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.

20161202_151923

Resenting Reality

I have these notions in my head of what home is to me, and friendship, and good relationships. Among other things. Just ideas as to what I look for in my journey through life.

I keep getting glimpses of them – enough to make me think my sense of things could be possible for me, rather than something I just got from television while growing up – but my inability to manifest any of them in reality is frustrating, and causes me to doubt those possibilities, after all.

I’m torn now between wondering if I should settle for something more viable in my real life, rather than struggling for the notion, and ultimately being disappointed when it’s not how I think it should be. How I want it to be.

Do I strive to create the home I desire? Or the friendship I long for? Or the relationship I envision? Or do I accept each for whatever it already is, and if I fit into it at all, be grateful for that much. But if not, move on until I fit somewhere else better?

I’m so angry at myself for so many things, but I’m not sure how many of them I can change – how much -I- can change, since none of us has control over anything but ourselves at most, anyway. There’s nothing wrong with striving to be better, to be constantly learning and growing and evolving. There’s nothing wrong with not fitting anywhere. It can be lonely sometimes, of course, but not as much as being surrounded by vague or non-connections entirely. Lonely in a crowd. My inability to open up, or my disinterest in doing so minus with a few select people?

I don’t know.

I need to learn to speak better, especially in front of a camera.

Can a private vlog be far behind?

On Dreams And Adapting

I had a dream about one of my exes last night.

Well, not exactly about her, but all the ridiculous drama – particularly near the end – featured quite heavily throughout. It’s likely my own fault for watching Bachelor in Paradise, but still. It’s had an odd effect on my waking life mindset today.

I’m angry.

Not raging mad, or anything, just a kind of over the bullshit feeling. It feels rather empowering.

Of course, I’m also exhausted, so that is likely feeding my grumpy ill-temper, as well, but whatever. I’ll focus on the empowering part!

It’s weird to stand outside of someone else’s relationship – romantic or even just friend-wise – and see a glaring imbalance within it. Weirder still is standing inside of your own relationship and seeing it – yet accepting it, anyway. Even helping to perpetuate it. Such an odd sensation to kind of hate it, and kind of hate yourself for standing for it, yet still kind of assuming that maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. Maybe just for you, maybe just for this relationship, but still accepting it nonetheless. The logic side of you is disgusted with the whole thing. The emotional side of you is more conflicted and unsure how to proceed, so you just kind of sit there inside of it and wait for something or someone to tip the scales in a different direction. Sometimes you even think it’ll be you who tips them – just maybe not quite yet.

The ex in my dream was a compulsive liar, I think would be the term, in real life. I knew this very early on, and I adapted to basically take everything she said with a grain of salt. I think I spoke to this before, in that not believing her became a habit which was then transferred into my next relationship, until I realized what I was doing and willed myself to cut it out and treat that new relationship as the wholly different entity that it was. I still catch myself being quietly sceptical of those around me sometimes, though. I’m not sure if it can all be traced back to that relationship, or if I just have trouble trusting people in general. Same result, either way, though.

Anyway, the lies weren’t necessarily huge, and weren’t usually hurtful towards others. I figured it was kind of a defence mechanism to keep people from getting too close to the real person inside; that it likely stemmed from some deep inner self-hatred, the source of which I was never privy. It was always clear, however, that it had nothing to do with me personally. It was just a part of who she was, and I decided I couldn’t pick and choose which parts of a person I would love, so I chose to essentially ignore some of those parts, instead.

I do that will all living beings, really. No one is perfect, so I chose which parts I like and ignore the rest, if the parts I like outnumber and outweigh the parts I don’t, I mean. Like, I don’t love that Flynn poos on the mat more often than she poos in the litter box, but I love Flynn for much more than where she poos, so I adapt and tolerate and go on loving her fluffy self. I chose to deal with the things I don’t like because there are so many more that I do.

Same with the lying ex. I didn’t realize at the time how far-reaching some of the effects of those choices I made then would be, but still – I didn’t make them blind. I knew pretty much exactly what I was doing. I remember deciding to just adapt and go with it. I remember making excuses for that decision. I remember not being surprised when it all came back to bite me, but still being incredibly hurt by it. Not that I thought it wouldn’t, or that I was special, or that I could change her with my love. Nothing like that. I think it was more just choosing to adapt to it – to change myself a little bit instead.

I think a lot of people do that – maybe everyone, maybe more often women – but a lot of people, regardless. I can’t keep track of the number of times I’ve seen one person – often a guy – talk down at someone else – often a woman – and watched the woman just take it. As though maybe a part of her believes whatever he’s saying to be actual truth. And maybe it is, but it’s his truth, and she takes it on as her truth, as well. Maybe some part of me believed I deserved to be lied to by my partner; perhaps as penance for not trusting anyone to begin with (damn you, X-Files!), or perhaps just because that’s what I get when I don’t open myself up to anyone else, either. Maybe I felt I was strong enough to take it on when few others could, which in turn made me feel kind of special. Like an emotional superhero, loving those who feel they are unlovable.

Whatever the reason, it wasn’t the first time I allowed an imbalance to permeate a relationship/friendship, and it wasn’t the last. It’s interesting that watching a cheesy “reality” show could dredge up some of those old emotions to the point where they had to show up all throughout a dream that otherwise had nothing to do with them. Now it’s all swirling around in my mind again, even though I haven’t seen that person in almost 13 years now, I’d say. I guess it’s not really the specific person, anyway, so much as the feelings that evolved throughout our relationship and then escalated during our ridiculously dramatic relationship.

Like, people are mean – to each other, to other living things. Giving someone the power to hurt you is hard, especially once other hurt-y people have paved the way for them in the past. I think the kind of cool thing for me today, though, is that I’m more angry than hurt, and that’s a newer stage for me. I mean, I went through them all back in the day, too, don’t get me wrong. I was hella mad, I was vengeful, I was afraid and I was devastated. I was all over the place, dealing with that sense of loss. Even to the point of not really considering it a loss sometimes.

I remember, like, a day or two after i moved out, I went back to get the last of my things while she was at work. With her permission – she knew I was going in and that I’d leave my key once I’d retrieved the rest of my stuff, most of which she had thankfully packed for me so it’d be a quick trip. I knew she’d screw me over on a lot of it, too, because she didn’t really care if I ever got everything that was mine back, but still. It was mostly just stuff, with no real value to anyone but me, anyway. The first thing I noticed when I got in the door was that every photograph of me or us or anything to do with us had been removed from their frames and replaced with entirely different pictures. She’d essentially erased my existence from her life, pretty much overnight. That realization ruined me to the point where I stuffed as many of my remaining belongings into as I could into a garbage bag and booted it out of there, never to return.

Well, and I left my key. I’m not the asshole she expected me to be, after all.

I also accidentally left behind a few items that were personally very important to me, and never saw them again, either, which sucks. That hurts more now than the picture thing, actually. One hurt was in the moment, and the other – which was a direct result of the first – has had long-lasting emotional repercussions.

I feel like there’s a lesson in that…

Anyway. I’m grumpy today, and feeling less like putting up with other people’s crap than usual, which is probably a good thing.

I will, however, still put up with Flynn’s crap, because the things to love about her will always outweigh the…crap.

Great Idea, Poor Execution

I think I’ve pretty much always had the big ideas; just never the talent to make them a reality, let alone a successful one.

In fact, that’s my autobiography title: Great Idea, Poor Execution. With the tag-line of “How I Scraped The Bottom Of The Barrel To Discover I’m It”.

Or maybe that last part was about my former dating life.

At any rate, even as a kid, I was always coming up with these amazing ideas, starting to work on them, and then give up early on because my imagination has always been far too big for my reality. I would, however, drag my little brother along for the ride. Of course. I mean, someone had to lead the way to creative play, right? That was one of my jobs as an older sibling. Another was to annoy him and occasionally try to get him blamed for things, but that rarely worked. He was cuter than me.

Once I convinced him to help me dig a tunnel, starting in our backyard, and going to several places around town so that we could travel underground via our very own secret railroad! I knew that we probably couldn’t have an actual train down there, but we had our bikes, and those would work. We could even bike to school in winter if we wanted! It was going to be epic, just like the TV show, but not!

We started digging, encountered a billion rocks (or, like, 5 or 6), and gave up.

rail1

Then I had a plan to build a log cabin fort-like structure (not fort as in olden war times, but as in our own place to play that no one else could use unless they were invited) around the hole we’d dug, because then it would be out of sight and therefore out of mom’s mind. We dragged some large wood beam-like things and started setting them up in an alternating over/under pattern. After we’d piled them about waist-high in a square around our hole, we realized that we had no idea how to fill in the spaces between the “logs”.

So we gave up. Totally left that things standing, though.

Another amazing idea I had as a kid that would have made literally everyone so jealous that I’d be famous was to build our own Godzilla. Out of what, I’m not sure. As far as I ever got on it was a design drawn in a pad of scrapbook paper. There would be ladders inside, so we could climb up to where the eyes were and look out at all the little people, and the beast would move on wheels…that I believe were also our bikes, actually. We actually rode our bikes a ton, so I’m not sure why I thought I could or would ever build them into my designs, but whatever. Maybe I figured we could have more bikes once we’d build this huge Godzilla to ride around in!

Godzilla_01

Finally, there was the circus. Ah, our circus, starring us. And our swing-set. Basically us climbing around on a swing-set and passing it off as stunts. I felt we should sell tickets, and perhaps later take our amazing show on the road.

It didn’t pan out. At all. And so we gave up. Same with performing plays with costumes we’d made ourselves, and once with a script one of our friends had “touched up”. Those had the potential to be better, but I am pretty sure they were still painful to sit through. Though sit our parents did. And tolerate my wild imagination my brother did. I’d had a recurring nightmare for a while and once asked my brother if he would ever just run out the door with me, no questions asked, if I ever told him to, based on nothing but my panic mode if I thought my nightmare was coming true.  If he would just trust me and do it. 

He said he would.

Accept The Journey

Man, I am so distracted by something I can’t talk about that I’m having trouble thinking of something to talk about.

I allowed myself to be hypnotized once. Well, I guess twice, but I don’t really remember the second time very much.

It was at a convention of sorts, and one of the guests was a friend of mine (IS a friend of mine, but WAS a guest), and on the side he was getting his certificate, or whatever it’s called, to be a professional hypnotist. He needed to do some practice sessions on groups, and so the convention people put in a time slot for him on each of the event’s two days.

I started off in the audience with everyone else, but then somehow ended up on the stage as part of the volunteer group of test subjects.

Now, I was always pretty sure that hypnosis would not actually work on me. Not as an ego thing, but rather due to the impression I have of my mind always being so active. I’m not good at quieting it and focusing only on my own breathing, for example. Believe me, I try and fail every night before I fall asleep. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to slow it down enough to think about only one thing at a time ever, and definitely not while sitting on a stage in front of a packed room full of strangers and friends.

Here’s the thing, though – I’d neglected to take my over-active imagination into account. My very creatively visual mind, coupled with the fact that I really like the sound of my friend’s voice made me a pretty perfect candidate for hypnosis, as it turned out! Enough so that I was even asked to be one of the volunteers for the next day’s session, as well. But that’s the one I don’t really remember. The first time, though, I remember – at least how it felt – very well even to this day.

I found the hypnotist’s voice to be soothing, and calming, and it made me want to please him. Not like THAT, guys. But I wanted to do the things he asked; wanted him to be proud of me. And after the heavy books and such, the main imagery was all stuff I really wanted to see – and could see, in vivid detail, in my mind. To the point where I was actually quite sad when it was over.

It’s definitely a trust thing, I think. For me, at least. I trusted him not to embarrass me, or have me do anything for which I’d be ridiculed after. In fact, it felt for the most part like the whole thing was about me – about calming me, and about giving me a nice visual and emotional experience aboard one of my favourite spaceships. It felt peaceful, like a brief respite from every day life, and that feeling lingered long after. Still kind of now, as I look back on it.

I think if I had fought against it, mentally, then it would not have worked. The difference was that I really wanted it to work; I wanted him to be proud and I wanted to take the journey he was offering me. I think as sad as I was when it was over, I’d have been even more sad had it never started in the first place.

Which, really, is probably something we should all keep in mind as we journey through this thing called life, isn’t it?

“Is Teri Died?”

24

When I first found out about the TV show 24, I was excited by getting to see Kiefer Sutherland in something on television, and also was intrigued by the show’s real-time concept. I was on-board from the get-go, and that feeling only increased by the end of the first episode. I remember being completely absorbed and engaged – totally along for the ride. I started looking forward to it each week, and being tense while watching the episode, mixed with trying to figure everything out during the long wait in between each hour. The sound of the clock ticking away the time (and OMG the silent clock), in addition to the sound of a CTU phone ringing, burrowed into my heart right along with the characters on my screen.

That first season was epic. I was involved. I was a part of it all. I was devastated by what happened in the final few episodes – the twist revelation, those final scenes – all of it shaped how I would watch the series from then on out. Which is fitting, really, since all of it shaped how Jack Bauer would live his life from then on out, too.

I know many fans were disappointed by various seasons, but while I’ll admit that none of them would ever capture me the way that first one did, I still loved all of them. The whole journey. Even as ridiculous as some of them got, and even though they seemed to – at least in part – ditch (or pay less attention to) the real-time concept, I never stopped looking forward to each and every episode. I found coworkers who were as obsessed as I was, and we would meet every Monday to talk about what we thought would happen in that night’s episode, then again every Tuesday to talk about what had happened, and predict what we thought was coming next. We’d log onto the official show forums and see what other viewers were saying, and what other wacky theories were out there. There was a sense of community, and I was a part of it.

Then came the Fan Phone. The way I understand it, a crew member’s actual cell number was shown on-screen during an episode. Apparently someone forgot to replace it with the usual ‘555’ fake number. Some keen-eyed viewers caught it, and called it. It was posted on the boards, too, so more people called. And more. Eventually, an automated response was left, telling callers that they had reached the 24 set, and that the mailbox was full. But then, something kind of spectacular happened. Members of the cast and crew started answering the calls – while they were shooting! It was amazing! Suddenly there was an entire thread devoted to the newly-named 24 Fan Phone, and people would post details of their calls – whether someone answered, who it was, what time they called, what was discussed, and so on. I spoke with Jon Cassar for a moment (he was happy to hear I was calling from Canada, and held the phone up so everyone else could yell hello to Canada, as they had about as many Canadians working on the show as anything else, so automatically he became my new favourite director in the world), and then he passed the phone to Script Supervisor Annie, who waited quietly with me while they shot part of a scene. I heard “Action”, and “Cut”…and nothing in between. Could have had a spoiler, but got nothing!

Well, nothing but amazing memories from one of my most favourite shows.

Fan Phone stories became as talked about as anything that happened on the show, and the cast and crew seemed to have as much fun with it as the fans were. They were getting immediate feedback for the episodes that had just aired, and every so often, the phone number would appear on screen again, sending the fans who caught it into another frenzy of theories and excitement. It was an accident that turned into the coolest little gimmick ever, really, and everyone just ran with it. It bonded the community in a way that nothing else could.

Things went awry after a season or two, though, because People magazine published a story about it, but included the number to call. So suddenly, it wasn’t just fans of the show getting through on the already busy phone. People who’d never watched an episode were calling just to call, trolls were calling to troll, and those who so desperately wanted to get through were getting busy signals, instead. So eventually it got shut down, because it just wasn’t fun for anyone anymore.

But that didn’t stop them from posting the number on-screen once in awhile again, as a kind of hello and thank you to the fans who were watching, and who knew the significance of that number. I even kept it in my phone after, just in case.

And every time there is a cell phone number on a display in any TV show now, I check. Even though I know nothing like that will ever happen again, I check. Just in case.

Before Facebook, before Twitter, there were message boards, and forums, and while built for fans to discuss things amongst themselves, for a brief shining moment, they served to connect us in an unprecedented way with the people making the show we were discussing. And because it was a show like 24, steeped in conspiracy and secrets and clues, it became this incredible extra thing we could all share. An added hidden level to the experiece. One that I loved, and dearly miss, but that I’m so grateful to have experienced at all.

Even if it kind of ruined every other TV show interaction for me for, like, ever, because nothing will ever be that secretly cool again. It was the secret that made it cool, really. The surprise of it, just like that first incomparable season. Nothing will ever be quite that pure again.

Least of all me. 😉

maxresdefault

Everything Nice

The movie Room was easily one of my favourite films of 2015.  The range of emotions that it puts the viewer through, and the way it’s filmed almost completely from young Jack’s point-of-view.  The whole thing is just so well done, it’s the kind of film that stays with you long after the final credits roll.

There was a line in it which suggested that the character of Ma was in the predicament she’s in at the start of the movie was because she’d been raised to “be nice”.  That perhaps she might have protected herself better if she’d been less concerned with how she might be viewed by others.

In the moment the line was uttered, my first reaction was of how mean and hurtful it was.  My second reaction, right on its tail, was that it felt true.

It’s kind of a contradictory message we send, especially to girls and women.  Despite the fact that there have always been predators waiting in the shadows to exploit it, we are raised to be nice.  To be polite.  To not be combative.  To be agreeable and not make a scene.

Yet it’s pretty much impossible to protect yourself without appearing rude.

On top of that, we are made to feel guilty if we don’t trust someone enough to assume they won’t take advantage of that trust.  We get accused of not understanding that someone is a “nice guy”.  We have to provide evidence for why we don’t trust, as opposed to them having to provide evidence of why we should.  But it only takes one time – one lapse of judgement, one wrong choice of throwing caution to the wind – to potentially ruin or end your life.

And usually if a guy has to insist that he’s nice – he’s not.  Just sayin’.

Conventions of society, of a civilized world, teachnus that girls and women are either kind, malleable and easy to manipulate, or they are loud, abrasive, headstrong bitches who will never know love.  That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially if you think the only way to earn affection and acceptance in the world is to be the behavioural equivalent of sugar, spice and everything nice.

Everything nice.

That doesn’t describe someone who would cause a scene, who would say no, who would fight back, or keep walking if approached by a stranger asking for help.

I mean, until quite recently (and still now if we’re being honest), a husband could not be said to have raped or assaulted his wife.  She married him, and apparently marriage means consent at any time forever.  What kind of shrew would withold sex from her husband?

It’s completely ridiculous to say, or type, and yet it’s still there, even now, in our public consciousness.  The way women – any woman – who does step forward to accuse her attacker is treated and viewed is…abhorrent.  It’s a wonder anyone speaks up at all.

When I was little people used to like to pin me down and tickle me sometimes.  It made me laugh, but I hated it.  I even had at least one nightmare wherein I saw someone else getting tickled and knew I was next so I tried to run but I could hear the footsteps in pursuit, right behind me.  I learned that the easiest way to stop the tickling was to not react.  To freeze and wait for whoever was doing it to stop because my non-reaction was boring.  It wasn’t the laughter they were looking for.

That’s my first instinct to this day – avoid conflict, freeze, don’t react, wait for it to stop.  And try not to draw attention to yourself in the first place, if it can be helped.  Not because I’d deserve what I got, but because it’s way easier than fighting back.

Because after all, it’s impossible to fight back and protect yourself while still being nice.

 

Note:  I have more to say in this vein but I need to go to sleep.  To be continued some other time perhaps!