Monday

Left home earlier than usual this morning so that I could stand on the platform and wait for a train that I could fit onto. Well, I could have fit on any of them, if the people in front of me would move INTO the train instead of just crowding themselves into the doorway. Eventually I was the one boarding first so pushed my way into the area between two cars, where there would have been tons of room were it not for the pieces of shite wearing their backpacks, oblivious to the notion that there might be other people nearby.

Wrestled with a decision all the way in. Still undecided but possibly resigned to feeling like I don’t really have a choice, and that it’s my own fault if that’s the case.

Growing weary of the bullshit and lies, yet allow them to go unchallenged because I just can’t invoke my righteous rage if it’s in defence of my own well-being.

Arrived to find more angry emails about things that aren’t my fault, yet come down on me, anyway, because life.

Forgot to mention another little thing from my volunteer shift yesterday. It involved simply drying the feet of two birds (no idea what they are called) after they’d been in the sink getting a bit cleaned up. Neither liked it, and both of them kicked a lot as soon as they were lifted out, which is why it was a two woman job. I had to grab one foot at a time, but gently enough that I didn’t hurt the little ones, and luckily for me they both stopped kicking once I’d gotten a light grip on one foot, so I could pat them dry, and leave them to kick again once I’d let go.

I talked to them the whole time (not that it helped them, but I think it helped me), and it ended up feeling like this intimate little moment between us. Not an entirely good moment, but not an entirely bad one, either.

My family’s going through some stuff, my buddy’s going through some stuff, I’m going through some stuff. I learned at a young age that people will usually stop being cruel if they don’t get a reaction out of you, as the reaction is ultimately what they/we want. Same goes for other actions, of course, but usually we don’t want the good ones to stop. I learned to hide what I was feeling – hide my reactions – and I learned it so well that I have a much more difficult time expressing them now than I do keeping them closed. It can be frustrating.

I am angry today.

Coming Up and Something New

I mean, the one good thing about my trip to the specialized dentist guy the other day (aside from learning my tooth can still be saved) was that the receptionist in particular had a hard time believing I’d just turned 44. She actually said the words, “I can’t believe what I’m seeing”. Though she also said I must have good skin, which is the opposite of reality, so she was probably just tired. Haha

Still, it was a nice thing to say.

I continue to be exhausted, still battling a cold – which is currently still a stalemate, with neither my cold nor I willing to give ground, but neither gaining any, either. I’m trying to get through today but also starting to plan out how tomorrow will go. It’s Canada In A Day day, so I’ll want to video as much of it as possible, while also getting everything I need to do done.

At some point soon I need to get promoting the Mind Reels Patreon page. The first month promotion is only on until the end of September, and it’s already the 9th! Maybe no one will get a signed script, at this rate, let alone 5 people! I just need to buckle down and focus my energy on it much more than I have been able to thus far. I knew it would be hard to launch it at the beginning of September, but hopefully once TIFF is over, I’ll be able to put more into it for the back half of the month.

http://www.patreon.com/TheMindReels

Hoping enough people will see fit to donate even $2 per month ($24 a year) so that we’ll reach our first goal, and beyond that, we’ll be able to take our show to the next level! With any luck, at least. And since luck has gotten us this far, I’m not without hope that we’ll be able to continue to grow as we move forward.

I’ll also need to start setting up that next radio play, but will wait until after TIFF to even start trying to pick a date. More potential guest cast schedules ought to be a bit more open toward the end of the month, too.

I’ve started trying to write about past relationships. I’m not sure why, exactly, but in going back and reminiscing about the first one – trying to find words for it – I’m discovering a kind of thrill or excitement around the act of writing it all down. I mean, each one of course ends in heartache for me, so that won’t always be great to re-live by writing about it. But so far, focusing on the good things about the beginning of a relationship is kind of working as a pick-me-up today. I only started yesterday so I don’t even know if I’ll keep it up or for how long, but today, at least, it feels like a good thing.

I will, of course, run out of material, as my relationship life is finite and came to an end at a particular point. Officially at least. Still, there’s a long way to go before I get caught up, to be sure!

Plus, it’s probably not a horrible idea to revisit the notion of liking people, and enjoying being around people, just in case I don’t feel like being a hermit for the rest of my life. Remembering that I used to not hate so much is maybe a good thing.

The trade-off for having more rage than I did then is that I hurt less now, but maybe I can temper some of that by remembering the good moments I had with people, too.

As always, we’ll see. Or I will, at least! haha

Wednesday Thoughts

Before I woke up this morning, I was dreaming something mundane – I think I was just getting ready to go to work, actually. I’d found a new pair of jeans, which I’d forgotten I even owned (because in real life I actually don’t). They still had those plastic sizing strips on them, but an abundance of them, which I had to peel off first, because it’s just embarrassing to find out you’ve been walking around with tags and the like still on your clothes.

Whoa – I just typed “clothes” as “close” and had to correct it. Sleepy much?

Anyway, it was taking me longer and longer to get ready to leave, and I kept checking the time and getting more and more stressed about how late it was getting. I was excited to wear my new surprise jeans, though. They were still going to be a bit big, but better than most, and not full of holes like my real jeans are. I remember trying to decide which belt I should wear, too. As in, which one is falling apart the least. It’s a real-life dilemma found in even the barest wisp of a dream.

Anyway, the thing is, when I actually woke up, I remained confused about what I had to do with my day in real waking life. That sense of disorientation continued on far too long for my liking. It was actually a struggle to remain focused on getting ready for work without thinking about the new pair of jeans I didn’t really have, if that makes sense. My brain kept going back to the dream life and I’d have to consciously force it back to real life. Weird.

In other news, there was an impromptu puppy party on my street last night! Brody and I were out after work, as usual, and it was not only a nice evening, but also the time of day pretty much everyone is out with their dogs. We ran into one of his treats ladies, and she was already talking to another lady with her dog, and then more people and dogs just kept coming by to join in! We had a good 6 or 7 dogs on the go at one point, all greeting each other and each other’s people and Brody could often be found in the middle, gazing longingly at the treats lady in case more treats came his way! He’s taken to pre-sitting in anticipation of possibly getting a treat now, instead of waiting to be asked to sit for one. Silly puppy. Silly clever puppy. ❤

Tonight is The Mind Reels’ almost-all-girl rendition of a Flash Gordon episode from 1935! And the Reelie award winners announcement! So excited! One girl had to back out, unfortunately, but since it’s because she booked a gig on a new show, it’s not really that unfortunate! We’ll just have to get her back when she’s able! There are still three lovely ladies joining us, however, and I think it’s still going to be pretty epic. Or hilarious. Or both. I’m really looking forward to it!

I’ve been thinking about something Gord said during the Hip concert on Saturday night; about how we’ve been trained our whole lives to ignore Canada’s northern Aboriginal people, and how we’ve learned not to listen to anything that’s happening up there. He said he thinks it’s maybe even worse now than it’s ever been. I got this idea suddenly to maybe do something with The Mind Reels blog page about it, specifically with high school kids, perhaps. It’s a vague notion, and I don’t know if it would really work or be beneficial to anyone in any way, but there’s a seed of a thought I want to talk to Tim about. If it doesn’t work out with Mind Reels, then maybe I could still reach out and make something happen with this blog, or set up something else entirely. I was reminded of a simple exercise I’d done in teacher’s college with the kids in the Grade 7-8 classes I was teaching during my practicum. I hadn’t really expected it to go as well as it did. Not that I thought it would go badly. I just hadn’t anticipated how willingly some of the kids would open up about themselves and their home lives once they knew someone was listening. Not even that, really – I think it’s more that someone asked them. I’m learning that we all generally do like to talk about ourselves and things we are passionate about and the dreams we have for ourselves. Not in an ego way, but rather in a someone-is-interested way. Even the quietest kid in our Grade 8 homeroom – the kid who opted out of pretty much every assignment because he wasn’t feeling the participation vibe ever. That kid filled out a sheet of questions about himself…told a whole story about something that happened when he was living on a reservation up north before coming to the city. Then he actually spoke at length about some of it – out loud – with the whole class listening. We had to listen hard because he was speaking so quietly from his desk at the back of the room, but still. He was talking, and we all were listening. It was probably the only time all year that you could hear a pin drop in that room, because every kid in there knew what a rare occasion it was, and for once no one felt the need to spoil it.

So we’ll see. Maybe there’s a way I can help give kids an outlet; a space in which to discover and share their own voices.

I’ll just, you know, add it to my To Do list.

Commuting And Dating

This morning on the subway, a quasi-cute guy offered to switch spots with me so I could lean against the wall instead of standing in the middle of the connecting section between cars. I usually go stand in that area because most people don’t, and there is always more space there than, say, near the doors, where everyone feels the need to congregate. For reasons I don’t understand.

Anyway.

I had my headphones on and had moved to stand in between the two guys who were already in the connecting section of that part of the train, as usual. I was reading headlines over people’s shoulders, gawking at the various ads placed around my part of the train, and vaguely listening to whatever was playing on my headphones. Just thinking and riding along, as I do.

All of a sudden, the guy behind me kind of waved his hand to one side of me – not in an annoying way, just in a way that suggested he may have been trying to get my attention, or that he was possibly just stretching. I turned my head toward his hand, and he lifted his phone up next to me and pointed at it. He’d opened his notepad on there and typed, “Would you like to stand against the wall for support?”

Since the new trains have been in play, I can’t remember anyone ever offering me that spot before. Occasionally I get offered a seat, but never the wall, nor even a doorway.

I turned to look at him, and smiled as I thanked him but declined, and he smiled back in such a way as to make him cuter than he perhaps actually was. I don’t mean that in a cruel way – I just wasn’t sure how else to word it. In essence, it was a very sweet smile, and engaging, if only for a fleeting moment, in this case. I think that’s one of the things that I like about people; when they smile at me nice. It makes them stand out to me, more than someone who is just kind of there. It makes them seem more present, or something.

I resumed my transit reverie, and not long after, I read a headline over someone’s shoulder that caught my eye. It said something about listing 5 honest reasons why the writer was on a dating hiatus, or something. I’m often curious as to why some people choose to be single (I mean, this article was obviously written by a woman, though I never confirmed it, to be honest), especially when I want to see if any of their reasons align with what mine might be.

None of the reasons listed this time did, however.

The writer stated that they were in their early 30’s, or so (bless), and seemed to be in that stage of life where all of your friends are marrying and having children, and you’re not, so you start thinking about whether or not you want to do that, too. Or something. I can’t really remember what I was thinking back then.

At any rate, there were the usual reasons like, “I don’t like the options I have to choose from” and “I’m tired of having sex with someone I like rather than someone I love”. Those kinds of things. I can’t even remember all five reasons right now.

Rather than try to read more of it over a fellow traveller’s shoulder, I started thinking about why I’m on a dating hiatus myself. I don’t think I ever would have called it that, for starters. I say simply, “I don’t date”, but I guess that’s not entirely true, either. I think I would date, if I happened to bump into someone who intrigued me. I’m just not in the mood to go out looking for someone to intrigue me. I’m lazy like that these days.

Obviously, the main reason I choose not to date right now is because I have feelings for someone who isn’t able to reciprocate them in the same way, and there isn’t really a way to replace that person with someone else. Rather, another person will come along someday who intrigues me in a different way, and that’s where my heart will go. But I don’t think it can be forced. Whenever I’ve tried in the past, I wind up feeling angry at myself for trying so hard to “settle for less” – or at least for trying to force myself to ignore my actual feelings and feign other ones. Plus, it’s obvious to me in those situations that I’m not giving it my all, and while the other person may or may not deserve more of me, that I’m not giving it means whatever it is will be destined to fail, anyway.

And that’s something, too – the people I potentially want to get to know better don’t usually feel the same way about me, and those who do are often of no interest to me. I realize that could devolve into a “poor me” melodramatic situation (and it has before), but for me right now, as I write this, it’s more just frustrating, and tiring, and not something I’m interested in diving into the thick of at this point in my life. I’d rather go home to the dog and cats and be content than try to force myself to feel differently about anyone.

I can make up all the “reasons” in the world – I don’t have time, I don’t like people, I’m focused on other things, I want to stay home with the animals, people are stupid, I’m tired, I’m broke, I lose myself in relationships and I’m just beginning to like myself again, I’m still in love with my ex, I don’t want to date just for the sake of dating, I’m complicated and no one really gets me so I’d rather be alone, I am a rock, I am an island…wait…scratch that last part. At any rate, all of those things hold at least a grain of truth, and there are still more not listed. But the simple fact is that dating hasn’t gone well for me so far – it’s difficult, and consuming and I’m not good at it and inevitably wind up feeling like a failure in life, and who wants to feel that all the time? Who wants to feel like a disappointment to someone they care about?

I don’t, and I can’t even stop feeling like I let my friends down constantly, let alone someone with whom I am in a romantic relationship. I mean, it’s never all bad, of course. Sometimes it’s amazing, to feel connected to someone else. It’s amazing to feel like I’m in love, and that I am loved in return. It’s amazing to not feel alone in the world sometimes. But when those feelings go away, what replaces them feels worse, usually.

I think mainly I don’t date because I’m afraid of feeling all that again. Which I realize I’ve written to seem like it’s a reason, but I know that – like the entire above list – is not a reason so much as it is an excuse.

And for now, I am fine with that. Not great, but also not forever. For now, though, I am fine with making excuses. When that changes – and it will – I’ll make the choice to do things differently again. But it’ll be my choice, and therein is where I find my satisfaction.

Because the understanding that I am actually okay either way is perhaps the most amazing feeling of all.

For Me

I think I’m going to cancel both GWR applications I currently have on the go. Both are pretty amazing ideas, but they also require a little help from a lot of other people, and I just don’t think I have it in me to count on other people anymore. Not right now, at least. I have so much else on the go that lighting a fire under the asses of the masses just isn’t sitting well within my current energy spectrum. It’s too bad, because if done well, the benefits of the one in particular would far outweigh the effort involved, but it’s that whole “if done well” part that kills all of my big ideas. I just can’t get anyone to see a similar big picture to what I see, so I spend my time trying, instead of doing.

And we all know what Yoda would have to say about that.

In an effort to be less vague, one attempt is for Largest Online Photo Album of Animals. I wanted to tie it in with the zoo, and fill it with photos of those who call the zoo their home. I thought it would be a fun way to highlight the zoo and its residents, and bring other zoo-goers together by having everyone contribute as many photos of zoo animals as possible to the album. The current record is just over 104k, and while I could probably break it on my own, the guidelines state that more people have to contribute, and that all of the photos are then compiled by one entity. In my mind, I saw the zoo getting involved and helping to get the word out, and visitors from all over adding their photos to the online album to push us way over the top in celebration of all the amazing critters who live there. Then the album would be online for all to see whenever and from wherever they wish, while the zoo gets a tiny spot in history. Maybe even for longer than my first Guinness World Record.

If it was done well.

The other attempt is for Longest Line of Paper Hearts. I was really excited about this one, too. I envisioned getting people to help by cutting up tons of paper hearts and mailing them to me or bringing them to me, and then having some kind of small event – maybe a launch for the children’s picture book about hearts I keep meaning to work on – wherein all the hearts are strung together and laid out and measured officially for Guinness, and pictures taken and fun had by all. Maybe even display the chain into a giant heart of its own after the measurement had been taken. Then once I was the official record holder, it would also be great promo for my book.

But again, there are time limits on how long you can go between having your application accepted and actually making the attempt, and even though I’m sure I could cut all the paper hearts myself and figure out the rest of it alone, too…like, why? When I already have so much to do (both need to do and want to do), why would I take all that on, too, unless it were to serve some larger purpose?

Like, not change the world, or anything, but do something positive for me; expand my knowledge or skill-set, market myself in a new way or to a new audience – even just be something I enjoy doing when it’s not for a record. Cutting out paper hearts? Not so much. Taking pics of animals? Always, but preferably without a set time-line or target number of photos I need to take in order to not feel like a failure.

Basically, I want to do more things for me, and I’m not sure these particular things fit the bill anymore.

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.

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. 🙂

Random Thought Generator

Not even 11am and I already have a headache from this day.

Come to me, Advil Extra Strength Liqui-gels!

I could write an entire rant – daily – about how most people don’t know how to ride public transit, or basically share air space, without being assholes, but I’ll save it for another day. For now, just some random tidbits swirling around in my aching brain.

  • I had a dream last night that I was at a Raptors game and they were doing pretty well, but then I had to go get my uniform on and get ready in case I was called on to play, too. SO STRESSFUL! I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be of much help to the lads, but at least I could see the game unfold better from my new spot next to the court. I don’t remember actually getting put into the game, but the stress of worrying about the possibility was more than enough. Similar to the dream I had once where I had to fill in for a member of a boy band just before they – we – went on stage. I could hear the pre-teen girls screaming their heads off, and not only did I not know any of the choreography, I was also not sure of any of the lyrics. The other guys seemed to think it would be okay, but I knew that none of those girls would believe I was actually part of the group. They’d know I wasn’t a boy, for starters.
  • You know, when I was a manager – or even a supervisor – I rose to those positions because I was adept at the positions reporting to them. I could help those employees when needed, and perform different tasks on top of those required of said employees. I also knew exactly what I was asking of them when I was assigning duties. I miss those days, but even more I would say that I miss teamwork and being assigned tasks by people who have some idea of the scope of what they are asking. These days, I could be performing miracles and no one would know.
  • The safe room I made for Flynn yesterday seemed to work, except when I got home last night the whole apartment smelled strongly of paint fumes or glue or something. I opened the other window and turned both fans on to try and get that out of there as quickly as possible. Still, Flynnie was in a good mood even this morning. She was playing with a broken shoe lace for a few minutes, and her eyes were more green than yellow. I left the window open halfway today to see if we could avoid the toxic fumes while still making her feel safe. We’ll see.
  • For one to be considered an activist, shouldn’t one actually do something beyond than just talking about what other people should do? Or am I misunderstanding the definition of the word ‘active’?
  • If all that is really required of parents these days is to stand around looking at their kids, I wonder why I thought teaching was hard…
  • I’ve lived with a lot of different people over the years, so far. I’ve lived with immediate family, I was an exchange student in high school, I’ve lived with roommates who were friends first, I’ve lived with roommates who were strangers before we moved in together, I’ve lived with romantic partners, I’ve lived with members of both sexes; sometimes both at once. And I’ve had jobs, even right now. I don’t think I’ll ever really understand the whole taking and/or using of someone else’s things without asking. Food, clothes, electronic equipment, parts of movies or music collections, etc. In situations where it’s immediate family or romantic partner – situations wherein things are generally shared – it’s different. But if I buy groceries and come home after work to find that someone has eaten what I was planning to eat…I don’t get that. I’m sure I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve never deliberately just taken something of someone else’s simply because it was handy. And when I borrow things, I take extra care with them; more so than when it’s my own stuff. Because when it’s not mine, I intend to return it in the same condition in which it was loaned to me. Treating it like it has less value simply because I didn’t pay for it is a mysterious notion to me. Same with how some women leave public washrooms in less than savoury conditions. You don’t do that at home, why do it anywhere else? Why take my stuff without asking, and then consume or wreck it while you have it? If it was one instance, I could chalk it up to just being a random happenstance. But when it happens all the time in a variety of environments, I have to deduce that it’s just a thing. That people are just like that in general, and that not being like that makes me the odd one out. Which I am used to, of course. I just don’t think it’ll make it any easier for me to have roommates again, if and when that time comes!
  • Speaking of living with people, did you ever have imaginary friends when you were small? I did. I may have even talked about them on here before. I can’t remember. They were Sam and Jody. Sam was three and Jody was two, and we used to ride our bikes together but Jody always lagged behind. Because he was two. In my head, I pictured them looking much like the little boys in those terrible Family Circus comics I’d read in the Saturday Star. Ah funny pages. So rarely funny, yet when you did come across a good one, it usually made it onto the refrigerator door!
  • I don’t drive. I know how to drive – I took Driver’s Ed in high school, and everything. Even had my learner’s permit for, like, 5 years, or however long it lasted back when graduated licensing first came into effect in Ontario. I got it in my last year of high school, though, and didn’t need to drive while away at University. I lived on campus the first year, and within a few blocks for the rest of the time. Then I lived close to work, then I moved to Toronto, where public transit became my main ride. I was pretty sure I couldn’t afford a car, parking, gas and insurance on top of other monthly expenses, and it was all pretty unnecessary once I came to the city. Plus, I hated driving. It was always so stressful for me, largely because I don’t trust my own reflexes and reaction times. Naturally, I also don’t trust other drivers. I can barely handle walking some days, because even in the city, some people end up driving into houses and bus shelters and the like. I mean, how fast do you need to be going in a residential area, anyway? Seriously. Once I was launched onto the path to an MS diagnosis – given that I could barely see out of one eye – I was pretty glad I wasn’t behind the wheel of a killing machine. I guess that was the other thing, really. I wasn’t concerned so much for my own safety when I was driving as I was for the other lives I was aware I could take. I think most people don’t think about that; about the responsibility in having so much power in their hands. For most, it’s a mode of transportation. For many, it’s even a form of relaxation. For me, it was a lot of pressure and anxiety, and now that my reflexes are minutely hindered by the disease eating away my central nervous system (as well as the knowledge that I can lost control of motor skills and sight and the like at any given moment), I am far happier letting others take the wheel. Plus, I like looking around too much. Drivers miss so much of the world because they have to focus on the road, whereas I can focus on everything else.
  • When I am out with Brody, I’m not just going for a walk and taking him along. I’m spending time with him, and it’s more his time than mine. Often it’s not very much time, or not enough, but that’s life. I still take him out with the intention of getting things done that he needs and/or wants to get done, and going places he likes to go. I watch him, and talk to him – I’m not on my phone or listening to music on headphones or anything like that. My focus is on him, and on watching for any potential trouble coming up. I give him however much time he wants to sniff around, I watch to make sure he’s not eating anything he shouldn’t be, and I try to watch for any potential food items along our course. I watch for traffic, I watch for people with strollers or anything that might make a loud noise as it goes by and scare him. I watch for other dogs, just in case. Mostly, though, I watch him. I can tell what kind of mood he’s in, usually, and I like figuring out where his focus is, and what he wants. It’s different with the cats, of course, but I do try to spend time with each of them, as well. They are all different, and want different things from me at different times. Unless it’s meal time, then they all want everything at once, the little beggars. For the most part, however, I know which ones want to snuggle when, how each one wants to play and when, and whether or not one of them just needs time and attention from their mama (aka me). I try to give them all what they need, and some of what they want, especially because I am away at work all day, and asleep for so much more of the time I am around. They are all individuals, though, and not just cardboard cut-out pets the way some people think of non-humans.
  • Speaking of which, I think I had cardboard cut-out friends once upon a time, too. I think we drew characters from Battle of the Planets – more or less life-sized on paper bags taped together – then cut them out and taped them up on the walls of a relatively empty closet. Then I’d sit in there and talk to my paper superhero friends.

I kinda miss those days, too.

 

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Learn To React Out Loud

I’ve realized that most of what I know of my friends and their lives – including the ones I talk to almost every day – is gleaned from posts they make online, as opposed to anything said to me directly. That realization hurt at first, until I made the realization on top of it that I do pretty much the same thing.

Except that I don’t really post much online, either.

It’s possible that’s where some of my communication frustration is coming from. Haha

I lean more toward not posting things online in public forums because a) when it’s in writing it’s harder to revise and re-state, b) the general public has no business in most of my bizness, and c) I’m of the notion that those I do choose to share with are closer to me in some way; I trust them with more of me.

So be it in person or via text/email, I much prefer small groups and individual conversations to mass online postings. In a way I choose those trusted few very carefully, but in another way I really just run on instinct. I’m crazy naïve, and of course just want to be liked (emotionally I’m, like, 8 years old on a good day, but most of the time I’m pretty much still an unborn fetus), so my instincts are often steered wrong just by those factors alone. I usually consider what I want to say before I say it (so writing is easier; I’m just not a fan of the public), but I also try to consider who I’ve decided to say it to.

Writing a personal blog each day is ridiculous for someone like me, but one can’t grow and improve unless one ventures out of their comfort zone once in awhile, and thus far I’ve remained mostly inside my comfort zone as far as this little project is concerned. I want to say I’ll work on changing that, but even as I think about typing it, I am also tempted to just let it be. So we’ll see, I guess. I want to keep those closer to me, the chosen few, still closer than this, and to venture further outside my comfort zone with them, too. With them more, actually.

But I guess sometimes I can talk about something other than what I did today, or whatever.

Like fear.

What are you afraid of” and “what scares you” are questions that come up all the time, to celebrities, to potential relationship partners, to friends sitting around a campfire splitting a bottle/several bottles of wine.

I’m not saying alcohol is necessary for conversation, but it definitely helps!

I once did a presentation in high school about fear. I actually can’t remember what it was for, or what I even talked about, specifically. I just remember I started off my presentation with the first 20 minutes of the original When A Stranger Calls. The whole, “have you checked the children” babysitter/phone call bit.

The calls are coming from inside the house!!!”

Guys! Some of the scariest 20 minutes put on film, if you’re me. And apparently if you are some of my classmates that day.

I, myself, am afraid of lots of things. Most things, really, but to varying degrees. I learned very early on in life to not react to some things, because my reactions would make everything worse. If someone thinks it’s funny to scare you and they don’t get the reaction they wanted, they stop trying. I bottle a lot of that shit up, even to this day. Sometimes it’s even practical – if you encounter a wild animal, don’t run. It makes you look like prey. So freezing up on the outside and screaming on the inside can actually be helpful in some situations.

Not in most, though, so training your instincts to do that is not the greatest idea, and it’s incredibly difficult to re-train yourself to scream on the outside once you’re older. I’m still trying to learn how to react out loud; to actively defend myself instead of freezing up.

I’m afraid of any kind of violation, be it of my person or of my home/safe space. Both at once would be unimaginably horrible. Yet I do imagine it, all the time.

I am afraid of the elements, mostly wind and fire. And water, though I guess the chance of a tidal wave coming off Lake Ontario is pretty slim. I think I am less afraid of dying in some sort of natural disaster as I am of losing someone to it. The animals; friends; family. I spend so much time being afraid and trying to prepare and/or avoid catastrophe that I feel like I would survive, but lose someone important to me, and spend the rest of my life re-playing it over and over in my head, trying to make the outcome different. Even losing Alysia – I wasn’t there, but there are still nights even now when I imagine all I would have tried to do to get those kids and Frankie the Kitten out of there safe. I mean, all I think or wish I would have been able to do. Just…anything to make the reality different. I would possibly just freeze in that situation, too, but not necessarily.

I remember once when I was living with Lizz in our cute little house, I was home alone, in the living room, when I heard a cat jump down from her bedroom window and in trotted Kate. Moments later, another thump of paws hitting the floor and Dodger appeared to grace me with his handsome presence.

Then there was a third sound in the back bedroom, and we only had two cats.

They both heard it, too, and together the three of us stared at the dark hallway until a massive raccoon sidled into the light, looked at us, then went into the kitchen to eat all the cat food.

Frozen in my chair, I placed a panicked call to Lizz, who was on her way home from work, and kept an eye on the cats and our unwanted visitor. Everything was fine – more or less – until the raccoon made its way back into the hallway and disappeared. About 2 seconds later, Dodger and Kate took off running after it. I’d heard about how vicious raccoons could be, and how quickly they could kill a cat, and panic washed over me again, but this time it kicked me into action instead. I raced after the cats, yelling the whole time, and they were so startled that they came back immediately. I kept them with me until Lizz came home, but by then the huge critter had made its way back outside through the window from whence it came.

Or from wherece it came.

Anyway, the point is, I was terrified and I froze, but once I was more terrified for the cats, I sprang into action hero mode, if only for a few seconds.

I’m afraid of spiders, though more because of their unpredictability and the whole jumping thing. I don’t like the jumping. Nor the crawling in my mouth while I sleep. Bugs in general…let’s just stay as separate from one another as possible.

So yeah – basically I am afraid of weather, animals/insects, and other people. This is what makes it difficult to leave the house.

However, I am also afraid of embarrassing myself. It’s a different kind of fear, but it ends up having the same result. Often, my ability to freeze and not react has helped me not embarrass myself, though. Or, at least, embarrass myself less.

Like, my first MRI, I did all this research so I’d know what to expect, but still, as I slid into the tube and felt the machine pin my arms to my sides, and looked up to see the cage over my head and the top of the tube inches away from that, I sucked my breath in – and froze. The tech asked if I was okay, and I said “yeah”, which forced me to expel a little bit of air, just to make sound come out. I felt like kicking and screaming and oh-HELL-no-ing my way right back out of there, but that would have been humiliating. One of the techs was hot and I didn’t want to make a bad impression, so I reminded myself to breathe, and let even more of that air out. Then in, then out. And repeat.

Since then, I’ve been admittedly kind of an expert on the whole MRI thing, and even give a little coaching to anyone I meet in the waiting room who’s nervous about it themselves.

I don’t like causing a scene. It gets me into more trouble than it’s worth sometimes, but once in awhile it helps. I just never really found the balance, because I’m still so focused on the freeze and stay silent than I am on what a more appropriate and beneficial reaction would be in some circumstances.

I haven’t found other ways to defend myself, even though my go-to doesn’t really work out very well most of the time.

On Waving Back

Walking to the subway this morning on my way to work, I passed a man and his dog. As I approached, the dog looked up at me all friendly like we knew each other, so I said, “Hi puppy dog” and left my arm dangling at my side as I walked by. The dog stuck its muzzle up against my hand, and gave me a quick lick in greeting. Made me smile.

Then, getting off the subway on my way to work, I watched the usual hoards of other passengers – all of us making our various ways to our various destinations – shuffle right on by the little kid in the stroller who was waving at them.

Not one of them waved back.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I hate people as much as anyone, if not more. But even I am not above waving at a little kid who’s waving at me. It’s just not done. It’s practically an automated, instinctive response. Little kid waves, you wave back. So I waved back.

And he didn’t see me.

So, here we have a number of interesting scenarios and the effects of each:

Dog sees me, I see dog, we interact for a split second – day made for at least one of us. Moment made for both.

Kid sees a bazillion people, waves at them, none see him so no one waves back. Or rather, one sees him, waves back, but he doesn’t see it, so it may as well not have happened, from his point of view. To his mind, no one waved back at him. Watching his little face register the realization of his own invisibility among the morning masses was actually kind of sad. He’s too little to feel like that, and yet, even if I projected most of what he might be feeling or thinking, the little hand faltering and his smile falling away as it became more tentative and unsure can not be disputed. I’m sure he’ll wave again, because little kids have the information retention of a rubber ball, but I’m also sure that, somewhere deep inside, he’ll remember how that felt, to not be noticed. And it’ll affect him in small ways going forward.

Then there’s me – I’m used to not being noticed. I usually strive to not be noticed. But I felt bad that I didn’t make his moment with a wave-back that he could see, and – in more selfish terms – it would have made my morning even better to have felt like I did something for the little kid, as much as the dog did for me. Like paying it forward, but for how it would make me feel.

And finally, there are the masses; those who missed the wave all together. How much better could their moments have been had they just looked up and given a second to notice the world around them? It’s like we all walk around in our own little bubbles of reality, wherein nothing and no one else exists unless we let them in. It’s a necessary skill to have, to be sure, because the onslaught of humanity’s dark underbelly (especially in cities and particularly public transit) is often too much to bear. But then we miss things that would make it seem less overwhelmingly negative, even just in little ways. We miss hearts, we miss sunsets and sunrises, we miss worms on the sidewalk just trying to reach grass before the sun bakes them where they “stand”.

We miss lots of gross things, too, like hairy ass cracks and piles of vomit on the sidewalk.

But we also miss licks and tail wags from doggies, and confident, friendly waves from little kids. We miss some of the things that could help shape us into better people. We miss things that could make our lives suck a little less. We have to find a way to strike a balance between things that we do notice and interact with, and things that we don’t. It’s maybe impossible, though.

Because sometimes, those things also miss us.