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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Relationships And Stuff

Had a lovely, much-needed brunch with one of the people closest to me.  I managed to get some things off my mind; maybe not in as much detail as I needed to in some cases, but better than nothing, which is how I usually roll.  Plus, friends are not therapists.  I have to learn to save my selfishness for the one who’s being paid to listen to my shit.

I do feel less nervous about my first volunteer shift to tomorrow, so that’s good.  I just really need to figure out a better balance between showing up and completely  monopolizing a conversation just so I can unload my own crap.  I’m not good at friendshipping.

I’m not good at relationshipping of any kind, really.  And I’m not looking for anything new, but I still feel like I lost something, and I think part of me is still trying to find that.  I don’t know how to go back to who I was before, but I also don’t know who I am now in terms of relating to other people, nor who I want to be.  If I can even grow more, at this point.  I think in general, most of us just stop.

I’ve never really been a fan of change, after all.

My last romantic relationship was my most epic life fail (even though on an emotional level it’s still kind of a thing for me – does that make me more pathetic or less, I wonder) but the one before that was the one that damaged my belief in myself, and thus took a larger, longer-lasting toll.  That was the one that confirmed some things for me; whether they are true or not doesn’t matter.  Chicken or egg, some things just are.  Reality is subjective most of the time, anyway.  Maybe all the time.

Most relationships of any sort happen when I am not looking for them, of course, though now I feel like I’m…more lost.  Unsure of myself, who I am, what I want.  What will I be when I grow up?  Too late.  I grew up a long time ago, and turns out I’d be nothing of note.

But great at it, don’t get me wrong.  Sometimes I just wonder what else I am too late for; what else I missed out on while I was trying (and failing) to figure out how to human.

Tomorrow is a big day.

 

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.

Owning Life

Man, I am such a mess of scattered and random anger today! My mind is juuuust spinning. So that’s part of the reason why I won’t write about what I’d been planning to write about for this post. Also, I wanted to use some pictures for it, but haven’t chosen which particular ones yet! 😉

Hence, I shall again ramble away for a bit about nothing in particular and see what shakes out.

I don’t think we can own living things. Not the way we think we can. Other than the Buy Friends app on Facebook (or whatever it was called – I haven’t played in years), we don’t own people, in terms of legal possession, for example. Many of us even frown on the notion of ownership of another person. One does not procreate and consider that they own their child. Even if you pay to adopt or be artificially inseminated or whatever – money has changed hands, and yet there’s usually no ownership mentality that comes with it. No deed or some such paperwork. Children and other people aren’t generally considered property. At least not anymore, or in most places.

Yet every other living thing, we think we can own. A pet. A plant. Livestock. Land. We draw invisible lines across the earth and consider what’s within them ours. Our property. Our country. Our continent. Our rivers, lakes, oceans and seas. Even airspace, for the love! We think we can own the air ABOVE our land! We tax and tarriff, we charge fees to cross our land, our waters or travel in our air. We fight for it, to the death. Our territory. While we are not the only species on the planet known to do such a thing, I think we can safely presume that we are the only ones who go to such lengths to “own” it. Even space we’re not using, we don’t want anyone else to use it, either. We’ll destroy something beautiful rather than let another enjoy it.

Yet the whole idea is kind of ludicrous, when you think about it. You own a plot of land, so you build a house upon it, which you also own. You plant trees and grass on it, and you own those, too. Do you also then own the insects and wildlife which traverse it occasionally? Of course not. Do you own the birds that fly through your airspace above your land? Nope. You don’t even think of them as the tresspassing illegal aliens they so clearly are. When the wind (also a tresspasser) blows your leaves off of your tree and onto your neighbour’s lawn, do you go rake them up? Nope – they become your neighbour’s problem, even though you just owned them a minute ago. How quickly you relinquish ownership then, right?! When precipitation falls from your sky, do you claim to own the rain and snow and hail? The floodwaters in your basement – yours? Of course not. It’s a completely silly notion, because life is fluid and temporary and ever-changing. Life cannot be owned.

We claim to own our pets, yet same thing – we own them no more than we own our human children. They are intelligent, unique individuals, and we make them dependant on us for their very survival, but we have also made ourselves responsible for the quality of their lives. We can own the responsibility, but not the individual lives themselves.

I think we’ve just become so bored as a species that we need to control and dominate everything and everyone. We need to twist and shape those around us into what we think we want. All these years of technological advancement and we still don’t know how to plant trees so that their branches and roots don’t grow to collide with power lines, sidewalks and the like, so we cut them, trim them to our liking. We need to travel quickly because we’re all very busy going nowhere, so as long as that’s not a human we just ran over, we’re good. Speed on ahead to get to that red light faster. We measure our worth by what we have. By things. I have this, therefore I am that. We don’t realize that we can have all the things in the world and we’re still going to die. We are not immortal – not in the way we think we want to be – and we are not going to live forever. But the damage we cause will outlast us; all of us. Destruction is our immortal legacy.

I wonder what those who come later will think, when they look back at who we appear to be right now. Will they wonder where all the green went? What happened to all the art and beauty and music? Will they look at our piles of treasured material things as garbage and gaze at our faded selfies and imagine the lives of a people who had the time and need to take portraits of their meals, while simultaneously destroying all of the living things around them? All of the living things they thought they owned?

Will they wonder what the ever-loving fuck we were thinking? Or just wonder if we were ever thinking at all?

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.

On Why Zoos Matter

I think there needs to either be a new category of zoos – with a new definition – or some of them need to have a new name created for them all together. There is a negative connotation attached to the term “zoo” that manifested a long time ago, but no longer applies to the accredited and regulated zoos of today. And that irritates the hell out of me, because once again, people base their opinions on things that aren’t true, and then apply them across the board, instead of taking each situation or establishment into account. It’s an ignorant way to go through life, regardless, but even more so when those uneducated opinions actually affect the things they think they are against in an adverse way.

Did that sentence even make sense? I am extra fatigued today.

People are against zoos for archaic reasons that are no longer reality, and espose these untrue “facts” to anyone who will listen, thereby affecting the good work that is being done, rather than support it and encourage it to grow and continue. You see, zoos are one of the only “businesses” on the planet that actually work toward their own extinction. They are a necessary facility trying to combat the damage humanity has inflicted on the planet and its non-human residents, while also having the end-goal of a day when they are no longer required. It’s actually one of the most un-selfish acts anyone could perform, and they do it every day, as best they can, by growing, sharing and learning as they go.  Most zoos have grown and changed over the decades – but for some reason, the public perception of them has not.

Contrary to some beliefs, they are not actually here for our entertainment, nor are the animals in their care. Their function and purpose is far, far more important and essential than that.

I’m sure one could argue that, if they aren’t here to put animals on display for the masses to gawk at, then why not close their doors and not let the public in? Why involve the public at all? Well, for starters, some places actually are like that. Not zoos, but most sanctuaries, farms, and even some wildlife reserves either allow limited or sometimes no public interaction with the animals in their care. Those are all different types of facility, however, with different mandates and goals.

I’m going to use the Toronto Zoo as my example for this whole post, as it’s the such one place I know best. One of the Toronto Zoo’s goals is to educate the public – about what they’re doing, and trying to do, about the animals in their care, about those species’ counterparts in the wild, about their efforts to keep various species from going extinct, about the ways in which they are able to re-introduce some species (like the black-footed ferret, for example) back into the wild! What?! Whoever heard of a zoo putting animals BACK into the wild?!

It happens all the time, guys. They are just careful about doing it, and try to do so in a way that will give the indivdual animals the best chance of survival once they get out there on their own. Because that’s what it’s all about. Survival. And not just of the fittest. In an ideal situation, the zoo wants not only for the vast majority of those released individuals to survive, but also for them to thrive. To reproduce. To build communities (if that’s what they’re into) and continue to grow into the important and in fact essential part of an ecosystem they were once a part of – before humans ruined everything.

Because we did this. Our species. We have made an enormous mess over the centuries, and facilities like the Toronto Zoo are working very hard every day to try and clean up our mess, and ensure we don’t make such a one again. Education is a huge part of that process, and it is the most direct route to something humans in general seem to lack – empathy.

Sure, there are pictures and videos and webcams and all kinds of neat technology these days. Why don’t they just use those to educate the public?

I’ll tell you: because it is not even remotely the same experience. I’d seen photos and video clips of Hudson the polar bear cub before I met him in person at the zoo. They were super cute and I was really excited to see him, but they had nowhere near the same effect on me as the moment I saw him with my own eyes. My heart skipped a beat, and from then on, I was completely in love with the little guy. Every time my big blue eyes met his so-dark-brown-they’re-practically-black, diamond-shaped eyes, I think I stopped breathing. We connected on a level photos and videos can’t touch. We knew one another. I never would have gotten him tattooed on my arm were it not for the experience of being allowed the chance to know him, either. That’s how much he affected me. He became a part of who I am, part of my core.

If you’re not yet convinced, because maybe I am just a crazy polar bear lady, go have a look at a photo of a human child. Then watch a video clip or two of the kid. Now go hold that child in your arms, look into its eyes, and tell me the experience is the same as when you were looking at the pictures and watching the videos. Tell me that connection you felt didn’t suddenly get a lot more personal and almost overwhelmingly real.

Not that I got to touch Hudson (I WISH!), but I am certain that would have made me even more of a crazy polar bear lady than I already am. 100%.

Another thing I learned from the Toronto Zoo is about the importance of enrichment for the animals, to help prevent boredom and depression. They are not out in the wild struggling every day just to survive, after all, and they have moods and emotions and thoughts, just as we do. It is important to note, however, that they don’t feel things the same way we do. Just because you don’t think you’d like napping all day in the warm sunshine, for example, doesn’t mean that African lions don’t freaking LOVE IT. They’re cats. Not exactly the same as house cats, but they have more in common with them than they do with you. Guaranteed. And not all of them are the same, either. Just because you read something about one lion doesn’t mean that same quality applies to every lion on the planet. They are individuals, just like you and me.

Anyway, I have cats living in captivity in my apartment. I keep them fed and watered, and pet them and cuddle with them and play with them, and they seem pretty happy. What I learned at the zoo is that it’s healthy for them to change things up every now and then; keep them on their adorable bean-shaped toes. It could be the introduction of a new toy or a new box, maybe break out some catnip on occasion, or even just move a piece of furniture over a few feet for awhile. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, just little things can make all the difference. My cats love the scent of mint, so I got them a box of peppermint teabags, and every once in awhile I’ll throw a couple of them on the floor and watch the cats start playing with them instantly. There’s a bit of a mess to clean up after, of course, but totally worth it. Same with bubbles. Sometimes they like those more than chasing the red dot!

For anyone who believes that housepets are not captive animals, you can go ahead and check your specist hypocrisy at the door. They are. The difference is that we believe we’re doing those animals a favour by rescuing them from the wild. We save them from having to hunt to survive and probably either starve to death or get killed by a vehicle or other animal, and instead give them a warm happy home to live out their years with their loving fur-ever family. That’s why no one is staging protests to Free The Housepets.

I, too, believe I’m giving the cats and dog in my care a better life than they’d have out on the cold city streets. It’s a responsibilty that I don’t take lightly. To me, it is my duty to do everything I can to give them the best lives possible while they are in my care. And that is an every day job, one I do gladly, and one upon which I am always looking to improve. For that’s how the keepers at the zoo feel about the individuals in their care. Each baby born is like one of their own, with the difference being that the parents, and families and other members of the species of each baby are also like their own. They care that much. They spend the night during particularly bad storms to make sure that the animals who depend on them for their lives – and for the quality of those lives – are safe and content. They work overtime, they work every day of the year – whether the public is there or not – and they want nothing more than for their jobs to not be necessary anymore.

To the better dead than captive bred camp, I can’t really pretend to understand where you are coming from at all. How is it even remotely humane to let a baby starve to death (one of the slowest and most painful ways to go, I hear) in the wild, versus giving it a home where it can grow up safe and cared for and live out the rest of its natural life in a not-quite-ideal setting, but at least be allowed to have a life? Is it really the better option for your high moral ground? Or maybe it would be better to kill the infant outright, so that it’s at least spared the agony of starvation. Brilliant. Except that should be applied to all non-humans, not just the ones you see on TV or the internet. Show of hands: how many people stop when they’ve hit an animal with their car to a) make sure it’s dead, b) ensure it wasn’t a lactating female with little ones waiting for her to come home, and if it is, then c) go out and find said babies to spare them the agony of a slow death?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, and that’s actually my point. You have to take each example on a case by case basis. Stop treating every lion like he or she is the exact same as every other lion. Definitely stop assuming that they are the same as you or I. The animals we eat are more intelligent than the average human toddler, and yet they are living in unimaginably horrid conditions from birth to tortuous death – but that’s a post for another time. #factoryfarmsarethedevil

From what I can tell, the word “zoo” does not do the Toronto Zoo – and most places like it – any justice whatsoever. It’s not an accurate representation of what the zoo actually is. The Toronto Zoo is part Ark for species survival and renewal, part Sanctuary for animals in need, part Retirement Home for aging animals, part Orphanage for youngsters who lose their mothers in the wild, part Education and Research Facility to find new ways to do all of those things better – and all love.

Is It Just Me?

Sometimes hats give me headaches.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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