I've come to talk with you again.
Things are getting moldy around here. It seems crazy to me that my last post was right before Halloween and now it's a new year. Well, maybe it's not that crazy. I do that sometimes. In any case, I'm back at it and feeling motivated to keep things rolling, but I sure didn't feel that way for the past couple months.
November was rough, y'all. I think it's typically a difficult time as things get gloomy and cold, back pain and sinus infections return and I just tend to feel yucky. Depression had a pretty good hold on me for the majority of the month, and I also learned that my dad has cancer again. So I was feeling pretty low and was pretty much high the whole month just to get through but, hey, I got through. Plus, there were some gems in there.
At the end of November, I made the trek to Vancouver to see King Diamond! I still can't believe that night was real. It was easily one of the greatest concert experiences I've ever had. The show was absolutely incredible and the King was at the top of his game.
I had a wonderful time on the journey to Vancouver with my good friend Michael and catching up with my pal, Rory, who lives over there. The three of us had a blast at the hotel, in restaurants and bars, at the concert and wandering around the big city the next day. We even hit up Vancouver's Christmas Market, which was super fun and whimsical as all hell. It was an exciting time, made even more so when Rory mentioned that one of his stories was recently featured on the podcast Nocturnal Transmissions! Here's a link so you guys can check it out--it's a fantastic story. Heaven Unearthed by Rory Say. Also, I may have mentioned this before, but Michael is a super talented musician. You guys should check out his music. Paths and Teeth of the Wolf are both incredible. I've got some talented, creative, brilliant friends and I'm gong to make a point of sharing their projects more often. That means YOUR projects. Keep sharing your shit with the world, people. I'm more than happy to pass it on so others can be inspired and enjoy.
Last month was a December to dismember, but I did my best to be grounded and avoid spinning out. I think it worked part of the time, but I can't remember because I was too high for most of it. One thing that lifted me up was a phone call I had with my former therapist. She coached me through some difficult things and asked me to slow down and go easy on myself. I've been really hard on myself this year, during a time when I needed care and compassion more than ever. I never set out to be like that, but it tends to happen when I find myself out of balance. During our conversation, she reminded me of the importance of being still. That's something I struggle with and I'm determined to work on giving in to a period of rest. I have a tendency, as many do, to turn away when things get tough or scary and find ways to busy myself. People often act like being busy is great and even something to brag about, but it can be fairly detrimental to your health, especially when grieving.
2018/2019 presented me with some of the biggest challenges I've ever experienced, including the greatest sorrow I've ever felt with the death of a dear friend. I don't think I've even begun to process what happened, honestly, and I'm suffering as a result. I still find myself checking his social media accounts as though I expect to see something new, and I continue to scroll through old text messages that I can't bring myself to delete.
A couple weeks ago I had a dream that Ben was still alive, but not in a good way. I thought he was dead but everyone else knew he wasn't. He'd been in the hospital this whole time, dying. For almost a fucking year! Because I didn't know, I hadn't been up to visit him and was warned that he had been getting worse with each passing day. I was scared to see him, though I knew I should probably visit. In reality, I know that feeling. I had a lot of anxiety each time I went up to the hospital and while visiting him at home, and often times I was even scared to see him. I never knew what he was going to be like or look like, and I was afraid that he would detect that fear and feel even worse than he already did. Sometimes I would feel so overwhelmed that I couldn't bring myself to visit at all. So I guess there's a lot of guilt there. Guilt, shame and regret. There's a lot I need to unpack and I've been avoiding that for some time.
As the anniversary of Ben's death approaches, I find myself in disbelief. I can't believe he's not here, because I feel his presence constantly. Every walk through the neighbourhood, I still wonder if I'll run into him and hear his friendly hellOOOOOO! Recently while shopping, Gowan's "Strange Animal" started playing in the store. I immediately thought of Ben because he and I shared a weird obsession with Gowan. One night after a few drinks, we binged Gowan videos and sang along, and it was so much fun. I laughed so hard that night that I was in tears. I miss him. I want so badly to accept what happened and move forward, but I feel stuck. I guess I expected to feel differently at this point. There's just no way to know how you're going to feel. I suppose all I can do is work on being kind and allow myself to sit with those uncomfortable feelings, even when I really don't want to. I guess that means cutting back on the green, hey? I've been wanting to anyway, since it's pretty much killing my motivation and fucking with my mood as of late.
What better opportunity to turn things around than the start of a new year, right? I typically hate all that shit about resolutions and whatnot, but I think it's good to consider the changes you want to make in order to bring peace and joy into your life, no matter what time of year. For me, I want to work on accepting what is and allow sorrow to be sorrow, but I also want to find ways to bring more light in during these dark times.
Another thing I want to work on is cultivating the practice of simply being alive, without adding anything extra into the mix. For a while, at least. It's what my therapist recommended and I know it's what I need. In time I will find ways to access my pain and allow space to grieve so I can eventually move forward and focus on creating the life I want. One step at a time, though.
Speaking of steps, on December 31st, during a storm, I decided to go for a long walk. I don't do that often in crazy weather unless necessary, but it felt necessary. I hadn't left the house at all for the previous two days (which was awesome, btw) and it felt great to get some fresh air and exercise even though I was soaked to the bone. It was good to get out there on the last day of the year and conquer something, no matter how small. Plus, I came across some wonder along the way. I watched some ducks play in a pond, was greeted by a family of deer, and discovered these two party animals living it up in celebration of a new year.
Cheers, friends! Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope that you're able to find peace and contentment this year. Until next time, I leave you with the one and only Gowan, and I will reflect on the wonderful strange animal I knew called Ben. Wherever you are, buddy, this video's for you!
Good god, what a beautiful man. "I'll split you from your groin to your gullet." Please do!
Welcome back, folks! Picking up where I left off, here's what I've watched in the second half of October:
October 16- Candyman (1992)
Yes, I'm including a second GIF. It's Tony Todd, how could I not?!
Like I said before, there is no greater mind than that of Clive Barker, and Candyman might just be his magnum opus. Well, I'm kind of full of shit because it's really Bernard Rose's as he wrote the screenplay and directed it, but it's based on Barker's short story "The Forbidden" and that's good enough for me. Coincidentally, October 16th was the 25th anniversary of the film. Set in Cabrini-Green, a housing project in Chicago, Candyman features real gang members and real bees, and a really great cast. This movie is a masterpiece and easily one of my favourite films of the 90's. Bernard Rose perfectly captures the exquisite pain of this story that's sure to be burned on your brain for a very long time. And speaking of exquisite pain...
October 17- Hellraiser (1987)
I actually revisited this classic not long ago, in late spring or early summer, but that Hellraiser documentary made me want to do it all over again. And what other film deserves to follow Candyman? I'm not going to discuss this film at any length, but it was a game changer that still holds up well. One of my personal favourites that I highly recommend, obviously.
October 17- Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Hellbound is the Godfather Part II of horror sequels. It truly is just as good as the first, and many fans actually prefer it. I, for one, do not but I certainly enjoy it equally. Kirsty's back in this installment and unfortunately for her, so are Julia and the cenobites. We are also introduced to a new character, Tiffany, who adds an interesting element to the story. There's something fresh and exciting about about this sequel that is just as stunning, clever and disturbing as the original.
October 18- Creepshow The Series (2019, episode 4)
The Companion/ Lydia Layne's Better Half
This might be the strongest episode yet, with both segments offering up some good old fashioned scares and some great performances. I was especially excited to see Canadian actress Trisha Helfer (Battlestar Gallactica, Walk All Over Me). She's such a badass. This one gave me some serious 80's vibes and was tons of fun.
October 18- Paperhouse (1989)
Another Bernard Rose film, and much like Candyman this one is super unique and disturbing. I cannot believe that I haven't seen this until now. If I watched it as a child when it debuted, it probably would have been my favourite movie. It's super dark and haunting and the young actors do an amazing job. I wouldn't skip this over if I were you. It's not a good time gore fest or anything like that, and likely not lively enough for a gathering on Halloween night, but it might be perfect for a cold November's evening, cozied up with tea and a blanket.
October 19- Thirst (1979)
When a synopsis reads, "The descendant of Elizabeth Bathory is abducted by a cult..." you think you're going to be for a wild ride, but this isn't even like bumper cars. With the exception of a few cool scenes, and the fact that the protagonist looks a lot like my counsellor who I adore, it was pretty much a snooze fest and certainly one I won't be recommending.
October 20- Halloween: Feast of the Dying Sun (2005)
An enjoyable documentary that centers on the origins of Halloween and associated pagan folklore. This would be a good choice for something playing in the background on Halloween day, while putting the finishing touches on decorating and carving. I especially loved the parts about mischievous fairy debauchery. My mind wandered right away to True Blood and I now realize that their writers incorporated many elements of traditional folklore into their story.
October 20- Body Bags (1993)
This anthology got off to a great start. The first segment, "The Gas Station" was my favourite of the three, which isn't exactly so good because it meant that the rest of the film was a step down. Two steps down. The middle segment is the weakest, the third is pretty good, but just a little too mean-spirited for me, at least for Halloween.
October 21- The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015)
This movie scared the pants off of me. I didn't really know anything about it going in, other than the fact that many people seemed to like it. Now I know why. I highly recommend going in blind like I did.
October 22- The Little Rascals Scary Spooktacular! (1938)
Such a cute little film! Four mini films in one, actually, and super fun for the whole family. I recommend checking it out if you haven't seen it.
October 23- Scream (1996)
I hadn't seen this in ages, yet I can still pretty much recite it word-for-word. This movie is so much fun, and that opening scene is iconic. I will never tire of the horror movie references, especially the Elm Street ones. Scream would make a fantastic Halloween party movie. The pacing is perfect and the mix of camp, dark humour and scares is just right. Also, the movie Halloween (1978) plays in the background, so you can't go wrong.
October 24- Creepshow The Series (2019, episode 5)
Night of the Paw/Times is Tough in Musky Holler
This episode was my least favourite so far. The first segment had promise and some cool spooky scenes, but it just fell flat for me. Same goes for the second, actually. The effects were super cool and the concept was fun, but ultimately it just didn't work. While I do enjoy the comic book panels and illustrations in the Creepshow series, this segment had way too much exposition with the voiceover. It was kind of annoying. Too bad because it got off to a great start.
October 25- Night of 1000 Cats (1972)
I actually didn't watch this movie. I turned it off early on, after a disturbing scene involving animal abuse. I then came across an article about cats being tortured and dying during the filming. Don't watch this movie. I thought it might be fun and campy, but it's just dumb and gross. I hope Amazon Prime removes it from their catalog.
October 25- Haunt (2019)
This would be a fun movie to throw on with a group of friends before heading out to a haunted house. It didn't exactly blow me away but it was entertaining. There were some good haunts in there too, one in particular, that was simple yet chilling and I hope to encounter something similar in a future haunted house.
October 26- The Old Dark House (1932)
I threw this on as a background movie while I made treat bags, but it's really cool. For something I was sort of half paying attention to, I must say that it was super entertaining. Plus, it features Boris Karloff in his first starring role.
October 26- The Thing (1982)
Such a classic. You really can't go wrong with this one, although I tend to throw it on during the winter more than Fall. The practical effects in this movie give me life. It's absolutely a game changer, and also the first movie I watched (when I was probably too young) that made me afraid to fall asleep. That's what makes it a great Halloween watch. If you're not at least a little creeped out when you're nuzzled in your bed, is it really Halloween at all?
October 27- Trick 'r Treat (2007)
I watched this with the commentary on, while I did other festive things like tending to costume details and carving a pumpkin. I also watched the special features, which are super cool. I highly recommend you do the same, especially if you've seen this movie pretty much every year since it came out like me. It's always fun learning about behind the scenes stuff in movies. I actually met Mark Freeborn, the production designer for Trick 'r Treat once. He lives on a nearby island and I wound up at his garage sale totally by accident. He and his wife are lovely people who both work in the industry. I'm sure many of you would be familiar with their work on The X-Files, Bates Motel and Breaking Bad. I picked up a few things at that garage sale, including a scratching post for my cat Beans that Mark made himself.
October 28- The Lost Boys (1987) I can't think of any October in recent memory when I didn't watch this movie. An all-time favourite, and one of the best vampire films ever made. I love the cast, I love the characters and the setting is pure magic.
October 29-Phantasm (1979)
Let the Tall Man into your heart this holiday season. I'm sure glad I did. I frickin' love this movie, and I hadn't seen it for many years so it was extra fun to revisit. I recently found out that the film was supposed to be over 3 hours in length, but was trimmed back to a cool 89 minutes. That's crazy! I wish I could see the rest of the footage, but apparently most of it is lost.
October 30- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The most sincere Halloween film. Sometimes you just feel like switching gears. Also, it occurred to me that I hadn't watched it yet this year. Plus I was tired and wanted to watch something short so I could just make tea, light candles, burn incense, relax and enjoy the final evening before Halloween.
My plans for the big day are to carve my last pumpkin while watching Halloween (1978), roast more pumpkin seeds, put the finishing touches on decorating and costume details, watch Halloween III Season of the Witch (1982 ) and hand out candy. After that I'll be checking out the new episode of Creepshow, which I'm really excited about because it's directed by Tom Savini! I can almost guarantee that there will be another horror movie thrown in there during the day and/or night, but I'm going to let that be a game-time decision. As for what I recommend...I mean, whatever floats your boat, but I feel it's always essential to watch something from the Halloween franchise on Halloween day. I also highly recommend watching Trick 'r Treat if you haven't already. Anything that takes place on or around Halloween is always a good idea too, such as E.T. which is great fun for the whole family. Of course there are so many other options, and I look forward to hearing what everyone picked.
Halloween is a special time. For me, what makes it extra special is that, unlike Christmas where it's traditionally about spending time with family, Halloween is about spending time with strangers. You open your door to people you presumably don't know, give children treats, say hi to their parents, chat about costumes and share in the festive spirit of the season. For someone like me who has social anxiety, that really means a lot. Being able to talk to strangers and share laughs while wearing a spooky costume somehow puts me in my happy place. Here's wishing that, whatever it is you choose to do on Halloween night, you find yourself in your happy place. Be safe, be scary, and remember to keep your pets inside.
For those of you who decided to be my victim by reading these two posts, I thank you very much. Now I will leave you with some festive music from King Diamond. I still can't believe that I'll be seeing him live in Vancouver next month. I'll be sure to tell you guys all about it. Now go forth and be creepy, and have a spooktacular Halloween!
It's a waste of good suffering.
Hey guys, I'm having a good day! Actually, it's been a good week. This hasn't happened for a very long time, and for that reason I am determined to celebrate to the fullest. I won't be partying or anything like that, but rather taking the time to appreciate where I'm at and be grateful. I know it won't last forever, and maybe won't even last another week, so I am going to sink into this moment and enjoy.
As we're now in the thick of Fall, my love of horror and all things spooky has kicked into overdrive. I don't usually commit to watching something scary or Halloween themed every single day in October, but this year I decided to. I also thought that I would take advantage of a month-long free trial with Shudder. There's a lot of good shit on there, people, and I'm going to have a hard time resisting a continued subscription when this month is over. I've been watching tons of movies, TV shows and specials on Shudder, as well as watching films from my own collection. In the spirit of the season, I thought I would share what I've seen during the first half of October. Here's what I've watched so far and what I think.
October 1- Critters: A New Binge (2019, episodes 1-4)
October 2- Critters: A New Binge (2019, episodes 5-8)
I don't know what you guys think, but to me this series is worth a watch. As a kid, I loved Critters so there's an element of nostalgia there, but this is a straight up gory good time. If you're looking for something silly and gross that you don't have to put too much thought into, I highly recommend it. Plus, at roughly 9 minutes per episode, you're not investing much of your time. I say go for it!
October 3- Tourist Trap (1979)
This is a old time favourite, and one that I tend to watch in the summer more than Fall, but I was sick and needed a comfort film. Those of you who know of my fascination with mannequins will not find this surprising in the least. I also have an affinity for roadside attractions in small towns, but this little gem might make you think twice about pulling over for a gander.
October 3- Re-Animator (1985)
Based on the Lovecraft tale, this movie is an absolute classic and hits all the marks for me. Weirdness? Check! Gore? Check! Engaging story? Check! Incredible acting? Check! I can't really say enough good things about it, and will continue to recommend it to anyone, especially at this time of year.
October 3- Stagefright or Deliria (1987)
Shout out to Sarah Jane on Twitter for recommending this beauty. I'm such a sucker for stories that take place predominantly in one location, and the theatre is the perfect backdrop for the bloody terror in this tale. This film is stunning. Literally, I was stunned at how good it was, start to finish. Admittedly, I'm not as well versed in Italian cinema as many of you may be but I'm making a point to watch more, and movies like this are certainly encouraging me to do so. Put this on your list immediately.
October 4- Eli Roth's History of Horror (2018, episodes 1-4)
Episode 1: Zombies
Episode 2: Slashers pt 1
Episode 2: Slashers pt 2
Episode 4: The Demon Inside
I will watch Eli Roth in anything because he's a babe, but also because he is the biggest horror nerd and I love seeing him get excited about the genre. He's so knowledgeable and entertaining; you couldn't pick a better host. I'm sure crybabies out there are reading this, sniveling "But, but, what about..." save it. He's the best. I won't go into detail about each episode because this post is going to be long enough as it is, but every single one is worth checking out. Tons of wicked guests, cool stories and so much insight. I can almost bet you will learn something new, maybe even about yourself. I learned why women gravitate toward slasher films and it really resonated with me. This show is awesome and the episodes fly by. Check it out!
October 4- Creepshow The Series (2019, episodes 1 and 2)
Episode 1: Gray Matter/The House of the Head
Episode 2: Bad Wolf Down/The Finger
Not surprisingly, I've been enjoying the hell out of this series. It's very similar in style to the films, with each segment offering a fun throwback as well as something new. Super cool for the OGs and newer horror fans alike. Each vignette from the first two episodes is solid, with my favourite being The House of the Head. Crooked and creepy. Right up my alley.
October 4- Splatter University (1984)
No. Not for me, and I wouldn't recommend it to you either. It's boring as hell. Next!
October 5- Eli Roth's History of Horror (2018, episodes 5-7)
Episode 5: Creatures
Episode 6: Vampires
Episode 7: Ghost Stories
I don't need to repeat myself here. I love the show and I love Eli. These were the final episodes. They were fucking great and I want more. Eli, can you hear me?!
October 5- Nosferatu the Vampyre or Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979)
This is a beautiful film that I enjoy revisiting. I hadn't seen it in a while and my roomie had never seen it, so that was extra fun. Herzog's films are truly special and this one seemed to blend perfectly into the biting cool air of the season's first chill. If you haven't seen it, you need to, and if you have, you need to again. With such a delicate balance of creep and humour, it's absolutely haunting and delightful.
October 6- Steelers/Ravens game
Always frightening, no matter what the season. We lost. Boo.
October 6- Halloween H20 (1998)
I've always liked this one, aside from Michael's mask. It's got a great cast, including the dreamy Josh Hartnett, and the story is decent. I don't find it as scary as the other installments, but I'm always down to see Laurie Strode kick some Myers ass, unless we're talking about 2018's Halloween. Yikes.
October 7- Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser Part 1 (2015)
There is no greater mind than that of Clive Barker. I love his stories so very much. His novella The Hellbound Heart is incredibly good and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, dark sexy read. Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 are horror perfection in my mind, so it was interesting to get a glimpse into the making of the films. I especially love learning about practical effects and you get all the gory details here, which is awesome. Part one focuses more on the first film and apparently the documentary is 7 hours in its entirety. Whaaaaat?! I'd love to watch the whole thing. If you're a Clive Barker fan and love the Hellraiser films as much as I do, you should probably see this.
October 8- The Gates of Hell or City of the Living Dead (1980)
I'm just going to leave this clip below, without context.
This movie is fucking awesome! I enjoyed every nasty minute of it, and now I have finally completed Fulci's Gates of Hell trilogy. Not in the order intended, but I don't think it really matters. I watched The Beyond a year or two ago and have seen The House by the Cemetery many times. I think The Gates of Hell/City of the Living Dead might be my favourite. A must see, especially if you adore practical effects like I do.
October 9- Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2013)
I got a kick out of this, but at four hours in length you better be a big Elm Street fan. If that's you, please watch this. I doubt you'll regret it. Similar to the Hellraiser documentary, this dives into the making of the films, with some fun stories and an interesting look at the special effects. I find it comforting seeing Wes Craven talk film, or talk about anything at all, I suppose. He was such a gem and is sorely missed. RIP, Wes.
October 9- Aenigma (1988)
Back on my Fulci bullshit only a day later. This was another win for me, but I wouldn't put it on the same level as The Gates of Hell. I feel like the premise for the story was better than the execution, but boy oh boy does Fulci deliver on the gore. Bless him. I just discovered that there's a documentary about his films. I'll probably need to check that out soon.
October 10- Creepshow The Series (2019, episode 3 )
Episode 3: All Hallow's Eve/The Man in the Suitcase
I seem to have enjoyed this episode more than others, although I preferred the second segment. I'm not one for spoilers, but I can't not say that Big Boi makes an appearance. I love him so much, and the song "Shutterbug" gets me amped! I'm looking forward to seeing what episode 4 has in store.
October 10- 100 Years of Horror with Christopher Lee (1997)
Episode 1: Dracula and his Desciples
I'm not gonna sit here and hate on Christopher Lee because I'm not an idiot, but this series is not nearly as enjoyable as Eli Roth's. Of course I love Sir Christopher, but this show just doesn't have the gusto. I think it's probably because it seems like Lee is just the host, rather than the mind behind the project. Having said that, I am always happy to hear that voice. Sigh.
October 11- Next of Kin (1982)
This clever Australian film flew under the radar for far too long, until my friend (and twin) Morgan recommended it. Thanks, girl! This film has a creepy, gloomy vibe and some good gore which fits the season perfectly. I really enjoyed the lead performance as well. Great story and effects. Top notch.
October 11- Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019)
A fascinating documentary that I highly recommend. Featuring Ken Foree, Jordan Peele, Tony Todd and many others, Horror Noire takes you on an often uncomfortable journey into the history of black representation in the genre. Man, I felt pretty ignorant watching this. I never really gave much consideration to the racist connotations in films like King Kong, but I can't unsee it now, and I'm grateful for it. A must watch for horror fans, and well, everyone.
October 12- Rabid (1977)
I cannot believe that I never knew about this film until now. It's incredible. I mean, just look at that shot! It is everything. I love David Cronenberg yet this one completely slipped through the cracks. If any of you knew how good this was and never thought to recommend it to me, I will never forgive you. Much like Re-Animator, this checks off every box for me, and if you've seen this movie, the term "box" might make you laugh. It's cool when you watch a film that's been around for a while and realize the influence it's had on some of your favourites. This was very much the case for Rabid. In fact, there was one scene that I figured was influenced by Dawn of the Dead (1978), but this film actually preceded that one. Super intriguing!
October 13- 100 Years of Horror (1997)
Episode 21: Aliens
Episode 22: Blood Drinking Beginnings
Damn, that would make a great title for Dracula's origin story. Again, this was just ok. I mean, I love me some Christopher Lee, but this show misses the mark for me. It kind of jumps all over he place and isn't as entertaining or informative as I would have liked.
October 14- Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser Part 2 (2015)
This was just as entertaining as the first installment, with more of a focus on the second film. Some cool interviews and perspectives, and I loved hearing about how many critics despised the films, claiming that viewers would be driven into therapy and even thought Clive Barker and his team should go to jail. Fuck, that's funny. Doug Bradley called such claims "utter bullshit" and said that nobody will ever wind up in a psychiatrist's office and say "I'm here because I saw Hellraiser." Hah! He's not wrong.
October 14- Salem's Lot (1979)
I hadn't seen this bad boy in ages! It still holds up, though you can certainly tell that it was made for TV. It was a miniseries, so I won't complain about the length, but there were some lulls. Having said that, I still love it. Some scenes are scary as heck and Barlo is, to this day, one of the most badass vampires in film. Also, I forgot how much I relate to the character Mark. Man, that kid rules. His life literally depends upon his knowledge of horror. So cool.
October 15- The Monster Squad (1987)
Eating Halloween candy and watching The Monster Squad took me right back to my childhood. Sorting through candy on Halloween night after trick or treating with the movie on in the background. I can't believe it took me so long to revisit this absolute gem. I can promise it won't be long until the next watch. Predictably, I cried again. I think I'll always cry during this one, just like E.T. But sometimes I love crying while watching movies, don't you?
So that's what I've been watching for the first half of October. I thought I'd cut it off there and write a second post, telling you guys about the second half. Sound good? Don't answer that. I'm doing it anyway because it's keeping me focused and in a good place.
Thanks for reading, y'all. Let me know what you've been watching so far this spooky season. I'm curious to see what everyone's enjoying (and not). If I don't catch you before the big day... happy haunting!
Fuck writing, I don't want to be a writer. It's stupid. It's a stupid waste of time. I feel ya, Gordie. That's pretty much how I feel about most things lately, and I'm just about ready to tell life to suck my fat one.
Shit's been thick. It seems like one thing after another and I'm having trouble convincing myself that things will turn around. I know a big part of that is depression. It's sucking the life out of me and I don't have the energy to not be sucked. Ewwwww.
But I'm trying. I'm trying to find reasons to be here, it just isn't easy. I keep crying. I've been crying a lot, and it's been hitting me hard at the most inconvenient times. At work, on the bus, at the grocery store. Ugh, my life sounds so boring. Honestly, I don't think this is the life I'm supposed to be living. I don't feel like I'm a real person sometimes. I'm certainly not myself.
But I'm trying. I'm trying to figure out who that person is and where she went. I swear sometimes I look in the mirror and I don't know who's staring back. I think I've said that before in a blog post or somewhere, which isn't exactly comforting. It's weird to think that at almost 40 years old I feel like I have no identity. I can't seem to figure things out for myself and haven't quite come into my own. What does that even mean, though? Sounds masturbatory.
Anyway, I've been spinning out. And I thought it might be ok because I was going to be seeing my counsellor, but due to a policy at the counselling office we won't be able to work together again. I was told I could go back on the wait list and see someone else so that's what I agreed to do, even though it may take 3 months. I considered contacting a therapist who works down the street from me, but it turns out she charges close to $200 an hour. I just can't.
But not all is lost. I received a text from my counsellor, saying that she is allowed to have one phone call with me. One phone call. I'm in prison. But I'm grateful. It will be nice to reconnect if only for a matter of minutes because she is very calming. Plus, she looks like a fairy. I think she might actually be one. So there's that. Also, she pointed out that she was impressed with my self-awareness during this time, and then offered a few suggestions. One of which was to ramp up my self-care by incorporating some fun distractions. I've actually been doing that quite a bit already.
Lately I've been getting high and watching tons of horror movies. Most have been re-watches, including It Chapter 1, which I don't hate as much as I first did. Also, I finally saw The Green Inferno. I can't believe I waited this long, but I'm so glad I did because it crossed my path at exactly the right time. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The practical effects are insanely cool and super inspiring. An awesome throwback to some classic 70's/80's Italian horror flicks like Cannibal Holocaust. It inspired me to dig out some Halloween makeup and get creating. I rediscovered one of my favourite pastimes--making zombie bites while watching old episodes of The Walking Dead. I don't necessarily even watch the show, I just have it on in the background. It's strangely soothing.
Speaking of strangely soothing...the Steelers started off the season with a bang, going 0-2. I know, you're probably thinking WHAT THE FUCK IS SHE TALKING ABOUT?! THEY LOST! HAS SHE LOST HER MIND? I mean, that's up for debate, but honestly after seeing the way the team responded when Big Ben went out, I kinda like our chances. We lost Sunday, which sucks, but we've got a pretty dynamic young quarterback in Mason Rudolph. Even though I was pretty emotional after that loss, I felt better seeing Rudolph in his post-game interview. He was excited and confident, and reminded me of Big Ben when he took over for Tommy Maddox back in the day and everything just came together. It was calming to hear Rudolph speak. I'm heartbroken for Roethlisberger because it looks like he's going to miss the whole season and who knows what that means going forward, but I'm also super excited for Rudolph having this opportunity to emerge as a new leader. Plus, I think we could all stand to look at that pretty face on game day.
This post hasn't been so pretty, in fact it's fairly mangled, but I guess the point of me sharing all this is to say that things don't always turn out the way you think they will. Take a look at how that zombie bite started off. Just some messy white stuff on my hand. Ewwwww. If you look close enough, though, you can find something you didn't see at first. One good thing. That's a little trick I learned from an old friend. He used to comfort me when things got tough by saying "one good thing." Sometimes it pissed me off to be honest, but if I really tried I could find it. Even if it was just a pretty flower or a cute squirrel. So maybe things are just fine even though it doesn't feel that way. Maybe Mason Rudolph will take the team to the playoffs, or even the Super Bowl, and maybe this new counsellor I see in a few months will end up being the Mason Rudolph to my Big Ben. And maybe all this crying will cure my dry eyes. Or maybe not. Who the fuck knows, right?
Things aren't actually as predictable as we often think.
Now I'm going to have a few puffs, make tea, eat Junior Mints and watch The Craft because I'm working on showing myself some love. And I will leave you with some Daniel Johnston. Sadly we lost him last week. RIP, Daniel, and thanks for the beautiful music.
I'm not so sure that's always the case.
About a month ago I agreed to go down to the police station for a video interview and photo lineup due to an incident that occurred a couple months prior. I was stressed out and in the middle of a major depressive episode. I found myself spiralling out of control and wasn't able to pause before I found myself tweeting amidst a full-on panic attack. I have some great pals on Twitter and they were all so supportive. I'm grateful to each one of them for reaching out, but what I did was not cool.
Clearly I was feeling desperate and ungrounded, and I have compassion for that, but was it really helpful to put that information out there? No, it really wasn't. Not for me or anyone else. The thread has been deleted, but how many people read it and were upset or triggered?
There is no shame in suffering, of course. It's unfortunately part of what connects us because it can't be avoided, but to what degree is it healthy to share our suffering with others? I don't have an answer, nor do I expect anyone else to, but it is a question worth considering.
I mean, how often do we throw words out there without thinking about how it impacts others and also ourselves? Does complaining about having a bad day actually improve your day? Just a thought. And, believe me, I am in no way putting myself above anyone else here. Clearly I do this too. I'm just trying to figure out how best to share experiences and feelings, especially on social media.
I'm sure you're well aware that I'm not with the positivity police. In fact, I can be a whiny curmudgeon who spends a lot of time watching true crime documentaries and reading terrifying and/or sad accounts of trauma. But I'm also the kind of person who finds humour in just about everything. It's what gets me through and makes tough times less difficult. Like, I can't stop laughing at the fact that the police have a video of me making jerkoff gestures. It's fucking hilarious and is probably the best thing I've taken away from the experience so far.
So I guess the point of sharing this is just to say that I want to lighten things up a bit and have more of a healthy balance. Obviously everything can't be sunshine lollipops and rainbows, but it doesn't hurt to try and even the scales. I want to focus on the things I enjoy a bit more. Lately I've struggled remembering what those things are, but it's worth taking the time to rediscover. So that's what I'll be focusing on for the next while. I've already been revisiting some of my favourite movies and shows, and I haven't read a book in a while, so I'll probably do that too. I'd also like to spend more time in nature and less time on my phone and work on reconnecting with myself and others.
That sounds like a lot. Now I'm feeling overwhelmed. Haha. I actually feel pretty good about this, and I've reached out to my counsellor so I will have her support again in a while. It's incredible how taking the first steps, no matter how small, can make a huge difference.
Speaking of...thanks so much for taking the time to read this. It may seem like a small thing, but it means a great deal to me.
Unfortunately, I won't be discussing Al, Peg, Bud and Kelly.
This is the Bundy we're talking about today. And if you're asking why we're still talking about him, that's a very good question. I suppose that Ted will always be talked about because we will always be horrified by him. But here's the reason I'm talking about him again.
I finally watched Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, because even though I wasn't jumping with excitement to see Zac Efron play the infamous serial killer like many, I was still a little curious.
Honestly, though, It doesn't take much convincing when it comes to true crime, especially when it involves serial killers, because I'm interested in criminal psychology and have always loved being creeped out. But the thing about this movie is, it's not that creepy. It's not scary, it's not provocative, and it doesn't really offer any insight. This movie isn't saying anything new and therefore really didn't need to be made.
The film is based on Ted's ex-girlfriend Liz Kloepfer's book, published under the name Elizabeth Kendall, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy. Having not read the book myself, I was hoping for an interesting glimpse into unfamiliar territory, but everything was pretty familiar. Plus, many disturbing details about their relationship weren't even in the film, so we're basically left with a mere snippet of the fucked up relationship. While I do feel bad for Liz and consider her to be one of Bundy's surviving victims, I really didn't care for her story, or at least the way it was told in the film. It was kind of boring.
Cue the music...
I wasn't a fan of the fun, upbeat music in this film, particularly during the more "romantic" (barf) scenes. I understand what they're trying to do by showing the fantasy of what Liz thought she had with Ted coupled with the catchy music of the time, but I wasn't into it. Plus, you can't hear Joe Tex's "I Gotcha" and not think of Reservoir Dogs. What were they thinking?!
Having said all that, the film really isn't all that terrible. There certainly were some redeeming qualities. I must give credit to Zac Efron, because he did a decent job portraying Ted. While he is obviously more attractive than Bundy, which I'm sure Ted would have loved, the characteristics were there. He didn't quite make my skin crawl the way I hoped, but I think that's more because I wasn't seeing anything new. I've seen the court scenes numerous times and have even watched the entire trial on a few occasions. Don't judge.
I also appreciate how this film isn't a sensationalized gross gore fest like 2003's Ted Bundy. God, the ending of that film still makes me cringe. "I'm Ted Bundy..." No you're not, so shut the fuck up. In fact, this film doesn't give us disturbing reenactments of the murders at all. Nice for a change. On the other hand, there is one scene in particular that I fucking hate. No spoilers, but it's at the end and is completely fabricated and unnecessary. It always irks me when filmmakers do that. Why add things in just because it looks cool or seems more disturbing? Do you really need to change anything to make Bundy more disturbing? I don't think so.
Wrong Turn (2003)
My bus took a wrong turn the other night, and so did I. At first.
YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY, a passenger shouted, and the driver apologized. It was his first day on the job, so he had to call a supervisor to ask for instructions. None of us were that pissed, though I was slightly annoyed because I already missed a bus and was running behind schedule. I just wanted to be home. "Sorry, we just have to take a short detour," the driver said. That short detour was a short trip to hell.
The bus drove up the road and pulled into the hospital parking lot to turn around. We drove right past the B.C. Cancer Agency and my heart sank. It's a place that I was hoping to avoid, at least for a good while, if not forever. In fact, every time my bus passes by that area I turn my head away and stare out the window, because even though we don't go right by the building you can see Ben's old hospital room from the road. I even make a point of not looking at the bus stop where I often waited on my way home from visiting him.
As the bus pulled away from the building and we got back on track, I started thinking about why I've been steering clear of looking in that direction, and what else I've been avoiding in my life. Being cautious of repetition, I won't get into anything I've recently discussed here, but yes, some thoughts of Ben and what he went through came to mind, but some other things popped up and kind of blindsided me. Some stuff that I had convinced myself I was over, but I guess I'm not.
My mind took me back about five years to when I lost another friend, though he didn't die. He's off somewhere living his life with someone. Someone who didn't appreciate how close we were (we were once romantically involved and had become the best of friends) so he had to cut me off or lose her. I was sympathetic because I was once an insecure young woman myself, but the sympathy didn't remedy the pain.
At the time I responded in typical fashion and acted like I wasn't bothered, but of course I was. He was my best friend. He was crazy as hell, but in a good way and I adored him. I still care for him and often wonder how he's doing, but I have to move on. I haven't grieved the death of that friendship and I'm beginning to see what skipping that process has done. I've had a few run-ins with exes recently, and the fact that I feel basically attacked when they just try to say hello says a lot about how I process things and move on. I kinda don't.
I mean, yes of course I move on as in move forward and continue living, but I just kind of carry on without a care, and I think that I was able to convince myself that I actually didn't care and that's why I didn't need to spend time grieving. Oh, what an annoying lesson to learn and at a particularly difficult time in my life too. Ugh. Becoming emotionally mature is a fucking process, y'all! It kind of sucks. Pass me a joint and a caesar, please!
And that brings me to my Saturday night (last night) when I let my caesar chill in the fridge and left my weed in the nightstand. James went to a party with some friends and I stayed home, stayed sober, did some reading and writing and organized my socks. Does that sound as sad as it felt when I typed it? I'm not jealous of James' night or anything, as I truly value my alone time, but I actually felt sad and dare I say...lonely. God, that makes me cringe. I don't know why, but I have never felt comfortable admitting to that feeling before. I sincerely love being alone, too, but man did I crumble last night.
And I got to thinking about how James and I are best friends now and how he might meet someone soon, maybe even at this party, and that this someone may not take a liking to me or the connection I have with him, and maybe he will have to leave me in the dust too. It's totally possible, and I have to find a way to be ok with it. I have to know that I am enough on my own, without anyone, but also that it's ok to feel lonely and sad sometimes.
So yeah, I organized my socks! And I feel pretty productive. Also, I finished this blog post today and am now moving on to tackling other things on my list. Number 1: be kind to myself and do something that makes me smile.
I hope you guys are all doing the same.
Until next time, I leave you with some spooky socks and a song that my old pal once sang to me over the phone after waking me from a dead sleep. For that, and for many other things, I am grateful.
This might seem like a weird way to kick things off, but I wanted to begin with a little humour.
Last weekend I revisited one of my favourite comfort films, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (obviously) and I can't stop thinking about how funny this scene is and how perfect Arnold is. If I watched it alone, I probably would have kept the scene on loop for a while. In any case, this really has nothing to do with what I'm about to get into, but another scene from the film does.
A couple years ago, I woke from a horrific dream. I was in an elaborate library that looked like a ritzy art gallery. I was walking up an exquisite marble staircase. I remember feeling accomplished and content. Then I remember the heat and the screams. I turned around and there was straight up fire coming at me. It was like a nuclear bomb was engulfing the library. I took a cue from everyone else and turned to run up the stairs, but then I stopped. I guess I knew that I couldn't outrun the fire. I turned back around. I closed my eyes. And that was it. It may not sound like much, but it was absolutely terrifying. If I remember correctly, I was crying when I woke up. I thought of that dream last weekend, during Sarah Connor's apocalyptic vision. I hadn't thought about it in so long, but suddenly it all rushed back to me.
I know that dreams are mysterious, but I do believe that they hold some significance in terms of what we store in our minds. Maybe I just really love Terminator 2 (I do) and my mind was telling me to watch it? Or, maybe it was telling me to stop running from things. Side note: I just remembered that I was in a house fire when I was a kid. I totally forgot about it. It was one of those after school special don't play with matches moments and it was fucked up, actually. A little girl was lighting matches in my babysitter's basement. I don't remember much else, but I'm pretty sure a cat lost its life in that fire, which is so sad. I can't believe I never think about that anymore.
Isn't that weird, the way the mind works? So many things that we're able to tuck away, then suddenly they pop up and catch us by surprise.
I've been thinking about this lately, but more in the ways we hide our pain, cover it up and avoid actually processing it. Case in point, the house fire. That probably legitimately traumatized me. But how do we process trauma? There isn't a clearcut way that I'm aware of. I suppose talking about it is a good place to start, particularly with a therapist? Who knows. I do know that I've been on a marathon run away from some things and I'm desperate to stop. It's just harder than I thought.
I certainly have lost my way. I haven't felt like myself for quite some time now. Part of it is hormonal, which I may get into another time, and part of it is, well, I don't know. Trauma? Depression? Anxiety? I know that's all there, but it's hard to dig down and get to the bottom of it, especially when I smoke it away every night.
I've been using weed as my comfort blanket for several months now. It's been somewhat of a necessity in terms of physical pain, but has also allowed me to block the emotional pain.
At first I wasn't smoking every night, but it just kind of happened, especially around the time I was visiting Ben in the hospital a lot. It was scary, and I didn't want to feel it. I would come home, sit on the porch and have a few puffs just to calm my nerves and stop the tears from forming because that was some heavy shit. I still haven't come to terms with the fact that he's gone. His birthday was last week and it was extremely difficult. Not just because he is gone, but also because I forgot. For some reason I thought his birthday was this weekend, and I felt some shame and guilt about that.
It's also been tough to process everything and pick up the pieces because his mother is still staying at the house. She's been here since September, with other family members coming and going, but it was different before when Ben was still alive. She is staying downstairs in his suite, and I hear her constantly. Sometimes it's like I hear him and it's triggering. There are a lot of really gross feelings lingering: anger, resentment, guilt. I won't get into it all too much, but it hasn't exactly been easy having Ben's family around. I will take responsibility for some of the discomfort, because I didn't establish boundaries when they arrived. I guess I didn't anticipate that they would be staying this long, and also it felt awkward to have those uncomfortable conversations, especially given the circumstances. Those factors made it easier for them to take advantage, not necessarily intentionally, but it happened.
It's tough to get to know people during such a painful time and I've been trying to remind myself to have compassion, for myself and for everyone involved. What I've come to realize is that we are very different people who process things differently, and there has been some conflict. Conflict I really didn't foresee continuing on after his death, and I've been struggling with it quite a bit. His dad and brother are coming to stay here in about a week, and they are all expecting to leave at the end of the month. While I look forward to April and reclaiming my space, I also fear that it'll truly feel real once everything is packed up and they're gone. He will be gone, officially.
So, yeah, I've been smoking some weed. Haha. And the thing is, I don't think there's anything wrong with it, even every night if that's your thing. I just know that I've been doing it to avoid something that I must face. I have to grieve and I have to feel this pain, or I doubt I'll be able to carry on with much. I doubt I'll be able to accomplish the things I wish to achieve. I owe it to myself to allow the pain to come and allow it to pass. I don't know how long it takes, and I don't know if it ever fully goes away, but I think I want to find out.
As we enter another seasonal change, I know that it's time to make some other changes and time to take better care. It's time to work on myself some more. Time to work on setting boundaries, because I'm starting to see how a lack of doing so has made other areas of my life almost unbearable. It's time to cut back on the hormones (or stop altogether) and time to pull back the security blanket. It's time to allow myself to feel things, no matter how uncomfortable. It's time to turn around and face the fire.
And it's time to listen to some Dinosaur Jr.
Thanks for reading, friends. I hope you enjoy this video. It always makes me laugh.
A couple days ago I had a hardcore anxiety attack--the first one I've had in a very long time--and I think I know why it happened.
I had planned a self care day on Friday. My body and mind have been feeling so taxed, and I thought it would be nice to try some new methods of healing. I booked an appointment with an acupuncturist at the yoga/acupuncture clinic down the road. I've never had acupuncture, but I heard that it's helpful in terms of healing from trauma as well as great for physical pain and sinusitis (all of which I've been trying to manage). I had a terrible sleep the night before and was feeling extremely ungrounded. I really wasn't feeling up to it, but I convinced myself to go to my appointment because it was going to be good for me.
On the walk down to my appointment, I felt scared, exhausted and overwhelmed, but I kept on walking. It was going to be good for me.
Upon entering the studio, I was welcomed by two friendly women who worked there. One took my payment, then explained the process. She asked me to take off my boots and hang up my jacket, then she poured me a cup of herbal tea. She asked if I could roll my jeans up over my knees and I said no, so she gave me an on-loan pair of yoga pants. That immediately took me out of any comfort zone that I was attempting to develop, but I thought I would just go along with it, get changed and try to ground myself. As I sat in the waiting area, sipping my tea and reading the pamphlets about community acupuncture, I began to feel completely out of place.
I knew that there would be others in the room because I read about it on the website, but being there at the studio, seeing others walking around barefoot in yoga pants seeming at peace, made me realize how far from that I was. On top of that, I kept hearing OMMMMMMMMMMMMM from the room behind me, and it was freaking me out. I wish that I were in a place where those sounds and those people could help me find peace and open up to a new way of being, but I felt completely closed off.
I tried hard to focus on my breathing and to keep drinking my tea, but I began to have a coughing fit. Then I started to feel extremely anxious about my coughing and became paranoid about how others would perceive me, and how my energy was quite the opposite of relaxing and was likely disturbing others who were trying to heal and enjoy their space.
My heart was racing and I felt like I couldn't breathe. My throat was closing up. I knew then that I had to leave. My mind was fighting me every step of the way as I retreated into the bathroom and changed back into my jeans, but I knew that I had to listen to my body and keep myself safe.
As I exited the bathroom, I was met by the kind woman from the front desk who said "and here is your new patient" to another woman. I said "I'm sorry, I have to go." Both of the women were empathetic when I explained what was happening, and the acupuncturist even mentioned how acupuncture can help with all of those things. But I just wasn't ready. I thanked them for their time and said that it just wasn't going to work for me today. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. The woman offered a refund, and as it was processing she asked if it was something they said or did that made me feel uncomfortable. I felt awful. They were quite wonderful, really. It was me. I explained that I was working on processing some trauma, and how I thought this would help me on my road to recovery, but I just wasn't ready. At this point I could barely talk because I couldn't breathe. The woman was so kind and even said that she was glad I trusted my intuition.
As soon as I walked around the corner outside, I burst into tears. I put my umbrella up even though the rain had stopped and used it as a shield. I cried all the way home. Cried and hyperventilated. I stopped on a street nearby and worked on catching my breath. I paused at the free library you see in the image above. The message on the door rang true. I need time to step away from things for a while. I need to allow space to grieve and to rest. The healing will be a process, but right now I just need to sit and listen to what my body is trying to tell me.
There will come a time when stepping out of my comfort zone will be essential to my recovery and quite necessary in terms of working toward my goals, but right now is not the time. It's hard to accept that, because we often want to better things immediately and make those big changes that will launch us into a new chapter, but I need to accept where I am right now and know that the time will come when I will be able to do all that. I need to trust that I can and will accomplish the things I desire to do in good time. For the past several months, and especially in the past few weeks, I've felt a pressure to get things done that I've never felt before. An urgency. But I have to trust that I will have the time I need. That it will be ok.
I recently started reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, and I think it's making me more aware of the messages my body is trying to send me. Trauma and painful emotions get stored in the body, and ignoring the signals will only make things worse. Clearly. I mean, I was literally just reading this book the night before my appointment, and still attempted to ignore the messages. But it's ok that I did. It's not as though I'm going to change overnight. It sure would be nice, though.
Two weeks ago I lost a true friend, and it feels much worse than I could have imagined. I thought I was prepared as I knew the day was growing near, but it turns out you just can't prepare for something like this.
Last August began with promise--Ben was going to be moving in to the suite downstairs at the end of the month, and we were all so excited for a new beginning and many pizza/movie nights in our future. But only days after he moved in, before the boxes were even unpacked, we received some startling news. He had been struggling with debilitating back pain for a while, and it reached a point where he knew it had to be looked at, so he took himself to the hospital. Ben had texted James late one night, saying that he was in emergency waiting to see a doctor. We were very concerned, but figured he would have a scan done and get some treatment, and everything would be ok. It wasn't like that at all.
The next morning, I woke up to a text from Ben, asking if James and I were awake and ready to take a phone call. He wanted to put us on speaker so we could all talk. I swear my heart stopped when I read the message, but I told him that we were ready, and we both sat on the couch, nervous as hell, waiting for my phone to ring. It happened almost immediately. He said that he had something to tell us, and that it was pretty heavy. He said that the doctor did a scan, and it showed that he had cancer. I must have blurted out something like OH MY GOD! James and I asked him what we were up against and he said "It's pretty bad, it's everywhere." I just bursted into tears as I typed that, probably because I tried so hard not to cry when he initially said it and now I feel like I have no reason not to cry. The three of us talked for a short while, and I promised that he would not go through this alone. I think I kept that promise.
Later that day, James and I went up to see him at the hospital. At that point, nothing seemed real. It was Ben, in a hospital bed, being hilarious as always, despite being in a tremendous amount of pain. It just felt like he was going to be ok. I think in the early goings, we didn't really know what was expected. We weren't sure what treatment options were available and if they were going to help him or not or to what degree. Over the course of the next 4 months, he tried everything. We watched him bravely face every goddamn thing that was thrown his way. He had radiation, immunotherapy, was on and off of the most potent painkillers available. We sat at his bedside while the nurses administered blood transfusions, we went for walks with him, watching him use all of his strength just to move down the hallway, or even just from one side of his room to another. He did not give up. And he did not stop being funny.
I remember sitting with his family and friends at various times at the hospital when Ben was completely out of it, and he would still look over at me and say something that made me laugh. He would still fist pound and give high fives, and still gave the best hugs. The nurses and doctors loved him because he was so genuine and funny and kind and grateful for everything, even when it would have been so easy to be angry about what was happening. Every time I walked into that hospital room, he would smile and say "HELLOOOOO!" I would often arrive after work around 8 at night, and even when he was exhausted his face would light up and he would be as present as possible so that we could visit. It was worth it to be at his side, as difficult as it was, because it was still Ben. Even when he didn't look the same, his spirit was fully visible and vibrant.
For a short while, the treatments were helping him. He suddenly had some energy and colour in his face, and even gained some weight back. At the time I did not know, but people with terminal cancer often get better before they get worse. Sometimes sudden improvement is a sign that the end is near. I say this because it might help others to know, should they ever be in a similar situation. Reality sure can suck balls, but it's better to be aware of the balls rather than just have them come at you out of nowhere. Having said that, here I sit alone in my house. A house that he spent a great deal of time in, and I feel like I was run over by a bus. My body hurts, my heart hurts. I knew that this was coming. I saw the balls, but I didn't know how big they were.
As I look around this space, I still see him everywhere. He probably sat in every single seat in this house. I picture him laying down on the ground, making friends with Beans, or sitting across from me when I've had too much to drink, offering a comforting smile. I can hear his laughter and it makes me sad. I know that one day it will make me happy, but I still haven't processed that fact that I am never going to see my dear friend again.
Two weeks ago Ben died in this house, downstairs in his suite, surrounded by his family who were there for him during the toughest of times. I remember months ago when things were getting worse, being afraid of the possibility of him dying in our house. I thought I couldn't handle it. I thought that it would be too hard, too painful. But in the end, I was so glad that he was here. That he was able to feel peace in his own home. A home that James and I set up for him, imagining that he would have some time to enjoy it. More time than he ended up having. The last time I saw Ben I didn't know it would be the last time. We said I love you to each other, as we always did, but I didn't know that it would be the last time I would say it. If I did know, I'm not sure that I would have done anything differently, which I guess isn't a bad thing. I just wish that I had more time.
The morning Ben left this world, James and I were preparing to go downstairs and visit him, but while we were getting ready, we received a message from his mom, saying that he was gone. I can't describe what I was feeling at that moment, but I know there was pain. And I cried. I wish that I had gone to see him the day before, which I thought about doing, but I just didn't know that I wouldn't have another opportunity. I couldn't have known that. You just never know.
As I sit here at the computer, I have a wonderful view of the tree in our front yard. We have a bird feeder on it. Feeding the birds, squirrels, rats, mice, and whatever creatures may come along has always meant so much to me. It meant a lot to Ben, too. In fact, one of his favourite things to do while approaching the end was to sit in bed and watch the birds eating the seed. James and Tia, our lovely neighbour who lives downstairs, set up some bird feeders in plain view so that Ben could see them each day and enjoy watching the creatures come to visit. He really loved it. In fact, that was one of the last things we talked about. We were looking out his window, watching James and Tia hang another bird feeder up, closer to the window. He told me that he loved watching the birds and the squirrels. It brought him joy. I remember sitting there with him, watching him blow kisses at James and Tia. Watching the smile on his face as Enya filled his room with beautiful relaxing music. He was content in that moment, and that made me happy.
The day he died, I sat in my room, looking out the window. I said "Ben, if you're out there, would you give me a sign?" Immediately after, a bird flew right by my window. I gasped, then cried. I know, some of you shitheads are thinking well, duh, it's pretty likely that a bird would fly by. Sure, you keep thinking what you want, but I took it as a sign. The universe showing me that, although I will never see him again in person, I will always feel his presence. I will always know that he's here. And how wonderful to associate my beautiful friend with birds and squirrels, because I see them and hear them every day. I will constantly be reminded of Ben. Lately, when I'm feeling overwhelmed with emotional and physical pain, I try to focus on the birds chirping. On being present. On being alive. Because, as cliche as it sounds, I don't know how long I have here, and it's time to start seeing things differently.
I promise that I will start living my life the way I want. I will do more things that I enjoy. I will spend more time with those I love, with people who are supportive and who bring a loving energy into my life. And, I promise to keep my distance from the people who are unsupportive and who bring a negative energy around, because I just cannot be bothered anymore. I don't care. I promise to start caring more about myself and to take better care of myself, because I deserve it. Ben would have wanted it that way. In fact, I'm going to start asking myself more, what would Ben do? What would Ben say about this? How would Ben feel about this? I want to honour his life through the way I live mine.
Now I will leave you with a message Ben sent me years ago, followed by one of his favourite songs. A song I've thought of often over the past 4 months or so, but haven't been able to listen to. Now I will listen, and remember.
You are awesome
I am proud of you
I believe in you
Knowing you gives me strength
You will find the answers you seek
You are like a force of nature
Once unleashed, you are unstoppable
Clear decisive action
Do not fear your awesome
Thank you for speaking from your heart with me
You have a profound effect when you express yourself
You are worthy
You are powerful
It is you at the centre
You are awesome
This was Ben's message to me, which he sent completely out of nowhere, but it was really his message to everyone. He was kind, he was gentle, he was generous, he was encouraging, he was grateful, and so much more. He was a wonderful friend, and I hope to carry his energy with me and share it with the world.
I'm finally doing it--pulling my insides out and splattering them around for all to see. Here we go!