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Faction Night the Third: Art, Knives, and Rock and Roll

I spent the few days before Thursday Night Faction this week, trying to decide whether or not I should even go. You see, last week after faction, the fact that my Remicade had been delayed made itself felt. Strongly.

Strongly enough in fact, that on Friday evening, I finally caved and begged my roommate to take me to the hospital. My pain was too high to manage on my own, and my constant trips to the bathroom made me start to worry that C.Diff might have decided to come back into my life… and guts.

The three days I spent in the ER were ridiculous. Due to a massive influx of flu cases, there were no beds available at the hospital. Despite deciding to admit me that same night, I never actually made it out of the Observation wing.

Because of the pain I was in, I decided to go to the closer hospital, rather than the usual one I was in. The GI staff on call at that time has their primary specialty be the liver, so they really weren’t sure what to do with me. Sadly, it showed. Had I known this at the time, I would have written out for them exactly what to do to get me better enough to send me home, but unfortunately, it wasn’t really till Sunday night, that I realized that I wasn’t really being treated… at all. They were just running tests but not actually taking care of what was going on.

Frustrated, and really not wanting to end up even sicker as I lay there with immunosuppressant medication seeping into my veins, while sleeping in between TWO people with an active flu infection. The only barrier between us a flowy sheet and overworked nurses with too many patients on their hands. Not the optimal situation.

To make a long story short, I got sent home without a taper dose, and without fully being treated. I spent Monday and Tuesday sleeping almost the entire day, barely able to move or function. On Wednesday, I started to feel the full combined effects of dilaudid withdrawal and full dose steroids, combined of course with my regular ADHD medication. In short… I was WIRED.

My heart, my body, my mind, everything was literally humming. I proceeded to completely fail to sleep for the next 54 hours!   Faction Night managed to coincide exactly with something like hour 32? I had been running around all day trying to get things done – for the art show, in terms of organizing, and so on.

Still, I thought that having something physical to do to top off the day might get rid of the last of that restless energy that had made it so hard to sleep until that moment.

I made a point to inform Edge about my medical situation. I promised to keep checking in about whether I was able to do something. He did his best to schedule my matches earlier in the evening, since I anticipated an eventual complete physical crash.

That whole day my heart had felt like it was vibrating. I don’t know if it was actually beating very fast and hard, but it felt like it was. I had picked up a dose of medical marijuana that was specifically meant to slow everything down. Throughout the night, my biggest struggle was in trying to keep the feel of my heart below what was making me feel like my blood was being pumped through a frother. It did work, but only for a few minutes. I was standing outside in the cold in my t-shirt and I didn’t feel it.

Although I was in a great mood, the physical feeling is also very similar to when I’m anxious, triggered, and feeling like I have to fight or flight. Learning to how to be able to throw something with accuracy during this kind of state is actually really interesting training. It also turned out to be really helpful medically.

I’ve mentioned before that one difficulty I have had in the past is that in order to be properly aware of what I was doing enough to be able to replicate the results, I have to become aware of my body in a way that is usually unpleasant for me. It makes me too aware of my symptoms.

I noticed that I tend to do better in practice than I do in matches. I suspect a lot of this is because when I become aware that other people are watching me with the intent of judging what I am doing, I start to get anxious and overthink everything. I become hyperaware of everything around me, which in turn triggers the feeling that something is wrong. It’s related to my trauma history where survival has meant learning that anything other than obviously expressed pleasure or happiness is actual a precursor to anger which is a precursor to being hurt.

I needed a way to become hyperfocused and aware of everything I am doing and around me, but outside myself and my head enough not to be anxious because of it. I needed to access into this one state where I knew everything that was going on around me, everything my body was doing, where time almost slows to a standstill even as it rushes past you, where you can anticipate everything that is about to happen, and how to control the situation to achieve your desired result. It’s not a state that lasts a long time, but it is such an amazing high.

It was the only way I was going to manage to get a shot in, because unless I managed to completely calm myself down, I was going to boil over somehow, I could feel it.

The state I was in is also a weirdly inventive state where I make connections that I don’t always otherwise make, or perhaps I make them faster is closer to the truth. I realized that the one time I could almost always guarantee myself in that state… is when I sing.

Here’s the truth – it doesn’t really take much to get me to sing. I do it, ALL the time. In fact, sometimes I sing without realizing. Most of the time, in social situations I put on enough NT filters and masks and follow certain scripts to know that I’m not supposed to be too eager to sing because it’s supposed to be “embarrassing” and also it will be taken as showing off. I protest that no I shouldn’t, or feel like I have to act shy. The truth is, what I want to be able to do more than anything is to perform. To sing. All the time. So when I’m protesting, or acting like I feel that I shouldn’t, what I’m fighting against isn’t fear TO sing, but fear of navigating the confusing social script of wanting to sing and being good at it.

I think it has to do with the fact that it’s been something that I’ve consistently been praised at, so it’s one thing that I know that when I’m doing that, I’m not doing everything completely wrong. I don’t know. There are probably levels upon levels of intertwining issues related to all this, but ultimately, the important take away was that I needed to achieve a certain state of mind, and I had a cheat code for getting into that state of mind.

Or at least, that’s what I suspected might be the case.

I tried to create the set up whereby I could get social encouragement to do the thing, but although people seemed entertained at the prospect and perhaps even into it, the needed key phrases I needed to be able to clue into the appropriate social script never arrived.

Instead, what I did after my first disastrous match, whereby my faction mates found out the sheer extent to which I was… well not okay lol… well, I chose a song, and very softly, almost completely in my head, I focused on singing it. While throwing the knives.

It WORKED!

To start with, my heartrate slowed down to the tempo of the song I was singing. And instead of overthinking everything I was doing, I devoted the majority of my mind to getting the lyrics, beat, and tone right, while my body adjusted itself into the best stance for what I was doing. A step or two adjustment, and the majority of my throws were sticking in the board.

When I got too excited and stopped singing, I would miss. But when I centered my whole world to the target and the song I was singing, I started actually hitting where I meant to hit.

I still lost my next match, but I was a lot less behind in points than I had been. People were teasing my competitor, a long time thrower, but the truth was that I was just doing BETTER!

My final match of the night was against a woman who had a great throw, a lot of power and accuracy, but I suspect was having the same issues with performance anxiety coupled with personal frustration that had been plaguing me.

Because she missed the first two weeks, she ended up having to do a half dozen matches that night, and I was her last one.

This was my third match of the night, and by now, I had an idea of how to use me singing to myself to do better.

Round 1. I won! I could feel my excitement rising in a way that I knew could backfire. I was so excited, but I also felt bad that from outward appearance, she was losing to someone who had previously been one of the worst.

Round 2 we trade targets. I force myself out of my own head, focusing on singing a song. This time I believe it was Blue Moon, having just spoken to someone special on the West Coast and wishing he was there to see me now.

And I did it! I won the match clean! Winning both rounds.

I wanted to jump up and down I was so excited!

Instead, I sat down, and put my head down on the table.

My one additional contribution to the night, related funnily to my singing, was actually cheering. I did my patented Wooooooo! Xena cheer scream that takes almost no effort, but could probably be heard outside.

It’s then that Gigantor asked me how the heck I was getting such volume, and I mentioned in passing “Oh… um I’m a classically trained Soprano…”

I’ve been writing this post now for several days. The delay has been related to another exciting In the Air Announcement!

As of that Thursday, my art is on display in their Art Lounge!

I have my paintings, my jewelry, and some of the printed items I produce on display, and will be showcasing them here for at least a week! (Some weirdness has come up, so specific date details are slightly in flux and I will keep people updated on the Splain you a Thing Facebook Page)

If you are in Ottawa, please please come out, and consider buying something.

All the money I make will be used to get me out of financial difficulty and be put towards making it possible for me possibly… to move to the West Coast.

 

Faction Night the Third: Art, Knives, and Rock and Roll

Faction Night the Second

Tonight was the second week of Season 2 of the factions.

Earlier this week, I received a proper 3-set of knives. They’re Cold Steel brand, meant for sport throwing, and made out of 1055 Carbon Steel: a slightly higher grade of steel for knives, better able to handle impact without breaking or chipping.

I can’t help always wanting to personalize things, so I decided to paint them. Since the place is called In the Air Guild, I decided to go for a bit of a Fantasy Elements theme: A siren for water, a fire elemental for fire, and Medusa for earth. The Air comes into play when they’re thrown. Continue reading “Faction Night the Second”

Faction Night the Second

What if Your Life Changed in a Flash?

Imagine your life changing drastically in an instant. Imagine that the choice to get up out of your car meant everything was suddenly different? No this isn’t the start of some fantasy novel, this is the reality faced by one young woman from Gatineau.

Winter driving is always a hazard and this particular December was bad enough to sky-rocket Ottawa into first place for Coldest Capital in the World. Gatineau is just across the river and in many ways, practically the same city, even though it’s actually in a different province.

This young woman fell into a slide which propelled her car into a Hydro Pole (Hydro is what we Canuckistanis call electricity since a large percentage of our electricity comes from hydroelectricity and so the power company is called Hydro). When she got out of her car for fear of fire, she was electrocuted.

Continue reading “What if Your Life Changed in a Flash?”

What if Your Life Changed in a Flash?

Guest Post: Taking the Good with the Bad – A Night at The Opera – Part 2

So, earlier this fall, I had the honour and privilege to attend a showing of “The Phantom of the Opera” at the National Arts Center (NAC) in Ottawa. I was super excited about this. And I tried to keep in mind the positive aspects that came with that night. Taking the good with the bad, one would say.

The tickets were a little expensive… But it’s so rare that Phantom is in town, so totally worth it.

My original date cancelled and I was unable to find someone willing to buy the extra ticket… But my 11 year old niece was happy to attend. (Even if she didn’t repay me the ticket, oops)

I was black and blue as a result of an e-bike crash that week… But I was finally out of bed and able to walk again.

Overall, it promised to be an exciting adventure, and I was really looking forward to seeing my favourite musical live on stage.

Me niece looked absolutely adorable and precious. I had drinks and snacks. We were OUT ON THE TOWN!!!

Continue reading “Guest Post: Taking the Good with the Bad – A Night at The Opera – Part 2”

Guest Post: Taking the Good with the Bad – A Night at The Opera – Part 2

Guest Post: A Night at The Opera: How A Blind Date Got Blind-Sighted By Humanity

CN: Ableism, Threats of Violence,

It’s been a hard week for me. Today was the first day I could walk semi- normally after crashing my e-bike into a car on Thursday.My legs are black and blue. I’ve got whiplash, sore muscles, and have spent the last several days in bed with icepacks at the ready.

I was happy to be feeling better today, because tonight I was going to see “Phantom of the Opera” at the NAC with my 11 year old niece.

Being barely able to move, with my legs looking like a cross between a gorilla and a black and blue elephant, and not to mention that fabric on my legs is extreme agony, I opted to wear some comfortable pants and running shoes. I wasn’t going to risk falling again by wearing heels, or risk having a miserable evening by wearing clothes that hurt my legs, or revealed their startling mosaic of bruised hairy nightmares to the whole NAC. Pants are definitely more respectful.

When we arrived at our seats, sitting directly ahead of me was someone I knew. The person who told me Phantom was in town and one of the reasons I bought tickets for this showing for this specific section. This way I’d have someone nearby that I knew, and my anxiety wouldn’t be as bad. When we get to our seats, I see that she’s there. So far, so good.

I said hello as I sat down. She looks at me with disgust in her eyes. “Really? You couldn’t dress up? This is the NAC, Sophie, you’re an embarrassment.” Well. I’m sure my hairy black and blue legs would have been more so, thank you very much. The safety zone I’d planned on wasn’t going to happen, clearly, but I had a backup plan. I took out my Anxiety Duck. He comes with me to my appointments all the time, and helps keep me calm. Again, my “friend” felt the need to comment: “Really? Put that away. You’re humiliating me.” OK fine. Guess who’s on ignore the rest of the evening.

Continue reading “Guest Post: A Night at The Opera: How A Blind Date Got Blind-Sighted By Humanity”

Guest Post: A Night at The Opera: How A Blind Date Got Blind-Sighted By Humanity

My Time is Not Yours to Waste

I just wanted to go to the store, to pick up some things I needed. I decided to take my wheelchair. I won’t lie, I wanted to hatch some Pokémon. I also wanted the chance to browse the hardware store for some odds and ends I need to finish up my room. It was a treat for myself – getting the chance to explore the store more than is otherwise possible for me. I even arranged to borrow a bus pass.

Earlier this week, the temperature dropped and I am still adjusting to the sudden cool air. Additionally I hadn’t really taken into account how the speed of the chair, adds some extra wind to the chill. Either way, I made it to the station, and awaited the weekend bus.

Continue reading “My Time is Not Yours to Waste”

My Time is Not Yours to Waste

Learn to Smoke Meat – Meet a Blogger

One of the tasks I set myself this summer was to get more involved with my local community. The stress of the last several years –  dealing with constant money anxiety, trying to find different ways of making money while managing my declining health, my declining health, the immigration process, the rapid and terrifying decline in world politics, – has had a significant impact on my mental and physical health.

Things got particularly bad last year when I ended up spending more than 3/4 of the year on steroids. I needed an outlet.

Ever since we moved into the neighbourhood, I’ve been coveting a plot in the Community Garden. During one of the walks I was taking with my new chair, I happened to run into some of the gardeners who have plots there. I mentioned this was my second summer of waiting, and they surprised me by letting me know that they had a plot available. That was the catalyst that led to me discovering the amazing programs that are happening right here in my neighbourhood.

One of them is a community Wood Burning Oven. Every two weeks or so, they build up the fire and they do a pizza bake. After that the fire is available for anyone to use to cook their own foods, including bread.

The whole group is really amazing, and I’m glad to be working and spending time with people so dedicated to creating community and building up community as well. They all do so much and have so much passions and caring, it’s just an amazing energy to be around.

One of the things they do is organize these great Community Kitchens: events where someone with a certain knowledge teaches anyone who is interested. The food, to a point, is paid for by a local community organizations, people get to try samples, and everyone gets to learn a new skill.

When they found out that I smoke meat, they were immediately interested.

Tomorrow, I will be breaking out the BBQ’s, and using them to teach people how to smoke meat. I’m also going to finally convert an old mini fridge I’ve had for 2 years now, into being a cold smoker! I’m really excited.

The event is taking place at the Bayshore Park Community Garden and Oven in Ottawa. It’s free to attend, just show up between 12 and 3.  I’ll be there working on the BBQ and possibly doing some art as well as time and weather and people who show up permit.

Come out and say Hello if you are interested!

 

Learn to Smoke Meat – Meet a Blogger

Dear City of Ottawa: Community Kitchens Help Build Communities

Dear Councillor Taylor,

I hope you are well.

My name is Ania Bula. I am one of your constituents living at the A_____ neighbourhood near Bayshore Park. This summer, the city has been working on updating the local Community Fieldhouse to better accommodate the needs of the neighbourhood. In consultation with local community organizations, the city was notified that our community would greatly benefit from having a full working kitchen, which in particular would include a separate handwashing station.  

It has recently come to our attention that the plans were modified by the city and that instead of the discussed kitchen, they are putting in a warming-kitchen only, which does not even include  the separate handwashing station. Continue reading “Dear City of Ottawa: Community Kitchens Help Build Communities”

Dear City of Ottawa: Community Kitchens Help Build Communities

Not Slacktivism After All

Blogging often gets criticised as being a form of slacktivism: a way of looking like you are participating in social change without actually “doing” anything.

There have been some great pieces out there criticising how this idea is ableist, classist, and I’m sure several other isms as well. Moreover, as someone who is descended from several people who participated in major revolutions, I am more aware than most of the awesome impact that words and writing can have in promoting social change.

Today however, I got to have physical proof that my writing does in fact make a difference. I received a call from an official at the City of Ottawa. Apparently my blog post about how ableism almost killed me last week, made its way to their Facebook page.

I was being contacted so that they could tell me that the sidewalk where my accident happened has had a concrete ramp installed as a temporary measure until they can replace that part in the future with a proper dip ramp that usually serve as accessible access to street crossings.

Because of my blogpost, that curb is no longer a hazard for other people like me. Not going to lie, that news made my day.

Not Slacktivism After All