Distractions

No idea what I thought I was going to write about today. I was distracted by a pizza party for a coworker’s last day, and now I am painfully full and not really inclined to think about writing.

Plus, I have work to do.

So here’s another quote from a book that I enjoyed, instead.

Rima had tried jogging after Oliver died. She thought it would be smart to get physically exhausted. She thought if she were body-tired instead of, or along with, feeling the heavy exhaustion of grief, she might think less. But the effort involved in lifting her feet over and over was too much for her. Later she tried again, but found she’d been mistaken in her primary assumption. All you did when you ran was think. She hated it.”

Now, I definitely have not tried running as a way of dealing with the exhaustion of grief. I can barely walk some days, I feel like, so while I was once a distance runner as a kid, I don’t think now would be a very good time to pick it up again. I’m more likely to wreck myself before I can tire myself out, really.

I have found that physical pain often helps detract from emotional pain, but it’s insanely temporary. Like, getting my first tattoo hurt far less than losing Alysia. Most of it even hurt less than saying goodbye to Hudson. But the physical pain subsided, whereas the emotional pain still remains.

I have been known to attempt to tire myself out in order to not think and feel so much, though. It doesn’t really work for me, even when I push my body further than it wants to go. It’s a distraction, for sure. But the effects don’t last.

I like that this book recognized the different kinds of tired a person can be. I haven’t often seen that distinction, in books, film, television or everyday conversation. I like how true it rang for me.

Learning

Rima then went to Addison’s blog. Several new pictures of the dachshunds had been added, so the load took its sweet time. It was the genius of owning dogs that Addison could post regularly and with a casual familiarity while revealing nothing about herself.”

I should have made this blog almost entirely of animal pictures. I’m not that genius on my own, but after reading the above quote in a book I enjoyed, I was able to immediately pick up on the brilliance of such a notion.

I post regularly…I don’t know about the casual familiarity…and still don’t reveal much about myself, but it’s way more obvious doing it this way. Imagine the audience I’d have built if it were animals on display, while I reap the adoration simply by association.

Ah well. You live, you learn.

And I am nothing if not a lifelong learner.

Photographic Memory

Throughout the course of human civilization memory has been transient, plastic. The girl who broke your heart can, in time, become simply the girl you lived with ten years ago. Given more time she becomes either the one who got away or the one you can’t believe you almost married. But now, in the reign of the photographic image, the past is no longer malleable. It can no longer shift meaning in order to facilitate the narrative of your present circumstances.

We are now, all of us, cinematographers for the movie of our own lives. Not the star. Not the director. Not even the writer!”

There was more to that tirade – part of a speech given by a character who hated photography, in a book I read recently. It’s far too weighty a subject for me to cover in one post, and certainly on a day like today when I am so easily distracted. But while it would have been easy for me to dismiss the whole notion, there was part of me that could see where the character was coming from, and even agree with parts of his reasoning.

For me, photographs have always been more of a way of retaining memories; of capturing and chronicling moments in time to preserve for the future. Not even, like, future generations, per se. But in large part because I am afraid of forgetting my life, and in seeking to retain as much of it as possible, I’ve always taken as many pictures as I can. It was different back when you couldn’t see your shot until you’d had the film developed, and the little counter on your camera told you how many photos you had left to take before you needed a new roll. I was more economical then.

Now, my freaking phone has a camera in it, so I take pictures of pretty much everything! And then store them in a digital space, invisible to the naked eye. That’s a transition I’ve made more slowly than most, and I still have a crap-ton of photos printed out and kept in albums all over my apartment.

However, delivery and storage methods aside, the pictures I take are usually done with the same intent – to preserve my life. Also, to show off my cool, creative eye. But mostly for the sake of retaining memories in a visual way.

I remember hearing or reading somewhere that taking a picture actually makes a moment less retain-able in the memory banks than observing it with your own eyes. As in, not through a lens, and not on a screen, but actually watching it and even interacting with it. That statement made me worry that I may have been doing things wrong, so just in case, I now try to do both – to watch and also to chronicle the important moments I want to keep.

This book’s character goes even further with it, however, and suggests that we’re not even a part of our own lives anymore; that we’re merely filming our lives instead of living them and forging them and creating them. That goes well beyond being able to remember things down the road, and instead states that we’re actually outsiders in our lives. Just watching life happen between the frames, so swept up in what’s passing that we’ve forgotten to exist in the now; to take hold of and manifest our own now’s.

Not the star. Not the director. Not even the writer. Memory is all but carved in stone via a photograph, and we’re unable to grow and change and evolve past things that happened, because we’ve made them permanent fixtures. We’ve made the past – and all of the emotion caught up in it – a permanent, unchangeable part of the present. The stories of our lives are being told through the eyes of everyone else.

Maybe all we’re really doing is watching it pass by.

Stubborn Not Strong

Through the mirror Nicola looked into Angie’s eyes. “You know, you’re very strong,” Nicola said.

“Thank you.”

“That’s no compliment. It’s your weakness. If you weren’t so strong you wouldn’t have to take it and so you wouldn’t.”

That’s not from the book I am reading now, but I believe from the one I read before it. There were many little lines and moments in it which captured my attention, and this was one.

I wouldn’t consider myself strong by any stretch – not by any measure, either. Not physically, emotionally, mentally…any of the “ally’s”, really. (See what I did there?)

But I have still had moments in life wherein I’ve wished I was just a little more fragile – just enough so that I could break and whatever broke me could become someone else’s problem to deal with. Or no one’s. Just so long as it would no longer have to be mine.

I think in my case it’s more a combination of stubborness mixed with an almost overwhelming fear of embarrassing myself. I don’t like making a scene, or drawing attention to myself. Most of my reactions to things and situations happen on the inside, and I keep them as hidden from the public eye as possible. I may jump a bit when something startles me, but I don’t scream and carry on. I’ve actually been trying to force myself to admit when something scared me, rather than focus on hiding it. Keeping myself closed off is the product of decades of practice, and so now it is a very difficult habit to break.

It’s hard to learn to express things when you’ve spent so long doing the opposite.

On the other hand, though, appearing to not have a reaction sometimes still comes in handy. Bit of a catch-22, now, I guess.

I’m super easy to take advantage of, too, because I never cause a stink or stand up for myself. I don’t return things to where I purchased them. I don’t send food back to the kitchen. I don’t rasie my voice when someone’s being an asshat on the subway.

I just take it.

Not because I am particularly strong, but because of some backwards fear of how I feel if I do things any other way. So in that much, at least, the strong and I have something in common.

We all feel like we have to take it.

Temporary

So now it’s November.

Nearly the end of the year. But – for me – so much closer to getting to see my polar bear love again!

You never really forget your first, right?

Things are just as crazy and overwhelming today as they have been lately. I’ve made a few tiny shifts in hopefully the right direction, but for the most part, I’m still struggling. I don’t even talk to my friends about most of it, let alone feel inclined to post anything on here. I’ll figure it out, though. Tiny shift by tiny shift. 🙂

I did write limericks for/about some of my coworkers today, too. That was fun!

I’ve been keeping more quotes from the book I’m currently reading, so I’ll continue to write a bit about them as I go along, too.

Like this one, which is kind of apropos for a day like this: “I stared at my phone, wondering whom to call to ground myself. The truth is, I’m not good at close friends. I’m great at casual, at meeting up after work and bringing lasagna to the potluck. I’m excellent at being friends with (her boyfriend’s) friends. But not at exchanging numbers and calling up just to talk.”

I haven’t brought lasagna to the potluck as of yet…though I could. Usually I just go for something quick and easy and pre-made, though. I mean, that’s how my everyday life is, at least when it comes to food. Why would a potluck be any different, really?

I remember when I was in school I felt like my friendships were temporary. They could be so intense and present and fulfilling for a time, but as soon as we weren’t in the same class anymore, and didn’t see one another every day, it became more difficult to sustain; to nurture. Nothing had happened to push us apart, yet the connection was weakened, and we’d each move on to the next thing.

I think I came to view all friendships – and thus relationships – as temporary things. I’d still try to hold onto them, but the further apart we’d drift, the more difficult it was to maintain any sort of grip. Physically, emotionally, mentally – the distance between us would grow no matter what I did to prevent it. The friendship wouldn’t be over, of course. Just different.

Outside of school, the majority of my friends have come through the workplace, which makes them just as temporary in their intensity as the others. People move on. It’s what we do.

And I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with that, or that I wish it was any different.

Most of the time I don’t even notice. Just those moments when I want to talk to someone who can help me ground myself, and I don’t know who that person is at that point in life. It’d be nice to have one who was constant.

On the other hand, though, maybe that’s the too easy solution – to just have the answer without having to keep growing and changing and adapting and meeting new people and forging new things.

Maybe constants make us lazy!

On Being Lost

So frustrated lately. With pretty much every facet of my life, really, if I think about it.

Therefore, I try not to.

Being lost is the only way to get found.”

That’s a line from a different book; not the one I am reading now. There was another about being trapped in hope and then set free, but this was the one which stood out most to me on a personal level.

I’ve always wanted to get found.

Wished for it, wondered if I might realize it if and when it ever happened.

I learned that I would have to make it happen, and that in order to do that, I would first have to find myself.

Sometimes, though, things just stay lost. And that’s okay, too. We adapt, but never really stop looking.

Just in case.

Invisible

The one creating, seeing, but never seen.”

The last few books I’ve read (well, not the one I started and set aside for now because I was struggling to get through it) have had certain lines or passages which struck a chord with me, often to the point of my taking a photo of the page so that I can go back and mull over it again later.

I decided last night to use this blog as my “later”, when I can.

The above line is from the book I’m reading right now (All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda), and it followed after a few particularly strong paragraphs describing sketches which all depicted only one lonely female as the central figure in each. The artist was also described as a young woman who was often alone, herself, and finished with the line at the top of this post.

I had, as a child, often wanted to be invisible; I would always try to not draw attention to myself, even as I desperately wanted certain people to see me, and notice me. Now as an adult, I don’t think about it as often, but some days I definitely notice an apparent lack of ability to see me in the other random people around me. The number of times I nearly get walked into (or actually do), or stepped out in front of, or spoken over…just…not seen nor heard. Treated as though I’m not even there. It’s been a running joke in my mind for years, but at the same time, it happens a lot. So often that I occasionally wonder if I’m actually that unnoticeable, after all. If my childhood wish actually came true.

There was an episode of (I think) Haven once where a girl felt so ignored in high school that she literally faded from view. She was still there, but no one could see her anymore. It was sad and fascinating at the same time. And not at all difficult to imagine being somewhat true.

I’m more of an observer than anything else. Always watching and thinking and processing and dreaming, but rarely doing. Rarely occupying the space I am in, or connecting to the people I am with. There but not there. Alive but not living. Present, but in a different moment slightly parallel to the one others seem to be in.

Experiencing my world from a distance of disconnect.

I Need A Nap

Not feeling very great today, and not sure what to write about. I didn’t get much sleep and now I’m a bit dizzy on top of being tired, so it’s more difficult to focus. How is it only Tuesday? Haha

Over the weekend, I sold the wee felted Falkor I’d made, and so it shipped out yesterday after work. There is now enough money in my Paypal account to purchase something special I found on Etsy that I need, but I’m so paranoid about the buyer of my wee felted Falkor deciding she doesn’t want it, or something, that I’m going to wait a while longer before purchasing it. To make sure everything goes through smoothly. I paid a bit extra to ship with a tracking number, so hopefully it will get to its destination safe and sound. Hopefully the recipient will love it and not want to send it back. He’s really cute, wee felted Falkor. I almost didn’t want to sell him. But if all goes well, I’ll have something unique and perfect for what I need it for.

Sorry to be so vague, but whatever. I’ll talk about it in more detail if and when I am finally able to purchase the item.

Man, I really don’t know what I feel like talking about. I feel like napping, not talking. My mouth aches and my mind spins and my heart feels…not numb, but just…cautiously present. Haha

Maybe it’s napping, while the rest of me cannot.

Jealous.

Last night I was watching TV and texting with a friend and rubbing Brody’s belly when I realized that I wasn’t paying attention to the TV at all; so wrapped up in conversation was I. So I turned it off to watch from the beginning some other time (ah PVR). I actually can’t remember the last time I talked with anyone like that, let alone this person in particular. I feel like most of the conversations we have take place in my head, so I’m glad of glad it was in text form this time, because having it written down is a good way of proving it happened at all. It’s not even so much what was said or discussed, so much as how completely focused I was on it. I just sat and typed and thought and read and responded. I wasn’t doing other stuff, or talking to anyone else or thinking about other things. Brody reminded me when it was time to go back outside, and I managed to look up from my phone long enough to notice the skunk sniffing about in the next yard over, so Brody and I headed back home again. But otherwise, I was just in a string of moments with a friend I love, and it was nice. Some of the subject matter wasn’t nice, per se, but the sense of both of us being present in the same moments at the same time was really nice, to me. It was the first time in a very long time that I haven’t felt the need to carry on the conversation in my mind due to my holding so much back from the real one. There are a couple of things I meant to say, of course, but for the first time I felt like they could keep – in exchange for time to sleep – and that the chance to say them will present itself again soon.

In the meantime, maybe that’s partly why I’m so tired today, too. Emotions can be exhausting.

Tired

I’m way overtired and scattered today, guys, and have no idea what to write about.

I’ve decided to try introducing fish oil into the cats’ diets, particularly Piper’s. She doesn’t really like wet food, and while their dry food is pretty awesome (I switched them all to Blue Buffalo indoor cat formula and they all love it – noticed a difference in them within the first week), I don’t think she’s getting the same nutrients and such as the other two. I mean, what kind of cat doesn’t like wet food? Geez. She’s impossible to please, really, so I’m hoping to combine her favourite treat with a little extra healthy stuff and see if it helps get her coat back to its usual shine. We’ll see. I am excited to try.

I also discovered how much she loves being brushed! Flynn was jealous because usually she is the one getting brushed, being so fluffy and all. But Piper loves it, too, as it turns out, and the amount of fur that came off of her last night was ridiculous. Will try to make it more of a regular thing for both of my girls, I think! The silly thing is that neither of them can stand still or recline and enjoy it. They have to walk back and forth and meow at me for more – which I would apply more easily if they’d sit freaking still. Anyway, many more brushing sessions are in our near future, I suspect!

I got a lot of work done over the weekend in terms of preparing for the launch of the Mind Reels Patreon site, and I came up with a few more cool ideas to incorporate, as well. I watched stuff off my PVR, and the first few episodes of Quantum Leap on Shomi, just because I could. I started reading a new book – Born Weird – by Andrew Kaufman. I’m only a few chapters in, but so far I’m quite enjoying it. The chapter lengths are perfect for pre-sleeping time, too. I had several odd dreams (unrelated to the book, and more related to my actual life), and put in a few good hours volunteering yesterday. The animals made me laugh, and it was super busy, and then I came home exhausted to my own tiny menagerie of silly animals, so that was good.

I thought about writing a post yesterday – kept reminding myself – never did it.

I’m so freaking tired.

I haven’t been getting nearly enough sleep lately, and with the heat and weird weather I think I feel it a little more than I used to. However – I hope to create a better routine for myself overall, and eventually get caught up a bit, at least to the point where I’m not struggling so much just to be upright.

I of course had yet more ideas for things I want to try, or do, or try doing. But it exhausts me just to think about right now, so never mind.

I’m too tired to focus on making words right now!

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.