In Between Dreams

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Sleep.

Yesterday I slept for 14 hours. My monthly “crash” if you will. I used to track my sleep using an app on my phone. I realized pretty quick that it was less a helpful tool, than it was a symbol of how bad my insomnia has grown over the years.

In high school, I wager I got about 6-8 hours of sleep every night

In my binge drinking days, closer to 5-7.

If you believe the last app readings, which were back in November: 4.5 hours/night.

Of course, the app isn’t wholly accurate. It only starts calculating from when you start the timer. It doesn’t factor in how long it takes you to doze off after activating it. It also doesn’t account for waking up frequently throughout the night. Let’s not forget, this is also an average measurement. As previously stated, I usually have a crash once or twice a month, where I binge sleep. My body just can’t handle the fatigue anymore. You could probably safely assume I indeed only sleep on average 3-3.5 hours every night.

My mind doesn’t have an off switch. It’s not that I lead an overly exciting life; the thoughts buzzing are certainly not screenplay worthy. Frets and worries of a near 30 year old are pretty bland, truthfully. I have school registration in roughly 12 hours to contend with, currently. I also have a ticket to a concert tonight that I’m pretty jazzed about. It’ll be the first concert I’ve gone to alone in, pretty well ever. Earlier in the evening, I was challenged to list 5 “Nice Things”. My brain doesn’t typically  lean towards positive things, particularly lately. Since I can’t seem to find sleep though, let’s give it a whirl. Who knows? It may just clear some clutter…

  1. West coast rain on my face. Especially in the morning when it’s still cold and I’m barely awake.
  2. The fact that as the years go by, my handwriting is slowly looking more and more like my Gramma’s everyday.
  3. The hum of a tattoo gun; the bite it delivers into the skin.
  4. Beers that wash over your entire palette.
  5. The unmistakeable sound of a home run.
  6. The perfect snap a baseball mitt makes on a beautifully thrown 2-seam fastball.
  7. A book so good, you have to re-read it immediately since you can’t leave the characters behind…because they are not characters, they’re friends.
  8. Sour-cherry cheesecake.
  9. A seamlessly conceived playlist.
  10. Rhubarb rock candy.
  11. The first cookie from a freshly baked batch.
  12. The first autumn wind.
  13. Cherry cola.
  14. The fizz that tickles your nose, from a freshly poured soda-fountain drink.
  15. The cold-side of the pillow.
  16. Coming home from camp and not being able to wash the campfire smell off your skin.
  17. Not being able to sleep the day before a big trip, while still being able to get up early to get your butt to where you need to go.
  18. Plaid
  19. Being the first to toe the rubber on a freshly groomed baseball diamond
  20. Ocean spray, on a summer day at the beach.

(…so I got a little carried away)

-DFP-

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The Cities of My Youth: Bytown

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I’ve been ignoring the blogosphere.

My thoughts are often in large knots. I imagine if you could extrapolate the traffic in my brain, into a concrete image, it would look something like a horrible tangle of Mobius Strips. This isn’t conducive to blogging. I typically end up going from one topic to another at such a rapid pace, that I end up with pages of blabber. On top of that, I haven’t seemed to be able to sit still and relax the last little while. I’m really glad I don’t have a large audience, I don’t think I could handle the expectations of regular posting.

Awhile back on my other blog, I did a series of mini-playlists relating to the various places I’ve called home. It was a fun exercise in nostalgia. It made me remember not just moments that I cherish, but the small things I miss about those places. Recently, I’ve been listening a lot to an old, middle-school friend’s album. In one of the songs, there’s a line that goes:

I’d return to the cities of my youth if I knew the youth’d come back

I’m a sucker for nostalgia, so for the next few posts, I’m going to reminisce about the things I miss about those cities. Starting with my hometown…

Bytown 

I couldn’t wait to get out of Ottawa growing up. I don’t think that’s an unusual feeling for anyone who has spent a lot of time in a city. Particularly if they haven’t travelled a lot. In my youth, we spent more time exploring what we had in our own backyard, than seeing other cities. It’s not like I missed out, I just felt that by the time I’d reached high school, I needed to do some exploring. It’s been a touch over 10 years since I left, but it will always be my hometown.

I would say Ottawa is an underrated city.

It doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of a Montreal. It’s not a big, sprawling metropolis like Toronto. It certainly isn’t the diverse, internationally driven, city that Vancouver is. It’s definitely not a city, when mentioning your hometown, that really packs a flavourful punch. After all, Ottawa is just a quaint, little town, full of blowhard politicians.

I mean, it’s really only the Capital because it sits so perfectly in the centre of the Anglophone and Francophone worlds satisfying both sides’ need for representation…right?

Well that’s one way to look at it.

It’s a very balanced city. By that, I mean you get a little bit of everything, especially as a kid. There is no shortage of museums, galleries, and historical areas. It’s one of the perks of being in the capital, the national galleries and museums are all situated there. Nature, science/tech, civilization/history, art, everything is well represented. It’s probably the part I miss the most. Being able to just wile a day away, absorbing all the information. I’ve visited all the museums more times than I can count, and even though they have changed in some areas, I could still go back a hundred times and not be bored.

Sports are pretty well represented too. While the population isn’t large enough to support a bevy of teams, there’s still lots to go see. I was lucky enough to see the early stages of the Senators’ rebirth. I was also fortunate to be able to enjoy the Lynx, when Ottawa still had Triple-A baseball. CFL football has had ups and downs (more downs sadly), but it’s coming back with a strong ownership group, which is exciting to see. Outside of that, there are so many youth leagues, it’s impossible not to find sports.

Between all those galleries, and the athletics I was surrounded with, I’m surprised I ever had a chance to stop. I didn’t even mention the libraries, plus the great programs that were run out of them. I realize that a lot of this stuff was 20 or so years ago, and it may not be the same. I’d like to think a lot of it is better now, though. Of course, I’m looking at this all through rose-coloured glasses, I’m terribly biased!

Now, I have to talk about the seasons.

Yea, Ottawa actually has them! Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. Many of the other cities I’ve lived in/visited don’t have such distinctive seasons. It adds to the charm, because with each passing one you can look forward to new things.

Spring brings the Tulip Festival. While it’s not on the same scale as the one in Amsterdam, it’s still a bright, colourful, wonderful harbinger of Summer. I miss seeing the rows of flowers livening up downtown when May rolls around. I get lots of Dutch customers roll through my store during high-season, and I’m always eager to reminisce. Once that snow melts, it’s heavenly. I think Ottawa Springs are my favourite.

Summer can be muggy and humid, that’s for sure. That’s about the only downside. Festivals! Festivals! Festivals! Ottawa is home to some pretty awesome ones. Bluesfest is probably at the top of the list. It may have strayed far away from being a true Blues festival, but it brings in some pretty big heavyweight acts. For those who don’t have the time/money to see the huge American festivals, this is a satisfactory substitute. Plus, there’s still plenty of great blues/folk acts to appease the purists like myself. Folk Fest is also a big one later in the season. Much like it’s cousin, it has become a bit more diverse than the name suggests. That doesn’t mean the quality is lacking though. Of course this isn’t mentioning walks by the river, questionable beaches, and best of all: PATIO SEASON. Ottawa has fully embraced the microbrew fad, and there is no shortage of suds in the Nation’s Capital come Summer.

Fall in Ottawa is one of the most beautiful seasons I’ve experienced. With all the oak, birch, and maple indigenous to the area, the whole cities is a mosaic of red, yellow, and orange. It’s particular lovely in Gatineau Hills Park. While that’s technically on the other side of the river, it’s easily accessible, so it counts as part of the Ottawa experience. The trails are perfect. They’re low impact enough to enjoy the amazing scenery, while still making you feel you’ve gotten a good workout in. The air is so fresh and crisp, it is my absolute favourite season in Ottawa.

Winter. Oh winter. Anyone who’s lived in, or visited the Ottawa Valley, knows how nasty it can get. The moisture, coupled with high winds, and bone chilling temperatures, who could love Ottawa in the winter?! Well…winter means Winterlude for one. It also means skating on the Ottawa Canal. The world’s largest skating surface, it’s a crime if you’ve ever visited while it was open, and you didn’t experience it. Not only is it a ton of fun to feel the wintery air bite your face as you zip your way from Dow’s Lake to Downtown, but there are plenty of BeaverTails and Hot Chocolate stands to make it an even more worthwhile experience. Besides, the snow is lovely when you’re not shovelling it!

(DISCLAIMER: I do NOT miss winters in Ontario. While I do wish I could get a skate in on the Canal every year, I am quite content with my Pacific Northwest winters. Thankyouverymuch.)

See? Well rounded!

It’s not a perfect city, but it has the right mix of everything for young and old. While I may never call it my permanent home again, I will always think wistfully of my youth in Canada’s Capital.

-DFP-

 

Goalutions

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Resolutions are funny.

I feel like we use the term “resolution” to escape responsibility. It’s easier to blow off a resolution than it is a goal. When you make a goal, you have to sit down and really think about it and plan. Resolutions are vague. Goals are specific and action oriented. Resolutions are full of ambition but no real true focus. Goals start small and grow into larger, more positive things because they create a pattern of responsible behaviour.

Here are my 2014 RESOLUTIONS:

-Use the word “kajigger” more frequently.
-Enforce the usage of the term “Ocelot’s Overalls”. This NEEDS to replace “Cat’s Pyjama’s”.
-Acquire more sweaters and cardigans.
-Start referring to my footwear fetish as a “hobby”.
-Discover no less than one new band a month.
-Drink less but better quality beer.
-Drink less but better quality wine.
-Drink less. (Which frankly I have already been quite good about lately.)

Now for some 2014 GOALS:

-Find creative ways to be more active.
I’m starting dance (tap) classes next week. I feel like this could be a great stepping stone. The gym is super unappealing. Hiking more this summer is GOING to happen. I live in a city that has access to so many wonderful trails. Time to start taking advantage.

-Write more!
I’ve already started this by finally committing to blogging. It’s been going pretty good so far. The Regional Assembly of Text might be another avenue to peruse. I will NOT be deterred from pen-pal’ing by Canada Post. DELIVER THAT MAIL!

-Cut down on take out.
It’s appalling how much of it I eat. I would honestly say it’s almost an addiction. I originally put “fast food”, but it’s not fast food that is at the heart of the problem. There are several restaurants and cafes around my work, that make delicious, healthier, foods that i indulge in far too often. My wallet needs a break.

2013 was a mixed bag.

There were times when I really questioned what I was doing, where I was going, and sometimes if I would even make it to a point where I wanted to be. On the flip-side, I did some fun and exciting things. I met some great people who really taught me how valuable being surrounded with love is.

There are many mountains to climb this coming year, I’m going to conquer them all.

DFP