This I wish I could tell…..

Grade School Me

  1. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. As a wise SNL character once said: you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggonnit, people like you.
  2. You don’t have to pick one genre of anything to solely like. Want to listen to Pantera, and Bjork, and New Kids on the Block, and Love Inc., all in the same evening? Go for it. Want to take out Stephen King, and Judy Blume, and William Gibson from the library in one go? Then just do it.
  3. When you audition for a school play, and the director/teacher says you can either stay and watch the other auditions or go back to class, stay. Sit around, watch the auditions, relax. It’ll pay off.
  4. When you feel the need to tell off your basketball coach, don’t. If there’s a serious issue, go tell mum and the principal. And if you do tell him off, and he says he’ll pretend he didn’t hear you, don’t take out the sheet of paper you’ve been rehearsing from and say “Well, you can’t pretend you didn’t read it!”.  This isn’t going to end well if you do.
  5. Write. It doesn’t matter if no one else reads it right now, or if someone else doesn’t like your writing. You’re not writing for them, you’re writing for you. Just keep at it.
  6. When you go to cross country practice, actually run.  Don’t walk the course. Trust me, actually running during practice makes a big difference when you get to the meets.
  7. You don’t need to follow every piece of advice you see in fashion magazines. You will have your own style if you just let yourself be you. You don’t need to try and become some sort of carbon copy of an ad in a magazine.
  8. Don’t wear second-hand makeup. Just because grandma liked that one concealer stick for a while before getting rid of it doesn’t mean it will look good on you. She tossed it because it looked orange. You’ll have orange dots on top of your zits. Just don’t.
  9. Don’t bother worrying about what the cool kids are doing, or trying to impress them. Just because they’re cool right now, this very moment, in your grade school, does NOT mean they’re going to be cool everywhere you go. And who knows, someday when you’re in your late 20’s you may just open up the paper to see surveillance video images of one of those cool kids, with an article saying they’re wanted in relation to a string of small robberies and dealing meth to high school kids.
  10. Don’t keep a diary. Your sister and cousin will find it and read it and mock you for months about it. Keep a journal of creative writing instead. At least if they try to mock you about that, they won’t have any personal information to try and use against you, like the name of your crush while he’s standing right there next to you.

Myself in High School

  1. You know that kid with the bleached yellow hair on your bus that creeps you out and makes fun of you as soon as you move to that school? He doesn’t matter. So what if he doesn’t like you. You don’t like him anyway, so why the hell should his opinion of you matter? You think his friends are pretty cool, so don’t let him push you to be an outcast. You’ll find out much later in life that a lot of the things he tells you, and a lot of the things he says other people think and say about you, are complete lies.
  2. When you meet that cute weird guy who randomly sings to himself in class and is a total goofball, the one you wind up with a crush on for four freaking years, just talk to him. Anything. Try “hi, I’m new here”, or “what are you singing” maybe. Just say anything.
  3. And when you that boy comes to talk to you after an embarrassing drama presentation, let the boy talk! It doesn’t matter if you’re upset and crying, find out what he has to say! Otherwise, you’re just going to hear more lies from that damn yellow-haired boy and you’ll just admire the adorable goofball from afar for the rest of high school.
  4. Just because a guy likes you, doesn’t mean you have to date him. And if you do choose to date someone, the second he tries to tell you what you’re “allowed” to do as his girlfriend and who you’re “allowed” to be friends with, suddenly remember that you’re not “allowed” to date a controlling, manipulative jerk and leave. You don’t need that in your life.
  5. Just because you get picked on doesn’t give you carte blanche to pick on others. You don’t get some special “get out of jail free” card that lets you make fun of other people and be a general asshole to them just because you get picked on too. You’re better than that.
  6. You want to play the guitar, then practice! It doesn’t matter if you’re family laughs at you, or your boyfriend says you suck. If you like it, do it.
  7. Keep writing. Every chance you get, write. Challenge yourself to become better.
  8. You’re really smart, and that’s a good thing. Don’t get pressured into dumbing yourself down. Don’t take lower level classes just because they seem easier, or you won’t have to study as much. Work your ass off, get good grades, join a club or a team. Don’t let others pressure you into being less than you really are.
  9. When adults give you advice based on where they see the world going because of the introduction of the internet, nod and smile politely and just keep doing what you’re doing. I’ll tell you right now, the entirety of world news is not being handled by a few dozen journalists for only three newspapers worldwide. People still buy books and magazines, and now there are blogs and social media you can look forward to. Throw yourself into your writing, throw yourself into all new social media as it emerges. The internet is going to open up opportunities for you, not destroy them like you’re being told. Just keep going with the flow, stay true to you, and keep doing what makes you happy.
  10. You have a lot of passions building inside you that you are completely allowed to immerse yourself in, even if your ideals and interests are nothing like those of the people around you. Learn about politics, even if yours are different than your parents. Dabble in vegetarianism on your own terms. Chop off your hair, dye it, pierce your nose and your ears and wear black eyeliner every day if that’s what makes you happy. Read and write as much as possible, even if it’s all nothing like what everyone thinks you should be reading and writing. You have a heart and a voice that need to develop, and they will be yours and yours alone. Don’t let the people around you tell you that your mind is wrong because it’s not like theirs. Variety is the spice of life, and you’re more “cayenne pepper and cilantro” than the “salt and pepper” you’re being fed. Stay true to you.
  11. When it comes to choosing what to do after high school, look at ALL of your options. You’re going to have some people with very strong opinions, people who think they know what’s best for you, and you will pressure you into doing what they think is right for you. You don’t have to listen to them. You will have the money to apply to school and programs you want when others refuse to pay your application fees unless you do what they think is best for you. You can look at other universities, other cities, other countries. Look at college, look at taking a year off if you’re unsure. Look at scholarships and bursaries so you have some degree of financial independence. Don’t just look at what you feel you’re supposed to look at because that’s what you’re told you’re supposed to do. There is a huge world out there, with endless opportunities at your age. No choice is completely right or wrong, as long as it’s your choice and you make it for yourself.

Myself after high school (19 years old and my early 20s)

  1. “Ninja” is not an occupation. No one in this country gets paid to be a “ninja”. You really shouldn’t be impressed that a guy claims to be a “ninja”.
  2. No one owns you. No one has total and complete say over what you do except for you. Don’t let someone convince you that they know entirely what’s best for you. Yes, you can listen to opinions, but you have the final say.
  3. The second a man lifts his hand to you, leave. You’re not going to calm him down by staying with him. He’s not hitting you because he loves you and you screwed up somehow. He’s only going to get worse.
  4. Save some damn money! There’s no shame in working retail or food services. But don’t go blowing your measly paychecks eating out and hitting the bars. When your car breaks down, gas prices go up, you want a tattoo (which you never did get because you had no money, btw), and you walk through the soles of your favourite boots, you’ll be glad you had money saved in the bank.
  5. Go get your Smart Serve and apply for bartending jobs. If not, people will be telling you for years that with your personality, you would’ve made a great bartender. So just do it, find out if they’re right. Bartenders make great tips, and you don’t have to work in one of those sleazy clubs downtown either. There are great places and restaurants all over this town, despite what people will try to tell you.
  6. If your parents are offering to pay for schooling for you, take them up on it. You don’t have to commit yourself to full-time classes, and you don’t have to plan out your entire future this very second. Take the classes you want to take. Work part-time. Study hard. Learn more about yourself without the student loans you would otherwise have to take out. Even if you don’t wind up in a career in that field, or you change your major a few times, you’ll learn more about yourself and open your mind to new ideas and experiences.
  7. Keep writing. Find others who write. Learn from each other. Ask for help. Challenge yourself. Embrace your position at a local magazine, find a mentor there. Enter contests. Get rejected. Learn to deal with the rejection. And then write some more.
  8. Don’t settle. Doesn’t matter if it’s guys or jobs or school, don’t settle. Explore the world, go for the jobs you want, and never date any guy who isn’t worth your time.
  9. If you still haven’t decided on schooling yet, do some damn research. Don’t just pick a program because your parents want you to take it, or it’s only one year to get a certificate, or your friends are looking at it. Look at the schools, look at the programs. Figure out which ones interest you. And for the love of all things sacred, do some damn research into how the hell you’re going to pay for all this too! Don’t just rely on student loans.
  10. You parents aren’t going to like every guy you bring home. But if they really, truly seem to hate a guy, hear them out. There may be something about him that you can’t see at the time. As outsiders to the relationship you know you pretty well, they may pick up on certain behaviours from him early on that can turn into something major later. Basically, if your parents don’t like a guy because when he snaps you jump, they’re worried about what will happen that one time he snaps and you don’t jump. And that time does happen, it’s not pretty, and it’s damn painful.

Me in my late 20s.

  1. Seriously, I know you didn’t look into all your options when it comes to financial aid, and you’re going to finally go back to school. Before you apply for those loans, look at ALL your options. Yes, you can still get the loans, but you need more than that so that you don’t wind up $59,000 in debt by the time your degree is done.
  2. While you’re at it, look at scholarships and bursaries again. There’s always new stuff out there, and now that you’re a mature student you qualify for a bunch of new ones.
  3. You should still be writing. It doesn’t matter if other people think it’s a waste of time, or if you’ve never had anything published before. It’s what makes you happy. Start a blog, sign up to write reviews for websites, anything to keep you busy. Enter contests. You could make a bit of money off of it too, which could help pay for school.
  4. Keep up with new social media. Take classes in it, if you can. As much as people groan and complain about it, and think it’s just some silly fad, there are going to be people paid decent money to manage the social media for companies and corporations soon enough.
  5. If it saves you money, there’s no shame in living with your parents while you’re a student. This goes doubly true if you’re getting student loans, so that loan money doesn’t get eaten up by rent.
  6. While we’re talking about your loans (yeah, this is a huge thing for you later in life), don’t spend them all! Every time you get a loan, put some away in savings. If you’re working while you’re in school, put a little bit of each paycheck down on your loans. Start paying them back while you’re still in school.
  7. Make a damn plan. Then a backup plan. Then a backup plan for your backup plan.
  8. Build your resume. You don’t need 7 volunteer position in two years that you barely show up for. One or two that you’re really committed to, that shows you have the dedication and a good work ethic, and prove that you’re willing to go above and beyond (by volunteering outside of paid work, in this case) go a long way on a resume.
  9. You only need one credit card. And pay it off! Don’t carry a balance. Debt just builds and builds and builds until suddenly it feels like it’s smothering you. You don’t need that on top of your student loans. Use your credit card for emergencies and online shopping only.
  10. Ok, if you’re going to go back to school as a “mature student”, then take it seriously dammit! You’re not there to live that student life and blow off class to go to frat parties. Yes, you can have fun. But you’re paying a tonne of money to be there, and you need to do well. At some point, you’re going to have to think about graduation and grad school and your future. There’s so many more option open for you if you just do your damn job as a student and work your ass off. You’re good at it, so freakin do it.

Me in my 30’s (now)

  1. Save your money. Save up as much as you can. Just start stashing it away and don’t spend it. You’ll need it soon.
  2. Do whatever you can to pay off those credit cards. If it means moving back in with your parents for a while to save on rent, then just do it. Swallow your pride and do what you have to do.
  3. Retail is not a bad job. Stop thinking to apply for that job at the liquor store is beneath you. You wind up loving it and you’re damn good at it. Just because you have degrees doesn’t mean you’re going to find another job anytime soon.
  4. You’re going to get rejected for a lot of jobs. Like, a tonne. Some of them are going to damn near destroy you. Learn to handle the rejection and just keep applying.
  5. You still need to write. Even if everyone else thinks it’s a stupid waste of time, a hobby you should’ve grown out of years ago, keep at it. Find websites to write for. Write reviews. Write short stories. Blog. Whatever keeps you writing, do it.
  6. Spoiler alert: you hate living with roommates! Seriously, it drives you insane. All you want in life is to get a place where you can walk from the bathroom to the bedroom naked after your shower, and not have to talk to random people every time you want to use the microwave. All that money you should’ve been saving would make a great downpayment on a little house in the area right about now, wouldn’t it?
  7. You are going to fall madly, hopelessly, head-over-heels in love. He will be perfect for you in every single possible way. He knows when you’re sad and cuddles up to you to cheer you up. He loves to curl up on the couch to watch tv or while you read a good book. Yes, he will do things to piss you off sometimes. Yes, you two will fight. But there is literally nothing in the world you wouldn’t do for your one true love, your Bowser Kitten. From the moment you bring him home, he has your heart. You will spend the rest of his life trying to better yourself to provide a better life for him. And yes, he will eventually learn to love curling up in your lap while you’re on the computer. Just give him time.
  8. You’re going to lose grandma. You’ll almost lose mum. Your brother is going to move to another continent for a while. You’ll lose one fuzzy brother but gain two new fur siblings. You’re going to be faced with the people you love and the heart disease, and cancer, and depression, and addictions, and mood swings. A lot of shit is going to happen in a very short time, and it’s going to feel like you can’t handle it all. Hang in there, you’ll get through it.
  9. Speaking of all that heart disease and cancer: take care of yourself better! Once you quit smoking, don’t start again! Cut back on the drinking. Get up off your ass and exercise. Make smoothies and fresh muffins. Learn to eat better and move more. You’re already going to spend a lot of time sitting down while you write. Throwing in a bunch of soda, junk food, and red wine in the mix isn’t going to help much. In fact, it will only serve to exacerbate the genetic betrayal that is your legacy. So get up, right now, and take a walk. Do some yoga.
  10. Seriously, you and your Work BFF have a tonne of material in your heads. Be goofy. Make Vines. Make YouTube videos. Do stand-up.

 

 

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Well, the ever-cuddly Bowser Kitten did not want me to get any work done today! I sat down at my desk more than an hour ago with my coffee and a muffin, ready to start an online blogging course and catch up on the news. Instead, I got sucked into a Vine compilation because someone decided I didn’t need to get anything done. He planted himself in my lap, tried to steal my muffin in the cutest ways possible, and grabbed my wrists with his tiny little paws every time I tried to touch the keyboard. So instead of doing any actual work, I just sat there with him and watched some old Vines.

Not that it matters much today. This overwhelming feeling of blah isn’t breaking anytime soon, I think. I went back to work yesterday and reunited with my coworkers. After the long stretches I was doing last year, having two days off felt like an eternity away from them. Being back felt so useless though. With the holidays done and over with, my 6am-2:30pm shift is done. I no longer work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, guaranteed. Instead, the dreaded 4-hour shifts have returned. I’m back to closing almost every single night, barely seeing the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend thanks to our conflicting schedules. There isn’t as much work to be done at the store, meaning we have a lot more “standing around looking for things to clean” time, as opposed to the “throwing cases up on shelves and running around helping 7 customers at once” I’ve gotten used to over the last few months.

This switch in work schedules and responsibilities always leaves me feeling blah. I feel like I’m useless like there’s no point in me even being at work. That feeling bleeds into everything else too. Add that to the cold weather that keeps me indoors more often than not, the shortened days, and those holiday credit card bills arriving in the mail, and I wind up wanting to crawl under my flannel blanket with somewhat comforting Bowser Kitten and just hide from the world.

For a few years now, I thought there was something wrong with me. I mean, with all that joy and sugar from Christmas, how could I be so down right now? Well, it turns out this is a very common thing and there are varying degrees of it. Some people wind up with a case of the Winter Blues like I have. Everything is just kind of blah and pointless, but you can still mostly kinda function.  Others have full-blown cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. The season, lack of sunlight, and lack of time outdoors can take a much greater toll on some people’s mental health than others. Thankfully, I’ve never seemed to be affected by full-blown SAD. I just get down and blue this time of year. Thankfully, there’s a lot of different things that can help mood and mental health. Here are some of the things I’m trying this year to get me out of this funk.

1. Try to eat healthier

I know, this is one of the first New Years Resolutions most people break. You stock your fridge with veggies and tofu, vow to do meal prep every weekend, and then wind up ordering pizza yet again. And you know what? That’s freakin fantastic!

You don’t have to switch from your holiday diet of red wine and cookies to a macrobiotic vegan diet overnight to get any benefits. I like to make little changes, like my muffin this morning. Usually, I would just guzzle coffee on an empty stomach and then wolf down a huge meal later. But yesterday I decided to use up the leftover pumpkin puree I had in the fridge, throw in the last of my flax seed, add some protein powder one of my last roommates left behind when he moved out, and make muffins topped with pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Another thing to try is to just add veggies and fruits to your meals. You want to shove your face with pizza instead of cooking tonight? Then order a salad to go with it, or keep some bagged salad in the fridge. Then, instead of a meat feast pizza with extra cheese, just get regular cheese and one meat with a few veggies. Ideally, your meal should be 1/2 veggies, but no one is looking over your shoulder and counting. Just put forward an effort to throw some veggies into your meal. Pretty much every meal AAB cooks includes a big pan of sauteed or boiled veggies. When I throw meat into the oven to cook, I like to throw some baby carrots and potatoes in there with it, just in case I’m crunched for time later and can’t manage to make another veggie. We keep frozen veggies in the freezer (because keeping them in the cupboard is a dumb idea), canned veggies in the cupboard (far away from the frozen veggies), and we buy fresh produce bit by bit throughout the week.

2. Guzzle water like your very life depends on it.

I don’t mean start chugging gallon jugs of water, multiple times a day. While it’s damn near impossible to wind up with water intoxication when just drinking water throughout the day, there was a famous case about a decade ago of a young woman who chugged two gallons of water without going to the bathroom in an effort to win a radio contest. I wouldn’t ever recommend going that far with the water. But staying hydrated is important for your health and your mood.

New Year’s Eve, AAB and I had some drinks. On New Years Day, we went off to my parents’ place for their New Years Day party. I had a glass of juice before we left, and then dove straight into the mimosas once we were there. I played bartender for my cousins throughout the day and wound up drinking quite a few mixed drinks and a lot of red wine. The next day, I woke up and had my coffee as usual. I didn’t bother filling up my water bottle, and instead grabbed a half-finished bottle of Coke Zero. At some point int he day, I made some tea. But that was it for the day. I felt like absolute crap. I wasn’t hungover, but I was so slow and sluggish. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t manage to get anything done, and I just wanted to cry all damn day. Yesterday, after my coffee, I immediately chugged two glasses of water. I had energy enough to clean the kitchen, bake my muffins, make a batch of couscous, organize my grocery list a bit, to some stretches, and get some much-needed mopping and hand-scrubbing done on the entranceway floor here. Just drinking water can make a huge difference.

3. Get some sunlight and Vitamin D

A lot of times, I leave for work as it’s starting to get dark a bit, or it’s stormy out. On my holiday schedule, I would be out the door before sunrise, but have plenty of natural light through the big windows at work and running errands on breaks. Now, my breaks are long after the sun has gone down, and most of my daylight hours are spent in the house. Thankfully I have the ever curious Bowser Kitten here who loves to look out my bedroom window and watch people and animals walk by. So I have the blinds open for at least a few hours each day, letting in that natural sunlight.

Another thing I’ve found is that taking a Vitamin D supplement when I’m not outdoors much is a huge help. You get Vitamin D from the sun, so not being in the sun means you’re not getting your Vitamin D. Makes sense, right? Years ago when I was in university, one of the doctors in the school clinic told me to grab a cheap bottle of Vitamin D at the pharmacy in the winter, since I was spending so much time indoors reading and writing. It made a huge difference in my energy levels, my mood, my complexion, even my contact lenses felt better (as strange as that sounds).

4. Get up off your ass and move a bit.

This is a huge problem for me right now. Before New Years, I was on a stock shift. Every morning we would come in, sweep the store out, scan a store-wide divert, run the floor machine, pull stock in the warehouse, put stock away in the store, and then work on the load for the day. Basically, we were on our feet all day, lifting cases of wine and booze, putting away bottles, and just generally keeping busy physically. I got two 15-minute breaks and a half hour lunch on those shifts. The Work BFF and I would head to the coffee shop on our first break for bagels every day. Usually at least half of my lunch was spent running errands. And when we actually did take our last break (it would get so busy most days, we’d forget), half the time I’d run out and do a soda run for everyone or hit the Bulk Barn for a little bag of nuts and a Zevia soda (my new love). I was averaging around 13,000 steps just at work each day.

Last night, I had to job in place and dance around just to stay awake on my four-hour shift. There was no stock, there was no load to work on. We faced the store, scanned every price tag outside of the fridge to make sure the new year price change went through smoothly (it didn’t), and stood around talking a lot during the long stretches with no customers. I’m not lifting heavy things or running through the warehouse moving and reorganizing stockpiles. No, now I’m just standing at my register, bopping along to the radio and trying to resist the temptation to go buy a jumbo bag of M&M’s. A huge reason why I get so blah this time of year is because of that drastic and sudden change in my physical motivation.

One thing I keep up no matter how cold it gets is my walk to work. Right now I’m scheduled 6-7 days a week. Just the 20-ish minutes it takes to walk to work each day makes a huge difference in my mood. AAB went out and got me TWO coats for Christmas this year, and a new Oogie-Boogie hat to make sure I’m warm on my walks. Just walking to work and getting some steps in before my shift is a huge mood booster for me.

Unfortunately, when I’m around the house I am Lazy AF. Our bedroom is so packed with our stuff that there’s not much room to exercise in there. Our tiny little office is so small, there’s no room there either. And the last time I tried to exercise in the living room, I had a creepy-ass roommate constantly peeking around the corner and watching me. I hate working out in front of people, and that was just too damn creepy for me. So, I have to find little things to do around here. I make Spotify playlists and dance around the room to them, sometimes with Bowser Kitten and his four left feet. There’s enough room on the bed for some planks, and I can do stuff like standing donkey kicks and work with light hand weights in the bedroom. I just need to keep up the motivation to keep doing all of this, since it makes a huge difference in my mood for the day.

5. Find a new hobby.

I know, I’ve been saying I’m going to learn to knit for years now and I never seem to get around to it. This is the perfect time to try it, though. When the blah’s hit, stimulating the mind with something new can be exactly what you need to keep your mind from creeping further into crisis-mode. Last year I taught myself to arm-knit, which was a colossal waste of time. I mean, that really thick, chunky yarn is damn expensive! But, it gave me something to focus my mind on while I watched Walking With The Dinosaurs yet again and learned about the mating habits of the T-Rex.

It doesn’t have to be an entirely new hobby, either. Like I said, I learned to arm knit last year. Before that, I had been loom knitting for years. This year, I want to move onto traditional knitting, with sharp needles and all that dangerous stuff. I also plan on writing more, both here and on one or two projects I’ve been making notes on for way too long.

6. Find something new.

Something AAB like to do when we order Chinese food is to order things we’ve never tried before. That’s how we absolutely fell in love with the Moo Goo Gai Pan at the closest Chinese restaurant. Sometimes we Google something to see what it is first, but most of the time we order it anyway.

This is the time when we try new things. There’s a bunch of small restaurants in our neighbourhood, since we live near the local university, that cater to people on a very tight budget. Instead of our usual pizza or Chinese dinner, I’m hoping to try a new place every week or two. There is a vegetarian place just down the road that I have been dying to try for months that I think I will finally hit up!

And as any of my readers know, I watch the same damn thing over and over and over. I have a collection of Vine compilations that I watch over and over. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve rewatched Daria and the first two seasons of Twin Peaks. And if I watch Tank Girl any more, I’ll have it memorized. So to cut through the gloom of the season, I am making it a point of watching new things. Already today I found Cheapest Weddings on Netflix and love it. AAB and I have found a bunch of shows and documentaries online about criminal profiling, serial killers, serial criminals, and crime theories. Even when it comes to books, I’m branching out and going through my huge unread pile. I’m already on my second Twin Peaks book of the year, and I may actually finish reading the Ray Bradbury collection I started last summer instead of rereading Stephen King’s Insomnia yet again.

7. Get warm!

I love curling up with a giant mug of tea, maybe another mug of soup, and a third mug with some noodles or scrambled eggs. In other words, I’m a big fan of stuff in giant mugs. When you get cold, you get cranky. The cold saps your energy and makes you tired and miserable. While it’s unavoidable to get cold ever in this weather, there’s a lot you can do to stay warm, even without giant mugs.

I have a small collection of warm blankets and a Snuggie, all of which were either gifts or I got dirt cheap at a thrift store. I also have a small collection of flannel shirts (and Bowser’s favourite flannel blanket) to curl up with. Even just having a warm hat and mittens this time of year can go a long way as far as keeping you warm. Dollar stores and thrift shops are pretty much the greatest places to be this time of year, with all their cheap warm accessories and mugs (and they’re always freakin hot as hell this time of year, so free heat!). Keep nice and toasty this time of year, and it will help keep the gloom and blues away.

 

I know, this all won’t work for everyone. These are some of the things that help me the most, though, when the blues set in this time of year. My anxiety is pretty high right now, and I wake up not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. But following through with some of this stuff each day really seems to help me. Hopefully there’s something here that can help you, too.

A Day to Come Down and to Think

I wound up spending the night at my parents’ place last night, spur of the moment. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend caught a ride home with his mother so he could go to work this morning, so I haven’t seen him yet today. The wonderfully friendly Bowser Kitten has been a big ball of cuddles and claws all day, trying to get as much attention from me as possible. As I type this, he’s sitting on the back of my chair, randomly putting his paw on the back of my neck for a second at a time. If I turn to pet him, he runs off. But he’ll sit there for a good 20 minutes, randomly patting me.

As much as I love the fuzzy attention, it’s been really hard to get anything done around here today. When I got dropped off this morning, I put the bag of leftovers large enough to feed a small family into the fridge for AAB and me to pick at. I did some dishes, swept the kitchen, and took out all the stale bread and snack food for the birds and squirrels. I threw in my laundry earlier, did some donkey kicks while I watched a drag queen explain how to fix sparse eyebrows, and started my annual organization binge. But I barely got past the first step, somehow.

You see, the beginning of the year means one thing to me: a fresh new day planner to track things in. Every year I get my new Orange Circle Studio day planner and wait for the new year before I start filling it in with anything beyond doctors appointments I don’t want to forget for the new year. Today was the day I start filling in my day planner, checking out all the new features it has since last year’s model, come down from the holidays, and start to really contemplate life.

First off, a quick word about these planners. I may or may not be hugely in love with these day planners. If you’ve read some of my past posts, you know that I can get a little obsessive about my day planners. I tried to use a bullet journal and gave up after a month. It just wasn’t organized enough for me. I tried just grabbing a little day planner from the drug store, and couldn’t find one with the right amount of room to randomly track things like I tend to constantly do. And as much as I wish I could be one of those people with the tiny little day book in their clutch, I always have been and always will be more of a giant notebook in a messenger back type of gal. These planners are the perfect design, with the perfect amount of space for me. This year they even came with a section in the back of the planner to track what kind of day you’ve had, your goals for the year, and your finances, all on top of the room they give for shopping and to-do lists.

Anyway, back to my day. I started off my organizing for the year by trying to put all the important dates from my old calendar and planner into my new one. I’m not going to lie, I used Facebook to help me look up a bunch of birthdays too. After that, I usually switch out purses to get a new look for the season, clean my desk area, make a healthy snack, do some stretches, and then curl up with a good book. I never got past that day planner today, though.

This time of year is just full of so many plans, so many new beginnings, and so many opportunities to make new goals. It is also full of catching up with friends and relatives, seeing how much more successful everyone else is than you, endless being questioned by people you hardly ever see about what your next step is to “finally living like a damn grown-up”, and hearing that apologetic tone in people’s voices when they say “oh, so you’re still working in retail? Well good for you for sticking with it!”. Tempers flare this time of year. Patience wears thin much easier as the holidays come to an end. It’s like everyone has spent so much time and energy being holly and/or jolly, they just don’t have it in them to do it one more day. The pressure of bettering yourself and your life combined with the crushing realization that everyone else thinks you’re a failure (at least in your own mind), added on to the simmering anger and the waning patience seems to cause this giant bubble of blah to burst inside me.

This year, it feels like I have to accomplish everything all by myself. I’ve always had a very small support system to lean on. For the most part, my family has been supportive but up until recently didn’t seem to understand some of the obstacles I faced or the things I was struggling with. It wasn’t until my brother went through the same things that they seemed to understand. As amazingly awesome as AAB can be most of the time, we are not without our troubles. One of my biggest problems with our relationship, which he can never seem to understand, is that I feel totally alone when it comes to making plans for the future. He will say he wants something for us but doesn’t seem to do anything to work towards that goal. It all seems to come down to my work towards that goal, and it’s damn stressful.

All of this just seems to compound right about now, and it gets me so down. There’s so much I want to do, so much I want to get done, so much I need to consider for my future, but it seems like everything else is coming before all of that. I want to start looking for a new place to live, but I know that it is only me working on this search for us, and I am the one who has to manage the money and go about getting loans or mortgages or talking to financial people.

This post has gone nowhere fast, and I knew that would happen today. Every year I take January 2nd off so I can clear my head, do some thinking, and sink deeper into the existential void I had been trying to claw my way out of. My head is in a very bad place right now. I just want to crawl under a blanket and sleep for a week. I’m doing everything in my power not to just burst out in tears. So if you want to read more about my anxiety, my mental state, and my current mental downward spiral, stay tuned Sunshine! I can’t see this letting up very quickly.

Happy New Year!

I was in a bit of a funk for the month of December. I had a list of topics to write about for the month. I even had seasonal topics, mainly holiday-specific things that pop into my head sometimes. I had every intention of writing quite a bit and of getting my life together throughout the month. Instead……. I barely existed.

Usually, the holidays give me energy. This year, they just drained me. My job drained me. My relationship with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend drained me. Friendships drained me. Even some of my co-workers drained me. It just seemed like the entire month was one giant ball of ick, without all the festiveness and that controlled chaos I love.

You see, I like being busy. I love my holiday 6am shift. It’s draining, and exhausting. I leave feeling sore, and walk a whole bunch while lifting things. We looked at how many skids of product we got for our deliveries, and how many people we had working the delivery shift. Between pulling the warehouse, putting away the delivery load, and stocking shelves, we each lifted an average of just over 12,000lbs each day. With the exception of hurting my back yesterday, I’ve been loving this shift. I’m awake at 4am to have my coffee and take a quick shower. I’m out the door by 5:30am for a freezing cold walk to work. I leave by 2:30pm and then have the entire afternoon and evening to do stuff. My plan was to clean, cook, bake, and craft my afternoons away and then have a nice dinner with AAB before going to bed early.

None of that has been happening though. I was going to declutter the bedroom, deep clean the floors, do a little reorganizing, and completely clean and reorganize the kitchen. There are some new knitting needles on my desk from a coworker with a list of instructional sites so I can learn how to knit. My mending is piled up in the corner with my sewing kit. And I pulled out my box of notebooks to finally go through. And none of this got done. Most days, I came home and did just what needed to be done. I scrubbed the bathroom, swept and mopped, maybe ran the vacuum through the bedroom quickly. But none of the projects I had lined up for myself got done. Hell, they didn’t even get started!

Instead, I sat around watching YouTube a lot. That’s when I knew I’m in a funk and need to do something about it soon. I’ve watched a few hundred Vine compilations, but am like nine weeks behind on listening to my favourite podcast. I rewatched a bunch of Bar Rescue but stopped watching things that were new to me and I was enjoying like Mindhunter and Bob’s Burgers. I haven’t touched the new coffee maker or straightening iron I got for Christmas. I haven’t even wanted to eat the Christmas treats I baked, opting instead to eat halushki (plain potato and flour dumpling balls boiled in water and served with a little salt and/or sauerkraut) every day for lunch. I have been the walking definition of the term “in a funk”.

As opposed to the happy jolly front I’ve had on at work, I’ve been miserable. Instead of loving the stress and busyness of this time of year, I’ve hated almost every minute of it. I was happier getting yelled at by customers while working a cash register for 8 hours than I was at home with all of my decorations and projects. I didn’t watch most of my favourite Christmas specials or movies. I didn’t play my It’s A Wonderful Life drinking game this year. I didn’t get any mulled wine or send out Christmas cards. I busted my ass to finish the few crafts and writings I needed for gifts, and that was it. For the most part, I plopped myself down in my desk chair and watched reruns I’ve seen dozens of times before. Not even festive reruns, just the same old crap I watch all year.

I know I need to make some changes. AAB and I have been talking about the things in our lives right now that we’re not satisfied with, and the things we have a chance to change in the new year. He has a great opportunity to learn a trade at work, and I have the chance to finally get some medical benefits so I can afford to see a dentist (damn wisdom teeth coming in!) and get my eyes checked (damn glasses!). We have a bit of money saved up and are looking into buying a home in our area. Homes are pretty cheap in our part of the city, and our city is one of the cheapest ones to live in Canada right now. Once we buy a home, we’re looking into adopting a rescue kitten for the surprisingly mature Bowser Kitten to teach how to be a cat. And then we want to look at used cars.

We have all of this coming up in the new year, I know I need a severe kick in the arse to get myself in gear. We have a lot of big goals we want to accomplish together that will need quite a bit of working on. I also know that I need to personally make some changes in my life in order to stop these constant funks.

Today is New Years Day. Traditionally, it’s the day that all New Year Resolutions begin. Today not only the first day of 2018 and the first day of January, it’s also Monday, the first day of a new week. On top of that, tonight is a full moon. Not just any full moon though: tonight is the Wolf Supermoon. If any time were a time for a fresh start, today would be that time.

Unfortunately, as you’re reading this, I’m sitting at my parents place eating shrimp and kielbasa and drinking wine. It’s their annual New Years Day party, and I’m not starting any resolutions during the party. We’ve been having this party every year since before I was even born. It’s a day to gather with family and friends, eat too much, drink a little too much, and catch up with everyone. It’s like Christmas and the Super Bowl combined!

Also, I don’t make resolutions. I’ve found that whenever I consciously make a “resolution”, I fail before the end of January. Something about that whole “I’m going to change my life for the better, and make some major changes, and they’re all happening right now” mentality I’ve always seen with anyone I’ve known making a resolution puts too much pressure on me to keep it. It doesn’t feel like a gradual improvement or a lifestyle change. It becomes this all-or-nothing major change to a person’s life, where one wrong move can derail the entire thing in seconds.

Now, when I break things up and set goals instead, it makes everything seem a lot more capable. Instead of the usual “I’m going to get my shit together this year” resolution I’ve been pressured into making every year since the early 2000’s, I’ve decided to set some concrete yet flexible goals for myself this year. The point of them is to be something to work towards, without them strict that one tiny slip-up would cause everything to come crumbling down around me. So, I’m setting myself a whole bunch of goals this year.

1) Start living that roommate-less life

I go to work every single day and deal with random-ass strangers. Then I come home and live with random-ass strangers. When there aren’t enough random-ass strangers renting rooms in our house, then I have to show vacant rooms to random-ass strangers when I just want to relax, put my feet up and read. I am getting pretty damn sick of all these random-ass strangers in my random-ass house!

So this year, we want to change our living situation. Ideally, we would want to buy the house we are in right now. We wouldn’t kick anyone out right away, but I would get some new leases drawn up putting a time limit on how long they can live here (6 months to a year, probably). Then we just wouldn’t replace people as they left. Then I could start deep cleaning the house without wondering “is this even mine? Does random-ass-roommate use this? Did another previous random-ass-roommate leave this behind?”. We could make some small improvements, slap some fresh paint on the walls, move in the furniture I have stores at my parents’ place (which includes a real bed, instead of dinky twin bed we’re sharing now), and the ever curious Bowser Kitten could explore the basement finally.

If that isn’t possible, our next plan is to buy another house in the area. I’ve been combing websites, talking to coworkers and friends, and even once talked to a mortgage broker for advice. In the new year, we’re going to look into pre-approval for a mortgage through our banks and through some private lenders. Knowing what we qualify for and what we can afford, I can narrow our search down and we can hopefully find a place.

If the housing market jumps again like it did early last year (homes were going for almost 30% more than their asking price!), then we’re prepared to look into apartments in the area. I already have a list of building management companies to stay away from, which buildings don’t allow fur-children, and which buildings in the area have horrible reviews from current and previous tenants.If it comes down to renting an apartment for a few years, we’re willing to do that if it means not living with roommates anymore.

2) Figure out that whole career-path part of life

Now, this isn’t as drastic as it sounds. I’ve been applying for jobs for years, with no results. I’ve been turned down so many times, it reminds me of trying to find a date for my high school prom (FYI, I went alone and freakin’ loved it). I have applied for everything from government positions to university secretaries to random-ass office positions. Nothing has panned out.

Then, this really weird thing happened: when I got day shifts, I started to really love my job. I have some fantastic coworkers that I love working with, and my wages aren’t that bad. Even with our slow period coming up in the new year, I’m not too bad off for hours. Mind you, it’s all closing shifts and weekends again, and I will most likely have to do a few 14+ day stretches again, but at least I put my foot down and declared to everyone that I’m not doing the 30-day stretches this year.

What I need to figure out is: do I want to dedicate myself to my current job and hope for the best, or is there another job out there I want that I should be going for? I don’t want to be applying for any job with a desk and a chair just to get out of my current position. I also don’t want to just accept my current job and declare myself a lifer if there’s something else out there that I want. I need to look through job ads with a better eye and try to figure out if this is a job I could not only see myself doing but one I could see myself leaving my current job for. I don’t want to be working two or three jobs at the same time right now, so I have some choices to really look into in the coming months.

3) Stop being such a lazy piece of crap and exercise more

Yesterday while I was trying to take a case down from on top of another case on the top shelf in the warehouse, the case I was handling opened and a bottle started to fall out. In a panic and not wanting to get a full bottle of sangria smashed into my face at 7am, I jerked the box towards me and twisted myself in an awkward way to keep the bottle in the box. My back has been in pain ever since. I filled out an accident report, and the district manager even came in to check on me, so my ass is covered if I seriously hurt myself.

But now I’m being extra careful of my back at work. There’s a lot of stuff I can’t lift or carry right now, and I have to be extra cautious when lifting pretty much anything. I’m doing more squats to lift and move things, and am engaging my core muscles to support my back. And all of this is damn near killing me. I am so out of shape, just trying not to murder my back is going to murder the rest of me.

I am ridiculously out of shape. I walk everywhere and have been using that as an excuse not to exercise. I mean, why work out when I’ll be on my feet at work all day anyway? While I have always been ridiculously strong for someone who doesn’t work out, my muscle-tone is almost non-existent. I stopped wearing sleeveless tops in public a few years ago because I was so embarrassed by my arm flab. And I can feel now just how out of shape my core is.

I’m not pledging a certain number of workouts a week or a month. I’m not setting a step goal, or a calories-burned goal, and anything else as rigid as that. Instead, I am setting a goal to move more and get in some basic exercises each week in order to help myself feel better. I know I need to get some planks in there, and I need to find leg and butt exercises that won’t aggravate my bad knee. I also want to work on my arms. But I’m leaving the details loose. Maybe I’ll do YouTube exercise videos. Maybe I’ll find some apps for my phone that help me work out. Maybe I’ll do a plank challenge, or just stretch a lot more often when I wake up or before I go to bed. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, as long as I’m doing something to help my body.

4) Drink. Less. Alcohol.

This is a pretty important one for me. As I’ve said before, my job involves selling alcohol. I see a lot of addicts every day, and the fact that I’m helping them fuel their addiction really bothers me. At the same time, I come home from work pretty much every night and pour a glass of wine. Many nights I’ll have two or three glasses.

I know this isn’t a healthy behaviour, and it’s something I need to address. Pretty much everyone I know outside of work tells me to just jump into a Sober January and start doing long stretches without alcohol. I know this isn’t going to work for me, not where I work now. So, I’m making plans for cutting back. Add some club soda to my wine to make a spritzer. Cut back on the actual number of glasses I drink each night. Replace wine with juice or soda. Track the nights that I don’t drink on my calendar.

I know to a lot of people, this seems pretty weird. But I live with an alcoholic, deal with alcoholics daily, and have no intention of committing to total sobriety. I want to re-teach myself to deal with stress without drinking. I want to prove to myself that I do not have a problem with alcohol, I’ve just recently let the habit of “take off the uniform, pour a glass of wine, bitch about work with AAB” get a little out of hand. I don’t crave the alcohol, I just grab it as a force of habit. In this new year, I intend to change those habits.

5) Stop putting off grown-up things, like doctors appointments

I’m already one step ahead on this one! I have appointments one day the second week of January to have all of my moles checked (I have a lot on my back and arms that I can’t regularly check myself) and to see my gynecologist. I’m also working on getting benefits so I can make appointments to get my eyes checked, see a dentist, and maybe even get my back and knee looked at in the new year.

I have put these things off for so long, it’s scary. My family has a history of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. I should’ve been keeping an eye on these things all along, but put them off out of fear. The last time I ordered contact lenses, I guessed on my prescription because it’s been so long since my last eye exam that my prescription has changed. Now my contacts and my glasses are different prescriptions and it bothers my eyes changing from one to the other. And my wisdom teeth started coming in two years ago, which was more than two years since my last dentist appointment.

6) Sort through all the crap in my life.

I have so much stuff in this house right now, it’s ridiculous. I keep telling myself I’m saving things for when I don’t have roommates, but they just get combined in with everything the roommates borrow and destroy.

Well this year for Christmas, my brother gave us a nice set of dishes. They’re white with a black and red pattern of a black cat and some yarn. It’s a full set in a box, and there’s no way in hell I’m letting any roommates touch them. So, I’m setting aside a large Tupperware bin for anything I’m not going to use now but will be once we are roommate-free. So far my plates and my new Harley Quinn dish towels are going in there. As for the rest of the stuff I’ve been saving up…… we’ll see.

I’m going to slowly go through everything, bit by bit, and pare down what I have here. Whatever makes the cut and can stay, I’m organizing. I got an early start on my last day off and already have a small bag of things to donate to the local women’s shelter. I intend on growing that donation quite a bit and bringing something there every month or so. I have some gently used clothes, my current coffee pot (which is being replaced by the lovely new one Santa brought me), perfume, and even some blankets and sheets. I’m going through everything, bit by bit.

I’m not stopping at what can be donated though. I’m getting rid of the piles of crap I have around here. I have a box of old notebooks that are all partially used. I’m going through all of them, saving what notes I want, and then deciding which notebooks I’ll actually keep to write in again and which ones are going in the recycling. Same goes for all my bins and piles: I’m not keeping what I don’t want or need anymore.

7) Embrace and work with my creativity.

The one time all year I was happiest and most content was the entire month of November. I was working crazy hours, had two days off the entire month where I didn’t even get to relax, and I barely had any time to get anything done. But I was writing every single day. I put forth the effort every single day to sit down at my computer and type something out. No, not everything I wrote was great. Hell, a lot of what I wrote wasn’t even good. But I was sitting down and writing something every single day. I know I can’t realistically write out a blog post every single day, but I can do it most days. I’ve always put so much pressure on myself to write these great posts, and then never gotten around to writing them because I never thought what I wrote was any good. Just putting my writing out there, not caring if it wasn’t all my best work, made me feel more alive. I wanted to create more, and I did. I know that I need to get back into that again.

Also, my Work BFF and I are pretty much walking Vine compilations. If we aren’t quoting Vines to each other or quoting Instagram videos from our favourite Viners (RyDoon, that would be you mostly), then we are able to be funny for a whole 6 seconds at a time before dissolving into hysterical laughter together in the warehouse. Well, word on the street (and by street, I mean the internet because the information superhighway is the only road I use since I never leave the damn house) is that V2 is coming. Yes, a brand new Vine is supposed to come in the new year! And guess who has decided to make videos: me and the WBFF! We just want to make some funny clips, share our bizarre sense of humor with other people, and see if anyone else out there can burst out into random laughter as much as she does.  This is just something fun that we can do together while we’re goofing off, or in the parking lot after work when we’ve gone goofy from lack of sleep.

 

There is so much more that I want to do this year. I have stacks of books I want to get through. I want to learn to knit and take free online courses and learn French again. I’m not going to start making lists of 2018 goals like “read 45 books” or “take 12 Coursera classes”, because I know I never follow through with them. But with all the other goals I have lined up for the year, I know I can fit in a bit of everything I want to get done right now if I just see it as something I want to do instead of something to check of my to-do list for the year. I love to-do lists, but they can only last so long before I lose track of them. A week, maybe two for short-term goals, and without my old “day planner + monthly calendar + four-month calendar + daily/weekly/monthly to-do lists” organizational scheme I had back in school my long-term goals go maybe a month. I need to fix that. I need to get my life in that organized chaos state again, before the boredom and the blah kills me.

I’m not going to force it all at once. I’m going to let things happen, work on things a bit at a time. Things need to flow properly, and I need to go with that.

So Happy New Year, Sunshine! I hope that 2018 brings plenty of love and cheer your way, in whatever way you need it!

Because Reindeer Are Assholes

Now, there are a few things you really should know about me, especially this time of year. First of all, I freaking love the holiday season. We have two trees up, with lights around the room that we use instead of lamps. I wear Christmas hats and headbands every day at work, decorated the store with tinsel and garland today, and even have Christmas sweaters and hats for the oddly squirmy Bowser Kitten. The second thing you need to know is that I make epically awesome Christmas playlists. It’s an awesome mix of the classics (Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, Ertha Kitt), childhood faves (Raffi, Muppets, New Kids on the Block, Hanson, Rockapella), the awesomely rockin’ and random (Twisted Sister, Korn, Run D.M.C, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), and artists you wouldn’t normally associate with Christmas (Weezer, The Killers, Fall Out Boy, Stephen Colbert). The last and probably most important thing to know about me is also probably the most shocking, especially considering how much I love all things Christmasy and Winter Wonderland-y.

I hate the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer because reindeer are assholes. Don’t believe me? Just ask Big Rude Jake.

I’m sure you all know the tale. I mean, we’ve been singing it every year since 1949 and watching the damn Christmas special since 1964. For those of you in the back who somehow have avoided this story for the entirety of your lifetime, here’s the gist of it:

Rudolph is a reindeer. He’s smart and sweet and kind and caring, but he has a glowing red nose which makes him a misfit. There’s another reindeer named Fireball who has bright yellow hair, but no one bothers him because it turns out he’s a damn bully. Apparently, everyone in this damn “special” is a damn bully though.  Rudolph’s father, Donner, starts mocking him only moments after his birth. Freakin Santa Claus comes to see him right after that. At first, he’s uber impressed with how smart the little guy is, but then breaks out into a song about how every single reindeer wants to pull Santa’s sled, and there’s no way Rudolph ever will with his abnormality. Rudolph’s parents try desperately to hide his nose, making little nose caps out of rubber and dirt. Donner actually tells his own child, right after the lad complains about how uncomfortable one such cover is, that “there are more important things than comfort, like self-respect”. But how the hell is Rudolph ever going to respect himself if everyone around him is mocking him for being a freak of nature?

Of course, the rest of Christmas Town isn’t much better. The elves have their own “pick on the outcast” competition going where they all gang up on the one guy who isn’t very good at his job. Hermy knows he’s not good at making toys, and he has an alternative career picked out. He’s probably the most logical one in the whole damn town! Does anyone respect that? Of course not! They sit around berating him for not being like them, making fun of his love of dentistry, and mocking his lack of toy-making abilities. And of course, Santa is no help. When the elves try out their Christmas song for him, he just makes comments about how Hermy’s section was flat, because Hermy wasn’t there to sing with them. The red-suited wonder just brings down a whole world of crap on Hermy’s head.

Back to Rudolph though. So Donner and “Mrs. Donner”, because apparently in Christmas Town you give up your full identity once you’re married and become just the Mrs., send Rudolph off to the reindeer games. Of course, they try to cover up his nose because they’re ashamed of him for not being like all the others. Somehow Rudolph makes friends with another misfit, the fuzzy-headed Fireball. The two bond briefly, becoming friends. Thanks to finally having someone around who doesn’t just mock him relentlessly, Rudolph seems to build up a little confidence. He’s able to chat up a lovely young gal named Clarice (she still has a name, so you know she’s single) and flies like a damn eagle when it’s his turn to attempt take-off practice. Even that jolly red bastard Claus is impressed watching him fly!

Until that is, his nose cover comes off. His one and only friend in the world, Fireball, wastes no time pointing out the glowing red nose to everyone around him and leads in the jeers of “rainbow snot” and “furnace nose” with all the other reindeer. Even the damn adults join in, pledging to not let their children anywhere near the glowing freak. Hell, Santa joins in! He flat out shuns Rudolph, pretty much saying it’s a pity he’s a freak because he’s the best flier they have. The only one to stick by him is Clarice, who is promptly whisked away by her father who refuses to let his daughter have anything to do with someone not 100% like him.

So, all of this bullying causes both Rudolph and Hermy to run away from home. Luckily, they do this at the exact same time so they wind up running into each other. Bonding over the fact that they’re both misfits who everyone seems to hate with a burning hatred of a thousand supernova-ing suns, the two finally find real friendship in each other. They somewhat form their own small society consisting of just the two of them and a bizarre tinsel hunter named Yukon who uses poodles to pull his dog sled. The small group is able to survive on their own, and even make their way to an island inhabited entirely by misfit toys. You would think this would be the perfect ending to their story: misfits finding their place among those who accept and love them for their unique personalities.

Instead, King Moonrasier gives them yet another variation of the usual B.S. ever bullied child has ever gotten in their life: if you just tried a little bit harder, then maybe you could fit in and people would like you! He lets them spend one single night on the island, and has the gall to ask the trio to keep them in mind when they someday return to Christmas Town. Lucky for those toys they were all genuine and sweet beings who bonded with the trio because that King was just like the rest of the inhabitants of Christmas Town: he was only looking out for himself, and how he looked in the eyes of others. If he let these random misfits of his own kind in amongst the toys, then he would have equals there among him. Obviously, the trio had to go.

So, the trio is asked to leave the only place they’re not seen as outcasts. Rudolph thinks he’ll be a danger to the others, because his “beak blinks like a blinking beacon” as his father always told him, and there’s a giant snow monster out there who seems to want to eat them. He figures the others will be better off without him, and he sets off on his own. Of course, his traveling companions go off in search of him. While all of this is happening Clarice and “Mrs. Donner” set off in search of Rudolph too because this small group of characters are the only decent beings in the whole damn special. They all wind up in the lair of the snow monster, who is ready to eat all of the reindeer. Yukon uses his skills with rocks and a pickaxe to help Hermy use his dentistry skills to save their friends. Of course, this means we have to think that Yukon and his pups are dead for a small time, only until everyone is deemed “useful”.

You see, this is the time in the special where everyone returns home and it’s decided that they’re “worthy” of being there. Hermy’s boss decides that maybe all these people and creature with teeth really do need a dentist around, and sets up an appointment. Yukon triumphantly returns, snow monster in tow, and shows that the now-toothless monster can put a star on top of a damn tree once a year. See, even the scary monster thing is useful! It takes a blinding blizzard and the near cancellation of Christmas for Rudolph to become useful, though.

You see, every single being who once mocked and ridiculed Rudolph suddenly comes to the realization that having a light at the head of your sleigh may be useful when flying in the dark in the middle of winter. Apparently, it had never snowed on Christmas Eve before the birth of Rudolph, so this was never an issue. Santa asks Rudolph not only to fly with him that night but to lead the damn sleigh. Now remember, Rudolph just got back mere hours earlier from a months-long journey through frozen hell, was attacked and knocked unconscious by a snow monster, thought he lost one of his best and only friends in the world, found out that friend wasn’t dead and had actually trained the snow monster, and was now back in the town that had made his short life a living hell up until this point. And here is Santa asking him to guide his sleigh. Forget about the mocking, the torment, the shunning by damn near every single being in the land. Forget that, up until 30 seconds ago you were just some freak they were ready to tolerate so that Santa could go pick up some free (albeit misfit) toys from an island and get a damn dentist in the town already. Forget the mocking that happened from the moment he opened his damn eyes for the very first time on this earth. Forget everything, and guide the damn sleigh so that Santa can continue to be a beloved holiday figure.

And the stupid bastard does it.

Maybe Rudolph has a master plan that he enacted that day. Maybe he was more concerned with getting a home for the misfit toys than with his own childhood torment. Maybe he decided to end the reign of King Moonraker by having Santa take every single inhabitant of his island aboard his sled to be given a new home on Christmas Eve, leaving the King a lonely and hollow shell of a former being. Or maybe, just maybe, all those years of torment just made Rudolph that much more determined to make something of himself that everyone else could see and be proud of; to become something “normal” in the eyes of his father, fulfilling the wish every reindeer father has for their son (since apparently daughters can never fly with Santa).

Or maybe Rudolph has a bizarre form of Stockholm Syndrome, making him want to appease his childhood captors, the inhabitants of Christmas Town.

As Big Rude Jake said, you can take what you want from this story. I mean, we won’t let our nation’s kids hear a naughty word or see a naked boob on TV because it will cause them to be scarred for life, ruining any prospects of becoming a normal and functioning adult. Yet, we let them continually, year after year, sing this song and watch this special, celebrating the torment of innocent creatures for the sheer delight of the status quo. We basically drive it into the heads of our young that bullying someone because they are the slightest bit different is perfectly fine once a year. I mean, if reindeer can be stuck-up bigotted sons of bitches, then why can’t we?

I agree with Jake that this story should have continued. It should have shown the days after Christmas, with Rudolph sitting at the sleazy dive bar on the wrong side of Christmas Town, full of disgraced former elves and that weird doll Sally who some say suffered from depression. He should be sitting there, a glass of half-rate scotch on the bar between his hooves, a look of pain and disappointment on his face, pondering the happens of the last few days. I mean, he was physically and mentally exhausted before being propositioned by Santa to be a part of his team and wasn’t of sound mind to rationally agree to any terms. And now here he sits, knowing that his fate is to be mocked behind his back at the water cooler while all the other reindeer are gathering for their post-Christmas rituals. He ponders every little thing the other reindeer said to him to his face as a child and youth and wonders what they’re saying about him behind his back when their boss isn’t around to remind them that he’s useful. Will he ever be worthy of anything without Santa’s approval? Is his entire existence just to spend one night a year in service to others, and then back to the laughing and mockery for another 350+ days? He ponders these things over and over, wondering what will ever become of his life, his relationship with Clarice (whose father once forbade their blossoming friendship based on his nose, but now welcomes him with open arms when Santa is around), his very existence in this Christmas-centered town. He stares into the amber liquid in his glass, fighting back tears as he raises the glass up to his lips and mutters

“…..what’s the use of getting sober when you’re gonna get drunk again…”

Yes, this may be a bleak imagining of Christmas, but it’s true. The treatment of Rudolph was just appalling, and his sudden acceptance without time to rationalize his place in the world could leave him in a perpetual state of emotional limbo.  No, this view doesn’t ruin Christmas for me. I’m probably the most festive person you would ever meet. If I were any more full of the Christmas spirit, I would piss eggnog and crap out candy canes. My festiveness does not get in the way of realizing one of the major truths in this world though:

Reindeer Are Assholes.

I Am So Old Right Now

Sorry for the two days of silence on here. I had one crazy busy past couple of days.

-Saturday, while I was writing to you all about my Bob Geldof/Santa Claus conspiracy, I had to get everything done. I had my regular Saturday chores to get done before work, plus I had to get done my Sunday chores. On top of that, I had to find something to wear to my Christmas Party, gather up all my stuff to bring to work, and make a list of what I still needed to pick up. Got to bed a little later than I had hoped after a crazy shift at work, but got almost everything done.

-Sunday I had to leave a list of things for the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend to get done while I was at work. We all got pulled for the 9-hour shift, with an hour-long lunch. Had to be at work early because I had the keys to the store, but another co-worker had the security code for the alarm, so we both had to be there together. Walked all the way to work before realizing I left my uniform shirt and apron at home, so I had to call AAB to run them out to me. Ran errands on my lunch break, so I barely got to sit down all day. Was on my feet running cash most of the day.  Actually got threatened by a customer who didn’t bring ID to the store so I couldn’t serve him. Buddy, if you’re stupid enough to stand at my register while holding a bottle, and then loudly call your friend to tell him you don’t have ID with you so he has to come in to buy the bottle, then hand over your money to him while standing right in front of me at my register, then you have no right to get mad and scream at me when I ask for your ID.  Skipped one of my breaks so I could cash out 15 minutes early to go wrestle with pantyhose and get my dress on for the Christmas party.  AAB met me at work, and the work BFF and her fiance picked us up there. Went right to the party and stayed until just after midnight. Drank ALL the red wine, danced in high heels to almost every song, and had my contacts in for 17 hours straight.

-Yesterday, I didn’t want to move. Had a bit of a hangover from all that red wine. The worst part, though, was the physical pain. I don’t go out dancing like I used to when I was in my early 20’s. And I have never made it the whole night without switching to my purse flats before, especially after I hit the dance floor. My legs and knees are just killing me! Had a headache from the combination of red wine and sitting at a table right next to the speakers, so the boss let me wear sunglasses while I worked last night. We all had a good laugh at the fact that I couldn’t crouch down.

All I’ve been saying the last two days is, “I am so old!”. I feel old, physically, right now. I’m really not used to this. I mean, I know that I’m not a kid anymore, despite my behaviour. But my sore knees and aching legs made me realize a lot of things.

I was up there dancing all night with my much younger co-worker. I paid for it dearly the next day. With my current lifestyle, I just can’t randomly jump out on the dancefloor in heels all night long and go crazy out there like I did when I was 23. I could sit around and mope about that, or I could find something good to take away from all this. I can tell now that walking everywhere just isn’t enough. I’m still crazy strong, especially for someone who doesn’t work out. But I’m not toned, I’m not flexible like I used to be, and my cardio just plain sucks. I keep telling myself that I’m going to start doing yoga, or I’m going to work out more. But this experience, feeling so old after just a night of drinking and dancing, shows me how important this really is. I’m not even middle-aged yet, but my knees felt 90 yesterday.

When I was in my early, and even my late, 20’s I could stay out late drinking and still get up for work or class in the morning. I had what now seems like super-human recovery time. These days, not so much. I am still feeling tired and worn out from Sunday night, and this is Tuesday! And you know what? This is a good thing. I don’t need to be going out at night, pounding back vino like grapes are going extinct. I went out and drank too much, and smoked too many cigarettes, and now I’m paying the price. I don’t need to be treating my body like that anymore.

The truth of the matter is that I need to take better care of myself. I feel so old right now because I don’t take the time to make myself feel young. I don’t do my stretches, or work out. I don’t eat all that well sometimes. I smoke, which I’ve been meaning to try quitting yet again. The reason I feel so old is that I’m making myself old. I may be young at heart, and act like an overgrown child at times, but I don’t treat myself this way.

I’m not about to quit smoking and drinking completely today, and go vegan and start meditating and running 5Ks a day. Hell, I haven’t even done anything real to better myself today while I’m realizing all this! I still feel like crap, and don’t want to move. But I know that I need to make some changes, and I need to make them soon.

I finally get two whole days off next week, after a 21-day stretch! I think I’m going to go to the awesome international market on one of those days and grab some mushroom meat. A week from tomorrow, I start my holiday 6am shift. This means packing food and drinks that will keep me going for the day. Like I’ve said before, shifts like this are my healthy shifts. I eat better, I move around more. I get home early enough in the afternoon that I’m going to put forth the effort to at least do some stretches when I get home from work. I’m planning out my to-do lists for the holidays, and I’m going to be keeping myself really super busy.

Hopefully having all this crazed holiday madness right after my post-Christmas-Party pains will be a real kick in the ass for me. I really need to make some changes to my life, and fast.

Santa’s a Little Early This Year, All Because of Bob Geldof

Little kids love talking to me. If I go out shopping, very small children in shopping carts will just stare at me when I walk by. When I’m at work, these same kids will stand there and ramble on about the stickers I give out, and about how their cat had poop stuck on their butt and daddy said really bad words when kitty sat on the white couch, and how grandma farts when you make her giggle. I have this weird childlike quality about me that just draws kids in.

Either that or they just love the hair. It’s a shade of red that’s natural enough to be work appropriate, but just unnatural enough to glow a little. It’s red enough to make me look like a cartoon character, but not the same red that would make you think I’m an undercover clown. Every child wants to be friends with a cartoon character and tell them everything. No one wants to be friends with a creepy ass undercover clown, hiding out in liquor stores though.

Anyway, two years ago I had this really sweet little guy come through my line all upset, with red crying eyes and the biggest tiny frown I have ever seen. No amount of stickers and candy canes could make him smile even a tiny bit. So of course, I asked him what was wrong.

“I tried to get Buster out of the closet and found Christmas!”

I know, that totally explains everything! The little guy’s poor mother had to explain that their dog Buster was hiding in her bedroom closet, and the little guy had gone in there to get him. Turns out the bedroom closet is also where she hid some wrapped Christmas presents.

“And some of the presents said ‘from Santa’ on them. Why would there be presents in there from Santa unless Santa doesn’t bring presents, and it’s just mom and dad buying me thing and putting his name on them?”

His mother looked at me with a strange sadness in her eyes. You could tell she was hoping for at least one more magical Christmas where her little boy believed in magic. Her little guy was heartbroken, and she had no clue what to do to make him understand that Christmas is still Christmas.  So I did what I do in times of crisis: I improvised.

“Oh sweetheart, it’s ok. Santa gets so busy this time of year that he has to deliver some of his presents early. It’s all because of Bob Geldof.”

The little guy’s ears perked a little bit, and he gave me a quizzical look.

“Bob Geldof? Who’s that? What did he do?”

And thus, the legend of Bob Geldof began to take shape.

“Bob Geldof was a very important music person way way back in the 80’s. He wrote a bunch of songs and sang about how stupid Mondays are. And then one day, he discovered Africa.

Africa had always been there, and it is huge! A lot of people forget that Africa is a whole bunch of countries all mashed together in one big continent. Every country has its own people, and it’s own culture, and even though a lot of it looks like a much warmer version of Canada it can be very different than things here in Canada. But Bob Geldof only noticed two things when he found Africa: there was no snow, and people didn’t all celebrate Christmas.

And that’s ok. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Even Jesus didn’t and it’s his holiday! He was Jewish so he would celebrate Haunnaka. And a lot of people in the world celebrate other things that aren’t Christmas. But Bob Geldof decided that Africa needs to celebrate Christmas, even though they have no snow. They could be like Florida or Mexico but on a different continent!

So instead of going to Africa and talking to people there about Christmas, he got a tonne of his famous musician friends to help him sing a song. He got people from a bunch of really famous bands, and Bono, to sing a song with him about how there’s no snow in Africa and we need to feed the world.  And they made a music video, and a lot of people watched it, and it raised a whole lot of money to feed hungry people in Africa. But it also meant that more and more people were supposed to celebrate Christmas because of Bob Geldof.

Well, when Bob Geldof wrote this song he didn’t clear it with Santa! Santa Claus has a very busy night on Christmas Eve and has to fly all over the world. If someone suddenly gets millions of more people to celebrate Christmas, then he doesn’t have time to bring all the presents in one night! So Santa had to go to the United Nations and ask them for help.

Some countries wanted to start a war and to claim Christmas for themselves. Others wanted to tax Christmas, and only let the very very rich countries afford to have it every year. One country even wanted to outsource Christmas, and have people from a bunch of different countries put together Christmas and do all the work since they decided Santa couldn’t handle it. That gave Canada an idea.

‘Santa, what if you delivered a whole bunch of presents early to some countries! We could contact all the parents through our Secret Parent Network so none of the good little girls and boys finds out. The parents can hide all the presents from you with the presents they bought, and they can put them all out on Christmas Eve. This would let you still do Christmas without having to get it all done in one night!’

Santa thought about this for a while. He talked to his elves and held meetings with the reindeer. He even went to the Supreme Snowman Council to see what they thought! Finally, Santa came back to the United Nations. Of course, being Santa, he brought presents for everyone there. And he brought all the presents for their kids.

‘From this Christmas forward, I will bring the good people working in the United Nations building all of the Christmas presents I have for their family that year! And we will put the names of all the countries here in a hat, and I’ll pull out 20 of them every year in July. And those 20 countries will be the countries I bring Christmas presents to early that year! We’ll let the the parents in those countries know, but not the kids. And then we’ll put all the countries names back in the hat, and every country will pick out the name of another country. And we won’t tell anyone what country you picked, and you have to give them a present on the day I come here with my presents in November! We will call this “Secret Santa” and do it every year!’

And all the countries have done this every single year since 1985. They found ways to make sure all the countries take their turns getting early presents to hide, and make sure no countries have to do it too often. And that’s how Bob Geldof caused Santa Claus a whole bunch of grief about delivering presents to everyone in the world, but also lead Santa to create the Secret Santa we use at work.

Does that make much sense to you hun?”

I don’t know if the poor little guy bought it, or if I confused him just enough to make him forget what he was upset about. Either way, he stopped crying sometimes during my story and started munching on one of the candy canes I had given him.

From that day forth, I have used Bob Geldof to explain to any children I meet who find early gifts from Santa why they are there. Most of the parents just laugh, some give me weird looks, and a few need to be told who Bob Geldof is. But in the end, I think it helps spread Christmas cheer just a little bit more each year.