Balance

So…last night was so much more than I could have anticipated.  I don’t know what I’d expected, really.  Maybe nothing, which would be how I was caught so off-guard, perhaps.  Regardless, it was different.  Different from my life for a long, long time.  I’m confused now, but in mostly a good way.  And for the first time in ages, I’m excited to see what happens next, if anything.  I’m excited to feel like I want there to be a next.

Then, after too little sleep, I got up too early and headed to the zoo to spend some time with my bear.  I love that guy so much.  And I love the friends who were with me all day, even though none of us planned to spend the whole day there.  It’s so weird…I just can’t get enough of him, or of the whole thing.  I couldn’t pull myself away.

And I saw baby Rey the zebra for the first time, and fell in love with her cute self, so I picked up a wee zebra stuffie to commemorate the occasion.  Her name is also Rey, because why pretend she’s anyone else?

I got the news that Ron Glass has passed away once I got home.  I guess it’s about balance.  I had a good night and day, and had to have that balanced out by having my Browncoat heart broken at the same time.

Suffice it to say that, for me, it’s been an interesting 24 hours.

Volunteer time tomorrow.

Temporary

So now it’s November.

Nearly the end of the year. But – for me – so much closer to getting to see my polar bear love again!

You never really forget your first, right?

Things are just as crazy and overwhelming today as they have been lately. I’ve made a few tiny shifts in hopefully the right direction, but for the most part, I’m still struggling. I don’t even talk to my friends about most of it, let alone feel inclined to post anything on here. I’ll figure it out, though. Tiny shift by tiny shift. 🙂

I did write limericks for/about some of my coworkers today, too. That was fun!

I’ve been keeping more quotes from the book I’m currently reading, so I’ll continue to write a bit about them as I go along, too.

Like this one, which is kind of apropos for a day like this: “I stared at my phone, wondering whom to call to ground myself. The truth is, I’m not good at close friends. I’m great at casual, at meeting up after work and bringing lasagna to the potluck. I’m excellent at being friends with (her boyfriend’s) friends. But not at exchanging numbers and calling up just to talk.”

I haven’t brought lasagna to the potluck as of yet…though I could. Usually I just go for something quick and easy and pre-made, though. I mean, that’s how my everyday life is, at least when it comes to food. Why would a potluck be any different, really?

I remember when I was in school I felt like my friendships were temporary. They could be so intense and present and fulfilling for a time, but as soon as we weren’t in the same class anymore, and didn’t see one another every day, it became more difficult to sustain; to nurture. Nothing had happened to push us apart, yet the connection was weakened, and we’d each move on to the next thing.

I think I came to view all friendships – and thus relationships – as temporary things. I’d still try to hold onto them, but the further apart we’d drift, the more difficult it was to maintain any sort of grip. Physically, emotionally, mentally – the distance between us would grow no matter what I did to prevent it. The friendship wouldn’t be over, of course. Just different.

Outside of school, the majority of my friends have come through the workplace, which makes them just as temporary in their intensity as the others. People move on. It’s what we do.

And I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with that, or that I wish it was any different.

Most of the time I don’t even notice. Just those moments when I want to talk to someone who can help me ground myself, and I don’t know who that person is at that point in life. It’d be nice to have one who was constant.

On the other hand, though, maybe that’s the too easy solution – to just have the answer without having to keep growing and changing and adapting and meeting new people and forging new things.

Maybe constants make us lazy!

Tick Tock

My vote count in the photo contest has gone over 100 today! So awesome! I’m still in the lead – I think the next person closest to me as around 80 votes – so now I just have to stay there until Sunday night at midnight! I realized earlier that I was so obsessed with the possibility of winning a GoPro that I’d forgotten the other awesome aspects of the first place prize – tickets to the CN Tower and having my photo featured in the 2017 magazine and coupon book. Those are pretty fantastic, too! I haven’t been up the Tower since I was here in Grade 8 on a field trip with my class.

So if you haven’t yet, and you have a Facebook account, please go vote for my CN Tower reflection photo on page 8 at this link: http://snaptoit2016.pgtb.me/m3SM8X/lnt7l And tell everyone you can think of to do it, too! Let’s get me a GoPro to play with, and the chance to take even more photos than I already do! 😉

I was also thinking I might (one of these days) re-jig my Flickr account to highlight what I feel are my best photos from over the years. I am far from photographer level, but I might be able to convince people I’m an amateur, at least. If in turns of having an eye for some things, rather than the equipment or the training or the consistency in talent. Just a vague occasional visual sense. But it could make for a pretty cool Flickr page.

On my way home from work last night, I had a pretty cool idea for a possible Guinness World Record attempt. I was having trouble determining what the actual title would be, and there wasn’t anything that I could find on their website that was similar to what I want to do, so I emailed the basic initial idea to Tim this morning, and he got pretty excited about it, too. Part of me wants to try setting something up even if GWR doesn’t approve it as an official attempt, just because it would be cool marketing and something different that I don’t think has really been done before.

I keep wanting to do things that are a little different, apparently. It’s always been there, that desire to be a little extra creative and stand out in certain ways (not in some ways, though, hence my attempts to be invisible as a kid). I find the ideas and passion behind them are coming more frequently now as I grow older. I keep feeling the need to leave my mark in positive (or just super cool and creative) ways.

Maybe that’s my version of a biological clock.

A Few Quick Thoughts

Man, the past few days have been difficult for my heart, and the past couple of weeks have just been a lot.

Most of which I haven’t put on here, I know, and while that’s been deliberate, I also realize that not sharing things that go on with me is a big part of my problem in relating to other people and forming any sort of strong bond with anyone.  I cut myself off, and it shows.

Maybe I’ll learn to change that, maybe not.  Either way, it won’t happen today!  haha

Found out earlier that Kenny Baker passed away, which is sad and another loss to not only my childhood but to my adult life, as well.  I met him at my first convention in 2005, and he was the first Star Wars actor I’d ever met.  I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I called my mom right after and cried about it to her on the phone.

Good grief.  🙂

So rest in peace, Mr. Baker, and thank you for bringing the first droid I ever loved to life.

Sending strength to my amazing friend, Dakota, for he is one of the fiercest warriors I’ve ever had the honour of knowing, and I know he has it in him to win this battle against the infection in his brain right now.  But sending a little extra strength his way, regardless, because every little bit helps.  Love you, my friend.

And finally, to Leo the Lion, the ‘L’ in the “BLT” – although not surprised at losing you, I am nevertheless still gutted, and all the more disappointed in myself for not finding a way to get to you this summer as I’d planned.  I’d had a feeling it would be my last chance, and though I don’t know what I could have done differently to get there sooner (or, as of yet, at all), a part of me still won’t forgive myself for not trying harder to make it happen.  I love you and will miss you madly, even still.

So for now, I’m just going to leave this here:  https://youtu.be/xicKoc8LjGE

Thank you for helping to teach us stupid humans how to love.

Even those of us who are habitually disappointing.

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.

Boxing Memories

Had a bit of a nightmare last night. Or, not exactly that, but a highly unpleasant dream. Not frightening in any way, really, but definitely left me feeling heavy after; a feeling which won’t be departing any time soon. The details aren’t important, and while the content of the dream I had after I went back to sleep was much more enjoyable, even that added to the heaviness when I awoke this morning. Just in a different way.

I’m resigned to this feeling now, I think. At least to sit with it for a time, and see how things go.

I’m not up to fighting it anymore right now.

I wish I could write more truth. And write it better than anything I am able to write now. The book I am reading currently is filled with snippets of truth laid out so simply before the reader that one could easily look right past it without pausing to take it in and realize what it actually is. I started taking pictures of certain passages with my phone; moments that ring true to me and that I want to remember beyond the pages of the book itself.

I considered finishing the book last night before bed, but I’m not quite ready to be done with it yet. I also haven’t decided what I’m reading next. So I dawdle.

There was a line about catching a brief glimpse of the contents of a box, and while not able to list off each individual item, seeing enough to realize that it’s all “the things a person in love collects when she’s not loved in return”. I read that line and my mind immediately went to all the little boxes of random items collected during past relationships of my own. At the time, they were mementos, which turned into painful reminders of what was lost after the relationship ended. And yet kept in a box at the back of my closet…or wherever…I think there are a few of them, but all scattered about and buried under other possessions. For what reason would I, or anyone else, keep such things?

I mean, definitely a large part of it is my irrational fear of forgetting my life. Even though I know I won’t likely forget any of those people (they are part of who I am now, and most of them are still in my life, to some degree or other), and even though I could look at many of those random items now and have no idea what the fuck they are supposed to be reminding me of, or what memory they are tied to – even though I logically know all this, there is still a feeling of comfort in having those things around. In knowing that I could look at them if I wanted to, and that at least some memories are still in there.

I imagine there is also some sort of therapeutic value in tucking everything about a person from your past away into a box and putting it out of sight, but still within reach. Not burning the bridge, but not using it anymore, either. I’ve never been the sort to try and forget a person, especially not if their only crime was in not loving me back the same way I loved them. It’s not usually an anger-inducing feeling, on my end; more resignation, and a sense of “well of course not – why would someone like you love someone like me this same way” sort of thing. Which isn’t meant to come across as mopey as it no doubt sounds. I tend to view it more as a confirmation of something I already know, or at least suspect. I have a hard time holding it against other people, when it’s something I already feel myself.

I realize there is the whole self-fulfilling prophecy argument to be made, too, but again – logic doesn’t really dictate feeling, at least not in my experience. So I get it – but I don’t feel it, so save your breath on that one!

Anyway, the thing which struck me more about the whole sentence in the book and how it relates to my life is in the idea that one can know they are not loved in return, and yet choose to love, anyway. Choose to allow themselves to love. It wouldn’t just be a risk, then, but a foregone conclusion that the relationship – friendship – whatever it is, will come to an end. Not necessarily in a permanent, no contact ever again kind of way, but that whatever it is for each person will change, and not be the same again for either of them. Maybe they grow apart, maybe they betray one another in some way, maybe they have an explosive break-up and really do never see one another again. Maybe they grow to hate the one they once loved. There are all kinds of ways that love dies; and all manner of reasons. But choosing to love, anyway, even when you already know you’re not loved back the same way – it could be a bit noble, or needy, or outright dumb – but the fact is that someone chose love, and maybe the box of random memories serves as more a reminder of having made that choice, rather than of the specific circumstances themselves.

Or I could just be trying to make myself feel better about saving so much crap, and justifying that to no one who asked. Well, except myself.

It’s funny, too, how much space is taken up with mementos of relationships past. One of my best and arguably healthiest relationships – which I don’t really talk about because it’s hard to make someone who wasn’t there understand – is pretty much relegated to the pages of a journal I kept at the time, and a framed photograph that hangs on the wall. I don’t think she got a box, and yet the few physical items I do have are some of the most personal and…intimate, but not in the way you’re thinking…items I’ve kept from pretty much any other relationship I’ve had. It’s not much, but it’s some of the most powerful.

My last relationship is literally everywhere. There is a bin in my closet of things, but that’s mostly because there’s just not space to put everything where it can be visible. Believe me, plenty of the memories we created together are visible. From a hanging over my bed, to some of the clothes that I wear, to a ring on my finger – moments of ours are all around me, and very much a part of me, even now.

Maybe more now than then, in many ways.

One ex is kept almost entirely in a shoebox – but a nice one. It’s decorated.

My first actual relationship is I believe in an empty Kleenex box. Or two. That plastic window with the slit makes it easy to add small objects and paper notes. Like a piggy bank but not. I think there are photos and letters in one of the folders or envelopes on my bookshelf, too, but it’s been so long since I even looked at them that I am not exactly sure where they are now, or if I even still have them.

Friendship stuff is even more scattered, but just as important, and just as much a part of who I am now. All through school I boxed everything up together by year. After graduating with my first undergrad degree is where things get a little sketchy; strewn about and less organized.

I’m pretty certain I still have a pop cap that a boy I liked gave me (as a joke) in first year university, though. It meant nothing, and yet still something, somehow.

My most recent best friend has finally found herself a nice new one with a penis, which is amazing for her, as it’s what she’s been wanting for a very long time. I’m honoured to have been chosen as the one to hold his place for him until he could get there, though a little sad for myself now. Haha The important thing is that she’s finally happy, and I am better at intermittent friendshipping, anyway, so I don’t have to worry about failing nearly so often now. That’s definitely a good thing. It was making me sad to constantly come up short, so while I’ll definitely miss our time together, I know that everything is much better for her now. She’s finally in the kind of good place she deserves, and that makes me happy. 🙂

I meant to write more about truth than I have, but I got distracted by boxes of memories and why I would still keep them. I am not even sure I’ve completely delved as far into those reasons as I could or should, but this post somehow got long again. I will say that I’ve been struggling much more lately about how much truth to reveal to those who know me, as well as which specific details should be shared. I don’t think I understand, like, normal human interactions. Haha

I often try to mimic or match what I see from others – like if someone tells me something personal, I try to return that by sharing something equally personal about myself. If I can determine a proper scale of personal-ness, of course. It seems more difficult to me lately, though. I don’t know if that’s because I have more things that I could speak openly about that are different from before – like current events instead of just the past – or if I’m getting less from those around me so I’m not sure when I’ve crossed the TMI line, and thus stay silent more often due to more uncertainty. I don’t know. I don’t know.

For some reason, so much feels new to me now. It’s not like I’ve never had friends or relationships before, but either I’m different or they’re different or, more likely, both. I haven’t figured out how to navigate the world, I guess. The way I used to doesn’t work for me anymore, and I have yet to discover a way that does.

I’d probably have more luck if I spent less time talking to a dog and three cats, huh?

On Loss and Depression and Stuff

A combination of things that came up within a couple of days of one another reminded me of something I’d noticed about myself some time ago, but still haven’t fully come to terms with as of yet.

One was talking with my buddy and hearing him say how he used to love hanging out in his backyard, and how he should start doing more of that now that the weather is nice. His backyard, it turns out, is ridiculously amazing, and I can’t wait to hang out in it again, myself. Never give that up, dude! Haha

Another was a passage in the book I am currently reading, Wit’s End by Karen Joy Fowler. It mentioned something about how, when one experiences a loss of pretty much any sort, one ceases to be the same person they once were. Sometimes there are massive changes, and sometimes it’s just something little – something you used to enjoy that you don’t anymore. Or that you still do enjoy, but which you’ve forgotten in your attempt to deal with said loss.

I mean, people change as they grow older, anyway, of course, but I feel like this is something a bit different. Sometimes it happens because we equate at least some aspect of the thing with whoever was lost, and we no longer derive enjoyment from it as a result. Sometimes it’s more the depression that comes after a loss, or – in my case – that’s triggered by the loss. It’s hard to feign enthusiasm about something you used to love when you’re just not feeling it anymore.

And it’s confusing.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve remembered loving something, yet been too detached inside to still feel like I love anything, let alone any particular thing. Usually I keep trying to do it, anyway, even if I no longer get much enjoyment out of it. Then the sense of emptiness and of disappointment that accompanies the attempt to enjoy something I remember loving before pushes me down even further. The sense of let-down; that I’ve let myself down, and that I’ve let others down. Especially with fandom-related things, where the sense of community was once so strong. Though, really, I think the fans pretty much ruined fandom for me, for the most part. I think that was more one of the losses, for me, realizing I didn’t feel like I had that anymore.

In most cases, though, the thing itself didn’t change; I just don’t feel the same about it anymore. I changed, while the thing remained the same. And if I can’t still feel like I love the same thing as I once did, then who’s to say I can love something else as much? What if I can’t find the next things I love?

What if I can’t love at all?

Well, that escalated quickly. #melodrama #pms

Anyway, there is a definite difference between realizing you don’t love something anymore – be it due to a particular loss, or depression, or just aging and personal growth – and realizing that you do still love it, but you’ve been letting life and circumstances keep you from doing it more and/or enjoying it to its full extent. It’s not always simply a case of “fake it ’til you make it”, or of just doing it and relying on whatever it is to turn your mood around.

Sometimes it’s not about a mood.

Actual depression isn’t something that can be fixed by pretending to be happy, or thinking happy thoughts. It’s not about being sad all the time. It’s more about not being happy, if you want to simplify it, but from what I can tell, even that’s not very accurate. In my experience, it’s usually more of a lack of feeling anything at all; a deadening of the senses, of emotion, of thought. Of course, I have also been on medication for it regularly since 2009, and off and on for years before that, so it’s quite likely that the meds are doing their job and I can no longer accurately remember what it was like before I started taking them again, when everything was still very raw.

I do remember a few occasions where I suddenly realized that some of the things which had previously made me happy were no longer doing so. I remember being confused by that sensation. I remember not being certain if I would ever really feel joy again, but being more concerned with getting out of the emotional hole I was stuck in for a time. The purpose of the meds was to take the edge off so that I could work more productively both with my therapist, and in my daily life. Not employment work, so much as just being able to express awareness of my own feelings and understand what I needed to do to take better care of myself. To even want to take better care of myself. It’s a delicate balance – it’s not like I don’t still feel; I just have more time in a middle ground instead of highs and lows – but it’s a balance nonetheless.

Sometimes that’s enough. And sometimes spending time in your sweet backyard is really all you need for now. 🙂

Learning To Make New Choices

I love the sound of a cold can of pop being opened. Or beer. Or pretty much anything cold. Popping that tab just sounds refreshing in my brain.

And coconut rice from the place down the street, which I am eating right now.

Not sure what to talk about today. Haha

I’ve been thinking more about how I can’t do everything. Like, obviously, because few people can, if any. I mean, we spend so much time doing things that we don’t necessarily want to do, that we don’t have enough time to do more of the things we want. Factor in finances and it seems pretty much impossible sometimes.

I think part of my problem is always trying to do too much. I spread myself too thin and then can’t fully enjoy some stuff. I try to do little bits of lots of things. I still make choices – let go of some things in favour of keeping others. More and more sacrifices have been made in the past couple of years, but they don’t really seem like sacrifices, which is good. It’s usually been a choice between something I’ve always done, like TIFF, for something I want to do more, like break a Guinness World Record or spend more time with friends or go to the zoo or a baseball game more often.

I think another part of the problem is in my ability to plan realistically. Like, I used to have everything mapped out for the year. I knew when the time would come to buy TIFF packages or Fan Expo passes, and I knew how those things fit into my budget on an annual basis. But lately there are so many different things coming up; things I didn’t do before. Things I didn’t know to plan for before. My priorities have shifted, and I find myself making different choices than I used to. Which is great, definitely. It’s just that I have a harder time planning far in advance now, I think. I’m okay saving for short term goals, but the longer term is more difficult, because so much changes in the meantime. I knew last year sometime that I wouldn’t be able to go to the BLT’s 15th birthday party this summer, for example. At some point, I realized that any money I had been saving had gone to other things. I wasn’t always thinking, “It’s this or the BLT but not both”, but I’m not sure it would have made a difference. It might have, but definitely not in every case.

I can’t even remember which specific moment caused me to actually choose between getting there this year or postponing it another year. It might have been renewing my zoo membership, or something Fan Expo-related. I think it was in the fall when I realized there wasn’t enough time left to start saving for a trip that would last longer than a day or two. There was whatever I was paying for at the time, and then the holidays stretching out before me, and birthdays and anniversaries and…it just got to be too late. I have very little to work with that it’s one of those things I have to commit to saving for WELL in advance; as far in advance as possible, really.

But I also think I need to change what I’m deciding between. Like, some of my monthly expenses can be altered or disposed of, and that would make a little difference each month, but a large difference overall. I think changes need to be made more in lifestyle than in individual expenditures. I need to actually figure out what’s most important to me, and focus more on those things.

Last year was the first time I didn’t go to any TIFF screenings because I couldn’t afford it, I didn’t take the time off work like I usually do, and there was just so much going on that I couldn’t even think of adding more to my plate. And yet, was it the end of the world? Not even remotely. I hadn’t even really looked into what was screening (except Midnight Madness because I wanted to go to one with my friend, Jen, but couldn’t even make that much happen), so I didn’t feel like I was missing much. I was focused more on other things; things which took priority over film screenings. Hard to imagine, even now, in a way, and yet there you go. There was too much on my To Do list so I whittled it down to something more manageable, and I didn’t feel like I’d really lost out, or gone against my instinct. I’d just changed some, and had other things calling to me more.

Things like that are all short term, too. By not spending money on a TIFF pass, I had more left over to do other smaller things, instead of that one big thing. And it was okay. I enjoyed myself.

It does, however, bother me that I won’t be at the boys’ birthday party next month. Something has to change just so that I don’t feel this way again next time.

Now I just have to figure out how to transfer that over so that it’s the other way around. Give up some little things and save up for the larger thing. It’s harder now because the little things are all kind of new, and I haven’t had a chance to really prioritize them into what I can and can’t do without. That in itself is a good exercise, whether there’s an end goal in mind, or not. I’ve been cruising along on my path of always-the-sameness for a long time; afraid to deviate lest I make a mistake and have to file for bankruptcy again, or something. However, I think I can make some changes and move things around without having things suddenly go that far, and some of the always-the-same things aren’t things I can’t do without, anymore. They served their purpose, and got me through when I needed them, but I’m not the same person, and I should spend less time trying to still be that, and more time trying to sort out what kind of person I am now.

I can be worth knowing. 🙂

Orange-Tinted Memoirs

Sometimes I wonder what I would write about, if I were to write the story of my life. What would I include? What would I consider to be my defining moments? What would I have forgotten about and then remember suddenly along the way, during the process of writing it all down? What would I deliberately leave out and why?

Actually, I can already think of more things I would leave out than I can of things I would include, if I’m being honest.

The story of my life would…well, the things I’d include would be true, at least from my perspective and to my recollection. But the lies of omission would be many many many.

My great-grandmother started writing down her memories, and some dedicated family members typed them up and printed them off into book form, one of which gratefully found its way into my possession. I haven’t read the entire thing from cover to cover as of yet, but I have perused it on more than one occasion, and I have to say, it’s a fascinating read. The woman lived to be 100 years old, and the things she saw and did throughout her life are nothing short of remarkable to me. She lived in a whole different world than I do, and her recollections bring that world alive, even if just for brief segments, in her own words.

I wonder sometimes what someone decades from now would think about my memories of growing up, of becoming an adult, and the often-failed attempts at adulting which I now make? Looking back, the world I grew up in was vastly different from what we’re navigating now. No cell phones, no internet, no blogs, computers took up an entire room for a bit there, we left our doors unlocked when we were out, we played outside and rode our bikes around, we (perhaps naively, but still) trusted news media, we read books more than we played video games because for several years, we had to go to an arcade to play video games. And they cost a quarter, which was expensive. I wonder, sometimes, if someone who only learned of those times through impersonal history classes and the like, would be as fascinated by my first-hand accounts of it as I am with my great-grandmother’s stories.

This morning, I was trying to figure out what one of my earliest childhood memories would be. It wouldn’t necessarily be important enough to include in an autobiographical kind of collection, but I was interested to see how far back I could remember. Memory is a crazy thing, really. So much of it includes what we’ve been told, or photos we’ve seen, or video…there was no video when I was little, either. Kids now grow up on camera. We had film. Film that had to be sent away to a lab for developing, in most cases. And my family had a projector upon which we watched home movies and…I want to say there was also a Keystone Cop adventure of some sort. I remember a car getting stuck on some railroad tracks, and the train was coming, and at the last second, they pulled the car in half, let the train pass, then pushed the halves back together again. My brother and I would make our dad play it backwards and forwards again while we laughed and laughed, because it was the greatest thing ever. Never got old.

Anyway.

That’s an early memory, but I don’t really have anything to pinpoint how early it was. It was more of an ongoing thing, anyway. Projector nights, with reels of film that had to be placed properly on the projector for it to play. I wish we still had that, actually. I would like to experiment with it a little, now that I think about it.

So, while that’s definitely an early memory, I do have one that’s earlier, and that I can pinpoint almost to the date. The year and month, anyway. It would have been September 1975, probably early in the month. And on a Sunday. We were at a park – I forget the name – in Orillia for the then-annual Maynard Family Reunion. I was eager to show off my new baby brother, who had been born in April. He was born on my mom’s birthday, but at the time, I only cared about my birthday, if that, and didn’t really know when anyone else’s was. He was dressed all in blue – very manly, but for the bonnet – and when some family members came over to say hello, I decided to display my amazing skills at big sistering, so I tickled him a little.

He cried.

I was sure I’d never been so humiliated in my whole life (I was, by that point, 3 years old). I was pretty sure I hated him for embarrassing me, but on some not-so-deep level, I knew I’d tickled him too hard, and that it was actually my fault, and that what I was feeling was guilt, and not hate. I just didn’t have words or understanding of complex emotions yet. All I knew was that I felt bad, and that it was related to something he’d done (as a result of something I’d done, but whatever). Fortunately for both of us, he was cute – if bald – and generally a pretty likeable little kid.

Oddly enough, that is my only memory of my brother as an infant. Every other memory of him is after he got a bit older – probably because he could then play with me. Before that, he was probably really boring. Cute, but boring.

I think I totally have a picture of us from that day, so if I can find it tonight, I’ll add it to whatever I end up posting tomorrow. It was the 70’s, so everything is probably quite orange in the photo, but that’s how we rolled once we moved from black and white to technicolor. Our memories became tinted with orange.

Also kind of odd is that I can’t remember anything from before my brother was born. I remember wanting to show him off a few months after he came along, but I don’t remember being an only child, or my mom being pregnant, or anything. I don’t remember a time when he wasn’t there. He would go on to piss me off many many more times after that (and I suppose I would piss him off, too, but not nearly as often, I’m sure), but I find a certain comfort in not being able to remember a time when he wasn’t around to irritate me.

Maybe that’s what sibling love is all about.

On This Day

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With Contessa at Jungle Cat World 2015

Today happens to be the 7th anniversary of what was arguably the worst day of my life.

Melodramatic, I know.

And for sure worse things have happened. But it’s not so much how the day itself went, as the effect it had on me then, and continues to have on me now.

I was pretty sure my life was over, and in some ways, I was kind of right. Obviously it wasn’t physically over, because I’m still here writing about stuff. But something broke inside me, and I’m not sure it’ll ever be repaired. I’m not sure it can be. I’m forever changed, and for the most part, that’s okay.

For the most part.

But that day, I stopped participating in my life. I stopped showing up. I stopped being present.

I stopped dreaming.

And none of that is okay.

I can, of course, look back and point out a thousand things I’ve done since that day that would seem to prove the opposite of that claim. I’ve written 4 very different novels and self-published two of them. I’ve opened an Etsy store of geeky crafts I make by hand all by myself. I wrote my first screenplay. I am a Guinness World Record Holder. I pet a freaking TIGER! I participate in a successful blog and podcast called the Mind Reels, and that has opened countless doors to opportunities that were unimaginable to me before we started. I’ve forged friendships with people I’d previously only watched on television. I’ve dealt with my MS fairly well thus far, as well as my depression, therapy, the loss of my Kate Kitten, and the addition of my current furbabies into my adopted family. I’ve got a great apartment that is tricked out to display my geekdom to…well, me, mostly. I don’t really have guests very often.

Anyway – clearly I’ve lived. I’ve been living. I’m alive. I’m gaining wrinkles and lines and scars like a freaking BOSS.

But none of that has really set in. I don’t have any confidence in myself as a person. I actually lost a lot of my swagger in 2003, which is a large part of the reason why I can have a teaching degree without ever having set foot in a classroom as a paid teacher. I just stopped believing I could do it. And then in 2007, I stopped believing I could do anything. I stopped believing I was a good choice to be here, in this world. I stopped believing I had anything of value to contribute.

So since that day in 2007, I’ve basically been killing time. And it’s pretty miserable. Even when I do awesome things, the feeling I get from having done it is so fleeting. So temporary. More like a dream of something that happened, instead of something I actually did or participated in. Because the walls are up now and they are very high – I can’t see over them. I just imagine what’s on the other side and once in awhile I imagine myself over there, too, but it doesn’t feel real. It’s just a daydream to pass the time, from one day to the next. For seven years.

Now, in my very logical brain, I know that this is my thing to remedy. I know it was a ridiculous response in the first place, and to drag it out this long is even more so. It’s become a habit. I can’t even remember how to be different anymore.

So what I need to do is find a new way to be different.

Which sounds simple, but even as I type it, competing thoughts exist in my head at the same time.

For example, I have what I think is an amazing idea for a themed bar/pub I’d love to open. I know it’s amazing because it’s somewhere I’d freaking LOVE to frequent. I have it all set up in my head, and some even on paper. I’ve researched a series of possible steps to take to make it happen. And then I remember – I’ve never worked in a bar, let alone run one. I’ve never run ANY sort of business before. I’ve never even been a manager, unless you count those months at the Great Canadian Bagel when I got promoted to manager of our kiosk because all the other staff returned to school in the fall. But I don’t really think that counts.

I have a pretty good idea about what customers want, as I’ve been in customer service since forever, and that alone makes me a great customer for others. But would it make me a great business owner? Not bloody likely.

But man, the place would be incredible. Maybe. It COULD be incredible, at least.

And that’s part of the problem, too, really. I see so much possibility in my head, but as soon as I try to get things rolling, they…stop rolling. Even my Guinness World Record attempt – while fun – was a far cry from what I’d envisioned. I don’t think I’m much of a leader. And I have no idea if that’s a chicken or egg thing, even. Do I feel like a bad leader and therefore no one is inspired to follow me? Or is no one inspired to follow me because I am not leadership material?

Is it all just a self-fulfilling prophecy?

If things had been different on this day in 2009, safe to say I wouldn’t have done many – if any at all – of the things I’ve ended up doing since. But maybe they would have been better. Maybe I’d be a better writer, or a stronger leader, or a full-time teacher.

But maybe they wouldn’t have happened at all. Impossible to say what’s for the best. All any of us have is what actually happened, and how we choose to deal with it.

And thus far, I have chosen poorly. Like that guy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade who picked the wrong goblet.

I want to do better, but my mind is at war with itself, and it’s hard to know in which direction I should take my next step. Still, there is one key difference between now and that day 7 years ago.

Unlike this day in 2009, I’m now willing to take a next step.

And that could very well make all the difference in the world.

Besides – I really, really want to hang out in my imaginary pub. I’d participate the shit outta that if it were real.