Please Support My Stuff, And Other Goings On

If you are on Facebook, please go vote for my photo in this contest: http://snaptoit2016.pgtb.me/m3SM8X/lnt7l

Scroll to the end of the first page of pictures, then jump to page 8 of submissions. Mine is the CN Tower reflection. I really want the GoPro, so please vote and help me win it! I could put it on Brody sometimes to get his view of the world, even! I think I am tentatively in first place at the moment, but I have to keep that going until Sunday night at midnight! So please help!!!

#GoPrody! 😉

Also, if you can spare $2 per month (or even $1), please consider supporting the Patreon page I created to help fund some of The Mind Reels’ expenses: http://www.patreon.com/TheMindReels

We’re just over halfway to our first goal, and if everyone chips in even a little bit, we’ll be able to accomplish so much more moving forward! As well, the higher tiers become progressively more involved in our programming, which should be fun! But mostly I just need help getting the word out, especially because I’m so busy trying to organize more content for our show that I have been remiss in getting my promoting hat on more regularly! Haha

Now that’s out of the way…I think something bad happened at the place where I volunteer. Like, internally, I mean. A huge shift in management and many of the staff are gone – almost everyone I’d met so far, in fact. Some of the animals are also gone, I think. Lots of changes. I don’t know what happened or why, but it was a very different vibe when I was in the other day, and I am not sure how things are going to go. We’ll see. I’d already missed the previous two weeks due to gum surgery, and was considering just not going anymore, but I’m glad I eventually did. I at least wanted to see how things were there now. I knew the other volunteer who was in when I got there, but everyone else I met for the first time. I also got to give Edward the Micro Pig some love, and gave a few quick pats to Willow the Capybara after her bath. I miss the animals when I am not there, but…yeah. I don’t know how things are going to go. It’s always such a struggle and battle with myself to go in every week as it is. We’ll see.

I took Brody to get groomed for the first time by myself over the weekend. I think we did pretty well, but I hated leaving him there, and was counting the minutes until I could go pick him up again. I also learned that I should actually plan distractions for myself while I wait next time, because I think I ended up getting a new credit card. Which…I was going to apply for this particular one next year, after the bankruptcy is completely off my credit history, so I guess it’s okay. I kept saying no but the guy kept offering different cards, and once he hit on the one I wanted anyway – and gave me the lowest possible limit I asked for – I decided to go ahead and accept it. Assuming nothing changes in the meantime, I should have my first actual credit card since declaring bankruptcy within the next week or so. My plan is to activate it and use it, then cancel my current secured card, get the deposit back, and put that towards getting a crown for the tooth I’ve been trying to save.

Will have to see how that goes, too. So many things up in the air. So many half-started projects. So much uncertainty.

Ain’t life an adventure and a half, sometimes?

Reading Problems and New Steps

I’m trying to read this one book, but I don’t really like how it’s written. I’m determined to get through it, though, before I move on to the ones I just ordered online. I know I’ll tear through at least one of those (Kelley Armstrong is my spirit animal some days), and so I’ll use that as incentive to get through this one.

It’s disappointing because the author is a woman, and I loved the sound of the plot premise so fully expected it to not be such a struggle for me to read. I still like the story itself thus far, but there are a couple of things that tear me out of it, and therein lies my disappointment.

One is that she chose to write her protagonist as a man, and for me, it’s just not working. It just doesn’t read male, to me. I can’t put my finger on it, whether it’s the language used to convey the character’s inner thoughts, or imagery described, or even just the fact that I knew the author was a woman going into it, so my mind just keeps going back to a female voice when it’s supposed to be a male. It’s fine, but having to continually remind myself that I’m reading from a guy’s perspective makes it difficult to remain enveloped in the story. I think if the character was female – as my brain keeps insisting – I’d have a much easier time of it. And she would be pretty kickass so far, too!

Another little quirk that’s just annoying to me is her constant use of italics. Like, every few sentences. Be it to accent something a character (any character, all characters) says, or just in the narration – I had thought at first that maybe it was some kind of code, because the words she chose to highlight didn’t always make sense and seemed kind of random on occasion, but I think maybe she just loves italics. Loves them. Overuses them to the extreme, in my opinion. I have started trying to train my mind to just not see them, because stressing that many words on a single page can be exhausting to read.

I’m not going to reveal which book it is, as I like to support authors, especially lady authors, but yeah…it’s a frustrating read thus far, which is really unfortunate.

Tim and I are hopefully getting started on a little something new, now, too. I am cautiously excited about it, even though my fail rate lately has been pretty complete! If by some chance it works out even remotely the way I hope it will, it would require very little extra effort on our part to maintain, but enrich The Mind Reels, our audience, and perhaps even some young lives by unimaginable volumes! As with many of my ideas, the possibilities are endless, but my ability to see them through to fruition is, more often than not, average on a stellar day. So we’ll see. I really hope it takes off, but I won’t hold my breath.

At least we are trying, though. There can be no measure of success without first putting in the effort to take the initial steps, so in that, at least, we are closer to succeeding today than we were yesterday.

And sometimes that makes all the difference.

Dealing With A Diagnosis

I read this thing on FB yesterday, and while the first line was something I could sort of relate to, the majority of the rest of it was not.

The opening line had something to do with there being certain moments in your life you would never forget – when you realized your husband was about to propose, the birth of your child, and being told you had MS.

Now…I don’t know about those first two moments, per se, but I imagine they are fairly unforgettable. And I agree that I probably won’t forget receiving a diagnosis any time soon.

But the whole rest of the post was so different from my experience that it’s almost funny.

Optic neuritis was the writer’s flare up which led to her diagnosis, same as mine.

She received a phone call; I was sitting in my neurologist’s office.

She’d waited a whole four days to find out why she couldn’t quite see out of one eye. I waited the better part of a year, which was still obscenely quick for an MS diagnosis. I lucked out in that all of the specialists had an idea of where my path was leading, and knew what to look for.

She collapsed to the floor sobbing and picturing wheelchairs; I went to work for the rest of the day.

Her husband held her like he’d never held her before; I dealt with it on my own, alone.

Mind you, I’d also done a ton of research. As soon as the possibility of MS came up, I went online and started reading about all of the horrifying things the disease can do to your body, but I also started looking into the 3 first line medications my neurologist told me he’d be considering if MS turned out to be what we were dealing with. I went into various forums and learned first hand what other people experienced with each one, and how they dealt with the side effects.

I even watched a video of someone giving herself an injection, but I was pretty sure I would be going the pre-mixed Pen route instead.

Anyway, there was one appointment when I thought the neurologist was going to call it, and I took the day off work, just so I’d have time to process. He didn’t, though, so I had a decent enough day off from there. The day he DID call it, I actually wasn’t expecting it, so still felt a glimmer of shock roll through me at hearing the actual words.

Then all my research brain stuff kicked in, and I told him which medication I’d decided to try first. He was super impressed that I already knew so much, and we filled out the application form right then, which he faxed in from his office. I was learning to do my first injection within a couple of weeks, I believe.

I asked a friend to come over for the injection training session, in part to help keep the kittens out of the way, and in part to help me remember the steps for when I would do the next one on my own. Probably also just so I wouldn’t be alone. Nurse Billy wasn’t the most comforting presence ever, to be honest. I dealt with the side effects alone, however. And they sucked. But I got better at it once I knew exactly what I was dealing with.

I remember Tim went ahead and set up a brunch/interview/chat with some filmmaker friends for the next morning. I was so mad – I had no idea how my body was going to react to the injection, let alone how I’d feel in the morning. I made it out, but hadn’t slept much and was still feeling many of the flu-like effects the whole time. I got better at managing the immediate and next day side effects, but man. A little consideration after that first injection would have been nice!

Anyway. Mostly I am glad that I can do these things alone, and don’t feel the need to have other people around me all the time. If I ask someone to go to an appointment with me, for example, or any of the tests I have to get done, I tend to focus on them more than on myself. I feel like I have to talk to them, entertain them, do something to make sure they’re not too sorry they came with me. But sometimes I don’t really want to talk. Sometimes I just want to wait until it’s my turn to get it over with and move on with my day.

Sometimes – most times – I’d rather just stay inside my own head for awhile, and not feel like I have to interact and be “on” all the time.

Do I think that makes me better than the lady who wrote the post about being a mess and having a large support system? Yes, yes I do.

Haha

Not really; it’s just different. Part of me is mortified at the thought of not having the time and space to process things on my own. But part of me is jealous of that level of support and help from other people.

Above all, however, is the understanding that I chose my own path, each and every time, for better or for worse.

The fact that I am mostly successful in making it work for me is what makes me awesome. Well…one of the things, at least!

Canadian Screen Week and Navigating Grief

So, this coming Monday is the start of Canadian Screen Week, which has quickly settled into position as my new favourite event of the year.  On the whole, Canada has never been very vocal about its own awesomeness, so to have a week-long celebration of the Canadian film and television industry is a huge step in recognizing some of the things we do really well.  Patting ourselves  on the back isn’t something we do very often, and I’m finding that it’s not only fun to do, but also something we have earned the right to do once in awhile.

Plus, I have friends in the nominee list each year, and that tickles me some.  I am proud of them.

This year, The Mind Reels will be covering Canadian Screen Week – and especially the big awards ceremony broadcast gala next Sunday – with a larger presence than we ever have before.  We’re adding a few new elements to our coverage, and continuing on with the tried and true things we’ve done before.

As crazy excited as I am about it, though, all of it also comes tied intrinsically to memories of losing one my closest friends (and Brody’s momma), Alysia Graham, in the #JAKEhouse fire during this week two years ago.

On this particular day in 2014, I was nervous about covering a non-broadcast gala by myself for the first time.  Tim wasn’t able to make it, but I felt The Mind Reels needed to continue our presence at the events, at least in some form, as a sort of thank you to Touchwood PR for allowing us to participate as much as they do.  I never want to give the impression that we are any less grateful than we are for all the support we receive from those amazing Touchwood peeps!

I knew I wouldn’t be doing any interviews that night, because it seemed weird to do it without Tim, and besides that, I really was nervous as hell.  I remember trying to figure out how much beer I could pound to calm my nerves but not be THAT girl in the press room.  But aside from beer, what actually ended up being my saving grace that night?

Alysia.

We’d joked about trying to sneak her in with me AS Tim, but in reality,  that girl gave up a few hours of her night at home to text me constant support as I tried to settle into my place in the press room on my own.  Thanks to her – her support, her humour, and her ability to seem present even from across the city – I was able to calm down enough to figure out a kind of perfect (for me) plan of attack.

Part of my luck was in the fact that my nominated friends ended up freaking winning in their categories!  The winners were brought back to a red carpet area in the press room, where photos could be taken and quick interviews could be had.  Rather than setting myself up there, though, I hung back a bit, and as they left the red carpet, I grabbed a few seconds for hugs, handshakes and a quick silly selfie.  I had the idea because I thought it would be fun to send them to Alysia as I took them.  As well, however, I realized that I could Instagram them and share to social media in real time, using all the appropriate tags, and it would make for a rather fun and unique bit of coverage for the event as a whole.

Thanks to that kiddo’s generosity with her time that night, I not only got past my nerves enough to survive the night, but I also stumbled across what’s become a bit of a Mind Reels staple moving forward, and had a great time doing it.

Little did I know – in no way could anyone know – that just 2 days later, that vibrant young girl would be gone, and the world forever changed as a result.  I think even now there is a part of me that still can’t understand how someone so present could suddenly just not be here anymore.  My mind railed against it for a long time after, so I think true grieving for me didn’t begin until I let myself accept it.  Until I let myself feel it, and stopped trying to control it or compare it to what anyone else was feeling.

Grief is a weird thing, isn’t it?  We all go through it, many times, over the course of our lives.  To varying degrees, sure, but we all have to live with it.  And yet it’s so different for everyone.  There’s no right or wrong way to navigate grief.  There’s no guidebook or manual to show you how to get through it.  I’m not even sure anyone CAN get through grief.  I think you just learn to live with it, and it becomes a part of a new you.

It’s kind of painfully ironic to me that my brief friendship with Alysia could have me feeling more like myself, but that then losing her so suddenly could change me so much more.  If I thought it was confusing before, trying to figure myself out, it became infinitely more so after.  The world turned upside down and inside out and fell off its axis and my emotions became so raw I not only didn’t know how to express them, but I also stopped being able to contain or monitor or edit them.  Sometimes, things just come out now; still now. And most of the time, I don’t know why, nor what to do with any of it.

By this time last year, I was consumed with dread over the pending first anniversary of the fire.  I was having regular panic attacks and had no idea how to face it or get through it to the following day.  I didn’t know how to help her family and friends, who had quickly become my family and friends, too, because it was the only way I felt like I could keep her close.  To keep her people close, and help take care of them for her, as best I could.  If I could at all.  And part of that fear, I think, was not only surrounding that first anniversary, but also in the vast of uncertainty of…what next?  What about March 8th?  What the fuck would any of us do then?  When the year of firsts is over, what are we supposed to do in the days that follow?

What happens when there are no more firsts?

My terror was that focus might then revert to lasts.  And I wasn’t sure how to move forward into a life of lasts, let alone how to be a useful support to those who’d lost her more than I.

This year is a little different.  Not more or less difficult, but different nonetheless.  The panic and dread is not as overwhelming, I think because we have gotten through March 7th, March 8th, and almost an entire year after that.  And the focus has not changed to lasts, as I’d feared.  I’m actually scheduled to work on March 7th, which I’m not sure was the best idea ever, but hopefully it will at least be distracting to a point.

Hopefully.  I’m a bit worried about it, actually.  Maybe I can meet up with people after work for a bit, just to mark the day together, or something.  We’ll see.

As for March 8th, I have THAT day off, and unintentionally filled it with things I can look forward to.  An appointment with my neurologist in the morning (okay I look forward to that less, but it’s good to have someone keeping an eye on my health), a trip to the zoo to – among other things – meet some baby panda cubs for the first time (and maybe with luck a baby rhino dude), then back home and downtown to cover the first awards gala of Canadian Screen Week 2016!

I think the new me – the one I am still trying to figure out as I navigate through daily life now – will always consider this a difficult and bittersweet time of year; a time of ups and downs and memories both amazing and horrible.

But I’m learning to accept that this, too, is a part of who I am now.

And in all of the things I am learning about the process of grief- for me – one of the smallest has turned out to represent one of the biggest achievements.

Like it or not, for better or for worse, I now know I can still find a way to make it to March 8th.

Sometimes It’s The Little Things

I’m going to try a little real-time blogging tonight.  By that I mean kind of free-form.  Unplanned.  I thought I knew what I wanted to talk about this morning.  Then something happened that basically took over and was all I could think about.

Now, though, I’m watching the season premiere of Face Off, the competition show about make-up effects.  I freaking love this show.  I’ve been watching since the first episode of the first season, and have been in love with it ever since.  Yes, it’s a reality show, but I guarantee you it’s unlike any other reality show you’ve ever seen.  I can’t get enough.

And despite how upset and disheartened and resigned I was feeling when I walked in the door this evening, this show made me feel better, and now IT is all I’m thinking about.  Everyone is so talented and creative, and they support one another, even as they are technically in competition with each other.  I sit on my couch eating Spitz sunflower seeds and watching these incredible artists create whole characters from scratch, in awe because I don’t have as much talent in my fingernail that any one of those people have on their worst day.

Wait – does that even make sense?

They are crazy talented, in ways that I am not.

What’s more is that they all respect and admire one another’s mad skills, too.  It’s like a big talented, creative love-in, every week.  They group hug the person who gets sent home.  They congratulate the winners.  The judges and mentors are all insanely talented, as well, and even as people get sent home, they learn a crap-ton each moment that they’re there.  And I love that the models are game for pretty much anything week to week.

In addition, host Mckenzie Westmore somehow gets better looking every year.  She’s also super personable and relatable.  She our gateway to the show, and is the tie between the contestants and the judges, in a way.  Mckenzie is the glue.  The glue of Face Off.  Haha

When I got home tonight, I’d wanted to talk about respect, and how I don’t understand how to earn it.  Or that I don’t understand why my opinion isn’t valued in a way I feel it should be.  How there can be so much disconnect between my concept of reality, and the actual world.

Or at least my little corner of it.

I’m pretty ready to give up on a particular part of my corner.  I’ll start from scratch again, maybe.

In the meantime,though, I’m fully inspired by the crazy talent being displayed on my TV screen right now.

And tonight, that’s all I need to face tomorrow.