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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Therapy and Writing

I went to see my therapist last night. It was the first time I’ve gone in a long time…several months, anyway, and then even longer before that. Hopefully this will be the start of something a bit more regular now, though. At least for a while. It wasn’t an emergency session, exactly, but it was much needed, and very last minute. I wasn’t sure I could wait until next week, so was trying to figure out if I could go in the morning today or tomorrow and just be late for work. But she had an opening that no one else was taking last night, and she told me to just come in, so I did.

She’s the best. Takes very good care of me.

I’d made a list of the things I wanted to touch on, and while I’ll wait to delve into some of them more fully next time, I’m pleased that I made it through the entire list to some degree.  I also made sure to mention right off the bat that, while I was grateful and relieved to be there so quickly after asking about seeing her again (she’d just been thinking about me the day before, too), I was also extremely nervous.  Much more so that I thought I’d be.  It reminded me a little of the first time we met.  We talked a bit about that night, as well.

I forgot to tell her about my meeting with the Library’s Writer In Residence last weekend, but we can talk about that later. I told her about this blog, but then spoke more about communicating and trying to express myself better in general, rather than feeling the need to talk more about creative writing and the like this time. It wasn’t even a conscious decision, really. Just a result of the organic nature of our conversation at the time.

My meeting with the Writer In Residence went extremely well, however. It was very positive, and pretty much changed my mind yet again on how to move forward and strengthen my manuscript, and that was completely unexpected. I went in with a plan I wanted to float by her, and some questions that were on my mind, and instead, she was so supportive of the story and the characters and the way things are currently laid out, that I left feeling like I didn’t need to change very much at all. She gave me some valuable tips and advice on how to make specific lines more powerful, but as far as the structure and execution of the story itself, she was very pleased with what she’d seen.

It had been quite a long time since I’d been able to talk about writing and the process of putting a whole novel together and to even just revisit those characters and that story with another writer. I’d gone in ready to tear a few things apart and rebuild them, and left feeling like that may not be necessary, and that I can make what I have all the stronger and more powerful just by changing some of the language and sentence structure.

Not that line editing isn’t a huge chore in itself, but if I can get that all tightened up, bit by bit, I think I will be closer to my goal for this book than I’d anticipated prior to having that meeting. My plan is to work on one chapter a week, but since it’s now Thursday and I haven’t started working on this first week’s chapter at all, I’m not sure I’ll be able to live up to that plan, but we’ll see. I have several other things on the go at the same time, so I am not sure how much time I can devote to this right now, anyway. It was definitely a positive kick in the butt to get me focusing on it more again, though, so I am hopeful that I will be able to maintain that bit of momentum as we move forward into the dark times.

Also known as winter.

Making Things Better

Wow! At last count, my photo is still in the lead with 135 votes so far! Voting ends Sunday night at 11:59pm, so if you haven’t already, please go vote! Mine is the CN Tower reflection on page 8, and you can find it by scrolling to the bottom of the photos on the first page, then clicking on page 8 in the list. You’ll see my photo at least halfway down the page, if not closer to the bottom. And I think it’s still in the middle of the row, though people keep adding more pictures at the front, which shifts things around every once in awhile. Anyway – please vote for mine! I’d love to win that GoPro, among other things!

In related news, a co-worker asked what the first place prize was, and when I showed him, he started mocking the GoPro, because it’s not the latest model, or something. He didn’t even look at the rest. I was, like, “Well, it’s more up-to-date than the none I have now!”

Not that I actually said that. I thought it, though. At least he’d already voted for my picture by then.

Moving forward with planning a radio play reading for next week, as well as the beginning stages of a proposal for applying to set a new Guinness World Record. My bear should be visit-able any time now, my new legit credit card should arrive any day now, I started my day with a spoonful of buckwheat honey and honey butter (okay, not a spoon-FULL, but a taste), I have to find time to get my thoughts on Carving The Light together before I meet with the Writer in Residence next weekend, and follow-up on a few more projects that I’ve started but haven’t really moved on for quite some time. I’ve realized that I could probably do well at a couple of things if I really focus on them, but I keep spreading myself too thin in trying to do bits of too many things. So if I can force myself to really do it, I will hopefully trim down my list of projects and things to try and just starting focusing much more deliberately on the ones with which I think I can have the most success.

Part of my difficulty is that I like trying things. I like learning and experimenting and I love accomplishing something, even when it’s something small. From breaking a Guinness World Record with an event I’ll always be proud of, to a sweet little display of Star Wars (mostly Luke Skywalker-themed) stuff in my apartment, to raising wildflowers from seed for the first time…I find I’m always trying to make my world – my every day life – better. More me, if you will. More attuned to the thoughts circling through my mind.

I don’t know if I’ll be good at something until I try. Unless it’s sports or otherwise requiring athleticism and/or grace. Then I know I’m not going to succeed at all.

On another note entirely, I think I expect too much of some of my friends, and should get back to seeing my therapist regularly. Maybe that will help me be a better friend all round.

Fear, Alone Time and Writing

This morning was, I think, the first time I’ve ever been afraid on the subway. It was only a few moments, but I’d promised Brody I’d be home a bit early tonight, and there was a sudden brief flash of time where it occurred to me that I might not ever be home again. My train pulled into the busy Yonge and Bloor station, commuters bustled off and on, all of us settled into our morning routines. The door chimes signalled that the doors were about to close – but they didn’t. Then the floor shuddered as the engine of the train shut down. Moments later, all of the lights went out.

Everyone was looking around, as though any of us could see the cause of the shutdown from our positions inside the train, and I realized that if a bomb were to go off, most of us would be screwed. Busiest subway station during rush hour, I was near the front of the train so would likely get the brunt of the blast if it was meant to take off the head of the snake, so to speak. And not only are we all crammed into the train, but the force of any blast would carry destruction down the tunnels, as well. It’s basically a big tube into which we were all trapped.

I wondered about the things people think about when they find themselves in the midst of a random attack, if they have time to think at all.

As it turned out, there was no bomb, but rather a trespasser at track level at College station. All of the power to the line had to be shut down so that the deadly third rail would be rendered inactive until the unauthorized individual could be removed. My fear turned to anger mixed with resignation, and as I waited for my journey to continue onward toward work, I listened to the update announcements – power off at College, emergency alarm activated on at least two different trains, possibly three. Thankfully they put the air back on in my train, as it takes exactly no time for the stench of the surrounding humanity to fill the nostrils once the air has stopped circulating.

The worst thing about public transit is the public.

In other news, I had a pretty sweet evening last night. I created it by myself, for myself, and it was pretty awesome, all things considered. It was all very simple – got flowers, which made my apartment smell amazing, then made popcorn, opened a cold beer, and watched TV with Brody. Well…Brody was all about the popcorn, not so much the TV. But all three cats and the dog eventually all just curled up in their spots and we hung out together. It was really nice.

I did have to laugh at the image of me walking home with cat litter in one hand, and flowers I’d gotten for myself in the other. Crazy cat lady spinster, I totally am! Yet, also content. I’d tidied my apartment a bit over the weekend, too, so everything felt fresh and cozy; my treasures all shined up and surrounding me with little reminders of who I am. I was home for a few hours, and it felt great.

I also just received word that the library’s Writer in Residence will indeed meet with me to chat about the opening excerpt of Carving The Light (my first novel), so I sent in my preferred time slots (leaving Saturday mornings and early afternoons open for the inevitable zoo visits I’ll be taking often very soon now that my bear is back in town), and will see which one ends up being mine. I want to refresh my memory going in this time, and maybe even have a clearer idea of what I want to do with the story, so that I get as much as I can out of this discussion. Things like this always get me excited about writing. Just talking about it ignites my passion for it. It’ll be interesting to see how things feel once I’ve spent some time speaking with another author about it all again!

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Man, if I had stayed up and delayed taking Brody out to pee only to watch the Jays lose last night, I would have been pissed!

Happily, that was not the case.

Sadly, I am just as exhausted again today. And out of pain meds so picked up some ibuprofen on my way home last night, along with a 4TB external drive to which my computer is currently being backed up. Hopefully everything is okay. I don’t like leaving stuff like that on when I leave the apartment for the day. :/

Anyway.

Once again, there’s nothing I really feel like talking about today. Just trying to get my life together, as always.

And mostly failing, as always, but at least the ideas haven’t dried up yet!

Last night I sent the opening excerpt from my first novel in to the current Writer In Residence at the Toronto Public Library. No idea if I will make it in, as she is taking the first 35 submissions, or something, and they’ve been open for the past couple of weeks. Still, it’ll be good to talk about it again with her if I do get the chance. I was thinking about what I wanted to do with the story, and last night I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go that route anymore.

Today I though maybe I still do, but just a little different from what I was initially thinking. So we’ll see. I’ve got some time yet before I’d talk to her, if I get to at all. Maybe that’ll be the kick in the pants I need to map it out a bit more clearly in my mind, if nothing else!