Drayton Valley

DroolAfter the show in Calgary on Tuesday I headed up to Drayton Valley for a quick visit with the cutest nephew in the whole world, Ryker. I’ve also said hello to my sister Jackie and her husband Glen, but oh man that baby is so cute—it’s all I can do to prevent myself from eating him up.

The next morning when he woke up, he even wanted to be held by me instead of his mom which apparently is EXTREMELY rare (it just goes to show how smart the kid is).

I also saw Anna’s new play in Edmonton yesterday; I’m sorry to say it was kind of brutal (I guess that’s community theatre for you), but I have no regrets.

I’ll be heading back to Lethbridge later today.

The Stages of Grief

The Scoville Family Reunion has a lot of us thinking about our grandparents. My grandpa died during heart surgery about 16 years ago and it’s been just under a year since the family was together for my Grandma’s funeral.

It was a sad time but many of us were able to take solace in the fact that my grandma’s death was a release from the years of suffering with alzheimer’s and what had become a joyless life.

I overheard my mom talking about how she’s still quite saddened by the loss and how someone at work suggested she take time to truly “grieve”. She said she didn’t really know what the person meant by grieving. Hadn’t she been grieving on and off this whole time?

I googled “stages of grief” and found this list:

  1. Denial
  2. Bargaining
  3. Anger
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance and Hope

I immediately related it to my own situation with Anna. Her decision to move away and date other people feels to me, for all intensive intents and purposes, just as great a loss as I could have had. I realized that I have been going through my own grieving process.

The first strong feeling I had when Anna announced to me that she wanted to call of the wedding was denial. In fact I was in so much denial that I couldn’t even ask her what was bothering her, I just flat out refused to believe that she was actually calling it off. I insisted that what she was feeling was just cold feet and it would pass. Looking back, I think she understood my reaction to indicate that I didn’t care about her concerns.

The next strong emotion I felt was anger. I was angry that Anna was ending what I thought was a great relationship. I was angry at her for not talking about her concerns, and most angry at her for telling me that she didn’t even want to see me again. I was furious that she had called off our engagement over the phone, and now that I was in Vancouver – where she was – she didn’t want to see me before I left for 7 weeks to Malaysia, and potentially didn’t want to ever see me again.

Next I felt a combination of confusion, hurt, and guilt. I wanted to do anything to have her back, and I tried to bargain with her. But my bargaining skills were horrible. I did meet with her in Vancouver, trying to show her that I cared and later I told her I would pay for her to come to Malaysia with me, and when that didn’t work I told her I would buy her gift upon gift. She told me not to waste my money, so I didn’t. I knew that I hadn’t done anything “wrong” per se, and so I asked her plain out to just give me another chance. I tried to take all the blame for what supposedly went wrong but all I accomplished was convincing myself that I did in fact do something wrong. I explained to her that I was trying to do everything she wanted, but her response was that trying wasn’t enough. She made some joke that if I thought it was, then perhaps I had watched too much Sesame Street as a kid. Ouch.

She did try and make me feel better by admitting that I shouldn’t feel guilty because she didn’t really have a reason for breaking up other than she didn’t feel in love with me anymore. She told me that she had only been kidding herself and that she had been “faking love” since before we were engaged. She hadn’t felt truly in love for months. She explained that she still thinks I am a great guy and she would even recommend to any of her friends to date me, but that for her, she just didn’t feel it was right.

Of course I have been sad since the beginning of the break-up. Being in Malaysia I tried to hide it as much as possible, but by the time I returned home, some serious depression set in. I had the job at the University to distract me through July, but the deep sadness returned when my job ended. In addition, Anna decided that in order for her to get over me, she would stop communicating with me. She has always maintained that she would like to remain friends with me (an idea that causes eyes to roll when people hear about it) but whether or not she intends to keep in touch with me in the future, the present void that’s left behind has been a tremendous downer.

All of this has left me bouncing around between these emotions. I have only recently begun to feel the more positive acceptance and hope. I am able to see that though I think her decision is a bad one for her – short-sighted and impulsive, it will work out for the best for me. I guess I should consider myself lucky.

I’m not sure if reading my story is going to help the average person better deal with grief, but writing about it helps me understand that the way I’m feeling is very normal and that I’m close to moving on completely. Just as the pain of death heals with time, so do the pangs of divorce (we weren’t married but for all intents and purposes…) and you know what they say: “The best way to get over someone, is to get under someone else.” It’s been four months. It’s high time I found someone new.

Her Move

This past weekend Anna-Maria moved from Vancouver to Edmonton. I have been pretty upset — with the break-up and now with the idea that she is moving. I think it has to do with the fact that all this time after the break-up my plan was to move to Vancouver and I guess potentially to wait and see what would happen with our relationship. Maybe that’s why she moved? I don’t know. She said that finding an acting job in Vancouver was too hard. Frankly she needs to try harder — I wish I could have been there to help her out.

Malaysia – Day 16

Today I had a good long chat with Anna-Maria. That was nice, but it put me a little behind schedule. (My own fault).

On the way to work I was approached by a woman who wanted to know where I was from. This was the second time in two days that someone approached me and I didn’t have a good feeling about. Not that I was afraid of her, but just that I felt she wanted something from me. Not to mention the fact that I was going to be late for work. She couldn’t seem to read that I was in a hurry and close by her was a man who also tried to stop me to ask for the time. They seemed to be working together. I didn’t have time for them whether or not they were just being friendly. I gave him the time and kept walking. I am suspicious that the guy was the same guy I ran into yesterday but I never got a good enough look at him. All I can say is that it was weird, and not weird like hey some stranger on the bus wants to chat you up because you look like a foreigner, but weird like, spidey senses on alert — these people are up to no good.

Anyway weird people on the street aside, I had a great evening. At the end of the day Jon took me to Channel V, Malaysia’s version of Much Music or MTV, to get the specifications for a new project GXM Studio is doing for them. I got to meet Jeff Selamutu, director of programming and production at Channel V, and take notes at the meeting.

Later we went for dinner and had a great time talking about everything from how Jeff got into the business to how new artists enter the music industry, to what direction music television is going. I liked Jeff because he’s a really fun guy that likes to call it like he sees it. He reminded me a lot of the directors and producers that I met recently in Vancouver. They have a kind of fun yet ambitious personality that I find magnetic. He told me to keep in contact and that if I have time during the week he’ll show me around the studio.

Malaysia – Day 9

I checked out the cost to go to Iran from here, but when I checked the dates I realized that I made a gross miscalculation with regard to how long it is until I leave Malaysia. It looks like I won’t have time to do any extra travelling after all unless I finish up the work-study early or have my flight plans changed. I’ll have to look into these respective possibilities.

I shaved off my beard today. I was holding onto the hope that Anna-Maria might come and visit me here and well… though she’s a big fan of my facial hair, she’s not going to see me here.

On my commute to work I’ve been listening to the audio version of the book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. It’s by Malcolm Gladwell, and it’s about how we make decisions — both good and bad — and why some people so much better at making decisions than others. My friend Jason recommended it to me along with another of his books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, which is about change and more specifically it shares a new way of understanding why change so often happens as quickly and as unexpectedly as it does.

So far Blink has been an eye opening experience; when I’m done I will certainly pick up The Tipping Point. In almost every chapter—if not every chapter—I find myself at the edge of my seat hanging on every word. I particularly liked the insight on improvisational acting (he believes in Keith Johnstone’s techniques), the story behind a massive war games held by the United States in 2002 (which in reality was a failure), and the decision for the Coco-cola Bottling Company to switch to New Coke in the 80’s (read about New Coke at Snopes). I’m only on Chapter 6 of Blink but I love everything about this book.

Anna’s Moving

On Wednesday morning Anna-Maria finished packing up her stuff and moved to Vancouver.

Seems pretty sudden? It was. It just started to really hit me today how serious this situation is. While it was happening I think I was suffering from a major case of denial. It’s going to be okay though, we’ll see each other soon enough.

Family Photos

Last weekend Anna-Maria and I went to Medicine Hat to have our pictures taken with my family. After we spent some time at Gainsboro we decided to take some of our own shots at Strathcona park. Here is a one that my brother Gary got of Anna and me. (We all wore matching outfits).

Jeff Milner and Anna-Maria

More pictures at The Milner Blog.

Update: I guess he took the photos down because now that he isn’t in Canada he’s not getting internet / free hosting at Telus. Try browsing some Flickr photos of the same day, instead.

Living La Vida Loca

Anna-Maria went to Banff again this weekend. I went to Devin Wallace’s bachelor party and played 16 player network Halo until 3 in the morning. Since none of them drink they weren’t getting any worse as the night progressed, but I can’t complain because I did pretty good anyway.

Yesterday I went kayaking down the Milk River. I also discovered that I can drive my Jeep for about at least 100km on the highway after the fuel light is on. I thought for sure I would run out of gas; I didn’t though.

So this brings me to Sunday. So far today I’ve watched a couple episodes of the Sopranos (season five is very good by the way) and I also did a couple of photoshop tutorials. Now I’m thinking about mowing the lawn. Yes, when Anna goes away, I live the crazy life.

Moraine Lake

After finishing my 4 week stint as a New Media Movie Making Camp instructor at the University of Lethbridge I’ve been keeping myself busy helping Anna-Maria with various odd jobs at her work and spending the weekend at Banff. We stopped at Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. The thing about those lakes, besides the fact that Lake Moraine used to be featured on the back of the Canadian $20 bill, is that they are both a very rich and almost unnatural shade of blue-green.

Old 20 Dollar Bill and Moraine Lake

Notice the rich but almost unnatural blue-green tone.

The trip was a lot of fun with very little out of the ordinary happening. After a sad goodbye at the airport Anna-Maria and I headed back to Lethbridge and now she is in charge of another group from Japan and the fun activities get to start all over again.

T I Double Geh Errrrrr

There is a mother that is suing a Walt Disney World worker accused of groping her 13-year-old daughter while dressed as Tigger.

I asked Anna-Maria what she thought about the possibility it was an accident since she has actually tried on some of the Disney costumes.

She says that, “[While wearing the costume] your vision is greatly, greatly reduced. Furthermore, the suit is not just one layer. You have, generally, an under layer of padding followed up by a fur costume with large mittens on your hands that are often three times your regular hand size.

I tried out many costumes. One was a cat costume, the cat from Pinochio and the sleeves go almost all the way to the ground on them so your hands are covered.

Your feet are the same, you have shoes on followed up with a big fur boot, or depending on the costume a giant rubber shoe or boot.

Also it’s so hot in there you don’t function properly. You’re biggest concern is getting enough oxygen. Definitely not groping someone — although I could be wrong. But I don’t think you could even think about that in that costume. It’s like a pure mental exercise just to stand wearing the costume.

If it was one of the face characters, Santa Claus, Aladdin I could see it. But those other costumes are just unbearable.

I danced for half an hour in one and I was gasping for oxygen. Even when I just tried it on I began to sweat and breath heavily as if I had just run a marathon completely untrained.”

So when I asked her one more time if she thought the accused was truly innocent she replied, “Do you think a fat kid with asthma being chased by a pack of wild dogs could think about that? Because that’s what it’s like being in one of those costumes with parents and kids trying to run you down. You are in survival mode.”

Oh and about a second after publishing this post I discovered this. It turns out he was acquitted earlier today.

The acquittal came less than an hour following a three-day trial during which the defense attorney for Michael Chartrand donned a Tigger costume in an effort to show jurors how difficult it is to maneuver and see in the outfit.

[…]

Chartrand’s defense attorney has contended that the girl’s mother was merely after money and planned to sue Disney. The mother also claimed Tigger touched her breast during the visit to Disney World last February, although no criminal charges followed her allegation.