2016

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This is it, guys!  My final post!

Thank goodness!  haha

In recent previous years, I’ve made a list of things I’d accomplished over the year, the number of which would match whatever year it was. This year, though, the general populace seems intent on bringing me down, so I’ve altered the plan a tiny bit.

Oh, I know it’s not intentional, necessarily, but regardless – y’all are ruining my zen thing, man.

So this year, I’ve instead made a list of the 16 best things to happen for me in 2016.  The original list was quite a lot larger, but I’ve managed to whittle it down to the following, in no particular order:

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  1. Mark Hamill

Luke Skywalker is my earliest and longest-running heroes, from about the age of 5 years, or so.  I mean, it all kicked into high gear when I was about 12, but my love for Luke and Star Wars had already been brewing for several years before that.  So it was a near-lifelong dream come true to finally be able to meet the man who brought the character to life.  I’d rehearsed everything in my head leading up to those few precious moments I’d get to spend interacting with him – and ended up doing none of it when the time came.  But everything that did happen was so much better than I could have hoped, and even the group photo op I had done with my awesome niece and nephews was perfect and priceless.  I wouldn’t change a thing.

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2. Hudson

It’s impossible to explain to another person my absolute love for this polar bear.  When he was a little guy, I found myself getting up in the morning after an injection night (they were terrible – not much could get me out of bed the next day) and trekking out to the zoo just so I could spend some time with him; watching him, and getting to know him.  There’s just something that happens to my heart every time I see him.  When he was moved to Winnipeg, I was devastated, and knew that, even if I ever saw him again, it wouldn’t be the same.  I wouldn’t be able to see him all the time anymore.  Until now.  2016 saw the return of Hudson and his brother Humphrey to the Toronto Zoo, and I have been out there almost every week since their quarantine ended.  I spent some quality time at the window with him one day, and since then, he’s back to greeting me upon arrival, just like he used to!  He’s now the biggest bear I’ve ever seen, but that thing still happens in my heart when I see him.  When we make eye contact, I pretty much explode.  The giant fool is truly my spirit animal, and even though our time together is temporary, I am making the most of it.  No regrets this time.

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3. Dark Matter Set Visit

Mind Reels on a spaceship, guys!  Every bit as amazing as you’d think…and more!  Of course, that’s really all I can say right now.  Keep an eye out for the S3 premiere, when we should finally be able to talk about our day on set!

4. Bowling For Kids Sake

An all-star team put together by actor Ennis Esmer challenged fans to help raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters Toronto by donating and/or building teams to compete against one another in the Superhero-themed bowling night event!  Two “civilian” teams took on two all-star teams and basically had such a ridiculously good time that we have been thinking ever since of trying more things like that in the future!  So much fun, and all for a great cause!

5. Good Credit

When I learned that my bankruptcy would be cleared from my record with one of Canada’s two largest credit agencies after just 6 years instead of 7, I went online one day to find out how I was doing.  I’d gotten myself a secured Visa so that I would have SOME credit, instead of no credit, once the 7 years after my discharge had passed.  I got my credit report done, and was surprised and excited to find out that I was already squarely in the GOOD section of the scale!  Before I knew it, I was pre-approved for far more credit than I wanted, so I talked the guy down to a $500 Scotiabank Scene Visa, and have been happily earning more Scene points AND improving my credit rating ever since!  That’s so huge, guys!

6. Hands On Exotics

I had tried to volunteer at the Toronto Wildlife Centre, because I really wanted to feed baby squirrels in the nursery, but the schedule didn’t work out for when I was available, so I went a different direction, and began volunteering at an exotic animal shelter, instead.  I was taking it week to week for a long time, as I wasn’t sure how I’d do over the winter and such.  Plus, it’s a lot of cleaning poo.  Then there was a boatload of upheaval, and I wasn’t sure what was going on or how things would work moving forward.  The past couple of months, things have settled down a bit, and I am doing better with the routine.  I’m getting to know some of the animals, and they are getting to know me, and to be honest, it’s starting to feel a bit like therapy now.  My usual team and I work well together, and we get things done quickly so there’s a bit of extra time at the end to visit with our favourites a little longer (an in the example photo below, with young miss Cricket, the baby kangaroo).  And oh, the stories I can tell!  I’m hoping to continue to make new ones as we move into 2017!

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7. Grandma

This is a story I don’t wish to go into, so I’ll just say that I’ve started writing letters to my grandmother.  By hand.  At least once a week, but usually more.  That’s all I have to say about that.

8. Reconnecting with old friends

2016 was a good year for me in terms of reaching out and reconnecting with people who used to be in my life with much more regularity.  I started going to some WLU Toronto Alumni events, which – I graduated in 1995, and have been in Toronto since late 1997 – why have I not been going to these?!  So much fun!  Especially with my gal, Izzy, and her guy, Phil (who went to Western – boooo!  haha), and my hope for further reunions with my fellow Laurier alum may actually come to pass!  As well, I got reacquainted in a big way with one of my Rogers boys from back in the day.  We fell into our same old rhythm with each other – and then changed things up a bit, as well.  Right from our first conversation, it was obvious to me how much I’d missed him, though, so now I’m doing my best to make sure he and I don’t drift apart like that again.

As well, I started seeing my therapist on a regular basis again.  We also fell into our same old rhythm, but this time it seems like everything is more heightened.  We are connecting on a much deeper level than ever before, and as difficult as it is, I couldn’t have asked for more.  It’s exactly what I need.

What’s more is that I’ve spent more quality time in 2016 with more recent friends, and made at least one amazing new one, to boot!  Maybe my obsession with stronger connections is starting to pay off.  Also GO HAWKS GO!

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9. CSA’s Red Carpet

The Mind Reels has covered the Canadian Screen Awards (aka The Candys) to some degree each year since they began.  We’ve been extremely fortunate to have been invited to do so, and to have as much access as we’ve been given each year.  This year, however, was our first time on the broadcast gala’s red carpet, chatting with the talent as they arrived for the big night.  We were squished into a spot at the very end, and while many of the big names walked right by after having done their required time with the big media outlets, just as many amazing peeps actually stopped to talk to us – and many of them weren’t people we already knew!  This was our most incredible year at the CSA’s by far, and I am eagerly awaiting the chance to apply for accreditation again for 2017, because it’s quickly become one of my favourite events in the city all year!  Besides, we were told by one wonderful woman that we’re a relief to see at the end of the red carpet – that people feel like they can just relax and enjoy themselves while they’re with us, and that’s got to be one of the biggest, most humbling compliments I think I’ve ever received.  More chances to make that happen, please!

10. Crown

This may seem like a weird thing to include on a Best Of list, but I was finally able to have my first dental crown put in, and I couldn’t be happier.  After a root canal, gum surgery and getting my mold taken just under the lab’s holiday deadline, I am now – for the first time in years – pain free.  Well, as far as my mouth is concerned, at least.  And for me, that’s a huge good thing!

11. Creativity

Figured I’d lump a couple of things into one spot, just to help whittle down my list!  From my Etsy store (where I sold my first felted item), to my meeting with the Toronto Library’s Writer in Residence (who made me excited about my book again), to my first attempt at shooting footage solo throughout my day for the Canada In A Day film that gets broadcast next year.  I was pretty disappointed with how mine turned out, but I still got a few emails saying that some clips may or may not make it into the final film, so I signed all the required releases and sent them off into the ether.  We’ll see what happens, but either way, I learned a lot just in that one day, so with any luck I can carry that forward to bigger and better things soon, too!

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12. The final 10-15 lbs

The majority of the weight I gained following The Betrayal was lost slowly over the course of the following decade.  I’d resigned myself to just staying at one particular point because I couldn’t seem to get the scale to budge any lower – until late January 2016.  Suddenly, the weight started coming off and the final 10-15 lbs – also the most dramatic pounds – dropped away by the end of March, or so.  Not only am I now back to my pre-gain weight, but so far I’ve kept it that way without too much trouble.  Okay, fine, maybe not the past couple of weeks, but it’s the holidays.  If all goes well after this weekend, things will get back to normal soon.  It’s nice to have a glimpse of my former swagger back, too!

13. Melissa O’Neil on stage

The weird thing about this is that I watched Mel on Canadian Idol back in the day, and may have had a little crush on her even back then.  Seeing her in Dark Matter has been an absolute joy, and getting to chat with her via The Mind Reels was a bit of a dream come true, as well.  The fact that I get to know her a little in real life is just…above and beyond.  So you’d THINK I would have taken the opportunity to see her perform on stage – to sing live – at any given point before now!  However, better late than never.  And so completely worth it that she gets her own spot on my personal Best Of list for the year.  Also, the wee crush lives.

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14. Ole Timey Radio Plays

These are pretty much the best thing ever!  For Mind Reels, Tim and I started bringing in random handfuls of actor friends and reading old radio play scripts from the 30’s and 40’s!  So much ridiculous and hilarious fun – to the point where we all but stopped doing regular interviews, even!  Don’t worry, though, I intend to get interviews going again, AND radio plays, AND maybe a few other ideas I have all put into play in the new year.  those radio plays, though.  We knew they’d be fun, but everyone continues to go above and beyond, every time, and that I am always in need of facial traction due to the amount of hard laughter each time is indication of exactly how special these things have become.  I can’t get enough!

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15.  Kate Tattoo

I’d seen an ad on Facebook for a new local tattoo parlour with a deal for small black and white tattoos available for $50 for a limited time.  A friend suggested we get one for “our girls”, meaning our doppelganger cats, both of whom have passed on and who are deeply missed.  I thought that was a great idea, and then, thanks to my very best friend in life, the whole experience ended up being more than I could have hoped for!  I love, love, love my homage to wee Kate the Kitten, and am naturally itching to get more ink done as soon as I have some kind of extra cash again!

16.  Lil Bub

Last but certainly not least, 2016 was the year I finally met Lil Bub in person.  I barely managed to hold back the tears, but I got to pet her wee head and we took terrible selfies on my phone and I love her so much I have a need to see her again someday!  What a remarkable little beast she is, that Lillian Bubbles.  She has no idea how much, really, which just makes her even more incredible.  I’m so grateful I got to spend those few wonderful moments in her presence!

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So there you have it!  My best moments of 2016!  Honourable mention goes to the ongoing shininess of my Firefly LootCrate subscription.  And the daily joy of living with my three wonderful cats – and this guy:

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I’m not going to say I’ll never post here again, but it definitely won’t be as often.  I’m sure I’ll get the urge to write once in awhile, though.  It’s who I am.

To that end, I am starting a new blog project, which I hope will work better for me moving forward.  It’s called My WildLife Awakened, and you’ll be able to follow along with it here.

I’ve been thinking, and will leave you with this one tidbit – almost advice-ish, really, though I hope I can take it, myself, as well.

As we cross into 2017, there may or may not be much to look forward to, so I’m going to try instead to make great memories to look back on this time next year.

Let’s see what happens!

Oh – and happy new year!

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On Logging Off

One month ago today I stopped posting on my FB page. I pretty much stopped posting on there at all – I didn’t share anything, I wished 2-3 people a happy birthday (as opposed to the many others I did not – sorry guys), I left only a few comments and posted a thing or two on other pages. Even this blog is only posted to Twitter now. My notifications dropped to mostly game invites.

And no one seemed to notice. And I was glad.

Today is the 9th anniversary of the day my conjoined other half and I became FB friends, so they made us a little video, which I posted to our walls this morning. Then I changed my cover photo to the pic of Hudson and I that I love so, so much.

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That’s not to say that I am back to posting regularly on FB, or anything, though. I’m enjoying the time apart.

Which reminds me, there’s really only a few weeks left of this blog! The end of the year approach-eth! I think it’s safe to say (as I’ve said before) that it’s been a complete and utter fail. Yesterday I actually found the blurb which had inspired me to try and write this every day, too, and while I’m not exactly sure why I’d started off with such a different intention in mind, I do think the notion still has merit. I have a few ideas for what I might try instead, and hopefully any of those will yield better results for me. Because it is supposed to be about improving myself, after all. Why I thought I’d take any steps forward with a blog like this – one which never bothers to even scratch the surface, let alone dig deeper than that – is truly beyond me, but I am glad it’s almost done. I feel like I’ve become so accustomed to NOT communicating anything valid or real that I’m not sure I’ll be able to when I need to, now, either.

Luckily my therapist pushes me, but it’s actually a habit now for me to not push myself. And I rarely see her, so yeah. I’m regressing, instead of progressing, I think.

Hopefully whatever I do next will be more rewarding and positive than this has been. And as always, there’s so much more that I want to do, or even just to try. I don’t make New Years resolutions or anything like that, but maybe this year I can at least work more towards that turning point I seem to be on the cusp of, and really push myself to become a more active participant in my own life. It’ll mean some hard choices, and definitely lots of mistakes and disappointment, but at least it’ll be more mine, and less the facade I present.

If I do anything at all. I guess I’ll see! haha

Application

Yesterday morning, I sent in an application to serve on City Council’s Toronto Zoo Board. A half-hearted application, to be sure, but an application nonetheless.

I’m fairly certain there is no real reason for them to select me even for an interview, let alone to the Board. I’m also fairly certain I wouldn’t be able to commit to four years of it, which is what I think they prefer. I’m not always even sure why I applied, really. Though, at the same time, anything I can do to be a voice for the Zoo is good for me.

Ironically, I just got into a heated (on my end, at least) discussion about the tragic debacle over the elephants. Someone made the mistake of asking which side of the coin I stand on (I initially said there is no side, there are many shades of grey, and everything should be taken on a case by case basis), then asked specifically about that instance, so I gave him an earful. At least he learned some things he hadn’t known before. But mostly I just ranted and now I’m all worked up and can’t focus on my work so I am eating lunch.

I’d intended this post to have something to do with my ability/inability to commit to things…or…you know, I don’t even remember why I started writing about applying to a city council board upon which I have no real chance of serving.

I think I am also PMS-ing. My sleep has been very fractured and my dreams very strange yet vivid, in most cases. My emotions are therefore all over the map. I have emotional reactions left over from dreams, and then there is the ridiculousness that is my waking life.

How did I get here, man? Where am I going?

I think I might be bumping up against that turning point again.

Mondays Are Stupid

I’m getting killed at work today, so working through my lunch instead of writing a proper post here.

Had a pretty decent day at the animal shelter yesterday, though it was really busy and I stayed longer than usual, despite already being rather burnt out. Hence I slept super hard last night, but it wasn’t enough. I’m a mess today.

Still, I got to hang with the skunks, watch some hedgehogs and various opossum eat (since they are nocturnal, I don’t often get to see them out and about), and finally got a good look at Banjo, the new-ish Virginia grey opossum who joined us a while ago, but who is always asleep when I am there. He came over to sniff me and check me out for a few moments before returning to his dish to eat. So cute!

Then I got up this morning to find that my pally had posted a sweet video clip of he and I with Hudson from Friday afternoon, and I scooped a screenshot from it, which is now my desktop wallpaper at work!

So that’s good.

Otherwise, though, Monday can kind of suck it.

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Making Connections

What began as a kind of crappy day off yesterday, ended up being rather remarkable.

I’d booked a vacation day with the intention of going to the zoo to visit Hudson et al, and I left later than planned, but at least I went.  The weather was pretty gross sometimes, and it rained quite a bit for a while, but I made quick trips to look in on some faves, and some I haven’t seen…all year, I think.  But most of my time there was spent with the bears.

And for once, the rain actually helped.

Steve and I hadn’t been with the boys for very long when it started raining harder than it had been previously.  We eventually decided to move into the sheltered area by Juno and, knowing he’s not a fan of rain, either, Steve called Hudson over to that area where he could also stay dry.  No one else was around, and Hudson lumbered into the spot next to the window we were at and made himself comfortable.  I’ve been that close to him before – when he was a young lad – but this was the first time he’d ever really stayed in one place for more than a few seconds.

I took several photos in the beginning, but not as many as usual, and it wasn’t long before I had put my coat on the floor so I could sit on it and Steve and I basically just hung out with Hudson for a while.  We talked to him and pressed our hands to the glass, and every time he made eye contact with me my heart about exploded.

Nearly four years after he left Toronto, I finally got the chance to re-connect with my favourite bear.

Next up was our weekly girls’ night, but only two of us were able to attend this time.  After arguing back and forth with myself all week about how I should go about these hangouts moving forward, I went still undecided to meet up with one of my best friends.  There are two, but this one I see more regularly, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to say any of what I needed today and open up better (despite the rising panic I feel every time I think about it), or if I would just relax and allow it to remain more superficial.

I ended up choosing Option A.

To a degree, anyway.  But still much closer to what I’d been hoping for all this time, so I’m fairly proud of myself. AND I was able to listen more closely, too.  There are I think two things I wish I’d said, but both are related to what she’s going through, instead of things I wish I’d said about myself.  I didn’t leave frustrated and upset and feeling alone for the first time in a long time.  I mean, I left drunk and tired, of course, but …satisfied.  More balanced.  Still some panic, but less than before.

I won’t say I turned a corner, but I did have a good day.  I connected with individuals I love.

That counts.

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Sunday Volunteering

Yesterday’s volunteer shift was kinda cool, for the most part. I was a mess all weekend, as far as staying on top of my meds/vitamins and getting, like, sleep. So I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to stay, but I made it pretty much as long a shift as usual.

I feel like I physically did less, but I did spend a lot of time bonding with animals, so I figure that counts. For me, anyway!

The other Sunday volunteer, Shanny, and I were talking after about how it’s become like therapy to both of us now. Even though we only go once a week for a few hours, the animals are getting to know us better, and that makes a huge difference. We spent time near the end of our shift just walking around visiting our favourites and left smiling. Willow the capybara didn’t tackle me this time, but she did drool all over my forearm and attempt to rub my tattoo off again! haha

I started my shift off in the skunk enclosure, of course. This time all but two were out at shows, but even though the most skittish were left, they were both at the door to greet me when I went in. They’re still skittish, naturally, but I feel like we all did really well together. I let them smell my hands this time, but managed to resist the urge to try and pet them. It’s not the right time for that just yet.

While I was in there, I got summoned back down to the main floor because Cricket, the baby kangaroo was being passed around so we could meet her! I cradled her in my arms and she licked me and we took a boatload of pictures and then she hopped around the shelter for a few minutes before we put her back in her pouch for a nap. She didn’t want to go in, at first, because she was super curious about all the new stuff she could check out, but within minutes she was asleep again. So super cute, guys!

I finished the skunk enclosure, and then took on the Small Animal Room. I took my time with everybody – except the sugar gliders, because they all sleep during the day – and made sure they were all comfy and fed and watered and spot cleaned. I snuggled one of the rats, and held one of the ferrets (Hamburglar) for the first time. I did a couple of extra good things when I noticed they needed to be done. I find the routine is getting easier (ie more of a routine) and our little team works really well together, so we’re getting things done pretty quickly now. Which is even more awesome because it gives us time to cuddle a baby kangaroo, or spend a few extra minutes letting skunks get to know us better, or talking to birds and watching Rapunzel ring her bell because she’s happy for the extra attention. Being more effective at the labour part gives us more time for the fun part, which is always a good thing. Everyone is getting more comfortable, I think, and for me, that makes me more determined to get in there each week. I’m still technically week to week, but I’ve been feeling a shift towards anticipating that I will be there next Sunday before I even leave from this Sunday’s shift.

Sensing that some of the animals are getting more familiar with me, and recognizing me more each week gives me hope that Hudson will be able to “know” me sooner or later, as well. I’ve only seen him twice so far, but I already have plans to see him this week, too, which would make it three weeks in a row. Even if I go back to every other week like when he was a wee cub, there’s still a good chance that I’ll be more familiar to him after a time, and that possibility makes me smile, too!

Balance

So…last night was so much more than I could have anticipated.  I don’t know what I’d expected, really.  Maybe nothing, which would be how I was caught so off-guard, perhaps.  Regardless, it was different.  Different from my life for a long, long time.  I’m confused now, but in mostly a good way.  And for the first time in ages, I’m excited to see what happens next, if anything.  I’m excited to feel like I want there to be a next.

Then, after too little sleep, I got up too early and headed to the zoo to spend some time with my bear.  I love that guy so much.  And I love the friends who were with me all day, even though none of us planned to spend the whole day there.  It’s so weird…I just can’t get enough of him, or of the whole thing.  I couldn’t pull myself away.

And I saw baby Rey the zebra for the first time, and fell in love with her cute self, so I picked up a wee zebra stuffie to commemorate the occasion.  Her name is also Rey, because why pretend she’s anyone else?

I got the news that Ron Glass has passed away once I got home.  I guess it’s about balance.  I had a good night and day, and had to have that balanced out by having my Browncoat heart broken at the same time.

Suffice it to say that, for me, it’s been an interesting 24 hours.

Volunteer time tomorrow.