Feeling Low

Today isn’t really going very well so far, I gotta say. I’ve barely slept, Brody didn’t poo before I left this morning, I’m supposed to be doing a radio play tonight after work, but at the moment have zero cast confirmed so will likely have to push it to next week.

And I’m upset.

I think maybe hurt and/or angry is what I’m feeling most, but I’ll file it all under the umbrella term of “upset”. That’ll work for now.

I have a friend, who has a friend, and sometimes I look at their connection and think it’s closer to what I’m looking for in a friend. Not all friends; just one good one who I feel like I can trust and count on, and talk to about pretty much anything, if I want to. The connection they share isn’t quite what I’m looking for, either, but it seems closer than anything I’ve got going on myself. From the outside, at least.

Anyway, my friend mentioned her friend’s name during the conversation, and I commented on how her friend was a good friend for her. She responded that I am, too…which is great, but we weren’t talking about me. Then she said that they have being single and straight in common, and to me that felt like a punch in the face. It’s not the first time I’ve been singled out for not being straight, but again – we were not talking about me.

I mentioned that a comment like that would seem to disregard the connection they have, as they have way more in common than that. What I didn’t add is that, to me, those two things are very surface and/or inconsequential factors upon which to base a friendship. I don’t really look for people who are single and not straight to be my friends. I choose people I like – as people. Not relationship status or sexual orientation. I get that it was just an off-handed comment meant in jest, but it bothered me a lot. Still bothers me now, obviously.

Once again, I feel set apart, and for something that has as little to do with my ability to be a friend as I have control over it. Sorry I’m not straight enough to fit in, I guess? Only I’m not really sorry. From what I can tell, in general, men connect with other men on a different level than they do with women, and likewise women connect more deeply with one another on an emotional level than they do with men. When they aren’t trying to compete with one another, of course. But the potential is always there, so that’s what I’m referring to.

So in that sense, I feel kind of sorry for straight people, as they won’t ever know or truly understand that level of intensity and complete intimacy that comes with same sex relationships. Theirs will always be a little off balance. Though on the flip side, they also won’t know how it feels to never really have your relationships be socially acceptable and “normal” (ie not stared at nor commented upon). Nor will they know the shame and humiliation that comes from having a homeless guy yell “shut up dyke” and then spit at you as you walk by with a friend, for example. You know – there’s a trade-off.

What has actually upset me about an innocent little comment? I’m not sure. When I was getting ready for work this morning I texted that being single probably felt much the same no matter what your orientation was. If love is love, then no love probably feels similar regardless of who’s not loving you. She responded that she hadn’t intended to make it sound different.

And that’s the thing. Obviously she didn’t intend to hurt or anger or umbrella upset me with it – and yet it did those things, anyway. I guess one thing, aside from setting me apart as different yet again, is that it seemed to not only diminish their connection, but to also suggest that ours is even less than that, because we don’t even have straightness in common. That sexual orientation came up as a factor even in jest…bothered me. Maybe because I don’t really think about it anymore. It kind of shocked me, I guess, that she apparently does; that she sees it as a difference between us even if I don’t. And worse, that she might even see it as a difference that makes me less-than when compared to her straight friends.

Now, don’t get me wrong – there is a lot of love coming at me from this person, and while I struggle to figure out where I stand and whether or not I’m pulling my weight in this particular friendship, this also isn’t the first time a comment has been made which sets me apart from the others due solely to my perceived sexual orientation. I think this is just the first time it’s really bothered me.

Maybe it’s just because I view their connection as stronger than ours already, or more valuable to her than ours, and that I wish she and I were closer than we are. So when it’s pointed out that they are both single and straight, and that’s two of the things they have in common (and the only two mentioned) – like, I’m single, too. For coming up on 8 years now. But I’m not as straight as they are, so it came across to me as one of the main differences between us – and one of the main reasons why my connection with her isn’t as strong, nor as valuable, and why we are not closer than we are.

And fortunately or unfortunately, it’s not really something I can fix.

So while I understand that the vast majority of the above is all in my head, it doesn’t make much difference in how low I feel today as a result. Reality is subjective, after all, so knowing none of it is intended to make me feel this way…doesn’t mean I don’t still feel it.

Distractions

No idea what I thought I was going to write about today. I was distracted by a pizza party for a coworker’s last day, and now I am painfully full and not really inclined to think about writing.

Plus, I have work to do.

So here’s another quote from a book that I enjoyed, instead.

Rima had tried jogging after Oliver died. She thought it would be smart to get physically exhausted. She thought if she were body-tired instead of, or along with, feeling the heavy exhaustion of grief, she might think less. But the effort involved in lifting her feet over and over was too much for her. Later she tried again, but found she’d been mistaken in her primary assumption. All you did when you ran was think. She hated it.”

Now, I definitely have not tried running as a way of dealing with the exhaustion of grief. I can barely walk some days, I feel like, so while I was once a distance runner as a kid, I don’t think now would be a very good time to pick it up again. I’m more likely to wreck myself before I can tire myself out, really.

I have found that physical pain often helps detract from emotional pain, but it’s insanely temporary. Like, getting my first tattoo hurt far less than losing Alysia. Most of it even hurt less than saying goodbye to Hudson. But the physical pain subsided, whereas the emotional pain still remains.

I have been known to attempt to tire myself out in order to not think and feel so much, though. It doesn’t really work for me, even when I push my body further than it wants to go. It’s a distraction, for sure. But the effects don’t last.

I like that this book recognized the different kinds of tired a person can be. I haven’t often seen that distinction, in books, film, television or everyday conversation. I like how true it rang for me.

Feeling My Way

Just found out that a brand new Wendy’s location has opened up mere blocks from where I work.

We are all gonna get so fat now! $0.99 Frosty?! Whaaaat?!

Do we not use the symbol for “cent” anymore? I don’t see it on this keyboard. I guess that says something about how much things cost. And that we no longer have pennies. Apparently, it’ll cost you at least a nickel to hear my thoughts now.

I have no idea what to talk about today, either. There is, as always, a lot on my mind, but I’m having trouble sorting through it all and staying focused.

I tend to carry things around with me – literally – to help me remember them. Mostly printouts of things, or lists in my phone. This morning I pulled out all of the paper reminders I had in my bag and went through to see what was currently important. It’s not that the other stuff isn’t also important – just that these particular things have my attention at the moment, and in the near future. My resume needs to be updated and re-organized, if only so I have it up-to-date and presentable in case I suddenly need it for anything. I’ve got notes for some of my writing projects – the picture book about hearts and a re-imagined extension to some of Carving The Light. I was thinking I might try to write it as a screenplay – possibly through the month of August, and I was considering signing up for a challenge like NaNoWriMo, but with screenplays instead of novels. As if I have time, but it would at least get me started. Often that is the toughest step.

Even though all of the steps are currently tough. Haha

I put out some feelers earlier today regarding Mind Reels stuff, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m having trouble committing to that, because I feel like I am the only one who is doing so. But I like it, so I don’t really want to walk away from it all together. I am just not sure how much to put into it anymore. I guess we’ll see. No need to decide anything on that front any time soon, anyway.

I’m finding this weaning off antidepressants thing pretty interesting. The first time I tried it, several years ago, I was an insane mess within a few days, and went right back on them. The second time, I barely noticed because I was happy and travelling back and forth to Colorado and kept forgetting to take them, until one day I realized I was pretty much off them. I saw on my Facebook memories the other day that I’d tried a year or so ago to take them every other day, but it had made me physically ill, over and above everything else. So I went back on them again.

Now I don’t know what I’m doing, and I definitely notice a difference in how I feel – mentally, emotionally and physically – but it’s not as bad as it was some of those other times. And I’m in no rush – just picked up a new refill last week which I haven’t even started yet – so we’ll just see how each day goes, and week, and take things as they come.

I imagine PMS is going to be more horrible than usual, so that might make go back to them full time.

For now, though – in that as in so many things – I’m just feeling my way along.

Tiny Baby Steps

I recognize that I need to get my life together, but I also realize that a statement like that comes across as far more daunting and melodramatic than it ever needs to be. Without really thinking about it, I’ve already begun taking steps to affect change in my world – possibly since my last therapy session a couple of months ago. She said something that, while true, was actually more on point than even she knew. More than even I knew, at the time. I just kind of realized it later on.

I mean, I definitely got a boost when a friend helped to update my resume earlier this year. I went from thinking I had nothing to offer any employer, let alone my current one, to thinking I kind of rock. And since I still have as much an idea of what I want to be when I grow up as I did when I was a kid, taking time to really break things down and see what life has taught me thus far is probably a good step, if only because it makes me feel a bit better about myself sometimes.

If this volunteering thing works out, that ought to make a difference in how I feel overall, too. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not volunteering out of the goodness of my heart or to help anyone or anything like that. I’m volunteering because I want to do something that no one will pay me to do. And I can do it on weekends, which is a huge bonus. But it’s for me, to hopefully put me in a better frame of mind, give me a ton of different things to learn, challenge me, and help me grow. Hopefully. If it doesn’t work out, I think I might actually be left feeling worse than I do not having done it yet, but we’ll see. I remain nervous, excited, and cautiously optimistic. At least for the next few days.

I’m having trouble really talking to anyone about anything. I’ve been making a list of things to tell someone in particular, but not sure I’ll actually do so if and when I get the chance. And I can’t talk about most of it to just anyone – let alone all of things I’m leaving off said list because I can’t talk about them at all. Blah. Communication is hard.  It’s partly why I am so closed off most of the time.

Also because I’m very finicky in my choice of people. Even more so than Piper is with food.

My focus is all over the place as far as personal projects go, but this past week or so I’ve been ignoring most of them in favour of focusing on matters closer to home. The cats and dogs I keep in captivity, family, even some friends. Especially in terms of the apartment and critters who live with me, I’ve taken super tiny baby steps to perhaps better our general lives. If I keep working on it, and taking those tiny steps. I have a tendency to get so excited about the possible end result that I wind up never getting past the first or second stage, and leave myself dreaming about what might have been. Right now, I felt good once I’d made a decision, I felt good when I came up with a first stage plan, and I felt good when I took the initial steps to put that stage in motion. My hope is that I will continue to feel good with each baby step, and instead of thinking about the end, I’ll try to focus on the feeling each of those steps gives me on the way there. Then it’s a win-win, really.

This post probably sounds more cheery than it actually is, but whatever. I still feel more negative than positive, but I don’t feel the need to write it all the time. There’s a difference.

And that’s a start.

For The Love Of Animals

My work computer’s hard drive fried this morning right in front of my eyes, basically, so while I wait for IT to set me up with a replacement, I’ve had to get a little creative with my day. I’m using one of the old computers in the back, and it is having trouble keeping up with my mad typing skills (thanks Mrs. Coulter!), as well as 2016 in general, so this will be short.

Also, I’m getting stressed about this first radio play episode. We’re supposed to record it on Thursday but I am still short a guest cast member or two. So much prep needed, too, in addition to trying to find last minute actors who may be available and interested. Geez.

Anyway.

I enjoy watching Brody the dog interact with the cats, especially when none of them know I’m watching. They are fabulous together with me, and we make a sweet, fun little family as it is. But when they don’t realize that I am paying attention – when they choose to interact even though it’s not with the intention of getting my attention – I find it all even more remarkable.

Somehow, these little beings of different species have figured out how to not only share space and get along, but to accept one another into each others lives. They do more than tolerate one another being in the same space – they live in that space together. They share all of it – usually. Sometimes Flynn sleeps in Brody’s bed, but he lets her, and finds somewhere else to curl up until she’s done. Sometimes they groom one another. Sometimes they play together.

At some point in our existence, someone decided that cats and dogs could not get along. Most of us listened, instead of seeing for ourselves whether or not it was true, and whether or not that truth was definitive. Even now, that’s the first thing people ask about when they hear I live with three cats and a dog. How do they get along?

The answer is – better than most of us get along with other people.

So how is it, then, that these allegedly lesser beings (again, things aren’t always true just because someone says them) can figure out how to not only exist in the same space together but actually thrive in it, but we human masters of the universe can’t even get along with members of our own species on the same freaking planet? Let alone those of another species.

Other animals don’t care about what the other animals look like. They don’t care about differing breeds, let alone colours. Appearances are unimportant, and don’t factor into their judgments like other senses do. They listen to a whole other rhythm playing throughout the universe. They vibrate on a whole other level. And we’re just sitting at the bottom of the well, in the dark, talking about colours we can’t even see. Because it’s dark. But we imagine them there, just as we imagine they dictate the caliber of a person’s character.

Orangutans are unimpressed by flashy technology – they quickly became bored with it. That says a lot about our orange genetic cousins, but it says way more about the rest of us.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stare at my smartphone for awhile.

Seeing Differences

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t run a classroom. Haha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not that I am old enough to remember that.

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

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

Is It Just Me?

Sometimes hats give me headaches.

Sometimes ponytails do, too. Or did, when I had long hair. Possibly will again now that my hair is longer than it’s been in well over a decade.

Does anyone else ever have weird things go on with their bodies, but because it happens all the time to you, you find yourself wondering if you’re the only one, or if people just don’t mention it in casual conversation?

Like, not weird like a third nipple or extra digit or anything like that. Just odd aches and pains or other sensations that seem to have no obvious root cause. I remember reading a book when I was younger wherein a character – I think a teenaged boy – walked down a hallway at night, and reference was made to his toes popping. My toes totally used to pop all the time – possibly still do, but either not as much or I’ve just gotten so used to it that I don’t even notice anymore – but that was the only reference I’d ever come across in the general public. I don’t even know why they popped so much back then – is it a growing thing, or something? I don’t even know. As far as I could tell, until I read that book, I was the only person on the planet with toes that made popping/cracking sounds as I walked. It was just never spoken of before, nor since, really, whether it was weird and unique or not.

I’m thinking it’s a pretty common thing, though, if it was mentioned briefly in a book.

I’ve felt for a long time that bodies are just plain odd, and that there is still more that we don’t know about them than we do. Or maybe “odd” is the wrong word. Maybe I mean more complicated and unpredictable. It’s kind of remarkable that we all look basically alike, as a species, and yet there are literally billions of differences. Maybe even countless differences. We don’t all grow the same, parts don’t all work the same, things don’t all develop the same way, and then there are all the things that can go wrong throughout the course of a lifetime.

Having MS has introduced a whole new equation into my relationship with my body, too. For the most part now, when something different happens – some new pain, tingling sensation, numbness, vision problems – whatever the issue is that’s been introduced, my first thought is that it must just be an MS thing. For the most part, it’s all little things, temporary things, but my go-to explanation is MS.

Which…hopefully I don’t dismiss any symptoms of something else as just an MS thing! That has the potention for badness. So far, however, I’m usually floating between “it’s an MS thing”, or “it’s a my wacky body thing”, or sometimes even “it’s happened for as long as I can remember, so it might just be my body, or maybe I had MS the whole time and it’s always been an MS thing”. Who knows, really?

It’s funny, though, when a thread of commonality is found with another person, the sensation of relief, and humour and just momentary connection that’s made in that instant of recognition. That vocalization of “oh my God ME TOO!” holds so much emotion and connection in just a few simple words, and creates a bond of similarity between two otherwise different beings.

I have a ton of such little things, aside from the popping toes. Most of them involve pain, because that’s more noticeable and easier to remember when blogging. Examples include: if someone makes me laugh while I am eating, I invariably end up with a piercing pain at the back of my jaw – where my upper and lower jaws hinge together, actually. Like, horrible stabbing pain. Sometimes when I am walking I’ll suddenly be struck by pain so awful I wonder if my toes have actually all broken right off, and are just kept on my foot by skin and my shoes. In my mind, I picture them flapping uselessly, and painfully, in my sock. It’s so bad I end up with a pronounced limp until the feeling passes. Often for no reason I can think of, a stitch of pain in my side or across my chest will hit hard and fast, and be so bad that I can not draw a full breath until it passes, as well.

In the not painful but super annoying category, I sometimes experience a sudden ringing in either one ear or both, and usually it’s so loud that I actually can’t hear much of anything for a few seconds. It always fades quickly, though. A drive-by ringing. And for as long as I can remember, whenever I’ve had a certain level of nightmare, a muscle somewhere in my mid-lower back goes into spasm and not only wakes me up, but takes a concerted effort to calm down enough that I can stop my back from arching. I long ago began to equate that sensation with terror, so even when I’ve gotten a massage before, I’ve had to tell the person to stay away from that area of my back entirely. I can’t tell exactly where the muscle is, and by the time I realize it’s close, the muscle has been triggered and it feels all manner of not good. So brutal.

Has anyone else noticed that it’s very difficult to hear anything when you’re yawning – almost like being under water? Or is that just me?

I’m telling you – bodies are weird! And living inside them is an adventure and a half, whether we asked for it, or not! And we’re all doing it differently, with tiny sparks of common experience thrown in for good measure. I think we even experience feelings in different ways, just as we all process information and the world around us from differing perspectives.

And there are billions of us. No wonder we can’t get along, so hung up on difference as we are. The human race needs more “OMG ME TOO” moments in our days, methinks.