I wish you'd come back to me and sit by my side
We'd laugh and we'd play again, if only you'll try
I'm sure most of you are aware of the fact that I spend a great deal of time in cemeteries. I've always enjoyed walking around, reading books, writing in my journal and listening to music while on a cemetery bench. Or sometimes I just stroll in silence or sit and stare, often at nothing in particular. It's nice.
I am lucky enough to live about a five minute walk from one of Canada's oldest Victorian cemeteries, that happens to be right across from the ocean. Recently, I've decided to step up my cemetery game by going for a walk through Ross Bay every morning before work. It's a good way to ground myself before the work day begins, and also get some exercise. There's something about breathing in the fresh salty air while being within the grounds that makes me feel relaxed. And on those days when I'm feeling particularly alone, I always seem to discover that I'm not.
I never stop being amazed by the fact that, not only do birds, squirrels and raccoons take up residence in this wonderful place, but there's a family of deer that frequent this spot. Sometimes I'll see them eating or wandering, or resting under a tree, and on a couple occasions I've seen a doe feeding a fawn. It's quite magical, really. I swear that every time I stroll through Ross Bay I stumble upon something that fills my heart with joy. Something that keeps me going.
I used to mostly stick to the paths and walkways, but now I often find myself walking right through the graves. Not just between them, but right on them. Sometimes I stand on top and let my my feet sink in, and if the ground isn't wet, I'll sit down. For me, it's a means of getting closer. Getting to know the people who are buried here. I'm starting to learn their names and taking the time to read the inscriptions on their tombstones and plaques. My goal this year is to memorize the names of the people who rest in Ross Bay by spending time at each grave. I'm sure I could just look at a map and figure out where everyone is, but I would rather be more hands-on in my approach. I will certainly have to do some research as many of the inscriptions have not stood the test of time, but I look forward to it. It's a fun project to take on. One that means a lot to me.
Here is a snapshot from a morning in Ross Bay. Trees and shrubs used to line the edges so you couldn't see the ocean like this. I used to think that I would hate it if they were removed, but it turns out that I really like it. That seems strangely symbolic to me right now, removing what's blocking the way in order to see clearly. Alright, alright, I'll stop. Here's some King Diamond. Now go get some fresh air.
I never wanted to believe that someday we would have our own X-file, but here we are. A while back, at the beginning of summer, I did something scary. I sat down with my partner in crime of four years to talk about how things weren't working and how we needed to make a plan to move forward. Although he agreed and we had a very calm, mature conversation, it was still painful.
I've had my share of breakups and whatnot, but walking away from this is entirely different. I'll spare you the drawn out relationship recap and just say that things essentially changed directions. We had previously acknowledged it and made attempts at steering things back, but to no avail. It was about as exhausting as watching the Steelers try to slay the dragon in the AFC championship game last year, and equally difficult to accept.
You see, James is the Mulder to my Scully, but we had shifted into these weird roles and it began to feel more like Mulder and Scully in the "Arcadia" episode when they pretend to be husband and wife, only less funny.
It's like we were pretending to be a couple for so long, when in actuality we were just friends. Friends who slept in the same bed, rolled away from each other. And you know what, our friendship suffered too, because we'd been holding in so many feelings and weren't really being authentic. It's so easy to allow yourself to become resentful and bitter when things aren't what you want them to be. I mean, how could this not work? We both love and respect each other so much and enjoy each other's company, but we're not in love. Isn't that the way these relationship things end up eventually? I suppose it really doesn't matter if the answer is yes or no, because neither one of us was satisfied, and we both deserve better.
During this transitional time, we continue to live together as roommates, trying to be supportive, encouraging and respectful. But it's not easy. This holiday season has made things particularly emotional. Stockings with our names hang above the fireplace, Beans' in the middle. That's the other thing...it's not just us. Yes, a cat is different than a child, but at least things can be explained to a child. Beans has been adjusting to the fact that mommy and daddy sleep in different rooms now. She always begins the night with James, then sleeps the rest of the time on me. She's clearly trying to divide her attention evenly, which is both heartwarming and sad. I wish I could explain things to her. I also wish that I knew what was coming. Where Beans was going to end up. Unfortunately, I don't.
But I guess nobody really knows what's coming, right? And this scenario is not a tragedy. I live with my best friend, and most the time it's ok. It's expensive to live in Victoria, so we're taking advantage of what we have--a great affordable place in a fantastic neighbourhood, blocks away from the ocean and the most beautiful cemetery. I feel incredibly grateful for that. Sincerely. But then there's the part of me that knows that this is temporary, and that at any moment it's all going to change. This is not good for my anxiety.
My depression has also ramped up big time and my therapist suggests I try antidepressants for a while. I'm seriously considering it, though it's scary because I've never taken pharmaceuticals for these conditions. Also, I recently went back on The Pill for health reasons and it's been absolute fucking hell. But the thing is, I've been through hell before. I try to remind myself of that often, but sometimes a voice interrupts and says "You're such a loser. You never make anything work. You don't even know what you want to do with your life." Thankfully, I'm learning to interrupt that voice with the occasional FUCK OFF, and I've even started to interrupt with something I thought I'd never say...I've got what it takes.
That's the real me. But sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I buy into the idea that I can't do this. That I can't get through it and I've got nothing to look forward to. I have to believe that that's not true. That I'm not really stuck. That I can do this dance and will be fine, even if I'm just dancing with myself (cue Billy Idol). To anyone else who's stumbling, trying to find their footing, remember that you do have what it takes to keep going. There's so much good stuff ahead, even if you can't see it yet. I'm looking forward to celebrating with you, dear friends, and hopefully celebrating a Steelers Super Bowl win. Here we go!
It's officially Halloweekend, folks! I bet most of you are putting the finishing touches on your costumes, maybe going to a party, carving pumpkins, watching horror movies and Stranger Things, and probably checking to see how many boxes of Halloween candy you need to replace (I know I've been on a Reese's/Wonka diet all month). As for me, there will be pumpkin carving and horror movies for sure, but I'm not feeling the party scene. I think it's partly due to the fact that I've been sick all month, and also because I've never really been into the party scene anyway. But last year I hosted a spooky gathering: A Nightmare On Kipling St. I dressed up as body bagged Tina Gray and it was a lot of fun. I met some great people that night, plus I didn't have to go anywhere.
The year before that was a different story. Two years ago today, I received an upsetting phone call--the most upsetting call I've ever received in my entire life, actually. A teenage girl I'm very close with called to tell me that her mother had died, that she had taken her own life. Because it's personal, I will not discuss the details of that call, but I could probably recite it word-for-word. I also won't discuss much else about the tragedy as I feel it's not really my story to tell, but I will say that it absolutely crushed me and the spirit of the season. I mean, I never expected to attend a funeral the day before Halloween.
By the time Halloween day arrived, I felt kind of numb. My Agent Scully costume stayed in the closet and my Mulder stayed at my side, as a Mulder should. I think we carved pumpkins at some point, but I honestly don't remember. I also don't recall any of the movies we watched or the decorations we put up. What I do recall is that feeling. Like I was in the upside down or something. Only it wasn't scary, it was just sad. Overwhelmingly sad. A kind of sadness I had never experienced before. I thought that nothing could make me smile. Luckily, I was wrong.
When the sun went down, the streets began to fill with children clumsily shuffling and clunking around in incredible costumes. I didn't think I would even be able to open the door and greet the kids with candy, but when Mulder answered the door and I heard "TRICK-OR-TREAT" something clicked. I wanted to see. I wanted to be there, and I'm so glad that I was. I can't tell you what they were dressed up as because I don't really remember, I just remember that feeling. I don't even know how to describe it, but I wasn't in the upside down anymore. One thing stands out for me, and it still makes me smile. This kid who I think was dressed as a ninja waved at me when I answered the door, then took off his mask. It was a boy I knew and he was so excited to see me and show me who he was. He even yelled at his mother to come and say hi. It was good to see them. It was good to see all of them. My face hurt from smiling that night. I felt like myself again.
This is the first time I've shared anything about what happened two years ago, and I'm not entirely sure why that is, but something told me that this is the day to do so. I've been hearing a lot of people say that they're not in the Halloween spirit this year and I get it. Sometimes it just doesn't seem to happen. But I want you to know something. If you love this time of year, you always will. That spirit doesn't go anywhere, sometimes it just hides behind a creepy mask. Here's hoping the mask comes off so you can see who you really are. Remember, you can't kill the boogeyman.
Those of you who know me understand, at least to a degree, my fascination with true crime. For those of you who don't know me, let's just say that one of the last faces I see before I fall asleep is Ted Bundy's. The last face is Gillian Anderson's, but that's beside the point. Ok, also, I must say that Bundy's face is on the cover of a true crime book, I don't have a poster of him or some shit. I'm weird, but not that weird.
A few weeks back, I decided to check out the series Killer Kids, one that surprisingly I had never seen. It was recommended to me because it features a lot of local and Canadian cases. I watched the first 4 episodes, which were pretty disturbing, but it wasn't the subject matter alone that bothered me. The show had this terrible narrative that blatantly targeted heavy metal music and horror movies as the catalysts for the brutal crimes. At first I was taken aback. It actually felt like a flashback to the 80's or something. "Should we blacklist heavy metal?" Huh? For real?! "She enjoyed watching horror movies and smoking the occasional joint." "He would drink beers and listen to Ozzy Osbourne." Shit son, you're talking about me!
It's really too bad because I quite liked the content, including the often cheesy reenactments (I live for that shit). There was one case in particular that really caught my attention. In 1995, A 14-year-old brutally murdered a 7-year-old boy, and claimed to be influenced by Satan... and the movie Warlock. It sounds terrible, but I actually laughed when that came up. I watched that movie when I was a kid and wasn't prompted to skin a boy, boil the skin and drink the water. I was also super surprised that I don't remember hearing of the case before. Probably most shocking and disturbing, aside from the gruesome details, was the fact that this little psycho was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The defense team insisted that he was not criminally responsible and the judge agreed. Must be all those damn horror movies.
Chances are I won't be revisiting Killer Kids for quite some time, or maybe ever again, but it's not just because the show pissed me off, it's because some of the featured cases reminded me of a horrifying murder that happened close to where I live.
In March, 2010, 18-year-old Kimberly Proctor was viciously attacked, bound, raped, tortured for hours and eventually murdered by two teenage boys. I won't mention their names, just like I didn't mention the name of the little prick from the Warlock case, because I just don't feel like it. If you are curious, there is a ton of information available online. I'm also going to spare you the grisly details of this murder because they are absolutely sickening, and it's not the reason I wanted to mention this case. The reason I wanted to write about it is because my friend and I recently visited Kim at the cemetery. Neither one of us had ever met her, but we both felt that she seemed a lot like we did in high school--the way she looked, the crowd she hung around with, her love of animals. Her murder will probably haunt me forever.
That day in the cemetery, we visited the mausoleum, specifically to pay respects to a girl we did know, albeit not very well, who was also murdered. It was incredibly sad but, in a way, peaceful. We began looking around at other people's urns, photos and tributes. There was a great deal of sports memorabilia on display, which made me smile. Redwings flags, 49ers stickers, Habs mugs. I started picturing my Jerome Bettis autographed picture, my terrible towel, my photo of Trevor Linden from 1994. I bet those things would be displayed beside my urn, my picture. It warmed my heart to see what was important to these people who are no longer here--what made them happy and excited and proud--whether it be a picture of their kids or a hockey puck. I felt privileged to be able to look in on their memories. It was special.
I guess that might be why I felt pretty upset when I came across an ignorant, insensitive post on Twitter recently. Someone seemingly making light of a true crime tragedy.
The tweet had the above image with the comment "I relate to Michael." I recognized the image immediately as a clip of notorious club kid/killer, Michael Alig. In 1996, Alig murdered his roommate, Andre "Angel" Melendez, chopped up his body and threw it into the Hudson River. He also happened to brag about the crime afterwards. Now, I don't think the person who posted that picture and comment was legitimately trying to be an asshole. In fact, I doubt very much that she even knows who Michael Alig is, but when people comment on your tweet, saying that the guy is actually a killer, you might want to either take it down or admit that you didn't know. Coming from someone who deems herself "the real queen of horror," I was a little surprised that she didn't have a bit more knowledge on this horrific case. Perhaps she should change her title to "the reel queen of horror," because it seems that most of her knowledge is within the realm of horror movies. And that's totally fine. But horror doesn't just exist in the movies.
Victoria residents were once again reminded of that when the body of a missing 25-year-old woman was discovered a few days ago, on the grounds of S.J. Willis school. The very school where I wrote my English 12 final exam with a girl I knew who would years later be murdered herself. The investigation into the murder of Euarchol Wanichpan is ongoing, with little information available to the public as of yet, but the details that have surfaced are disturbing and heartbreaking. I hope investigators are able to catch the sicko(s) responsible for Wanichpan's death, and I also hope that someday an arrest will be made for the murder of Lindsay Buziak.
If you have any information about either case, please contact the police in Victoria, or Crime Stoppers at http://victoriacrimestoppers.ca/ or 1-800-222-8477 (1-800-222-TIPS). And if any of you are able to contribute to the Go Fund Me page that was created for Euarchol Wanichpan's family, here is the link: https://www.gofundme.com/49g9s2o
I know this post was heavy, but I just needed to get it out. Maybe I'll write about something a little lighter next time. Until then, I leave you with this image, and I dedicate this post to Kimberly, Euar, Lindsay, Angel and their families, and anyone else who has had a loved one tragically taken from them.
I have always liked the monster within idea. I like the zombies being us. Zombies are the blue-collar monsters -George A. Romero
Losing George last week was pretty devastating, I must say, but revisiting his films and reading interviews really got me thinking about zombies, monsters, and scary shit in the context of my own life. You see, I'm in the process of walking through hell. It's been a long walk, and it's nowhere near over. It all began because I had developed a habit of running. Running away from everything, even myself.
When I was a kid, maybe 8 years old, I was winning a race, but faked an injury near the end to ensure that I would not win. I'm sure that seems really weird and maybe even stupid. The part that bothers me the most is that it hasn't stopped happening. Self-sabotage. I guess that's what it is, but it goes beyond that. It's about fear. Fear of failure and fear of success. I kind of remember being in that moment; I recall running pretty fast and having a fair lead, and all these people, mostly kids, screaming. I was supposed to run through this specific area at the end and panicked a bit because I couldn't seem to figure it out. I don't think it was all that hard, but I was so afraid of making a mistake. That's part of it, and the other part was me being super awkward about the idea of winning something. I had very little experience with success and I honestly think I was too overwhelmed to cope. In the end, I let a runner pass, then another, and I consciously decided to come in third. Third is respectable, and didn't really warrant as much attention. I want to give myself credit for finishing the race, and also not hate on my behaviour, but I still shake my head when it comes to mind and think what the fuck?!
I brought that race up in a recent counselling session and, frankly, my therapist didn't seem all that surprised. I suppose that's because she's been given a small window into my past and has somehow found a way to piece things together. I never learned how to handle success or failure, or really much of anything useful when I was a child, and it's not so easy to teach yourself that stuff as an adult. Having said that, it's not impossible. The scary part is that you have to stop running. You must turn around and face the monsters because they are not going anywhere. They will continue to pursue, just like in the movies, and if you want to survive you're going to have to fight. After all, what character in a horror movie actually escapes by running alone? What happens, though, when you turn around, baseball bat clenched in hand (or machete or whatever) in preparation for the bloody battle, and you just see yourself?
That image also surfaced in a counselling session. My therapist likes to use scary analogies due to my love of horror. She's the best. Anyway, she told me to picture myself running away as fast as I can from the scariest monster imaginable but I begin to grow tired and lose speed. Eventually it becomes apparent that I cannot outrun this monster, so I decide to turn around and fight. When I turn around, I realize that it's actually just me as a child. I'm a mess, covered in dirt and blood, and I'm crying. As easy as it is to get pissed off at the childhood me--to yell at her, even push her down and maybe run away again--that won't stop her from crying, from chasing, from needing my help. As difficult, annoying and painful as it is, the only way to make her go away is to show her some love. To reach out my hand and say come on, let's go. It'll be OK.
Because it will be. Sometimes we become so accustomed to the darkness that we forget there's light. We become so preoccupied with the monsters that we aren't able to see that often those monsters are just us. That's what I always loved about Romero's zombies, the fact that they were so interchangeable with the living, and sometimes not nearly as scary. The ending to Night of the Living Dead immediately comes to mind. George Romero once said that, "if you can change one thing, everything will change." I am currently going through some pretty big changes and feeling incredibly thrown and lost and uncertain and scared and a lot of other things, too. I wanted to share this in hopes that I can reach even one person who feels equally displaced and confused, to tell them that somehow everything will be alright. I suppose maybe I'm also writing this to tell myself the same thing. To convince myself that I will emerge from the darkness and that I will be able to recognize myself, even if the me I see is a child covered in dirt, blood and tears.
I dedicate this post to George, and to anyone else who's running, fighting or hiding. Remember that you are not alone, even if you're only in the company of monsters.
One of the most intense Pacific hurricanes to strike the west coast of Mexico, Kenna wreaked havoc on the coastal areas of Puerto Vallarta and the farmlands of San Blas. The name "Kenna" was retired from the list of Pacific hurricanes due to its effect on Mexico, which included US$101 million in damage and four deaths.
Personally, I estimate the death toll to be much higher.
A couple weeks ago, my counsellor was listening to me talking about something (can't remember what or if it's relevant) when she started drawing something on a piece of paper. I stopped talking and she showed it to me. It was a palm tree. She said "that's you, by the way." I was a little confused, and then she elaborated. She explained how a palm tree can withstand an absolute thrashing, even a hurricane, and still stand tall. Still seem ok. At first I thought that maybe it was a strange comparison, but then I realized that it makes sense.
When you're raised to have a thick skin--that you need to be tough in order to handle a very scary world--that you need to "keep a stiff upper lip"--you become a master at the art of appearing strong. You become such a tough guy that you're able to stare anyone in the face and smile as they spit fire. You're able to get knocked down on your ass and get right back up. Maybe even laugh about it all. In my case, definitely laugh about it. That's something my counsellor pointed out to me. She said that comedy seems to be an outlet for me; it keeps me safe. But that when she sees me laugh when discussing trauma her heart breaks for me a little because she knows that the laughter is masking the pain.
I hadn't really looked at it that way before. I always thought that it was good to laugh at everything because it made things lighter, and in a way it is, but there comes a time when you have to admit that you've been through some really fucked up shit, and it's actually not funny at all. Having said that, I think it's important to keep yourself safe, and that's something I'm learning how to do, but in a healthy way--a way that still allows me to be authentic.
I took this photo the morning after a storm had passed. My neighbour has fifteen beautiful palm trees in his front yard and I always find myself marveling at how incredibly lush and beautiful they are, and also how strong. I love hearing the wind blow through the leaves--it's the most soothing sound. Every time I walk by and catch a glimpse, I feel like I'm on vacation...just for a moment. After taking this photo, I looked around the rest of the neighbourhood and noticed fallen branches and scattered leaves from some of the other trees that appeared to have a rough go of the storm. Then I looked back up at the towering palms and I realized that my perspective had changed. Yes, those palms seemed virtually unscathed--they still had all of their leaves and branches--but that doesn't mean that they hadn't weathered the same storm as the others. I suppose that's something to keep in mind as I continue on my journey. Perhaps it's something for all of us to keep in mind.
And on that note, I will leave you, and hope to return with another post very soon. I had intended on writing one last month, but it didn't exactly go as planned. I'm OK with that. There was definitely a time when I wouldn't have been, but times are changing.
Thanks for reading. Here's something to listen to: one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite artists. Farewell!
Today I did something I almost never do...I watched a deer in the cemetery without taking a picture of it. I just let it be. I stood there and observed, without a device in hand (though I will admit to having my iPod in my pocket). How else do you listen to The Church in the cemetery?
While I feel I must apologize for giving you this terrible image to look at rather than a picture of a sweet young fawn, I feel good about my decision. See, I'm trying to change the ways I've been doing things. I'm working on letting go. Letting go of stuff--unnecessary objects and things that take me away. Not entirely though, as my new friend OG Kush would attest to, but I'm working on slowing down and having less clutter. I guess it seems like there's so much in the way of what I want and, sadly, it also seems that I've put that stuff there.
Recently I caught myself going through my phone for no apparent reason (I hate when you bust yourself doing that) but it ended up being super helpful in opening my eyes to something I hadn't thought about for long enough. My phone, which I once reserved for texting, taking photos and calling people (yes, I said calling, I'm old), had become flooded with apps. I probably didn't even know what an app was until a couple years ago (again, I'm old) and now my phone was bedazzled with multi-coloured squares--so much so that I could barely see the photo I saved as my background. It kinda freaked me out.
Facebook! Twitter! Instagram! Etsy! theScore! WhatsApp! I'm beginning to see why these flashy little squares had been stealing so much of my attention, and way WAY too much of my time. In one particularly startling moment, I went onto the Facebook app, which logs you in automatically when you touch it, got bored and logged off, then hit the button to log back in right after. Automatically. What is happening to me?! Well, I should say what WAS happening, as I deleted most of those apps from my phone over a month ago.
It's so scary that the apps I once used to connect with other people were making me feel less human. Sometimes when I get really freaked out, I picture myself as the automaton Olimpia from Hoffmann's Der Sandmann. I just sit there watching as people discuss who made what parts of me. And I can't move. I can't do anything because I'm not real. Gah!
In any case, I've deleted many of those distracting apps and have been making attempts to be more present. Funny how my mind literally wandered away instantly after I typed that last sentence. I began thinking about tomorrow's counselling appointment. Yes, that's right, I'm finally getting called off the bench! My first official session is coming up, and while I know it'll be helpful, I'm feeling a bit nervous. I will report back soon and let you know how it goes. I'm sure I'll have lots to tell you about. Or maybe not.
I bet you were thinking I'd probably end things with some Guns N' Roses, right? Wrong. I'm sticking with my mood and The Church. Until next time...enjoy!
David Bowie experiences some major changes in The Hunger
Things are beginning to change around here, too. For one, this website is currently undergoing a much-needed facelift. Take a look around and see what's new! I'm also in the process of making changes to other aspects of my life. Almost every aspect of my life. But let's begin with phase one...
Recently, I took a small (but maybe not-so-small) step toward self-improvement by attending my first counseling session in nearly four years. Not sure why I've waited so long. That's the part that makes me feel crazy. It's funny what we can allow ourselves to become used to. I said something like that in my intake interview at Citizen's Counseling.
It all went down almost a month ago now. Arriving more than twenty minutes early, I decided to grab a London Fog at Cafe Fantastico. They make great drinks there, but this was the best I've had in a long time. Rather than hanging out at the cafe, I wandered next door to Citizens and sat in the waiting room--a place I used to know quite well.
It pretty much looked the same as I remember...cream-coloured walls featuring posters for upcoming group therapy events and yoga classes, comfortable (circa 1990's) furniture, side tables with stacks of magazines and plastic inserts with pamphlets. Your standard waiting room decor. For about ten minutes, I was the only one there, but then another character entered the scene.
At the risk of sounding judgemental, I will say that I kinda knew that this guy had an appointment at the BC Schizophrenia Society (which is in the same building as Citizens). He was slightly disheveled and fidgety, and looked a little like Vincent Gallo, which made me smile. He was quite friendly, and immediately struck up a conversation with me upon entering the waiting room. "How is your day going?!" He asked. "It's going well, thank you," I said. Then he asked if I worked at Citizens, which I found interesting and kinda sweet, for some reason. "No," I said. "I have an appointment." His eyes began darting around the room, but then he started telling me about how sometimes you wait for awhile, but that I shouldn't worry because they wouldn't forget about me. It was really sweet. After a few minutes, he got called into the BC Schizophrenia Society for his appointment. Enter bachelor number two...
A heavy-set man in his mid-thirties, with greying hair. I could tell he was new as he seemed a little unsure of whether he was in the right place. He sat down and our eyes met. I gave him a smile before reaching for a magazine. He smiled back, then said, "Is this where you wait for Citizens?" I said "yes," and that they would come get him as soon as they were ready. I felt like my assurance made him feel a bit more sure.
I like this place--this waiting room--these people. It's much nicer than the waiting rooms at the walk-in clinics where you pretty much avoid all contact, even eye contact, in order to avoid catching TB or death stares or whatever. At Citizens/BC Schizophrenia Society, there seems to be a feeling of mutual respect and a sense that you can relate to one another, not that you fear whatever they have, or whatever you have. You all look different, but you're kind of the same. It's comforting.
I think my initial appointment went well. Your intake appointment takes about an hour, and basically consists of filling out a questionnaire with a volunteer counselor and discussing what you'd like to get out of the whole experience. I felt comfortable with the person I talked with. She was around my age, maybe a bit older, and seemed to really get me on a level that made me feel OK. The two of us discussed some things that I had been curious about, such as making major life changes, repetitive mental patterns and ways to process and cope with trauma--it was super interesting! I kind of felt like a student again, and if you know me you know that I love school. Even though part of me dreads delving into the mental/emotional mess that I need to sift through, there's another part that is super excited and even intrigued.
As I hover near the top of the packed wait list for my first official session at Citizens, I find myself picking up on things--patterns--that I may not have noticed before my initial appointment. I won't bore you with most of it just yet, but I promise to bore you very soon with all the details. One thing I will note is that skipping blog posts in January has become a pattern. I find that amusing since I tend to find January to be a stressful, depressing month. I am now planning on taking myself on a little vacation every January. See, this counseling stuff is already working! I'm sure it won't all be shits and giggles, and some tough times certainly lie ahead, but I will do my best to keep you updated no matter what the case.
Until then, I'll keep reading, writing, watching and wandering, and might even come across something worthy of sharing...like this little shot I took from last night's wander in Fan Tan Alley (inside Victoria's iconic Chinatown).
Ted Bundy saved lives. I think. Of course we all know that he killed tons of people and had sex with their corpses, but he also worked at a crisis line in Seattle, perhaps quite literally talking people down from the ledge. Lately I've been teetering close to that ledge and have considered calling a crisis line, but then I picture Ted on the other end being like, "It's all good girl, you've got this! Now tell me, are you in a sorority?" Yes, I have trust issues.
Recently, I told James that I was considering calling a crisis line, and he responded by telling me that he had already called on my behalf and wrote down a bunch of resources that I might find useful. I think I looked at him and said, "Oh. Thank you?" It kinda got me thinking about what happens when you get caught up in something and everything else--everyone else--stops existing.
Now, rather than feeling guilty about this and getting down on myself, I'm going to give myself some credit. It's not as though I decided consciously that I was going to become caught up. I feel pretty proud for actually having the decency to treat myself well in this situation, because it's not easy. That's the thing about depression--not only does it make you feel like shit, but it makes you feel like shit about feeling like shit.
It's now the end of December, a time of year that tends to have people feeling like shit. Part of this is because the end of a year can get you doing this sort-of "year in review" thing. One thing I like to do at this time is to watch the annual year in review on the various sports channels. But what happens when you're the Cleveland Browns and not the Pittsburgh Steelers? Yeah, I had to get that burn in there. Haha. Honestly, though, what can you take away to make yourself feel better? For the Browns, they can focus on that one win--the fact that they did not go winless this season like many thought they would. In fact, the Cleveland Browns inspired me last week. Their win against the San Diego Chargers--watching them celebrate--got me thinking. Thinking about the small victories.
The Browns beating the Chargers meant nothing in the grand scheme of things; both teams were already eliminated from playoff contention and most people didn't care about the result. But what happened after the Browns' fluky win (yes, there was luck involved) warmed my heart. It was kind of like when the Grinch listens for the Whos' sorrow after stealing their presents, etc, only to discover that they were still celebrating despite their setbacks. That day, after defeating the Chargers 20-17, the Cleveland Browns celebrated. Hard. It was like they had just won a playoff game--maybe even the Super Bowl. It was strangely uplifting.
What really struck me was the emotions that the players displayed, particularly in the locker room. As I watched the players and coaching staff shed tears, I began to tear up. These guys worked hard all year and almost had nothing to show for it. In the end, this win was their Super Bowl. They deserved it and I loved that they were celebrating in such a big way. It reminded me of a podcast episode I listened to awhile back. I can't remember which podcast it was from, so that's not very helpful, but the host was talking about celebrating those small victories. For some, that means allowing themselves to get excited about that promotion they just got at work, for some that means being happy about finally finding that raincoat that both protects them from the nasty weather and looks fashionable (yeah right), and for others, that means just being happy that they were able to get out of bed today.
As the new year approaches, I am going to be careful about resolutions. Instead, I think I'll just work on the little things--appreciating what I've got and being proud of my accomplishments, no matter how small. Although the Browns won their game last week, they likely will not win this weekend against the Steelers (even though the Steelers are resting their best players), and I'm not holding my breath for finding that elusive fashionable raincoat, but I will continue to get out of bed each morning, and may even have more to celebrate soon enough. I suppose after mentioning a midlife crisis and small victories, it's appropriate that I leave you with some Faith No More. Enjoy! Happy New Year!
I've always loved tarot cards, especially the death card, and am excited to see various interpretations. Contrary to what I once believed, the death tarot card does not actually signify death, but rather generally represents an ending or transition. You will notice in the images above that the card in the middle is the only one that actually has the word death on it. That's because, long ago, it was thought best not to use the word as seeing it could trigger a feeling of unease. I find that super intriguing, because death is one of the few things that we all have in common. If you are reading this, you are going to die. For some reason not many people want to discuss it to this day, but I do, more so now than ever. Let's talk about death.
I think the first time I actually considered the matter was when my parents told me that my cat Rebel was "being put to sleep." I cried because they cried, but then I asked when she was going to wake up. Clearly, I had absolutely no understanding of euthanasia. It wasn't my fault, either. Nobody had ever talked to me about death. I probably didn't know that Rebel was ever going to die, and I certainly didn't know that I would someday meet the same fate. Now that "dying with dignity" is a thing in Canada, I actually might go out on the same note as my beloved Rebel. How fascinating! I just remembered something else. My favourite pet for a very long time was a bottom feeder named Brutus. I had a hard time finding him in the fish tank sometimes, then suddenly he would reappear. I later learned that the original Brutus died and my mom kept replacing him. I was at first shocked, then felt betrayed, then laughed because it's actually really interesting to think about how far people will go to avoid talking about death (or avoid disappointing their children, but that's a topic best saved for another time).
I, for one, think about death every day, and I probably talk about it every day, too. According to someone close to me, my mind generally moves in two directions...sex and death. He's probably right. No wonder I have such a strong connection to horror movies. In any case, I find it strange that those two things are probably thought about the most and are often the most uncomfortable to discuss.
Recently, I became aware of a relatively new phenomenon--the Death Cafe. I was immediately intrigued, so did a little research. Basically, a group of people gather to discuss death and the feelings associated while drinking coffee or tea and eating treats. How cool! The very first Death Cafe took place in London England in 2011, and Canada's first Death Cafe emerged in my home town of Victoria, B.C. in 2012. Today, nearly 4,000 Death Cafes have brought people together in at least 40 countries. I love this! Why should we wait until we attend a funeral to gather in the name of death and dying? If discussion breeds understanding, which I believe to be true, then why are we avoiding talking about the one thing we are all guaranteed to experience?
It's scary. I can admit that. It's weird to think that one day I will take my last breath, and I have no idea when that will be. It might be right now...or...now. Or later. But it will eventually happen.
I look forward to participating in a Death Cafe in the near future, and am considering organizing one. I'm also considering organizing a Sex Cafe, because that could be super fun and interesting as well. And potentially awkward and disturbing. Haha. But, honestly, awkward and disturbing are two things I find to be entertaining, so at least these cafes have less of a chance of being totally boring. Maybe I'll steal Samantha Jones' (Sex and the City) "Starfucks," but instead of a brothel full of hot men, it will be a coffee shop full of weirdos (like me) discussing sex. It could happen.
Circling back to the topic of death, I will leave you with Caitlin Doughty's TED Talk about the business of death and how much our culture's relationship with the dead has changed over the past century. She encourages us to be involved in caring for the dead, and not just through grieving. According to Doughty, "Death is not an emergency. You can take the time to sit with the person, hold their hand, tell stories." In closing, she says that "There is a gorgeous reality when you allow yourself to be closer to death." Hmm. I'd like to chat with my funeral home homies and get their opinion on all this. Until then, I will continue to wonder and won't fear the reaper. Or at least I'll try not to.
I'm finally doing it--pulling my insides out and splattering them around for all to see. Here we go!