2016

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This is it, guys!  My final post!

Thank goodness!  haha

In recent previous years, I’ve made a list of things I’d accomplished over the year, the number of which would match whatever year it was. This year, though, the general populace seems intent on bringing me down, so I’ve altered the plan a tiny bit.

Oh, I know it’s not intentional, necessarily, but regardless – y’all are ruining my zen thing, man.

So this year, I’ve instead made a list of the 16 best things to happen for me in 2016.  The original list was quite a lot larger, but I’ve managed to whittle it down to the following, in no particular order:

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  1. Mark Hamill

Luke Skywalker is my earliest and longest-running heroes, from about the age of 5 years, or so.  I mean, it all kicked into high gear when I was about 12, but my love for Luke and Star Wars had already been brewing for several years before that.  So it was a near-lifelong dream come true to finally be able to meet the man who brought the character to life.  I’d rehearsed everything in my head leading up to those few precious moments I’d get to spend interacting with him – and ended up doing none of it when the time came.  But everything that did happen was so much better than I could have hoped, and even the group photo op I had done with my awesome niece and nephews was perfect and priceless.  I wouldn’t change a thing.

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2. Hudson

It’s impossible to explain to another person my absolute love for this polar bear.  When he was a little guy, I found myself getting up in the morning after an injection night (they were terrible – not much could get me out of bed the next day) and trekking out to the zoo just so I could spend some time with him; watching him, and getting to know him.  There’s just something that happens to my heart every time I see him.  When he was moved to Winnipeg, I was devastated, and knew that, even if I ever saw him again, it wouldn’t be the same.  I wouldn’t be able to see him all the time anymore.  Until now.  2016 saw the return of Hudson and his brother Humphrey to the Toronto Zoo, and I have been out there almost every week since their quarantine ended.  I spent some quality time at the window with him one day, and since then, he’s back to greeting me upon arrival, just like he used to!  He’s now the biggest bear I’ve ever seen, but that thing still happens in my heart when I see him.  When we make eye contact, I pretty much explode.  The giant fool is truly my spirit animal, and even though our time together is temporary, I am making the most of it.  No regrets this time.

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3. Dark Matter Set Visit

Mind Reels on a spaceship, guys!  Every bit as amazing as you’d think…and more!  Of course, that’s really all I can say right now.  Keep an eye out for the S3 premiere, when we should finally be able to talk about our day on set!

4. Bowling For Kids Sake

An all-star team put together by actor Ennis Esmer challenged fans to help raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters Toronto by donating and/or building teams to compete against one another in the Superhero-themed bowling night event!  Two “civilian” teams took on two all-star teams and basically had such a ridiculously good time that we have been thinking ever since of trying more things like that in the future!  So much fun, and all for a great cause!

5. Good Credit

When I learned that my bankruptcy would be cleared from my record with one of Canada’s two largest credit agencies after just 6 years instead of 7, I went online one day to find out how I was doing.  I’d gotten myself a secured Visa so that I would have SOME credit, instead of no credit, once the 7 years after my discharge had passed.  I got my credit report done, and was surprised and excited to find out that I was already squarely in the GOOD section of the scale!  Before I knew it, I was pre-approved for far more credit than I wanted, so I talked the guy down to a $500 Scotiabank Scene Visa, and have been happily earning more Scene points AND improving my credit rating ever since!  That’s so huge, guys!

6. Hands On Exotics

I had tried to volunteer at the Toronto Wildlife Centre, because I really wanted to feed baby squirrels in the nursery, but the schedule didn’t work out for when I was available, so I went a different direction, and began volunteering at an exotic animal shelter, instead.  I was taking it week to week for a long time, as I wasn’t sure how I’d do over the winter and such.  Plus, it’s a lot of cleaning poo.  Then there was a boatload of upheaval, and I wasn’t sure what was going on or how things would work moving forward.  The past couple of months, things have settled down a bit, and I am doing better with the routine.  I’m getting to know some of the animals, and they are getting to know me, and to be honest, it’s starting to feel a bit like therapy now.  My usual team and I work well together, and we get things done quickly so there’s a bit of extra time at the end to visit with our favourites a little longer (an in the example photo below, with young miss Cricket, the baby kangaroo).  And oh, the stories I can tell!  I’m hoping to continue to make new ones as we move into 2017!

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7. Grandma

This is a story I don’t wish to go into, so I’ll just say that I’ve started writing letters to my grandmother.  By hand.  At least once a week, but usually more.  That’s all I have to say about that.

8. Reconnecting with old friends

2016 was a good year for me in terms of reaching out and reconnecting with people who used to be in my life with much more regularity.  I started going to some WLU Toronto Alumni events, which – I graduated in 1995, and have been in Toronto since late 1997 – why have I not been going to these?!  So much fun!  Especially with my gal, Izzy, and her guy, Phil (who went to Western – boooo!  haha), and my hope for further reunions with my fellow Laurier alum may actually come to pass!  As well, I got reacquainted in a big way with one of my Rogers boys from back in the day.  We fell into our same old rhythm with each other – and then changed things up a bit, as well.  Right from our first conversation, it was obvious to me how much I’d missed him, though, so now I’m doing my best to make sure he and I don’t drift apart like that again.

As well, I started seeing my therapist on a regular basis again.  We also fell into our same old rhythm, but this time it seems like everything is more heightened.  We are connecting on a much deeper level than ever before, and as difficult as it is, I couldn’t have asked for more.  It’s exactly what I need.

What’s more is that I’ve spent more quality time in 2016 with more recent friends, and made at least one amazing new one, to boot!  Maybe my obsession with stronger connections is starting to pay off.  Also GO HAWKS GO!

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9. CSA’s Red Carpet

The Mind Reels has covered the Canadian Screen Awards (aka The Candys) to some degree each year since they began.  We’ve been extremely fortunate to have been invited to do so, and to have as much access as we’ve been given each year.  This year, however, was our first time on the broadcast gala’s red carpet, chatting with the talent as they arrived for the big night.  We were squished into a spot at the very end, and while many of the big names walked right by after having done their required time with the big media outlets, just as many amazing peeps actually stopped to talk to us – and many of them weren’t people we already knew!  This was our most incredible year at the CSA’s by far, and I am eagerly awaiting the chance to apply for accreditation again for 2017, because it’s quickly become one of my favourite events in the city all year!  Besides, we were told by one wonderful woman that we’re a relief to see at the end of the red carpet – that people feel like they can just relax and enjoy themselves while they’re with us, and that’s got to be one of the biggest, most humbling compliments I think I’ve ever received.  More chances to make that happen, please!

10. Crown

This may seem like a weird thing to include on a Best Of list, but I was finally able to have my first dental crown put in, and I couldn’t be happier.  After a root canal, gum surgery and getting my mold taken just under the lab’s holiday deadline, I am now – for the first time in years – pain free.  Well, as far as my mouth is concerned, at least.  And for me, that’s a huge good thing!

11. Creativity

Figured I’d lump a couple of things into one spot, just to help whittle down my list!  From my Etsy store (where I sold my first felted item), to my meeting with the Toronto Library’s Writer in Residence (who made me excited about my book again), to my first attempt at shooting footage solo throughout my day for the Canada In A Day film that gets broadcast next year.  I was pretty disappointed with how mine turned out, but I still got a few emails saying that some clips may or may not make it into the final film, so I signed all the required releases and sent them off into the ether.  We’ll see what happens, but either way, I learned a lot just in that one day, so with any luck I can carry that forward to bigger and better things soon, too!

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12. The final 10-15 lbs

The majority of the weight I gained following The Betrayal was lost slowly over the course of the following decade.  I’d resigned myself to just staying at one particular point because I couldn’t seem to get the scale to budge any lower – until late January 2016.  Suddenly, the weight started coming off and the final 10-15 lbs – also the most dramatic pounds – dropped away by the end of March, or so.  Not only am I now back to my pre-gain weight, but so far I’ve kept it that way without too much trouble.  Okay, fine, maybe not the past couple of weeks, but it’s the holidays.  If all goes well after this weekend, things will get back to normal soon.  It’s nice to have a glimpse of my former swagger back, too!

13. Melissa O’Neil on stage

The weird thing about this is that I watched Mel on Canadian Idol back in the day, and may have had a little crush on her even back then.  Seeing her in Dark Matter has been an absolute joy, and getting to chat with her via The Mind Reels was a bit of a dream come true, as well.  The fact that I get to know her a little in real life is just…above and beyond.  So you’d THINK I would have taken the opportunity to see her perform on stage – to sing live – at any given point before now!  However, better late than never.  And so completely worth it that she gets her own spot on my personal Best Of list for the year.  Also, the wee crush lives.

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14. Ole Timey Radio Plays

These are pretty much the best thing ever!  For Mind Reels, Tim and I started bringing in random handfuls of actor friends and reading old radio play scripts from the 30’s and 40’s!  So much ridiculous and hilarious fun – to the point where we all but stopped doing regular interviews, even!  Don’t worry, though, I intend to get interviews going again, AND radio plays, AND maybe a few other ideas I have all put into play in the new year.  those radio plays, though.  We knew they’d be fun, but everyone continues to go above and beyond, every time, and that I am always in need of facial traction due to the amount of hard laughter each time is indication of exactly how special these things have become.  I can’t get enough!

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15.  Kate Tattoo

I’d seen an ad on Facebook for a new local tattoo parlour with a deal for small black and white tattoos available for $50 for a limited time.  A friend suggested we get one for “our girls”, meaning our doppelganger cats, both of whom have passed on and who are deeply missed.  I thought that was a great idea, and then, thanks to my very best friend in life, the whole experience ended up being more than I could have hoped for!  I love, love, love my homage to wee Kate the Kitten, and am naturally itching to get more ink done as soon as I have some kind of extra cash again!

16.  Lil Bub

Last but certainly not least, 2016 was the year I finally met Lil Bub in person.  I barely managed to hold back the tears, but I got to pet her wee head and we took terrible selfies on my phone and I love her so much I have a need to see her again someday!  What a remarkable little beast she is, that Lillian Bubbles.  She has no idea how much, really, which just makes her even more incredible.  I’m so grateful I got to spend those few wonderful moments in her presence!

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So there you have it!  My best moments of 2016!  Honourable mention goes to the ongoing shininess of my Firefly LootCrate subscription.  And the daily joy of living with my three wonderful cats – and this guy:

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I’m not going to say I’ll never post here again, but it definitely won’t be as often.  I’m sure I’ll get the urge to write once in awhile, though.  It’s who I am.

To that end, I am starting a new blog project, which I hope will work better for me moving forward.  It’s called My WildLife Awakened, and you’ll be able to follow along with it here.

I’ve been thinking, and will leave you with this one tidbit – almost advice-ish, really, though I hope I can take it, myself, as well.

As we cross into 2017, there may or may not be much to look forward to, so I’m going to try instead to make great memories to look back on this time next year.

Let’s see what happens!

Oh – and happy new year!

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Mini Updates

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I purchased something online last night, right before I left work for the day. It’s something I’ve been wanting for quite some time now, and for which I had starting searching almost exactly two years ago. It needed to be perfect, and yet would never be enough. It didn’t need to be very large, yet the value of its intended content is measure. It hurt my heart to place the order, yet at the same time, made me feel like I’d accomplished something important. Finally, after everything.

I did something, and yet still feel just as unbearably sad.

Anyway.

At the beginning of the month, I received an email from Canada In A Day – an update on the video footage I’d shot. Given how disappointed I’ve been in myself for pretty much all of it, I skimmed through the usual form letter about how grateful they were for all of the amazing submissions and that there were so many, etc etc etc. I waited to get to the part where they let me down easy as they gently reject my particular submission.

I had to read it twice to understand that “provisionally accepted” meant the opposite – that there’s actually a chance something I shot might make it into the final film! What?! There were a bunch of releases to sign, and get signed by others, which had to be scanned and emailed back to them within ten business days.

I then promptly forgot – and just remembered this morning!

It’s the 8th, and we had a weekend in there, so it’s not completely down to the wire, but much closer than I’d intended. I scrambled around and scanned my heart out and signed everything I needed to (I hope), then emailed it all back to them a mere few hours ago.

So – that’s done. It’d be cool if any of my stuff could make it in. I had a full day planned – not even intentionally – and plus there’s Brody. Who wouldn’t want his cute self in any film ever, really? I don’t think anyone will know whether they made it in until the film airs next summer, so I guess it’s a good thing I was planning on watching it, anyway.

Now I’ll also just be keeping an eye out for myself!

Monday TIFF-day

As expected, I am suffering somewhat today.

However, the show must go on. As must life! So with another busy day and late night ahead of me, and the beginnings of a cold that have been hanging around for over a week now, I’m having some spicy kimchi noodles from the convenience store on the corner. Hoping that’ll at least keep me warm until lunch time!

Also because tasty.

Even though I can’t afford to go to TIFF, and especially because it still feels strange to not be on vacation and heading to screenings, I think I should plan to book at least the front end off next year. The Mind Reels is not accredited press on an official level, but we’re still getting more than enough festival action coming our way, and I am broken and exhausted right now.

Luckily I still have paid sick days available. Self care time is upon me, I think.

Remember to sponsor and share our Patreon page (http://www.patreon.com/TheMindReels), as just $2 per month gets you on the Patron board, and gets us closer to our initial $100 goal than ever before!

I filmed as much as I could for Canada In A Day, so once I get feeling better and have a bit more energy, I’ll be able to start going through the footage and cutting it together. There’s unfortunately not very much of it – the day didn’t really go as planned – but there’s some. Hopefully I can at least create a mini-narrative of my day, such as it was, and then share it online once it’s been submitted. I think the cut-off is a month from today, so while I have time in theory, I don’t think I have much time i practice. My next few weeks are pretty busy, too. SOMETHING will get submitted, though! Some clip may even make it in! I filmed Brody a bit, and he’s irresistible!

Tonight is going to be a late night. Not sure how I’ll get through it, exactly, but at the same time, if it’s as much fun as last year, I think my billionth wind will kick in nicely! Just have to get there, is all! I haven’t really been to many TIFF parties – or any others, that I can recall – but I think the Canada one would be my favourite, anyway. It’s just got an unpretentious vibe to it. Plus, I know a lot of the people who will potentially be there, so once the initial red carpet formalities are out of the way, everyone just gets to hang together, which is nice. I even just like people-watching in an environment like that; when everyone is relaxed and having fun together. It’s just nice.

Plus, if there are chips and beer, I’m all good!

Anyway, it’ll be amazing, I’m sure. I wish I felt better so I could enjoy it more, but really, just being there will be worth it. Knowing me, I’ll forget how crappy I feel shortly after my arrival, anyway!

It Is Way Too Late

and I am way too tired, and have to be up way too early…

to write a post tonight.

Blood tests, zoo and TIFF – as well as shooting footage for Canada In A Day – with time at the Pet Expo happening tomorrow.

Then back to work.

I’m never going to sleep!

Coming Up and Something New

I mean, the one good thing about my trip to the specialized dentist guy the other day (aside from learning my tooth can still be saved) was that the receptionist in particular had a hard time believing I’d just turned 44. She actually said the words, “I can’t believe what I’m seeing”. Though she also said I must have good skin, which is the opposite of reality, so she was probably just tired. Haha

Still, it was a nice thing to say.

I continue to be exhausted, still battling a cold – which is currently still a stalemate, with neither my cold nor I willing to give ground, but neither gaining any, either. I’m trying to get through today but also starting to plan out how tomorrow will go. It’s Canada In A Day day, so I’ll want to video as much of it as possible, while also getting everything I need to do done.

At some point soon I need to get promoting the Mind Reels Patreon page. The first month promotion is only on until the end of September, and it’s already the 9th! Maybe no one will get a signed script, at this rate, let alone 5 people! I just need to buckle down and focus my energy on it much more than I have been able to thus far. I knew it would be hard to launch it at the beginning of September, but hopefully once TIFF is over, I’ll be able to put more into it for the back half of the month.

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Hoping enough people will see fit to donate even $2 per month ($24 a year) so that we’ll reach our first goal, and beyond that, we’ll be able to take our show to the next level! With any luck, at least. And since luck has gotten us this far, I’m not without hope that we’ll be able to continue to grow as we move forward.

I’ll also need to start setting up that next radio play, but will wait until after TIFF to even start trying to pick a date. More potential guest cast schedules ought to be a bit more open toward the end of the month, too.

I’ve started trying to write about past relationships. I’m not sure why, exactly, but in going back and reminiscing about the first one – trying to find words for it – I’m discovering a kind of thrill or excitement around the act of writing it all down. I mean, each one of course ends in heartache for me, so that won’t always be great to re-live by writing about it. But so far, focusing on the good things about the beginning of a relationship is kind of working as a pick-me-up today. I only started yesterday so I don’t even know if I’ll keep it up or for how long, but today, at least, it feels like a good thing.

I will, of course, run out of material, as my relationship life is finite and came to an end at a particular point. Officially at least. Still, there’s a long way to go before I get caught up, to be sure!

Plus, it’s probably not a horrible idea to revisit the notion of liking people, and enjoying being around people, just in case I don’t feel like being a hermit for the rest of my life. Remembering that I used to not hate so much is maybe a good thing.

The trade-off for having more rage than I did then is that I hurt less now, but maybe I can temper some of that by remembering the good moments I had with people, too.

As always, we’ll see. Or I will, at least! haha

Myriad on my Mind

Well, the whole not being able to sleep much thing is getting pretty old. Will try again tonight to see if I can do any better.

Con Crud hasn’t fully set in, but it’s not any better yet, either. On the fence, I guess. Fencing Crud.

Squirrel saga is still ongoing, but in part because I haven’t heard any news yet this morning. Hopefully no news is good news – or at least not bad news – but we’ll see.

So much drama and stress and sadness, man. I can’t even tell anymore how much of it is directly mine to carry, and regardless, there’s so much I can’t talk about, anyway.  My heart and mind are tired. 

I got a lot done yesterday, at least. Saw a periodontics (is that the word?) dentist guy for a consultation, and have mostly decided to go ahead with the procedure he’s suggested, but I really need to make sure it’s covered by my work benefits first. It’s going to be dicey, anyway, because I have to pay the whole thing upfront and get reimbursed later, and since it’ll cost more than, say, my rent, I need to time it just right so that I can get reimbursed in time to pay said rent. Maybe even eat in the meantime.

At least the animals are mostly stocked food-wise for a bit.

Managed to change my address with the Ministry of Health, so I expect to be receiving threatening letters any time now about switching to a photo health card from my sweet old red and white one. I’m proud to still have it, but last time I went for blood tests, there was apparently a note warning me to contact the Ministry and update my current address…which I then forgot to do until yesterday. So that’s good, I guess. I have to get more blood tests done on Saturday, so at least I can tell them that the process has begun.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of what was probably my girl’s biggest loss to date, and I have no idea how to, like, acknowledge that for her, or with her, or anything. Not being in the same country doesn’t really help with that, either, of course. But I’m not sure how much of a comfort I would be, anyway. I guess some journeys have to be taken separately and/or on our own. I do hope, though, that she has a similar experience to mine, in that the first year is the hardest, and once you get through all of the firsts, a greater sense of your new normal can be found. It doesn’t suck any less, but I found that, for me, the dread became less. The fear of facing each unavoidable first gave way to a kind of grim acceptance of all the remaining anniversaries to come, and the knowledge that I will get through those, too, whether I like it or not.

I hope it’s similar for her journey through grief, too.

I renewed my zoo membership for another year. I think this is the earliest I’ve ever done it – more than a month early. Now I just have to remember to pick up my new card when I go there next – hopefully on Saturday. It’s supposed to rain, but I kind of don’t care. I plan to be shooting for Canada In A Day, and what better way to show off one of the things I love about a day in my life than to spend at least part of it immersed in one of my favourite places?

Of course, my weekend is already filled with things that need to be done, so there won’t be any rest, and if I am still fighting this cold, I may yet lose the battle as a result. If all of my money for the next year or so is going to dental bills, though, I intend to make the most of the days in between!

Highlighting The Positive Side

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I don’t really feel like writing today. Over-tired, heavy heart at losing Leo the lion, and a myriad of other feelings. I have the feels, but what I don’t feel is like writing. Haha

Instead, I’m going to highlight a couple of things.

Our latest Mind Reels Ol’ Timey Radio Play reading from earlier this week – we’d recorded back-up audio and video for the “official” read, and the video is now available to be viewed here. So much ridiculous fun! I’m not sure I’ll ever forget Josh Vokey’s performance in particular, both as Mrs Umney AND the Ghost! I actually can’t wait to watch it back as a way of remembering all the awesome! I feel like they just keep getting better and better, and while I’ve already got the next script chosen (to hopefully do at some point during the week after next), I am already looking to choose what the September script will be, too! I’m so excited about how these are going that I keep forgetting to work on booking interviews, as well. Balance! I must remember to seek balance!

Hopefully links for all three radio plays, and most recent interview, will go up at Smithee.TV’s sites soon, too, since everything was recorded properly for those, and using back-up methods for ours.

I am also much closer to being ready to launch a Patreon page for The Mind Reels! The inital goal is to basically get enough support per month to help cover the site-related expenses we’ve been paying out of pocket all this time, and then hopefully to be able to grow and expand the podcast even more! I have a lot of ideas, and I am excited to launch this so that fans and friends and supporters all over the world can get even more involved and interactive with the Mind Reels experience as a whole.

I think a Patreon page will add another level to it all, really. In case you are wondering, Patreon is a model of crowd-funding which allows people to sign up as Patrons to support their favourite projects on a monthly basis, usually in exchange for various rewards given back to them each month. For the Mind Reels page, we will be accepting sponsors at a wide variety of tier levels, with the lowest being $1 per month, and the highest being $15 per month (though I have a possible idea for a cool $20 tier reward if I can get things running smoothly for a few months first). The rewards get better and more interactive with each increase in tier level, and while Patrons can cease their sponsorship at any time, I am hoping that many of the rewards will entice people to stay on and enjoy the ride with us! From simple thank you’s and Twitter follows to entries into monthly draws all the way up to being named as an official presenter of an episode each month and unlimited access to video footage of full episodes via private links (the public video links are generally only for the abridged versions of the full episodes), which can really be a lot of fun to watch, too!

So we’ll see. I really want to put some effort into making the whole endeavour a success, so am going into it assuming I’ll be doing it more or less on my own, and then if I get any extra help here and there, all the better!

I also just today discovered this Canada In A Day thing, and I totally want to participate! I’ve only glanced through it, but already my mind is coming up with some fun ideas to try, so I fully expect to have even more thoughts come to me once I’ve had a chance to go over all of the submission details and the like! Such a cool and fun project – even more so if I am a part of it! Haha

That’s pretty much it for now, I think. I am very heavy-hearted over losing Leo…like, to the point where I can’t talk about it out loud or even really think about it at all without crying, so at least there are plenty of distractions in my work day to keep me focused on other things. But not talking about it doesn’t mean that it’s not affecting me deeply, especially right now. I just can’t let that be my main emotion, so while I’m allowing myself to feel it when I can, I’m also making sure to let myself feel other things, too.

Balance, right?

Also, one more thought – Brody invited me to play with him last night, for the first time in quite a long while! I of course accepted. It only lasted a few minutes because #heatwave, but the happiness it injected into my heart when it lie broken was much needed and appreciated.

He’s such a good boy, that #BrodyGraham. ❤

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