Another Busy Weekend Ahead

Alright! Had a huge long bout of insomnia last night (as in, more than usual) so am feeling a tad rough and headache-y today, but have managed to be at least a little bit productive at the start of my day!

Cancelled both Guinness World Record attempts I’d been approved to make – Largest Online Photo Album of Animals (my plan was to highlight the Toronto Zoo’s residents to help raise awareness as well as give zoo-goers a place to showcase their photos), and Longest Chain of Paper Hearts. My plan for that one was to get a Mind Reels booth at Toronto Comicon in March, and coincide that event with a launch of my children’s book about hearts. I wanted to get visitors to our table to help cut out paper hearts all weekend, and assemble them into a huge chain together at the end. The attempt/book launch was to tie in with other ideas we have for a con table, rather than be a stand-alone event in and of itself.

Speaking of which, I really need to find an artist one of these days, to help flesh out a few things with me.

At any rate, neither attempt was ever likely to happen, at least not any time soon, so I’ve scratched them off my long and vague To Do list. As well, I cancelled a subscription, which will save me a bit of money, and declined this month’s feature title in the Disney movie club.

Another packed weekend is staring me in the face, but at least I’m feeling physically better than the past couple of weeks. Not much, mind you, because #nosleep, but better nonetheless.  Do not be surprised if I don’t post much or at all over the next few weekends, actually.  Maybe next month sometime my schedule will go back to something normal-ish (for me).  I’ll be glad when I’m not writing this anymore and have time to focus on different, more useful (for me) writing, I think!  But if it gets me into the habit of writing every day, regardless, then it will have not been a complete waste, at least!

Will be sending out invites to start casting the next radio play soon – probably early next week, if not later today. I want to do it before the end of the month, though I am frustrated with our inability to go live with anything.

I’m frustrated with a lot of things.

I’ve taken to envisioning shooting people lately. Just random people who piss me off. It feels a bit like a cathartic release to imagine it – firing little rage bullets at the guy wearing his backpack on a crowded subway, or strolling along on the wrong side of the sidewalk (walk on the right, pass on the left, people), or driving too fast on residential streets in particular. Not in a they-deserve-to-die kind of way, but in a releasing of anger from inside of me. I mean, we’re all going to die whether we deserve it or not, but my imagination is more along the lines of a mental slap in the face, but more violent, and thus more satisfying. I never picture it as a hail of bullets spraying everywhere, either. I’ve often maintained that a gun is the weapon of a coward, but at least in my mind each shot is deliberate, and focused and up close. It’s personal. Each individual knows they are my target, and sometimes I even tell them why, like that scene in Dogma when Matt Damon wanted to smite everyone in the boardroom because they didn’t bless him when he sneezed. Only in my case, because everything happens in my mind, I keep my mouth shut and move on with my day, but carry less anger around as I do so.

I’m so completely not a violent nor confrontational person in practice, but the scenarios which play out in my head are everything I’m not. Which I guess is a good way to be, really. Much better than the opposite, anyway.

I managed to fall asleep for 45 minutes or so this morning, I think, before my alarm went off. Naturally, I had a really stressful and emotional dream during that time, to ensure I awoke even more exhausted than necessary for a Friday. I was moving slow, left late, but still got to work on time. The rest of the week I’ve been leaving early and getting to work late, so even that much went better this morning than it has been the rest of the week.

I just…need to get through the weekend without being even more of a mess by Monday morning!

Officially Amazing

According to my Facebook memory feed, it was one year ago today that I first learned I was officially a Guinness World Record holder. I started to cry pretty much immediately. Tears of happiness, relief, vindication – a myriad of emotions went through me in the moments following that message. I had to read it twice to be sure that it was real; that I had actually done it.

I actually had.

I needed to confirm a couple of things for them, and even then it would be a few days before the website reflected The Mind Reels’ official amazing-ness, so I decided to only tell a couple of people right then, and make it all more public later. Tim and I created an announcement video to thank those who had donated to our crowd-funding campaign prior to the event, but the majority of the celebration would have to wait until after visible proof was available.

I got home from work that evening and cracked open the bottle of craft beer that one of our lovely guests had gifted to us at the event. I’d told her that I would only open it once I’d heard back from GWR, and drink it either in celebration or to drown my sorrows.

Naturally, I drank it from my Guinness glass.

I’ve had mixed emotions about the whole thing all along, really. It was almost exactly a year between the time I came up with the idea to attempt breaking the record, and receiving the notification that I’d been successful. It was a bittersweet success, however, because I’d also learned a lot of hard truths along the way, and the toll it took on me – on every level – is still affecting me even now.

All the stress and anger and frustration and just staying awake for 55+ hours wrecked my body, of course, but it also did some damage to my state of mind, my heart, and my spirit. I learned that I am a terrible leader, in that I do not inspire confidence nor action in anyone else. I learned that things would likely go better if I just set out to do them myself from the start, because depending on anyone else to step up and help will only end in stress and failure. Most heart-breaking, though, was learning that I’m unable to get others to see my vision and work towards helping me to make it a reality.

That whole thing was intended to be an event to pull the entire channel together, raise our visibility in the public eye, and propel us all forward as a team. Instead, it ground everything to a halt, and even a year and a half later, we are still struggling to get started back up again. Those of us who are struggling at all, I mean. Most just seem to have stopped all together.

I couldn’t even get local media interested, even though I was trying to shine a light on Canadian talent, among other things.

Learning that we are no longer the official record-holders made me want to take another run at it – to make it bigger, stronger, better – rather than feel defeated by it. I have SO MANY ideas for making the attempt epic – even more so than the first one was envisioned to be – but it would require a lot of teamwork, and I do not have the ability to inspire that in others. I can’t even get my own little show going again, let alone something on that grand a scale.

And this isn’t me being down on myself, really. Maybe a little, but I feel like it’s mostly me being down on everyone else, and just trying to be nicer and more polite about it than I actually feel much of the time. Since the GWR attempt elevated my awareness of how things are, I’ve been constantly torn between asking for help to make other visions a reality, and just doing things myself/not doing them at all. Even small things require effort, and while I am no stranger to putting in said effort, I recognize that I can’t do everything myself. Not well, at least. So I’m not sure whether to focus and do one thing as well as I am able (despite my admittedly mediocre talent or ability), or do a few things half-assed, or accept offers of assistance, even though I no longer believe in anyone’s ability to follow through.

That’s pretty much the crux of it, I think. I don’t know what it is about me that makes those closest to me not believe in me, as I’ve proven time and time again that I am stubborn enough, at the very least, to do what I say I’m going to do. From where I sit, it’s everyone else who is falling short of the example I set. From a relatively young age, I’ve tried to lead by example, in fact. Yet for some reason, however, no one follows. It often makes me frustrated and angry, yet it’s an impotent anger – the kind that lets me cry and yell and stamp my feet and even slam the door…but still go to my room.

Maybe it’s time for me to focus on finding the source of that disconnect; the reason that I don’t inspire the confidence in others that I feel in myself – that I start off feeling in all of us, until I am let down yet again. I think I need to figure out what it is about me that holds people back from believing in me, and also determine why I keep giving out second chances, hoping for different outcomes, and whether or not I should continue to do so.

I broke a Guinness World Record, guys. Just imagine what else I can do – and how much more we could do together.

Because I imagine it all the time, you know. And it’s amazing.

Sometimes I even feel sorry for some of you, because you can’t see it, too.

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Expect Less

Still grumpy today, so feel free to not read on.

Definitely nothing interesting or important to report. Just general misplaced anger, as usual.

Anxiety is making sure I don’t sleep much, too, of course, so I imagine that adds to my overall grumpy nature. Annoying.

I spent a good deal of the weekend thinking about cancelling…pretty much everything. Or some things. I still haven’t really decided. It’s frustrating to think about and frustrating not to at the same time. Definitely have some decisions to make, but none of them look to have positive outcomes, no matter what I decide. So that’s frustrating, as well.

The fairies are telling me to travel so I can learn and grow and meet someone significant or perhaps even move. I’m to ask them for financial help and planning assistance. I don’t know how to do that, but it’d be cool if I did. I also have zero idea where I would go. I mean, there are tons of places I want to check out, of course, but learning and growing and meeting and moving is a lot of pressure to put on a simple little trip. I don’t know that anything at the top of my list would have the potential to be particularly life altering, even if I was granted a way to make it happen. Of course, I’ve taken other trips that turned out to be much more than what I’d expected, so I guess there’s potential in pretty much anything.

In my experience, though, it usually happens when you least expect it, so trying to plan an epic trip without expecting it to be epic is the key.

My horoscope for the day is telling me to think about ways I can trim the mental and physical excess baggage from my life, so that I can better embrace the “less is more” philosophy. Not sure what I think about that. Maybe thinking is part of the excess baggage.

So many roadblocks lately. Every step I try to take is met with resistance; even what should have been small, simple ones. I don’t understand. I’m even trying to be more brief in my communications, yet get shut down just as quickly, if not more so. I don’t know. I really, really don’t.

The term “spotting” seems far more pleasant than anything that’s actually happening.

My neurologist this morning noticed my hair is longer than it was when we last saw one another. Cute! Now, of course, I won’t see him until December (barring any unforeseen issues in the meantime), which means it’s almost winter already.

I’ve also been told there’s a note on my health card file to contact the ministry. I suspect I’ll be separated from my red and white card very soon now.

I suddenly feel a bit feverish, or something. I am well overdue for my next cold, though, so can’t say as I’d be surprised to be sick again by the end of the day! Haha

I feel like I don’t get to hang out with my friends much anymore. But I also feel like I’m not always sure who they are – or what friendship is, I guess is more the issue. I know it’s always been fluid and, if not temporary, then at least not always constant. It always changes, like everything. I guess I just wanted something more…I don’t know what the word is. Something more something. I just didn’t realize it. Or maybe it’s just an effect of the grumpiness skewing things in that realm, too. Making me feel like I still don’t know how to friendship. Haha

It was once suggested, in high school, that I was having a nervous breakdown. I don’t buy it, though. I think it would be more of a thing.

A guy on the subway this morning had two plastic bags full of lettuce, and on one a tiny caterpillar was trying to work its way somewhere, but was having trouble navigating the outside of the bag. I watched it for the whole ride, thinking about how it was going to die soon, all alone and far from home. Also saw what looked like a raccoon hand on the sidewalk. Tough to be sure, given that it was so flat and all, but it was definitely someone’s hand. Or foot.

The things we leave behind.

I feel like everything is coming together even as it all falls apart, while remaining enough the same that it’s driving me nuts. Can’t sleep. But can definitely eat, and drink, so there’s that.

This blog is one of the things I’m thinking about cancelling, since I can’t even remember the point of writing it, anymore, and I’m pretty sure it’s not working the way I’d hoped, anyway. It’s more likely, though, that I’ll finish out the year (due to stubbornness), and then delete it all. Maybe I’ll even get super open and honest right near the end, and then destroy all evidence so that it can’t be held against me in the future.

Not sure what to do. About anything, it seems. Each step hits a wall, no matter which direction I go.

For now, all I can think to do is just sit in the silence and hope something shifts my way, but that feels really lazy. My horoscope does say to apply mental restraint on my actions, so at least that matches somewhat.

Still seems lazy and needy, though. And those are things I hate about myself. Do or not do. Just equals more walls, as far as I’m concerned.

So be it. Another day’s post done.

To Be Continued

Well, it happened.

I completely forgot to write a blog post yesterday.

I thought about it a couple of times, but was so busy doing other things I eventually just forgot all together.

When the realization hit around 5am this morning, I was overwhelmed with a number of emotions, the main one being disappointment in myself.  Anger with myself, too, but mostly just really disappointed.  It’s a worse feeling, anyway, right?  Most of us would prefer for someone to be angry with us than disappointed in us, if we could choose.  In my mind I was even trying to make excuses for myself – to myself – before realizing how ridiculous and ineffective that was.  So I took Brody for a walk and went back to sleep for a bit.

I have to go for my MRI soon, so will write more when I get back. Not that two posts today would make up for missing yesterday, but the funny thing is that I really WANTED to write about yesterday.  A ton of things happened, and a few in particular I am eager to examine here.  Not all good, but also not all bad, so finding the balance will be key, as always.

For now, I will just note that I am still disappointed, still…grumpy, if not exactly angry…but that I also recognize that A) I can’t do anything to change it now, B) it’s far from the end of the world, and C) this is my blog so I accidentally broke one of my own rules and while it sucks in theory, it’s a tiny detail that means very little in the grand scheme of things.  Trying to find excuses or ways to make up for it are far less important than the act of just moving on, and so that’s what I’m going to do.

To be continued.

For The Love

So tired today, guys. So so tired.

Struggling through this work day, but it’s okay. Getting there.

Went out to see my beloved Arden and the Tourists perform for the first time in years. First time in years for me seeing them, I mean, not for them performing. They just rarely do any public gigs these days. It’s all been private events lately. My lovely friends indulged me by driving to the venue and hanging out with me for a couple of hours, and then driving home.

But there have been a couple of things making it hard for my brain to settle down, and unfortunately neither is really resolved yet.

It’s all driving me crazy and making my animal-loving heart hurt.

First, it was discovered earlier this week that there were some baby raccoons trapped in the no-longer-used chimney at my work. Not sure how they got down to the bottom of it, or if their mom was with them and/or able to get in and out, but they could apparently be heard scratching around in there just above the flue. Debris was falling from inside as they were possibly trying to find a way out. I didn’t go investigate because, frankly, I have trouble listening to animals in distress right now. It’s too upsetting for me just knowing about them without having to hear it, as well.

So for the past few days, all I can think about is these poor critters, trapped, likely without food and water, basically dying a slow painful death in there while we stand around and listen. I was running through every possible scenario in my mind last night, and wondering if I would come in today and risk my job trying to get them out, or at least taking matters into my own hands and calling wildlife services to come and do it properly.

Much to my relief, the building manager called wildlife services, and they came in today to see what could be done.

One thing they discovered is that there are actually two chimneys, and at the bottom of the other one is a nest of baby squirrels. They aren’t worried about them, though, because mom can get in and out and eventually they’ll be big enough to get out, themselves. So that’s good. And cute.

The other thing they discovered is that there are no baby raccoons in this chimney. There is a single pigeon. Unfortunately, the chimney doesn’t go straight down – there is a bend in it and the pigeon is at the bottom where they can’t get to it, so there’s no way to retrieve it from the roof. The flue is stuck shut and no one has been able to get it open from the bottom, so for now, the poor thing is fully trapped in there. For at least three days and counting.

I went and had a look and discovered that there is a piece of brick jammed at the edge of the flue door thingy, which is likely what’s preventing it from opening. Again I’ve been toying with the thought of taking matters into my own hands and risking my employment to try and get the flue open…but so far I’ve remained mostly impotent. No one really cares about saving the pigeon, but they do care about how much decomposition can smell, so I emailed a couple of people to let them know about the piece of brick, and offered some ideas as to how to remove it, as well as a spare coat that we could wrap the bird in and get it outside safely.

I’ve received no response, and am not really sure if more is being done or if they are just kind of tossing around ideas or dismissing it all together.

So while I am glad it’s not baby raccoons dying in there, it’s still somebody dying in there, and it still bothers me. Will have to see how it all plays out, I guess, though that also makes me feel cowardly and almost as bad as someone who just doesn’t care.

I don’t know. We’ll see.

The other issue bothering me right now just arose yesterday evening. Brody and I were out for a walk when we came across a woman looking for a missing dog. Apparently while in someone else’s care for the day, a restaurant delivery guy accidentally allowed the dog to scamper into the apartment building’s hallway during the transaction. No one noticed, but it’s a big building. Pepper (the dog) wouldn’t really get past the end of the hallway. However, the delivery guy also apparently had no issue with the dog riding down in the elevator with him…and then the douche let the dog outside!

So little Pepper went for a bit of a run. He was spotted on Yonge street, on Mount Pleasant…they think he was basically running his regular walk route. He’s escaped once before and made his way home once he got tired, so everyone was hoping he’d turn up somewhere safe before too long. I went out, walked Brody again when I got home, and went to bed.

This morning, there were missing dog posters all over my street and surrounding area.

I’m hoping someone caught him and kept him inside overnight. He wasn’t wearing a collar (because he wasn’t supposed to be going outside), so it’s possible someone has him and wouldn’t know what to do with him until they saw the signs this morning. There are a million other horrible scenarios that also could have happened, but until I learn otherwise, I’m going to keep praying for Pepper’s safe return.

And if I can find out which restaurant that delivery guy was from, I’ll make sure never to give them my patronage.

Seriously, who let’s someone else’s pet just run outside? People I hate, obviously.

On Quitting Smoking

On this day, April 13th, in 2003 I quit smoking. That makes today my 13th anniversary. Not really sure how I feel about that, actually.

See, I looooved smoking. Loved it. It was the biggest crutch I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t walk down the street without a cigarette in my hand. I’d have one before bed, when I woke up in the morning, sometimes even if I woke in the middle of the night. I’d have a cigarette before and after every meal, and every time I went out for drinks. I’d smoke when I was angry, or sad, or stressed, or anxious – I mean, mostly anxious. I am anxious pretty much all the time. Smoking calmed me or, at least, I believed it did, which is really all that matters.

At the time, we could still smoke inside some establishments, or on patios of others. And packs of course cost way less, just like everything else did in 2003. It was far less difficult to find a spot than it is now. I went on multiple breaks from work during any given shift, and I drank way less because my hands were kept busy. I always had a lighter on me, but still preferred the smell of matches. It was kind of a social thing sometimes, too. We’d go out together and have conversations that didn’t include the people inside, and the cigarette would act as a timer to let us know when it was time to go back in.

For me, though, it was mostly just a huge crutch. A thing I felt I needed – or at least really wanted – to help get me through the day.

Then one day, I found out I’d been accepted to teacher’s college, and I’d promised myself that I would quit before school started, because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite teacher – one who tells the kids not to smoke, but then hangs out in the parking lot every recess and lunch break, puffing away and setting a bad example. I figured I could be the poster child for Don’t Ever Start, but I didn’t want to be a hypocrite if I could help it.

So I planned a big party to celebrate my acceptance, and smoked as much as I wanted that night – then stopped as of the next morning. It sucked, too, because my last cigarettes weren’t even mine. I ran out too close to the end to make it worth buying another pack, so I bummed a few off someone at the party, and THEIRS were the last ones I ever had.

To make matters worse, I’d done all kinds of research into quitting, and thought I’d set myself up for success, but it turned out that the information I had was only part of the issue. I don’t think even now addiction is truly understood, let alone withdrawl. Nothing I saw online prepared me for the acute depression, for example. Not one mention of it. I had the patch ready in case I needed it, but that only helps with cravings, not all of the other crazy things that happen to your system when you’re going through severe withdrawl.

The other thing that sucked was that, for months prior, I’d cut down to the lightest cigarettes I could find, so that it’d maybe be a bit easier to stop smoking completely if I happened to get into school. But the first step of the patch contained way more nicotine than I’d been ingesting, so it actually ramped me right back up to higher doses than I’d been used to. I could feel it in my veins, I thought. And it gave me crazy vivid dreams.

A few weeks later, my partner decided to cheat on me fairly publicly, and then break up with me not long before school started, so there went my financial and emotional support system out the window. Luckily I’d loaded up on student debt that I’d hoped to not need. Poor timing much?

The bets were on as to whether or not I’d cave and take up the habit again, but to my mind that would be failure, and I suspected my ex would love to see me fail, so I kept not giving into temptation, which I’m sure also saved many lives.

Also, I’m stubborn as hell sometimes.

Now, keep in mind that I really loved this habit I’d quit, and my reason for quitting was simply not to be a hypocrite. It wasn’t for my health, it wasn’t because it was too expensive, it wasn’t for my own good nor the good of anyone else. It was ONLY so I could face the children each day in class. As well, I got very depressed very quickly, and not being able to smoke felt not only like a punishment, but a punishment I deserved. In that sense, it was easy not to break down and buy more, because not having them made me feel bad, and in my mind, I deserved to feel bad.

So, there I was – alone, unbearably sad, my self-esteem the lowest it had ever been at that point. Trying to teach children. I started drinking more and eating more, so I packed on an unimaginable amount of weight in a very short period of time, and have the stretch marks to prove it. Hell, I have pictures to prove it. I almost flunked out of school a few times, but knowing that failure would also make my ex happy, I hung in there, too. I took on another shift at work, and all but maxed out all the lovely credit I’d been handed as a student. Hating myself pretty much every minute of every day.

But hey – at least I wasn’t a hypocrite.

I haven’t had a cigarette since that day, except for one accidental inhale when I’d only meant to pull it into my mouth to help out a friend. I was drinking at the time, and even though it was years later, habit still kicked in. My body still knew the motions automatically, and I knew that if I ever did have one myself, I’d be back to a pack a day in no time. And who can afford that, really?

Do I feel better as a result of quitting? Not really, no. Am I proud of myself? Meh, kind of, I guess, but more in that it was one more way I made my ex wrong about me. And I’m told nicotine withdrawl is actually harder to go through than heroin, so there’s that. Don’t worry, though – I can’t afford a heroin addiction, either. It does seem that I am always a little addicted to something, though. I tend to just temporarily quit something long enough to get it out of my system, and then pick it back up later, just to make sure I still can. I don’t really want to quit anything else I love forever, though. The very idea makes me sad. I can cut way down, and even quit temporarily – but for good? No thank you. That feels like punishment, too, and I don’t wish to punish myself that way anymore right now.

I likened the whole experience to getting out of a bad relationship. You know they aren’t good for you, and that your physical and emotional health is suffering as a result of such toxicity. But against all rational argument, you still love them, and even though you’re technically glad you got away, you really do miss them quite a lot.

Then, every time you go anywhere, you get see them with somebody else.

Being Mean For Honesty’s Sake

I often think about honesty, and truth, and the price of putting it out into the world. Like, I almost never speak or write what I actually think or feel. Even on here, I know it will be read, and for sure some among you will take whatever it is personally. That’s what we do; we assume everything is directed at us, whether it is, or not. I mean, the internet makes that much easier, because everything posted online has a degree of, if not anonymity, then at least distance and separation between the author/speaker and the individual reader/audience member. We can say and write whatever we want – promote our truth – and for sure someone out there will read it and think, “Fuck…is she talking about me?!” Whereas, if someone speaks to you directly, via letter, email, telephone or in person, there’s really no denying that you are the one to whom they are referring.

So I, for one, self-edit pretty much all of my actual self away. Or, not away, but hidden inside. I don’t express at least 90% of what I actually think or feel – at least. Probably more. Because it’s mean. There are compliments and such that are nice, so I try to say those, at least when they are true. Usually, though, truth and honesty is pretty mean, and it hurts people. I don’t like to hurt people, even people I don’t like, so I keep it to myself. To spare them. To spare you.

But what is that doing to me, I wonder? Keeping it all in? Surely it’s not the healthiest way to live. (And don’t call me Shirley)

I see and hear people purging what seems to be everything that comes into their heads, regardless of how it may make another person feel. Which I guess is great for them, but they’re mean. Many don’t even appear to try finding a way to express themselves without being hurtful. Either they don’t notice how their voices are being received, or they don’t care. Neither is a quality I want to nurture in myself, and I don’t even like people. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a better version of this inherently evil species. The best version I can be. Or, you know, just better than I could be, if I cared less.

This post went so differently in my head while I was riding to work on transit this morning! It was less vague, yet more stream of consciousness-y.

I think we get ruder and meaner as we get older. Older people will say stuff to your face and not give a crap about your precious feelings. They don’t need to hide behind the interwebs. They’ve got stuff to say and not enough time in which to say it all, so they get out as much as they can, while they can. There’s definitely no time for beating around the bush, or re-phrasing, and no point in keeping it all bottled up inside. Each new day is an opportunity to speak your mind. And now, with the internet, we can be different parts of ourselves depending on our communication method of choice in any given moment. We can show one semblance of truth on Facebook, another in an email, and something quite different to those in our immediate vicinity. It would be interesting to watch the internet generation get older – see how many selves they have when all of the feel like expressing their truth all the time.

I wonder what I’ll be like as I get older? Will I still try to remain quiet, or will I just start expressing my anger and hurt and whatever else I think and feel to whoever will listen? Will I even care if anyone is listening? Maybe I’ll just talk, anyway. To animals, to the air around me. I already apologize to inanimate objects on occasion, so it’s not a far leap to raging my way loudly down the sidewalk, really.

Would I feel better, expressing all these thoughts and feelings? Would it be a relief to just get it all out? Or would I see how my words affect people and just end up wallowing in guilt and regret all the more? (Though, I’d probably get lots of space to myself on public transit if I was speaking my thoughts aloud…food for yet more thought)

It’s so easy to say, “I want you to be honest with me”. But trust me – you really don’t.  Or to say, “Tell me how you really feel.”  Yet truly, you don’t really want to know.  I am not mean or rude enough to make my thoughts and feelings known – yet – but I am absolutely mean and rude enough to have them. I watch you and hear you express yourself, and sometimes it even hurts me, but so far I’ve resisted the temptation to reciprocate or follow your example. It’s not always easy, but I’d rather that than than have to live with the consequences of the effect my words would have on you. Also, I’ve been keeping it all to myself for so long that it’s not only a habit, but I’m also not entirely sure which ones are real overall, versus which are just momentary or reactionary “real”. Which will still be true tomorrow, and which are just lashing out in hurt or anger. When I think about it, it’s difficult to tell for certain. I’m emotional, just like everyone else, but I recognize that emotions fluctuate and change and come with varying degrees of intensity. What I think or feel in a given moment may just be a knee-jerk reaction that winds up not being accurate once I’ve taken a moment to breathe through it. So the idea of doing permanent damage to a relationship, friendship, and even a stranger’s day – all to satisfy a temporary need that may or may not make me feel better – is just not something I’m willing to do yet. It thus far does not seem worth it.

Besides, I’m also aware of how I hurt and insult and upset and anger people on a daily basis without even realizing it. That sentence doesn’t make logical sense, I suppose, but there it is. I know it’s happening, I just can’t usually tell when or why. When I do realize something specific I’ve done, some line I’ve crossed, it’s too late. The damage, however unintentional, has been done. That realization alone is enough for me to carry the guilt and regret inside me for likely the rest of my life. Having that person or people telling me how I’ve made them feel, or highlighting my error in being, makes the burden 100 times heavier. Maybe it makes them feel better to point out my shame, so I let them have their moment, or moments; whatever they need. That’s the only way I feel like I can even partially make up for what I’ve done; allowing them – allowing you – to express how it’s made you feel. But I know how that makes me feel, so I won’t reciprocate.

Usually.

Truth hurts. That’s what they say. It hurts because it’s often mean. It hurts because something we are afraid is true has just been confirmed by another. While part of me wants to be honest with you, and tell you what I think and what I feel, so far, I just can’t. Because even though it’s not my intention to do so, the truth – my version of it – would hurt you. Or anger you. Or confuse you. Or any number of other adverse ways in which it would affect you. Therein lies my frustration. I want to be open and express myself, but I hold back because of how it’ll affect you. Because of how affecting you in a negative way would feel to me.

So far, it’s just not worth it.

Though, at the same time, sometimes I’m drowning in unexpressed and unvented emotions. Yet I see you appearing to have no qualms about putting your thoughts and feelings out there, regardless of how it might make me or anyone else feel. Regardless of how it makes me feel. More and more I wonder to myself – if I am showing you more regard than you are showing me, and if I am showing you more regard than I am showing myself – how can I ever hope to find any sort of balance in my own life? It’s not my job to coddle you, and yet that’s exactly what I do. All the time. Every day. By my own choice. Not because I am a nice person. Not because I wish only to spread peace and love across the land. I’m not a unicorn.

I do it because, above all else, I fear a life without you in it.

Sometimes I just wish you felt the same about me.

Owning Life

Man, I am such a mess of scattered and random anger today! My mind is juuuust spinning. So that’s part of the reason why I won’t write about what I’d been planning to write about for this post. Also, I wanted to use some pictures for it, but haven’t chosen which particular ones yet! 😉

Hence, I shall again ramble away for a bit about nothing in particular and see what shakes out.

I don’t think we can own living things. Not the way we think we can. Other than the Buy Friends app on Facebook (or whatever it was called – I haven’t played in years), we don’t own people, in terms of legal possession, for example. Many of us even frown on the notion of ownership of another person. One does not procreate and consider that they own their child. Even if you pay to adopt or be artificially inseminated or whatever – money has changed hands, and yet there’s usually no ownership mentality that comes with it. No deed or some such paperwork. Children and other people aren’t generally considered property. At least not anymore, or in most places.

Yet every other living thing, we think we can own. A pet. A plant. Livestock. Land. We draw invisible lines across the earth and consider what’s within them ours. Our property. Our country. Our continent. Our rivers, lakes, oceans and seas. Even airspace, for the love! We think we can own the air ABOVE our land! We tax and tarriff, we charge fees to cross our land, our waters or travel in our air. We fight for it, to the death. Our territory. While we are not the only species on the planet known to do such a thing, I think we can safely presume that we are the only ones who go to such lengths to “own” it. Even space we’re not using, we don’t want anyone else to use it, either. We’ll destroy something beautiful rather than let another enjoy it.

Yet the whole idea is kind of ludicrous, when you think about it. You own a plot of land, so you build a house upon it, which you also own. You plant trees and grass on it, and you own those, too. Do you also then own the insects and wildlife which traverse it occasionally? Of course not. Do you own the birds that fly through your airspace above your land? Nope. You don’t even think of them as the tresspassing illegal aliens they so clearly are. When the wind (also a tresspasser) blows your leaves off of your tree and onto your neighbour’s lawn, do you go rake them up? Nope – they become your neighbour’s problem, even though you just owned them a minute ago. How quickly you relinquish ownership then, right?! When precipitation falls from your sky, do you claim to own the rain and snow and hail? The floodwaters in your basement – yours? Of course not. It’s a completely silly notion, because life is fluid and temporary and ever-changing. Life cannot be owned.

We claim to own our pets, yet same thing – we own them no more than we own our human children. They are intelligent, unique individuals, and we make them dependant on us for their very survival, but we have also made ourselves responsible for the quality of their lives. We can own the responsibility, but not the individual lives themselves.

I think we’ve just become so bored as a species that we need to control and dominate everything and everyone. We need to twist and shape those around us into what we think we want. All these years of technological advancement and we still don’t know how to plant trees so that their branches and roots don’t grow to collide with power lines, sidewalks and the like, so we cut them, trim them to our liking. We need to travel quickly because we’re all very busy going nowhere, so as long as that’s not a human we just ran over, we’re good. Speed on ahead to get to that red light faster. We measure our worth by what we have. By things. I have this, therefore I am that. We don’t realize that we can have all the things in the world and we’re still going to die. We are not immortal – not in the way we think we want to be – and we are not going to live forever. But the damage we cause will outlast us; all of us. Destruction is our immortal legacy.

I wonder what those who come later will think, when they look back at who we appear to be right now. Will they wonder where all the green went? What happened to all the art and beauty and music? Will they look at our piles of treasured material things as garbage and gaze at our faded selfies and imagine the lives of a people who had the time and need to take portraits of their meals, while simultaneously destroying all of the living things around them? All of the living things they thought they owned?

Will they wonder what the ever-loving fuck we were thinking? Or just wonder if we were ever thinking at all?

Search For Equality

Had a chat recently with  a friend about the experience of being a woman in a man’s world.  About being anything other than a straight white guy, really.  Although there are a billion differences between people, there does seem to be at least one similarity that both unites and divides us – the inability to express this experience in a way that will be understood:  without emotion.

I’ve tried writing about this before, and likely will again.  I feel like it’s something that most people either try to discuss, or pay lip service to, but it’s been so entrenched in our global culture that I’m not even sure how aware any of us are of our own responsibility in perpetuating it.

The thing is, I’m not sure there’s really a way to change it.  Not really.  Even if it were possible to do, it would take unfathomable effort on everyone’s part, and continuous effort at that.  And who wants to do that?  We’re comfortable.  We’re mostly comfortable.  It’s much easier to accept the status quo than it is to demand change – especially with no plan or idea of what it would look like – and then have to live up to that change.  Take responsibility for it.  Own it, the change we brought about in the world.  Do we want equality – true equality – enough to battle that hard for it?  For the rest of our lives, and expect the generations that follow to fight for it, as well?

What if we take a step forward, and fail?  Would that prove that whoever put straight white guys in charge of running the world right in having done so?  Isn’t it easier to just let them make all the mistakes, instead?  Besides the fact that we can’t even talk about any of it without getting upset and sounding like fanatics.  I can almost feel the eyes rolling as I write this.

Here’s the thing:  I’m not a feminist.  At all.  Nor am I a…humanist, or whatever it’s called when someone feels all people should be treated equally.  I don’t even really like people. If we lump all other species into it…all life…then that is closer to what I am.  Whatever -ist or -ism that ends up being.  Maybe there isn’t a word for what I am.  Maybe there isn’t language for what I want to express.  Maybe there is just the sense – the unshakeable certainty – that something is very wrong.  That our balance is way, way off.

From the treatment of and language surrounding women in politics, to the awards show fiascos of late, to…why is breast-feeding a thing?  Haven’t people been breast-feeding since, like, there were people in existence?  How is it even remotely an issue?  There are far more behaviours that people should be ashamed to perform in public beyond feeding a kid.  Like urinating and spitting.  If guys in particular could control their need to spew their bodily fluids all over the place, we’d all be much healthier.  But that’s another conversation.

When I was practice teaching, I did a unit on discrimination and the like, and there was one class – a group of amazing Grade 7’s I adored – that I had the most powerful experience with.  Or ‘with whom I shared the most powerful experience’.  Whatever.

Anyway, I started a class discussion about the topic, without telling them that I would actually be discriminating against some of them based on some completely superficial element of their physical appearance.  I think in that particular case I chose children with blond/light-coloured hair.  Most of the class and I had a lively conversation, while I ignored the kids I was “biased” against.  I watched their eager little faces change to various expressions of frustration, sadness, confusion, hurt and anger.

It sucked.  But it made a pretty powerful example for our topic.  I let them (and myself) off the hook after a few minutes, because scarring the poor kiddos was not my intent.  Together, we sorted out where I’d chosen to place my bias, and even then, some kids railed against it.  “My hair is BROWN, it just looks blonder in this light!”

Sadly, however, it’s my perception that matters.  It doesn’t have to make sense, and it’s not something I need to explain.  If some quality about you fits my undefined biases, then I shall discriminate against you.  I don’t even need to know why.

That’s how discrimination works.

Now, it wasn’t a perfect example, to be sure.  I was acting differently with them than I ever had before – interacting differently with them.  Some who had been used to receiving my attention suddenly found they weren’t, whereas if I was truly discriminating, I would have been ignoring them the whole time.

As well, I hated doing it.  Of course I have ridiculous biases of my own – some I am aware of and some I’m sure I haven’t even noticed yet.  But since this was a careful decision I made on my own – a choice – knowing I was potentially hurting feelings and causing all of those other emotions – WATCHING the effect my behaviour was having on people I actually liked – was truly one of those “this hurts me more than it hurts you” things.  At least, I hope it was.  I guess I’ll never really know for sure, but things did seem better once all the cards were on the table.  The playing field had been levelled, at least as much as it ever was, and we moved forward together with new insight.

There’s an impossible amount of history to sift through, and no simple bandaid solution will suffice.  Yet, maybe there isn’t a way to fix it at all.  We can say children are the future, and that things will improve bit by bit with each generation, but I think that’s problematic and lacks a certain…taking of responsibility.  We all carry with us the effects of our upbringing, of our understanding of the world based on the experiences gained throughout our lives.  Each generation is, in many ways, a product of the generations that came before.  None of us exists in a vacuum.  In that sense, children are also the past.

And we can’t change the past.  We have very limited effect on the future.  So all we really have to impact is the present.

I have no real idea how to do that.

But I’m trying.  I’m trying to find words to express myself, my truth, my outrage, my hurt, my joy, my love – my heart, my mind, my soul.  There will be many times when it’s so clouded with emotion and a myriad of conflicting thoughts that it won’t make a lick of sense, even to me.  This post itself is all over the place.  It’s not the first such post, and it won’t be the last.

And that’s okay.  That’s what struggle looks like.  And so long as I continue to fight to find my voice, there is hope of finally gaining that sense of equality I’ve been looking for.

Because in the end, the beginning has to come from me.

Tis The Season

So, I’ve decided to add another category called Rants & Random High Assholiness. Basically a spot for me to vent about…well, it’ll likely be about people most of the time. They’re what makes me angry every day. I’d joked awhile ago about how I wanted to write a guide to help members of the general public be less asshole-y, and while I’m not sure I’ll actually write such a guide, I thought it couldn’t hurt to create a spot where I could dump such random nuggets of wisdom…largely in rant form.

This is my first post in that direction, though it’s not specifically a rant. Just a couple of things I was thinking about on my way to work, and these things have come up in my mind before, so I thought I’d go ahead and drop ’em here for a change. The only real problem today is that I am hugely distracted and busy, so I don’t have much time, but a post is a post is a post, so here goes.

It was a slippery walk to the subway this morning. I fell, but so far today only once. I’m pretty sure the world has a hate on for pedestrians, because nothing is really set up to make our lives at all easier. The roads are clear, but everything gets pushed to the side, to become a swamp of slush and rock salt and mud, which we get to wade through just so we can cross the nice clean street. Then the particularly douchey drivers think it’s hilarious to roll on by as close to the curb as possible so they can spray the swamp slush all over us. Wwalking on a snow-and-slush-covered sidewalk is a workout just to keep from slipping and falling (which I failed at this morning), and then some people all but pave the sidewalk with salt, so everything from the mid-calf down gets destroyed. And since salt just creates more slush (it’s not a substitute for shovelling, people!), it makes everything more slippery and messy than it would have been otherwise, which means that when you finally slip and fall, you can’t just brush that shit off like you can with snow. It stays with you until laundry day.

So my morning started with a slip-and-slide walk on the sidewalk (complete with drain covers and the like, which are extra slippery when wet – not a euphamism), then a wade through a slush swamp to cross the street – carefully avoiding those white lines of doom that get painted on crosswalks to make things even more harrowing – a quick dip in the slush swamp at the other side of the street (get to keep that mess until laundry day), and then a Risky Business-esque shuffle-slide downhill and across some fancy (aka more slippery) sidewalk stones to the intersection outside the subway station.

The subway ride was uneventful but for all the regular noobs who seem to have no idea that there is an acre of space in the middle of the train, as they would prefer to sardine themselves into the doorways, instead. Then, as I was about to board the streetcar to complete the last leg of my journey to work, some tool pulls up in his truck, RIGHT in front of the streetcar door. At a red light. So we had to go around that fool just to get on board.

There are a billion examples of why being a pedestrian is akin to being the lower life-form on the totem pole (anything non-human is, of course, the lowest, as they apparently aren’t even worth stopping for), but winter seems to bring the most of them to the surface.  Pedestrians are out in the elements, drivers are not.  Exercise a little patience once in awhile to be less of a dick.  That goes for any season, really, not just winter.

But speaking of winter, I wonder what it’s like living in places that don’t have as many seasons as we do here in Canada? Like here, everyone measures the turning of the seasons in different ways. Some measure by calendar dates, some via groundhog, some use the weather and/or temperature as an indication of which season it is. And everyone’s IQ drops as soon as there is the slightest hint of precipitation in the air. Long winter, early spring – everyone has their own way of determining what defines a season.

Guys – what does the groundhog do if there are 7 more weeks of winter, instead of 6?