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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Fear, Alone Time and Writing

This morning was, I think, the first time I’ve ever been afraid on the subway. It was only a few moments, but I’d promised Brody I’d be home a bit early tonight, and there was a sudden brief flash of time where it occurred to me that I might not ever be home again. My train pulled into the busy Yonge and Bloor station, commuters bustled off and on, all of us settled into our morning routines. The door chimes signalled that the doors were about to close – but they didn’t. Then the floor shuddered as the engine of the train shut down. Moments later, all of the lights went out.

Everyone was looking around, as though any of us could see the cause of the shutdown from our positions inside the train, and I realized that if a bomb were to go off, most of us would be screwed. Busiest subway station during rush hour, I was near the front of the train so would likely get the brunt of the blast if it was meant to take off the head of the snake, so to speak. And not only are we all crammed into the train, but the force of any blast would carry destruction down the tunnels, as well. It’s basically a big tube into which we were all trapped.

I wondered about the things people think about when they find themselves in the midst of a random attack, if they have time to think at all.

As it turned out, there was no bomb, but rather a trespasser at track level at College station. All of the power to the line had to be shut down so that the deadly third rail would be rendered inactive until the unauthorized individual could be removed. My fear turned to anger mixed with resignation, and as I waited for my journey to continue onward toward work, I listened to the update announcements – power off at College, emergency alarm activated on at least two different trains, possibly three. Thankfully they put the air back on in my train, as it takes exactly no time for the stench of the surrounding humanity to fill the nostrils once the air has stopped circulating.

The worst thing about public transit is the public.

In other news, I had a pretty sweet evening last night. I created it by myself, for myself, and it was pretty awesome, all things considered. It was all very simple – got flowers, which made my apartment smell amazing, then made popcorn, opened a cold beer, and watched TV with Brody. Well…Brody was all about the popcorn, not so much the TV. But all three cats and the dog eventually all just curled up in their spots and we hung out together. It was really nice.

I did have to laugh at the image of me walking home with cat litter in one hand, and flowers I’d gotten for myself in the other. Crazy cat lady spinster, I totally am! Yet, also content. I’d tidied my apartment a bit over the weekend, too, so everything felt fresh and cozy; my treasures all shined up and surrounding me with little reminders of who I am. I was home for a few hours, and it felt great.

I also just received word that the library’s Writer in Residence will indeed meet with me to chat about the opening excerpt of Carving The Light (my first novel), so I sent in my preferred time slots (leaving Saturday mornings and early afternoons open for the inevitable zoo visits I’ll be taking often very soon now that my bear is back in town), and will see which one ends up being mine. I want to refresh my memory going in this time, and maybe even have a clearer idea of what I want to do with the story, so that I get as much as I can out of this discussion. Things like this always get me excited about writing. Just talking about it ignites my passion for it. It’ll be interesting to see how things feel once I’ve spent some time speaking with another author about it all again!

Random Thought Generator

Not even 11am and I already have a headache from this day.

Come to me, Advil Extra Strength Liqui-gels!

I could write an entire rant – daily – about how most people don’t know how to ride public transit, or basically share air space, without being assholes, but I’ll save it for another day. For now, just some random tidbits swirling around in my aching brain.

  • I had a dream last night that I was at a Raptors game and they were doing pretty well, but then I had to go get my uniform on and get ready in case I was called on to play, too. SO STRESSFUL! I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be of much help to the lads, but at least I could see the game unfold better from my new spot next to the court. I don’t remember actually getting put into the game, but the stress of worrying about the possibility was more than enough. Similar to the dream I had once where I had to fill in for a member of a boy band just before they – we – went on stage. I could hear the pre-teen girls screaming their heads off, and not only did I not know any of the choreography, I was also not sure of any of the lyrics. The other guys seemed to think it would be okay, but I knew that none of those girls would believe I was actually part of the group. They’d know I wasn’t a boy, for starters.
  • You know, when I was a manager – or even a supervisor – I rose to those positions because I was adept at the positions reporting to them. I could help those employees when needed, and perform different tasks on top of those required of said employees. I also knew exactly what I was asking of them when I was assigning duties. I miss those days, but even more I would say that I miss teamwork and being assigned tasks by people who have some idea of the scope of what they are asking. These days, I could be performing miracles and no one would know.
  • The safe room I made for Flynn yesterday seemed to work, except when I got home last night the whole apartment smelled strongly of paint fumes or glue or something. I opened the other window and turned both fans on to try and get that out of there as quickly as possible. Still, Flynnie was in a good mood even this morning. She was playing with a broken shoe lace for a few minutes, and her eyes were more green than yellow. I left the window open halfway today to see if we could avoid the toxic fumes while still making her feel safe. We’ll see.
  • For one to be considered an activist, shouldn’t one actually do something beyond than just talking about what other people should do? Or am I misunderstanding the definition of the word ‘active’?
  • If all that is really required of parents these days is to stand around looking at their kids, I wonder why I thought teaching was hard…
  • I’ve lived with a lot of different people over the years, so far. I’ve lived with immediate family, I was an exchange student in high school, I’ve lived with roommates who were friends first, I’ve lived with roommates who were strangers before we moved in together, I’ve lived with romantic partners, I’ve lived with members of both sexes; sometimes both at once. And I’ve had jobs, even right now. I don’t think I’ll ever really understand the whole taking and/or using of someone else’s things without asking. Food, clothes, electronic equipment, parts of movies or music collections, etc. In situations where it’s immediate family or romantic partner – situations wherein things are generally shared – it’s different. But if I buy groceries and come home after work to find that someone has eaten what I was planning to eat…I don’t get that. I’m sure I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve never deliberately just taken something of someone else’s simply because it was handy. And when I borrow things, I take extra care with them; more so than when it’s my own stuff. Because when it’s not mine, I intend to return it in the same condition in which it was loaned to me. Treating it like it has less value simply because I didn’t pay for it is a mysterious notion to me. Same with how some women leave public washrooms in less than savoury conditions. You don’t do that at home, why do it anywhere else? Why take my stuff without asking, and then consume or wreck it while you have it? If it was one instance, I could chalk it up to just being a random happenstance. But when it happens all the time in a variety of environments, I have to deduce that it’s just a thing. That people are just like that in general, and that not being like that makes me the odd one out. Which I am used to, of course. I just don’t think it’ll make it any easier for me to have roommates again, if and when that time comes!
  • Speaking of living with people, did you ever have imaginary friends when you were small? I did. I may have even talked about them on here before. I can’t remember. They were Sam and Jody. Sam was three and Jody was two, and we used to ride our bikes together but Jody always lagged behind. Because he was two. In my head, I pictured them looking much like the little boys in those terrible Family Circus comics I’d read in the Saturday Star. Ah funny pages. So rarely funny, yet when you did come across a good one, it usually made it onto the refrigerator door!
  • I don’t drive. I know how to drive – I took Driver’s Ed in high school, and everything. Even had my learner’s permit for, like, 5 years, or however long it lasted back when graduated licensing first came into effect in Ontario. I got it in my last year of high school, though, and didn’t need to drive while away at University. I lived on campus the first year, and within a few blocks for the rest of the time. Then I lived close to work, then I moved to Toronto, where public transit became my main ride. I was pretty sure I couldn’t afford a car, parking, gas and insurance on top of other monthly expenses, and it was all pretty unnecessary once I came to the city. Plus, I hated driving. It was always so stressful for me, largely because I don’t trust my own reflexes and reaction times. Naturally, I also don’t trust other drivers. I can barely handle walking some days, because even in the city, some people end up driving into houses and bus shelters and the like. I mean, how fast do you need to be going in a residential area, anyway? Seriously. Once I was launched onto the path to an MS diagnosis – given that I could barely see out of one eye – I was pretty glad I wasn’t behind the wheel of a killing machine. I guess that was the other thing, really. I wasn’t concerned so much for my own safety when I was driving as I was for the other lives I was aware I could take. I think most people don’t think about that; about the responsibility in having so much power in their hands. For most, it’s a mode of transportation. For many, it’s even a form of relaxation. For me, it was a lot of pressure and anxiety, and now that my reflexes are minutely hindered by the disease eating away my central nervous system (as well as the knowledge that I can lost control of motor skills and sight and the like at any given moment), I am far happier letting others take the wheel. Plus, I like looking around too much. Drivers miss so much of the world because they have to focus on the road, whereas I can focus on everything else.
  • When I am out with Brody, I’m not just going for a walk and taking him along. I’m spending time with him, and it’s more his time than mine. Often it’s not very much time, or not enough, but that’s life. I still take him out with the intention of getting things done that he needs and/or wants to get done, and going places he likes to go. I watch him, and talk to him – I’m not on my phone or listening to music on headphones or anything like that. My focus is on him, and on watching for any potential trouble coming up. I give him however much time he wants to sniff around, I watch to make sure he’s not eating anything he shouldn’t be, and I try to watch for any potential food items along our course. I watch for traffic, I watch for people with strollers or anything that might make a loud noise as it goes by and scare him. I watch for other dogs, just in case. Mostly, though, I watch him. I can tell what kind of mood he’s in, usually, and I like figuring out where his focus is, and what he wants. It’s different with the cats, of course, but I do try to spend time with each of them, as well. They are all different, and want different things from me at different times. Unless it’s meal time, then they all want everything at once, the little beggars. For the most part, however, I know which ones want to snuggle when, how each one wants to play and when, and whether or not one of them just needs time and attention from their mama (aka me). I try to give them all what they need, and some of what they want, especially because I am away at work all day, and asleep for so much more of the time I am around. They are all individuals, though, and not just cardboard cut-out pets the way some people think of non-humans.
  • Speaking of which, I think I had cardboard cut-out friends once upon a time, too. I think we drew characters from Battle of the Planets – more or less life-sized on paper bags taped together – then cut them out and taped them up on the walls of a relatively empty closet. Then I’d sit in there and talk to my paper superhero friends.

I kinda miss those days, too.

 

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Learn To React Out Loud

I’ve realized that most of what I know of my friends and their lives – including the ones I talk to almost every day – is gleaned from posts they make online, as opposed to anything said to me directly. That realization hurt at first, until I made the realization on top of it that I do pretty much the same thing.

Except that I don’t really post much online, either.

It’s possible that’s where some of my communication frustration is coming from. Haha

I lean more toward not posting things online in public forums because a) when it’s in writing it’s harder to revise and re-state, b) the general public has no business in most of my bizness, and c) I’m of the notion that those I do choose to share with are closer to me in some way; I trust them with more of me.

So be it in person or via text/email, I much prefer small groups and individual conversations to mass online postings. In a way I choose those trusted few very carefully, but in another way I really just run on instinct. I’m crazy naïve, and of course just want to be liked (emotionally I’m, like, 8 years old on a good day, but most of the time I’m pretty much still an unborn fetus), so my instincts are often steered wrong just by those factors alone. I usually consider what I want to say before I say it (so writing is easier; I’m just not a fan of the public), but I also try to consider who I’ve decided to say it to.

Writing a personal blog each day is ridiculous for someone like me, but one can’t grow and improve unless one ventures out of their comfort zone once in awhile, and thus far I’ve remained mostly inside my comfort zone as far as this little project is concerned. I want to say I’ll work on changing that, but even as I think about typing it, I am also tempted to just let it be. So we’ll see, I guess. I want to keep those closer to me, the chosen few, still closer than this, and to venture further outside my comfort zone with them, too. With them more, actually.

But I guess sometimes I can talk about something other than what I did today, or whatever.

Like fear.

What are you afraid of” and “what scares you” are questions that come up all the time, to celebrities, to potential relationship partners, to friends sitting around a campfire splitting a bottle/several bottles of wine.

I’m not saying alcohol is necessary for conversation, but it definitely helps!

I once did a presentation in high school about fear. I actually can’t remember what it was for, or what I even talked about, specifically. I just remember I started off my presentation with the first 20 minutes of the original When A Stranger Calls. The whole, “have you checked the children” babysitter/phone call bit.

The calls are coming from inside the house!!!”

Guys! Some of the scariest 20 minutes put on film, if you’re me. And apparently if you are some of my classmates that day.

I, myself, am afraid of lots of things. Most things, really, but to varying degrees. I learned very early on in life to not react to some things, because my reactions would make everything worse. If someone thinks it’s funny to scare you and they don’t get the reaction they wanted, they stop trying. I bottle a lot of that shit up, even to this day. Sometimes it’s even practical – if you encounter a wild animal, don’t run. It makes you look like prey. So freezing up on the outside and screaming on the inside can actually be helpful in some situations.

Not in most, though, so training your instincts to do that is not the greatest idea, and it’s incredibly difficult to re-train yourself to scream on the outside once you’re older. I’m still trying to learn how to react out loud; to actively defend myself instead of freezing up.

I’m afraid of any kind of violation, be it of my person or of my home/safe space. Both at once would be unimaginably horrible. Yet I do imagine it, all the time.

I am afraid of the elements, mostly wind and fire. And water, though I guess the chance of a tidal wave coming off Lake Ontario is pretty slim. I think I am less afraid of dying in some sort of natural disaster as I am of losing someone to it. The animals; friends; family. I spend so much time being afraid and trying to prepare and/or avoid catastrophe that I feel like I would survive, but lose someone important to me, and spend the rest of my life re-playing it over and over in my head, trying to make the outcome different. Even losing Alysia – I wasn’t there, but there are still nights even now when I imagine all I would have tried to do to get those kids and Frankie the Kitten out of there safe. I mean, all I think or wish I would have been able to do. Just…anything to make the reality different. I would possibly just freeze in that situation, too, but not necessarily.

I remember once when I was living with Lizz in our cute little house, I was home alone, in the living room, when I heard a cat jump down from her bedroom window and in trotted Kate. Moments later, another thump of paws hitting the floor and Dodger appeared to grace me with his handsome presence.

Then there was a third sound in the back bedroom, and we only had two cats.

They both heard it, too, and together the three of us stared at the dark hallway until a massive raccoon sidled into the light, looked at us, then went into the kitchen to eat all the cat food.

Frozen in my chair, I placed a panicked call to Lizz, who was on her way home from work, and kept an eye on the cats and our unwanted visitor. Everything was fine – more or less – until the raccoon made its way back into the hallway and disappeared. About 2 seconds later, Dodger and Kate took off running after it. I’d heard about how vicious raccoons could be, and how quickly they could kill a cat, and panic washed over me again, but this time it kicked me into action instead. I raced after the cats, yelling the whole time, and they were so startled that they came back immediately. I kept them with me until Lizz came home, but by then the huge critter had made its way back outside through the window from whence it came.

Or from wherece it came.

Anyway, the point is, I was terrified and I froze, but once I was more terrified for the cats, I sprang into action hero mode, if only for a few seconds.

I’m afraid of spiders, though more because of their unpredictability and the whole jumping thing. I don’t like the jumping. Nor the crawling in my mouth while I sleep. Bugs in general…let’s just stay as separate from one another as possible.

So yeah – basically I am afraid of weather, animals/insects, and other people. This is what makes it difficult to leave the house.

However, I am also afraid of embarrassing myself. It’s a different kind of fear, but it ends up having the same result. Often, my ability to freeze and not react has helped me not embarrass myself, though. Or, at least, embarrass myself less.

Like, my first MRI, I did all this research so I’d know what to expect, but still, as I slid into the tube and felt the machine pin my arms to my sides, and looked up to see the cage over my head and the top of the tube inches away from that, I sucked my breath in – and froze. The tech asked if I was okay, and I said “yeah”, which forced me to expel a little bit of air, just to make sound come out. I felt like kicking and screaming and oh-HELL-no-ing my way right back out of there, but that would have been humiliating. One of the techs was hot and I didn’t want to make a bad impression, so I reminded myself to breathe, and let even more of that air out. Then in, then out. And repeat.

Since then, I’ve been admittedly kind of an expert on the whole MRI thing, and even give a little coaching to anyone I meet in the waiting room who’s nervous about it themselves.

I don’t like causing a scene. It gets me into more trouble than it’s worth sometimes, but once in awhile it helps. I just never really found the balance, because I’m still so focused on the freeze and stay silent than I am on what a more appropriate and beneficial reaction would be in some circumstances.

I haven’t found other ways to defend myself, even though my go-to doesn’t really work out very well most of the time.

I Dream Of Kate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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