October 31, 2012

Tomorrow Will Be Stressful

Tomorrow I have an appointment with Rick, my case/support worker (I’m actually not sure of his title, I’ve only met him once). The goal will be for me to drive there and back (with Blake of course) but if it’s raining too much I’m not going to. The only accident I was ever in was when I hydroplaned into a honeywagon (the truck that pumps sewage out of porta-potties) so rain on the roads makes me nervous. I think it’s only supposed to be light rain though so maybe it’ll be okay.

I think I’m starting to feel more comfortable behind the wheel and that I do better each time I do it. I’m not sure going back to school is going to be realistic this winter, I think it might be too soon, but maybe by the spring. I also think starting off with one class is probably a more realistic goal than burning myself out with two.

As I’ve mentioned, my caseworker’s name is Rick and he kinda freaks me out because he’ll ask you a question and then you answer and then he stays staring at you for like 30 seconds before he says the next thing. People staring at me is one of my hugest issues (or feeling like people are staring at me) so I’m definitely going to have to talk to him about that. Or at least ask him why he does it.

I’m going to have to write down my goals for him, which I’ll do when I’m finished writing this post.

I think the goal is still going to be being able to take a cab to the mental health centre and back so I can do cognitive behavioural therapy and hopefully that plus driving with Blake will be what I’ll need to be able to go back to school. We’re staying here for another 4 years and I can get my photography certificate in 3.5 or so if I take things slow and build up to 2 classes per week. Hopefully in that time we can figure out a way for me to get my own car. It kinda sucks that alll the classes are night classes because I get off work at 8am and could go to a 9am class and still be home for the kids when they get home. I have all day. Night classes that go until 10 or 10:30pm are difficult when I have to get up at 4am for work and the school is half an hour away.

Another obstacle is like, the macro photography class for example, which I’m really interested in, has a lecture portion at night and then a lab portion on a Saturday until I think 2pm which is when I have to start work. I could probably get someone to cover my first hour for me, especially since we just hired a new girl, and then I could pick up that hour on Thursday which is when I work an hour less than the rest of the week but I want this to interfere with work as little as possible.

So I dunno. It’s doable but it’s not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination. The thing I keep asking myself is “do I want this enough? enough to be exhausted all the time and have to go through the social bullshit that comes *with* school?” Honestly I don’t know. I’m never going to be a “professional” photographer without taking classes though and gaining a few years worth of experience and this seems to be the best way to go about it. Especially when the college is practically in my front yard. This photography class I’m taking right now is good for learning the basics but I definitely want to learn beyond its limitations.

It kinda sucks that tonight’s Halloween because I have to go to bed at 9:30pm and the kids are going to be wired until then, so I won’t have a chance to work on a list of goals with Blake. I guess there’s always tomorrow since I think he has the day off.

Mostly though I’m scared of being stared down by Rick and I’m afraid I won’t have it in me to speak up and say “don’t do that!” I’m always so afraid of coming across as rude to people and I can’t think of a non-confrontational way to tell him not to do that. I suppose I could start practicing some sort of speech before I go. Any suggestions on what to say to him about that? I’m so socially stunted I just don’t know. :o/

October 30, 2012

I Suck At This

Last night was photography class.

We spent most of the class going through everyone’s assignment pictures, of which there were many. Looking at not to fantastic snapshots for an hour and 45 minutes is not my idea of fun at all. Also I was in a shitty mood but I’ll get to that later. Then after we looked at everyone’s pictures (and some people brought USB sticks that were full of ALL the pictures they had or something and we were just supposed to randomly pick which ones to look at) we did a “lab” about movement where Andre put a wine glass in a sink and made the faucet flow into and out of it like a fountain and then he pointed a spotlight on it and told us to take pics of it at various shutter speeds and ISOs. I didn’t actually do the lab or I’d show you pics. It was in a small room with a lot of eager people and the energy just made me way too nervous. I got the point of the lab though, the faster your shutter speed, the better your ability to “freeze” action. (Duh.) The higher your ISO, the faster your shutter speed can be.

This week’s assignment I’m not sure I can even do because half of it offends my eyeballs greatly:

Choose two subjects to express movement as follows:
(You may shoot one subject twice if you prefer)

1. Shoot it so that the movement is “frozen”.
2. Shoot it at a slow enough speed to express movement through blur.

Do not use flash for this exercise.
Pay attention to camera movement – is it part of your picture idea or do you want to keep it steady?

– steady camera, moving subject
– steady subject moving camera (it’s art, man!”
– moving subject and camera – as in panning (moving your camera to keep up with a moving subject and usually blurring the background)

Remember to keep the Tips (from last week) in mind, especially the first four.
Bring images to class so that we can share and critique.

High shutter speeds, 1/250 sec. and up, tend to stop motion of both the subject and the camera (camera shake). The effect is greatest with wide angle lenses (wide zoom position) and least with telephoto lenses. It takes a higher shutter speed to keep the camera steady when using long telephoto lenses (zooming way in). 

A tripod is invaluable for keeping the camera steady at slow shutter speeds (under 1/60 sec.) or any time you are doing critical/precision work.

It’s #2 I have an issue with. Why would I want to show anyone a blurry photo on purpose? I delete those! Because they’re crap! Where is the value in doing that on purpose?

Also something I realize the more pictures of Andre’s (our teacher’s) I see is that he’s got the technical knowledge and he knows all the rules and I do have things to learn from him in that respect but he just doesn’t take the best pictures. Out of the hundred or so pictures of his he’s shown us, I would only judge maybe 10 of them “good” and maybe three of them “better than average”.  I just expect better from a “professional photographer” who teaches photography. But Blake says there’s two parts to photography, the technical know-how and “the vision” and the vision is harder to teach and learn and some people never get it. I think Andre flukes into it sometimes but not enough to say he’s got the package deal if you get what I mean. And I don’t mean this to be mean or cruel and maybe he’s not showing us his best pics, I have no idea, I’m just basing this on the things he’s shown us so far. I’m not sure if Alex feels the same way, we haven’t talked about it. And maybe I’ll take this all back the more he shows us.  Maybe I’m not even qualified to judge.

Oh and he lets his camera rest on its lens because he doesn’t take the tripod mount thing off the bottom of it so it droops forward and Blake always freaks on me for letting my camera do that because it’s bad for the lens.

I’m thinking of taking back the tripod we bought at Black’s. It was just a $50 one and Andre says those ones are too flimsy for some cameras and probably not a good idea with my heavier, longer lenses. He says I’m “taking my camera into my hands” if I use it. I haven’t used it yet so it can go back and then maybe I can save up for a better one at Henry’s or something. Andre suggests Manfrotto and he says never buy a tripod under $100 no matter what brand. :o/

So the reason I wasn’t in the best mood last night was two-fold. First, dinner wasn’t ready in time to eat before class so I ate a small bowl of Lipton chicken noodle soup with crackers in the car on the way to class. I hadn’t eaten anything else since about 8am. I was starving. I’d also forgotten my pills, which I have to take right before class so mid-class, my brain was pinging all the fuck over the place. And the cherry on top? MY ESTRANGED BROTHER wrote on the wall of my Facebook fan page wanting me to contact him which has traditionally meant he wants something.

When we got home after class, there was another message from him asking if I’d send him a friend request so we could chat through Facebook messages because he doesn’t have a computer, only his phone. So I sent him a friends request and we exchanged a few messages on Facebook and then I went to bed. I messaged him again this morning but so far there’s been no reply. He does not know I almost died last summer. My mom never told him. He says he wanted to talk to me and come see me (not knowing I was or had been sick) and my mom wouldn’t let him. So I asked my mom about that and she said, “Trust me when I tell you, You were in no place where hearing from him would have been good for you. That kind of life sucking, negative energy had to be kept away from your healing. That simple.” Fair enough. If that’s how he was being, and let’s face it that’s how he’s pretty much always been, then she was right to do it it that way.

I’m just not sure how I’ll be able to tell him the whole story and have him actually understand and believe how dire things were. That kind of trauma is so far out of his scope that I’m not sure I’ll be able to and that’s just going to frustrate me.

And now he’s online so I’d better post this and start explaining…

October 29, 2012

Um, WHAT? Sookie Stackhouse, WHAT???

So I’m reading Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris, which is the latest and second-last Sookie Stackhouse book and normally I don’t have many problems with this series because it’s just mindless fluff for the most part and while a lot of the characters in the books are “simple” (I don’t want to say “ignorant” because that makes them sound dumb when they’re not dumb, they’re just country) redneck types who like to speak with a certain…dialect…including Sookie, something I read just literally made me scream.

Sookie Stackhouse, the main character, thinks to herself near the end of the book: “This past twenty-four hours had been my personal trail of tears. No more!

Just so EVERYONE KNOWS “trail of tears” is not just a phrase Charlaine Harris thought of herself. She didn’t write it with Capital Letters or anything, but someone should really make her aware of the fact that THIS IS WHERE THE PHRASE COMES FROM.

The phrase originated from a description of the removal of the Choctaw Nation in 1831.[1]Many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease and starvation en route to their destinations. Many died, including 4,000 of the 15,000 relocated Cherokee.

It’s been used other places, some equally ignorant and unacceptable I’m sure, so it’s possible it was just in the back of her consciousness due to that, but I mean, even the Billy Ray Cyrus song, who is as redneck and Southern as it gets, is about THE Trail of Tears.

So no, Charlaine Harris, Sookie Stackhouse’s relationship problems are not exactly on par with the deaths of thousands of Native Americans, most of whom were children, and such casual use of such a racially loaded phrase really took me aback.

I’d write Charlaine Harris an e-mail with a link to this post but I doubt she’d ever see it or care. This is just another thing showing how invisible First Nations people are – and their history really is – in white society. Not that I’m an expert or anything but for fuck’s sake, it’s a REALLY well known phrase and the way she used it, saying that it was Sookie’s “own personal trail of tears” means she must mean it in reference to SOMETHING, that “trail of tears” holds significance to her in some way, so I wonder what it is if it’s not THE most famous use. Bitch, don’t you Google? And again even if that is the case, it just shows once again how whitewashed Native American/First Nations history really is. For fuck’s sake! I don’t even know what else to say. *shake my damn head*

Posted at 4:45 pm in: Books , Celebrities , Fall , Quotes , True Blood , TV

Derbies & Bare Bottoms

This weekend was the Markham Fair and we didn’t go. Not that we usually go, but it was an option I didn’t know about and would have taken if given the information. I would want to go to the demolition derby.

For those who don’t know what a demolition derby or a smash up derby is, it’s when people take old cars and paint them up all crazy and then they take them to a field or something and they smash each other up. Last car standing wins. There are “heats” where maybe 6-8 cars smash each other up and the winner of each heat battle for the win at the end. There is also the (incredibly sexist) “Powder Puff” match where only women compete. (I just checked and they don’t do that in Markham anymore, thankfully, but I know they do it in other places.)

And actually the derby was Saturday night so I couldn’t have gone anyway because I was working. Maybe next year.

Blake had never heard of a smash up derby until he met me and I took him to Markham Fair. Derbies have been a big part of my life since I was really little.

I’ve written about Wes Baker before and about how he’s my Wes’ namesake, but his son Mike is a pretty good guy too and he lived next door to my grama my whole life (with Wes, until he died). When I was really little, Mike started building a house ion a town called Minden, which was up North. Minden happened to have an annual smash up derby on Thanksgiving weekend and Mike would enter a car every year. Every year me, my grama, our cousin Eunice and her kids would go up to Mike’s and watch the derby and this was when all there was to Mike’s house was an unheated BASEMENT. I remember sleeping in sleeping bags on the cement floor and being really cold.

Back then we didn’t have the global warming bullshit we have now so Thanksgiving weekend was freezing and it would often snow. I remember being maybe 5 years old and sitting in the back of my grama’s car between heats in my snowsuit and she was giving me hot chocolate from a thermos.

For Thanksgiving dinner we had a turkey, but after the derby, which was on the Saturday, we had chicken from a special place but I forget the name of it. I wanna say it was Dixie Lee chicken, but I’m not sure. One year when my grama and I were picking up the chicken to take back to Mike’s house, they dropped our order on the floor and gave us the chicken for free. My grama bought my silence by buying me a Guns ‘n’ Roses t-shirt from the flea market when we got home. By that point Mike had a whole house and it was pretty nice. He built it completely by himself.

Over the years other people would join in the smash up derby, like my Uncle Bill was in it one year and my Aunt Sandra’s husband John (who has NEVER been “Uncle” John, when they got married, they gave me the option of just calling him John because I’d known him as that for so many years – they have been married 23 years, I was 10 when I was a junior bridesmaid in their wedding)…anyway, John was in it too. They just all used the same car.

Our mascot was Papa Smurf. Every year there was a Papa Smurf doll stuck to the roof or the hood of the car and he was good luck because Mike often won the whole thing, as I recollect.

I think I was probably 13 or 14 when I stopped going up North for Thanksgiving. Mike doesn’t live beside my grama anymore and I’m assuming he lives at his house in Minden full-time. He and my grama aren’t friends anymore, as I’ve heard through the grapevine. I wonder about him often. He was a family friend in every sense of the word and I’ve loved that man my whole life. That doesn’t just go away when you haven’t seen a person in a long time. I wonder what would happen if I showed up at his house for a visit? I wouldn’t, but I wonder what would happen. I wonder if, since he’s not friends with my grama anymore, who he’d been in love with my whole life as well, in the romantical sense, he just doesn’t want anything more to do with our family. I could understand that.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about all weekend.

Yesterday I drove with Blake to the grocery store and back. Again, not a big deal, but I did drive through the construction on our street that practically gives me hives.

When I got home, there was a message waiting for me on Facebook from Stephane Deschenes, the owner of Bare Oaks Naturist Park. You guys probably missed our conversation because it happened in the comments of Live Journal, but when I posted my big freak out about Bare Oaks last month, he actually made a Live Journal account and pretty much talked me through it. Then he extended an invitation to me personally, for me and Blake (and the kids if they want to come) to come for a day for free, which I said we’d do. I told him that he should add some things to the Bare Oaks website and his message to me last night was that he did add those things.

He added two new questions to the First Time Visit page(“What is the difference between a nudist and a naturist?” and “Are tattoos, piercings, makeup, etc… allowed?”) and a whole new page about the Recreational Naturist and the Ethical Naturist, which is worth a read.

I just thought that was pretty cool of him all around from beginning to end. I told him that something I was wondering was if people would ask me about my scar when we went there. Not because I’m self-conscious about it but because I’d like to figure out my Reader’s Digest version of the story before we go because it IS a long story. I just wondered what the etiquette was regarding things like that and if I’m wondering it, other people might be too.

The kids did pumpkins yesterday, which was basically a disaster.  Madison was doing really well but then she also carved out the back of her pumpkin which means that when we put a candle in it, it’s going to blow out and not light up the front properly. Wes attempted to carve out a dragonhawk from WoW and it looks like…I don’t even know. Then Madison asked if she could do the pumpkin seeds, to which I said, “by all means” and I showed her how but she forgot about them in the oven and burned them and never flipped them over to season the backs of them, so we had to throw most of them out. So total pumpkin fail this year. Better luck next year.

I took pics of the kids carving their pumpkins but they suck because the light in my house is absolute garbage and they wouldn’t stay still. If you absolutely need to see them, here’s the 8 best ones…which isn’t saying much.

And that’s all I’ve got today.

October 27, 2012

No Big Deal…..

This was me yesterday:

Okay not so much, but I *did* drive from our house to my shrink’s office in Midland yesterday. And then I drove on the way home too. Often going 80-90 km/h. Even through the construction on our street.  For about 40 minutes each way (because I did the speed limits pretty faithfully). I don’t really know what else to say about that. Yay me?

On the way there, Blake kept telling me I was too close to the shoulder and I kept doing that because oncoming traffic scares me, but on the way back I stayed mostly in the middle. I was nervous and tense as hell on the way there but on the way back it wasn’t so bad. Now I’m not sure where else to drive. I have to go to the mental health centre on Thursday to see my caseworker so I’ll probably drive there and back that time too.

Posted at 12:59 pm in: Blake , Driving , Fall
October 25, 2012

Welcome to VRLand.

When I was a kid, there was this television station called CKVR based out of Barrie and during my childhood, they switched to being “The New VR” and dubbed their surrounding area “VRLand”. Therefore, I now live in VRLand.

This is news in VRLand, this tweet just came in from one of the news anchors at the local TV station: “65 YEAR OLD MAN injured after falling from a latter while cutting tree branches in #Alliston this afternoon. Man is now in hospital.”

So he spells “ladder” wrong (I corrected him, to which he thanked me) but Alliston, the town where I was born, is like, microscopic. Population around 15k. So not microscopic like Elmvale, but still, probably one of the province’s least important places and apparently it is news when an elderly man falls off a ladder. I can’t even make this shit up. Not only did the news anchor tweet it, but the official local channel that he works for REtweeted it. TWICE! That’s 3 tweets out of about 15 all day for an old man falling off a laDDer on a Thursday afternoon in a tiny town!

I hope the man’s okay, but I wonder how many people fell off ladders today in VRLand? In the province? OH OH I KNOW! Maybe they’ll have a special report on that very thing!

I don’t even know why I follow this news channel on Twitter. The only thing they tweet about is dumb shit like this or traffic and the traffic reports make me paranoid because half the time they’re about “fatal accidents” and I’m convinced that one day I’m going to learn someone I know is dead via Twitter. (They never give names, but I know people who travel these roads every single day.)

Anyway, yes, I made a blog post about an insignificant news item in an insignificant part of the globe. You’re welcome!

Posted at 3:06 pm in: Current Events , Fall , Sunnyland

Hi. It’s Me Again.

I think Master of Puppets is a fucking symphony. Probably in my top 10 favourite songs of all time (if not the entire album). Just thought I’d say that since it just came on and I have my speakers turned up loud enough to entertain the construction workers outside my house.

Yesterday I started a 10 day free trial of WoW to try out the new monk class. It made me so upset. It took forever to download the expansion and the whole time I was like, “w00t! This is what I can fill my days with, this is gonna be awesome!” and then I played and it totally wasn’t awesome at all. The monk class, at least in the beginning, really sucks. But after I played for a few hours (with Alex, who is doing the trial too) and then got frustrated and gave up and cried, I read a bit about the class and everything said that they do, indeed, suck in the beginning but they’re a hybrid class like druids (I loved my druid, I was so stupid for deleting her) and you can heal with them and they get awesome as you go along. So I’m going to give my little panda monk, named Menopawz, a fair shake. And no, I’m not going to tell you what server we’re playing on. That is TOP SEKRIT. But Alex and I are going to be going horde, naturally. (She made a panda warrior.) Whether or not we play beyond the free trial, I’m not sure yet. I mean, I can afford it and it’s not like I have anything better to do, but no one I know really plays anymore so….yeah….I dunno. I solo’d my druid resto (dumb, I know) and never ever used my forms except seal form to gather stranglekelp so I don’t see why I couldn’t also solo a healer panda monk. But at the same time, if I’m playing by myself, who am I going to heal? I’m not very good at being social in the game. And I don’t want to get sucked into the whole raiding/ventrillo hardcore path again because that was WORK and well, fuck that. But if I could get Blake and Ronny playing too, I’d consider it. (I don’t think they will, Blake doesn’t have the time and Ronny works nights so we’d never be on at the same time.)

Anyway, those are my current thoughts on Warcraft. We’ll see how it goes, I guess.

So at photography class on Monday, Andre asked us why we take pictures and I pretty much said that I didn’t know. I told him what I tend to take pictures OF but not why I take them. But I figured it out: I like to document. Even if what I’m documenting IS taking pictures.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and I would love to do what Thea does. She takes portraits and candids of families and children almost exclusively outside or in their homes. For me to be able to do this, a lot of things would have to happen.

A) I would have to overcome agoraphobia.
B) I would have to overcome massive social anxiety and be a leader. I would have to tell people what to do, how to make a good picture.
C) I would have to start driving again. By myself.
D) I would probably have to buy my own car and pay for my own insurance, which is just not a possibility now or in the very near future.
E) I would have to do this.  I *want* to do that. (That’s a link to Georgian College’s continuing education photography program. It’s in Barrie, right beside the hospital I’ve spent so much time in.)

That’s a tall order. But the thing is, if I wanted to work toward it, I have the resources at my disposal to do so. I have a caseworker (or whatever he is) who, if I told him this list of goals, would help me work toward them. I have a shrink who would cheer me on. I have a mental health centre that is entirely focused on helping people set and achieve goals just like these. There’s even a lady there, whose actual role I can’t remember, like the name of what her job is, but her name is Debra and her entire job is to re-teach you how to have fun and be social with people. And they’ll send a cab for me to get there for any of the programs I want to be involved in.

But it’s like I said to Blake last night, if you throw me into a situation where I have no choice but to sink or swim, I have traditionally always swam. (Swum?) When Zulu got hit by the car, I navigated that crisis by myself and did what needed to be done. When I wanted to go to college for advertising, I learned how to drive, moved to another town to be closer to school and drove to Toronto every single day. (Okay not every single day because I’m a slacker, but close enough.) When my friend Sondra called me during the worst blizzard of the year to say that she was stranded with her piece of shit car on the 400 (which was nowhere near where I lived, like an hour & a half away in that storm), I left Madison with my grama and went and got her, easy peasy. Slow & steady. On highways and backroads. I got the job done and brought her to my house. Cars were sliding all over the place and hitting each other and ending up in ditches all around me the whole way there and back, but dammit, I can drive in a blizzard. No problem.

There are other examples, I’m sure, but the fact remains that somewhere deep inside me, I am capable of this. It’s like it’s locked up inside me and I have to find the key.

The big hurdle will be driving. I am terrified of wrecking the only car we have, the car that is necessary for Blake to get to and from work so he can feed our family and pay the mortgage. Our entire well-being rests on that vehicle and I am petrified of totaling it. If I had my own car, I wouldn’t be so scared because then it would be mine and I would be the only one affected if I fucked it up. And I could leave the seat where I need it to be without adjusting it all the time and I could put on the bumper stickers I wanted on it and Bubbles, the Powerpuff Girl, our vehicular mascot, could hang from the rear view and I could chuck as many Diet Coke cans into the passenger leg area that I wanted to without upsetting anyone. The only drawback to having my own car would be that I would have to pump my own gas, and probably pay for it too, but I could learn how to do that and just be done with it. But that’s not realistic. I have to work with what we’ve got.

The classes for the photography program are all 7pm-10pm in Barrie, which is half an hour away and I could take backroads at 80 km/h to get there. (As opposed to the highway where I’d have to go 110 km/h.) Blake said that if I decided I could do this, he would guarantee me that the car would always be here by 6:30pm and that it would be full of gas, but he will not drive me unless there’s a blizzard or something and I’m just too scared. (But if I get my “sea legs” back, I doubt a blizzard would be an issue.)

The photography program requires 180 hours of instruction and it also requires that you take Digital Camera Techniques and a Photoshop class. I’d want to get those out of the way as soon as possible since they’re beginner classes. I’d probably take Advanced Photoshop since I’ve been using it for like, a decade. That’s 60 hours right there. Classes would be Mondays and Thursdays. Realistically I should probably only take one at a time, but where’s the fun in that? If I’m going to do this, I want to DO THIS. I don’t think more than 2 is realistic and it would just stress me out. After the mandatory classes, I’d have to take 9 more (at 18 hours per class on average) and if I did 2 per semester, it would take me 2 & a half years to get my certificate. We plan on staying here for the next 4 years so that’s completely feasible without interrupting my studies. And Blake was like, “who needs a certificate?” and I was like, “bitch, I do!” I don’t have a high school diploma. I never finished college the first time around. I have nothing to show that I’ve completed ANYTHING in my whole entire life because I HAVEN’T completed anything in my whole entire life, so that certificate would be really really important to me. But it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I didn’t get it either. I just want to take these classes to learn and even if I don’t finish the whole program, I’ll be better off than I was before I started both academically and personally because I’ll have overcome so many of my psychological issues.

I’m not saying that this is a definite thing. Just that it’s a possibility. Blake says that on Sunday we’re going to go driving to see how I do and I’m scared out of my wits. I don’t like driving with other people in the car because I’m afraid they’re criticizing me and they distract me. I told Blake that there’s not a chance in hell I’m driving with the kids in the car. Dogs, maybe. I’ve done that before. Kids, definitely not. The hard part will be going over 60 km/h with other cars on the road. I haven’t driven with other cars on the road in 7 years. I’ve only driven a handful of times at 3am to the post office or the variety store and that’s in our town, so that’s going less than 60 km/h the whole time (and being 3am, I went slower than that). Once I drove in the rain at about 7pm to the grocery store to buy Blake coffee filters and Golden Oreos for the morning. They were all shocked to see me there by myself and commented on it and it freaked me out so badly that it never happened again. That was probably 2 years ago now.

So yeah, lots to work through. There’s also the issue of getting the money to take these classes. They’re not expensive, about $250 a piece (with tax) for the mandatory ones and then the others are around $150 + tax. I figure it’s not outside the realm of possibility that I could take donations to pay for them. Plus there’d be gas. And maybe one day, my own car & insurance.

The more I think about this, the more I want it though. Photography is so much more fun than painting, so much more rewarding. My whole life I’ve been trying to get people to see what I see and with photographs, that’s possible. I mean, I’ve always written, I’ve maintained this blog, in some form or another, since 1998, and the entire purpose has been to document and to have witnesses to what I see every single day. What I experience. What I feel. WHen I look through my camera’s lens, I don’t just see what’s there, I see what’s possible and – maybe this is ridiculous – I feel warm in my brain because I know exactly what the reactions to those pictures are going to be. And I’m an attention whore, I thrive on praise. Blake told me last night that I was basically pathetic, but without the validation of strangers, I just don’t do well. I’ve had that for long enough that without it I have trouble. When I write a blog post and no one comments, I consider myself a failure. (Although someone usually comments, even if it’s only one person. Like yesterday’s post.)

Anyway, this is what’s happening inside my head right now. I’m excited by the possibility of this happening. Right now I think I can do this. The only thing that’s REALLY going to suck is getting home at 10:30-ish pm and having to go straight to bed so I can get up at 4am to work. But like, last night I didn’t go to bed until 11pm and I got up at 4am with my alarm, but set my phone’s alarm to 5am (which is the time I actually do my work – I get up an hour early to check e-mail etc.) and slept on the couch until it was time to work and I was fine. Then when I was done at 7am (Thursdays are my short day, I normally work until 8am), I went back to bed until 9:30am and now I have the whole day to do whatever I want. If I had my own car I could go somewhere and take pictures for these theoretical classes. My long day is Saturday where I work for 9 hours, but I start at 2pm which gives me the morning to do whatever I want, sleep in etc, and Saturdays would have nothing to do with school so that’s really a non-issue. And our work just hired a new girl to help us out so in theory, my Saturdays are going to become a lot less stressful. (I do e-mail support for a HUGE website and on Saturdays I come onto my shift with like, 50 unread e-mails to go through to get the inbox down to zero and it takes me 3 or 4 hours without a break to get caught up because Saturdays are probably our busiest day and I can’t answer e-mails faster than they come in so I’m really hoping this new girl is going to help the girl whose shift is before mine so I don’t come on to all these e-mails. That would be absolutely wonderful because it stresses me the fuck out and makes me hate Saturdays with a burning passion. I don’t mind working on the weekend, that doesn’t bother me at all, it’s the stress of trying to get the inbox caught up when I first come on that kills me and the fact that it’s a 9 hour day and if I take a break to eat dinner with my family, the inbox gets out of control again because the dinner hours are even busier than the rest of the day because people apparently watch porn while they eat or something and it takes me a while to get it back down to zero.)

So yeah.

What do you guys think of all this? I could really use some feedback. Does any of this sound realistic to you at all? Is this just another one of my crazy, unrealistic ideas that’ll never be realized? I kinda really want this, enough so that I’m willing to go driving with Blake on Sunday and if that goes well, to keep doing it. Maybe I’ll drive to my shrink appointment tomorrow if we leave a little bit early. I would have to go 80 km/h to get there but we take backroads so it wouldn’t be very stressful (in theory). And my shrink would be shocked and pleased to hear that I did it. Hrm.

Okay now I’m going to eat mushroom pizza and probably talk to people on Facebook. Lemme know your thoughts.

October 24, 2012

Blip.fm Pisses Me Off. Also Halloween.

So I’m on Blip.fm, as are a lot of my friends such as Ronny and Alex, whose taste in music I respect. I also have something like 150 followers, which is pretty cool, but what pisses me off is that when I search for songs on Blip, I get all these FUCKING videos of live performances and covers by lame people and never the official video even though I know for a fact it’s on YouTube which is where Blip pulls from. And forget actual MP3s, you can never find those. So wtf? I think Blip is a good platform but its search algorithms are fucked up or something and it pisses me right off because I can never find what I’m looking for. And it’s extra obnoxious when I know for a fucking FACT that the official video is on YouTube and when I search for the exact title of the video on YouTube on Blip, it doesn’t come up. GRRRRRRRR.

I DO NOT WANT SHITTY LIVE FOOTAGE OR YOUR CRAPPY ACOUSTIC COVERS OF GOOD SONGS. YOU SUCK AND ARE THE BANE OF MY BLIPPING EXISTENCE.

So today is Wednesday (duh), which means there is only 2 days left for me to get my shit together in preparation for Friday. Friday is going to be busy and I hate busy days. I am a firm believer in the fact that you cannot do more than 2 stressful things in one day and on Friday I have 3 stressful things.

1. Dentist appointment. I broke a tooth Monday night eating ketchup chips, which SUCKS, because I’m pretty sure they’re going to have to do a root canal and that takes an hour and a half. They’re just looking at it on Friday to come up with a plan of attack so that means probably next week will be the root canal. JOY. (Our insurance doesn’t cover laughing gas, how fucking dumb is that? $100 out of pocket for that. Send PayPal to Sunny@SunnyCrittenden.com! Just kidding. Sort of.)

2. Shrink appointment. Need to talk to her about a change in meds. I think I need to take 2 loxapine at night to get to sleep at a decent time because 1 doesn’t seem to cut it. I’ve been getting phantom anxiety for the last 3 weeks and I think it has to do with all the construction happening on front of our house. I know that sounds ridiculous but I’m a fragile flower man, and that shit is grating on my nerves something fierce. I’ve been taking 2 clonazepam (klonopin) in the afternoons, especially on days I have work meetings, when I’m only supposed to be maybe taking 1 during the day if needed and one at night before bed. I have to tell her I’m terrified of my caseworker. Speaking of him, Blake called him yesterday but as far as I know he hasn’t called back. Yikes. I also think I need to borrow a lightbox because S.A.D. is kicking my ass. I have all these things written down so I won’t forget when I get there. I also think maybe I need to be either put on a higher dose of gabapentin/welbutrin or a new anti-depressant altogether. I refuse to take anything where weight gain could be a remote possibility. Been there, done that, took almost dying and being on a fucking feeding tube to lose the weight. I also think maybe I should talk to her about getting a therapist. I almost died and I have this total disconnect to it. Everyone keeps telling me how I’m some kind of miracle, how I shouldn’t be here etc etc etc and I’m like, “yeah man, wanna see my scar?” I’m so detached from it and people keep telling me that’s not normal. I just want to move on, it happened, it’s in the past, I barely experienced it because I was in a medically induced coma so I don’t know how people expect me to be in regards to it. My mom and Blake and my kids? They experienced it. I just see it as, I was really sick and now I’m not. I’m off all the drugs related to my illness (aside from pancreatic enzymes and the cholesterol meds) and my period has come back so I’m a-okay right? What’s there to process? But people keep telling me that I’m repressing  or something, that I shouldn’t be this detached from it. That maybe I’m still in shock. But I don’t think so.

I mean, just as an example…when I was 14 and pretty brutally raped by a stranger behind the bleachers at a park in the town I grew up in I was obviously distressed afterward. I didn’t go to the police and I only told my Aunt Heather, who I had been staying with at the time, about it. Afterward I made a doctor’s appointment myself and had the necessary tests done to make sure I wasn’t pregnant or full of STDs (neither, thank god, I was tested for HIV for a year & a half after the fact). My doctor was the only person in the world who knew what happened. And why I’m telling you this is because I was completely detached from the event. I still am. I talk about it in a clinical way and I did even then. After the man left me laying in the dirt – but not before kicking me and telling me to get up and spitting on me when I wouldn’t move – I waited for him to leave and then I got up, dusted myself off, wiped his fluids from between my legs with my ripped panties which I then threw in a nearby garbage can after I pulled my shorts back up and walked back to my Aunt’s apartment. I cried of course, but only for about the 10 minutes it took me to walk from the park back to her apartment. When I got back to her apartment, there was a note saying that she was at the coffee shop, so I took a bath and cleaned myself up (the man had almost broken my nose and I had blood beneath it, this was also the loss of my virginity and there was blood all down my upper thighs), then I went BACK to the park to look for my Aunt’s fucking dog which I was walking in the park at 3am to begin with. I was more distressed that my Aunt would be mad at me for losing her dog (a rottweiler, what a good protector eh? didn’t come running while I was screaming) than at what had happened to me.

I just figured, even at 14, that the cops would never do anything since I didn’t know who the man was and it was dark so I could barely tell you what he looked like aside from the size of him. He was obviously drunk (this was during Strawberry Festival when the town sets up a “beer garden” in the parking lot beside the park – last call is 2am, you do the math) and because it was Strawberry Festival, it could have been anyone. Calling the cops would just get me in trouble for being at the park at 3am to begin with and my parents would blame my Aunt for it and I wouldn’t be able to go to her house anymore. And at that time, she was pretty much my lifeline, the closest thing to a mother I had. And what would calling the cops accomplish anyway? Nothing but trouble. So I clinically decided that I had to put on my big girl panties and accept that this bad thing had happened, that it was over now, that I had to make sure I was still healthy and – and this may sound so so so stupid but keep in mind I was 14 – I figured, regarding my virginity, “well, I guess that’s out of the way”. Sex was no longer a mystery.

Maybe it’s because I was molested when I was a little kid. Repeatedly. Or maybe it’s because I was basically homeless at the time and a lot of bad things had already happened and that this was just “one more thing” I should have seen coming, I dunno. I mean, keep in ind that a year later I would be legally emancipated from my parents and living on my own, I was, at that age, an adult for all intents and purposes.

Anyway, my point is that I never suffered the usual things victims of brutal rape suffer after the fact. There was no PTSD. No residual after effects. (I did think it was my fault though for being out at 3am and vulnerable, I asked for it, and I would think that until about 2 years ago when I saw this spoken word piece by Staceyann Chin. Here’s the pertinent part, but you should watch the whole piece because it’s awesome. She’s awesome. Anyway, it being my fault was just a fact I accepted. Not something I felt bad about.) When I later told my two best friends what had happened to me, because they were both bragging about their boyfriends and how they would lose their virginities before me because I didn’t have a boyfriend and I got fed up at the novelty of virginity since I had lost mine so willy nilly and against my will, mine didn’t have “value”, why should theirs? They both called me a liar. They based this on the fact that I didn’t cry when I told them the story. They said I made it up. I didn’t act like a rape victim, therefore I couldn’t have been one. I bet they think I’m lying about it to this day for that very reason and they wouldn’t be the only people to think this of me because I don’t “act like a rape victim”.

But I just think this is how I deal with traumatic events. My life has been so fucked up and disjointed that I just expect bad things to happen because they always do. Getting sick and almost dying is just “one more thing”, just as being raped (that time) was. If I got bent out of shape over every bad thing that ever happened to me, I probably wouldn’t have survived as long as I have. My life is downhill and full of moguls. Always has been, probably always will be. I accepted this fact – and it is a fact – at a very young age. Probably about the time I learned that my older cousin, whom I was in love with, wasn’t touching me in my secret places because he loved me back and we couldn’t be alone together anymore.

So I don’t think it’s abnormal at all for me to have come out of being THAT sick and meeting my mortality up close and personal-like to have just gotten over it and moved on. It’s just “one more thing” that’s happened in a really eventful life. If anything, the way I see things right now is that the Universe – that’s with a capital “U” – owes me a peaceful life from here on out. And that’s what I fully expect. I mean, I almost died, I had 15 months of pure and utter sickness hell, I lost my job, my hair fell out, I got down to 98 lbs, I had to have the world’s most painful surgery, what the fuck else could happen to me? The only thing I can think of is a car accident where I’m disfigured or made handicapped in some way, so I’m somewhat expecting that, but I’ve also been to Hug Nation enough times to start believing in pronoia, the psychological philosophy that the Universe is conspiring in your favour. Positive thinking brings positive results, right?

Boy did I stray off topic. What do you think? Do you think I’m processing being sick/almost dying in a healthy way or do you think my disconnect is abnormal and I need a therapist?

3. On Friday at the MacLaren Art Centre where Alex and I are taking our photography class, they’re having a “Halloween Coffee House” where you pay $2 admission and there is: local youth entertainment (our photography teacher’s son’s band is playing), a costume contest, interactive art activities, food and coffee and our photography teacher said we should come because there will be lots of people there who won’t mind their pictures being taken. Wes will get a chance to test out his ninja costume and maybe Madison can go as a beauty queen with her sparkly grad dress and Fall Fair Ambassador sash. I’m just gonna wear normal clothes and my marabou horns. Dunno what Blake might do. Probably nothing. Alex said if we go then she’ll come too. She’ll probably be Harry Potter again since she has the costume. This counts as a stressful thing because it’s a stressful thing that will require copious amounts of Ativan. In fact I needed two Ativan just to write this paragraph.

So that’s my Friday. And because I’m mentally ill, it will take from now until then (and pharmaceuticals) to prepare for it.

Speaking of pharmaceuticals, I started taking ALPHA  BRAIN on Tuesday, which is a nootropic. A side effect of my psych meds is that I have the memory of a goldfish. Blake and I can have entire conversations that I won’t remember the next day and this leads to constant conflict because I know/think people take advantage of my bad memory by saying they told me things when they really didn’t. Madison definitely takes advantage of it. I have suspicions that other people have/do too. ALPHA BRAIN is supposed to help with that. It’s expensive though. $35 + shipping per bottle for 30 pills and you’re supposed to take 1 or 2 a day. I’m starting with 1 because I just bought the one bottle to try. If it works, I’ll gladly pay for it, but I don’t know if 30 days is enough time for it to work. I’m not sure how the stuff works, like if it needs to build up in your system or what.  Anyway, this memory problem really really bothers me so I hope the stuff works as advertised.  I’m also going to talk to my shrink about an actual, proven pharmaceutical solution, like maybe an amphetamine of some sort like Adderal or something. I’m on several habit forming drugs and I take them responsibly so I don’t think I would abuse speed. My only concern with that is a side effect is possible psychosis even at therapeutic doses, but I just read all about amphetamines on Wikipedia and they would help my concentration, which I need, they could help improve my memory, which I desperately need, they would help my performance at work at 4am, which I could really use and overall my life is so grey right now and blah and boring that maybe amphetamines would help me create again. Anyway, it’s worth exploring.

And that’s what I’ve got in me for today. Now I’m going to go eat ketchup chips for breakfast and read Sookie Stackhouse.

October 23, 2012

How to Love a Goddess

I haven’t actually attended a Hug Nation in a while because I just haven’t been able to, but I always watch the archives and thought this one was particularly good. Everything John says in this video are things Blake understands and values and has since before I even knew him. That’s just one of the many reasons why I married him in the first place and why our marriage continues to be so successful. (Although I kinda think the whole “goddess” label is pretty cheesy. Ignore that part.)

Battle of the Pictures

So my first photography class was last night at the MacLaren Art centre in Barrie with Alex. Our teacher’s name is Andre Beneteau and he’s an old school camera geek more than an artsy fartsy photographer I think. I think we’re going to learn how to make our cameras our bitches, the technical stuff. Not so much how to compose a photo (thank god, I do just fine on my own thank you very much and if I read any more about the goddamn golden ratio one more time I’m going to barf – my philosophy is that you either naturally see it or you don’t, which is why I get so frustrated that I can’t naturally see the rule of thirds).

Anyway, this was the course outline for last night (I’ll type this up for each class):

Oct. 22nd: Introduction of instructor and participants. Course outline – “The Slow Photo Movement” What do you want from this course? Clarity in photography. Getting to know your camera. Photo shooting tips Outing suggestions? Shooting assignment.

Andre, I think, has ADD because we were ALL THE FUCK over the place last night. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun, but it was basically 8 people and him sitting around geeking out over their toys for 2 & a half hours. Lots of people didn’t know how to use their cameras. A couple of them didn’t even have DSLRs. Lots of people had their cameras on weird settings that shouldn’t have been.  Maybe it’s just because it’s a beginner’s class or maybe just the first class, but he had us all using P (Program) to take test shots of each other. I was slightly horrified by this but just went with it.

This is a blurry picture of Fred.
He’s taken the class before.

This is Bob.
Bob has bitchtits.

Just kidding.

He’s taken the class before too.
That pic was taken (on fucking P…as a jpeg…) at ISO 100.

What did I learn?
Nothing new, really.
Just that ISO apparently stands for International Standard Organization and it was a replacement for ASA which was American Standard Association.

Here’s Bob again at 6400 ISO.
These test shots were pulled up on the projector to show that the higher the ISO, the more noise there would be (but honestly, unless you’re printing huge prints, I don’t think that matters much with these digital cameras but that’s just my experience so far.)

Andre actually told everyone that they were better off shooting JPGs as opposed to RAW and I just about fell over. I get why he said that, a lot of these people are super amateur and just want to know how to take better pictures of their kids, and this is a super beginner’s class, but now that I know the difference between RAW and JPG I would never EVER dream of going back to shooting JPG. That would just be idiotic. And he seemed shocked that I, a blogger, would shoot RAW when I would just be making JPGs out of them for the web anyway. But that’s not the point. If I was *just* taking pictures for my blog, I could have stuck with my point & shoot. I want the OPTION of 100% control and also the option of printing a fucking billboard if I wanted to. I don’t know if this photography thing is ever going to amount to anything, but I’m kinda hoping it does because I really like doing it. Blake keeps telling me that I need to find something I find FUN and I find photography fun. An optimal day for me is shooting something and then spending all day editing the pictures.

Anyway the other reason he wants everyone shooting JPGs is so he can put them up on the projector. The projector won’t read RAW files. Fair enough, I can make my camera take both at the same time and I have plenty of SD cards so I’ll just do that.

And yeah, I kinda did get made fun of on the first day for always using burst, which I expected. BUT I REFUSE TO CHANGE. My philosophy is that if the 1st 3 don’t turn out then maybe the next 5 will. Also I shoot outside pretty much exclusively and I’m shooting movement. There’s wind in people’s hair. Dogs running around. I would miss that movement if I weren’t using burst.

So this is our first assignment and I’m asking for your help. He gave us this sheet of tips and wants us to bring 7 photos on an SD card that follow some of his tips. Here they are:

– KISS: keep it simple, stupid.
– Get close: “The name of the game is Fill the Frame.” Rick Sammon, AP
– Check your whole viewfinder – look for distractions and bloopers.
– The Decisive Moment: catch the peak of the action, the fleeting expression, the interaction…
– The Rule of Thirds – apply to horizons and subjects…or not.
– Watch the Direction and Quality of Light – be aware of shooting against bright light (underexposure).
– Choose an ISO appropriate for the situation you are shooting in: Grabbing action (high) vs. top picture quality (low), etc. Auto ISO is usually OK.
– Expose for your Subject! You may have to be selective. [I don’t even know what this means.]
– Include some foreground interest in wide angle shots for depth and perspective.
– Watch out for distortion at the sides/corners of really wide angle shots – circles become ovals, people gain 40 lbs (stand in the middle of the group to lose weight!)
– Get low (or high) for interesting perspective – kids, pets, landscapes, abstracts.
– Place subjects close together for better impact/simplicity. Now get closer.
– Be aware of limits of flash range – turn it off for distant subjects (arenas).
– Use Fill Flash outdoors to fill in shadows (most cameras can do this automatically). [I don’t know what that is either.]
– Match camera orientation to subject – Vertical for verticals.
– Focus carefully even on auto-focus – lock focus on your subject if necessary.
– Manual focus makes most cameras respond quicker – good for catching movement. You can pre-focus on the right spot or focus manually. This does take some practice.
– Match your white balance to your light source (for critical work) or use it for creative effect.
– Soft light is best for portraits. Straight flash is seldom flattering or interesting.
– Don’t be afraid to shoot several shots of one subject. I firmly believe in “just one more”.
– Look for interesting lines, textures, contrasts and frames. Getting real close can create “art”.
– Use a decent tripod or other support for low light and/or high quality shots.
– Have fun by trying something different or breaking “rules”.

I wanted to use this one for the “vertical for verticals” one:

I wanted to use this one for the manual focus on one spot for action shots one:

And I wanted to use this one for the soft light/portraits one:

These two for getting low with kids/dogs:

And I dunno what else. Help!

Here are all the pics I’ve taken this fall with the Rebel (that are worth looking at anyway, I don’t think my Squam pics or Madison’s grad pics [especially since I never uploaded the colour corrected ones] are all that great). Lemme know what you see. Which pictures follow which rules? I need 7. Thanks in advance!

All in all, class was a positive experience. Everyone was super nice and aside from a little anxiety before we went in, I had a great time. As long as I always bring a big drink with me, I’m good.

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