Wednesday Thoughts

Before I woke up this morning, I was dreaming something mundane – I think I was just getting ready to go to work, actually. I’d found a new pair of jeans, which I’d forgotten I even owned (because in real life I actually don’t). They still had those plastic sizing strips on them, but an abundance of them, which I had to peel off first, because it’s just embarrassing to find out you’ve been walking around with tags and the like still on your clothes.

Whoa – I just typed “clothes” as “close” and had to correct it. Sleepy much?

Anyway, it was taking me longer and longer to get ready to leave, and I kept checking the time and getting more and more stressed about how late it was getting. I was excited to wear my new surprise jeans, though. They were still going to be a bit big, but better than most, and not full of holes like my real jeans are. I remember trying to decide which belt I should wear, too. As in, which one is falling apart the least. It’s a real-life dilemma found in even the barest wisp of a dream.

Anyway, the thing is, when I actually woke up, I remained confused about what I had to do with my day in real waking life. That sense of disorientation continued on far too long for my liking. It was actually a struggle to remain focused on getting ready for work without thinking about the new pair of jeans I didn’t really have, if that makes sense. My brain kept going back to the dream life and I’d have to consciously force it back to real life. Weird.

In other news, there was an impromptu puppy party on my street last night! Brody and I were out after work, as usual, and it was not only a nice evening, but also the time of day pretty much everyone is out with their dogs. We ran into one of his treats ladies, and she was already talking to another lady with her dog, and then more people and dogs just kept coming by to join in! We had a good 6 or 7 dogs on the go at one point, all greeting each other and each other’s people and Brody could often be found in the middle, gazing longingly at the treats lady in case more treats came his way! He’s taken to pre-sitting in anticipation of possibly getting a treat now, instead of waiting to be asked to sit for one. Silly puppy. Silly clever puppy. ❤

Tonight is The Mind Reels’ almost-all-girl rendition of a Flash Gordon episode from 1935! And the Reelie award winners announcement! So excited! One girl had to back out, unfortunately, but since it’s because she booked a gig on a new show, it’s not really that unfortunate! We’ll just have to get her back when she’s able! There are still three lovely ladies joining us, however, and I think it’s still going to be pretty epic. Or hilarious. Or both. I’m really looking forward to it!

I’ve been thinking about something Gord said during the Hip concert on Saturday night; about how we’ve been trained our whole lives to ignore Canada’s northern Aboriginal people, and how we’ve learned not to listen to anything that’s happening up there. He said he thinks it’s maybe even worse now than it’s ever been. I got this idea suddenly to maybe do something with The Mind Reels blog page about it, specifically with high school kids, perhaps. It’s a vague notion, and I don’t know if it would really work or be beneficial to anyone in any way, but there’s a seed of a thought I want to talk to Tim about. If it doesn’t work out with Mind Reels, then maybe I could still reach out and make something happen with this blog, or set up something else entirely. I was reminded of a simple exercise I’d done in teacher’s college with the kids in the Grade 7-8 classes I was teaching during my practicum. I hadn’t really expected it to go as well as it did. Not that I thought it would go badly. I just hadn’t anticipated how willingly some of the kids would open up about themselves and their home lives once they knew someone was listening. Not even that, really – I think it’s more that someone asked them. I’m learning that we all generally do like to talk about ourselves and things we are passionate about and the dreams we have for ourselves. Not in an ego way, but rather in a someone-is-interested way. Even the quietest kid in our Grade 8 homeroom – the kid who opted out of pretty much every assignment because he wasn’t feeling the participation vibe ever. That kid filled out a sheet of questions about himself…told a whole story about something that happened when he was living on a reservation up north before coming to the city. Then he actually spoke at length about some of it – out loud – with the whole class listening. We had to listen hard because he was speaking so quietly from his desk at the back of the room, but still. He was talking, and we all were listening. It was probably the only time all year that you could hear a pin drop in that room, because every kid in there knew what a rare occasion it was, and for once no one felt the need to spoil it.

So we’ll see. Maybe there’s a way I can help give kids an outlet; a space in which to discover and share their own voices.

I’ll just, you know, add it to my To Do list.

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.

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.

Random Thought Generator

Not even 11am and I already have a headache from this day.

Come to me, Advil Extra Strength Liqui-gels!

I could write an entire rant – daily – about how most people don’t know how to ride public transit, or basically share air space, without being assholes, but I’ll save it for another day. For now, just some random tidbits swirling around in my aching brain.

  • I had a dream last night that I was at a Raptors game and they were doing pretty well, but then I had to go get my uniform on and get ready in case I was called on to play, too. SO STRESSFUL! I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be of much help to the lads, but at least I could see the game unfold better from my new spot next to the court. I don’t remember actually getting put into the game, but the stress of worrying about the possibility was more than enough. Similar to the dream I had once where I had to fill in for a member of a boy band just before they – we – went on stage. I could hear the pre-teen girls screaming their heads off, and not only did I not know any of the choreography, I was also not sure of any of the lyrics. The other guys seemed to think it would be okay, but I knew that none of those girls would believe I was actually part of the group. They’d know I wasn’t a boy, for starters.
  • You know, when I was a manager – or even a supervisor – I rose to those positions because I was adept at the positions reporting to them. I could help those employees when needed, and perform different tasks on top of those required of said employees. I also knew exactly what I was asking of them when I was assigning duties. I miss those days, but even more I would say that I miss teamwork and being assigned tasks by people who have some idea of the scope of what they are asking. These days, I could be performing miracles and no one would know.
  • The safe room I made for Flynn yesterday seemed to work, except when I got home last night the whole apartment smelled strongly of paint fumes or glue or something. I opened the other window and turned both fans on to try and get that out of there as quickly as possible. Still, Flynnie was in a good mood even this morning. She was playing with a broken shoe lace for a few minutes, and her eyes were more green than yellow. I left the window open halfway today to see if we could avoid the toxic fumes while still making her feel safe. We’ll see.
  • For one to be considered an activist, shouldn’t one actually do something beyond than just talking about what other people should do? Or am I misunderstanding the definition of the word ‘active’?
  • If all that is really required of parents these days is to stand around looking at their kids, I wonder why I thought teaching was hard…
  • I’ve lived with a lot of different people over the years, so far. I’ve lived with immediate family, I was an exchange student in high school, I’ve lived with roommates who were friends first, I’ve lived with roommates who were strangers before we moved in together, I’ve lived with romantic partners, I’ve lived with members of both sexes; sometimes both at once. And I’ve had jobs, even right now. I don’t think I’ll ever really understand the whole taking and/or using of someone else’s things without asking. Food, clothes, electronic equipment, parts of movies or music collections, etc. In situations where it’s immediate family or romantic partner – situations wherein things are generally shared – it’s different. But if I buy groceries and come home after work to find that someone has eaten what I was planning to eat…I don’t get that. I’m sure I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve never deliberately just taken something of someone else’s simply because it was handy. And when I borrow things, I take extra care with them; more so than when it’s my own stuff. Because when it’s not mine, I intend to return it in the same condition in which it was loaned to me. Treating it like it has less value simply because I didn’t pay for it is a mysterious notion to me. Same with how some women leave public washrooms in less than savoury conditions. You don’t do that at home, why do it anywhere else? Why take my stuff without asking, and then consume or wreck it while you have it? If it was one instance, I could chalk it up to just being a random happenstance. But when it happens all the time in a variety of environments, I have to deduce that it’s just a thing. That people are just like that in general, and that not being like that makes me the odd one out. Which I am used to, of course. I just don’t think it’ll make it any easier for me to have roommates again, if and when that time comes!
  • Speaking of living with people, did you ever have imaginary friends when you were small? I did. I may have even talked about them on here before. I can’t remember. They were Sam and Jody. Sam was three and Jody was two, and we used to ride our bikes together but Jody always lagged behind. Because he was two. In my head, I pictured them looking much like the little boys in those terrible Family Circus comics I’d read in the Saturday Star. Ah funny pages. So rarely funny, yet when you did come across a good one, it usually made it onto the refrigerator door!
  • I don’t drive. I know how to drive – I took Driver’s Ed in high school, and everything. Even had my learner’s permit for, like, 5 years, or however long it lasted back when graduated licensing first came into effect in Ontario. I got it in my last year of high school, though, and didn’t need to drive while away at University. I lived on campus the first year, and within a few blocks for the rest of the time. Then I lived close to work, then I moved to Toronto, where public transit became my main ride. I was pretty sure I couldn’t afford a car, parking, gas and insurance on top of other monthly expenses, and it was all pretty unnecessary once I came to the city. Plus, I hated driving. It was always so stressful for me, largely because I don’t trust my own reflexes and reaction times. Naturally, I also don’t trust other drivers. I can barely handle walking some days, because even in the city, some people end up driving into houses and bus shelters and the like. I mean, how fast do you need to be going in a residential area, anyway? Seriously. Once I was launched onto the path to an MS diagnosis – given that I could barely see out of one eye – I was pretty glad I wasn’t behind the wheel of a killing machine. I guess that was the other thing, really. I wasn’t concerned so much for my own safety when I was driving as I was for the other lives I was aware I could take. I think most people don’t think about that; about the responsibility in having so much power in their hands. For most, it’s a mode of transportation. For many, it’s even a form of relaxation. For me, it was a lot of pressure and anxiety, and now that my reflexes are minutely hindered by the disease eating away my central nervous system (as well as the knowledge that I can lost control of motor skills and sight and the like at any given moment), I am far happier letting others take the wheel. Plus, I like looking around too much. Drivers miss so much of the world because they have to focus on the road, whereas I can focus on everything else.
  • When I am out with Brody, I’m not just going for a walk and taking him along. I’m spending time with him, and it’s more his time than mine. Often it’s not very much time, or not enough, but that’s life. I still take him out with the intention of getting things done that he needs and/or wants to get done, and going places he likes to go. I watch him, and talk to him – I’m not on my phone or listening to music on headphones or anything like that. My focus is on him, and on watching for any potential trouble coming up. I give him however much time he wants to sniff around, I watch to make sure he’s not eating anything he shouldn’t be, and I try to watch for any potential food items along our course. I watch for traffic, I watch for people with strollers or anything that might make a loud noise as it goes by and scare him. I watch for other dogs, just in case. Mostly, though, I watch him. I can tell what kind of mood he’s in, usually, and I like figuring out where his focus is, and what he wants. It’s different with the cats, of course, but I do try to spend time with each of them, as well. They are all different, and want different things from me at different times. Unless it’s meal time, then they all want everything at once, the little beggars. For the most part, however, I know which ones want to snuggle when, how each one wants to play and when, and whether or not one of them just needs time and attention from their mama (aka me). I try to give them all what they need, and some of what they want, especially because I am away at work all day, and asleep for so much more of the time I am around. They are all individuals, though, and not just cardboard cut-out pets the way some people think of non-humans.
  • Speaking of which, I think I had cardboard cut-out friends once upon a time, too. I think we drew characters from Battle of the Planets – more or less life-sized on paper bags taped together – then cut them out and taped them up on the walls of a relatively empty closet. Then I’d sit in there and talk to my paper superhero friends.

I kinda miss those days, too.

 

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Picture Book

I haven’t slept much the past few nights.

My mind and emotions about work are all over the map, and I end up laying awake churning through it all.  Panic, confusion, despair, anger, fear, sadness, hurt, resignation…it all spins around inside my head and heart and I can’t settle it enough to get much rest.

It’s very draining.

And it’s the weekend, so it’s not like I can do anything practical about any of it, anyway.  None of what’s spinning inside me is real yet – it’s all just hypothetical scenarios running through my exhausted brain and making it all feel more desperate than ever.  Tomorrow is Monday, so it’ll all become real then.  But for now, it’s completely out of control.

Well, almost completely.

I’ve been trying to keep busy while I’m awake. It’s easier to distract myself  with actual activities.  I still spend more time than I’d like to in tears, but when I actually manage to focus on something else, it’s easier to maintain that focus for longer than I can when I am trying to sleep.

Yesterday I wrote the first draft of a potential picture book for kiddos.  I had a ridiculous amount of fun doing it, and spent some time afterward still trying to think in rhythm and rhyme.  At one point I reminded myself of that scene in The Princess Bride.  You know the one.

“No more rhymes, now, I mean it!”

“Anybody want a peanut?”

Classic.

Anyway, the point is, writing took my mind off my current situation, and the fact that it was fun made it even better.  I was remembering a poetry unit I helped teach a grade 8 class when I was practice teaching back in school.  I got to do haiku with them, and some of the kids decided we should try to have whole conversations in haiku, and it was hilarious! They got really good at it, too.  So last night, by the time I was getting dinner for the fur babies, I was thinking in rhyme and reading the draft of the book to them (mostly Brody, but Piper got draft #2 read to her a few times already today), and I was smiling instead of crying.  The feeling didn’t last, of course, but it definitely helped.

Now I’ve been awake since 4am, but I’ve walked Brody a couple of times, had something to eat, and completed the book’s second draft.  I liked it last night, and love how it’s coming together today.  I got the rhyme pattern worked out, and established the number of syllables per line.  I feel like there are still a couple of more awkward-sounding spots – lines that don’t flow as smoothly as I’d like – but overall I am quite pleased with how well it’s coming together.

My initial plan for the book’s structure was a bit different, and even as I was assembling it last night I wasn’t sure which way I’d go with it, but a lot of it pretty much wrote itself, so I’ve decided not to mess with that.  Plus, it’s fun to read out loud.  I just have to tweak it a bit more to get it to flow better.  But I already have some picture ideas in my head and I feel like, all things considered, it’s coming along very well, and has provided an unexpected and wonderful distraction for my otherwise anxious mind!