For you, the dress code is casual.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Heady Post on a Heady Subject: Brain Injuries

I've been thinking a lot about head injuries for the last several months.

I frequently work on documentary shows at work and did a doc on brain injuries back in May or June, and it just tripped a switch. My brother's been going through a lot since his accident, which gave him a five-day coma, and has permantly given him brain damage, the extent of which he's only learning now. (Not too intense, but certainly enough.)

I'm beginning to think I should look into these things myself. I've had four concussions, at least, now. One very, very serious one as a result of my scooter accident. I mean, the pressure was so great my hearing aids exploded in my ears. Lots of blood. (Don't know if I got a concussion when I was thrown from that horse or fell down the flight of stairs, or any as a kid, but those would take it beyond six...)

I've learned the hard way over the last couple of years that I think things affected me more than I realized. Well beyond the "I remember about eight things from the first six months" bit I've long been aware of. (Ever had a six-month blackout? I filled a couple journals then, but have never yet read 'em.)

See, there can be periods in your life where you're just living the same thing day after day. Think about it: You're steadily employed doing the same job day after day, you keep the same technology around, you read books a little less, but you're pretty much never really challenged, right? Most of us just have to resume what we did before. If we're a fraction slower down the line, so be it. It's still rote.

It's not until you have to start learning new things, or start interacting more with others, until the scope of brain injury hits you. It's not until I left my job and had to start learning new jobs that I really started to feel like I wasn't keeping up. But I figured, "It's just a new job. It's hard to learn new jobs."

But I used to catch on really quickly. Not that I'm some turtle in a rabbit race or anything, but I notice the difference. I get more confused, too, when people explain things to me. I need things explained a particular way.

Lately, though, I'm starting to wonder if maybe it affected my impulse control. I say and do things sometimes that wind up surprising the hell out of me. It's hard to tell, though, because I've always been a very flippant person, but sometimes I'm completely over the top with it. Still, I've always been predisposed to foot-in-mouth disorder, but it's the tearfulness that I think is the clincher.

See, I've never been a crier. I'm a tough fucking girl. Always have been. "Crying is weak!" But in the last four years, I've cried often and easily. I've had a lot of good reason to, heh, but, still! I have my pride! I'm tough! Ford's built by chumps when compared to Steff Tough, buddy.

Yeah. I dunno. It's been a really strange few months as I've considered this. It never really occurred to me that I could go, this far after the fact, to look into the extent of things... But. I think it's in my advantage to really know. And it's Canada, dude! The government will likely pick up the tab. Otherwise, I'll live without.

But that's kind of been the whole point of this year, right? Learning everything I can about myself so I can know exactly what it is I'm trying to change? Know from whence you've come before you can know where you're going? Know your limits, and push beyond?

Well. I'd be shirking if I didn't look into this, too.

Know thyself, heal thyself. Pretty simple goals, really. I think this would explain a lot for me, though, if I'm right. I've gone through a lot of anger and frustration with myself over certain things in the recent years. Mostly of the "Why in the fuck did I do THAT?" kind of scenario. And when you search and dig and ponder and beg and just never fucking figure it out, there's a shocking clarity that comes from "Why, I think that's it..." realizations, especially when it's just plain old not your fault.

Forgiveness would be a wonderful thing. I'm kind of as far as I can go with forgiving myself, but knowledge that releases you, that it's not your fault, that kind of forgiving of yourself is something money can't buy.

The trouble is, you can't undig this information. Once you know, you know. Once it's in a file, it's in a file. You realize I have a commitment phobia, don't you?

The good thing is, they won't be telling me anything I don't think I already know. Who's kidding who? Bump on the noggin or no, I'm still a smart cookie, and I know myself about as well as anyone ever did. And I know something has changed. A lot has changed for the better, but those things I've noticed.

Knowing won't make it worse, but could make it something I can use, in a way. That's an over-Christmas project, maybe. Getting that ball rolling for next year. Learn me somethin' on me.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Couple Photos on the Fraser

Sunset near my home last night.

Yes. I'm actually going to start breaking out the camera from time to time. Finally getting rechargeable batteries for my fucking hog of a camera. :)

Just a willow on the path. I'm a sucker for reflections.

Another sunset shot, same location, through brambles.

Finally, the requisite golden sunset shot. Amazing, all the varying colours in one 30-minute stretch, huh?

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Politics and Food: All You Need, and a Little Cleaning

I honestly think the stock market was completely self-destructing last week because, in an age where media is omnipresent and talking points ubiquitous across all of it, never has a national leader's silence and invisibility been so deafening and hard-to-ignore as President Bush's.

From Washington: Nothing.

On Friday, from Chicago: The promise of the new direction thundered. The leak of Geithner being tapped for Secretary Treasury caused one of the top five market gains in history. If that doesn't say they were waiting for something, anything, in the form of direction, nothing does.

Add to that the incredible smarts behind appointing the guy who the NYT called the one person responsible thus far for keeping this cratering economy from becoming a new Great Depression, and I think things might start stabilizing a bit more. That he's LIVED in five countries that are huge players in today's economy, well, we'll have the first economic leader with a truly international perspective... coupled with, ironically, the first leader with a truly international perspective. In the age of globalisation? Priceless.

Back to the week that was. When the market's responding to genuine reports, that's one thing, but when it's on a roller-coaster emotional ride that ought to be sponsored by Pepto Bismol, there's a need for real direction from the top down. The market's like a sick child sometimes. Sure, medicine helps, but often the thing that really makes the difference is the comforting presence of a watchful parent. However you define Bush, "watchful" certainly doesn't make the cut.

I'm reading Obama's Audacity of Hope after all this time, and I'm getting increasingly hopeful about the years ahead. I'm under no illusions everything's going to sproing back to health in six months. I think it's going to take the entire first term to really get anywhere, despite APEC's probably naive assessment that this recession can be overcome in 18 months.

But I think Americans have gotten a very, very real glimpse of how bad it can get, how fast. I think they're mature enough to understand that it doesn't heal overnight. I'm hopeful about their patience. I think so long as the bleeding stops in the next 6-8 months, and some --ANY-- healing then starts, that they'll be willing to wait it out. It's the "able" to do so that concerns me.


I'm cleaning today. Have to return my piece-of-shit phone to the store. Actually, the phone's awesome. I think Telus lacks the ability to support DECT6.0 technology, and they're too big of wankers to admit it. Two DECT6.0 phones failing back to back? Same problems? Hmm. Methinks not the technology. Methinks it's the '90s wiring that can't keep up with new millenium technology.

Telus Fails.

I also plan to do ridiculously tasty things to pork for more meals to get me through my week. I'll need to cycle to the store to return my phone. It's a nice short ride. I think I'll keep it easy and manageable a bit before I start pushing it. My back injury, the scope of the immobility I suffered, well... it leaves me very, very cautious and nervous. Until it's 100%, I'm going to be scared. And even then I suspect The Fear will linger. Never has any injury so impacted my life from top down as the back injury. Knee? Fucking child's play in comparison. Head injury, well, that's a different matter. Still.

The fallout of my back problems continues. I've been suffering infection after infection of late, mostly of the candida variety, and I think it's entirely diet-related. The back woes made it impossible for me to eat as well as anyone should. I was constantly eating crap for the sake of ease, all processed. It's gutted me. I'm so fucked up from all the white flour and crap I've been eating. I'm tired, I'm blah.

I've lost FIFTY POUNDS this year. From being healthy! From living well! To have gone completely 180 for six weeks just killed me, but I've never had anything so glaringly affirm for me all the ways in which I've gone wrong. I know now how destructive diet can be, I've seen the bookending spectrum of what food does from the inside out, and I have learned from the errors of my way.

But I've been working hard to eat well for a few days now. No white flour, more seafood, more veggies. No butter.

I'm getting militant on the food thing. I'm pissed off, angry as fuck I've been reduced to feeling this crappy for this long, and I know -- I KNOW -- it's in my power to change; I just haven't done it.

Ironically, it was this time last year I gained the initial motivation to change myself. That worked out well. Now I have a new motivation to stop feeling like shit. This, too, will work out well. If there's anything I've gained in the last year, it's the awareness that I really do have license to kick ass and take names... if I really aim for that.

I made a fantastic ragout last night, for instance, and instead of just doing the onions-peppers mix I always do, I added carrots and zucchini and other stuff. Very hearty but more healthy. I had it with a brown-rice pasta I found at one of the better veggie stands, and it's pretty damned good. Nothing like the handmade Italian pasta I so love, but it's comparable to your standard Grocery Store durum/semolina pasta like Catelli, but it's got no flour or egg or anything like that. Brown rice, bran, water. Very, very healthy. Filling, too! I've had brown rice pasta before, and it's always sucked. Tinkyada's "Pasta Joy" brand, though, is a win. (Canadian, so good luck with that, Americans.)

Tonight it's a Mexican pork casserole with lots of tomatoes, veggies, quinoa, seasonings, and pork. Fat? Not so much. It'll be great. Had it a couple months or so ago and it's easily one of the nicest casseroles I've made in a long time. That it's healthy? Total score. Uberfilling? Ultrascore! (Original recipe called for white rice, but I use quinoa 'cos it's such a healthy option and tastes the same but nuttier. :)

It seems like I'm never gonna get fucking caught up after the whole back-injury bullshit, but I'm slowly getting there. Finally winning the war against cockroaches, for instance. Haven't seen any for about three days. GREAT news. Slow but sure. I've been totally sterilizing twice a day. Working very nicely. And my floor's cleaner than it's probably been in 20 years. Looks incredible. Bleaching has done wonders.

I hate all the chemicals, but I hate the bugs more. As soon as it's all in check, then I go to biodegradable products, which always did the trick before FUCKHEAD moved in with his bug collection. Jesus. :P

Anyhow, back to the fun of cleaning. At least I can now get caught up on cleaning whilst making good food each weekend day so I'll get to live healthier after work all week long. So, yeah, some progress... still slow. But progress. :)

[And... when I succeed with the total-diet-makeover? All this grief, suffering, and discomfort will have been worth it. It's the achievement of a lifelong desire. I've never had this level of motivation before. THIS, well, you can't manufacture or call to being this kind of motivation. It needs to become imposed upon you through happenstance and consequence. It's reactionary change called into being through necessity. Kind of like the vote for change in America. The situation required it, and the people responded. Fun.]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quickie Update.

My father informs me I've gone two weeks without updating. Whups.

I'll get to it. Just a quickie hi. I've got to shower and get to work. Slept 10 hours last night, first time I've had more than six hours in about two months. LOVE that.

Life's improving quickly. My back is improving. I'm inundated after weeks of immobility and pain -- playing catch-up with life is a hard thing to do when you've been unable to do much at all for a long time.

But I'm slowly catching up. Another week or two and I'll be where I need to be.

There hasn't been much to report. Pain doesn't improve in leaps and bounds. Injuries are slow and tedious. Struggle takes time to pass. I haven't had much worth saying. Life's required doing, not reflecting, of late, and that's the way the blogging cookie crumbles.

I found I got into a horribly negative place in the whole back deal. Pain puts me in a bad place short-term, but living in constant total-body pain is a crippling ordeal. Better people than me survive it, because god knows I wasn't fond of who it made me become. Goodness.

Anyhow. I'm far from 100% and have been told this will take two months to surpass -- two months from now. So this will be the better part of a third of a year of my life before I'm through, but the physiotherapist says I'll be stronger, more balanced, and able to do the complicated yoga poses that have always eluded me in about three months if I do everything he says.

But it's gonna take a lot of work.

On the up-side: I cycled 9km on Sunday. It felt rough at times, but it happened, I survived it, and I'm happy. :)

Now I gotta work. Jetting, baby. Bus time. Leaving way late because the thought of 80 kids crammed on the bus to get to school makes me violently ill. I'm clearly getting old. Ha!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Today's the Day

I've been an Obama fan since he spoke at the 2004 DNC.

I saw him electrify the audience and I wistfully thought, "Wow, wouldn't it be awesome if this guy ran for prez one day? Someone dreaming the bigger dream? Yeah. Fat chance of that."

And when he announced he'd be running in '06, I thought, "Well, it'll make for interesting discussion points on the trail. Too bad he won't get far."

Then Iowa happened in January. I thought, "Fuck. Are you serious? Dude's got a chance? WHITE PEOPLE will vote for him in white America too? Maybe this is the time... Maybe this is the year we finally get leadership with vision, leadership with hope. Well, there's a chance at least..."

But I didn't think he could ultimately trump Hillary. And then her campaign took a seriously wrong turn, his caught fire, and it's looking like the rest is history.

Either way tonight, I'll be crying. My folks raised me to accept others, to never look at skin colour, to never judge people on appearances but instead who they are and what they offer. My father gave me history books on the Underground Railway used by slaves escaping to Canada when I was as young as 12.

I was told the story of the time my folks were looking for a way out of someplace in New York state back in the early '60s and my father tells me of when he walked into an all-black diner back then, oblivious, and asked where to go, and every mouth stopped flappin', every eye laid on him, and he said when he got outta there he'd never been so scared in his life.

But we never had that division in Canada. We never had the us-versus-them mentality be as prevalent as it is down south. It's always broken my heart to see the racial divide so great in America.

And now, here we are, at a turning point in the western world. An election that stands to change it all.

And in 12 hours we'll know who's won.

I'm so proud of America today, for taking the chance and embracing someone truly offering something different to the mix. What an exciting time to be alive... on a day when history is truly being written.

Some of us wait lifetimes for moments like these, and I'm enjoying this as best I can.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Oh, Praise Be! Yay Me!

Well, my back's still pretty gimpy, but I'm a couple hours out from a chiropractor's appointment, and I'm going to feel much better after that.

Especially since I've just found out I'm approved for the loan I've requested this week.

This means: A good new bed, new couch, a wardrobe for my new lighter, trimmer self, gear for my scooter and winter cycling, runners, a new helmet, and more, as well as erasing all my other debt, including all my behind-the-eight-ball ever-escalating utility bills.

Included in the loan was a request for $1,500 to spend on massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic for my back between now and the year end -- so I can max out my entitlements under my extended health plan, which means I'll get a cool 80% of that back in the coming months.

Today I'm headed to Costco to stock up on meats and fish while the money is flush. All my utilities will go back to zero this month, and despite taking on debt, I'll be adjusting my income by about $400 a month. That's a lot, when you're in my income bracket.

And it's a fuck of a lot of stress off the shoulders of this Steff. :) Now the trick'll be continuing to live under THIS budget with THAT surplus. I think I can do it. I won't need to buy all these things, so, why not?

I'll continue being busy for a week or so as I attempt to find a couch. I'll be leaving for work early Monday, by bus, so I can visit all the Broadway sleep galleries to see what works for me. The sooner I get a new bed, the better for my health, life, and sanity. Mine is fucking destroying me.

I'm so relieved I could cry. I gotta tell you, I'm proud that I've been all grown-up and have requested money only for things I truly, truly need right now, or that benefits me financially for the longterm.

So, yeah, finally... a chiropractor appointment this afternoon, which I had to cancel for one of the weeknights this past week and I've been regretting cancelling ever since, and I get to look forward to the fact that I can actually AFFORD to see a masseuse on Tuesday, and I'll be buying some acupuncture and seeing a physiotherapist, and more. I've been doing everything in my power to heal my back... but this has become a problem I really must throw money at.

And now I can. Even better? I'll get the money back. Yay. Within a couple of weeks, my life is going to be in a whole new place. :) Yay.

Yay, fucking yay. Sigh. I've earned a little reprieve, man.