July 19, 1991

3:20 p.m. It’s Friday. We left yesterday at like 8:00 in the a.m. We did some shopping in North Conway in New Hampshire USA. We passed through there to do some illegal shopping then we crossed the border and slept in St-Steven New-Brunswick. The motel we stayed in was disgusting. It was boiling, sticking, smelly and everyone snored. In the morning when everyone took showers I almost died, it sounded like an airlock. I got hardly any sleep, so I slept in the car. Now we are in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Driving to Louisbourg. Tomorrow should be fun visiting the fortress. Bye.

                                            I always have trouble sleeping in foreign environments. By now I’ve figured out that I just don’t travel well but at the time I hadn’t put it together yet.

Monday, July 22, 1991 – We stayed at a bed & breakfast Friday. Keith and I stayed in a room that looked major lived in… Saturday we went to the fortress of Louisbourg reconstructed to look like 1744. I loved it. It’s all on film.

                                          It’s on video, and since VHS is now obsolete, no one will have to endure the torture of watching the painfully boring videos my father/brother/I took.

I tripped and hurt my right hand, the skin is gone, it kills, it looks like I was shot.

                                       I still have the scar. Still kind of looks like I got shot.

We stayed in an ok place. Sunday we drove, went on a ferry. (I am reading a really good book called Another Shore set in Louisbourg). We met the Potters, the had lobster, me a gross sub. I am now waiting in our hotel room for the others to come back. We have to be out b 11:00, it’s 10:50! I am taking a hyper, my hand kills…

                                      The Potters were a family we hung out with in those days. They had three children, the eldest of whom was a hellion. There was always something not quite right about that kid, frighteningly so. And indeed, he ended up in jail. That’s why I never buy it when people say troubled kids are just “going through a phase”. Take red flags seriously! Mental illness, or even just emotional issues can be detected early. Don’t ignore the signs.

Thursday, July 25, 1991 – They came at 11:30, no good explanation.

                                 I still remember the stress of this situation. I stayed in the hotel in the morning while my family went out to do things because I hadn’t been able to sleep the night before. Then I woke up and worried about where they were. I took the check-out time very seriously and was panicked that the hotel manager would come to kick me out, and I wouldn’t know what to do without my parents. This is the perfect example of how anxiety has played a featured role in my life. At that time we didn’t call it anxiety, and I just thought I was a freak, and I tried to hide my failures. I didn’t tell my parents how worried I’d been, or why, as I knew they’d be dismissive at best, mocking at worst. At least now that I recognize the root of the problem, life is easier, because I can set up my life to avoid such situations, and if they are unavoidable I can still deal, because just knowing what’s going on makes it a lot easier to power through.

I can’t remember where we stayed on Monday night, but we had a nice cottage Tuesday and Wednesday. tonight and tomorrow we have another cottage. Also nice, but smaller beds. We saw the wax museum, a bit disappointing. We went to the beach. It’s really beautiful, full of red rocks and cliffs, we skipped rocks and collected stones. I got a sunburn the first day, yesterday. Today we went but I cam back soon, too windy, I took a shower, what a joke, it was pathetic. Tonight we saw the musical Anne of Green Gables, it was good.

                                     This was in Prince Edward Island. I still remember that legendary sunburn. It’s interesting that my parents never told their three shockingly pale kids to wear sunscreen. I mean, yeah, it was the ’80s and ’90s and no one really thought about that stuff but still. Sunscreen existed. Why didn’t we use it? Why didn’t anyone care? I think in that time period people still believed that a sunburn was a preamble to a tan and a tan was still seen as healthy. Today I’m extremely worried about skin cancer. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. Now I always protect myself from the sun but most of the damage has already been done. And it’s not paranoia either, as my father has recently been treated for skin cancer.

Pink & Green

Pink is cotton candy. Green is a cool, spring breeze. Pink is a day at the fair. Green is a long hike in the woods. Pink is realizing you can rock a “girly” colour and still be a bad-ass feminist. Green is taking a long bath and listening to a favourite podcast, forgetting all the bullshit misogyny you had to deal with that day because you just need a moment for self-care. Pink and green together are fresh and lovely, bold if jewel tones and crisp if pastels.

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Pink and Green are great friends. They hold hands in public places and hang out at the pond, watching the ducks but not feeding them because that would be environmentally unwoke. Pink is happy to be whitened red, allowing itself to work alongside Green in a way red cannot simply because Christmas has appropriated that particular colour scheme (just like Christians appropriated Yule, amiright?!). Green acknowledge’s Pink’s sacrifice, but appreciates that it’s not really a sacrifice at all because Pink is fierce in its own right.

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Green tries to extend their day’s adventures into the night, and invites Pink over for Netflix and chill, where chill really does mean chill. But with a wink and a sassy hand wave, Pink is like, bitch please, I got places to be. Pink is up for a night of partying, but Green just wants to slip into its cozy slippers and enjoy a glass of wine. They are both happy to compromise and they enjoy a leisurely dinner at a local hot spot where Pink can be seen and Green can people-watch. Then Pink goes clubbing with Black and Electric Blue while Green retires for the evening and binge-watches nature documentaries until it falls asleep in Orange’s loving arms.

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If it’s worth doing, it’s worth tracking

I put a lot of thought into everything I do. Ok, well, maybe not everything. I don’t agonise over which body wash to use when I hop into the shower, or give much consideration to which pyjamas I will wear to lounge around the house each evening, but generally speaking, most of my actions are well thought out. Even though I didn’t agonize over that body wash, I did think about it. I bought the store brand because it was cheap and has the exact same ingredient list as the fancy one. And the reason it didn’t take me ages to choose my pyjamas is because I have a formula for which ones I wear. It’s an algorithm based on cleanliness and coziness.

I love devising these algorithms for my life, setting up plans and routines and then tracking their success. I even track everything I do. I downloaded an app called ATracker which I use to keep track of all my activities, from work to sleeping and everything in between. I first got the tracker to help motivate me to spend more time on my personal projects, and less time in front of the TV, but now I mostly use the tracker because it’s fun. I like being able to review my day/week/month/year and find out how much time I spend doing various things. One of the activities I track is picking outfits. Because I don’t just hop out of bed each morning and throw on whatever’s convenient, oh no, I put careful consideration into everything I wear.

I organise my outfits primarily based on weather – which is one of the reasons I also obsessively keep track of the forecast – but also on colour, style, mood, and what I’ve recently worn. Every morning, after I get dressed, I take a selfie to document my outfit, and then put these pics into an album on my ipad, so I can quickly access every outfit I’ve worn that year. This way I avoid duplicating an outfit too often. These albums also serve as outfit inspiration, as there exist so many possible combinations of my clothing items that I often forget ideas, and even forget what I own. When I bought my most recent condo, I insisted on having a dressing room which serves as an immense walk-in closet, where I can see all my clothes, organised by colour, which helps in visualising outfits. Some might ask why I put so much time and effort (and money?) into such a thing, noting that it seems frivolous as best, and an utter waste of time at worst. But again, for me, it’s fun. And I’ve reached a point where not doing it seems weird.

Other things I diligently track are my exercise and diet. I use an app called MyFitnessPal for that. I started using it about three years ago when I wanted to get a bit more fit, and I figured it would help motivate me to work out and eat healthier. It has worked fantastically in this regard, but like my time tracker, I mostly use it at this point because I’m compelled to. I just can’t not. A while back I got bored with all the food logging and thought about taking a break, but I couldn’t stand the idea of not having a ledger of this information. Being able to look back at these stats on my life is very interesting to me.

time-well-spent

I guess what it comes down to is that I really love statistics. I’ve never been overly fond of math, so when I needed to take a stats course in University I was worried. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised to find stats fascinating! I still track a lot of stats at my paid job, even though I don’t work in the data department any more, simply because it’s interesting to me. So much so that I find it a bit weird when others aren’t similarly fascinated.

Most people, when they find out about this obsessive tracking, are shocked, and perhaps even appalled. They can’t imagine spending so much time doing such a thing. And it does, indeed, take time. My significant other jokes that it’s all well and good for me to track what I do, but he’d be curious to know how much time I spend just tracking. So I added planning to my list of tracked activities, which includes any time I spend inputting or analysing data, as well as time I spend mapping it out, such as on the hard-copy agenda I also log information into, because sometimes it’s nice to have a tangible visual of things. So I can tell you with certainty that I’ve spent roughly twelve hours this past year just tracking all this stuff. But that number is likely much higher, since I don’t track multi-tasking, and if I’m moving while planning, then that counts as working out.

When I tell my S.O. tells people about my life stats they admit that they too would love to have such data about their own lives, but they don’t want to do the work of gathering such information. I always agree that they are correct in believing it would be too much work. So far I’ve never met anyone that I think would enjoy this tracking the way I do. I’m sure such people exist though. I mean, the app wasn’t invented specifically for me. So what do you think? Are you a kindred spirit? Do you want to track your time so obsessively? Or do you think I’m nuts?

Black & Pink

Perhaps it is appropriate that pink is currently considered a feminine colour. I have examined the colour quite closely now, in my studies for this post, and I’ve determined that it is an exceedingly strong colour. Yes, pink is pastel red. Watered down red. Whitewashed red. But red is the strongest colour on the spectrum. Pastel red is like a secret. Pink is hiding in plain sight. Pink is a woman who paints on her face everyday in order to take on the patriarchy without being noticed. She will infiltrate slowly, and subtly, and then, when you least expect it she will pair that pink with black and fucking take over the world.

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Black is infinitely powerful. Unflappable. Black is in charge and doesn’t care about your rules, and yet black follows the rules because black IS the rules. With black’s take charge attitude and pink’s flirtatious infiltration, they will tear a man down. Together, black and pink have truly run out of fucks to give.

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Challenge pink and black if you dare. Go ahead and try. You see Pinky Pie up there, taking on Darth Vader? You think Vader will win because he has a light sabre. But you are a fool, because unless you’ve watched My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic you don’t realise that Pinky Pie is THE most powerful creature in all the universes. Just watch this long-ass video about Deadpool vs. Pinkie Pie if you’re unconvinced. Pinkie Pie will win this battle, except Darth Vader will win too, because Pinkie Pie won’t fight him, she will befriend him and he, and the entire Galactic Empire, will be helpless to resist. Pinkie Pie is THAT powerful. She will take all her pink splendour and combine it with Vader’s black bad-assery and they will dance off into the sunset singing songs about friendship. Take my word for it, black and pink will fuck you up.

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July 12, 1991

Well, babysitting was just howdy doody. I went to Fairview with mom and Keith earlier and I got a new school bag; it’s one of those things you wear on your back – a back pack and it’s plastic but from a far looks like leather, it has a map on it. I can’t ’till PEI.

                                               Why did I feel the need to explain what a back pack is? Who did I think I was explaining this to?

While at Fairview Keith and I got a bad case of “spontaneous combustion”, you know, the giggles. It was hilarious.

Nothing.

                                                I circled “nothing”, like it was very significant that my life was an empty shell of meaninglessness.

I hope to paint tomorrow.

Bye.

P.S. Keith and I went to the depanneur and I am eating my runts. 

P.P.S. It’s like 3:20 a.m. and I just finished watching a movie where people are in this huge scavenger hunt. It would be so fun to be in such a hunt. I’ve never done anything like that and I’d like to! I would be on a team with Taylor! By the way his last name could also be Morgan and his first could also by Tyler. Anyway, bye.

                                               It’s interesting that I’m transcribing this entry literally two days after participating in a scavenger hunt of sorts. It was a photo relay for work which was meant to serve as a team building activity. The only problem is that it was about -20 degrees Celsius out, so a lot of people bowed out. Leading up to this hunt, I’d wondered how I would behave during it. A few weeks previously, I’d found myself in an escape room at a friend’s birthday party and I did not enjoy the experience at all. I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief or take it seriously. I knew, going in, that I’d be pretty chill about the whole thing because I have trouble committing to low-stakes situations. With no tangible prize on the line I just didn’t see the point. So for the work mandatory photo relay I worried that I’d again half-ass it, but the opposite turned out to be true. It seems that I view anything work related as high-stakes. My team started out strong, and early on I made a significant contribution which turned out to be part of the answer we needed. Once outside my team fell apart in the cold weather so I took it upon myself to finish the relay alone, where another clue came together in my mind and I figured out the answer to our team’s quizz (or rather confirmed the answer two other team members had suggested). Once back at our home base I took the lead in presenting our team’s findings. I was pretty proud of myself for stepping up in this way considering my poor showing at the escape room.

                                         This all relates to some recent soul-searching I’ve been doing about my paid job. I work at a hospital foundation but I don’t have a genuine interest in philanthropy, healthcare or fundraising, so why do I work so hard? I guess I just have a strong work ethic which is obviously a good thing but sometimes I feel like this devotion to my paid job holds me back from pursuing my dreams. Should I just take the plunge and quit to concentrate on the work I actually want to do, such as finish that graphic novel I’ve been working on? Or would I fall apart without the stability of my routine? Or is this concern about losing my routine just an excuse to mask my fear of failure? Ultimately, am I still just circling the word “nothing”?

Black & White

Before colour photography was invented, we were limited to capturing the world in black and white (aside from paintings, which can only ever be interpretation). Perhaps this is why traditional views are also black and white. The real world functions in shades of grey, with no right or wrong, only a variance of opinion. But sometimes stripping an image of colour can add a certain clarity. Viewing pictures in black and white forces contrast, allowing otherwise obscured details to emerge.

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Black and white are complete opposites, both neutrals but in utter contrast to one another, why is why they work so well together. A black and white outfit conveys strength, order, conviction, but also whimsy if deployed in equal measure. In creating this post I put together the outfit you see above and I find that I quite like it. Usually, in my real life, my outfits are dominated by colour, but now that I’ve challenged myself to put together something based on such contrast I can see no reason not to wear it for realsies.

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There is also something soothing about the contrast between black and white. I discovered this as I was putting together my colour boards for this post. I find the above montage rather mesmerizing. Moody, perhaps even creepy, but pleasingly so. Perhaps it is the purity of white mixing with the power of black. Both colours, or neutrals if you prefer, are as stark as can be and together they create something graphic and geometric even when the shapes conveyed are organic in nature. I find myself hard pressed to think of any other configuration of colour that will be so aesthetically pleasing.

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There is a celebrity, Janelle Monae, whose aesthetic is almost exclusively black&white and she rocks it. Perhaps we should all take a page from her book.

I’m not a caregiver

When we were ten years old, my best friend’s father died, and I did the worst thing anyone can do in that situation: I made it about me.

We’ll call this friend Genevieve, as that’s how I refer to her in my “this day in” posts. I’d actually always been a little bit afraid of her father, so when he died I had mixed feelings. I felt horrible for Genevieve of course, but I felt some degree of relief for myself, though thankfully I never admitted this to her. At my twelfth birthday party, a few of my guests let me know that Genevieve was huddled in a corner, crying. I went over to her and found out that some of the other kids had been talking about their fathers, and it had made her sad. She told me she felt stuck, because she couldn’t talk to her mother about this great loss they’d suffered, as every time she tried, her mother would burst into tears. Obviously, I should have offered to be Genevieve’s sounding board. I should have told her that whenever she felt sad, or whenever she wanted to talk, she should come to me. But I didn’t do this. I didn’t do anything helpful. I sat dumbfounded and tried to think of something to say. The best I could come up with was something along the lines of how when her father died it made me think maybe my father could die, and that made me sad.  I mean… ????? As soon as I said it, I knew it was wrong. I was taking her grief and making it about me. And the worst part is I didn’t even truly feel that way. I simply didn’t know what to say, because I’m just not good at consoling people, or taking care of them. I’m not a caregiver.

I actually think I’m a pretty good listener, and I’m good at giving advice, but equally good at noticing when people don’t actually want advice, but just want a sounding board, or just want someone to agree with them. (Not that I always accommodate this wish since I’m honest to a fault). But I am absolutely horrible at taking care of people. This comes to light whenever my significant other, whom we’ll call BFG (BoyFriendGuy) gets sick. When I’m ill he’s amazing, and becomes a sort of super-caregiver. He gets me buckets so I can vomit from the comfort of our bed, and he washes up any puke that might have missed the mark. I can’t even count all the bodily fluids he’s washed off of me and various surfaces in our condo. But when he gets sick, I’m useless. I want to help, but I just don’t know what to do. When people really need me, I freeze.

when-im-sick

BFG suggests this is a result of the way we were raised. When he was about six years old, his mother fell ill. So ill that she became bed-ridden. BFG and his sister grew up taking care of her, nay, being forced to take care of her, and their house. I’ve read enough articles about caregiver burnout to know that growing up in this way must have taken quite a toll and in some ways BFG is still traumatised by his childhood. For instance, he’s a great cook, but refuses to do so because he associates cooking to his mother berating him for incompetently prepared meals. Yet he is also a product of his programming and can’t help but jump to action when someone he cares about needs him.

I, on the other hand, was never expected to care for anyone when I was young. Quite the contrary, as a kid I was often the one in need of help. I was a somewhat sickly kid, getting constant nosebleeds and frequent colds. I remember one time staying home from school and vomiting all over the couch. Then I did what any child would do in that situation: nothing. I walked away from the sofa and waited for my mother to get home and clean it up. Yes, I was left home alone as a sick child. It was the ’80s and that was fine back then, but also speaks to a certain level of neglect that was normal in my household. My siblings and I were never abused or neglected in any physical way – we always had food on the table and a roof over our heads – but we were never coddled, or offered much in the way of emotional support. I never thought it was weird because it’s all I’ve ever known, but a few people over the years have commented on how oddly cold and distant my family is. An ex once complained that my father and brother were emotionally stunted (he actually used a much more vulgar term that I’ll spare you) and I’ve often been accused of being a bitch big ol’ meany pants. Perhaps this is why I was so useless towards Genevieve when she needed me most. I just don’t understand how to help other people, either physically or emotionally.

As I’ve gotten older, and my self-awareness has increased, I’ve gotten better. I’m a much more competent listening board for Genevieve now that we’re adults, but I’m still not the person who offers hugs and hand-holds. I still struggle with what to do when people are in distress, mostly out of a sense of awkwardness. My social anxiety contributes to this inability to help, but I think I’ve also, just naturally, got a relatively low level of empathy. I’m no sociopath but I’m rarely moved by the troubles of others. Based on the definitions provided here, I’d say I’m capable of sympathy, but not much empathy.

BFG actually admires my lack of empathy. He offers the following analogy of evidence of the folly of empathy: If someone is drowning in a raging river, jumping into that river is empathy, resulting in two people drowning, whereas compassion is throwing that person a life preserver while remaining dry on the riverbank. We can only help others if we maintain a certain emotional distance from their woes. So fine, I’ve got the emotional distance thing covered. But what of compassion? Am I doing a good enough job of helping others in need? Or should I work harder to strengthen my ability to help others? I guess if I’ve written this blog post I feel a certain inadequacy in this regard. But I also must admit that for the sake of making my point, I’ve exaggerated how bad I am, and how good BFG is when it comes to taking care of each other. He’s been known to kick me out of bed for coughing too much, and I’ve been known to make him soup. But still, perhaps I need to try harder the next time someone needs me. But on the other hand… eww, sick people are gross.