Tag Archives: changing things

Making Sense of the Madness

Hello, minions!

For some reason, there are more of you reading me than there have been in three or so years, and I’m feeling the pressure to post at least a couple times a week as a result, despite the fact that I’m swimming the seas of crazy in these moving days.

God forbid you not get your Vitamin Steff, even if it’s a cheap placebo, like this.

There are 21 days before my life gets the brakes slammed on and I go from the rat race to the slow pace of life on the other side of the Georgia Strait. (For non-locals, that’s the body of water separating Vancouver city from Vancouver Island. Who names an island and a city that’s NOT on the island the SAME? Oh, right. The fucking British.)

My voyage home from the island last weekend, the Strait's incredible ACTIVE PASS, & the interplay of fog & sun.

Today, and for a few days now, I’m sick. I’m a mouth-breather who’s used half the Amazon to blow my nose since Saturday. I’m this close to buying shares in NyQuil, man, and dreaming of Prozac.

I have the remainder of my home to pack, my dad’s in the hospital, I have people I need to say goodbye to, a blog to nourish, and a job to work. If I’m not batshit crazy in 22 days, I might get over my sorta-atheism and be a believer. (But, you know, not likely.)

Oh, My. What a Load of Semantics!

I was thinking on the weekend that I realize now that there’s a difference between being UNHAPPY and being DEPRESSED.

After a long time of thinking I’d been battling depression, I’ve finally realized I was just unhappy and disliked where my life had wound up. I’m looking forward to seeing what finding my sense of self and rediscovering things I love — like strolling beaches, reading under trees in parks — and generally getting my life in balance does to change that.

In the meantime, my mind’s racing a million miles a minute with worries about my dad, who continues to be sick in the hospital, about whether all my furniture will fit in my new apartment, whether I’ll hate that I have less natural light in my new home, and all sorts of little things that are out of my power right now.

It’s times like these that being a thinker isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

But then I take a breath, I remind myself what it felt like last Thursday to walk down the street to an amazing little stretch of shoreline, what the slower pace did for my mind despite the pressure I had to find a place, and I feel like it’s all going to be all right… in, like, seven weeks or something.

Still, I’m excited. Deep down, I know I need this.

T(w)o Blogs or Not T(w)o Blogs

Have I told you I’ll be starting a new blog?

Right.

I’ll be starting a new blog! Yeah!

Yes, this one will continue. I may even return to writing occasionally about sex and relationships again. Oddly, I’m getting emails from people, and they’re sort of disturbing in their neediness — like no one else is talking frankly about sex. And, hell, I’m not even doing it anymore.

I got tired of being perceived as a sex-blogger, but then my Twitter handle never lets me live that down, and I guess I could’ve changed it but on some level I suppose I want that identity. I’m not sure. It’s something I’ll be looking at and probably writing about once I’m on the other side, and that’ll be happening here.

For instance, today Canadian courts are deciding if HIV status should be legally required to be disclosed before sexual relations, and unlike a lot of people who are sex-positive writers, I say FUCK YEAH. And that’s something I should write about. Maybe if I weren’t sick and could string ideas together, I would. Maybe later.

But my new blog will be where I record my moving adventures, and where I write about the transitioning from an unwanted big city life to a smaller pace in a little city, and what it does for me. It’ll be where my photos of my explorations are shared, my observations, my visits to local businesses, and more will be found.

It does have a name but I need to buy the URLs later this week. It won’t be live until March sometime, I guess.

I Feel Like Listening to Sam Cooke

It’s safe to say that my life in Victoria will be about reconfiguring my world from ground up. A lot of change will come. I’ll be keeping an open mind on things to try — everything from yoga and Tai Chi to adventuring.

I almost left Vancouver 12 years ago. The jury’s out on whether staying was a smart choice, but I lean toward “no” on that one.

I get why people love this city, and I’ll always love it too. It’s my home. But I never asked for the world to move here. I never wanted to be one in a million– or one in 2.3 million. It’s not about ethnicities or cultures, it’s about crowds and capacities.

There was a day last fall when I was working on a documentary TV show (I’m a TV captioner) and it was in the Scottish Highlands and an artist was commenting, “I love the city but after 2 days, I’m done and I want to come back to my quiet and my country.” My heart went through the floor because I could imagine it, and I imagined loving it.

I enjoyed the dead of winter when I knew no one during my one year in the Yukon. I also enjoyed the summer when I had a litany of awesome friends and endless good times. A line from Robert Service hit home for me up there, “…the silence that bludgeons you dumb.”

I like that kind of silence, always will. And, despite considering the rest of Canada for my move, I just couldn’t leave this area — not yet.

The Final Countdown

Today, as planes drone overhead, queuing for the airport landings, and horns blare out on the street as some ignorant ass tries to make an illegal left off the highway, and rain threatens to fall, it’s a silence my soul longs for… and one I know is three weeks away.

I don’t know who I’ll be, how I’ll seem, or what my life will really entail six months from now, but I like the visions I get of what it might be.

And sometimes I think that’s all we can hope for in life — that we like the direction we think we’re headed in, and we like who we are when the morning breaks.

It’s safe to say I’m excited, under all my fatigue.

For now, it’s time to refill the coffee cup, edit this, then put one foot in front of another, remember to breathe, and remind myself I’ll live through this. Change is a-comin’.

And Then There Was Change

So, I love cycling.

In 2008, I blew out my back after losing about 60 pounds on my bike. I’ve always thought it was that I was stretching wrong and destabilizing my back. That’s what I thought caused the injury.

Despite all the things I’ve tried to do to improve my back, all the rehab and everything else, it’s never really been right again. I live with kind of a constant fear that something will compromise me, or I’ll fall and get hurt. Just a constant awareness something’s not right.

For some reason, I never thought about my bike seat being the problem. I mean, how could that be? It was an expensive supposedly-ergonomic bike saddle intended for intermediate cyclists — I splurged $60 on that motherfucker, you know. It was recommended to me! It had rave reviews online.

Last weekend, I took my bike into my chiropractor’s office*, and he examined the set-up, looked at me, and then said he thought I should switch to a wider seat.

So, that was a lightbulb moment. I already had been shown what just changing my seat’s angle by 3-5 degrees could do to take strain off my back. “I’ve changed everything else in my life,” I thought. “Why the hell not give it a try?”

I cycled again that afternoon on my old saddle, and it was a wonderful sunny ride, but the next day the pain set in, and it progressed for a few days while I stayed off my bike and really, really, really paid attention to how the pain developed and changed.

I realized how tender my tailbone was, how strained my sides were, and started thinking, “You know what? It DOES seem like it could be the seat.” It seemed like maybe my hips were sagging down and excess pressure was pushing my tailbone up, which made sense if the saddle was a little too narrow for my ample hips.

Then I considered the nature of repetitive strain injuries, how we see things slowly deteriorate but because it’s nothing clear-cut we often don’t specifically know the cause, and then it just compounds until we’re fucked. I think that’s what my back injury has been. A repetitive strain injury. A bit of suckage adding up every time I did the thing I love to do — cycling.

Thursday, I got the seat.

Yesterday, I installed it. I checked out all the “how should a bike seat be installed” docs I could find online, busted out my level, made sure I got my seat horizontal.

Sick, I rode to a nearby walk-in clinic to get seen by a doc, since it’d be less time and effort for getting groceries and prescriptions filled after the appointment than fucking around with bus routes.

During my ride, I realized I had broken my nice wide seat a few months before I began cycling to lose weight in 2008, and that the seat I “splurged” on as a replacement has been the only thing that’s remained constant in my life, in all that time. This had never occurred to me. It’s the missing piece in the puzzle. The possible implications were adding up pretty quickly.

This morning, after only a 7km, 30-minute leisurely ride, my lower back feels more stable, less pained, and stronger than it has in months.

It would be absolutely incredible if, after the thousands of dollars, endless hours, countless tears, and never-ending frustrations of a 3-year ongoing back problem is ultimately resolved by the purchase of a $20 bike seat and a free iPhone “level” app.

And it will be the biggest lesson I’ve ever learned in my life.

I’m just not yet sure what the lesson is. But today I have more hope about my back injury than I’ve had in three years. It’s overwhelmingly awesome to think I may have finally found the cause.

I’m excited. I’m looking forward to beating this cold this week and seeing what develops with cycling. I love riding my bike and it’s been absolutely heart-breaking to endure so much frustration for so long.

But if it’s resolved? Oh, lord, the gratitude I’ll have. Without a doubt, living with a chronic injury has been one of the greatest character-defining, life-teaching experiences I’ve had. I won’t be bitter for a minute that I could have resolved it cheaper, sooner. That’s the way life fucking goes, man. Sometimes the lessons that should’ve been the easiest but became the hardest are the ones that define us the most.

I have literally spent thousands and thousands of dollars on this injury. I’ve lost so much income — I can’t even count that high.

If it’s all going to end and be fixed by a $20 seat, I’ll have no choice but to laugh my goddamned (now well-supported) ass off. It’s so hysterically ironic that I can’t even express it.

I’m laughing as I type, actually. What can you do, man? Life’s really a funny joke on us sometimes.

If we learn from it, then it’s not for nothin’. So, we’ll see how this goes.

Thank god I have a great sense of humour. I needed a good laugh, even if an ironic one.

*My chiropractor is a guy who’s just getting his practice off the ground on Vancouver’s West Side. Dr. Bryson Chow practices Active Release Technique, a method that is preferred by many athletes. It posits the belief that healthy muscles lead to strong skeletons, so instead of forcing bones into place like most traditional chiros do, ART practitioners like Bryson instead work on breaking the muscle memory and helping retrain your muscles so they don’t keep pulling the bones out of alignment. I wasn’t healing at all until I made the switch to ART, but Bryson is the first doc to suggest my seat might be a problem. If you have any kind of repetitive strain or injuries that traditional folks aren’t helping you get past (like Frozen Shoulder Syndrome), consider an ART chiro. A few friends have found it similarly life-changing.

Is There Anybody Out There?

Do you ever have those heady weekends? You know the kind I mean. The kind where you realize your life isn’t what you wish it was, and here, now, in this 72-hour period, you will undertake to solve all your issues, and then you will lock-stock-and-barrel the conundrum of Cold Fusion when you’ve had your post-issue-solving cold beer. It’s all so fucking easy, after all, isn’t it?

Or is it? I’ve had just such a heady weekend.

Naturally, the Cold Fusion ditty’s posing a little challenge to me, but since I’ve solved all the other problems of my life, I’m feeling the checks are balancing all right regardless, y’know what I mean?

I have to confess: I came as close as I’ve probably ever come to having a nervous breakdown last week. I was so stressed, so fucking tired, and I was just about to snap. I can’t really comfortably express how hard it is to fight against the feeling that your world’s about to crash down around you. Man, was I fightin’. Then I realized something: I’ve been feeling like I’ve had no control over my life for god knows how many months now. This ain’t the tip of the iceberg, I thought. This is that big goddamn chunk below the surface and it’s about to fell the mighty, mighty Titanic. Sometimes it just takes a while to realize a truth you’ve been avoiding for far too long.

Now, though, I know it’s like some fuckin’ phantom puppet-master’s been toying with the strings all along. And then I realized something else: It doesn’t need to be that way.

So, I’ve been kind of slowly taking back control for the last week. Doing silly little things to step up the action a little. I’m bored, you know. Real fucking bored. See, my friends are all either ensnared in these happy-sunny relationships, or they’re new parents, or they’re just totally self-involved. It’s been a long time since I’ve tried to expand my friendship realm, but it’s time. I’m sick of being friends with people who are in different places than me. The whole married/but-I’m-just-so-in-love! thing sure has worn thin, at the least. I just need some good semi-single people to chill with, methinks.

The trouble is, I’ve been needing this for awhile. So, when I sort of went and got involved, I allowed that to fill the vacant holes. Bad Steff. Lovers ought never be allowed to serve as putty hole-filler. That relationship’s sort of in a holding pattern, which I don’t plan to explain to you, so because things have slowed a little, I’m getting resentful of being bored. And it dawns on me: My fault. It’s too easy to do this, become reliant on a significant other for our entertainment factor. Thus, we allow them to play the role of hole-fillers a la Spackle. And then when things go a little south, who do we blame? Well, them, but it should be us who’re faulted.

Now, I love my friends and most of the people in my life. I just have far fewer responsibilities than they do, and much more time on my hands. I’m 32, and I don’t fucking feel it. I wanna be checking out live gigs, getting in at 3am. I wanna do all the shit I used to love to do before my FRIENDS got OLD.

They got old, not me. I’m still ready to go, man.

Suddenly, I have this age crisis. A boredom crisis. I want more fun, more variety, more minds in the meeting, you know? It’s the people we choose to surround ourselves with that contribute the most to our headspace and our lifestyle. Without a change of scenery, things get redundant in a hurry. And I’m stopping at the redundancy station again and again, man. And I’m stopping at the redundancy station again and again, man. And I’m…

My scenery ain’t changed in forever and a day. My life was filled with enough chaos and craziness for long enough, that shaking up the social mix didn’t seem wise. You take continuity where you can get it. Even then, I was stuck working in a six-person office for six years, an office where there was always an element of Benedict Arnold under the skin, so I didn’t know how close I could really get to the others. Once you get screwed, you’re always looking to keep the ass covered, if you know what I’m saying.

So, six years of sitting there, my ass tied to a television monitor and a captioning desk, watching TV for a living with headphones on. Not exactly a social role for an outgoing chick like me to play. And every time I tried meeting new people, it was just the same ol’ thang yet again.

I tell you one thing: I’m too damned funny and outgoing to have a social life dry-spell like this. I’ve had a good weekend, doing my kind of shit my way. Funny thing is, one of the things I did to meet new people a couple years back was to start a scooter club in this city. There I was, a new scooter, and no scooter-type friends to hang with. Started up a club, promoted it, and here we are, a couple years later, and 300 members. So, naturally, I have a pool to dive into for amassing new people, but I’ve been neglecting it. I mean, the name they dubbed me with for so long was “Our Fearless Leader,” or “SteffOFL!” (Yes, there are some oddball scooter people out there, but honestly, do I need another stuffed shirt science or business type in my life right now? Variety, baby. That’s the spice this soup needs.)

I kicked off my personal “new year” on the morning of July 1st. It was the annual sunrise ride that I’ve been doing the last couple years on Canada Day. Meet at 3:30a.m., and ride scooters to the top of the 4,000 foot Cypress Mountain on the North Shore, and call it a day by 7 or so a.m. Being as exhausted as I’ve been, it nearly kicked my ass, but I did it with a couple others, and had a good time doing so. Got a few wicked photos, and it dawned on me: No monumental photography days have been had yet this season. What’s wrong with me? (I’d post this incredible view of the crimson city I shot from those heights, but that would involve installing PhotoShop and using up some of my free time today, so no pic for you.)

We forget ourselves, and far too often. We begin valuing ourselves through others and forgetting that there are things that make us tick. When we forget those things, we start to feel empty, then we resent those around us, but really, it’s the fact that we’ve not been taking charge and making decisions for ourselves that’s the problem. It’s stupid, it happens to us all, sooner or later, and every time, it kicks our asses.

So, I’m getting life in gear. I don’t know that I need yet another distraction on my plate, but if the price I pay for less distraction is this interminable sense of being sidelined, then maybe a little disruption in my life is exactly what I need. I used to be unstoppable, man. I used to be everywhere, like the wind. What the hell happened? I still don’t know, but I aim to change.

Let’s call it an experiment.