Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Ongoing Reading List

UPDATE: It is August 31st, 2013 and I have concluded this list.  I read 66 books and/or plays!  That's 44 plays, 13 fiction books, and 9 non-fiction books. I'm really pleased with what I accomplished this year.

Scroll below to see my original post and the title of every book/play I read in 12 months:

Last year, I was able to read for fun all over again.  That was my primary goal: to read for fun.  This year (Sept '12-Sept '13) I'm going to nuance my reading list a bit.  I am going to place an emphasis on plays, seeing as theatre is what I want to do in my career.  I won't limit myself to drama (if some novel or non-fiction grabs my attention I'm going to read that, too) but I am going to try to read as many plays as I can.  This will be an ongoing updated list of titles after I have finished reading them.

I have read:
1) Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre
2) The Crucible by Arthur Miller (actually re-read this one for pleasure two years after my American Drama course)
3) Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots (A Memoir) by Deborah Feldman
4) The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman & Tectonic Theatre Project
5) The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen
6) Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
7) The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
8) The History Boys by Alan Bennett
9) Kingfisher Days by Susan Coyne
10) Kim's Convenience by Ins Choi
11) The Edible Woman by Dave Carley (based on the novel by Margaret Atwood)
12) The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
13) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
14) The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
15) The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
16) Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Gold
17) Call the Midwife: A true story of the East End in the 1950's by Jennifer Worth
18) The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
19) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
20) The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
21) The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
22) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
23) Bat Boy: The Musical by Keyth Farley and Brian Flemming; music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe
24) Zorba: a Musical by Joseph Stein; lyrics by Fred Ebb; music by John Kader
25) Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
26) 'da Kink in my hair: voices of black womyn by trey anthony
27) Scratch by Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman
28) The Noam Chomsky Lectures: A Play by Daniel Brooks and Guillermo Verdecchia
29) Innocence Lost: A Play About Steven Truscott by Beverley Cooper
30) Shakespeare's Dog by Rick Chafe, adapted from the novel by Leon Rooke
31) August: Osage County by Tracy Letts
32) Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill
33) Waiting for the Parade by John Murrell
34) The Little Years by John Mighton
35) Bingo! by Daniel MacIvor
36) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead  by Tom Stoppard
37) Tideline by Wajdi Mouawad
38) Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad
39) The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes
40) Lambton Kent by Andre Alexis
41) The Palace of the End by Judith Thompson
42) Bone Cage by Catherine Banks
43) Rope's End by Douglas Bowie
44) Goodbye, Piccadilly! by Douglas Bowie
45) Top Girls by Caryl Churchill
46) Hysteria by Terry Johnson
47 Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
48) Othello by William Shakespeare
49) Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
50) The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
51) Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
52) Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward
53) Noises Off by Michael Frayn
54) A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt
55) The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
56) The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard
57) Memoirs by Pierre Eliot Trudeau
58) The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde
59) Tribes by Nina Raine
60) London Road by Alecky Blythe, music by Adam Cork
61) It's Your Money: Becoming a Woman of Independent Means by Gail Vaz-Oxlade
62) Verbatim, Verbatim: Contemporary Documentary Theatre by Will Hammond and Dan Steward
63) Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz
64) The Passion of Narcisse Mondoux by Gratien Gelinas
65) Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie
66) The Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

What are some of your favourite plays?  Or do you have any suggestions for fiction or non-fiction?  I'd be interested to hear your recommendations!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Reflections

After reading my very first post in this blog, I decided to do a reflective post on this past year.  It had lots of ups and lots of downs, but I think it has overall been a positive year.  Here's some of the things that I think are worth noting, and that I think can qualify as 'acheivements' for September 2011-September 2012.

*I received an Honours Specialization B.A. in English Language and Literature and a Certificate in Theatre Arts!

*I began my own theatre company: SEE Productions! 

*I produced, directed, marketed, and designed my very first theatrical production: Goodness by Michael Redhill, along the way meeting and getting to know so many amazing, talented, and unique people!

*I'm currently directing and producing my second theatrical production: Leo by Rosa Laborde.  I've met some new great people in this production, and have learned a lot about the horrors that Chile and the country's citizens have faced in the past 40 years.

*I acted in The Revenger's Tragedy by Thomas Middleton, another English Department production, and again met many wonderful people!

*I lost a job, was unemployed for 2 months, then was hired and worked my first full-time job and stuck it out for 8 months (getting up at 5:30 or 6 AM every morning and working for 10 hours a day ... and let me tell you that from January to mid-March my schedule was rise at 5:30 AM, work 10 hours, rehearse until around 9:30 PM, go home to work on the show some more, and sleep on about 5-6 hours a night before having to do it again the next day).  I honestly don't know how I did it, but I DID!

*I started volunteering (something I have wanted to do for a long time but never had any time to spare) at Art for AIDS International. 

*I took my health into my own hands: having been diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease, I met with a holistic nutritionist to change my diet and heal myself.  It hasn't been an easy road ... I've eliminated various inflammatory foods from my diet (i.e. wheat, dairy, soy, and corn) which, because of our culture's reliance on pre-packaged and processed foods, inevitably turn up in almost everything we eat.  As a result, I've had to make almost every meal and snack for myself from scratch, the exception being the odd vegan or gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free health foodstuff.  So far, I'm probably the healthiest I have ever been in my life (apart from the bit about having a disease), but I still am not able to re-integrate these foods back into my diet.  I've decided to look into taking medication in conjunction with my nutritional therapy so that I can hopefully start eating more normally again.

*After 4 years in English undergraduate courses, I was able to read for FUN!  Since last September I have read:
1) Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
2) The Princess Bride
3) Slaughterhouse Five
4) The Unbearable Lightness of Being
5) The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
6) Moab Is My Washpot
7) 100 Years of Solitude
8) Water for Elephants
9) Wide Sargasso Sea
10) A Complicated Kindness
11) Goodness (a million times over)
12) Leo (again, like a million times)
13) The Hunger Games Trilogy
14) Life of Pi
15) The Omnivore's Dilemma
16) The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, part of the Flavia Deluce series
17) The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (another Deluce book)
18) Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
19) Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
20) Bridget Jones's Diary
21) Choke
22) The Handmaid's Tale
23) Oryx and Crake
24) The Blind Assassin
25) The Penelopiad
26) Blood Work: A Tale of Mystery and Murder in the Scientific Revolution
27) Fahrenheit 451
28) The Hobbit
29) Beatrice and Virgil
30) The Awakening
31) The Castle of Otranto
32) Heading South, Looking North: A Bilingual Journey
33) Coming Up For Air
34) The Turn of the Screw

I think I've forgotten a few, but that's a lot of books! 

Looking forward to the next year, I'm starting school again next week, starting a new show next week (Knight of the Burning Pestle by Francis Beaumont), hoping to get an interesting and fun work study position at the university (hopefully at CHRW), hopefully completing my 4 month internship abroad (I have my eye on Australia!), and getting healthier!




Monday, 20 August 2012

"And not a single fuck was given that day..."

"But when he looks at you, just looks, I am special.  And then I remember, no I'm not." (Leo) - Rosa Laborde

I was walking downtown with a friend once, who had something troubling on their mind and they were feeling stressed out.  It may have been school-related, work-related, I can't remember now.  After venting about it, this person said: "Oh whatever, I don't give a fuck."

The then- optimistic/glass-half-full/high-off-of-a-successful-debut-production Shannon turned to this person and said: "Don't say that.  The world is full of people who don't give a fuck.  Always give a fuck."

We laughed, and this person said that was good advice, and I even joked that it should be written on my tomb stone:

"HERE LIES SHANNON CHARNOCK:
SHE ALWAYS GAVE A FUCK."

I have since learned about myself  (in the painful, self-image crushing way that you realize things about yourself in the wee hours of the morning) that I always give a fuck ... about the little things.  Like what people think about me.  Or, rather, what I want people to think about me.  And I work so hard to create this image of "me" that I want other people to respect, and like, and appreciate, and even admire.  But there are moments (such as this one at 2:55 a.m. on a Monday morning when I'm so stressed out I physically cannot fall asleep, let alone allow myself to sleep) when I realize I really shouldn't have given a fuck about that.

I always bite off more than I can chew.  Ask anyone, especially my parents, and they will tell you that I am not happy unless I am busy.  That is true; I like being busy.  I do not like stress.  Some stress is healthy and, for the most part, the stress that I have brought upon myself in the last year has been healthy.  But at the moment, I think that this time I really did bite off too much.

Carrying on that metaphor, let me share a little story from my childhood.  When I was a kid, I had a sweet tooth.  Who the fuck am I kidding, I still do.  Anyway, when dinner time came around I didn't want to eat dinner.  I just wanted dessert.  So when my dinner plate was put in front of me, I would stuff so much food into my mouth that I could't chew.  Then I would say to parents, speaking through my food-filled mouth (I know, what a vile child!), "I put too much in my mouth and I can't chew it" then I would go over to the garbage and spit it out.  This maybe worked for two dinners, until my parents caught on to what I was doing.  That is, I would "clean my plate" by biting off more than I could chew to get to the good stuff: the dessert.

Have I approached life with the same kind of logic?  Take on a lot of stuff at the same time because that brings you closer to the reward (whatever that may be)?  This time, though, I think my own tactics have bit me in the ass.

I cared too much about "A" and "B" so I took on "C" which, I thought, would result in "D" - dessert.  I didn't realize at the time I started "C" that "B" is one of those things that I shouldn't be giving a fuck about.  And when I realized that "B" won't be changed by the successful outcome of "C", it made the "D" a whole lot less sweeter.

I've realized that I've been doing something for (primarily) the wrong reason.  Had I decided to do "C" later, after I'd given myself a break from all the other chewing I've been doing lately, I think I really would appreciate it more.  I could have savoured it, like a classy, thoughtful person would, instead of  like an instant-gratification seeking binger.  I'm not always like that, I should mention.  I have, in the past, worked hard and dedicated myself all throughout the experience; and that is what makes the dessert sweet.

I guess the moral of my little rant here is this: figure out what you should give a fuck about, and really give a fuck about it.  All that other stuff, like "B"?  Tell yourself to leave it the fuck alone.  It's not important.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Changes

It's the beginning of July, and I have decided that it is time to shake things up a bit ...

I've decided to hand in my two-weeks notice at work on Friday.  This was kind of a difficult decision to make, because I do not have another job lined up right away.  I am applying for (and likely will get) a work study position at UWO in September, so I'm confident I will have another source of income in 1-2 months.  However, I will be unemployed for a month, maybe two.  I do like the people I work with, so I feel a bit sad that I won't see them as often anymore.  Many of them I probably won't see again.  But there are many more personal reasons why it makes sense for me to leave work right now.

First, my aunt and my cousin are coming from England in one week for my sister's wedding.  I did not give enough notice of my vacation dates to book the time of, nor does my position provide me with enough vacation hours to book off the time that they will be here.  I have not seen them in eight years!  I probably will not see them for another eight years, possible more.  My uncle Gerry, who is very dear to me, cannot travel because of poor health.  Although my Aunt Pat is doing alright health-wise right now, who knows how that may change in a few years?  They are both in their sixties and aren't getting any younger.  This will probably be the last time my cousin Karen visits, as well.  Unless there is some family tragedy in my immediate family, I can't see her coming back to Canada.  I certainly do not have the money to travel to England now, and I can't forsee myself having enough money either in the next five years at least!  I love my family, and I rarely ever see them, so I want to spend every possible moment that I can with them during the two weeks they are here and make happy memories.  When I look back on my life, what am I going to value more: the extra month I worked at Sykes for a few paycheques which will quickly disappear, or the two weeks I can spend with my loved ones, who have travelled thousands of miles to be with us this summer?

Second, my work schedule does not permit me to have rehearsals for Leo two evenings a week.  My shift preferences are either ignored or cannot be accomodated with everyone else's.  I must attend these rehearsals: I am the director - there is no show without me!  I've also invested close to $600 already into this production and I do not want 1) to lose the money I have invested already, or 2) to lose the opportunity to create another show.  If I have the rest of the summer off, I can fully dedicate my time to this production and give it the attention it deserves.  I feel it would be a half-assed effort if I didn't.  Also, having another show under my belt is great for my resume.  I want the theatre to be my career - not a call centre.  Why dedicate so many of my waking hours to a job I dislike and will not get me anywhere in the chosen field?  Besides, Sykes just isn't a challenge for me anymore.  I have been working there just under eight months and already I have some of the highest stats of anyone working there, including people who have been there for many years.  I'm already one of the people at the top, and there's nowhere else to go now.  There is some upward mobility at Sykes, but not right now, and it is definitely not an option with me going back to school in September.  I was planning on going down to part time in September anyway, or even quitting by the end of August, so this has just pushed it forward a bit.

The reason I wanted to reduce my hours in August is because I want to start volunteering.  Sykes is unrewarding work for me.  I want to volunteer places where I feel useful, where I believe in the work being done, and where I can gain valuable work experience in the arts.  I have already applied to volunteer at Art for AIDS International, and the founder wants me to start right away.  Work of this kind is not only something I want to do, but working in the arts/not-for-profit industries will provide me with invaluable experience, make connections and network with other people in the field, and will look great on my resume.  When I'm applying for a job with my Arts Management Diploma, what will look better on my resume: employed 20111-2012 at Sykes Assistance Services? Or volunteered at Arts for AIDS International/The ARTS Project/The Palace Theatre/CHRW Radio Station, etc.?  Any number of those organizations would look so much better on a resume!  I can work in fields relevant to my education: marketing, fundraising, publicity, community development, etc.

When it comes down to it, family, artistic integrity, and work experience far outweighs the $1000 I might make in August at Sykes.  Yes, money is important; as a student with several thousands of dollars of debt, trust me I know.  But in the long term, money does not trump happiness.  Not in my books.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Bigger Slip-up(s)

This week hasn't been the best for this wheat-free, dairy-free, pescetarian diet thing.  Earlier this week, Chuck Sykes (the big cheese) came in to tour the office.  Sykes ordered about a million cupcakes for the event and staff were allowed to have as many as they wanted.  I resisted ... then wavered.  I really wanted one and hadn't had any desserts in a week - that's a long time (for me)!  So I caved and had one.  To be honest, it wasn't that good, either.  Maybe because for a week, I hadn't eaten any processed foods/sweets.  Or maybe it really just wasn't that good.  All it tasted like was processed, chemical-laden food.  It definitely was like some pre-packaged cake mix and icing.  I ate most of it and threw the last bit away because I really just wasn't enjoying it.

Then I hadn't had a chance to go grocery shopping and hadn't packed a big enough lunch to keep me going for my 10 hour shift.  So I went to Tim Horton's and got a whole wheat bagel with butter.  A co-worker also offered me a Lindt easter egg (the mini kind) that day.  That was all for the slip ups!  (Not too bad, I think, considering).

Last night, I was at a party and didn't drink at all, then went to the bars and didn't drink there, either!   I think that is pretty good for me.  But after leaving the bar, I was so hungry and my girlfriends got some street meat ... so I caved and got some, too.  I figure that's better than drinking, since the sausage at least had some nutrients.

Aaaannnd this morning I may have had a bowl of ice cream.  So this week hasn't been a good week at all.  I still have been eating tons of fruits and vegetables, and until this morning had avoided dairy, which I know to be a trigger food.  Wheat (or at least gluten) has no bad effects on me.

So I have to get my ass back into gear.  I've had too many slip-ups this week.  I said when I started this week, I was going big or going home.  Actually, I am going home to my parents - I'm moving out this weekend.  But I digress!  I have to step it up and eat well.  I think tomorrow will consist of me doing a lot of cooking to prep for my upcoming week at work.  Oh well ...

Sunday, 22 April 2012

the tiny slip-up

As you know, I've been trying to follow this plan as close to the book as I can.  With the exception of eating some whole wheat pasta left over in my pantry, and 2 tbsp of sugar in my sushi rice, I have done everything to the letter!  This diet plan, however, isn't the easiest thing to maintain in terms of the social life.

I have gone to three parties in the last two days (two were hosted at my host, one somewhere else).  I got the usual questions about why I'm not drinking: "are you driving?"  When offered a beer and I replied, "I can't drink it," I was asked if I had Celiac's.  I got a lot of those questions at the first party.  And not that it's a pain in the ass to have to explain (and I mostly just say "health condition" followed closely by "not alcoholism"), but I just feel like a party outsider.  I love to party, and I still enjoyed myself sober, but it was less fun.

The parties at my house were much easier to follow the rules.  When I got hungry, I just popped into the kitchen for some natural tortillas and hummus.  But at the other party, with all the chips and dips and cookies, it was much harder.  I brought a flask and just filled it with water, so most people assumed I was drinking and didn't ask questions.  The odd person did ask what I was drinking, so I just told them I'm not (because of my "health condition ... I'm not an alcoholic").  It was a good idea to bring though because 1) people complimented it, and 2) I could keep re-filling it from the tap and didn't get dehydrated, and it also helped to feel a bit 'fuller' so I wasn't craving the snacks so much. 

However, I did cave at one point.  There were these President's Choice salsa flavoured tortilla chips.  I looked at the ingredients list and they were made from corn.  Sugar was part way down the list (so I justify it as not too much), and there were a bunch of preservatives and crap.  I was hungry, though, and hadn't had anything to eat for hours, so I dug in.  That was my slip up.  When I came home, my roommates were having another party at our house and they passsed around cupcakes.  I soooo wanted one because they looked delicious but I didn't.  Wheat and sugar and probably other stuff I'm not supposed to have.  So I passed, and just kept drinking my water.

Parties are definitely less fun without alcohol and without snacks.  But I stuck to my guns (mostly).

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Day Two

Quick post before I head off to the theatre!

It's been a day of cooking and washing all over again.  Made a big batch of granola so I can grab it quickly in the morning before work.  Made a big batch of sushi rice so I can roll some sushi quickly before I have to go to work.  Also made a big batch of potato and leek soup and it was delicious!  It'll make probably 3-4 more portions, so I'm good to go for a while.

Today for breakfast I had some of the granola (san milk so it wasn't soggy) ... much better!  Made a banana strawberry vanilla chai Vega smoothie.  Had some of that delicious soup for lunch.  Made a bit of sushi for a snack (using the rice that wouldn't fit in the jar I'm keeping it in).  Made another salmon salad with strawberries and avocados and feta ... 'twas delish.  I also bought some applesauce (only apples, nothing else ... apart from ascorbic acid ...can't seem to get away from all the preservatives) to mix the intestinal health powder with.  I'm sure that'll go down much easier tonight :)

Well, I'm off to a show!  (Passionfool's production of Three in the Back, Two in the Head).  Haven't seen a show in a few weeks so looking forward to it!  Also looking forward to spending a couple hours not thinking about food and cooking!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Near the end of Day One

Today was my first day of my new wheat-free, dairy-free, pescetarian diet!  With the exception of taking supplements and adding protein powder to a meal, I really didn't do anything too different from what I would eat normally.

Each morning, I have to take a probiotic supplement.  I think it's supposed to balance out the bacteria in the gut.  For breakfast, I made oatmeal with melted butter, cinnamon, almonds, flax seeds, honey, and almond milk.  This is something that I actually eat quite often for breakfast, except I normally put a handful of raisins in the mix as well.  I am not supposed to eat any dried fruit, so I had to omit it from the breakfast.  I added too much almond milk and it got soggy very quickly and had to chuck some of it out because it just wasn't pallatable :(

For a snack, I had a frozen banana, raspberry, and coconut milk smoothie.  Again, this is something that I actually eat quite often, except today I added the Vega vanilla chai protein powder.  As I mentioned yesterday, I am really not a fan of protein powders, especially as this particular brand makes some undoubtedly false claim that eating a Vega breakfast (rather than a bacon and egg or cereal-based breakfast) for one year is the equivalent of "turning off a 60 watt light bulb for ... 521 consecutive days!"  (I want to see whatever criteria they're basing this calculation on.) 

--But I digress! I bought the vanilla chai powder which, although actually tastes nice, was really overpowering and I couldn't really taste the banana, raspberries, or the coconut milk (which on their own are SO delicious)!

For lunch, I made pasta!  A few days ago, I bought a sundried tomato pesto from Glenda's Dips in the Covent Garden Market and it is incredible.  I added a spoonful of that to some whole wheat pasta with sauteed red and yellow peppers, zucchini, red onion, carrots, black beans, and crumbled feta!  I shouldn't be eating wheat pasta, but I had one box left on my shelf so I decided to use it rather than chuck it away.  I make this dish quite a bit, actually, except this time I added in the black beans for protein.  (I usually use black beans for nachos but, now that I can't have cheese, I won't be making those anymore and used a can for the pasta.)  I made enough for leftovers, so either tomorrow or Friday I will be having that for lunch.

I had an orange for a snack before going shopping.  I bought some baking supplies today and baked a spelt loaf with flax seeds sprinkled on top.  Spelt is a relative of wheat and in Ancient Greece is what most of their bread was made from.  It used very few ingredients and the spelt flour is quite cheap from the bulk barn.  I guesstimate I made a loaf for just over $2.00.   It is very good, too!  I had two thin slices and it has a very heavy, rich taste.  (Also, I got a steal on almond milk from the bulk store: $2.49 for 946mL ... normally, it fetches close to $4 at the market or grocery store!)

For dinner, I made a salmon fillet and a nice salad.  Again, this is something that I would make for myself normally, although not too often as it requires a bit more prep for someone lazy like me (I don't make salads very often because I hate washing and drying the leaves ... it's just a pet peeve, I don't know why it bothers me, really.)  I took a little inspiration from my Cafe One days and chopped up some organic strawberries, avocado, and red onion along with a honey-balsamic vinaigrette.  It tasted really nice ... until I chomped down on a fish bone in the fillet.  That put me off a bit.  Although I love fish, I do hate being reminded that it was once alive :( (the reason I can't eat wings or ribs except once in a blue moon).  I also made way too much and ended up throwing out some of it.  I don't like to throw food away, but the vinaigrette would have made everything soggy, anyway.

One other thing is that before my lunch and dinner meals I have to take some digestive enzyme pills.  I think the idea behind it is that when they're in my stomach they help digest the food much quicker and that gives my GI tract a bit of a break.  Before I go to bed I have to mix a scoop of some intestine-helping powder with water.  The powder is supposed to help the intestinal lining.

So that's been my day!  It basically spent the entire time in the kitchen cooking and washing dishes, then cooking and washing dishes all over again.  But with some planning, I should be able to make enough of certain foods that I can make a big batch and eat it over the course of a few days.  I know for work I plan on making California roll sushi (I'm not supposed to eat raw fish for a while), I could whip up a pasta pretty quickly, and take some fruit with me, too.

Apart from eating whole wheat pasta and not drinking nearly as much water as I should have, I pretty much did everything along the lines of my program!  And really, it wasn't very difficult.  I know it will be more of a challenge when I have to work (luckily I have today and tomorrow off).

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Farewell, chocolate ... it's been nice knowing you!

Today, I savoured the last chocolate bar that I will eat for the next six months (or possibly even longer).  It was a Reese Peanut Butter Cups.  And it was divine!

Last May, I was unofficially diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.  I say "unofficially" because the colonoscopy did not show any signs of inflamation in the intestines, although under the microscope there was evidence of past inflammation.  Hence, the unofficial diagnosis, because the condition and symptoms were not present.  But my doctors told me that it's very likely that is the condition I have.  I was told that this is a chronic, lifelong disease without a cure.  My future and my health looked bleak: frequent flare-ups, steroids and medications (which would wreck my immune system and body in unbelieveable ways), depressed immune system, higher risk of developing cancers and a whole crap-load (pun intended) of other health problems.  I was handed a few pamphlets and it was kind of insinuated that I would be coming back for medicine.

I was really shaken by it.  It hit me: I have a disease.  I was upset and weepy for a few days.  But I was determined that I would not take the medical route for treatment.  It seemed to me, having had a healthy interest in food and nutrition and some holistic practises, that if this is a digestive disorder, whatever I eat must have an effect on my body.  A + B =C, no?  So I began to do some research, and pretty quickly landed upon a few websites and blogs advocating successful treatment (dare I say "cure") of the disease with ... FOOD!

I discovered that certain foods, such as dairy, grains (those containing gluten), and spicy foods can trigger flare-ups.  I decided last July to attempt a gluten-free diet to see if it had any effect on my system.  It didn't.  I then switched to soy and/or rice milk and removed *most* dairy products from my diet (I love cheese and ice cream, so I occasionally ate those).  I noticed a bit of a difference.  I definitely noticed that cutting out spicy foods helped (sigh .... I love spicy food).

For months, I had no symptoms whatsoever!  I felt cured!  Months later, triggered by stress and falling off the health wagon resulted in another flare-up.  I decided to seek out a holistic nutritionist to help me.  The one I contacted was quite booked up and wasn't able to see me for about two weeks.  Within that time, I discovered in my research that certain foods, such as coconut, avocados, aloe plant, and tumeric contain properties that are calming and healing for the digestive tract.  Within a week of eating lots of these foods, cutting out dairy and spicy foods, I had NO symptoms.  I cancelled my appointment, happy to be able to control my symptoms on my own!

However, after a few months, other things began to happen that were bothering me: I had gained some weight (about 17 lbs compared to a year and a half ago) and had developed acne.  I attributed the weight gain to having gotten a job at a call centre, which requires me to sit at a friggin computer desk for 10 hours a day, ~40 hours a week.  I attributed the acne to going off the Pill a few months prior.  But I began to wonder if my Ulcerative colitis may also be contributing to these things - even without experiencing any flare-ups, was it an underlying cause?

Eventually, fed up with my poor skin, heavier weight, and general fatigue, I sought help from the nutritionist again.  It took a long time to finally meet up, but today we had our first meeting and I received my 6-month plan!  My new diet is, essentially, gluten-free, dairy-free, pescetarian.  For the past 3 years, I have pretty much been vegetarian, only eating meat if I go out or go back to my parents house (althought I still eat eggs and fish).  Last week, I decided to declare myself vegetarian (specifically, pescetarian).  This week (and for the next 6 months) I am a GF, DF pescetarian!

I decided that I will attempt to document some of my experiences during this diet-revolution.  I expect it will be difficult, but I am looking forward to noticing the changes and feeling healthier!  Tonight is my last night as an average, Canadian eater (save the vegetarianism).  My goals over the next six months are:

- to heal my body naturally (i.e. no medications, although I am taking supplements as per the advice of my nutritionist ... I have a rather negative view of supplements in general, believing that food should be the only source of nourishment.  However, my body needs to be healed and these supplements supposedly help with that.)
- to lose 10-15 lbs (if I can even get back to my weight from January last year, I'd be very happy!)
- to have clear skin
- to have much more energy
- to become a better cook

I imagine I might completely forget about this blog.  Or I might get really into it and share experiences, ups and downs, recipes, and advice.  So wish me luck!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Accepted

I received my acceptance letter from UWO today for the Arts Management program at Continuing Studies!  Happy World Theatre Day to me!!

I also had my first one-on-one dance lesson today.  It was pretty fun.  Much more of a workout than I had thought before!  Second lesson is tomorrow.

Today has been a good day: day off work, yoga class, acceptance letter, dance lesson, may have found a place to live next year, and sushi with friends.  Not productive, but hey, I needed a day to myself :)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Life is Good[ness]

It has been one full week since my theatre production company finished our first show, Goodness, by Canadian playwright Michael Redhill.  Goodness is not only one of the best shows I have ever worked on, it has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life!  It was a long road to the finish line, but I did it.  WE did it!

I learned so much!  I re-discovered, or rather really understood for the first time, how beautiful, challenging, and meaningful a few words can be: "How does it feel?"  For 4 years I was just reading, reading, READING for a degree, like a machine on auto-pilot processing language without ever stopping to pause and appreciate how the most average words can be arranged side by side and evoke such strong emotions, ideas, and images.  I fell in love with words and language all over again.

I made some new friends and got to know some old friends a lot better.  I respect my cast and crew so much for their unwavering passion, commitment to me, and dedication to the play.  They brought my vision to life and showed me things that I didn't even know were there.

And I learned a lot about myself.  I went into this balls-deep not knowing exactly what I was doing.  Just because I loved this play and because I thought it would be amazing didn't mean anyone else would.  But I just had a feeling that it would turn out okay.  After a wobbly beginning, failure was not even an option.  I had a lot to prove to everyone and to myself.  And I think I did.

review stated the show was "thespian gold" and "black box theatre the way it should be done."  I heard positive things from a lot of people, so it was a relief and affirming to know that other people appreciated as much as I did the power that this play possesses and liked my execution of it.

 ... And now it's over.  And I'm moving on to other things.  I have another play in the works, (Leo by Canadian playwright Rosa Laborde) to be performed sometime in the fall.  I'm co-producing a play written by a friend, Kierston Drier, called All Things Beautiful.  I am directing a staged reading of my good friend Lia Karidas's musical A Good Bad Song

Unlike last summer when I went traipsing off to Quebec to learn French, or went to Stratford to study Shakespeare and performance techniques, I have 4 months with no definite plans.  I have decided to keep to my resolution to try something that scares me (or at least intimidates me).  I'm going to take vocal or dance lessons - or do both!  I have always wanted to!  I may even take a French course to keep up with the language.

I'm just going to do what I have been doing the past 3 months with success: trying new things, meeting new people.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

intuition

I've made some decisions recently to move forward with certain things in my life.  I've decided to apply for a diploma in Arts Management at UWO.  I made this decision completely on impulse.  Had you asked me a day before if I had any plans on returning to school, I would have said "no."  I had thought about doing this program for years, and randomly googled it to find out when the deadline is.  It isn't for a month, and the realization that if I don't apply now I will have to wait another year (read: another year and a half at Sykes) and for that year, I know I would be very unhappy.  Well, at least not enjoying it as much as I could doing something else.  The realization that doing something that I am completely uninterested in for a whole year filled me with such a dread of boredom, that I decided then and there to apply.  Completely on a whim.  Just going on my intuition.

I play a lot of things close to the vest, and I don't really like to talk about my relationships with other people (but I don't think, in all honesty, that anyone reads this friggin blog so I'll just sound it out anyway!).  I've met someone, referred to in a previous post as "Bus Stop Boy," I think.  And I like him.  A lot.  One of my flaws (and I have a few) is my lack of patience.  But I'm trying really hard to be patient and appreciate what is happening with this guy.  I'm trying not to rush things and respect that he wants to take it slowly, and I'm trying to enjoy all the little things that are happening.  I've known this guy for barely over a month, but something is telling me that he's a good 'un: he's funny, respectful, and a gentleman (not to mention I think he's incredibly good-looking).  I just get the feeling that it would probably be a mistake to let this guy slip away by getting impatient and being too foolish to really value this "thing" that's happening.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Out with 2011, in with 2012!

Happy New Year!  2011 had its ups and downs: a broken heart healed; I travelled a bit; picked up a new language; graduated from University; lost a couple jobs, and gained a couple jobs; was in some plays I'm very proud of; became an entrepreneur; slept in too much and didn't sleep enough; and met some really amazing people.

A couple months ago, one of the great people I met in my travels directed me to this video.  I had just lost my job, for inexplicable reasons, and was having a tough time.  I was questioning why I had decided to stay in London instead of going off on the big adventures I've been dying to have.  Whenever I feel depressed, or just want to be inspired, I watch that video.  One of the most memorable things about it was the phrase "do one thing everyday that scares you."  I decided to try things this year that scare me.  Things that I would shy away from normally because of rejection, fear of failure, or fear of not enjoying it.

A few months ago, I founded my own production company, SEE Productions, and I'm directing my first show which opens in March.  This is something that scares the shit right out of me!  Everyday, I think about it and it fills me with a mix of feelings.  Mostly a combination of enthusiasm and fear, pride and anxiety.  This is a huge undertaking.

But today I did something again that "scared" me.  Something that on the grand scale of things is a very little, unimportant, insignificant thing, but for a lot of people I know it would be "scary."  I asked a completely random person out for coffee.  Well, I guess not completely random, because we met yesterday in a random place and chatted and exchanged numbers. 

I worked a shift yesterday that I wasn't scheduled for.  After work, I was walking to the bus stop (I normally walk the 20 minutes home, but I just bought some new snow boots and had blisters) and passed by the Oxford Bookstore.  The sign in the window declard "ANNUAL BOOK SALE - 20% OFF EVERYTHING."  I really don't buy books because libraries are cheaper (i.e. free), but I figured I had nothing else to do that day and I can't resist buying things on sale.  I spent a while in the store and picked up two books: Fluke by Christopher Moore (my best friend, Jess, loves this author) and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  I paid and left the shop, purchases in hand, and walked to the bus shelter.

A few minutes later, this guy at the shelter asked me what I was reading.  And it just jumped off from there.  He seemed like an interesting guy: we both work in call centres (that's not interesting, of course), he's an artist and exhibited some work at the Arts Project (I am putting on my play at the Arts Project).  He's tall.  I liked his aviator sunglasses.  And when he asked me for my number I thought, why not?  He seems like a nice guy and he seems interested in me.  

He texted me today telling me he had a head cold and asked how I was.  I told him I had food poisoning last night. (FYI: don't eat pizza from Papa John's.  I don't even know if I can eat pizza anymore, it's put me right off.)  Then I asked him if he wanted to go for coffee tomorrow.  And he said yes.  It was a hell of a lot easier to ask via text than in person, but normally that isn't something I'd do (even though my best friends tell me I have the most balls out of our friends).

So today I did something that put me out of my comfort zone and asked the guy out for coffee.  I wonder how it will turn out?  Since watching that video, I have been trying new things and so far it's been positive.  I think my favourite thing so far is how I cast the role of "Michael" in the play I'm directing.  Last month, my roommates through a "Festivus for the Rest of Us" part at our house.  My roommate Joel's brother invited some random guy sitting on a couch beside the dumpster in our complex into our house for the party.  This guy seemed "normal" enough, he wasn't homeless (despite the dumpster-thing) and he wasn't creepy or weird.  Talking to him, I asked him to audition for my show.  I gave him my number and told him to message me to set-up an audition.  I didn't think I'd hear back from him.  But a couple days later, he came to audition and I thought he was quite good!  Now he is the lead in my play!  (And I think that's a great fucking story.)

I am not a believer in fate.  Not at all.  (I think people like to use fate as a way of explaining the unexplainable, or the unagreeable things that happen when we fuck up.)  But I do like the idea of serendipity: a fortunate accident.  Had my roommate's brother not invited the random guy into my house, I wouldn't have a lead for my play right now.  Had I not stopped in the bookstore on my way home, I would have caught an earlier bus and never crossed paths with Bus Shelter Guy.  It's these unexpected things that break up the ordinariness of everyday and make life more interesting.