Cost

I saw a thing in an advice column yesterday. Well, I saw the title of the letter, rather than the letter itself. There’s only so much I can read over other people’s shoulders, after all. Anyway, it said something like, “What do I say when people ask how much my engagement ring cost?”

And I was, like, “Is that a thing?! Asking people how much their engagement ring cost?”

Like how does that conversation even go?

OMG congratuLAtions!!! Such a beautiful ring? How much did s/he spend on it?! I think mine was around blah-be-dee-bloo, if I recall!”

Is it customary to supply a gift receipt for the ring when you propose? Only not even a gift receipt, but one with the price on it so that the object of your forever love knows exactly how much you love her, right down to the penny? Isn’t such a ring supposed to be considered a gift anymore? I never would have thought to ask someone how much their ring cost, let alone assume they would even know. I had no idea that was a thing.

Maybe I should start asking, if it’s rude not to. Like – how much did yours cost? I don’t have any so I can’t compare. Well…there was one…but I’m pretty sure he stole it, so…let’s call that “on sale”.

As for how to answer it, I’m assuming straight up honesty isn’t as fun as guessing games. Like, estimate how much the ring the person asking you is wearing cost, and then go higher with your response, so you and your fiance/e look like better people or more in love or whatever.

People are weird.  Life is a gift – can I get a receipt with that?

I think I’ve gotten so used to holding back that now I am not sure I’ll be able to open up when I’m supposed to again. I might have to re-learn how to do it, so I don’t waste my money and my therapist’s time too much. It’s actually become habitual now, just keeping things to myself. I’m constantly re-writing my public image, so to speak, carefully choosing what to reveal and how much or little of it I can get away with. I don’t even really put much thought into it anymore. I’ve caught myself actually sifting through thoughts to consider saying if there is a lull in conversation and I can’t just listen and respond. But that technique won’t fly in therapy, so I have to figure out how to break myself of the habit – preferably before I go in – so that I can get the most out of the session. I think that’ll actually make it easier to sift through whatever’s left, once the overwhelming stuff has been released and isn’t building up inside me anymore.

It occurred to me this morning that you can’t lose or miss what you never had, yet it can still hurt, and often quite a lot. You can lie awake at night wondering why it hurts at all, let alone so much. And why it feels so sad to not have had something to lose; why you can mourn something that never was.

I think it’s because what was actually lost was far more important, yet also far more elusive. It’s the realization that it was never there to begin with – that it wasn’t real – that does it, you see.

That realization is the death of the one thing which was there before, and has now been lost.

It’s the loss of plans and dreams and maybes and of having something extra to look forward to each day and even though there’s still plenty of all of that, part of it is gone and that’s the part you now grieve.

It’s the loss of hope.

Treading Water

I think I need to start focusing on other things a bit more, at least for now. Even some that are more for me than for others.

Still treading water, but closer to drowning than I’d like lately!

Past time I do something about it. Will be interesting to see if I actually do, though! Haha

A bystander to the story, watching other lives play out.”

A line which caught my attention in the book I’m currently reading. It’s pretty much how I feel most of the time, but that’s not always a bad thing. I’ve always been an observer more than anything else. A passenger. I feel like I sometimes see more than most people realize, which is helpful. But it’s also isolating; distancing. Watching instead of doing doesn’t get anyone very far. So there’s that.

Everett had never been a teenage girl – maybe there was some equivalent in the adolescent male, something that simmers under the surface of a friendship like that. But the simple truth was that when a girl like Corinne loves you, you don’t ask why. You just hope it doesn’t change.”

There’s a ton that could be discussed about this, and I love how even these few simple sentences dips below the surface to touch on the something a little extra special that happens between girl friends. It’s kind of surprising that it hasn’t been talked about nor portrayed very often in film/TV and books and the like. Well, not really surprising, I guess, given our penchant for largely ignoring the female experience in this journey through life (even I don’t talk or think about it except in terms of judging others), and even when it is highlighted, it’s often in a way that makes the girls look crazy, rebellious, lesbian, or just plain psychotic/vengeful/angry. It’s rarely just in terms of exploring the myriad of connections that female friends can make with one another, which is different from the ones they make with men, and often valued less as a result. But having mostly just observed, rather than experienced, such a thing, I feel ill-equipped to put in my two cents. Or…another two cents, as the case may be.

Plus, we don’t have pennies in Canada anymore, so I’d have to put in at least five cents, anyway.

I do know the feeling of not understanding why, nor asking why, and just hoping it doesn’t change, though. A handful of people have made me feel lucky; made me feel loved even though I’m just flawed old me. Not in a romantic way; that’s not what this is about at all. It’s a certain kind of friendship thing, one I always long for and watch for and occasionally think I’ve finally found…until it inevitably does change, and is gone. The friendship itself usually remains, in some form or other, but that something extra that made it special – that made me feel special – is lost.

Breaks my heart every time.

There Is No Try

Once again, I’m too tired and distracted to really know what I feel like talking about. I can think of tons of things I don’t feel like talking about, but that doesn’t really help! Haha

I think part of the reason my weekend didn’t go well was a distinct lack of planning. I told the birds that it was possible that the only reason I made it out there at all yesterday was because it was the one plan I did have going into the weekend. Thus, it was the only thing I accomplished.

Anyway, my plan for this week is to pick a focus and stick to it. Fan Expo isn’t for another week and a half, so I can leave that a little longer. The only thing left to do ahead of time, I think, is to purchase the other photo op I want, anyway. So that can all wait, at least until I get a few other things out of the way first.

Wednesday evening, the Mind Reels will be recording our fourth radio play – a thus far all-girl (plus Tim) episode of Flash Gordon from 1935, I believe. I’ve got the scripts together, and have to email details to the awesome cast we have coming in. I also have to respond to a few of their questions before the day, too. Maybe later today, if I can find time.

We’ll also be announcing the fan-chosen winners of our very first awards show, the Reelies. That’s another project that got away from me, so I’ll be happy to have it done, at least for this year. It’s not ending up at all like I had planned, but little does. It should still be fun, however, and I’ll whip up a post to go along with the video link. Unfortunately, we won’t be going live for any of it, but there are a couple of things I can possibly do to keep people involved a bit on Wednesday night, and definitely after the video is posted, highlight our new Instagram account, and possibly even plug Patreon a little.

Speaking of Patreon, we are getting close to my target for launching the page, so I need to turn some attention toward getting that set up this week, as well. I am still hoping to launch on my birthday (because it’s the beginning of the month), but that hope fades with each passing day, so I’ll see what I can do between now and then. I keep battling the voice inside that says to just quit before I start, because the venture will likely be an abysmal failure, anyway, and why bother putting all this time and energy into something that is probably going to fall so flat? So I keep reminding myself – so what if it does? As with my Guinness World Record attempt and event, I have already learned a lot and stand to learn so much more by pushing through with it. As such, there will be more skills to add to my resume for later or just-in-case. And besides, if I don’t do it, I’m always going to wonder if I would have gotten anywhere with it, so it’s better to just try and see how it goes. I can always pull the plug later on, if need be.

It definitely won’t go anywhere if I don’t even try, right?

Or…just do it. There is no try.

So Reelies/radio play, Patreon finishing touches, and Fan Expo. That’s mostly all just Mind Reels stuff. I don’t know if there is anything pressing in my real life – I have to keep careful track of my budget for the next little while, as the slightest mistake could spell more trouble than I can fix. I’m seeing my dentist tonight so she can have a look at my split tooth and possibly patch the pain away ahead of my actual appointment set for a couple of weeks from now. I’ll have to check into my volunteer schedule because I won’t be able to do it over the long weekend, as I’ll be at Fan Expo for most of it. But that can wait. This week – just regular stuff – budget, groceries, dishes and other little cleaning tasks at home, perhaps re-planting some of my wildflowers into bigger pots (though that also likely won’t be this week, so never mind), hopefully getting more sleep because I am really struggling right now. Nothing too special. I guess the Mind Reels takes up most of my extra time, at the moment. Which is fine, as it’s usually more interesting than my real life, anyway.

I have a lot of questions in my head; things I need to sort out about myself sometime soon. But not today. It’s Monday, and there are other things I also need to do. Sometimes it’s just difficult to tell which is more pressing. Which is closer to living life as opposed to just awaiting its inevitable end?

Maybe someday the gaps between the personal and “professional” – between private and public – won’t seem so far apart.

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.

Hope Springs

Yesterday’s main event involved taking Brody to get groomed.  He was in dire need of a bath and a haircut and just an overall fresh start.  I’d fallen way behind on his upkeep, much to my shame, so I’m more determined to not let it get anywhere near that out of control again.  Hard to catch up again once you fall behind, and while he’s not the only thing I am behind on, he is an important one.  Sorry Brodykins.  I’ll try to be a better Mamma Sue in the future.

I’m still not a very good pet mom, but I’m trying to get better.  Definitely trying, but with questionable results, apparently.  Time will tell.

The upside to the day was that I got to kill time with Kristi for the afternoon while Brody was in his very long appointment.  We went to Dollarama so I could grab some paint for an idea I have.  We got flowers and green grapes, then went to this grilled cheese place we’d passed earlier called Millwood Melt.  We ate our insanely delicious lunch outside at a picnic table and enjoyed the sunshine and gentle breeze.

Next up was a trip to Home Sense.  We…may have spent too much money, but was ridiculous good fun wandering around the whole store to make sure we’d checked everything out.  Canadian Tire and Pet Smart were wandered, as well, and I finally remembered to get the puppy a new tag with both of our current phone numbers on it.  Also grabbed some new winter boots for him and Soph, a flea comb to hopefully help maintain the goop that gathers under his eyes, and we found a conditioner that will hopefully help with his itchy skin enough to let me give him a bath more often.

He’d always get so itchy, and the shampoo I have makes it feel like all of the natural oils and stuff are gone from his hair after.  I was considering adding some olive oil or something to it next time, to see if that would help, but now I can see how this conditioner works before I try other things.

Anyway, guilt and shame at being a bad mom aside, it was mostly a really nice day.  Brody had a nap and then we went for a bit of a longer walk once it cooled down outside.  We may have also had some popcorn for dinner.  Made on the stove.  So so good.

I decided to water my wildflower seeds, too.  It had been a few days so I figured it couldn’t hurt.  When I went outside to do so, though, I had the happy surprise of spotting several little green sprouts poking out from the soil!  I’d just been telling Kristi of my tentative plans for “if anything grows” earlier in the day, and almost out of nowhere there are little spots of life springing up on my balcony already!

Now, I realize this doesn’t seem like a big deal to anyone but me, however this, too, is all new to me.  Aside from when I was a child doing such things with my mom (or watching her do them), I’ve never planted a seed on my own before.  I’ve never grown anything from seemingly nothing before.  In my head, I was kind of expecting to just be watering the dirt for a month before giving up and just continuing to try and keep my one plant alive.  I was randomly checking prices for potted wild flowers that are already growing, in case I was really that determined to have flowers on a balcony that barely gets any direct sunlight now that there’s a larger building next door.  I was expecting my seed-planting to go the way of those little boxed grow-your-own-bonsai trees, or something.  I was preparing myself for more failure and disappointment.

I was wrong this time, though.  There is life in that box of dirt; life that I helped put there.  It’s a week old today, and even though I will soon have to spread the little guys out (hopefully without killing them), at the moment, I haven’t failed.  They are growing.  Something I planted – little seeds I put into soil – they’re growing.

Maybe there is hope for me, after all.

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What To Do?

To be honest, I have something specific on my mind today – a super secret project – but it’s a surprise, so I can’t talk about it publicly at all, and that’s killing me! Haha

If you are one of the folks who knows what I’m talking about, you shouldn’t mention it publicly anywhere, either. The first rule of Fight Club is… 😉

Anyway, I’ll talk about other stuff, instead.

As you can likely tell from some of my previous posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my life. Or how I want my life to look, both day to day, and in the future. It seems a tad late to be trying to figure this all out, but they say better late than never, and I think it’s probably good to have goals and things to aspire to. It would likely make a difference to do something I can get excited about occasionally, too, and to feel like I am contributing and have value.

I know I’d love to work with animals, but unless I can get paid enough at some kind of doggie daycare, or something, I don’t think that would work out financially for me and the critters in my care. I do hope to supplement my existence with an opportunity to volunteer with the Toronto Wildlife Centre, preferably in their Nursery, feeding baby squirrels and the like, until they can be re-released back into the wild. I would gladly do that for no pay, and I think between something like that and the sillies who live with me – and regular zoo trips, of course – I could at least get my animal therapy fix often enough to make me feel content.

The Mind Reels is still growing and has become a wonderful creative outlet, in addition to writing and crafting and all the little things I keep trying to find time to work on.

But what of my day job? I don’t need to love it to be content, but I do need to feel like I am contributing instead of failing all day, every day. It’s a heavy thing to walk around with all the time, and I’m not sure how long I can really keep doing it. I am actually afraid that everywhere will feel like this, but logically I know it won’t. I guess I’m just worried that most of it comes from inside me, and that I won’t be able to leave it behind.

That’s for another blog post, though. This one is more to explore things I think I might like to do, instead of just the constant retail environment I seem to have needed 2 Bachelor degrees to spend the rest of my life doing. It’s great to have been employed pretty much constantly since I got out of University, but I can’t say as I really have developed any marketable skills as a result of said employment, apart from more retail, of course.

But I have learned and done things as a result of being alive, and I’m hoping to delve into more of those things with respect to potential future employment, instead. I feel like The Mind Reels and my Guinness World Record event garnered me some basic experience in marketing/promotion/public relations areas, as well as … what would I call it? Interviewing skills? Hosting a show, conducting casual interviews, and now running celebrity panels at fan conventions – those things aren’t easy to do, especially for shy people. Yet I feel quite comfortable in those environments now. On camera or off, in front of a crowd or in a quiet room (or a hotel lobby with no sleep), with a stranger or someone I’ve met before. I feel like I’ve gotten better at it all as I go along, and that I don’t freeze up with nerves and stage-fright is a good thing.

Of course, I have a great interview partner, so that definitely helps, too! 😉

I’ve learned a lot about promoting and publicizing things in recent years, particularly when it comes to using social media effectively. I’d be even better at it if it was my job and I could focus on it more! I’d love to administrate social media feeds for an employer, and since everyone has social media pages all over the internet these days, I feel like I could really grow something like that and be a positive influence on branding for a company or what-have-you.

Actually, there are a few other areas of interest that I have right now, but that one seems the most suited to the skills I already have, with tons of room for growth.

As well, my lunch break is over, so I should stop typing and get back to work!

More on this tomorrow, perhaps!

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.