It’s never too early to write an Oscar thank you speech

Thank you to the Academy for this incredible honour. And thank you for my lungs for continuing to breathe in this moment.

Thank you to my fellow nominees in this category. Meryl, no hard feelings? Based on history, there is an excellent chance you will be nominated again. And again.

I could take the time to thank all of the wonderful people in my life who have gotten me to where I am, but if you are on that list you probably already know how much you matter to me. Plus, after Jacqueline Bisset won a Golden Globe they upped the volume on the cut-off music. So to save on time, I’ll get to the point. Because this award goes out to everyone who believes in me, but mostly it is for everyone who does not.

Thank you to my elementary school group of friends who, when I told them I was taking acting classes outside of school, asked me simply, “why?” Though I did not ask why you were taking dance, or why you were on a soccer team, or why you enjoy reading graphic novels in your spare time, your kind words of friendship meant so much to a young me who was still figuring herself out and was influenced heavily by the opinions of those around her.

Thank you to my high school guidance teacher for, when I said actor was my career choice, telling me that “it is always good to have a plan B.” Your encouragement as a support figure in grade nine stuck with me throughout my secondary education.

Thank you to my father on that one day a few years ago, while we were shooting hoops in the drive way, for answering my want to attend university for drama with, “well, you should make sure that you get a real degree.” And thank you to my mother the following year for encouragingly asking if I was more interested in pursuing English. But most of all, thank you to my parents for sticking with me and and realizing that I was for realzies and seeing that I am able to study theatre in university and can become an actor without turning into the uneducated bimbo hopeless wandering hippie that I felt like you had expected me to become. Sarcasm aside, I do thank you for believing in me now even though I haven’t always felt like you have.

Thank you to the crazy man at my grandfather’s funeral who’s name guiltlessly escapes me. Thank you for reminding me that I could fail and I could exhaust my options and that it could not work out. And thank you for not getting the joke when I replied with, “Well, I’m going to live on the streets.” Perhaps I will actually try that. I really appreciated your sensitivity towards me at an emotional time in my life.

Thank you to every friend, family member, stranger, and societal belief who has ever a) said, “wow that’s really interesting!” with such fakeness that I could see through too clearly, b) asked me for my backup plan before not waiting to hear about my main plan, c) explained in such detail to me how difficult of a profession acting is to get into as if I was completely unaware, d) looked surprised upon finding out that yes, I am still pursuing acting, e) thought at any time to yourself, “Marryl is batshit crazy and is doomed to a life of failure and rejection” even if you only thought it and never said this to me, or any/all of the above. Pursuing desires can be hard and it can be easy to feel dejected and hopeless, so I thank you all for contributing to the cause.

Thank you to myself in any time that I have ever thought that I cannot do this because acting is too hard to get into and there is no security and I could end up in a wake of failed attempts so I should give up now. Thank you for succumbing to the pressure of the opinions of those around me. Thank you, honestly, for keeping me grounded and for pushing me and making me so driven. Without you I would probably be a crazy diva who thinks she is infinitely better than everyone and couldn’t fail if she tried. That part is actually not sarcastic. I’m not a diva. I hope.

I thank you all so much for not believing in me, for not having faith, for reminding me of the struggles I am bound to face, for not letting it go to the point that I started to agree with you and give up, for thinking I can’t do it. Because it is very apparent from this golden naked man in my hand that I can and I will. And even though, for the time being, he is only an imagined figure in my life, he will become real. Why? Because the amount of faith I have in myself outweighs the lack of faith you all have in me. So thank you for being my negative conscience because you piss me the hell off so much that I am determined to slap you right in the face with the biggest “I told you so.”

*Cue perfectly timed cut-off music and sassy storm out*

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homebody

I am so happy to be home.

Like, so happy.

I just got home yesterday, and I already am loathing the idea of leaving on Sunday. I have not been home since the winter break, and I know I shouldn’t be complaining because I am experiencing a luxury that a lot of other people can’t, but I still really missed it.

I had a really odd moment a couple of weeks ago during one of my lectures where I stopped everything and thought, “I do not live at home with my parents.” Yeah, no duh, Marryl, you haven’t lived at home with my parents for the majority of the last year and a half now. And yet that was still a very alarming thought. Even now I always have moments where I remember I’m in university. While living on my own and being at university feels so right to me at this point in my life, thinking about it still freaks me out sometimes.

I think I am most happy to be at home because being at home and far away from campus reminds me that school is not everything.

*GASP* WHAT DO YOU MEAN SCHOOL ISN’T EVERYTHING!?!?

Shocking, I know. Breeeeathe.

School is great. School is fun. School is educational. School is necessary in this job market. School is a privilege that I should thank my lucky stars for. But while school is a very important part of my life, school is not my entire life, and I think I need to remind myself of that a lot more.

More often than not, I feel as if I am not allowed to take a break, whether it be to watch tv, read for fun, paint, spend time with friends, or just take a nap. Every time I do those things I feel guilty and think, “I could be doing something more productive.” My life sometimes feels like a never-ending cycle of class-class-class-class-homework-homework-homework-sleep-repeat. Super fun, I know. Living in another city just for school, and especially living on campus, has turned school into my whole existence. Instead of existing and then sometimes going to school, I go to school and then sometimes exist. So many of the things I do are tied to my education, and getting off campus is a luxury only to be experienced in small doses.

I realize I signed up for this when I picked a program with a billion and a half hours of class and homework every week, but I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way. School has so much importance in our lives because a) we pay a stupid amount of money to be here and b) the rest of the world tells us we need to be successful in university to be successful in life. So we work day in and day out trying to get everything done and feel guilty for taking a break. Because doing anything but school is a waste of money and a waste of our lives.

But that’s just dumb.

My life involves plenty of things unrelated to my education. My life is painting and books and food and my friends and movies and makeup and clothing and youtube videos and nature walks and art galleries and Downton Abbey and John Green books and seeing plays and naps and my family. Yes, I love school, and I completely understand the importance of me being there, but I need to remember that my life is about a lot more than school. I am allowed to take a break to catch up on Suits or call my family or do nothing at all. That essay will get done. That reading will get… almost done and sparknoted later. My GPA will not plummet to the earth and I will not be wasting all of my dollars if I, god forbid, take a nap.

So my advice to you is do as I say and not as I do. But hopefully one day I will do as I say and not as I do. So then in that case you should do as I do and also as I say.

(Although maybe if I were enrolled in Making Sense 101 I should finish my work for that before I take a break…)

Breathe. Relax. Take a surprise nap. Finish your reading tomorrow. Go out with friends. Watch that 15 minute youtube video of cats jumping and not reaching the counter. Go to class, do your homework, read your textbook and pay your tuition fees, but don’t let that scary dollar amount force you into a life of school-absorbed misery. Because if school takes over your life you will grow to resent it, which is silly because school is cool. And that rhymes, so it must be true.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a novel and three plays to read by next week. In other words, I’m about to go watch a movie and eat snacks with my best friend.

This is an x-ray of my spine

Image

This is the closest the internet will get to nude pics of me.

If you’re like the majority of people who have seen this, your reaction is probably somewhere on the scale of “wow that’s so cool!” to “what the heck is wrong with you?” I wouldn’t consider either of these an ideal response, but I suppose I can understand

Here’s the deal:

I have this snazzy thing called Scoliosis. It’s a medical condition where my spine curves from side to side in a way it shouldn’t. I do not know much about it because a) sometimes doctors forget that we aren’t as smart as them and therefor don’t tell you things and b) I’ve banned myself from googling it anymore to avoid panic attacks. What I do know is that the back muscles on the upper right side of my spine have worked harder and are more built up than the left side, causing my spine to pull that way. The bottom left muscles of my back then work harder than the left to compensate for the upper curve, creating the S shape. The has other effects on my torso: my right shoulder is higher than my left, and my entire ribcage is essentially lifted and twisted, making my shoulder blades and ribs not symmetrical. It’s hard to tell when you look at me normally, but if I pointed anything out you can definitely see it.

I was diagnosed in the spring of grade 11, which is weird because how the heck did it take so long for anyone to notice my spine was the 19th letter of the alphabet. My doctor basically said, “Oh you have scoliosis. I don’t know why and there isn’t anything you can do about it. Moving on…” I had zero time for it to really sink in. From there I got my first set of x-rays, which we didn’t do anything with. Later that year I requested to see my doctor again about it, so I got another set of x-rays in spring of grade 12, and my doctor said he would get me an appointment with a specialist. Flash forward seven months to October of the 5th year when my doctor’s office FINALLY called with an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon for June 19th. Yes, June. I had to ask the woman on the phone to clarify three times that I wouldn’t be seeing anyone for nine months.

Canada, don’t get me wrong, I love you free healthcare and whatnot, but I put the “patient” in “impatient”.

A century later when June rolled around, I saw this orthopaedic surgeon who assessed my back and then called me and my dad into his office. Up on his computer screen was an image of a pretty scary looking x-ray, and my first thought was, “wow, he must be using that to show me how bad it could be, and mine would look great in comparison.” Three minutes into the conversation, I realized that was my spine. Cue hyperventilation.

(See what I mean about doctors thinking we are more clued in than we are?)

The icing on the cake? I waited nine months for an appointment that should have been booked two years previously only to be told by a man who was supposed to be my saviour that there was nothing I could do. Nothing.

There is really no known cause for Scoliosis. I just kind of have it. There is also no simple cure. If you catch it early, you can wear a back brace in an attempt to correct it, but I stopped growing when I was fourteen, so. The only other option is correctional surgery, where they basically fuse your spine together with these metal plate things to keep it straight. (Next time you’re in for a thrill, google “spinal fusion surgery”. Scary shit.) But the degree of the curve has to be 50 degrees or higher to qualify for surgery, and the curve of my spine is only about 40 degrees. Don’t ask me what that means. Another case of my-doctor-forgets-that-I’m-an-idiot-in-comparison-to-him.

So basically I’m stuck like this. Well, unless it gets worse.

I’m always asked if it hurts. Kind of. Sometimes I get random pains, and whenever I stand or sit or just exist for a long period of time my back feels tired and uncomfortable, since the muscle distribution is all weird. I also can’t lie flat on the floor or sit flat against the back of a chair, which isn’t very pleasant. Sometimes clothing fits weird, especially across my back, and it’s a major challenge to deal with in my acting where alignment is imperative.

I don’t like to talk about how much my scoliosis upsets me, but it really does. I am incredibly self conscious about how much it alters my torso. People always tell me that it isn’t noticeable, but I notice it. I think it’s weird looking and creepy and incredibly terrifying. My spine is not straight. It is not how it is supposed to be. Sometimes I’ll picture what my skeleton must look like and become panicked at the thought that my body, the only thing I have when everything else falls apart, is wrong, and that it will be wrong for the rest of my life. I’ve read some stories of people “embracing their scoliosis because it’s a part of them and it gives them strength” or whatever, and kudos to those people, but I’m sorry, I can’t believe that. I know I sound terrible but I do NOT embrace it, it is a part of me that I sometimes really hate, and if anything it makes me weaker. Some people may interpret it as no big deal, since it’s no major concern to my health, and that’s why I don’t like to talk about it. But it’s a terrible thing to have to deal with because I am constantly aware of my spine in everything I do and how screwed up it is and I wish nothing more than for my spine to be straight.

Woah, ranted a little bit there. This is one of those “It’s cool, I’m fine, don’t worry about me” moments that I was referring to in my post from a few weeks ago. I’m really fine though. Often I do completely forget about my scoliosis, and it isn’t so horrible that I can’t function. I just wanted to get all this off my mind.

This is a fairly long post, so congrats if you’ve made it this far. It’s a story that usually interests people when I tells bits of it, so I thought it would be worth it to explain (for the most part) the whole thing. I’m always so alarmed when people tell me my scoliosis is “so cool”. Interesting, maybe, but cool? While I don’t totally agree, it does often make me feel better knowing that my weird looking back is exciting to others.

It’s also so fun to freak people out with it. Go ahead, touch my spine. Just touch it. I dare you.

A fun fact to end on: my family doctor’s name is Dr. Pope. One time I left my mom a note that said, “Hello mother, could you call the Pope? I need to go to the vatican.” We have an odd mother-daughter relationship.

Here are some words I did not write

It’s a one-of-those-days kind of days.

Maybe this is a cop out post but I really just don’t have the brain power right now. There are things I want to write about, but I couldn’t do them justice.

So instead I give you a quotation. Probably my favourite quotation, actually. I read this a few years ago and it just stuck. Normally I’m not very big on quotations, because using someone else’s words to help you understand how you feel leads me to believe you don’t feel exactly like that. Because who can explain you better than you? But I like this one. Call it cheesy if you want, but I think it’s well worded and an interesting thought.

Okay enough from me. Just read it.

“Almost nobody can learn to think or believe to know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel … the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself. To be nobody-but-yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

E. E. Cummings, from “A Poets Advice to Students”.

Some food for thought. I feel like I should apologize for not writing something more in depth or intelligent, but then I remember that I don’t owe any of you anything. I’m sorry, that sounds mean. I don’t mean it like that. Just… yeah. Okay. I hope your not having a one-of-those-days day.