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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Catch-Up Notes

Couple of things…

I had some really tough conversations last week. Tough for me, anyway. I struggled to be real and present in each one, and am fairly confident that I succeeded each time. It was difficult, but entirely worth it. I’m hoping to be able to keep that up, at least with each of the parties involved. One was with my therapist, so obviously I want to maintain that level of work between us as much as possible. One was with one of my best friends. And one was with someone new in my life.

All required different things from me, of course, but one were very easy for me, and I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me from having them. Definitely a good, positive step, all in all.

I volunteered yesterday, as usual. The gang was pretty much all there, and we worked well together, so tasks were completed quickly. That left a little extra time to spend with the animals, which basically made me feel like I’d really done little actual work at all. I hung with the skunks a bit longer as I spot cleaned their enclosure, etc. Pepe and Flower were out, so that left Sumo, Bambi and Thumper to deal with me being in their space talking to them and such. They did great, despite being somewhat afraid of me. Their curiosity is winning out more and more often now.

I played with Aspen the lynx, I held Cricket the baby kangaroo, I held Hamburglar the ferret briefly (way too much energy, that guy), and a couple of the rats, as well. I hung out in the kangaroo enclosure while they checked me out and Willow the capybara spent a few minutes licking my forearm. And I talked to the birds.

One started doing the Super Grover “near, far” thing, which was new to me, and cracked me up endlessly! Just all on his own, chatting away to himself.

Near….far!!!” hahaha

Maybe the best thing that happened, though, was that the hello birds finally started saying hello to me again. It’s been a couple of months since they spoke directly to me, and I’ve missed it like crazy. It was so good to interact with them again at last!

My heart-breaking but beautiful package arrived for me on Saturday, too. It’s perfect, even though I wish it was for a completely different use.

I’ve been doing some prep work on what I believe will be my next blog. I’m hopeful that it will serve much better than this one has, and be more…just…more.

As always, I guess, we’ll see how it goes.

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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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!

Animal Interactions

I’m super busy today and don’t really have time to write, but I may as well take a few minutes while I eat to mention a few things.

I booked Friday off as a vacation day and went to the zoo. It was a beautiful day, and – unfortunately – a PA Day. So there were tons of hairless apes and their offspring around to ruin my zen. And my zen was not that zen-y, as I have been rather beaten down emotionally as of late.

Anyway, I saw Hudson the polar bear I love for the first time in almost 4 years! I knew it was him pretty much immediately, and while he went about his own thing, he did turn that articulating nose of his my way a few times, which was more than enough to convince me to go with my plan of visiting him as often as possible while he’s here, in the hopes that he’ll get to know me a little again. We’ll see.

He is enormous now – like, bigger than his father at 1200-ish lbs! Kind of horrifying, really. And I admit to wondering if polar bears can actually weigh TOO much. Like, might he develop arthritis or heart problems after dragging around so much weight for a few years? Has anyone studied such things? It would have to be done with captive bears, because all of the bears in the wild are basically starving to death. Obesity is not an issue for them.

Anyway, aside from his insane size, Hudson is every bit the bear I know and love. His face, the way he walks and plays and his Mona Lisa smile – all exactly as I remember. And while I didn’t cry like I thought I would (I’m all over the emo map lately), I was very happy to see him. I hope to connect with him again over the winter. Maybe that will help me reconnect with everything else again.

‘Cause if the bear can’t do it, no one can!

But I suspect he can. 🙂

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Volunteering has gone pretty well the past few weeks, too. I’m still taking it week to week, and things haven’t quite settled down yet from all the previous upheaval, but they are getting there. Most of the animals who are left seem to be doing better than they were at first, so that’s a good thing. There’s still a lot I’m not sure about, and I’m taking it week to week – maybe indefinitely – but yesterday was mostly good, so I will probably go this weekend, too.

I bonded with the skunks more yesterday. I actually took a few minutes to get down to their level and talk to them and pet Pepe (I won’t touch the others until they are more comfortable with me in general), and by the time I left, they all seemed fairly okay with me being in their space. We’ll see if that carries through to next week, but for now, it felt like a big step for us.

I also got to chat a bit more with Rapunzel the red lorrie, which was amazing. We’d had our first “conversation” a couple of weeks ago, and that small bond seemed to carry over to yesterday, as well. She came down to my level and even brought a pea from her food dish over to eat next to me while I talked to her. We’re not friends yet, I wouldn’t say, but there’s a bit of familiarity there now, at least.

The biggest surprise of the day was Willow the capybara. I have no idea…apparently she’s a bit horny right now, but for some reason she decided I was the one to love yesterday. We’ve not really interacted much before. I’ve pet her once or twice, and I usually say hello to her when passing by the enclosure she shares with the kangaroos, but I’d never even been in there until yesterday. I went in with the other volunteer, who was going to check their water to see if it needed freshening up before we left for the day. Willow came running over excitedly as soon as I got inside, and jumped up so her front feet were on my back (she would have knocked me over if it had been the front, I think – totally was not expecting that!), and then ran back and forth in front of me a few times before finally just standing still so I could scratch under her jaw, which she loves. As I did that, though, she started licking my forearm, then rubbing her teeth and cheek against it while drooling all over the place.

I guess she was marking me? I have no idea. Just that she was loving me and ignoring everyone else for a bit there.

I’ve never had an experience even remotely like that with her before.

Will be interesting to see how she responds to seeing me next time!

Too Much

Wow – I don’t exactly know what to talk about today. I was awake far too early this morning due to life and emotions and stuff. And things are busy – at work, and with Mind Reels stuff (setting up next radio play for later this week), and with me stuff. Overwhelmed a bit again, I guess.

Anyway.

Completely lost the photo contest thingy. By a lot. It wasn’t even close, as of about 9:30pm. The eventual winner put on an impressive last minute push to win by a landslide. So that’s done.

Weekend was busy. Went to the zoo and met up with my mom and brother for what was a very windy but still ultimately fun and nice day together. My friends Steve and Sarah joined us, and we managed to get mom to see/meet most of the animals on the main list. It was Kiko the giraffe’s 4th birthday, as well, so we were able to help him celebrate while he and Mstari (who celebrated her 3rd birthday recently) enjoyed some delicious pumpkins and the like.

I was supposed to go out Saturday night but I was beyond exhausted by the time I got home from the zoo, and ended up staying in and plying myself with alcohol before heading to bed. Sunday was also busy…up at 6am to go volunteer (but managed to leave my place 45 minutes late and didn’t stay as long as usual). I still don’t know what happened there – I probably never really will – nor do I know how much longer I’ll go in every week. But last week and this week were both…emotional…yet I felt like I really did help in some small way. Even just with little things, like giving opossums and hedgehogs fresh food and water, and having them come out to eat and drink right away, even though they are nocturnal. And spending a few quick but affectionate minutes with Edward the micro pig before I leave each week – after I get the dishes done, of course! Just little things, but they need to be done, and it feels like it’s appreciated. So even though it’s a lot of change and uncertainty and sadness, there are still some bright spots.

No birds said “hello”, though. That hurt my heart some. Several things did this weekend, though, to be fair.

The rest of the day…I can’t even remember. Just chores, mostly. Brody and I went to PetValu to pick up some things, and I did more dishes…I recall making us some amazing popcorn for when I finally got a chance to sit down. I tried to sort some things out, but didn’t get much accomplished on that score. Will have to actually get my week planned out now that I know when the radio play is, because I also have my Writer in Residence meeting on Saturday, and want to be prepared for that. I have to make a small list and focus for a little bit, because there is a lot on the old plate.

Also, more crunchy Cheetos may soon be in order. So addictive and delicious!

Please Support My Stuff, And Other Goings On

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

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

#GoPrody! 😉

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

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

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

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

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

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