Wrong Turn (2003)
My bus took a wrong turn the other night, and so did I. At first.
YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY, a passenger shouted, and the driver apologized. It was his first day on the job, so he had to call a supervisor to ask for instructions. None of us were that pissed, though I was slightly annoyed because I already missed a bus and was running behind schedule. I just wanted to be home. "Sorry, we just have to take a short detour," the driver said. That short detour was a short trip to hell.
The bus drove up the road and pulled into the hospital parking lot to turn around. We drove right past the B.C. Cancer Agency and my heart sank. It's a place that I was hoping to avoid, at least for a good while, if not forever. In fact, every time my bus passes by that area I turn my head away and stare out the window, because even though we don't go right by the building you can see Ben's old hospital room from the road. I even make a point of not looking at the bus stop where I often waited on my way home from visiting him.
As the bus pulled away from the building and we got back on track, I started thinking about why I've been steering clear of looking in that direction, and what else I've been avoiding in my life. Being cautious of repetition, I won't get into anything I've recently discussed here, but yes, some thoughts of Ben and what he went through came to mind, but some other things popped up and kind of blindsided me. Some stuff that I had convinced myself I was over, but I guess I'm not.
My mind took me back about five years to when I lost another friend, though he didn't die. He's off somewhere living his life with someone. Someone who didn't appreciate how close we were (we were once romantically involved and had become the best of friends) so he had to cut me off or lose her. I was sympathetic because I was once an insecure young woman myself, but the sympathy didn't remedy the pain.
At the time I responded in typical fashion and acted like I wasn't bothered, but of course I was. He was my best friend. He was crazy as hell, but in a good way and I adored him. I still care for him and often wonder how he's doing, but I have to move on. I haven't grieved the death of that friendship and I'm beginning to see what skipping that process has done. I've had a few run-ins with exes recently, and the fact that I feel basically attacked when they just try to say hello says a lot about how I process things and move on. I kinda don't.
I mean, yes of course I move on as in move forward and continue living, but I just kind of carry on without a care, and I think that I was able to convince myself that I actually didn't care and that's why I didn't need to spend time grieving. Oh, what an annoying lesson to learn and at a particularly difficult time in my life too. Ugh. Becoming emotionally mature is a fucking process, y'all! It kind of sucks. Pass me a joint and a caesar, please!
And that brings me to my Saturday night (last night) when I let my caesar chill in the fridge and left my weed in the nightstand. James went to a party with some friends and I stayed home, stayed sober, did some reading and writing and organized my socks. Does that sound as sad as it felt when I typed it? I'm not jealous of James' night or anything, as I truly value my alone time, but I actually felt sad and dare I say...lonely. God, that makes me cringe. I don't know why, but I have never felt comfortable admitting to that feeling before. I sincerely love being alone, too, but man did I crumble last night.
And I got to thinking about how James and I are best friends now and how he might meet someone soon, maybe even at this party, and that this someone may not take a liking to me or the connection I have with him, and maybe he will have to leave me in the dust too. It's totally possible, and I have to find a way to be ok with it. I have to know that I am enough on my own, without anyone, but also that it's ok to feel lonely and sad sometimes.
So yeah, I organized my socks! And I feel pretty productive. Also, I finished this blog post today and am now moving on to tackling other things on my list. Number 1: be kind to myself and do something that makes me smile.
I hope you guys are all doing the same.
Until next time, I leave you with some spooky socks and a song that my old pal once sang to me over the phone after waking me from a dead sleep. For that, and for many other things, I am grateful.
David Bowie experiences some major changes in The Hunger
Things are beginning to change around here, too. For one, this website is currently undergoing a much-needed facelift. Take a look around and see what's new! I'm also in the process of making changes to other aspects of my life. Almost every aspect of my life. But let's begin with phase one...
Recently, I took a small (but maybe not-so-small) step toward self-improvement by attending my first counseling session in nearly four years. Not sure why I've waited so long. That's the part that makes me feel crazy. It's funny what we can allow ourselves to become used to. I said something like that in my intake interview at Citizen's Counseling.
It all went down almost a month ago now. Arriving more than twenty minutes early, I decided to grab a London Fog at Cafe Fantastico. They make great drinks there, but this was the best I've had in a long time. Rather than hanging out at the cafe, I wandered next door to Citizens and sat in the waiting room--a place I used to know quite well.
It pretty much looked the same as I remember...cream-coloured walls featuring posters for upcoming group therapy events and yoga classes, comfortable (circa 1990's) furniture, side tables with stacks of magazines and plastic inserts with pamphlets. Your standard waiting room decor. For about ten minutes, I was the only one there, but then another character entered the scene.
At the risk of sounding judgemental, I will say that I kinda knew that this guy had an appointment at the BC Schizophrenia Society (which is in the same building as Citizens). He was slightly disheveled and fidgety, and looked a little like Vincent Gallo, which made me smile. He was quite friendly, and immediately struck up a conversation with me upon entering the waiting room. "How is your day going?!" He asked. "It's going well, thank you," I said. Then he asked if I worked at Citizens, which I found interesting and kinda sweet, for some reason. "No," I said. "I have an appointment." His eyes began darting around the room, but then he started telling me about how sometimes you wait for awhile, but that I shouldn't worry because they wouldn't forget about me. It was really sweet. After a few minutes, he got called into the BC Schizophrenia Society for his appointment. Enter bachelor number two...
A heavy-set man in his mid-thirties, with greying hair. I could tell he was new as he seemed a little unsure of whether he was in the right place. He sat down and our eyes met. I gave him a smile before reaching for a magazine. He smiled back, then said, "Is this where you wait for Citizens?" I said "yes," and that they would come get him as soon as they were ready. I felt like my assurance made him feel a bit more sure.
I like this place--this waiting room--these people. It's much nicer than the waiting rooms at the walk-in clinics where you pretty much avoid all contact, even eye contact, in order to avoid catching TB or death stares or whatever. At Citizens/BC Schizophrenia Society, there seems to be a feeling of mutual respect and a sense that you can relate to one another, not that you fear whatever they have, or whatever you have. You all look different, but you're kind of the same. It's comforting.
I think my initial appointment went well. Your intake appointment takes about an hour, and basically consists of filling out a questionnaire with a volunteer counselor and discussing what you'd like to get out of the whole experience. I felt comfortable with the person I talked with. She was around my age, maybe a bit older, and seemed to really get me on a level that made me feel OK. The two of us discussed some things that I had been curious about, such as making major life changes, repetitive mental patterns and ways to process and cope with trauma--it was super interesting! I kind of felt like a student again, and if you know me you know that I love school. Even though part of me dreads delving into the mental/emotional mess that I need to sift through, there's another part that is super excited and even intrigued.
As I hover near the top of the packed wait list for my first official session at Citizens, I find myself picking up on things--patterns--that I may not have noticed before my initial appointment. I won't bore you with most of it just yet, but I promise to bore you very soon with all the details. One thing I will note is that skipping blog posts in January has become a pattern. I find that amusing since I tend to find January to be a stressful, depressing month. I am now planning on taking myself on a little vacation every January. See, this counseling stuff is already working! I'm sure it won't all be shits and giggles, and some tough times certainly lie ahead, but I will do my best to keep you updated no matter what the case.
Until then, I'll keep reading, writing, watching and wandering, and might even come across something worthy of sharing...like this little shot I took from last night's wander in Fan Tan Alley (inside Victoria's iconic Chinatown).
Back to the topic of beginnings and endings, I thought I'd leave you with some of the best, in my opinion. Beginnings and endings are my favourite things to write. There's something satisfying about laying out the bread, buttering it up, and figuring out how it holds the insides together.
I will begin by giving you an example from one of the masters of short fiction, and my personal favourite, Raymond Carver. This excerpt is from one of his best, "Tell the Women We're Going." Carver was an incredible writer; he had a way of showing so much in few words. You can find this story in its entirety in various anthologies. It was originally published in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love--an absolute must-read. You can also see it in Robert Altman's fantastic film, Short Cuts, which is an adaptation of some of Carver's short stories.
Beginning: Bill Jamison had always been best friends with Jerry Roberts. The two grew up in the south area, near the old fairgrounds, went through grade school and junior high together, and then on to Eisenhower, where they took as many of the same teachers as they could manage, wore each other's shirts and sweaters and pegged pants, and dated and banged the same girls--whichever came up as a matter of course.
Ending: He never knew what Jerry wanted. But it started and ended with a rock. Jerry used the same rock on both girls, first on the girl called Sharon and then on the one that was supposed to be Bill's.
A chilling ending. That story gives me goosebumps.
Next, I will show you an example from a novel that blew my mind. I wrote the final essay of my literature degree on William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. It devoured me--the book, and the process of writing the paper. I felt like I wasn't myself at that time. I was some sort of mad scientist locked inside a lab (the library). This was a cool assignment because, for the first time, I was asked not to use sources. Although scary at first, this was the perfect novel for which to rely only on my mind--my ideas--particularly because the book made me lose sleep. I would wake up in the middle of the night to underline passages that I had to know more about. It was a great opportunity to exploit my craziness to its full potential.
Beginning: Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. They were coming toward where the flag was and I went along the fence. Luster was hunting in the grass by the flower tree. They took the flag out, and they were hitting. They put the flag back and they went to the table, and he hit and the other hit. Then they went on, and I went along the fence. Luster came away from the flower tree and we went along the fence and they stopped and we stopped and I looked through the fence while Luster was hunting in the grass.
If you haven't read the book, I'm sure that was fairly confusing. I read several passages from that book over and over. It's not an easy read, but it is an incredible novel that continues to seep into my mind from time to time. Actually, the topic of beginnings and endings is interesting in terms of The Sound and the Fury, because the whole story is preoccupied with time and the past. It's difficult for both the reader and the characters to determine what is actually happening, and when.
Last, I will give you a snippet from one of the big guns--a novel that everyone should read because it really is as good as you've heard. I had the pleasure of studying F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in university and had not read the book until that time. Gatsby instantly became one of my favourites. If Faulkner didn't steal me away with his brilliance, I would have written my final essay for American Lit on Gatsby's Nick Carraway, who is probably my all-time-favourite narrator. I will now shut up, and leave you with this:
Ending: So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Okay, that just has to be the best last line of a novel. Ever. It is so concise, yet is the perfect ending to the story.
I would give more examples, but I can't follow that with anything. The above photo will give you an idea of some of my favourites.
I have attached the essay I wrote on The Sound and the Fury for those interested in reading. It probably won't make sense if you haven't read the novel and, even if you have, it still may not. Be kind, though. And, remember, I received an A on the paper. ;)
Mind the formatting. For whatever reason, there's a blank page after the title page. Like I've said before, I'm a gumshoe when it comes to technology.
At times, I feel a bit dead in the water when it comes to technology, especially internet technology. I'm one of those types who likes the idea of hiding out in the woods, with some animal friends, some coffee and a typewriter. I suppose that could be why it's taken me so long to commit to writing a blog, or creating a website. Those of you who know me understand that I don't care all that much about how people perceive me, but I am also fairly self-critical. The latter of the two being the main reason I've continued to dismiss the blog thing for several years, even though I always thought it could be fun. Since this is my first post, and I don't know what the hell I'm doing, I've decided to make it a quickie. On that note, I'm signing off for now, and will be back soon (if I don't freak out). Will I survive? Probably. Beam me up!
I'm finally doing it--pulling my insides out and splattering them around for all to see. Here we go!