• On Loss…
    Image by Kordi Vahl

    The last few years have been hard on everyone. I don’t need to tell you that, you already know. This blog post isn’t about what you’re probably expecting it to be about though… Today I want to write about a different kind of loss: the loss of friendship and connections you otherwise thought you’d have forever.

    I’m one of those people who makes friends/aquaintances and assumes they are all going to last. I’ve been spoiled rotten by having the same Best Friend Forever for my entire life (30+ years). We have grown up together, grown together, and continue to evolve together. We are both aware of how fortunate we are for our relationship, and just how much work goes into maintaining a lifelong (borderline co-dependant) best friendship.

    But the downside to having such a stable constant in my life, is that I forget not everyone else will be like her. I have made a lot of friends since childhood, and quite a few of them I’m still friends with. People I met online in the halcyon days of internet message boards. People I met in ninth grade who I got into punk rock music with. People I met in my second high school when we would smoke pot in the nearby forest during lunch. My lab partner from tenth grade who was initially afraid of me because I had green hair and a resting bitch face. Fellow ravers I made candy bracelets with and dressed up with and had wild nights with. As an adult it was often people I worked with, or for, who I developed a strong bond with, keeping in touch even when I moved nine hours away. Another treasured friend I met because our eyes met through a crowded dance floor and we realized we were the only people in the club with paper hand fans we were flapping near our faces.

    Sometimes the worst losses are subjectively little things when compared to the loss of life, which is inarguably a Big Thing.

    Big Things (losing a loved one/the end of a romantic relationship) are universally accepted to be a Big Deal. We are given space and permission to grieve the losses. You’re expected to feel those absences on a deep, visceral level. Some people never get over a loss, and it becomes what defines them in their lives.

    There’s an entire title for people who’ve lost their spouses (widow/widower) and for children who have lost their parents (orphans). When someone close to you dies, you are allowed, nay expected, to treat it like a Big Deal, and all the parts of grieving that entails.

    There’s also titles for people who have experienced the devastating fracture of a significant romantic relationship (divorcee), as this is recognized as a really Big Deal too. Some people never get over a divorce, and it can have a ripple-effect on the others in their lives (especially children).

    But when you lose someone (or something) which still exists in the world, you’re often not given the same grace. It is deemed a Small Thing. Unimportant, especially compared to other Big Things.

    Big Things and Small Things don’t need to be compared. Often this just leads to a diminishment of the loss because it’s incomparable to death, or divorce.

    Image by Sasint

    Small Things matter too.

    So many people have lost loved ones, stability, health, income and countless other parts of life that we can sometimes take for granted. People and animals we loved and treasured could be gone in an instant, and we are left grieving in the wake of those losses.

    But I find lately that I feel more acutely the loss of friends…of habits…of little things I used to enjoy that I’ll never get to enjoy again. I miss the joy of seeing my kids playing with friends I thought they’d made for life. I miss the look a loved one gave me when they cherished my presence. I miss easy laughter between people I spent my time with, the cheer of a group who welcomed me at parties or events. I miss the excitement of planning and crafting with someone I’d known for years, making costumes and projects together well into the night. I miss coordinated Halloween costumes. I miss my spot on the couch (that big, comfy, messy couch where we watched TV shows for days, and laughed at each other for hours). I miss my place in the world, however fleeting it was.

    Now my heart aches when I think about those things that used to bring me such joy. I am left soul-searching, trying to figure out if those things were ever really real, or if I just thought they were. If those friendships ever existed in the real world, because they were based on mutual love and appreciation, or if they only existed at all because I spent so long investing into them by myself–making plans, driving to see them, checking on them, writing to them, loving them unconditionally to the point it blinded me from the truth.

    They say that if you love something you should let it go, and if it comes back to you then it was meant to be. But I’ve loved so many people who I thought were meant to stay forever, only to discover they let themselves go from my life as soon as I wasn’t convenient to them. Ours was a friendship (or a relationship) of convenience, not of love. And my heart breaks, every day, just a bit.

    Image by RealWorkHard

    Death by a thousand cuts…

    I used to think I was difficult to love. That’s what people told me. That’s what I was taught, from a young age. I, Em Van Moore, am a lot. I’m too much.

    And now, as an adult I have had to reevaluate everything about myself and everything about my past, to recognize painful patterns and cycles I became trapped in. Truth be told, I willingly trapped myself in some of them. I thought that my connections with people were real, and I was truly seen for who I was. I thought I was loved. So I overlooked things. I tried really, really hard. I made myself easy to be friends with, or to be in a relationship with. I’d go to them, I’d check on them, I’d be so agreeable that I sacrificed things I liked or wanted to do, just because I didn’t want to be ‘too much’ anymore.

    But I couldn’t ever really change who I was. I was silly, and impulsive, and I said things in ways that people took wrong, but I meant them sincerely, or worse: I meant them in jest. I thought my humor was universal, and others understood I was teasing them.

    And I thought that if I was just agreeable enough, if I just put in the work to be easy to love, that it would make up for who I really was. That silly, impulsive person who said things that were meant to be funny, or cute, or clever, and came out wrong; all wrong.

    Recently I’ve had to rectify who I thought I was, who I was being perceived as, and who I really am. When I look back on it I have to accept those losses in my life, accept the missing parts of my soul where a friendship used to be, or accept the lonely Saturday nights where my social life used to be, because I’m not sure if they were ever really based in reality. They were certainly based in MY reality. I have the unfortunate ability to love people whole-heartedly and unconditionally, and that means each loss (real or otherwise) feels deep and painful. But the reality is that those people and times in my life were lost before I ever thought they’d been found. They were never really mine, they were just illusions, or worse: manipulations.

    Image by Kanenori

    I guess this is my long-winded way of saying I am grieving.

    I’m grieving the person I could have been; the friendships I should have had; the lovers we aren’t any more; the life I once lived; the hope I used to have.

    Through everything in my life I maintained that hope that things would be okay. That despite everything I was loved and cherished and special in my own, small, unimportant way. And now I have to learn to be myself, but with the knowledge that it’s possible only one or two people in the whole wide world might really understand me, really know me, really love me.

    The loss of the other people feels like a crushing weight on my heart, and it struggles to keep beating every day. But at least it’s still beating, and I guess I’m thankful for that.

    Image by Dimitri Vetsikas
  • Happy Pride!
    Image by Wokandapix

    June is Pride Month in many parts of the world, including Canada. In fact, according to our government (which has a complicated history with LGBTQIA2S+ people…) the entire stretch of time between June and September is considered “Pride Season.” That’s something I just learned today! Isn’t learning fun?

    I have my own interesting history with Pride, and with the queer community in general.

    Image by Nitanever

    Recently I was talking to a friend about how I never actually “came out”. Coming out is a right of passage for most queer folks, and I just…never did it. I saw the 1999 cinematic masterpiece The Mummy when I was 13 and like millions of other youths from my generation realized I was into boys and girls and whatever was in between, and then just…did that for the rest of my life. (Actually that’s a bit of a joke. It was the shower scene in my favorite movie, Starship Troopers, when I was 11 that made me realize I was queer. But The Mummy has long been considered the quintessential bisexual awakening film for Millennials, and I happen to absolutely love that movie, so I like to seize any opportunity to reference it)

    I am openly queer, and I identify as pansexual/omnisexual/bisexual, which are all technically different things, but not everyone knows what they mean, so I use them interchangeably.

    Image by Tong

    To learn more about them, let’s go the dictionary definition route…

    Bisexual: A person who experiences emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions to, or engages in romantic or sexual relationships with, more than one sex or gender.

    Omnisexual: A person who is attracted to those of all gender identities and sexual orientations.

    Pansexual is: A person who does not feel attraction to a gender, specifically, but to all people regardless of their gender identities.

    To put it in lay mans terms, I like to jokingly describe myself as being into “bimbos, himbos and thembos.” For me, personally, attraction and/or love does not need to be tied to the gender identity of someone else. I like who I like, and that’s perfectly fine with me. As long as they’re hot, and a consenting adult, I’m open to attraction with them. Although I do draw the line at people who are too young for me. I see 20 year old adults as essentially children, and they are not viable romantic/sexual partners.

    Though it’s always put me into a bit of a strange place within the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

    Technically, I am both the “B” and the “Q” of the LGBTQIA2S+.

    But when it comes to the gay and straight communities, I find I often do not belong in either. I have been too “straight” for lesbian spaces, and too “gay” for hetero spaces. Sometimes I joke that I’m actually a “pigeon” because I sit on a fence and don’t go either which way.

    That often leads me excluded, or feeling “less than”.

    If I don’t belong in WLW (women love women) spaces, but I’m gay enough to have literally been the victim of hate crimes because of my sexuality, then where do I belong?

    Well, the simple answer is: somewhere in the middle.

    The complex answer is: I don’t actually belong anywhere.

    I’m kinda okay with that. I say “kinda” because it would be nice to have a more definitive “home” within the LGBTQIA2S+ community. But also, I don’t really care anymore. My lack of a distinct place used to bother me, but I never really ever carved out a place within it anyways so what does it matter? As an adult, I’m more okay with that than I was as an angsty teenager. And there’s people out there with much more difficult lives than me, so I’m okay with just existing sometimes.

    Image by Prawny

    During Pride Month, its important to reflect on the history of queer people, and the struggles we still face at present. Transphobia and violence is on the rise. The art of Drag is under attack. Sometimes just existing in the world can be a struggle, and the fact that we exist is offensive to some people.

    So when it comes to Pride Month, my goal is to celebrate our diverse culture and my own weird history. I encourage others to do the same, and if you can, maybe consider doing something more pro-active.

    You can get involved with activism through EGale Canada.

    You can donate to It Gets Better Canada HERE, Rainbow Railroad HERE, and in the USA the Trevor Project HERE.

    Or, you could just do something queer. After all, to make change we have to be the change we wish to see in the world <3

  • My body misses the earth…

    As summer approaches and the snow from winter is finally melting, I think about what a strange thing it is to be a human in this world.

    We live in houses, drive cars or bikes, go to work, play on phones, watch TV, and spend much of our time completely detached from the natural world. Sure, it’s there. In the same way the sun is there so we put on sunscreen, or the same way our food is in a store so we buy it and consume it. It’s ever-present, though often a burden. Something to be managed, tamed, or ignored.

    Rainy day? Take the car to the shop instead of walk. Don’t forget to bring your brelly!

    Blustery fall? Hurry from one safe building to the next to keep out of the wind.

    Snow? Spend time inside where it’s warm and safe.

    Even in the inviting beauty of summer we must manage our world. Sunscreen, hats, gazebos. Days on the beach spent playing games or drinking. I’m guilty of this myself, because I get heat stroke really easily. You’ll rarely see me without a hat on my head, or in the direct sunshine.

    But I worry about what my body wants, what it would chose for me if it didn’t have my mind to order it around.

    When I put my feet on the earth, feel grass between my toes, I am reminded of who I am.

    When I close my eyes and listen to the sound of wind in the trees, I am reminded of who I am supposed to be.

    If I hide in the shade from the sun, trying to manage my bodies distaste for the heat, I think about what it would be like if I had to spend all day out there, like my ancestors did. Does my skin miss the sunshine, without any lotions to guard it? Would I have adapted better by now if I wasn’t so careful?

    And what of the rest of me? What would our bodies chose for us if they could?

    I think mine would prefer I didn’t wear clothes, or live inside. It wants me to be in the forest, where the air and the sunshine are. It wants me to be in the water, where the fish and the dirt is.

    So I try to listen to it, in whatever small ways I can.

    When I walk around outdoors I always kick off my shoes, if I even bothered to put them on in the first place. Friends and family tease me for having dirty feet half the year. Though I shower every day, by June the soles of my feet are stained brown and green from running through the soil.

    And every time I stop to feel the world beneath my feet, let my toes get muddy, I wonder what they would chose for me if they got to decide what happens with us. I think they’d appreciate being so close to nature, where they belong. In fact, I think my feet miss the earth, and together we share a secret: My heart misses it too.

  • The Ring in The Sand.

    The ring in the sand.

    Image by PublicDomainPictures

    When I was a child my grandmother gave me a green ring from her jewelry box.

    Glittering emerald and gold filigree, it was beautiful in an austere, Grandmotherly way. Knowing her, it was probably “costume jewelry” but I treasured it anyways. A little girl doesn’t know or care if her precious items are real gold, or wire painted yellow. All she cares is that it came from someone special. And Gramma was very, very special to me.

    Image by Starbright

    I only had it for a few weeks, maybe a month or two at most, before I predictably wore it to a park during the summer and took it off — not wanting to lose it. I can’t recall the exact sequence of events, as I was quite young, but I know I took it off near a pile of sand, or a sandbox, and put it somewhere I thought would be safe from whatever rough-housing game I wanted to play.

    When I left I completely forgot about the ring.

    It wasn’t long before I realized. Perhaps it was even the same day? When I went back to look for it, I recall the panic I felt sifting through the sand trying to find this small, glittery ring. I can still see the early evening sunlight through the spruce trees; feel the grains of sand slipping through my fingers.

    It was never found.

    My grandmother was diagnosed with dementia soon after.

    Image by Conger Design

    The ring was one of the last things she ever gave me that she chose for me to have, while she was still subjectively her.

    Even before the diagnosis I instinctively knew something was “off”, and I think I somehow knew the importance of the gift.

    She was lucid when she plucked it from the jewelry box on her tan colored dresser. She was still My Gramma when she placed it on my finger, a smile on her face. We were still Us in those moments; doting Gramma and loving Granddaughter.

    Of course she was always My Gramma, until the day she died. But anyone with a family member stricken by cognitive decline or brain injury knows there will always be a difference between who they were, and who they become.

    Image by Annca

    That was thirty years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

    Just a few snippets of a moment, mere seconds of a childhood which has otherwise been lost to time. I don’t remember a lot from my early life, and the things I can recall are usually unpleasant. My brain likes to tuck away the years, repressing things that hurt too much to think about. That traumatize too much to relive.

    But it is indiscriminate in its theft. It takes the bad, and the good.

    And I’m left with just a second or two of my grandma’s smile as she gave me a ring.

    And the utter hopelessness of sifting through sands trying to find it once it was lost.

    Image by Polski
  • Happy Christmas, New Year, V-Day, and everything in between…
    By Pexels via Pixabay

    Hello, dear friends, fellow writers, and random people from the internet who’ve stumbled upon my blog…

    It’s been a minute since I posted, but not for lack of ‘thinking about writing a blog post’ effort. If posts written in my head counted for content, I’d be the most prolific blogger ever. Alas, those words have struggled to get onto your screen.

    My last post was 3 months ago. I was halfway through NanNoWriMo and having fun streaming my progress.

    A lot has happened in the few short months since NaNoWriMo 2022!

    • Completed (won) NaNo with approx 63k words.
    • Promptly scrapped half those words.
    • Began rewriting my NaNo project after revising the outline (WooHoo!).
    • Interpersonal conflict and drama.
    • Workplace conflict and drama.
    • Regular depression.
    • Seasonal depression.
    • Nintendo Switch and ACNH for xmas! I HAVE A NEW ADDICTION.
    • Back to seasonal depression.
    • Workplace changes.
    • A few chapters written.
    • Beta reading other peoples writing! YAY!
    • Existential crisis.
    • A few more chapters written.
    • Heavy snowfall.
    • Wait, how are we already 2 months into the new year!? AUGHHHGHGHGHGHG!
    • Finally on the final few chapters of my WIP.

    In between trying to work on my own projects, I was critiquing others’ writing, and I did the February Motley Writers Guild blog post: 10 Romance Tropes Readers Love (with examples!).

    The last 4(ish) months have been a whirlwind, some of it good, some of it bad, some of it life changing in ways I wish my life wasn’t changed — but it’s all room for me to grow as a person and as a writer/professional/mom/sentient ball of anxiety.

    Which brings us to now…

    By M. Maggs via Pixabay

    With one cat at my feet, another on my lap, and a third close by (waiting to pounce), I sit in my writing nook overlooking a very snowy yard, and I feel… Hopeful. Which is a difficult feeling to have in this, the age of pandemics, right-wing extremists, and looming climate catastrophe.

    Want to know what I feel hopeful about?

    Of course you do! That’s why you’re reading my blog!

    Em Van Moore, Cat Owner & Human Woman

    I am hopeful for changes I can make in my life, and the lives of others.

    We just launched Services for hire through the Motley Writers Guild, and I can utilize my hidden superpower: Knowing what’s wrong with other peoples writing, while still struggling with my own (please don’t judge my critiquing abilities by my informal blog!).

    I am starting a new job in an area I am really passionate about.

    My kids are potty trained at 2.5 years old, and I did it in 4 days! (I’ll write a post about it if enough people want to hear the story)

    The world is making great strides in the effort to move away from fossil fuels and curb our emissions. Check out this great article about Positive Environmental Stories from 2022.

    And most important of all….

    My senior cat gained 0.20 kgs.

    I know that doesn’t seem like much, but he’s been steadily losing weight since my other senior cat (his BFF for 16 years) passed away last year. He lost half his body weight in 7 months. I’ve spent thousands on tests and procedures to try and diagnose his issue, and now he’s on a special diet, getting treatment, and seems to be perking up. After seeing that scale number get lower and lower every month, I cried when it went up by 0.20 kg.

    By Pexals via Pixabay

    So now that things are improving…

    (And my website is being hosted by myself and I don’t have to worry about it)

    I’m back to writing!

    And critiquing!

    And drawing/painting!

    With any luck, you’ll be seeing more posts from me in the future. Yes, I know I promised that last time…but this time I mean it 😉

    So stay tuned for whatever it is I decide to blog about next…

    Will it be a banana bread recipe?

    A book review?

    Creative writing?

    My mid-life crisis?

    Who knows! But I’m sure it will be vaguely interesting, and totally worth reading in the time it takes for you to go to the bathroom.

    Best wishes and snowflake kisses,