Three

Today is a bit crazy for me, guys.  I have not one, not two, but three appointments to get to!

First up this morning is my regular check in with my neurologist.  I think all I have to remember is to get a new req for the blood lab.  Unless I think of anything else on the way up there.

Then I’m heading to see my dentist so that I can get fitted for my crown.  Haha

The cutoff is noon today, but my lovely dentist convinced the lab to let me in about an hour late, so I’ll be able to get the crown placed right before the office is closed for the holidays.  I’ve been worried about breaking the tooth again after all that I’ve done to save it, so I’m glad it’ll finally soon be protected.  Not glad of the expense, but so be it, I guess.

After that, I’ll rush to work several hours late, and put in about 5 hours to get as much done as possible by the end of the day.

My last stop will be with my therapist, for what will likely be our final session before the new year.  I’m hoping to have enough time between now and then to compile a list of the things I most need to talk about, because the odds of me forgetting something important are pretty high right now.

And I hate when I forget important things.

So yeah.  Big day for me, yet not a polar bear in sight.  Weird how that works out sometimes!

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.

Life, Transit, and Holding Onto Alysia

Had kind of a harrowing morning – not for me, but for others. Came the closest I think I ever have to watching not one, not two, but three squirrels get mowed down by vehicles while I was out with Brody. One was literally right next to us, but on the street instead of safely on the sidewalk. Luckily all of them escaped, but my heart did not. The drivers didn’t even slow down. There’s zero need to be driving that fast on a residential street, especially with a school right there. You can slow down enough to at least try and avoid taking a life. I mean – it’s life. If you can’t respect a life, then what else is there, really?

Then on the subway a woman next to me collapsed just after we left the station, so we had to wait until we got to the next station before the train could stop and someone could come take a look at her. I feel like that whole system is flawed. Everyone around her reacted appropriately – she was determined to get up so people helped her and got her into a seat while another person activated the emergency alarm after someone else said to. Part of me was thinking that it wasn’t really necessary – the woman insisted she was fine, although they did help her off the train once we got to the next station. And she said she didn’t need medical assistance, which – I don’t know if she ended up getting any, or not. But everyone in that part of the train reacted quickly to take care of her, which was great to witness.

However, there’s also the delay to the entire line every time that alarm is activated. They have to stop and investigate, and the vast majority of the time the person isn’t in need of medical/fire/police intervention, so much as they just need some air. Which – don’t even get me started on how the transit system neglects to take into account the fact that we are all dressed for being outside, and therefore do not need the heat cranked when we step on board the train during the winter months. There’s not enough room for all those people AND their layers of clothing and outerwear once they’ve removed as much as possible to adapt to the sudden heat. It’s ridiculous. Just circulate the damn air, already.

Anyway, what was I trying to say? I know it’s unrealistic to expect people to wait a moment before activating the emergency alarm, to ensure that it’s actually an emergency that requires further intervention and assistance. But at the same time, activating it immediately didn’t make any difference. The train still had to proceed to the next station before anything could be done, and by then the woman was doing much better, and could have just gotten off at the next stop, anyway. I guess I just wish there was a way to alert the train operators to what was going on without having to hold up the whole line longer than necessary. I don’t know. I don’t really have any solutions. I just was thinking about it this morning after everything happened because it didn’t feel quite right to me, while also realizing I didn’t know how it could be better or more efficient.

Yesterday I wrote about the end of my first relationship, and actually still feel pretty good about the process of writing it all down. I wrote most of the words I didn’t want to write, and the few I left out actually weren’t required for getting the point across, so I call that a win. I wouldn’t say it was easy, at all, but it definitely wasn’t as difficult as I feared it would be. I also didn’t feel down after; my different mood and mindset since starting this little project has remained in effect, despite reliving some of the more heart-shattering moments from my little lesbian relationship journey. That process may also be somewhat responsible for the little crush I have going on lately, which I haven’t had for quite some time. Maybe it’s a coincidence and they aren’t at all related, but maybe it’s not. Either way, I intend to continue with both writing and crushing for the next little bit, at least, and see how things go. Like, for me, I mean. I don’t expect anything in my real life to change, but I am thus far noticing a change inside me – in terms of mood and state of mind, mostly – and so far it’s all positive, so I want to see if that continues at all, or if it’s just a temporary high brought on by alcohol and lack of sleep. Haha

Last night and today, I’ve been thinking a lot about Alysia. I realized that I am starting to forget things; about her, and about our friendship. She’s been gone, like, 2 and a half years now. That’s far longer than I knew her. We were friends for months, not years, and while the length of time has zero to do with how much I loved that kid (our connection wasn’t instant, but still pretty close), it came as a shock to realize not only how long it’s been already, but also how much longer there is to go without her being in my life. I’m starting to feel almost disconnected from her now. Not in an “I’m over it” kind of way, but rather in the sense that I can’t feel her as well anymore, her presence in my world. I’m forgetting little details, and I only have a small yet finite number of my own memories to draw from as it is. That I’ve known and loved her mom and brother so much longer than I knew her is…not wrong, exactly, but not right, either.

It’s hurting my heart and pissing me off at the same time.

The only upside is that it makes me want to just sit and hug Brody all the more right now. That much, at least, is never a bad thing.

Learning

I was going to write better, but now I’m caught up in a movie, so I’m distracted, but whatever.  I’ll keep it short.

I did some new stuff while volunteering today.  Well, new to me, anyway.  I actually started my shift off with it, and then it took me forever, and then I stayed longer than I have thus far.  It was just a simple task – change the food and water dishes in a whack of different enclosures – but each one presented a new challenge, and there was a ton to remember.

Chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, opossums…everyone had a different set of things to remember; what they eat, how much they eat and drink, how to avoid getting pecked at by the silky chicken who dislikes women, paying attention to the iguana when you’re bent over to make sure he doesn’t climb on your back.  All kinds of things, but different for each of them.

It was a lot for a lesion-addled brain which hadn’t slept enough due to a certain televised concert celebrating a – some would say – national treasure, keeping me up too late, to take in.

But I did it.

I barely managed to avoid being clipped by that silky chicken, and had to focus very hard to not pick up and snuggle every baby rabbit at my feet, but I did it.  It was stressful, because I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things right, if I can, but it was also cool because it was new and – for me – challenging.  It made my sleepy brain do some actual work.

I did a few other things – spot cleaned the small animal room (and managed not to get bit by ferrets, so that’s an ongoing plus), and washed some dishes and such, and of course took care of changing the small parrot papers, which is kinda my thing.  I don’t know why it’s my thing, or why I want it to be and like it to be my thing, but it is.  I don’t even know everybody’s name yet, but changing the papers at the bottom of all the small bird cages is the one thing I’ve done every shift, and I find myself kinda looking forward to it.  I talked to the birds more today than I have other times, and while I’m sure I’m just tired, I felt like they kind of recognized me this time.  Regardless, I am definitely getting better at it.  Still just as messy but I am faster and more confident now, too, which is probably why I felt like the sense of familiarity was returned.  I even got the sense that the little red bird who dislikes everyone, disliked me a little less than usual today.

At one point it even got sort of quiet in there; just two of us working away on our own tasks, a little music playing and a variety of calm animal sounds here and there.  It was peaceful, on occasion.

I stayed nearly an hour longer than usual, and was so freaking hungry by the time I got  home that I was stumbling around a bit while I put groceries away.  Then I took Brody out for a loo break, made a bad life choice that resulted in SO MANY BURRS, got them mostly all out, then finally ate something.

I can’t even remember  what specifically I wanted to say, including how I felt about my volunteer experience today, so I’ll just cut this ramble off now.

Is it just me, or did Gord seem to get stronger as he went along last night?  He seemed to me to be more…Gordie…by the end of the show than he was at the beginning.  Either way – what a show to remember.

#inGordwetrust

Feeling My Way

Just found out that a brand new Wendy’s location has opened up mere blocks from where I work.

We are all gonna get so fat now! $0.99 Frosty?! Whaaaat?!

Do we not use the symbol for “cent” anymore? I don’t see it on this keyboard. I guess that says something about how much things cost. And that we no longer have pennies. Apparently, it’ll cost you at least a nickel to hear my thoughts now.

I have no idea what to talk about today, either. There is, as always, a lot on my mind, but I’m having trouble sorting through it all and staying focused.

I tend to carry things around with me – literally – to help me remember them. Mostly printouts of things, or lists in my phone. This morning I pulled out all of the paper reminders I had in my bag and went through to see what was currently important. It’s not that the other stuff isn’t also important – just that these particular things have my attention at the moment, and in the near future. My resume needs to be updated and re-organized, if only so I have it up-to-date and presentable in case I suddenly need it for anything. I’ve got notes for some of my writing projects – the picture book about hearts and a re-imagined extension to some of Carving The Light. I was thinking I might try to write it as a screenplay – possibly through the month of August, and I was considering signing up for a challenge like NaNoWriMo, but with screenplays instead of novels. As if I have time, but it would at least get me started. Often that is the toughest step.

Even though all of the steps are currently tough. Haha

I put out some feelers earlier today regarding Mind Reels stuff, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m having trouble committing to that, because I feel like I am the only one who is doing so. But I like it, so I don’t really want to walk away from it all together. I am just not sure how much to put into it anymore. I guess we’ll see. No need to decide anything on that front any time soon, anyway.

I’m finding this weaning off antidepressants thing pretty interesting. The first time I tried it, several years ago, I was an insane mess within a few days, and went right back on them. The second time, I barely noticed because I was happy and travelling back and forth to Colorado and kept forgetting to take them, until one day I realized I was pretty much off them. I saw on my Facebook memories the other day that I’d tried a year or so ago to take them every other day, but it had made me physically ill, over and above everything else. So I went back on them again.

Now I don’t know what I’m doing, and I definitely notice a difference in how I feel – mentally, emotionally and physically – but it’s not as bad as it was some of those other times. And I’m in no rush – just picked up a new refill last week which I haven’t even started yet – so we’ll just see how each day goes, and week, and take things as they come.

I imagine PMS is going to be more horrible than usual, so that might make go back to them full time.

For now, though – in that as in so many things – I’m just feeling my way along.

Recollecting Pain

Apparently I’ve made 200 posts on this blog now.  Huh.

I was thinking about that saying about how people will always remember how you made them feel.  I think that’s probably true, but then I wondered if there were certain feelings that people would remember more vividly than others.  I’m pretty sure that, if there are, mine would be hurt.  Emotional pain, both caused to and caused by me, as well as the pain of loss.  I of course remember other things – happiness, safety, love, laughter.  But the one emotion that I feel most vividly upon recollection – almost as though it’s fresh and new again – is hurt.

Not sure if I feel it most because that’s what I hold onto, or if I hold onto it because it’s what I feel most.  I don’t imagine it matters either way, though.  I think it just is what it is.

I also don’t know how I can carry so much rage around all the time, yet lack so much violence.  It’s front of my mind most of the time, yet far down the list of actions.

So far, anyway.

Man I’m weary.

I can’t remember what else I wanted to say.  Kinda fitting, actually.

A post is a post is a post.

 

Seeing Differences

When I was accepted to teacher’s college, I found I’d been placed in a rather unique section of the program called Urban Diversity. I was in the 10th group of cohorts for that particular program, and it was kind of interesting to see all the different people who were in my class, as well as who, for the most part, would become my friend by the end of the school year.

The Urban Diversity section of the Education program focused more on teaching children in classrooms and schools which are more reflective of the city’s diverse population. I remember someone once commented on how “white” my Grade 6 class was, and I countered with the fact that about 80% of them didn’t speak English as their first language, which would obviously contain a different set of struggles from those who were being taught by someone of a different skin tone.

Anyway, it was cool to look at the notion of teaching each child, as opposed to teaching a classroom of children. Seeing difference, and teaching to it, was the opposite of everything I thought society had taught me thus far, but as soon as it was discussed on, like, Day One, it all suddenly made sense to me. The whole “everyone is equal” model doesn’t really work. Everyone is not equal, and punishing those who are ahead by forcing them to slow down, or leaving behind anyone who can’t keep up, is just silly, and counter-productive.

So I learned about teaching from a different perspective, compared to the other sections within the Education program, and it stressed me out. I was painfully aware of not being able to fully teach to each child, and of how things I said or did could be received by one child far differently from how it was interpreted by another. I hurt one of my best Grade 8 kid’s feelings because I stopped calling on her for a time. She thought I hated her; I thought I was trying to give other quieter kids a chance to speak. We got it sorted out, but I’ll never forget how flabbergasted I was that she could think I didn’t like her. She was my go-to kid if things ever became too frustrating because I knew she always got it. That was an important lesson to learn, and to keep learning. Because everyone is different, after all.

But it didn’t help with my non-existent teaching career, in that I never really got my feet under me and felt the confidence I would need in my abilities to run a classroom.

I can’t run a classroom. Haha

Anyway, in the Education classroom, on non-teaching days, I sat at the Table of Misfit Toys with my regulars. My friends, the other oddballs who didn’t quite fit in. We were often the most fun, and sometimes other teacher candidates would join us just because we were that awesome. I still liked almost everyone else in the room, of course. I just didn’t have much in common with them, and felt like I didn’t fit in as well as I did with my eclectic mix.

What’s interesting is what I was told later from my main guy, Marc. I haven’t seen him in well over a decade, but at the time, we were quite close, and went through a lot together, even after the school year ended. He’s a brilliant young guy, whose brain never stops working things out, and has one of the best, warmest smiles ever. It goes right to his eyes. I actually hate that we lost touch, and keep hoping we’ll just bump into one another again someday.

So anyway, Marc got into grad school, and did his Masters of Education, as well. He was, therefore, still in touch with the man who had created the Urban Diversity division, Dr. Patrick Solomon. Dr. Solomon sadly passed away some time ago from stupid cancer, but he left quite a legacy in his wake. He was the first person I met when I got to campus on Day One (he walked me to class), and hugged me on stage during our graduation ceremonies. According to Marc, Dr. Solomon confided in him once that our table of misfits, for the most part, all started off the program in the mindset/headspace of where he wanted everyone to end up. That was not only an enormous compliment, but also explained why we’d gotten so frustrated so often when we were doing the learning instead of the teaching. I was of the understanding that there was something we just weren’t getting (there was even an extra IEP for me at one point – , whereas the reality was that we’d already gotten it, but had to sit through the rest of the year not progressing while we waited for the rest of the class to catch up.

That’s not necessarily meant to come across as bragging, though I suppose it kind of is, but more to explain the fish-out-of-water sensation that I’d felt for so long, and that I knew I was capable of passing on to kids in my classes. Classes I’d never have, as it turned out, but at the time, it was a hefty weight on my mind.

It’s occurred to me in recent days that I’m feeling much that same way again now, sometimes. I think that’s why I can’t express myself in a way that anyone else quite understands. Partly because I am just not articulate, and partly because I’ve already gone through all the stuff they’re saying and trying to progress further, but I have to keep going back to the last save point, so to speak, to see if I can catch everyone else up; get us all on the same page, before I can turn the page. We just rarely seem to get there, which means I rarely go any further myself, even just in my own head.

Maybe this is part of how the internet is making us dumber. We’re exposed to more people, so we spend even more time trying to find common ground and get on the same page that we actually never get through the first chapter, let alone past it. We spend more time feeling and reacting than we do thinking, because it’s instant. Or, as fast as we can type. The fact that so much conversation is done online instead of in person means that more is misunderstood due to lack of vocal inflection, body language, and eye contact. Everything looks black and white on the page, so we’re all starting to think that’s what the world is. One or the other; all or nothing; left or right (haha CToT xo).

But it’s not. There are more shades of grey than we can even sense, and it’s exciting and invigorating to explore them, but we never do. There’s just no time, which is funny, considering how quick and automated things are now compared to life prior to the Industrial Revolution, say.

Not that I am old enough to remember that.

I do remember the 80’s, though, and parts of the 70’s…I remember life before the world was opened up to us via the World Wide Web. I remember phones with rotary dials and cords that got tangled up and stretched to shit. I remember no cable and only 3 channels via antenna. I remember going outside to play, riding my bike around town, going home when the streetlights came on, handwriting letters, and book reports and essays. I remember when computer mainframes took up entire rooms, and cordless phones were new and enormous.

I remember when everything was slower, and yet there was more time to think.

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?

Beauty In Pain

Today’s thoughts are brought to you by a random series of non-events which ended up leading me down a bit of a memory lane trip this morning, and it wasn’t actually too bad.

First off, I was looking for some kind of long-sleeved shirt to wear over my t-shirt, because my body temperature is always all over the place at work, depending on where I am and what I’m doing, so I usually bring layers. I had already worn the two that were light enough for today earlier this week, so I went digging in my closet in search of something else that could work.

I glanced past my many plaid flanel shirts and landed on a rugby shirt I’d bought over a decade ago, but had rarely worn. It seemed to be the right amount of layer so I threw it on and left for work. On the way in, though, I realized something – the shirt kind of fits me again.

It’s definitely more comfortable than it used to be. I bought it before I gained 40-ish lbs over a school year, and it just never felt like a good fit again after that. Not until today, anyway. I mean, it’s not my new old favourite shirt, or anything, but I definitely noticed the difference in how it feels to wear it today. The collar is still all un-ironed and flippy, and it still wasn’t really created with breasts in mind, but it definitely feels more comfortable and less awkward than it has in a very long time.

I was reminded of a photo taken of me (and some zombies) from 2007, after a Midnight Madness screening at TIFF that year. I’ve always loved the picture and hated the picture, and I’m wearing the same shirt in it while trying to look less overweight than I was.

Horizontal stripes, guys. There’s no winning that battle.

Anyway, it took a while, but I finally found the photo in question, and put it alongside one I got taken today:

That Was Then

I realize it’s not that huge a difference, but to me it kind of is. And regardless, that’s not really what I wanted to talk about. In searching for the zombie photo, I came across my old, sad, secret blog, and tumbled down the rabbit hole a little bit as a result.

I’d created it to vent and to just kind of work out some of my overwhelming emotions in a way that would add to the work being done in my therapy sessions each week. In other words, I needed it to be real and true to whatever I felt like saying at the time – unedited – but not hurt or alarm anyone who might read it. An online dumping ground. I didn’t make it private because I felt like some other person in the world might relate to it on some level and I didn’t want to deprive them of that, but it wasn’t something I really advertised, or anything. Not even to my therapist, because sometimes I also talked about her. Haha

I’d stopped writing much on that blog for a few reasons, the main one being that I’d started posting other things on it, as well, and didn’t want anyone finding the sad just because they wanted to read what I thought of a particular film, or what was going on with my possible (at the time) MS diagnosis. I still wanted people to be able to read that stuff if they wanted to, but without having to deal with me depression and whining and the like. So I created an author blog, and an MS blog, joined up with the Mind Reels and eventually created this one as more of a catch-all for all of that. For most of it, anyway. I still don’t feel like bringing the secret one on board, and very rarely post anything there because I am always posting here, instead!

Scrolling through those posts this morning, though, looking for the zombie pic for a comparison, was kind of an exercise and a half. There was so much I’d – not forgotten, but hadn’t thought about in a long time – that I revisited, and it was rather remarkable. So many sad photos I’d found online to represent how I was feeling, and so many memories I hadn’t realized I’d written down. I used to keep a journal occasionally, but this was my first attempt at essentially journaling in an online forum. One that was essentially public, no less, and which contained more pain than anything else.

Some of it was actually rather beautiful.

There’s a couple of devastating posts about when Kate the Kitten died – one which declared basically just that; that I’d lost my best friend and was truly alone – and one that I wrote to remember our last hours together. I didn’t want to forget a single detail, if I could help it. I also didn’t want to re-read it this morning as my work day began, though, so I kept scrolling.

Apparently, I’d written a poem for my therapist for her birthday. I had completely forgotten about it until I saw the post for it today. I wonder if I ever gave it to her?

There was at least one sad haiku, memories of things past that were resurrected in that present and linked within posts. Most just described what was going on in my outer world, and how they affected my inner life.

I found myself expanding several posts and reading them with the years of hindsight that developed in between. Seeing things that were said to me and interpreted one way at the time, but viewed in a slightly different light now. Not better, necessarily – this isn’t one of those “if I’d known then what I know now” kind of things. In some ways, it’s actually sadder now, but that’s not the point.

The point, or one of them, is that the pain is kind of beautiful – in its honesty, its rawness, its lonely desolation. It’s interesting to look at it now, and remember how it felt, and realize that I still feel the same, but not as low down in the pit. I mean, I’m also medicated, so there’s that. Sometimes self-medicated, too, of course. I’m the same person as I was, but I’m not. Have I grown wiser? No. Do I wish I could go back and choose to not do any of it? Not really, because I wouldn’t be who I am now, and Lord knows who I would be, so yeah. Glad it’s all hindsight and not foresight.

That line in the Garth Brooks song, “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance”…I always felt like that was me; that I’d love to not hurt so much sometimes, but I don’t want to give up the happy moments just to avoid the unhappy ones. Now, though, looking back at how starkly beautiful even the pain can be, it makes me think maybe I don’t want to miss any of it.

Maybe embracing both, and accepting both, is how we get strong. Maybe that’s how we get beautiful.

Orange-Tinted Memoirs

Sometimes I wonder what I would write about, if I were to write the story of my life. What would I include? What would I consider to be my defining moments? What would I have forgotten about and then remember suddenly along the way, during the process of writing it all down? What would I deliberately leave out and why?

Actually, I can already think of more things I would leave out than I can of things I would include, if I’m being honest.

The story of my life would…well, the things I’d include would be true, at least from my perspective and to my recollection. But the lies of omission would be many many many.

My great-grandmother started writing down her memories, and some dedicated family members typed them up and printed them off into book form, one of which gratefully found its way into my possession. I haven’t read the entire thing from cover to cover as of yet, but I have perused it on more than one occasion, and I have to say, it’s a fascinating read. The woman lived to be 100 years old, and the things she saw and did throughout her life are nothing short of remarkable to me. She lived in a whole different world than I do, and her recollections bring that world alive, even if just for brief segments, in her own words.

I wonder sometimes what someone decades from now would think about my memories of growing up, of becoming an adult, and the often-failed attempts at adulting which I now make? Looking back, the world I grew up in was vastly different from what we’re navigating now. No cell phones, no internet, no blogs, computers took up an entire room for a bit there, we left our doors unlocked when we were out, we played outside and rode our bikes around, we (perhaps naively, but still) trusted news media, we read books more than we played video games because for several years, we had to go to an arcade to play video games. And they cost a quarter, which was expensive. I wonder, sometimes, if someone who only learned of those times through impersonal history classes and the like, would be as fascinated by my first-hand accounts of it as I am with my great-grandmother’s stories.

This morning, I was trying to figure out what one of my earliest childhood memories would be. It wouldn’t necessarily be important enough to include in an autobiographical kind of collection, but I was interested to see how far back I could remember. Memory is a crazy thing, really. So much of it includes what we’ve been told, or photos we’ve seen, or video…there was no video when I was little, either. Kids now grow up on camera. We had film. Film that had to be sent away to a lab for developing, in most cases. And my family had a projector upon which we watched home movies and…I want to say there was also a Keystone Cop adventure of some sort. I remember a car getting stuck on some railroad tracks, and the train was coming, and at the last second, they pulled the car in half, let the train pass, then pushed the halves back together again. My brother and I would make our dad play it backwards and forwards again while we laughed and laughed, because it was the greatest thing ever. Never got old.

Anyway.

That’s an early memory, but I don’t really have anything to pinpoint how early it was. It was more of an ongoing thing, anyway. Projector nights, with reels of film that had to be placed properly on the projector for it to play. I wish we still had that, actually. I would like to experiment with it a little, now that I think about it.

So, while that’s definitely an early memory, I do have one that’s earlier, and that I can pinpoint almost to the date. The year and month, anyway. It would have been September 1975, probably early in the month. And on a Sunday. We were at a park – I forget the name – in Orillia for the then-annual Maynard Family Reunion. I was eager to show off my new baby brother, who had been born in April. He was born on my mom’s birthday, but at the time, I only cared about my birthday, if that, and didn’t really know when anyone else’s was. He was dressed all in blue – very manly, but for the bonnet – and when some family members came over to say hello, I decided to display my amazing skills at big sistering, so I tickled him a little.

He cried.

I was sure I’d never been so humiliated in my whole life (I was, by that point, 3 years old). I was pretty sure I hated him for embarrassing me, but on some not-so-deep level, I knew I’d tickled him too hard, and that it was actually my fault, and that what I was feeling was guilt, and not hate. I just didn’t have words or understanding of complex emotions yet. All I knew was that I felt bad, and that it was related to something he’d done (as a result of something I’d done, but whatever). Fortunately for both of us, he was cute – if bald – and generally a pretty likeable little kid.

Oddly enough, that is my only memory of my brother as an infant. Every other memory of him is after he got a bit older – probably because he could then play with me. Before that, he was probably really boring. Cute, but boring.

I think I totally have a picture of us from that day, so if I can find it tonight, I’ll add it to whatever I end up posting tomorrow. It was the 70’s, so everything is probably quite orange in the photo, but that’s how we rolled once we moved from black and white to technicolor. Our memories became tinted with orange.

Also kind of odd is that I can’t remember anything from before my brother was born. I remember wanting to show him off a few months after he came along, but I don’t remember being an only child, or my mom being pregnant, or anything. I don’t remember a time when he wasn’t there. He would go on to piss me off many many more times after that (and I suppose I would piss him off, too, but not nearly as often, I’m sure), but I find a certain comfort in not being able to remember a time when he wasn’t around to irritate me.

Maybe that’s what sibling love is all about.