Changing Bodies

Bodies are weird.

Fascinating and stuff, too, but ultimately weird. The number of changes – large and small – that each of us goes through over the course of our lives is astronomical, really. And everyone is so different, despite many similarities. I admit to being concerned on occasion about accidentally getting some human on me when I ride public transit. The myriad of skin conditions and odours and levels of filth can be overwhelming sometimes.

It’s easy to become a bit of a germaphobe in the city. People are always touching things and spitting and coughing and greasy and…just yeah. I try not to get too much human on me if I can help it. I’ll pet a dog I’ve never met before on instinct, but I really don’t want strangers touching me or getting them on my stuff.

I wonder if any of us really sees ourselves when we look in the mirror. Or if anyone else sees what we see of ourselves. Or if anyone knows what we see when we look at them, and vice versa. With so many changes happening all the time, and growing older every day, how could anyone ever really keep up with the present? Especially when we’re pretty much mired in the past and focused on the future?

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.

Know Thyself

Every so often, I dream of a plane crashing.  Not one I am on, but one I witness dropping from the sky.

Last night, it was three.  Two smaller air show-like stunt planes, followed by a commercial airliner.  They all landed in water and disappeared beneath the surface almost immediately.

I called 911 and let them know, but as I was talking, I had trouble remembering details, and then began to doubt whether I’d seen it, or not.

I started to wonder if I’d just been dreaming, and rather than waste more of their time, I hung up on 911. And then I woke up.

Sometimes I dream while I am in the midst of waking, and imagine things are happening.  Usually I have to turn on a light and think about what’s real before I can piece things together again.  Once I was convinced I saw smoke and was already planning how to best evacuate the house when I realized I couldn’t see it anymore.  It’s confusing, and the feeling never really leaves once I am fully awake.

In other news, it occurred to me earlier that I’m back to my late 20’s weight, but with my early 40’s body, which means more appropriate curves and a smidgen of maturity. I mean, it’s also an early 40’s body with MS, so it is tired all of the time, and in pain much of the time.  Today has been particularly brutal, because I over-exerted myself the past two days.  So it’s not perfect, but I am content with it, regardless.

For the first time in over a decade, whenever I look at a photograph or catch my reflection in a mirror, I can see myself in it again.  There’s so much more to it than mere appearance, and even more to go as I grow, but it’s a pretty amazing place to be, I’ve gotta say.

It’s a sensation I didn’t know I’d lost until it came back again.  In a body I no longer know, due to a disease that takes away control, I can still see myself; see me again, and know me anew.

I feel a vague sense of power in that.

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For The Love Of Animals

My work computer’s hard drive fried this morning right in front of my eyes, basically, so while I wait for IT to set me up with a replacement, I’ve had to get a little creative with my day. I’m using one of the old computers in the back, and it is having trouble keeping up with my mad typing skills (thanks Mrs. Coulter!), as well as 2016 in general, so this will be short.

Also, I’m getting stressed about this first radio play episode. We’re supposed to record it on Thursday but I am still short a guest cast member or two. So much prep needed, too, in addition to trying to find last minute actors who may be available and interested. Geez.

Anyway.

I enjoy watching Brody the dog interact with the cats, especially when none of them know I’m watching. They are fabulous together with me, and we make a sweet, fun little family as it is. But when they don’t realize that I am paying attention – when they choose to interact even though it’s not with the intention of getting my attention – I find it all even more remarkable.

Somehow, these little beings of different species have figured out how to not only share space and get along, but to accept one another into each others lives. They do more than tolerate one another being in the same space – they live in that space together. They share all of it – usually. Sometimes Flynn sleeps in Brody’s bed, but he lets her, and finds somewhere else to curl up until she’s done. Sometimes they groom one another. Sometimes they play together.

At some point in our existence, someone decided that cats and dogs could not get along. Most of us listened, instead of seeing for ourselves whether or not it was true, and whether or not that truth was definitive. Even now, that’s the first thing people ask about when they hear I live with three cats and a dog. How do they get along?

The answer is – better than most of us get along with other people.

So how is it, then, that these allegedly lesser beings (again, things aren’t always true just because someone says them) can figure out how to not only exist in the same space together but actually thrive in it, but we human masters of the universe can’t even get along with members of our own species on the same freaking planet? Let alone those of another species.

Other animals don’t care about what the other animals look like. They don’t care about differing breeds, let alone colours. Appearances are unimportant, and don’t factor into their judgments like other senses do. They listen to a whole other rhythm playing throughout the universe. They vibrate on a whole other level. And we’re just sitting at the bottom of the well, in the dark, talking about colours we can’t even see. Because it’s dark. But we imagine them there, just as we imagine they dictate the caliber of a person’s character.

Orangutans are unimpressed by flashy technology – they quickly became bored with it. That says a lot about our orange genetic cousins, but it says way more about the rest of us.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stare at my smartphone for awhile.

On Waving Back

Walking to the subway this morning on my way to work, I passed a man and his dog. As I approached, the dog looked up at me all friendly like we knew each other, so I said, “Hi puppy dog” and left my arm dangling at my side as I walked by. The dog stuck its muzzle up against my hand, and gave me a quick lick in greeting. Made me smile.

Then, getting off the subway on my way to work, I watched the usual hoards of other passengers – all of us making our various ways to our various destinations – shuffle right on by the little kid in the stroller who was waving at them.

Not one of them waved back.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I hate people as much as anyone, if not more. But even I am not above waving at a little kid who’s waving at me. It’s just not done. It’s practically an automated, instinctive response. Little kid waves, you wave back. So I waved back.

And he didn’t see me.

So, here we have a number of interesting scenarios and the effects of each:

Dog sees me, I see dog, we interact for a split second – day made for at least one of us. Moment made for both.

Kid sees a bazillion people, waves at them, none see him so no one waves back. Or rather, one sees him, waves back, but he doesn’t see it, so it may as well not have happened, from his point of view. To his mind, no one waved back at him. Watching his little face register the realization of his own invisibility among the morning masses was actually kind of sad. He’s too little to feel like that, and yet, even if I projected most of what he might be feeling or thinking, the little hand faltering and his smile falling away as it became more tentative and unsure can not be disputed. I’m sure he’ll wave again, because little kids have the information retention of a rubber ball, but I’m also sure that, somewhere deep inside, he’ll remember how that felt, to not be noticed. And it’ll affect him in small ways going forward.

Then there’s me – I’m used to not being noticed. I usually strive to not be noticed. But I felt bad that I didn’t make his moment with a wave-back that he could see, and – in more selfish terms – it would have made my morning even better to have felt like I did something for the little kid, as much as the dog did for me. Like paying it forward, but for how it would make me feel.

And finally, there are the masses; those who missed the wave all together. How much better could their moments have been had they just looked up and given a second to notice the world around them? It’s like we all walk around in our own little bubbles of reality, wherein nothing and no one else exists unless we let them in. It’s a necessary skill to have, to be sure, because the onslaught of humanity’s dark underbelly (especially in cities and particularly public transit) is often too much to bear. But then we miss things that would make it seem less overwhelmingly negative, even just in little ways. We miss hearts, we miss sunsets and sunrises, we miss worms on the sidewalk just trying to reach grass before the sun bakes them where they “stand”.

We miss lots of gross things, too, like hairy ass cracks and piles of vomit on the sidewalk.

But we also miss licks and tail wags from doggies, and confident, friendly waves from little kids. We miss some of the things that could help shape us into better people. We miss things that could make our lives suck a little less. We have to find a way to strike a balance between things that we do notice and interact with, and things that we don’t. It’s maybe impossible, though.

Because sometimes, those things also miss us.