Enter the Maze

How do I explain this? Okay, sometimes I look at other people and I imagine their heads are like eggs. If you crack them open (non-violently of course) inside you will find egg whites and a yolk. This is normal. This is healthy.

I feel like when God made me He jammed a tub of cotton candy, twisty patterns, endless tunnels to other worlds, a whole village of people with strong personalities, eight vastly different pairs of shoes and a box of crayons into my egg-head. I hope I never have to get brain surgery. Because I have this sinking feeling that I’ll freak out the surgeons.

I’m not saying that there is something wrong with me, but there are definitely times when I feel like I’m doing everything I can to hide the fact that I might be a ‘crazy person’. Sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating to try and keep ‘the brain beast’ under control. Someone can be having an entire conversation with me and I will be looking right into their eyes, even nodding, but I can be in a completely different place, having no idea what they’re saying. I want to listen. I want to be a part of what the person is talking about. But my mind takes off without consent. I’ll catch the first few words, and then notice something across the room, or something they say will trigger an idea or thought, and then I’m gone. For the next couple of minutes while they talk, I’m not aware of anything except what my mind is producing.

It’s borderline embarrassing. If I’m not quick on my feet at the time I won’t be able to come up with some sort of stuttering response to whatever I think they were talking about. Usually I have to take a wild guess. And thankfully I’m usually right. But sometimes I’m not, which makes me look really stupid.

It started in high school, I think. But maybe it was before that. I had systematically trained myself to sit in a chair and check out, the moment the teacher opened his/her mouth. I would stare at them so they thought I was listening. But I would be somewhere else entirely, creating a distant landscape or engaging in some ridiculous legendary battle that I’d fabricated in my mind. I was doing it on purpose at first. But after a few years of getting into the habit, I couldn’t stop. Daydreaming became my kryptonite.

It started getting really bad when I could sit by myself for hours with no concept of what time it was. In those moments the idea of having to move was aggravating, almost unthinkable. I would watch things; machines, people, animals, trees. I would study them obsessively until I understood how they worked, or discovered every detail. A tree is not just a tree. It is branches, leaves, a trunk, bark, moss, buds, bugs, and sometimes birds. And it feels cold, sometimes moist, depending on the tree. I don’t know why I ever realized this. Trees really aren’t of any concern to me. Why do I even care? I don’t. But for some stinking reason I notice it anyway. Bah.

85% of the time I’m battling between trying to pay attention to what’s important (like someone talking to me, remembering that I have to make supper, or that I should probably do the laundry) and the overwhelming pull that is taking me in another direction – somewhere that isn’t important but consumes me. Some fantasy land I create. Plotting out the traits of a character that isn’t real. Some crisis that would cool for the character to overcome.

It’s exhausting. Several times a day I’m telling my brain to shut up. Who talks to their own brain? I don’t typically sleep well on a normal night either – usually because I just think and think and think and think…

The weird part is that I actually can focus on something, if it’s something I like. If it’s making the preparations for something that I can see the big picture of that no one else seems to get, I can do it. I can do it because I want to prove the world wrong. I want to do it so that everyone can see the end result, the way I see it. People don’t always see what I see, the big dream that I know will be amazing once it’s finished. In those instances my focus is spear-like.

I’m not going to lie, I think if I didn’t believe in God, if I didn’t have the relationship with Him that I have, I would have probably lost my mind by now. I would be restless all the time. Peace was foreign to me, until I really started to pursue God to the point of choosing to give those things, those parts of me that I typically can’t control, to Him. He keeps the aimless wanderings going in the right direction at least. I must focus my energy on something. So I know I can accomplish masterpieces if I keep my focus on Him.

Not everyone gets my need to constantly spring into a new situation or venture out into new territory. It’s not that I’m reckless. And it’s not that I’m ignorant and don’t understand the risks. It’s that I’m trying to feed the howling ‘brain-beast’ that won’t shut up until I do.

Not everyone gets my need to escape either. I love people, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I realize that I need seclusion, and I don’t know where the freak-desperation comes from without warning, but sometimes I just need to be by myself so that I can ‘hear myself think’. Little distractions instantly become my enemy. I need to focus, or I will lose my train of thought. And if I lose my train of thought I might never get it back. And for whatever reason my mind deems it pivotal to keep these little thoughts safe, like they are priceless treasures that are worth a fortune.

It’s so weird. I’m not saying it’s normal. I was never really a normal kid – even in elementary school I had more than one teacher that had to pull me aside to get me in trouble for handing in papers with doodles and pictures coloured in around all the margins of the paper and only half the required school notes. I never broke that habit. In fact, halfway through my grade 10 math exam I gave up and just wrote, “I don’t need math. I will get through life with my art” across the page. And then I handed it in. Granted, at the time I might have been a little naïve. But I was never good at exams.

You know, finally confessing all of this actually makes me feel better about it. I think I just needed to let it all out for a change. Thank God, for God. I can’t even comprehend what my life would be like without Him.

And for the record I’m not crazy. Just a little distracted on a regular basis.

That’s my rant. Tootles.

The Worst Kind of Turkey

Here’s what actually happened:

I was sitting with my husband’s family for our thanksgiving lunch. The children were running around wildly and mothers and fathers were chasing them apologetically while trying to carry on normal conversations at the same time with the other people in the room. It was hilarious. I can’t wait to have little stinkers of my own to put me in these awkward but irreplaceable situations. For a moment I glanced out the window where a heavy cloud started to creep over us, blocking out the sunlight and making a dark shadow crawl across the lawn. The noise died down, draining from my awareness as the landscape outside became my immediate surroundings.

I went on an adventure then.

They were coming like ants. The green grass changed colour as it was being covered by gobbling animals, which made it look like a long beige-brown moving blanket. With eyes. Hundreds and hundreds of dreadful eyes.

It was a fiery swarm of bone crushing wild turkeys with a vendetta.

A storm came. Thunder cracked over the house, shaking everyone from their previously comfortable state. But my eyes were still glued to the hoard that in seconds would consume us. The others didn’t see them. Only I did. And I had to warn everyone. I turned around, prepared to shout for someone to grab the children so we could escape from this near destined feeding fest, but the words got caught in my throat. They never made it out.

My eyes had shot across the house to the opposite window past which a replica hoard of wild turkeys was coming at us from the other direction. They were surrounding the house, trapping us inside. And I realized; not only were these turkeys hungry, they were smart.

Smart turkeys are the worst kind.

I didn’t speak, I just jumped to my feet and moved towards the front door. People looked at me oddly, confused by the intensity of my eyes, until I reached the door and flicked the lock. When I turned around everyone was staring at me. I wasn’t sure how else to explain it, so I said the only thing that came to mind,

“We’ve got company.”

Several heads turned to look around to see what I meant. But it was one of the children who saw them first.

“Look mom! Turkey!”

The innocent observation made all eyes in the room shoot towards the darkening yard. And panic broke out.

People yelled, hid, and grabbed their kids. I watched as my mind spun with my options. These people didn’t know what they were in for. They’d never encountered a hoard of dangerous wild turkeys before.

I had.

I headed for the stairs, darting up them in the midst of the chaos below, and went into one of the bedrooms that had a window that was cracked open. I pushed the window open the rest of the way and climbed onto the sill. The shrill calls of the turkeys met my ears and my gaze treacherously shot down to where they were swarming around the brick base of the house. I instantly squeezed my eyes shut to block them out. I couldn’t let myself get distracted. I felt for the top of the window sill and turned my body around to climb onto the roof. Only when I was facing upwards did I open my eyes again, and I saw that the storm was getting worse. Thick beads of rain came down in pellets, beating on my face and soaking the roof. In less than three seconds everything had become dangerously slippery. I reached over and pulled myself up with all my strength, grunting as I did, and then climbed to my feet once I was on top. I did a slow turn to survey the scene below and to calculate my chances of making it out alive.

They weren’t great.

I started to move to the far end where I knew I might have a decent chance at jumping over to the separate garage. I paused and considered the possibility that I might not make it. It was far, further than I’d anticipated. But I had to try.

I looked up at the clouds one last time, knowing that the precipitation was going to make it considerably more difficult to complete this task. My clothes were already drenched and droplets were falling from my hair every time I moved. I took a few steps back and took in a deep breath.

I can do this. I can. I…well if I can’t at least I won’t ever have to muster up the guts to talk on the phone anymore. I won’t have to use grocery carts. I won’t have to use vending machines. I won’t have to use elevators. I won’t have to engage in small talk. And I won’t have to put gas in the car or do any other terrifying things that make me want to become a hermit. There are a lot of things I’m not that thankful for.

But then again…there are a lot of things that I am thankful for.

Crap. I guess I better make it.

My eyes narrowed in on the long-jump. I was never good at long-jump. In elementary school I was a runner, not a jumper. Being a short scrawny tangle of limbs, jumping was basically my nemesis. But on this day, thanksgiving of 2013, I was going to have to find it within myself to be a long-jump champion. I started taking long strides across the roof, heart pounding and eyes wide, and I sprang.

There was a brief moment where I was suspended in the air. I glanced down at the swarming hoard of devils below me as they clapped their beaks together. This moment brought me back to the last time I’d faced these creatures. That encounter had left me in a hospital bed, covered in peck marks and barely alive. But that couldn’t happen this time. My eyes shot forward. I saw the edge of the garage roof coming at me faster than I was ready for. And my feet didn’t make it.

I stretched out my arms and gritted my teeth. I couldn’t fall into these creatures. They couldn’t scathe me; not again. Milliseconds that felt like hours went by as I came down, and at the last possible second, after I’d already deemed myself done for, I felt my fingers catch the edge of the roof. I came to a jolting stop, clinging for dear life. I made it.

After a moment of mentally healing myself from the horrific trauma I’d nearly experienced, I pulled myself over the edge in one desperate motion. I was running out of time and the threat of a personal meltdown was lingering over me. When I looked around I realized that rain had started to form into small puddles on the flat roof. I did my best to avoid them, splashing through the few that I couldn’t avoid, and when I came to the opposite end of the garage, I peered over the edge to find the window. Another tricky jump.

Oh perfect.

I turned around and grabbed the side of the roof to lower myself down, hoping that I didn’t mess this up and become the turkeys’ thanksgiving dinner.

Irony.

Almost right away I felt my boots hit the bottom of the sill. I slid in through the window and landed on the flat cement garage floor. I started moving, even though my eyes hadn’t adjusted to the darkness yet, until I reached the wall of supplies. I blinked wildly, trying to focus on my options. There was a baseball bat. That could be useful, but it likely wouldn’t give me the kind of power I needed. Beside that there was a rake. And beside that…a blow torch.

The blow torch. Definitely the blow torch.

I grabbed it and headed across the garage, flicking the lever to power it up as I moved. It was time to end this war and get revenge on these menacing birds before they pecked their way through the walls of the house where my extended family was still inside. I kicked the garage door open and came out, blow torch raised, and I fired. Thank goodness the rain didn’t snuff out the fire. They went up in flames, all of them. Turkeys everywhere were getting cooked to perfection. I rounded the house to bring them down and only when the last one had dropped did I finally cease fire.

After all the delicious smelling carnage, one by one my family members started to come outside. I tossed the blow torch into the shrubs though. They couldn’t know what I’d done. It might expose other secrets that I needed to hide. But I bit back a subtle smile to myself at the unexpected downfall of the wild turkeys. Somehow, against all odds, I’d done it again.

After that we had the biggest thanksgiving dinner in the history of mankind. Revenge is sweet tasting. Or maybe it just tastes like a lot of gravy.

Happy thanksgiving.

Silence of the Pigs

This will be a different kind of blog post today. I want to give a glimpse into the uncharted territory of a place that is constantly moving through wisps of colour and untamed adventures in lost worlds. This place haunts me at times, but amazes me at others. And though I can be looking straight at someone; an acquaintance, a teacher, a consultant, this place is often travelling in a different direction than what it’s supposed to, making it exceedingly difficult for me to focus. On more than one occasion this area has been my downfall. It’s been my struggle – the one that others don’t know about or can’t possibly understand because it’s hidden behind my naturally deceiving green-umber eyes. This place is my advantageous yet treacherous ever wandering mind. It’s strange, in a way, to put the thoughts that spear in a hundred different directions every second into words, because usually they move too fast for me to catch a hold of them. But heck, why not give it a shot? I’ll grab my butterfly net.

I was sitting outside. The sun was warm, almost a little too warm, making me sweat in places I don’t want to talk about. But I barely noticed it. Because as I was sitting in my rickety rusted lawn chair and staring at my boring yet frustratingly addictive phone, I was rudely thrown into a mental state of panic when I heard the sharp rising squeals and screams that erupted from across the fields. My eyes shot up. Around me, miles of various crops stared back at me blankly as they drifted in the gentle wind. But my heart started to thud a little faster. Because regardless of the calmness in the fields that wrapped around my backyard for miles, usually screams only mean one thing; danger.

There was an eerie dancing in the breeze. Something was wrong.

I stood, eyes grazing over the fields one last time, and then headed for the shed. I don’t keep a lot of things in my shed, just what’s been tossed in there over the years; tools, gardening gloves, a shovel, a tarnished bike with only one wheel, a first aid kit, a hatchet, a few dead mice, extra gasoline and…my grandfather’s black bow.

My arrows were mostly destroyed, with notches chipped out of them and whatever glossy finish that once covered them being mostly disintegrated. But I still remembered how to shoot, though I hadn’t done it in a very long time.

I took what I needed, considering the history for only a moment before I slung the sheath of arrows over my arm, and then squished a spider that fell off beneath the toe of my boot.

Spiders. They don’t scare me.

I headed for the fields. At first, I considered that my best option would be to move into the corn so that I would be shielded on all sides. But my instincts told me it would be faster to go on a direct path through the wheat. So I went, gripping my bow so tightly at my side that I could feel a splinter edging it’s way into my pinky.

The screams began to rise again unexpectedly, sending chills through my bones and making me almost falter my next step. I swore, not using one of the worst words I could think of, but still one that might not have been appropriate to say out loud at my mother’s house. But I didn’t have a lot of options on this route. They would see me coming. I knew they would.

I broke into a run, hoping for the sake of the screamers that I wasn’t going to get there too late. My body drove forwards into a string of long strides that made the series of buildings before me draw closer, giving me better vision of what was to come. But there was trouble. I suddenly ducked left when I saw movement, and nearly plowed into a silo. I winced at the impact of my shoulder colliding with the blue metal wall before I was able to correct my calculation.

Okay, I swore again. This time it was the worst word I could think of. Bad Jen.

I put my back against the silo and slid down to a sitting position to clear my head and try to refocus from the throbbing that was making its way down my arm. The screams had died down, which made me nervous. I hoped I hadn’t missed my chance to intervene.

There was a noise that made me freeze. It was like the sound of someone crunching popcorn seeds in their teeth. But as the sound became a rhythm, I realized there was someone less than twenty meters away from me that was walking on gravel. And he was drawing closer. If I was going to move, it had to be now.

I snatched my bow out of the grass and peered around the silo, searching for the company. And when I saw nothing but an empty laneway that seemed to extend at least half a mile before it even reached a road, or any kind of civilization for that matter, I bolted for the next building over. As I approached, I heard a commotion inside, something that made me stop at the door before going in. I reached up slowly and drew an arrow, as my eyes narrowed in on something past the door that I couldn’t see yet. The screams, they came from this building.

The thudding began rising in my chest again. I held my bow up, a little nervously because there was a good chance my aim was rusty, and I inched the door open with my foot. Everything inside was dark. Shadows stretched across the length of the building that were almost too dark to be defined. But I could see movement. I could hear it too. I reached to my back pocket and pulled out my phone, which in addition to having a sweet Pinterest app also contained a rare high tech lens that would allow me to see in the dark. I held up my phone and kept my eyes glued to the screen as I scanned the room with appropriate caution. And then the noises began.

It started like a low pitched growl, similar to what might appear in a child’s nightmare. And then it rose, cracking into a tone that went higher and higher until the frequency was so startling it sent shivers rippling across my flesh. I dropped my phone in alarm and spun around, trying to blink away the blurriness that was starting to form. I peered down the arrow that shook slightly under my grip and tried desperately to make out the shapes that were positioned in the darkness around me. I needed to shoot, now, or it would get me, whatever it was. I opened my mouth but my throat was dry.

“Hello?” I rasped, hoping it wasn’t too late for friendly conversation. When there was no reply I started to shrink down to retrieve my phone, which had bounced a half a meter from where I was standing. I rose slowly, flicking the night vision back on, and raised the device in front of me, and as a sudden form appeared, filling the screen, I shrieked. Fear exploded through my limbs, making me spring into action. I released my phone and heard it clatter somewhere in the darkness. My hand shot back up to my bow and I shot the arrow, hitting whatever monster was before me right between its bright threatening eyes.

I couldn’t breathe.

I was ready to run but I’d heard a slump on the ground. And no more noises were coming from the darkness. So instead, I leaned forwards with my hands on my knees and tried to catch my breath. This felt unreal. Finally, I marched forwards and grabbed my phone, unable to stand it any longer. Whatever monster this was, I needed to see it. I flicked the light on my mobile to its fullest measure of brightness and tilted it down to see what I’d hit.

A pig. It was a pig.

I grunted.

Well that was a whole lot of drama for nothing.

Yesterday I was sitting outside on my phone. Lame. I know. But I do love Pinterest. And as I was sitting there, I overheard the legitimately startling sound of our distant neighbour’s pigs squealing so loud that it really did sound like I’d woken up in a horror movie. What really happened was I took a look across the bean field, shrugged to myself, went back to pin a cool recipe and then headed inside for a pomegranate. But in those short moments of looking out towards my neighbour’s farm my mind took me through a completely different scenario, all in a matter of seconds. And I thought it would be interesting to share.

It can’t stop it. It does it on it’s own.

….and now I feel like bacon.