Monday, July 30, 2012

The Johari Window was presented to me by one of the best women I know in the whole world. I gave it a good deal of thought, and chose the word “brave” for the last word to describe her.

She is brave.

She is brave enough to try things and then stop doing them if they aren’t a good choice for her regardless of the consequences. She’s learned to say no, to question her socialization, and to think critically about the world.

That is brave.

* * *

Writing is dangerous for me. I tend to think and rethink and type and delete the words before I get too far. It is as if these pixels that form words on my screen are permanent even though they haven’t been published. I can’t unthink them, but I can make their manifestation, however fleeting, disappear with several pushes of the backspace button. I often publish things I am later embarrassed I wrote. Even if I get better, I suspect I will always feel that way.

Writing sometimes feels like cowardice. My recent post about misogyny and gender feels like a cop-out to be writing about it and not be out there doing something and saying something to someone who might be able to change the world. I’m not that person. I don’t know anyone who might be able to change anything about the world. I just write about it, sending my organized pixels out into the world for all 26 of you who read.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Not sure where this is going...

I have been there, hating women because of the "girl way" they act.

I have also been there, being hated because I didn't act like a "good girl" or a "nice girl" or what that person thought a feminist should act like.

Gender norms fuck us all over.

Some days I wear lipstick, watch hockey and talk on the phone.

Other days I like football, shoe shopping and shooting guns.

Some days I'm overtly intelligent, sexual and neurotic. Other days I'm forgetful, quiet and self-assured.

All of these are the days I "act like a woman". I act like a woman because I am biologically and gender presentationally an adult female who doesn't know any other way to act than like a woman.

I don't want to perpetrate misogyny. The world is sexist and misogynist enough that I don't have to be part of it. I don't have to like what someone acts like, but I can also realize that maybe that woman doesn't know she has other options. Maybe she doesn't know why she makes bad choices. Maybe she doesn't know that the socialization of gender norms begins the second a parent is told "what it is" after a child is born, and maybe they don't know the bulk of that socialization is bullshit.

I really don't know where I am going with this... I just saw this quote this morning and it reminded me of how I used to treat women different. It reminded me how I used to perpetuate my own misogyny. I reminded me that I stopped hating myself right around the same time I stopped seeing other woman as a threat to my desires.

It reminded me that even though we are 51% of the population, we're still considered a "special interest group" who needs to be placated, pandered to and infantilized instead of being considered what we are - the majority. Part of the reason that this still goes on is that women are hating women with the same kind of gender socialization as men are. I can't be part of it. I can't do it and not hate myself.

I still don't know why I wrote this.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Current Events

The more time I spend online reading the news about the world, the more I am hopeful that the Mayans were right and it will all go up in flames in December.

I have been avoiding stories about the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre shooting last week. I have many thoughts about it being more difficult to get licensed to drive a car than it is to get an assault rifle and how no one from the NRA can tell me why it was right that the man who shot up this public space had access to that weaponry. But that's not the point of this post. I won't engage in any conversation about the 2nd Amendent (because I'm Canadian, and other than the basic constitutionality of keeping and bearing arms, I am not equipped with either the facts or the culture to engage in a debate).

But I do know that Caleb Medley went to see a movie with his wife and got shot in the face for his trouble. I know that he is (or was) a Wal-Mart employee without health insurance who lost an eye and suffered some brain damage a couple of days after he got the biggest break in stand-up comedy of his life and a couple of days before he became a father.

Caleb Medley is going to live through this, it appears. The hospital has told his family that his medical bills could be as much as 2 million dollars.

The part of Caleb Medley's story that hits home for me is that this person is chasing the one dream he's always had while trying to pragmatically do right by his commitments and then the world comes crashing in on him in one crazy moment, through no fault of his own.

If you can help Caleb Medley with whatever kind of help you can offer (there's a mailing address at if you want to send goods or cheques rather than cash online) I am sure the Medley family will appreciate it.

Because as difficult as the the changes this month have been for me, they pale in comparison to being shot in the face at the midnight showing of the latest Batman movie.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Working on it.

I decided on the eve of my 38th birthday that I would not be the same person on the eve of my 39th birthday.

I've been trying for years now to change my life into something fabulous and awesome. Since the British Columbia Lottery Corporation has not yet seen fit to issue me the $50 million winning LottoMax ticket, I decided that this year I was just going to work with what I have got. And what I have got is not much.

After spending two weeks angsting over it, I finally figured out what I like to do. I'll probably never become rich doing any of it, but I might be able to do it just because I love doing it. I'll worry about making an income later.

Next week I am going to attend an information session on becoming a professional organizer. At this time I am not really interested in starting my own company, but in using the skills that I have with the skills that I will learn to pad my Executive Assistant resume. I am spending the summer working for my ex-boss it seems, and that place is the craziest mess of paper you have ever seen in your life. So I'll get some real-world-as-close-to-hoarding-as-I-am-willing-to-get experience.

Next week I am also going to talk to an educational counsellor at the community college around the corner from my house to see about some English writing classes to fix some of my grammar issues and other brutalizations of the English language I am sometimes wont to commit.

I am also taking part of my upcoming long weekend to write new product descriptions for my Etsy shop (though I am considering changing the shop name and there's nothing for sale at this time because I want to change everything) and I can show off the mad foto skilz of Donna. She did such an amazing job taking new photos of my completed works! I can't wait for you to see them.

In a nutshell, I'm going to try to figure out how to use what I like doing to help me not hate a whole bunch of things about my life. Like my job. Or lack thereof, as the case may be.

No idea if it will work, but I know that 50 weeks from now I will be glad I started two weeks ago. This is my jumping off point. The future is uncertain, I don't know if I'll be any good at any of it, but at least I know I am working on it.

Monday, July 23, 2012


I read this story a while ago, “Major Threat to Religion? Clergy People Coming Out as Atheists”

I remember when I was trying desperately to find god. I remember when I was told, no - CONVINCED - that getting that faith was the only thing that was going to save my life. As a result I spent hours, days, months and years trying with all my might to find and live in that faith. If I didn’t have it, they said, I should just act like I did have it and eventually it would come.

I filled out several trees worth of paper examining my faith, the faith of others and trying to figure out how to have the peace, serenity and love that so many others around me seemed to have found.

I never lived up to it, I never found it, and every bit of energy I expended trying to be a ‘spiritual, not religious’ person would always end me up in the same place... knowing that I was not serene, that I was mentally ill and had no idea what my options were.

"My work to answer these questions began with the thought that as I discovered the truth, it would create a stronger faith and give me comforting answers to those in my church who were dealing with the same issues. Instead, the truth I found led me away from faith."

I don’t know that the Roman Catholic Church and their 11 years of related religious education, the 12-Step movement and a couple of different ‘sects’ of pagans wanted to turn me into an atheist, but my quest to save my own life led me from their institutions and to myself, to chosen-family and to logic, reason and facts.

I was already an atheist when I was diagnosed with MS and in some ways it made it more difficult to comfort myself and others in my life. In other ways it made it easier.

I do the best I can with what science knows about my disease. I know that my personal outlook on my future does nothing but keep the people who love me from leaving, but I also know that exercising everyday, watching what I eat, and maybe taking a couple thousand IUs of Vitamin D will help the symptoms I live with. Next year I will probably go back on Copaxone daily, just because I know it will buy me some more time before my next relapse. That’s what the science says it will do.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Only people with MS (or those who love someone with MS) get it when I snicker when people say "But you're looking okay." or "But you look so good."

I suspect that it is only people with MS (and possibly other nerve disorders... I don't really know about them) who will understand what I mean when I say - I have never been more aware of the apple of my right cheek or my left eyelid more than I have been this week.

My face, specifically the muscle situated between my nose and the orbit of my eye has been dancing on and off for a couple of days. It took over for my left top eyelid that had been doing the cha-cha - causing a half wink with each spasm - for a few days at the beginning of the week.

I have had muscles I didn't even know existed decide to go into an intense spasm for a couple of minutes to a couple of hours in the past couple of years. The thing of it is (and I am intensely grateful for this) is that it doesn't hurt. It just moves. Up and down or side to side  or some combination of the two for however long it's going to do it, and then stops as quickly as it started.

From time to time the spasms will go on for so long it feels like that part of my body is tired. Right now my right cheek feels like it has been overused and it wants to rest. The closest thing I can compare it to is when you spend an inordinate amount of time clenching your jaw or smiling (like on your wedding day). My right cheek feels like it has done too much movement recently that it's not use to doing. My face is tired. It's been tired for days.

My neurologist just shrugs when I ask if there's anything I can do for this or any of the other small irritating symptoms that go with MS. I'm fairly certain that research into things like jumping muscles (as opposed to very painful muscle cramping and neuralgia) and numb fingertips and the ends of toes aren't really high on the priority list of MS related problems to solve.

They are, however, pretty much the only daily reminder I have of having MS. I live much like anybody else, with some limits on how far I can walk and for how long I can be standing and I have a tendency to get confused when I am tired. But if walking, standing or staying up late aren't part of our interaction then you probably wouldn't have a clue.

Unless you see me half wink at your or notice that my face is doing it's best Ginger Rogers impersonation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The monsters are crazy.

I have assembled on my queen-sized bed the collection of every DIY, self-help, How-To and planning book I currently own.

This is a collection of 27 books. This does not include the countless books I borrowed from the library or the 10 or 15 books I put in a donation bin about a year ago. This also doesn't include the books that I have borrowed from friends or managed to leave somewhere on public transit. Nor does it include the 2 or 3 e-books I have stored on my hard drive, or my previous membership with and an endless browsing history of sites like and These books are just the ones that I love and use as reference, the ones that I bought and haven't had a chance to read, and a couple that changed my life.

At the book store on my lunch hour, I considered what was in this pile of good intentions and "I had what alcoholics refer to as 'a moment of clarity'", which is kind of ironic since I did a few years in 12-Step recovery in my second attempt (at the age of 19) to fix my failing life. But in this moment today I realized that without order, I am batshitnuts. Love a numbered list, a colour-coded to-do list, a daily agenda of times, places and people, and a plan of attack that includes my personal affirmations:
  1. If it will take two minutes or less, do it now.
  2. If you take it out, put it back.
  3. If not now, when?
(I have more personal affirmations, but those are the ones that are in the back of my head throughout the day.)

I go through what I don't know what else to call but a crisis of faith twice a year. Once in late December, as I realize that yet another calendar year has passed and I am nowhere closer to a fabulous life and again around my birthday, when I realize that yet another year of my life has passed and I am nowhere closer to the awesome life I want. I keep trying to ignore the fact that I don't exactly know what "fabulous" and "awesome" look like as a reality in my life other than to say that I will know it when I get it.

Getting diagnosed with MS has made these periods of crisis heavy. I feel that I must finally get it right this year because I might not be able to walk next year. I might go blind next year. I might lose my ability to think and reason next year. I might be any number of bullshit things that are possibly when you have this life sentence hanging over you.

I feel desperate to get it right. To find the order and the help in all these books and the internet and what I know to be true to make something worth living out of this life of mine.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The one thing I always return to

I have mentioned a couple of times before that I have been going through my old journals; re-reading them before running them five pages at a time through the household shredder.

(As a side note, I really hate the person I was in 1997. If I knew you back then, I am so sorry. Really, I was spaz-tastic.)

(As a secondary side note, if you knew me in 1997 and your name is Virgil, I really am sorry... but upon further reading, you might have had it coming. Just sayin'.)

But I digress.

What comes out loud and clear in my journals of the late 1990s is one thing:

I found solace in barfing the contents of my brain onto the pages of an 8.5"x11" spiral-bound notebook. I found so much solace in this I would easily fill 5 to 10 pages a day of worries, obsessions, ideas, plans, hopes and fears. On and on, for pages and pages, trying desperately to figure out what was wrong with me, why the gods weren't helping me (I fancied myself a pagan in those days) and why, oh why, was I not writing my book or finishing my screenplay when I was practising writing every single day by belching out these  worries, obsessions, ideas, plans, hopes and fears. After I did that, the words of my master work should just come pouring from my soul into my fingers and onto the page via keyboard or pen.

That's what the purveyors and evangelists of the spiritual practice of being an artist had told me would happen. It would all just come out as I got out of god's way.

That never happened. My screenplay still sits as a first draft treatment, complete with sound track and Oscar acceptance speech, in a manilla 10"x13" envelope in my box of journals, really bad poetry, and first chapters of no less than three books that I can remember. There may be more.

In the past few days I have been introduced to the idea of never writing without a purpose. If the words aren't coming for my memoir project, then I switch to writing a blog post. If neither of those are working out, I'll grab a Red Writing Hood prompt from Write on Edge or I will write about the topic of the day from the book A Year of Writing Dangerously or write what I remember about an event that happened on this day in history.

And I'll save what I write for some future time when it is useful as a blog post or it fits in with the memoir work I am doing. (And I am doing it, 30 minutes to an hour a day, and I will get that mutherfucking thing DONE.)

My worldview has changed A LOT in 15 years. I no longer believe that writing is a spiritual path to god, but I am starting to believe that it might be a calling. A vocation, even.

I'm not convinced it is my calling, but it is definitely someone's. "Finding my passion" seems like such a crock of self-delusional shit for the privileged white person that I dare not involve myself in discussions about it.

But I do think it's (not ha-ha) funny that I always end up back here at the keyboard or at the blank page with pen in hand, trying to write something that is less shitty than the last thing I wrote.

(Booyah, monsters. 498 to go.)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

There are monsters outside.

I turned 38 years old yesterday. For more than 10 years I have had this annual sulk about how my life didn't turn out like I planned; which is kind of rich coming from someone who never had a plan for her life in the first place.

Since my mid-20s I have had this obsession with trying to keep my personal monsters at bay with massive levels of organization. I blame a couple of years of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for starting it. I was not born organized, but I have learned it over the past 10-12 years. My sanity seems to hinge on it at times.

It started with endless written lists, then Flylady, and a WhoMi agenda, then GTD and Lifehacker (which is the church of my religion) and webapps like Remember the Milk and Toodledo. I got a Samsung S Glide and with my new Android phone, my obsession with Google Calendar and other awesome Google products I am very close to organizing my personal life paper-free.

My new favourite to-do list is which works on the web and syncs with the phone app. I use my Google account to login, so there's not another web account to remember. I heart it to the power of eleventy1. I use Calendar for appointments and events and WorkFlowy for lists of things I want to remember but can't necessary set into action at the time I remember them. I also have a notepad and pen with me at all times, and set the items I write down as either a to-do in Astrid, and appointment in Calendar or a list item in WorkFlowy at the end of each day.

But all of this organization obsession masks my real fear of being out of control (again). I know exactly what to do, and often schedule what time to do it just so I know when to do it.

What the monsters do is fuck with my motivation. What the monsters do is tell me that it doesn't matter what I do, if I am not exceptional at it - it's worthless. What the monsters do is help me check "complete" when it's not really done. They convince me to hit the snooze bar or reschedule to a more "convenient" time.

They enable me to believe that it's just not worth the time or effort because I am not good at anything and trying won't change that.

I woke up this morning without a feeling of dread for the first time in a month or so. I checked in with Lifehacker (as Saturday is my holy day, it seems) and clicked around and found a link to a post that linked to a site that led me to remember two things and decide another:

  1. In a year I will wish I started today.
  2. I can refocus and start again.
  3. I decided to join DayZero.
I am going to try 101 Things in 1001 Days again. I only have 15 things on my list, but coming up with 101 things in about three hours seems a little... over-eager. But I have scheduled the time to do the things on my list and remind myself of my list. I'm making my list public because I have to be unafraid of failing and failing in public.

The monsters are still here. I can hear them laughing as I write this, because they think that I am not good enough to write, to create, and to get what I want and where I want to go.

I've already proved the monsters wrong. Only 499 blog posts to go.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day Two of My Captivity

Getting up at 6:15 AM seemed like a really great idea. Going for a walk at 6:30 AM? Even better!

Having one adult beverage at 6 PM has nearly knocked me on my ass, so I'll be brief.

I learned two things today:

1. I still remember 90% of a job that I quit about 10 months ago.
2. Just because something happened doesn't make it interesting.

Because nothing interesting happened, I'm just going to sit here and read about creating a will, enduring power of attorney, living will and health-care directives.

Prepared. That's just how I roll.

Monday, July 9, 2012


The heat is getting to me. Wonky joints and whack-a-do small motor skills FTW!

Cleaned up my water retaining bead neck wrap-thing for my first day of paid employment in over three months.

Don't get too excited. I've agreed to work for my Jurassic-era ex-boss whilst his present assistant (the third or possibly fourth such assistant since I quit about 9 months ago) takes a week long holiday.

This will not be awesome.

You know what else is not awesome? Having a just-warm-enough apartment turned into a hot apartment by the introduction of fresh-outta-the-dryer laundry.

I'll have clean clothes to work tomorrow, but at what cost?

Friday, July 6, 2012

How do you do it?

(This should have posted yesterday, July 4, 2012. I apparently neglected to hit "Publish".)

I cannot believe the heat wave that is going on in the US and in eastern Canada. Today was the first day the sun has come out in almost a week here in Vancouver, and it has been blessedly hovering around 15C (59F) with overcast skies and intermittent rain.

Earlier this afternoon I looked at the weather forecast for the next week and had an anxiety attack.

20 degrees is my comfortable max. 23 is my "grin and bear it" max. 26 is "do not go outside under any circumstances" level. 
(20C = 68 F - 26C = 79F) 

Anything over that means I need a Cleopatra-styled litter carried by the cast of Magic Mike to get anywhere.

I'm saving the "fan boy" position for Channing Tatum.

So how do MSers in these boiling-like-the-seventh-circle-of-hell parts of North America manage to get up off the floor, let alone show up for a job every day? I am terrified of the heat, and this is the only thing that I dread about the eventuality of moving back east.

I managed to land five days of work next week. In a third floor west-facing office during the hottest days we've had this year. Not awesome.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I don't wanna brag...

but I scored 100% on this quiz.

"You answered 10 out of 10 questions correctly, better than 99.6% of Americans."

Take the short, 10-question quiz to test your knowledge of the law, and then find out how you compare to the rest of the country, as represented by the findings of the Kaiser Family Foundation's monthly Health Tracking Poll.

And when you are done, pass the quiz along to another person who thinks they know it all about "Obamacare".

(And marvel at the fact that a Canadian knows more about US health care legislation than 99.6% of the people who took the Kaiser Family Foundation's monthly Health Tracking Poll.)