Things change, with me barely noticing, incrementally.

Then. Suddenly, the rewards are mine.

The first time I used the grocery delivery service, I ordered some yeast in my shopping cart. It was impulsive, I’m not sure how I found it on the site, but in it went. I forgot about it until I pulled it out of the box. It’s not like I had any flour or anything to go with it. I mean. That same delivery I ordered baking soda and baking powder – what I was doing? Seeing how many leavening agents I could have delivered to my door? 

That isn’t the way a person “groceries”.

The second time, I ordered (and received) flour. And salt. 

So.

I thought about it. Those three things, the yeast in a state of suspended animation, slumbering in the door of the fridge, the flour also in the fridge, staring at me silently every time I opened the door.

In the summer, I took an aerial silks class, which I disliked for many reasons. Including the teaching style, which was basically “Here is a binder – open it, remove a page, read the directios, try to do the trick as the directions state. Try not to die.”

Which.

It’s not terribly helpful. And those black and white pictures weren’t helpful either.

So.

Hating the aerial silks class, with so much flour and yeast.

What’s a girl to do?

I could have made some bread, I suppose.

By the time summer ended, I was all about the film festival so things not film-related took a back seat.

The woman who reccommended the aerial silks class to me was patient enough to listen to my complaints about it too.

Then, after some thought, after getting to know each other better, she invited me to try out her trapeze class.

I was ready to hate it. 

Never mind willingly hanging about from two pieces of fabric, two ropes and a mental bar doesn’t seem any safer. Or saner.

I went out.

And.

It’s terrifying. Like. So scary. Cuz you are all “way up there” and the ground is like “way down there”. And there is nothing between up there and down there. Just air.

So much empty space.

I could just fall, actually, fall. 

I got really upset in the fall – the autumn – scared, angry. Felt like the world was just becoming a place I didn’t recognize or understand anymore. Felt like I didn’t and couldn’t trust people that I interact with all the time.

It’s unnerving. To sudddenly feel the world slip away like that. To lose track of the narrative. To fall, metaphorically.

And so I struggled.

And. Asked questions. Said some pretty hard stuff to friends and listened to hard stuff friends were saying. I was clumsy in my words.

And bruised. From trying not to die.

From continuing to fight gravity.

I woke three Saturdays ago and I enjoyed that state where the bed is still sleep warm and you know trapeze class isn’t until 1pm, so you can enjoy it just a little longer.

And. My nose wanted something different. I wanted to smell freshly baked bread.

After class, I found a recipe and got going.

It’s been ages since I baked bread. And it’s funny when I talk about “getting back to it” people make a funny face, as if I’m someone who looks like I shouldn’t know how to make bread.

Truth: I am someone who looks like I shouldn’t know how to make bread.

But I do.

And I’m learning how to do trapeze.

I know that the whole “bread and circus” thing is a metaphor. But taking it literarly is working really well for me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Maybe someday I’ll fall. But not today.

Monday is a “members only day”, this is the day that members get to trade tickets throughly the box office, no public sales are processed. Fun and games begin at 9am.

I sleep in.

When, I wake, I’m up and out. There is already a line up, greet star and volunteers. Members are more subdued today, focused, not chatting with each other. I overhear a conversation a volunteer has with someone in line – the ticket pool was cut in half this yea, so the ability to make trades is depends on where you bought your tickets. 

I call the volunteer over and explain our tickets situation. We should be ok.

I wait.

I chat wi people in line, trying to get them to tell me what they are doing. So far, most of the movies I want, they don’t want, but I have some movies others want. This is a good sign.

I’m three from the front.

Two.

I’m up!

I greet the volunteer, it’s someone I saw yesterday. I explain “I have 3 trades to do, so let’s just go in order and we will see what happens, ok?”

She agrees and it’s game on.

First trade – “Magnificent Seven” (Friday night) for “Personal Shopper” Saturday night. 

She confirms that I have two tickets for “Personal Shopper” the following Sunday and if I do this trade my friend and I are seeing this film twice. I agree. No issues.

It’s done!

I list of the second trade. No luck.

The third trade, no luck.

I’m done.

When I get home I try online. 

Nothing.

Nothing.

Nothing.

I get news the site has crashed so online trades can’t be done.

Put on my shoes and I’m back to the box office.

Volunteers greet me and wish me luck.

There is no wait this time. 

My trades don’t happen.

I’m sad.

I try four more times from home and then it’s time to pack to visit a friend for dinner and staying  at her place.

I stop in at the box office, just in case.

This time, after not being to complete my trades, they let me know I can use the mobile site, but so far I haven’t had luck.

I ask them to show me how and they start talking me through only to discover that they can’t, the site on my phone is missing functions.

I ask for a solution and the volunteers don’t have one so they take me to see a person working box office. I explain the situation and show them, they don’t have any insight so get a manager for me.  I sit with the manager and show the manager and they don’t have any insight either. We try to problem solve. 

Finally I ask “what would happen if I go to the full site? Maybe you can’t do trades fromthe mobile site?”

I’m told it does make a difference.

But.

We try it anyway and it does.

So. Trades through the full site. But not through the mobile site.

Ok.

I leave, have a great visit with my friend.

At work the next day I get on the site and call the box office.

I’m on hold for an hour, listen with half an ear while I work.

Keep checking the website to do my trades but I have no luck.

Get someone at the box office and my trades don’t happen.

Call back half an hour later and hold until I’m hungry.

Go grab an easy lunch and eat at my desk while I listen to hold music.

I’m about  to give up or cry or something, this year is going to be a disappointment if I can’t us what we really want.

So I’m waiting and chewing on my sub and suddenly I hear a welcoming voice.

I’m asked for my account number, which I don’t know, so I offer my mbership number instead. The person suggests that I give my name so I spell my last name and she says 

“Bex?” Like. She knows me. Does she know me?

“Yes, that’s me, I have a couple of impossible things to do this afternoon and I’d like you help me. I won’t hold it against you if we can’t do it, I’ve had no luck.”

She laughed, which I think is very kind.

“Ok, what do you want do?”

“Ok. My first trade, I have two films for ‘Certain Women’ but I don’t like the time. I need the Sunday September 11 show.”

“Two tickets?”

“Yes. I’ll take one.”

“But you want two?”

“Yes, but it’s been off sale since last week, so if one is all you cane find, then I’ll take it and sort the other later.”

“Ok.” She laughes again.

I guess there is humour in dealing with a person who is obviously a bit mad.

“Oh! Two tickets right?” 

“What.”

“Oh! I think…hang on. Yes!

“What?”

“I just got you two tickets for the Sunday September 11 show!”

“Wow! How did you do that?! They’ve been off sale since last week!”

“Hang on, just let me make sure I got them. Ok, I did!”

Wow. I’m not sure how this happened but wow.

“Ok, is that everything?”

“No, maybe this is my lucky day. Ok, I’ve got two tickets to ‘Lion’ and I really want to see ‘The Handmaiden’ on Sunday September 11.”

Silence.

“Before I look for those tickets and try to make that trade, I have to ask. Are you sure? ‘Lion’ so about the hottest ticket of the festival right now. If you trade them away you will someone really, really happy.”

“Yeah, let’s make someone really, really happy and make that trade.”

The ease which the trade is made is amazing.

My tickets are all confirmed.

I say I will come down and get my tickets printed at the box office, I live nearby and I need to trade my tickets in anyway.

My friend is busy every time I go over to tell her the news.

When she is free, I’m at my desk and she meshes me, expecting bad news. 

It’s done. We have our perfect schedule with our perfect films. 

I’m so happy.

Later, I go down to the box office and it turns out that the tickets I traded in weren’t processed correctly and I could still have used them. It’s ok,  we made those trades and I’m not looking to scam anyone or make any sort of profit. The tickets are taken and each one gets a thick, red line through it to show “invalid”.

And that’s it. 

Except.

The next day, in the afternoon my friend lets me know that rush seats are available to see Michael Fassbender speak. 50$ and standing in a line. I figure what the heck, it’s on the way home.

I get there and there is less than 20 people. I get in line and wait.

This line is a better mood, I get into a conversation with someone who works at TIFF.

An hour and half later, we both get in, the whole line gets in!

And I see the interview/talk.

And that is how TIFF was won.

The next day I’m back at it, it’s a day of patience, waiting and trading tickets. Only members can play.

I’m there, in line about an hour before the game begins. We wait. People are less friendly today, they are focused, eyes on the prize. Prizes.

I over hear a conversation one of the volunteers has – something about where you bought your tickets matters. There are two ticket pools – one through the festival, one through a third-party vendor. Oh, third-party vendors, what have you done?

I ask for clarification, explain how I boug my tickets and she assures me it should be ok. 

 What if it’s not ok?

What if?

I wait. We don’t talk too much today, the tension, it’s. You can feel it in the air. Palpable. 

I’m third from the front. They keep taking people upstairs but I’m going to stay here, downstairs is the site of my most triumphant ticket victories so far, I’m keeping with a good thing.

Second from the front.

Look, I take a deep breath, the movie at the time I want, it’s not happening. I’m preparing for disappointment. Thinking about next steps and how I compose a text that gives me friend the bad news.

I’m up.

I do it!

Well. The volunteer helping me does it. I’ve got two tickets for a show time and film I wanted, my friend’s first choice.

Ok. No time to dwell, not a moment to enjoy and savour. I’ve got two more trades and time matters.

No.

Those trades don’t happen.

I go home. Celebrate, briefly, with an iced tea and discuss next steps with my friend. It’s all about sticking to the plan and having perfect timing.

And being relentless.

At home, I check the website every twenty minutes, or so.

Nothing. The site crashes. I’m frustrated.

I go back the box office, if not for the volunteers and staff I’d burn this this film festival down. Metaphorically.

They greet me like a friend and welcome me as if I’m coming home.

But they still can’t get me the tickets I need.

Back home.

Pack. Let a friend know I’m on my way for a visit. 

I stop one more time at the box office, still nothing.

Disappointment runs through my veins.  Worst film festival experience ever.

I won’t have any time to check from the website or call the rest of the evening. So I’ll be back at it tomorrow. 

Film festivals are hard on my sensitive soul. 

I slept in. I don’t know what happened to my alarm but I didn’t hear it and I slept in. 

There was a bit of time. Right? I need a good breakfast this morning, gotta have enough energy to stand and wait and be patient. 

Being patient is a lot of energy.

The line started yesterday morning, I walked by around 8:45am, just taking a a walk, and the line was there, two men with sleepi bags. To get film tickets.

I couldn’t bring myself to do that. Besides, we had other plans. Big plans.

I walked by the line three more times yesterday, watched it grow. And I didn’t join.

I had two eggs, one piece of toast and half a glass of almond milk (unsweetened), my multi-vitamin and my “bone builder”. 

I’m set and after a quick shower, a light coat of paint and some of my luckiest clothes, I’m out.

Wow. The lines are long.

Long.

Llllllllllloooooooonnnnnnnngggggg.

Kick myself for sleeping in and join at the end and start to chat.

There is a certain kind of person who gets into lines for hours. I’m not sure I’m that kind of person, but I like meeting them. It’s the first day, so people are friendly and helpful and supportive. Good chats. Media is all over the place, doing interviews. I grab some funny pics. The woman behind me brough her doggie, which in not sure about but it sure provides a interest dynamic.

Time is ticking. It’s live at 9am.

The volunteers are managing he lines, getting the queens set up and ready to go.

Finally we are taken down. 

My friend texts me and suggests I get on line ‘cuz they sent out this as a tip this morning. So I do.

Wait.

Wait.

Wait.

Time.

GO!

The site crashes.

I’m in line so I get on the site again. I’m on the site line.

I hear it has crashed again.

The physical line isn’t moviving.

The online line isn’t moving.

Wait.

I’m in!

Get my ticket.

Issues checking out. The ticket is gone. Gone! Poof!

Log back in. The line I’m physically in isn’t moving.

Find another ticket, I can’t check out. What are the issues?

Log out. Log back in.

I’m in the on line queue. Nothing is happening.

Nothing. Is happening.

The physical line moves.

Ok.

We are moving. The people I’ve been chatting with all morning, they are next. Online I’m stuck. Ok. Front of the line.

My turn.

Ok.

Ok.

Ok.

Here we go.

The volunteer is super friendly and indulgent of my quirks (I have quirks). 

When we are done, I’ve got what I came for. 

Mostly.

Let me friend know and she’s happy. 

I treat myself to a fancy iced tea and Cooke even though it’s not even noon yet.

We break separately.

Time for review.

Six films. Two are the films we want, when we want and where we want. We will hold those.

 Two are films we want but the when isn’t good. We will trade those.

One is a film that we will see but we can trade it for something else.

One of a film we aren’t going to see, that need to go as soon as possible.

So. Four steps.

Back at it tomorrow.

We started hearing about problems on Monday. Monday, the first day first access was available. Problems with the site, problems with screenings going “off sale”, problems with accessing the site and understanding how to use the site.

I’m not on Twitter and I don’t pay attention to other people’s problems. I leave that to my friend who I do the festival with. I’m the “designated ticket person” out of our duo, so it’s up to me to keep track of important dates, make sure our membership is paid up and current, manage our calendar, stand in lines, collect tickets and find face-to-face information. I keep track of the payments too. My friend tracks movies and does research and finds films that are going to blow up, she also connects with people to find out what is going on and feeds the information to me.

It works. It works for me and, I think, for her.

So. The problems started and I got nervous. Every day it was the same thing – crashes, off-sales, issues on top of issues.

Our selection window for our package was the last day, second last time slot.

Angry tweets kept happening.

My friends was getting nervous and upset.

By Wednesday I asked if we could switch roles – I’m more comfortable being tense and worried and I like it when she is calm. She agreed, so back to our usual roles.

Our ticket selection window came – 10am Friday.

Logged on – no issue. Loading time was slow and then. Agony. The filter wasn’t working. The films took forever to scroll through. Films we wanted kept being off-sale and didn’t tell you until you selected the film. 

Our time was ticking. Our window was closing.

I panicked.

I suggested a film I was adamant about not seeing. Just to complete our purchase, I didn’t want to do vouchers.

There we are – five films. Ready. 

I don’t know how to check out so I try something.

We lose all our tickets.

Poof. 

Gone.

Get back in, my friend has made a list so she reads them out, in order and I re-find the tickets.

This time, click “Find Tickets”. ‘Cuz. Look, I already “found” the tickets, but I have to find them again? I guess?

Right button this time, we get our tickets.

Time to review. Out of the tickets we got, three are movies we wanted, one is a movie we can live with and one is a movie I don’t want at all. Two are at times I’m ok with, the other three I don’t like the times. Two I don’t like the venues.

So.

We break and review separately.

Disappointing process.

But I’m not done.

It’s only just begun.

Come back to together and discuss next steps. So. Two of our tickets are the movies we want to see, good timing and good venues. We’ll keep those.

The other three. We need to do something.

So.

Let the games begin.

I was actually going to write about eavesdropping today – I ate breakfast on my balacony and, somewhere to the North, maybe a block away, I hear music. I kept my radio off this morning so I could the sounds of the city and, lo, music! I don’t know where it’s coming from or why, but it sounds a bit like Chinese opera. And what is that buzzing?

Before writing  this post, I decided to take a look at page I added years ago “bexisms”. I read the things that help me in my life and the comments from people who entered my life briefly, for a time. And you know. I still use these to live and get through my days – weather still has no impact on my mood, but amount of sleep and how much water I’ve had does, I still believe in comfortable shoes (so much so that I recently found a cobbler to help me take care of my comfy, cute shoes so I don’t have to buy new ones and risk discomfort). 

I still do things that scare me – talk to strangers, go to speed dating nights, offer strangers advice and do things by myself. 

If I could figure out a way to edit this page, I’d add to these 19 bexisms, I’m still discovering what works for me.

These are some things I would add today:

19. Drinks water. Like. It doesn’t matter if you sip or gulp, but drink enough that you have to pee about every hour while you are awake and your pee is a pale yellow. Our systems all have a base of water so if you drink water regularly, your systems will all improve. Don’t wait until your are thirsty. If it doesn’t appeal to you or you don’t like the taste, make it beautiful – get a new water cup hat is used only for water and that you love,  add cucumber or lime or strawberries of whatever to give it a taste that you enjoy.

20. 19 is also true for green tea, but you have to be careful of how it’s processed, some green tea can cause liver damage so be aware of where you are getting your green tea.

21. Get enough sleep.  For me it’s around 8 hours a night but I can go with far less for a couple of days in a row. But I’m unhappy when this happens. Some people are good with 4, some people need 9. Whatever you need, stick to it regularly. 

22. Speak out. This is a hard one and one I’m learning. We have a lot of problems in this place and there are people who embrace fear and let it turn to hatred. They say terrible, hurtful things. Be calm but confront them, if you feel safe to do so. It is not enough to say you are an ally and then let others do the work – if you are masculine and say that you support feminism then stand up to your friends when they are saying something misogynistic and if you say you aren’t racist the speak up when someone is doing or saying racist things. We deserve a nicer place and we need our allies to act and speak out.

23. Thanks for doing that. 

24. We all have our own stories but you can safely assume that everyone you meet has dreams, fears, is loved and has lived through heartbreak. Listen to their story. Tell them you hear them. You don’t and won’t like everyone you meet and t up to you to save them, but be kind and remember you probably have a lot in common.

25. Core strength matters. Your core is the centre of your body and your being. It protects your spine and your organs. It makes you walk tall, turn, sit up straight. Also, you look good.

Of course, none of these will be found on that page, cuz I can’t figure out how to edit it. Sometimes the next best thing is a-ok.

I keep thinking about writing. About words I want to say or share or things I want tot tell you about. How to tell you ab all that’s happening, all that is happening. Everything in my heart and my mind and everything on my skin.

Skin is a painful topic. 

I’ve been having hard conversations recently, about racism, feeling hard things about how I define and defend myself. My eyes are sensitive in a different way. My ears are too. And my mouth, my mouth doesn’t know what to say. How I can explain “being black” when I’m kind of not? How do I help my friends understand when I’m not truly understanding of the issues myself? How do I call out privilege when I know I’ve benefitted from it?

And then ther is food and the body. I don’t know where to begin here. Or where to end. My body is getting stronger, which I love but feeding it is…well, privilege…privilege of having enough resources that I’ve never gone hungry when I’ve wanted to be fed. Some days it seems like so much effort to eat.

I lost something last week.

I’m not sure what to without it. It was a part of me, a huge part of who I am and was woven into my personal stories and mythologies. I’m not sure who I am without it.

After my first trapeze class, last Saturday, there wasn’t any fear. No fear of heights, no trace of having been afraid and no signs that it was ever a part of me. I think it slipped out of my mouth when I was hanging upside down.

When we cling so strongly to fear, who are we when its gone?

My fear clung to me too.

I miss it. I ache for it. I’m lonley for it.

It’s been with me for so long that I don’t remember a time without it, although I know there much have been – I used to love gymnastics, doing bars and beam. We found each other later, perhaps?

What if al my fears slip out my mouth or exit my ears when I’m upside down or dreaming? Without these fears to limit me, to challenge me to keep me reigned in and fenced off, who will I be? When ther are no limits, how will I know where my heart ends and begins?

More importantly, what I am going to have to to do to feel it again?

So, it’s not like I’m  huge Frank Zappa fan or anything, I barely know the guy  and probably know one of his songs (“Valley Girl”, which got some amount of regular rotation on “The Doctor Demento Show” when I was so much younger than today and believed that my older brother was the epitome of all things cool). 

But it was a hot night and there seemed to a storm rolling in and I had only been out a couple of times last week so decided to go for a walk and see what was up. This film was the only one playing that I hadn’t already promised to see with others or seen, so this film was it.

The film is a series of interviews Frank Zappa gave during his live, interspersed with some of his performances. And well. It’s really interesting. For me, being interested in luscious, it was amazing to hear how he put his compositions together and how he and the the band “The Mothers of Invention” rehearsed and performed.

What grabbed my attention most was not only his views on art and music but how he dealt with accusations of being political radical or an arnarchist. I remember at some point, when I was younger, someone had mentioned in passing that Frank Zappa was a conversative and I could hardly believe them. This is confirmed on the interviews and it is interesting how much of a conventional life he leads – four kids, house with a mortgage.

The best part of the film for me was the lack of a voice over – there were titles to help the viewer navigate through the interviews but context was never explained with a voice over.

Very enjoyable film and if you have the inclination or a love of music, I suggest giving it a try.

Not doing my hair this morning resulted in me arriving at the train station almost 20 minutes early. After loading my transit card, I treated myself to an iced tea at Starbucks.

That’s a rare treat but I had the time and if ever there was a day to by kind to myself, it’s Thursday.

The cashier seemed a bit confused but friendly – confirmed I didn’t want anything to eat and double checked my order. I’m a bit unclear about how to order at Starbucks, so many sizes and options and long names that I do my best but usually end up mucking something up.

After me, in line, there was a bit of a rush and I had to wait a bit for my drink. When it was made and placed, I initially left it sitting there cuz it was the wrong size – it looked too big.

They said my order and I picked it up and said “thank you!”

But. Really. It was a size up. 

What have I done to receive a free upsize from Starbucks? I mean. They barely know me.

This set the time for the day – I got a lot done, people found me funny and charming and I was wearing my fav dress. 

Then I got a letter in my inbox.

I never get letters, let alone ones that are addressed in printing.

I opened with a great deal of trepidation.

The letter outlined the death of the writer’s spouse. 

It was heartbreakingly sad.

It told how the spouse was ill and how support was an ongoing struggle. The writer pleaded with the reader to share their story so another person would not have to go through a similar ordeal. 

I often say at work that my job is herding cats and my motto is “helping lost souls find their way”.

Today I am thankful that the universe, in Starbucks form, gave me a gift of unexpected upsizing to remind me there are small things to bring us joy even in the face of great sorrow.

It is my understanding that skin is the body’s largest organ.

Skin has colour and texture and (I blush) smell and (I blush more) taste. Skin can be a canvas or protection against the world or just plain useful. It reveals something about personal care and your hormones and maybe even your diet.

I don’t think I have any “issues” with skin, I don’t actually think about skin a lot at all. I have calluses on my hands and fingers from rock climbing and I have other calluses on my fingers from playing ukulele. I notice that sometimes I have mysterious bruises that I don’t remember getting. I try to keep my skin clean and I moisturize regularly.

I notice that other people have skin and I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy the skin texture (and smell and taste) of various lovers – although I never had hang ups about soft skin or not so soft skin or feet that were smooth or feet that were not so smooth (if you’ve ever had a dancer, runner or climber as a lover, you know what I mean), I loved their skin simply because it was their skin.

I don’t have issues with my skin or anyone’s skin.

Thing is though.

I think my skin has an issue with me, with my emotions.

When I’m sad or upset or stressed, my skin freaks out. It peels, it breaks out in hives, it burns and itches.

I think of my skin as a “distant early warning system”. Often, my skin knows, before I do that something is wrong. For example, it was only after two weeks of breaking out in spontaneous hives that I realized how sad and angry I was with my ex.

I woke up on Monday morning and I couldn’t fully open my left eye! It was shut from dry skin! I examined it a bit and realized – the look, the feeling of a million little needles piercing my skin and yep, you got it, eczema flare up – all around my left eye. Right eyebrow too. Totally gross.

But it wasn’t the grossness of it, it wasn’t even the pain, it was knowing that I couldn’t drive like that! I babied it all day with corticosteroids and it was pretty much settled down by about 8pm. Missed ukulele jam night and everything. Lucky for me, some make-up tricks Tuesday morning and I didn’t even look that gross when I went back to work.

Skin is a funny thing.