The Odd Duck

I don’t know how many times I’ve said this since March, but in my lifetime, this is the weirdest time we’re all living right now. And while I’m learning a lot about myself, and about humanity as a whole through this pandemic, it doesn’t mean that things aren’t really hard in the meantime. For me, for you that’s reading this right now, for everyone. I know that in my heart.

To this point, I’ve done everything I can to remain strong. To be the rock I’ve always been, and remain in self-preservation mode. It’s just what I’ve always done. The last few days, though, have been particularly difficult for me. With the new restrictions for the province coming into play, and Christmas quickly approaching, it’s hard to say how this is going to play out. What I would have rather seen happen right now, is a total lockdown for a few weeks rather than tightening of restrictions. And maybe that way, in a few weeks time maybe we could have flattened the curve enough that the holidays could be less restricted. But, the economy! Never mind the fact that if things keep going the way that they are, we won’t have any people left to run an economy. But, what do I know?

Yesterday I had a chat with my cousin who is an emergency room nurse at the children’s hospital in Calgary. I’d been thinking about her a lot, and I just wanted to check in on her. Because for as frustrated as I am with how things are right now, I knew that it was going to be exponentially worse for her. And in a way, I almost didn’t want to know. But I couldn’t stand it anymore, and it had been a while since I’d talked to her, so I sent her a message. She got back to me right away. She told me that for the most part, she’s doing alright. And I was happy to hear that. But I needed to know, to really know what she was thinking. She’s been a nurse for quite a while now, and she put it to me like this: through her career, she’s come to realize that with anything like this, there’s going to be a portion of the population that’s going to resist. And there just isn’t anything she can do about that. She’s come to accept it. She also added that “you can’t fix stupid”, God love her. She’s seeing and hearing first hand, how this is truly affecting us. As Albertans. As people. Not as dollar signs.

So I guess it turns out that I’m less a rock, and more like…say, a Smartie. Candy shell, hard on the outside, yet something that can crumble or melt on the inside when the heat rises. I understand that it only makes me human, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, either. A better analogy I might use, is a duck. You see it out on a lake, on the surface of the water. Seems calm, at peace with what it’s doing, swimming along. But below the depths, it’s kicking like mad to keep afloat. And I’m reminded of how little I used to talk about these things, partially because of a stigma. But also because I put others before me more often than not, and I actually prefer it that way. That in itself is something that’s two-fold. It’s because I care so much about the people around me, that’s A. And 2, because sometimes it’s just easier to worry about what’s going on with everyone else, and ignore what’s really going on with me, because I just don’t want to deal with it, or plain and simple-I’m not ready to.

I remember having a conversation with my cousin’s wife about 9 or 10 years ago. The duck analogy is just a great example of how good I am at doing what I do. She’s been with my cousin a long time, since he and I were about 21 or 22, I think. And we were talking about someone else in the family, I won’t name names. But about the issues that they have with anxiety and depression, etc. And I was talking about how I have the same issues, it’s just that they manifest differently within me than they do in them. And as I’m talking, there was a look of what I can only describe as pure and total shock on her face. And for a second, I kind of smiled and just said “What?” And she looked at me for a few more seconds, and she said something along the lines of “Of all the people I know, you’re one of the ones I thought had it the most together.” And honestly? In some ways, I probably do. It was then, at that point in my life, that I really started to realize that people only show you what they really want you to see, myself included. It was also then, that I started talking more about mental health issues.

That’s not to say that people are generally lying about who they are. I’m not. I suppose I can’t speak for everyone in that regard, but I do know that I keep a lot to myself, more because I just don’t want my people to worry. Regardless of what I’m going through, I do have the overall feeling that somehow I will be alright. Whatever that might mean for me. For the next person, though, it may not be that simple. I do try to put myself in other people’s shoes when I look at an issue, any issue. And something I’ve come to learn, is that is a trait that not everyone possesses. To be brutally honest, I find that really fucking frustrating sometimes. Especially at a time like this, when we’re dealing with a contagious pandemic, where there’s people who want to talk about liberties and freedoms and rights…I’m sorry. Are you kidding me? No, really. Are you kidding me?

I have a really hard time with this. That just isn’t what this is about, at all. How privileged are you, that this is the hill you want to die on? Maybe literally. If you think having to wear a mask is oppression, I hate to rain on your freedom parade, but it’s so far from it, it’s not even funny. We need to save lives, and keep more people from getting sick. That’s it, and that’s all. This is one issue that’s not up for debate as far as I’m concerned. We all have people that we want to protect, period. And that’s putting myself in other’s shoes, because I want everyone to come out of this alive.

As this crazy year comes closer to a close, all I want is for people to be safe and healthy. I want for my people to be safe. And I know that the measures we have to keep taking to do that mean that things are going to remain difficult for a while. I’m going to try hard to stay the course, and keep hanging in, hard as it may be. I still know I’m not alone, and that we’re all in this together. If we’re going to get through this, we have to hold tight to those that we love, and remember the things that we have that are good. That said, wear your masks, keep your distance, and wash your hands. Much love, my friends! Until next time. XOXO

We’re The Griswolds

With the holidays soon upon us, I’ve been thinking a lot about my family, and our traditions. If you’re new here, or don’t know me well, I’ll tell you a little about what my life has been like in the place I’ve always called home.

I was born and raised in Cold Lake, Alberta. And as crazy as it sounds, both of my parents were, too. My grandma and grandpa Krook owned and ran a hotel. Within it there was a cafe, lounge, and a bar. My other grandpa was a truck driver by trade, and my two grandmothers worked in the kitchen at the hotel together. Just about everyone in my family worked in the hotel in some capacity, my mom cleaned rooms at one time, my dad bartended, and even me as the oldest grandchild once in a while if my dad was helping out with a Christmas party in the lounge, I would tag along and pick up glasses or even get behind the bar. I could make a rye and coke pressed off a bar gun when I was 11. On Sunday mornings, when my dad would go to help my grandpa clean the bar, my brother and I would go along, and my grandpa would rig up the jukebox and open up the pool table, and we’d drink fountain pop and I’d lock my brother in the cooler until he cried and my grandpa was hollering at me. In my defense, he always fell for it. “I promise this time I’m going in with you!”

What I remember most, is how I felt when I was at the hotel. As though I was somehow important, because my grandpa made me feel that way. He was not a big man in stature, but he was larger than life. Hot tempered, with a booming voice. He could get worked up like no one you’d ever seen, and seemed really intimidating. He originally brought baseball to our town, the Cold Lake Cardinals. And ball was his passion. And his…spirited nature, let’s say, got him thrown off of every ball diamond in a 300km radius. He could put on quite a show with his theatrics with umpires! But I knew better. Because from the day I was born, I was his princess. For all the theatrics he could put on, the things he did for me were so above and beyond, and showed his true nature.

Interestingly enough, I was able to use the phone, and remember phone numbers from the age of two. I would sneak out of bed early in the morning sometimes, and call him at the hotel to bring me treats. And he’d come running, every time. He’d show up at 7am, with chips and chocolate, or whatever I’d asked for, while my mom just looked at me and said “When were you on the phone?” But that’s who he was. And he was generous to a fault. He and my grandmother both, would do anything to help anyone.

My grandma was a strong woman. She raised her kids, and ran a business. She was kind and loved to entertain. We spent every Christmas Eve at her house, and she never missed a detail. For us kids, she always made sure Santa made an appearance. And when I was still really little, every year I’d have to tell my dad “daddy, you missed Santa again this year!”, not putting together that it was his voice booming the “HO HO HO!” from beneath that big white beard and suit. She did things no one else did, like make her own sour cabbage and cognac, and put on the most elaborate spreads of food you’d ever see. If you had nowhere to go at Christmas, you were coming to her place. She ate last, if at all. And if you mentioned she hadn’t eaten yet, she’d say “I don’t want to spoil a good jag!” because she’d been into the cognac while she was cooking!

My grandpa Dahlseide was a quiet man. But when he spoke, you listened. Everything he said ringed of importance somehow. He was a builder, a craftsperson. Anything from a tree swing, to a house. He never met a person who wasn’t a friend. He was a hunter and a trapper, and it was nothing to us to be running around in the garage while he skinned a deer. He’d tell me things like “I don’t care what time it is, if you’re drunk and you don’t want your mother finding out, you call me and I’ll come get you.” The best compliment he could give you, is if he told you that you were a good driver. He’d say “I’ve backed up more miles than you’ve driven forward.” And the very best thing about him? With eleven grandchildren, if you were to ask any one of us who his favorite was, we’d all say that we were. That was how he made you feel.

And then there was my grandma Dahlseide. That woman was truly one of a kind. She was a cook by trade, but the kind of woman that a recipe was merely a guideline. She played by her own rules, and I loved her for it. She baked every day. If you were to stop in for coffee or tea, there would be bannock, cinnamon buns, an apple crisp, or a pie ready and waiting. Right up until she died, she still did her hair in curlers with the electric dryer cap and hose. She’d make my cousin and I play dough from scratch. And when, like the idiots we were, we’d eat it, she’d demand to see our tongues to see if they were blue or green or whatever food coloring she’d used that day. And let me tell you, that shit sits like a rock in your stomach. And every time, stomach ache city, population two. And she’d shake her head at us, sometimes muttering in Cree. She was sharp as a tack, with a biting wit that to this day I look back on and envy. I’d get random voice mails of “Bon Jovi is going to be on Jay Leno tonight, thought you’d like to know.” or “I made a banana bread with no walnuts just for you, come by and pick it up.” My favorite times with her, are when I would go for an afternoon visit, and just lie on her bed with her and talk.

From the time I was born, my Christmas was basically exactly the same for more than two decades. Christmas Eve with my dad’s side at my grandparents house, or sometimes at the lounge in the hotel. We’d open presents early in the morning at home Christmas morning, and go to my grandma Krook’s for breakfast and do presents there, and be with my mom’s family by lunch. Christmas dinner we alternated years, one year with one side, then the opposite. I have a vivid memory of one Christmas before dinner with the Dahlseide clan, my mom and I were sitting on the couch, and my cousins were being silly as usual. Someone said something about how we needed a reality show, and I commented about how no one would watch it. Later on while we were eating, I can’t remember what we were talking about, but the conversation got to be truly ridiculous and my mom was sitting next to me again, and I stuck my fork in my mouth to take a bite and dragged it on my teeth for effect and just said to her out of the corner of my mouth “Oh yeah, people would totally watch this.” And she just laughed while I rolled my eyes and smiled at my family, crazy as we were, and really still are.

So for me, growing up I had a life full of combined family holidays and birthdays, memories and traditions. It was a charmed existence in a lot of ways, this I know. It wasn’t perfect by any means, no family is. But with how different our holidays are now that all my grandparents are gone, I’m so grateful for those years I had with all of them. The people who shaped my parents into who they are, and helped me to feel safe and loved for so many years. And they’re all a big part of who I am, too. They’re some of the biggest pieces of my childhood, and I’ll be forever grateful for the time I had with them. I won’t take what they taught me, or the love and time that they gave me for granted. With this Christmas potentially being completely different yet again, I’m going to hold tight to these memories, and my nearest and dearest. And I hope that you will, too.

The Other Shoe Just Dropped

In our current global climate, I can’t help but feel we won’t ever get back to ‘normal’. Whatever your normal was in the first place, so much has changed in 2020. I can tell you right now, neither the Mayans, nor Nostradamus prepared me for this, friends. And I’m just gonna say it, a warning would have been welcome. But, I digress. Here’s a little rundown of what this pandemic has taught me thus far.

The reality is, we’re not going to get out of this unless we all do what we’re supposed to do. You can deny science, you can resist all you want, you can make all the noise you feel like about it. It’s not changing the fact that covid-19 numbers are going up again at an alarming rate, because restrictions were loosened. That’s all there is to it. I don’t venture out much, and on the weekend my husband and I had appointments to get our flu shots. I actually hadn’t gone into a store in town since cases had started going up, so I didn’t know what to expect when I did. We were the only ones in our drugstore wearing masks other than staff. And yes, I live in a small area. Until the last month, we’d only had a couple of cases here since March. But, we had an outbreak at a senior facility in town, and that’s our most vulnerable population, which are exactly the people we’re trying to protect by following the rules and guidelines. But, you do you, I guess. And don’t worry about anyone else. Because that’s what it comes down to, is you doing what you want to do, and not thinking about others who may be vulnerable. Plain and simple.

Isolation is hard. And I say that as a person who already spent a lot of time alone, and really didn’t mind that. I’m pretty comfortable with my own company for the most part, but in a way it’s almost a different ball game when you know that’s the way it has to be. When you factor in anything like depression, anxiety, the loneliness that may creep in can be exacerbated. Anxieties about the pandemic, the future, financial concerns, or family and friends can get compounded and seem very overwhelming at times. If you’re reading this, and you’re dealing with any of that…I see you. I feel you. And please, just know that you’re not alone in this. Reach out. Talk to someone. Call or message a friend. I know that I would always want to hear from someone I care about who’s struggling, rather than not. I’ll link resources at the end of this post as well.

With all of that said, as overwhelmed and stressed as I’ve felt at times, I’ve managed to find a way to remind myself of the ways that I’m fortunate during these times. I do have a great support system around me. Sometimes all I need is a phone call to my mom, or a chat with a friend to reset, to get some of my negative energy out so I can refocus. One day recently, one of my best friends of 28 years had me come and watch her kids for the day, and that brought me so much joy. So simple, yet so rewarding. Hold on to those little things.

In some ways, 2020 has brought me some incredibly positive things that I couldn’t have expected. I’m in school for the first time in over 20 years, and on a different path. It’s scary and exciting, and I don’t know where it will take me, and you know what? I sorta love it. Which is strange, because I’m a person who usually has such an aversion to change. The timing seemed right, and it just fell into place. I’d thought about it for so long, and it feels really good to finally be doing it. For me.

Another major positive to come out of this year, is what it’s done for me creatively. It may be partially because I just have more time on my hands. But I find myself feeling more inspired than I ever have before. I’m not sure I can even describe how grateful I am for that, to have my visionary juices flowing like they have been over these last months. I’ve been writing more than ever, and working on different types of projects than I have in the past. There’s some things I’ve got in the works that I’m unbelievably excited about. Things I never even knew I could do. There are life experiences that may bring something out in you, that you didn’t even know you had. And I’m here for it, so stay tuned if you’re interested.

The last big surprise this year came in the form of some new relationships I’ve formed. And, alright. I’m a person who’s pretty self aware. I am not a girl who makes friends easily. No, really. (If you didn’t laugh at that, you clearly don’t know how sarcastic I am, and if you don’t know me well enough, it’s not your fault, ha!) But it’s absolutely true. I’ve basically had the same friends since I was 15 or younger. I don’t trust easily, and I tend to get told that I’m intimidating, which I’ve come to the conclusion is because I keep people at arm’s length for a long time. You have to earn it with me. So while in person it may appear that I come across aloof, that’s not what it is. I’m watching. Listening. Gathering information, to see what’s what. But I’ve found this little pod of friends via Twitter of all places, that have come as the most welcome surprise of all. These strong, funny, beautiful women who are badass to the core. I thought I was lucky enough to have the friends that I already do, to have more amazing people come into my life during a hard time and bond like we have is just unimaginable. And I couldn’t be happier about it, or more thankful.

Whatever this year has brought you so far, I hope you’re muddling through. I hope you’re being careful and staying safe and healthy. When in doubt, leave it to the Stones…

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find…you get what you need.”

https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/info/Page11177.aspx

A Star Wars Story

Donnie and I met at a concert when I was 15. He was a grade below me, and was a friend of a friend. Truth be told, at first I had a crush on him. But that wasn’t our path. I was heartbroken at first, when he started dating one of my best friends after coming up to the high school. But I got over it, like you do with crushes. I didn’t know then, that by her dating him for so long, that he’d become one of my best friends, too. Didn’t know that after they broke up, and she went away to university while I stayed behind, he’d practically become like a brother.

We both went to college the same year. We spent a lot of time together. He called me to shop with him when he wanted to buy jeans, then never took my advice anyway. He dragged me to meet Bret “The Hitman” Hart at West Edmonton Mall, to wait in line for six hours, only to have the line cut off ten people in front of us and we never got to meet him. We went to bars on the weekend, and played irresponsible drinking games at our table. That was the year, that bonded us for life. If only I’d known then, what I know now.

In the winter of 1997, the original Star Wars movies were digitally enhanced and re-released. He dragged me to those, too. Or so I pretended, to be dragged. That same winter, he broke his wrist snowboarding. Now, while he was at home, he used a knitting needle to scratch inside his cast when it got itchy. We were headed to see Empire, and he’d decided he could not be seen in public with a knitting needle. I tell him he’s being ridiculous, its going to be dark, who cares? I’ll put it in my purse. No one will ever know. But he’s insistent, the knitting needle is not making the journey with us to the movies. So, he gets the bright idea to bring a fork instead. I just laughed it off, and away we went.

Let me set the scene for you. The theatre is dark, the movie is at about the halfway mark. Snacks are now limited at this point. I’m not paying attention to what he’s doing, I’m watching the movie. But out of the blue, he leans over to me and whispers “I lost the fork.” I start looking on the floor, trying to help him find it. “No, in the cast. It’s in the cast.” I stared at him for a few seconds, and then I started to giggle. And I can’t stop. It gets to the point where I have to leave the theatre, or risk disturbing everyone watching this movie.

I get out into the hall, and by this time, I’m near doubled over I’m laughing so hard. Donnie comes out after me a few seconds later, and he is pissed. Panicking. How is he going to get it out of there? Why am I laughing at him? This isn’t funny. And the harder I laugh, the madder he’s getting at me. Now, I loved that boy dearly, but he could be a pain in my ass sometimes. Somewhat of a drama queen, let’s say. I ask him what he wants me to do. I tell him he should have just brought the knitting needle like I suggested in the first place, all through my hysterical laughter.

He’d decided he’d had enough of me right then, and storms away. He’s walking out, he’s leaving. I call out after him “Where are you going? I’m your ride!” and he just keeps walking. And in a fit of pure brilliance on my part, I yell after him “Donnie! May the fork be with you!”. He turned and glared at me, and off he went as I ran after him, laughing harder than ever.

He did not find me funny that day, at all. But now, for many reasons, its one of the best stories I have to tell. And two weeks after the movie, when I took him to the hospital to have the cast taken off? That bloody fork was still stuck in there. I could not control my laughter that day, either. The nurse, however, tells us that we wouldn’t believe the things they find stuck in casts, and that this is nothing. I’m sorry, what? We looked at each other, puzzled, gears turning.

There’s no way to be sure why someone comes into your life when they do, but thank God that friend of mine ignored the girl code and went out with Donnie anyway. If she hadn’t, he and I would never have ended up having the friendship that we did. A friendship that no one seemed to understand, but us. From the outside, it didn’t make a lot of sense. Him, the jock drummer. Me, the chunky, quirky girl with the really eclectic music tastes even then.

I got the call on a clear Sunday morning. May 13th, eight years ago. My entire universe, and everything I thought I’d known, came crashing down that day. My friends are soul mates to me. He’d been so many things to me, one who made me laugh, stood up for me, protected me. When I lost him, a little piece of me went with him. That’s just how this works for me. I struggled with the grief, the anger, the hurt. I suppose there’s days that I still do. On the days that are particularly hard, though, these are the memories I force myself to think of. I have 20 years of a friendship that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world to look back on. And for that, I am forever grateful. Maybe there was something beyond us, that brought us together.

To any of you reading this, may the force be with you.

Life, or something like it, with something chronic. (Don’t worry, I’m not dying)

As I’m gearing up to start school for the first time in over 20 years next week, my nerves are really starting to kick in. And I know that’s normal. It’s a big change, and I’ve mentioned in more than one post that I find change difficult. But this is a change that’s necessary, I feel, and it’s for the good of my future. It’s the unexpected, unplanned, less than awesome changes that are harder to adjust to. Pandemic, anyone?

When I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome two years ago, it came as a big shock to me. Its hard to say exactly how long I’ve had it, all I know is that I had a pelvic ultrasound in my early twenties and didn’t have it then, but I do now. It’s something that can just decide to show up at any time. It’s a tricky little devil, though. The most fun part? Once you’ve got it, you’re stuck with it.

If you’re new here, and have never heard of this disorder before, PCOS is essentially this: cysts in your ovaries that wreak havoc on your body. As shocked as I was to find out that I had it, once I knew, so many things made sense after that. Symptoms are different from woman to woman. They can be, but are not limited to:

-Heightened anxiety/Depression

-Weight and metabolic issues

-Excess facial or body hair

-Either missed or heavy periods

-Acne

-Hormone imbalances

Sounds fun, right? I only have about half of those things, and not the ones that would have really triggered me to think that something was wrong. I mean, I’d obviously have noticed if I was suddenly dealing with missed/heavy periods, or excess hair. The symptoms I do have are mostly managed with medication, and certain symptoms there’s not much to be done for right now.

What this also brings, are the possibility of higher risks for some scary things in the future. Heart disease. Diabetes. Ovarian and endometrial cancer. So bloodwork is something I have to keep on top of a couple of times a year, as well as routine ultrasounds every year or so. Right now, one of my cysts is a little larger than a lemon, which is kind of unnerving in itself, but I’ve been tested for cancer, and it’s benign, so we just keep an eye on it for now.

It’s hard to explain to someone how you feel, though. When it’s something you can’t see. For the most part, I look fine. Normal. But I constantly feel like my body is working against me. I’m so tired all the time, no matter what. Part of that is plain and simple, I am not a good sleeper. I never have been. Over the last few years, though, this has felt like a different type of exhaustion. And I rarely complain about being tired to anyone, because I did once in a work situation, and a co-worker with children told me that I have no idea what tired is because I didn’t have kids. I clammed up pretty quick, and there are very few I will ever mention it to now. Walk a mile in my shoes, and then we’ll talk. Since I haven’t been in yours, I wouldn’t dream of making assumptions when I have no idea what you’ve been through.

It’s draining emotionally. The physical toll this has taken on my body has left me feeling somewhat hollow, as if I have nothing left. I really just want to try to focus on the things that are positive, and hone in on what I have to look forward to. To me, that’s the best course of action, and it makes the most sense to me right now. I want to do my best to keep my mind in the right place.

No matter what I’m dealing with now, I know that this could be so much worse. That’s how I choose to look at it. I’ll keep plugging along. I’ve been thinking about getting a referral to a specialist to see if there’s anything more than can be done for me, and get a better grasp of things. In the meantime, I’m going to embrace the coming changes as best I can, and let them take me where I’m supposed to go.

 

Souls

The window was open, and she stood there, cigarette in hand. Something hung in the air, thick, heady, but it wasn’t the smoke. This was something else. All of the other experiences she’d had up until now hadn’t been like this, they’d been more abrupt. Sudden. She stared out the window, waiting for it to pass. It was then that the shaking began.

Hands trembling, she watched in fascination as the ash from her cigarette crumbled off the end, too fixated to do anything about it. Her legs felt heavy, her knees weakened, and it felt like they would give out at any second. Try as she might, she couldn’t will herself to move from that spot. As she closed her eyes and took a deep breath in, she knew there was no deterring this.

She knew that not everyone believed in this ‘ability’. If you want to call it that. There’s no explanation, it just is. Most that do believe think it’s hereditary, and there’d been talk of others in her grandmother’s family that could do the same. Apparently it’s a common gift among women in native cultures, and her grandmother had been half Cree, so it made some kind of sense in a nonsensical way.

When she opened her eyes, there in the corner of the room, the grey mist figure. Her Anne. Those eyes, the smile she’d missed so much, finally materialized before her. She didn’t always see people she knew, it didn’t work like that. You don’t get to choose. More than three years she’d waited, hoped, dreamed for this very moment. Finally, it was here. She smiled, tears in her eyes, at the hazy shadow no one else would ever see. Silently she mouthed “I love you”, and her Anne was gone. No figure, just mist.

Her cigarette down to almost nothing, she snuffed it out. The ringing in her ears was louder than usual. There was a vibration running through her blood, rushing through her body with the intensity of an electric current. She felt charged, as if anything she touched would spark like a flint. What was happening? Why had this time felt so different? She’d been through similar many times before, and the after effects were much less significant.

Was there something that Anne was trying to tell her? While in the moment it felt like an eternity, the whole experience may have lasted only thirty seconds. It may have been the most important half minute she’d had in years. All she could do, was wait, and hope that Anne would be back.

Times of Transition

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have an aversion to change. I’m a stickler for the routine, a creature of habit. So through this pandemic madness, there’s definitely been a lot of adjustment for me. Not that there hasn’t been for everyone, of course there has.

And I mean, thank God I’m not ‘lose my ever loving mind on a guy at a Chinese restaurant’ kind of maladjusted, amirite? No, no. My atrocious behavior is all brought back onto myself, yay! Ok, no. But you know what I mean. Or do you? Alright, I’ll explain.

In case you missed it, recently there was a man in BC who was caught on video screaming and swearing at a man for not making his food quickly enough. He showed up at a restaurant on a Friday night during the dinner rush, and expected it to take no time at all, apparently. Witness accounts claimed that after he yelled and screamed and behaved horribly, he then got in his vehicle, tore out of the parking lot, and swerved almost hitting other cars. He’d mentioned his two year old while he was screaming, and I only hope his child wasn’t in the car at the time he was on his tirade.

To a point, I understand we’re all under different pressures than we’ve ever been right now. Whether it be mental health, financial, family. It’s all a lot to take. But to act like that, there’s got to be more going on in my opinion. That’s exactly all it is, though. An opinion. And I can promise you, I’ve had some very bad days in my life, but I’ve never treated anyone that way. Have I been short, or not as pleasant as usual? Sure, that can happen to the best of us. But to yell, swear, and scream is something else entirely.

This pandemic has turned into a transition of sorts for all of us. The way we work, the way we play, the way we live. Everything has changed for us now, because it’s had to. And for a person who finds change difficult, I’ve had a hard time with this. While I’ve been in this weird transition phase we’re all in, I haven’t been working. I’ve been a nail technician for the last 16 years, and have sometimes held a second job to supplement my income, but it’s been what I’ve known for the better part of close to two decades. I came to the realization, however, that I wasn’t missing it.

I’ve thought and talked about going back to school for a long time, and never really had the time or resources to do it. I’ve also gone through different options as far as what I’d take, what I’d like to do, who I’d like to be when I grow up. Ultimately, what I would really love to do is go to law school, but that’s a huge time and monetary commitment. I’m 42 now, by the time I could finish I’d practically be retirement age. (Cue the sarcastic snort.)

When the pandemic hit, I didn’t have my taxes done, and it got put off because, hey-that’s what I’m good at. Clearly, I don’t possess every Virgo trait. Once my return was done, I was finally able to apply for the CERB, and I was able to do so retroactively and get back paid the amount from the time I stopped working. I tried college when I was 19, and I wasn’t ready then. And I regret that so much, so often. So, since I now had a chunk of money at one time, and could pay for tuition and do something to better myself and my future, I figured that now it was finally the time.

After some research and even more thought, (remember those Virgo traits) I made the decision to go into Digital Media with a concentration in Business Analysis. I enrolled at NAIT online, and I’ll start in September. With my classes, I’ll cover everything from IT to business, and even brush up on my writing skills with my options courses. I’m scared, nervous, excited, unsure, everything a new student is supposed to be. I haven’t been a student in over 20 years, and that scares me more than anything, but this feels like it’s the right thing, at the right time. Somehow, I just know.

There’s enough uncertainty in the world right now. That much I know. But if I don’t take this chance right now, I know I never will. And I don’t want another ‘what if’ hanging over me this time. I want new opportunities to open up for me, a future to look forward to. How will I ever know, if I don’t try? The chance may not come up again, I’d better reach out and grab it with both hands.

The things I don’t know could fill a warehouse…especially when it comes to politics.

I’ve never claimed to know everything about politics, far from it. I definitely know where I stand on an issue once I know what the issue is, and I know I can be vocal about it given the right setting. There’s a time and place for everything, and I think more and more we’re seeing how something as simple as words on a screen can come back to haunt you, even years later. Cancel culture is in full force, after all.

But now, with the prevalence of social media in everyone’s lives, things have evolved in a way that I couldn’t really have expected them to. Even as recently as a decade ago, I can’t say that I remember people talking about the issues as openly as they are now. My last entry revolved around George Floyd, and what was going on in the world as a result of that tragic and unnecessary event. Just a matter of some weeks later, it’s almost as if it never happened.

Now we’re back into our routine of this Groundhog Day of pandemic drudgery, always waiting for the next shoe to drop. As is my typical Virgo self, I’ve always got something on my mind.

A couple of weeks ago, my brother came home from Calgary to visit. On a rare evening at my parents place, he and I sat and had a long talk with our folks, just the four of us. It’s not often we get this opportunity anymore, and it was honestly really great to be able to do it. We burned through a lot of topics, but we talked about some world events, and of course some politics came up.

Within the four of us, my mom is definitely the most political, followed by me, and my brother and dad, but we’re generally all on the same page when it comes to the issues. The main topic of conversation when it came to politics on that night, though, was how it’s come to affect some relationships. Now, I don’t hide the fact that I’m very liberal. As is my family. Right now, that’s a pretty tough spot to be in if you’re Albertan. I’m not ashamed of it, and I’m not going to apologize for it. But-I’m also going to let you have your opinions and beliefs, so long as you let me have mine, respectfully.

Rewind to the last federal election. The liberals win another minority government. You’d think I’d be happy, right? Wrong. I was, in a way, but I was so apprehensive. As a liberal in such a conservative province, I knew there was going to be backlash here. I had no idea exactly how much.

I logged into my Facebook account. I was horrified. Now…I understand that people have strong beliefs, as I do, I get it. I’m as passionate about my convictions as the next person, I really am. But what I saw from people I thought I knew well, people I cared about…it was just beyond disappointing, to say the very least. “If you’re a liberal, don’t read any further…”. And “You libtards…” And even “If you voted liberal, just unfriend me now”. I scrolled through, not even knowing what to think. And when I challenged, I got responses of “Oh, well I didn’t mean YOU”. Oh, but you did. When you make a blanket statement, you do mean me. And you know what? I’m not going to lie, maybe it shouldn’t have, but it fucking hurt.

When I talked to my mom that night, we were both so defeated. Our party was victorious, and we were so deflated by what we were seeing, we couldn’t even be happy about it. And in that conversation, we came to the conclusion, that we’d both been unfriended by someone that night. No interaction, neither of us had posted anything about the election, no warning. He’s a conservative. Gone, both thrown away. There are some people this may not bother me. But this? This is someone I’ve known my entire life. Our parents had been friends for decades, and we literally grew up together.

So, that brings me to the relationship between our parents. Decades long. But, in the last couple of years, somehow that’s changed, too. And as it turns out, it’s come down to politics. Theirs don’t quite line up with my folks, and they’ve distanced themselves from my mom and dad. That brings me back to the discussion my brother and I had with our parents, because this came up. The unfriending, the relationship with his parents, all of it. And I couldn’t understand. I said it out loud, that I didn’t get that the relationship could change. Why now, after all this time?

It was simple, my mom said. That thanks to social media, these issues are just more out in the open. Years ago, no one really talked about it. But with everything in your face 24/7, you can’t avoid what anyone thinks about anything. And ok, that’s all well and good. But to me, does a friendship need to end because your politics don’t line up? That seeems ludicrous. Are we bad people because we’re liberals? I don’t see it that way. Because I’ll tell you what, I don’t have a conservative version of the word “libtard” in my vocabulary. Not even close. And the sad thing is, this isn’t even the only relationship it’s seemed to have affected for my family.

The bottom line for me, is that I come from a family of good and decent people, and I hate to see them hurt for any reason. And the people that have chosen to distance themselves, are people I’ve known forever, and thought that I could count on, too. It’s unfortunate, and it just goes to show that you never really know where you stand. I’m just going to continue to do my best to try and be a good person, and let the chips fall where they may. Take care of yourselves, and each other. ❤