Header

Author Archives: Amy Boughner

When  I was 17 or 18 my father turned to me after a dinner at his house and asked me, point blank: “When was the last time you thought about killing yourself?”

I was shocked into just answering, honestly. It had been about a year before.

By the time he asked I was over that particular hump, but my depression has ebbed and flowed for years. The very, very worst was when I was in my early 20s, having graduated at or near the top of my class and managed to only one job – a terrible one that I left after just a few months when the paper shut down.

I felt as though I had made all the wrong choices and it was just going to keep going that way. I would collapse in tears, sleep all day, hope that somebody could offer me a better solution that just disappearing. But I’m still ebbing and flowing. It’s been much better and at its worst.

It does not surprise me that people like Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington suffered from depression. There is a reason that I connected to their music. There is a reason that driving around with the windows down blasting Hybrid Theory and singing along made me feel better – like someone understood.

What surprises me is that they couldn’t beat it, in the end.

 

Because why me. Why could I fight back against that demon and these artists, these successful people, these respected people, couldn’t?

Does this mean that there are no answers, no solutions, no magic potion to make the darkness disappear. Does this mean that to be a great artist, you really do have to descend into that darkness? Can I never be my most creative self AND be taking the anti-depressants that keep me level?

And I drive myself crazy.

Last weekend I was in Montreal. I had arranged to go for work, and then for my family to join me, specifically so I could be there for Montreal Comiccon. I have never gone to a con outside my own city before, never even really considered it, but there was a draw I could not escape.

David Tennant, the tenth Doctor, would be there.

It was his first con in Canada and while it is possible that he will come back, and maybe even come to Ottawa someday, I decided it was worth the small expense to see him this time. For he is my Doctor. Everyone has their favourite, and Tennant is mine.

(Squee)

Now, this does not mean that I don’t like other regenerations. After Eccleston I was sure I would have trouble getting comfortable with Tennant (nope), and when Tennant left I was positive I would never like Matt Smith for the simple fact that he had replaced 10, but he grew on me. I am actually shocked at how much I like Capaldi. I find his humour pretty great. On my shelf of Whos I even found space for the War Doctor.

And now, just a few days after I met my favourite Doctor the show is making news – Jodie Whittaker has been cast as the first female Doctor.

We knew the announcement was coming. Capaldi had already said he would leave after this year’s Christmas special. Twitter was buzzing yesterday morning as people waited for the BBC to tell us, finally, who would be number 13. And I knew in the back of my mind that if it was another white man I would be disappointed. It would feel like a missed opportunity. There have been growing calls for a person of colour or a woman to take on the role. Names from Idris Elba to Tilda Swinton had been mentioned, although both of those actors might be too big for the show.

Finally they posted the video, a figure in dark clothing walking through a forest. A hand reaches out. A shot of part of the face. And it was a woman. It was a WOMAN!

I may have actually whooped for joy. I could not contain my excitement. Eventually there were tears. I didn’t know it mattered so much until I had it, there in front of me.

Of course there was backlash. Of course. White men who have had something that they’ve always had taken away from them. People saying that this destroys the show, that they won’t watch, that a female Doctor just can’t be.

And last night it occurred to me, very peacefully. If you think that having a female Doctor ruins the show for you, then you never understood the show in the first place. Of course the Doctor could be a woman. Of course a woman Doctor will have the same gravitas as a male one. She’s THE DOCTOR.

I’ve gone through this with so many things now – When Rey was the lead in the new Star Wars, when they made an all-female Ghostbusters. Why can’t you let us have something? Why? Why can’t women (and men!) be excited about these things without having idiots declare that it’s not fair or not right or whatever else they are butt hurt about.

Today I have my nails painted Tardis blue, I am wearing one of my Who shirts, I am ready and willing to buy all the 13 merch. Because when I told my daughter that the new Doctor was a woman she was excited too.

 

I have a very great desire right now to read all the things.

I have so many books on my shelf that I want to get to. Some have been sitting there for years and some are brand new.

I’m currently reading three books and I want to be reading more. I want to have read them. I want to dive in and experience them all. Now.

This is made more difficult by the fact that I am currently re-reading my favourite series, which consists of seven books. I actually mentioned this to a lady at Mill Street Books in Almonte – where I always, always find something to read, and usually something for the kid too – and she said that she never re-reads books, because there are just too many new books out there.

But I have found, in my life, that there are books I enjoy but will never read again – books that can only surprise you once – and there are books I hold onto as dear friends. There are books I want to read at different stages of my life, to see different perspectives on the characters and events.

I even have books that I may never read again, but they will forever stay on my shelves as fond memories.

Not just fiction either. Lately I have found that I have a great desire to study, to learn, to analyze. I’ve been reading memoirs and textbooks, biographies and essays. I want to know everything. Or at least as much as possible. I want to consider opinions. I want to read about experiences that are vastly different from my own. I want to know more history.

I want to have read things and remember them so that I can use that knowledge when I learn about even more stuff.

Perhaps it’s because I’m now in a place in my life when I know how much I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because I have this small twinkle that might just grow into a full blown PhD application. Perhaps it’s because there is so much going on in the world that I want to gather all the information I can to form my own opinions, and be able to back them up. I want to be able to reference things. If I hadn’t slacked off in my first round of undergrad, I’d be ahead of the game at this point.

But then there is fiction. Glorious literature. I want to know stories and language and characterization. Not only because my brain craves it, but because I want to get better at it myself, and there is no better way than to read. Everything.

 

I experienced a little loss today, unexpectedly. I bought some carpenters pencils, excited to use them in some kind of creativity. I used to sketch all the time – my grandfather taught me. He taught me about the best paper, the best pencils, the best erasers. Never colour. Pure sketching that his father taught him.

And I knew when I bought them that they don’t fit into pencil sharpeners and the best way to sharpen them is with a pen knife. Which my grandfather used to always do for me.

Gramps carried – always – a Swiss Army Knife in his pocket. And when pencils needed sharpening he pulled it out and cut away at the wood. It left behind beautiful shapes and a perfect pencil tip for sketching.

And I never asked him to show me how.

Gramps turns 97 at the end of the month. He’s lost dexterity in his hands. When we moved him into the facility he’s in now I found that knife among other things in his desk and I had an immediate emotional reaction. This is a small thing so connected to my memory of my grandfather and something small he did for me.

I had a similar emotional reaction today when I realized that in order to use these pencils and practice the creativity he taught me to express, I will have to teach myself this small thing.

So, Canada celebrated 150 since since confederation last weekend. Living in the capital, this is something we’ve been talking about for YEARS and I had gotten a little tired of it all. (Especially since, in my opinion, if your going to celebrate 150 years for a whole year, at least start on July 1 and end on July 1).

I love this country, I am proud and glad to have been born here. I believe in this country, and I also know that she has many failings and has made outrageous mistakes. I am of the mind that I can celebrate the good and criticize the bad without giving up one iota of my patriotism.

And it occurred to me today, after watching the pros and cons of Canada being debated all weekend, after watching Indigenous peoples stand up and say that this country is NOT okay, that they have NOT been treated fairly, that they and their children are suffering the consequences of these 150 years, that the best way for me to quietly celebrate my Canada is to lift up those voices, and other Canadian voices. To listen.

And one of my favourite ways to listen is through the written word. So here I will share books that I have read, and books that I know I should read – and will read, hopefully by the end of this year.

Great Books I have read, so see these as recommendations:

  • Fall On Your Knees, Ann-Marie MacDonald (when I started reading, I was unprepared for the story and the beauty of it)
  • An Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King (Humour surrounding a history lesson and a serious issue)
  • Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood (One of the first Atwood’s that I read, and my lasting favourite)
  • The Underpainter, Jane Urquhart (I read this years ago, and sometimes still think about it)
  • The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill (Just a harrowing journey)
  • Birdie, Tracey Lindberg
  • Essex County, Jeff Lemire
  • The Right to be Cold, Sheila Watt-Cloutier
  • The Promise of Canada, Charlotte Gray
  • The Game, Ken Dryden
  • The Birth House, or virtually anything else by Ami McKay, even books she hasn’t written yet

Books for Young Canadians, which Canada does so well

  • The Macdonald Hall series by Gordon Korman (I have already bought the full set for my daughter)
  • The Anne series by LM Montgomery (Rilla of Ingleside being my personal favourite, with Anne of the Island a close second)
  • Any and all things Munsch
  • The Beaver, Moose and Bear books by Nicholas Oldland
  • The Hockey Sweater, Roch Carrier (but really the NFB short)
  • Spork, Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault
  • Different Dragons and Mine for Keeps by Jean Little (I read both multiple times. Jean Little has a way of making you feel less alone)
  • All Marie-Louise Gay’s Stella books, but particularly When Stella was Very, Very Small
  • Red is Best, Kathy Stinson

Great Canadian Books I Must Read

  • The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields
  • The Diviners, Margaret Laurence
  • Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese
  • The Cat’s Table, Michael Ondaatje
  • The Break, Katherena Vermette
  • Two Solitudes, Hugh McLennan, and also probably Barometre Rising
  • The War That Ended Peace, Margaret MacMillan

If you have any recommendations for me, I’d love to add to my list. More fiction, history, biographies, I’ll read it all.

I was reading a long post last night about how keeping a journal can “change your life.”

I am a lifelong diarist. Since I could write, misspellings be damned, I have kept some sort of journal. Even when I blog, I usually have a notebook. Pen on paper is never quite matched by a keyboard. When I was in high school I would take one notebook with me everywhere and it was a mishmash of short stories, doodles, hockey scores and free-flowing thoughts. I still have them.

This article recommends journalling first thing in the morning – 30 minutes before you do anything else. It’s the best way to release all that your subconscious mind was working hard on while you slept, the author says.

I have heard of morning pages before. I know great writers force themselves to sit down for 10, 15, 30 minutes or until they have written a certain number of words every morning. I have wanted to do this, to unleash my creativity and get out the book I still feel is inside me. But morning pages has never been the thing for me. Now more than ever, really.

As the mother of a young child I very rarely get to decide what the first thing I do in the morning will be. She generally wants to chat for a bit, needs help with her breakfast, wants me to do her hair or to help her pick out her outfit. Then the dog needs to go out, and we need to get to the bus, which means I need to get dressed.

And then, once I have waved her off, I get my coffee and sit down to work, whatever I learned while asleep utterly lost, I guess.

There are suggestions that I wake up earlier than her, get my time in before she gets up. But the idea of waking up at 4:30 am is not that appetizing. Especially as I would then lose my evenings. I don’t even know how early I would have to go to bed to wake up and fell human at 4:30 am. I am and have always been a night owl. My brain really starts working around 10 or 11 pm. My ideal wake up time would be more like 9 am, maybe 10.

Even if I did wake up at 4:30 and try to make a morning person out of myself, the first thing I always want to do is tidy my desk, fill my coffee, read the news, make a to do list. I have great difficulty just diving in to what I need to do. First I need to prepare myself for the dive. Only when things are tidy, when I have an idea of what I need to get done, when the kid is occupied or out the door, when my coffee cup is filled, then I can start staring at the blank page.

There are a lot of things that I haven’t been doing enough of lately. Blogging is one. Writing in general, really. But I have been reading a lot.

I haven’t been exercising, but I did spend a lot of the last week cleaning and doing home improvement projects. To celebrate Canada Day the whole family is doing a 5k and I feel ready, and excited for how excited the kid will be at the end.

I haven’t been at my best, but I’ve been working on it. Pushing myself a little bit, and listening when I push back.

There is a lot going on.

Joe was away for a week and while he was gone the kid and I planted a garden and painted our front door. We’re building a deck – well, we’re having a deck built for us, hopefully by the end of summer. And on that deck we will put a gorgeous cedar glider being purchased for us for our 10th wedding anniversary.

I don’t know how we’ve been married almost 10 years, but then I think about our 7-year-old who is almost finished Grade 1. I think about the five years we’ve been in this house together. I think about our puppy, who turns 12 this year and remains in good health.

Family

This week I started re-reading one of my absolute favourite books of all time – The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde. It is the first of the Nextian series, which is made up of seven books (and I think he’s done). I bought the first two books at the Chapters in Belleville while I was living there for college. I’ve re-read it multiple times, now I’ve had it for 14 years.

Time doesn’t make any sense to me at all any more. It seems like we’ve been married for a minute. That our daughter is still new to us, but has still always been a part of our lives.

All of this, and I still feel like I’m a kid myself. Until I spend some time with people in their 20s.

 

I’m am currently in a period of depression. I know this because everything seems hard and I get tired easily.

I want to want to clean the house but I don’t know where to start, so I haven’t.

I want to eat better, but preparing food is too much.

I want to focus on things for a long period of time without getting distracted. I want to read things and remember them.

I want to want to cook and bake and take care of my family, but instead they’re taking care of me.

There have been times when I’ve been able to push myself to do something – take the kid to the park, watch her play soccer, go out with friends. But everything is just a little bit hard and I always feel a bit tired or tentative.

I’m having to push myself to do more and more things – like shower in the morning, or leave the house to get a meal. Sometimes even picking a TV show to watch is so much harder than just sitting in the quiet.

Of course, when I do push myself and get outside, take my daughter to play, sit in the sun and the breeze, it’s glorious and much-needed.

But it can be so hard to remember what feels good – and also that I deserve to.

When I was a kid, I idolized my Gramps. Growing up in a house with a single mother and a sister, Gramps was my male role model. I knew that he loved us unconditionally, I knew that he would always support us in whatever ways he could. I wanted to be like him, I wanted to be with him, and so I wanted to learn to help him do the things he always did for us around the house.

He taught me to sketch, he taught me to build things, he taught me how to drive a car and change a tire. When I moved out he gifted me a toolbox with all the things I would need for the basic stuff. I could bang a nail, drill a hole, use a saw, put Ikea furniture together with no instructions necessary.

In our house, when I moved home after college, I did a lot of the heavy lifting.

I knew from my mother’s example and my grandfather’s teacher that a woman could take care of anything in her home that needed to be done. And I believed I could.

And then I moved in with Joe.

Suddenly it was easier for him to carry the heavy stuff. When we work together to build something he gets frustrated and my feelings get hurt, so I leave him to it. I still hang pictures, but if a hole need to be drilled, that’s not for me.

Now sometimes it feels as though I barely do anything at all around the house. Sometimes I cook, sometimes I clean, sometimes I put on a load of laundry. But I don’t mow the lawn or plunge the toilet. I only empty the dishwasher and take out the garbage if he’s away and I have to.

(I really hate emptying the dishwasher, I don’t know why).

Part of me wants to get out in our garden and rip out the dead plants and stupid paving stones. I want to build that shelf I saved on Pinterest. I want to get dirty and fix stuff that needs it. I want to have the energy and faith that I used to have when I knew I had to do things on my own.

I want to fight my way back to being the girl who knew that she could, because her Gramps showed her how.

Me and my Gramps in Peggy’s Cove, 1990, Sketching

 

I recently read the book Big Girl by Kelsey Miller. It was an interesting read and I saw a bit of myself in her, though she faced more extreme struggles than I did certainly. I don’t consider any part of my childhood to have been an extreme hardship. But still, we found ourselves in similar positions as adults – overweight, struggling to figure ourselves out, scared of relationships.

But this is not a fat girl got thin book, and that’s what I like about it. Through something called intuitive eating, Kelsey Miller changed her relationship with food without getting skinny and suddenly having it all.

This book made me understand more about what it is I really want. I’m never going to be skinny. I never really have been – close in body but certainly never mentally. I have no real desire to diet. I have a desire to feel better. Less sick, less tired, less bloated, more capable of doing things that other people do.

I want to know what I want to eat, how it’s going to make me feel, how it’s going to fuel me. I want to know what I want to it and have it satisfy me when I do. I want to realize that when I am eating something and enjoying it I can and should stop when I’m full, because chances are I will have food that tasty again.

I want to not be thinking about food all the time. That I should eat, what I should eat, when I should eat, what I shouldn’t have, what I feel like having.

Now that I’ve read this book I know that I should do some more reading.

Copy Protected by Tech Tips's CopyProtect Wordpress Blogs.