Month In Review: April 2016

The end of April means my summer has begun. Technically, the summer solstice isn’t until June 20, but once Canada hits May Two-Four, we’re all in summer mode. May Two-Four is actually Victoria Day weekend, but don’t ask me why we have a holiday honouring this queen. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Canadians usually take the long weekend to barbecue, drink beer, and enjoy milder weather—along with fireworks and other pyrotechnics. While I was in Windsor the majority of April, the weather felt like early summer. Despite the break from school, I do not look forward to the heat. Give me cool, breezy, and/or rainy, and I’m a happy squid.

April In Pictures

08 April

Classes finished on April 8, and Neko Atsume finally granted me a view of Peaches!

10 April

I changed my phone theme from a cartoony dinosaur one to a summery one.

11 April

26 April

Played games with room mates and my boyfriend.

16 April

18 April

Made and ate good food with my boyfriend.

15 April

Treated myself to a trip to the dollar store, where I picked up some decorative tape (not washi, but it serves the same purpose) and a vanilla candle. This Dollar Tree candle burned well!

19 April

Exposed my boyfriend to feminist literature by having him read from a feminist magazine. He said it was all very good stuff, and he’s normally not big on poetry or literary fiction.

25 April

Started a wardrobe makeover, beginning with some jeans and a dress.

30 April

Returned to my hometown (which is not Windsor) and the glorious nature it holds.

Coryl o'Reilly Editing and Formatting Services

I launched my freelance services for editing and formatting!

(More photos of my day-to-day happenings can be found over on my Instagram account.)

A single adjective for April was rewarding.

I finished classes and took my exams this month. 4 of my 5 grades are processed, and I’m so pleased that I managed over an 80% in those classes! I think, this month, I really applied myself to what was important when it was important. Having my boyfriend visit me was also a huge treat. He and I hadn’t seen each other since January, so having so much free time together—especially since I didn’t have the pressure of school, whether it was attending classes or preparing for the next semester—delighted me.

In May, I look forward to
  • A wedding.
  • Some time in my quiet hometown with my dad and brother.
  • Making progress with my freelance editing and formatting.
  • Reading more. Currently reading THE TWO TOWERS and it’s been pleasant. I’m hoping to use Goodreads more this month.
  • Having time to write! This is the biggest one. I’m aiming to make some serious progress on my WIPs (namely the high fantasy one). I have made so many excuses recently for why I haven’t been writing, but that time is done. Now I can’t make excuses. Let the hustle begin.

Therapy Diary: Day 6

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

Pre-Session

I woke up at 6:45am because someone was being loud outside the house, on the street level below my window. I take too long to get back to sleep, but I wake up to my alarm and snooze it—not because I want to keep sleeping, but because I want to do some light yoga to help get my body awake. And not as stiff.

My morning prep is routine and a bit of a blur. I make a cup of coffee—instant, hazelnut flavour. Measured meticulously so I don’t fuck it up and make it overly sweet or bitter or watery or milky. It’s divine. Cheerios for breakfast, along with a banana.

I’ll do the dishes when I’m back. I’ll probably be five minutes late for my 11:00am appointment, but that’s okay. Better late than never.

Session

I feel like I’m relaying everything I’ve learned. I still haven’t mentioned to her the various hallucinations that have started cropping back up. I’m not ready. But she remarks on the differences I’ve told her, and encourages me. She gives me some more advice, as she normally does, and all I can think about is my pride.

I say, “I don’t know,” a lot, and don’t feel bad about it.

We talk about the past, the future, and my memory. I get more advice on a technique to deal with my childhood trauma—and the things that trigger it—in order to help with my thought process. That kinda cognitive behavioural stuff, y’know.

I’ve been being kinder to myself and it shows. My dissociation is still strong, but I said it was more like I was attached to my body as a balloon on a string, instead of my body dragging along a suitcase. She enjoys my analogies. She’s big on them.

Since I’ve been doing yoga daily this week, I think I’ve been more mindful and present in my body. Starting off, she said we would be working on mindfulness. At first, I thought it was that mumbo-jumbo about “being present” and “being here” and “being aware” that doesn’t have a specific recipient. Present where? Where is “here”? What am I aware of?

But that was the point. I’ve learned how to be more all-encompassingly mindful. I’m more aware of others and I’m more aware of myself. I’m not so much in a fog as I once was.

I talk about my former room mate (who she later said was “Satan room mate” and I laughed), my boyfriend, and my bunny. I know that having my rabbit with me has helped me put to practice what I’ve been taught.

Everything goes back to the same system of roots. The same seedling that grew into a tree, strengthened by the many events and situations that developed its foundation and how deep it planted itself. I’m encouraged to sow new seeds and nurture them.

I haven’t made as much progress on my psychosomatic connection, but that’s okay. There’s no rush to an “end” since this is all stuff I need to continually practice and refine. The sparkly feeling in my shoulders is back. I’m more aware of where my emotions sit in my body—the physical reaction to my feelings, to put it simply. I just don’t know what to do with it.

This session progresses really quickly.

Post-Session

I have another cup of coffee because holy crap this instant coffee tastes so good. I’m less disoriented today than from previous sessions. We didn’t reschedule immediately, so I’ll have to make an appointment at a later date. I’m not sure when I’ll schedule it for, but I don’t want to simply not reschedule.

This has been too helpful to neglect. I don’t think I’ll “regress” or anything like that. I’ve learned too much and grown and changed so much that doing so—going back to how I was—would be literally impossible.

The rest of my day is incredibly productive. Work work and school work get done. I even make some progress on taxes.

Starting this therapy was an act of self-love.

Therapy Diary: Day 6

Writing Wednesday 09

TODAY HAS BEEN POSTPONED

define: post

a prefix, meaning “behind,” “after,” “later,” “subsequent to,” “posteriorto,” occurring originally in loanwords from Latin

translate: pone

conjugation of a Spanish verb meaning: “to put”

(also from Latin)

behind put

after put

later put

BRB

Writing Wednesday 08

When plants are plentiful and people live,
the land is grateful to the town for
their goodness. And when it snows for
an extra month, or the little girl drowns
in the river, they are told to look at
pain and then to look past it. To trust
that this land found them, that when
a glacier began melting and dripping
over stone, the river was already
dreaming of the town, calling to it.

Excerpt of “Town” by Hannah Stephenson

City

When plants are plentiful and people live,
a window-box of weeds is left noticed
and untended. A fern’s yellow frond
droops inside, in the living room corner
that needed to be filled. Through glass,
the land is grateful to the town for
a purpose greater than survival,
where one can die and lie and
thrive; a being’s value based on
the trees pressed into pockets instead of
their goodness. And when it snows for
two days, to be followed by summer sun,
a neighbour throws down the rake
once used to comb useless grass—
to remove the death from its blades.
Water wings in October, kept for
an extra month, or the little girl drowns
in the backyard pool before she can
enjoy Thanksgiving with Oma and Opa.
Cars’ exhaust pipes blow inescapable heat
into the air and its delicate, filmy
cap, kept tight and thin around the globe.
A long summer and a hectic winter, with
little time to remove the leftover concrete
windowsills of change, or whim, or economisation
for a larger paycheck. A clean brick face to fill
the hole of ex-transparency and sight. Through
the replacement glass, tenants witness pollution
in the river; they are told to look at
the bridge’s sunset instead. To see
pain and then to look past it. To trust
the City to plug the potholes that
filter light through the cross-border bridge,
dividing nation from nation, using the river
to separate laws and bureaus, as if it is true
that this land found them, that when
a glacier began melting and dripping
over stone, the river was already
dreaming of the town, calling to it.

Writing Wednesday 08

Thoughts On Ethnicity

My maternal great grandmother Tamako lived until she was in her very late 90s. She battled cancer numerous times through her life. She saw the Hiroshima bombings from a village 10 kilometers away, where she was supervising children tidying a schoolyard. She was born in Japan in 1914. She married a Japanese-Canadian farmer in Japan, and then emigrated to Canada in 1964.

I never met her. She died 4 years ago, and I still feel a deep mourning.

My grandfather, my mother’s father, is half-Japanese. My mother has his blood as well as Czech. Aside from her, I get intense Scottish from my father.

And this is the side that shows.

“Seeing is believing.”

It’s hard to be in touch with your roots when they are bleached with every generation. I don’t resent it, obviously. Love and marriage and reproduction happen.

I grew up in Canada. Most of my customs are Canadian, though I starkly remember only learning how to properly use a knife and fork when I was a 12-year-old. I knew how to use chopsticks so early that I can’t remember. When I was very young, I was enrolled in Japanese language classes, and I’m thankful I gained the phonemes. Perhaps that first class is what instilled in me a love of languages, but—as I said—I was very young. I don’t remember.

I remember the kimono my mother had in their boxes.

I remember the round and crinkly face of my half-Japanese grandfather. I remember his artisan woodworking skills and the carvings he makes. (Thankfully, he’s still alive and well.)

I don’t know “how Japanese I am” because every person is different, regardless of their ethnic background.

But I can’t describe the disconnect I feel when I think about my Japanese heritage. It brings me to tears.

There are behaviours and habits I have which I see so frequently in Japanese animation that I wonder: is this something I was taught? Is this a stereotype? Are these cultural facts that I inherited? The way I drink from a bowl. My undying love for umami flavour. My core belief that I should never be a burden to anyone. My value for order, simplicity, and practicality. Tofu and miso and rice. Light desserts. The experience of the sublime in nature without the association (or appreciation) of God. The awkward half-bow motion I’ve taught myself to suppress.

My research into the Shinto religion brings me peace. Like it is many pieces finally found that fit the corner border of a puzzle.

“Appearances can be deceiving.”

For some reason, I’m in tears and there is a weight like a small black hole near my heart. I am conflicted between my legitimate ethnic background and how close it is to my generation. I often hear white Americans being mocked for their “4% Cherokee” statements and whatnot. Like that kind of ethnicity is a fun accessory. And I don’t know if I’m allowed to own and possess my ethnic background.

I don’t look Japanese. If you look closely, you can find some features. My male siblings definitely have more Japanese features. We all inherited hair that is representative of Japanese genetics: my younger brother’s hair sticks straight out when it grows longer, and my oldest brother’s hair is coarse and unmanageable. My mother’s hair is pin straight and long. None of us, including my half-sister (same mother, different father, so she has the Japanese too) look our true ages—and as they say, Japanese people live long and have extended youth.

But I don’t know.

A classmate of mine told me that her first impression of me included the thought that I definitely was mixed race. That I wasn’t entirely Anglo-Saxon like so many Canadians.

All of this makes me want to do some genealogy. My paternal grandmother might have some information on my mother’s side, but considering she has more heavily researched her own ancestry, I’m doubtful.

I simply don’t feel valid when I claim “I’m part Japanese” despite the fact that I am. I just don’t look Asian enough for my own mind to accept it, I guess.

“Out of sight, out of mind.”

How can I describe a disconnection? How can I describe it aside from mourning and loss? Like I’m missing something. It’s cliche as fuck, but I feel like there is a part of me that’s gone because I didn’t get the chance to better understand my heritage. I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling (from the small selection of Aboriginal North American literature I’ve read, they feel it too).

I just don’t have a resource for this feeling. Do I try to reconnect? Do I visit my great grandmother’s grave? Do I visit Japan? Do I ignore it? I don’t know.

I don’t know.

Thoughts On Ethnicity

This Was A Day: April 11

4:47am – My bunny clunks his bowl because it is empty. I forgot to give him the rest of his serving of food. I wake up and write a memo on my phone in order to document the event for this blog post—and then I forget to feed the bunny.

8:00am – The alarm sounds and I change it to let me sleep for another hour. I briefly get up and pour food into my bunny’s dish. I doze to the sound of his noms.

9:00am – Up and at ‘em. Shower and food. I can’t wait to go grocery shopping again so I have options and don’t feel like shit from eating shit. I’ve been eating leftover pizza for days.

12:06pm – I’m browsing flyers for the grocery stores and am amused by the Bulk Barn one. I’m also appreciative of their consistent and minimalist design. Excellent branding. My phone rings—a private number—and I hesitate to pick it up. Something about the gas company. I scrawl a note on the top of the Bulk Barn flyer and feel like a middle-aged stay-at-home home-owner. I need to check the lease for stipulations about the gas supply and changes and whatnot, and possibly contact the landlords. Fuck, I’m such an adult and it doesn’t even faze me.

12:20pm – I study for a bit, waste some time, study some more. My motivation is low today. Yesterday I was hungover and reviewed all my notes, so who knows what’s bogging me down today.

2:45pm – I leave for my exam since the room is in a building I’ve never entered, and I don’t want to get horribly lost and late.

2:50pm – This building smells weird. It’s large and open, with a concrete and wood design; that “modern” look. Despite the walls of windows on the exterior, the interior has very little natural light. The fluorescents bother me. A classmate calls out my name and I chat and review with two of them.

3:15pm – We enter the exam room. Some other students are in it, studying, and I loudly ask my classmates, “Do they know we have an exam in here?” I know they aren’t also taking the exam; I remember faces and have never seen these ones, even on test days. (They leave in a few minutes.)

3:30pm – Exam starts. Prof spends ten minutes reading through the instructions and the questions for the entire exam.

4:25pm – I’m finally let out in the first batch of students. This prof only lets us out of exams in designated blocks, like every half hour, to avoid multiple disruptions. Instead of a trickle of students leaving, he gets a wave of them. I don’t know if it’s more efficient, but it’s at least predictable. I think I nailed the exam.

4:30pm – A building on my street catches my eye. I write a quick poem, or poem fragment. When do poems start and end? Do we poets simply collect lines and put them together? Like word weavers creating textiles of text.

5:00pm – 8:45pm – In between some half-assed work on an assignment due tomorrow, I don’t do much. I’m anxious to get on the bus to pick up my boyfriend from the train station.

9:20pm – The bus comes. Late.

9:40pm – I forgot about the construction going on at a key intersection , which renders it completely closed off. The bus makes a detour and goes behind the brewery, which is right near the train station. Darkness engulfs everything and I can’t tell where I am, where the bus can stop, where this detour goes. I’m lost. I’m having a panic attack. I’m furiously texting my boyfriend and one of my friends.

9:53pm – We pass the first street sign I recognise and I’m way farther east than I should be. I try to calm down, and then I get off the bus. I begin walking back west, still furiously texting my friend. I ask if I can call her. I panic to her.

9:54pm – “We’re gonna come get you.” My friend and her dad are angels. I am lost and afraid and this moment makes me understand faith. It seems that my attempts to get to the Windsor VIA Rail train station have had hiccups lately.

10:05pm – I wait inside a grocery store and ponder the fruit and hummus. My friend and I call again and I count the number of people in the store. Her dad says there are less than 10—he’s correct. There are 8, plus myself.

10:10pm – They arrive and I’m so relieved and grateful I could cry. My dissociation is high. My body feels like a piece of metal guided by a cosmic magnet. They drive me to the train station and offer to drive me and my boyfriend back to my house. I say, “Thank you,” often and send out prayers along the magnetic waves keeping me moving.

10:30pm – I’m hungry and my boyfriend “can stand to eat something,” so we head to the Chinese restaurant at the corner. Most of the others have closed between 8:00pm and 10:00pm. The servers here always seem disgruntled and fed up, but the food is okay and relatively fast. I order the chicken soo guy and my boyfriend orders the beef with dried orange peels. Both are tasty. Both will be leftover for breakfast.

Boyfriend’s fortune cookie fortune: “You will be generous and others will be generous to you.”

My fortune cookie fortune: “You will get a promotion.”

11:00pm – A movie and cuddles and I’m glad he’s here in my arms again and the day is done.

An adventure and a half because I got lost today.

Writing Wednesday 07

Jan 16, 2016

The necklace you gave me a call from the wonderful chefs in my family and friends.

The the best price. I am a bit more about this property. The one who has a very much. The fairy lights are in the driveway? Black car and white pickup, I have a new one. I have the syllabi for the night. We’re catching up with the boyfriend. I have the syllabi for the night.

And I am not a good idea.

If you are looking for a while. The only one who has a very much.

I did not end of the month.

The spring of the semester. Not sure if you are looking for a while. My client is a bit of a cough.

Apr 8, 2016

The necklace you gave me a shitty translation about forgiveness and marriage.

The other day. I’m sure you feel as if you are looking for a while.

I think I might be a latex sensitivity to the point of view, detail. I have a new one. I have a new window. I have a new job.

The only one who feels enough to feel bad about it.

If you don’t have to be a good time to time. This is a good idea. That was the last time. Time for the delay in getting back to you. I’m sorry to be the biggest and most importantly I am. Apparently they’re having breaks so I’m gonna be playing video games for a chunk of the evening so I may as well as the crystal clear waters of the semester.

Found poetry made using my cell phone's autocorrect and predictive text options.

Writing Wednesday 06

Found in notebooks and phone memos.

A humble of clouds
Trekking a great migration
To death
      rebirth
      waste

Mar 17, 2016

Descend into the caverns of the soul and the heart

Guilt of Bleached Blood

Feb 25, 2016

Haiku

Ice blasted sidewalk
Toenail crunch inside your boot
Pain of laziness

Jan 19, 2016

Night #3

I’m in a big box store, like Walmart, except it isn’t Walmart.

I contemplate office supplies. While diving into a box of tapes, I pull out packages of washi. Silly designs. So much pastel and iconography. I’m trying to find something geometric and/or monochromatic. A woman named Anita approaches me and talks about cookie recipes, asking if I have any suggestions for an upcoming bake sale at her (our) school. I give her suggestions and reach my hand down into the box again. I pull out a monochromatic and geometric package of washi, and then I smile. After shuffling the top layer, I find three more packages. They enlarge when I put them in my cart.

The sticky notes give me trouble. Their shades are slightly different between two brands.

“Do I want the more pastel one, or the one with a better colour display?”

I get neither and settle for faded-urine yellow. While I meander past more aisles, their shelves towering high above me, I make my way into one labelled for vacuum supplies. The far end, on one side of the aisle, houses the sewing supplies.

I run into an acquaintance named Jordan as she hunts through needles displayed in wooden slots like a “What can you feel?” trap. She seeks a #12 needle and there is one left in the slot. I pull it out.

“Twelve.”

“Oh my god.”

She leaves.

For some reason, I return to the front of the store and find myself in a section called “Finger Protection.” Gloves and gloves and gloves and gloves.

The next aisle has full displays of pyjamas, lain out like samples on a slanted, white shelf. I prod at a Cat In The Hat onesie and it squirms. Someone is inside it, their face not visible—or their head not present—and I think, “It isn’t thick and plush enough for my tastes.” I move to the next aisle. I gaze at large, IKEA-dispenser-like containers for boxer shorts. One has an old 8-bit video game design on it, but it’s kitsch. The design isn’t emblematic of any specific video game. A farce.

There is a seasonal aisle with cookie displays. Behind a white tablecloth, I find an old two-building gingerbread house display my friends and I built with friends farther north. They appear near me and we talk about smashing it. We wonder when is the right time, the right place?

“Here.”

I reach for the dry assemblage of cookies.

“Now.”

We scamper away like vandals until we find a back door to the parking lot. We leave and smash the gingerbread to the pavement. I jump on it, my friends kick it, we mutilate it—and then I see security guards ambling nearer to us. They aren’t intentionally making their way to us, so I move to my friends to guide them behind a car and back to the door. They disappear. I turn back to the wreckage. The gingerbread house turns into a dead dog.

The security guards look at me and hasten their pace. One grabs me by the arm and the other, in hyperspeed, grabs my friend and pushes him inside. I try to open the back door, but only the security guard can do that. She seems more annoyed than disciplinary. They push us inside and my friend disappears again.

I try to find my shopping cart, laden with potted plants, office supplies, and too heavy for me to look reasonable while pushing it. I can’t find it. I get a box of 500 pencils and check out.

I’m at home. I’ve ordered a pizza. A woman with an accent calls me 30 minutes after I place the order. I, too, was wondering where the fuck the pizza was.

“Karren Alay?”

Butchered name. The standard.

“Yeah, that’s me.” (It isn’t, but I know it is.)

She asks me if I ordered a pepperoni pizza (yes) to 1120 Islington Tower, Toronto (no).

“Um, no.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“I live in Windsor.”

A sudden movement and noise against wooden boards. My eyes are open. Fuck. It’s 8am. I do not want to be awake at this time on a Saturday.

Night #3

Therapy Diary: Day 5

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

Pre-Session

I’ve had a gruelling morning. My co-worker and I were attempting to make some changes on our employer’s website—something that should be easy for me—but ran into obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. All I’m gonna say: if you hire a third party to register and set up your website, make sure you save the credentials for logins to your registrar and host. Fuck. We had hoped to relax after an assumed quick fix by watching a movie, but didn’t have time to do so.

I’ve been plagued by migraines all week, but today has been alright. Some slight discomfort, but nothing as terrible as Monday or Tuesday. Last night I didn’t sleep very well, unfortunately. The initial stages of falling asleep seem to be the most difficult for me, all the getting comfortable and feeling restful. On top of that, my sleep was broken up a bunch.

Initially, my session was scheduled for last Friday, but the headcold I had came first and I prioritised sleep above therapy. It was a good decision. The offices then bumped my appointment up an hour—a small scheduling error on their part—and I’m glad for that. Means there’s less time for me to build up any nervousness.

Today, I plan on telling my therapist that I’m not sure where to go from here. That I feel like I’m talking in circles. A few of the exercises she gave me have helped immensely, so I want to get more of those. They’re concrete. I can work with them more easily than with abstract thought mechanisms.

In my class yesterday, my professor gave me the best definition of Freud’s id, ego, and super ego theories. I think I’m going to mention it to my therapist. I think my super ego is overdeveloped, in a sense, and has suffocated both my id and ego. Like an iceberg turned upside down.

I’ve also been dwelling in a lot of dissatisfaction and discouragement. And I want to mention how terrible I am with setting goals and my whole attitude toward them in general.

We’ll see what happens. I have about an hour to kill until I need to go to the building. I chose the 3pm slot instead of the 2pm slot, since I figured I wouldn’t face the dilemma of “Do I knock on the door? Should I wait elsewhere?” if the 2pm slot remains free—which it might not.

Maybe I should do some yoga. Or take a shower. I definitely need to eat lunch. I’m still nervous, but this time because I’m not sure where or how to continue. But I know that the best method to resolve this is not to just stop going—it’s to mention it to my therapist. The key is communication, after all.

I’ve been craving junk food all week. Maybe I’ll get something tonight. But maybe I won’t.

Session

I arrive a little late and the door is propped open. A gentle knock. The standard routine—she signs me in and I remove my coat and boots. Lotus position.

Head nodding. Some resources to reference back to. I feel very good about myself.

I’m understanding more this time around. My nerves have dissipated. I don’t think I’m ready yet to dive into one of the techniques she’s had me go through each session, but it’s in my mind and I’m aware of it. That’s already a step in the direction of utilising it. It’s like a habit I have to pick up.

A good analogy. Praise. A sparkly movement in my shoulders.

She sits beside me to explain the resources and it’s the closest we’ve ever been to each other. Her winged eyeliner is on fleek omg. All of our interactions have been in this dim room, her a few feet away in one chair or the other. I’ll re-type these sheets when I have some spare time this weekend. One of them looks especially helpful, but I want to change the format. I’ll give the current column set-up a try, since there’s no harm in trying it that way. But I get the feeling a mind-map layout would work better for me.

Nebulous thoughts.

She moves my awareness elsewhere and it confuses me. I realise how comfortably out of my body I’ve been this week. My emotional reactions have been stunted somatically. I think that’s the next journey to take.

2 weeks until the next one. I think the time to process and experiment and put in effort by myself will help me.

Post-Session

I think I’ll treat myself to some greasy, carb-filled food today—simply because I want to and don’t feel bad about wanting it. Maybe a buffalo chicken poutine from a small restaurant around the corner.

Since I didn’t cry this time, and I don’t feel shaken up or moved around, I can dive right into some schoolwork I have.

Progress. Onward.

Therapy Diary Day 5