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Dear evil thought monster: I reject your (false) reality and substitute my own.

So, for the first time in about a year and a half, I’ve found myself in a bit of a funk the last three weeks. I won’t quite call it a depression (as I’ve been there and this isn’t the same all-encompassing pit of darkness that turned me into a sobbing puddle of a person for longer than I’d like to admit). But it is familiar. And awfully persistent. And seems to be getting worse. And I know where this road leads.

I know exactly when it leapt out of dormancy… I got home from a wonderful (but too short) family vacation, having had the most AMAZING drive home through the Kootenays. And the near-euphoria I felt that day (Okanagan peaches! ice cream! gorgeous clouds and mountains!) burst into a fireball of anger when I plugged back into the internet, just as the whole “legitimate rape” business was tearing across the Twitterverse like wildfire. I had this whole vision of ragequitting my uterus, which in my twisted mind involved me cutting open my abdomen, ripping the damned thing out of my body and flinging it across the room, like a strange new kind of hara-kiri. (It didn’t help that I had just watched the original 1962 samurai movie Hara-Kiri the week before). That was the trigger.

And then, through my rage-goggles, it was fascinating to observe the reactions to the whole incident, on Facebook, on Twitter, on the blogs I follow, etc. And my own reactions, both to the comment in question, and the aftermath thereof. It seemed like whatever thoughts and feelings I had, somebody else had already expressed them. And more eloquently than I would have. I wrote a couple of blog posts. And then deleted them. I couldn’t imagine what I could possibly add that hadn’t already been said. A feeling of irrelevance.

It got worse when I counted and realized that I had almost a dozen nearly-finished posts that I’d written in the last 6 months. And I’d never gotten around to just hitting “Publish”. Because I never felt that they were “good enough”. Or “interesting enough”.  Or “witty enough”. A feeling of irrelevance.

It got worse during conversations with friends who are amazingly talented and doing terribly interesting and awesome and impactful things with their lives. While I feel like I’ve been stagnating for years. A feeling of irrelevance.

It got worse when I started thinking about my upcoming birthday, and how I’ve had a few birthday experiences in recent years where I feel like I could have disappeared and nobody would have noticed. No, I never tested that theory. I wasn’t willing to risk that the hypothesis might be true. Because that would confirm my feeling of irrelevance.

It doesn’t help that I’m an introvert. It doesn’t help that I’m a highly sensitive person. It doesn’t help that I’m in a field where the work is pretty  much solitary and where there is very little affirmation of relevance. Ever. (Academia rather sucks as a source of affirmation, unless you are brilliant at self-promotion, just plain brilliant, or and/or super passionate about your field – guess what, I’m none of those things!)

I know I need to make some changes in my life and find ways to create more meaning for myself. I know I need to keep connecting with the amazing people in my life who support me, celebrate my quirks and weirdnesses, and are as willing to share my pain as well as my happiness. Because I know they’d notice if I just disappeared.

But I’m also making a conscious choice to not let this thought monster get the better of me. And so here I am. Writing. For me. (And for my sister, who is obligated to read everything I write. ‘Tis the nature of our familial obligation.) I guess this is my way of giving myself permission to be relevant.

And to say to depression: you can just fuck right off.

2011. Hot damn.

For me, this has been the kind of year that knocks something loose in your soul, that rearranges the furniture in your heart, and after which you will never see the world the same way again.

Explanation of blog name change to follow eventually. Suffice it to say (for now), the original premise has expired.

The Coles Notes version of the plot of 2011 is as follows:

– Quit my PhD.
– Husband and I separated after 9 months of marriage. (We are still friends, love each other and remain each other’s greatest supporters. No really. Airing of dirty laundry not forthcoming.)
– Went on a slew of crazy (for me) adventures this summer. Relationship adventures. Friendship adventures. Thought adventures. Camping adventures.
– Burning Man. ‘Nuf said.
– Met some AMAZING people. Reconnected in a whole new way with other friends I’ve known for a while. Renewed and deepened my wonderful relationship with my sister.

Along the way, I’ve learned a few big BIG lessons:

1. When people do things that are hurtful or (self) destructive, it serves them in some way. They get something positive out of it. We can’t begin to fix the problem (in ourselves or others) until we recognize this. I’ve had to apply this both to my own behaviour, and to that of others around me. (Thanks Aram for naming this. It’s resonated so profoundly for me.)

2. I am weird. I LIKE my weirdness. I only want to spend time with people who also like my weirdness. Thankfully, these people exist.

3. I don’t need to change my introvert HSP self to fit into the world. I can, however, change my corner of the world to fit me one little bit at a time.

4. Depression is real. It is so easy to fall into a pit of darkness from which there seems to be no escape.

5. Love comes in more forms than I had ever imagined.

6. To truly enjoy life, you need to let go of expectations. Especially the ones you have of yourself.

7. It is incredibly humbling and liberating to realize that you can blow up your world and there are people who will help you remove the shrapnel from your soul and hold your hand while you start healing.

8. My sister is the most special companion a girl could ever ask for. In some ways we are polar opposites. In some ways we are thought twins. Don’t ask me how that works. Spend some time with us and you’ll understand. Or be totally weirded out.

9. When you truly, fully, completely surrender to the universe the most amazing and wonderful things happen that you could never have planned or foreseen.

To everyone who has brought some light and laughter to my year, whether it was a funny Facebook post, a hug, or a roadtrip, a million thanks. It’s been the worst of times and the best of times. And I can’t wait to see what’s next.

I’m still alive.

I know. Blogs are supposed to be updated regularly. And in the last three months, I’ve often thought about it. Written entire posts in my head. But then stopped because I wasn’t sure I wanted to release all of the intense emotions of the last few months out into the world. I’ll give you the big picture though.

Jumping out of the Ivory Tower: Right after New Year’s, I decided to quit my PhD. Probably the hardest decision of my life. But it had to happen. I had never been so miserable. It felt like my soul was eating itself from the inside out. My marriage was probably on track for a quick end (I don’t want to how much longer I had left before N pulled the plug. It probably wasn’t long at all.) My normal happy, easygoing personality was being subsumed into a quagmire of extreme self-doubt, depression, pessimism. A year and a half of misery. The worst of it though was that I kept being told that in order to get through this program, I’d have to basically do nothing else. No dancing. No social life. Someone actually suggested that it was perfectly OK to not do laundry or dishes (ever? I asked myself, incredulously – I’m sorry, but there are very few reasons that I would ever re-wear underwear without a toss in the washing machine. A thesis is not one of them). Spending TIME with my friends and family? Effectively out of the question. And then I realized that this would all be for nothing. I don’t really want to do a thesis. I don’t want to be a professor. I figure if I’m good enough at what I do, I should be able to get whatever job I want, degree or no degree. And more than any job, I want a LIFE. A life that includes all the things I value, like my friends, like travelling, like sleeping, like dancing, like sitting in a park reading a book if that’s what I bloody well want to do.

So I jumped. Scary as hell, I thought I was going to vomit the whole way up the hill to tell my supervisor I was quitting, but I was caught by an amazing parachute of support. The best thing anybody has said to me after quitting: “You’re yourself again”. Who the heck else would I want to be?

Leaving a house, but gaining a place where I can live on my own terms: I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that when your father-in-law moves back in on a day’s notice, you start looking for a new place. So we left my husband’s childhood home (that we’d lived in for almost two years and gotten married in) and, in a bit of a hurry, and with a bit of couchsurfing along the way, found ourselves an apartment. Two blocks away. Which is just far enough. We’d had pipe dreams of raising children in that house, but alas. At least we’re still in the ‘hood. But for someone who is extremely sensitive to space (being an HSP and all), having a month where I didn’t know where I was going to live was unnerving to say the least. Now we’re all moved in.. but it doesn’t feel like home yet. Half of our stuff is still in storage, so there are empty bookshelves and things that don’t have a proper spot. And it feels temporary in a way I can’t quite describe. Maybe this will force me to become completely at home within myself, so I no longer need to define “home” as a collection of space and stuff.

Surviving a week in San Francisco: Combine a four-day salsa festival, my troupe’s biggest performance to date, sweaty nights of dancing and partying, a cold that came out of nowhere, a crazy long hike, sleeping in five beds in ten days, a fair amount of wine (almost all swigged straight from the bottle, classy girl that I am), and the only city I’ve ever visited where I could actually see myself living in (like actually envisioned in my head what my life could be like there)… and you get a physically and emotionally drained girl. (Add in coming home to an empty apartment as the Man is on the other side of the country for three weeks). To add insult to injury, I was channel-surfing late last night and happened to stumble across a travel show about the Bay Area. My heart actually ached to see all these streets and neighbourhoods that I’d been in just hours before. Oddest sensation, that.

30 has been the most intense year of my life so far, kinda being a continuation of the craziness that was 29, but with lower lows and higher highs. I keep hoping that at some point things will chill out. I could use a break in the clouds.


DIYODS Tuna Sandwich Awesomeness

So the last week or so, I’ve had this craving for a tuna sandwich. A really GOOD tuna sandwich. These things are hard to find, in my experience. In commercial tuna sandwiches, there’s almost always WAY too much mayo and the bread is soggy, and there’s no complexity of flavour. Or texture. I like some CRUNCH in my tuna sandwiches! So I decided I would have to DIY my sandwich. Or DIYODS (Do-It-Your-Own-Damn-Self).

Started with two cans of tuna (the kind canned in vegetable broth), added some celery, red onion, capers, apples and pickles… made some mayo (I’d never made it before. SO easy.)

Chopped up some cabbage and grated some purple carrots (thanks Mom). Made a simple mayo/rice vinegar dressing for the slaw. Toasted up some rye bread, spooned on some tuna mixture, and then topped it off with Old Dutch Original chips. Yup. Potato chips on a sandwich. Which is really what makes this sandwich AWESOME.

Served up with a few extra pickles on the side, and washed down with a London Fog (using homemade vanilla syrup.. SO easy).

Craving SATISFIED. And hey, I have my lunch for tomorrow. Now if only my PhD was so easy.

Tuesday Tuneage – Cee Lo Green’s F**k You

I missed this song when it first came out. It was the end of August, and I was busy honeymooning, which, surprisingly, does not involve spending a lot of time keeping up with what’s happening in the wide world of the internet. Shocking, I know. Anyways, I spent most of Saturday night dancing to this song (that and “Empire State of Mind“). Most rockin’ five-person dance party ever. I kid you not. You laugh, but you weren’t there. You should have been. But you weren’t.

The unofficial video that seems to be ragingly popular is what’s called a lyric video. Because it’s a video that contains the lyrics of the song. With colours and fonts and stuff. I actually laugh out loud when I see the “ooo ooo oooo” come up on screen. Seriously. And um, as the title probably suggests, this song is probably NSFW. Unless of course your boss is cool with swear words flashing across your screen while you sing along at the top of your lungs.

Watch the video here.

[singing] I pity the fooooo ooool [/singing]

Hockey Season Begins!!

In my house, there is one day of the year that is more eagerly anticipated than any other. More than birthdays. More than Christmas. More than the first day of t-shirt weather. That day is the beginning of the Canucks’ regular season. That day is today.

And, in what is surely dangerous optimism for a Vancouver fan, it seems that, after years of building (notably the continued development of the Sedin twins, more goaltending stability than we’ve had in a long while, and some off-season trades to firm up the defense), the Canucks have to be considered to be likely contenders for the Stanley Cup this year.

My husband has been practically crawling out of his skin with anticipation since the beginning of September. We’ve reconnected the satellite, dusted off our (understated) ginormous TV screen, and we’re READY.

As for me, my knitting needles are all set for my hockey season challenge: Nathan has very kindly requested that I knit him a Canucks sweater. Now, I know all about the Sweater Curse, but I already have the ring, and none of the proposed mechanisms of the sweater curse apply (read the Wikipedia article), so I think I’m good to go. Got my sample yarn to make a swatch, sketched out my pattern…  I’m ready to start the hands-on planning phase as I watch tonight’s game (I still need to pick the right needle size, estimate how much yarn I’ll need, and chart out the logo on the front and the lettering on the back).

So today’s contribution to the box is the Canucks Season Preview that appeared in Thursday’s Vancouver Sun. The Stanley sign (for those of you not from Vancouver), is the marquee of the Stanley Theatre in Granville (a Vancouver institution in it’s own right that was brought back to life about 10 years ago). And “Great Expecations”? No pressure, boys.

GO CANUCKS GO!!!!

And so it begins…

Yesterday I turned 30…and to celebrate, I decided to start a new project. A time capsule! Because I never made one as a kid. And because I know that our memories (individual and collective) are so fleeting that how we remember 2010 will surely be distorted by the future years that we are about to experience.

The idea for this project came to me when I was flipping through the September 1981 issue of Hustler in a random bathroom that I found myself in. It was amusing to flip through the soft porn, laugh at the hairstyles, and note that in 1981 women in these kinds of magazines looked a lot more like normal women than in today’s publications… BUT what I was most fascinated by were the ads! Brands that no longer exist, technology that is now laughably obsolete, catchphrases and buzzwords that seem quaint because they have fallen out of use. I kinda wish I’d stolen that magazine so I could share all this with you, but I figured that would make me a bad guest, especially since I was already doing a fine job of downing wine and snacks.

So I thought that it might be fun to put together a time capsule to document what life is like in the first year of my thirties. My plan is to curate a collection of items into a big Rubbermaid, post photos of each item, and also collate some lists of things that I encounter:

– books I read

– music that gets played on endless repeat on my headphones

– whatever else I think might be interesting or funny to look back on in the future

On my 31st birthday, I’ll pack everything up, seal the container, and then leave it unopened until September 11, 2040, which will be my 60th!

Along the way, I would love suggestions or comments about additions to the box!