27 February 2005

How to Lose Your Mind in Four Days

Start with a car. Add 3 young adults, aged 23-25. Plot route through NS, NB, ME, NH, VT, NY, ON, QC, NB, and NS. Add little/no sleep, ongoing self-deprecation, crankiness, and know-it-all-ism.

Shake thoroughly.

Brandon had a job interview at a university in southern ON and offered to pay for all the "travel expenses", since he had to go anyway. So, J-Fos and I tagged along for the ride. I'm not going to pretend that it was a bad trip. I had a good time. Not to mention that I got out of my house for 4.5 days, after sitting around for 5 weeks.

Initially, I wasn't sure I should go. Chronic unemployment has been hard on my bank account. I was waiting for a call from Beth. I was hoping for sub days in the meantime. Then, during a conversation with Andrew about my constant malcontent with my work (or lack thereof) situation, it was suggested that maybe getting away wouldn't be such a bad idea. I thought and thought, and thought some more. And I decided to go. The more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to get away. So away I got.

Left midnight, drove through the wee hours to arrive in "Banger" for an early breakfast. Then south to N. Conway -- an outlet town in wonderful tax-free NH. I bought a towel. Not very exciting, but I've been dreaming of this towel for years. 11 years ago, I went to this same town with my family, and I bought a HUGE bath towel at the Ralph Lauren outlet. I still have it and use it, but lately I've noticed that its getting a little worn. So, my goal for the trip was to get a new one. $20 USD and a 7 hour detour later, the towel was in hand (as well as some great Old Navy deals).

I don't think my trip-mates weren't overly impressed with the detour. Jenni got some nice stuff at Old Navy, too, but neither one seemed to think the extra car time was a reasonable trade-off. Still I was pleased.

The shit hit the fan during lunch. Apparently, there is no direct route from NH west to NY. I wasn't aware of this when I asked for the detour, or maybe I wouldn't have been so insistent. Brandon insisted that the quickest route was to go south to MA, but Jenni and I couldn't see how that made sense. We ask about going north to QC, or even not as far south, but Brandon was being stubborn.

Finally, noticing that we seemed unable to resolve the route, a nice couple sitting next to us at Wendy's offered an alternative. It consisted of mostly back highways, but cut pretty much right across from NH to Albany (where they were from, which is why they knew the route so well). I drove most of the way there, and only missed two turn-offs. I also stalled the car at just about every possible intersection, causing myself much frustration, and Brandon much (vocal) annoyance.

We switched off just outside of Albany and Brandon took the wheel.

The roads were shitty. Jenni and I weren't just concerned about the driving conditions, we were scared. Brandon kept insisting that it was fine, but there was low visibility, snow, blowing snow, and much swerving. Finally, we ended up pulling off in Utica (find that on a map), NY. We stayed at a crappy motel to avoid the storm and get some much-needed, uninterrupted sleep.

We finally made it to Niagara Falls around lunchtime on Sunday. Having nothing to do, we went to T-dot for the evening. We went shopping. Jenni and I got some great deals at H&M. Brandon was (I presume) bored. Then we met my brother and his (not?) gf at a great jazz bar on Queen. There was a vocal trio doing some Andrews' Sisters and other great standards. Then we were all supposed to go to this cool ice maze down by the CN Tower, but we didn't get there in time. I spent a lot of time trying to get in touch with many of my T-dot friends. Andy crapped out -- never found out why -- Lani ditched me (okay, fine, she was tired and it was a Sunday -- she had to teach the next day, and I was asking her to meet us at, like, 9 pm), a couple of others didn't return phone calls. Brian was the only one to show.

Because of the lateness, we just ended up going for coffee (which, incidentally, kept me up all night), and then catching the streetcar back to my brother's condo, where we'd left Brandon's car (free parking!), but it was fun.

The drive back to Niagara was shit. Major storm (#2!) and bad driving conditions again. We left at 11, we arrived in the hotel ~2.

Monday, while Brandon was at his interview, Jenni and I lay in bed and watched The Weather Network and talked. We went to the hotel restaurant in our pjs, then went back to bed. We took our time getting ready.

Eventually, Brian met us in the crappy touristy part of town. We wandered around, trying to kill time until Brandon was done, but he was taking so long that we decided to go the the Falls ourselves. It was awesome. As Jenni says in her "blog", it would look better in the summer with some contrasting colours, but it was still amazing. After we tired of squinting through the mist, we played in the gift shops for a while. I got Andrew a souvenir (eventually to be left in the back of Brandon's car), and we played with the toys. That's where Brandon found us, and we headed off for lunch.

Summary: Ate, grabbed luggage from storage at hotel. Brian went home. We hit the road.

In the end, it took us ~25 hour to get home, driving through some more of the shittiest weather again. The highways in the southern part of La belle province was messy. Brandon had started the drive, and once we made it through T-dot, Jenni took over. Then I took the wheel from Eastern ON. I made it through the highways in Montréal without getting lost. Eventually, I started getting really tired, so I switched off with Brandon again. I was sleeping, when I heard Jenni suggest that she take over. I guess there was a lot of swerving going on....

I suggested that we pull off the highway and have a nap in the car. The temperature was hovering around the freezing mark and I thought it would be safe for a quick nap before we hit the road again. Famous last words.

I sort of forgot about the part where I didn't bring a blanket, so while Jenni and Brandon were snuggled under many layers, I had two: my shirt, and my coat. I did sleep about 15 minutes, but then I was too cold. I shivered for another 20 or so, then I woke Branond and told him that I'd drive again. I drove for another 2 hours. Jenni took over and drove for another 3, then Brandon took us home from Fredericton. It was such a fucking long car ride. I was so tired. I couldn't sleep for more than ~45 minutes at a stretch. When I got home, all I wanted to do was bathe. I felt vile.

Things I learned:
  • 4 days is not enough time for a road trip when the destination is 2 days away.
  • I can be extremely amused, even when suppressing homicidal urges.
  • Even though I'm used to not having her around, I miss Jenni a lot.
  • Hanging out with my brother is okay.

So, that's the road trip. Coming up: Big news!!

22 February 2005

Queen of the Road

I went on a road trip. I am home now. I am tired.

15 February 2005

Take two

I have agreed to another sub day this week. Same teacher as last week.

14 February 2005

Change of Heart

I was going to go into the office today. They are having a Valentine's Day potluck/Occupational Health and Safety Committee kick-off at lunch today. I had even considered making something, but I'm tired of cooking. I also decided that foisting myself on them, when I'm already leaving phone messages and e-mails about work, is going a step too far. Plus, I'm in no rush to bathe today, so not grossing people out with my lack of hygiene is a good idea.

Zee dinner party was a success. I cooked much good food and all were satisfied. No one died (yet)! Honourable mention goes to deadwriter, who not only listened to me spaz for the better part of three hours, but also took over the risotto when I exploded and decided that I had too much on the go.

Lesson learned: Dinner parties should include at least 2 oven-based dishes, so one does not spend most of one's day standing at the stove thinking about how nice it would be for one's head to explode.

Next attempt: Possibly mid/late-March, at the request of Lani. Plus, I'd like to include Nikah and Mark as guests.

11 February 2005

Validation and Preparation (or lack thereof)

Finally! News from Beth! She is up to her eyeballs, but wants to chat next week about contract work -- not my preference, but better than full unemployment.

Yea!!!

I'm cooking dinner for 6 people tonight. I am nervous and feel unprepared (plus incompetant).

I also need to bathe. And toast almonds.

Poop.

08 February 2005

Back in the Saddle?

Despite much protestation and avoidance, I taught again today. And I actually mean taught.

I substituted for my high school journalism teacher. I had one section of journalism, and 2 of Grade 11 English. The best thing about it was that he actually left me work and teaching to do; not just babysitting and handing out worksheets to keep them occupied. There were worksheets, but I actually got to run the lesson leading into them. But the best part of it was teaching the journalism. It was great to remember all that stuff again, and to teach it to someone else, using all my own examples. That's why I wanted to be a teacher.

This doesn't mean I'm going to jump back into it, full-force. But I'm glad that I did it and didn't hate it today.

04 February 2005

That wasn't so bad

So, despite my heroic efforts, the mood still lingers. Okay, I lie. I haven't been trying very hard at all.

I did some math yesterday and realized that this is the third winter in a row that I've developped this Funk of No Origin. Technically, I can pinpoint a catalyst to all 3, but it's the length of time it takes me to shake it that bothers me (which exacerbates the situation).

So, yesterday, I decided to do some research. I always sort of joke about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but now I'm looking seriously at it. From the Canadian Mental Health Association website:

Generally, symptoms that recur for at least 2 consecutive winters, without
any other explanation for the changes in mood and behaviour, indicate the
presence of SAD. They may include:

  • change in appetite, in particular a craving for sweet or starchy foods
  • weight gain
  • decreased energy
  • fatigue
  • tendency to oversleep
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • avoidance of social situations
  • feelings of anxiety and despair

I have 6/7 of 9.

The first winter, I mostly dealt with it through alcohol. Very healthy, I know. But it's true. I was drunk once or twice a week. And when spring came (especially after I went to LA), the symptoms disappeared. On Estelle's suggestion, I also got Tryptophan from my doctor, which helped reset my sleeping patterns. Catalyst: Tom.

The second winter, I moved home and cocooned. That was easy to do, since the blizzard made it impossible to move, and the strike removed all reason to leave the house. My practicum was awesome, and knowing that I only had so many days left until graduation had a big impact on perking up. Catalyst: Pick one -- Estelle, Kelly, my puppy died.

This winter, I mostly feel lost. Still in the thick of it, I have a good idea of what could help, but no active way to make that happen, since I put all my cards on the table and am waiting for a response. Catalyst: Unemployment.

But still, I'm not unhappy. I'm frustrated and bored. I'm sometimes get stuck in my own head, but it's not so bad that I can't help Robyn with her current drama, or appreciate a good conversation with Foo or Andrew. I want to be out. I want to be doing stuff. That's the marked difference -- I don't want to cocoon again. I just don't know where to start.

I'm thinking that a tropical vacation would result in a major shift. I'm happy to take donations. Click here for details. Also, anyone who has a lead on a well-paying, interesting, mentally-stimulating job (or pass-time), suggestions are welcome.

02 February 2005

Whoops! When did that happen?

Despite my persistent moaning and groaning, I am happy. I don't know exactly when or how that happened, but I have some good ideas. None of the bad stuff I'm going through is permanent. I know I lose that perspective sometimes, but if I was really that doing that badly, I wouldn't be writing about it here.

Foo used to have a signature at the bottom of all her e-mails: Nothing changes. Change IS the thing. That's great, when you're going through something shitty. I remember a time when I could never see to the other side of the "horrible" thing that was happening to me.

Unfortunately, knowing that the good things can change, too, is a little less comforting. I know that, in an earlier blog, I said that I didn't really want 2004 to end, because it was a good year. What's funny is that is was a hard year, too. I forgot about that stuff. Nayana moved to the other side of the world. That was a good thing that changed. Steph moved to be with her man, and Lani moved to be with hers. I still talk to Lani online, and I visited her, and she'll be home next month, so we'll hang out. That's cool, but I miss her. And I almost never talk to Steph. When I do, it's only ever long enough to give each other brief updates about what we're up to, and how life is going. Nancy stopped talking to me at the end of August for reasons I have yet to discern. I only think about it when I want to go to a restaurant, because she was my food buddy, but it still sucks that the friendship ended so abruptly.

But, I'm not sad. I know things could be much worse. At some point, they probably will be. But when I think about it, I'm happy. And I know enough now to just appreciate it while I have it.

01 February 2005

Boring

So, my last blog was in response to Lani who demanded that I write a new blog. I was being a smartass.

Unfortunately, not a whole lot is going on right now. I'm still unemployed (though getting serious about looking for something, and not just waiting for Beth's phone call). I'm not as stressed about my grandfather anymore, because he went home yesterday. I'm still feeling down because it seems like the problems will never be resolved, but I'm not confronted with it every hour because I don't have to interact with him unless he decides he wants to talk to me.

I guess I'll explain that last comment. When he's home, he calls mom when he's worried about something, and never at any other time. If he's calling for that reason, then he doesn't want to talk to me about it because he thinks I don't know anything (either about the problem, or in general). When mom calls him just to chat, she has to ask him if he wants to speak to me. He usually says yes (out of duty?) and then I get the general questions about the weather, whether I'm working, do I "have a boyfriend yet", etc. When my puppy was alive, he'd always ask about him. Then, I ask him about what's going on in his life; he brushes off the questions and either makes a move to get off the phone, or asks to talk to mom again. I've never been able to call him and have a conversation; he always maneuvers to get off the phone. The only time he's ever called me directly (since Granny died) was in my first year in w/v, when he called to "warn me" (yell at me) about getting a tattoo that I never intended or thought of getting. The end result is that I don't have to "deal" with the lack of relationship I have with my grandfather.

The course I'm taking is going fine, I guess. I haven't been there since the first class. I sort of knew this would happen. The second and third classes were cancelled due to inclement weather. Last night, I was just too tired. Too many late/sleepless nights. I barely made it home from deadwriter's (where I was holed up, ostensibly, to read, but instead practised my ever-improving blinking skills while he was at work) because I was so tired. I again considered pulling over on the highway and having a nap before continuing home. This is something I find myself doing far too often lately. I really need to get myself into some kind of schedule, even if I don't have a life of my own.

Mostly, I do a whole lot of nothing. I occasionally wander upstairs to make small talk with my mother. I think I'm going to MB with her tomorrow to do some stuff around the Retirement Castle, and just relax after Grandad's visit.

I did go to the office yesterday. There was a Social Committee meeting. By rights, I shouldn't have been there, not being an employee. But, as I still harbour hopes, I wanted to stay apprised of the goings-on so I could actually be helpful if (when?) I come back. It did make me sad, though. Everyone seemed really glad to see me, and asked where I've been and when I was coming back. I didn't really know how to answer. Amanda was the most annoyed. She's swamped and can't figure out why they can't at least have me come in and bill for the hours I work. Ultimately, I'd like something more then just gopher-work to free up her time, but I'd also like to not have to use my savings to pay off my credit cards and student loan.

Also, I'd like to announce that Amanda has officially moved out of her abusive (ex!)bf's condo. The move was relatively incident-free. She's still a little shell-shocked by everything that's happened over the last year, but I know she'll be better off. I can't wait until she can see that for herself.

Gee, I guess I had more to write than I thought. I'm not really surprised. I've never really been lost for words. Ha!