Tag Archives: unexpected

Interdimensional Limbo

When I transition through phases in life, I tend to find myself sort of mentally overwhelmed, and my response to it is that I find one thing to focus on, to just get somewhere, then I can take a look at the larger picture from a better place.

Or, you know, something.

I’m onto a “me” phase out of necessity. Things are in the works, big change is afoot for this here writer.

Coming up on July 1st, I’m officially un(der)employed.

Happy Canadian independence (repatriation, if yer picky) day, indeed.

The Canadian system allows us to earn about 25% of our working salary on top of unemployment benefits, legally and without financial penalty. It makes life much, much easier — puts the food on the table when benefits only cover my basic costs of living, not even food.

I’m lucky, I’ve got that 25% worktime on my hands. My present/former employers do love me and I get work when I need it / they have it. So, you know, I eat. I like this.

Do I want to go back there full-time long-term?

Well, I’m faced with knowing I’ve given the last 10 years of my life to an industry that is at the mercy of international currencies, cultural trends, taxation policies, and government legislation.

Time and time again, I’ve gotten the ax. It’s unpredictable.

“Well, why do it,” you ask? Working in film is a lifestyle choice. The people are hip, fun, cool. The jobs are plentiful in variety and come in waves. It’s creative but structured. It’s an industry you work in because you’re a fan — anything you can do to be a part of film? Yeah, diggit. You contributed. You’re a part of art immortal, a member of a creation team.

But I’m too old for this shit.

Being Canadian, there’s lots of great options available. As a worker in a long-tenured position, I can return to school — which I’d have to pay for — and receive unemployment benefits for up to 2 years. I’ll be looking into some options in the coming weeks, but sort of know what I’d like to pursue.

What a time of change, though.

Never coulda seen this coming last year. What a wild ride the last three months have been. I already know some of what’s coming for the next three, too, and it’s just more of a wild ride.

When I lost my job, my attitude was “Well, I can’t change that, but I can be open to what this time brings.”

I see some people resisting the change life’s thrown at them of late, acting from a place of fear instead of empowerment. I ain’t judging. I’ve been there before.

There’s a certain salty confidence one gains from hard times. Lord knows I done seen mine.

I’ve never been as confident in myself as I am now, but I’m also at an absolute loss to tell you what my life will entail. I know aspects of it, sure — writing, speaking, doing comedy, losing weight, looking for clients, et al… but where it’ll lead? Who knows.

It’s the mystery that makes it fun. It’s the intrigue that makes my eyes sparkle with curiosity. I’ve loved the weird detours I’ve had so far, and can’t wait for whatever unexpected discoveries come my way.

As long as I’m eating month to month? Well, hey, man. Let’s see.

If you’ve never read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, it’s one of those books that’s in that crowd everyone should read in college — Siddhartha, Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, etc. It’s a book about a young shepherd boy who dreams of achieving his goal one night, and sets off in search of treasures in far away lands. It’s a fable, and it’s a wonderful little novella.

Along the way he is frequently told “Maktub,” which apparently translates from the Arabic to mean “It is written.”

Beautiful thought but I’m not so sure I agree. I can’t believe the strangeness I’ve endured year in, year out is written.

Life seems like a game of celestial pick-up sticks to me, my friends. Throw what you can, get what you can, and see what you can make of it.

Perhaps, though, life is written. Perhaps I just need to have a sly smile and know my life will take me the right places, because I know myself and I know my dreams. Perhaps, in that way, it really is written.

Life really is a gorgeous mystery sometimes. It’s nice to believe in the mystical, to think there’s some cosmic puppeteer helping to orchestrate incredible happenings of rich experiences, if you’re willing to play the role and follow the program.

The last time my life began moving in strange and mythical ways, I landed my ass in the Yukon for a year — living in the land of the Midnight Sun, reading dead writers, learning about writing, and experiencing my dream of seeing Northern Lights night after night.

There’s a lot to be said for sitting back and telling life to take the wheel for a while. Who knows where it feels like goin’?

It ain’t the destination, it’s the journey. If you’re always fucking with the navigation and the “right” way to go, there’s some amazing unexpected happenings you’re liable to miss.

Chill, Winston. Enjoy the ride. Have a destination in mind but be open to detours. It’s the best way to travel.

Waiting, Waiting, And More Waiting

I’m supposed to be using this week to create a framework for my next six weeks and next six months.

But that hasn’t happened.

I’m sitting around chewing on what’s left of my fingernails, trapped by a shitty rainy day, and lost in worry about whether my father will even survive an operation that’s SUPPOSED to be happening today. As of this hour, he still hasn’t gone under the knife, and I’m still in a “what if” panic.

Whatever happens in that operating room decides what happens in the next six months of my life far more than any timeline I could write today.

There’s nothing in my head that’s worth extracting today.

There’s no hope or faith, no optimism or belief. There’s just empty pulsating limbo as I wait for life to fill in the blanks for me.

Waiting is criminal. It scars the soul. Hope is the only antidote, but it’s not one I’ve been afforded much of.

The longer this takes, the more I’m adrift in uncertainty, the louder those discordant heartbeats echo inside as wonder floods in and worry takes over.

I’ve been useless today.

When I was waiting for the answer on my book proposal, that was fine. Why? Because I knew the book might be better if I was in fact rejected by the literary agent. No, really.

There’s a much more organic process that comes in creation when you don’t have a deadline or third-party involved. This book of mine should be a journey to places I’ve never been before, and right now I don’t know what that’ll require of me, so I want to explore that and really go there without muddling from others.

But this?

Father-who’s-alive versus Father-who’s-not is a pretty big fucking stipulation in how your life unfolds, especially when it’s down to a 24-hour window.

The possibility being this tangible is nothing anyone should experience, but is something we all are faced with. Don’t kid yourself. Your turn is coming.

Grief is an unavoidable process, and, as a creative person, there’s nothing that fucks with the mix greater than the all-consuming end of someone you love’s life.

I can’t be there, I can’t talk to my father, I can’t do a goddamned thing to help.

Some dude a 5,000 kilometres away, who gets to stand there with a scalpel in his hand, HE’S the guy that holds my immediate fate in his hands.

I can’t write a timeline for that. I won’t even fucking consider that Alternative today.

I just know it’s there.

The Possibility. Statistical Likelihood.

Like calling it that is so innocuous. Oh, the “chance” of fatality. Like one might buy a ticket in the hopes it’d go a specific way other than the Usual.

Powerlessness. That’s what I get today. I get to wait, wait, wait, wait. I don’t even get to know when particularly my fingers should be crossed. The ward nurses will get 10 minutes notice, then it’s off to Sliceville for Pops.

Risk.

I grew up thinking it was a board game.

Now it’s the line between what might be the result for an “average” person with my father’s surgery, and, well, my father. The triple-threat disease cocktail his unhappy body offers is more full of oddsmaking than a weekend in Vegas, man.

And I’m supposed to wait, productively doing what humans productively do. Conjuring little lists of objectives, crossing off achievements, planning for all my tomorrows.

Well, tomorrow might literally give me a completely different life to live. Today I’m spent praying for anything but that.

Sure, the odds of the unexpected climb for each of us daily, but it’s just not the same as when mortality’s literally on the table and giving the prospective outcome causes all professionals involved to lead with a pregnant pause.

Yes, I’ll wait.

I’ll sit here with toxins bubbling in my stomach as fears I know too well return — fears I’ve dealt with from my mother’s passing and my father’s three close calls.

Sure, I’ll wait.

Easter and Change in the Air

My earliest memory of something atypical of Easter-cliche-happenings was in the year I would turn 8, 1981. It was Easter Sunday morning and my father, mother, brother, and I were gathered in the bright yellow sunroom for breakfast when the phone rang.

It was family back East. Seems my father’s father died that morning. I’d never met him. Phillip. But if he was my father’s father, well, he must’ve been a giant of a man, then.

We lived on opposite coasts of the world’s largest country back when air travel wasn’t exactly a bargain. But that was the summer — we were going back for almost the entire summer, spending it in Prince Edward Island for my mother’s parent’s 50th wedding anniversary and family reunion.

Two months too late to meet the last of my father’s parents.

Ever since, I’ve always found death and rebirth to be synonymous with Easter.

Winter rages, summer bites back. Seasons change. Lethargy bleeds out and enthusiasm rears up.

The romantic in me is enjoying the realization that such a major and untenable lifechange should come for me as Easter dawns.

I wish I could bottle and share this cauldron that bubbles inside me — a (in)toxic(ating) mix of excitement and fear, curiosity and dread, confusion and confidence. I have no idea what to make of it, how to pull it all apart.

It’s like my emotions are fighting like a carload of five-year-olds.

And this week coming up is filled with grey and cold and wind. A batten-your-hatches and clear-your-files sort of week filled with naps, short wet walks, pensive moments, and strategizing.

The weather gods apparently feel next weekend is a good time for Spring to begin her return engagement in the fair city of Vancouver, after peppering us with an ironic blast of late winter and snow after our “warmest Olympics ever” came to an end — and the city’s been in a freeze ever since.

From weather on down, change is coming every which way in my life. From my professional focus to my health attitudes to the time I have to focus on myself to my ability to be out in the world to my back account.

EVERYTHING changes here, now, this very week.

It’s not like this is some happy slow transition. No, dude. I’ve lost my job — I’ve gone from trying to juggle seems-like-60-hour weeks to juggling zilch, nada, zippo. My landscape of my life is like a vast stretch of prairie scrub. Goes for miles and miles and miles.

Its vast emptiness is paralleled only by the expanse of my savings account.

The life I had, overnight, is in cardiac arrest, sustained only by the faint hope that is the three-months-to-hire-me-back open-ended lay-off I’ve been handed. Aside from that?

Well, shit, son. Not every aspiring writer gets her bookwriting ducks in a row then gets her pink slip.*

My whole life’s kinda weird right now. I had a Mystery Mentor step out of the works on Twitter and give me very valuable advice for starting my book. I’m reading How to Write a Book Proposal by Larsen now. Very “start here” positioning when you have a good idea of how your book unfolds. As I’m beginning to.

But I’d been working toward this readying since December — figuring out plot and structure, style and voice, basic timeline. In my head, of course. But sometimes that’s a good start.

Life-wise, I was able to get just a few things in a row — not everything will unfold at once but instead it will unfold over the next few months, slowly making me able to sustain the kind of adversity I have to be ready to face if I’m to use this sudden shifting of worlds to my advantage.

All in all? Easter? What an exciting unexpected scary time for me.

Thank god I believe in myself and have an inkling that, despite this appearing to be “bad” luck, this may actually be the start of something wow for me.

WHAT, exactly, I don’t know.

But isn’t it fun?

Happy Easter, everyone. Save me some ham.**

And avoid the “death” part of Easter. It’s kinda lame. Ham’s better. Not for the pig. But, you know.

*Pink slips are blue, incidentally, in Canada. Get yer passport now. Yer missing the fuck out, people.

**You ever think the Christian tradition of ham at Easter is sort of an ironic slap at Judaism, which kinda started the whole Easter-ball rolling anyhow? I’m more a turkey girl.

And Then There Was Change

Photos 319I was informed of my layoff yesterday.

Wednesday will be my last day, until enough work returns, or the company is forced into harder decisions.

Kudos to the bosses, we’ve had an inkling this might happen. I’ve been grilling them weekly to see if changes were happening, but there has been no news, which was bad news. But what can you do?

Unlike any time in the past, I used this foreknowledge to spend a little money investing in my writing — ink cartridges and a new cabinet so my desk is now 3 inches lower — a long story, but long story short is, I was getting migraines from writing/working, and hope it’s no longer the case.

Normally, something big like a layoff  comes down, I panic and tell myself I can’t justify that spending, and I operate from a place of fear. This time, I just came up with a cheaper bare-minimum plan, and told myself it’s not optional — it’s about investing in myself.

Migraines don’t make good writing. And I’m too much a “writer” to not be good about it.

Now that I have some time to write in between the requisite job-searching, it’s obviously a priority.

I’m hoping I get called back to my job in a couple months or even by the fall. I know it’ll be tight and hard living, but I’ve been through this before and impressed the shit out of myself, so maybe it’s time to prove we only get better as we age.

There’s a difference now from back then — I now recognize I’ve suffered from mental illness, and live with difficult ADHD. I can, and do, learn new jobs, but I need to find the right fit for me, not just any job. I need the right kind of employers, work environment, and schedule.

Knowing this means I’m empowered, not a victim, by those challenges. I’m better off than most people; I know what I really need for success.

I’d rather return to my company, who’ve become like family over the years, who I trust and can approach about nearly anything, and who place the same value on life-over-work as all the employees do. Our schedules have been flexible, they accommodate the little things that pop up and would be better done with a shorter workday or a day off.

I’ve never made much. I’ve made $18 an hour while my friends have all being going on to bigger, better, amazing things, and I’ve been scraping by.

But in the time I’ve scraped by, with my work allowing me to flex my days and hours on a weekly basis, I’ve managed to:

  • overcome years of intensive rehab after almost dying a couple times
  • fought (and I think overcome) once-frequent forays into dark depressions and other mental illnesses
  • gotten through a number of tight layoffs with nearly no help from anyone despite my challenges and lack of savings
  • not only beat but beat into a bloody goddamned stump my writer’s block
  • rediscovered myself
  • gained 40, then lost 70 pounds
  • conquered many fears
  • discovered my inner athlete
  • and done a million other things, while never making the money to have others help me accomplish it easier

Scraping by the last three years let me improve myself more than most people accomplish in a decade or more, and almost all done by myself.

I have constantly been trying to heal or get over something — be it a physical or mental issue — and my work, my pseudo-family, has pretty much been there and made it possible, as possible as they could and still make an income, through it all.

Knowing myself now, in my post-head-injury, post-depression, post-unhappy life, I KNOW I can’t just work for anyone. I know I can’t just waltz into any company and “make the best” of it. It will tear me to shreds. Mental illness is a real issue; me working in a negative, high-stress job with evil people is like making someone with lung cancer work in a restaurant that has smoking. You can TRY, but what’s the fucking point? It’s got “FAILURE” and “CATASTROPHE” stamped all over it.

Like when I worked at a place for 6 months in during 2007, with The Dragon Lady and her art school, ruling by terror and venom, poisoning me with her negative depression on a daily basis from seven feet away with no wall. Oh, lord. Never, ever again.

I spiralled close to suicidal working under her. I gained 20 pounds in 6 months. Then I quit, went back to my old film job, and they gave me a non-judgmental, supportive, flexible environment in which I’ve made the most progress of my life, changing EVERYTHING with no trainers, no financial advisers, no real therapists — just a supportive workplace that let me make myself a priority.

I’ve changed me, inside and out. I’ve so much more empathy and enthusiasm for life and others now. I’m such a better person. I’m not gonna die young — not from my health, anyhow. And work played a big part in giving me the control to make that happen.

And now the future of the company that gave me such a fantastic environment that encouraged my change & growth is in danger. It breaks my heart.

All because of stupid government and bad tax policies. What a tragedy.

None of us employees wants to work for other people, the bosses don’t want to work with new people. None of us is in it for the money, not even my bosses. All of us live lives of sacrifice and budgeting because the job lets us put our art, creativity, and private lives first. We don’t make a lot but we’re under no illusions what kind of people we work for, and that’s why we’ve stayed.

But the government doesn’t want us to stay anymore. They won’t match film industry tax credits from other provinces, and now some asshole in Ontario or California is doing my job, since domestic film production is down by 40%, and 50% of the workforce has been laid off.

So here I am. Four days left.

And a book to write.

And a newly-adjusted desk to write it at.

Looks like I know what I’m doing.

Unlike most people, when I write this book, it won’t be gathering dust. I won’t be sitting around micro-panicking over every word. There’ll come a time when I’m Ready.

I have NOTHING to lose from publication. NOTHING. Anyone I stand the chance of pissing off in my book has probably already been pissed off at me and either knows that’s part of knowing me and my unflinching-but-always-trustworthy honesty, OR they’re already not talking to me and there’s no skin off my ass if I maintain the status quo.

I’m a WRITER. Through and through. My friends know this. Anything’s on the table for me, but they also trust me to toe a line. We’re good.

More importantly than the trust I have for my friends? I write about all my failings and weaknesses and dreams and thoughts all the time. It’s not like I have to dig that much deeper. If I’ve already told you some of the embarrassing bad things in my life, then why not just keep that ball rolling?

So, the writing? Not too stressed about that part. Organizing? Ooh, yes, trickier. Some of the get-an-agent-get-a-deal stuff scares the shit out of me, I admit it.

But you know what? I’m at that point where languishing in obscurity scares me more.

I deserve better than this. I owe it to myself. I’m tough enough to take it, too.

I have nothing to lose — except my home. But I’ll figure it out, I’ll get by. Times like these, having no savings, living in one of the world’s most expensive cities, yeah, things get daunting.

It’s uncertainty. My job might be back in 6 weeks, I don’t know. I could spend the whole year writing and looking for a job that fits me, I don’t know.

Where will I be in 6 weeks? 6 months? Where’s life taking me?

I don’t know.

And there’s not a lot I can do about it.

Except adjust my desk and get to work. That’s one area I know I can make a difference in, accomplish something in. That’s one area I know. That’s a start.

_________________

SO, HEY:
If you know of any agents for memoirs, let me know — this process entirely daunts me, but I think my work is worthy. If you have an “in” for publishing and think you can help, I’m all ears. Drop me a line, scribecalledsteff (at) gmail (dot) com.

I’m working until next Wednesday, with paperwork to deal with for employment insurance next Thursday, but after that, I’ll be all over emails, etcetera. The book is in full-on “go” mode, and I hope to have three chapters done by early June, with a workable outline for pitches. So, please, spread the word with serious publishing contacts that there’s a little ball of awesome right over here that’s looking to explode onto the scene. Thanks!

Say Something, Dammit

The sky is blue. This I know.

I can be told once in my life that the sky is blue, and I need not be reminded. I may have had three concussions and had bleeding on my brain, but I’m sufficiently clued in enough to be able to recall the blueness of that great big yonder up there. It’s there, it’s bigger than life, and it’s unavoidable.

What I’m not smart enough to remember, however, is just how spiffy I am.

You see, I have these alien invaders in my body that will never, ever go away. They’re from planet Estrogen, and, man, as far as aliens go, they’re a right bitch sometimes.

Unfortunately, there is an entire world filled with people of my ilk who have been invaded by these cosmic cunts, and we’re known as Women. These “Estrogenies” do things to us that we’re not that crazy about. They make us insecure, make us moody, and make us sometimes a little inconsistent. Fortunately, they also make our boobs swell once a month. It’s a give-and-take thing, really.

Guys are pretty low-key. We like that about you. We like the fact that we know we can make you a sandwich, kiss your neck, give you a beer, and you feel like you’re the king of the jungle. Easy-peasy.

We, however, communicate more than you. You, obviously, communicate less. And you’re deceptive. You like to think you’re simple. “I am man. I grunt, therefore I am.” But you’re complicated. You get moody, you get silent, and you internalize. It’s what men do. We understand this.

What we can’t process, though, is the price it sometimes comes at. Men close themselves off, and then by so doing, they also forget to communicate with us about the little things that help to keep relationships moving nice and happy-like.

“You look nice today.”
“Have I told you lately how much you rock?”

We wish we didn’t need to be told that everything’s well and good and we’re still cared about and we still do all the things to you that we did way back when, but we do need to hear these things. And frankly, you need to hear them from us, too. Everyone does.

Compliments and expressions of affection are like yogurt. They have a shelf-life, and while they keep a little longer than you might think, but when they go, man, they go. And then the weird comes down. Insecurities rise, distance ensues, and things get complicated. Relationship mold. Ew.

It’s lame, but it happens. It doesn’t take much to get out of your head sometimes and just remember to say good things about your partner. Keep them secure about how they’re valued, even when you’ve got things going on otherwise. We all get a little too internal, and it’s just not fair to our lovers if we’re all self-involved and failing to acknowledge their worth to us from time to time.

It’s really easy to forget to be communicative about these things when your sex life is going, but at least then you have a physical expression of that affection, and sometimes things can be left unsaid. If you’re not getting physical often, then it’s really important to at least have the communication working, right? Pretty obvious there. 2 + 2 = 4, yeah?

It’d be wonderful if we only had to be told once in our lives that we’re loved, but it doesn’t work that way. The more it happens, the more real it becomes to us. Fleeting suggestions of affection really don’t leave deep imprints on us, and frankly, they often don’t even make a dent. Even worse is, if we’re told how great we are over a period of time, and then time lapses where it ceases to happen much at all anymore, then there’s even greater reason to become insecure.

Put your money where your mouth is, people, and tell ‘em that you dig ‘em. Tell ‘em often, tell ‘em good. If you don’t, you never know, you might just lose what you have, and that’d be a crying shame. Especially if the feelings existed, but your communication simply lacked. The price we pay for these oversights is far too high.

(And, hey, watch out for the Estrogenies, eh?)