Friday, January 28, 2011

The other Linda

I was surprised at my reaction this past week after visiting my alma matter. I'm naturally sappy and cry at commercials and everything from made-for-tv movies to Undercover Boss. If there's a sad story, a happy ending or a message of hope I weep. I'm a weeper. So, it should have been no surprise that I found a few tears after visiting my girl crush, Nancy Burt. In case you didn't know, I heart her.

After getting my bearings about me, having not been inside for oh so many years, I found my feet knew the way to the same hallways that I spent three years of my academic career. I touched the locker where I stored the heavy audio visual equipment I used to do mock interviews. I visited my old newsroom where we laid out the weekly newspaper by hand, only to find that the semester after I left they upgraded to Mac computers. Mac for everyone! I also got caught up with Nancy and picked her brain for what my next step and the step after I should take. So, now with continuing education brochures and a thought to attaining my Masters, I'm hyped. Hepped. Inspired. Giddy really. There is a light and I'm running towards it.

My friend Anasatan reminded me of something today. She reminded me to walk before I run. To realize that Rome wasn't built in a day and I shouldn't expect everything to fall into place at once. She's right. But I'm still giddy. I was even giddier when I got an email today, a response from an email inquiry I sent in hopes of securing employment with the college. It's for freelance right now and I have to offer examples of my photography skills, which have been non-existent lately, but I'm still excited. And nervous. And I have butterflies trapped in my gut that may make me spew.

It reminded me of the time, way back in the day, in my second year when I got trapped in the bathroom with a psychopath. Her name was Linda and she was in my class. She was also drunk, having admitted to being on the bottle for about a day and a half, and she was upset over something. Her temper was known. She was much older and had seen a lot of life, even then. Life had not been good, and although she was trying to turn her life around (she was in college as a mature student, after all) but she had inner demons. I don't know exactly what they were (I couldn't understand her slurring), but I knew she was in the throws of a meltdown and I was in her path.

I have the same feeling in my gut as I had that day. I wanted to help Linda but I didn't know how. I didn't know the right thing to say and no matter what I did - comfort her, offer her water, offer to take her home to sleep it off, nothing worked. Instead, I called in an instructor for help. Just like I called Nancy, and Terri, and Carey and Judy. Just like I sent emails to a college dean and former instructor now editor for any job opportunities. I felt myself sinking further and I reached past my comfort zone for help. And, I'm getting it unlike Linda who ended up dropping out.

I'm not sure where she is right now. I actually hadn't thought of her in years, not since I had heard rumours of her ultimate demise... death. I'm not sure if it's true. I hope not. But, I also realize that I have started to take the steps to shake my own demons without going down the same road - to harness the butterflies in my stomach and quiet my feelings of self-doubt.

I used to look at Linda and see a crazy person. Now as I recall her I see myself, just another person trying to fight off her inner demons. Bless you Linda, wherever you ended up.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The times they are a changin'

(Cue Bob Dylan...)

These past few weeks, Scribe has started to make a lot of decisions. A lot. She's got a lot to change. The mindset is one of them and even though it's been a battle, it's going to continue.

Perhaps one decision would be to stop talking in the third person. I don't know why I do it. Sometimes it's funny. Sometimes it's to deflect some sort of responsibility. It's not like I'm talking about ME... but I am. These changes are not a New Year's Resolution. It just happened to coincide. I had decided in December that I will NOT go through another birthday in tears over my suck-ass job at Cell Block C. I'm working to make that a reality.

More importantly, I'm getting off my ass and realizing that the real work is ahead of me, and honestly, I'm a little frightened. They say a little fear is healthy. I hope I'm on my way to a healthy outlook and a healthy future.

So here it is - the list of what I'm changing:

  1. My inability to speak up when I'm upset, hurt or insulted.
  2. My career away from Cell Block C and the steps I need to take to get there, which one of them is to go back to school... at 40.
  3. My current financial/fiscal situation.
  4. My level of honesty with myself.
  5. My fitness level and overall health... yes, I've been going to the gym, thanks to inspiration from my gym rat friends.
  6. My all or nothing attitude. It's one step at a time, and it's constant. Every day. Every minute.

I find what scares me the most at this moment is the thought of going back to school. It's not that I didn't finish college. I did. With flying colours. But, technology and techniques have changed and I've been out of the media world for a few years, skirting along the edges by writing this blog and taking on freelance positions here and there. Now I need xhtml training, more Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver... arghh! I'm also no longer offering the skills I do already possess for free - I'm willing to help anyone but if it means missing out on a fee for services rendered and keeping the credit sharks at bay, I'm sorry but it will be a no, thank you. Go find another sucker.

Back in August, I signed up to do the editorial content for a new website portal venture that was supposed to take my city by storm. What I didn't know was that it meant all the responsibility and work would fall on my shoulders and my "partner" would not even live up to his promise of setting up the bank accounts, organizing the literature or business cards and recruiting sales agents. I also offered my editing services for his book. That was in July/August and despite an agreement on a fee and payment schedule, I received payment in full last week. In the middle of January.

I heard all the excuses: my pay cheque didn't clear; I didn't get a chance to go to the bank; I don't have any cheques; I've been up all day/night and need to sleep so I can't meet you for five minutes. I served the ultimatum steaming hot - "I need full payment tomorrow or I can't make my mortgage payment and the bank will foreclose. I'll lose my house." I wouldn't have lost it - I'm too responsible for that. I am just tired of carrying people and their financial woes when they have no concern for mine.

I don't want to forgo on a haircut or hold off on taking that course because someone else couldn't pay up. I'm tired of looking at my bank account every day and accounting for every penny, for wondering if I should buy that Tim Horton's coffee or will it put me into a deficit balance on my bank account. I'm tired of being responsible for everything.

I know responsibility is part of life, my adult one. I get that. What I don't get is why I have to sacrifice so someone else doesn't have to. I'm looking to go back to school and to earn more money, I first have to spend it... on tuition, on books and the like. It's part-time for now, but I've decided that my ultimate goal is to give back to the school that gave me my start, my inspiration, my training, and for that I will need to get my Master's degree. It's three years of courses. It's putting myself out there and learning when I haven't been in some semblance of school for 20 years. Times have changed and I must change with them.

It's time for me to think about me and my aspirations. It's time to think about my feelings instead of everyone else. It's time to put me first. And that, my friends, scares the crap out of me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This little piggy went to market...

Last night, I did a bread and milk run on my way home from Cell Block C. While I ended up getting the provisions for the morning, I did put another item in my cart and it got me oinking, laughing and causing at least one cashier and a patron to blush.

As usual, I was multitasking, talking to Anasatan on the phone, perusing the aisles and calculating my potential bill in my head. That's when I spotted it. It was full and pink with flowers on its belly. It was the perfect replacement for the rubber chicken. 

The Shoppers' Drug Mart by my house put in a new section geared to the new generation of pet owners who treat their canines and felines like their own children. I know I do. I approached with pure giddiness. I wanted to touch it and squeeze it. I was overcome and let out a laugh when Anasatan asked if there were any ducks in the store. There weren't. Only pigs, in particular, one pink rubber pig. I squeezed it over and over again, and I laughed. Anasatan laughed and called me out on my freakishness. I thought it was all sorts of awesome and quickly put the said pig into the basket.

Anasatan, exasperated with all of the oinking (mine and the pigs), had hung up, so I made my way to the checkout reveling in my find. "Isn't this awesome," I asked the cashier, pointing to the pig.

"Oh, it's for a dog..." he answered. Why else would I buy a rubber pig, I thought. And then, before thinking how it might sound to the other patrons, I said something that would be considered a little risque in any other situation... "You can squeeze it if you like..."

The man behind me in the line took a double-take and started to laugh. I started to laugh, making it hard to see the numbers I was attempting to punch into the debit card machine. I laughed louder as the cashier (a male cashier at that) reached over and squeezed. The pig must have liked it too since he didn't oink as loud for me when I squeezed him.

So my house is now a barnyard as Boyo the Boxer goes between the pig and chicken. I just hope the goat is available soon to make our farm complete.

Monday, January 17, 2011

He's lucky he's cute...

Am I talking about the canine or the Man? Or both?

Boyo wearing the Cone of Shame... Feel shame, Kao, feel shame...

If I'm lucky and win a massive lottery (or a massive stroke), I may find myself living in a van down by the river (cue Deliverance music). I was handed an estimate, not even a full bill, for what potentially could be a life-threatening situation for the Boyo. Was it pancreatitis? Poisoning? Consumption? None of the above. Two days and one night of puking (vomit and blood intermixed), two hours of sleep in between cleaning up random spots all over the house, a nervous ride to the vet and an estimate to end all estimates, and I checked Kao into the animal hospital not sure if I would see him again in his alive state.

There were blood tests, IVs, x-rays and an overnight stay. And a $900+ vet bill ('cause they never include the tax) only to discover that Boyo has not yet and probably never will outgrow his fetish... socks. Mine. And this time, it almost cost him his life.

He was so dehydrated from hurling, trying with all his might to get the trouser sock (no, it's not a code name) out of his gut and onto the floor. I was so tired from keeping my one eye open and one hand on the Swiffer Wet Jet to ensure the floors were quickly cleaned and he was out in the backyard to cool off. I was emotionally and fiscally drained. And while my emotions are now bordering on normal (I said bordering, people, I know my limitations!), my wallet is feeling it.

I keep telling the Boyo that while I spent only $300 in his initial purchase, he's now up to full price and he's got to start earning his keep. He's also got to make up for the socks and underwear he's eaten and purged to-date. And I don't care if I get them back.... he ate them, he pays for them 'cause I'm not touching those again without a set of tongs.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I heart Nancy Burt

I have a girl crush. I've had it since I entered my first "The art of newspaper reporting" at the mere age of 19 and it remains to this day, and today even more so.

I've been trying to break out of Cell Block C. A file in a loaf of bread didn't cut it. I managed the first layer of concrete only to be pulled back by my incessant need to eat, breath and live with a roof over my head. A universal call-out to the heavens didn't work either. Perhaps it's because I'm a dyslexic atheist (apologies to dyslexics and atheists alike). I do suffer from dyslexia on occasion and these last few months have left me wondering about god and my connection to him/her.

So last week, I called out to my mentor, my girl crush: Nancy Burt. And, she answered. If my arms could reach through the cell phone I would have given her the biggest squeeze and a "Squeee," as she took the time, not only to call me back after a long-winded, unabashed devoted message, but because she remembered me and the last meeting we had outside of the subway on Bloor Street West. She remembered I had married my college classmate. She remembered where I used to work. She remembered my enthusiasm. She also remembered the article I submitted to the school's magazine. She remembered to call me.

Nancy also suggested potential steps for me to take to speed up my escape from Cell Block C. She offered a hammer in the form of a contact at the only profitable newspaper in Canada. She offered me a shovel by offering to act as a reference. She loaned me a set of clothes for the outside world in the mention of a potential writing opportunity at my alma matter. Nancy offered me hope.

I still heart Nancy Burt and now the girl crush is ten-fold. We're supposed to be meeting up for coffee at some point to catch up. I can't wait. I just hope she doesn't mind too much when I start humping her leg.