Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Good Times Ahead and Behind

Hello everyone. Figured it was time to put another blog posting up there so readers could move on from the darker heavier last posting. It's been a pretty interesting couple of weeks. Insomnia has struck again rather hard lately. I think perhaps the change of seasons as winter weather starts to arrive may have set it off. Thankfully, I've avoided hitting absolute bottom this time and may even be on the way back upward. Getting my darkest moments written down and out there in the open has been wonderfully cathartic. I hadn't realized how much it had been weighing upon me all this time. I guess it's my way of truly turning the page on things. This year has really been one huge page turner for me.

The forum at the Dam last week went exceedingly well and we had a great discussion on societal expectations and self-worth. Every so often, that kind of thing happens to remind me what hopes I had when I originally volunteered and keep them alive. There won't be any more forums until after the holidays. However, there are a couple more drop ins before Christmas. There's also a Christmas party this week which I'll be attending. It'll be interesting to see how the teens react to that. I haven't gotten the sense that any of them are religious.

Last week, I went to the Mountain Equipment Co-op store in Burlington. I've been thinking of purchasing a travel pack for quite a while now. As it turned out, my parents purchased the pack as my Christmas present for which I'm very grateful. For the record, I ended up with the Sojourn travel pack. There was some confusion about which pack I preferred. I got the one I liked better but didn't realize that due to some mix-up possibly about which racks they were placed on, this pack was the Sojourn rather than the Walkabout. What finally twigged me to this was being completely unable to find any sleeping bag compartment as was mentioned in the Walkabout description. The Sojourn lacks such a compartment. It has internal compression straps which I could use to hold a sleeping bag neatly in the main pack. I've never been great at rolling those so that's going to be helpful. The main pack has plenty of room for stuff. The day pack is roomy enough for my computer gear, water bottle, and other items. I'll use it when I go to the Dam.

It's Tuesday afternoon now. Just had a delicious brunch of bacon and eggs. The week is going pretty well so far. My Christmas shopping is as done as it'll get. I have to get mom and Emily's gifts somewhat closer to the day. This time of year really shows how very different things are for Emily than for me. She wasn't in a very cheerful mood last time I talked with her. That's very understandable given her circumstances. I'm glad she's found somewhere to go on Christmas day. We've just begun the process of getting to know each other and it feels far too early to bring her into a family Christmas. I'm hoping she can join me for my second New Year's party here. That ought to be something special. I can't help but think about and sympathize with her. I'd love to be able to snap my fingers and fix everything for her but that's a process which takes time, love and care. We've decided to keep carefully exploring the possibility of being more than just friends. I'm glad she had a change of heart there. That took courage finding the strength to hope. Things should begin to improve for her in the new year. This is, I hope, the bottom of the painful valley life has forced her into. I very much look forward to trying to help her find a more stable plateau in the months ahead. I've reached a point in life where I'll be alright if a relationship beyond friends doesn't ultimately prove to be in the cards. Here, there's enough to keep me going in life either way. It's a very good position of stability from which to seek companionship even if it somewhat limits prospective partners. If things don't work out for us as more than friends, it'll certainly be painful but nowhere near as devastating as losing Janene was. That has far more to do with the circumstances in which I now find myself than with Emily. She isn't used to seeing herself as of much value or as very intelligent. She is though. I've just begun to scratch the surface there in our conversations. She doesn't have formal educational credentials but she has absorbed an awesome amount of practical street wisdom.

Over the past while, I've gotten to see a number of friends including Adam and his girlfriend Jeanette. It was great spending the day with them despite my insomnia-induced nodding off at one point. They'll likely be at my new year's party. So will Mark and Wendy who I also got to have dinner with here at the apartment. Plans to try a new chicken place fell apart so we ended up cooking dinner and eating here. It's always a treat having them over. A friend from Meadowvale Secondary School has contacted me via Facebook. Patrick and I used to have the odd class together and had some wonderful talks back then. A few of us including Adam and I will hopefully be able to get together with him here in Meadowvale for a small fun reunion. Facebook just keeps proving its worth despite all its hastles.

Today has been very pleasant and busy. It has more than made up for the frustratingly slow and unproductive cession at the Dam yesterday. None of the kids did more than say a quick hi. It was still nice chatting with the staff and volunteers. I got precisely nowhere on the article I'm working on for a future church newsletter. I'm far from giving up on it but it's proving a damnably tough nut to crack. Today started out with the yearly Christmas breakfast in our building. I chatted with a couple of building management staff I had never come across before. Shirley also showed up for a good chunk of it later on. People were very relaxed and things went quite splendidly. A bunch of them recognized me this time. Yet another positive sign that I'm starting to really belong here in this community.

Dad picked me up and we went to a few places. He treats me to beer and I stocked up on Paddock Wood Czech Mate and Sleeman Fine Porter. The Paddock Wood beer is my favourite discovery of the year in that department. It has a different fruity taste that I find very refreshing. One of those things which you'd think wouldn't work but really does. I believe I'll wait until tomorrow or Friday to see how the Sleeman Fine Porter stacks up. Dad and I each had two martinis with lunch. That's plenty of alcohol for one day. Thought I had tried pretty much every Sleeman beer there was but didn't know they made a porter. I'm expecting an excellent and interesting flavour. Sleeman's is about as mainstream as I tend to get with my beer selections but they're not above putting out some nicely unique beers from time to time. I enjoy different beers. All the more when I get to share them with guests.

We had a look around the Dollar store where I came across a gift for little Amia. That was my only remaining missing gift to obtain. Last weekend, I ended up seeing Carine and Kevin for the first time in a while. They had to do some Christmas shopping and I chose to go along. That gave me a chance to grab a few small gifts for certain people who shall remain nameless lest they happen to read my blog. I've been very blessed over this past year and I always enjoy sharing as much of that as is practical with others. Carine has a treadmill which may suit my needs and spacious bedroom admirably. Something to investigate over the next while. Thanks to my grandmother's recent generosity, I can actually afford to pay a little for it. I've wanted one of those in here for quite some time now. I've never felt comfortable listening to headphones in more public environments. This way, I can listen to whatever's on my netbook while exercising and not disturb anybody else. A while ago, I started a savings account which automatically took ten dollars per month from my checking account. I've put around $200 in there from my grandmother's timely gift. That would have taken around two years to save up myself. I'm still not quite at the point where I could purchase a new laptop or something like that if I had to but I'm a ton closer to it than I thought I'd be. My little jewel of a netbook is still holding up wonderfully so I should be there well before it kicks the bucket.

For brunch at the Symposium Cafe, I decided to try their barbecued chicken dinner. It didn't disappoint. The chicken was delicious and they do very enjoyable vegetables and roasted potatoes to go with it. Definitely something I'll have again. Dad's still got a bit of his cold but it seems like he's getting better. He's thrilled with his iPAD and has picked up some games for my nieces to play on it when he visits them.

The groceries arrived in good time this afternoon. One new experiment I'm trying is fair trade chocolate. Ken's lecture on how most of the world's chocolate gets its coco struck a nerve with more than just me. Don't know how effective it was for the teens but it got me thinking twice about buying my usual Mars bars. I decided to try Coco Camino chocolate bars and bought two hundred-gram ones. Thankfully, they're divided into small squares making rationing easier. It makes chocolate more of an expense and reduces how much I eat at once. We'll see how that goes over the next while. It's a small gesture in the grand scheme of things but I feel better for trying. I got almost everything I ordered. There were four substitutions which were perfectly fine with me. I am, however, disappointed that they didn't have Kind Bars this time. I've come to very much enjoy those as a healthy if somewhat pricey snack once in a while. I especially like the almond coconut ones. Despite that tiny disappointment, I'm very well stocked for the holiday period ahead. Far more so than a number of people I know. It's certainly an interesting place full of many oddities that society has seen fit to stick me in. I very much hope that history remembers me as a man who counted and shared his blessings. ODSP only works as well as it does for me because of a number of fortunate circumstances which attend my life and not others on the system. Chief among those circumstances are a stable supportive family and a wonderful cast of friends new and old. Also, I really lucked out beyond my wildest hopes with subsidized housing after ten years of life in limbo. I can't imagine a more perfect place for me to live short of Heaven itself. In many ways, I'm a profoundly lucky man.

I've been re-reading Robert J. Sawyer's The Terminal Experiment over the past few days. It's neat to read a book about a year you've lived through that was written around a decade earlier. That book is just as profound as his WWW trilogy which I've just finished at last. That guy has so much hope for the future. I'd love to meet him some day. His books seem to pass that optimistic perspective on to their readers. He sets me a very fine example as I write this blog, work on other creative projects, and conduct my extraordinary life.

Tomorrow, I'll be attending the Dam's annual Christmas party during the evening. The fire alarm tests will make the next couple of days very un conducive to lengthy writing of any sort. I'll use them as an opportunity to catch up with news and also with my favourite podcasts which have been very neglected this past half year or so. Perhaps, this trove of countless unheard hours of listening material is one of the largest testaments of just how much life has changed for me over the past year. Like good friends, I know they're waiting and ready if I should need them again. In particular, I feel a tad guilty for missing episodes of Spark and From Our Own Correspondents. How appropriate. Winamp, in its infinite random wisdom, has just picked out Step By Step sung by Huey Lewis & The News. A perfect song for my reflections. Life is going great right now. Not perfect. I don't live in some sort of faerie tale. There are plenty of limitations, thwarted desires and frustrations. When you get right down to it though, they're the friction that keeps everything real. As 2011 comes to a close, I find myself in a wonderful groove. My efforts have paid off in splendid fashion and there's plenty of scope for action. Lots to learn, enjoy, and do. How appropriate. Winamp has now picked out Vanessa Williams Oh How the Years go By. Inspiring music, both pop and instrumental, is certainly one of the many blessings I count. This song once caused me to painfully dwell on not finding a soul mate with whom I could face life's ups and downs. Now, it gives me hope of doing so while causing me to reflect on the many friends I've found to share my adventures with. Hope, effort and patience really do pay off. I keenly look forward to what 2012 brings.