Thinking

On the way to work this morning, it occurred to me that someone should open a dance studio of sorts for – or offer instruction for – same sex couples. Traditional dances could be altered slightly so that neither partner has to “be the guy” or “be the girl”. It could be balanced out a bit; equalized. The classes wouldn’t even have to just be for gay couples. There’s lots of occasion where friends dance together and it would be fun to have an alternative that wouldn’t necessarily be misconstrued as mocking, or garner otherwise negative attention.

Another thought I had on the way in was that I should figure out how to turn something I love doing but am not great at doing, into something more lucrative; perhaps some kind of service to those who are good at doing it. Or some way of bringing together people who are good at it, and giving them a space to network and share ideas and the like. I’m not exactly sure what I could or would do – nor of how to make it somewhat lucrative – but the seeds of an idea are there. And there is possibly something to it, so we’ll see. In some ways, I am getting better at following through on ideas. Just not at budgeting my time in order to make it realistically feasible most of the time!

Speaking of budgeting time, I’ve re-applied to volunteer at Toronto Wildlife Centre again. I’d sent in an application a few months ago because I wanted to work in the Nursery feeding baby squirrels and the like. However, since I can only do weekend shifts (everything else conflicts with my real job hours), and those fill up the fastest, I was not accepted as a volunteer this spring. I was managing to be okay with that – I’m tired a lot of the time, and I’ve never made the trek all the way out there even once, let alone weekly. But then I saw on Facebook that they are still looking for some people to take evening shifts in the Wildlife Care department, and while I can still only do weekends, maybe no one else is up for Saturday nights all summer, or something. It’s also a longer time commitment than I am necessarily comfortable with, but I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it. I’ve sent in an application, so we’ll see. If they turn it down again then any other concerns I may have are moot anyway.

I’ve been kind of a rock star at work lately – again. Not in my regular duties (heh…dooties), though that’s fine, too. But it’s the extra stuff I’ve been doing – fixing problems, investigating things that don’t quite add up and sorting out what went wrong – I’m really, really good at that. It’s the kind of thing that can’t be taught, really. Or it can, but only over time. I’ve spent nearly 16 years learning the way things work here, and while I can’t use any of those talents in the real world, all that time spent has given me a wealth of knowledge to draw from, and a certain understanding of the little ins and outs involved in several different positions apart from my own. That’s something that someone who has been here longer but always performing the same tasks wouldn’t have. I am a great investigator. A great “deducer”. A great problem-fixer. It means I get more frustrated more often, but it also affords me the opportunity to not only challenge myself, but to also achieve some sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when I figure something out.

I just completed a task I started yesterday afternoon – it took nearly a full day, but I did it. It’s done. And while I am certain there are many more questions coming my way about it in the future, I am ready. I know what was done, what was wrong, how it needed to be corrected, and how it was fixed. Because I did that part myself, and found the answers to my own questions going into it all by myself, too. I have everything – all my notes and paperwork – bound together and filed in my “Problems” folder for easy access. I am confident that I will be able to answer any and all of the questions that come my way.

I’m not confident that I didn’t make a little mistake which will likely add to other people’s confusion, but I am certain that I will be able to explain it to them when the time comes.

‘Cause BAM! #rockstar

I kind of wish I could do stuff like that full time, and have someone else hired and train to administrate orders. I feel like it would make things way more organized around here, and thus make all of our jobs easier. But at the same time, it would likely just be a source of never-ending frustration for me. So I guess I’ll just keep taking those moments of pride in my work on the occasions in which they appear, and try to be satisfied with that.

In other news, if Canadian politicians can’t abide by the time-honoured rules of Red Rover, they should not be allowed to play it in class. Like, what the hell, people? Don’t you have jobs to do? Oh yeah – I believe you were supposed to be voting on the Compassion Bill to give people the right to die with dignity. Too bad some of the people most affected by that bill don’t have the luxury of time to fool around so much.

I’m sure in their final agony-filled days, though, they’ll find the childish antics of their elected officials pretty hilarious.

Hands Of Time

I have a thing for hands.

For as long as I can remember, really, as I’m pretty sure it existed even before I noticed it, this affinity for the look and shape of hands.

To my mind, you can tell a lot about a person by their hands. Not specifics, like their favourite colour, or their childhood pet’s name. It’s more of a vague sense of who a person is on the inside; a glimpse into their identity. Our hands grow and change as we do, and while much attention is focused on superficial matters like wrinkles, or gray hairs, there is somehow a kind of personality that resides in hands. They just speak a simple, basic truth – in the way they look, the way they move, the way they touch and the way they feel. They are both an internal and external extension of who we are as individuals.

Much of our public identity can be determined by hands. Fingerprints are unique to every individual human being on the planet, and handwriting analysis has been around for decades, if not longer. On the surface, these things are usually indicators of a person’s name. Beyond that, though, I believe there is much more to be gleaned about an individual’s identity from their hands and handwriting.

I remember watching an episode of Another World, back in the day, and there was a scene with a woman teaching a younger woman how to bake a pie, or something. She insisted that the girl do all of the steps herself, so that her “hands would remember how”. That one sentence struck me with such force of truth that it has stayed with me to this day. I think it was my first understanding of body memories, though I had no idea at the time. Even then, though, I knew that the act of doing something oneself was a far greater teacher than watching someone else do it, and trying to remember the steps later on. Our bodies are capable of storing information that our minds can not. Or, perhaps, our minds are inundated with so much each waking moment that it becomes easier and more accurate to access body memories in some cases, because our brains are working at a different, busier level. Even individual cells have memories, after all, so is it really any wonder that our ability to recollect thoughts, feelings, sensations, and events come from all over our bodies, instead of just that one organ parked upstairs?

Years ago, two things happened relatively close together that got me thinking about hands some more, and in a more specific way. I think that’s around the time that I started to realize my affinity for hands, and to notice things about them on a more regular basis. One was that, when going through some boxes of old school things, I came across a page of something my brother had done in Kindergarten or so. It had been printed on coloured paper, from a ditto machine (remember those delightful-smelling things?!) and there was a boxed-off section wherein he’d been asked to trace one of his hands. Maybe both, actually. I forget.

Anyway, there was a perfect outline – in crayon – of his pudgy little baby boy hand(s) on this sheet of paper, and just looking at it transported me back to a time when he was that wee and adorable. I could almost see him in my mind, the memory of him perfectly captured and preserved in that one (or two) little crayon outline of his hand. It was so powerful I had to, of course, take it to show my mom immediately.

The other thing was an episode of a TV show….or a movie…I don’t even remember what it was, or who was in it, or what was going on. I think there were two friends, both teenaged girls, and one was maybe moving away, or something? But one girl made the other girl trace her hand into her journal – they may have even swapped and traced their hands into each other’s journals – so that no matter where they were, a part of them would always be together. I remember tracing my own hand into my journal and, a page later, my kitty cat, Kate, stood on a page while I was trying to write, so I traced her little gray paw into it, as well. To most, I’m sure it looks like a squiggle on a page, but to me – it’s like I can still see her there, in that outline of her paw. It feels as though part of her is still with me whenever I look at it.

An ex and I had gotten our claspsed hands molded in wax at some point. Right before we broke up, the wax began to melt and we ended up throwing the piece of crap away, along with our relationship. Haha

Lesson learned.

The next time I would mold my hand with another’s would be with someone I’ve loved much more and for much longer than the wax person, and we did it in plaster this time. It’s surviving temperature changes just fine, over a year later and counting!

I love to create things with my hands. I still wash dishes by hand. I often carry a stone or crystal in my pocket to hold or fidget with whenever I feel the need. It’s comforting to me; grounding. I like textures, and usually find an excuse to make contact with the ones I am drawn to – the bark of a tree, leaf of a plant or flower, anything that looks shiny or soft. haha When sitting on a beach I love the feeling of pushing my hands into the warm sand and feeling its coolness underneath. There is a connection there, a tangible sense of oneness with the earth itself.

I used to have pen pals all over the world, and I have boxes still in my apartment of the letters I received, along with cards and notes from family and friends. There is something more – intimate, and personal – in a handwritten note than in any typed text or email. Now, my penmanship has always been ass, but at the same time, it’s changed very little over the course of my life. I’ve been printing since Grade 8 by choice, but still know mostly how to write in cursive. It’s just much harder to read. Not that my printing is much easier. But anyway. I dated someone once who would, looking back, be remembered as probably the best and healthiest relationship I’ve ever had. For my birthday one year I was given a framed photograph – taken and developed – by that person, and a hand-written card. It was the card that made me tear up, because I realized that it was the first time I’d seen her handwriting. Somehow that made me feel like we were even closer.

Such a little thing. Handwriting. And yet, so much of a person can be seen in it.

I wonder if all this technology and interwebs and cellular service is actually doing more damage than good, in terms of bringing people closer together. I don’t remember the last time I sent a handwritten card or letter to someone…probably the crappy handmade Valentine card I sent to Colorado one year. 😉

I find I still take pen to paper when I am planning something, or writing to sort something out, or what have you. I have several of those old school composition books at home, and at least one more notebook on the go currently. My Guinness World Record attempt and resulting follow-up projects are all contained in one such composition book, as well. All written by my messy – but very me – hand.

I feel like we might be losing something in our insistence upon typing everything now. I think we might be losing some connection, and replacing it with something more surface-level. Something slightly cold and indifferent. You can often see my mood in my handwriting, and yet in typed form, that too is lost. It falls more to the reader to decipher, and that’s where so many misinterpretations begin.

And what if, in addition to losing a bit of connection with the world around us and the other people in it, we are also losing some of our body memories? What if fingertips on keyboards and touchscreens actually retain less than a piece of paper marked by pen, pencil, or a 5-year-old boy’s crayon?

What if we are actually losing a little piece of ourselves, as well?

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.