been writing everyday?” no one asked me.

Still, I feel I am answering to someone. Maybe it’s that I have recently begun to feel like I am a part of a writing community, where one of my new writer friends might call me up to ask me how much I’ve been writing and compare or something. Most likely it’s not that, it’s that there is a time monster that lives inside of me and is so mean to me.


My family is never late for anything. I don’t know if they meant to raise me this way, but I grew up absolutely dreading tardiness. I had nightmares about packing up my books for too long after school and leaving my lonely dad waiting for me outside until it went dark. I am dressed and ready to go one hour prior to any pick-up time. I leave an extra fifteen minutes for traffic wherever I’m going. I don’t mean to do it. I have a time monster inside of me.

The time monster channels himself through things like iCal and new Moleskine daily planners.
He feeds off of these. The time monster does not do well with to-do lists on my hand or trying to memorize acronyms to remember errands. He gets nervous – he taps at the insides of my stomach with one of those old hanging time pieces.


I have learned to use the time monster for good purposes. Some people ask, well, how do you have so much discipline to sit down and write everyday? I pretend I’m just a really good person with good values, but the truth is I have this sacred, horrible time monster inside of me who eats away at me if I’m not doing something productive and I’m not doing it now.

So, in answer to nobody’s question, I’ve been writing four hours a day for the past five days (Monday-Friday, Time Monster likes weekdays) in response to the incredible energy my writing retreat on Denman Island gave me. Every night I plan my shifts for the next day (mostly 9:30-11:30 and 1:30-3:30, like a particularly lazy part-time employee) and then put little check marks or rearrangements next to the previous day’s work.

It’s as if I’m reporting to someone, it’s as though I’m going to post minutes on a website for other board members to poke holes in. No, I’m obviously not someone with good morals. I’m someone who is deadly afraid of this gnawing anxiety that eats at me when I’m not on time for something or I’m not filling my time with things of value.

I’m glad that me and my monster have agreed that playing around with characters and words and having no more clear an end goal then “book” is a good use of my time.