Great Idea, Poor Execution

I think I’ve pretty much always had the big ideas; just never the talent to make them a reality, let alone a successful one.

In fact, that’s my autobiography title: Great Idea, Poor Execution. With the tag-line of “How I Scraped The Bottom Of The Barrel To Discover I’m It”.

Or maybe that last part was about my former dating life.

At any rate, even as a kid, I was always coming up with these amazing ideas, starting to work on them, and then give up early on because my imagination has always been far too big for my reality. I would, however, drag my little brother along for the ride. Of course. I mean, someone had to lead the way to creative play, right? That was one of my jobs as an older sibling. Another was to annoy him and occasionally try to get him blamed for things, but that rarely worked. He was cuter than me.

Once I convinced him to help me dig a tunnel, starting in our backyard, and going to several places around town so that we could travel underground via our very own secret railroad! I knew that we probably couldn’t have an actual train down there, but we had our bikes, and those would work. We could even bike to school in winter if we wanted! It was going to be epic, just like the TV show, but not!

We started digging, encountered a billion rocks (or, like, 5 or 6), and gave up.

rail1

Then I had a plan to build a log cabin fort-like structure (not fort as in olden war times, but as in our own place to play that no one else could use unless they were invited) around the hole we’d dug, because then it would be out of sight and therefore out of mom’s mind. We dragged some large wood beam-like things and started setting them up in an alternating over/under pattern. After we’d piled them about waist-high in a square around our hole, we realized that we had no idea how to fill in the spaces between the “logs”.

So we gave up. Totally left that things standing, though.

Another amazing idea I had as a kid that would have made literally everyone so jealous that I’d be famous was to build our own Godzilla. Out of what, I’m not sure. As far as I ever got on it was a design drawn in a pad of scrapbook paper. There would be ladders inside, so we could climb up to where the eyes were and look out at all the little people, and the beast would move on wheels…that I believe were also our bikes, actually. We actually rode our bikes a ton, so I’m not sure why I thought I could or would ever build them into my designs, but whatever. Maybe I figured we could have more bikes once we’d build this huge Godzilla to ride around in!

Godzilla_01

Finally, there was the circus. Ah, our circus, starring us. And our swing-set. Basically us climbing around on a swing-set and passing it off as stunts. I felt we should sell tickets, and perhaps later take our amazing show on the road.

It didn’t pan out. At all. And so we gave up. Same with performing plays with costumes we’d made ourselves, and once with a script one of our friends had “touched up”. Those had the potential to be better, but I am pretty sure they were still painful to sit through. Though sit our parents did. And tolerate my wild imagination my brother did. I’d had a recurring nightmare for a while and once asked my brother if he would ever just run out the door with me, no questions asked, if I ever told him to, based on nothing but my panic mode if I thought my nightmare was coming true.  If he would just trust me and do it. 

He said he would.

Spoons

Not sure what I’m talking about today. I don’t really feel very well, physically, and mentally/emotionally, I’m just not feeling today at all. Haha

Yesterday’s post about my Star Wars jacket got me feeling all nostalgic. I was even looking at it again last night, hanging out in my living room’s sweet display. So much awesome nerdy stuff, I have! Prop replicas, toys, trading cards, memorabilia, autographed stuff, some old money and odd coins and souvenir plates and the like. Programs and ticket stubs from theatrical productions and concerts I’ve attended over the years. Scrapbooks, including one I made largely of old clippings from Starweek, the Toronto Star’s TV Guide. Also an abundance of stuffies more recently acquired at the zoo.

Hoping my latest mailing from The Mysterious Package Company arrives soon. Last time it got lost in the mail and had to be re-sent. I love mail, so I hate when mine doesn’t arrive!

I used to have a spoon collection, as a kid. It started because my grandma had one, and she had a spoon commemorating the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana (nee Lady Diana Spencer), which I admired so greatly that she gave it to me. I got a little spoon rack and hung my one spoon on it…and it kind of exploded from there.

It was an easy gift to give me, and something that I spent the next several years getting for myself as souvenirs from various places or special events. I ended up with a ton more Royal spoons, and spoons from pretty much everywhere we went in England on our high school band trip. I had spoons from other people’s trips, even. They’re everywhere, and so very shiny!

I had more spoons than room on the racks I also picked up over the years. When I stopped trying to display them, I packed them away in not the greatest of storage scenarios, but even then, I would often pull them out and go through them, always being surprised by the ones I’d forgotten I had, but always enjoying the rediscovered memories behind them.

Now, a good decade after we’d moved from the house in which I grew up, I have no idea where they currently reside. I’m fairly certain I don’t have them in the city with me, but I’m also fairly certain I actually packaged them up differently for the move, and I can’t for the life of me remember what I did, specifically. I don’t think I would have left them at my mom’s, but at the same time, my vinyl collection was still there until recently, and I don’t know why I didn’t just bring my records with me when I brought everything else from the house. So maybe there is somehow more of my things there, in the garage, or something. Or maybe they are so cleverly packed that I have them and just haven’t come across them yet, depsite moving a couple of times and having a vague memory of going through everything one time looking specifically for the spoons.

Maybe I should do that again, just in case.

I wish I could just Google where I put them.

My Star Wars Life (Part 1 of Infinity)

lukebespin%20esb

I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t love Star Wars. I was 5 when it was released in theatres (though I think I fell asleep during the matinee where I saw it for the first time; I remember droids in the desert, but nothing about a space battle at the end), and if I recall correctly, my first action figure was Bossk, who appeared in my Christmas stocking after Empire came out. Once my younger brother and I got started with the toys, what had started as a child’s playtime hobby would quickly grow into something far more. By the time Jedi was released, I was old enough to fall in love with Luke Skywalker, I’d begin to equate The Force as my first real understanding of religion and the nature of faith, and Star Wars took its place in my heart as a life-long obsession.

I joined the Official Fan Club right around then, and really never looked back. I wasn’t so much a collector as just a kid who wanted everything I could get my hands on, and I’m happy that most of it has more or less survived in my possession to this day. It’s all in terrible shape, but I wasn’t collecting it to one day sell it for an atrocious price – its value was far greater to me than to anyone else. To me it was priceless; as much so to me now as it was then. In some cases, even more. Star Wars – the whole scope of that galaxy long ago and far away – became more than just a fandom to me. It became a part of who I am.

I even got Carrie Fisher to sign one of the old photos I got in my original fan club membership kit – water-stained, pin holes and all. It hung on my bedroom wall for years and had seen its share of the ravages of time. The photo is of Luke and Leia on the Falcon after Ben dies in A New Hope (spoiler alert), and it’s always been one of my favourites, so having her sign it was a huge honour. Now I just need Mr. Hamill to make it to Toronto one of these days!

Bantha Tracks

Anyway, one of my biggest regrets, however, was in giving away my Luke Skywalker Bespin Fatigue Jacket – an exclusive of the official fan club, and something I’d begged my parents for what seemed like forever before they finally agreed to buy it for me. I can still remember going to the post office and buying a money order in US funds and dropping it carefully into the mailbox with my order form, clipped out of an issue of Bantha Tracks, the club’s newsletter. I think I’d rarely wanted anything so much in my entire life, before or since. Then, of course, I had to wait another forever for it to finally arrive in the mail, but when it did, it was perfection. All I could have hoped for and more.

Which was rare, really. Usually when I really want something, it ends up being not nearly as great as I thought it would be. That jacket, though, was even better than I’d dreamed, and I wore it everywhere, imagining myself to be Luke’s young Jedi sidekick or sorts.

Until I out-grew it.

Not emotionally. Physically, I grew too tall and it would no longer ever fit me again. I was kinda devastated, but reluctantly agreed to give it to our friend down the street, who was the same age as my brother, and therefore smaller than me. I cut the tag out of the collar to save as a memento, and gave away my greatest treasure. I mean, our friend was a huge fan, too, so I knew it was going to a good home, but still. It wasn’t my home.

Years – nay decades – went by, and I could never quite get that jacket out of my mind. Because my real obsession didn’t kick in until Jedi was released, I’d never gotten the action figure of Luke wearing it, so one day I bought a pretty sweet loose one in a comic book store, just on a whim. He was in better shape than many from that era, though missing his blaster and lightsaber. I didn’t care, though. Again, I wanted it for me, not to re-sell some future day. I even keep him separate from my other action figures, just because that one is a little bit extra special to me. Even still, though, the jacket – I couldn’t get the jacket completely out of my head. I wished I still had it so I could make a display for it – the smaller the jacket, the easier to display, even. It would have been perfect!

I’d occasionally peruse Ebay, looking for sellers who were getting rid of theirs, but on the rare occasion that I would find one (they only made so many in its very short original run), they were absurdly out of my price range. I knew I’d likely never find another one, and even went back to the mom of the guy I’d given it to, and asked if it was still by any chance in a box at her home or in storage somewhere. Zero luck.

searchvader

Until one day, during another supposed fruitless Ebay search, I found one. Not only had it been in storage since it had been purchased, but the seller even still had the original packaging in which it had been mailed! What’s more, I could afford it. What’s even more, there was a Buy It Now option that I could use, instead of bidding on it and risking losing it to someone richer than I. The only problem was that I no longer had any credit cards, because bankruptcy.

That’s where Tim stepped in and saved the day!

He bought it on his credit card, and I gave him cash a few days later once we’d gotten paid (and once we knew the conversion rate after shipping, etc, of course). To this day, I can not believe my luck! I tracked the shipment – multiple times a day, just in case it got any closer without me knowing – and waited with bated breath for my new old treasure to arrive.

When it finally did, I was almost in tears. Actually, even now, just thinking about it. It was perfect. As good as new, and so soft – I’d forgotten how soft it was. The tissue paper and brown sturdy paper envelope with the fan club’s original return address label on the outside, even the 80’s postmark…everything about it came rushing back in an overwhelming wave of emotion and memory for me. The seller hadn’t even known what size it was, but again, I didn’t care. I wanted to display it eventually, not wear it around. Now my Jedi sidekick-ish-ness is mostly done incognito, after all. 😉

Naturally, though, I tried that sucker on.

And it fit.

What the Force?! How did a kid in her late 30’s/early 40’s get so lucky as to find her one regret, her missing treasure, decades after having given it up because she’d grown too tall for it – and then find one that she could somehow afford and that actually FIT? I may not have eaten the healthiest for a few weeks there to make sure rent was still covered, but come on! That’s freaking amazing!!!

My next task was to sort out exactly how to display it. My initial plan had been to get one of those glass-doored display boxes for baseball jersey’s and bats and such, because I wanted to include my Luke Skywalker Empire Strikes Back Lightsaber hilt from Master Replicas – signed by Mark Hamill, the man himself! But I also really love the custom display case that it came with, and putting that in a second case seemed silly. So instead, I got a frame for just the jacket, and then rearranged some shelves on a bookcase in my living room to fit all of it – the framed jacket as the centrepiece, the lightsaber and loose action figure in case, along with a few of the other little Star Wars trinkets I’ve acquired more recently. I even added a couple of original Empire trading cards in the frame with the jacket – doubles, of course – featuring Luke wearing the very same one.

Luke Skywalker Jacket Display

It’s pretty spectacular, I have to say!

I have a ton of Star Wars stuff, from then, from the in-between years, from more recently, and even a bit from the newest film in the franchise. My collection is always growing, but it is still every bit of it for me. It’s a part of me; a part of my memories, and a part of my life. Even more a part of my very foundation as a person. They say the years before 5 last the rest of their lives, but I think sometimes, in the years which follow, things can also happen to change and shape you into the person you become. I think part of me will forever reside in that long ago and far away place.

In the meantime, though, my next ongoing project (among so many others) is to acquire loose versions of the original Kenner action figures:

KennerFiguresPosterFullSize

And yes, I have a checklist on the go.   😉

Seeing Differences

When I was accepted to teacher’s college, I found I’d been placed in a rather unique section of the program called Urban Diversity. I was in the 10th group of cohorts for that particular program, and it was kind of interesting to see all the different people who were in my class, as well as who, for the most part, would become my friend by the end of the school year.

The Urban Diversity section of the Education program focused more on teaching children in classrooms and schools which are more reflective of the city’s diverse population. I remember someone once commented on how “white” my Grade 6 class was, and I countered with the fact that about 80% of them didn’t speak English as their first language, which would obviously contain a different set of struggles from those who were being taught by someone of a different skin tone.

Anyway, it was cool to look at the notion of teaching each child, as opposed to teaching a classroom of children. Seeing difference, and teaching to it, was the opposite of everything I thought society had taught me thus far, but as soon as it was discussed on, like, Day One, it all suddenly made sense to me. The whole “everyone is equal” model doesn’t really work. Everyone is not equal, and punishing those who are ahead by forcing them to slow down, or leaving behind anyone who can’t keep up, is just silly, and counter-productive.

So I learned about teaching from a different perspective, compared to the other sections within the Education program, and it stressed me out. I was painfully aware of not being able to fully teach to each child, and of how things I said or did could be received by one child far differently from how it was interpreted by another. I hurt one of my best Grade 8 kid’s feelings because I stopped calling on her for a time. She thought I hated her; I thought I was trying to give other quieter kids a chance to speak. We got it sorted out, but I’ll never forget how flabbergasted I was that she could think I didn’t like her. She was my go-to kid if things ever became too frustrating because I knew she always got it. That was an important lesson to learn, and to keep learning. Because everyone is different, after all.

But it didn’t help with my non-existent teaching career, in that I never really got my feet under me and felt the confidence I would need in my abilities to run a classroom.

I can’t run a classroom. Haha

Anyway, in the Education classroom, on non-teaching days, I sat at the Table of Misfit Toys with my regulars. My friends, the other oddballs who didn’t quite fit in. We were often the most fun, and sometimes other teacher candidates would join us just because we were that awesome. I still liked almost everyone else in the room, of course. I just didn’t have much in common with them, and felt like I didn’t fit in as well as I did with my eclectic mix.

What’s interesting is what I was told later from my main guy, Marc. I haven’t seen him in well over a decade, but at the time, we were quite close, and went through a lot together, even after the school year ended. He’s a brilliant young guy, whose brain never stops working things out, and has one of the best, warmest smiles ever. It goes right to his eyes. I actually hate that we lost touch, and keep hoping we’ll just bump into one another again someday.

So anyway, Marc got into grad school, and did his Masters of Education, as well. He was, therefore, still in touch with the man who had created the Urban Diversity division, Dr. Patrick Solomon. Dr. Solomon sadly passed away some time ago from stupid cancer, but he left quite a legacy in his wake. He was the first person I met when I got to campus on Day One (he walked me to class), and hugged me on stage during our graduation ceremonies. According to Marc, Dr. Solomon confided in him once that our table of misfits, for the most part, all started off the program in the mindset/headspace of where he wanted everyone to end up. That was not only an enormous compliment, but also explained why we’d gotten so frustrated so often when we were doing the learning instead of the teaching. I was of the understanding that there was something we just weren’t getting (there was even an extra IEP for me at one point – , whereas the reality was that we’d already gotten it, but had to sit through the rest of the year not progressing while we waited for the rest of the class to catch up.

That’s not necessarily meant to come across as bragging, though I suppose it kind of is, but more to explain the fish-out-of-water sensation that I’d felt for so long, and that I knew I was capable of passing on to kids in my classes. Classes I’d never have, as it turned out, but at the time, it was a hefty weight on my mind.

It’s occurred to me in recent days that I’m feeling much that same way again now, sometimes. I think that’s why I can’t express myself in a way that anyone else quite understands. Partly because I am just not articulate, and partly because I’ve already gone through all the stuff they’re saying and trying to progress further, but I have to keep going back to the last save point, so to speak, to see if I can catch everyone else up; get us all on the same page, before I can turn the page. We just rarely seem to get there, which means I rarely go any further myself, even just in my own head.

Maybe this is part of how the internet is making us dumber. We’re exposed to more people, so we spend even more time trying to find common ground and get on the same page that we actually never get through the first chapter, let alone past it. We spend more time feeling and reacting than we do thinking, because it’s instant. Or, as fast as we can type. The fact that so much conversation is done online instead of in person means that more is misunderstood due to lack of vocal inflection, body language, and eye contact. Everything looks black and white on the page, so we’re all starting to think that’s what the world is. One or the other; all or nothing; left or right (haha CToT xo).

But it’s not. There are more shades of grey than we can even sense, and it’s exciting and invigorating to explore them, but we never do. There’s just no time, which is funny, considering how quick and automated things are now compared to life prior to the Industrial Revolution, say.

Not that I am old enough to remember that.

I do remember the 80’s, though, and parts of the 70’s…I remember life before the world was opened up to us via the World Wide Web. I remember phones with rotary dials and cords that got tangled up and stretched to shit. I remember no cable and only 3 channels via antenna. I remember going outside to play, riding my bike around town, going home when the streetlights came on, handwriting letters, and book reports and essays. I remember when computer mainframes took up entire rooms, and cordless phones were new and enormous.

I remember when everything was slower, and yet there was more time to think.

Over Everything Brain

Oh, 2am anxiety and your devilish sleep-stealing-ness. I’ve not had a chance to miss you yet! Perhaps try staying away for longer next time?

So freaking tired today, but still upbeat, because after this I am of for the rest of the week. The construction guys were louder than usual this morning, so I don’t anticipate being able to sleep in tomorrow or Friday, but we’ll see. I have some things on the go that I will probably do better getting up early for, anyway.

Met up with a friend for catch-up drinks last night after work. So much fun! And really nice – I feel like our conversation covered a lot of territory in a relatively short period of time, and that’s always a good thing when it happens. Hopefully we’ll do it a tad more regularly now that the weather is nicer, so that we have less catching up to do next time!

Sucks that my brain wouldn’t give me a break in the wee hours this morning, though. I hate not having a place to go to in my mind when stuff like that happens. It makes everything more difficult, really. I’ll have to figure out a new one soon, I guess. It’s like my subconscious knew the whole time when I lost my usual go-to…maybe even before I realized it myself…and now it’s toying with me at every opportunity. Lame brain.

I used to want to be some kind of detective when I grew up. Not like a cop, exactly, but more like Nancy Drew. I read a bunch of Nancy Drew as a kid. Maybe all of it. I had a library card and my mom and I would go to the library quite regularly and I’d sit on the creaky wooden floor in the children’s area and pore over all the yellow-spines of the Nancy Drew hard-covered series and try to figure out which ones I hadn’t read yet. It smelled like books in there. I still love that smell.

When I’m rich and famous and design my own house, there will be a library and a movie theatre, and I’ll collect old books so as to always have that smell when I want it, and I’ll have a big air-popper for perfect theatre-style popcorn and hire someone else to clean that mess ’cause I ain’t doing it. There will also be an observatory – perhaps in some kind of tower – and a huge plot of land for all the animals I rescue.

Indoor/outdoor pool, hot tub, sauna, small private gym that I almost never use but when I do it plays 80’s music a lot of the time.

You guys can come over and visit sometimes, and we’ll have full scale murder mysteries to play when we’re feeling particularly feisty. There will, of course, be secret passages and the like, as well.

It’ll probably be on an island (which I’ll also own), but I’ll charter various modes of transportation so you can get there easily, don’t worry.

What was I talking about? Ah yes, detectiving.

I liked all that cool mystery stuff – invisible ink, puzzles, codes, fingerprints, and a trail of clues to follow. I used to try and make up mysteries for myself to solve (this was way before the interwebs, kids, so I couldn’t just Google shit; I had to use my imagination) using old photos and documents and…just anything laying around. I liked calculator watches and anything with hidden compartments. I mean, even now, the deluxe Lost DVD complete series collection boxed set is one of the coolest things I own. I still haven’t discovered all the goodies hidden inside that beauty!

‘Cause therein lies the problem with my career as a private detective. I suck at it.

My brain just doesn’t work that way. I either don’t dig deep enough or, more often, I over-complicate everything. Over-think. Over-analyze. All the overs.

I love, love, love whodunits…wow. My maternal grandmother did, too. That just hit me. She was always reading murder mysteries and such. I never made that connection between her and I until literally just now, as I was typing “whodunits”. In my mind, I was thinking of TV shows and movies more than books, but as soon as I typed that word, I had a vivid recollection of her bookshelves and the jokes about how such a nice, tiny, elderly lady could love reading about such grisly subjects. Nothing to do with whatever I thought I was going to say. Just a sudden link between her and I.

Aww…I miss you, Nanny. ❤

I’m sorry about the stuff I lost. I know you know that, but I also know you know that knowing you know doesn’t make me less sorry.

Anyway. Mysteries. I love immersing myself in them; suck at solving them. That’s kind of why I like the TV series Motive so much, too. It tells you who the victim and killer are right at the beginning, and then it’s all about learning the how and, most importantly, the why. Also, I’m not sure I could love actress Kristin Lehman more than I do already, but you never know. I guess anything is possible.

As I got older and ran out of classic Nancy Drew to read, I spent some time with The Three Investigators, though only in book form. I of course watched Pamela Sue Martin as the girl detective as much as possible…and I think I still have a book at home called Susan Super Sleuth, now that I think about it…Sue is such a good detective name, and yet…I fail. At any rate, I’ve hosted a couple of boxed murder mysteries in my day, and was blessed to have friends get completely into their roles each time. I loooooved all the Carmen Sandiego games, both on the computer and that TV game show thingy. I really want to check out some of the city’s escape rooms someday, too, though I will probably suck at those, too. The brain, the braaaain! The over everything braaaaain.

So long as there aren’t actual lives on the line, or anything, though, puzzling through various types of mysteries is really very fun for me. Be it a book, TV show, film, or something more personally and/or physically involving like murder mystery dinners or escape room puzzles – even games like Clue or those insane word puzzles that I always have to draw a chart for in order to figure out. I love all that stuff, even as I fail at it most of the time. It’s the puzzle, the questions, the awesome gadgets (I love gadgets), and that rare sense of utter victory when you actually figure it out without being told.

I guess that might be part of what makes me a good detective at my job, too. Even with this new system in place, the things I can do can’t really be taught. It’s kind of impressive. My talent in that area only exists here and holds no value in the real world, of course, but at least it exists. I’m feel accomplished – extremely gratified – when I’ve solved one of our little mysteries and sorted everything out.

Then I usually write a lengthy email to document and share my own brilliance, but that usually falls a bit flat. Nevertheless – I know when I rocked something, and I know when I’m one of the only people who could.

In other news, I’ve lost just over 15lbs in just under 4 months, and that ain’t bad. It at least explains why it seemed so much faster than picture memories on Facebook would have me believe.

So that’s good.

Edited to add: I just found this. OMG. The 8-year-old me is squeeing her 8-year-old squee.

A Question Of Memory

I’m still thinking back on parts of the conversation Tim and I had with the lovely ladies of Dark Matter the other day. This morning I found myself wondering more about the extent to which we are defined by our pasts, and what it would be like to suddenly forget it all; to have to define ourselves anew. Much of the show’s first season was spent with each character trying to get at the truth of who they were, of their own backstories. They woke up not even remembering their own names, let alone anything that had happened in their pasts and what led them to being where they were. Now, as the second season premiere grows ever closer (and they wrap shooting for the season on set today), I’m looking forward to watching them move forward to define who they are now.

I was wondering what that would be like, to not remember anything of my life before now. What kind of person would I be? What would I like, or dislike? How would I relate to the world around me, and how much would I understand? How would I define myself, what would be important to me, and how much of who I am is innate, as compared to the amount which has been shaped by my past experiences?

Would I still love bears?!

If I couldn’t remember meeting Hudson, would I still have some sense of familiarity when I saw him? Or would I just wonder why the f*ck I have a polar bear tattooed on my arm?

Memories are of course a huge part of who we are, even – in some cases – when past memories have been repressed. They fuel our passions, they propel our fears, they add colour new experiences even as new memories are being made. Our cells have memory, our bodies have memory, and of course our minds hold the most overt memories of all. I know why I don’t like being tickled – and am pretty sure I still wouldn’t like it even if I had no past memories of the experience. I remember eating chocolate ice cream pretty much every day when I was young, but would I realize I like it if I couldn’t remember eating it before? Would eating it without those memories be kind of like trying it for the first time all over again?

If I encountered people, places or things I loved but couldn’t remember loving them, would they still feel the same to me? Would they feel safe and warm and comfortable to me? Or would I pass them by without giving them a second glance? Would I have the same fears, or abilities? Would my dreams remember and give me clues to things I’d forgotten? Would my heart still know who I was at my core, even if my mind could not remember?

Are any of us actually anything in particular at our cores? I mean, I guess it’s the Nature vs Nurture debate, really. Just with part of a life lived with one set of experiences shaping it, and then another part of the same life with no real recollection of the first part. It’s interesting, though. There is already such a huge disconnect between how the world sees us and how we see ourselves. What if we couldn’t see the same selves we saw before, anymore? How much of our former selves would be retained, and how much would change?

How hard would we try to get back to our former selves? How much would we rely on others who knew us to tell us who we were? Would we eventually let that person go, and choose to define our new selves, at some point?

How much of our memory is real, reliable and accurate to begin with?

Beauty In Pain

Today’s thoughts are brought to you by a random series of non-events which ended up leading me down a bit of a memory lane trip this morning, and it wasn’t actually too bad.

First off, I was looking for some kind of long-sleeved shirt to wear over my t-shirt, because my body temperature is always all over the place at work, depending on where I am and what I’m doing, so I usually bring layers. I had already worn the two that were light enough for today earlier this week, so I went digging in my closet in search of something else that could work.

I glanced past my many plaid flanel shirts and landed on a rugby shirt I’d bought over a decade ago, but had rarely worn. It seemed to be the right amount of layer so I threw it on and left for work. On the way in, though, I realized something – the shirt kind of fits me again.

It’s definitely more comfortable than it used to be. I bought it before I gained 40-ish lbs over a school year, and it just never felt like a good fit again after that. Not until today, anyway. I mean, it’s not my new old favourite shirt, or anything, but I definitely noticed the difference in how it feels to wear it today. The collar is still all un-ironed and flippy, and it still wasn’t really created with breasts in mind, but it definitely feels more comfortable and less awkward than it has in a very long time.

I was reminded of a photo taken of me (and some zombies) from 2007, after a Midnight Madness screening at TIFF that year. I’ve always loved the picture and hated the picture, and I’m wearing the same shirt in it while trying to look less overweight than I was.

Horizontal stripes, guys. There’s no winning that battle.

Anyway, it took a while, but I finally found the photo in question, and put it alongside one I got taken today:

That Was Then

I realize it’s not that huge a difference, but to me it kind of is. And regardless, that’s not really what I wanted to talk about. In searching for the zombie photo, I came across my old, sad, secret blog, and tumbled down the rabbit hole a little bit as a result.

I’d created it to vent and to just kind of work out some of my overwhelming emotions in a way that would add to the work being done in my therapy sessions each week. In other words, I needed it to be real and true to whatever I felt like saying at the time – unedited – but not hurt or alarm anyone who might read it. An online dumping ground. I didn’t make it private because I felt like some other person in the world might relate to it on some level and I didn’t want to deprive them of that, but it wasn’t something I really advertised, or anything. Not even to my therapist, because sometimes I also talked about her. Haha

I’d stopped writing much on that blog for a few reasons, the main one being that I’d started posting other things on it, as well, and didn’t want anyone finding the sad just because they wanted to read what I thought of a particular film, or what was going on with my possible (at the time) MS diagnosis. I still wanted people to be able to read that stuff if they wanted to, but without having to deal with me depression and whining and the like. So I created an author blog, and an MS blog, joined up with the Mind Reels and eventually created this one as more of a catch-all for all of that. For most of it, anyway. I still don’t feel like bringing the secret one on board, and very rarely post anything there because I am always posting here, instead!

Scrolling through those posts this morning, though, looking for the zombie pic for a comparison, was kind of an exercise and a half. There was so much I’d – not forgotten, but hadn’t thought about in a long time – that I revisited, and it was rather remarkable. So many sad photos I’d found online to represent how I was feeling, and so many memories I hadn’t realized I’d written down. I used to keep a journal occasionally, but this was my first attempt at essentially journaling in an online forum. One that was essentially public, no less, and which contained more pain than anything else.

Some of it was actually rather beautiful.

There’s a couple of devastating posts about when Kate the Kitten died – one which declared basically just that; that I’d lost my best friend and was truly alone – and one that I wrote to remember our last hours together. I didn’t want to forget a single detail, if I could help it. I also didn’t want to re-read it this morning as my work day began, though, so I kept scrolling.

Apparently, I’d written a poem for my therapist for her birthday. I had completely forgotten about it until I saw the post for it today. I wonder if I ever gave it to her?

There was at least one sad haiku, memories of things past that were resurrected in that present and linked within posts. Most just described what was going on in my outer world, and how they affected my inner life.

I found myself expanding several posts and reading them with the years of hindsight that developed in between. Seeing things that were said to me and interpreted one way at the time, but viewed in a slightly different light now. Not better, necessarily – this isn’t one of those “if I’d known then what I know now” kind of things. In some ways, it’s actually sadder now, but that’s not the point.

The point, or one of them, is that the pain is kind of beautiful – in its honesty, its rawness, its lonely desolation. It’s interesting to look at it now, and remember how it felt, and realize that I still feel the same, but not as low down in the pit. I mean, I’m also medicated, so there’s that. Sometimes self-medicated, too, of course. I’m the same person as I was, but I’m not. Have I grown wiser? No. Do I wish I could go back and choose to not do any of it? Not really, because I wouldn’t be who I am now, and Lord knows who I would be, so yeah. Glad it’s all hindsight and not foresight.

That line in the Garth Brooks song, “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance”…I always felt like that was me; that I’d love to not hurt so much sometimes, but I don’t want to give up the happy moments just to avoid the unhappy ones. Now, though, looking back at how starkly beautiful even the pain can be, it makes me think maybe I don’t want to miss any of it.

Maybe embracing both, and accepting both, is how we get strong. Maybe that’s how we get beautiful.