Reading; A Child’s Entrance Into A World Of Possibilities.

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I remember as a kid Ma giving me the gift of literature. Now, we were all avid readers in our house, Shannon and I being the biggest fans in the house.
 
Most who know me know I didn’t exactly have it easy. I was a weird kid, afraid of the world; one that rarely smiled past the age of 7. As a weird adult, not so afraid of the world, I look back on some of the special kindnesses Ma bestowed upon me when no one else was looking.
 
She’d pick me up a record album here, or an odd end book there, but the one gift she gave me that stayed with me throughout my life is the gift of The Scholastic Book Club.
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Now, to say money was tight back then is an understatement. Both my parents often went without even the basics so that we had clean clothing and food on the table. That’s what makes this gift so cherished.
 
Once a month I was allowed to buy a single book. It could be whatever book I wanted. I’ll never forget how happy I was to get mine in class. The first was Amelia Bedelia. I was engrossed in the disasters she’d get herself into, and how it was always made better by one of her special pies. I always wanted to see the brass fire bell she polished too much. This girl worked it!
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There were many other such books, but my favourite was “Blubber” by Judy Blume. It was about a fat girl who was teased and bullied relentlessly, and how she overcame the cruelty. You can bet I read that cover to cover at least 20 times. I read it until there was literally nothing left of the poor paperback.
 
At times, books were the only things I had to relate to.
 
So, I’m always glad to see programs like “Imagination Library”
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and “LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary” being made available to underprivileged kids.
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A young imagination can see possibilities in the simplest things, and dream them into a future if properly nurtured. In a world of words, I was the captain of my own starship, a figure skater, a professional dancer, a designer and a world-class vocalist. I pursued the dance career, briefly, because I believed I could from books that inspired me throughout my youth.
 
The point I’m trying to make here is that in a world filled with iPads and PVR’s, there’s something so important about the written word. It not only stimulates young imaginations, it helps bolster confidence, gives new focus when needed at times, and accelerates logic and reasoning.
 
So, to all you wonderful young parents out there, I invite you to have a look around at all the wonderful words you can translate into an adventure for your little one. The Public Library is a good place to start, and costs nothing.
 
The gift of a video game is cool, and I’m sure your munchkin will play it off the map, but what do they truly gain from the experience.
 
Reading, it’s a concept that should be a part of every child’s world. Take it from one former child that survived largely because of the need to read.
 
Food for thought = 1 great book!
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Blown Away

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I will start by saying I’ve never been a fan of an artist named Kesha. Her songs were, well, for a younger audience, and her style made me want to throw her into a shower. She just ooozed gross.

I also thought she had about as much depth and talent as Milli Vanilli, or perhaps even that dude that made a bazillion bucks singing that Macarena song I hate so much.

You can tell she made me puke up the worst of the nineties whenever I’d see her videos or hear her music.

Well, I, along with a whole lot of other people, got one fuck of a shock tonight.

Kesha, that dirty raver chick has, wait for it….T A L E N T, DEPTH AND A SOUL.

She released a song today entitled “Praying”. I started watching it, well, out of curiosity. The title itself promised it’d be something deep.

I thought she was as deep as a wading pool. It turns out she’s in possession of great depth, angst and a well of forgiveness.

I, like everyone so far (the video in one day has over 2 million views) bawled our eyes out watching and listening.

Kesha can actually sing!
Kesha can actually write!
Kesha can move a person to tears witnessing the pain she’s sharing with her listeners.

It’s been a VERY long time since anyone moved me that powerfully. You can actually feel her rage, hopelessness, angst, and finally…hope.

She enlisted the talents of Eagles of Death Metal and Dolly Parton on her upcoming album “Rainbow”.

All I can say is…”WOW”. Alanis Morrisette once moved me this deeply, but unlike Kesha’s latest effort, Alanis was raw, pure rage. Kesha’s anthem is definitely in possession of these emotions, but it looks towards forgiveness and her future.

When you hear this girl hit her crescendo, every last hair will stand up on end. There’s no escaping it.

While she’s no Celine or Whitney, she’s got a pretty decent voice, even if it’s head singing. It’s perfect for the lyrics, the video and delivers what can only be described as a one-two punch without so much as a single fist being lifted.

I think you should sit and give this girl her props, and have a listen. It’ll move you.

150 Years Of The True North Strong And Free

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I was born into the greatest place I can think of almost 52 years ago.

In that time, I’ve witnessed some really awesome things. I’ve seen a Canuck astronaut command a space station, and then send us the coolest video off earth. “Space Oddity” will never mean the same thing to me after that.

I’ve watched an intolerant society learn to not only tolerate, but embrace in some cases. I’ve seen bullies from other countries try to bring us to our knees financially, only to have themselves slapped down a few pegs, and learn that good…like it or not, ALWAYS wins in the end.

I’ve also watched with reverent pride a little known singer from the East Coast take United Airlines down a very dark path with…well, a very Canadian response to negativity…using his talents and his head. His name is Dave Carroll, and he’s got awesome to spare.

I shook in fear during 9/11, working in the tallest building downtown, while seeing those horrifying images again and again. Many operators were crying, and couldn’t control it, and the entire building was sent home, except for us…the money floor.

I felt so proud when Newfoundland took in all those flights that were bound for New York, housed them, fed them, and hugged them. We were with the U.S throughout all of that. And I for one won’t ever forget just how Canadian we were doing what we do best; offering all we could to try to ease the pain.

I’ve lived through the terrorism of the FLQ without so much as a scratch, as did most Canadians, I watched Rene Levesque as a young boy blow cigarette smoke into Queen Elizabeth’s face, and in later years, a notorious marijuana advocate give said Queen a lovely spray of pot greenery, mixed in with the flowers she was carrying.

I lived to see our Lancaster fly with her British counterpart, and wept at the sight. I once even got to sit at the feet of a former WW2 pilot of one of those Lancasters; a man who made his home in Canada after the war. No superstar could equal the awe and respect I felt that day, and the warm thank you I tried to give him for what he helped do all those years ago.

I’ve seen the very best and the very worst in people. Sometimes I brought out those two states in others.

I’ve lived a charmed and privileged life. Only weeks ago, I lay in a hospital bed, trying to recover from something that would have killed me had I lived elsewhere. Our universal healthcare ensured I’d eat horrendous food, wake up with needles stabbing me, and a crick in my back from the torture device that was my bed.

But every moment of every day, I know I’m about as blessed a man as can be.

We may not be the richest or most powerful country on earth, but we are one of the most respected.

Thank you Canada for nurturing our spirit. We stand true north strong and free because of you and your ideals.

happy-150th

Hate

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It’s been an emotional day for a lot of people across North America. I’m once again pulled back to this pivotal moment in my life (and the life of every gay person in Canada).
 
Why is hate so deadly. What causes a human being to fear another so deeply that they have this need to end them.
 
August 21st, 1989 is my “Cuban Missile Crisis” moment. We all have one.
 
As a gay man, I’ve been assaulted. I’ve been discriminated against. I’ve been marginalized.
 
I like to think that I’ve risen above all that over the years.
 
The fact remains, though, that I still feel the deep emotional scars throb every now and then. I guess you cannot escape your past, you can only learn from it, and move forward.
 
Now I’ve posted about Alain Brosseau many times over the years. And to be blunt, I will until the end of my life.
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It took a heterosexual being mistaken for a gay man and brutally murdered before Mr. and Mrs. Canadian finally started to wake up to our community’s reality. Up until then I’d hear things like “if my son turns out gay, I’ll beat him to death”, or “AIDS fuckers”. I’d hear, when a person was murdered, and it was discovered they were gay (make no mistake, a LOT of gay men vanished in Ottawa during the eighties, and like the police have done with the Highway of Tears missing Native women’s plight; they ignored the “dirty faggots that had it coming”, and focused on “important” crimes). All of these quotes, by the way, they’re direct quotes from persons in positions to make a difference, but wouldn’t.
 
I never ever thought I’d be on equal footing with my sisters. Never. I assumed my entire life I’d need to fight for respect, and to be that angry Dave that always looked over his shoulder.
 
Well, I’m less angry now, but I still feel a bit of that rage come to the surface, especially when it involves a minority being fucked over.
 
We’ve come a LOOOONG way, but we still have a lot of hill to climb here in Canada.
 
How many of us go to bed each night worrying about who they’ll have to defend themselves against when they wake up. Now, not as many, back in 89, I did. I saw friends beaten up, brutally, in their homes. A person I knew that lived in Centertown Place apartments brutally hacked to death with an axe by a queer basher he mistook for a night of pleasure. He was found almost decapitated in his sunken living room. The police never pursued his murderer.
 
Another acquaintance of mine was shocked when one day he discovered a foul smell coming from beneath his porch on King Edward. Imagine his surprise when a trunk was discovered underneath it, containing the rotting corpse of a friend of the prior tenant. The residence was once a “common bawdy house”, and the landlord had assumed when the police raided and arrested the residents that everyone had just moved on, and he re-rented the property. When it was learned the victim was gay, his killer was never brought to justice.
 
This is the city I grew up in as a man. This was what I woke up to each and every day. I wondered constantly if I’d be picked out and clobbered, or worse, just for walking down the street.
 
I was bashed by some men going into my apartment I shared with a friend on Gladstone Avenue. I got out of a cab, heard “Faggot” and then felt the first of many punches to my head. Fortunately, I had a pocket knife, and stabbed one of them (these guys were out to seriously hurt me or worse). They ran off, realizing I wasn’t exactly defenseless. Cowards. I walked with brass knuckles and pepper spray after that, and stopped wearing dressy clothes from that day forward. Took me years to finally relax enough to finally throw the knuckles down the garbage chute.
 
I always said, and continue to say “I may die trying, but you’re going to the hospital with me”. I guess Mama made me tougher than even I realized. I do know that when I go into mad dog mode like Ma would, I blanked out, and didn’t know what I was doing. I certainly am capable of the worst if provoked.
 
As a man of fifty, I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve loved, been loved, and have watched the world change before my very eyes. Sometimes it’s for the better, but far too often, it’s for the worst.
 
I don’t know how many years I have left on this earth, but I do know one thing; I won’t ever live in fear again. Not ever. Nor will I stand idly by while someone victimizes another human being, just because they happen to be of a different religion, or colour, or because she was once a he.
 
Hate is hate, and it’s got nothing to do with being a Christian, a man, or a parent.
 
Start teaching your kids to love, to respect, and to ask questions when they don’t understand. If we can all do this, within a generation, we’ll start to see real change; a community of individuals that all bring a certain beauty to each and every one of our lives.
 
Black, red, yellow, pink, furry, hairless, gay, straight, female, male, identified as, Muslim, Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, whomever you are, we’re all born into this world through the same method. Most of us came into this world innocent, and surrounded with love. ALL of us will leave this life one day.
 
I think it’s high time we all shared some of that love. Not like a hippie on pot would, but as equal human beings should.
 
God bless and cheerz folks!

History Repeating?

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I’m getting a lot of negative press releases showing up on my PC lately. A few of them contain an underlying tone that I find rather alarming. One of the ugliest underlying “tones” comes from the recent referendum in England.
These reports are claiming “Brexit” came into being so that Britain could shut its borders down permanently to any and all immigration while driving out anyone that isn’t white Anglo-Saxon. Here is but one example: ‘Get back to Africa’: Teenage boys filmed launching ‘disgusting’ racist abuse on Manchester tram
 
I’m rather disgusted by what this video contained. I’m also rather glad that there were many more people defending the person being victimized; rather than stepping in and fueling the “Neo Nazi” like behavior coming from two young men.
 
I know Mary, Mark and Colin, British citizens and friends; would never ever engage in any such vile behavior. Yet, it concerns me that there is a reported 57% rise in hate crimes and acts of bigotry since this vote.
 
We have similar problems here in Canada too. A LOT of people are of the mindset that we shouldn’t allow in any more refugees or immigrants, that we should only ever take care of ourselves, and shutter the border to everyone else.
 
I think it’s important that people understand that this “not in my backyard” mentality many of us share is leaving out one very important detail; that we are no longer having large families. These social programs, like Universal Health Care, CPP, roads and infrastructure, etc…etc…are all now relying on these immigrants that are working the jobs we Canucks feel are beneath us.
 
The tax dollars generated from these immigrants are what’s going to help us all sustain these programs we now enjoy in the future.
 
I also must add that while there are immigrants and “refugees” that abuse the system, most of them are honest, hard-working, and damned glad to be living someplace that they don’t need to worry about running for their lives.
Or do they.
 
I must say this as well. Every last one of us, unless you are Aboriginal, are the descendants of immigrants and refugees.
How many Irish persons living in Canada had relatives that came over during the famine. How many Asians looking for a better life happily came to Canada to help these Irish men dig the Rideau Canal. How many persons of colour escaped slavery by traveling in the Underground Railroad. I could go on and on and on.
 
We live in one of the richest countries on earth. Yes, times are tough, and they are doomed to being even tougher. So why is it that instead of looking at our blessings, that we focus so strongly on what we don’t have, or what we will lose.
 
I have a friend, a Syrian, living in another nation that would set quite a few of you straight on what’s really happening there.
 
I once had a Skype chat with him, and literally heard bombs going off. It doesn’t get any more real than that. While he may be safe, his family is still living there, and is in danger every moment they do.
 
So to England, the U.S.A, Canada, and every single European and Commonwealth country I say…remember WW2. Remember how Hitler lead a nation to genocide. It wasn’t much different from what I see happening now in not only England, but many other countries.
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We are all in this together, folks. Never forget that.

Fluffed Up

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Growing up is always interesting. I love it when people tell me they have, cos it’s clear I’ve yet to do so myself.

NOW…that’s been said. I’d like to take this opportunity to touch on what “childhood” meant in our household.

You see, my Father and Mother both were going to school, working jobs, and trying to feed four (soon to be five) of us. My Dad’s kids, Valerie and Eddy, “us” meaning Petra and myself. Shannon came along a short time later.

We had a clean, well-tended home. In fact, we had the cleanest home. While I wore Eddy’s hand me downs (We were six months apart in age, but he towered over me, even back then), Ma made a point of ensuring that every single thing we wore was spotless and in great repair.

I remember, even now, almost a half-century later, my parents going without, well, a lot. There were times we kids whined about not liking our dinner, while they had no dinner, period. Yes, at times, it was that bad.

We had electricity. We had heat. We had running water. And, we had parents that loved us enough to take an inch off our hides if we stepped out of line. Nowadays, some call that child abuse. I didn’t, and I won’t. I call it keeping a good kid, well, good. I can’t say I miss the feel of Hot Wheels tracks connecting with my then skinny arse, but I’m forever thankful that I learned right from wrong, even if it meant a few tears.

We had cars. Paid for cars. While upholstery and interior fittings were often optional on these vehicles, they hauled us to wherever it was we needed to be. One of them once hauled my poor Dad to the hospital to treat a broken femur he blessed himself with on his birthday (that was one very tough time, one of the few times I watched Ma break down crying from the stress of it all).

We also had breakfast, lunch and dinner, on a regular basis.

Now…I was a rail-thin kid. And I mean thin. If you could pinch a millimeter on my hide, you’d have caught me during a “fat” phase.

One of the reasons is that I didn’t love some of the selections offered.

You see, Ma, well, for a while, she had to feed five kids on very little money. Every dime was counted, every ounce of meat was portioned.

Once in a while we got lucky, and it was hamburger casserole, or our “blue plate special” which I loved. Chicken on bread with white gravy, shoe string fries and peas. Still love this as a comfort food to this day.

Most of the time, though, it was fast fry meat, potatoes, and veggies. Turnip night used to make me want to drop my plate. Gawd, I hated them. Funny thing is, now I absolutely love them.

Petra…she was smart. She just wouldn’t eat. No amount of strong arming or cajoling would budge her, either. All three of us, Petra, Shannon and myself had Ma’s stubborn streak. It was clearly evident with Shannon and Petra when they didn’t want to eat or drink something. I just ate it, no matter how much I didn’t want to.

None of us realized at the time just how dire our situation was on occasion. My parents made damned sure they protected us from the uglier parts of life. That’s something that as an adult I deeply admire in the two of them. They knew just how bad bad could get, and did their level best to ensure we grew up sheltered from as much of this as they could.

Well, I digressed.

Lunch, at school consisted of peanut butter and jam, an apple and sometimes a jar with powdered skim milk in it.

I said I was skinny, here’s why.

I could never stand peanut butter “sitting” on bread. Still can’t. And powdered skim milk, well, unless it was perfectly mixed and REAL cold, same deal. As for apples. Well, it’s Canada, and with the exception of a few weeks in September, most of the year, they’re mushy or soft. I, Mr. Picky, still do not eat mushy apples. They have to pop in my mouth when I bite into them, or they end up as so much recycled mulch.

So…as Mama packed us off to school, bread bags on our feet to keep the leaky boots from making us wet (EVERYONE wore them back then), snowsuits which would never die, one for each of us; mitts that had no thumbs in them (drove Mama crazy, I’d rip the thumbs off every last pair I owned), I trudged through the snow. I actually walked miles (we weren’t metric until 1973) to school.

No matter how hard blustery or wet that weather was outside. I’d find a lovely trash can to share my lunch with while dreaming wide awake along my chosen path.

As I reminisce out of sequence; I come to the most important meal of the day. Breakfast.

I’m not a morning person. I have never been a morning person. I will die not being a morning person.

The last thing I want is any sort of food in my face. Coffee, that’s the only thing that matters. Until I’ve had at least one travel mug full, no matter if it’s instant or perked, I don’t want conversation, food, or even a hint either.

Growing up, Ma took on the role as a food Nazi, always making sure we would eat it all up. Eventually she realized that her efforts were in vain.

Petra wouldn’t drink the milk on a dare.noname_skimmilk
Shannon wouldn’t touch the fluffs or puffed rice.

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I would choke down both, but wished I’d have had my sisters stubborn streak when it came to eating things I couldn’t stand.074333474296_1

So, essentially, I ate breakfast lunch and dinner, except on weekends and holidays. Then, lunch was mandatory. Fortunately for me, the bread had fresh peanut butter on it, so I didn’t hate it. And on our off days, we had something called “Freshie”, which was essentially Kool Aid without the sugar added to it. Ma made a POINT of never adding too much sugar, so we never got high off it.

So, did any of us eat willingly you might be asking?

Well, yes, we did. We’d get special meals once in a blue, when Ma found a few extra dollars. Roast was something we all looked forward to, once in a while, baked chicken, and if Dad got an inkling, he’d get himself a big, juicy steak to BBQ for himself. Lord knows, he earned it.

But my favourite things were, and will always be, hot cocoa after playing outside in the cold. To this day, I love a frothy hot mug of it when I come home from being out in -30 temperatures.

I also loved that slice of toast before bed. This one Ma shared with us growing up, because it gave her such deep comfort when she was our age. Sometimes it was just a little margarine. Other times, it was a bit of brown sugar sprinkled on that margarine, with a touch of cinnamon. As we got older, there was some product called “Pizza Spread”. We had that too. I preferred the cinnamon myself.

But the BEST was when Ma made us hot, creamy porridge before going outside to school on the nasty wintry days. It was a rare treat, and I can still smell her slow cooking the oats in the kitchen.

As I grew up, I resented some of the things we didn’t have, as I think a lot of kids do. When I grew all the way up, I started to see just how great things really were.

So, on this rainy Sunday, I’d like to take a moment to thank you both, Ma and Dad, for what you gave up to ensure we had the best you could give us. I know now just how little you had, while making sure we had all we needed.

I’d like to also thank you for the powdered skim milk, fluffs and puffed rice.

Fluffs came in a giant-assed bag, as did that puffed rice. Both went soggy the second you introduced any form of liquid to them. Powdered skim milk was forever lumpy (no amount of stirring ever changed that). and usually warm as it was mixed just before breakfast.

But, as yuck as all of them were, and they were, indeed, yuck, we had food. It was the best you could do, considering the circumstances you both were facing to improve all of our lives, and it was a great gift, as it turns out.

Out of our hated  during those lean years, it taught each of us to appreciate when we did get something out of the ordinary. A bowl of Sugar Crisp (fluffs with sugar-coating on them), or for Shannon, her own box of Shreddies (we were read the riot act if we even tried touching that box), and for Petra, on some occasions, actual real milk.

Being this old, I now know how much you gave up to ensure we all had that “something extra”.

At 50, with all those years behind us now, I appreciate the greatest gift of all, to make due, and make wonderful.

From Dad, I learned how to be resourceful, and to face my fears instead of running from them (I can still see that baseball heading towards me, and you sternly trying to get me to actually catch it).

You also taught me the gift of patience. I have none, that’s not exactly a secret, but when it’s down to the wire, it appears I do. That wasn’t something that Ma instilled in me, that I learned from you.

Lastly, the best gift I received is the gift of temperance.

There are times I want to verbally rip the head off people. And I do on occasion, no matter where I am. But, as I grow older, I’ve learned to just bite into my tongue unless it’s something that needs saying. I definitely didn’t inherit that, I learned it, and it’s you that set the example. God, did I have one hell of a father!

I’m still working on that whole social skills thing. Petra and Shannon both possess it. They learned it from the two of you.

I never did master it. In fact, it’s baffling to me, to be completely honest. Still, I must admit, its improved somewhat.

From Ma, I learned the proverbial lesson about “lemons into lemon aid”, “man with no shoes vs man with no feet” (woman was a walking bumper sticker), and an appreciation of the smallest things.

We lost Hydro for a bit a couple of weeks back. At first I got testy (Hydro in this area goes off a lot in the summer), and then, as I sat outside, realized that without the lights, I could see so many stars that I hadn’t been able to see. I was able to actually capture one on my built-in phone camera. With the power on, I’d not have found an appreciation for that discovery.

I also learned how to dig my heels in. Now, this isn’t always a good thing (as Shannon would attest), but it’s served me very well.

Losing Ma has given me a greater appreciation for those I love and call friend.

I guess what I’m trying to say to the both of you is “thank you” for the effort you put forth into making our lives as comfortable as possible. I know we had it MUCH better than either of you did, and I ( I KNOW I speak for Shannon here) appreciate the fact that our comfort came at the expense of yours.

Who we are today is a testament to who you were back all those years ago.

It wasn’t easy for you to see us all looking down our noses at your best effort (kids do, it’s part of being a kid I think). Now that I’ve been through this many years, I not only understand, but have great respect for every last sacrifice you’ve ever made. It was hell on earth for you growing up, and you did everything you both could to make it a better world for us.

I’m sorry I didn’t like the breakfasts. I’m sorry I still don’t like them. But I appreciate the fact that I had a breakfast to hate on, period.

I may not have ever had to chip my socks out of the ice in New Brunswick, or run outside in the dead of winter in PEI when the damper on Ma’s wood stove slammed shut, filling the house with soot and coal.

But I CAN ABSOLUTELY say I walked to school in the worst possible weather, and loved every single second of it.

I also can say with conviction that I truly loved the personal attention you gave me, both of you, when I needed it most. Going to work with you and failing to learn how to drive a standard, the Scholastic book club membership I was allowed to join at school, the little special “extras” Ma would sometimes give me, trying to brighten my day, and she did, more than she ever knew.

For as many pratfalls as I took, for all the dumb lies I told, and the ingrate I became at times, you always loved us unconditionally.

Not living in the past, but learning to appreciate the great things that happened growing up.

I couldn’t have had two better parents.

Thank you both.

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Back To Black

The promise of spring follows the gentle breeze cascading through my open window. One cannot ignore  all the renewal brimming with fresh life slowly emerging from the frozen landscape after months of being hidden from the sun. It’s a gentle reminder of endings and beginnings.

I find myself unmoved for the first time in 50 years.

While the echoes of children’s laughter find their way towards me upon the warming rays reflecting off the glass, all I feel inside, deeply, is the fact that I’d give anything to be able to just disappear.

As I write this, there’s a warm dog snoozing upon my left foot. As gentle a creature as God ever created, and all I can think is how deeply I long for that comfort to evaporate with the Winter’s melting ice.

I’ve been peering inwards, and trying to re-discover a sense of purpose. It’s been so long since I’ve truly felt any connection to the goodness in the world. All I see and feel are dark clouds that ebb towards me, macerating what little joy I once had as I find myself slowly being enveloped.

In my search for truth, I’m noting that I’m utterly paralyzed with fear. At this late stage of the game, what is left for me. All I see is my fading into nothingness.

“I’ll go back to black”. I so completely understand this lyric now.

Amy Winehouse has been a companion these last few days. In taking stock of my own angst, I decided to let her in. She is as tragic a figure as I’ve ever known of. So, in exploring her lyrics, I also decided to explore who she was.

Sometimes Netflix gets it right.

Her documentary really lit a corridor into who she was, and what she became. But more importantly, it told the viewer “WHY”, pulling no punches while it let the audience really witness the slow suffocation of one of the greatest musical flames in recorded history.

This girl was no Judy Garland, despite the drugs.

There, at the beginning, was this deeply talented yet tortured spirit; one that could have used a bit of direction from two very incapable parents. During her journey, their lack of discipline started this fragile spirit down a path she was doomed to walk. No one, not her record company, her managers, agents, parents or friends, had ever kicked her in the ass. And believe me, she sorely needed it.

Amy was raw talent and emotion. She was also an artist, with an artist’s soul. Now, I might be flattering myself with my own lack of reality, but I’d like to think that I also possess an artist’s soul. In admitting to that, I completely understood her slide into oblivion. She needed the one thing no one could give to her, strength.

Her own parents failed her. Her husband and lovers failed her. Her friends tried, but also failed her. Ultimately, she failed herself as a result.

Her gift became her curse.

It broke my heart watching this highly sensitive thoroughbred being torn to pieces by the press, the paparazzi, eventually by her promoters; lastly by her own father. She, quite literally, could trust no one, especially herself.

I saw so many parallels between Amy and myself. Now, while I have a much better support system in place, I literally felt the pain she was in watching this. I completely understood her need to escape, that urge to disappear. Most deer in the headlights don’t see the gun pointed at them. She wasn’t that lucky.

I’m lucky. I have people who have the backbone to tell me I get it wrong.

It’s sad, however, that at this point in my life, I’ve been so beaten down by grief and failure that I simply can’t figure out how to pull my own self out of this destructive vortex I’ve allowed myself to be sucked into.

I wish I could give Amy a huge bear hug and let her know she wasn’t alone, even though that’s the one thing she craved above all else.

Amy left this world a broken girl. But she also left her legacy. Out of that tiny body of work, “Back to Black” will forever be heralded as her masterpiece. It’s right up there with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” or Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”.

So…the question is: how will I leave this earth.

Well, if I was to take my last breath tomorrow, would I have left any sort of legacy to my family and friends, outside of being a cautionary tale on how not to live?

Sadly, no.

Writing…it’s my voice, my emotion, imagination, perceptions and sometimes my truths. At times, it’s also my myth.

I was raised to be honest. I don’t always get that right. But, as a person with a modicum of skill with a keyboard, I am extraordinarily truthful, sometimes to the point of mauling the spirits of other people.

I don’t want to be that person. I truly don’t.

So, while I reflect during my self-imposed online exile, I’m going to try to learn from Amy’s mistakes. What I’ve witnessed through her ugly road to oblivion can be used as a tool; one that can hopefully help me recover from my own murky darkness.

I want to feel the Spring. I want to appreciate a furry heartbeat snoring on my foot. I want to find my inner child again; and let him know it’s all good. I want to tell him he can come out to play once again.

It’s fix it or just finish it time. Here’s to hoping I soon figure this all out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haven’t had the heart to write

It’s been many months, and I’ve written nothing.

When my mother lost her sister to cancer, she lost her singing voice, literally.

When I lost my mother to cancer, it appears I lost my written voice, save for a lot of ugly dark passages.

History repeating.

I’m going to figure my mess out so I can rejoin the human race. I’ll write, but unless it’s worthwhile, I won’t publish.

Thank you all for reading. I’ll be back. That’s a promise.

Springtime Follies

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I took myself out for a leisurely limp yesterday evening. It was cool and damp, and the smell of the earth was sweetly enticing as I meandered through the thick night air.

At one point, I decided it was a good idea to set a spell and rest. I mean, it takes a lot of effort to mosey on down the street in a brace in hopes of getting some much-needed exercise.

BIG mistake.

You see, I’m what’s known as the mosquito’s version of Ben and Gerry’s. Everything from Rocky Road to Praline, I’m apparently this tiny vampire’s favourite flavours.

So, as I sat quietly, the moon peeking through the clouds, alighting my place in the cool, green grass; I apparently had my shingle hung out, lit in neon, inviting these tiny Messerschmitt’s in for a little Type “O” refreshment.

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And a slappin’ I did go.

No matter how many of them I sent to glory, no never mind how I managed to make once pulsing bodies resemble pore pudding, the relentless blood junkies just kept on coming. It was literally my own private episode of “The Walking Dead”, starring yours truly as that episode’s meal of choice.

If only mosquito mashing was a profitable enterprise. I’d have cleaned up nicely.

Now, while I sit here, covered in calamine, trying my damnedest not to raise the welts higher than they need be, I am wondering why I keep claiming that spring is one of my two favourite seasons. I mean, this feeding frenzy is nothing more than a prelude to July and its joyful noises as bug after bloody bug find their way into your ears, nose, mouth, skin, shoes, bedroom, car, what have you.

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Pass the Raid. Hell, pass me a flamethrower, hold the citronella.

So, as I gear up to take another drag down the street today, I’m going out armed and bloody dangerous.

I’m wearing my suit of armour, in the guise of a liberal slathering of Skin So Soft (thank you Avon for helping keep these nippers at bay, while giving me that oh so wonderful feeling of geriatric old lady freshness). I guarantee you that under the balmy springtime sun, I’ll permeate the layer of ozone I’m occupying a couple of miles below in the 49th parallel.

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En Garde bloodsuckers! Take that black fly!.

Unfortunately, this wonderful elixir of calm isn’t going to help me much when the June bugs awaken.

Now, for the life of me, I have no earthly idea what the hell the purpose of a June bug is. Honestly, I don’t. I do know that one of their missions during their brief time airborne is to dive bomb my head as often as possible, being absolutely certain to hit me as many times, and in as many tender places as they are capable of during their brief but horrid lives.

800px-May_beetle_launching

WHY?????

Well, metinx God above has a sense of humour, and is looking down at his little big bear and laughing hysterically. He does this as one of his creatures, small yet great, bitch slaps some humility into my furry assed self.

Outside of giving The Almighty a front row seat to the Tazzybehr Olympics, I honestly cannot see any usefulness, let alone functional purpose for these stinky, oily brown beetles. None. NADA!

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So, I think I’ll reconsider Spring as I scratch myself bloody. Hell, I’ll dream of sealing myself up inside a Ziploc bag as I sneeze my ten thousand sneezes; the ones that come from the maple tree right outside my bedroom window.

A Canuck allergic to a maple tree. How’s that for irony.

In the grand scheme of things, however, I do insist upon keeping my positive thoughts about Springtime intact. I mean, all the suffering is worthwhile once I see that special shade of Kelly green. It’s here for far too short a time, then it’s soon a fading memory; as the forested shades of Summer streaks across the horizon. It’s magical, and totally worth the discomfort, the temporarily itchy and disfiguring welts upon my legs and arms (and back, and chest, and face, and…well, you get the idea).

In my estimation, it’s our reward for enduring the long, harsh winter, well worth the price; even though I can forget breathing clearly for the next six months.

Nature’s eye candy will always trump the welts and sniffles. I’ll take two tulips with a Claritin chaser, thank you very much!

rgPsp

God might have decided long ago that I’d be his never-ending punchline, but he also paints an awesome landscape for his Little Tazzy; one that truly makes all the scratching, wheezing and dodging worthwhile.

Seize the day folks, walk softly, carrying a large bottle of Deet.

Da Taz!

I Object!

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I’ve had it. Fully, completely, utterly and totally have had it up to here!

Had it? “Had it with what?” you might ask yourself.

“Objectification”.

To those that might need to run for a dictionary, in its simplest terms, it means treating another person as a thing or object. Add to this the word “sexual” and it takes on an even darker tone:

“Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person as an object of sexual pleasure without regard to their personality or dignity”. (source: Wikipedia)

Now, for those that aren’t aware, I’m a dyed in the wool Canuck. I pride myself that here in Canada, by law, all persons are equal under our charter of rights and freedoms. Yet, with all this red and white patriotism, we still aren’t living up to those ideals in 2015.

Case in point: this last Sunday, Shauna Hunt, a City TV reporter covering a soccer game endured something that’s become quite popular over the last little while. It’s the “game” of shouting “FHRITP” at female reporters covering sports events. For the uninitiated, “FHRITP” translates to F… her right in the P….

True North strong and free? Hello?

To her credit, she shamed the male hecklers on Twitter. When she asked these pigs what their mothers would think about them talking like this, one responded his mother would think it’s funny.

Well, apparently I’m not the only one that didn’t think it was funny. One of these brain trusts found himself dismissed from Hydro One, and the four offenders are being permanently banned from attending any other sporting events at the facility where these clowns are now immortalized on video for all of Canada to see.

This, sadly, is not an isolated event. Just the other day a young woman was given detention and suspended for one day for wearing a “provocative” dress to school, thus violating the schools dress code. This didn’t happen in Afghanistan or Pakistan. This happened in Moncton, New Brunswick at Harrison Trimble high school. They told her that her dress was “inappropriate” and a “sexual distraction” to the male students.

Courtesy CBC Online

‘Cos bare backs drive boys crazy, it’s the girls responsibility to cover up, and not teaching boys something called “respect”! *Courtesy CBC Online*

She did not take this lying down. Lauren Wiggins, on the cusp of her 18th birthday wrote the powers that be and stated: “If you are truly so concerned that a boy in this school will get distracted by my upper back and shoulders, then he needs to be sent home and practice self-control” She also posted her opinions to her Facebook page.

I guess my question to the rest of Canada is why any female in this day and age should still be battling this level of chauvinistic sexism. I was under the impression that all those Playtex-fuelled bonfires in the seventies paved the way for women to be regarded as human beings instead of objects of derision in our society.

Do I blame women for this? Well, yes and no.

I cannot, nor would I ever entertain the thought of blaming women for this form of discrimination. They’ve been the victims, and we need to be helping to make sure no one is ever treated this way. In saying this, though, women are also somewhat to blame for this misogynistic behavior.

Why?

Well, it’s simple. Some women tolerate it. And that’s as bad as turning a blind eye to it.

In the household I grew up in, if I had ever mistreated ANY female, you can bet I’d find my head shoved so far up my ass I’d never have witnessed another sunrise. It just wasn’t something anyone put up with, period. Yet, how many mothers that I’ve met in my time have sort of “dismissed” their son’s sexist notions as “boys will be boys”.

My response to this is “HELL NO”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is right up there with bullying and homophobia.

Courtesy of Toronto Sun

Courtesy of Toronto Sun

Generation after bloody generation of Y chromosome carrying male have created a subculture where rape is not only allowed, but often times celebrated. So much so that teenage girls are often driven to suicide to escape their male tormentors.

R.I.P. Rehtaeh Parsons, Canada's poster child for everything that's wrong with our treatment of our country's female population.

R.I.P. Rehtaeh Parsons, Canada’s poster child for everything that’s wrong with our treatment of this country’s female population.

Mother’s aren’t the only one’s with some responsibility here. Fathers, when it’s a two parent opposite sex household, set the tone and the example for their sons and daughters.

In short; parents are both responsible to their charges, to teach them right from wrong. Yet so many think it’s perfectly OK for their boys to seek sexist or pornographic materials, and/or to allow their daughters to think they need “protecting” by/or from men. While I’m no parent, and I’m likely overreaching my boundaries here; in my estimation, it’s setting a dangerous precedent in the minds of their children/young adults, one that invariably comes with consequences.

Sometimes those consequences often are life altering, if not worse.

I could write for the next thirty pages on this, probably create a dissertation worthy of some very heated debates. The point I’m trying to make, simply, is that we need to start setting equal standards for both sexes, from the time their toddlers right on up until they leave the nest, so that when they become independent young adults, they treat their fellow persons with the respect and equality they are legally entitled to in this country.

It’s time for the “Old Boys Club” to stop with the “slut shaming”, and start being ashamed of themselves for even entertaining the thoughts and attitudes that are all too often associated with any member of the opposite sex. I mean, how many males have to walk around with that label, when a great deal of them are deserving, considering they’re the one’s doing the sleeping around, eh?

Women are the givers of life. Women can take pain no man could even conceive. Want proof? Let a man go into labour.

Women work harder and longer than most men, and almost always for lesser pay, and yet when they do achieve that so-called “equality”, more often than not, they’re considered “bitches”, even by their own female subordinates.

Well, to sum all this up, its HIGH TIME this great country of ours started taking real, tangible steps to permanently eradicating all levels of sexism and objectification at home, in the workplace, and in society, period.

It needs to start in that proverbial sandbox, and work its way up into the lives of all Canadians, both male and female.

Treat each other with respect and equality.

Treat each other with respect and equality.

Only then can you truly call yourself a Canadian.