Better Days Ahead (Or So I’m Telling Myself)

Yesterday I got turned down for a job I didn’t really want. There were enough drawbacks it would have been a tough job to make work logistically, and it (probably) wouldn’t have paid enough to make it worth it. That said, while waiting to hear back, I’d almost talked myself into taking it anyway if they offered it, simply because I need the paycheck.

So when I got that rejection email, my instant reaction was disappointment. Very very quickly, that changed to acceptance. And at this point, I’m near to relief. While I would have been really good at the job, the hurdles required to get there would have gotten old fast.

Later that same day, I found two promising jobs to apply to, received a call back from a placement agency, and got a lead on a communications job in a good office (a dog-friendly office with at least one very nice office pup!). Now, there’s no guarantee any of these will pan out any better than that last one did, but if I’d taken that not-great position, I’d’ve missed out on all these opportunities, which very well may fit my lifestyle and location perfectly.

So if you’re floundering, I know it’s cheesy to say “brave heart, hang in there”, but seriously, do. There’s no shame in getting discouraged and down on yourself—that’s where I was about a week ago. But I keep reminding myself all those negative feelings don’t help anything. Sure, there’s no guarantee things will turn around. There’s a chance they won’t and things will get worse. BUT. There’s also a chance that something fab will come around the next corner.

Thus, whenever possible, I try to operate emotionally as if something good is on the way. Not because I think there’s some cosmic power that’s going to make it happen if I think happy thoughts (though if there is, all the better), but because feeling happy (or at least calm) won’t get in my way. Feeling worried and scared most certainly does get in the way of getting shit done.

I know I can’t feel good about everything all the time. But I can choose not to wallow on purpose. So here’s me not wallowing. In fact, I’m chillin’ in a coffee shop before an interview at that placement agency I mentioned. Wish me luck!

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A Different Kind of Vacation

Sedona sunset

Almost every vacation I’ve ever taken has been to do something. Go to a convention. See the touristy sights. Look at Doctor Who locations. Visit as many friends and family as I can squeeze into a few days. I come home feeling no more rested than when I left (and often far less so).

This last trip to Sedona, Arizona was something different. Finally. Okay, maybe Steven and I did manage to fill it up with going-and-doing-type-stuff more than was entirely necessary, but it was easily the most relaxed vacation I’ve taken in many many years. And it was great.

I didn’t de-stress quite as much as I would have liked, but the somewhat-enforced relaxation did make a difference that I can feel even now. I’m more clear-headed and ready to face the challenges of the day.

A big part of that was largely unplugging from social media. I didn’t even know where my phone was half the time, and I was 100% ok with that. I checked emails and incoming tweets a few times, but I didn’t check my feeds overall. I had next to no idea what was going on in the larger world and it was fantastic.

This was a family vacation, so I spent lots of quality time with my mom and dad, sister and brother, and my aunt (plus, the aforementioned Steven, of course). We played games (Pandemic! Catan! Apples to Apples!) and grilled our own food and soaked in the hot tub a LOT. There was a ton of just sitting around and talking or reading or staring at the views. (The pic above is a sunset as seen from one of our three patios.)

After experiencing something like this, I realize this is the kind of vacation I truly need every once in a while. I can remember only one beach vacation in Florida that left me feeling so recharged, like I’d gotten what I needed out of a vacation (and that one I spent almost entirely on the beach, reading). This is something I’m going to take into account the next time I start planning future trips.

The tricky thing is I’m not in a financial place to take vacations like this often. (Or at all, really. This one was planned so far in advance that it happened despite my current looking-for-work state.) Even when finances are firmly in the black, there are only so many trips I can take in a year. When I’ve got a day-to-day gig again, there’ll be a limited number of vacation days to take into account too. If I skip Doctor Who conventions (very much do-stuff kinds of trips) for a year that means I miss seeing most of my friends for that whole year. That’s no good for my mental health either! And when it comes to non-con trips, I’m married to a “do-er”, who wants to go see things and do things. So there’s that to consider.*

I guess for now I’m just incredibly thankful I got to take this particular trip at this particular time. It might not happen again soon, but it did happen. And I’m overjoyed that it did.

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*I absolutely recognize how lucky I am that this is a “problem” I have. There are many people for whom any kind of trip would be a dream, and I don’t take it for granted.

Post-Vacation Update

Sedona Panorama

Things have been quiet here in March. The early part of the month was spent concentrating heavily on job-hunting. (And on trying to avoid getting sucked down into the emotional mire of insecurity and uncertainty that can accompany that search.) Both struggles continue.

I also had a family vacation last week that was nearly two years in the making. (My mom is A Planner.) Mere days before I left, I learned a dear, dear friend passed away. I’m still struggling quite a bit with the complicated grief this news brings.* While I’m thrilled with my life here in Canada, being 1500 miles away from what I still think of as “home” is difficult at the best of times. When something like this happens, there’s another layer of guilt and helplessness and then a little more guilt for good measure.

So that colored the vacation a bit and led to sudden moments of deep sorrow in the midst of great natural beauty and family-induced joy. Continue reading

Outside vs In – You Can’t See Depression

 Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

I’ve had a rough few days, but you might not know that. The quote in the image above is something I’ve thought a lot about lately. The sentiment isn’t new to me, but I hadn’t seen it put that way until this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day, when someone tweeted it. There were scores of wonderful tweets about mental health, but that’s the one that legitimately brought tears to my eyes.

Over the last couple days, I’ve gotten a lot done. I’ve been productive, active, and involved with those around me. I applied for jobs. I recorded podcasts. I exercised. I cooked and cleaned. I also spent some interesting time looking at myself from the outside (as much as that’s possible), and I realized I mostly looked like a happy-go-lucky contributing member of society.

And I was.

On the outside. Continue reading

Goodbye, Goblin King

Bowie - Labyrinth poster

Nothing feels quite right today. It’s as if some of the light has gone out of the world. I’ve turned on all the lamps, but it hasn’t helped much.

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I’m not going to write a beautiful retrospective about David Bowie’s life here. There will be plenty of those around for the next few days, and they’ll be well-researched and well-edited, and if that’s the kind of thing that helps you through your grief or satisfies your curiosity, I’m pleased they’re out there for you.

I don’t process grief that way. I won’t be listening to Bowie tunes all day. I won’t be watching Labyrinth. (Now, that feels odd to say. I’ve seen that movie more times than any other. It’s my comfort-movie. But not today.) I won’t be reading any more about him than the bare minimum I encounter in tweets as I turn to social media to keep me connected to the world.

I need to keep my distance. I know that about myself. If I start to wallow, the ship that is my mental health will founder in deep, dark waters, and I need to keep afloat.

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I will say this though, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is my favorite album ever. I didn’t just decide that this morning (though that’s the kind of thing I might do); it’s been my favorite ever since I was a kid. It taught me the concept of a concept album. I hadn’t known you could do science fiction in music. I hadn’t known science fiction could make you feel so deeply. (I hadn’t yet discovered some of my SF favorites at the time, and even if I had, I don’t know if they ever affected me on a level like Ziggy did.)

I never did deep-dive into his entire canon. I loved a few bits intensely and left the rest for the folks who appreciated it properly. I was glad others did because a man with so much beauty and creativity deserved to have every ounce of his output passionately loved by someone.

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It was Bowie who taught me about panning (the music-production technique–not searching for gold in a river). The summer after high school, I worked at a dinky little movie theater as an assistant manager/projectionist. When I was alone, closing up for the night, I’d blast a Bowie greatest-hits tape as I cleaned and did the books. The music player was an old (even at the time) boom-box with one speaker in the office and one speaker out in the concessions area. I noticed some songs sounded completely different, depending which room I was in. I’d miss some vocals while I scrubbed the popcorn popper, and miss others while I filled out paperwork. It blew my mind, and I had to rush home to listen through headphones to experience it fully.

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And of course, there’s Labyrinth. The emotional connection I have with that film is still somewhat baffling in its intensity. I discovered it well after it came out. I was in the latter years of high school, I think. So by now, as I said, I’ve seen it many, many times. When life gets tough, and I need comfort, that’s what I most often turn to. During my freshman year of college, when I was away from home for the first time and really floundering in the not-even-quite-real world, I watched it almost nightly. My roommate was amazed (and a little disturbed) by my ability to fall asleep while watching but wake up for every. single. Bowie. scene.

It, and he, were perfectly keyed in to a part of my subconscious, a part of my soul, that wouldn’t allow me to miss a moment. Not of Jareth. Everything about that film was tailor-made for my tastes, from the Henson puppets to the shimmery sparkles all over the labyrinth set to the drama-queen main character to the girl-escapes-boring-life-into-a-magical-wonderland story.

But at the center of it all was Him. This man, this king, this creature of strangeness and beauty. I was drawn to Jareth like a helpless needle to the North Pole or the proverbial moth to a flame. And he was both cold and hot all at once. He was sad and lonely and every bit as lost as the girl wandering his labyrinth. And his music…oh his music.

I liked every song in the film; Bowie wrote them all, of course. But the ones Jareth sang to Sarah, they cut me. They were the ones I rewound to watch over and over. In a silly film about a girl and a baby and puppets, I found a character more damaged and flawed, beautiful and powerful, terrible and needy than any other I’d fallen in love with before.

I know I was supposed to root for Sarah to rescue her brother and live happily ever after, but I never did. I wanted her to see the Goblin King for who he truly was, recognize his pain, and do whatever it took to heal them both. In my mind, I took her place and did this a thousand thousand times.

And that was all down to Bowie. His performance and his songs elevated a sweet, lovely film to a layered, heartbreaking tale, that overflows the screen and seeps into the very soul of those who watch and understand.

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As I said, I’ve turned on all the lights. A monochrome day hangs outside the window. The extra light bolsters my flagging spirit, as do the stuffed, plush doggie leaning on my leg and the fuzzy cupcake pants I’m inhabiting and the even-fuzzier green blanket on the also-fuzzy couch. I’m surrounding myself with softness and light, joy and distraction, comfort and color today because I know that’s what I need right now. Sinking into solace: Yes. Wallowing in wounds: No.

I should be applying for jobs, but I think my cover letters might devolve (evolve?) into lyrics from “Life on Mars” and “Oh You Pretty Things” and “Five Years” and heck, maybe “I’m Afraid of Americans” would actually help now I live in Canada.

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Speaking of Labyrinth, I’ve read some of the other actors they considered for the role of Jareth. I thank my lucky stars things happened the way they did. I thank my lucky stars for every way Bowie touched my life. And I suppose his death won’t bring an end to that. His work, his art, is still out there, touching not only me, but countless others.

All of us, individually loving, consuming, appreciating his brilliance. And perhaps more importantly, all of us, together, doing the same. My love of Bowie brought me together with many amazing people. It brought me closer to the amazing people I already knew. And that can only continue.

So thank you, David. Thank you for all of it.

But I’m still crushed to see you go.

New Year’s Meh-solutions

2016

I’m fairly lukewarm on the idea of New Year’s resolutions. They don’t really work for me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about the year gone by and what I’d like to be different or better in the new one. I’ll work towards those things. But I know that my brain doesn’t like it when I promise things–even to myself. Yes, I suppose it means I’m not holding myself accountable for the things I don’t achieve, but it also means I’m not beating myself up for failing. And I know which is more likely to happen when it comes to my mind.

In fact, forgiving myself and letting go is at the top of my list for 2016. I tend to get obsessive about things like media. If I’ve subscribed to a podcast, I feel like I have to listen to all the episodes. I got a bit better about that last year, and I want to improve more this year. In fact, I just deleted a podcast ep I was only halfway through. It was a Doctor Who podcast, and while I was taking some schadenfreudeical delight in hearing cranky old fans moan about how “Hell Bent” was “a waste of Gallifrey”, there’s only so much of that kind of negativity I can consume without it affecting my mental health. It’s okay to beg off when that starts to happen. I’ve never actually done it before today, and I do feel a little guilty about it, but I’m trying to let that go.

Speaking of podcasts, Continue reading

Back in the Saddle…Sorta

rocking horse

After a long silence due to international and intercontinental travel, I am back home in Edmonton and working on re-acclimating to real life. Or something like real life. I have to admit, the re-entry hasn’t been entirely pretty. I’d never spent a month away from home before, and while it was exhilarating, it’s a weird thing to just stop. And picking back up at home is rougher when things aren’t the same as when I left.

I’m now sans job, so there’s not much structure in my day. That’s something I always struggle with. And the joblessness brings mild nervousness with it. Job-hunting in a less-than-ideal Edmonton economy isn’t the most fun thing. Nor is all the housework that awaits one after travelling for a while. Then there’s the feeling of isolation at being in a city that’s at least 1500 miles away from most of my friends and family. So while I meant to jump back into the blogging thing immediately upon returning home, that just didn’t happen.

Instead, I’ve been doing oodles of self-care in the week-plus that I’ve been back. Continue reading