Teaching the Two-Step through (Pre)Teen Emotions

First middle / junior school dance* of the year, tonight. Bridget was so excited to learn about it yesterday, she was practically vibrating. She had her outfit put together last night, and repeatedly squealed how nervous she was. Jack was more laid back, nearly waiting until the last minute before deciding to go. 

*younger kids went from 6-7:45, older kids/young teens went from 8-10

Bridget didn’t even look back, once I paid her ticket. She drifted forward, Cinderella at the ball, found her friends and there were happy hugs all around. When I picked her up, she didn’t want to leave, of course. Her crush wasn’t there, but she wasn’t too disappointed. She’d chased a different boy down and made him slow dance with her. 

We had another chat about consent on the way home. 9 and a half, folks.

Jack didn’t have quite as good a time as he’d hoped. I won’t go into the details here, but suffice it to say that he finds himself wishing life were scripted. Doing my best to help him figure things out.

This is the part where I concentrate on remembering the roller coasters of fresh hormones at 14. And at almost 10. It’s been getting harder, though. Maybe that’s why some writers focus on youth fiction — it might become easier to reconnect with those memories and be able to empathise with the kids. 

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Survival strategy: 5 minutes at a time

So many thoughts whisking in and out of focus tonight, it’s hard to settle on just one. Phrases and images streaking through my head like comets, darting from the shadows into the centre of my awareness and away again. They’re reminders of things I haven’t gotten done yet and need to do, snippets of conversation, fragments of plans for upcoming projects now on my list, shards of dialogue and story concepts, a bombardment of words in restless movement. Overwhelming. 

I started my scarf again tonight, using needle markers to keep my counts accurate. I probably did a little too much, because my fingertips on the right hand are a little numb. But knitting made me content for a few hours, being a relatively simple task that I could problem-solve with a small degree of hassle. I can see it taking shape again, the time and effort paying off in each row of yarn. Wanted to do some reading and editing, but that kind of focus isn’t possible when one child is needing help with homework while the other has to be guided into bed. And once that’s over, the energy is gone. All that’s left is the bombardment, beating down inside my skull.

I think I’m struggling again. Tough time of year. Hell, it always seems like it’s a tough time of year for me. So many triggers, and so little relief. So tired, all of the time, it feels like. I do better when I have deadlines and creative projects, solid goals to achieve to make other peoples’ lives better, outside of my house. It’s within these four walls, staring at the mess that we can never seem to get the better of for more than a day, that I falter. Sometimes I daydream about living in my classroom, where there’s a microwave and couches and books and a washroom down the hall, because in a way, it’s simpler there. The responsibilities are different, more clear. At home, my worlds are colliding now that my son is in high school, because now his homework is of the type that I assign. The separation between professional and parent has thinned to nearly non-existent. I’m using my teacher-voice after-hours. 

My battle with mental illness began when I was around 10 or 11. I remember thinking about throwing myself out the window so I wouldn’t have to be alive anymore, dealing with the mean kids at school and the emotions that just seemed too much to handle. I was curious about death, as well. But I knew it was a fantasy, and I feared getting reincarnated in a place that was unhealthy or dangerous; I didn’t want to have to live through all the tough parts of being a little kid again, and I recognized how lucky I was to have a stable family. But the fantasizing never quite went away. 

Right now, I’m not in a deep pit. Been taking my medication and trying to do the things that make me happy, focusing on the positives, trying to get enough rest and eat healthy foods, identifying my triggers head-on so they don’t drag me down. But I’m starting to get that feeling lately that I’m moving through thicker air, as though there are weights on my arms and legs and shoulders. Urges to cry. Despair that I’ll ever accomplish the myriad little things that a parent and homemaker need to do to keep a family healthy, as well as keeping up with my professional responsibilities. My son wants to help, but I see him beginning to struggle with his own anxieties and feeling overwhelmed, and I don’t want him to spiral, either. I tell him, just focus on doing one little thing at a time, for five minutes at a time. That’s all we need to do. And when we watched Meet the Robinsons together today, which we hadn’t seen in years, we both got teary at the end, between Lewis finding his resolution and the song, “Little Wonders”, reminding us both to try to let go of the big stuff weighing us down. If only it were as easy to do in reality as it is in fiction.

And the beat does its thing

In the midst of all the travels and prep for travels and arriving home to get right back into the routine, we picked up a new computer screen to replace the broken one! Huzzah! 

Unfortunately, due to the post-road trip exhaustion and getting right back into the routine, the monitor is still in the box on the floor two days later. 

And the absolute turmoil in which we left our home has gotten worse.

But the kids have been doing their homework, we’ve had enough to eat and given them healthy lunches, and the weather is with us for a little while longer. (That’s something else on my list, besides engaging us all in cleaning — obtaining a shed for the backyard so I can empty the tent without bringing all the gardening and yard sale stuff back inside.)

With all of this, I’m having trouble finding the energy to focus on my writing. I woke up in the night from a horrifying yet interesting dream, and I managed to jot down my impressions, but that’s been it for a week or two, or longer. The muscles I use for stringing together words in a fiction are thin and weak from lack of use, and from having to be redirected in other directions. Even the flash fictions I have been composing for this blog feel like a struggle right now. 

But fiction keeps me healthy. So I have to keep trying. 

In which I fangirl-out once again. Twice.

Another awesome day at FanExpo: got a family pic in the TARDIS, helped Bridget make some crafts, (Jack started sewing a Gameboy plushie), picked up some terrific souvenirs for more of my fandoms (X-FilesSupernaturalSherlock, Guardians of the Galaxy, Wonder Woman [keychain courtesy of the kiddy-winks], etc.), free posters and postcards, and also ran into friends again!

   

     
I got a hug from actor Graham McTavish (squee!), who seemed genuinely overwhelmed and delighted with everything — and was very cuddly.

  
And then, much later, as my son and I were wandering Artist Alley seeking out the guys behind Cyanide and Happiness, Jack spotted someone I hadn’t expected to see up close: controversial comic writer/actor Kenny Hotz. 
I screamed. 

 

My hubby would have been completely embarrassed if he’d been there, and it was a bit disappointing that he couldn’t make his way over to meet the guy. But it was a great moment, followed up by locating the C&H guys!

   

  

 
Next year, I’m wearing a pedometer to see how much walking I do through the whole thing. (Also packing my stuff in a separate bag so my clothes don’t end up smelling like hubby’s socks . . .)

I’ve also learned that when I am über-tired, I am rotten at following directions. Getting lost, even in a two-route subway system, is a given. Thankfully, everybody took it in stride and still had a good time. 

  
Ended off with a nice supper at Red Lobster and I enjoyed a lovely High Tide. Then we caught the tail end of a street theatre performer in Dundas Square. Awesome.

   
  

 
All the exhaustion, stress, sweat streaming down my back, sore feet and blistered toes — totally worth it.

Blisters on my feet and a smile on my face

A delayed start and humidity with a heat alert set a rushed tone at first today. That, along with a problem last night concerning our hotel room that sent us to a neighbouring hotel, a crowded breakfast room (at least it was free!) and a problem with the parking in the morning (we forgot that we weren’t checking into the other hotel until later and paid our parking too early, so that took time to explain and resolve . . .)

So we arrived later than we wanted at FanExpo, and got hit with it all at once. And it was packed. I felt completely overwhelmed in the sea of people, especially after losing track of Hubby, who’d gone to get an autograph for a friend. In a crowd that size, you are not allowed to stop and ponder: you must keep moving. It can get frustrating.

Another issue I found was that once I got caught in the mass of people squeezing between the autograph lineups and the merchandise / exhibitors, it’s extremely difficult to get out of it. I should have expected that from previous experiences. We should have avoided the show floor altogether (I wanted to get a photo op, though, with Graham McTavish, an awesome actor from The Hobbit and Outlander — silly, I know — and so we got stuck) and headed directly for the floors with the workshops and panels. Tomorrow, that’s the plan. 

Of course, that depends on tag-teaming care of the youngest in our brood. I had her in tow for much of the day, and then switched with Hubby for a bit. It’s hard to attend panels and workshops that aren’t geared for the younger set. We have to work on that. We are going to enlist the elder child in looking after her for an hour or so tomorrow, depending on crowd size and timing.

Still, in spite of all the challenges, it was a good day. I doubt I will be wearing my spike heeled boots again for a while, but we saw some terrific exhibits, Bridget and I met Robert Picardo (he liked my hat!) and George Romero (he liked Bridget’s makeup!), saw daredevils in profession as well as cosplay, talked to good people, and took lots of pictures. I picked up souvenirs for friends and comics for me, spent too much money, and after literally limping back to the car (got us lost on Younge St first), we had a late supper at the Hard Rock Cafe on Dundas. The streets were humid, smelly, crowded with all walks of life and all levels of prosperity and poverty, mixing and shifting and drifting under the lights. Kind of a reflection of FanExpo, in fact.

Tomorrow, we won’t stress over cosplaying or shopping or anything. Just going with the flow, and having fun. 

I was questioning the wisdom of this trip, but at the end of the long day, I think we’re all glad we came.

   
The final product! A hint of risqué under the pursuit of learning . . .

 Sadly, it was too hot for Jack to stay in his Deadpool gear for long. 

 Bridget enjoyed people’s reactions, especially when they recognized her character! 

  Silly picture time!

  We had an Outlander-style “vow-renewal”! 

  Who could ever say “no” to Cinderella?

 My good man waited an hour and a half in the queue to help a friend. ❤️

   A hint of the crowds . . .

 And a tasty Mai-Tai!

More tomorrow!

New School Year Resolutions

It’s honestly as bad as the calendar New Year, for me. The season changes, I go back to work, and I make all kinds of lofty, well-intentioned vows to be a better person. I will follow up more consistently, throughout the semester! (burnout on phone calls and tracking lates usually happens by October); I will keep up with marking and housework at the same time! (if I had four arms and two heads, maybe); I will not let my students take advantage of me! (yeah, right). 

And so on. 

I did get up nice and early today, and I did 15 minutes of yoga. Breakfast was yogurt and blueberries (fresh and local!). But I have started out strong like this in the past, hitting the ground running at a terrific sprint, only to lose steam just a couple of weeks in. So at this point, I’m feeling rather skeptical towards myself. 

The second day tends to be very much harder than the first. 

So I shall try to stay focused on the positives, like refreshing my room by changing a bulletin board display and making new signage, framing the photos from our field trip to Ottawa ComicCon and preparing for FanExpo this weekend. Bridget’s costume is hemmed, and the straps are on, so she just needs paint for the joints and makeup and the bib. And then I can do my own. If I have enough energy.

Seems like I’m forever doing too much or not enough. Maybe I just thrive in a bit of creative chaos . . .

Turning Bridget into FNAF Chica

The leggings are nearly done, just needing elastic, and the top requires hemming and straps. Bridget says she will make the bib!

   
    
    
 
Oh, and adding the joint lines with paint. I don’t think I’m going to worry about trying to cut out sections and adding black fabric inlays, but I’m reeeeeaaalllyy really tempted . . .