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!

More Dreams And Carpe Diem Notions

It’s entirely possible that last night’s dream was a kind of warning, in a way. Though it’s just as likely that it was my brain’s way of expressing guilt and, like, concern.

Either way, it wasn’t entirely unpleasant, and I saw some people in the dream who I haven’t seen in life for a long time, so that was cool. Same with the dream I had the night before – so much was going on, and it largely revolved around people who haven’t really been in my life for several years…more than a decade, in most cases. It’s interesting (to me) that both dreams involved people and situations from roughly the same period of time in my waking life, and yet they didn’t seem to be connected at all. It was a period of much change in my world, and those two dreams managed to reflect very different facets of some of those changes.

Unless last night’s was really just a guilt dream, after all. But still. It chose an interesting route with which to express itself, that’s for sure.

I think whether it was warning or guilt, too, it probably has some merit to it, as well. It definitely got me thinking this morning, and even though I am just as exhausted as I have been in recent days, anyway, that dream has given me a bit more focus today, and that’s a good thing. Maybe nothing will come of any of it, but for now, it’s really got me intent on at least investigating a few avenues. It lit a small fire under my butt, so at the very least, I am using that as incentive today!

I’ve also started planning the next radio play reading, and have begun to reach out to possible cast members to see who might be available. I want to get the announcement of Reelie award winners out of the way before we do this next play, as the script is short and we should have time to do both. All of that should also bring me closer to being able to launch the Mind Reels Patreon page – which would be kind of cool to do for my birthday, but at the same time, I won’t be able to promote it much around then because I’ll be at Fan Expo meeting my boy Luke Skywalker!

So I’ll probably be distracted.

But we’ll see how it goes.

Back to the dream – like, it took place in the school where I did my practicum during my year of teacher’s college. After graduation, I went back several times to visit everyone, and just spend some time in a classroom when I could. I miss being able to do that, I realized. I miss that school in particular, and it’s funny how any time I think about trying to go back to a teaching environment, my mind always imagines it to be done there; at that school, and with those people. Many if not most of the teachers don’t even work there anymore, and even the Principal is someone I don’t know now. The students have, of course, moved on long ago. My little grade 6 kids would be in their 20’s by now! What the hell?! How old am I?! I can’t even imagine it, who they are now; the adults they have grown up to be.

I have no idea what the future holds for me and my non-existent teaching career. What’s more is that I have no idea what I’d even want where education is concerned, if anything. I used to have this whole plan laid out, and then everything came together and fell apart – then came together even more and thus fell apart again more completely – so now I’m just…I don’t know. I go back and forth on it all the time, really. Sometimes to extremes where my feelings about it are concerned. I’m a pretty terrible teacher in the traditional sense, I know. But there are so many non-traditional opportunities out there now; so many different ways of doing things, and more room for forging ones own path a little bit. Not to mention the fact that I am really not the same person I was then. I’ve upgraded. Haha

A large part of the realistic issue, of course, is salary. Like always, I have responsibilities that go beyond taking care of my own needs, and I’m not willing to risk failing in fulfilling those just so I can try something out. I would have to find some sort of balance between risk and security in that, too, if ever I were to take the leap again. Or any leap, really, especially where employment is concerned. These days, I’m mostly just very grateful to have a job which pays the bills and allows me to keep everybody fed with a roof over our heads. Even on my worst days, I am highly reluctant to mess with that again, because I’ve been there when it falls through and I’ve lost it all. I’m not eager to take that chance again.

Just because I’m being cautious, though, doesn’t mean my eyes aren’t open. If there is something more out there for me, I still intend to seize it when I can.

Bankruptcy

I guess you could say my credit issues started right around the time I first got credit. Well, unless you count student loans, which I don’t. The first time I got credit by myself as an adult was after I was accepted to teacher’s college.

Prior to that, I’d moved out of my happy little home into the home of the person with whom I was in a relationship at the time. I gave away my bed and stored a bunch of my stuff in the spare bedroom, and chipped in what I could for rent and bills and the like for close to a year. When I was accepted to another year of full time education, though, I knew things had to change, as I wouldn’t be working for the majority of the year.

I was told not to worry about getting a student loan; I’d be taken care of.

I was told not to bother getting a credit card; I’d be taken care of.

I was told a student line of credit was unnecessary; that I’d be taken care of.

I was assured that I could quit my job outright, rather than stay on for a day or two a week through the school year – because I’d be taken care of.

I decided that I would rather have all of those options and not really need them, then need them and not have them, so I applied for everything, and – being a student – I was approved. I figured I could at least build a great credit rating by making small purchases and then paying them off each month, and if anything came up over the year I was being edumacated, I had back-up.

Turned out something came up pretty quickly, before school even started. I’d quit smoking when I’d learned of my acceptance, and then the blatant cheating began, the relationship ended, and I moved into a spare room in the apartment a good friend shared with his girlfriend. I paid rent, chipped in for bills, bought my own groceries, and basically lived off credit for the entire year.

You know, since I wasn’t being taken care of.

I also worked 1-2 days a week at the job I didn’t quit, and went back to full time after I graduated.

Over the next several years, I continued to build my credit rating by making regular payments and carrying a balance. Most of my credit limits were raised occasionally, to the point where I had an absurd amount of credit to my name. Like, more than I make in a year. That worried me some, but I figured I was getting good at the whole system, and so long as I stayed responsible, I should be okay going forward.

Then I tried to move in with the next person I was in a relationship with – who was in the US – and maxed everything out over the course of two and a half months of not working at all. I couldn’t find a job quickly enough in the diving economy of the time, and in my desperate attempt to keep trying right up until the last minute (well, past the last minute, if we’re being honest here), I’d spent pretty much everything I had left by the time I returned to Toronto. I had been under the impression that my being here was a short term deal; that I would just couch surf and work for a month or two and then head back once things settled down, recession-wise. I knew that, so long as I could earn enough to make minimum payments, I could just cycle money around and still stay afloat until I got back to where I wanted to be.

However, I was informed two days after my return to TO that I had over-stayed my welcome, so to speak, and of the demise of that relationship, as well. There was no chance of me going back any time soon, if at all. And since I was now stuck where I most certainly didn’t want to be, I had to find a way to make a go of it somehow.

I went back to work in a different position from the one I’d left, and slept on a generous friend’s floor for a couple of months. I had the opportunity to stay rent-free in a house way out in the east end, so long as I could leave no sign of my having lived there. It was an amazing deal, but the house was also full of spiders, which was my own personal horror to live with, so I was just as happy to leave there when the time came.

Since I was failing so fully at life, I found one of the worst apartments ever to sublet, and kept the majority of the things I had with me still packed, while leaving everything else in storage until I lived somewhere that felt safer. I started seeing a therapist, and got my cat back (though I apologized to her for giving her such a cruddy place to come back to), so at least we were together again.

The main problem was that, since I was paying rent and bills again, I could no longer make even the minimum payments on my maxed-out credit. The calls started coming in regularly, and I felt worse and worse about my very existence with each one. I tried going to my bank to see if I could just consolidate everything into one payment, but they would only cover their own stuff, and I was on my own for the rest. Since I couldn’t even make that work out, I finally broke down and went to a trustee.

I filed for personal bankruptcy that summer. And the person I was subletting the shitty apartment from got evicted, so I had to move out or sign my own lease, meaning I was stuck in that hole for over a year, all told. 2009 – pretty much the worst year of my life, thus far.

It was humiliating, and difficult – I had to keep very close tabs on every single bit of income and every single expenditure. I’d under-estimated how much I’d need for food and other basics each month, so I juggled with the other areas of permitted spending and made it work out. It was super stressful, though, because I had to give the trustees everything else, and justify whatever I didn’t hand over.

At least the collection calls stopped, though.

I was eventually discharged, and the trustee told me she never wanted to see me in there again, to which I heartily agreed. I still had my student loan from teacher’s college to finish paying off, but I worked out a payment plan with them that I could afford, and made that my first priority – after finding a better apartment.

That would, of course, prove to be hella difficult, too, because no one wants to rent to a bankrupt person, even if they’ve recently been discharged. I couldn’t get accepted back into the building I’d left when I tried to move to the US – and it had a sweet pool. I couldn’t get accepted to any of the places I’d applied, and I was starting to get desperate when I tried a Hail Mary with a little 4-story building in the neighbourhood I most wanted to live. I knew walking down the street that there was no chance, but I kept the appointment, anyway, and as soon as I walked into the space, I was kind of in love.

I flat out told the guy I’d recently been discharged from bankruptcy, and that I had a cat, and he said he’d seen people with worse credit move in, and that many people in the building had cats, so hope suddenly came alive.

Days later, I got the apartment. I still live there now, and I am staying as long as I can afford to, because I know how difficult it can be for me to find a new place now. And I still kinda love it there. It’s still home for now, a place for me to heal.

Plus, Kate the Kitten died not long after we moved in (she barely got to enjoy the non-shittiness of it, unfortunately), and now I live with three cats and a dog. It might be even more difficult to be accepted in a new place now, in some ways.

I was discharged from my bankruptcy on April 22, 2010. At just over 6 years ago, it should be purged from my credit report for one agency, and has just under a year left on my report for the other. I have a secured credit card, upon which I continue to make regular payments and carry a balance and, at $500, it’s low enough to not be a huge worry in comparison to my salary. It reports to both credit agencies, too, so I am already re-building my credit rating, albeit very slowly. It’s still better than nothing.

Am I gun-shy about ever having to file for personal bankruptcy again? Absolutely. When I was already feeling most worthless, that was the nail in my proverbial coffin. My failure at life was complete. I don’t ever want to feel that way again, if I can help it, especially since it’s never really gone away. I carry my failure around more than my successes, in part because I don’t think much of myself, but in part so I can hope to learn from them. I still can’t pinpoint exactly where I went wrong, but I think it might have been a series of mistakes on my part, and I am terrified of making any of them again, lest I lead myself back down that same self-destructive path. I can’t fool around with this stuff anymore. There are now 3 little lives depending entirely on me – and a 4th who depends mostly on me – for their survival and for the quality of their lives.

And then there’s me. I depend on me for all of that, as well.

If I can help it, I don’t intend to let myself down so completely again.

The Price Of Free?

So, the Ontario government has decided to give free tuition for post-secondary education to low income families.

Part of me is, like, where was this move 20 years ago?

Though that makes me feel like the rest of the whiners who are all, “But what about us? Aren’t you screwing everyone else?” Blah blah blah.

What I mostly think about is how I just finished paying off my student loans a couple of years ago, if that. And of how proud of myself I was when it was all finished and my account balance finally said zero dollars owing.

See, as with most of my friends, my parents couldn’t afford to pay my way through school, either, and nor did I expect them to. Instead, I did wacky things like get jobs, both over the summer, and even during my final year of University (Val’s Video – ah, those were the days). And I applied for financial assistance in the form of student loans. Actually, I think that first year there was also a small portion that was a grant, but then that was gone and replaced with a percentage of your loan being forgiveable, so that you could have less to pay back, potentially.

Every year I stood in line-ups to get the proper forms to fill out, and then in more lines to drop them off. Back in those days, we didn’t have the interwebs. We actually had to line up at the bank, and the school, and stores, and talk to another human being in order to get all that stuff done. We even had to go to a physical classroom after that, where there were even MORE human beings strewn about. Except for some of those 8:30am classes. We learned pretty quickly to not bother taking those, as we’d never make it to them on time. Ever.

I didn’t even have my first email address until I was in my fourth and final year of University, and it was a school address, accessed via the campus computer labs, because I did all my assignment typing on a TYPEWRITER! Whaaa?!

Anyway, where was I?

Right – most of us put ourselves into debt to pursue a higher education. We came out of there with an expensive piece of paper that we’d take more years to pay for than we’d put in to earn it. Some of us would even do it again later for more paper, and more debt.

I mean, tuition wasn’t the only thing, either. You had to live for each year without having a full-time job. You often had to pay rent, eat occasionally, pay phone bills (like, landline, not cellular), buy and consume enough alcohol to kill a horse but you’re in your 20’s so you bounce back like rubber the next morning, more or less. There were text books to buy (and thus more line-ups at the campus book store), and school swag to wear at the football games when you possibly should have been studying. Tuition was a chunk of change, to be sure, but it wasn’t everything. Not even close.

There was, however, a certain sense of, like, pride, for going through all of that. Not just anyone could go on to post-secondary school, and not everyone should. I don’t feel that a person’s ability to do so should be set by their family income, but nor do I believe there should be hand-outs, either. I believe when someone works for something, there is a greater sense of accomplishment once it’s achieved. What’s more, we learned better balance. We knew what each of our hard-earned dollars was worth beyond the classroom. We made choices in how we spent what we had, or even if we spent what we had. We made sacrifices. Not like babies on altars and virgins in volcanoes, but sacrifices just the same. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we did earn everything we got.

Now I’m in my 40’s with no children or career to speak of, but I’ve paid off my student loans, and am essentially debt-free. I still make choices, and sacrifices, and I still have rent and bills and the like to pay for every month. I still struggle.

But the difference between me and my peeps and those getting free tuition is that we know we can do it, get through this whole financial, adulting phase (please let it be a phase) because we already have. We learned certain life skills in addition to the book knowledge we picked up in the classrooms we paid to be a part of. We knew what those hours were worth, because we’d worked for them. Many of us would work several years after to pay for them, too.

I guess really I just don’t understand the all or nothing mentality, of this and so many other things. Why not raise or lower tuition based on family income? Like with tax brackets? That way, those hours in the classroom will have the same worth for everyone inside them, not just the ones who struggle to afford it. So much in the world is all or nothing, and while I would have loved the idea of free tuition back in the day, I’m not sure it’d be worth giving up the feeling that I actually accomplished something, and the crazy satisfaction I felt when my loan balance finally hit zero. I’m sure there will still be loans and debt, because school is expensive. I’m just not sure giving part of the experience away for free is the way to go, especially when the real world – the one that happens after schooling is done – doesn’t quite work that way.

When I Grow Up

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I wanted to be a cowboy when I grew up. Not a pretty frilly cowgirl. A cowboy.

For, like, a year or so, anyway. I wanted the jeans and plaid shirts and boots and hat, but most of all, I wanted the horse. I really had no idea what cowboys did other than ride horses, so I figured that would be an excellent occupation for my adult self. I don’t really dig any part of it but for the horses, anymore, anyway.

I had a book when I was little – like a memory/keepsake book for each year of elementary and high school. There were pouches to put things in, and I had to fill out who my friends were and favourite subjects and stuff, for each year. There was also a spot to put what I wanted to be when I grew up.

The first year, in Kindergarten, I remember choosing “nurse” because I thought that was the only one of the options presented in the group of choices that seemed like something a girl would do. I was five. It didn’t occur to me until later to that I could not only pick anything I wanted, but if what I wanted wasn’t already listed, I could just write it in.

So there was nurse, cowboy, writer, actor…I think that’s about it. Writer and actor took up most of the years, back and forth. I can’t even remember if I ever wrote anything else in there, or if I just stopped trying to choose and/or write it down. I definitely don’t recall ever writing “English major” or “Work In Retail”, but hey – life doesn’t always go as planned. Or ever. Haha

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There was also a spot for school photos, and of course the class photos all went into the pouch, too. Has anyone ever noticed that every class photo looks pretty much the same? I’m not even entirely sure that it matters which decade the thing was taken in. There’s always a kid looking the wrong way, there’s always at least one girl who is too tall to do anything but stand in the back with the guys, and no matter how good our parents wanted us to look, by the time the pics were taken, we had ruined the illusion of propriety.  

Man, little kids have huge heads.

As I write, I am thinking maybe all class photos don’t look the same, after all. I mean, they DO, but I think maybe the decade or at least within a certain range of each decade does make a difference. Each decade’s photos look alike. I see pictures on Facebook all the time of class photos from schools I’ve never heard of, and still…there we all are. The same, but different. Pretty sure my parents had class photos similar to one another’s, but different from my brother and I. And the ones my niece and nephews have are likely different from ours.

I feel like things were easier then, in a lot of ways. But if that’s the case, then things are harder for kids now. And if THAT’S the case, then what’s the world going to be like when THEY grow up?

I am totally getting my butt kicked at work again today. I’ll write better another day. Gooder, even! 😉

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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.