It’s more than a noun.

Before I moved to Montreal, my whole inability to speak French was something that constantly weighed on my mind. In fact, it stressed me right the fuck out. Everyone would assure me that everything would be fine and I would get by and for arguments sake I have.

Although, not being able to speak the language coherently has it’s pitfalls of course. I’m really not gifted when it comes to languages. My grade nine French teacher can attest to that. In fact I’m pretty sure I only got the grade that I did just so that she wouldn’t have to deal with me again. Adult me can understand her frustration, teachers work hard and having a student who clearly didn’t give a shit obviously didn’t help. Needless to say, life was much different when I was 14.

Never, ever in a million years did I think that I would end up here.

It would have been much easier to take a course when I first moved here, except I ended up getting a job right away and well when you work in a kitchen; your schedule is so erratic that anything that requires you to have a set schedule is pretty much impossible most of the time.

So after my ex and I split and I started doing my own thing, I started to partake in a conversational French course that was offered at a local un-employment center in the neighbouring borough. It was a great course while I was actively participating in it, then I got sick with a hellish lung infection and ended up missing so many classes, I decided that there was no real point in going back for the time being.

Then just for the hell of it, I started taking a beginner class at a local college here. Except that’s not entirely cost effective at best (it was $250.00 per class and there’s 5 levels)–and- for it to be effective at all in a learning sense, you need to be consistent and keep at it. So last winter before my father passed away, I enrolled into the same class that was offered at the center that I had taken before. It was cost effective and I had the time. Then I lost my dad and trying to tackle a French course two weeks after loosing your dad is foolish at best. Yet, I thought that it was worth a shot. So I went to a few classes while struggling to deal with the loss of my dad and the ton of drama that came along with it.

Worst. Idea. Ever.

When you suffer from depression like I do, your short term memory is gone. You team that up with anxiety and just trying to keep it together for the couple of hours that you have for class. There were only a dozen of us in this class and participation is required. I hate being put on the spot and I struggled but I tried. I get very anxious and overwhelmed when I don’t understand something, which quickly turns to frustration and my mind becomes a giant cluster fuck. Than I feel really stupid. I’ve learned to recognize these signs and I try to offset them with internal rationale. It’s not so much that i’m a bad student, I just don’t do well at things I have to do, vs things I want to do.

Anyway- I got called out in class for something. I needed to figure out a noun for part of the conversation.

Imagine my horror when I could not for the life of me remember what a noun was.

The two guys sitting behind me were laughing, the teacher was looking at me with the most (understandably) incredulous look on his face. I felt like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights and my face burned bright and hot with the shame and embarrassment of my failure.

My mind was completely blank, I couldn’t formulate a thought to save my life and I don’t think I have ever been more mortified or anxious.

I was so ashamed and so embarrassed that I never went back.

Yes, I know that’s really over the top and extreme to some. However when you just lost your dad, you’re dealing with depression along with anxiety and a whole host of other things, it’s just a little too much. Even if you don’t fancy yourself to be much of a drama queen (I don’t). I felt stupid and worse yet I was (and still am) terrified that I would never get my mind back.

Depression robs you of so many things, your memory, your dignity and more. It’s defined as a mental illness; it does not just affect your mind. Depression eats at you on all levels, mind body and soul.

So I sacrificed my going back to school for computer graphics to take a level one French course (again). This class is full time for three months. I am terrified. That last incident is much too fresh in my memory and being that I cry a lot these days more often than not, I truly hope that I not only learn something and garner a much needed grasp on the language, but I also hope that I don’t have an anxiety induced meltdown and embarrass myself again.

I’m not one of those people who are OK with having public meltdowns. I am a very private person and I get very overwhelmed and shut down when I feel that people are invading my perceived personal space. I don’t care for pity and I don’t care to play the victim either, because I’m not. I’m just a person who has a whole lot of walls and I only plan to add windows when I’m good and ready to. It’s one of my biggest flaws; however I have always been this way. I wish people would accept that.

It’s not you; I can give you complete reassurance that it’s me and my very messy mind.

Knowing is half the battle.

I’m not really what most people would consider to be a sensitive person. Being a Chef all these years, you learn to develop a pretty thick skin.

I’m the kind of person who let’s most comments go, unless they are legitimately hurtful the first time around.  Most of the time they don’t get to me at first and I say nothing. Which is my downfall because the minute I become fed up about something or someone (usually several someone’s’) saying the same thing over and over again I get fed up and fast.It’s usually only then that I say something and someone somewhere will always take offense to it somehow even if it has nothing to do with them. This is a whole other situation unto itself.   I am a person too, I also have feelings and just because someone doesn’t agree with my way of thinking doesn’t give them the right to trash talk me either.

So where do you draw the line? Do you speak up the first time when it’s not a big deal and appear to be someone who complains/the person who cries wolf and come across as a victim?  Or do you wait and see and eventually become so fed up that you can’t take it anymore? Are you one of those people who comments on everything and people call you a ‘know it all’ behind your back?

I’ve noticed that there is an increase of both on some of the online forums I frequent in the past 36 hours.

There are a lot of things that get said, lots of phrases and idioms’ that target certain demographics, races, religions, genders, diseases, mental health issues and more. Most things we say without thinking about consequences to another person or party. I am not a fan of censorship. I just had a long conversation with my fiance about this, whereupon I basically said that I can’t be responsible for someone else getting hurt/upset or offended if I am making vague and blanket statements. If they want to somehow attribute it to them or make it about them without proof that it is in fact directly at them specifically, there really is nothing I can do.

I almost never make blanket statements about people in general. There very well may have been one person that was ‘the tipping point’ whereupon I become so enraged that I need to say something (in a general sense) and while I know that I am being petty and most likely and asshole, I generally also don’t think that people would assume that it was about them. This is happening more and more… It’s really starting to get on my nerves.

For example, I was having a one on one conversation about someone and it was pretty heavy and personal. We got around to the sensitive subject of the way this person looks. They had said that there was nothing that could be done to change it, whereupon I had said well surgery was an option, are you not interested in doing that anymore? I had only mentioned it because at one point, it was ‘on the table’ as an option but it was something that I never mentioned because I figured that it should happen, I would be privy to it. I didn’t say it to imply that I thought that this person actually needed the surgery (I still don’t feel that they do). It was not perceived that way and a whole lot of ugliness ensued in a very public way.

All because someone thought (rather incorrectly) that I thought that something was wrong with them and they needed to fix it. I felt like shit for that because I know all too well what it’s like to be treated differently because you don’t fit in or look like the majority. That particular incident really hit me to the core and broke my heart. The mere thought of thinking that I was capable of being a bully and making someone feel that way made me feel really, really small.

However when I say things like: “Spread it likes its herpes’/herpes is the glitter of the craft world, I’m a grammar Nazi, this makes me OCD flare up, or when I say something along the lines of I try really hard to respect and/or accommodate other people’s religion, traditions, opinions, (I really do!) however sometimes I can not accommodate them. My failure to do so does NOT mean I am being disrespectful intentionally and if you/anyone feels that way (about me), you can kiss my ass.”

Those aren’t directed at anyone. They’re just things that I say. I’m not a hateful person.  

The whole herpes thing came up today in a group that I belong to. It’s used as a punch line quite a bit. Then someone pointed out that they themselves have herpes (the STD version), which was contacted as a result of assault. So at first they let the comments roll off, however today it was enough and something was finally said. It forced me to look at things I say a little differently.

Same thing when someone mentioned that they were dyslexic and were hurt by the amount of people that said that they wouldn’t date someone who had terrible grammar or can’t spell. It made them feel embarrassed and ashamed because they couldn’t read properly as an adult and that was their secret shame.

Well damn.

That never, ever crossed my mind since dyslexia isn’t something that often get’s talked about. They made me think though and I promptly felt like an asshole because I totally take it for granted that I can read fluidly and used to devour books.

As for OCD- I have OCD and humor for me is something that I use as a coping mechanism. OCD can be so very crippling and unless you truly know what it feels like to have it, then no, you don’t have the right to joke around about it.

Religion is something that I rarely, if ever discuss with anyone. I have gotten ‘condemned’ because I am tattooed, I shoot woman in ‘provocative’ ways (I shoot boudoir) and several other things. I have gotten my share of nasty messages about this. Hence forth my status message that one time. I had had enough that day. Its one thing for someone I know to say something like that (which, for the record does NOT make it OK), it’s just that much more insulting/irritating/annoying to have strangers comment on it because they know nothing about me.

Traditions/superstitions fascinate me. I’m partially Irish and they are notoriously known for being superstitious. My father was a very, very superstitious man, to the point that it was almost embarrassing (sorry dad!).  My fiance and I were talking about that the other day because he’s Italian and they have their share as well. I referred to them as traditions and he said it wasn’t so much that, but superstitions. This makes a lot of sense to the Irish person in me.

Traditions I can take them or leave them personally, as in I am mostly indifferent. Sometimes I find them to be charming (they usually are) and sometimes I feel that they’re a little dated and not necessarily applicable to the here and now or they don’t apply to me or my life or the vision I have set forth. Which I feel does not make me a bad person. I am who I am and I have my own set of beliefs so it’s a little unrealistic to expect anyone to accommodate every single one of them because someone might get upset. After all, you can’t please everyone all of them time. However saying that I’m disrespectful for feeling this way is really not OK. It’s not a deliberate intention and if someone get’s hurt about it, then yeah I might feel bad about it because I don’t set out to hurt people but that doesn’t make me a bad person either.

The same thing applies with depression/mental illness. I have depression and an anxiety disorder. Some days it’s crippling. Do you have any idea what it’s like to have to make a phone call but the mere thought of doing so paralyzes you with a completely unprecedented fear? To wake up in the morning and feel so hollow and empty that you would rather be dead than get out of bed and try and face the day? Yet the term depression get’s tossed around a lot. Usually it’s not a matter of said person being depressed, they’re usually just sad. Anxiety is usually just nervousness of feeling anxious for the moment. Anxiety disorders are nothing like that.

So while I will not censor myself or the things that I say, I will think twice about being a little more sensitive to the people who usually bear the brunt of social stigmas.

A very wise person once said:”We can’t know things until we know them. We have so much to learn from on another. Why not take those things and help them shape us into even better versions of ourselves?” -Good point

 

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These dreams.

The whole process of dreaming fascinates me a little. Not enough to want to invest any real time in investigating them on say a scientific level; just enough that I will often find myself dissecting what happened that month/week/day that infiltrated my subconscious.

I often describe my dreams as if everything I had said/done/seen was tossed into a blender and rearranged in some way.

So last night, I went out for a walk with the love of my life. It was a nice night, crisp and snowing a little. My father loved the snow and every time it snows, I am often reminded of him. My dad has been weighing heavily on my mind as of late, the one year anniversary of his death has just passed and it’s usually this time of year that I miss my family. The craziness of the holidays usually means chaos and I don’t get to see everyone as much as I like, nor for any extended period of time. It’s also my nephews’ birthday and he and his sister are my rays of sunshine.

I had also caught up with a friend of mine who is also getting married this year. So inevitably, we talked about our weddings. I had mentioned that we were holding out for our honeymoon because we wanted to go to Alaska on a cruise and bring my dad’s ashes along. My dad had mentioned to me the summer before he died that if he could do it over again, he would have went to Alaska while he still had the chance. So going there to honor my dad was my love’s idea, which I thought was really sweet. Needless to say, with the wedding coming up and everything else going on, my dad has been weighing pretty heavily on my mind lately in a lot of different ways.

So fast forward to today, I had a dream about my dad. A dream so clear, vivid and concise that I was almost shocked when I woke up to the realization that it wasn’t actually true. I’m usually a lucid dreamer, so I can usually rationalize and recognize a dream for what it is.

Not today though.

I dreamt that I was at my parent’s old house, except it looked like it did when I was much younger. I was standing in the living room talking to my mom drinking my breakfast smoothie. It was a beautiful day outside; the living room was filled with vibrant, natural light. I was feeling peaceful, content and happy.

I can’t remember the last time I felt that good and at peace.

There was a loud knock at the door and my mom gestured for me to go answer it.

*Random side note- No one ever knocked and waited at my parents’ house, unless you were a stranger. I grew up in a home that had an open door policy, anyone was welcome.*

I walked down the hall and I couldn’t see who was standing there through the window, it was so bright and vibrant. Imagine my shock and surprise to see my dad standing there, alive and well. He looked at me and smiled and laughed. I said to him, “what are you doing alive?” My mom said something about a mix up or something and the whole time I’m standing there and I’m thinking to myself did the morgue notice you were still alive? You were cremated, but I don’t have any of your ashes yet because I keep forgetting to take some. I do remember holding the box that they were in and thinking about how heavy it was. And just lots of confusion. There was so much light, it was like he was glowing. You know the clichéd eternal light that’s usually associated with the deceased and angels? I had SO many questions and no one was answering them, they (my parents) just keep looking at me sheepishly and smiling. I wasn’t angry, just very, very confused.

Even more so when he went somewhere and came back with two small children. A boy and a girl neither one any older than the age of 4. I didn’t recognize these children so I don’t know how they’re relevant to my dream but among my confusion, my father looked at me and winked as he was tossing the little girl over his shoulder and disappeared into the kitchen.

That’s when I kind of woke up and the realization that my father was still dead and that was a dream. I closed my eyes and started to cry. Dream visits are emotionally draining. I had a lot of dream visits right after my father died. I literally asked him to stop because it would leave me in a depressed state for days after. So it’s been a while since he’s come to visit me. I like to think that he knows he’s been on my mind a lot lately and that I’m hurting really bad because he’s going to miss my wedding and everything else. I figure that he wanted to let me know that he’s OK and that maybe, just maybe I’m going to be OK too.

I’m a tax payer too.

I shouldn’t have to write this because quite frankly, it’s truly no one’s business what goes on in my life behind closed doors. I have always been a private person.

Always.

I feel that we live in a day and age where there is no such thing as boundaries anymore. I get hate mail from random strangers because they don’t care for the images I post on my Facebook photography page. I get messages from strange men who are trying to stalk my friends. I get friend requests from people I have never heard of and pile of Instagram followers who are only following me in the hopes that I will follow them back or buy their wraps, nail stickers, sex toys or followers.

No thank you. 

I put myself out there in some ways because it’s good business sense. I’m working on cultivating my brand and getting my name out there while completing my studies. Which for all intents and purposes would technically mean: I’m self employed. I’m also a student.

Which was born and bred out of necessity. After I lost my job in 2014, I foolishly assumed that I would get another one in no time at all. I was a Chef, getting another job is super easy.

Until it wasn’t.

I hadn’t worked in an actual full blown restaurant in over a decade. The last five years of my career spent in a private daycare. People like to assume that was an easy, ‘cushy’ job. Sometimes it was, more often than not, not so much. My CV game was on point. The first 40 CV’s I sent out, not a peep. Which is odd, given the sheer amount of restaurant jobs in this city. So I adjusted my CV and used the acronym for my previous employer instead. Figured I was still being honest and it would at the very least, get my foot in the door.

Which worked, for a little while. Until I got to the interview. 

It was almost comical to see the looks on their faces when they asked what was ‘insert acronym here’. It’s mind blowing that people automatically assume that I make copious amount of KD and call it a day. No really, someone asked me that. Or there was the ‘ your CV looks great, but we’re afraid you’re over qualified’. OK well then why, oh why DID YOU CALL ME FOR AN INTERVIEW?!? Did they not bother to actually read my CV? Bus tickets cost money and my savings were starting to dwindle quickly.

So I revamped my CV once again. Except this time I left a lot of things out. Anything I felt that would imply that I was over qualified was gone. It did not however disguise the fact that I hadn’t worked as a line cook in forever (some things you can’t hide). So I went on countless interviews, all of which went swimmingly until the fact that I hadn’t worked on a line in forever came up. I had four opportunities before me, only four people out of the 100+ CV’s I sent out were willing to take a chance on me. Restaurant one was a hole, I didn’t measure up to their expectations and they sure as hell didn’t measure up to mine. I draw the line at leaving raw potatoes in the fry cutter so that there’s mold and fruit flies. Teamed up with the fact that they left raw meat out on the counter over night.

OVERNIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY!  Who does that?!? Needless to say, that didn’t work out. Which is kind of a shame because the staff was really nice. Even if I didn’t feel safe eating there… At least I tried. At the very least, I was still in school, working towards my dream and goals of becoming a professional photographer. I got offered another job at some random poutine place but when I showed up for the job, the owner never did. Which was fine because I wasn’t too keen on working there anyway -but- a job is a job. Then I found a job that was ideal for me, my skill level and the executive chef was totally cool about my not being in a formal restaurant in forever. The job was mine for the taking, it paid well and I was excited until I found out it would take me TWO HOURS to get there since it was in the Dix30.

Well fuck.  

So I upped the ante with my courses at school, started hustling my photography services and contemplated re-opening my then defunct Etsy store. Still looked for a job of course. However that became more complicated because of school. The downside of being in the hospitality industry? There’s not a lot of flexibility to be had. Preference will always be given to someone who has a completely open schedule. I get that though, scheduling people can be a giant pain in the ass. Been there, done that.

Also, while this was all happening, my father was dying. So that was fun. Still kept looking for work here and there, was enrolled in university full time and fighting with Emploi Quebec to get employment insurance while dealing with my ex employer. Couldn’t find a suitable job that would accommodate my schedule/didn’t require me to speak French, wasn’t eligible for welfare because I lived with my boyfriend and he made ‘too much money’ (which is comical) and I hadn’t been out of work long enough to be eligible for any of Quebec’s social programs. Thank god for savings, the monthly solidarity tax credit and credit cards. Not the most ideal way to live but I would rather cut out my own liver than borrow money from anyone. Especially family…

Yet somehow we made due, on our own. 

I kept fighting my battles with the government, won my lawsuit, my father passed away, I kept hustling and I was finally eligible for some help. Which was about freaking time. Lord knows I’ve paid my share of taxes, employment insurance and contributed to society. I don’t like handouts or charity and somehow the universe provided. I got a handful of freelance jobs, revamped my Etsy game and looked into going to school full time. Quebec has an amazing amount of social programs for people who are ‘low income’ and want to go back to school. I was deemed eligible but between the holidays and having to juggle things between my agent to get approval from Emploi Quebec and the school, they were full for January. So I looked for other things to do in the meantime and registered at a different school starting at the end of March for French. You can’t begin to imagine how pissed I was to discover that RTC had opened up a new class that starts on the same day as my French studies.

Fuck.  

So I had to choose. Did I drop out of the French program that I paid for out of pocket and enroll in the other program or did I take the French program that I needed to take anyway and hope that RTC opened up another program in June. So I opted to stay in the French program because I need to take it regardless. Given that the past year has been difficult dealing with my dad’s death and my anxiety and depression on top of trying to plan our wedding, I figured it would help me get back into the groove of things at a reasonable pace.

Which bring me to my ultimate frustration: People commenting on where my income comes from. Ever since I got engaged, I have been having to deal with a pretty undesirable litany of comments in regards to money. I am well aware that weddings are costly, yet some people, several in fact felt compelled to point that out. Oh my, how are you going to pay for that? We don’t want you to go into debt because we can’t bail you out (see above about my wanting to cut out my own liver…). But you don’t have a job. (um actually, I do, I work freelance). Oh you make money selling crafts? Really? Oh must be nice to sit around all day and do nothing (wrong). Oh I wish I had her life, sitting around taking pictures and making crafts all day (not as easy as it sounds). So what do you do all day, watch TV? (yes, that’s exactly it). You can’t possibly make enough money to live (we do OK thanks) and I could at least respect what you do if I knew that you were trying (to find an actual job) and the list goes on.

Quite frankly, I am tired of it. I haven’t said a word about it because why bother? Until Sunday, when after hearing three different comments about my income or lack thereof, I finally snapped. Where does anyone get off on commenting on *MY* personal life? Since when did it become your business? Do you think you were the first person to say something about this? Newsflash, you’re not. I could have/should have handled it better, i’m not going to make excuses for letting my temper get the best of me. Sometimes I’m an asshole. I own my mistakes and can freely admit when i’m wrong. However, it doesn’t disregard the fact that it’s no one’s business. Quite frankly, far too many people have chosen to make it their business. I have had enough.

I get being frustrated by the amount of people who take advantage of the system. I honestly don’t know how those people function, it’s not as if welfare gives you a lot of money. Even the stipend that they give you for going to school isn’t enough for one person to live on, on their own. The system is a lot more complicated than you would think. Trust me, I worked my way through it in sheer desperation. Had it not been for the fact that I have other talents that lay elsewhere, I would have ended up in the metro shaking a cup and begging for change.

I still might.    

Just to let you know, I pay taxes on the money I bring in. So before you make assumptions or feel the need to comment on things that really shouldn’t matter to you, know the facts.

Now you do. After all, knowing is half the battle.