Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Reflections

Hello everyone. It's now early afternoon on New Year's Eve. The calm before tonight's gathering here at my apartment. In a way, I've keenly looked forward to such a gathering since I first went to a New Year's party held by a friend of mine from grade school. It was at that somewhat wild party where I met Ron. Hard to believe it's been close to fifteen years. Now, I'll be starting off this new decade hosting a gathering of my own. There'll be plenty to eat and drink. I believe I've got the whole transportation thing covered. This morning, I got a couple of parking passes for two cars which will be staying until after midnight. It would royally suck for someone to get ticketed. Another thing I made certain to do was inform Peal Housing about the guest who will be staying overnight. I still resent having to do that. I ought to be able to have people stay over without risk of violating my lease if I don't tell them or it's a last minute thing. It just seems like such a slap in the face when I've been as responsible and conscientious as I have over the years. I'm certainly not one to abuse my place by renting it to someone or anything like that.

This past year has certainly seen a lot of changes. It didn't take too long at all to get into the rhythm of living on my own when it comes to chores. I seem to have mastered as much cooking as I've ever know how to do. The place has remained intact and quite clean with the exception of when the old vacuum stopped working on me. The motor still worked and nobody who occasionally visited briefly ever said anything about stuff on the floor so how the hell was I supposed to know? At times, I've been overwhelmed by how hard it's been to find new friends interested in doing things together. Without a context like church, it's been a nearly completely futile exercise. I'm in a building chalk full of people living mere metres away and don't really know any of them well enough to have invited them to this New Year's gathering. Learning to get anywhere new on my own takes disproportionate effort on my part so it seems all the more ridiculous when your neighbours don't even come and introduce themselves. I can now see that it'll take years of small casual encounters in passing to chip away at the fortress mentality that goes along with apartment living. Shirley and I have gone for numerous enjoyable walks but that's all we've really done together. I met a whole bunch of people while walking around the lake and to the mall this Summer but none of them have ever really followed up on initially good meetings. I feel like I could offer a ton if I could somehow just break down the social barriers.

And yet, a few days ago, Jeanette, a lady who found me on an online dating site I had nearly given up on completely, came to actually visit me. Being two hours distant, I don't expect it'll ever go beyond hopefully long and stable friendship. However, having her come and actually want to be friends with me has lifted that utter sense of social dead end I've been living with and striving against for months. It's good to have some proof that virtues like honesty, optimism and depth of thinking actually still count for something in this world. I have some of my hope restored that there are some good people out there who still have time for friendship and perhaps even something more. Here's hoping one such lady lives a lot closer. While I've regained my ability to enjoy the single life I now lead, there'll just always be something missing without a special lady to share it with. Thanks in no small part to the friends I'll be seeing tonight, I've made what peace I can with the reality that it'll likely be a very long time before that need is met. Solitude won't be quite such a paralysing thing this year now that I've found my stride. Having some big changes to look forward to in the new year certainly helps. New technology, a new volunteering adventure, and a new niece not too many months from now. Mainly though, it's been more of an internal change; a coming to terms with how things are. God knows I need more life experience and interaction with people. Now that I've done damned near everything humanly possible to effect that change myself, I can more patiently wait for things to happen naturally.

Christmas was an absolute blast this year. We ended up celebrating at mom and dad's house. Ava and Amia were in fairly good spirits, at least until we sat down to dinner. They wanted to play with all their new stuff and leave eating delicious food to us silly idiots who knew no better than to waste time in such a foolish confined fashion. I got a splendid digital recording of us opening our presents. Definitely a keeper.

I've spent a good deal of time looking back at the past year over the last few days. If I had to sum up in a word what it's all been about, that word would be calibration. I had to come to terms with my new circumstances. Although much of my hope for making strong community connections didn't pan out, I've at least become a known figure around here. That's a start anyway. Volunteering at The Dam will hopefully also help in that regard. Even if it doesn't, I'll at least be out of the apartment and doing something with people once a week other than church. I'm also starting to regain a sense of the value of online contact. While I'll always seek out a more offline life and circle of friends, some of that sense of empty hollow futility has been removed by some key events and people. Not the least of which was being able to hear the Chilean miners being rescued live thanks to Twitter and an old friend from my days at Meadowvale secondary school. I even have room in my heart to hope that Facebook will prove that it's worth sticking with by bringing someone from my past or perhaps someone entirely new into my life here. I start this new year with a hope which is less fragile being based more on experience and less on wishful thinking.

Looking forward at the start of this new decade, I wonder what the next ten years will bring. Perhaps, someone will actually come along who's willing to go all the way and take a real chance with me. I'd like to think that this is still a possibility. At the same time, I feel better able to live and enjoy life even if this doesn't come to pass. Eventually, I'll accumulate more friends around here who will attend future gatherings like the one I'm having tonight. Joseph, the man who takes me to and from church most weeks, will be a new addition to my happy group of mainly guys. It didn't used to be so unbalanced. Poor Wendy will be the only woman, married or single, present with us. Other ladies all seem to be too busy, too distant, or otherwise not inclined to spend New Year's eve with us. One of my friends has never managed to find a steady woman. Another is gay. Another , like me, has been through that painful divorce process. He knows that fifth-wheel feeling that never quite leaves you once you've been married and are no longer attached. Adam is going to be there. I figured he'd be with his girlfriend but I guess that didn't quite work out as expected. It'll be an interesting evening. Joseph has never actually visited me and has no idea what he's in for. What delicious fun that'll be. It's always interesting bringing in someone new and seeing how they interact with people I've known for so many years. And then, after a day or so of recovery, 2011 will take us all in its clutches and proceed apace. My first full year in my own apartment in a community where I can at least get to a few places independently. Despite all my insomnia and writer's block, I seem to have found renewed hope of finding inspiration, or perhaps, merely the patience to wait for it while searching. Slowly, I am making progress in connecting with the good people around me who can help make my life more connected and meaningful. It'll just take lots and lots of time.

One of the last movies I've taken in this year was Inception. I don't think I've ever been more thankful for audio description. I would have been hopelessly lost amid the three levels of dream without it. The sound and acting were quite exquisite this time around. The story, though full of jumps, is solid enough and well put together. Two new games, well, one new game and a game with a major face lift, have occupied my spare moments over the holidays. Q9 has received a splendid update. You can now get monsters to fall into pits among other changes. A free offering called River Raiders is a fun little time-waster which I plan to have people try at tonight's party. It's both simple enough to control and short enough not to have one person take all evening to play. We'll see how everyone does. On that note, I believe I'll sign off here and get the last blog entry of 2010 up and posted. Happy New Year everyone.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Year Winding Down

Hello everyone. It's sunday morning. I've still got the cold which sunk its teeth into me early in the week. However, I believe it's on the retreat as I've been feeling much more energetic and less stuffed these past couple of days.

It's been a fairly uneventful week as I've rested and fought off the cold. I had my last mobility lesson for the next while on wednesday. There's too much snow around and it's too cold to learn much more. I knew we would reach that point eventually. Harpal has been a terrific instructor. The latest update to my Trekker Breeze seems to be a particularly helpful one. It took a while to lock onto me but then proceeded to call out landmarks quite well. I've backed up all my landmarks onto my pc and will copy them over to my external hard drive. Winter travel is still definitely to be avoided, but it's nice to feel a little less likely to end up disoriented and lost out there thanks to the Breeze. If I have to, I can get to the Meadowvale Town Centre or the Dam even through the snow provided I take it very slow and careful and leave lots of time.

The year really seems to be winding down now. Most of my Christmas preparations have been made. I guesss the cold has forced me to slow down. It actually came at perhaps the most proficious time it could have. I had just gotten my latest grocery order and so was very well stocked. While it's always disconcerting sleeping through odd chunks of the day, it's a real comfort to me to be able to know where everything is and take care of myself. My internal clock seems to have been reset by my illness. As a result, I was up and cheerful at around seven for the last few days just as I like to be. What's more, I've been able to stay up and alert through the entire day. I've got nothing at all planned for this coming week, but feel once again like life is full of possibilities. Seeking mark and Wendy yesterday for an excellent dinner certainly helps. They decided to bring a very tasty chicken and rice dish to go with my potatoes. Wendy made a delicious apple crisp. After dinner, we watched an episode of Life After People on History Channel. It provided fodder for some thoughtful conversation. Those two are always ready to sink their minds into something or other. I look forward to seeing them on New Year's Eve.

My two main goals for this next week are to pull out Enchantment's Twilight and perhaps make some small progress somewhere with it. I haven't managed any of that in quite a while. Also, I've got to make another attempt to start conversation in my Silver Smiles group. It has been absolutely silent over the past while. Amazingly, nobody has left the group. There has to be some way of really getting it going. I'm not remotely ready to walk away from the idea for the group yet. Other than that, ditching the rest of this cold would be very nice indeed.

Over the past while, I've been getting to know a friendly lady via email. We're pretty far apart for anything serious to start up but both find some comfort in exchanging email about our lives. She may even be able to stop by and seem me when she's in the area. I thought I'd be merely more frustrated at yet another lady being interested in knowing me but too far away to do much more than email. However, this hasn't been the case. I find that I'm at least a little more hopeful that at some point in the future, a woman who's closer at hand and available may possibly take an interest. Meanwhile, this lady seems sincerely keen to develop an actual friendship. It's a nice new addition to these solitary days.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Insomnia Strikes Again

Hello everyone. It has been an incredibly long day. It seems I'm contending once again with insomnia. I had a very good weekend. I went to see my family at my parents' house for a very good dinner and afternoon. Ava and Amia did their usual splendid job for being cutely chaotic. They seem to like the idea of camp fires and stories. I've kept a group of audio stories for kids handy on my netbook and it at last paid off that evening. Ava particularly got into the adventures of Cactus Capour from ZBS Audio. Sunday was another great day at church with a games night I had a blast at with a bunch of the kids who attended.

There's no real rhyme or reason for not getting a stellar sleep. I have been feeling generally more up-beat about things this past while. There's no new stress in life and I believe I've finally begun to come to terms with accepting the life I have rather than spending so much time focussing on what that life lacked. This sense just grew inside me that things would indeed be getting better in their own time. Despite being very tired and having gone through a very unproductive day, I still have that new found level of hope and contentedness.

I went to sleep a little after ten on sunday night feeling quite tired enough to nod off at my ddesk. However, I found myself wide awake and restless at ten to four this morning. I got up and started poking around the Internet. My insomnia-driven search actually bore some interesting fruit. People looking for free sleep noise mp3 files should check out:
Look in the "fun projects" section. I also came across Dan Gibson's Solitudes and found a Canadian group called Dreamstate while scavenging on:
My balance on that site is geting pretty damned low but I came away with around 43 new tracks to add to my relaxation and writing music collection. Quite a good find if I do say so myself. Tonight, I'll be piping Mr. Bekcer's white noise loop through my Logitech USB speakers and netbook. I've already taken a couple of the only medication I trust not to be adictive, a cheap form of Graval. I've also been very careful to eat nothing very recently which might keep me awake. Tonight, I'm employing all the cards I have. Here's hoping I wake tomorrow a lot more combobulated at a reasonable hour.

Later this morning, I went to the Samnet virtual pub for a fairly regular chat with a group of bellow blind people. They're somewhat older and have had very different lives to what I'm experiencing but I find it breaks up the solitude. Talk drifted around sleep and then to dreams and nightmares. I'm always fascinated with other peoples' nightmares. One lady described having a dream where she asked her talking clock what time it was and was told that she would die in 1999. How creepy is that? With all the talking gadgets which have populated my own life, I'm amazed I didn't have something like that. I guess that's a common fear, learning rather more about one's fate than is desireable. I rcounted a couple of the more creapy shorter nightmares I can still remember having from back in my middle school days. During that part of the day, I experienced a kind of jittery ultra-wakefulness with a surreal off-kilter punchy tinge. Had someone grabbed me with burderous intent as I left the elevator, it almost would have felt expected in a warped kind of way. I was quite glad to actuallly have a load of laundry to do and get me out of the apartment a bit. It broke up that long stretch of morning running into afternoon nicely.

This week has a few items of interest ahead. I'll finally be hooking up with Minney again on thursday if nothing derails her plans this time. It'll be good to have her over. We'll go out for dinner also. I last got together with her a year and a half ago. Who would have thought that the only friend I would take with me from five years of attending the Clearview Christian Reform Church would be a fifty-something year old West Indian lady whose life experience is about as different from mine as you could get? Dad and I will try and catch another Martini wednesday at Symposium. Also, there's a church meeting I'll be attending tomorrow night. Nice to have a few things happening like that.

I learned this evening that Mark Dailey has died of cancer. He didn't even make it to sixty years old. I'm struck by how much I took his disembodied voice for granted. I knew absolutely nothing about him other than that he had once had a heart attack until I read the article on CBC news about him. He was a police officer before becoming a journalist and was born in Ohio. I have a sense that I ought to have known so much more about him while he was alive. His voice was such a fixture in my TV consciousness that it just seems preposterous that he's now truly never going to say anything new in that rich deep voice. It adds to the surreal quality of this whole day. I hope he's found peace.

Well folks, I believe I'd better give up the ghost and turn in for the night. I've done my rounds online for the day and really can't muster focus for much of anything. Time to put that white noise on and hope everything works. Until next time, reader; Have a good sleep and pleasant dreams.