I had kind of a hard week – work, fatigue, the heat, stress, sadness yet trying to wean off antidepressants, and a general malaise in every facet of my being.
I am tired.
This morning, I helped out a raccoon who took longer than usual to accept my aid, but I finally saw them run across the street to head home for the day. Then I carried home a sweet little cabinet that was on the curb – it was heavier than it seemed at first, and about did me in on a physical level. My muscles have been shaking ever since; every cell of my body feels drained.
Totally have great nerdy plans for that cabinet, though.
Then, after much back-and-forth deliberation, I went to the zoo. Had a brief but amazing time with equally amazing friends,got to see inside the white rhino barn and met Tony, the handsomest white rhino I’ve ever seen. He is astounding up close – at least as close as we got today. I can’t even imagine being able to touch him and look directly into those deep, gentle eyes of his.
Also, there was swag, some of which I scored thanks to those aforementioned amazing friends, and am so excited to add to my zoo-related belongings!
And there were crayons. And, hence, colouring.
I decided to stay longer to hang out with young Miss Juno, who was being ridiculously cute and even lingered by the fence with me for a while. Also helped a nice older lady plan her tour of zoo babies, which was fun!
I was running out of steam in the Eurasia Wilds when I met up with another friend, but decided that I could not leave in good conscience without seeing the baby lynx and my beloved gorilla troop. So I stayed longer than planned, but added the giraffes (Kiko has grown taller, I believe), and a repeat viewing of the polar bears – as well as other animals along the way – to the mix.
Now I’m extra exhausted, and everyone hurts.
But I can’t say it wasn’t worth it!
Thanks friends! 🙂
PS Too tired to proofread this – sorry for any errors I didn’t catch while typing!
Gotta say, guys, I am hurting today. Physically, for the most part. I don’t have much time, because I have to head down to the first Canadian Screen Awards gala tonight, and a certain puppy dog licks my arm if I stop petting him while I try to type. I got very little sleep last night, and I am sick. It’s all very distracting, so this will be short and boring. I promise to try and do better next time!
So, last night ended up being really nice, despite the occasion. I went out for dinner with the families and a few other of us close friend types. The service was not the greatest, but the company definitely was. As was the food, so really, no complaints. Despite the fact that I had to get home to Brody and take him out for a walk, I ended up going with Kristi to meet up with other close friend types for post dinner beers, while the Boyers headed back home. There were a few near tears moments, but mostly there was a lot of laughter, and it all actually made for a really nice evening all together.
I of course got home super late, but Brody is pretty much the best dog in the world, so all was well. I got him walked and everyone fed and then I headed to bed.
I’d hoped I’d have a sexy voice when I got up this morning, but I did not. At least I don’t sound as sick as I feel yet, though.
I was up at 6am because I had an early appointment with my neurologist this morning. Just a regular check up kind of deal. Once that was done, I headed to the zoo. I had three animals I wanted to visit, but of course I ended up adding on several more and stayed a good hour and a half longer than planned. A small part of that was Steve’s fault for being so fun to be around, but mostly I blame the animals. They were in moods today and I was having fun. Damn you, good times! Always getting in the way of my going home to be alone!
I finally got a look at the panda cubs….oh my goodness. They really are too cute to be real. Seriously. I was also happy to see their mama, Er Shun, because it’s been quite a while since I saw her last, and I missed her! She seems to be settling into the role of mama bear quite nicely, and she looked great. She looked content with her bamboo and her babies. Made my heart swell with happy.
Headed to the polar bear area to see young miss Juno and the adult bears. Aurora and Nikita put on a SHOW, especially for anyone who was watching from the underwater viewing area. The sisters were both in the pool, and they started wrestling and playing, and just being giant silly fools. I see where the cubs get it from.
Juno was adorable, but while she was asleep or out of view for much of the time I was there, I did get to hear her talking at one point, and that made my heart swell with the happy, too! Man I love bears!
Finally, my gorillas of love. I spent time with them last, just before I left to head home. We walked into the room and the first thing we saw was baby Nneka sitting on a stump with a wad of cotton stuffing on her head! I muttered something like, “Oh my dear sweet Lord” and reached for my camera but was too late to catch it. The troop was being wacky overall. Saddling kept pulling a big tree branch down, then letting it fly back up as he ran away. For some reason Nassir and Nneka were a bit weirded out by a low-hanging branch on the other side, until Ngozi pulled the whole thing out by the roots and let her kids then run around with it for awhile.
It was interesting that Charles never felt he need to get involved and settle everyone down, but mama Ngozi had it all well in hand. We saw Charles later walking along with little Nneka at his side. So freaking cute. He’s so big and she is so little, but she likes to sit like daddy does, and then she was rolling around in front of him to get his attention.
I love that family. ❤️
Okay, I really need to start getting ready for tonight’s big event! I just wish I could figure out when I’ll ever be able to get a bit more sleep!
Two years ago today – March 7th, 2014 – I had the day off work. It was a Friday, and while there was a very busy Mind Reels weekend lined up (Canadian Screen Awards broadcast gala and, I believe, Toronto Comicon, as well), I’d decided to go to the zoo for a while, before things really kicked into high gear. It was a nice day, and not only was there a handsome polar bear cub named Humphrey I wanted to visit, but there had also been a tiny gorilla baby born recently, and while I’d seen the top of her head, or a limb, and several photos of her, I’d not yet gotten a good look at her in person. I thought I’d give my luck another try that day.
I could never have guessed how impactful that day at the zoo would be for me, and in how many different ways my life would change – was, in fact, changed before I even left my apartment.
I think that was one of the first times I went to the zoo alone. I know the very first time was for Hudson’s birthday, because he was my bear and I wasn’t about to miss his first birthday, especially given that he almost didn’t live long enough to have it. But while I’d made my way out to the zoo on March 7th by myself, I did manage to meet up with a couple of people I’d recently befriended via our mutual love for the zoo and everybody in it. So there was that. I wasn’t completely alone.
I visited with Humphrey for awhile – and Steve, one of my new friends – and though I don’t remember much else from the first part of that day, I know I eventually made my way over to hang out with the gorilla troop. My other new friend, Laurel, was there, too, and because of her, I had the great honour that day of meeting Johari, the gorilla I’d seen as a baby on Zoo Diaries, but whom I couldn’t yet tell apart from others in the troop. I knew Charles the silverback, and Nassir (because he’s smaller than the rest), and Ngozi because she had a baby riding around with her all the time at that point. I was pretty sure I could tell Josephine from the others, but Sadiki and Johari in particular, I kept getting mixed up. I’d really wanted to meet Johari in person, so was thrilled when Laurel introduced us. As soon as I said her name, her beautiful eyes fixed on mine and I was in love.
Even though I still get her mixed up sometimes. Sorry Johari – I’m learning, I promise!
A couple of weird things had happened that morning, as well. A friend texted me out of the blue asking if I’d “heard about Alysia”, one of our coworkers, and one of my favourite people on the planet. My platonic girlfriend, we’d decided once day. I’d been texting with her the night before a bit as we sent each other selfies that our cats had taken with the Cat Snaps phone app her mom had discovered. After that text, though, I had a bit of an uneasy feeling, like maybe Alysia been fired, or something. I texted back that no, I hadn’t heard anything, what was going on?
When I didn’t get a response after a period of time had gone by, I decided to just go to the source, so I texted Alysia herself.
“Are you okay? Is something going on?”
No response from that, either, which was extra weird, because she’d know I’d start to worry if I didn’t hear back from her. My uneasy feeling grew, but I pushed it aside. I was being paranoid, and I was at the zoo, so I turned my attention back to the present moment. I knew I’d be there for Alysia, whenever and whatever she needed.
So, as if getting to interact with Johari a bit wasn’t enough, I also finally got my wish of getting a better view of baby Nneka for the first time! Ngozi brought her over closer to the window while I was there, and despite some little kids being in the way, I still got to look on her adorable wee face for a few moments before moving out of the way. I went off to the side then, used my zoom lens, and caught a couple of sweet pics of the little one lifting her head up and looking around a bit more than she had before. Once again, I was in love.
Then my phone rang.
It was Tim. I figured he’d forgotten that I was at the zoo, and wanted to go over our plan of attack for the weekend, or something, so I answered.
It wasn’t what I thought. At all.
After some back and forth about whether or not I should sit down, he finally got it out: there’d been a huge fire. He didn’t need to say any more. My stomach dropped, and I spoke her name aloud.
In that moment I knew, and my heart exploded. She was gone.
A lot happened after that, but I don’t remember most of the details. Some I remember very clearly, but most not.
I told Laurel, and she hugged me and cried with me. She’d heard about the fire on the news earlier, and agreed that the kitten wouldn’t have made it, either. It was all too overwhelming to really take in. I texted Steve to tell him, and by then I was feeling really confused as to what I should do next, so when he offered to drive me home, I agreed. He asked if I wanted to leave right then, and I didn’t know. He asked if I wanted to see Humphrey again before we left, because the area had cleared out a bit since I’d been there earlier. I pictured the little furball in my mind and said yes. Yes, I want to be around him again for a few minutes.
I couldn’t breathe very well, and there seemed to be a huge hole in my chest that no one else could see, but it was hurting. A lot.
I got lost in the African Pavilion, and fought panic as I tried to find my way outside. I eventually did, and gulped air while taking stock of where the hell I was, and where the hell I needed to go to get back to the polar bear cub.
I finally got sorted out and headed in the right direction. My mind was spinning the whole time, trying to figure out how what I knew to be true could possibly BE true. I’d just been talking to her the night before. I’d hugged her goodbye when we’d parted ways on the subway, and told her to get home safe. Maybe there’d been some kind of mistake. But there wasn’t. I consoled myself with the idea that maybe they’d all slept through the whole thing; that the smoke had taken them before they could wake up.
That turned out to not be true, either, and it wasn’t really much comfort even when I hoped it was, anyway. I cried off and on the whole way back to the Tundra Trek, and as I got closer, a flash of colour out of the corner of my eye. A red-tailed hawk flew by, low, not much higher than I stood.
“Alysia…” I whispered her name into the breeze and started to cry again.
Just then, the Arctic Wolves began to howl – the whole pack. It felt like they were giving voice to my shattered heart, and I stopped to listen to them a moment, waiting for the tears to take another break.
I continued on my way.
I found Steve, and moments later, young Humphrey wandered over, stood up and put his front paws on the fence, and just looked up at us for a few moments. Then he started to play, as though he knew being his entertaining self was exactly what was needed. It fixed nothing, changed nothing, but it did make me smile.
That day, the day the whole world changed, is now two years passed, and the Earth has continued spinning the whole time. The sun still rises and sets, I get up and come to work, I pay bills, I watch TV, I go out and laugh and have a good time. To all outward appearances, everything has carried on much as it did before.
But it’s not the same. The hole in my chest has taken up permanent residency, and while it’s settled into a general ache most of the time, there are still those moments that it blows wide open again, as though to remind me that it’s still there. Alysia’s dog, Brody, lives with me now, and is a bright shining light in my everyday life, just as she was. Her family feels like my family now, too. Her friends feel like my friends.
I’m sorry that I never met Jordan, Katie, little Frankie the kitten before they were taken in the fire, too. I’m sorry that I didn’t know Ethan before his world fell out from under him. I’m sorry that I didn’t know the Grahams or the Boyers as families before they were torn apart and forever changed by their unfathomable loss. I would have liked them, seeing them together, knowing who they were before this.
But I’m not sorry to know them now. I’m not sorry to love them now. And though I hate how I feel now, I’m not sorry I got to know Alysia as much as I did, even for as short a time as it was. Knowing her changed me a little, for the better. Loving her did, too. Losing her forever altered me in ways I still haven’t figured out yet. And as much as it’s a constant ache that I don’t think will ever go away, in a way, I embrace that, too. It means she’s a part of me, even now. Maybe especially now. And if getting rid of the pain means forgetting I ever knew her, then I vote no. Absolutely not. My pain and I shall remain forever entwined as I forge ahead through the world as this new me, whoever that is, and whoever that will be.
I really only have about 15 minutes to write before I have to get ready to go out for the night, but since I was, of course, at the zoo today, I’ll write a bit about that – while munching on some Ketchup Doritos.
So, I got there late, but all was wel, in the end. I headed over to the Tundra Trek with the hope of catching a glimpse of young Miss Juno, our new baby polar bear cub. She was born on Remembrance Day 2015, and what initially started as the keepers’ nickname for her eventually stuck. She is named for Juno Beach, in honour of the Canadian Forces landing point on D-Day in WWII. She’s also been adopted by the Candian Armed Forces now, and given the rank of Private!
Since it’s Polar Bear Day, and her first day for the public to see her, AND the weather was nice, I knew I wouldn’t get much of a chance to see her, but I wanted to at least get in there and maybe make some eye contact. Tell her she may as well get used to me. That sort of thing.
The line was huge, but moving, and I stood in it for a couple of minutes, but then decided to go get a good spot for the Keeper Talk with the adults instead, then see Juno after.
As expected, sisters Aurora and Nikita were up front, napping in the sun together, while Inukshuk paced in the background, knowing lunch was near. At one point, the Keeper came out a few minutes early, so it was on! The girls were up, Inukshuk was alert – Nikita even stood on her hind legs to a frighteningly impressive height to get a better look! Aurora decided to get in the pool to eat her lunch, while Nikita stayed semi-dry up on the rocks. They all have such personalities – I just love those bears. Aurora does this thing where she runs one paw down the side of her face and neck – almost as if she has long hair that she’s brushing back with her fingers. I melt every time.
Aw hell – it’s already time for me to get ready! I’ll make this fast!
I got back in a much shorter line to see Juno, and while I glimpsed her sticking her head outside (took some blurry pics – damn fence!), she seemed mostly content to stay in her indoor nursery area, so I waited in line a little longer and we got inside.
I’d spotted my friend Steve who was working as a volunteer, letting visitors know all about Juno as they arrived. I mostly let him do his thing, because I knew we’d catch up once I’d gone through the line. By the time I got up to the indoor window, though, baby girl was fast asleep. She was, however, right up against the window, so I hoped that I’d snap a couple of quick good shots of her sweet sleepy self before she rolled over or moved.
I got to the front, took some pics on my camera, then knelt down in front of her to snap a couple on my phone, because she is too adorable not to Instagram!
I took one, then as I too kind a second, her eyes started to open. By the time I took he third, she’d looked right at me!
I missed the shot by a beat because I think I’d stopped breathing for a second, but we had a quick little moment there, and that was all I’d really needed.
Hudson (her big brother) used to do that, too. I was convinced that he could somehow sense when I was there, and wouldappear over the hill, or wake up and come over. He always seemed to know. Even the last time I saw him, he was asleep, and I stood across the pool and just looked at him, taking a few final photos as well. Within moments, he went from passed out cold, to opening his eyes long enough to look at me and blink, then closed them again and went back to sleep.
It was the perfect goodbye, and I look forward to having many more such moments with his beautiful little baby sister for however long I get to go visit her!