I wasn't at my best over the weekend.
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and from the minute I got up everything felt overwhelming, negative, and frustrating. I snapped at John and I snapped at my friends and I posted some dumb shit to Twitter that I later deleted because I looked at what I'd said and realized that even though it felt good to call out some shitty behaviour I'd been made aware of in the moment, imitating that toxic behaviour didn't actually make me feel any better or help the situation at all.
We were planning to go to Electric Six on Sunday night and I spent most of the day in an anxious panic worrying that I wouldn't be able to handle being in a crowded public space trying to focus on a band I like and would spend the whole time
standing with that tingling, tight feeling in my face and stomach and throat
kind of like the numbness that hits you just before you throw up or when you get some really bad news
and I kept saying "I can't, I can't, I can't" because I believed it.
Luckily John is an understanding and patient person and he said "babe if you need to stay home that's okay, but I want you to know I was really looking forward to seeing the show together"
which was hard for me to accept because of the baggage I have from years of having my feelings and needs invalidated and thrown in my face
but I wanted to try
so I said "let's go to dinner instead of hanging around the house" and we went to Elephant & Castle and I had a really good burger with bacon and BBQ sauce and we laughed and talked about our super-secret project over pints of Guinness.
We talked to some ladies in town from Calgary sat down next to us and started chatting with us which seems to happen every time John and I go somewhere
and I deleted all the dumb shit I said online and reflected on it publicly
(because it's good to 'fess up to when you're being a tit, I think, which I was)
and maybe it was the beer or maybe the music but when I started dancing in the crowd at Electric Six the numb feeling that was sitting in my gut and throat and face started to melt away, and it was nice to have a break from that feeling for a little while.
I've been working for nearly 10 hours so to mellow I was sitting on the couch watching a video by my favourite ASMR artist
(look it up)
where she's walking around her studio showing people the process and setup she uses to create ASMR videos and I keep thinking
"This girl has 1.5 million subscribers and makes a living creating these videos"
which literally involve creating fake scenes and talking/whispering gently at people to help them relax, go to sleep, or just feel nice.
And yes, okay, it's not a perfect system and video creators have to work a crazy grind to beat the algorithm and generate enough ad revenue
but it's still kinda nuts that this is the thing she does to make money, don't you think?
Either way, as I'm watching this video she starts talking about how she looks "deep into the eye of the camera" so she can create a more intimate experience for the viewer, and how before she creates her videos she'll meditate, or read messages from a "Gratitude Folder"
which is a folder she has filled with messages people have sent her thanking her for her videos, or saying kind things about them, or telling her about how her videos helped them through a really tough time
and it occurred to me
this woman making ASMR videos on YouTube for a living has probably touched more people's lives than a lot of us ever will.
Not only that, but she also clearly really enjoys what she does, and can see real-life examples of how her work has value and contributes to the world around her.
So maybe it's a grind and absolutely we need to push for fair treatment for creators, but it's still a living and people in startups and small businesses have to grind and hustle, too
so we can make money doing something we enjoy
and while it's a tough slog and sometimes feels unrewarding, for some of us it's the very best thing in the world
getting to do the thing we love for a living
and it's pretty cool that we live in a time where that's possible.
which is a weird thing to ask someone who just publicly admitted to being depressed but what else do you ask someone in my position?
"Hey, still feeling like a human dumpster fire today?" isn't a great opening line.
The answer is Fine, I Guess.
As Fine as I can be, I suppose.
I saw a new therapist last week and she's very into these visualization techniques that psychotherapists use to help people who have experienced traumas like PTSD overcome their issues, which I'm down to try but to be honest makes me feel a bit silly.
She had me picture a jar with a lid and had me describe the jar in crazy detail, then she told me to talk about an upsetting experience I'd had recently and how it made me feel, and to feel my feelings and allow myself to cry, which I did.
Then she told me Put your feelings in that jar and close the lid so you can't feel them anymore. So I did.
And you know what. I felt better.
Not one hundred percent better, but a bit better.
That's how it works, my therapist said.
So there's that and we'll see how it goes.
I spent the weekend taking it easy and working a bit and last night John and I went to this dive bar in our neighbourhood and ordered some local craft beer and a slice of lasagna to share
and we talked about the future and the things we wanted and the people we know and the things we're hopeful for, and the place was bathed in the glow of some hockey game on TV nobody was actually watching and everyone was wearing toques and comfortable sweaters and looking very Canadian.
It was very familiar and comforting and it was nice to feel that way.
We stayed for two beers and burnt our mouths a little on the hot cheese because we can never wait for the lasagna to cool, and today we spent some time planning the garden and working on projects, and I've been trying to catch up on the mountain of emails and DMs and text messages I've been receiving since Thursday.
It's been humbling and strange to receive such an outpouring of support and what's funny is that for a person who never shuts up and writes for a living, figuring out what to say back is really hard
so if I haven't replied to you I'm sorry and I'm working on it
but I see you and I appreciate you
and I appreciate that you keep asking.
I've been staring at this blank screen like a page waiting to be filled and I have this pit in my stomach, round like an avocado pit and heavy-feeling, dragging me down into my chair and the floor and the ground. I wish the earth would swallow me whole.
People ask me to talk and I have nothing to say. My words are like ash in my mouth and they feel caked on my tongue. Nothing I say has value. Makes a difference. Matters.
I wake up in the morning and I want to go back to sleep so I don't have to feel this way and so I don't have to fake being happy and smile and be loud and enthusiastic and pretend like I don't have this
hole in me
that keeps growing larger no matter what I do.
It got real bad after VoteOpen but this lack of feeling has been there for a while, or maybe it never really went away and I was just covering it up. Like a hole in the floor that you put a piece of wood over, and then you put a really thick rug on the wood so when you walk over it you don't feel the emptiness underneath your feet. Or at least you pretend you don't.
I regret being involved with that campaign. The city ground me down and I saw an ugly side of it that I can't unsee and I don't know how to love the place that I used to love
anymore because I don't feel connected to it. I've lost my sense of place, and with it a portion of my identity that was so, so important to me, and it feels like that hole is getting bigger and deeper and more complex and I'm losing myself in it more every day.
In the winter I needed to hustle so I could take time off so I barely had time to acknowledge it. I poured myself into my work and hauled ass and accomplished a lot but I did it so I could have an escape from my life and pretend like I was fine for a little while
and I felt fine in Thailand. Most of the time, anyway.
But then we came back and at first I tried to chalk it up to being incredibly jet-lagged, then being incredibly sick, then one thing and another thing and then another thing but the truth of the matter is that
I don't feel much of anything these days.
Just a hollow ashy feeling in-between bouts of profound sadness and red-hot anger. I yo-yo between being angry at everything and everyone, to feeling so sad I can barely get out of bed, and in-between I feel numb. I walk and I talk and I feel myself going through the motions of living my life but it's like watching a movie because the things that are happening have no meaning. They just happen. They don't matter.
John asked today me if I was excited about anything. Folk Fest. Rainbow Trout. Summer and gardening and riding our bikes. Our wedding. Any of the dozens of things going on in my life that I ought to be excited and happy about.
But I'm not. There's that hole in my chest where my feelings should be and it's deep and dark and grey and it feels like if I stare into it for too long I may lose myself and fall in and never come out. I could get lost in it like a series of hallways that lead nowhere but go on forever, empty and dark and endless.
If I were someone else I'd tell me to talk to someone. Anyone. That's what John tells me to do.
"See a therapist" he says "get some help."
So I'm getting help.
Tomorrow I'm seeing a new therapist and maybe that will make a difference but I'm nervous and scared, because the last time I saw a therapist it was to manage the emotional baggage I was carrying around from my relationship with my parents and for some reason I'm okay being a victim of abuse but I'm absolutely terrified of being depressed even though that must be what this is, right?
Is this what depression feels like?
Am I depressed?
I don't want to be. I want to be someone who overcame some shit and maybe still has some anxiety, but is pretty okay now and working on it but can do normal things like talk to their friends and partner about their feelings and get excited about getting married and the future and all the amazing, positive, special things in my life that should be making me feel anything but exactly how I feel right now.
But I'm not okay
and I need to do something about it before this hole in me eats me up and there's nothing left.
Wish me luck.
Lately I've been really into this guy called Pete Buttigieg.
Who goes by "Mayor Pete" most of the time because 1. before announcing that he was going to run for President he served as the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and 2. because "Buttigieg" is one of the most unfortunate last names you could have in contemporary North American politics, I think.
I first heard about Mayor Pete on the Pod Save America podcast (which is one of the best no-bullshit political podcasts out there)
where I believe they were commenting on his last name
and how a religious, gay Millennial who was previously the mayor of a small town in a conservative midwestern state was running for President
which got me all fired up, let me tell you.
Then I listened to his interview and was really impressed by his direct approach, thoughtful comments, and his policies. Dude reminds me of Obama a bit.
Oh, and did I mention that he went to Harvard and Oxford and fought in the War in Afghanistan?
Then we watched the CNN town hall where he blew everyone away and was happy to see that not only can he string a nice couple of words together, but he can also do it in a way that makes you go
that's just plain common sense
like, there's a climate crisis and we need to stop pretending there isn't
automation is coming for millions of jobs that will never come back
we need to re-think the definition of "work" to include things like caring for family
nobody should worry about having to go bankrupt if they get sick
and as he's explaining his views he keeps repeating "I'm part of the generation that has to deal with these issues," and it's SO REFRESHING to hear a Millennial stating facts and being listened to at a federal level, holy shit.
He's still a long shot candidate at the moment, but he's been getting tons of press and was in Esquire, and apparently his campaign raised over $600 K in the 24 hours since the CNN interview.
It's so refreshing to see young political leaders with a strong message
working hard to craft forward-thinking policies that connect with younger voters
and pushing the needle on issues like automation and environmentalism as key policies
if only we had a party who could do something like that here in Canada
Well, John is. I'm blogging because he's in the process of editing a photo of the island of Caye Caulker, Belizem with little notes and arrows and Xes like
X <-- The Split
X <-- Wish Willy's
X <-- Wedding
and watching him is the most charming thing.
As it turns out, John is very good at wedding planning because he
is an A-type, and we both like to take charge of a situation.
We have very specific and well-researched and strong opinions, so it's good we agree on most things. Like:
waffles are better than pancakes
wet cold is better than dry cold (but no cold is best)
inequality and climate change are the two most pressing issues of our time
new Weezer sucks.
the best way to decorate is with plants and books
dogs are superior to cats (sorry T and BJ)
steaks should only be eaten rare
punk's not dead.
Y'know, the important stuff.
It's also good that we agree on wedding stuff because I don't want to fight about our wedding.
I once dated a guy whose brother and his fiancée nearly broke off their wedding because they had an argument about the colour of the candles they wanted to have on the tables at the reception.
But I get it. Weddings are stressful and expensive and that shit gets to ya.
So I'm thankful we haven't had a dumb wedding fight yet, though this hasn't been a stressful experience so far.
The wheels are in motion, and now that we're back from Thailand we're shifting our future-planning, A-type attention to this
the next big thing.
One of the Biggest Things.
I know it'll be different than what I expect, so I'm trying not to expect anything specific.
We're gonna get to the island, get off the plane, and it'll all work itself out. Even if the weather is trash or someone sprains an ankle or I cry so hard that I can't wear my contact lenses.
It'll work itself out.
I'm still nervous, but that's more because our buddy Adam is officiating the ceremony
and I know he's gonna steal the show like he always does.
I should really go see if John needs help with those maps.
One of the things I'm worst at is living in the present moment.
Which sounds hippy-dippy and something you'd interpret from a tarot card reading, maybe, but taking a few moments to really sink into what yr experiencing is a good thing to do from time to time.
Maybe that's what meditation is. I don't know because I've never really gotten past the point where everything is itchy and distracting.
When we were in Thailand I realized I was suffering from this problem because I was constantly feeling pressure to get out there and do something.
John got a throat infection which kept him in bed for several days while we were in Koh Tao and I got really stressed because I felt like we were "wasting our vacation" relaxing at the AirBnB rather than being out and about 24/7.
This pressure, to be doing something all the time, is a leftover from my super-anxious days when I would judge myself for taking downtime, or for not filling every minute of every day with some task or to-do.
I know that, but I'm not always great at recognizing it in the moment. Which can really suck because, okay, we were just hanging out at an AirBnB
but we were also spending time in a new place on the other side of the planet, still getting street food and enjoying the warm weather even if we weren't hiking up to see wats every damn day.
What I should have been doing in that moment was soaking it up with my partner, not worrying about when we could get back to filling our vacation time with stuff.
Lesson learned, and luckily I figured that lesson out early enough on in our trip that I was able to chill out for the rest of it.
(Okay, most of it.)
And I'm glad I did because I was able to enjoy my vacation with my partner while I was there instead of glossing over it because I was busy thinking and worrying about who knows what.
I need to bring more of that into my day-to-day because worrying about stuff removes me from enjoying what I have while I have it.
Being "fully present" means I can soak up the good, bad, and in-between feelings and create more vivid memories of things that are, in reality,
Because each new day runs the risk of being the last of something.
It's scary to think about which is why I think most people don't, but it's true.
This could be the last day you see the person you love.
This could be the last day you talk to yr mom or dad or awkward great-uncle.
This could be the last day you walk into a job you've had for 20 years.
This could be the last day you eat at your fav sushi place before they close.
Nothing stays the same.
Things Fall Apart.
So enjoy what you got while you go it.
I've been in long term relationships for most of my life since I was a teen. Most of them were a couple of years each, usually with a six month to one-year break in between, but overall I've spent more of my life in a relationship than being single.
This means I've spent most of my Valentine's Days either in the throes of a relationship, or stinging from whatever happened that caused the previous one to end. But that doesn't mean I don't still love Valentine's Day.
People like to get upset about V-Day because it's a "made up holiday" (which it is) but, really, aren't they all?
Valentine's Day is probably the most made-up of all, though personally I think if you can find someone who you love, and who loves you right back, then that's a cause for celebration.
A lot of people go through life being really unhappy and unfulfilled and if you can find a little ray of love in your life, even for a little while, hang onto it for as long as it's healthy and good for you and celebrate that shit, yo.
Even if all you do is make dinner together or spend some time with one another or get down and dirrty on each other's business.
Last night I asked my Insta fam if they were doing anything for V-Day and I was surprised to hear that a lot of people refuse to, and do so on the principle of capitalism omg.
Which is funny to me because we buy into a lot of weird and dumb things that may or may not be related to capitalism and yet the one hill people seem willing to die on is the one that is explicitly dedicated to honouring and celebrating relationships with the people we love.
Maybe it's that people (ladies, I'm looking at you) put a lot of pressure on what should be a chill af day.
I used to be this way when I was younger and a lot more insecure. Like if my man didn't go all out on V-Day he didn't "really love me" which is a bunch of baloney and something that (hopefully) most of us grow out of as we get older.
But in case you needed a reminder, here are some tips on how to handle your V-Day activities from someone who's been through a lot of them:
If you're single, that's cool. Be happy for other people who are in love and spend the day treating yourself like the king/queen you are. Have a bubble bath. Watch some trashy TV. Order in a pizza and get high and drink some box'o wine in your undies.
(It's what most people blowing money in restaurants wish they were doing anyway.)
If your partner can't get (or afford) fancy restaurant reservations but you wanna go out, go to McDonalds and share a pack of McNuggets.
Hell, go crazy and split a 20 pack together if you're really in it for the long haul.
If you want flowers then tell yr partner to get you a flowering plant.
That way they won't blow a bunch of money on blooms that will start wilting right away and leave petals all over the floor and you can have something nice to decorate your place with for months or even years if you don't kill it.
(If you have a cat, make sure to check which plant varieties are safe for your furbaby.)
Unless your partner specifically asks for sweets, don't waste your money on boxes of chocolates. That's shit's played out and unoriginal.
Only plan big, elaborate dates if you know that's what your partner is into before planning it.
Not everyone likes surprises and nothing ruins a special occasion faster that expectations that weren't met.
And if you want to bang on Valentine's Day follow the advice of sex columnist Dan Savage, who is way more well versed in these topics than I am. His advice, in a nutshell, is: before you fill up on wine and sweets and sleep-inducing carbs
Happy Valentine's Day, lovers!
I've always been a "good sleeper". I usually don't have trouble falling, or staying, asleep as long as I'm in my own bed and am not in the throes of some anxiety attack or panic-inducing situation.
I also have really vivid and interesting dreams, which helps.
The last few years though, I've been getting more into early starts.
Part of it is that I don't party as much as I used to. When you're awake for days doing bad things to yr body, yr body needs to crash and reset and it does so through sleep.
I also like being awake more. In my pre-therapy days, lots of days felt like I was just trying to muddle through until I could crawl back into the safety of my bed and my dreams.
Sleep was more like an escape.
But in the last few years that has changed a lot. I still love sleeping, but if I could go without sleep for several days just so I could be productive and also do all the things I want to do, then I would.
I still want to stay up for days on end, but for different reasons.
I haven't been able to stay up for days per-se, but lately our jet lag has me waking up at 2 - 3AM most mornings, and passing out before 8PM. It's been weird, and is kinda like getting the flu at the end of your day because yr body is super confused internally.
Yesterday and today I woke up at 5:30AM and it was great.
Turns out I can get a lot done super duper early in the morning, and since I'm one of those people who are very very on and clear-headed and productive right after waking up these early-morning hours have been great.
I'm not going to miss falling asleep sitting up at 8PM, but y'know
We're home and I'm so jet-lagged that I feel sick. My sleeping pattern is all out of whack and I've been awake since 3:30AM this morning and am going to try and stay awake all day to reset my circadian rhythm.
But Thailand was worth every lost hour and every weird grumble in my insides.
We were there for nearly a month, and stayed in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Tao, Phuket, and Bangkok again before flying home.
Bangkok was insane. It's big, bigger than I realized or can describe. The city, which houses 8.5 million people, stretches for miles and miles.
There was a smog warning when we were there and you could taste it in the air. Lots of people wore masks.
We saw Buddhist monks everywhere in their bright orange robes with their shaved heads. We saw a group of teenage monks filing into a 7-11 to buy popsicles to beat the heat which made me laugh.
The heat. My god.
+35C most days, humid, sticky and perfect.
The best weather, food, and vibe were found in the northern city of Chiang Mai.
We found the Cowboy Hat Lady, made famous in that episode of Parts Unknown and it probably comes as no surprise that the food completely lived up to the hype.
Almost everything we ate was made at a stall, cart, or cobbled-together shack on the side of the road (except some yakiniku and shabu-shabu that we ate while in Phuket).
I will deeply miss the food there.
Thai food (and Asian food in general) is so much more interesting and complex than North American food, I think. It's layered and spicy and every bite is different.
I discovered Prik Nam Pla, which is a condiment sauce made by pickling chilies in vinegar and fish sauce, sometimes with sugar to cut the tang.
It can be kinda dull or spicy af, depending on where you are; everyone makes it, and everyone makes it a little differently.
Everyone in Thailand has "their recipe" for everything, which means there's a huge variety in how the same dish can turn out, and it's always good. I didn't eat a bad meal the entire time we were there.
The thing I will miss most about Thailand isn't the food, though. It's the people.
Everyone we met was so gracious, kind, and helpful. They seemed to appreciate that we tried to learn the language, which I'm sure we still butchered because Thai is a tonal language and is much more subtle than you realize while listening to it as a non-native speaker.
I'm going to miss saying (and lightly butchering) "sawasdee ka!" when greeting people, and giving a wai (a slight bow with hands pressed together) and saying "khob khun kha!" as thanks.
I'm going to miss being immersed in the Buddhist culture. All the little spirit houses, monks, wats, and flowers everywhere.
I felt peaceful in the wats we visited. I liked taking my shoes off and covering my shoulders and my knees out of respect for their places of worship. It was such a simple, nice form of reverence.
I've never been a religious person, but Buddhism is something I can think I could get behind.
We met the most amazing people, as usual. John and I have good luck that way.
Every time we go on vacation we wind up having nights that make us wake up the next day and say "can you believe we did that?!"
It's also way easier to power through a hangover when you know a spicy bowl of Tom Yum at the stall around the corner.
(Did I mention I'm going to miss the food?)
Obviously though, the best part about the trip was spending it with John.
I really lucked out in finding a guy I travel well with. He's so patient and outgoing and records every day of our trip in a book every time we go on vacation, which is the cutest thing.
He even glued Thai coins and kept all the transfer stickers they gave us to get on different planes and boats in the book too, omg.
At the end of our trip we got matching tattoos. Which sounds lame and dumb but hear me out:
We're getting married next year and neither of us want to wear wedding bands day-to-day, so we decided to get matching tattoos of the constellation "Ursa Majora", which is a nod to a deep and weird inside joke and our love of science and space.
They're both in the same spot, below our hearts. Pointing us home.
I know it's cheesy but whatever. I love them.
I wish I could describe everything we saw and did in that amazing country.
How green and lush and humid it is. How every back lane looked. How the sky looks from the beach on Koh Tao at night. What it feels like to be lulled to sleep on the Night Train to Chiang Mai.
But there aren't enough words to explain it all. All I can do is hold onto the memories of the things I experienced as tightly as I can, and plan to make more of them as soon as I can.
I'll miss Thailand.
But I'm really gonna miss their food, though.