National ice cream day

I love ice cream in all its forms. In a cone, in a cup, in a milkshake, in a float. Deep-fried. In sandwiches. On a stick. Dipped in chocolate. Whatever way you can conceive of serving ice cream, I’ve probably had it that way and I’ve probably really enjoyed it.

I love it all. So in order to celebrate this glorious day I thought I’d share a few photos of me enjoying my favourite treat.

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Me, enjoying a couple of scoops at my own risk on the beach at Lake Koocanusa Campsite & Marina

 

Me, just before I dove into some delicious soft-serve from The Cone, an ice-cream-shaped food truck in Edmonton, AB.

Me, just prior to enjoying two scoops of goat cheese and fig from Kid Sister, a shop in Victoria’s Fan Tan Alley that sells locally made ice cream.

 

 

 

Me, teetering on the edge of the Pacific enjoying “The Danny”: soft-serve topped with a scoop of one of the sixteen flavours Jackson’s Ice Cream Float offers.

 

Me, just before cracking through the chocolate-y shell of this locally made drumstick from a teeny tiny gelato shack in Stanley Park.

 

Me, getting ready to devour my first dipped cone from Chocolats Favoris on Government Street in Victoria, BC (it was strawberry soft-serve dipped in cookies & cream–yum). 

 

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Me, about to try Victoria’s Cold Comfort vegan ice cream for the first time.

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Me, trying Cold Comfort ice cream.

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Me, pleased with Cold Comfort ice cream. I’ll definitely be buying a pint (or two or three) from this place in the future!

 

paradise found

A friend just recently came out to the island to visit me–I mean, I was a stop along the way as she road-tripped with her boyfriend for a romantic mini-vacation, so it wasn’t all about me, but the point is she came to Victoria and we all hung out and drank on the beach and watched for marine wildlife and just had an awesome time.

Live footage of us having an awesome time in Vancouver

Being this happy is great, but also terrifying. It reminds me that I’ve lived a long time without ever truly feeling it–at least, not for long periods of time. Or at least, it wasn’t that happiness that manifests from within. I’ve felt joy multiple times in my life. I’ve been happy. But it’s been a reactionary happiness; it’s as a result of a trip to Hawaii or a good grade or a night out with friends. It’s not the kind that is self-sustaining, one that bubbles up and lives somewhere inside you. I imagine it’s located just underneath your sternum… close to your heart.

I thought about my journey this past year. This past year is important–not the year 2016, but the minutes and hours and days between July of last year and now. A year ago, I hit rock bottom. Emotionally and physically I was despondent–I was stressed out, I was unhealthy, I was trapped in a fake relationship… I was trapped in myself. I’d convinced myself that this was okay. That this was the best it was going to get. That this was what being an adult was about–a little bit of happiness sprinkled over a whole bunch of shit. I was convinced I was still growing and changing. And I was still growing–as people we are always growing in some way. But like a plant that needs repotted, my roots were banging against the edges of myself, curling back in towards my centre… and never going anywhere.

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Our view from the beach, featuring the Pacific Ocean and setting sun.

So, I broke up with the boyfriend. I sold my car. I moved to Victoria. I started university (again). And once I was allowed the space to expand, it seems like I broke through the self-imposed barriers and became the best version of myself. Granted, I get to go to the beach every day. Yes, I am mostly unemployed. But it’s about more than that. It’s about giving myself the permission to be, to grow bigger than myself, and to just be happy. I know, I know… happiness is an intangible thing, how do you know you have it? I think it’s like that whole love thing where you know it when you feel it. But, there’s also been changes in myself physically that embody these emotional shifts.

I don’t wear foundation anymore (unless I want to). I used to be the girl who needed to have the perfect face and the perfect hair (there was one night I was almost in tears before going to the club because I thought my hairstyle made my head look square–it was a whole thing, I’m not proud of it) but now I put less pressure on myself to adhere to what I’d previously held up as the standard for perfection. This isn’t a knock against girls who do wear makeup, I still like to beat my face every once in a while, but it’s just something I’ve personally noticed and attribute to being more comfortable in my own skin.

I’m a heck of a lot more comfortable with the physical space I take up. I used to be self-conscious about my size–my big ass seems to always be getting in the way. And now, I’ve embraced my curvy physique in a way that is healthy for me. I mean, yeah I like to work out. And yeah, if I lose a few pounds that’s fine. But if I gain a few pounds that’s also fine. What’s most important is that I’m healthy–my heart is tick-tick-ticking, my lungs are inflating and deflating at an appropriate pace, and I can do like 60 push ups (in intervals of 15), so I feel pretty good about all that. Granted, I have my hang ups–like, there’s this pair of vintage Levi’s I thrifted about a month ago that I desperately want to get into, but I’m not going to let some old denim without any give make or break me, ya feel?

Happy girl, post-dip-in-the-ocean at English Bay.

I’m not all caught up on what men think about me. This is one of the best things about being happy, to be honest. Even though I’m aware of the male gaze and all the crap that comes with it, I still couldn’t help but be effected by it. I wanted to be “hot” and I put a lot of energy into doing things I thought would achieve the desired “hotness”. Now I know the hottest thing to be… is myself. I’ve always been a total babe, now I’m just letting myself realize it.

Me eating an ice cream and living my best life in front of Munro’s in Victoria.

And my relationship with food has taken a total turn for the best. It’s one of the largest manifestations of my newly uncovered happiness. As someone who will always be in recovery from disordered eating, the way I eat is always gonna be about more than just food. It’s an emotional relationship, one based around more than energy and calories and health. I mean, this is a girl who didn’t eat anything with flour or sugar in it for over a year because I’d convinced myself those were bad foods. I still feel guilty when I eat bread sometimes. I’ve noticed a shift, though, in my thinking. Food is no longer a product of shame (at least, not all the time). Food is energy. Food is also joy. Yeah, sure, I’m still a binger (I did eat an entire Black Forest Cake not too long ago and I’ve been known to chow down a whole bag of chips in a single sitting) but it comes with a different level of guilt. It’s never like “I ate all this food and now I’m fat and no one will love me!” it’s more like “Wow, what is going on with me that I felt the need to binge?” and I examine my emotional state and I try to re-connect the pieces of myself that have fallen apart. I no longer worry as much about fitting in to last summer’s shorts; I worry about fat encasing my internal organs and shutting them down, or getting diabetes, or not being able to walk up a set of stairs.

It’s not about being thin… it’s about being happy.

Every time I make a wish, I wish for the same thing. Each time I blow out birthday candles or find an eyelash on my cheek or see the clock strike 11:11 or catch a shooting star smearing across the night sky, I make the same wish. I wish for happiness. It’s a wish I’ve been making since I was a little girl. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to spill the wish–that makes it lose its magic. But this time around, I think it’s okay. Because it might have finally come true.

One last shot of paradise. The view from the top of Mount Doug aka PKOLS in Victoria.

 

Adjusting expectations.

I started this summer break the same way I’ve started all summer breaks–with a bang. And a whole lot of ambition. I’ve always had a tendency to bite off more than I can chew (literally and figuratively) so of course I wanted to do it all this summer. Explore every inch of my new city. Get in shape (finally). Write 1000 words a day. Eat a healthy and sustainable diet. Put a dent in my reading list. And things started off well enough… but then that thing happens that always seems to happen when I pile my plate far too full: I burnt out.

I had a very productive three weeks–I was working out EVERY day. I was getting up before 10 AM (that’s early for this girl). I was eating all of the food groups. I was writing. I was reading. And I think I was happy. But about 10 days ago it all came to a very abrupt halt.

One morning, when my alarm clock went off I just couldn’t get up. I hit snooze once twice three times before turning it off. I slept half the day away every day for about a week. I didn’t go to the grocery store except to buy a black forest cake which I promptly polished off in three sittings (dinner, midnight snack, and breakfast). I stopped exercising and even though I was forcing myself to write… I don’t know that I created anything that doesn’t completely suck. It’s unsettling to go from one extreme to the other like that. It pissed me off, to be truthful. And I spent a couple days eating cake and beating myself up (for eating the cake, for sleeping in, for sucking, for just being me). It’s a brand of negative self-talk that I’m unfortunately very familiar with, but after a full 48 hours of treating my brain and my body like a trash can–I stopped it. I realized that I might not have had the ability to take myself for a run or to do my dishes or to wash my sheets or to buy groceries… but there was nothing wrong with that.

I mean, was I living in filth? Yes. Did I die? No.

I realized that I needed to adjust my expectations. I was trying to do too much at once. And there’s nothing wrong with that… It actually was working for me, I thought. I was feelin’ fit and writing stuff and eating good meals. But it wasn’t sustainable. At least, not for me. Now might be a good place to point out that even though I might be mostly unemployed, I’m taking this summer to write the first draft of my Master’s thesis project… and that’s no joke. I’m also TA-ing for a spring course. And I’m in a workshop group that meets once a month. So, there’s more going on in my life than might be seen on my Instagram.

So, I decided to prioritize. What is important to me? What’s most important to accomplish this summer?

First, I needed to give myself a break. Second, I needed to clean my apartment. Third, I needed to write.

So I did.

And as a bonus I’ve been going to the beach everyday–it’s been proven that being next to large bodies of water boosts your mood AND your creativity, so I think of it as therapy, almost.

Working on a large project has changed the way I look at my writing and at my life. I used to be very conscious of perfection. Anything less than perfect was a fail… and failing was bad. But creating such a thin line between success and failure is limiting, both personally and creatively. Art is not the pursuit of perfection. And the end product isn’t more important than the process of making it. I will have ups and downs in my creative process, but one doesn’t negate the other. Both will contribute to my eventual success.

Failure is not a bad thing. It’s just another opportunity to try. And that’s all part of the process.

Me at the beach being a big fat failure and loving it.

The Oilers and the Playoffs and Me

Very few people seem to care about hockey on the West Coast. It’s not like at home where hockey is a lifestyle, woven in to the Edmonton identity alongside cold weather and seasonal road construction. In Edmonton, you see people wearing hockey jerseys year round. I’ve seen people transporting hockey gear on public transit and I mean even I’ve shot a puck at a net before (I’m the athletic equivalent of a pylon). Hockey is important.

Things are different on the island though. People here like baseball and soccer and recycling. I’m sure there are fair-weather Canucks fans who’d jump on the bandwagon if that team ever gets good again, and Victoria does have a WHL team that made the playoffs this year (Go Royals!), but still, nobody seems very excited about the ol’ game of stick-puck. So when the Oilers made it to the post-season this year and I was really excited about it, that excitement fell on mostly-deaf ears.

It was weird.

I’m used to hockey being a point of conversation. You know? Kind of like the weather. Even if everyone isn’t watching the games everyone usually has an idea of how the team’s doing. It’s plastered all over the city in different ways by different people. Edmonton loves the Oilers. Like, really loves them (even when we hate them, we still love them). I don’t know if there’s a group of fans who loves their team more than Edmonton’s fans love the Oilers. Even at the ugliest points in the club’s history, the arena was selling out. Heck, during this year’s playoff run the arena was selling out when the team was playing AWAY games. Like I said, hockey is important.

I’m sad that I couldn’t be home to experience this playoff run firsthand, but luckily for me this time around Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat exist so I was able to experience it all vicariously. And I cried, oh how I cried, at each post and tweet and short video. They were tears of longing and joy. It made me miss my city. It made me miss belonging and being a part of something larger than just myself sitting in my den drinking too much and shouting at the Sportsnet panel. So, I booked a flight home for June. I couldn’t get away sooner than that and I had faith that my team would go all the way. Because I always think they’re going to win, every game. And sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m wrong, but regardless I believe it every single time they play. I was wrong last Wednesday when the Oilers dropped Game 7 to the Anaheim Ducks, 2-1. And it bummed me out, I’m not going to lie. I didn’t want this season to end–I don’t think any Oilers’ fan did.

I know you might be thinking that it’s just a game, it’s just hockey. And you’re right–it is a game, and it is hockey. But it became more than that to me. It’s been almost nine months since I moved to Victoria and it’s been a hard nine months. I’ve had to make all new friends and learn how to function alone and get used to a brand new city. These are all exciting things but they’re terrifying things too. Sometimes it was all too much to handle and I really missed home and I was sad and I was lonely and I just needed that feeling of belonging. And in those moments I could turn to hockey. I could turn on Sportsnet. Or I could listen to 630CHED online. Or I could turn to Twitter and read tweets from the Edmonton Oilers and the fans. I sometimes would just watch the video–you know the video? The one that they play before the games on the jumbotron? Yeah, that one. I’d just watch it and cry because I missed home so much. Hockey made me feel like I was still connected to my hometown and the people in it.

So, last Wednesday, when that final horn honked and the game was over, I was sad. I was selfishly sad. Because the thing is, watching the playoffs was the most fun I’d had watching hockey in a long time. And the Oilers had a great season. And it was refreshing to watch meaningful hockey again. But I didn’t want it to end before I made it home in June. Because I wasn’t ready to let go of hockey… because it felt like letting go of home.

I also just really, really, really wanted us to beat the Ducks and wipe that smirk off Getzlaf’s face. But hey, there’s always next year!

I feel better about it now–it still stings a bit, but the pain has mostly faded. And I still have my trip home to look forward to in June and I’ve realized that even if there won’t be hockey to watch, there will still be plenty of people talking about the Oilers online and that might be just enough to fill the void. At least, it’ll hold me over ’til the pre-season.

I might not have hockey to plan my life around anymore, but I’m glad that the Oilers let me hold on to hockey for a little bit longer at a time when I needed hockey the most.

 

if we’re going to talk about it, let’s talk about all of it

Hi, it’s me. Remember me? The girl who thinks often about this blog but never seems to have the time to write. Well, I’m back (for a bit) because I kept thinking about something today. Thinking and thinking and thinking, and wondering, and wanting to write. So here I am.

Today’s January 25th. In Canada, we call that #BellLetsTalk day. And it’s a real important day for all Canadians, especially those who live with mental illness. Today is a day I think about my own battles with my brain (depression, eating disorders, anxiety, etc.) and I think  of all the people I love, and their battles too. And, it’s on a day like today that I wonder: is it enough, yet? Have we normalized mental health enough? The answer of course is no. I know this because of the movie Split that just recently came out. Have you heard of it? It sounds terrible. I don’t think it’s going to be awful because of the actors in it (I quite like the British actor fronting the film) and I don’t think it’s going to be awful because I don’t like psychological thrillers (I forced my parents to rent a stack of scary films when I had my tonsils removed in grade 7) and I don’t think it’s going to be awful because I hate everything all the time. I think it’s going to suck because it demonizes mental illness in 2017. 2017. This year. After all the progress we’ve supposedly been making, Hollywood comes along and shits all over it.

And I’m actually pretty upset about it. I don’t like that this movie makes a person with a valid mental health concern into a monster. That’s not fair. It’s not fair to the people who suffer from that condition. Isn’t it enough that they’re terrified, trapped inside their own bodies? Isn’t that enough? Why push it so that now everyone around them is terrified, too?

It’s bullshit.

Depression is important to talk about. Anxiety too. Eating disorders. Obsessive compulsive. Schizophrenia. Bipolar. Borderline. All of the above and many more.

So what can you do? Well, open lines of communication. Be willing to discuss all sides of mental illness. Know when to get help for you friends and family. Know when to say when for your own mental health.  Stop using ableist terms like “crazy” “insane” and “mental” to describe things that aren’t any of those things. Oh, and boycott that awful film. If you want to watch something about mental illness, check out the mini docu-series Don’t Call Me Crazy on Netflix instead. It’ll open your eyes to all sides and all types of mental health.

Talk about it. Talk about it. Talk about all of it. And listen, too.

 

Interested in reading more pieces about #bellletstalk and/or mental health in general? Look no further than here, below.

oilersnation.com/2017/1/25/bellletstalk

MuscleMemory

NYE 2016

I love New Year’s. I know that a year is a socially constructed segment of time (based, of course, on scientific research on the Earth and such) and I know that you can make change at any point in time (socially constructed or not) but there has always been an air of magic around NYE.

It’s the culmination, the anticipation, of a whole year of stuff being wiped clean. A fresh start–the illusion that you can leave a whole year behind and start anew is kind of empowering (even if it isn’t exactly factually true).

My best friend and I used to take this moment in time to reflect on the low points of the year past. It was a kinda funny, kinda self-deprecating, mostly self-destructive way of looking back on how we’d grown… and ways to continue to grow in years to come. It was like reverse resolutions–planning what we wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) do based on what we’d already done (although, Julia’s reverse rez’s were always products of the universe; I was always better at shooting myself in the foot than she ever could be). Anyway, we don’t do that anymore and even though I desperately miss her (especially this time of year) I can’t say I miss the wallow-fest this practice enabled (mostly for me).

I’m taking today and tonight to reflect on what 2016 meant for me. I had some ups (getting in to grad school, moving to Victoria, etc.) and some downs (the whole  relationship thing was kind of a bust) but this year  wasn’t really so bad, overall. It reminds me of all the things I want in life. And let’s me know that I’ll have to hustle to get them. 

So, here’s to 2017—the year of the hustle. Happy New Years to all (and to all a good night). 

being a woman.

It’s November. And there is a lot of work for me to do. But something happened yesterday that I can’t get out of my head.

I was harassed for the first time–not ever, but the first time in Victoria. Harassed on the street by a stranger. I was waiting at my bus stop downtown, across from Tomley’s Market, where I’d just bought canned beans and ground beef, three stalks of celery, and some tomato juice. My phone had died and instead of cruising social media I was standing, thinking, staring into nothing, wondering, “Should I put chick peas in my chilli tonight?”

And some toothless asshole strolled by. He said something offensive to a girl waiting with me, and she did what women do when men are assholes–she ignored him. And then he turned his focus to me, the girl in a long Eddie Bauer raincoat and a tight topknot.

“Sexy bun,” he said, thrusting his pelvis towards me and opening his mouth into a gummy smile. I stared straight ahead. My jaw clenched, my face warm with shame. Shame at being objectified. Shame at my reflex to smile, because that might make him go away. Shame at feeling powerless. Shame. Shame. Shame. He continued to stand in front of me, too close. I wanted to take a step back. I wanted to wind up and sock him in his empty mouth. I wanted to protect myself. But I walk that thin line of being a bitch, when a man is just paying me a compliment.

So instead I slid my eyes over from nothing onto him. A dead stare into his happy face.

“Have a good night,” he said, and laughed as he walked away.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a situation with a man like that. But this is the first time I’ve said anything like this about it. Normally, it’s a funny story to tell girlfriends and we can laugh at the shared inside joke. But this time, I’m mad. Madder than usual. I’m mad that I can’t go back to that bus stop, now. I’m mad that I’ll have to hoof it an extra block or so just to feel safe. I’m mad that I felt unsafe in the first place. I’m mad that he laughed. I’m mad that he called my bun sexy. I’m mad that he felt entitled to not only objectify me, but then wait for a goddamn response. I’m mad that I couldn’t do anything about it, and I’m mad that the next time I find myself in that situation, I might feel that exact same way. I’m mad at myself and I’m mad at the world and I don’t know what to do anymore.

I want to say that I’m done with being polite. But that’s not enough. And it won’t be enough on a darkened street. I want to say I’ll take a defence course, learn how to SING Miss Congeniality-style. But that’s not enough, either. Because for every knuckle I bust (in the event I land a punch on a misogynistic jawline), there will be another asshole in line. I am not enough to protect myself. And when that realization hits, anger dissipates. And I’m just sad.

I wish I had a happy ending for this, a subversion that twists the narrative back in my favour. But I don’t. I do, however, welcome suggestions on how other women deal with this behaviour. If you have any tips, tricks, or handy maneuvers–let me know. And if you have any stories you want–need–to share, pass those along too.

life lately.

I don’t really have time to be doing this, but I figured if I’m going to procrastinate I might as well procrastinate in a  backwards, kind of productive way.

I’ve officially lived in Victoria now for over two months. Which is insane to me because it feels like I’ve been here for 2 minutes but at the same time like I’ve been here for 2 years. So I have no idea what’s going on, is what I’m saying. And that’s par for the course, from what I understand now of going to graduate school.

Days mean nothing to me. They are just blocks of time to do work (or not do work, as I’m doing now). And they are going by entirely too fast for this girl to get all her work done! Probably because I’m lazing around watching reruns on Showcase, but that’s beside the point.

I guess if you want to know what’s going on with my life, I can give you the quick and dirty on that. I have made a couple of friends here, and one really good friend (who I am eternally thankful for). I’ve had one crappy workshop, and one good workshop, and I’m coming up to my first graduate workshop this week. I’m writing some good things and some garbage things, but I’m writing and I’m thankful for that.

I rode my bike to school last week which was an experience that was equal parts exhilarating and exhausting. And also terrifying. Victoria is maybe not known for its hills or its drivers, but neither are conducive to a happy cycling experience for a newbie. My thighs were burning like nothing else I’ve ever experienced, and my back is still sore for some reason, and I almost swerved into a bus. But I’m glad I got out there (mostly because I had to get out there to get to class almost on time). It also broke up the monotony of taking the bus and let me see my new city in a new way. So, although painful and dangerous, it was worthwhile on multiple levels.

I haven’t yet completely ran out of food or money, which is further than I thought I’d get living alone. And I’ve actually started experimenting in the kitchen a little bit with herbs and spices and zucchini. It’s been good. And tasty (usually).

I’m enjoying it out here, and I know how lucky I am to be here, but I have been battling the blues a bit. It’s stressful, university, and it’s hard when you’re dealing with it on your own. Completely. I miss the comfort of a house filled with people at the end of a long day. I miss running into friends in the hallways of school. Most of all, I miss being understood. It takes a long time for people to get to know me–I have a hard time letting people in. I don’t know how to, really. It makes some days lonely. Other days, it’s awesome because I’m an introvert who needs her alone time. But sometimes, on a Friday night, I miss having someone I can call up and head to Denny’s for late night-early morning pancakes.

Now, the oddest thing about all this is that even if I did have those people here, I wouldn’t be able to do those things because I’m so damn busy. I’m sad but I’m too busy to fully realize my sadness, so I just keep bumbling along, getting projects done and talking to the other humans and putting my stretchy pants on one leg at a time. It’s almost like I’m stressed out and depressed but because I can’t intellectually deal with it, I just don’t. It’s obvious something is going on because my cuticles are shredded and my fingers are bloody nubs, but because I just need to keep going… I do.

The point of all this is that I’m fine, but I’m not fine some days too. It doesn’t mean I want a swarm of messages sent my way–I honestly don’t have time for that (and if you’re going to send anything, let’s be honest, send money) and it would just make me feel worse knowing I can’t respond. But I just needed to get this out, I guess.

Things are good on the West Coast. I’m good, and I love it here. But I don’t love it here all the time. And that’s normal. I think. Who loves everything all the time? Liars, that’s who. And, as my dad would often say, “You can trust a thief but you can never trust a liar.”

And so, that’s what’s new with me! What’s new with you?

the writer is (kind of) present

Hi all, sorry for my absence as of late–I’ve just been really, really fucking busy. Who knew that grad school would be so intense? I mean, I didn’t think it would be a walk in the park by any means… But I never would’ve guessed that three courses would take over my schedule this way.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and a little bit of writing (not nearly enough, but we’re getting there), and I’ve also been continuing to acclimate to the West Coast (I’m still permanently sweaty and I have no idea what season it is). Things are going well-ish. I have my good days where I feel like I belong, and this my new home, and I’m going to do so many great things as a writer. But then I have my bad days where I don’t want to leave my house, and I miss my friends/family, and I don’t know how I’m ever going to be successful at anything.

It’s a process. And it’s not easy. I think I should assert how happy I am to be here–I mean, this is something I’d dreamed of as an 8 year old. I pinch myself on the daily because a huge part of me is worried that this is all an elaborate dream and I’ll wake up to a life where I’ve forgotten my entire vocabulary and no longer know how to write cursive. But the absolute joy of getting into this program does not negate the self-doubt. It almost encourages me to put more pressure on myself (as if I don’t already put enough).

And I want to make my people proud.

I have so many people rooting for me–my family and friends back in Edmonton, my BFF in Toronto, my family overseas in Scotland. And I don’t want to let y’all down.

I’m so lucky to have such a widespread net of support. I know even if I fall, someone will be there to pick me up. I’m honestly not sure what I ever did to deserve such a rockstar support group, but I’m really glad I did it. I never would’ve made it this far without you (and you all, I’m sure, know who you are).

I’m busy, but I’m blessed.

So, I will continue to plug away at my reading, writing, and life skills here in Victoria, but I might not be around on here as much. I hope you don’t take that personally, it’s just, in a world where school is taking over my life… something’s gotta give.

not-so-alone in victoria

School has finally started and I was able to have meaningful interactions with other humans. It made me feel like I belonged somewhere–like I wasn’t floating around in-between two spaces, but that this place where I am… I actually am. 

You don’t realize how much you define your own existence based on reinforcement from others until there are no others. We mark our place in this world with landmarks, and when it comes to personal being… those landmarks are other living things. Other than a possibly stray cat and the lovely man who set me up with a brand new MacBook (if you’re in Victoria and your MacBook completely dies, make sure to look up Byte Computers because they are the best in the business), I haven’t had a real, face-to-face conversation with someone in so long. So, I was very happy to walk into a classroom of 45+ students and dish about writing for 3-ish hours, and then walk into another classroom and dish again with a smaller group. Grad school is the best. I mean, stressful. But so cool.

I mean, did I feel a little out of my depth? Of course. I had no idea where I was going all of the time. Everything that happened reminded me of how insecure, nervous, and permanently anxious I am. But, I persevered–I made it through the day mostly unscathed (although very, very sweaty) and I think I even made a friend (I say think because I usually assume everybody hates me until I have concrete evidence otherwise). He’s in my cohort, and he’s from Edmonton, too! Who knew our prairie city was so full of talent? Well, I mean, I know that obviously, but it’s nice to have it recognized times 2, am I right? And then I even made it through the first week without any major incidents (I did neglect to adhere to social standards and email someone in my cohort back… but I swear I’m going to make it up to him).

Now that I’ve met my talented cohort, I’ve moved on to the actual writing component of a writing program. And I’m terrified. Writing should be the one thing in this whole process I feel most comfortable doing–it’s the only thing I’ve actually done before. But I can’t seem to make the words come. I try, and then I quit. And I try, and then I quit again, and tell myself I’ll try again tomorrow… maybe tomorrow the words will be ready to flow. But tomorrow comes, and tomorrow goes, and I’m left with a mostly-blank word document and half-formed ideas. What if the words never come again?

I know, I know. Shitty first drafts. Write to the end of my headlights. Take things bird by bird. I’m frustrated because I want to make sure that I prove myself. I need the validation that I actually belong here… and I don’t think I’ll get that validation with a crappy draft.

So, the good news is, I have friends now! The bad news is, I’m afraid they won’t be my friends for long.