Mystery

Saturday morning. That meant cartoons. Usually Scooby Doo.

With a great sigh, I swung my legs over the side of my bed and stood up. Having forgotten to throw my blanket back I tripped over my own tangled up legs. I tried to throw my hands up to catch myself, but I just wasn’t fast enough this time.

It felt like my head had bounced off the floor like a basketball. Spots of white danced across my vision, which up until now I did not know was an actual thing that happened after hitting your head.

I rolled over and kicked the mess of blankets and sheets off of my legs, and slowly stood up. I would have stood up faster but my room was doing this funny thing where it swam in and out of focus, and spun just a little bit.

I took a deep breath in and carefully sat back down on my bed. I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, waiting for the pounding in my skull to subside a bit. It didn’t take too long, which must be a good thing, probably no permanent damage. With the pain in my head at a more manageable level I tried to get out of bed for the second time that morning.

Once again, I stood up from my bed, so far so good. Then I took my first step towards the door. Also, good. Then my second step, then my third. All the way until my eleventh step.

With my eleventh step, I was now situated directly in front of the door. I reached out with my left hand and grasped the cool brass doorknob, just a simple ball with a lock on it, and I twisted and pulled, opening the door.

Right away I was hit with a wave of warm air. I kept my room quite cool I found it easier to fall asleep that way, so every morning I got this wonderful feeling of stepping from a slightly too cool room, into a hallway that was slightly too warm. I made a quick right hand turn into my bathroom. I kept a class on the countertop next to the sink, just in case I wanted a drink in the middle of the night. I filled it from the tap and then left the bathroom, glass in hand.

I slowly climbed the steps that would take me from the lower level where my bathroom and bedroom were, to the ground floor that contained the kitchen and living room.

Large emphasis on slowly. I was in no rush, at twenty-one years of age, I had seen every episode of Scooby doo at least once, plus I owned them all in a nice little boxed set, so no need to catch it on TV.

I had just restarted the series, I finished it about eight months ago, just before school started, and now that school was over and I had free time again, I decided it was time to re-watch it. Eight months was just long enough to sort of forget what happens in the first handful of episodes. I had watched the first episode last Saturday, and today I was going to watch two or three more with my breakfast.

At the top of the stairs I turned right, moving through where doors had once stood to separate the kitchen from the rest of the house. I opened the cupboard above the sink, these also had the same little brass balls for handles, and I grabbed a bowl. This one was blue and ceramic. I also grabbed the box of Lucky Charms rom on top of the fridge, and the jug of milk from inside the fridge.

I didn’t bother pouring myself a bowl, I was probably going to have three or four this morning, so might as well bring it all to the living room.

I turned right again after leaving the kitchen, walked the few short steps ad turned left into the living room. The living room had this interesting arch where a door normally would have been. It was just a plain arch, but it was the only doorframe in the house that wasn’t squared off, which I thought was quite the mystery.

Seeing this archway was always a sort of hype up for any kind of show or movie that involved mysteries. I absolutely loved a good mystery. I had always wanted to try and solve one.

However, walking through that intriguing archway, my eyes were graced with a rather unfamiliar sight. My living room was significantly sparser than I remembered leaving it. There was mud all over the laminate flooring, my rug was missing, as was the coffee table, television, and the two lamps.

I certainly didn’t remember moving any of my stuff out of here, and I definitely wouldn’t have left mud all over the floor. I was faced quite the mystery, albeit an easily solved one.

I had been robbed it seemed. They let the DVD player though, so I still had my cartoons. But all my other stuff was gone. Also, I had forgotten to grab a spoon from the kitchen.

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Breaking Patterns

At first I was loathsome to break the little pattern I was developing of fiction, blog, fiction, blog. But considering the next little piece I want to write is still just a bunch of loosely connected ideas bouncing of the inside of my skull, I figured I should use my time a bit more productively. Study for my midterm. Or write a blog piece. Maybe both.

Of course, with the decision to do a blog piece I needed something to write about. I could talk about how I went out with some friends Saturday night, but nobody wants to hear me talk about my drunken night on the town. There’s also not much going on in the last few days, or the next few. I guess its noteworthy that one of my housemates decided to come back early so he could get some school work done, so I won’t get to see if I descend into paranoia. But other than that, nothing really of note.

So, I will talk about something I don’t think I have ever really talked about, or even put much thought into.

Fear.

I’ve never had a friend or significant other who I was close enough with to really get into a conversation about this. So, I have never talked about it. Without talking about it, there was no reason to think about it. It isn’t easy to even sit down and come up with a list of my fears, so much of what I would write would have a question mark next to it. On the subject of irrational phobias, I am pretty sure I remain unafflicted, but I still have some fears that are silly, but not quite irrational. I guess it makes sense to me, to start with the big, and move to the small.

My father is scared of heights, my brother is scared of insects. Both in the phobia sense, my brother will scream like a little girl at the sight of a centipede, and my dad gets sweaty, nervous, and just a tiny bit hysterical when we get anywhere he would consider a height. I have neither of these phobias. However, I am by no means comfortable leaning out the windows of tall buildings, but I enjoy drop zones, and airplanes, and other things that would terrify my dad. Bugs don’t bug me. I will happily squish a bug for someone, swat a fly, or remove a hornet’s nest. I won’t hold a tarantula though. I was at a birthday party as a little kid and there was a reptile guy, I was holding the spider and he was talking about how they will shoot all the hairs off their body when they feel threatened. To demonstrate this, he poked the spider, intending it to bristle its little hairs and tense up. I guess he had poked it one too many times, because it shot those little hairs into my arms, neck, and chin. It stung a lot. So, I won’t hold tarantulas anymore. But I don’t think of it as a phobia.

As far as phobias go, I’m pretty sure the closest thing I’ve got is my discomfort with water. Which is a silly thing to read from a person who loves to swim, and row, and kayak, and canoe, and dive, and in general just be in the water. But I do have a discomfort around water, specifically large, deep, expanses of water where you can’t see anything but water. The ocean basically, and the great lakes if you find yourself too far from shore. I am not sure what it is about it, but there have been a handful of times where I was swimming, or in some kind of boat, and I could no longer see the shore, in any direction, and it always makes me incredibly nervous, and uncomfortable. My heart rate picks up, my breathing gets shallow, I start to sweat a bit. I don’t like it.

Maybe it’s the concept of being so isolated from land, which is instinctively where I know I belong, maybe it has to do with the fact that the ocean is so unexplored and anything could be lurking below the waves. Or maybe I just have a healthy respect for the sea cultivated over many years of being surrounded by sailors, rowers, kayakers, canoers, and others who spend most of their lives on or near water. It’s hard to say, I’m definitely not qualified to classify something like this.

A step down in size, is my fear of getting old. This one I know for a fact is a fear. I dread my birthday, to wake up one morning and to be another year older, I hate that feeling. I think mostly I am afraid of waking up one day to find myself old, alone, and without accomplishments. I am not sure where this fear comes from, perhaps from the fact that I don’t have a plan in place for my future, perhaps from the fact that I either mess up my relationships, or pick people who treat me horribly. It’s also possible I’m just very aware of my own mortality. Again, not something I’m exactly qualified to quantify or classify.

To go even smaller, is my fear of social rejection. And when I say its small, I mean it’s very small, more of a nagging insecurity at the back of my mind than a fear. When I get invited out, I worry that its some elaborate ruse to make fun of me, or that I was invited, but deliberately given the wrong information so I miss it. This fear doesn’t do much, I still go out, I’m still social, it just makes the car ride, or bus ride, or cab ride, or whatever a little bit nerve-wracking. But ultimately it amounts to nothing more than just a nagging feeling right before I do something.

Around the same scale, is my dislike for needles. I get them all the time, a tetanus booster last summer, flu shots every winter. But I don’t like them. I can’t bear to watch the needle go in, I don’t even like to see the needle beforehand. I have a pretty good idea where this one comes from, I got really sick in elementary school, so they did lots of tests. Especially blood tests. Over six months I must have given half the blood in my body. Don’t like needles anymore.

At the smallest end, is this little tiny fear that someone I know is going to see this blog, and recognize it as mine. I’ve done my best to keep it anonymous, but someone who knows me well just might recognize me. There’s a blog I would like to follow, the one that inspired me to start this one, but I worry they will recognize me. I could deny it of course, but I’m not a good liar. So, I will refrain from following that blog, or liking the posts, or even viewing it while I’m logged in to WordPress.

That’s fear, all of it that pertains to myself. I don’t know what I hoped to accomplish with this, but it was interesting to explore it this way. My next post will be a bit more interesting, I promise.

 

-Dee

Solitude

Yesterday morning, when I left for work, all three of my room mates were sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast. When I got home last night after work, they were all hundreds of kilometers away. As of last night, reading week had begun. Mine began around Wednesday afternoon, but unlike many of my friends and classmates, I will not be going anywhere this week. I work almost every day of the break, and it would not make sense to go home. So, I will stay at school this week.

By staying at school, not only will I be the only one in my house, but the only one of my team mates still around, the only one from any of my classes still around, and likely the only one who will be using the training center. For the first time since training camp at the end of august, I will be completely alone. It will also be the longest stretch of being alone I’ve had so far. During training camp, it was only about 2 days before I saw my team mates, and my house mates moved in a couple of days after that.

This time, it will be a full week. But it’s not going to be a problem. I am definitely someone who can say they have known the joy of solitude. For those that don’t know, the difference between solitude and loneliness is that loneliness is the pain of being alone, while solitude is the joy of being alone. I spend most of my time wishing there was less people anyways. So being alone is not my concern. My concern is that without other people constantly being around, my natural aversion to other people and social interaction is going to come out in full force.

I watched Saving Private Ryan last night, a good movie, one I’ve never seen the end of until last night. But I kept pausing the movie, as cars would stop in front of my house, and the occupants would get out to go to one of my neighbors’ houses or check the mail box. I’ve found that when I’m not expecting people, and then there are people, I become very distrustful. Not quite paranoid, but enough so that someone who doesn’t know what paranoia is might call it that.

That was only after a few hours of my solitude. I wonder how it will be after 10 days of it. Maybe I’ll adjust, maybe I’ll be found digging a fallout shelter in the backyard. Who knows.

-Dee

Discomfort

Yes, dress pants were very nice. In fact, the entire ensemble of pants, shirt tie and jacket was quite lovely. Black of course. Why anyone wore suits that weren’t black remained quite a mystery to me. Although, to be fair, my suit did have some almost black, dark blue pinstripes. But if anything, they just highlighted the black.

But the pants. Yes. Very nice, well-tailored, hemmed neatly, and looked very good in photographs. Horrendous to sit in. Likely because most tailors measure your pants when you are standing, pants have this funny little habit of only fitting properly when you are standing. Jeans had a similar problem, but it wasn’t quite to the same extent. Denim had a bit of stretch to it, whatever you make suits out of, they most certainly do not.

So, I had elected to stand. Sure, there were plenty of open seats, but sore knees after a few hours of standing were well worth it, if it meant I could avoid the weird, bunching up, and pinching of my pants when I sat down.

The speaker would probably only talk for fifteen to twenty more minutes at most anyways, then the rest of the night would be spent “mingling” as it had been decreed we had to do tonight.

So, that’s what we did. We mingled. We met the alumni, and the distinguished persons, and the other rich old people. We discussed the how the team did this fall,

No, we did not get the banner,

Yes, we were very close,

I’m sure we will get it next year.

It was around the time the old people were asking about the state of our equipment and training facilities that I began to question my outfit. Yes, my outfit was smart, and I looked good, and others were wearing similar outfits. But, I had yet to successfully get a donation.

Some of the other girls wore dresses, and some wore suits, and some wore some combination of pants and blouse. But based on whose pens were moving, on which clipboards, it seemed that dresses were winning the evening.

This invited a new discomfort. Not the same discomfort the pants created when I sat down, but definitely related to the pants. I had never been a confident girl, which may have been why I leaned away from dresses and towards pants. Yet here I was, feeling the sting of betrayal, from a pair a pants. It had been some time since I felt like this.

I began to edge my way to the doors on the left side of the room. The bathroom was just on the other side, and I hadn’t been all night. This seemed like an excellent time to use the facilities. So, I said my ‘excuse me’s and I snaked my way through the crowd to the left side of the hall. It felt like I was making zero headway. I took 30 steps, but the door didn’t get any closer. I passed the man with the silver moustache at least twice on my journey to the door. And that little table with the desserts, I must have walked past it a good 3 times. At least three times, I had eaten three of those chocolate desserts.

And then I was through the doors.

You don’t realize how warm a room full of people until you step out of that room. The cool air washed over me, and I took a deep breath and glanced around the room for the door to the bathroom. It was where I had been told it would be, nestled on the east wall, a red-ish wood, with a brass oval with the typical silhouette of the female figure. Very typical for any restaurant or banquet hall.

I heard my shoes clacking on the floor for the first time since the gala began as I hurried into the bathroom. I immediately went for the sink. I turned on the hot water, only the hot water, and I let the burning sensation cover my hands. I put the tips of my fingers, palm up, under the little soap dispenser, and the small motor inside made a slight whirring noise as it deposited the familiar white foamy public bathroom soap onto my waiting fingertips.

I went through the motions of washing my hands, because I didn’t really need to wash them. But the hot water, and the almost sceptic smelling soap cleared my head a little bit. The longer I washed my hands, the clearer my head got.

I felt as if my hands had been under the sink for hours. But my head was clear. I turned off the tap and reached to the right where the paper towels were. I grabbed a handful of them to dry my hands.

Oh gross, it was the harsh brown kind.

My hands, now dry, I gently dropped the wadded-up ball of paper towel into the small cutout in the sink counter and looked at myself in the mirror.

I looked at my face for the first time since I had finished applying my makeup earlier that afternoon. I noted the streaks of mascara that slowly faded into streaks of foundation.

I had been crying. I don’t know when I started.

Oh god, who saw?

Adjustment

Tonight, I was on my spin bike. Well, not really a spin bike, I have a couple road bikes and currently have one of them on an indoor trainer, essentially turning it into a spin bike. I do 90 minutes on it, a few times a week to complement my other training. Of course, it’s not nearly as fun as riding outside, but it’s a nice break from the other form of torture I use for conditioning.

One of the advantages that the bike has, is I can set up my laptop next to me, plug in my headphones, and just listen to whatever I feel like listening to. As a result, the playlist that I bike to tends to be quite random, mixed up, and in my opinion, quite fun. Tonight’s playlist saw the likes of Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, The Turtles, The Animals, Post-Modern Juke Box, George Michael, Cher, Tribe Called Red, Eminem, and Jedi Mind Tricks Presents: The Pharaohs Army. I know, quite the mix.

I have found that because the mix is so random and fun, I dance and I sing along to the music, although quietly, because I have housemates who need to study and sleep. But I’ve found over the last two months, since I was dumped, and subsequently found out how awful I was being treated, my sessions on the bike became more muted. I wasn’t singing, or dancing on the bike like I normally did. I just biked, straight faced, hands on the bars and suffered through my 90 minutes.

I was about 45-50 minutes deep into tonight’s suffer-fest when I realized something. I was having fun on the bike again. I had been dancing again, and singing along, and even tried to rap along once.

There were a couple weeks where I was wondering if this ordeal I had been through was going to ruin a part of who I am, but I think tonight showed me that I am going to be just fine. It’s just going to take some time.

After all, people don’t change.

 

-Dee

Country Roads

The sound a rear derailleur makes as it shifts the chain from one cog to the next is hard to describe. It’s not quite a click. It’s too long of sound, and definitely too deep. It’s also not a grinding sound, it’s too smooth to be described as a grinding. And if your derailleur makes a grinding sound, it’s time to clean it. I would say that the sound a rear derailleur makes is a sort of clunk. But not quite a clunk regardless, the almost clunking sound is one of my favourite sounds. Specifically, as I shift up to a more difficult gear. Which I had just done.

The slight bend in the country road had just straightened out and I was now faced with a long open stretch of flat, empty rural highway. This was my favourite part of riding.

Other people I rode with loved the challenge of a good climb, the struggle to overcome the steep gradient and gravity and reach the top. Others loves the thrill of charging downhill. Shifting to the very top gear and squeezing their body against the top tube to become as aerodynamic as possible. As far as I was aware, I was the only one who enjoyed the endless straight flat road.

Im not sure why Im the only one, but I have theories. The appeal of the climb I think, is the obvious finish line. Getting to the top. Reaching that summit is the completion of the goal, the successful triumph over a great obstacle. For the downhill, it’s the thrill, the feeling of power as you watch the number on your garmin go from 28 kilometres an hour to a staggering 58. The almost effortless ability to continue to accelerate to speeds not seen on any other type of ride is without a doubt an incredibly satisfying experience.

I think the distaste for the flat road comes from the fact that both of these aspects that make the other two so enjoyable, are absent. There is no finish lone to push for. Accelerating isn’t easy, the numbers you see on the garmin are directly proportional to how hard you are working. It is you vs the road, no excuses, no motivation. Without the finish lie there is also no challenge, no goal.

Regardless, this was my favourite part. So, I took advantage of it.

Moving up the gears, I watched my speed climb from 27 to 32. I knew on this particular stretch I had about ten kilometres before the next bend in the road, so I resolved myself to twenty minutes of difficult work. There was no help, no tailwind, the road was perfectly flat, but that was good. This was how I measured myself.

I tried to enjoy the scenery, but at 32 kilomtres an hour the most I get is the road directly in front of me and flashes of green, brown, and yellow, as trees and tall grasses zip past me on either side. But I could see the sky.

It was cloudy, that wonderful deep grey and total coverage you could expect right before it rains. Which I expected it to. However, the sky was clear behind, and the world was lit up brilliantly. It was an interesting picture, the dark brooding clouds coupled with the bright lighting of a warm late day in may. To see the two combined together was almost paradoxical. But it was also incredibly beautiful.

I quickly glanced over my left shoulder to check for traffic, seeing nothing I focused forward again. I shifted my hands from the hoods and levers to the drops, getting my body a little bit closer to the top tube of my bike. With my slightly more streamlined position I watched with satisfaction as the speed on my garmin began to read 32.4 instead of 32.1, a small gain, but it felt good.

I moved the fingers on my right hand up to the brake lever, and I pushed the inner lever towards the centre of the bike, and that almost clunk sound repeated itself as I went up another gear.

I felt my cadence slow down a bit, but I also saw my speed climb to 33. My legs were starting to burn in this new gear, but with less than four kilometres to go, I was determined to maintain this speed until the turn. Following that turn, I knew I had about six kilometres of more open straight road.

When I got to that section, I would push myself, just as I did this section, and just as I would do every time I found myself alone, on an empty straight road.

On the Subject of Valentines Day

I think many people in my life would be surprised to know that I like Valentine’s day. Even this year. The reason it may come as a bit of a surprise is that on the surface I am an asshole, and deep down under that, I’m still an asshole. But a little further down from that, I’m a sucker for romance. Every lame cheesy romantic gesture that can be made, I love it. Flowers, tickets to Romeo and Juliet, the drive in, picnics in fields, I think it’s all great.

So, even though I will be spending tonight with a bottle of tequila, Netflix, and a bag of candy, while reeling from a very fresh broken heart and betrayal, I still like today. I still got a nice warm fuzzy feeling in my gut when my roommate surprised his girlfriend with dinner reservations for tonight. I smiled when my friend talked about the night she was going to spend with her boyfriend and the dinner he was going to cook her.

I like Valentine’s day.

 

-Dee

Anger

It was a new feeling. Not the feeling of anger, that had been felt before, and not even a greater intensity of anger. No, this was a different kind of anger. Where before he had punched walls and thrown chairs, this was a calm anger. Despite the rage bubbling underneath, everything was calm and collected. His breathing was even, his heart rate no different than if he was reading a book by the fire. His hands maintained that steadiness, carefully groomed over years of writing, and drawing.
What was new was the blood. The phrase my blood boils flitted across his mind. It was accurate, he decided. There was a burning in his veins and arteries, that began at the centre of his chest and spread right to his toes and the crown of his head.
Their was a fine line between pleasurably warm, and uncomfortably hot, and his veins danced on this line. For a few seconds the heat was soothing, almost relaxing, the next it made his toes curl in discomfort.
He focused on his breathing next. It had continued at the steady in and out that one could expect from someone lying down. So he began to count his breaths. When he reached 10 he moved on to the next step.
He let his left eye slowly shut, focusing on the picture in his right.
He counted his breaths again. 10 once more.
He moved his finger from where it was resting on the cool aluminum half circle to just inside of it. He gently pushed his finger forward, and waited for the audible click.
When he heard the click he changed his breathing. No longer a steady in an out, but a mechanical in, hold, out, hold, and repeat. So he did.
In.
Hold.
Out.
Hold.
In.
Hold.
Out.
Hold.
In.
Hold.
And on this out, with the precision of years of practice, thousands of hours dedicated to mastering this one aspect, he let his breath out.
The moment his breath had left his body and his lungs were empty, he squeezed his finger back towards his palm.
With a crack that left his ears ringing, and a sharp kick to his shoulder, he watched the little dot of light trace its way through the sky for a brief second and a half.
Then with a puff of brown he watched the wooden board buckle and twist, and for a moment appear to be ready to fall over, but then right itself. All this, over a thousand metres away.
With his ears still ringing, and his limbs burning where he knew his blood flowed, he got up, and he left.
Still angry.