Changing Bodies

Bodies are weird.

Fascinating and stuff, too, but ultimately weird. The number of changes – large and small – that each of us goes through over the course of our lives is astronomical, really. And everyone is so different, despite many similarities. I admit to being concerned on occasion about accidentally getting some human on me when I ride public transit. The myriad of skin conditions and odours and levels of filth can be overwhelming sometimes.

It’s easy to become a bit of a germaphobe in the city. People are always touching things and spitting and coughing and greasy and…just yeah. I try not to get too much human on me if I can help it. I’ll pet a dog I’ve never met before on instinct, but I really don’t want strangers touching me or getting them on my stuff.

I wonder if any of us really sees ourselves when we look in the mirror. Or if anyone else sees what we see of ourselves. Or if anyone knows what we see when we look at them, and vice versa. With so many changes happening all the time, and growing older every day, how could anyone ever really keep up with the present? Especially when we’re pretty much mired in the past and focused on the future?

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More Dreams And Carpe Diem Notions

It’s entirely possible that last night’s dream was a kind of warning, in a way. Though it’s just as likely that it was my brain’s way of expressing guilt and, like, concern.

Either way, it wasn’t entirely unpleasant, and I saw some people in the dream who I haven’t seen in life for a long time, so that was cool. Same with the dream I had the night before – so much was going on, and it largely revolved around people who haven’t really been in my life for several years…more than a decade, in most cases. It’s interesting (to me) that both dreams involved people and situations from roughly the same period of time in my waking life, and yet they didn’t seem to be connected at all. It was a period of much change in my world, and those two dreams managed to reflect very different facets of some of those changes.

Unless last night’s was really just a guilt dream, after all. But still. It chose an interesting route with which to express itself, that’s for sure.

I think whether it was warning or guilt, too, it probably has some merit to it, as well. It definitely got me thinking this morning, and even though I am just as exhausted as I have been in recent days, anyway, that dream has given me a bit more focus today, and that’s a good thing. Maybe nothing will come of any of it, but for now, it’s really got me intent on at least investigating a few avenues. It lit a small fire under my butt, so at the very least, I am using that as incentive today!

I’ve also started planning the next radio play reading, and have begun to reach out to possible cast members to see who might be available. I want to get the announcement of Reelie award winners out of the way before we do this next play, as the script is short and we should have time to do both. All of that should also bring me closer to being able to launch the Mind Reels Patreon page – which would be kind of cool to do for my birthday, but at the same time, I won’t be able to promote it much around then because I’ll be at Fan Expo meeting my boy Luke Skywalker!

So I’ll probably be distracted.

But we’ll see how it goes.

Back to the dream – like, it took place in the school where I did my practicum during my year of teacher’s college. After graduation, I went back several times to visit everyone, and just spend some time in a classroom when I could. I miss being able to do that, I realized. I miss that school in particular, and it’s funny how any time I think about trying to go back to a teaching environment, my mind always imagines it to be done there; at that school, and with those people. Many if not most of the teachers don’t even work there anymore, and even the Principal is someone I don’t know now. The students have, of course, moved on long ago. My little grade 6 kids would be in their 20’s by now! What the hell?! How old am I?! I can’t even imagine it, who they are now; the adults they have grown up to be.

I have no idea what the future holds for me and my non-existent teaching career. What’s more is that I have no idea what I’d even want where education is concerned, if anything. I used to have this whole plan laid out, and then everything came together and fell apart – then came together even more and thus fell apart again more completely – so now I’m just…I don’t know. I go back and forth on it all the time, really. Sometimes to extremes where my feelings about it are concerned. I’m a pretty terrible teacher in the traditional sense, I know. But there are so many non-traditional opportunities out there now; so many different ways of doing things, and more room for forging ones own path a little bit. Not to mention the fact that I am really not the same person I was then. I’ve upgraded. Haha

A large part of the realistic issue, of course, is salary. Like always, I have responsibilities that go beyond taking care of my own needs, and I’m not willing to risk failing in fulfilling those just so I can try something out. I would have to find some sort of balance between risk and security in that, too, if ever I were to take the leap again. Or any leap, really, especially where employment is concerned. These days, I’m mostly just very grateful to have a job which pays the bills and allows me to keep everybody fed with a roof over our heads. Even on my worst days, I am highly reluctant to mess with that again, because I’ve been there when it falls through and I’ve lost it all. I’m not eager to take that chance again.

Just because I’m being cautious, though, doesn’t mean my eyes aren’t open. If there is something more out there for me, I still intend to seize it when I can.

Adjust Accordingly

I saw this thing on FB that said to make a list of things that make you happy, and then a list of what you do everyday, and then compare the two and adjust accordingly.

That sort of fit in with some similar things I’ve been thinking about recently, so even though I know my lists won’t be even remotely the same, it occurred to me that I wasn’t immediately sure what would go on my happy list. And that’s a larger part of the problem than what constitutes my day job, so I figured I should start there.

Some things that make me happy, in no particular order:

  • getting people to talk about their passions (ie via The Mind Reels) and, more recently, doing reads of old timey radio plays
  • being around non-human animals, especially if I get to pet them
  • writing and other methods of creating – I have an amazing creative mind, but lack the talent to do any of it really well
  • planning things – events, trips, tattoos, etc – especially if it’s for me to partake in
  • learning – and usually challenging myself falls into that area, as well (I actually quite enjoy school and taking courses and the like – I think that’s part of what I thought I’d like about teaching, actually)
  • taking and sharing pictures (I love taking pictures, but I think sharing them with others makes me even happier)

That’s as much as I came up with on the subway. I pretty much kept it to activities, really. I guess I could include things like sunshine, mountains, the sound of waves, the smell of bread baking, ice cream, popcorn – food and salt in general, I guess, reading, listening to music…all that kind of wind down stuff I like to do. Collecting things. Watching TV.

I guess there are lots of changes I could make to ensure I am doing more of the things which make me happy during my day, but I was heading in to work, so work was on my mind. Not much there makes me happy, except when I figure something out – which falls into the learning/challenging category, but it rarely happens, so it’s not very happiness-sustaining.

It also takes up a vast percentage of my everyday life, so it’s harder for me to check things off the happy list when the majority of non-work time is spent sleeping. Which sometimes makes me happy, too. Sometimes not, though.

I’ve also been thinking about this whole notion of relationships and how everyone seems to think we all need to be in one. I was thinking about how I never imagined nor planned out my wedding. Not as a kid, nor as an adult – I was never really looking ahead to how my wedding day would be, or which song would be the soundtrack to our first dance, or where I’d want to go on my honeymoon or any of that stuff people supposedly do. Well, except to joke that I’d walk down the aisle to the Imperial March. Otherwise, though, I was never imagining my someday forever love, nor what our lives would look like together. To me, it was a little difficult when I had no one specific in mind. To me, that was a major factor in what the rest would look like. I wasn’t looking for a generic cake-topper, so much as an actual person.

I remember worrying that I wouldn’t be paying attention and miss them whenever they came into my life. I think that may have made me more open, though, because instead of trying to find someone who fit whatever vague notions I had in my head, I was watching; noticing when my initial reaction to meeting someone in particular was different from meeting everyone else.

Recognizing that one handshake could be all I needed to let me know that love was near.

I was getting angry and frustrated at not fitting the mold that others seem to fit into – like, not even understanding it, really. But then this morning I was thinking about those people who use vision boards, or whatever they’re called; wherein a person will place photos and other objects into a sort of collage and look at it regularly, imagining those things coming into their lives. A child, a relationship, a trip, money – anything they want. They kind of meditate on it every day, and it kind of focuses their attention on those specific things, as a way of sending their wishes out into the Universe and hoping for them to manifest sooner rather than later.

I wondered if I have been wrong this whole time (ie my life) in not picturing the specific way I want my life to look; what I want my future to hold. I wondered if maybe I had been doing that – picturing and focusing on what I wanted this entire time, if my life would be any different today. If my future would have been now.

I guess it’s never too late to start.

Though I wouldn’t have missed that handshake for all the world. Not for anything.

I’ll start with the happy list, as I have a feeling other things just fall into place when you’re happy with yourself, anyway. And part of that, of course, will include paying attention to anything else I might want to add to said list.

The sky’s the limit, as they say.

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Writing Prompts – Day 2 of 12

Day 2:  The One That Got Away

You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine’s Day—the one whom you often call “The One

That Got Away.” What happens?

 

I realize that I’m not quite doing these things right, but at the same time, they are writing prompts, and I am writing about them. So suck it. I’m doing it how I wanna. Haha

Anyway…I’m going to delve into the vault of my actual past relationships for this one, just out of curiosity alone.

I was trying to figure out who I would consider to be “The One That Got Away”. I mean, every one of them dumped me, not the other way around, so in that sense, they all got away. Most of them, I was eventually glad they got away for various reasons, but there are three in particular that I miss, and still sometimes wonder what life would have been like had we not broken up. Of those three, one was unlike any relationship I’ve ever had, and was only ever meant to be temporary. It was more of a glimpse into what I would like to have for myself in the future, rather than any kind of permanent long-term thing. It was always going to end, and it was never meant to be 100%, but I feel like she’d be proud of the person I’ve become, and into whom I am continuing to grow.

She wouldn’t be proud relationship-wise, obviously, because a) I haven’t been in one for a good 7 years or so, and b) I never did find the kind of pairing she’d shown me I’d want for myself. Almost, but not quite.

So that leaves me with the other two, and they are actually more alike than different, as far as our relationships went, so for the purpose of this exercise, I can pretty much use both, instead of one or the other. In this case, they are sort of interchangeable. They are both also the closest I’ve been to realizing the kind of relationship I want someday.

They are not interchangeable as people – at all – but as far as what would happen if I bumped into either one of them on Valentine’s Day. Or any day, for that matter. It would all go about the same.

For some reason, when I first pictured this encounter, it took place in a restaurant. Why I would be in a restaurant alone on Valentine’s Day is beyond me, though. Unless it was McDonald’s.

And neither woman lives in this city, so bumping into either of them would be a surprise, to say the least. However, in my first instinctive scenario, both would be with their families. The families they built on after dumping me. Both had a child or children when I met them, and one has more now. Both are married (to men, because neither was actually gay to begin with – I’m just that spectacular for short periods of time), and both love their families; families of which I’d wanted so badly to be a part. So naturally, if I’m going to run into The One That Got Away, she’s going to be happily living her life with someone else, and – more importantly – without me.

That is going to simultaneously hurt me to my core, and make me happy to see her smile.

Maybe she introduces me as an old friend. Maybe some of the people at the table already know me. Maybe she’ll tell me a little about the job she loves, and about where she’s living now. She’ll definitely share something about the kiddo(s) I know and how they’re doing now, all grown up.

She’ll ask how I am.

I’ll lie.

Even though she’s obviously happy and enjoying her life without me, I won’t want her to know how I’m actually doing. It doesn’t even necessarily have anything to do with her – or not as much as it might seem – but not having a job I love and not seeing anyone right now…just all the “nots” that she has now and I don’t. I’m jealous and sad and blaming myself for not being good enough to give her the happy life she deserves, and is now enjoying right in front of me.

I’ll tell her I’m at least okay, that things are going pretty well, I’ll brush off the relationship question and deflect everything with humour.

Then I’ll leave, because even though I’m in McDonald’s on Valentine’s Day, I suddenly don’t have an appetite anymore, and I just want to go home. I’ll flip through some old photos and memories, imagine what might have been, and allow myself to feel for a brief moment as though she’d just gotten away all over again.

After that, I’ll pour myself a drink, break open a bag of chips, and watch some TV, because no one needs to feel that much misery over someone else’s happiness.

Especially not when it’s someone you love.

Search For Equality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s how discrimination works.

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

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

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

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

I have no real idea how to do that.

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

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

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

When I Grow Up

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I wanted to be a cowboy when I grew up. Not a pretty frilly cowgirl. A cowboy.

For, like, a year or so, anyway. I wanted the jeans and plaid shirts and boots and hat, but most of all, I wanted the horse. I really had no idea what cowboys did other than ride horses, so I figured that would be an excellent occupation for my adult self. I don’t really dig any part of it but for the horses, anymore, anyway.

I had a book when I was little – like a memory/keepsake book for each year of elementary and high school. There were pouches to put things in, and I had to fill out who my friends were and favourite subjects and stuff, for each year. There was also a spot to put what I wanted to be when I grew up.

The first year, in Kindergarten, I remember choosing “nurse” because I thought that was the only one of the options presented in the group of choices that seemed like something a girl would do. I was five. It didn’t occur to me until later to that I could not only pick anything I wanted, but if what I wanted wasn’t already listed, I could just write it in.

So there was nurse, cowboy, writer, actor…I think that’s about it. Writer and actor took up most of the years, back and forth. I can’t even remember if I ever wrote anything else in there, or if I just stopped trying to choose and/or write it down. I definitely don’t recall ever writing “English major” or “Work In Retail”, but hey – life doesn’t always go as planned. Or ever. Haha

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There was also a spot for school photos, and of course the class photos all went into the pouch, too. Has anyone ever noticed that every class photo looks pretty much the same? I’m not even entirely sure that it matters which decade the thing was taken in. There’s always a kid looking the wrong way, there’s always at least one girl who is too tall to do anything but stand in the back with the guys, and no matter how good our parents wanted us to look, by the time the pics were taken, we had ruined the illusion of propriety.  

Man, little kids have huge heads.

As I write, I am thinking maybe all class photos don’t look the same, after all. I mean, they DO, but I think maybe the decade or at least within a certain range of each decade does make a difference. Each decade’s photos look alike. I see pictures on Facebook all the time of class photos from schools I’ve never heard of, and still…there we all are. The same, but different. Pretty sure my parents had class photos similar to one another’s, but different from my brother and I. And the ones my niece and nephews have are likely different from ours.

I feel like things were easier then, in a lot of ways. But if that’s the case, then things are harder for kids now. And if THAT’S the case, then what’s the world going to be like when THEY grow up?

I am totally getting my butt kicked at work again today. I’ll write better another day. Gooder, even! 😉

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Who Would Play Me In A Movie Of My Life?

I think the idea of writing one’s autobiography has always come up, in one way or another, over the course of one’s life. Most of us don’t actually do it, of course, but I think most of us have considered it on a hypothetical level at some point in our lives. Maybe it was a school assignment, to divide your life (to that point) into more easily-digested chapters of moments and memories. Maybe it was a silly Facebook meme, asking what your autobiography would be titled, or who would play you in the movie of your life.

Mine would be called “Great idea, Poor Execution”. As to who would play me, though, I’m not sure. Someone with little to no talent, probably. Haha

Whether it gets written down, or not, the idea of chronicling one’s life is kind of excitting to think about, isn’t it? My great-grandmother wrote down a bunch of things she remembered from over the course of her life, and a team of relatives typed it all up into book form, then copied and bound it all together with photos and newspaper clippings and the like, to go along with things she was talking about. The woman lived to just over 100 years old, and the things she remembered and related were all pretty incredible. Trust me, guys, it’s quite a fantastic read! With little to no editing, a whole different world – from a time long passed – was brought to life in her words. I couldn’t be more grateful to have one of the very few copies of that wonderful piece of literature, and it makes me wonder if I, too, should be writing more things down as I go along. Not only so that I won’t forget, but maybe so the world won’t, either.

Not that I expect the world to read my book. That’s not what I mean. I just keep feeling like I want to leave behind some relic, some sample of life – even an unremarkable one – in another time, for others in a future time to read, if they so desire. So that they understand a tiny bit more of what came before. And, of course, to leave more of a mark; more proof that I was ever here at all.  

I can’t remember when I started to obsess a bit about that – leaving a mark on the world which would remain once I am gone. Definitely by high school, possibly sooner. I even made a list at one point, in a notebook. Ways to leave something behind, create a legacy, and essentially achieve a form of immortality. Writing a book was in there. Planting a tree (which I’ve done, but I fear they may now all have been cut down. Blah). Having a child. Other things I can’t remember right now.

See?! I’m already forgetting stuff!

I remember being glad that my name was on some plaques in my high school, because things engraved usually last a long time. And now, of course, I have my Guinness World Record – though I’d be much happier if it were to turn up in one of the books before it gets beaten by someone else!

And the claim is that, once something is on the internet, it’s there forever, but I’m not sure I buy that just yet. The internet isn’t really that old, after all. Maybe if we’re broadcasting it all out into space to travel at the speed of light and/or sound to other galaxies, then I’d get behind the whole forever idea, but at the same time, that does nothing for the Earthlings who’ll never see it.

Anyway. Capturing moments and archiving memories has been kind of my thing for a very long time. I’m afraid of losing my memories from my life, and I am afraid of being lost and forgotten once I’m gone. Let alone while I’m still here. Haha

So the notion of writing more things down has long been on my mind, and every so often I revisit the idea of trying to write something autobiographical-ish. It’s a huge undertaking that I may never have time for, but I was thinking just this morning – what about doing it here, on this blog, in little bits, and whenever the mood strikes? I’m thinking I might make a Memories category, or something, and then I don’t even have to worry about writing in chronological order or anything. I’ll just capture life in pieces, for myself, and for anyone who wants to read it. Readers wouldn’t even have to commit to a whole book or even a whole chapter. Just a page or two about a specific thing. Then, if the day comes when I feel like doing something more official and on a grander scale, I’d already have a bunch of notes to build on.

It would also count as a post for the day, so I wouldn’t have to concern myself with whether or not I had any time left over to do it! 😉

Definitely an idea.

Clever girl. 🙂