August 6, 2015

Day One

“Throw away the radio, suitcase keeps you awake
Hide the telephone, the telephone
Telephone, in case you realize
That some days, you’re just not okay
You’ll level off, you’ll level off, you’ll level off

And it’s not alright now
You need to understand
There’s nothing strange about this
You need to know your friends
You need to know that

I’ll be wavin’ my hand
Watching you drown
Watching you scream
Quiet or loud

And maybe you should sleep
And maybe you just need, a friend
As clumsy as you’ve been
There’s no one laughing
You will be safe in here
You will be safe in here

Throw away this very old shoelace
It tripped you again
Try and shrug it off, shrug it off, shrug it off

It’s only skin, now
Now you need to understand
There’s nothing fake about this
You need to let me in
Watching you and

I’ll be waving my hand
Watching you drown
Watching you scream
No one’s around

And maybe you should sleep
And maybe you just need, a friend
As clumsy as you’ve been
There’s no one laughing
You will be safe in here
You will be safe in

I will be waving my hand
Watching you drown
Watching you scream
Quiet or loud

And maybe you should sleep
And maybe you just need, a friend
As clumsy as you’ve been
There’s no one laughing
You will be safe in here
You will be safe in here

Well, you will be safe in here
In here, in here
In here, in here
In here, in here”

– “Clumsy” by Our Lady Peace

On July 29th, I tried to kill myself and no, I am not okay. But there is a plan in place and there’s a faint glimmer of hope in the distance that I will be.

It was not a cry for help. When I tried to kill myself twice before as a teenager, those were cries for help, from a kid. What happened last week was an adult making a conscious decision to cease existing and let the consequences of that decision be whatever they may be because if all went as planned, I would be worm food and unable to feel, see, hear etc. any of the aftermath and ultimately I knew my people well enough that they would be perfectly okay without me, perhaps even better off. If not? I would be nothing, there would be no such thing as Me, I would never know the difference.

Obviously, I failed. And trust me, it was not for lack of trying (but definitely due to lack of planning). If I wasn’t actively avoiding the internet right now, I’d be googling “how the fuck am I alive right now?” because I took what seemed to me to be a hell of a lotta cyclobenzaprine, clonazapam and trazodone. I didn’t overdose on any of my serious psych meds because I was afraid they’d leave me retarded if I failed. I thought I’d fall asleep and just never wake up. Instead, cops broke down my back door (which I had locked, and I had locked and put a chair up against my office/front door) and told me I could get out of my bed and come to the ambulance quietly or they could cuff me. I went mediumishly…voluntarily, swaying and stumbling, yet still saying “fuck the police” (which apparently they hear so often, they just refer to it as “ftp”) at an audible level about 25 times between my bed and the ambulance. I owe one of the cops an apology and a “thank you” and it’s something really bugging the crap outta me, actually.

At the hospital they did not pump my stomach or give me charcoal, they just put me in the ICU hooked up to an ECG machine, the little finger thingy that measures your oxygen levels and an IV that they never hooked anything up to and just took out after letting me sleep for about 48 hours. Then they transferred me to Royal Victoria Hospital’s (RVH) psychiatric ward which was where I was also sent in 2006 when I had my psychotic episode which lead to my diagnosis of bipolar disorder I, generalized anxiety disorder and agoraphobia, and also the same hospital I spent 6 weeks in after coming seriously close to dying in 2011 from pancreatitis.

So now you wanna know why, right? Cuuuuuuz that’s the next logical question and the most difficult one for me to answer. It’s actually kinda funny, if you know me well enough or have been reading my blog for a really long time, you know that I have a billion different, ever-evolving reasons for why I didn’t get into advertising, choosing to drop out of school at the last minute instead, and I always say like, “Reason #3875736254 I dropped out of advertising…”. This is kind of the same thing. As a person who is depressed with suicidal ideations a lot, it’s a complex thing with a million tentacles. It occurred to me when I was 5 years old that killing myself was a legitimate option. Most people never see suicide as a legitimate option because most people don’t try to or successfully kill themselves, according to my retired extra special needs teacher friend, Carole R. who told me that about 14 years ago when I went to work with her for a day and met young children who had already taken measures to end their own lives or seriously hurt themselves for whatever reason it is we all have in common on these things.

I don’t know where it came from or how it started or why I peg it at 5, which was right when my mom married my stepdad, but that’s when it started as a tiny seed of an idea and then grew, like I said, into this thing with a million tentacles, as if there’s some chunk of my grey matter dedicated to just this one specific area, like building my own killswitch I guess, and for whatever reason “I”, “Me”, “Myself”, liked being in there and focusing on there. Not always, but…a lot.

This could be chemical or this could be “something else”. What that “something else” is, I have no idea because I’ve never really spoken to anyone about any of this with any real detail or seriousness. Everyone I know (plus a lotta strangers) knows I want to kill myself regularly. That’s, “just Sunny” at this point. Even this time, my own daughter thought my last words to her were just me being “melodramatic” when she read them after not being here or talking to me for several weeks. (Which I don’t fault her for, especially because she’s 17. Again, I’m avoiding the internet right now – all I have open on my computer is Word and Spotify because I just spent a week in a world without electronics of any kind and everything is so noisy in this one – so I don’t remember what I said to her or if she replied. I’ve seen her since I’ve been out, though, and we’re okay so it doesn’t even matter for the time being or even at all maybe.)

For the first 2 days at Georgian Bay General hospital where I was in the ICU from July 29th-31st the only communication I had with anyone not involved in my care, including AND (at the time), especially my husband Blake, was sending a short e-mail to my boss (cc’d to my coworker/friend it would impact the most/immediately as far as work was concerned) saying long story short: I tried to kill myself, they’re sending me somewhere 45 mins away to see a shrink* and I was sorry. That was the last time I saw my phone until yesterday when I was released from Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH). I think they said Blake called the hospital to talk to me but I refused his calls and I guess Amy also called when I was in there too but at that point I just told them to refuse all calls so I didn’t hear about anyone else.

On the 31st, around sunset, I was told that I would be taking a taxi cab from Georgian Bay General in Midland, to RVH in Barrie where they were more equipped to deal with me, which would be about a 45 minute drive and I would be accompanied by this nice lady security guard, who would get me signed in and then take the same cab back to Midland. I don’t know how much that cost because the taxi driver lady put a cover over the meter. I do know from listening to the conversations around me that the lady had $158 on her Visa and that wasn’t enough so they had to get one with a bigger limit, but despite that it made sense to me for them to do this than waste an ambulance on me. I was happy at the healthcare system’s ability/willingness to adapt so successfully to non-government community services.

I can’t remember if I had any conversations with the security lady. Mostly the security lady and the cab lady talked while I enjoyed the ride (car rides actually calm me). I don’t think this was their first time making this trip, though. When we got to the hospital, the taxi lady told the security lady that she was going to Tim Hortons to get them both coffees, what does she prefer etc. and then the security lady and I started navigating the outside of the hospital because it’s all new and ever-changing, up the elevator to the 3rd floor, and through the psychiatric unit’s front doors. I was processed by the security lady and hospital staff (at this point I had everything but those people tuned out completely) and taken to a dorm-like room with 2 empty beds with nice blankets, 2 floor-length cubbies and a nice, clean bathroom. The security lady wished me good luck and left. I have no memory of anything else that night, I just got in the bed facing the wall and window and went to sleep. I don’t think I cried, I was just kinda unable to process anything happening to me so everything shut down.

The next morning I woke up and a nurse told me where I was and asked me questions about how I got there but I couldn’t really communicate with anyone yet. All the drugs I overdosed on (plus the ones I was supposed to be taking for my mental illnesses that they never gave me the 2 days I was in Midland) were coming out of me and I was just confused and scared. I’m agoraphobic so I don’t leave my house and when I do, it’s with Blake, so I was TERRIFIED to leave my room. I’d been in the psych ward twice before this and I knew the kind of people/experiences can happen in them and I just couldn’t deal. I only got up to go to the bathroom and get cups of tap water that were never cold enough to quench my thirst.

On August 1st, a Saturday of a long weekend, I made contact with Blake because, like I said, I was fucking terrified, and that day was the first time he visited. He brought me clothes and some toiletries, my pencil case, the brand new pad of Bristol paper I’d bought 2 weeks prior for doing colouring pages, some food I could keep in my room and a 6-pack of bottled Diet Coke because we weren’t allowed to have cans and bottles just made more sense since they had lids and stuff. (I’m addicted to Diet Coke, this is just part of me being me. You will probably never see me without a drink in my hand of some sort.) All I had with me when I came in was my bag full of like, basic “purse stuff” because the cops wouldn’t let me pack anything to bring with me except my phone and wallet pretty much and the clothes on my back. I had a greyish-black, t-shirt weight cotton hoodie, my grey “RAP MUSIC MAKES ME FEEL INVINCIBLE” t-shirt, medium-weight cotton yoga pants and my crazy-assed Period Panties. (This is actually my standard uniform.) They let me keep my shoes, which didn’t have laces. My bag was taken from me and everything important from it was put in a bin at one of the nurses’ stations.

No electronics were allowed whatsoever. Not even an iPod to listen to music and there was no music in any of the rooms on the floor except for this shower radio that barely got one pop country station none of us wanted to listen to. The TV in the TV room was stuck on the sports channel because no one could find the remote and then when they *did* find the remote, they changed it to a “48 Hours” marathon on A&E, a “reality” show where there’s been a murder and the first 48 hours are the most crucial to solve the case, which in the 3 episodes I sat through, they did. (And all the victims were women.)

When I’m at home on “normal” Saturdays, I get off work at 11pm and usually draw or otherwise make art until 3-5am or however long I can stay up and then I sleep in the next day to compensate because it’s my first day off so I can and then on the Sunday night I do the same because Mondays are my other day off.

After Blake had left me because visiting hours were over, I left my sobbing roommate (who came in the morning after trying to kill herself the night before) and went down the hall to this patient activity room that had a bunch of big tables in the middle with about 15 or 20 chairs that I’d noticed never had more than a couple of people in it. The second I stepped inside I felt better because there were pencil crayons and markers (not very many and really shitty ones, but pencil crayons and markers nonetheless) on one wall in bins and there were colouring pages and Sudoku puzzles in clear plastic bins on the other and I identified it as an “art room”, a place where I could be comfortable, and decided to just draw. When I was little and upset, my mom would tell me to either suck my thumb or to draw (or both), so I just started drawing a webcam model I watch sometimes.

As I sat in there with my pencil, eraser and Diet Coke, drawing, I could see people walking up and down the hallway and glancing in at me from time to time but no one came in until about 9pm and that person was Rich. Rich is 25 and basically a pussy magnet and he knows it. He said his mother had him put in the hospital on his birthday. He’d been there for almost a month and was going to be there for another month, minimum. He’s schizophrenic with ADHD and at the time he was either coming OFF of some drug or reacting to a new one and he was pacing and antsy and like, just spun out and squirrelly. I think I was the one who spoke first, asking him if he was okay and that’s when he told me his situation. I asked him if he was hearing voices right that minute and he said he wasn’t and we just started talking to each other. He sat in a backwards chair tapping his feet, or pacing the room or doing semi-push-ups from the edge of the table, but able to carry on a conversation. I just drew while he mostly talked about his thoughts on weed, evolution and god and what is good and what his purpose is on this Earth and I have no idea what I told him about myself. I think I told him about my job. He told me I was a good artist and I told him he was a good kid and we decided we were friends. We just hung out in the art room talking while I drew until he calmed down enough to go to sleep around 11pm. The head nurse on duty told me that because it was a long weekend, she’d let the art room stay open until midnight, so I stayed in there and drew until then and then went to sleep myself.

Sunday morning I woke up, changed out of my “RAP MUSIC MAKES ME FEEL INVINCIBLE” t-shirt and put on my grey “SORRY I’M AWESOME” t-shirt and didn’t eat anything. I didn’t eat anything the whole time I was there except a handful of pistachios, a few crackers and about 6 Babybel cheeses. Because of the aforementioned pancreatitis, which is now chronic, I am a medical marijuana patient so I need cannabis before I eat so I *will* eat and then I need it again afterward to keep it down. If I don’t do this, it starts this godawful vomit cycle that often ends with me in the hospital in the worst pain imaginable. Also every time that happens, my pancreas is being damaged which makes me unable to actually absorb the food I eat. Medical marijuana is a weird thing in Canada where it’s accepted but the deal in the hospital was that I could only have it if it was prescribed by a doctor from that hospital and there was no chance in hell any of the psych staff would sign off on that so I didn’t even push it and just dealt the best I could with the few foods I know are okay for me. I also begged and begged for Zofran (anti-emetic) and pancreatic enzymes, even had Blake bring in my own, but they wouldn’t let me have them.

Sunday morning was also when my roommate and I acknowledged each other. We had been in similar states when we arrived and hadn’t started acclimating until then. Her name was Kimmie and she was small, blonde, frail and almost curled into herself. Mother of 2 older teenage boys. I had heard her wearily having a conversation with her husband of 20 years the previous day in our room when I was still too scared leave it, where I heard her ask him for a divorce several times, to sign the divorce papers when he got them and him telling her she was crazy and didn’t mean it. He’d brought her flowers.

Sunday morning I went to the bathroom to pee and of course my uterus had to start spotting; my period was going to be coming any second now. I’m thinking, “of-fucking-course” but it wasn’t enough to worry about yet so I just came out of the bathroom, saw Kimmie was sitting on the edge of the bed, and slightly joked to her that of all the times to have to have my lady rain, it had to be now.  She didn’t laugh because she was so down, but she did offer me a few maxi pads to use from her own supply, which I was grateful for. We briefly shared situations, and basically she had been this man’s possession for the last 20 years and finally he had stepped so far out of line that there was no coming back from it so she, like me, did a swan dive with pills and alcohol and that’s how she got where we were. Her telling me about her husband made me really appreciate mine, so that’s actually what prompted me to call Blake and ask him to come visit. Before that though, I told Kimmie we were in this together and from that point forward I tried to take care of her the best I could. They were giving her pretty heavy anti-psychotics that were making her sleep all day and pace the halls all night and she was just SO sad and confused, like a frail little bird. She didn’t want to come out of her room that day except to bathe twice because she didn’t know what else to do. And the clothes her husband brought her were ridiculous, like a fluorescent pink bikini top and an obviously too small sports bra instead of something useable, period panties not in the fun sense, and stuff that he just would have to have picked out of the very back of her closet or drawers to come up with. I asked her if she thought he did that to be a dick or if he was just a clueless guy and she said it was definitely him being a dick. I reminded her she was safe where we were and I even told her if she needed anything, like a bra, I would get Blake to pick her one up from WalMart in a heartbeat, just tell me her size, but the only thing she ever took us up on was a double double from Tim Hortons.

All Kimmie wanted to do on Sunday was sleep in the room, which I understood, so I took my pencil and eraser and Bristol pad and of course, a Diet Coke and went down the hall to see if the art room was open. It was and was empty, so I took a seat in the corner of the room and kept working on the colouring page I’d started the previous day.

The art room was used during the week for group therapy sessions and since this was a long weekend, one of the social workers, Clayton, a huge guy with ginger hair, used his own day off and his own money to run a game of bingo with giftcard prizes for Tim Hortons or the deli in the food court and a mani/pedi “group session” for those who wanted their toes done. Blake happened to be visiting during this part of the afternoon and I painted his toenails lovely shades of metallic turquoise and magenta, which all the girls got a big kick out of. Every single person who came into the art room that day looked at what I was drawing and told me how much they loved what I was doing and what a talented artist I was. I just said “thank you” and was friendly and open toward everyone because these were my people. These were people who knew what I was going through because they were there too.  Plus for the afternoon, Blake was there to help break the ice with all these strangers. He’s kind of a social butterfly.

It was during the bingo and mani/pedi sessions that I made friends with Amy, whose name was easy to remember because she had the same name as my close friend who had the same name. She has schizophrenia and was hearing voices when I talked to her but she couldn’t articulate what they were saying. Her case was special because the medications that kept her schizophrenia under control affected her heart condition, so it was a delicate balance she had to maintain to pretty much stay alone. She was a super sweet girl who asked me Monday morning if she could bring me back anything from the food court downstairs because she had privileges to go down there. I wanted to barf my guts up so I gave her money and asked her to get me a ginger ale, which she did and I was so grateful for because it made me feel slightly better. She was just a super nice, sweet person who liked to be useful. In fact, she was helping Clayton the social worker orchestrate these extra special group activities on the long weekend. There were other people at the bingo game but I’m not all that into bingo, so I mostly tuned it out and kept drawing.

Also during the mani/pedi group, I met Hurricane Sonya who was manic pretty much the entire time I was there and somehow talked me into braiding her thick blonde hair into a fishtail, which I hadn’t done on anyone since I was like, 11 years old, and Jason who came in later, a paranoid schizophrenic who was interesting to talk to but who stayed away from me after he asked me and Blake if we thought there were any correlation between vaccinations and mental illness and we both pointed out examples of mental illnesses existing way before vaccines.

All day Sunday, I sat in the art room drawing and socializing and was told 100 more times by 20 people what a great artist I was, which felt good and validating admittedly, but inside I was still so shell-shocked by the fact that this time I actually swallowed the pills instead of just thinking about it, which is something I really, honestly didn’t think I was even capable of doing again because when I did it the 2nd time when I was 15 and landed in Whitby Psychiatric Hospital for a few weeks, I hated being there so much (but loved being away from all the chaos that was my home life) that I vowed never to end up in a place like that ever again by my own hand and for 21 years, I had stuck to it. (2006 didn’t count because that was out of my control, but this time I did it to myself.)

Sunday evening after Blake left, some new patients came in and that’s when I met Malachi and Sharon.

I heard Malachi before I saw him. After drawing all day, I went back to my room to lay down for a little while around dinner time and when I was half awake, I could hear this voice in the hallway outside my room that reminded me of the trans character “Nomi” from the Netflix show “Sense 8”, so I thought, oh, maybe we have a transwoman now, but when I went into the art room for the evening and tall, slight, red-haired, bespectacled Malachi introduced himself and started telling me about the troubles he’d been having with his new wife’s family and the police, which was how he got where we were. From what I could gather, he’d had some kind of mental meltdown of some sort in the apartment he shared with his wife and he broke some of their dishes in the process. During that, not knowing what else to do, his mother-in-law called the police on him and the police charged him – for breaking his own dishes, in his own apartment – with something like “domestic mischief” I think he said, and because the police put it down as a domestic dispute when it was a mental health call, Malachi is not allowed to have any contact with his own wife or live in his own home until after his court date. Due to this, he and his wife wouldn’t be celebrating their 1st wedding anniversary together and he was pretty upset. I didn’t ask how old this kid was but there was no way he was older than 23 and he worked at WalMart.

It was also Sunday night that I met Sharon. I don’t know what her diagnosis was but both she and Malachi came from another psychiatric facility somewhere. Blake told me he noticed tons of scars on her wrists so that’s all I know. She reminded me in looks like Peppermint Patty. She had medium-length reddish brown hair and spoke so quiet and low, it was almost a mumble, but with effort you could understand her. She watched me draw for 2 days and told me multiple times that I had to figure out a way to make some money from my drawings. Most of the people there, except for Rich and Malachi, weren’t “internet people” so to speak. I tried to explain Patreon to them after Sharon suggested that and a bunch of folks agreed with her but I don’t think they really understood what I was talking about. No one had ever heard of “crowdfunding”, let alone its pitfalls.

Sharon and Sonya had been in the same psychiatric facility 4 times but this was the first time they were ever spending any time together and the two of them were like the dynamic duo, with Sonya being loud and manic and flagrant and Sharon following her around trying to keep her calm and quiet.

Sonya was loud and probably the ward’s biggest personality. She was honest and had even less filters than I do. She’d been to jail. She used to be addicted to crack. She was depressed before she came there. She had kids, lost kids, had her tubes clipped and unclipped and had another baby who was now 13 years old and Sonya really wanted me to draw something for her daughter’s birthday, which I said I’d do but really meant I’d get Blake to bring in copies of the more kid-friendly colouring pages I’d done, which we did on Monday.

Monday was much like Sunday except that the art room wasn’t open until 9am and I woke up at 7. Breakfast was at 7:30. I felt confident enough in having new buddies that I’d have somewhere to sit in the dining room so I went down during breakfast and sat with Amy and her roommate whose name I *think* was Deborah, and who was literally the most beautiful older lady I’ve ever seen in my whole entire life. When I sat down, they were discussing the fact that the night before, Amy, in a dead sleep, got 3 tea biscuits from one of her drawers and ate them all sitting on the side of her bed and then just fell back into bed and slept for the rest of the night. She was really freaked out, as I think I would be too. Deborah noticed that I have “Sunny” engraved in the arms of my glasses like a giant nerd and asked me about it, so I explained to her that in my day to day life, the only people who called me by my real name was my mother and doctors. She told me she liked my glasses and I told her I got them for like, $6 on the internet which sort of left her speechless.

After breakfast I went back to my room because the art room still wasn’t open and I talked with Kimmie about coming into the art room and colouring mandalas while I drew, which she ended up doing for maybe an hour but just after lunch she had a meltdown and needed some time to herself so I just stayed in the art room and, you guessed it, kept drawing, and talking to people and hearing what a great artist I was. I met a new girl there who had OCD and couldn’t stop coming into the art room, getting agitated by its messiness, cleaning it for 10 minutes, going away and coming back to do the same thing. She didn’t want to talk about how long she’d been there but what I gathered from Rich was that they were both in the acute part of the ward when they first arrived, meaning that at one point they were both pretty messed up, and she helped him navigate his way out of there and onto the main floor. The only other thing she volunteered about herself was that she was planning to move to Sweden or Switzerland, whichever one is closer to Italy, when she got out of there.

Monday afternoon when Blake came to visit me, he brought with him ginger ale, sushi, a beef teriyaki bento and spring rolls from my favourite restaurant in case I felt like eating anything that wouldn’t hurt me too much and my big black portfolio, which I asked him to bring because I knew I had one copy of each colouring page I’d done so far for patrons inside it, but I wasn’t sure if he’d be able to tell the copies from the originals and I wanted to give the copies to Sonya for her daughter myself. Also inside my portfolio were two large drawings of my girls that were originally going to be paintings, but I never finished them and I gave those to Sonya too because she seemed to be the most enthusiastic about them and I knew I’d never finish them. I encouraged her to do so, though. This was after I decided I didn’t want the Japanese food and started offering it to anyone who came in the art room. The OCD girl had a few pieces of vegetable tempura but wouldn’t take the rest, so I put notes on it all that said what it was and “plz eat me!” and I carried it all to the hallway where I encountered Sonya who asked what I was doing and when I offered her the food, she was like, “fuck yeah”. She ate most of it and shared a lot of it with other patients and told us when she sat in the art room to finish the bento that she had never had Japanese food before and that that was probably the healthiest meal she’d ever had in her entire life and I’d completely believed it.

After Blake left on Monday evening, I went to my room to check on Kimmie and she had just come from having a shower and was in her pajamas. I had told her previously that her ticket to getting out of there was to be out of her room as much as she was comfortable with and to participate in scheduled activities as much as she was able, which was unfortunately difficult because it was the long weekend and nothing was scheduled. She asked me if I would go to dinner with her and then go to the TV room to watch a movie with her because apparently they had found the remotes and we could do that now. The hospital had a bunch of VHS movies and she wanted to find a comedy and just forget about her life for a little while. So I told her we could do this. The TV room had a table and chairs that I could use to draw at while we watched a movie.

Well, when we got to the TV room, there were two guys watching that “48 Hours” show so we sat there and watched too, figuring when it was over, we’d ask them if they minded if we switched to a movie and then do that. Well, when the show was over, another episode started and it was apparent neither man was interested in changing the channel, so Kimmie and I sat through another episode of the show. After that one, both men left and it was about 5 minutes to 9pm, so I told Kimmie that she should pick a movie quick before they came back because if we started a movie right then, we’d have enough time to watch the whole thing before they closed down the room for the night. She chose “Patch Adams” and then she asked me if I knew how to put a movie on. I confessed I did not, but suggested we just try putting the tape in the VHS machine and seeing if it played automatically and if it didn’t, one of us would get a nurse to help us.

Before we even had a chance to try that, the 2 men from before came back in while Kimmie was in the middle of the room holding a VHS tape and looking at me and they sat down to watch the next episode of the “48 Hours” marathon. Kimmie looked at me like, “you ask them” and I looked at her the same way and we were both too chicken shit to assert ourselves with these men to get what we wanted so she laid on the couch and we both just watched another episode instead. And then another. And then it was time to go to bed.

I dreamt of war, which is typical. I always dream about war.

Tuesday morning Kimmie and I woke up around the same time, about 7am and we both got up and got dressed; her in a pink tank top and grey track pants and me in my lightweight, blackish hoodie and t-shirt of the same colour that said, “LESS CRAP MORE RAP” and my requisite yoga pants. See, me and Rich were having an unspoken “t-shirts that say stuff” war so that’s why I wore the 3 specific shirts I mention in this post. One of his shirts said “IT’S ALL ABOUT ME” and another had a list of negative things he was, like, “irresponsible”, and it ended with “…but a lot of fun.”. Not sure who won the war but I kinda think it was me because he ended up asking me where I got mine from in the end since all 3 shirts were made by the same Etsy shop.

Breakfast was late so everyone was milling about in the hallways or hovering around their doorways. Kimmie and I just sat on our beds and chatted about stuff and then all of a sudden from the hallway came this perfect female voice singing one of the songs from “Phantom of the Opera” at full volume and then a few seconds later a 2nd one joins her in perfect harmony. Kimmie and I rushed to the door to peek into the hallway to see who it was and it was this young girl who attempted suicide and who only left her room a few times that I was there and who also wore the same white lace dress every single time she did, and another lady who had grey hair. In the hour that breakfast was delayed, these two women entertained the entire ward with more songs from “Phantom” and I just kinda sat there thinking how surreal this all was. I was sitting in a hospital being serenaded before breakfast by mental patients! Who would believe this?

When breakfast finally arrived, Kimmie and I sat with Deborah, the beautiful lady with the pink cast, and the older lady who had been singing. Deborah asked me if I would write down the name of the company I got my glasses from, so I pulled out one of these little cards I just keep on me for writing little things down that has like, sunflowers and designs on it, just a little 3 x 4 inch card, and Deborah remarked about how cute they were and showed the other lady and explained what the company was, that they could get prescription glasses for less than $10 that looked no different from the ones you spend $200 on from the optometrist, so I wrote out a card for that lady too.

After breakfast I went to my room where I saw my doctor who had just gotten out of a staff meeting with the weekend staff and he asked me if I was suicidal. I said “no”. He then asked me if I wanted to go home, to which I said “yes” and he said, “okay I’ll go write the order, what prescriptions do you need?” So I told him and off he went. When I was admitted to Georgian Bay General, I was admitted on a 48 hour “form”, which was extended by 3 more days when I got to RVH and on Sunday they told me that if I stayed as a voluntary patient for a few more days, I could go home as soon as Wednesday or Thursday, so getting out on Tuesday was amazing to me and I was excited. (In hindsight, I’m not entirely sure I was ready to leave…)

Since the weekend was over, there were group sessions planned for the day on the big whiteboard in the hallway. The first one of the day was about “The Importance of Leisure”, which sounded pretty irrelevant to me but I went anyway because that’s how you get yourself out of somewhere like that and it seemed like what I should be doing so that’s what Kimmie and I did. Partway through the session, my nurse called me out of it and said that I should call my husband to come pick me up because at about 1:15pm, he would be done processing my release and I would be free to go. So that’s what I did. (Did you know it’s now 50 friggin’ cents to make a local call from a payphone and that if you give it a loonie ($1 coin), it won’t give you change? What kinda fuckery is that!?) Then I went back to the group room, finished that, then started telling people I was leaving and getting my stuff packed up.

I was sitting in my room with Kimmie looking at Mark Ryden’s giant “Pinxit” book that I got myself for my birthday this year but never had a chance to look at until I was faced with a whole lotta spare time to fill up, and we were just chatting when this blonde lady in a floral dress came in, introduced herself as Sandra and that she was a social worker. She asked Kimmie if she’d leave the room so she did and then Sandra started talking about what was going to happen after I was released. The Simcoe Children’s Aid was going to be involved because it was a domestic dispute about the cat and a shitty cop that led to this whole thing and that was just what happened automatically in situations where there’s been trauma in a family. When she asked me who my shrink was on the outside, I told her that I didn’t technically have one at the time because the mental health centre I go to in Midland was giving us the run around as far as getting me a new shrink after having serious issues with the one I had previously (who was new and came in after the shrink I’d been seeing for 8 years retired), passing us off from person to person. She said that was unacceptable and to come to her office, so I did, and there she got on the phone with the mental health centre and got me an appointment with a new shrink in September within about 15 minutes. One that even has a therapy dog in her office, which is already an excellent start. Then she got the social worker assigned to our family from the Children’s Aid on speaker phone and a home visit to talk to us all was arranged for the next day. Then she gave me the brochure and contact info for Catholic Family Services where I can apparently get free therapy, which we’re going to set up tomorrow because obviously I need it since I have no idea why or how things got to this point.

After that, Sandra walked me back to the hallway where my room was, wished me good luck and I thanked her for accomplishing in ½ an hour what’s been taking us months to get nowhere. When I started down the hall to go back to my room, I was like, “wtf?” because all my crazy hospital friends were sitting on the floor outside my room along the walls talking with Blake. They looked just as confused to see me because they thought I was in the room with the social worker with the door closed the whole time! I’d asked Blake to bring me about 30 of my plastic business cards that have photos of about a dozen of my different paintings on them like little artist trading cards with all my info on the back and I pointed out the e-mail address to every single one of them and said “please use that”. I got my hugs and said my goodbyes and be goods and then Blake and I walked out of the building, stopping to get a cold Diet Coke before leaving the building.

When we got to the car I loaded my vaporizer with cannabis and began to medicate while Blake and I talked and drove around until eating seemed like a good idea. I got a turkey sandwich from QuizYES but my stomach was shrunken so I only ate about ¼ of it.

When I got home the first thing I did was go to Wes, my 12 year old son, who was sitting at the computer playing Minecraft and I hugged him from behind for a long time and we just cried and I told him that I was sorry for doing that to him and I promised that I would never do that again as long as he lived.

Then I went into my office and got on the ground to say hi to each of my dogs who you could tell had really missed me and they weren’t sure how to be with me. Hoover just hung his head down and let me cry on his shoulder and Lucky licked the tears from my face before having enough of that nonsense and rolled over for a belly rub.

Wes came into my office and we talked a little bit about where I’d been. I asked him if he wanted to know everything that happened and he said he was good with knowing just what he knew but he confessed he had a pretty good idea of what I did.

I was so forlorn and fragile and scared and overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do so I asked Wes if he wanted to go play with the Polaroid camera with me so we went outside and wasted a pack of film. Then he decided to go back to playing Minecraft with his friends just as Blake was getting off of work (he works from home a lot). When he was done, I asked if we could go for a drive because I was just so fucked up trying to process everything that had happened and even though I’d only been out of the hospital for maybe 4 hours, I already wanted to go back and was missing my hospital friends and wondering what they were doing. I needed to calm down and like I said earlier, going for a drive usually calms me.

It’s now the end of day one of being out of the hospital. We navigated the Children’s Aid visit today successfully and the social worker dude is a really nice, understanding guy who is more than welcome to be all up in my business. I gave him my consent to talk to my family doctor and my psychiatrist after I talk to her in September and he told me that he’d actually heard really good things about her so that was reassuring. He also advocated for Catholic Family Services counseling.

So that’s the story up until now. Thursday (tomorrow) I get one day to breathe and then on Friday I have to deal with the police and the court and the charge(s?) being brought against me.

Y’know when you get so mad at your husband you want to kill him and you tell him so but you’d obviously never really do it? Yeah, don’t casually admit to that in front of a certain type of cop because guess what! Admitting out loud that you’d like to murder anyone is a crime in Canada and not just a phrase and Friday I have to go to the police station to turn myself in to be formally charged with whatever they end up charging me with and then they’ll escort me to the courthouse where there’s a special court for mentally ill people and I’ll meet my lawyer who we chose because she had her dogs on her “About Me” page on her website and she’s theoretically going to do all the talking for me. Blake’s going post bail if there is any. The judge could throw the charges out completely or they could stick and I’ll have a criminal record. I’ve never been in trouble with the police before and was clearly not in my right mind so the odds of anything serious happening to me like jail time or even anything other than the counseling and stuff that’s already in place is pretty slim, but being separated from Blake and going through the booking and mugshot process and being detained and in court all by myself is going to be traumatic for me considering I can’t even walk to the end of my driveway to get the newspaper or go to the grocery store or even talk to my own shrink by myself, and the bad cop from the day I tried to kill myself, the person who was the very tipping point for me to say “fuck it, let’s do this” and swallow 100 pills by his escalating the situation and being a power trippy bear instead of a compassionate human being responding to a mentally Ill person under duress, is probably going to be there to purposely work against me.

So that’s what happened and where I am. It is now 12:14am Thursday morning and I’m about to open an internet browser to engage in my own form of ASMR while still ignoring the 396 e-mails in my inbox and the 227 Facebook notifications I have according to my phone because I just can’t deal with that right now but hopefully I can start the cleanup process when I wake up. I’m not sure when I’m going to be ready to communicate 1-on-1 with people because I’m scared people are judging me and looking down on me and secretly (or hell, openly) wishing the pills had been successful. I’m scared that by telling the world that the Children’s Aid is involved with my family that people will assume I’m white trash and this is just yet another dramatic saga of my pathetic, trainwreck life. I’m scared because I know that no matter how much my friends are going to want to be there for me, I really don’t think any of them have ever been in a situation this fucked up. I mean, everyone has their stuff, but in all my years of talking openly about my depression and persistent suicidal thoughts on the internet and social media, not one person I know has been able to really say, “yeah, I know how you feel” so expecting anyone to be like that now is just dumb. And even the ones who try…they’ve all known me for over 15 years and in that time, they’ve seen me have two major mental health issues requiring hospitalization as an adult. I can’t say the same for almost any of them and trying to commit suicide for real, as an adult making a completely rational decision, is a whole other animal entirely.

The Children’s Aid social worker, named Anthony, when I told him some of my fears about being a bad mom on so many levels and being judged by everyone, just said, “you would be shocked if you knew how many and what kind of families we are involved with” so I’m taking him at his word, that sometimes shit just gets fucked up and you need outside help to clean up the mess and do better. And that’s where I am right now: at the mercy of kind people and in the process of starting from scratch and building my mental strength back up – again – just like I had to do in 2006. Even though I said I wasn’t suicidal yesterday and promised Wes I would never go that far again, there’s still a large part of me that wishes the pills would have just worked because what’s ahead seems so impossible for me to overcome or even get through. Blake says the goal now is to feel grateful that the pills didn’t work and most of me is already there but the framework’s pretty shaky.

So far I’ve only been able to message my two best friends to tell them that I’m home and that I love them and that I’m sorry. (And that I can’t deal with the internet or deal with time periods longer than 24 hours.) Blake’s been keeping my boss mostly in the loop but mental illness is pretty outside of her scope just culturally, I think. My well-being seems to be her first priority though and she said she had my shifts covered for 2 weeks last week so there is no real pressure to come back right away. (I work from home doing customer service for a large website.) I was aiming for Saturday because that’s usually the most fun work day of my week, but also the longest so I think I’ve pretty much decided against it, especially considering I may be traumatized from the day prior. Sunday and Monday are my normal days off so I think I’m going to aim to get back to work on Tuesday when my work week would typically start at 5am my time. I decided in the hospital that I was going to talk to my boss about maybe starting an hour or two later than I usually do and just work 2 less hours per day than I did before all of this happened. Work was 100% not even remotely a factor in any of this. I love my job. I get validation at my job because I’m good at my job and my life typically revolves around my job, medication and proper sleep just to maintain sanity. I’m scared my boss is going to see me as unreliable or as the weakest link and somehow inferior to who I was before all this happened. That I wasn’t really deserving of the extra praise and responsibilities she gave me a few months ago or that she’d think that very thing caused me too much stress and that’s why I did what I did. I dunno. I have to e-mail her but I don’t want to until I can give her a firm, committed date for when I’m coming back.

And now I think I have to be done writing this, send it into the world, and let it be whatever it may be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(*originally they were going to send me to Penetanguishene Psychiatric Hospital which is just NO NO NO. I was lucky as fuck not to go there.)

 

August 24, 2012

The Problem With Instagram

Oooooh this is so not going to win me any friends but just this week alone I’ve had this argument 3 different times in 3 different places where none of the participants knew each other or could participate in the discussion of it together so I decided I’d write a post about it. So here we go.  (And this is extra funny/frustrating because I have a policy about arguing on the internet: it’s VERY rare that I bother. I have no idea why this drives me so fucking bonkers.)

First let me say that my issue with Instagram is not with the app itself, it’s with the vast majority of its users who believe that taking mediocre photos with their iPhones and applying one of a handful of premade filters that 10 million other people are also using makes them some sort of photographic Instagram-using genius. If that’s not you, then stop getting offended, I’m not talking about you! I’m talking about the girls on my Facebook feed who take perfectly okay pictures of their infants and apply filters to them that make them look like their babies were born in the 70s. YOU’RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE LADIES, I KNOW BETTER! In fact, it was that very thing that made me block the Instagram app on Facebook on the first or second day it even existed. In just those 24 hours, people were abusing it left, right and center.

And this is where you whine at me and tell me I’m being a snob, that art is subjective blah blah fucking blah.  Well, I give you that and raise you a Jean-Luc Picard:


(Note that this is not art either!)

The problem with Instagram ARTISTES (note: not you, probably) is that there’s zero skill involved. “Oh honey,” I hear you saying. “I had to frame it and focus it and blah blah fucking blah.” Okay well, your phone doesn’t have manual focus so there goes most of your argument* and yeah, your framing can be fantastic but if you take that much thought in composing your image, why would you INTENTIONALLY make it look shittier and like everyone else’s by applying a premade filter? The same filter used by 10 million other users who could take the exact same photo you just took and who could reproduce it IDENTICALLY by using said premade filters? There is no skill in that! If 10 million people can reproduce your “art” identically – and by that I mean creating ORIGINALS as opposed to duplicates or prints – where no one, not even an expert could tell them apart, then you’re not much of an artiste then, are you? (Blake argues with me on this point, so I’ll just say that this is my opinion, take it for what it’s worth: practically nothing.)

And maybe I’m being a snob. That is entirely possible, maybe even probable and I’m fine with that. I just think that you have to earn the label of “artist” by making art and Instagram is not it. In my opinion.

“Oh but Instagram levels the playing field and makes everyone artistes!” No, sorry, no dice. Just don’t even. It makes everyone’s amateur photographs look exactly the same: like shit. That’s all. All of your Instagram pics are common, not unique. Instagram may have been an art tool in the beginning for the “pioneers” who discovered and nurtured it but now even their photos look exactly like everyone else’s who is using Instagram.

Granted, some people use Instagram to make *some* pictures look pretty incredible. Better than the originals. But that is the very rare exception, not the rule and that’s not what I’m talking about either. My beef with Instagram really boils down to the fact that every Instagram photo looks pretty much the same. They are not unique and you are not a unique and special snowflake because you’re using it. You are not an artiste.

And here’s where you say “how is this any different than using a Polaroid with filters? SUNNY, YOU POLAROID USER, YOU!” and here’s where I tell you:

Using analog equipment to take a decent photograph takes SKILL. I fucking challenge you to take the same Polaroid picture twice. You can’t do it. I’ve been playing with Polaroid for a couple of months now and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is absolutely impossible to take the same Polaroid picture twice. And if you can? THEN YOU HAVE SKILL AND YOU CAN CALL YOURSELF A PHOTOGRAPHER. And for the record, the filters for (the current crop of) Polaroids suck. The lenses are okay but the filters are pretty useless. In my amateur opinion. My point though is that taking a decent picture with a Polaroid camera takes skill. Creating your average Instagram photo, by the average Instagram user, does not.  And the thing with Polaroids…well, there’s really a few schools of thought but I’m talking about my own personal opinion here, is that the whole entire point of using your run-of-the-mill Polaroid camera (as opposed to large format or the super expensive pro Polaroids) is to use a low-fi piece of technology to create something that looks high-fi. (I’m probably using “hi-fi” incorrectly but I don’t know its equivalent when talking about photography because I’m an AMATEUR. Why do people take such offence at being called what they are****? Anyway…) In doing so, you are showing off your photography skills and believe me, it is a skill because taking good Polaroids is really fucking hard, at least with the model I have. Even with all the fancy lenses.

(But hey, if you want to use an analog camera to take crappy looking pictures on purpose, that’s a whole *thing”. It’s called Lomography. There’s TONS of it on Etsy and some of it is pretty cool. But again, there’s skill involved in getting the kind of shot you want. You have to know the intricacies of your camera and film.)

And here’s where I use Charlie as my example: He uses his iPhone to take really great, high-res looking photos. That’s a whole *thing* too y’know, using a (relatively, compared to an actual DSLR) low-fi piece of equipment to take high-fi images. Take a look at iPhoneography. Then note the difference between most of those pics, taken with the same iPhone you have in your pocket, and your shitty Instagram “originals”. Now you tell me which ones are art and which ones are…I don’t even know what because they are so distorted I can barely tell what they are actually supposed to be.

“Hey cuntface! How is using Instagram any different than using Photoshop!”

Oh my sweet little bunny. There’s a couple of differences and a couple of similarities. There is NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER in using a premade Instagram filter and a premade (that you didn’t make yourself) Photoshop Action. Again, in my opinion. Some Photoshop Actions are more like tools than filters though, so I can see how some might argue that they’re a little bit different, but the ones I have are from the Pioneer Woman and with the exception of maybe 3 of them, they’re all made to basically make your photos look “cool”. The difference, however, is that you’re using PHOTOSHOP on a computer and NOT INSTAGRAM on a phone so even if you did use one of the Pioneer Woman’s premade Actions? If you have some ARTISTIC SKILL, you can tweak the end result pretty endlessly. The Action just saves you some time. (And for the record, being an AMATEUR, I do not possess great Photoshop skills. The only photo I really ever tweaked with an action and then by hand was this one, of the dead rabbit, and quite frankly I’m pretty proud if it because I did it all by myself. I did do a post when I first discovered Actions showing them off, but I don’t really count those as anything because I was…showing off the Actions on purpose.**)

Anyway…mostly I find Instagram baffling. Why on Earth would you take a decent photo and then make it look crappier on purpose? Blake says “well it looks crappier to YOU!” and that’s true, art is subjective after all, right? But like I’ve been saying throughout this entire rant, this is just my OPINION. The reason I’m even writing this, like I also said, is because I’ve been arguing about the merits of Instagram all week and I figured I should put my thoughts all in one place so I can just point people to this post for future reference. I do not, I repeat: I DO NOT, want to argue about Instagram anymore. I’m done. These are my feelings. This is not an argument. This is not a discussion. (okay maybe it can be a bit of a discussion, but I’m not spending all day at the computer again today.) I should probably just turn comments off and leave it at that but I’m not going to, feel free to post your own thoughts about Instagram, photography, art in general and whatnot, but know that I’m probably not going to argue with you.

 What I guess I’ll leave off with is that most of my actual friends*** don’t abuse the shit out of Instagram. And I’d rather look at an “artsy” picture than a normal one some of the time. I mean, like I said, some people use Instagram to enhance their photos and it works out, my main issue when it comes to my friends is when it distorts photos needlessly or makes normal snapshots look arty for no reason. For example (and I’m sorry to the person who just posted this, if you’re reading this, I’m not meaning to single you out which is why I’m not going to say who you are) someone on my Twitter feed just posted an Instagram picture of a new pair of earrings she bought. It’s a picture of her hand holding up the earrings on the plastic card thing they came on. Was it really necessary to “enhance” that picture by adding a blurry border to it? I mean, there’s nothing WRONG with doing that and the person who did it is not calling herself an “artiste” or anything like that, I guess I just don’t understand the point in taking all those extra steps to “enhance” a photo in a way that’s completely (to me) unnecessary. The earrings look the same with or without the border. In fact the border actually (to me) detracts from the photo’s purpose of showing off my friend’s new earrings because all I can think about when I look at that photo is “why?” And that’s pretty much why I blocked Instagram from my Facebook newsfeed in the first place.

Oh and one more thing before I end this post that’s probably going to get me flamed to hell and back: Instagram does have a silver-lining, I think. In arguing about it during the past week, a few of my pro-Instagram friends have admitted that they really only use it because they’re lazy but that Instagram has made them more interested in “real” photography. One friend said they were planning on dusting off their DSLR and learning how to use it. If she actually does, that’s a good thing! (And I also think that a good portion of my friends who do use Instagram are also using it because they’re lazy and/or Instagram is just handier than bringing a DSLR everywhere. I get that. I do. They’re capable of so much more though, which is another reason why I kinda find the rampant use of Instagram so disappointing.)

And I think that’s it. *braces self for impact*

(*I had a friend argue with me that iPhones have manual focus. I don’t, nor would I ever, have an iPhone so I have no idea if it actually has manual focus or if she’s just talking about zoom. If it has manual focus I stand corrected on that point, but you aren’t able to adjust depth of field so neener neener neener.)

(**Actually, I think I tweaked this one with an Action too but I forget and can’t find the original. I’m pretty positive I was lazy with that one and didn’t tweak it after applying the Action though. And I guess I like taking pictures of dead things.)

(***As opposed to Facebook acquaintances.)\

(****Originally I wrote “being called a fucking spade”, which Charlie said was racist. I didn’t know and had never heard of that. I was talking about the term “calling a spade a spade”, which is a card term, as in the suit in a deck of cards. That term is not racist, but calling someone a “spade” without that context apparently is. At least it is in the US. I’ve changed what I wrote because I didn’t make that distinction in the way I worded it and it wasn’t important to the post anyway, so I apologize if I offended anyone who was wondering why I’d say that. I honestly had no idea there was a distinction to be made.)

August 21, 2012

Nourishing the Muse

So someone rudely informed me recently that I only live my life online and therefore I have no perspective. On life, I’m assuming, this person threw a tantrum and didn’t clarify further. Needless to say, we’re no longer friends. Oh well. Anyway, I don’t live my life online although I can understand why people might think that, I am online a lot, I’m always connected, but so are most of my friends. I don’t see a problem with that, I mean, welcome to my generation (which this person is supposedly a part of but his comments made me wonder if it isn’t he who was the sheltered one, but I’m straying from my point)…anyway, yes, I am agoraphobic and yes, I don’t leave my house as often as most people. I have a job that allows me to work from home and my “outside the house” destinations really boil down to Michael’s, Curry’s and Starbucks. Oh and the beach and the doctor’s office. But I don’t see how those places are any different than anyone else’s. Why would someone who leaves the house more often than me have a better perspective of life than I do when I talk to literally 50 different people per day online and we discuss more intimate things than I would discuss with a stranger on the subway? From my observations, people who leave the house all the time usually keep to themselves. All of my friends who regularly use public transit protect themselves from the other passengers by way of very obvious headphones. Everyone I talk to, or maybe not everyone but the vast majority, goes through their “outside” lives in a bubble with the goal to not engage anyone, so how is their perspectives on life “better” than mine? And since when is this a contest anyway? I think everyone’s perspectives on life are equally valid without exception. To think otherwise would be awfully close-minded and insulting because you’re invalidating a person’s entire life experience. (Which was his point; to be as insulting as possible – I think anyway.)

What made me think of all this is the fact that in the last 24 hours, I have experienced things. I have nourished the muse, filled the well. Probably moreso than the loser who wishes he was a tiger and worships David Hasselhoff, who tried to tell me I’m not as awesome as I feel.

Yesterday Madison made me a BLT on an everything bagel because she loves me. In fact she’s doing it again as I type this and I suppose I’ll write the rest of this while I’m eating. (And chances are, I’ll give half of it to Wes because I can’t eat a whole one by myself. It’s just too much grease for my lack of gallbladder but oh so tasty.) I am so lucky to have a daughter who cares about her family enough to think of them when it comes time to prepare food. I would think most teenagers would only think of themselves and their own needs. Madison is constantly asking me if I need anything and if she can do anything for me to make my day better. For a while I was afraid that she was doing this to like, take care of me because I’m mentally ill or whatever, but I’ve been reassured that it’s just because she loves me. We definitely have a bond that’s different than the bond I have with Wes. Equal but different.

Madison made herself bacon and eggs while she made me my BLT and at the same time, she and Wes are making blueberry and carrot muffins for the whole family. In fact, I wanted bacon and eggs too but after the muffin making, there were only 2 eggs left so that’s why I’m having a BLT – so Madison could have bacon and eggs. After all, she’s doing all the work, she deserves to have the meal she wants. It’s only fair.

Prior to making muffins, the kids were in Madison’s room painting. They hung pieces of wrapping paper backwards on her wall from floor to ceiling and they’re using my paint to paint these sheets of paper. Wes painted nyan cat so far and a planet. Madison’s still sketching out her creation in pencil. She’s definitely more of a planner and Wes is more of a do-er.

Madison likes to plan experiences for all of us, particularly Wes, so I think she should be an event planner when she grows up but she doesn’t know.

Today I had an extra day off because I worked for Belinda last week so she worked my shift for me today. I had said I wasn’t going to be online at all today but I wanted to at least make this post because I feel like so much has happened in the last little while, like quality stuff.

This week Blake is taking a class in Toronto I think to learn something about Oracle. Last night I called his cell because I thought he should be home already but there was no answer and I never leave voicemail so I just hung up and figured he must be in the deadzone near Horseshoe Valley Road. A few minutes later he called me back because he was at the flower shop in Barrie that sells peacock feathers, asking how many he should buy. We decided on 6 because their “eyes” weren’t as big as I had envisioned them in my head. In case you haven’t read my post from a few days ago about peacock feathers, here it is. (Long story short, I’m planning an elaborate painting using them.) I never asked Blake to stop off and get them and I didn’t ask him to pay for them either. I get paid at the end of this week and my plan was to go to that flower shop on Sunday to get them. He beat me to the punch. THAT is what a supportive husband looks like!

I sketched out the peacock painting on the last page of my current sketchbook and I’d scan it to show you but since the feathers’ eyes are smaller than originally anticipated, I’m going to have to alter the design quite a bit. But now that I have the peacock feathers, the next step is to go to the zoo and take Polaroids of actual peacocks. Luckily there’s a zoon in my town, the Elmvale Jungle Zoo, that has peacocks so that won’t be too hard. I would like to go on Sunday but I’m not sure that’ll happen because we’re supposed to go to pow wow with Kara on Sunday but Heatha can’t come and she was Kara’s ride so I’m not sure what’s happening now. I don’t want to go to pow wow without Kara because if I’m going to go, I want a tour guide, so if she can’t come up then we’re not going.

The other thing is that there’s this big Picasso exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario that ends on Sunday and I really really want to go see that because I’ve never been to an art museum in my life and I love Picasso. Or at least what I’ve seen of his work. It’s $25 admission, which I don’t really have to spare, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I think it’s going to win out over pow wow and the zoo because I can go to pow wow next year and the zoo literally any time I want to, it’s just up the road. Also I think Alex wants to go to pow wow with us too but she’s going to a convention of some sort so maybe waiting until next year when she can come is a better idea anyway.

For someone so sheltered who doesn’t get out much, I certainly have a bit of a scheduling conflict!

I still haven’t tested varnishing Polaroids but I took a ton of really awful, blurry shots yesterday because I was using the tele lens when I should have been using the macro so I’ll use those to test it out. What I was taking pictures of and why is actually sort of exciting! Or at least I think so!

So I haven’t totally worked out the whole painting yet, but I want to do a painting with a fairy girl with monarch butterfly wings and she’d be holding a Polaroid picture of a monarch caterpillar! So that’s what we were taking Polaroids of yesterday when Blake got home from work. To be totally honest, I’m not so great with the Polaroid but Blake, despite his hate of the camera and low-fi photography in general, is like a goddamn Polaroid whisperer. When I’m struggling to get a shot and wasting film, he can just take the picture and have it be fine. What a dick, eh? Regardless, I now have like, 12 pictures, both blurry and nice, of monarch caterpillars.

I also have 3 monarch caterpillars sitting in a tank on my desk. :o)

They were born in my milkweed patch (which I grow for this reason, milkweed is all monarch butterflies eat) and I would say that they’re a few weeks old judging by the size of them. In about a week and a half, they’ll stop eating and crawl to the top of the tank and hang upside down, forming a “J” shape with their bodies. Then their skin will split (it’s actually pretty gross) and they’ll form into bright green chrysalids with a gold line around the top.

Then in about another week & a half to 2 weeks or so, the chrysalids will turn transparent and the butterflies will emerge. At first their wings will be wet and all crinkled up so the butterflies will pump their wings to straighten them out and to pump blood into them while they dry out. At this point, in the wild, the butterflies would be extremely vulnerable to predators because they can’t fly yet. Monarch butterflies are poisonous to some birds but not all, from what I’ve read, but I don’t know which birds actually eat them. I know lots of birds eat the caterpillars though, while only a few eat the actual butterflies.

It’ll take a few days for the butterflies to actually be able to fly and at that point we’ll take them outside and let them crawl on our hands until they’r ready to fly away. I always wait until this point in the summer to hand raise the caterpillars because it’s their last generation of the summer and these ones won’t have a short life like previous generations of the same summer and they’ll make their migration to Mexico for the winter. What I’m not totally sure of is if these butterflies will go to Mexico and then return to Canada in the spring or if they fly to Mexico, lay eggs and die and then THOSE new butterflies fly back to Canada. I googled a few years ago when I started doing this but the internet wasn’t clear on that point.

The kids can tell the caterpillars apart, but I can’t and they’ve named them. Madison made this handy chart to tell them apart but they still all look the same to me. Apparently all of them but “Sniffer” are females according to Madison’s google fu but I don’t see this supposed line on their butts that’s how you apparently tell their sex.

Wes named Sniffer and Madison named the other 2.  I forget what Tozzo means (it’s Italian for something, “stubby” maybe) but Rubigo apparently means “caterpillar” in Latin.

Here are pictures of our current house guests:

Aren’t they gorgeous? I love them so so much and so do the kids. I wonder if they can feel our love? Y’know like how dogs can supposedly smell fear? Do you think animals or creatures in general can sense love?

Right now I’m reading The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice and it’s obviously about a werewolf. In it he can smell fear and innocence and he can sniff out people who mean harm. I realize it’s fiction, but I’ve often wondered like, when I’m loving my dogs, do they know that’s what I’m doing? The cat sure doesn’t. She doesn’t appreciate kitty lovins. However, if I’m “torturing” the cat by holding her in my arms and petting her and rubbing my face on her head, none of which she likes because I’m holding her, if I set her down on the ground she doesn’t take off and hide from me. She’ll lay there so I can love her how she wants to be loved. So maybe she does know that I’m loving her and not torturing her or being mean to her. With Lucky, even if you’re telling HOOVER what a good dog he is, Lucky’s tail will be wagging. So I think they know or can sense it. I’m sure studies have been done on this, I just haven’t read them.

Speaking of The Wolf Gift, I’ve gotta say I’m thoroughly enjoying it and I really didn’t think I would because I’ve never had any interest in werewolves. I’ve read almost every book Anne Rice has ever written (I couldn’t get into her angel books, but I did try!) and it really bummed me out when she stopped writing the Vampire Chronicles (but I understood why) and found God instead because that’s just so fucking boring. Her Jesus books were alright and from what I understand pretty historically accurate and well researched but if I wanted to read about Jesus, I’d read the bible. But because she wrote them, I read them and just thought she could do better. Then when she announced she’d be writing about werewolves, I was like, “whhhhhy Annie, whyyyyyyy?” but she’d done a really good job of creating a character who you can’t help but care about. I’m about halfway through the book and so far so good. I recently discovered the disgusting joy that is cheddar cheese flavoured pretzel Combos so I’ve been eating those and reading most evenings lately.

On Monday I had to get up early for good ol’ Cheryl who had to come and change my dressing. We’re using silver on it to keep the infection down but the dressing isn’t waterproof so once again I can’t shower. :o( Dr. Hanrahan ordered waterproof bandages with silver in them but my homecare nurses claim they can’t get them so I’m stuck with Aquacell AG which looks like felt and you can’t get it wet or it deteriorates and it sticks to the scab and ribs it off so healing is slow and then gauze on top, taped on with clear surgical tape that I stole from the hospital. I’m not happy about this. They’ve ordered waterproof bandages that we can use in combination with the awful Aquacell AG but they haven’t come yet. Cheryl says I might not be able to go swimming this year at all with how this last bit of wound is healing. What happened to me being Wolverine?

Sex the other day went okay painwise during the actual act but at 3am that night, I woke up in excruciating stomach muscle pain and I had to come into my office to take 4 Tylenol 1s and an extra strength Ibuprofen and I had to wait until they had kicked in before I could go back to sleep. The next day I couldn’t figure out what I must have done to make my pain WORSE than it was a week ago and that’s when Jax reminded me that Blake and I had had the relations the day before and that’s the only thing it could have been. I was sure if we did it doggy-style it would be okay because that doesn’t really engage those muscles but apparently I was mistaken. :o/ Now at night when I turn over, I practically cry because the pain is so bad.

In a week and a half I have to start weaning off from the hydromorph and I have no idea how I’m going to manage that with the pain the way it is. If I’d have understood what Dr. Hanrahan was saying when she said I had to “make the decision” to stop them, I would have spoken up about my pain levels. But she didn’t really ask about my pain and I thought when she said I had to “make the decision” she meant when *I* thought it was time to do so. Blake and my mom assure me that was not the case so because I misunderstood, I have to start weaning in a week and a half. Way to go genius.

On September 18th, Mother Mother will be releasing their new album called “The Sticks” and I am so fucking excited I can barely stand it! I wish it was coming out sooner so I could bring it with me to Squam but at least it’ll be a nice thing to come home to anyway. Here’s them doing “Dread in My Heart” on a porch somewhere for some magazine or radio station or something. I don’t know if it’s their song or a cover or if it’s even going to be on the new album, but I really hope so because I’ve heard them do it a few times now and I really love it:

My big project this week is decorating the cover of my new sketchbook because my old one got full and I need one for my 2nd class at Squam. (Well, I obviously need one anyway, but it’s in the material list for Squam too.) So far the cover has a layer of white gesso, metallic pink acrylic paint, crackle medium and white paint over top which is pretty much the beginning of every painting I do. I think my colour scheme is just going to be pink and turquoise like I do everything but I’m going to try using fabric for the girl on the cover’s dress instead of paper because that way I can (theoretically) use pink for her dress without it turning orange when I varnish it. The unfortunate part of doing that is that I’m going to have to locate my iron and find a dog hair-free place to iron the fabric. The last time I used my iron I was making crayon hearts like a million years ago so chances are I’m going to have to clean the iron too so I don’t get crayon wax on my fabric. Getting crayon wax out of the little holes at the bottom of an iron is extremely difficult. I guess I’ll have to use Q-Tips!

Blake just texted me that he’s been to Michael’s and has procured me a brand new, 8 oz. bottle of Titanium White Americana paint so when he gets home, I’ll be good to go to start working on these new paintings, the ones with the Polaroids.

Anyway, I said I wasn’t going to be online today and it’s taken me a couple of hours to write this post so I guess I’ll wrap it up and get back to my sketchbook. I hope you’re all having a fantastic Tuesday!

Edit (9pm): Two of the caterpillars are hanging upside down in a J-shape! We should have chrysalids by morning! Guess I underestimated their age!

July 16, 2012

Polaroid 300 Camera With Holga Fisheye Lens (and other things)

Yesterday was a good day.

Yesterday afternoon, Ronny and Alex came over and Charlie and Blake cooked us all steaks, potatoes and baked beans for dinner, which was awesome. (Except I didn’t have beans because beans are evil, disgusting things from the fiery pits of hell but I bet they sure made Madison happy.)

While the menfolk were cooking, Alex and the kids and I went over to the park where I brought the Polaroid and we screwed around with the fisheye and wide lenses. I’m still working on a post about the wide and tele lenses because you’d think they’d be straight forward, but they’re not, really, so like I said I’m still working on that post but I figured that in the meantime, I’d do a post about the fisheye lens which I like a lot.

These pictures of Wes were actually taken about a week and a half ago and were my first foray into the fun and exciting world of fisheye lenses:

These are just the 3 pictures that turned out the best, there were plenty of outtakes with Wes but nowhere near as many as there was with Madison. With Wes the challenge was getting close enough. I’d never used the fisheye lens before so I had no idea how close I needed to be and unlike the rest of the lenses, there’s nothing written on the outside of the lens to indicate how close you should be so you just kinda have to guess.

With Wes (well, and with Madison since she’s on the slide too) I had tio get all the way to the top of the slide to take these pics. Like, I was standing on the ground and he was at the top of the slide and I was standing as close to the platform at the top of the slide as I could get.

With Madison yesterday, initially I was having light issues because we were under a severe thunderstorm warning and so the sky was that white, bright kinda of sky that you get on summer days when it’s supposed to rain. Like, it was bright outside, but the sun wasn’t directly shining on anything. Also because of where we were, the sun was right over top of us and that made lighting the slide just a little bit more difficult, especially when it’s metal and it reflects the light the way it does.

Once we got the lighting situation figured out, it was pretty easy to get decent shots with this lens. The key to it, I guess, is to be taking pictures from below your subject, but maybe there are other applications to the fisheye lens that I’m not aware of. I didn’t really research what to do with it, I just went with what I thought would make sense and it paid off.

This is the money shot, but the scan doesn’t do the image justice:

The actual photo is less washed out and is actually sort of a silvery toned image. I’m actually kinda proud of this one, especially since Madison was being sort of uncooperative (not knowing what to do/how to pose) so I sort of played around with her and tried to get her to make the face I wanted her to and when she finally did, I snapped the pic quick without even looking through the viewfinder because I didn’t want Madison to feel self-conscious that a photo was going to be taken at any moment.  And also because the viewfinder is wonky and most of the time I don’t use it because it’s actually better sometimes not to. What you see in the eyepiece and what your lens see are two completely different things and I find that my camera is off by a lot and it depends on the lens as to which way and how far off it is.

My only real beef with the Holga Fisheye Lens for the Polaroid 300 is that goddamn ring around each photo. It could be called a “vignette” I guess but really, it’s just that you’re taking a pic of the inside of the damn lens and that sucks, you lose so much of your photo space because of that and there’s nothing you can do about it! Is this poor craftsmanship? Because as far as I know, these lenses are only for the Polaroid 300 and the Fuji equivalent. In fact they’re actually made for the Fuji one but the Fuji one is supposedly identical to my Polaroid so I’m lefty thinking that the problem is with the lens itself. Is mine messed up? I dunno, there’s no blog posts about these lenses on the internet as far as Google’s concerned as I write this so there’s nothing for me to compare them to. I kinda don’t think mine’s a defect though, I think this is the way it is. I think it’s the tele lens that does the same thing and then the wide lens does it a bit on the right hand side. The macros did it.  I think that’s just the way they’re made, which is kind of a shame because I don’t imagine it would be too difficult to make a better product. I can practically hear Blake shrieking in my head that they’re shitty lenses for a shitty camera and I should quit expecting them to produce Digital Rebel quality images from them and I don’t really, but I do think it’s possible to take a GOOD photo with any instrument by fluke or by talent or by a little bit of both, and for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m colouring with ALL the crayons in the box and I fucking love instant photography. I wish it wasn’t so damn expensive but when you have a little but of room to play, it’s fucking FUN.

And I’m definitely taking the Polaroid and all the film I have here (90 pics) with me to the hospital where I’m going to be for like, 6 days with nothing to do. I’ll probably end up just taking a billion pictures of Blake’s sexy ass which is absolutely fine by me. I’ll keep those bad boys in my wallet for, y’know, uh, later…

Actually though, I have this really neat green binder that says “Polaroids! Yay!” on the front of it and then all of the little pictures are in baseball card sheets chronologically. I’m going to start marking the ones I think are actually good and worth potentially “selling”.

Madison’s my first customer! haha She’s buying 50% of the digital rights to the “money shot”, above, because I told her she could have the actual photo for $10 since my time, my skill, my equipment, that was all worth money and that was how you have to price the final piece of one-of-a-kind art and in my opinion, the original of that one is a damn good picture! Definitely the best one that I’ve taken so far out of like, 40 pictures! “Skill”, right? haha I was still learning!

So she wants me to scan that one (which I will do a better job of for her use) so she can use it as her Facebook profile picture and I’m charging her $2.50! I find this incredibly amusing but she thinks it’s a good deal so who am I to argue? I thought she’d tell me to go fuck myself when I told her the price and I was gonna laugh and tell her I’d give her my crappy site scan for free (she’d just steal it anyway!) and that would be that but she didn’t so hey, $2.50! I can totally buy TWO apple danishes from the bakery down the street AND I bet I could get Madison to go get them (I’d give her one, it’s only fair and I’d dig enough change out of my buddha bank so Wes could go with her and get one too because they are fucking awesome – also I am not a dick).

We went to see the house beside my mom’s new house on Saturday and hol-ee shit. It is beautiful and immaculate and while it’s not the perfect house, I don’t love it, I could grow to love it once I felt that it was okay to make it mine. For example, the stairs don’t have a banister and spindles really. The “spindles” are like paddles with hearts cut out of them and I hated them on sight. They are cutesy and hideous and it would be one of my first priorities to make them disappear and be replaced with many potential ideas not unlike some of the ones I have pinned on Pinterest.

The bedrooms were spacious. What would be Madison’s room is fucking beautiful and makes me so jealous because I would have loved that room 15 years ago. I forgot to look at closet space in all the rooms but I believe there was a closet in the Madison room and one in the room they used as a weird upstairs sitting room (that would be Wes’ room). Dunno about master bedroom because it was creepy as hell in there and I didn’t want to go in and investigate. The guy who owns the place is apparently like, 70 years old and he moved downstairs into the back addition part of the house because he’s not well so it’s not even like he used the master bedroom or anything but there was like, a respect thing that I couldn’t get over like, I dunno, you just don’t barge into someone else’s bedroom and look in their closets, especially when that person is like, you’re elder and stuff. That’s just plain rude. So I didn’t check that out.

I *did* have to go into the guy’s bedroom though because he’s using the back addition as his bedroom and we had to be shown that part of the house and the little office inside of it and the bathroom and the back door. Something I noticed was that the one bathroom, upstairs I think, had a clawfoot bathtub so that’s a HUGE fucking bonus, even though that could mean there are no showers in the house. I didn’t notice any, I just know that the bathroom with the tub ONLY has the tub, there’s no showering apparatus attached. I forget how many bathrooms the house had, like, which were full baths and which were half baths. I know there was the one full bath upstairs but with no shower and then there was the little half bath  (I think?) bathroom in the new addition area of the house. That new addition area of the house would be my office and Blake would take the smaller office inside the addition (yay! we’re gonna be roommates!).

That’s part of my problem with this house: I don’t like where my office would be. The light sucks, in that, there really wasn’t any. Or at least that was my vibe from it, maybe there were curtains drawn that I didn’t notice or something. In my dream house, there is room for plants to thrive in my office. This was not that office…again, I don’t think. I definitely need to see it again. The living room was fine, the dining room was fine, the kitchen was fine by me but Blake and my mom were already discussing ways to change it. All I know is that it has a dishwasher, which will make the kids very very happy, Madison in particular whose only requirement for a house over the years was that it have a dishwasher. Now it’s a dishwasher and internet. You’d think the latter would be a given but it totally isn’t in these old houses in old towns.

The only other real problem with the house is that it needs a new roof and we need a fenced yard for the dogs UNLESS we can all train ourselves to walk them at least twice a day and pick up their poop which could happen but only if I lead the way and I don’t want that kind of pressure. :o/ We’ll see how it goes. Madison has committed herself to walking one dog, twice a day, even in the winter, that’s how much she wants us to get this house. Maybe if I went with her we could do it together. Maybe we could drag my mom along with us and 3 generations of Crittenden women could take a walk around the block together.

I figure a new roof is going to be around $10k and a fence would probably be around $2500-$3k. I  believe the house is listed at $289k. I say we make our first offer like, $225k. That’s just what my gut says to put on the table at first, also considering that we’re going to roll our car into our mortgage so our monthly bills won’t be as high. There’s a lot of cosmetic stuff we have to do before we can list our house but Blake’s going to be working from home for the summer since I’ll be unable to lift en-nee-thing, to quote Dr. Hanrahan, and that means he’ll have more opportunity to do those things and work toward this house. Will it happen? I’m not sure. The guy could decide not to sell after all or someone could come in and buy the house before we can, these things happen. I figure if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen and if it’s not, that’s okay too. We’re looking in other areas as well. It would just be really really good to live next door to my mom, we all think. Xmas morning…! I think it’ll be good to get the children into the Durham Region Board of Education’s system. The Simcoe Board of Ed. here is ridiculously horrible. Like, the only book Madison’s class “read” this year was The Hunger Games – and guess what else! – it was read TO them. Yeah. In grade 8. By their teacher. And that was only to justify the class going on a field trip with “educational merit”. Blake wrote Madison’s teacher and asked her not to let Madison use a calculator and the teacher wrote back saying “okay…” Then we come to find out that Madison had been using a calculator in class anyway. Talk about lazy teaching. The high school Madison will be going to will be a lot more challenging, actually Wes’ school will be too probably. These are good things!

I suppose I should talk about surgery considering the fact that it’s on Thursday and I may not update until after it’s over (or I’m dead). I dunno what there is to really talk about. The surgery is called “repair of massive ventral hernia with mesh/component separation + cholecystectomy”. What Drs. Hanrahan and Ward will be doing is cutting me open down the middle from just under where my ribs meet all the way down to my waist and they will remove the gall bladder while rearranging my guts and putting them back where they’re supposed to be. Then they’ll shove all my guts back into my body and sew everything up tight. She said I may still have  a “bulge” where my guts may not have been able to have fit anywhere else but that’s a hell of a lot better than looking like, 8 months pregnant so I’ll take it.

I’m going to be having an epidural, which I’m pretty scared about because what if they mess up and paralyze me for the rest of my life? Or what if the fluid in my spine leaks out the epidural hole? That would probably be a bad thing, right? And how do they keep the epidural IN my spine? What’s to stop it from being pulled out?

I’m going to be knocked out for the surgery obviously, the epidural is just for pain afterward.

Tomorrow I have my preop in the morning so I’ll know more then, I suppose. I don’t know what a preop entails, hopefully not blood work, I’m so sick of being poked. I will definitely not miss that.

Anyway, Blake’s home so I better hit “post” on this sucker. I hope you had a wonderful day!

July 13, 2012

I don’t want to talk about surgery.

…today, anyway.

I really REALLY hope the house we’re seeing, that is beside my mom’s, is as awesome as I think it’s going to be because I *really*, *REALLY* want that to work out. Like with every fiber of my being. It would be good for me, it would be good for the kids, it would be good for Blake, it would be good for everyone involved, as far as I see it.  After the shit we all went through last summer with me almost dying and them not knowing day to day if I was going to live or die, I think it would be a good thing to stay as close as possible.

Blake said that on Wednesday when he helped my mom move (I should have gone too and it was stupid of me not to, I don’t even know why I didn’t go but in a way I’m pretty glad I didn’t)  that my grama showed up. Yeah, like, as in, THE antichrist. I don’t know what I would say to her if I saw her again at this point. I don’t have the time of day for her anymore to be quite honest. I have no desire to see her or even acknowledge her existence. She is nothing to me. She doesn’t exist. We moved this far North partly because Blake had a job in Barrie but also because I knew my grama wouldn’t come this far North. She’s afraid of driving on the 400 (the major highway to get here) because you have to go over 100 km/h for an extended period of time. I don’t want my kids anywhere near her, she is a toxic mess of a person and I don’t want her poisoning my family.

So that could pose as a challenge if we did, in fact, move next door to my mom because my grama could just be there at any time. And that makes me nervous. I guess when Blake said we were going to look at the house next door with the intention of buying, my grama looked at him like he was scum of the Earth. Fuuuuuck her.

Yes I am that immature, but also she is seriously evil and my life with her was mostly hell. I’m happy now. I’m happy with my family and I’m happy with my  mom and John and Chris. Go the fuck away.

We drove past her store on the way back from Haugen’s on Saturday and it’s fucking empty, which I didn’t know about (although Blake claims I was told, whatevs) and that was really fucking surreal.

Oh! Also Saturday? Some idiot contacted one of Madison’s friends on Facebook whose parents don’t have her account on lockdown, (which is just idiotic as well) and said to her, “did you know that madisons mom poses nude online for a porn site called camwhores. she goes under the name sunny”. I was asleep when the girl he messaged told Madison about it and sent a screencap entitled “exhibitA.jpg”, which I found pretty humourous because she is 14 after all and if it’s illegal to sell a kid a dirty magazine, it’s probably not okay to send them intentionally to a porn site, especially when you’re a stranger who supposedly lives 20 minutes away. We left it up to her to decide what to do about it and I have no idea what happened from there but I think that’s a pretty blow blow for what? Reasons unknown? Was it maybe not a coincidence that  it was the day of our party? Is someone jealous? Trying to ruin a good day? Well, I wish both of those assholes who could even be the same person for all I know who *did* ruin the day after all, the best of luck in life and I hope that karma treats them kindly because these days believing in karma is what’s getting me through these days and today I’m feeling merciful because life’s really going pretty well for me these days. Lots of medical appointments and staff meetings for work, but that’s manageable and then there’s surgery which I’m not ready to talk about yet, but it IS a good thing and extremely good, flukey timing.

 Charlie is the awesomest so he got me 9 packs of Polaroid film and this awesome book called Instant Love: How to Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids which so far I’ve only started the chapter on the camera I have but it’s probably coming with me to the hospital *and*  I’ve decided to bring the Polaroid with me to the hospital. I figure I’m going to be there for a while, and I can’t bring the Rebel, and I’m going to have all kinds of nurses so I might as well take pictures of them (if they say it’s okay). I’m going to also bring the wide lens and the one macro I really liked (60mm, maybe the 250mm as well). 

There’s something about instant photography that I’m absolutely in love with. It’s like creating a piece of time, I just love it. I may also bring the fisheye lens because Wes and I had a lot of fun with that one last Friday morning at the park. Yep. I went to the park. With Wes. Without Blake. And I found $2 in the sand, which was pretty awesome! I gave it to Wes for being my model.

I think on Sunday we’re taking Charlie geocaching in Utopia and I’m going to invite Ronny and Alex but I’m not sure if Alex is ready to come out yet. Or maybe she just wants everything to be normal, I dunno but I’m gonna throw it out there as an option once Charlie confirms with Blake (and Blake’s finished work to check his e-mail). Tonight Blake and Wes are going to see Brave and Madison and I are going to see Magic Mike.  We have to get up super early tomorrow to go see the house beside my mom’s and to quickly see my mom’s new house too before I have to work at 2pm.

And now I have to pee and figure out what we’re going to have for dinner. I vote spaghetti or macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese. Easy stuff!

June 21, 2012

Polaroid 300 Camera With Holga Macro Lenses

This is my (poor) attempt at there being something mildly useful if you google “how do I use macro lens holga polaroid fuji” that ISN’T a link on where to buy the camera or the lenses because if you’re googling this, clearly you have the lenses already.

Since this is going to maybe be the first in a series of posts about the various Holga lenses for the Polaroid 300 camera (which has an identical Fuji counterpart and the lenses are actually made for that) I’m going to start off with my Polaroid setup.

Admittedly it’s pretty sweet and I am not worthy of it* seeing as I’m not a professional photographer and I have no idea what I’m doing, hence why I was googling how to use the lenses.

I have: the Polaroid 300 camera, wide lens, tele lens, fisheye lens, 6 lens macro/closeup lens set and a set of different filters I could add, which I haven’t even taken out of the box yet. I believe these are all the lenses you can get for it.

So to start, Polaroid pictures are low quality and instant and distinct and that’s what makes them fun. The lenses, to me, takes Polaroid photos to the next level by making the Polaroid camera do things it wasn’t exactly intended to do. Or at least I think that’s the theory. The downside to them is that Polaroid film is expensive, over $1 per photo, so experimentation isn’t always practical. And unfortunately, with this camera and these lenses, you’re probably not going to get the results you wanted the first time.

On with the show!

This is the first photo I took with the Polaroid camera and as I wrote, I didn’t use any of the lenses and I set it to shady since we were inside and that lets in more light than cloudy or sunny. This photo was taken in my office and in my office there are 2 lamps and a window, it was NOT this dark at all. This is the main thing I think you really need to know about Polaroid or at least this camera in particular: you need a LOT of light, as much light as possible. Your pictures are going to be dark otherwise. The other thing to know is that with this camera, you cannot turn off the flash. Also? When you look through the eyepiece and think you’re setting up your shot correctly, you’re not because what you see through the eyepiece and what the lens is seeing are two completely different things. You have to shoot with this thing blindly, by positioning the lens itself whatever distance away from the subject the lens says on the front.

The subjects for exploring the closeup and macro lenses were these flowers on my porch, which I call “fire things” and also yellow petunias, in case you’re ever unsure as to what you’re looking at.

I started off with the closeup lens which says on the front of it “subject distance 250mm” so I actually got a ruler and positioned the eye of the camera 250mm away (which is 25cm btw, almost a full ruler) and this is what I got. Obviously the first time I forgot to set the lighting but the next attempt turned out okay. My beef with this lens is that it made the image curve around the edges almost giving it a fisheye feel and I really don’t like that.

Next, I put on the 120mm lens and this is the result I got. The first photo, obviously I forgot to set the light again and it was when it was sunny out (the default setting is shady) so it washed everything out. Oops! WIth the second one I’m not really sure what happened. Obviously the quality of the image is better but the light isn’t. The day was sunny with a mix of clouds and I was in the shade half the time and half the time in the sun but I’m not sure if the 2nd pic was taken when the sun was behind a cloud or what. I just don’t remember.  I do know I was 120mm away from the fire things though.

Finally the macro lenses! First I decided to use the 60mm macro lens and as it turns out, this is my favourite lens of the bunch because it gave consistent results by placing the lens exactly 60mm (6cm and a cm is about the width of the tip of your little finger) from the subject. When I took the 1st set of pics I didn’t know it would become my favourite though.

I’ll just say it: the 30mm lens is a piece of garbage and a complete waste of film. I spent so much time trying to get it to work when I could have been testing other lenses or taking pics of interesting things, but no, I just had to try and figure out why it wasn’t working, which I never successfully did and wasted way too much film. I treated it the same as I did the other lenses and at first, I had it 30mm from the subject which is how I got the above pictures. The last one of course is almost successful, but it’s too dark and warped and not at all what was intended.

This is what happens when you get in the sunshine and get closer and closer to a petunia:

Blake’s attempt was 3cm away. Mine were kissing it right up close, literally touching the lens and 3cm away. I don’t know why the lens didn’t like the fire things but took to the petunias better. The light was better for the petunias in both mine and Blake’s case but that can’t be the only difference. If it is, someone will have to explain it to me.

And finally, at the suggestion of Jeck, I did what i’ll call “Jeck’s Dime Test” where I laid out a track of dimes 1cm between each other. There were 5 of them, even though I knew all 5 wouldn’t show up in 1 picture, I wanted to make extra sure this was going to work because it’s a good idea. Then I placed the Polaroid with both the 30mm lens and the 60mm lens using their respective distances away from the first dime, as indicated by the front of each lens, and this was the result:

The light was exactly the same, I literally took the pics each like, 10 seconds apart (long enough to switch lenses). So my conclusion is that the 30mm macro lens is just FUBAR and not even worth using, but the 60mm is actually pretty good if you have the right light. I didn’t really get the purpose of the closeup lenses but maybe their usefulness will become more apparent when I play with the wide and tele lenses in the (hopefully) near future.

I mean it’s a fact that the naked, base Polaroid 300 is a total piece of garbage but it can be improved with these lenses. I just have to figure out what each lens does and how that translates to an actual photo because I’m honestly not sure. Blake says he can tell the difference between a pic shot with a wide lens and one shot with a tele lens but I don’t think I can. I played around with each lens when I first got my camera and 5 packs of film and I don’t really see what they do. I need to experiment with them some more in better light because I didn’t intend to share the pics or do tutorials or whatever the hell this post is, but it was fun. I had a good time trying to figure out the steps you have to take to finally get a successful picture with 1 set of 4 and I’ve decided that there’s no point in me taking the Polaroid to the hospital because I’ll never have enough light to take very good pictures with it.

That said…

…I plan on making this camera and these lenses my bitches between now and I dunno, Squam? So mid-September? We’ll see how it goes, I’m not exactly crazy full of money and like I said in the beginning, Polaroid film is expensive. To literally buy me film so I can do more posts like these, click here! Because that would be awesome! If you’re reading this post like, I dunno, 5 years from now and there’s no Polaroid film on that list, I’m betting there’s a tip jar link on my site that would be equally as awesome if you found this post useful in any way! (Who knows? Maybe someone might!) Or you could purchase something from my Etsy shop!

THE END

(*Blake compared my Polaroid setup as Pizza Nova in the grand scheme of pizza because he’s totally offended I’d say I’m not worthy of Pizza Nova. I’m just saying I’m not necessarily qualified to write a real tutorial…)

Edited to add: On the lenses it says something like “subject distance 30mm” and this is NOT like focal length on your typical lens, it literally means have your subject 30mm (3cm, about an inch) away.

June 18, 2012

Googleplex

So many things on my mind these days. Surgery primarily. I am scared shitless.

Our garden is failing. The tomato plants that were doing so well on my window sill just shriveled up and died when we transplanted them to the garden. No idea why. The peas are doing good but Blake needs to stake them really soon or they’re going to grown into a tangled mess and the pea pods won’t form properly. Not sure what the carrots and onions are doing because I’m not sure why are carrots and onions and which ones are weeds. I guess we’ll see!

But yeah, veggie garden’s pretty much a bust this year, which is okay because I’ll be having surgery and can’t look after it anyway.

My hanging planter looks HORRIBLE and I dontt know why. I got Madison to deadhead it and we’ve been watering it pretty religiously so I dunno what its deal is. Maybe it’s just too windy where I have it or something, it’s definitely unhappy.

STILL haven’t planted my “fire things” and dealt with the front garden. What needs to happen is for the beds to be raked out, the irises in the front yard dug up and transplanted to the garden in the left of the front of the house, which is where I got them from (originally I was going to try and grow sunflowers in that bed, which is why I transplanted them to begin with), the “fire things” and petunias need to be planted in the front CAREFULLY as not to disturb the milkweed I’ve got growing in the front beds because the monarch caterpillars eat it. Madison’s going to be doing the planting and Blake is going to be doing the transplanting, it’s just a matter of when because we’ve been busy as hell lately and I don’t see things slowing down any time soon.

This Saturday was the Central Ontario Geocachers Spring Fling 8 and the theme was pirates. Because “pir 8”. Get it? Yeah. Arg.

So we did that and it damn near killed me but dammit WE DID IT and we got all 8 event caches and I’m still wearing my event bracelet because for some reason, I usually leave those on for a long time after the vent. I dunno why, I just do it. Like for weeks. I’m talking about those little papery-plastic bracelets they give you at events/concerts/shows. This one’s green and it has the COG logo all over it.

Spring Fling was…an experience. I don’t even know where to begin…I can’t really be truthful and nice at the same time when talking about this so it’s probably better that I gloss over a lot of what happened on Saturday. Let’s just say that these people are REALLY REALLY REALLY into geocaching and while I like geocaching and stuff, I will never be like these people. At something like Spring Fling, I can dress up and play the part and have all my trackables on me and stuff but when it’s over, I go back to my life and my other activities and whatnot, but most of these people DON’T. Geocaching IS their activity, their only one, and that’s definitely not me in any way, shape or form, so I kinda don’t get that. Like the whole “geocaching is my life” thing. I just don’t.

For example, one of the booths at the event was for a store that supplies ONLY things for night caching. You heard me. NIGHT caching. Traipsing through the woods AT NIGHT, looking for treasure using a GPS. That does not sound like a fun time to me! That sounds really really scary and not at all ideal for taking pictures of any kind! But there are enough people in the world who DO think that sounds like a good time to support an entire business dedicated to just that one thing. The people who are into night caching, generally speaking, ONLY do night caching. They’ll pick up caches during the day here and there, but they plan trips specifically to night cache the way we do to day cache.

I don’t get that. I mean, I get it, like the concept, but that being your hobby, sometimes going so far as to say that night caching could be the thing that sorta “defines” them, I don’t get that. Different strokes for different folks & all, I guess but what I specifically don’t understand is that you only have one hobby or activity that you’re into. And that it’s this super nerdy thing. Don’t get it.

That’s not to say that night cachers are BAD in any way or that I don’t like people who night cache, I’m just saying that I don’t understand only having one hobby, essentially. I try to have my fingers in as many pots as I can while still being able to give each thing enough attention to make it worthwhile.

We met a lot of interesting people at the Spring Fling though. We met Fababoo who is the person who made Wonderball, which is my favourite cache so far. He was really nice, he was dressed up as a pirate. He also gave me an orange screw on a tiny gold safety pin. Not really sure why he had that on him (he was trying to be dirty by asking me if I wanted a screw) but I pinned it to my bag. Speaking of my bag, not one single person noticed my trackable patch on my bag. :o( I pointed it out to one woman but she hasn’t logged it yet. I think maybe my bag’s pattern (damask) is too busy and people just don’t see it. I’m going to have to put it somewhere more noticeable.

Wes and Fababoo’s son got along really great all day so they invited us to sit with them for dinner. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

The actual geocaching was pretty hellacious. I didn’t see the piece of paper with all of them on it so I’m not sure what the terrain rating was on any of them but there was one where we were going up and down hills that almost did me in. It was near the end of the day so I was pretty tired to begin with but Jesus fucking christ was that ever awful. I had to keep stopping because my legs were just on fire, my head was throbbing from sunstroke and I was pretty much hyperventilating. Awful. The other caches were pretty easy though pretty far apart. I felt bad because there were some people on the COG forums asking for a ride to the event and some people offered them rides and yay everything’s happy, right? Well no, because if you didn’t have a car, there’s no way you could have done all 8 of the event caches because some were as far as 8km away in one direction and 6 km away in the other direction. You could not have done that on foot, so I felt bad for people who may have come by way of hitchhiking or whatnot and who wouldn’t have had access to a car. I don’t think that was fair. Or maybe that’s just how a Spring Fling works, I dunno, I’ve never been to one.

Blake talked to a lot of people because he’s on this Blackberry group so he knows all these people and talks to them pretty much every day etc. so he knew folks. I didn’t know anyone so I didn’t talk to anyone. Neither did the kids. Oh we talked to Paprika but that was the only person I really knew.

People camped out at the campgrounds (Paprika ran the camp) and some people stayed in hotels. In fact one of the caches was in the garden of the Comfort Inn. It was a wooden pirate ship where you lifted off the top and inside was the log and items to trade. Obviously that cache is probably not going to stay there, all exposed and out in the open like that. It would get muggled for one, but also the wood would warp and stuff. I’m not sure how they’re going to work that one.

The event seemed really disorganized to me, like I didn’t know what we were supposed to do at any given time and neither did Blake so that’s why we just did the event caches. They were all pretty cool. A few were ships, one was a cannon, one was just a big bucket with a lid in the woods full of toys and stuff. No micros that I can think of. One was glued to the bottom of a rock.

My favourite part of the day was sitting down and drinking water. Wes said it was “the best day ever!” and Blake had a good time (not sure about Madison) so that’s what matters. I have to work the next 3 Mondays to make up for taking the day off which sucks, but I’ll live. One down today so yay!

Yesterday I did absolutely nothing. It was a grey day and by the end of it we were having a thunderstorm, but Blake, the kids and Madison’s new boyfriend, Devon, went geocaching yesterday afternoon. They got first to find on both of the caches they went after, which is sort of a big deal in the caching community, especially since it was their first FTFs. They asked me if I wanted to come (I was napping when they left) but I wanted to keep sleeping so I said no. I think if I’d have known they were going after FTFs, I might have gone, but I didn’t know they were doing that so I just kept sleeping.

I didn’t do a single thing yesterday though and I hate that. For me to feel okay with the Universe, I have to do at least one  productive thing per day and on days where I don’t do anything productive, I just go to bed feeling wretched. :o( We watched 3 episodes of Doctor Who and Blake says that counts as being productive but that’s input, that’s downloading, that doesn’t count. He doesn’t even know.  Only output counts….usually. I do have “download days” where I just decide to be a sponge and follow link after link after link all day and just absorb every piece of new information that comes my way. That counts as being productive because it’ll translate to output eventually. But it has to be purposeful. You have to do it ON purpose. Just casually watching 3 episodes of Doctor Who doesn’t count. (This is Sunny Logic.)

I said this weekend that I didn’t like Amy Pond or Matt Smith’s Doctor. Both are now growing on me and I’ve decided not to give up on the show. Originally I was going to leave it be because they hurt me so badly (you know what happened…I’m trying to stay spoiler free here)  but now I think I’ll keep watching. The last episode we watched was something like “The Vampires of Venice” and it was pretty good, admittedly.

I’ve decided that I am going to TRY and do a series of posts about the Holga lenses for the Polaroid 300 camera. I am *not* a photographer. I do not understand how a photo is created or how a Polaroid camera works. All I know is that it’s basically the simplest camera you can buy and that the photo quality is only a little better than shit. I know this because I used it, I shot a few pictures of things without a lens and out of the 3 I shot, only 1 was any good and it was a total fluke. So okay, a Polaroid is like a webcam it needs a lot of light. Good to know! I would write that in my first post about the Polaroid 300 camera! Because that’s the first thing you need to know if you’re going to use these lenses. Using them indoors is pretty much the dumbest thing ever unless you’re going to only be shooting Lego men under a lamp (which could be interesting, do it!) or you have professional studio lights which…if you have those? Why are you even bothering with Polaroid? I’m sure you also have a super crazy expensive camera and lens and flash so…I dunno, I just don’t see professionally lit Polaroid shots very often. That could be pretty cool too, now that I think about it. But I would have to see a scanned in Polaroid shot with a black background. Meaning: place your Polaroid photo on your scanner, then place a large piece of black paper on top of it, kinda like a reverse-mat, a background; maybe sign the black part in white or silver or gold pen or marker(optional), scan, crop as you see fit and then…I dunno, start a blog with the best “fine art” Polaroid shots ever? As sent to you by readers? Or a Live Journal community? I bet that exists, actually. I should check that out. One with the best snapshots would be good too because I firmly believe you get at least one good shot no matter what in every pack of film and seeing those good, likely fluke, shots would be a pretty cool blog too. I’d look at that one when I was bored as well. I’d probably submit to it a lot haha I am FULL of ideas today! Take them, they’re free!

Anyway, I am going to undertake the task of there being SOMETHING useful that comes up if you google “how do I use macro lens holga polaroid fuji” that isn’t just an ad for somewhere you can buy the lenses because obviously if you’re googling that, you already have the lenses. Ideally the “something” that comes up is my present and future posts on the subject, the latter of which would be in more of a tutorial or informational format that will be boring to anyone  but me (because yay I get to *finally* play with a Polaroid camera!) or anyone who googles that. And I hope the posts will be helpful to anyone that comes across them because film is expensive and getting shots that aren’t so great really sucks, especially when you’ve invested in buying the Holga lenses.

Plus there’s also the fact that I’d be doing this with or without blogging about it, so I might as well blog about it haha and for that reason my plan is to use the 40 pictures I have here (veeeeeery frugally) for the tutorial post(s) and then buy the 9 packs of film for $99.99 deal on Amazon for the hospital (plus some left over obviously, for maybe more tutorials?) because I think that’s actually a fair price + we can’t find anywhere to buy it locally. Or I’ll just get the 4-pack for $56.40 if I don’t have very much money whenever I buy the rest of the film for the hospital. (I’d just rather pay $1.11/pic as opposed to $1.41/pic though, but what are ya gonna do?)

Unfortunately the weather for the next few days is gonna be kinda crappy so I probably won’t be able to start right away but I definitely want to start soonish. Maybe after dinner (which I’m eating right now, yay one-handed typing! woooo!) one of the children and I will take the Polaroid out and work on the macro filters because those are the ones I was trying to google originally so at least I can do the tutorial on that before I inevitably (according to Blake) get tired of the idea and go do something else.

So I suppose I should finally wrap up this post and finish my dinner! But before I do, I want to leave you with these words from Jax about Facebook and this video which is literally the most beautiful expression of joy I have ever seen in my entire life.

Peace oot!

PS! I totally forgot that everything in my Etsy shop is significantly reduced to help pay for the camera I’m taking to Squam! So check it out!

June 15, 2012

So what do you think?

As I’ve been writing about, my friend Alan hooked me up with this sweet Polaroid starter package where you got the camera and 5 packs of film. Each pack has 10 pictures or exposures so that’s 50 pictures. (I know that’s stating the obvious but I suck at math so I have to do it “out loud”.)

Well, that’s awesome right? 50 pictures! That’s so many pictures! Except it isn’t…really…because Charlie sent me all these really neat Holga lenses for it (which is also awesome!) and testing those out really cuts into my 50 pictures.

Originally I *liked* having a set amount to work with but now it’s like…a curse and I’ll tell ya why: I Googled. I Googled “how do I use macro lens holga polaroid fuji” which *should* have been sufficient enough to pull up a tutorial of some sort on these lenses, not just the macro one, but nothing came up. I Googled other variations of that and the only consistent thing I got was that weird Live Journal black market “spree” thing.

Is my Google Fu just broken today? Why can’t the almighty internet provide here? I am having a really hard time coming up with a time the internet’s failed me like this. So then the next thing is, I’ll do the tutorial! I shall provide to save other people film! Which I would totally do and stuff but that wouldn’t leave me with much film for the hospital and I really want this camera at the hospital with me. The 50 pictures was 10 pictures a day for the 4-5 days they said they would probably keep me. I was going to receive the package, confirm that there was film in there, and put it away for the hospital. But then these lenses came. Before the camera even got here. And I had to try them out. So I figured, 10 pictures should be enough right? WRONG. There are 6 lenses, but like, the macro lens is 2 lenses and the “close up” lens is I think 4.

What I wanted to know is this: if it says “30 mm” on the front of the lens, is that the distance I need to be from my subject?  Because that’s what I thought it meant and for the macro lens, all I got was blur. I don’t even recognize the colours in the 2 pictures I took.

Anyway, I could blog about this or not, it really doesn’t matter to me. If it would interest you then let me know and I’ll think about writing posts about it. The only reason I hesitate is because a post like that takes a lot of time to put together between actually taking the pictures and scanning them in and cropping them, uploading them, writing the post etc. The other reason I hesitate is because as I said before, it would really eat into my now 40 pictures. I already have to figure out a way to buy another pack of film to compensate for what I’ve used to test things out already. I think maybe you can buy it at Wal*Mart but I’m not sure. Before when I had a Polaroid, I got it and the film at Shopper’s Drug Mart so if you can get it there, you can get it at Wal*Mart too. It’s also on Amazon but I can probably get it cheaper at Wal*Mart.

If we all decide that I won’t blog about it, I’ll just play with the lenses at the hospital and use them for art journaling as opposed to nice and tidy for tutorials when I get out of the hospital.

It would be fucking amazing to get that 9-pack on my wishlist because that would compensate for the 10 I “wasted” with the lenses yesterday/today, as well as give me enough exposures to do a tutorial about the camera and the lenses because they apparently don’t exist on the internet so I figure adding information to the pile is a GOOD thing! And of course, it would leave me with a lot to use at the hospital. Even BETTER is that I’ll have figured out the lenses by the time I go to the hospital (ideally) and my hospital shots will be so much nicer.

But I’m also happy just going with the flow and having what I have and doing what I do. :o) I am SO fortunate to even have this camera and the film and the lenses are this cool bonus that I’ll figure out in time. This is exactly what I wanted to take with me to the hospital and that’s what I got. So yay!

Honestly though, I’m really surprised I couldn’t find a tutorial on how to use the lenses. Holga’s not a household name or anything but they’ve been around for a really long time and so has Polaroid and I would have thought that one of those hipster Mormon mommy blogger people would have written something up about these by now, but nope. Not that I could see.

Tomorrow is the Central Ontario Geocachers Spring Fling 8. I have a ticket but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to go to it. It’s going to be like, 700-800 people. Chaos. Mayhem. We scouted out the area yesterday and did a couple of caches (crap, I always forget to log them, I still have to do that).

This was in a lamp post in a parking lot!
(The theme is pirates.)

Despite having seen the area I’m still not okay but at the same time, I took those hours off for a reason and I’m going to have to work the next 3 Mondays to work that Saturday off so I can’t just sit around the house wondering if I made a wrong decision which is exactly what I’d do. So I have to go. I really really don’t think I can go but I have to try and if I can’t be there, Blake brings me back home and they go back, it’s only 20 minutes away and the event starts at 8am. It’s weird seeing motels with signs that say things like “Welcome Geocachers!” and hearing people talking about renting campgrounds and things like that. This is a really big deal!

Anyway, I hope I can go and I hope I don’t royally fuck it up by having to come home. I’m still not even entirely sure what we’re doing besides dinner and a seminar or workshop or whatever on HTML in cache listings and probably Geocaching 101 because why not? We’re n00bs. I can’t imagine I’d be buying anything, we already have a ridiculous amount of trackables. We’ve decided not to do any caches because it’ll be just way too crazy and we live close enough that we can do them any time. So I guess workshops and food are all we’re really doing and if you break it down like that, I can probably relax a little bit.

We’ll see how it goes.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and hopefully it’s beautiful wherever you are!

PS. Do you ever wonder if you’re actually retarded and no one ever told you? Just curious.