“I changed my mind, I don’t wanna do this anymore, and I want my Mum.”
Those are the immediate thoughts I had as my body harness was being attached to the rope I would use to rappel down a 20 storey building.
Let me back up a bit.
Easter Seals holds an annual fundraiser, called Drop Zone, which asks folks to raise money for the charity in exchange for the opportunity to rappel down a building. Superhero costumes, while not mandatory, are highly encouraged.
I’ve always been tempted to sign up for the event but every year I found a reason not to. These reasons were generally bullshit about me being uncomfortable either with asking folks to donate to the charity in the first place or some version of me being afraid that once I got up to the top of the building, I would panic and bail.
These reasons, I had come to realize, were nonsense. Worst case scenario, I raised money for charity but just not enough to do the thing (to participate you must raise a minimum of $1,500) and really that wasn’t such a bad outcome- money for charity is good even if it isn’t as much as you’d like, right?
So, I registered and asked for support from all of my friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else I happened to be speaking to.
If I’m honest, I really didn’t know if I would raise enough. I had my doubts but was surprised by the support and generosity of those in my life.
Donations came in from folks I didn’t even expect to donate when I was talking to them (my amazing massage therapist for one; Hi Jennifer!) and I ended up meeting my goal.
The period between meeting my goal and the practice run was a time of pure excitement, it wasn’t until I did the practice run that I started to worry.
The Sunday before I was slotted to rappel, I went to the location to have my brief moment of rappel training and to go down the side of a small truck to show that I could do it. My folks happened to be in town and since they couldn’t come to watch me do the real deal, they stayed to watch me do my test run and take a look at the building I would be coming down.
Now, I don’t know if they could sense the pure panic I felt leaning off the truck to start my mini rappel, but I was so freaked I could TASTE it.
I think it was part excitement and part shock that this was really going to happen. As I listened to the trainer and started putting on the equipment, I could feel my heart racing.
In an effort to fake it until I made it, I was all excitement on the outside but internally I was starting to worry. Walking away from the site with my folks, I had the very real concern that maybe I couldn’t do this.
That being said, if there is one thing that doing all of these random things for my 30 list has taught me, it’s that I underestimate myself a lot. I reminded myself of all the other things I had done and that all I could do was try and if I freaked, it was fine.
The day of the rappel, I was a bundle of excited nerves. Walking to the site, I listened to the most empowering Florence + The Machine playlist I had and told myself I was living in the Marvel universe…which is slightly ironic given I was dressed as a DC character but let’s not even get into how hard it was for me to get a costume together at all.
I arrived on site with friends and gave them my phone to take documentation, checked myself in, and then headed up to the roof.
20 storeys is higher up than I had really thought it would be.
From the roof, I could see my city in a way I’ve never seen the downtown core before. It was truly beautiful and yet seeing how far up above the downtown Ottawa core I was, I started to worry.
I could see over and above Parliament, the river between Gatineau shone in the early morning light until fog from the Quebec side slowly enveloped the majority of the downtown core. Watching the fog roll in was beautiful but also more than a little intimidating, especially as in the 40 or so minutes I stood on the rooftop waiting for my turn, I heard the city slowly start to make some noise.
When it was my turn, I put down my mask, joked with the staff, and took a brief moment as I stood on the edge of the building with my back facing the open air and the 20 storey drop, to just go ahead and feel the panic in the split second before I took a deep breath and leaned back.
At first, I had a hard time moving. My movements were a bit too impatient for the safety gear to allow me to move and it took several tries before I figured out I needed to move more slowly to get the rope to start uncoiling.
The first little drop made my heart leap and my mouth taste like metal. I took a couple deep breaths, wondering why everything was so quiet for a moment before I let myself go down again.
By the third time I loosened my rope, I was wondering how fast I could go.
I could have, and suppose maybe should have, taken my time but there was such a thrill in sliding down the side of a building that I couldn’t bring myself to slow down. Each time I stopped (because the rope was hot in my hand) I found myself giggling like a kid.
The sounds of the busses, cars, music, and people below increased with every storey I descended and I got so lost in all the sensations that when I did come down to the ground, I let myself down too quickly and ended up sitting on the ground having neglected to remember to use my legs.
Not only did I get to raise money for a cause near and dear to my heart (how can kids be anything but?) I got to really push myself and I totally succeeded.
If you ever find yourself with an opportunity to do something like this, I highly encourage you to do it. It is SO very worth it.
A BIG shout out and thank you to everyone involved with Drop Zone 2017. To learn more about Drop Zone, Easter Seals, or to register for this event yourself click here.
I grew up as a fat kid and worse, as far as society was concerned, a fat girl.
Knowing this is important because I feel it adds significance to what I’m about to say: I’ve always wanted to go proper camping with friends but been terrified to do so.
I love nature. I find it grounding and relaxing. So you’d think that camping would be right up my ally. Weeeeeeeell, yes and no. Camping always seemed like a thing for people in better shape.
Camping seemed the realm of fit people. Not meant for me. There were too many opportunities for a kid, constantly concerned that everyone was thinking about how fat she was, to embarrass herself.
It’s a defeatist frame of mind I’ve been battling for a long time and honestly, doing things on this Big 30 project has really helped.
I know it’s helped because when friends offered to let me join them on a backwoods camping trip that I was totally terrified I would be a drag on, I said yes.
Not only did I say yes, I fucking WENT.
I know I don’t look thrilled there, but that’s mostly because the first night was freezing and I was nervous about our first day of proper hiking.
Not only were we hiking, we were hiking with heavy packs on our backs that included our tents, food, and evvvvvvvvvvvverything.
It wasn’t exactly easy hiking either, but damn was it beautiful.
It was honestly a super challenging but super fun weekend.
We cooked meals by campfire, we swam in frigid lake, we hiked across a beaver dam, I used one of those plastic thingys so that I could pee standing up like a man…it was great.
Hiking with a heavy pack was something I was really nervous about and although I was slow, I was mostly able to keep a fairly good pace. One of my friends who was with us had a concussion and while I wouldn’t wish that on her, I appreciated having someone else who went the same pace as I did.
Going on this trip really pushed my boundaries and it made me realize that sometimes I say no because I’m afraid I can’t do the thing I want to do and saying no is easier than trying and failing. It also made me realize that I resent the hell out of myself when I do that.
When we set up camp day 2, the other two ladies in the group and myself decided to go jump in the lake.
I’ve swam in lakes before, so you wouldn’t THINK that’s a big deal for me, but I’ve almost always swam in familiar waters or at least in places where I can wade in and sort of see what I’m going into.
Here’s a recreation of what I was thinking before I jumped in the water:
“I saw a snake in the water not far from here earlier, what if there are more snakes in the water? What if a snake is in the rocks and I freak it out when I jump in the water and it bites me? Are there poisonous water snakes in Ontario, I thought we only had Rattlesnakes that are poisonous, I should learn more about snakes and indigenous species in general.
These rocks are slippy, if I jump in the water I might not be very able to get out again and then it’s this big thing and I’ll look like and idiot and I’ll feel like and idiot and can I even get into the water in the first place? What if I slip on the rock on my way into the water and crack my head open? What if I jump in the water and there’s a rock I can’t see and I cut myself?
I don’t like not being able to see the bottom of the lake, it’s cool if I can’t touch the bottom but what if there’s something in there that bites me or touches my feet?!”
As much worrying as there is above, I didn’t dither too long before I jumped in and once I was in, I was really happy. Not just happy because I did the thing, but happy because I felt all gross and sticky and no longer did. That and I just genuinely love swimming.
Not that long ago, I would have begged out of the swimming and either sat on the side feeling like a loser or gone back to my tent feeling left out. I didn’t do any of that, though. Instead, I just did the thing I wanted to do and felt amazing for having done it. That’s pretty much how I felt about the entire weekend, really.
It was stuff I wanted to do but wasn’t sure if I could and I didn’t want to be a drag on anyone if I couldn’t, but I did it anyway. Not only did I try, I succeeded!
I learned a lot that weekend and I can’t thank my friends and their friends enough for letting me tag along and for being so freaking supportive.
I’d backwoods camp with you kids any day…although not right now because it’s winter.
Freezing my ass off is not on my bucket list.
My deep and abiding love of owls, like so many other things in my life, was inspired by David Bowie.
Labyrinth was the movie that initially got me interested in owls, but the more I learned about them, the more interested I was. Owls are beautiful, perfectly designed, predators and there’s just some ineffable quality about them that makes people gravitate to their imagery.
I really love birds of prey. I think there’s something majestic and perhaps a bit metaphoric about how beautiful but dangerous they are.
This past March, I treated myself to a birthday trip to England to visit friends and to see the Hogsmeadianesque city of Cambridge. Before visiting, I, along with my friend (who I am calling J because I refuse to tell the internet where she lives without her permission)specifically looked for places to try falconry and not only did we find one, we found one that does a lot of good!
The Raptor Foundation is a team who provide rescue service, 24 hour care, and rehabilitation facilities for injured raptors.
Not the “Clever girl…” type of raptors. The fly in the sky, hunt rodents, kind of raptors.
The foundation provides a permanent and caring environment for those raptors unable to return to the wild, but they also focus on increasing the number of rare species and sharing information on the medical treatment and rehabilitation of raptors.
All the above is great and all, but potentially the most important thing they’ve done is that THEY LET ME HOLD THE BIRDS!
LOOK AT THAT MAJESTIC BIRB!
Her name is Clunk and she’s old and more than a little bit grumpy, but I feel like we clicked.
They let me hold so many birds.
It was honestly a highlight of my life thus far.
LOOK AT HOW MANY BIRDS THEY LET ME HOLD!
Now, the most exciting part of the day is the one part I don’t have pictures of: getting to fly the birds.
Holding a bird of prey, be it an owl, hawk, or eagle, is one thing but to see one flying directly at you is entirely another.
There’s something in your mind that starts to panic, something that says “DANGER, DANGER” until the bird in question grabs hold of your leather armored arm and digs into the treat you had been holding for it.
It felt a bit like sky-diving all over again- a surreal feeling that you are both in and completely out of control. I can see why the upper classes have favoured falconry for so long. There is very little in this world that can make you feel as powerful as having what is basically a dinosaur choose to perch on your arm rather than rip your face off.
I wish I had more words to better explain how much this experience, and sharing it with my friend J, meant to me but it’s difficult to describe. It was like when you’re a kid and a birthday cake lit with candles is in front of you. That feeling of all consuming, childlike, excitement because you KNOW you’re going to get to make a wish and eat that cake.
That’s kind of what it felt like. It was actually living out a life dream and for a few hours I felt like kid, too filled up with excitement to feel anything else.
This is only item #15 on the list and there is so much more that I want to do, but I am definitely going to do this again some day.
So, I might be slightly freaking out about my attempts to do 30 things before I hit 30.
I will be 28 in exactly 1 month from today and I HAVE ONLY COMPLETED 14 THINGS!
I mean, I have one more thing done that I haven’t written about yet, but STILL!
That’s 15 more things to get done between now and March 2 2019.
Now, I do have three things planned for this year so far, but that still leaves me 12 things.
Dear God, there’s a lot of math in the blog today.
F*^king math, following me throughout my life.
In addition….heh. Get it? Because I was bitching about math and addition is a mathematical term? Some of you get it. Some of you maybe didn’t. Sorry, didn’t mean to DIVIDE my audience. Hopefully all these puns that keep MULTIPLYING don’t SUBTRACT from your enjoyment of my nonsense. Ok. I’m done.
Ok, sorry for the TANGENT.
(I WASN’T DONE)
I’m done now. I mean, PARABOLY.You know? Like parabola?
Ok, I’m actually done now.
Anyway, in addition to the limited time I have to complete these 12 or so things I also have a problem in that I DO NOT KNOW OF 12 MORE THINGS I WANT TO/AM ABLE TO DO.
There’s a reason that movie montages always feature the same few activities when they’re trying to ‘live life to the fullest’, it’s because NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO DO THAT UNLESS THEY’RE STUPID RICH (writers generally are not rich).
I mean, everyone goes horseback riding or skydiving or goes off in a hot air balloon ALL OF WHICH I ALREADY DONE DID!
I even met one of my favourite musicians!
I HUGGED her. I PLAYED and SANG in front of people, her included.
I’m going to try to go dog sledding, try falconry, and go on a vintage plane ride with my Dad this year, but that still leaves quite a few things to do…
I could try to face some of my fears, but I only have like two fears if you don’t count love and electricity.
Sidenote: Love and Electricity would make a really hipster band name.
I’m going to the UK in March, so I can look into things to try while I’m there…but it’s hard to look for things when you’re not sure what you’re looking for.
I kind of wish I could browse around a shop of unique and different things to try in your life. Although, admittedly, that would suck some of the fun out of hunting them down in the first place-and by fun I mean, the bragging rights that automatically come from having done something cool someone else hadn’t thought of before you told them you did it.
So, here’s what I’m asking, handful of readers: HALP ME!
Please leave me a suggestion for the next neat thing I could try because I AM RUNNING OUT OF IDEAS AGAIN.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if we combined some of our old fashioned romantic sensibilities with our new understandings of sexuality, the importance of consent, and a more evolved understanding of the female as a human rather than as a plastic dress-up doll, we could end up with something actually useful.
What you’re about to read below is not that.
It is some old fashioned romantic advice, but it’s not useful. Rather than being combined with our modern sensibilities, the below has been combined with my ill advised advice and sense of humour.
Please enjoy responsibly.
So, You’re Going on a Date: Advice for Ladies
You’ve landed a date, which is your sole purpose as an unmarried lady. This is the first step to landing the husband you need so that you can finally stop all that bothersome thinking for yourself.
First things first: Choose the underwear you hope to show off. That the underwear should be spotlessly clean goes without saying, but every woman should wear the best quality underwear that she can afford and if she can’t afford it, what’s a little debt in the grand scheme of things? Also, the color should be preferably pink with lots of lace and ruffles. This underwear says “Why, I never expected you to see these at all! I’m just a shy little pure waif waiting for a tough man like you to protect me,” whereas all other underwear says “I am a wanton whore who will probably give you the clap.” and going without underwear entirely is far too suspicious and is punishable by death.
Once you’ve chose your underwear, it’s time to choose your purse!
A lady’s handbag is always very telling about what type of woman she is and is a great way to showcase her keen sense of style. Date bags should always be small and dainty; you wouldn’t want the boy you’re with to think there’s something in the depths that bites if disturbed. Because if he catches on, he’ll probably alert the others. They can’t know. If you think he’s on to you, flutter your eyelashes and faint. His noble side will kick in and distract him from the horrible truth of what lurks in your purse and will buy you time to develop an appropriate elimination and disposal plan.
Don’t forget to put your lipstick in your purse before you leave the house and for the love of God, slap some lipstick on that pale gash you call a mouth. To remain eligible, a woman must have youth or fake it well enough that people are polite enough not to mention how far beyond child bearing years she will soon be. Rouge up those cheeks, ladies! (But not too much, you sloppy hussy!)
It’s important to make sure your make-up is done before you leave for the evening with your fella. Don’t use the car mirror to fix your make-up. The man needs it in driving and it annoys him very much to have to turn around to see what’s behind him or to have to catch glimpses of your horrifying face in the mirror.
Speaking of cars, how do you enter a car? Do you get into cars head first? You’ll look prettier if you slide in sideways at 45 degree angle while humming the national anthem. It’s an easy way to make an good impression so your guy knows he’s dating a lady with class!
Once you arrive at your dinner destination (a first date must ALWAYS be dinner first), allow your gentlemen to guide you inside the establishment- but keep that physical touch to a minimum. Don’t be familiar with your escort by caressing him in public. Any open show of affection is in bad taste and usually embarrasses or humiliates him, because you are not worthy. He has blessed you with his attention and it is your duty not to fuck it up. If you ruin this, he may move on to the others. You have a duty.
Feel free to peruse the menu after you both sit down, but try not to set your heart on any one dish. The man always does the ordering. Never ask the waiter anything for yourself. He has to think he’s in control. It will all be easier if he thinks he’s in control.
The trickiest part of the evening is certainly the conversation. If you are a gal who uses frank, men’s locker room language, DON’T on this first date. Avoid shocking your date. Even if he uses such language and hears all the guys and dolls in the senior class using it, he wants his date to be better than the rest of the crowd. However, if you have nothing to contribute to the conversation, feel free to say shocking things. He’ll be too stunned to realize what a bad conversationalist you really are.
If you’re really stuck on something to say, encourage him to tell a joke. Sure it will inevitably be a joke of incredibly poor taste and far out of date, but make believe you’ve heard this joke for the first time. Remember your most important job is to build up and maintain his ego (which gets bruised plenty in business). Morale is a woman’s business. His ego will blind him when the time is right.
Dinner is over. Your perfectly made up face, the precisely right shade of pink underpants you ‘inadvertently’ flashed him while you slid into the car, and your fawning conversation have won over his heart.
What do you do if he invites you back to his place for a nightcap? In a situation like this, social conventions can do very little to protect a girl really bent on getting into difficulties. In this case, a girl not out of her teens would do better to avoid such an engagement unless others, considerably more mature than she, are present nearby and can lend assistance when the time comes. A career girl, from her twenties onward, can accept such an invitation but should not stay beyond ten or ten-thirty, so as to avoid suspicion. An old rule and a good one is ‘Avoid the appearance of evil.’ It is still very true that the public at large is less likely to believe a pretty little woman could be capable of the terrible things that befell that man if she gets out of there long before the man in question has been discovered.
In the event he doesn’t invite you back for a nightcap, that’s all right. That’s to be expected. Invite him in for a nightcap yourself. If he refuses, release the thing in the depths of your purse and slip inside before your neighbours are alerted by the screaming.
DISCLAIMER: Please for the love of all that is good, DO NOT ACTUALLY TAKE THIS HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE ADVICE. THIS ADVICE IS MEANT FOR HUMOUR PURPOSES ONLY AND SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY OR RECTALLY.
It occurred to me the other day that I think I’m starting to grow roots.
Not literally, I’m not becoming an Ent, but figuratively. For the first time in my adult life, I actually know some of my neighbours. I don’t necessarily know all their names, but I know most of their pet’s names and I know their faces.
There are shops, not many but some, where the sales staff and I recognize each other and transactions are peppered with legitimate questions of well being or good wishes for the day.
Having lived in this city most of my adult life, I finally kind of know where most stuff is and in what direction.
I have a routine.
I have the spare keys to a friend’s place.
I have a daily social circle, which is completely comprised of people and dogs I know at the dog park, but I am totally ok with that.
Most of these changes largely have to do with my dog. He’s forced me to become a part of my community, which is probably really good for me and has made me realize what an hermit I can actually be.
While I’m kind of pleasantly surprised about these new tendrils of what may be roots, I also want to rip them up and run away?
To quote Walt Whitman really loosely, I’m a bundle of contradictions.
I’ve moved so many times since the first time I moved away from home, I don’t really want to go through the packing and unpacking part again, but I’d be lying if I said the idea of picking up and moving far away didn’t appeal.
I don’t know if this is a comment on my mental health or a very natural desire to go seek out newness because it’s exciting, but it is what it is.
I think maybe it’s just a sign that there are still things I’m looking for, things I feel are missing. It’s probably also kind of a sign of frustration, this year has been the biggest struggle I’ve had with my mental health since I was unemployed. I have been and I am getting help, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still kind of butt nugget sometimes.
I’m trying to figure out what it is that I feel like I’m missing, but that isn’t easy either. It’s kind of like when you’re trying to choose a movie to watch but you can’t decide what you’re in the mood for so you just end up watching YouTube videos until you end up in that weird part of the internet again. (I really hope it’s not just me who does that)
I think part of why I’m so restless is that I haven’t had much for vacation yet this year. I took a week to go to the cottage, but I’ve been saving half of my vacation days so I can go to my friend’s wedding in Georgia.
I’m super excited. I’ve never been further south than New York City, so going to Georgia is a big deal for me. Not only that, I get to hang out with awesome people and meet people from my online community that I’ve never gotten to see in person before. THERE WILL BE MANY AWKWARD HUGS!
Man, speaking of roots, I have quite a few strong ones in that community. These are a group of virtual friends who have been there for me from when I worked fast food and hated my life to my first big-girl job, unemployment, and my current life. They are the most supportive bunch of delightful weirdos you could ever want to meet and I get to meet some of them in person in a few weeks and I AM SO EXCITED! CAPS LOCKS IS ON, MUTHA TRUCKERS, BECAUSE I AM YELLING WITH JOY….FIGURATIVELY. I DO HAVE NEIGHBOURS, YOU KNOW. IT WOULD BE AWKWARD TO LITERALLY YELL.
You know what? I don’t have much else to say this week, so I’m going to end it on this high note.
To my friend, Amanda, I am so excited to see you again and to help out with whatever I can for your wedding. In fact, I will probably look even more excited than I did last time we hung out.
P.S. In retrospect, I realize this is kind of creepy but whatever. THIS IS OUR FRIENDSHIP.