a blogless abandon

Hi.

How’s it going, WordPress? I hear you’ve been getting along just fine without me, but I thought I’d pop back in and say “Salutations”.

Things have been, shall we say, a little raucous around these parts. A little topsy-turvy. Helter-skelter, even. After exams I flew out to visit my grandfather in the wild open prairies, utterly exposed to the wrath of Dust with nary a tree in sight. It was tough, seeing the man you crawled into bed with when you were five years old to watch Saturday morning cartoons (a real treat — we’ve never had cable in our house) brought to his knees like that. I can’t put a face to the grief he must be wading through, chest-deep, every day. The woman he loved for over sixty years, gone. I took some of her jewellery back with me, at his behest. I felt like a thief.

Then, the same day I flew back to Vancouver, glorious city surrounded by mountains, I repacked my bags and leapt into my pre-vacuumed and rather shiny (yet still scrappy and beat-up) 1992 Saturn Coupe, drove to my Christopher’s house, and nabbed him and all his worldly belongings. Well, not really. But I did pack him and his stuff into my dinky car and drive him up to Squamish, where we spent the first night together in ages. It’s hard to describe the feeling of sleeping next to someone you love after a long time, of being able to reach out in the night and touch them, pull them close. Silk is the closest I can get, silk charmeuse floating on a summer breeze. We woke up together, and set off on a road trip that included the sweetest hostel I’ve ever laid eyes on (Hostel Shilo-works), Skookumchuk hot springs, and a lot of corn pops.

The week I came back, I worked full-time and started the summer semester at SFU. I’m taking two medieval lit courses (awesome) and one 18th C. course (lord spare me). That same week, my cat died. It hasn’t been nearly as hard as it was when my dog died eight months ago, but it wasn’t easy. I grew up with that cat, she slept with me and woke me up by  stepping on my face. I’ll miss her. I do miss her.

Things haven’t been uneventful. I’m regaining my footing, though. And I will, life willing, be blogging more. I like blogging. I like you guys. Now if I can find a way to watch Game of Thrones while blogging, I’ll be on top of everything (two seasons in three days, I am a fiend). In the meantime, here:

Drowning in Drafts and Gluten-Free Research

I wish I meant beer. I don’t mean beer. My drafts folder has so many partially finished pieces of writing (like, actually creative writing, not just mind-vomit) that it’s ridiculous. I just haven’t had time to sit down with them and hammer out exactly who they are quite yet.

Surprisingly enough, though, not solely because of school, but because I’ve been spearheading this event in my community featuring a bunch of local bands from the Vancouver area. It’s been a blast, I’ve gotten to design posters and research gluten-free and vegan baking recipes (some members of the band and audience require eatables that won’t make them break their diet) and talk to the bands which is really cool. Granted, I knew most of them by association or face-to-face, but it has still been a ridiculously cool experience meeting lots of cool people.

Right now, though, it’s the baking that’s got me antsy. I want to start on it tomorrow night (the thing’s on Saturday) but I don’t even have a solid idea of what I’m making yet. I’m thinking gluten-free blueberry banana loaf, possibly wacky cake (I nearly fell over when I heard this; what do you mean there’s a cake called wacky cake), and gluten-free gingersnaps. Plus, le boyfriendo is coming over for a baking spree Friday evening (he’s such a doll), so maybe we’ll throw some normal cookies in there. OH I COULD MAKE GUITAR-SHAPED SUGAR COOKIES AGHHGHGHGHHH

There comes a point where I have to give my head a shake and go “NO EMILY. YOU ARE HUMAN. NOT BAKEWOMAN.” The vegan anti-gluten stuff’ll be hard enough. Anyone know a good recipe for coconut milk icing? I had a TA first semester at uni who was, like me, lactose intolerant, and baked for her class. The golden age. Her coconut milk icing was freaking delicious. Maybe I’ll shoot her an email.

Oh, and while I’m on the topic: have some related-to-blog-post YouTube. This’ll tickle all you Les Mis aficionados out there.

© Emily Bragg 2013

It’s a Hermit Life

I used to be the girl who catted about town on the daily, looked for any excuse to get out of the house and bus downtown where the action was. I loved downtown, the hustle and bustle of hipsters and businessmen and chic moms with their please-mum-clad kids all busily walking to the next show, the next appointment. I dressed to fit in, built a closet of vintage and weird clothes to give me some street cred, and walked Granville like I knew what I was doing. I knew Granville Island like the back of my hand, Commercial Drive? Favourite place in the city.

But something happened last semester. I started off same as ever, treating each Friday and Saturday night like a one-way ticket to a good time out on the town. I went to tiny concerts in bars, I went out dancing at the salsa clubs. Halfway through the semester, my family’s little dog, a five-year-old daschund named Zoey, unexpectedly fell victim to a compressed disk in her spine, causing intense pain and paralyzing her from the waist down. Over the course of two days our healthy, chipper little dog was gone. Euthanized. Such a clean, stinging word…it was a bad week. It was a bad month. I still expect frenzied barking every time I put a key in the door lock, can still see her perched on her back legs asking for a lap to sit in. I still miss her. Zoey’s death became an inciting incident that, coupled with stress in my personal relationships, led me into a bout of depression.

I don’t use the term “depression” lightly. I call things depressing, sometimes, as a joke, but if something truly is sad and tragic, I don’t say that. But depression is a tricky one. Most people who say they’re depressed aren’t serious, which desensitizes many to the spiralling darkness that real depressed people experience. I was lucky. I had a strong support network in my friends, my family, and my partner, who all kept me from falling too deep into depression. I didn’t go to a doctor. I wasn’t prescribed drugs. Suicide never once crossed my mind.

It was, however, one of the most terrifying states I have ever experienced. The feeling that your mind is teetering on the brink of a chasm filled with howling darkness and fear-riddled shadows. And that feeling can surface at any time, though mostly when you’re alone, or with someone so close to you that you don’t have to wear a mask of normality around them. Then the tear-floods start, and the howling gets so loud you can’t breathe because nothing makes any kind of sense.

It’s absolutely terrifying, especially when you can’t pinpoint a reason for your madness. Combined with the stress of five university courses and a complete and utter sense of apathy towards the many, many assignments and papers due (not something I’m used to, at all), it was a tough couple of months. I thank my stars every day for having such an incredible partner in love and crime beside me, and putting up with my wild moods and endless tears. We’ll be coming up on two years in a few months, and a gorgeous cobblestone road it’s been. Uneven, at times, but always set on solid ground.

Now, though January has already thrown a handful of blindsiding curveballs my way, I’m in a good place. I might not be on the best of terms with all the people I know and love (regardless of if they know it or not), but I’m happy and grounded with myself. As for going out, however…I’ve turned into a hermit. I don’t want to go out, whether it’s something I know I would enjoy or not. Downtown? Might as well be Prince George as far as I’m concerned. Who wants to go out when you have a slightly-below-par pub less than two blocks away, a stash of liquor and yarn in your closet, Netflix on your TV, and 8tracks in your speakers? Netflix, guys. You can crochet in sweatpants while watching In Her Shoes for the 45th time! I have zero ambition to do cooler things.

This realization that I would rather do sub-par things and relinquish my status as external Vancouver hipster surfaced as I realized that it would be a serious effort to leave my house this evening and go to the farewell show for/at the Waldorf Cabaret, with my favourite gypsy musicians (Maria in the Shower, Geoff Berner, The Tailor, Hannah Epperson and more). Sadly, I won’t be in attendance due to some of the afore-mentioned curveballs and various familial duties, but I can’t pretend my inner hermit stick-in-the-mud self isn’t breathing a deep sigh of relief.

I’m sure I’ll eventually recover my mojo, but until that happens…I have a standing date with my couch.

© Emily Bragg 2013