I'm a good story

Five years of dog ownership bliss

Dutchie

January 15, 2015   1 Comment

Safe (and happy) zone

There’s a form of therapy called EMDR, which aims to disassociate the physical feelings that coincide with traumatic memories. The theory goes that there are “Big T” traumas (rape, military combat, abuse) and “Little T” traumas (not being allowed to sit with the cool kids at lunch, your hamster dying), and when you think about these events, the feeling associated with them – usually fear, anger, sadness –  re-emerge as if no time has passed. EMDR intends to wiggles those feelings out of your system so that you’re not physically attached to them.

A few years ago, I (successfully) underwent this procedure to deal with some “Big T” issues. One thing my therapist got me to do before we started the treatment was think of a safe and happy memory we could go back to if the procedure became too overwhelming. The memory I chose revolved around the time I found myself mesmerized by two sparrows chasing each other around on the laundry lines from my hotel window in Sardinia.

So, in on that theme, here are a few things in my life I like to think about, and sometimes obsess over, if I’m feeling sad or low or discouraged. These are the things that I just need to pop into my brain to help bring me to a higher level of emotional well-being.

 VANCOUVER

I love Vancouver. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Vancouver. The only time I fell in love at first sight, was with Vancouver. It’s the only city I knew was my home the minute I stepped foot on it. I love talking about its life-affirming mountains and magical, mystical ocean and futuristic Skytrain and totally chill beaches and goofy pot culture and world-class sushi and adorable, angry skids and progressive safe injection site and, and, and, and. I love Vancouver like a lover, I metaphysically make love to it whenever it’s around. It will always be my home. It’s the truest love I know.

MY DOG

Not only does she look like this (see above), but she’s also really soft and cuddly. She’s basically a living, breathing injection of serotonin and the happiest creature I know. I’m a little dependant on her.

MY ASS

I have a round, meaty ass, which is pretty disproportionate to the rest of my (flat, squat) figure. But it looks fantastic in a pair of legging and when I catch a glimpse of it while I’m doing yoga, I feel a sense of pride ring through my heart, the way I imagine new parents feel when their new born first learns to stand on his own or whatever.

 SETTING PEOPLE UP SUCCESSFULLY

I may not be the greatest at relationships, but I’m really good at setting other people up. As a result, the equivalent of a kindergarten class full of kids exist in this world, because I introduced their mummies to their daddies. That’s a good feeling.

 NOEL FIELDING

It makes me happy to know someone like him not only exists in the world, but is given a platform to express the inner workings of his imagination and makes a living doing so. Care to have it peak?

I am completely enraptured with The Mighty Boosh and Luxury Comedy, and I suggest you become familiar with them both. Particularly if you’re feeling depressed or tripping on acid or are depressed and want to feel like you’re tripping on acid.

Hi dear reader. What’s your safe and happy zone you descend into when life feels unbearable? Send me an email, write@eliannalev.com, or leave a message in the comments below or on Facebook. Remember to LIKE ME on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. And press the buttons below this blurb. You know the drill. Show me some love. 

March 1, 2012   No Comments

A dog can help you survive

There is a bond between my dog Dutchie and I that only other obsessive dog owners can truly understand.

When I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is look over at her sleeping on her Barcelona chair, coiled up like a little piece of poop. When she senses I’m awake, her tail immediately starts to wag, making a “thud, thud, thud” on the back of the chair. I start to laugh and she’ll jump down and get so excited she balances herself on her two hind legs in an attempt to get me to rub her belly. Then she’ll lose balance and fall over and I’ll laugh and feel good, or at least better, about starting my day.

Sometimes when I’m low, I will slump on my couch and think sad thoughts and feel like shit. Dutchie will come over and nuzzle herself close to me. Sometimes she’ll slip a paw over my hip as if to give me a hug.

She’s both a healer and a friend and I know she would do anything to make me happy.

I recently met a man who could relate.

Dutchie and I visit a senior’s home every Friday as part of a therapy dog program. We hang out with patients in their rooms, or sit around during activities.

Often, the presence of my dog triggers memories in the patients of their pets growing up, or the ones they had to leave behind before entering the facility.

A few weeks ago, an old Chinese man, probably close to 100, hobbled out of his room and waved his hand quickly at my dog.

“I love dog, I love dog,” he said.

I walked towards him and got Dutchie to sit. He gently patted her on the head.

“Dog saved my life, I love dog,” he said.

“They say dogs are our greatest friend,” I said. “How did your dog save your life?”

The old man sat down on his walker. My dog pressed her two front legs against his knees and stretched.

“The Japanese come,” he said. “No food. I have dog. He’s my friend.”

Dutchie sat back down and started licking her bottom. I slid my foot in front of her muzzle to stop her. She sighed and curled up on the ground.

The old man continued.

“No food. I was so hungry.”

He looked down at Dutchie. She stretched over on her side.

“Dog saved my life. I eat dog,” he said. “Dog let me eat him. Dog save my life.”

I stared and nodded at the old man, somewhat in disbelief.

He chose not to starve to death during the war, so he ate his dog to survive. His admiration for this creature was so strong, still to this day, that he had scrambled out of his room to express respect for mine. I was astounded.

We slowly walked together in silence to the activities room.

As we played Five Card Bingo, the old man would occasionally wink and wave his fingers at Dutchie, who was lying next to my chair. I was reminded how all dogs are able to bring something out of us, whether it’s a smile first thing in the morning, or a distant memory of bitter survival.

Okay reader. I want to hear your touching dog stories. Leave a comment or email me at write@eliannalev.com, because I can only watch the Littlest Hobo so many times. 

August 10, 2011   1 Comment

Todd Barry thought I was funny, and other highlights of 2010

If you read this regularly, you probably know that this year I spent a lot of time being depressed. And when I wasn’t busy being depressed, I was busy writing about being depressed. So this week I’m going to try something different. End things off on something other than a downer note.  I hereby present to you a highlight of things that made me feel good manic, incredibly inspired and or funny down there during the last year. Celebrity citing included/exploited!

1.     Todd Barry gave me a compliment.

This year was the first time since Grade 11 film studies that I actually put together a video. (See above.) I wrote it with actor Ayma Letang, and got funnymen/hornymen Cam Mcleod and Ryan Steele to co-star with us. Our friend Kar Harvey did a superb job shooting and editing it, despite having little experience, and our beautiful buds at Daughters of Dawn provided the sexy outfits to accommodate each one of our polar opposite personalities. (Yes, those were plugs.)

It was probably one of the best days I had this year and the end result is one I’m really proud of.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the story (for me) is that I bugged my friend who’s friends with Todd Barry to email him and ask him what he thought, because I’m annoying like that.  (For those who aren’t comedy nerds and don’t know who Todd Barry is, he’s this guy.) I assumed he would hate it since I assume all comedians hate anything that doesn’t involve them, and was hoping to use his negative reaction in an exploitative way. Turns out, he thought it was funny, which gave me a sense of purpose, acceptance and accomplishment that only an “icky” man in his late 40 could make me feel. (Icky is in quotes because it’s someone else’s words, not mine. I think he’s pretty cute.) Now I’m trying to convince him to let me interview him, and he’s on the fence, and I’m one step away from starting a Facebook petition or something to get him to agree to it. Would you sign it? Actually, would you start it for me? I’m too lazy.

2.     I was invited to apply for several of my dream jobs. (I didn’t get them.)

It’s awesome when things come to you, particularly things that happen to involve your dreams coming true. You know, rather than you having to put yourself out there, raw and exposed, and then obsessively overanalyze everything that you could have done wrong while you wait for a response you might never get.

Anyhow, I was invited to put my name in the running for several big opportunities this year, which was, quite simply, thrilling. A thrill I hadn’t felt for a long time, if ever. I didn’t get these opportunities but it made me feel like I’m on the right path and I’m on the radar of some important, powerful people. Looking forward to seeing what happens next.

3.     I found a muse who wasn’t scared of me.

This summer I met and connected with someone who might as well be the closest thing to the male version of myself. Self-aware, obsessed with his flaws, ambitious, detrimentally charming. A writer.

I met this fellow at a point in my life when I was actively trying to change my habits and behaviours when it came to the fellas. And he represents everything I want to avoid. Quite simply, he’s just not that into me. Predictably, he’s more into girls who look like Anime characters and aren’t jaded, self-aware, or older than 25.

So, I use him as my muse. I value our time together and make use of what comes from it, on the page, afterwards. It’s not a physical thing.

And since he’s a self-absorbed narcissist, he’s totally down with his role in my life. This makes him the first man I’ve become obsessed with who’s truly on the same page.

It’s a fun, healthy and exciting exchange and I’m excited to see where it goes, creatively. If it actually goes anywhere. He’s easily distracted. As am I.

4.     I met the (animal) love of my life.

My 2010 resolution was to try to stop molding men into what I wanted them to be and instead get a dog. It’s a long, beautiful and inspiring story that I’ll save for the right time, but basically I found my animal soulmate, who just happened to have gotten her PhD in cute. I’ve heard people talk about how when you meet the right person you just know and I always want to tell them to fuck off because I clearly can’t relate, but with Dutchie (my dog) I totally get it. I knew it was the real thing the moment I saw her. I can’t even write anything snarky or sarcastic, that’s how pure our love is. She’s my dog baby. My baby who just happens to be a dog. PLUS, she’s so special that she got accepted to be a St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog, which is actually a really tough process. This not only proves how remarkable she is, but also makes me look like a good person by association.

5.  I changed my perspective.

Someone (who I pay to listen to my problems professionally) suggested recently that I stop putting so much focus on long-term goals, and try to put that energy into short-term ones. At first I panicked, thinking that my long-term goals would never be accomplished. Then I realized she had a point. I’ve read enough issues of Oprah’s magazine and known enough people who’ve gone to rehab to understand that living day-by-day, or even moment-to-moment is where it’s at. It takes a lot of time, patience and practice to shift this deep-rooted habit of never being present (or happy) but it’s coming together. And as a result, I’m a lot happier. At least for now.

I’m wishing you an happy 2011. I wanna hear about your resolutions and I wanna know what mine should be. Leave me a comment or write me an email at write@eliannalev.com

I love hearing from you. Happy New Year!

December 29, 2010   1 Comment

A list of happy

Often when I get really depressed I turn to Nick Drake. (Not unheard of.) His music is like this to me: When I was 15, I drank a two-litre bottle of Alabama Slammer and then puked up the contents of my stomach, including bile, until I had nothing left to puke. So I dry heaved instead. I knew I had to drink water in order to feel better but I could barely get it down. So I took tiny sips. I could feel the water in my stomach, knew it was helping in it’s own special way but I didn’t feel any better.  It’s the exact same thing with me, my depression, and Nick Drake’s music. It doesn’t make me feel any better but I know it’s helping in its own special way.

The funny thing is, I haven’t wanted to listen to much Nick Drake lately. This is strange for me considering he’s a staple in my music collection and has been since I first discovered him. It’s made me wonder, am I happy?

I’m really not sure about that. I’m an incredibly moody person but I’m learning to be more aware of that. I monitor my emotions constantly, acknowledge what brings me up and what takes me down. Then I  carry on. At the moment, I know there are certainly things that I’m happy about, so I thought I’d take the time to list them out, for you, my dear reader. (Making lists makes me happy, but that’s not on there.)

So, here are the five things in my life that make me happy right now, in no particular order.

1. Being inspired and inspiring others

I’m working on a contract for a social services agency, where I interview their clients and hear their stories. Last week, I was called in early to do some interviews, but one cancelled. So I ended up talking to the agency’s new graphic designer, who’d recently moved from the States. She knew no one in Vancouver and was trying her best to get out there and start a new life. We talked about our aspirations, frustrations, and inspirations. As I was leaving she told me I’d inspired her. It truly made my day.

Then, I went to interview a woman who had left an abusive relationship and was nearly on the streets. (This is a very condensed version of the story.) The social services agency had helped her find housing and she said that made her feel as though she was reborn. She said her new home in Canada was small and modest but gave her new life. She deeply inspired me. It truly made my day.

2. The song “Single” by Lil’ Wayne

You know those songs that pop up out of nowhere and immediately draw you in? That’s what this song is to me. It’s sexy, enticing and even though it’s about a guy who takes pleasure in cheating on his girlfriend, I am totally obsessed with the lyrics. It’s really vivid storytelling. Plus, I get pumped when he sings, “Put your hands up if you’re single” because for the first time in a long time, I’m happy to put my hands up.

3. Organizing a salon

The other week, I was hanging out on my new friend’s front porch. Her new friend popped by and we all got to chatting. We started talking about how parties aren’t about conversation anymore. Then someone suggested putting on a salon, which were popular 17th and 18th centuries as a way for people (mostly smart people) to come together and share ideas. The thought of being part of such a thing has got me really darned inspired and excited, and in turn, really happy.

4. Dutchie my dog

Ok, I’m not saying that some dogs suck, but you know. Some dogs really aren’t anything that special. Luckily mine is NOT one of those dogs. I adopted Dutchie in January and I honestly have no idea how I scored such a spectacular creature. She’s one of those dogs who were trained in the art of cute. That’s all she knows how to do. Act cute and be cute. She does this thing where she’ll do something naughty, like jump on the bed, and immediately roll on her back so you can rub her belly, rather than scold her. It’s SO FUCKING CUTE. And I get to witness shit like that every day. I don’t think there’s ever been anything else that could make me quite so happy. My dog Dutchie = happy, happy, happy.

5. Ayma Letang and Rape Whistle Fan Club

Last year, I desperately wanted to have a writing partner. But I hadn’t a clue how to find one. Is that something you post on Craigslist? Word of mouth? Lucky for me, the universe granted my wish. I met a girl named Ayma Letang who is hilarious, creative, talented, and fearless.  I knew almost immediately we had to collaborate together. And that’s what we’ve been doing.  Not only is it fun work, but also completely rewarding. We started a sketch comedy duo thing called “Rape Whistle Fan Club” and we just finished editing our first video. It’ll be premiering at Music Waste. It will make you happy.

May 19, 2010   No Comments