Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Coming Unstuck

Hello everyone. Time has snuck away from this largely happy blogger once again. I haven't done one of these since August. The Summer ended splendidly, although truth to tell, some aspects of it have continued into the Autumn for me. The past couple of days have been splendidly warm. Not quite equal to Summer's heat but a nice repreve from the generally cool rainy trend. Winter is definitely approaching, but it won't arrive quite yet.

I got to Canada's Wonderland a couple more times with Carine, Kevin, and his new special lady Tavia. We caught the Haunt Night special event. I can't say that it was anything more than good campy fun. They change the look of areas with hanging curtains, plastic slats and netting. I guess visually, that works quite well. However, it ended up merely being annoying for me as I ploughed through these flimsy barriers. Once or twice, my nose got caught in the holes in hanging netting or possibly simulated cobwebs and was yanked upwards. Still, we got on the rollercosters and hanging out with those high-spirited people was delightful. I'm glad they're willing to take me to these things rather than just presuming that I wouldn't like them. I simply enjoyed the occasion for different reasons than most people might have. We all got soked by the rain that arrived nearer the end of our outing but my fleece jacket stood me in very good stead. I think I was the dryest person in the group when we went to Symposium for a very late drink and bite to eat. As always, Symposium Cafe didn't let us down and we enjoyed around an hour's conversation along with our snacks.

Kevin and Carine plus a lot of other friends were also able to join me at Symposium Cafe for a wonderful gathering at the end of August. It was splendid to be able to see how so many of them reacted to each other. I had a profound sense of just how blessed I am with friendship in life. Hopefully, I can a chieve something similar at New Year's Eve. Certainly something else to look forward to.

I have also enjoyed a splendid Thanksgiving weekend this year. The Haunt night kicked it off nicely. We had our family dinner on sunday and it went very well with everyone present and in good spirits. I managed to get a couple of excellent audioboos of the festivities including one of my neaces being spun around on an office chair by their gleeful grandfather. My birthday also was quite enjoyable. I celebrated it with my family. My grandmother was there and able to visit her great granddaughters. Those little darlings were unfortunately a little under the weather which somewhat disorganised the celebration and made it tricky to capture a good audioboo of the occasion. I still managed to get one but it was a close thing. I hadn't realised that my brother Dan had one of those Tassimo coffee makers. I've been curious about what they felt and sounded like ever since hearing the review on them done by that brave and daring bunch over at Serotek. They really are very practical and easy to use for blind people and I may look into getting one after Christmas. Meanwhile, I've been thoroughly enjoying my order of Screech Tea that arrived on an otherwise uneventful Halloween this year. I stayed home and listenned to some short horror stories. There was also the Myth Busters Halloween special which was very entertaining.

I'm very thankful that I was healthy enough to enjoy my birthday and Thanksgiving weekend. However, those occasions formed brighter spots in a bit of illness I went through over this past while. The earlier portion was likely a flu or something similar. I found myself sneezing, coughing, and very very tired. I slept through large chunks of days and was generally lethargic. That illness hung around for a couple of weeks. Once I got over it, my sleeping was out of wack and I've had to contend with insomnia and ill-timed sleeps for the past while. Thankfully, that's finally cleared up over the past few days. I've felt more like myself again over the past weekend although I still slept through a couple of hours of yesterday afternoon. I'm not quite back at a hundred percent but I'm getting very close.

It's been hard to sustaine focus on any sort of creative work. I have, on the other hand, been reading a lot of books and listenning to podcasts. This has kept me from sinking into even worse conditions. The CNIB library and Audible have been wonderful resources over the past while. I've made two stupendous audio drama finds on Audible over the past couple of weeks. The first was The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This was an extention of sixteen brand new cases based on references to unwritten adventures in the Conan Doyle canon of Sherlock Holmes material. Bert Cules has done a terrific job both in crafting the cases and producing the audio dramas. I was exceedingly pleased to finally be able to obtain the adventures from Audible after fruitlessly searching for the CDs over the past four years. My other accidental find was the complete series of Inspector McLevy dramas. He's a fictional inspector in Edenborough Scotland during the Victorian era. Those two finds will certainly make this Winter a more pleasant experience. Real jewels in my growing collection of modern audio dramas. Especially the Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes collection. I was pretty much resigned to never finding those. I've read through a good many books in an effort to keep awake during daytime or stave off boredom. Sadly, despite being very interested while reading them, their content has largely vacated my brain. I'll have to re-read a lot of it at some point. On the bright side, I've got them for keeps and they kept my morale up when I needed them to.

It's now mid afternoon on november 22 as I continue writing this entry. The insomnia has at last mostly gotten back in its box. I've slept pretty well for a few days now. Having failed to pull myself away from Inspector McClevy in timely fashion this morning, I failed to take the chicken I planned to eat for lunch out to thawe. When I did so, I found that it was frozen together. The feel of the packaging had suggested that this might not happen. I won't make that mistake again. It took some doing to extract the two small breasts I actually wanted. They're now cooking on my grill bathed in Diana chicken sauce if I remember the smell of what I put on them correctly. Whatever the case, they begin to smell worth every bit of the trouble they put me to. Lunch has changed with minimal fuss into a kind of early supper on the theory that eating early might help my sleep remain good.

A whole lot has happenned over the past while. I've seen some friends including Paul from my church and Carine and her boyfriend Richard. It was nice to get to meet Carine's mysterious other half at last. He's a pretty nifty guy. Very observant and thoughtful but you can tell he's been overworked and through some rough stuff. There'll hopefully be more opportunities to know him better going forward. It's always interesting seeing how couples of friends relate to each other. Plans to see Michelle, Gerry and Angela haven't exactly worked out over the past little while but that ought to change soon.

Thanks to Twitter and my friend Michelle McQuigge for connecting the dots, it appears that I may have at last found someone who's actually interested in me and has real potential for a good stable relationship. Sara is blind and like me, is all too familiar with ODSP and the restrictions it puts on life and relationships both intentionally and otherwise. She's close to my age and is also a Christian who seems to take a similar approach to faith and values overall. She's Orthodox and I'm Reformed so we've already discovered some denominational differences but nothing insurmountable between two people who sincerely don't want to wait til doomsday before finding love. Both of us have had past relationships go wrong so we're taking it slow and careful. Nevertheless, even just coming into proof positive at long last that my hope for a less solitary life here isn't completely hopeless has done me a power of good. I guess it won't seem completely real until we actually get together and visit each other. She's in Brantford which is apparently around 40 minutes away or so. That still seems somewhat incredible to me. My sense of geography is apparently based more on how long it's been since I was last somewhere or how long it took to get there ffrom where I lived when I went there. Nothing's really solidified in my mind other than the very small area that I've walked repeatedly these past three years. There are still gaps even in that; Areas where I can easily, if only briefly, get confused.

Now and then, my compassion for people and instinctive urge to be helpful and friendly can get me into awkward situations. Lately, this has revealed itself to be the case when it comes to Lori from Lake Joe. She was the lady who Janet was acting as caretaker for. While Janet has some degree of an adult's understanding, Lori tends to be more child-like in her mental capacity. I really find it hard to be blunt but increasingly am forced to conclude that I have no choice. Once I broke up with Janet, she somehow got it into her head that I'd just start loving her. If I couldn't make it work with Janet, there's frankly no way on Earth that Lori would have worked out. Even as just a friend, she simply doesn't have the mental capacity to sustain an adult level conversation. My patience is unfortunately running very thin with her old circular track of conversation. "Are you looking forward to Lake Joe this Summer?" I'd be a very wealthy man had I a nickel for each time I've been asked that by her over the past months. She almost invariably responds with "not much" when asked what she's been doing. New thoughts or ideas? Afraid not. Presenting her with ideas never seems to get more than a basic serfice reaction. I have no objection to seeing her at a place like Lake Joe where there are other people and things to do. In such circumstances, I feel like I might actually add some good to her life being a bit more patient and kind than others have at times. However, even my patience has its limits. I keep thinking I've made more progress than I have at jently getting her to understand that there are others I would talk with on Skype and that I don't have a whole lot new to say to her. I keep comparing her to a child but in truth, it would probably be easier to cope with a similar situation with a child. I really feel for her and for her parents who obviously try their hardest to add friends and good people to her life. I'm just not the man she needs. I need a partner with comparable mental faculties to my own. I learned that bitter lesson the hard way and I try not to hurt anybody by repeating mistakes. I've endured a lot of loneliness due to people overlooking me as a suitable companion. It still hurts to have to push someone else away who is equally marginalised and lonely. I guess I'm glad of that overall. I haven't yet become the burnt out calous person that part of me has always dreaded slowly turning into as the lonely days and long nights tic past. I still have a soul suitable for and, I hope, deserving loving companionship. The day I lose that compassion and empathy for other unfortunate lonely souls, I'll know that the hourglass has run out and that a fundamental treasured part of me has been eroded away by time. Shurely, God has some woman out there for me. I very much hope that I've at last come across her and that I don't somehow botch things up unwittingly before we've even gotten together. It's hard not to second-guess oneself in the beginning before you're more familiar with each other's communicativeness, routine and such. I think though that Captain Picard got it right in that first episode of TNG. Better to be condemned for who we actually are.

It's approaching noon on saturday as I continue this entry. I'm now the proud owner of a Proform 6.0ZE elliptical trainer. Dad and I picked it out yesterday. It's a floor model so I got it for around half regular price. It certainly felt in good working order and nothing came to my father's notice as being missing. There's always that chance when you go for used rather than new but I've spent far less than I thought it would cost me to get a machine to work out on in the apartment. It's the kind of decision I might have made soon after moving into my apartment had the funds been available. Even without all the tremendous changes in my life that have come since, I would have valued having a private means of working off restless energy long before now. It feels like an investment finally made that was very long overdue. At long last, my quality of life has changed enough to give me more of a tangible sense of what being better shape is actually worth.

I can understand how that might sound strange to someone reading this who has no sense of how blocked off I've been from the more active meaningful social sort of life I've wanted. I've lived years where there's been absolutely no need for even all of the strength and energy I had let alone any more. I just haven't had the personal connections I'd need to go and do more physical things. I'm not often called upon to help move heavy objects or to actually use more vigour and strength than I have naturally as a relatively young person. I've lived through day after day of just sitting around reading, listenning, writing and thinking. Thankfully, there have been some occasions to break up the longer stretches of nothing new. My difficulty with orientation and getting anywhere has blocked me from quite a lot of what a lot of people my age would be doing as a matter of daily life. There's not much point in being Superman f there's no need for such strength in one's life. There have been relatively few occasions outside of times when illness or periods of insomnia where I've felt too exhausted or lacked the strength to do what I've wanted to do. People always talk about how habitual exercise really pays off as you get older. However, when you're young and sidelined from a lot of daily activity, that's a very distant call to conscience. I'm largely content with my health and energy level when insomnia or sickness isn't causing me special grief. I have no memory of having been in better condition. I was certainly less overweight in years past but even there, I can't point to any sort of feeling of energetic slimness and yearn to recapture it. Only in recent years have those quiet alarm bells started hitting home as I've had to contend with the occasional twinge or ache. Age is finally starting to give slight warning signs that I've got to get more in geer when it comes to exercise. Nothing major or overly alarming, but enough to prick through that sense that I can just coast along and take my current ability level for granted into eternity.

I was cut off from going out and seeing any friends I had who couldn't come to get me. That's still largely the case now. However, I've at least made some friends near enough to see more often and do things with. Also, now that I've reconnected with friends in Toronto and am in a permenent location, there is actually somewhere I'd very much like to learn to get to on a fairly regular basis. I have begun to actually have the connections to people interested in taking me places and spending more time out with me. It makes such a profound difference to be in a position where the extra effort it takes me to learn to get to Union Station will open up so much scope for deepenning relationships with old friends. Now that busses automatically announce the stops, I don't think I'll feel quite as easily detached from the process of getting where I need to. That Ariadne app is also going to help me a ton. I don't imagine I'll ever be able to navigate a large city, but I think getting to stations where I can be met with people who can do that is within my reach.

It's monday evening, november 26th. The elliptical machine I bought has arrived and seems to be in sound if a little creeky condition. It's harder than ordinary running would be. I've got a long way to go in terms of getting in good shape if less than ten minutes on it tuckers me out. I'll take it slow and careful going for short stints on it when writer's block or boredom strikes. Before my actual workouts, I'll be shure to do some stretches as the manual suggests. Zombies Run seems to work alright with it as far as I can judge being so unacustomed to actually running on an elliptical. It's more like taking oversized quick steps.

Christmas shopping has begun in earnest for me. I've found a few gifts but there are still my little neaces to acquire interesting things for if possible. Nothing really struck me as "gotta get" for themat Discovery Channel's online store. That's usually my very first port of call and I've found nifty stuff there for them in the past. Alass, not this year. As they get older, I think it'll get easier for me to find the outside-the-box sort of stuff I'd like to as their uncle. I have fond memories of being utterly surprised and wowed by gifts from my aunts and uncles of toys I had never heard of or imagined existed. It's a legacy of fun and imaginative mental stimulation that I'd like to pass on.

There have been other events since August. A good many moments of fascination due to podcasts, books and recently, this year's Massey Lectures from the CBC. Neil Turrock did a terrific job of explaining science's current views of how reality is built and the steps and theories which have taken us there. He brought the humanity back to science for me in a very powerful way. The book and lectures are available on iTUNES. Search for "the universe within" on iBOOKS and "massey lectures" on iTUNES. If you have any sort of scientific curiocity, you'll be absolutely captivated by his pleasant engaging style.

It's now tuesday evening. I had a pretty busy day. Got my flue shot and also a haircut for starters. My order of groceries arrived with only a couple substitutions. I overdid the fruit a bit am confident that I'll be better able to judge how many individual fruits to get next time and not stuff my fridge shelf quite so full. I'm really going to make an effort to snack more on fruit this month and conserve other snacks more. We'll see how that goes in addition to working out on my new machine. I got a new portable 500 GB drive that's much smaller and lighter than I thought it would be. It runs very quietly on USB power. Copying my large audio library over to the drive was without any complications. It did take over two hours for around 250 GB to make the trip down its short USB cable. In many ways, digital space is another very important piece of what constitutes home. I've been collecting all sorts of digital audio over the past twenty years or so. A whole lot of narrated books, dramas, podcasts, movies and music. I don't know what's more astounding; That I've had time in my life to listen to the staggerring amount of it that I have, or that I can now lift that legacy easily with a finger and carry it securely in a pocket. We certainly live in times of wonder.

It's getting later now, approaching eleven o'clock. I've been writing down my reflections slowly due to the pop music in the background. I still find it very hard to write while music with words is on despite recent efforts to get over that hangup. It doesn't seem to matter how familiar or unfamiliar I am with the lyrics. They get in my writing way. I've retreated from this undertaking switching to relaxing instrumental music. A beautiful track from the Princess Bride soundtrack, Guide My Sword, is my reward. In addition to getting myself into better shape, I really mustn't let so much time go past between blog entries. Particularly given this new chapter in life I seem to be enterring, I feel like I should have recorded more of my thoughts over the past three months and more motivated to record whatever comes up next. It feels indescribably refreshing to have the possibility of finding love again in life. It's going to be a gradual journey, but both of us have found out enough about each other to have real hope for something solid and lasting at its end.

It's wednesday morning. I'll be off to brunch at Symposium Cafe soon with my father. We're also going to get me some beer. Tonight, there's the Dam and movie night. Can't remember what the movie was going to be this week. Next week though, it's Bat Man, Dark Knight Rises! Yay! I'll finally get to take that one in. I had hoped to see it in the theatre with friends, but as usual, that just hasn't panned out for me. I believe I'll have better luck with the Hobbit. Paul is interested in going and envited me along for the 14th. It'll be damned nice not to wait ages to see this one. Even nicer to be able to envision a future where I have a special lady in life to experience such cultural events with. It was awesome to find an email from Sara in my inbox first thing this morning. I hadn't realised how much I missed getting those from Janene when I was her special man. I feel so much less burried by the past. It's still there and always will be, but I find I'm think ahead a little more than I would have even a week ago. It helps to have something life-changing and actually attainable in view after so long without that. A sphere of this blessed and unusual life where I have more of an immediate impact and won't work away for years without anything but good conscience to show for it. Looking ahead to December, I'll be seeing friends before Christmas if all goes acording to plan. I'd like to arrange a Symposia Carfe gatherring for December 12. At twelve noon, twelve after twelve to be precise, all five digits in the date will match up for the last time in this century. I'd like to capture that moment for Audioboo and if possible, I'd like to share that with friends. We'll see how that goes or if it gets off the ground at all. I also hope to get together with Stephen after he gets back from his cruise and see friends from Toronto. Hope he feels up to stopping in at my humble apartment and enjoying some hospitality here also. I guess there's also a Christmas breakfast in the building. Not certain when that's going to be but I'll attend if possible. With Christmas at the far end, December is already looking quite festive and busy.

Lunch at Symposium Cafe was up to its usual excellence. I had the chicken souvlaki on a bun which was messy but quite good. Picked up some Japanese beer called sapora or something like that plus an ale called Optical Illusion from Flying Monkey. Never heard of that bunch before so I figured I'd try one of theirs out. Count on me to be up for unusual beers any time. Mom needs a new computer. She used my old one which has just bit the dust at long last. It did so suddenly so she couldn't back anything up. No huge loss other than possibly some of her pictures. Things should be a lot better for her on a new computer that's hers from the word go. I'll just put NVDA on it for those occasions when she needs my help with it. We spent a good part of the lunch going over flyers and prices of various computers. She's going to get a laptop. There's a lot of choice in her price range and it'll stand her in far better stead when it comes to games. She's really taken to those. I've given the best advice I could based on specs but there's also the experiencial element. Thankfully, places usually have demo models that people can use to see if they like the look and feel of various laptops. It's hard to go too far wrong at this juncture for her needs. Dad also wants a new router. He's been having connectivity problems with his iPAD and the one they currently have. My Time Capsule is purring along quite contentedly these days. Haven't had much trouble with it at all. Once they've made their decisions, they'll want me around to help set things up. I'm thinking mom won't have trouble getting her new laptop going. The last few times, it's been a matter of just filling in whatever answers or choices are offered and things have gone smoothly. Hopefully, the router will be similarly cooperative this time around. Mom's quite excited at the prospect of her very own new laptop.

I've managed to do a half-hour mission on the elliptical by taking it slow. It's somewhat easier to sustain a slow loping ramble and speed up when it's important for the game to outrun zombies. Still tiring but doable. The only package I'm current awaiting is the adaptor which runs the fan and console on the machine. Still lots of time to track down something interesting for the kids for Christmas. I've begun working on a list of games to get for mom. There'll be a number from Bigfish Games. She really likes those but I also like to look farther afield in case of any more in-depth unique treasures.

And that pretty much sums everything up. Hope you've enjoyed this somewhat disjointed slice of my life. I'll try and blog more regularly over the next while as events dictate. Smaller chunks are easier to create and to chew. Until next time, dear Reader, picture me feeling energetic and full of hope. I'm sitting in a comfortably warm apartment with a cup of hot Screech tea within easy reach and delightful instrumental New Age music in the background. Damned close to paradise.


Sara M Hillis said...

I'm glad to see that this mamoth entry has finally appeared! I myself cannot blog like that. I tend to blog when I have something interesting or thought-provoking to talk about, but to write paragraphs and paragraphs over several days or weeks would soon drive me ti distraction, making me feel like I had to date every paragraph and allow my readers to follow me through the labyrintine maze of my thoughts with something of a golden thread for guidance. Of course, I am also not very persevering. If I can't get something about my life said in a few paragraphs and written in an hour or so, then I figure it's not worth saying. But that's just how I work I guess. :)

I look forward to reading more of your blog entries, and I may just decide to give you a few friendly nudges toward getting them out in a more timely manner. :)

Unknown said...

Mike - great that you got an elliptical! If you get bored with Zombie Run but still want something that challenges you to up your fitness/endurance level gradually, I can't recommend the C25K program enough. It's made for running (I did it on the treadmill), but why shouldn't one use it on the elliptical too? There are a few iPhone apps for the program. I'll e-mail you the link to the one I used - you can load up a podcast playlist to listen to while working out, and the app just breaks in each time you're to switch from a slow to fast interval (or vice versa). Only thing I can't say is how accessible it is or isn't.