Writing Prompts – Day 2 of 12

Day 2:  The One That Got Away

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

That Got Away.” What happens?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She’ll ask how I am.

I’ll lie.

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

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

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

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

Especially not when it’s someone you love.

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Don’t Read This One

Seriously, I’m just ranting – you don’t need to read this one.  I feel like I say too much, but not nearly enough, and am just trying to get out of my head for a moment.

It’s okay to give this one a pass.

I’ll write something else later.

Either way, here goes nothing…

To say I am frustrated and disappointed with the Fire Marshal would be an understatement. There really are no words, yet at the same time, there will never be enough words. I can’t wrap my head around what appears to be a flippant dismissal of the loss of life, and responsibility, and justice…and while none of that can bring back those kids, I feel like a half-assed investigation only adds insult to injury. I mean, isn’t the main function of a Fire Marshal investigation to determine the cause of a fire? Not just call it inconclusive, sit on it for over two years and then say, “Oh, I don’t know, it was probably caused by (this first guess). Case closed.”

I don’t think a Coroner would just wave his or her hand and say, “I don’t know…the person probably died because of (this first guess). Case closed.”

Or maybe they would. I don’t know if anyone is doing their freaking job anymore. I have lost confidence in the people who hold such positions to carry their share of the responsibility in determining what happened, and how similar tragedies can be prevented in the future.

They didn’t even interview the lone survivor about that night, let alone any of the people who were at the apartment so often it was like a second home to them. Yet apparently felt it was fine to ask me questions through a friend. For the most part, though, they just made an assumption and called it a day. An assumption that was quite likely incorrect. Didn’t even look into anything else; any other possible cause.

One smoke detector had no battery, the other was probably not working – they’re not sure. Just that everyone reported that no smoke detectors were going off when the fire was discovered. One was located above the stove in the kitchen, and one outside the boys’ bedrooms at the front. So…I guess the one in the kitchen also served as the regulated-by-law smoke detector that is supposed to be outside of the girls’ sleeping areas, as well? A little double duty from over the stove in the kitchen?

That both exits were on the same side of the building doesn’t seem to have raised any concerns about the apartment being up to code, nor the fact that walls were added to turn the space into a 4-bedroom instead of two. I have a screen shot of the rental ad – well, a rental ad for that apartment. Not necessarily the one the kids answered when they found the place. But basically the same. It wasn’t turned into a makeshift 4-bedroom for them specifically. It was advertised as such. Are two smoke detectors really enough for a 4-bedroom when one of them is in the kitchen area? Above the stove, for Pete’s sake?

That the landlord is not legally responsible for maintaining the smoke detectors is frustrating. Apparently we as a society feel it is up to a group of kids in their early 20’s to dutifully check to ensure everything is in proper working order when they move in, rather than the owner dude renting the space to them in the first place. I didn’t check mine until this all happened, because I know that the landlord checks them regularly, but when I found that things like this can not only happen, but also be my fault, I became a little more paranoid than I was before (and I was already really paranoid). I am not in my early 20’s, though. Not on my own for the first time. I was 41 when I started testing my smoke detectors more often than the landlord was doing it.

The kids’ landlord didn’t do it at all. Not in the time that they lived there, at least.

And apparently the Fire Marshal doesn’t deem that an important factor, either. Doesn’t think any of it is, really. So what if three kids and a little kitten lost their lives? No one need speak for them. No one need determine the reason how any of it happened. I used to believe people in those positions would fight to do their jobs to the very best of their abilities. That not knowing wasn’t a suitable answer. That guessing was never the way.

Which means I watch too much TV. Turns out to real people, it’s just a day job, and then they go home, without giving another thought to those who will never get to go home again.

I get that everyone’s just doing the minimum required. I get that nothing can change what happened, no matter how much investigation is done. I understand (almost) all of it on a reasonable level, but that doesn’t change my frustration and sadness and disappointment and anger and hurt and…just…overall upset-ness. The minimum effort raises more questions than it answers, and those kids deserve more. The families deserve more. Ethan deserves more. He at least deserves the chance to fill in some of the blanks for those investigating what happened. He was there, after all, and he’s the one who has to live with those memories for the rest of his life. At least ask his side of it, if it’s your job to determine what happened. To me, that actually falls under the bare minimum, but then again, I’m not the Fire Marshal. Just someone who, on some level, will never really understand any of it at all.

I go over that night in my head constantly, you know. Constantly. I wasn’t there. I’d never been inside the apartment until after everything had been taken out. I didn’t even know any of them but Alysia. But I picture it over and over; my mind is full of unanswered questions about how everything happened, trying to fill in the many, many blanks. I feel like if any one thing had gone differently that night, they would all still be alive.

If even just one smoke detector had gone off, for example.

I had a dream last night that I was choosing between…like, it had something to do with Spanish, even though I don’t speak it. But essentially, I had to choose whether I would learn to help Spanish-speaking people in a legal forum, or a musical one. I know. But hey, music speaks, too. I had the impression that either I would be working for people’s rights – the rights of those who could not communicate effectively due to the language barrier – or if I would help in a more spiritual/emotional way through the implementation of music and dance programs.

I chose law, and even in the dream I couldn’t believe I was picking the more difficult road.

I just felt it would be the one where I could be most effective and make the most difference.

I chose to speak for those who could not speak for themselves.

Over Everything Brain

Oh, 2am anxiety and your devilish sleep-stealing-ness. I’ve not had a chance to miss you yet! Perhaps try staying away for longer next time?

So freaking tired today, but still upbeat, because after this I am of for the rest of the week. The construction guys were louder than usual this morning, so I don’t anticipate being able to sleep in tomorrow or Friday, but we’ll see. I have some things on the go that I will probably do better getting up early for, anyway.

Met up with a friend for catch-up drinks last night after work. So much fun! And really nice – I feel like our conversation covered a lot of territory in a relatively short period of time, and that’s always a good thing when it happens. Hopefully we’ll do it a tad more regularly now that the weather is nicer, so that we have less catching up to do next time!

Sucks that my brain wouldn’t give me a break in the wee hours this morning, though. I hate not having a place to go to in my mind when stuff like that happens. It makes everything more difficult, really. I’ll have to figure out a new one soon, I guess. It’s like my subconscious knew the whole time when I lost my usual go-to…maybe even before I realized it myself…and now it’s toying with me at every opportunity. Lame brain.

I used to want to be some kind of detective when I grew up. Not like a cop, exactly, but more like Nancy Drew. I read a bunch of Nancy Drew as a kid. Maybe all of it. I had a library card and my mom and I would go to the library quite regularly and I’d sit on the creaky wooden floor in the children’s area and pore over all the yellow-spines of the Nancy Drew hard-covered series and try to figure out which ones I hadn’t read yet. It smelled like books in there. I still love that smell.

When I’m rich and famous and design my own house, there will be a library and a movie theatre, and I’ll collect old books so as to always have that smell when I want it, and I’ll have a big air-popper for perfect theatre-style popcorn and hire someone else to clean that mess ’cause I ain’t doing it. There will also be an observatory – perhaps in some kind of tower – and a huge plot of land for all the animals I rescue.

Indoor/outdoor pool, hot tub, sauna, small private gym that I almost never use but when I do it plays 80’s music a lot of the time.

You guys can come over and visit sometimes, and we’ll have full scale murder mysteries to play when we’re feeling particularly feisty. There will, of course, be secret passages and the like, as well.

It’ll probably be on an island (which I’ll also own), but I’ll charter various modes of transportation so you can get there easily, don’t worry.

What was I talking about? Ah yes, detectiving.

I liked all that cool mystery stuff – invisible ink, puzzles, codes, fingerprints, and a trail of clues to follow. I used to try and make up mysteries for myself to solve (this was way before the interwebs, kids, so I couldn’t just Google shit; I had to use my imagination) using old photos and documents and…just anything laying around. I liked calculator watches and anything with hidden compartments. I mean, even now, the deluxe Lost DVD complete series collection boxed set is one of the coolest things I own. I still haven’t discovered all the goodies hidden inside that beauty!

‘Cause therein lies the problem with my career as a private detective. I suck at it.

My brain just doesn’t work that way. I either don’t dig deep enough or, more often, I over-complicate everything. Over-think. Over-analyze. All the overs.

I love, love, love whodunits…wow. My maternal grandmother did, too. That just hit me. She was always reading murder mysteries and such. I never made that connection between her and I until literally just now, as I was typing “whodunits”. In my mind, I was thinking of TV shows and movies more than books, but as soon as I typed that word, I had a vivid recollection of her bookshelves and the jokes about how such a nice, tiny, elderly lady could love reading about such grisly subjects. Nothing to do with whatever I thought I was going to say. Just a sudden link between her and I.

Aww…I miss you, Nanny. ❤

I’m sorry about the stuff I lost. I know you know that, but I also know you know that knowing you know doesn’t make me less sorry.

Anyway. Mysteries. I love immersing myself in them; suck at solving them. That’s kind of why I like the TV series Motive so much, too. It tells you who the victim and killer are right at the beginning, and then it’s all about learning the how and, most importantly, the why. Also, I’m not sure I could love actress Kristin Lehman more than I do already, but you never know. I guess anything is possible.

As I got older and ran out of classic Nancy Drew to read, I spent some time with The Three Investigators, though only in book form. I of course watched Pamela Sue Martin as the girl detective as much as possible…and I think I still have a book at home called Susan Super Sleuth, now that I think about it…Sue is such a good detective name, and yet…I fail. At any rate, I’ve hosted a couple of boxed murder mysteries in my day, and was blessed to have friends get completely into their roles each time. I loooooved all the Carmen Sandiego games, both on the computer and that TV game show thingy. I really want to check out some of the city’s escape rooms someday, too, though I will probably suck at those, too. The brain, the braaaain! The over everything braaaaain.

So long as there aren’t actual lives on the line, or anything, though, puzzling through various types of mysteries is really very fun for me. Be it a book, TV show, film, or something more personally and/or physically involving like murder mystery dinners or escape room puzzles – even games like Clue or those insane word puzzles that I always have to draw a chart for in order to figure out. I love all that stuff, even as I fail at it most of the time. It’s the puzzle, the questions, the awesome gadgets (I love gadgets), and that rare sense of utter victory when you actually figure it out without being told.

I guess that might be part of what makes me a good detective at my job, too. Even with this new system in place, the things I can do can’t really be taught. It’s kind of impressive. My talent in that area only exists here and holds no value in the real world, of course, but at least it exists. I’m feel accomplished – extremely gratified – when I’ve solved one of our little mysteries and sorted everything out.

Then I usually write a lengthy email to document and share my own brilliance, but that usually falls a bit flat. Nevertheless – I know when I rocked something, and I know when I’m one of the only people who could.

In other news, I’ve lost just over 15lbs in just under 4 months, and that ain’t bad. It at least explains why it seemed so much faster than picture memories on Facebook would have me believe.

So that’s good.

Edited to add: I just found this. OMG. The 8-year-old me is squeeing her 8-year-old squee.

Rambling Mind

I don’t understand what’s going on. At all. Maybe nothing. I have no idea. There is, of late, a huge disconnect between my inner and outer realities. Add a healthy dose of PMS into the mix and the confusion is overwhelming. So isolating. Perhaps I am just succumbing to my usual paranoia and uncertainty. Though it’s often been right in the past – can it still be deemed paranoia if it ends up being correct?

Meh. Questions without answers, really. Better to just keep plodding along and wait for my next break.

I have my next MRI on Sunday. While I’m technically hoping it will be a quick session, I feel it’s much more likely that it’ll be one of the long 45-minute-IV-with-contrast-material types, instead. It makes more sense, since it’s just my annual check-up type one and they’ll want to get as much detail and cover as much territory in the scans as possible. I just really hate those ones, and am running out of ways to entertain myself while in the tube for that long. However, at least it’ll be over with, and since Monday is a holiday, I’ll be able to just relax and do nothing, if I want, the whole next day. That’ll help. Usually I feel more than a little off once I come out of the machine. I know it doesn’t do anything to me physically, but my mind feels cloudy, anyway. Maybe from focusing on remaining still while not letting claustrophobia set in.

There should be a law against cologne – or artificial scents of any kind – that I can smell even if I am not near you. Seriously people. What kind of nastiness are you trying to cover up by dousing yourself so completely in something else?

Anyway.

I’m frustrated at this whole not working Saturdays thing. I know, sounds weird, but there are several reasons why I’m feeling this way. Aside from the fact that it’s a shorter work day, and earns a longer weekday off, which is sometimes enough. But it would give me the opportunity to do other things I want to do sometimes. Like go to the zoo. I hate going on weekends, through the summer at least, because of the hoards of sweaty hairless apes in my way, ruining my Zen thing. But if I want to go on a weekday, I have to burn a vacation or sick day to do it. I got turned down for volunteering at the Wildlife Centre because the weekend shifts are first to go, and those are the only ones I could do. I probably wouldn’t be a Big Sister again anyway, but that’s another thing I can’t do. Not the in-school mentor program, at least. I can see my therapist if I book an appointment first thing and then head to work after, which doesn’t always have me in the greatest headspace for the rest of the work day. Sometimes it’d be better if I could just go home after and process. But I can’t, unless I am willing to burn a sick day, o vacation day, if I know far enough in advance that I won’t feel up to coming in that day.

Overall, it’s fine. I’ve just been feeling lately like I am having to give up a lot of the things that I’d enjoy or look forward to or benefit from in some way in order to continue receiving a paycheque. That is, of course, the most important thing, because without that I’d have far less opportunity than I do now. I guess I’m just sad that this seems to be all there is, and I am struggling to make even that much balance out. It’s depressing sometimes.

In other news, Mr. Brodykins has an appointment with the groomer on Saturday! He will hate every moment, except the ones where he gets to hang with Momma Kristi and ride in the car. Probably on her lap, if he gets his way. That’s his preferred mode of travel, after all. I hate leaving him there, knowing how miserable it makes him, but he does love being picked up after, and being told how utterly adorable he is. He likes to show off a bit, at that point. Maybe I’ll see about getting him some kind of little special treat for being a good boy. Because he’s always a good boy. He hates the whole grooming process with the seething fire of a thousand suns, but he doesn’t fight it. Instead, he freezes in his silent misery, and tolerates it all until it’s finally over. And then gets unnaturally excited when you put his collar back on.

Bless.

I love that little guy.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just so in my head I don’t really know what’s accurate or real anymore. Or maybe my instincts are good enough that I’m getting the hints being put out there, but am just not certain enough to react. Maybe there’s nothing to react to at all. Regardless, I feel dumb, so hopefully I can figure out at least some of it soon. It’s seeming pretty manic, really. I’m still here, though, so as much as I am trying to sort some things out, I’m also trying to, like, live day to day life. It’s all I can think to do, sometimes.

Long weekend coming up finally, and then next weekend is the first one I booked off for myself. Four days in a row! I don’t know how I’ll manage NOT to give myself so much to do that I won’t get it done and then be disappointed in myself…but I’m going to try not to give myself so much to do that I don’t get it done and feel disappointed in myself.

A co-worker just asked if it was Friday yet – it’s like he’s reading my mind. I was just thinking how far away Friday still is, but that it’s kind of a good thing because I have a lot to do in the meantime.

I was looking up screenwriting contests yesterday to see if there were any deadlines I could aim for but realistically meet. I realized that I’m not anywhere close to ready to start writing the updated adaptation of my first book, though. I need to sort out the changes that will be made and how they’ll all go together with the parts of the story that are being kept. I’ll work on a new outline first, and then consider starting the script.

Why can’t things in our heads just come out on paper automatically?

A Question Of Memory

I’m still thinking back on parts of the conversation Tim and I had with the lovely ladies of Dark Matter the other day. This morning I found myself wondering more about the extent to which we are defined by our pasts, and what it would be like to suddenly forget it all; to have to define ourselves anew. Much of the show’s first season was spent with each character trying to get at the truth of who they were, of their own backstories. They woke up not even remembering their own names, let alone anything that had happened in their pasts and what led them to being where they were. Now, as the second season premiere grows ever closer (and they wrap shooting for the season on set today), I’m looking forward to watching them move forward to define who they are now.

I was wondering what that would be like, to not remember anything of my life before now. What kind of person would I be? What would I like, or dislike? How would I relate to the world around me, and how much would I understand? How would I define myself, what would be important to me, and how much of who I am is innate, as compared to the amount which has been shaped by my past experiences?

Would I still love bears?!

If I couldn’t remember meeting Hudson, would I still have some sense of familiarity when I saw him? Or would I just wonder why the f*ck I have a polar bear tattooed on my arm?

Memories are of course a huge part of who we are, even – in some cases – when past memories have been repressed. They fuel our passions, they propel our fears, they add colour new experiences even as new memories are being made. Our cells have memory, our bodies have memory, and of course our minds hold the most overt memories of all. I know why I don’t like being tickled – and am pretty sure I still wouldn’t like it even if I had no past memories of the experience. I remember eating chocolate ice cream pretty much every day when I was young, but would I realize I like it if I couldn’t remember eating it before? Would eating it without those memories be kind of like trying it for the first time all over again?

If I encountered people, places or things I loved but couldn’t remember loving them, would they still feel the same to me? Would they feel safe and warm and comfortable to me? Or would I pass them by without giving them a second glance? Would I have the same fears, or abilities? Would my dreams remember and give me clues to things I’d forgotten? Would my heart still know who I was at my core, even if my mind could not remember?

Are any of us actually anything in particular at our cores? I mean, I guess it’s the Nature vs Nurture debate, really. Just with part of a life lived with one set of experiences shaping it, and then another part of the same life with no real recollection of the first part. It’s interesting, though. There is already such a huge disconnect between how the world sees us and how we see ourselves. What if we couldn’t see the same selves we saw before, anymore? How much of our former selves would be retained, and how much would change?

How hard would we try to get back to our former selves? How much would we rely on others who knew us to tell us who we were? Would we eventually let that person go, and choose to define our new selves, at some point?

How much of our memory is real, reliable and accurate to begin with?

Thought vs Respect

The concept of respect is a bit of a weird one to me.

I feel like I extend it pretty much all the time, because there’s always an argument to be made for why an individual deserves my respect. Maybe they are older than I am, or have letters after their name, or have been working in the same or a related environment. Maybe they do a job I can’t possibly do, or have a skill I’ll never acquire. Maybe they are really good at a sport. Often the measure of respect is doled out in relation to my view of myself – a person has something I don’t, and therefore deserves my respect. Sometimes we’re on fairly equal footing in a particular area, and I extend them respect because I know how difficult it was for us both to get to that point. Sometimes it’s just because everybody deserves at least some measure of respect, and so I give them some of mine by default.

I just really have no idea how to earn it.

I definitely feel it should be earned, but my inner criteria for what that means is skewed somewhat. I rarely feel like I’ve earned it in a given situation, but then I have a high expectation of what “earn” and “deserve” actually mean. Oh really? You have a buddy in head office who hired you based on no experience while I’ve been here for over two years and now I’m supposed to respect you because you have “Manager” written on your nametag? All while you leave most of your duties to me, anyway, because you don’t know how to do them and don’t care to learn because you’re getting paid, regardless?

Dude, the fact that you’re WEARING a nametag suggests you haven’t really climbed the corporate ladder all that high yet. How’s aboot you extend me a little respect, too. Then we’ll get along just fine.

What was I talking about?

Ah yes. I have high expectations, but I feel like I hold myself to them, as well. Which I why I never really demand respect. I’m never all that certain that I’m deserving of it. Also, I think it would probably come out sounding really whiny and childish and look at cute little raging Sue, and thus backfire in a huge way.

We throw around words like “deserve” and “earn” and “rights” a lot, but I wonder if they’ve lost their intent a little over the years. A bit of their glimmer and shine. Like, if everyone deserves everything, then what’s the point of trying? Is an award still special if everyone wins it? Congratulations – you are the same as everyone else.

There is totally such a thing as mutual respect, of course. It need not be exclusive nor one-sided. I just feel like it IS very one-sided more often now. Either that, or I just notice it more as I get older. It seems to me, for example, that those who rush headlong into things – without planning ahead and getting all the information they need to make a decision – seem to get ahead faster. They get things done. It’s not pretty, and perhaps could have done with a little fore-thought, but they make things happen. They are doers, not thinkers. And that gets rewarded – and respected – because it gets results. Thinking does not. Or when thought does lead to results, it takes way too long.

My problem is that I think before I do. And there is not much to repect in that, because you can’t measure results on thinking.

I’m the person that thinks before she speaks (most of the time), so I always have brilliant responses well after the moment has passed. I remember in elementary school, French class in particular, I was constantly getting in trouble for not raising my hand. The teacher would ask a question, and I’d think about the answer before putting up my hand, because I wanted to be right. And I wanted to know I was right before I got called on to answer; certainly before I offered an answer of my own free will. The teacher knew I knew the answers, but had a hard time calling on me because I never put up my hand. I wasn’t being stubborn, exactly. It’s just that the class had moved on to the next question by the time I was ready to answer. Someone else had been called on already because their hand had gone up right away.

I once traced my hand onto a piece of paper, cut out the outline, and taped it to the end of a ruler, with the words “Sue’s Hand” written on it. But I never raised that, either. I was never ready in time.

I feel like that’s a theme in my life, really. Not being ready in time. How many of life’s experiences does one miss out on because they are waiting until the right time; until they are ready?

If the answer is “too many”, then is it possible to learn to put up one’s hand without having the answer ready? It feels SO RECKLESS, I must admit. I would have to decide if that’s really the kind of person I want to be.

Guess I’ll have to think about it first, and go from there.