Walking With Brody

Took Brody out for a walk earlier.  The day was calling for rain but it was unseasonably warm out, so I wanted to at least give him a chance of enjoying it a bit before the rain started.  I got us semi-bundled up and we headed out.

I kind of let him choose the direction we went in, because it’s usually just a quick jaunt along one end of our street or the other.  Once he’d decided, though, I felt we could probably get away with cutting across to another block and continue on a route we haven’t taken in quite some time.  I knew he’d like it and have the chance to investigate all the smells along the way.

The thing is, we got going, and the clouds broke apart and floated away.  The sun came out, and it got even warmer.  I ended up taking his jacket off, and decided we should just keep walking.  I think we went further than our usual long route, even!  And he was awesome.  He seemed to be in a great mood, and in no hurry, but not stopping for long at any point.  Just sniffing and peeing and trotting along the way he does.  It was so quiet and relaxing and we met other dogs and people – it was just really really nice.

i even thanked him for it when we were riding back up to the apartment in the elevator!

Obvious harm to our planet’s environment aside, it was really nice to just hang out with the puppy and explore our neighbourhood a bit and not be in any kind of rush, or have a goal in mind.

I’d never have done anything like that before living with a dog.  He has definitely changed my life – and me – in our short time together so far.  I actually have a lot of anxiety in terms of leaving my apartment, let alone interacting with others once I do so.  And in the beginning, if I saw people coming along the sidewalk Brody and I were on, I’d have mini panic attacks and brace for the possibility that I would have to acknowledge them in some way.  It was sometimes a bit better if the other people had dogs, too, but I soon learned you never really know how THAT’S going to go, either, so I started stressing about that, too.

And while Brody hasn’t turned me into a social butterfly who loves going out to roam around, he has made significant changes in how I relate to my immediate world.  For one, I actually know some of my neighbours, both in the building and in the area.  We greet one another whether there are dogs with any of us, or not.  I still have anxiety leaving the apartment and encountering others along the way, but it’s not nearly as bad.  Sometimes I barely even notice it.  Walking with Brody has taught me a new level of patience, both with the speed (or lack thereof) in which we walk, and the number of times we stop, mixed with the duration of those stops.

Brody slows me down and teaches me how to just wander and explore without any goal in mind.  I’m not just going to the store, or the subway to get to work.  On days like today, we go for a walk.  I catch myself taking in the trees and sounds and air around us.  And also taking a crazy number of pictures because I actually live in a pretty nice area, and while Brody doesn’t seem to love the park as much as I do, we both still get a lot of peace from just roaming the quiet little residential streets, as well.

I don’t think I’d ever go out on my own, or anything, but I sure do love going for long lazy walks with this cute silly puppy dog, and that’s a HUGE difference for me!

 

Food Matters

I need to evaluate, re-evaluate and keep re-evaluating my relationship with food.  I can’t break up with food, so I need to find a way to make our relationship much healthier than it’s ever been, and keep it that way.  Much easier said than done, of course, and perhaps not even entirely possible.  But it’s definitely time to try.

I love food, in general.  I always have.  Well, snacks, at least.  From needing that one bowl of chocolate ice cream after school every day, to a bowl of whatever flavour of chips was in the house, snacks were always welcome in my belly.  Peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch was a staple, breakfast for dinner was a treat, cereal was a never-ending parade of taste sensations.

I was a scrawny kid with a high metabolism, so I was the hateful sort who could eat whatever I wanted and never gain weight.  My problem was, for awhile there, I couldn’t gain weight.  I was constantly getting weighed at the doctor – weekly, if I recall – and everyone did what they could to put weight on me, but none of it worked for awhile.  I often wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I’d finished what was on my plate – which, of course would grow cold before I could finish it.  Mealtime became this highly stressful thing for me, and that did nothing to increase my appetite, so for awhile there, things did not go well.

As I got older, my body started to balance itself out, and though I was still scrawny, I was at least within the target weight range for my age and height.  The low end, but still there.  I went to University and introduced regular alcohol consumption to my routine, and still bounced between the same 5lb range for a decade or so.

In my early 30’s, a lot of change happened – mentally, emotionally, and physically.  I got into teacher’s college, so I quit smoking before school started, which helped launch me into a deep depression.  I started drinking way more, and continued to eat whatever I wanted to, not realizing that my metabolism would no longer bounce back as it had before.  It’s almost like it slowed to a stop for a bit there.  I packed on something like 60lbs in the 8 months of my school year.  None of what I’d purchased at the start of the year to wear in class would fit, and I couldn’t stop the spiral.

Over ten years later I managed to lose some of the weight, but it’s always in stages.  I try different things, and it works a bit, but I plateau, in a way, and no matter what I do, nothing changes for awhile again.  It’s like a tightrope where the drop is only on one side.  It’s ridiculous, really.  But the crazy guilt or sadness or despair I feel every time I eat something -no matter what it is – feels like it’s doing more harm than anything else.

And a healthy relationship that doth not make.

I think I’ve gone from one end of the spectrum as a kid, to the opposite as an adult, and none of it has allowed me to enjoy the simple act of eating.  I think everyone has this problem to some degree or other, and it seems to me that we’d all be a lot healthier if we could allow ourselves to enjoy providing our bodies with fuel.  Our bodies need it, our minds need it, and I think our hearts and spirits need it, too.

I’m not saying we should be able to eat all the crap we want and feel great about it.  I’m saying we need – or at least I need – to find a way to take the stress and guilt and fear and despair out of every single mealtime.  I could eat all the healthy, nutritious foods in the world and it won’t make a lick of difference until I can be glad I’m doing it.  Until I can enjoy it.

It’s all about balance, and when it comes to food, I’ve never had any.  Time to start looking for some.

Money Changes Everything

I hate money.

Or, at least, I hate not having any.  It’s becoming more and more difficult, and I find I’m cutting more and more from my life as time goes by.  I just can’t quite figure out why.

I don’t really go out (except fo Friday night “date night” with friends, so I’ll be keeping this short), I make lunches to take to work so rarely buy meals out, I often lament not being able to afford a new pair of jeans, but splurged a month or two ago on socks and underwear for the first time in I don’t know how long.  I had to buy a new winter coat, which apparently set me back at least a couple of months of being able to afford “extras”, and I feel incredibly guilty when I buy any actual food that differs from the regular every day same-ness.

It feels ridiculous sometimes, all this stress over whether or not I can pick up some raw veggies and hummus as an occasional treat.  Or grab a bite to eat at the zoo.  Or have a drink with friends AND something to eat tonight.

It’s such a whiny mentality, I know.  It’s not that I’m used to getting everything I want – far from it.  But I think since I declared bankruptcy in 2009, I’ve been extra terrified of not having money for something basic, like food or rent.  And I’m more aware of being solely responsible for those things.

True, I also have more medications to pay for than I used to.  And four critters living with me is different from one.  How I divvy up my income is different.  And, comparatively speaking, I make less now than I did 10 years ago, while my expenses are much higher.  I learned to budget differently.  And I began making more choices.  Do I want Option A more than I want Option B?  I’m making far more choices lately, it seems, and they are starting to feel…less possible.  Not impossible yet, but it feels like it’s heading in that direction.  Which makes me sad, and then I wonder if I’ll still be able to afford anti-depressants.  Haha

On the plus side, however, I feel like – instead of things – I’ve been more interested in spending what little extra money I do have on experiences.  On doing things instead of owning things. If I lose my memories, it will of course mean less, but for now, I feel like it’s better for my soul.  Now, don’t get me wrong – my apartment is more decked out with my geeky stuff than it ever has been before, and I love it.  When you walk into my space, you see me, things that are important to me, and that are also an expression of who I am.  I like it here, and I’m very happy to have my things around me.  But in recent years, I’ve made an unintentional shift toward experiencing different things…and then coming home to my owned things.  Though, they take a backseat to the living beings I also come home to, naturally.

I think that’s part of why little things like tonight are so important to me, and yet so stressful at the same time.  It’s good for me to go out and giggle and talk and just – be outside of the everyday for a few hours.  Yet, part of me is terrified that the day will come when I have to choose between even THAT and Option B.  It’s ridiculous.  There will always, of course, be other options; other ways of spending time, etc.  But that something as superficial as money gets to affect how we choose to hang out together is…it just has to be part of what’s wrong with the world, doesn’t it?

However.  That possible future day is not this day, so I’m gonna go ahead get ready to hang out with my friends for awhile.  Money stress can wait for another day.

I Dream Of Kate

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I believe my much-loved-and-missed kitty Kate came to visit me in a dream last night.

It’s weird – right after she died, while I was alone in the apartment for a couple of weeks (until I got paid again and could afford a trip to the animal shelter), I kept thinking I heard her around the apartment, or felt her jump onto the bed and lie down next to me like she always did. I even thought I heard her meow a couple of times. I’m sure I’ve dreamed about her since she died, but I can’t really remember anything. I was thinking recently about how I missed feeling like she was still around, even though there are 3 more cats and a doggie enriching my daily life these days. Kate was my first, and therefore will always be special to me in a slightly different way from all the rest.

Also, sometimes she said “mama”, and I don’t expect to find another kitten who can do THAT!

So anyway, whether I dreamed much about my girl Kate in the past or not, last night’s dream was definitely different. As with most dreams, location and such didn’t make sense with reality. I was living in the house in Creemore where I grew up, but on my own, not with my family. I still had Brody, Jack Bear, Flynn and Piper with me – we were just in a much bigger place than we actually are. A place none of them, Kate included, have ever been.

Now, in the dream, Piper had found Kate, but there was also some indication that she was partly responsible for Kate being gone, or for her not coming home sooner. There was some reason why I was potentially angry at Piper, but before the end of the dream I’d forgiven her and moved past it and whatever it was made us closer than ever, so it doesn’t matter now. I know in real life Piper was the kitten I wasn’t sure I wanted, because she looked too much like Kate and it hurt my heart to be close to her. But then she was also the one I waited the longest for, because another month would pass before I could bring her home from the shelter, and she’s kind of the one that keeps the household in order, if that makes sense. She’s like the den mother, in a way. And while I got over the distance I’d put between us long ago, I feel like this morning I actually do feel closer to her now than ever before, which is nice.

I also know that I feel a lot of guilt over not being a good pet mom in the past. Or not being the best. But I’ve always been MY best, so I said to the fur kids this morning that I’ll always be my best for them, but I’ll also always try to be better; to learn as we go. There is, after all, always more room to grow.

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Back to the dream. Kate had found her way home to me, after all these years. She’d been taken away, and something had been done to the pads of her feet, so that she couldn’t walk. So my girl taught herself to walk on the sides of her feet – they were all bent and deformed from not being walked on properly, but she made it work and came back to me. I was momentarily worried about how everyone would get along – 3 cats and a dog when she used to have me all to herself is a lot to get used to – but everyone was great. They weren’t all cuddly or anything, but everyone respected one another’s space, and tolerated everyone together in the much-bigger-than-my-real- apartment house we were living in.

My first thought upon waking was that Kate came back. Not in a sense of being back alive, but in terms of being close to me again. Maybe we hadn’t yet figured out how to visit in dreams, and now we can. Maybe she felt the distance of my being distracted with all these other fur babies, but now we both know there will always be a place for her, no matter what. She’s on my mind a lot today still, instead of fading the way most dreams do, and I am glad for that. I still miss her, of course, but it’s different. I am full of love for the critters who depend on me to take care of them, and don’t have time to miss Katie-Kate the same way I used to. That I don’t hear her or feel her anymore no longer seems like a failing on my part, or something that’s been lost. Now she feels close to me even without those things, and I suspect this dream visit will not be the last. And since Dream Kate gets along just fine with Dream Brody, Dream Piper, Dream Flynn and Dream Jack Bear, I see no reason why she won’t always be close by, through the veil, on the other side of waking life.

Now if I could just figure out why Brody – and lately Piper – keep staring intently into a particular mirror at something I can not see…

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The Soundtrack Of My Life

Before I get started on my topic du jour, I want to just take a moment to acknowledge that, on this day in 2013, I had to say goodbye to my favourite polar bear boy, but got the honour of tossing him some fish during his final Keeper Talk at the Toronto Zoo! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and something I will treasure always. I love that fool bear. Miss you, Hudson!

Anyway, I’ve been big into music pretty much since I was in the womb. Not in a cultured, knowledgeable music snob kind of way, and certainly not in a way that would suggest I can dance any better than a white guy, or sing as well as someone who is tone deaf…I’m actually not great at creating music at all. BUT I love to listen to it. I always have. I always have a song in my head (sometimes stuck there against my will, but mostly I like whatever’s “playing”), and am one of those people who CAN’T really have it playing if I need to focus on anything else, because it’s distracting as hell to me. I want to let me mind go wherever the music takes it, not force myself to concentrate on anything else, like reading, working or conversation.

I spent hours upon hours in my room, listening to music and just thinking about things. I’m pretty sure I did that daily up until I got my own apartment, in my early 30’s. Actually, even more recently than that…probably up until I got my PVR, actually! Haha Damn television. 😉

I still do it now, just less often. Definitely while I am cleaning, and every day travelling back and forth on public transit. Music helps me control my rage, apparently!

I don’t have music on when out for a walk with Brody, though. That’s our time together and I want to spend it more with him than inside my own head.

My musical upbringing was deliciously varied. My parents introduced me to classic rock from the 50’s and 60’s, then other crazy things like Roger Whitakker, Johnny Horton, a bunch of country music when my dad was going through that phase, and – who was that ukulele guy? George Formby! Yeah.

My grandfather on my dad’s side was a huge fan of big band music. An ex introduced me to jazz in my 20’s. And then there was just plain old growing up in the 80’s. The first vinyl I ever got was Olivia Newton-John’s Greatest Hits Volume 2. My first cassette tape was Bryan Adams Reckless. I actually kept buying vinyl and then recording them onto cassette pretty much right up until I was buying CD’s, but I did have a few cassettes, in the end. I also recorded a LOT of songs off the radio. Ever do THAT? You wait and wait for the one song you want to come on, and then inevitably lose the beginning of it while the recorder got going. Good times.

It never fails to amaze me how versatile music is. Like different scents, a song can often re-create a memory so strongly that it transports you back in time. I have songs that take me back to different moments of past relationships (and break-ups, let’s be real), and some that just evoke a certain feeling from another time – like elementary school, or high school – various periods of time, I guess is what I’m saying. Then there are more specific memories, like AC/DC Back In Black being played at the back of the bus every day on the way to school in Grade 9. Or how I was sure I could run forever if I had Flashdance (Oh What A Feeling) playing on my headphones. Or singing Lean On Me before the audience arrived to warm up for a band/choir performance and help get rid of any jitters.

The first time I asked a boy to dance was to Every Rose Has Its Thorn in high school. I can still remember the shirt he was wearing and how good he smelled up close. My University residence floor’s pre-going-out routine was to turn off the lights in our lounge, put on hats, and dance on the furniture to KLF’s 3am Eternal. It’s how we bonded, or something. But every time it was played at the bar, you’d better believe we all dropped what we were doing and danced in a circle together, because D-1 RULES!!!

Where was I?

Ah yes, various movie soundtrack songs – anything from Grease brings up memories (especially my host teacher and I showing the Grade 8 kids how it’s done at their graduation dance), that song from Karate Kid about being the best around makes me want to kick some ass through a competition. Mortal Kombat just makes me want to kick some ass in general. Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes makes me want to sleep with John Cusack and then break up with him in the hopes that he’ll do that thing with the stereo outside my window.

Anything we played or sang in high school – including the parodies (Phantom of the Oprey most of all).

And any concert I’ve ever been to I am often transported to when I hear various songs in my head. Madonna, Alanis, Melissa Etheridge, Mel C, Gogol Bordello, Rage Against The Machine…Mini Pops…  

You know, the usual.

Music is memory. I feel like I’m not making as many musical memories as I used to, but it’s possible that I am, and just won’t realize it until somewhere down the road. Until then, I’m content with re-living memories through music – and living each day surrounded by music – and basically just enjoying the ongoing soundtrack of my life.

Who Would Play Me In A Movie Of My Life?

I think the idea of writing one’s autobiography has always come up, in one way or another, over the course of one’s life. Most of us don’t actually do it, of course, but I think most of us have considered it on a hypothetical level at some point in our lives. Maybe it was a school assignment, to divide your life (to that point) into more easily-digested chapters of moments and memories. Maybe it was a silly Facebook meme, asking what your autobiography would be titled, or who would play you in the movie of your life.

Mine would be called “Great idea, Poor Execution”. As to who would play me, though, I’m not sure. Someone with little to no talent, probably. Haha

Whether it gets written down, or not, the idea of chronicling one’s life is kind of excitting to think about, isn’t it? My great-grandmother wrote down a bunch of things she remembered from over the course of her life, and a team of relatives typed it all up into book form, then copied and bound it all together with photos and newspaper clippings and the like, to go along with things she was talking about. The woman lived to just over 100 years old, and the things she remembered and related were all pretty incredible. Trust me, guys, it’s quite a fantastic read! With little to no editing, a whole different world – from a time long passed – was brought to life in her words. I couldn’t be more grateful to have one of the very few copies of that wonderful piece of literature, and it makes me wonder if I, too, should be writing more things down as I go along. Not only so that I won’t forget, but maybe so the world won’t, either.

Not that I expect the world to read my book. That’s not what I mean. I just keep feeling like I want to leave behind some relic, some sample of life – even an unremarkable one – in another time, for others in a future time to read, if they so desire. So that they understand a tiny bit more of what came before. And, of course, to leave more of a mark; more proof that I was ever here at all.  

I can’t remember when I started to obsess a bit about that – leaving a mark on the world which would remain once I am gone. Definitely by high school, possibly sooner. I even made a list at one point, in a notebook. Ways to leave something behind, create a legacy, and essentially achieve a form of immortality. Writing a book was in there. Planting a tree (which I’ve done, but I fear they may now all have been cut down. Blah). Having a child. Other things I can’t remember right now.

See?! I’m already forgetting stuff!

I remember being glad that my name was on some plaques in my high school, because things engraved usually last a long time. And now, of course, I have my Guinness World Record – though I’d be much happier if it were to turn up in one of the books before it gets beaten by someone else!

And the claim is that, once something is on the internet, it’s there forever, but I’m not sure I buy that just yet. The internet isn’t really that old, after all. Maybe if we’re broadcasting it all out into space to travel at the speed of light and/or sound to other galaxies, then I’d get behind the whole forever idea, but at the same time, that does nothing for the Earthlings who’ll never see it.

Anyway. Capturing moments and archiving memories has been kind of my thing for a very long time. I’m afraid of losing my memories from my life, and I am afraid of being lost and forgotten once I’m gone. Let alone while I’m still here. Haha

So the notion of writing more things down has long been on my mind, and every so often I revisit the idea of trying to write something autobiographical-ish. It’s a huge undertaking that I may never have time for, but I was thinking just this morning – what about doing it here, on this blog, in little bits, and whenever the mood strikes? I’m thinking I might make a Memories category, or something, and then I don’t even have to worry about writing in chronological order or anything. I’ll just capture life in pieces, for myself, and for anyone who wants to read it. Readers wouldn’t even have to commit to a whole book or even a whole chapter. Just a page or two about a specific thing. Then, if the day comes when I feel like doing something more official and on a grander scale, I’d already have a bunch of notes to build on.

It would also count as a post for the day, so I wouldn’t have to concern myself with whether or not I had any time left over to do it! 😉

Definitely an idea.

Clever girl. 🙂