Thanksgiving and Homecomings

I found my funny again. I had lost it for a while. That’s a lie; it was longer than a while, for over six months, I stumbled through life not feeling funny at all. Extracting words from my psyche was painful, even more so because the resulting text was mediocre. Of course I still did absurd things like creating garbage tidal waves next to my house and calling complete strangers to say that I was debating the merits of raising amphibians in my basement, which are in essence amusing at their core. However while writing about those types of events, I didn’t feel funny.

It’s ironic because this particular change of season, from summer to fall usually brings about a kind of slow melancholy in me. By contrast, this year I find myself energized, no longer held down by all of the terrible events and circumstances which bound me for so long. Instead I sit by my kitchen window, smiling at the dying fall light, feeling thankful for all that I have, and finding life endlessly amusing. It’s taken a long time, but I have returned to myself.

It’s funny, in order to come back to myself, I had to let go of who I had hoped I’d be, and my deep sense of loss over who I was instead. In that slow forgiveness and acceptance of my new situation, my mental load lightened and I felt that sense of quirky mischief and joy of being in the world returning. At my core, these are the two qualities that define both my writing and my experience of life.

This wasn’t a path I walked alone; each person to whom I painfully revealed my difficulties helped me. This afternoon, when I bow my head and reflect on all that I’m thankful for it’s these people, who stood alongside me, who cared in their way, that I will remember in my thoughts of silent gratitude.

This post is dedicated to all those who find themselves alone and wandering along a dark and jagged patch of life without shoes. Keep going, there is light and a warm meal waiting for you.

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The Reset Button

(Photo Credit lukeroland.com)

(Photo Credit lukeroland.com)

Most people ignore the button on the right. After all, it’s the “Power” button that turns the game on, and the one that shuts everything down when it’s finished. “Power” is what people use most often.

“Reset” is reserved for those desperate times, near the end of the game, when Mario has come so far but just can’t make it anymore; he’s losing lives because those angry flowers keep pelting him with fire. Worse still, the creatures that look like mushrooms grew legs are falling out of the sky and smushing the poor little plumber. (Full disclosure, it may have been twenty years since I last played any type of Nintendo game.) At those times the tally of points in the corner of the screen is so impressive that you could cry from the exertion of getting your video game character this far. But the flowers keep breathing their hot angry breath and suddenly fish start jumping out of nowhere. There are two options, you can push onward and eventually watch Mario’s little figure drop out of the screen, clutching his hat in distress, or you can end it on your terms, knowing that there will be a next time, another set of flying fish, more angry flowers, but in that game, both you and Mario will come out swinging, so you reach for the “Reset” button.

I pushed “Reset” today, the small switch that makes my life start over. It was nerve wracking, and briefly I wondered whether it was the right decision. But what one needs to remember is; you’re never truly starting over, all those skills and tricks that were learned the first time around, make the following attempts that much easier and faster. However in that moment, when you’ve given up everything that you’ve worked for, before the next game has begun, life can feel like a free fall. Occasionally in Nintendo, and the real world, there are times where nothing more can be gained from following a particular path, even if it is possible to move forward. In that terrifying and exhilarating psychological drop, it’s important to reach for the good things, as you push the button and let the bad road fall away.

We Should Do Brunch

Much to my great pleasure and surprise, life stopped beating the snot out of me. Regrettably, life is still life which means it’s continuously handing me lemons, but at a more manageable rate thankfully, so I’m able to turn to those around me and say “Who wants dessert? Lemon meringue anyone?”

Which is my way of telling you, my fair readers, that I made everyone pie. Actually that isn’t true; I am neither that skilled nor that motivated. However I thought about making pie, in my world that’s practically the equivalent of the act itself. Often in my life I’ll think of jobs and assume because I’ve thought of them, that I’ve completed the tasks. Hence why I’m writing this post in the dark, let that be the lesson of the day; pay the electricity company, they have no sense of humour and a complete lack of regard for the fact that their customers contemplated paying the hydro bill multiple times.

I digress, for those of you who have been steered this way from North of the Grid, I apologize, not only is this not a science blog packed with useful information but we’re out of pie. My condolences, however the invitation did say come early. What you have stumbled upon is a humour blog that contains record of all of the nonsensical things I do to myself and loved ones.

And on that note, allow me to share my most recent paddleboarding experience. Last Saturday, having learned my naked, cold lesson the previous week, I arrived at the dock fully kitted out and ready to sit Maddie on a paddleboard for a couple hours with me.

This is Maddie her hobbies include chasing squirrels, trailing bits of sticks into the house and staring woefully at me while I paddleboard. Photo Credit : northofthegrid.com

This is Maddie. Her hobbies include chasing squirrels, trailing bits of sticks into the house and staring woefully at me while I paddleboard. Photo Credit : northofthegrid.com

“Hello” I said waving cheerily to the blonde, tanned youths working at the dock, “I’m the naked gongshow from last week. I’ve come to give a repeat performance.” At which point the youths all shaded their eyes, ostensibly to protect them from the sun but more likely because the young workers had no desire to see my doughy midsection again.

The young man, who I can only assume drew the short straw, held the paddleboard for me while I took out a bathmat and proceeded to press the suction cups to the nose of the watercraft. “This is so the dog will have something to grip” I explained while the silicon mat made “sqwoosh, shlup” sounds on the fibreglass board. Then I secured the dry bag, stuffed to the brim with a towel, sunscreen and a doggy snuggie to the back of the paddleboard.

Even canines like to get warm and fuzzy after they fall in the river. Photo Credit: community.babycenter.com

Even canines like to get warm and fuzzy after they fall in the river. Photo Credit: community.babycenter.com

Next of course came Maddie herself, who was looking bulky and resplendent in her lifejacket. That is, as long as resplendent means awkward and funny-looking. Then of course I had to remove her lead and secure it to the back of the board with the dry bag. It was at that moment, kneeling on the board with a dog on a bathmat on the nose and what was in essence a giant doggie diaper bag on the other end, that I realized that I had failed to grab a paddle. “Help!” I cried to the youth who had long since given up feigning interest in my floating sideshow and let go of the paddleboard, “I need a paddle!”

At first, I was handed a  broken paddle which was missing a section “This won’t do” I told the youth gesturing towards Maddie’s small shape on the front of my board “Do you not see all the extra weight I have to propel forward? I need a whole paddle.”

Eventually an unbroken paddle was found and away we went. The Provincial Park staff has since begun campaigning for a raise, supposedly to compensate for all the nut jobs they are forced to assist.

But I Like Iced Tea

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Or that’s the idea at least, but other times life starts relentlessly pelting you with lemons until you cry “Oh please stop!”. At which point Life switches fruits and slams you with one Granny Smith after another “How do you like these apples?” Life asks in a menacing way. “I don’t like those apples” you cry helplessly, “I don’t like them at all” So Life rears back and snarls “Then have some more lemons!” And you whimper while Life grinds lemon juice into your cuts and bruises.

Life can be a bit of a dick sometimes. But then again so can I, so really I can’t blame Life that much. However that doesn’t prevent me from crying quietly over my lemon juice marinated wounds.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m at a fork in the road. Generally I only recognize these branching spots after I’ve passed them, getting too caught up in the difficulty of the situation to notice the major change occurring in the scenery of my world. My previous forks were precipitated or possibly occurred while life pelted me with various flora and whatever else it could find.

A large part of me wants to huddle with my hurts and wait for the storm to pass.There’s an ease in that, in closing one’s eyes and holding your breath, willing the storm to pass. It means relinquishing all but a little control, and giving into the currents of life, landing where it drops you. In previous years, I’ve chosen this option.

There’s another way too. To duck your head for a moment, find your bearings, and decide on a route rather than letting the path take you. Choosing this method takes bravery and a certain amount of foolhardiness. After all, even the best of plans fail sometimes.

Regardless, the dividing of roads is cause for reflection. Neither curling in on oneself, nor striking out against the howling winds of change can avoid that outcome.

I Wish This Wasn’t True

The Great Unwashed – “I kicked a bank today.”

Diana – “Then what happened?”

The Great Unwashed – “Nothing, so I punched it.”

Diana – “Then what happened?”

The Great Unwashed – “Still nothing, so I kept yelling at the top of my lungs and then a fifty year old bank manager came out and said “Closed” emphatically while making a frowny face, so I snarled at him and bared my teeth.”

Diana – “You know this story doesn’t make me worry about you less. Also you need to go to a different branch now.”

There is no explanation for my behaviour on Thursday. Well there is, it’s just not very good and doesn’t excuse me from transforming into a rabid, mental patient outside of a financial institution. In my defense, the mental patient appearance was not entirely my fault.

The end effect was like this only shorter. (Photo Credit : hji.co.uk)

My hair looked like this only shorter. (Photo Credit : hji.co.uk)

All of the pipes had clogged that morning and it was supposed to be bathin’ day. To distract from my unwashed state, I decided to put my hair up. Unfortunately my hair is currently about chin length, so the end result of pinning my curls meant that tendrils poked out from my head, making my scalp look like a mismanaged, wild garden in the spring. I was wearing utility pants which I had haphazardly sewn extra pockets into. However I hadn’t bothered to finish the pockets so the ones I sewed in were fraying about the edges. The end result was bag lady chic.

As a card carrying adult, I accept certain necessary evils in my life for example, banks and insurance companies. My life philosophy is “Most people probably want to help me and be my friend”.  The bank’s philosophy is “We don’t want to help you and we will take ALL of your money”. As a result, I do my best to avoid this institution, however purchasing a house has meant that I’ve dealt quite a bit with the bank recently. As I headed once again to the dreaded financial institution, I was aware that the interaction was going to be long, possibly unpleasant and one hundred percent certain that the fees would be astronomical. But it was ok because I was going to get my down payment for my house. I had even written down the financial terms to use in conversation with the bankers so I wouldn’t be nodding my curly head while saying “You know, the paper that you give to people, to give to the other people, to give to your mortgage company?”

But at four thirty two PM, when I arrived outside the locked doors of the bank, having run almost a half a kilometer because traffic was moving at a crawl so I was forced to park far away to have a hope of making the closing time, all of those terms flew out of my head. This bank closed at four thirty on Thursdays. Pulling with all of my might against the doors, I yelled “Mortgage! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Yanking again with my entire five foot-ish frame, the door did not budge. “AHHHHHHH” I yelled in frustration “But, but, but HOUSE! NOOOOOOOOOO”

It was one of those times in life where you can’t believe your poor luck, when the sheepish shrugs of the employees inside are almost taunting in the face of your time-sensitive To-Do List.

Around the time I yelled “HOOOOUUse. Down payment!” the dour faced bank manager appeared. What I needed most in the world at that moment was a hug. But people don’t approach nut cases with their arms outstretched. I do expect a video of my meltdown to appear on Youtube though, seeing as all of this occurred in front of a crowded bus stop.

I booted the door. The bank manager frowned. I punched the metal frame. “Closed” he said firmly. “No? But, down payment, house! MonEEEEEEEEEEY!” I bellowed, having lost the ability to form coherent sentences half a minute before. “Closed” he repeated sternly. That was when I snarled and bared my teeth, shoving my face as close to the door as I could. Realizing what I had done, I pulled myself back. “Thank you!” I shouted turning and rushing away from the building towards my car. Then upon realizing that I had thanked someone who wasn’t remotely helpful I turned again “I mean, NOT thank you!”

In the end, I called the helpline on my bank card and explained the situation. The kind voice directed me to a branch two kilometers down the road which was open slightly later.