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Try

As you can probably tell from my radio silence as of late, I’m low on spoons lately.

What spoons I do I have, I’ve been using to work on peeling away old layers of people I forced myself to be. It’s kind of like refinishing an antique piece of furniture that some idiot painted multiple times…except that I’m the idiot that painted it.

I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time, I’m trying really hard to make my life one that I want to be living, and I’m trying to figure out how to be happy.

Looking inside is hard, especially when there’s not usually any validation in there.

I realize that I almost always look outwardly for validation unless I have concrete proof I’m in the right. This sometimes makes being a human very painful.

I had a group of people the last few years that I measured myself by and they’re no longer a part of my life. I didn’t realize that I WAS measuring myself by them until they were gone.

While they remain a good group of folks and I’m sad that our friendship seems to be over, I realize that I’ve been straying from a lot of the things that are important to me.

I’ve been doing the thing that I always do that ends up hurting me, I force myself into a box I don’t fit into because I want to belong. I don’t want to have to feel good about myself because most of the time my brain is busy telling me how fucking terrible I am in almost every way (even if logically I don’t believe that, emotionally it’s the setting I’m usually set to).

You know what, though?

FUCK that.

It isn’t worth it. Logically I’ve known that for a long time but lately I feel like I’m finally starting to maybe flip the breaker that makes me a little braver, a little more me.

I don’t know what it is, if it’s a ‘forged by fire’ kind of thing where you can’t change yourself until whatever was holding you back breaks, but I’m starting to be ready to just be one version of myself all the time.

I mean, don’t get me wrong it’s terrifying and I will only do it in little bitty baby steps, but I am so so tired of just feeling like I deserve or have to choice but to deal with other people’s issues.

I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who think I’m a giant waste of space but you know what? They can fuck right off. Yes, I’m damaged but no one with any semblance of cognizance isn’t and I’m trying.

I’m trying really really hard and I have been for a long time. Anyone who can’t see that or doesn’t think that counts for anything isn’t worth my time.

I’m going to put myself out there in situations where I might end up looking like an idiot. I’m going to try to feel feelings without throwing up and I’m going to try to give myself half the credit I give to other people.

I’m probably going to fail.

A lot.

But I’ve got to try.

 

P.S. I was literally about to write a note here that said ‘sorry I’m talking about my feelings and repeating sentiments I’ve said before’ but you know what? No. This is my blog and I’ll write what I damned well please.

P.P.S. See? Progress.

Roots & Connections & Stuff

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.

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EXCITED!

P.S. In retrospect, I realize this is kind of creepy but whatever. THIS IS OUR FRIENDSHIP.

*incomprehensible whining noises*

In about a week and a half, I am going to be turning 27.

I usually find a looming birthday causes some introspection, but the older I get, the more a looming birthday feels like a NO, DO NOT WANT moment more than anything else.

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I never thought I’d be terrified of turning 30.

I thought that I’d never turn into one of those people who was at all conscious of their age, let alone self-conscious about it.

Age is just a number, I thought.

How naive I was.

Lots of things are just numbers, it doesn’t make them any less horrible.

Take math for example. Math is just numbers, but it’s still the worst.

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Maybe it’s because I have such high and flawed expectations for myself.

As you can probably tell from my blog, or just from knowing me, or from sorting through my recycling (stop doing that by the way, it’s creepy), I am a big list person.

I like plans. I like to know where I’m going and when.

I have planned and re-planned out my life multiple times and it’s never bothered me too much but there are some milestones I never thought I’d be missing at this point in my life and despite the fact I know that life doesn’t work that way and I’m not failing at being an adult by refusing to meet the unrealistic expectations of my childhoods self, it still feels like failure and why am I aging and OH MY GOD, ONE DAY I WILL DIE!

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I know it’s childish, and even privileged, but I want to just stomp my feet and refuse to get older.

NO.

I WON’T TURN 27.

I DON’T WANNA.

YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

(Incidentally, having this as a knee-jerk reaction might be why I get along so well with toddlers. Toddlers get me.)

I thought that by 27, I would maybe not own a house but at least have a decent down-payment for one. I thought I would be in the career I saw myself in for the rest of my life. I thought I’d be in a committed relationship.

I can’t afford a condo, let alone a house. I really like my job but I don’t see myself doing it forever, I’m not even sure if I want to live in Ottawa forever. I’m not in a relationship and the idea of being in one is currently like food the morning of a terrible hangover. I mean, I kind of want it but I also don’t and the entire situation makes me want to vomit profusely.

All of that is perfectly fine, by the way. It’s just…not what I expected. Life tends to be like that, mostly unexpected.

I’ve decided a don’t like it.

The upside, though, is that some of the unexpected stuff is pretty great.

I never thought I would have a Masters degree. I didn’t think I’d live in Ireland or travel near as much as I have. I never expected to forge some of the friendships I have. I never really thought I’d jump out of a plane, or play ukulele in front of one of my favourite musicians, or turn out to be kind of decent at pottery.

When I started the BIG 30 Project, it was because I wanted to accomplish something and push myself. I never expected it would become a balm to my irrational panic about aging and where I am in Life….but it has.

Before my birthday, providing the weather is good, I’m going dog-sledding. After my birthday, I’m going to go huck axes at stuff with the best group of friends a person could ask for. Those are things that have no age limit on them….well, except the axe throwing. I think you have to be at least 16 for that.

I look forward to seeing what crazy experiences my 27th year on this planet brings me….even if I’m absolutely terrified.

Oh, also? If one more person tells me not to begrudge getting older because it’s a privilege denied to many, I am going to clothesline you.

Seriously.

I will collapse your trachea.

I’m not kidding.

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Feels Trip 2015

Tonight was a quieter than normal night for me.

I got all intro-spection-y.

I recently crossed another 30 Before 30 item off my list (which I will write about after Christmas, there will be no blog next week) and it got me thinking about everything I’ve done so far and everything I still want to do.

2015 is almost over and the difference between now and this time in 2014 is incredible.

When I started this blog in January, I did it because I was unemployed and needed something to hold on to.

I don’t do well when I’m unemployed. In the words of my past self: “Being unemployed and living alone is kind of like self-imposed, super luxurious, solitary confinement. “ -Krissy Whasserface, January 29, 2015

October 17th of 2014 was my last day of work for Library and Archives and I would be without steady employment until February 9th of 2015. Yes, I am such a nerd that I know those dates by heart and you can shut up about it.

By December of 2014 I was starting to fall into the deepest depression I had experienced in roughly 4 years. Thanks to a couple of amazing friends, I was able to get two short time work engagements that kept me sane that month, but by Christmas I was starting to feel rudderless again.

I had a lovely Christmas with my folks, but throughout the entire time I kept worrying about the future. I’d always worked hard for my goals and managed to achieve them but for the first time I was unable to succeed at my goal of finding a proper job and there was nothing more I could do to achieve this goal than what I had been doing.

I’m a planner. I love being spontaneous, but I prefer to do so within the comfortable confines of things like a budget and knowing that my rent will get paid. Without the ability to actually plan a future, I was starting to flounder.

By New Years Eve 2014, I was at the lowest point I could remember since before I had sought counselling. That evening was a gong show for reasons that are still too painful for me to comfortably talk about and I found myself having constant thoughts of suicide.

Obviously, as you’re reading this, I got through that rough patch.

With the support of my parents, the tools I had from counselling, and from the support of a group of online friends (you know who you are), I decided to combat my depression by attacking the source: My lack of job.

I wasn’t getting anywhere in Canada (largely because, having lived in Ireland, I was unable to get the proper security clearance despite having no criminal record of any kind or even a warning from any kind of authority), so I did immense amounts of research and decided to move to England.

I’d thought about this a lot and broached the subject with my parents on and off throughout the year but at the time, it seemed that this was the only solution. A shot in the dark.

Through January I started this bog as a way of keeping me feeling productive, I made a plan for how/where I would move to England and I discussed the subject with my parents.

I agreed to try to get a job in Canada while I prepared myself to move overseas. The week I was about to get the paperwork to apply for my Visa, I got my first job interview in weeks.

Later the same day I was contacted for another interview and less than a week later, I started work.

To sit here, in my gorgeous apartment, and think about where I was a year ago at this time is mind boggling. I am profoundly happier.

I have a job I love, great colleagues, an apartment I adore coming home to, and friends (online and off) who have been a constant source of support to me, not to mention my always supportive (and frankly, wonderful) parents.

I’ve done so much this year that I’m proud of. I went horseback riding, I rode in a hot air balloon, I got laser eye surgery, I went sky-diving…but more than that, I worked hard to try to connect more with my friends (still working on that one but I feel I’m better now than before!), I seem to be excelling at my job (get it? EXCEL-ling. I think that pun was EXCELlent. Ok, I’ll stop now), and I’ve kicked the crap out of some mental demons that I didn’t even know were still problematic.

I am so grateful for my life right now.

I hope that whatever you’ve accomplished this year, that you’re proud of it and happy to be where you are.

Please know that if you’re reading this and you suffer from depression, I am so glad that you are on this planet and I know you can get through it. If you need help, ask for help. There is no shame in it. I love you.

Now, I have to go because this has been a lot of honesty and emotion and I AM STILL LEARNING HOW TO BE OK WITH THAT.

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The BIG 30 Project: #10 Cover Up My First Tattoo

I got my first tattoo when I was 18 years old.

Such a stereotype, right?

An act of teenage rebellion, fueled by hormones, at least that’s what most people seem to think when I tell them my first tattoo was at 18. That’s not the case though.

I wanted a tattoo from probably the age of 16, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to get. Looking back, it’s easy to see that the root of my indecisiveness was because I’m cautious by nature and knew that tattoos are, for the most part, permanent.

I wanted a tattoo, I didn’t want to regret a tattoo.

I decided to play it safe by choosing a cross.

I wasn’t by any means religious as a teenager, by 16 I was well on my way to identifying as agnostic and by 17 it was fairly cemented but I recognized that having been raised Catholic and with grandparents who had very strong roots in the church, religion would always be a part of who I was. I figured that the cross, as a symbol, was unlikely to develop new meaning anytime soon and so overall, I decided it was a safe choice.

I thought about it for a year, I did my research, and then I broached the subject with my parents. They were supportive, if a bit resistant, but treated me as they always have: A responsible girl capable of making her own decisions.

I tried to find a photo of the tattoo but literally the only photo I could find where you can even kind of see it is in one or two photos of me from first year university and the photo I took when I initially started talking to Sarah about it.

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As you can see, it wasn’t a particularly large or complicated tattoo. In fact, so rarely did people see it or notice it, that friends I’ve had for years would routinely forget I had it and people who DID notice it would immediately assume I was religious and ask me questions.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love tattoo questions. I put time and thought into getting a tattoo and I invested the money to get it, so I love when someone compliments my skin art and asks about it. What I found exhausting was that I had to constantly explain why I would get a religious symbol tattooed on me if I wasn’t religious myself.

Besides that, the tattoo itself wasn’t particularly special. I had wanted to consult an artist and have a tattoo designed but the shop I went to, while have a spotless reputation, was more of an old school “Point and pick” type of place.

After a few years, I fell out of love with the tattoo but I never regretted it.

Getting a tattoo felt like the first step of becoming who I was going to be. It was a physical way I chose to express myself and if I hadn’t gotten one at 18, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the postmark tattoo that started this whole crazy 30 before 30 journey.

So, like I said, no regrets. Still, I wasn’t in love with the tattoo anymore.

I’ve thought about getting a cover up a few times over the years and a lot more since I got my postmark tattoo. So, naturally, I turned to the same insanely talented artist who did my postmark to do the cover up.

Sarah Rogers  works at 5 Cent Tattoo and is basically the coolest person ever. She took a look at my cross, took a few pictures, talked with me about what I wanted and let me send her a Pinterest board full of inspiration.

In the end, we agreed on three flowers with a lil foliage in a vintage style.

Since the cross had originally had a lot to do with the memory of my Nana (despite the fact I’m not sure how she’d feel about me having a tattoo. Papa saw and approved the original, so maybe she’d have been ok with it), so I wanted to do something else that kind of kept her memory in mind.

Nana was pretty well known for having a green thumb and it’s one of the things I remember best about the house she and Papa lived in. When I was little, she used to let me pick the violets that grew between the cracks in the cement outside the house and put them in little arrangements. If I was PARTICULARLY well behaved, I even occasionally got to pick one of her many petunias.

In memory of those times, when she was healthiest and at her best, I decided to get a violet and a dusty rose petunia. For the final flower, I chose a red carnation. Nana loved red carnations and they were very prevalent at her wake and funeral as a result.

When Nana passed in 1999, I was 10 years old and it was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through. She’d been sick for a long time, had two strokes, but in my kid brain, I still kind of hoped she’d get better and go back to being Nana (even if I knew that wasn’t possible).

As hard as it was to lose her, though, Nana’s passing inadvertently became the catalyst for a deeper relationship with my Papa. I’d always been closer to Nana than I was to Papa, probably because where she was loud and boisterous, Papa was quiet  (though SUPER mischievous if you really knew him).

After losing Nana, Papa came out to my parents’ farm a lot and as a result, I saw him often and grew closer to him. In his quiet way, he teased me and always accepted the hugs I forced on to him from the time I was tiny. The man, like his son, could not say no to me if I demanded a hug despite the fact he wasn’t a super huggy type of person.

So, strangely, for me, red carnations are a bitter sweet flower. They remind me of Nana but also of her passing and all of the things that came to mean later on.

Nana and Papa are both gone now, but this cover-up kind of reminds me that they’re still with me.

Funnily enough, last night, I had a dream in which my Nana (whom I have seen in dreams a total of twice since she passed) laughingly looked over my new tattoo and taunted me for it.

“What, the cross wasn’t good enough?” she laughed, gesturing at my leg

“It’s still there, you just can’t see it now”

“Well what was the point of getting it, then?” she teased me, laughing

“But do you like it?” I wanted to know

“It’s very pretty but you could just grow some flowers if you want ’em”

In my dream, we were sat at her kitchen table and I swear I could smell the cigarette smoke, wood furnace, and the lingering smell of bacon grease.

She poked at my fresh tattoo and laughed and teased me when I told her that smarted. She was, as I want to remember her, full of cheek and laughter.

Considering how many times today I’ve inadvertently bumped my fresh tattoo into things, when normally I’m not so clumsy, I can only assume she’s still poking at me.

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Completed BIG 30 Items

#1. Postmark Tattoo

#2. Reupholster a Chair

#3. See Amanda Palmer Perform Live

#4. Meet Someone I Admire

#5. Play an Instrument in Public

#6. Ride a Horse

#7. Ride a Hot Air Balloon

#8. Laser Eyes

#9. Go Sky-Diving

#10. Cover Up My First Tattoo

One Last Move

The corner is dusty, but he was never much good at cleaning. Mind you, she hadn’t been good at cleaning either. They’d been an odd pair in anyone else’s estimation, but they’d suited each other just fine.

That’s what he wants to remember.

He just wants one last quiet moment in the dusty corner of their living room, to breathe in the musty smell from that carpet she’d insisted on carting back with them from the flea market they’d discovered accidentally after three wrong turns one Sunday. That old carpet smells like sawdust and old books and just a bit like her perfume. It smells like the last fifty years and he wants to keep those years especially close because they were his favourite years and he just isn’t quite ready to let them go.

He thinks about the day he first saw her. There had been dancing, drinking, and every face was full of youth and mischief -or at least, that’s how he sees it now. He’d had another girl on his arm then, nothing serious, it was a first date. She’d been there with a date of her own, but somehow throughout the night he’d managed to slip in and offer her a lift home. She’d accepted. So did her date. He made sure to drop the date off first, even if it did mean he had to double back and take the long way to get her home. She’d smothered a grin when she mockingly scolded him for his brashness, but he’d seen the twinkle in her eye and even if he hadn’t, the burst of laughter immediately after would have given her away.

From then on, the world was adventure.

She wanted to go everywhere and he wanted to be wherever she was, so they saw everything together.

He was the one to reach out and grab her hand but she lead him on a wild and wandering path he would truly have missed had she not been the sort to venture forward just for curiosity’s sake.

It wasn’t all golden beams of light and the cry of cicadas. He recalls the sound of breaking glass as frustrated hands trembled with emotion she couldn’t find words for and how she didn’t seem to feel the cuts she made as she tried to clear up the mess while her tears splashed down among the shards of their wedding china. He recalls the times he let bourbon blur her around the edges and wonders how there could ever have been a time he had found anything but seeing her clearly remotely acceptable to him. He can still feel the heat in his palm from the force of the blow he served to their kitchen table when it seemed they were on the brink of losing everything.

A sweet and humid breeze of Earl Grey breaks his contemplative state and he reaches for the saucer with hands that are only now starting to lose their steadiness. She wrinkles her nose at him and smiles as she hands over the cup. More wrinkles on and around that nose than there were when they’d got married, but he’s not about to point that out. He may be old, but he still values his life.

“Where were you, just then?” she asks

“Still here,” he says “Just in 1976, is all.”

She hums for a moment and blows out a breath before sitting down.

“I thought for sure we were going to lose the house that year,” she says after a moment

He takes a sip and grumbles about how they’re losing the house now and she swats at him with a smile.

“We’re not losing it, we’re giving it up for adoption. Completely different.” she grins at him and sips her own tea.

He wants to tell her he doesn’t want to leave. He wants to stay in this house, he wants to stay just as they are, but he can’t find the words to say so.

“Where did the time go? There used to be so much of it.”

She pats the box labeled “Photos” she’s sitting on.

“It’s all under my arse.”

He snorts despite himself and she places a gentle hand on his knee.

“The thing about time is that there’s never enough of it but there’s exactly as much of it as you’re going to get.”

With a groan, she heaves herself up, kisses him on the forehead and returns to packing.

Logically he knows they’re old. Not too old yet, but old enough that a house is more work than relief. It isn’t like he didn’t agree they should sell, move closer to the grand-kids, make their lives easier…it just feels so final. Through every step of their home he can see the layers of the past years like onion skin pages that flicker in a never ending animation of their lives. Anywhere else is not here and he can’t help but feel he is laying his youth to rest by accepting his age and moving forward. It feels like this move is an all too real reminder that their time is running out and someday he may not wake up to see her beside him or may not wake up at all.

He was never afraid of death but now he feels like he’s reached the final chapter in a book he was thoroughly enjoying and as much as he’s looking forward to reading it, he doesn’t want the book to end.

Finishing his tea, he sets it down and searches out his wife. She looks caught in her own moment of reflection as she runs her hands over the edge of another finished box and he wraps himself around her, resting his chin on her shoulder and she hugs the arms encircling her and sways them slightly.

They’re quiet for a moment before she clears her throat.

“The thing about things is that they only mean whatever you make them mean.”

She gently turns in his arms and kisses him soundly before stepping away. He grabs her hand and smiles at her, so she does what she’s always done. She leads him on another adventure.

Credit goes to John. Follow him on Flickr at i.tokaris. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tokaris/207335658/

Credit goes to John. Follow him on Flickr at i.tokaris. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tokaris/207335658/

As you may have guessed, this post is to make up for the lack of blog last week. Last week was a flurry of work and plans with friends, so I ended up falling short on my goals. Hopefully you enjoyed this piece of fiction. I’m not sure why my brain wanted to write a semi-sad story about an elderly couple (again) but it did so that’s what you get. This week: Sometime Completely Different

Sharing WITHOUT Social Media

This week I feel like I have very little to say.

The reason I feel that way is because what I WANT to be writing about is precisely the thing I won’t let myself write about.

See, this past Saturday, I completed another BIG 30 Project item.

I jumped out of a plane.

Ever since I landed, I’ve been excited and impatient to share my experience because it is one of significant meaning to me and I’m very excited about the whole thing. I haven’t shared much of it online yet, though, and there’s a reason I’ve shared only one photo from the experience and have yet to post the video online where all my friends and family can see it.

As anxious as I am to share my adventure with ALL my friends and family, I think there’s something to be said for sharing these types of things in person.

It wasn’t really all that long ago that people had little choice but to share things in person. The entire reason for for visiting was to catch each other up on news and to share photos, and there was a very particular kind of joy in sharing that together. You felt closer to each other and it was fun to watch the reactions of one another as you shared parts of your life with the people you care about.

I think we’ve lost some of that with things like Social Media. Don’t get me wrong, Facebook and Instagram are great but I think that like all things, they ought to be used in moderation. It’s become so simple to share all our news with the click of a button, I worry that we sometimes cheat ourselves of the fun of sharing in the…well….sharing.

So, I have chosen to keep my video and my photos offline until such time as I’ve had a chance to share in the sharing of them with some of the people closest to me- both literally and figuratively.

I mean, how many times am I going to have the opportunity to watch my parents watch me jump out of plane? (At least the first time)

I’ll only ever get one chance to watch my folks watch me skydive for the first time. So, why would I cheat myself of the opportunity to watch them watch me?

It occurs to me that this is getting kind of creepy, but it’s not about being creepy, it’s about sharing our lives with the people that matter and taking the time to take part in that sharing. That’s how you build memories.

I have shared the video and photos with a few friends thus far but I have done so in person and I can’t tell you how much more fun it is to see friends react than to see a ‘like’.

Skydiving is not something I think most people ever expected me to do and to love as much as I did, so watching friends watch the proof of the event has been kind of awesome. I get to see their surprise at watching me do the thing, even though they knew I was doing it.

It’s like watching someone’s view of you change and that is kind of a miraculous thing to see.

This weekend, I’m going to be visiting my folks, cousins, and probably grandparents.

I can’t wait to show them the video.

These are people who have known me my entire life. People who have known me as the cautious child I was, the girl who hated (still hates) being atop a ladder. To watch them do something even I wasn’t sure I was capable of is something I’m looking forward to immensely.

So, this week’s blog post is going to be a little shorter than normal.

Because everything I have to say inside of me is tied up in excitement and secrecy.

Once it’s time, though, I can’t wait to share it.

The BIG 30 Project: #8 Get Laser Eyes

Welp.

I did it.

I did the thing.

Behold: The last picture of me with glasses, hopefully till I am old and embittered (well, MORE embittered)

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No more glasses. All because I let some guy with a medical degree cut my eyes open and shoot a laser at them.

Sure I was scared, but I totally kept it together.

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The first thing they do when you get there is reevaluate that your vision hasn’t changed since they checked up on you and then they seat you in the waiting area.

The waiting area is pretty awesome for one reason: IT IS FULL OF CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES.

COOKIES.

EVERYWHERE.

IN FANCY JARS.

FOR FREE.

I wanted one of those cookies.

Oh, how I wanted one.

But I may have been slightly nauseous due to reasons that almost certainly didn’t have anything to do with nerves. I mean, was I nervous to the point that I started to panic text Simon and Garfunkel lyrics to my Mum?

Maybe.

Was it from their Sounds of Silence album?

OK, yes, BUT it wasn’t the track you might think it was.

It was the lyrics to “I Am A Rock”.

ANYWAY…

Before going under the laser knife, I did my research. I knew exactly what I was in for, but that still didn’t totally prepare me like I thought it might.

With my hair in a hairnet and my glasses in the capable hands of one of the medical assistants, I was lead into a room full of blurry people and machines and light. I’ve never been abducted by aliens, but I assume that this was kind of what it was like.

One of the first things they do when you lie down, is give you two stress balls.

At first, I thought this was weird but after a moment of realizing I was squeezing the balls to point that even the Marquis de Sade would be like “PINEAPPLE!” (I assume that was his safe word), I totally understood.

One of the other things they do is tell you to look at the green light.

They tell you this A LOT.

I did, at one point, make a Great Gatsby joke.

The attendant leading me took a minute, but gave a surprised chuckled when they understood the reference. My surgeon was unimpressed. I was somewhat disconcerted to find that no one else seemed to know what I was referencing. It’s like they were all too busy reading medical books to read about the disillusionment of the jazz era. They clearly need to sort out their priorities.

As for the procedure itself, it was pretty quick. They put eye drops in to numb your eyes, cut a corneal flap, zap you with a laser, put the flap back, more eye-drops and then rinse and repeat with the other eye. During the part where they cut the corneal flap, you briefly lose your vision. They do tell you this before hand but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I immediately start naming my future seeing-eye dog.

I was thinking Oedipus, you know, for the irony.

I barely had time to compose what I would say to explain the dog’s name to people when the procedure was over.

Next thing you know, I was being sent out into the world like the Terminator.

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BUT, what I didn’t really count on, was recovering after the procedure. There are eye drops involved. LOTS of eye drops.

I didn’t realize how accurate the above clip was but….well I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say that my eyes were all kinds of gross in the morning for about a week.

The first day is all about three kinds of eye drops every few hours and then for about a week, you have three eye drops four times a day (or more in my case, due to a little inflammation). It’s kind of exhausting and I think it’s delayed the falling in love with my own eyesight process, a little.

You know, before I got the surgery, I heard the same refrain over and over: “You’re going to love it so much!”

So, I expected to be elated with my new no-glasses life, but I didn’t expect to feel a bit of a sense of loss.

I have worn glasses since about the age of 8 years old. That’s 18 years of wearing glasses and having them as part of my style and lifestyle. Sure, I wear contacts from time to time, but especially in the last few years, it’s rare for me to see my face without glasses.

I have to kind of reintroduce myself to my own reflection. It’s odd.

Also I can’t use glasses to hide how tired I am, which is slightly annoying.

HOWEVER, do you know what’s not annoying?

Not having to clean my glasses.

Not having to plan ahead to wear sunglasses. (I.e. Putting in contacts as I had no clip-on sunglasses)

Not having to worry about falling asleep and having contacts dry out my eyes or mushing my glasses into my face.

Being able to go swimming for the first time since childhood without worrying about a contact popping out or losing my glasses.

I think it’s safe to say that after almost two weeks, I’m starting to fall in love with my own eyesight.

It’s just taking time. We’ve been apart for so long, we have to get to know each other again. I still reach for my glasses first thing in the morning, I still think I have contacts to take out at night, and it always feels like I’m forgetting something when I don’t have to do either task. BUT, I am finally starting to get used to it.

All in all, I’m super pleased I decided to go for the surgery. My eyes will still take a while longer to fully heal but I’m LOOKING forward to a life with a little less hindrance.

(Yes, I’m ending this on a terrible pun. Have you MET me?)

P.S. A huge THANK YOU to my Mum who came up and stayed with me and helped take care of me after my surgery. I very much appreciated your helping me with my eye drops, telling me my sick-time story, and reading me my Neil Gaiman book. You rock.

P.P.S. YES, my Mommy read to me like a child. You’re just jealous, so shut up.

Completed BIG 30 Items

#1. Postmark Tattoo

#2. Reupholster a Chair

#3. See Amanda Palmer Perform Live

#4. Meet Someone I Admire

#5. Play an Instrument in Public

#6. Ride a Horse

#7. Ride a Hot Air Balloon

#8. Laser Eyes

Momentum or DAMN-IT, Dad was Right.

This week I want to talk about momentum, not in the physicsy type sense, but in the Life sense. I believe that, for the most part, you are in control of what happens to you and how your life turns out. There are exceptions to this, of course: If you’re born into a less privileged set of circumstances, there are some things you can’t control and it’s always going to be harder for you to get yourself to where you want to go, but that’s a topic for someone who’s better qualified to speak to it.

Back to my point at hand: Your life, for the most part, is a product of the decisions and actions you make in your own particular set of circumstances.

Sure, sometimes things just happen for no discernible reason.

Sometimes things fall apart because of reasons.

But what happens afterwards is up to you.

Let’s take this charming silent movie gif, for an example. Our protagonist, I shall name him Bobert, is driving along when his horseless carriage is torn asunder by a pothole. Instantly, Bobert is faced with some questions but those questions are up to him. He can focus on understanding what happened and figure out how to move forward or he can focus on how unfair it is that his car falls apart when the other car in the film doesn’t have an issue traversing the giant inexplicable pothole.

Think about it this way:

Bobert could stand in the road and throw a hissy fit, and that would probably get him really riled up, so he takes a long time to clean up his car off the road and get someone to help him take it away. So then, he’s wasted most of his day off, which makes him miserable and because he’s miserable, he starts  looking for someone to blame or maybe he just dwells on being miserable. That kind of thinking leads to a vicious cycle and suddenly one bad day becomes a bad week.

OR

Bobert decides to try and move the pieces of his vehicle off the road instead of having a hissy fit and the physical activity gives him an endorphin release, which makes him more inclined to see the good in this situation. He’s unhurt, the car didn’t fall apart on the highway and he’s within walking distance of a house where someone can maybe call or telegraph or something. So, because he’s not focused on being miserable, Bobert thinks about the situation a little more clearly and realizes that he should file a complaint with the city and tell them what happened with his car. Then he thinks, he should probably report the incident to the manufacturer because this could happen to someone else. The pothole gets fixed by a city afraid of being sued, the vehicle gets recalled saving dozens of lives, and Bobert is a hero.

Obviously, I’m exaggerating, but you see what I mean.

My parents always taught me, and I try hard to do it, to break down big problems into smaller problems and approach them in the way Bobert does in the second example.

I try to ask myself the following questions:

What can I do RIGHT NOW to start on this problem?

What are my options and what are the consequences of taking that course of action?

What is my gut telling me to do?

It’s amazing how much you can accomplish by asking yourself those questions. Dad always says (and he’s right, damn him! Don’t tell him I said that, though, it will go to his head. I’m talking to you, Mum, because I know Dad wouldn’t even turn on a computer) that “Life is what you make of it,” and “Once you get started, it’s a lot easier to keep going,” and also “Don’t look at what you have yet to do, look at what you’ve done.”

Shit.

My Dad’s a fount of wisdom. WHEN THE HELL DID THAT HAPPEN?!

Kidding aside, he’s right.

I didn’t notice until recently how, when you get one thing in your life in order, the other things tend to fall into line because you build that forward energy. Solve one problem and suddenly you have more resources to solve another.

Two months ago, I was unemployed and in a flat with a ceiling that hadn’t been properly fixed since it first leaked almost a year ago.

I’m now employed full time at a job I, dare I say it, love and as of last weekend, I’m in a much bigger apartment that I adore already. Not only that, but because I’m now above ground, I’ve noticed I have more energy.

Probably because I can see the sunlight now.

OH GAWD, MY EYES!

Because I have more energy, because of the sunshine that I get, because I moved apartments, because I could afford to, because of my new job: I go to the gym now.

The gym gives me an endorphin rush, the endorphin rush helps me manage my depression.

Do you see the way things start to snowball (in a good way) with a little momentum?

I’m not saying it’s easy to build that momentum and I’m not saying it’s always going to snowball in a huge and noticeable way. However, if you put in the effort to move forward as best you can, even when the going gets tough, you’ll notice that at the end of it, you’re a stronger person, you’re in a better place, and you have a hell of a lot more stories to tell than someone who sat around and waited for Life to be fair.

By the way, if you’re waiting for Life to be fair?

You’re going to be waiting a while.

A LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG while.

P.S. It occurs to me I could have saved a lot of time if I’d just put up that clip of Dory from Finding Nemo singing “Just keep swimming,” but I didn’t, so shut up.

The BIG 30 Project: #2 Reupholster a Chair

Since this week’s blog post was pretty short, I thought it would be a good time to do another BIG 30 Project post. If you don’t know what that is, click here.

Last summer I took my first week’s paid vacation ever. Up until then, I’d never worked a big kid job that actually paid you to take a week off and I was excited for it. There was only one little problem: Somewhere, somehow along the way, I had turned into my father.

Not literally, obviously. Well, maybe not obviously, I don’t know your life.

My Dad is a Ron Swanson-esque man who doesn’t vacation well. He doesn’t enjoy playing cards, doesn’t really like swimming, and gets bored lying around all day. The time when Dad enjoys ‘vacation’ time most, is when he was something to work on.  At some unknown moment of my life a genetic switch flipped in my brain and I became like that too.

By the second full day of our vacation, I was dying for something to do beyond swimming, cards, or reading. I suggested to Mum that we go into a town near our cottage and do a little shopping, if only to get some new books for reading, and being a wise woman who knows that a bored member of our family is a dangerous member of our family, she agreed.

We were at Value Village when I saw it. It was beautiful. Well, it wasn’t beautiful yet, right then it was ugly and stained and neglected, but I could see the beauty underneath. It was this chair:

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The picture can not do justice to the myriad of stains that covered the truly heinous mustard velour that covered the suspiciously crunchy foam of this chair. It was god-awful, but it had good bones and it was $6.

I knew immediately when I saw the chair that I wanted to recover it in fabric that would be in keeping with a 60’s-70’s vibe, so off Mum and I went to the local Fabricland to pick up some fabric. I chose some fabric I felt walked the fine line between cute and kitsch and we were off!

The legs of the chair were dead simple to remove as they were one piece screwed into the bottom and back of the chair. Once that was done, I spent most of that evening gleefully tearing about a million rusty staples out of the edges of the chair.

Removing the staples from that chair taught me two very important lessons:

1) Smoking is bad but ashtrays are great for collecting rusty staples.

2) Always put down a tarp or something before pulling apart a strange chair because you don’t know what’s in there.

What was inside my chair was a lot of chair sand. Chair sand isn’t like regular sand, it’s what I call it when the foam in a chair is so dried out that it disintegrates into a fine sand like substance that, like sand, gets everywhere and vacuuming it up kills a little part of your very soul.

Also, there were a few pennies. So, I guess that means the chair was really like $5.97.

After I finished vacuuming the aftermath of my chair discovery, I had two covering pieces. As you can see in the photo, this chair’s back and arms are separate from the seat. Once I took a look at the fabric, I realized I would be need to break these coverings into smaller pieces. If you look at the photo, you’ll see that there is a seam where the arms meet the back, what you might not see is that there is also a seam around the top of the arms.

To make sure I didn’t get confused about which bits were what, I took a permanent marker and wrote on the disgusting mustard fabric to say what each piece was (left arm, left arm top, front of back, back of front, etc.). I then used the old fabric as the template for cutting out my new fabric, adding about a quarter of an inch or so around in case I screwed up the sewing.

If I hadn’t been able to keep the original foam of the back piece (its foam was in surprisingly excellent condition), I would have waited to do the pattern because the unique shape of the chair dictated a lot of my approach to the sewing and the pattern itself.

The foam of the seat was beyond saving. The top half of it had clearly been wet and dried and destroyed over time, so there was no way I was letting it be part of my creation. I went outside with the seat and ripped all of the foam off the old seat (it was glued there through some kind of 60’s witchcraft glue) and what I couldn’t rip off was attacked with a putty knife until it was gone.

In hindsight, I maybe should have waited to see if I could find replacement foam before I did that. The foam of the seat was pretty thick and it was the top half of it that was badly damaged, so I could have maybe used an electric knife to cut away the bad parts and salvage the good. Oh well, live and learn, die and forget it all.

The next part was the sewing and that created a problem because I didn’t have a working sewing machine. That’s ok, though. I’ve got connections. Grandma connections.

My Grampa and Granny Reta live about 10 minutes away from my parent’s place, so after asking for help and explaining what we were doing, Mum and I went over to borrow the sewing machine and also to visit because grandparents are awesome and come with hugs.

NOTE: I want to be clear here: Mum was present with me and was allowed to help via consultation, but she did none of the chair work herself. I wouldn’t let her. Seriously. She tried. I refused to let her. I may have bit her at one point.

Anyway, I’ve rarely used a sewing machine and I’ve never sewn tapestry fabric before. So, Granny Reta and Mum showed me how to pin the pieces together and then Granny Reta showed me how to use the machine to sew it together. I sewed all of it right then and there. We had brought the back of the chair and tried it on to see how things looked and it worked out surprisingly well!

The last step was to staple it.

Mum borrowed her friend’s automatic staple gun but it proved to technologically advanced for us (by which I mean we couldn’t get it to work the way we wanted) so we got out Mum’s manual staple gun and after showing me what to do, she helped me hold the fabric taught as I stapled down.

We did the back of the chair first and then, after some rooting through cupboards, we found some foam from an old project of Mum’s and cut it to the rough shape of the seat. Once that was stapled, it was just a matter of putting the legs back on the chair and voila!

Cue Heavenly Choir

         Cue Heavenly Choir

Isn’t it pretty!? Here’s a side by side comparison:Before and After

In case you can’t tell, I’m really proud of it.

I’ve been curious about recovering a chair since my Mum re-did her Mother’s favourite chair. Not only did she get to salvage a sentimental family heirloom, she learned a valuable skill! As time has gone by, I’ve wanted to learn that myself and I’m really happy to have tried it because now I’ll be more confident about doing something like this again.

When I started this project, I hadn’t expected to find it challenging beyond finding the work itself challenging, but I did. I worried about my fabric choice and whether or not I’d be able to make the pattern I’d chosen match up or if I’d taken too big a risk for my first time, I worried about making mistakes, I worried about asking to use Granny Reta’s sewing machine (because I don’t get to see my grandparents too often and I’m paranoid that if I ask for something they’ll think I only come to see them when I want something but really all I want is their time because I love them and anxiety is stupid), and I worried that I would somehow staple my hand.

It all turned out really well. I’m glad I didn’t let my worries dictate my actions, because this is one of those DIY projects that pays you well for the time you invest. Here’s a breakdown of what doing this cost vs the benefits:
Costs

Fabric- $17

Chair- $6 $5.97

Time- WORTHLESS! (I’m kidding but honestly, I don’t mind, so I don’t think that’s a high cost)

Profits

Learned a valuable life skill

Collaborated on a project with my Mum

Got to spend time/collaborate on a project with my Granny Reta

Had fun!

Got a bitchin’ one-of-a-kind chair for less than $25

Had enough fabric left over to do this storage filled footstool:

(This footstool was $2 at an auction)

Forgive the filter, this is from my Instagram

Forgive the filter, this is from my Instagram

This project will always have a special place in my heart because it was just so much fun to plan and to do and to get the ladies in my family involved in.

I’m really proud of the end result.

I’m even prouder of the journey.

Completed BIG 30 Items

#1. Postmark Tattoo

#2. Reupholster a Chair