Tag Archives: changing your life

All Boxed In

My apartment is a wide chasm between growing seas of boxes.

Each end of my apartment has a mounting assortment of boxes or things I’m to purge.

In those boxes is everything from my Christmas crap through to college books I loved. It’s all there. Boxed and boxed and boxed. I hear the Weeds theme on a loop in my head.

“Little boxes…”

Oh, readers: I am not a patient woman. Lord, how I try.

But I am not. I fake patient. Kinda. I’m a good actor. You know, in high school drama, I did one hell of a mean Norma Rae monologue. Oh, yeah, me and Sally Fields, together at last.

But I am not patient. My life right now is torture, I tell you! SO MUCH WAITING. GAH! GAH! GAH!

Back when I made the big decision to move to the Yukon in ’94, you know how that went down? Let me tell you.

On a Tuesday, I mailed my resumes off at 3 in the afternoon whilst chowing down on a honeywheat and plain cream cheese bagel at Benny’s on Broadway, and at 9:15 that Friday I was awakened by a manager of a photo shop in Whitehorse, Yukon, telling me it might be a sign that his assistant manager put my resume on his desk five seconds before his photo lab manager walked in with her resignation. Two weeks later, I was living there and managing a photo lab.

Seriously, inside of three weeks I had the IDEA of moving to the Yukon and then wound up BEING there. Packed, drove, got the job. Whizz-bang, done.

Less than three weeks to move to a place of fabled wilderness where “silence bludgeons you dumb” and all. I’m taking three MONTHS to move to Victoria? I’m gonna lose my fucking nut here! I AM.  GAH! GAH!

[breathing]

Om.

Whew.

Sigh.

Okay. All right. Look. I decide “Here’s what I want to do,” well, the one thing not to do? GET IN MY WAY.

But here I am, all gimpy-girl, she of mega-long-ass-fucking back injury. Well, here’s a good idea: PACK A LOT OF HEAVY BOXES AND SQUAT REPEATEDLY. MAYBE THROW IN DOZENS OF STAIRS CLIMBED 3-FLIGHTS AT A TIME, REPEATEDLY, FOR WEEKS.

I hear that’s AWESOME for backs.

So, yeah, I thought “Doing that with a month’s notice? Not awesome.” PACE THYSELF, SWEETIE.

And there was a little thing called Christmas. Four weeks to enjoy the holidays? Sure. Good plan.

But now I’m all pissed I’m not moving February 1st, but that secretive logical not-completely-dumb-ass part of my brain goes “THANK GOD FOR EIGHT WEEKS.”

Still, I’m off like a shot in the dark and whatever other speedy-ass-Gonzales allusions you wanna dig up. I got me some 10+ boxes packed, plans made, systems conjured. I am all over this like Oprah on a ham, honey.

You know what’s totally demented?

I like the half-empty shelves. That’s working for me. I’m constantly surrounded by my things, things made by my father, and things I inherited from my mother. It’s a little weird when you’re trying to find yourself after long periods of upheaval.

Back in my would-be-sex-blogging days, I once did this very short and to-the-point sex tip. If you’re a woman, and you have trouble reaching orgasm, and there is a photo of your family ANYWHERE IN YOUR ROOM, then get it the hell outta there.

It sounds weird, but there’s this low-level awareness we have when we’ve got familiar faces around us in picture form, no matter what it is we’re doing, and if it’s of parents who chastise us, people who belittle us, and so forth, then that’s problematic.

As much as it’s nice having family stuff at home to ground us, sometimes it can lead to mental places we maybe should take a break from. I’m sort of tired of having family photos around.

Everywhere I look are books and other things gifted from friends and lovers, and things inherited or received from family. That book on my left isn’t just a grammar book, it’s a book an ex gifted on our first date like they were flowers — but it’s not a symbol of all that I enjoyed in that relationship, but instead of all I lost when it ended. Or so it would seem upon first recall.

At least I'll have to take my head out of the sand when I unpack. Until then: New surroundings! AND SANDY.

And that’s just one of dozens, even hundreds of things. Everything has a connection to some tangible memory.

To think there’s no mental baggage that comes from glancing around my home is foolishness.

In a world where we’re hyper-stimulated by visuals everywhere, having a home filled with stuff doesn’t help that come-down period we’re supposed to have when we’re in our so-called sanctuary.

Decluttering would be nice but I’m not sure how much I can whittle down. As I’m going through and packing, some stuff is getting turfed, but is it enough?

I’m hoping that the quicker I can start packing it up, the more emotional distance I might have when it comes to deciding whether or not it returns to my home upon my unpacking.

I’ve been here for 12 years. It’s among the most lived-in rental apartments you’d ever have set foot in. So totally “owned” by me. A new place will be a big change on the emotional scale.

When I realized this week that I’ve spent almost exactly one third of my life in this apartment, I was a little freaked out. No wonder this move is a big deal. How’d I wind up here for so long?

I got stuck.

So, now, with all these boxes around, it’s a reminder that change is afoot. It’s also a reminder to be in the moment and enjoy each passing day, because life will soon be a 180 of what it is now. No commute, working in my pajamas. More time to breathe.

I want to embrace the break-neck stupid that’s about to come down in the form of manic rushing, packing, organizing. I want to have a moment in some 10 or 12 weeks where I can stop, reflect on this period, and really accept that a monumental change of pace has arrived.

58 more sleeps.

Moving Day One: 59 Sleeps to Go

It’s a little weird dans Chez Steff this evening. Christmas is in boxes. Dust outlines litter the bookshelves where formerly-laid-objects have been hijacked and packed.

Total disarray. Promising disarray, but chaos no less.

I have decided to pack as much as I can, as early as I can. The thinking? Make myself live as minimally as possible for the next 7 weeks until the move. When I move, it’ll be the first time in 6 weeks I’ve seen a lot of this stuff. Maybe my thinking will be more removed and objective on what actually comes back into my home.

I’d like to be the “Less is More” type in every way except in space. Ideally: I get a place that’s 1,000 square feet or so. That’d be 50% more than now. I’ve seen a couple listings I’d kill your grandmother to get.

I’d love a spacious home, and would be willing to live a little more off the beaten path for the right place. I have some really nice stuff. To me, anyhow. I don’t want to pare down much more than I have. I like my mix of cool and retro, quaint and quirky. I think I’m rocking it, and I want to keep it. If it’s junk, it’s going. If it’s not, here’s hoping I get at least 750 square feeet.

Otherwise, I’m paring.

Well, anyhow.

The reality’s kicking in. I’ve got boxes now. In this old armoire of mine, I’ve crammed 4 boxes. Soon, I’d like there to be 12 in there.

Bits and pieces of my life, boom, there it is. Bits and pieces of dead peoples’ lives too. And live ones, besides me. Lotsa bitsa lives.

That’s what the bookshelves are for me. Repositories of life. Mementoes. Books, of course. Things others have made for me, photos of loved ones, weird little things that meant something to me and to no one else. Like that one solitary blue marble.

The story behind the one itty-bitty blue marble that’s sat conspicuously on the bookshelf since 2006?

I cycled Southwest Marine Drive after a blowout with a boyfriend. Things were getting weird and I would soon be nearly off my nut with estrogen poisoning and a bad experiment with “period supression.” I wrote in my journal that I was “losing my marbles” and was going for a bike ride in the hopes of clearing my head after said fight.

I rode toward UBC, stopped at a late summer fruit stand on the roadside, and while I was buying my Okanagan cherries, glanced down to see the marble beside my foot.

It seemed like a “sign” that I might lose my marbles but I’m also likely to pick some up along the way, and I should just chill and enjoy the ride ‘cos it all sorts out in the end.

After that came intermittent moments of chill and crazy, but at least I occasionally found my marble. Today it’s in my change bin.

Those kinds of things are fun. I keep mementoes from stuff like that.

Now these things will be increasingly hiding in boxes until I’ve flipped the script on my life. Then, they’ll come out and there’ll be an all-new context.

I start looking at the bare shelves and packed boxes, and I get a panic attack twinge. “Oh, shit. I’m actually doing this. Whoa.” And then I settle down.

Because, most of the time, I’m all antsy and LET’S FUCKING DO THIS! NOW! NOW! Move it, people!

It’s like I wanna put a freeze on today’s Craigslist, stiff my landlord, and move tomorrow. When I decide what I want, I want it now. But the world doesn’t work that way.

Besides, I’m a smart introspective grownup. I’ll get more out of this if it takes a couple months and I throw myself into the mix.

I don’t know. It’s a weird headspace. I’m thrilled I’ve got a good head start on moving. I’ll have all my tech to put together this weekend. No more packing then. Toys!

But it’ll be good to process it all a bit, too.

Moving is sort of embracing the future but also confronting the past. There’s a crossover time when it’s forward-and-backward thinking.

I love that kind of stuff. I live for it. But it’s not like I move often. Who knows then next I’ll have this in-between time? I’m milking it.

But right now I’m sneezing up a storm, thanks to kicking up long-dormant dust and firing up allergies. So much for the romanticism.

PSST: HAPPY NEW YEAR, PEOPLE.

My Choice to Move: Addressing Your Comments

Time to tackle some of the comments from the last week on my “bombshell” of my leaving this storied city of glass, Vancouver. [My original rant about getting out is here, and the “deeper reasons” posting is here.]

After this, I’ll move on to blogging about the process of moving, the reflections it creates as I go through a lifetime of belongings to ready myself for a new life, and other things one might be lost in thought over during such a process.

The Preamble

First: I’ve deleted TWO comments. Both were from people who didn’t know how to say they disagreed with me or thought I was whiney or whatever without calling me names and generally being dicks about it. I know you have freedom of speech and I encourage you to use it, but there’s no constitutional amendment that requires me to listen to your bullshit when you decide to use said freedoms to be a belligerent asshole about it. So, yeah, feel free to waste your time, but I’ll be deleting that crap.

Second: Let’s clear a few things up. I don’t think the day-to-day things will be much cheaper at all in Victoria. What I think is, I can get a much nicer home for only a few dollars more than I pay now, and live in a much more convenient neighbourhood that’s easier on me in every way than the place I’m in now.

Third: I don’t plan to return to the city every week or two, so travel costs don’t matter. I don’t plan to suddenly become a “concerts/theatre/ games” person because it’s been out of my budget the last couple years anyhow, so I’m quite content for a quiet life of parties at home, reading more, and exploring the world. Fact is, Vancouver’s priced most of the entertainment world out of my reach, so moving to a place where there’s less of that really isn’t a drawback. In fact, it’s a bit of an advantage, because I won’t want what I can’t have. Between my back problem and my lack of writing, being stuck on buses for up to 15 hours a week and not living close to any decent shops, the commuting is killing me. I want a walking lifestyle in a reasonably quiet, convenient area that will be better for me creatively, physically, and quality-of-life-like, and where people don’t drive 70km through the side streets like they do where I’m at now.

Okay? All rightie then.

From Culture to Pace

I get why people love big cities but a lot of the things about big cities aren’t things I’m really wild about. I don’t like the endless bustle and noise. I don’t like crowds and chaos. I don’t need “excitement.”

Deep down inside, a part of me would like to live in the Scottish Highlands and visit society once a month. If anything, I worry Victoria isn’t quiet and small enough for me.

One reader, @NiftyNotCool, commented on the backwater attitudes in the small Saskatchewan town she was raised in, and that’s why she needed to get out and move to a forward, progressive city like Vancouver. I totally get that, and it’s something I DO love about Vancouver — how open-minded it is, how many of my gay friends have found community here, how multicultural it is, and how well it seems all us races get along most of the time.

Clearing Up What “Foreign” Means

Now, let’s address the obnoxious comment I deleted that made it sound like I’m some racist who hates the fact that people of different ethnicities moved here and the real estate market escalated.

No, if you LIVE here, then I think it’s great. Hell, I’ve been an ESL teacher in the past, so the culture shock of moving here has even been my bread and butter.

My problem is with foreign millionaire landlords who don’t live here, don’t pay taxes here, and who buy properties solely as investments in an overpriced market, then charge high rents to reap rewards on those investments, thus escalating the market as a whole for renters and people who are looking to invest in a home to live in. I want the market protected from outside investors for a while, just so the local population can catch up — whether they’re “born” local or transplanted. Buying to live in it? Fine. As long as you’re interested in community and being part of the city, welcome to ya, whatever your background.

I may also have a problem with the number of SUSHI restaurants in Vancouver, but that’s the extent of my racial discontent.

I Think I Need A Drink

And, speaking of restaurants, I regret ever bringing up the motif of the “$10 beer” in my first posting. I know overpriced beer exists in Victoria. Hell, they charge $60 or something for High Tea at the Empress, so you know the stupid’s going on across the pond too. Let’s forget I ever bothered with that argument, since I also have to admit there’s $3.75 sleeves 10 blocks from my present home. I never grumbled about a $10 Guinness last fall, just this sleeve of Rickards. It’s too ordinary to be expensive. Still: You people are right, I was wrong, and there we go. Moving on. Ixnay the eerbay, eh?

When Money’s Too Tight To Mention

Another comment I had came from some 21-year-old shithead who thinks he knows something about life and the struggles that might come down one’s way. I’ve been around too many blocks to even begin caring about that perspective, and that got deleted on merit alone since he was such a mouthy little fuck in his arguments, and the mouthy little fuck knows jack about my life.

It’s not like I’ve been forced to hit up the Food Bank or anything. My argument primarily is: the ridiculous renter’s/buyer’s market is insane and it’s now draining a lot of people like me who’ve “gotten by” for years but need to get ahead finally, and it’s just not happening in this city for us. The cost of living is high, and one would expect that today, but the real estate is off the charts.

If I’m paying high rent to live in the city but still spending a minimum of 10-15 hours in commute for work each week, and getting none of the “convenience” of living in the city, and I can’t afford the “scene,” then, what is it am I paying for? It’s a problem for a lot of us. For some, the solution is moving out to the ‘Burbs. For others, it’s just moving somewhere new entirely.

Ain’t No One-Size-Fits-All Dealio, Bob

I don’t think that the solutions I’ve chosen are right for anyone but me. I’m not trying to suggest I have the answer to anyone’s problems, or even a clue how to solve Vancouver’s market problems, but I think I’ve found the right choice for me, for now. I didn’t grab a Magic 8 Ball looking for Band-aids to life here, I took most of the year to decide when and where I should be going, on criteria that matters to me, and I considered cities across this great country. Ultimately, moving far from home doesn’t work, because I truly love this area.

I’ve been slow and careful in choosing because I think I had a fork in the road many years ago and took the wrong path. I think I’ve spent years struggling because of choices I could’ve made but didn’t.

And that’s life. Making a wrong turn isn’t something that becomes clear in a week or a month. Sometimes it takes years. And, yeah, it’s clear to me now. I think.

The Vancouver “problem” isn’t the culture. It’s not the mix of races. It’s not the beautiful setting. It’s not the fun festivals. It’s not the amazing bike paths, seaside routes, or any of that. It’s not the “Greenest City in the World” plan. It’s either that you can afford to live where it’s amazing, or you can’t.

And, me, I’m over city life. I’m tired. I don’t need the noise or the crowds or the commutes anymore. I don’t need to be an hour from town so I can “live it up” now and then. I need something less on a constant basis, and for quite a while.

For me, for now, less is more.

Now, I’ll assume I’ve said enough on the whys and wherefores. Moving on, kids.

Building Blocks: Mastering Less as More

It’s been a long week and you’re probably wondering how it went, given my dreaded Month of Suck admission last week.

I’ve spent this past week slowly recalibrating myself, lowering my expectations, ditching my guilt, and focusing on the individual steps to take rather than being overwhelmed by the bigness of my journey…

Found on SciFiTV.com.And it’s been much, much better.

My workout with Le Physique’s Nik Yamanaka last Monday was really an empowering start to my week. She was empathetic, didn’t dwell on my admitted failings, changed the game up a little, challenged me, and provided great positivity, support, and encouragement during the workout. She also brought The Funny, and we like The Funny.

It wasn’t that she was babying me, not by a long shot. She pushed me enough, and god knows I felt it the next night as the Screaming Thighs of Fury set in a day after the epic “Let’s try some lunges” experiment, but she didn’t push me past what I could take.

Who cares about the Screaming Thighs of Fury, though?

Face it, anyone who doesn’t have killer-sore legs after doing their first-ever triple-set of lunges is probably immortal. We don’t like those people.

We really, really don’t like those people. But I digress.

Aside from letting me ditch my guilt and shame by playing me her version of the “everyone has reversals” record, Nik also provided a lightbulb moment when it came to stretching.

I think I know better than most people the profound difference that can come from tweaking a stretch angle by a few degrees, so I was really surprised to find that, a) I’m still being uber-overzealous in my hamstring stretching, b) it’s probably a huge part of why my hamstrings never stretch out, and c) it’s likely instrumental in why I have recurring back issues on a small scale all the time.

Nik drove the point home that the hamstring is a very gentle stretch, and one of the most important ones we can do. She said to wait while the hamstring naturally extends itself. Stretch the leg to the point of feeling it, hold, as it releases and resistance lessens, extend slightly further, hold, repeat, etc.

Okay, whoa, hold them technique-horses a moment.

This needs saying: I’m not a licensed kinesiologist, I’m not edumacatin’ you on stretching, and you shouldn’t be doing anything by way of my limited explanations here. This was a trained professional explaining the best way of stretching for MY body. Your body is a whole ‘nother thang, and this is why certified personal trainers are a wise idea for anyone embarking on a new life of fitness: Because every body responds a little differently.

(But if you’re like most people, you probably should be stretching those hamstrings more, honey.)

Anyhow, that slight adjustment, less-kamikaze approach has been making a difference in my legs and back this week, but there’s another stretch that’s proven monumentally important to me, now that I’ve been hearing Nik’s voice in my head all the time: “Drop your shoulders. Drop your shoulders.”

I’ve always had my shoulders up too high during stretches — and now I realize my stretches are probably largely responsible for the “tension headaches” I get, or at least as responsible as other things, like carrying too many groceries or wearing heavy shoulder bags.

By keeping my shoulders down during the stretches, I’ve greatly reduced the headaches that were seriously cramping my style. Whew. Fantastic.

So, where didn’t my week go as ideally?

Well, everywhere, of course.

But “perfect” wasn’t my goal.

Sure, I didn’t exercise the “Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names” routine, but I decided to cut myself slack and instead just focusing on Doing it Right and Feeling Good Later. Nik seems to approve.

I still haven’t stretched often enough, eaten as well as I would like, but I really don’t care.

I really don’t — because I’ve done everything better, I feel better, and I know I can still do better.

The difference is, this time I feel like doing better isn’t going to kill me. I don’t feel the dread and fear I was feeling for a while, when I kept paying for my efforts with negative fall-out (thanks to the trifecta of overdoing it, poor sleep, and bad stretching.)

Now I think “doing better” might even have me feeling better overall.

Working out through my pneumonia recovery has proven challenging, but I’m finally at the point where pushing cardio may still have me spent and asleep on the sofa by 8:30, but a good night’s sleep recharges that battery, and I find myself with more to give the next day.

That’s a new thing — having more to give — and a good thing.

Will I manage the Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names program this week?

No, probably not, but I can get closer, do it better, feel stronger, and have the feeling that I’m adding to success rather than kicking myself when I’m down.

I’m listening to my body with exercise, and soon I know I’ll be listening to it for food, too. That’s always a 1-2 thing for me — I get the exercise sorted, then figure out the food.

All in all, it feels like the pieces are falling into place — or, rather, that I’m kicking ass and throwing them into place.

This week, less has been more.

By doing less and feeling like I’ve executed it better, or more well, or more promisingly, the emotional gains and the confidence I now have in going forward is both a pivotal and welcomed change in my life.

I knew I’d get here, but it was just such a rocky road with so many obstacles, and me with my lack of objectivity at the time.

Recalibrating, lowering expectations, and focusing on technique but working through obvious pains while trying to reduce unnecessary pain, have been a key in my week of regrouping.

Going into this week with a little less fear and a little more confidence will be a nice change, provided I remember that it’s doing less, but doing it better, that’s being my “more” right now.

Baby steps, baby.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow her/them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.

Jumping into the Darkness

Before you read on: I know you MEAN well, but don’t give me life advice right now. You have about 3% of the information you need in order to offer specific-to-me insight. If you’re a friend of mine in REAL life, please talk to me over a beer.

If you only know me online, I love you for caring, but don’t weigh in. Life’s confusing enough without 80 cooks in my kitchen. I’m just thinking out loud, not soliciting advice here. Understood?

You rock. Thanks.

—-

I withdraw, sometimes.

It’s most likely to happen: a) if I’m rethinking my life’s direction, or b) when I’m jarred by a person, thing, or event/series of events.

And it happens.

Recently, a) and b) have happened.

Thus, this past week, I’ve withdrawn. Mostly because I couldn’t really withdraw last week. And I still had a lot I needed to do this week, and a lot of crap to deal with.

But in the moments I could, I withdrew. It was everything I’d hoped it could be. I hope to do even more of it next week.

Someone’s got some thinkin’ to do, and she’s not too sure how much she wants to share.

You already know I’m a big believer in writing your way through things.

Yet sometimes it’s better to get through life with a bump-in-the-night approach. Feel your way through and have quiet faith in where it takes you.

Do not be afraid, blindfolded grasshopper.

Bump-in-the-night’s a pretty solitary experience, though. Putting it out there for public consumption is a pretty foolish endeavour. Some things are just better left inside some days.

“Do I go this way? Do I go that way? What’s it feel like? Did I step on a bug?” Yeah, foolish to share.

Sometimes thoughts seem like stars being born. An idea appears as if out of nowhere, just an inkling in a semi-dark mind. Nebulous in its power and growing, slowly gaining clarity and discernible features as it comes into light.

Sometimes life events are like that, too, and to really learn what we’re being taught, we need silence and a little time alone in the dark.

Lately, I’ve sorta been hanging out in my own private darkness, looking for a lightswitch.

Last week, I did a big new thing. I officially became self-employed. Finally legally laid off for good-for good from my old employer, I took the jump and now my new work for them is in the form of Self-Employed Earnings. The exact direction I want to go in is a little hazy, but I’m off to a new start.

It’s a scary leap in a million ways, a jump in the dark with no safety net. Pretty terrifying, regardless of the fact that I deep-down think I can do it.

I mean, I know thar be no monsters, but sometimes when I turn the lights out, I get a little scared at night, y’know? It happens. The curse of being imaginative.

In the bold new world of 24/7 and epic personal schedules, it’s pretty easy to ultimately realize the only person you can ever really, really count on is yourself.

That’s not saying I don’t trust my friends to be there for me — that’s just me learning the hard way that their lives can get in the way, too, and I won’t always know why at the time, so instead of feeling like they’ve let me down, it’s usually better to have a self-sufficient plan of getting through things.

Sometimes self-sufficiency is the only way to go.

When it comes to things like self-employment, it’s really all about you. It’s about you putting in the work, getting it done, capitalizing on connections, and living up to the hype. You can have all the fuckin’ friends in the world but if you’re selling shit product, doing shit work, or delivering shit service, you’ll land face-first in the dirt every time — and rightly so.

This time I have to do it on my own, but I know that if I do provide great product, awesome service, and I do my work like a professional should, then not only will I have success, but my friends will have nothing to lose from supporting me.

Some people take business referrals very seriously, and everyone else who doesn’t SHOULD. Who you refer reflects entirely on you. They’re great to have a beer with but offer no business scruples? That’s on you. They screw your friends over in the end-run? On you. They flake out? On you.

I refer few people. I’ll be honoured when I see judicious people doing the same for me.

But, that’s somewhere down the road. I’m new to this.

For now, I’m figuring out my future and it’s a very strange and difficult path. Designing any kind of career based on the internet and writing for it is a pretty harrowing thing these days. No one knows where it will lead. So, I’m a-thinkin’ life over — and what I bring to it all.

For me, it’s a follow-the-heart do-what-thou-wilt moment. There’s a door open to me and I’m not really sure what’s on the other side of it, but I think I can take it. I think I can kick its ass and take it.

I just need a moment alone to find that in me. Don’t we all?

Diving into Safety Head-First

We have helmet laws here in British Columbia. Even if we didn’t, I’d be wearing mine.

One saved my life. And still I’m different than I used to be.

When I saw this article come up on Twitter, I got pretty choked about it. I started thinking of the friends I’ve seen riding without a helmet — whether for a block or in the thick of city traffic with bad weather — and I found myself clenching my teeth in frustration.

Head injuries are horrible.

They change you forever.

They affect you emotionally, spiritually, physically.

And I’ve had far too much personal experience with head injuries to let the topic of helmets disappear easily into the cybernight without some commentary.

My personal experience, with just people my age?

Well, personally, I almost died. Had I not been wearing a helmet, I would have died when I somersaulted off my scooter and hit the pavement at Columbia and 2nd back on August 29th, 2004.

I spent the next year trying to get back to who I was while I laboured without a diagnosis on my head (because judgment is the first thing to go; you can’t be objective about yourself and you don’t think about the reasoning behind why you’re such a “fuck up” now; it becomes a self-esteem and time/skill-management thing when it should really be a head-injury thing).

I changed as an employee — it cost me my job security and made me first on chopping block when needed lay-offs came rolling around. (We didn’t know then that it was my brain-bouncing that was the cause of my production getting slower and less sharp.)

That started two years of job insecurity as I hopped around the employment world, learning that I couldn’t handle stress like I used to anymore, and realizing I couldn’t learn new skills or organize as well as I once could.

Experience 2 with head injuries is my brother. Hit by a Chevy Suburban, he spent 5 days in a coma in late 2005 and has never been the same person since. He takes longer to understand things, has a hard time processing his emotions, is more inclined to depression, and it’s all a result of the severe head injury he took — since he had another one within 6 months of the first.

Experience 3 with head injuries was a beloved old friend, in 2008, just 34 years old, who was out adventuring with friends just 9 days after the birth of his little baby girl. His ATV tipped, crushing his head on rocks, and leaving him washing down the fast river, where he drowned and died — orphaning that beautiful baby girl in her first two weeks of life.

Yes, head injuries are bad.

So, when I see brilliant, fantastic friends hopping on their bikes in their almost-hipsterness, cruising around town without their helmets, it fucking kills me.

Know what a head injury feels like?

Take equal parts of STUPID, ANGRY, and CONFUSED, throw them into a martini shaker and mix liberally with IMPULSE CONTROL ISSUES and BAD JUDGMENT and you’ll have the start of what you’re after.

Now, take that horrible mood cocktail and spread it over your days — 24/7, 365.

I spent a year at a loss about what I felt, what I needed, where I wanted to go, how to get there. I’m lucky, I’m a writer, and somehow through the act of writing EVERY SINGLE DAY for a year, I managed to get my brain to finally start firing again.

I don’t even remember ANY of the first 6 months except a Pocky Incident and being unhappy about a hamburger while watching World Cup Hockey.

I’ve never been as good at learning things as I used to be, I need more guidance and have more questions, but I’m smarter than the average person so I get it together sooner or later on new tasks, but only after a lot of frustration.

I’m still smart as hell, no doubt, but I forget large chunks of my life.

Large chunks.

And my mother’s dead.

And some of the chunks are of her. When death rolls around with your loved ones, memories are all you’ve got left, and your head is all you got to protect that with.

It kills me, you know. Just kills me.

When you’re a writer, your memory is your most valuable tool. I’ve lost a lot of mine. My years are a hazy blur when they used to have crystal clarity to them.

I have to live the rest of my life with the very real knowledge that head injuries are like a good savings plan — they compound infinitely.

Every time I hit my head, I run the risk of making myself less of who I was.

Every time my noggin bumps a doorframe or something, a shock of fear runs through me.

You parents failing to put helmets on your kids, I’d be all right with calling that child abuse, given what I know has changed in my life from my head injury.

Protect your children. It’s your job. It’s the law.

I can’t tell you how much I wish I could have that day I almost died back. How much I could undo the stupidity that led me to thinking I should be on my scooter that morning.

I just can’t tell you.

Most people who know  me would never think I’d had a head injury. I’ve got razor-sharp wit, keen conversational abilities, and I’m sly as the day is long.

But they’d be wrong. I’m different. Just in little ways I can work around.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t anger me still that I’m different now.

I used to test at Mensa levels on IQ tests, you know. Between 145 and 170, depending on the day, over the years. “Smart” is a commodity one can’t afford to trade on, not via head injuries or anything else.

Really, it’s not that the head injury takes you out of the game — because it doesn’t. That’s kinda part of the problem — you become the “walking wounded” afterwards.

You go through life okay enough — you look fine, everyone thinks you can do your job, they think you’re as normal as can be. But because you’re rendered some lesser part of yourself as a result of the changes, you’re not even aware of how much you’ve changed — you’re in a fog, a daze, so you can’t say “Hey, something’s off here.”

And because you’re not defending or explaining yourself, those around you think you’re just in some depressive funk and that you need to “shake it off.”

But you can’t.

You hit your brain and you have a boo-boo that can’t be bandaged, doesn’t get air, never sees the sun, and can’t be displayed to others. You’ve seen how long a bruise on your leg takes to heal? What about if it’s under a skull, and all the bruised areas affect how synapses and thoughts and neuro-body-controls occur?

It was two years after my head injury that I finally realized how much I had changed, and only because I was seeing the same stuff happening to my brother with his head damage. A strangely consistent downward spiral in his life mirrored the one that had been happening to me.

Finally, I went to see a shrink I’d been to in the past, who’d had muchos experience in head injuries, and I learned what was going on inside was all part of the healing journey a head injury victim usually takes.

I had a helmet on and I’ve luckily lived to tell my story, even though I’m changed and will probably always have to live with the legacy of that day in small ways.

In fact, everyone I’ve written about here today was wearing a helmet, and yet, look at our stories.

Put your fucking helmet on.

Get over your haircut. Get over yourself.

If not for your own life and the hell it will likely be if you survive a head injury and have to live with it for the remainder of your life, then at least wear it so my fucking tax dollars can go somewhere more intelligent than dealing with your dumb-ass negligence.

Please.

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Think you might’ve had a head injury and wonder what the indicators are? Check here. The New York Times has a good cheat-sheet HERE on what to do or look for after a head injury has first been suffered — please read it NOW, not when you need it. Remember how quickly Natasha Richardson died from a ski fall? Yeah. Know your shit.