Saying Goodbye

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Time is short.

I’ve spent the last few years watching cancer pick apart one of the most important people in my world, and found myself amazed, again and again, at her willpower. That being said, it’s a battle she’s, unfortunately, losing.

BabymaTime is finite.

My mother, the woman who gave me life, nurtured my talents and kicked me in the ass so hard I wondered where her foot disappeared to, the woman who challenged me and my assumptions; yet in later years, became my champion, my confident, today, I learned is finally succumbing to her illness.

Time is the enemy.

How do I say goodbye to a woman whom I’ve loved (and at times hated). How do I show her, during this last gasp of her battle, just how much she means to me. How do I take 49 years, and compress them into an instant; one that she can take with her the day she leaves this earth?

I convinced myself some time back that nothing was left unspoken, and that she’d leave this life without regrets. Yet, upon hearing her doctor tell her this morning that she’s about to succumb to this illness that she’s waged war on for so long, I find myself wanting to hold her in my arms, comfort her, let her know she’s far more important to me than I’d ever let on.

AllyschoolTime isn’t to be bargained with.

I know I’ve had that conversation. I know as well that I’ve shown her how deeply I love her. She has known for a long while now just how blessed I’ve felt about God allowing me to be  her first-born.

She’s never pandered to my weaknesses; she’s only shown me a better way, in her own odd fashion. I see her in my sister, Shannon. I feel her within my own sentimental spirit. I’m forever thankful I inherited more of her goodness than my biological father’s ugliness.

Time waits for no one.

I’ve seen this woman at her best, and her worst. I’ve known her struggles, and felt her pain. I’ve also borne witness to her greatest joys.

I’ve always been proud of her instrument; that deep, smokey voice, one that rang out so loudly, she never found herself needing a microphone. It’s a voice I’ll never have, but can hear in my mind during those quieter moments.

Allypub1Time ticks on…

As a child, she was a giant. Today, she became the child. Yet inside her, despite her resignation, I still see the woman I’ve come to not only admire, but to set before myself as a ruler to measure myself against.

As I wipe the tears from my keyboard, I also feel a great sense of relief. I am glad the end is coming, before she loses anything more.

“If God leads you to it, he’ll see you through it”. Truer words were never written.

Time heals all wounds.

MaPetraDaveIn this life, I’ve had some hellish moments; however, I always got through them knowing just how arduous her own life was during her youth. She never had anything handed to her. Everything she achieved, she did so the hard way. Like mother, like son.

I can only feel her goodness within me today, and perhaps that’s the reason I’m feeling so deeply emotional about the end; for I don’t feel ready to let go of the best parts of her.

Time flies.

I look at my two nephews, Edan and Benjamin, and see a lot of my mother’s spirit within the two of them. They’re both giving and very loving. I hear her laughter in my sister’s voice. I see her royal blue eyes every time I look into Ben’s own intelligent pair of orbs.

She is soon to bid adieu, but she’s also left a legacy, one I think I’m beginning to understand, and more importantly; appreciate.

GinnynMaTime to say goodbye.

I don’t know how much longer she has, but it’s not long. she’s become a prisoner of her failing body, and that, more than anything, is the most painful part of watching her fade. In saying this, I know death will be a welcome relief.

Alice Jeanette Silliker, you will leave this earth richer for having being a part of it. Your weakened body will no longer steal your memories, or your light. You’ll be with your siblings, parents, and will once again be that voice so many have loved to hear.

The best of you is in your children, and your grandchildren. Your lessons were not in vain.

Mom2007You will leave this world loved, missed, and cherished.

God will be with you, and with us, during this final phase of your illness. Let his hand carry you this through one last trial. Your reward awaits you on the other side.

I love you.

Dave.

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Toy Soldiers

Cancer. It’s a six letter word that denotes a constellation filled with bright, blazing stars in astronomy, a birth month in astrology, both good and useful things.

It also is one of the most prolific killers on earth. I should know, I’ve seen it’s handiwork front and center as it scythed a wide swath through the most important people in my world.

You see, I’ve borne witness to its desecration of the human body, but have as well been amazed at the strength of will inhabiting those same human forms. From aunts and uncles, to my sibling, parents and best friend, I’ve learned just how weak we humans can become physically; yet at the same time, just how powerful the will to survive and thrive is when the chips are down.

I first learned about what blood runs through our family’s veins when my Aunt Virginia found herself diagnosed with the big C. Right about that same time, my Aunt Shirley was also diagnosed. While I was mostly removed from the situation, living in another city, I knew from the haunted look in my mother’s eyes that their struggle was deeply affecting our family’s normally jovial way of being.

My Aunt Shirley was fortunate, and kicked cancer in the arse. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my Aunt Virginia.

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A beautiful, full-figured woman with an operatic voice, and my mother’s best friend. She as well was Ma’s harmony partner (these two voices blended gorgeously in my personal estimation). When she left this earth, her sister felt her loss more deeply than any of us knew.

While Ma continued to live and grow as a strong, self-sufficient woman, she was forever changed. Her fun-loving spirit took a hit, and took some time to return. As well, it was painful to listen to her try to sing when the trauma of my aunt’s passing completely obliterated her deep, smokey tenor instrument. It took her years to rebuild it, and even then, it lost some of its rich, textured sound that had been her pride and joy. I have recordings she made for us kids from that period, and I find them painful to listen to.

Through the years, I have known death. Death from AIDS. Death from heart trouble. Death from life’s misfortunes, and death through one final act of sadness during times of despair. I’ve known far too much death for a man of 49. But, surviving my own challenges both physical and mental, I’ve come to realize just how tough I am, even when I’m at my weakest.

At times I’ve grown complacent, comforted in the fact that I’m the proverbial cat, and thinking I’ll always land on my feet, no matter how far I fall.

I couldn’t have known in my misspent youth that I’d be watching events unfold as they have in recent years.

Cancer lied in wait…knowing it would rear its ugly self, sooner or later.

My friend Brenda.

Brenda was the one someone on this earth that truly understood my darkness, and yet helped me to revel in the light that good friendship can bring. In short, she was a gift from God.

One day a few years ago, she called me and asked me to give her away at her wedding. I was deeply moved. When later meeting with her to discuss her upcoming nuptials, she then asked me to sing at her funeral. I laughed hysterically. How could I have known the woman was being self-prophetic.

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The big day arrived, and I proudly walked her down the aisle, and beamed as I gave her away. Later that evening, I sang an old Bobby Darin tune at her wedding reception.

Six months later, we met to have lunch. She told me she was waiting for her test results, as she had felt weak recently. Lunch was short and very alarming as she became violently ill just with a few spoonfuls of broth. We said our goodbye’s, both of us knowing something horrible was coming.

I never saw her alive again.

How could I have known I’d be singing “The Rose” at her funeral, A Capella, fighting back the urge to bawl instead of singing her off to glory, a mere six months after taking her towards her betrothed.

I will be forever moved that she wanted me to take part in her life. I’m touched that she felt deeply enough for me to give me a role in both her happiest and saddest moments. I’ll never forget her laughter, her love of life, and the faith she had in our friendship.

My father witnessed the loss of most of his siblings to cancer, and other maladies (only one remains). Battling cancer himself, it could not have been easy to say goodbye so many times in such a short period. Yet he kept smiling, kept fighting, and not a one of us ever heard so much as a whimper during his darkest hours.

I’ve never been more proud to be his son.

This last year has been particularly hard on us all. Five members of my family in all battled this damned disease. While I’m thrilled to report that both my sister and father showed cancer the door, with middle digit extended in a baleful salute to its attempts to steal their wellness; others were less fortunate.

Dad has battled a lifetime of biological gremlins, and perhaps they were a proving ground for him when he faced cancer head-first, and won…repeatedly.  Dad1

There is nothing more powerful than seeing the underdog duke it out with an opponent five times his size. It’s even more inspiring when that big bully is laid out on the mat while the dark horse gallops around the ring, triumphant.

That’s my Pa!

While he struggled and triumphed, battle after battle, Mama was facing a much tougher fight.

She developed the worst possible cancer there is, and fought like a badger, never once giving up, or complaining about treatments that literally cooked her from the inside out.

Her procedures took her body and mind, and literally destroyed both, one piece at a time. The fact that she’s still swinging, even with so little of her left, as cancer once again preys upon her cells and flesh, has me utterly amazed. Mom20071But then, she’s always had her fists up when confronted. None of this is a great surprise to any of us.

I take a great deal of comfort in knowing I’m made of that same stern stuff.

During her battle, her older brother, my Uncle Hazen, also developed that same aggressive cancer. He fought the good fight, never even contemplating surrender until the bitter end. While his loss was deeply felt throughout my family, the one person that felt his absence more than anyone was my dear Aunt Mona, his wife.

I was wholly fortunate in finding the friendship that developed between my Aunt Mona as well as myself. She became my confident, my champion, as well as my biggest cheerleader when my health took a turn for the worse.

I will always remember the scrawled handwritten note she mailed to me. It was in as bad a penned state visually as anything I had ever written (I’m convinced illegible handwriting is a Libra thing), yet it’s words had this old bear bawling his eyes out. I sent a photo of it to Ma, and she followed suit.

She truly was a remarkable soul, one I’m blessed to have been able to call not just my aunt, but friend.

I just hope that I live a life worthy of the vision she saw for me in her words. I am forever changed by them.

Sadly, she was not with us long enough for me to give her that one final hug. During her husband’s and her sister in law’s battle, she also developed cancer, and while she fought it off for a while, she eventually succumbed to it, as once her sister Margie had, a little over a month or so after my Uncle Hazen had left this plane of existence.986721_548249035224811_101222827_n

I miss her every day. I however, received a wonderful consolation prize. Her daughter, my cousin, Jeanette…after being so far out of touch for so many years, we reclaimed that common ground we had long-lost track of, and are, quite frankly, as thick as thieves now.

Her wisdom, courage, no-nonsense attitude, and frank nature have truly kept me buoyant throughout this tempest, and I pray I’ve been as solid a life-preserver for her during some of her most painful moments.

Lastly, there’s my younger (sometimes older) sister Shannon.

Some months back, she let me know she found lumps on her breast. I told her not to worry, lumpy breasts were something Ma complained about.

We waited for the results.

Unfortunately, she had cancer as well.

Fortunately, she caught it early.

With that same indomitable spirit all her elders had demonstrated, she fought the good fight. Today was her last volley with the radiation treatments. I’m relatively certain she’s kicked cancer to the curb. 1469876_10201611446502919_534084876_nI honestly am most grateful her sons and husband still have their mother to drive half-crazy. Lord knows this could have ended very differently.

I’ve lived a blessed life, despite some of the setbacks; things everyone on this earth must deal with at one point or another. In saying that, I must add that I’ve been surrounded by angels, both spiritual as well as physical.

I’ve been both moved as well as knocked down, proving I’m all too human. But I also get up, time and time again, and stand tall on that same patch of ground, defying anyone or anything that attempts to plant me on my considerable asses. Yet, in saying that, I have also been inspired by the sheer will of those that have faced deeper adversity than my life experience has allowed; shedding grateful tears at their triumphs. Those same tears fall in remembrance for those that fought the good fight, right up until the end.

I’m made of tough stock, despite my sentimental heart. I’m deeply proud that in among my family, I’ve yet to see the fall of any toy soldiers in my midst when called to battle.

I wish you, the reader, a blessed New Year, and close with this thought:

Love someone when it’s easier to hate, forgive someone when it’s the hardest thing to do; and above all, say something kind to that person in your mirror each and every morning. You may not always be rewarded, but it will build strength of character from within.

Cheerz

**Footnote**

As time goes on, sequence of events can sometimes be lost in the milieu of one’s life. This is from my father…and I apologize for not remembering this.

Your Uncle bill (my brother) died a week before your Aunt Virginia. I remember being in Saint John looking after Billy until he passed and then going to Toronto to be with your Mom and Aunt until she passed.

This is a first hand testament to the strength of character and spirit that exists within my family.

Ain’t Nobody’s Business If…

Today, a fellow writer commented on a post I threw up (vomited would be more apt) onto Facebook about, well, a face, ironically.

You see, Renee Zellweger, our own Brigit Jones has, well…she’s morphed.

renee-zellweger-and-doyle-bramhall-iiMorphed? How so, you, dear reader, may ask. To be blunt, she’s literally bought herself a new face. No, it’s not so much a bad facelift as it’s almost a face transplant. To be even more blunt, she looks like a different human being entirely. And my comments on this brought out a debate that got me thinking whilst I lathered, rinsed, repeated.

WHY THE HELL DO I CARE WHO’S FACE SHE’S WEARING! Seriously.

Kerry Hyatt is a gifted writer. She’s also one of the most intelligent women I know. She’s also beautifully intelligent. Listening to this woman (or reading) what she has to say always raises my I.Q a few points, and that’s not easily done, trust me.

She made a very sage observation that everyone made a huge fuss over Renee’s new look, and not a syllable found itself printed about her aging companion in the photo. Why? Well, first, it’s very possible it’s because he’s not as famous (if he’s famous at all). And most importantly, it’s also case in point here; he’s male.

With few exceptions, most people seem to focus on a woman’s fading beauty, and her need to desperately hold onto her youth, while a man can wither and decay, and no one bothers to pay any heed.

Is it the fault of the actress/singer/dancer etc?

Is it the fault of the media?

Is it the fault of the public?

Who’s business is it anyways?

The operative here is “business”. If an actress in Hollywood wishes to continue being considered for lucrative roles in film, she’s pressured to remain in a time capsule. On the flip side, if a man wishes to remain relevant, all he needs to do is let it all hang out.

How many James Bond movies have you watched with a twenty year old actor at the helm?

As Tracey Ullman once uttered “Unless you’re an Oscar winner in Hollywood past the age of 40, its slim pickings for an actress”.

Gena Rowlands once said to Teri Garr when she was white-hot back during her “Tootsie” period; “Wait until they write that your face has been ravaged by time”.

I’m betting Sean Connery or Harrison Ford never read such shit written in their reviews.

So, I guess what I’m writing here is less of a rebuttal to Kerry’s lament, and more of an apology for feeding into the ageist convention women continually suffer from, here, there, hell, everywhere, in one form or another.

For what it’s worth, even though I don’t agree with Renee’s decision to alter her appearance, ultimately, I’m not the one that has to look at it each morning. It’s her show, and if it’s made her feel better about herself, then you go girl!

What I would LIKE to point out here though is that I am as fed up as hell at women constantly feeling the need to rip apart their bodies to validate themselves to others as they get older. Now, please don’t misunderstand. I have no problem with a woman who gets “freshened up” because she genuinely feels better after it’s all said and done. For that matter, same for goes for any man. What I don’t cotton to is the ideology that a woman feels pressured to alter her appearance to remain viable in Hollywood. That is just as sad and as wrong as it gets, period.

So where does this end? Why do we place so much importance on youth?

I’m a 49-year-old man, struggling with his weight, and trying to appear relevant to people who could potentially be signing my paychecks. I truly do understand what the Renee’s of the world are going through. I do. Where I part company with her, and those like her is my decision to not alter my appearance.

It doesn’t make me better, it simply is my spin on aging, the end.

When I was approaching my 40’s, there was a man on TV hawking miracle cleaning supplies named Willy Mays. He was an attractive enough man, but I had noticed that over the years his hair (he sported a full beard and head of hair) became blacker and black until it seemed you could no longer see his face on the commercials. His beard and hair took on a “black hole” appearance, clearly the results of Grecian Formula 16.

I vowed I’d never look that foolish.

Well, I’m now pushing fifty, and as my hair turns kinky and silver, I can kind of understand why some men will put up with shoe polish coloured dyes. If you keep it younger, you keep yourself looking like you can still compete.

Are we in danger of going the way of Joan Rivers? Well, not really, because a woman is almost always subjected to a lot more discrimination and pressure than her male counterparts. I dunno, it’s almost as though her value is seemingly attached to her ovaries. That, and the lithe nature of her curves.

Anything less than Cosmo-perfecto = damaged beauty, and more often than not finds itself discarded.

In writing all of this, there is a movement in progress, one that gives me great hope for the future. It started with Kathy Bates years ago. You see, Kathy was a woman of size. And she never felt the need to apologize for it, either. Kathy let herself age, droop and jiggle. And Kathy continues to work, rather successfully I might add, in Hollywood.

Melissa McCarthy is another role model. She’s big, bold and beautiful, and comes as well without a single apology for who she is. And she’s box office. Where the Jennifer Anistons and Meryl Streeps of the world are raking in the bucks, Melissa is also cleaning up with most of her films, and is proving that looks ain’t everything.

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Personally, I think Melissa is pretty as she is. And I hope she stays true to who she is today. But if she doesn’t, again, whose business is it anyway.

In closing, I’d like to leave you, dear reader, with a thought. It’s something you may or may not care to toss around in one of your quieter moments:

When you wake up and see yourself all baggy eyed in the mirror and think to yourself “self, maybe it’s time I had a little Botox party”; remember that you’re best foot forward is all that truly matters in this life. If it takes a fresher looking you to get there, then bring on the botulism.

Don’t ever let anyone bring you down for your decision. It’s your life.

To quote one more famous person here, and she sums it up beautifully; “If I want to wear my tits on my back, it’s no one’s business but my own”

She may never be able to turn back time, but Cher’s probably the one laughing the loudest at those that care more about her nips and tucks than her body of work.

Cheerz!

 

 

On The Run

It’s been a long, ugly winter.

I don’t think you’ll find a soul out there in North America that would argue with this statement. It’s been so bad that many of us have sat begrudgingly still, suffering from cabin fever to the ninth degree. All this while cold mercilessly whips our windows frosty. That, and the snow falling from the heavens seem to promise a perpetually frozen landscape. This leaves us all swearing in unison that we’ll never bitch about the summer heat, ever again. Include me among these ranks. Anyone that knows me is well aware of my seething hatred of heat waves.

In short, I’m a lover of moderate temperatures.

Imagine my unbridled glee today when I checked The Weather Network, and saw a magical ten dance before my weary eyes. Ten degrees of beautiful. Ten gloriously wonderful points above that zero centigrade scale I’ve become so accustomed to.

Time to chop “Rosebud” into firewood there, Citizen Kane, my lawn is peeking through its glacial murk. Watch my broad smile beaming through my frosted beard.

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With unrestrained joy, I thrust open my filthy windows, and basked in the beautiful breeze as it cascaded across my grateful body. Was there anything better on this planet? God surely favoured his little bear this day. Then…it hit. It wasn’t something expected. It certainly wasn’t something welcomed.

Mr. Murphy…shove that law up your…”snurfl, sncherk, wheeze”.

Spring, much to my chagrin, presents more than just blossoms and birdsong. It unfortunately also brings its wrath as an affront to my olfactory nerves.  Oft-times I become so enamoured with the receding snow banks that I conveniently forget just what comes along with the melt. For the second that the maple sap starts coursing through the trunks and branches of my sworn enemy, my nose starts its seizure as my eyes begin their burning drip-a-thon.

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OK, you’re probably wondering how something without foliage could cause a reaction in an allergy sufferer. Well, it’s really very simple. Maple leaf buds, the second they start to open, for some ungodly reason trigger a killer histamine response. I don’t make the rules, I simply suffer by them.

Leave it to dumbass to move to a city known for its dense population of maple. So much so, it’s called “The Forest City”.

As visions of axes and chain saws dance about my feverish little noggin, I’m quickly becoming painfully aware that my nose has started to chap. This, luckily for me, coincided with the last available tissue being applied to my reddening nose. As my snout has suddenly decided to imitate a leaky bathroom faucet; I’m faced with the prospect of sanding off what skin I have left on my rapidly swelling proboscis. I’m feeling ever so fortunate to have in my paper arsenal a large supply of exfoliant grade toilet paper. This compliments the few rolls of kitten-soft paper towels on hand. 

What to choose.

It doesn’t take long for my eyes to adopt a demonic shade of red. Perfect accoutrement to coördinate atop my inflamed nose.  In fact, now my shirt seems to be slowly turning crimson as my nasal passages give up the ghost and decide hemorrhaging vital plasma is a good thing.  Remind me again why opening my windows was a good idea?

So…I try in vain to stem the flow of snot-scented blood by pinching my nose and lowering my head between my knees. I sit there, waiting patiently for the River Vile to subside. After what seems like an eternity, whatever blood vessel I ruptured appears to have cried “uncle” and ceased its blood-letting. Good thing too, for I was contemplating the effectiveness of Tampax vs Always.

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Spring is a season of renewal. It warms the earth, brings with it cleansing rain, and offers so many wondrous things. So, why is it that I, the greatest fan of this season, must continually suffer.

I’m thinking to myself that I had to have pissed off some wood nymph in a former life. That, or maybe I participated in torturing a saint in some alternate universe, seven or eight lifetimes ago. Who knows. Whatever the reason, I’ve been forced to endure the agony right along with the ecstasy year after ceaseless year. Only a person that suffers from seasonal allergies can truly understand my frustration.

It’s seemingly endless misery. The mere sight of a flower, a leaf, a blade of grass, or…the granddaddy of them all, ragweed in late summer. These are all we need to send us rushing towards our hermetically sealed homes. We pray that somehow, this year is will be our year. 

It never is, sadly.

Welcome to the Merry Christmas blitz of sneezy, wheezy adverts from our friendly pharmaceutical companies. Everywhere you look, promises of a carefree walk or an unencumbered snooze bleat out of your television. A day’s supply of insta-breathe only costs a week’s salary. If you’re foolish enough to buy the wrong one, you’ll soon find yourself either sawing wood while driving, or playing solitaire at 3 am.

Spring 1 – booger heads zip!

God help you if you’re allergic to pets. For with the launch of spring, so goes a steady stream of dogs and cats just outside your window, for which there is no escape! They shake, they shed, they promise to stuff and swell every available pore in your noggin. As you gasp for air, the little that you manage to siphon through your airway is generally scented with the calling card some pet owner decided to leave for you just outside your door.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried everything short of boiling children with mint leaves to find relief. We, the great congested, have all been scraped and poked and prodded and pilled, in hopes of being able to draw one clear breath. Sadly, few of us do. What makes it even more maddening still; those that don’t endure often treat the lot of us as seasonal lepers, somehow thinking they might catch what we don’t have. Often, they’re filled with advice, or false sympathy.

All you wanna do is take a bouquet of flowers and ram it up their nostrils…just because.

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So, with this all said, why on earth do I favour a season that promises such a premeditated Hell. Well, for one thing, selective memory plays a big part in this. When you peek outside your curtain and see the Matterhorn avalanche staring back at you; unless you’re one of those winter sports fans, anything is preferable to donning twelve layers of wool and cotton. As well, venturing outside when the passing snow plow has literally obliterated all potential surfaces to walk on, well, you start to forget about those pesky little details. Details such as having eyeballs so bloodshot that they rival Pennywise the Clown. Details like those nasal passages that allow about as much airflow as a derelict aircraft parked in the desert. Flower power fades from memory at pretty much the time you’re at a bus stop in -99 Celsius weather with a wind chill factor of absolute zero.

Pluto suddenly seems like a great place to visit on vacation.

Yes, I loathe the perennial pain in the arse that comes with allergy season. However, the idea of waking up to the strains of a songbird, or that wonderful drone of a street cleaner is so wholly appealing to me that I’ll deal with having to chip my nose out of stone.

Bring on the birds and the bees. A case of Kleenex is a small price to pay.

Keep smiling folks, and have a great one.

Stretching It!

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I decided today to enjoy leisurely walk, basking in the early spring air as the sun caressed my cheeks. It was a perfect moment. The air was brisk, yet warm, and everything smelled so good. After a long, harsh winter, this respite was most welcome to myself, and most everyone around me.

Suddenly, the soundtrack of spring screeched to a halt, and I found myself ripped away from the blissful state I was in. For what was coming into view defied all logic.

She was 30-something.

She was walking her baby.

She was sporting what looked to be a strained black tensor bandage with a crop top.

I stupidly looked closer, and to my utter horror, I realized the crop top was not a crop at all. Rather, her size 20 body is painfully being squeezed into a size 8 legging.

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The consequence to that single act was that her fashion choice did not give over enough textile to cover the muffin top that was merrily floating above the waistband of said pants…a lovely sight indeed.

I’ve heard of the “Ice Cream Cone Effect” from some television fashion police here and there over the years. That’s a condition where your hips to your ankles form the shape of a cone, and you on top are the scoops. It’s not a good look for anyone, male or female.

Well, this chick wasn’t just sporting the cone, but the entire 31 flavours at Baskin-Robbins. Hell, she looked as though she was channelling Ben and Jerry, Hagen Daas, and a truckload of Klondike bars.

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Like some tragic accident, I could not look away. I stood amazed at the momentum all that flesh takes on when it’s mobile. It’s quite horrifying that I was seeing it encased in what is the machine washable equivalent of a can of Ronco brand spray on pants. Every crevice, every dimple, every little hair accented and pronounced beneath the Dancekin tights she tortured her lumpy frame into.

My eyes watered, my head swam, and as I momentarily stopped to process what I had just seen.

I then noticed I was travelling along with a pod of bipedal orcas. Yes, this look was fruitful, and like the pounds they packed into those outfits, these women were clearly multiplying in numbers before my eyes.

I quickly dropped all plans to eat…forever.

OK…as we all know, in the 1980’s, spandex inhabited pretty much every female closet in North America. For some, it was (then) a good thing. However, the ugly truth of the matter is, for others…not so much.

It’s the others that were the problem. And clearly, that problem is generational.

When leggings finally went the way of the mullet (took some a few extra years to finally let go of both), I was one of the most thankful people on earth. Between the damned “hockey hair”, and seeing larger than large wearing smaller than small, I truly wanted some elegance returning to people’s wardrobes. In some ways, I got my wish, thankfully.

Fast forward to 2011. Ankle boots came back into style, as did leg warmers and…*gulp*, leggings. Only this time, leggings look like jeans instead of jungle cat prints. And, with this confection, yoga pants also appeared.

After so many years of seeing guys and gals wearing pyjama bottoms while shopping for groceries, I was grateful for any change.

What some failed to realize is that NOTHING good ever came out trying to stuff ten pounds of potatoes into a two-pound sack. Nothing. Seams strain, blood vessels implode, circulation slows, and the population at large suffer hysterical blindness en-mass. It’s not pretty, and believe me when I say this, neither is the fashion statement.

For some clueless women, this new-to-them fashion advent heralded an era of tasteless delusion. And we, the general public, silently bear witness, tragically.

I can honestly tell you, my readers, that the cracks of large girls asses (or guys for that matter) being heinously exposed is never a welcome sight. The fact that it’s due to snug nature of their yoga pants and leggings does not a good first impression make.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a proper pair of fitted yoga pants. It’s when they fit like a compression sock pulled over a school bus that it gets ugly.

Worse still is taking in every last dimple that her voluminous ass has to offer; as if bronzed for all eternity in a mass of black spandex hell. It only serves weaken the stomach of the strongest among us.

Am I alone here? I think not.

There’s something to be said for restraint. Perhaps not compressing oneself into outfits that scream to the world that you’re encasing your hills and dales INSIDE of restraints might be, shall we say, taking the high road.

Girls, seriously. Dressing your body like a Pilates instructor when you’re in dire need of Pilates is as pathetic as a 50-year-old man with a fake tan, frosted hair and a skin-tight wife beater calling everyone “dude”. There is nothing sexy about either look. 

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Let’s face it; we all have different body types. Mine is a kind of furry colossus, so I’m not pointing fingers at anyone with weight issues.

Where I differ is that I NEVER parade any part of my Kewpie doll shape out on the promenade. For me, it’s a matter of modesty, but also out of respect for others.

People of size often find themselves reviled. I fully understand this, I make a point of never giving anyone any more ammunition than they already have.

Call me fat-ass…I earned it I suppose. But no one will ever point and laugh at me walking around in a Speedo. I have more respect for myself, and others, than that.

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Despite my harsh judgement of exercise pants being ill-fitted to an un-exercised body, I think we’re all wonderful in our own way.

I feel the need here to state that I have NO issue with a large girl dressing  herself to feel confident. None whatsoever. In fact, I love seeing a person of size, female or male, dressed with flair and a little sense of adventure.

Bold colours, great accessories, or just looking dapper; they all serve notice to haters that we, the plussers of the world, are strong, beautiful and worthy of respect. To some, it’s even a mother lode of eye candy.

Big is beautiful, if you do big with flair!

Big is beautiful, if you do big with flair!

It also serves to shatter that hateful stereotype that fat means ugly. Plus sized is perfect when it’s swathed in sophistication. It’s only ugly when it’s turned into a carnival of cottage cheese, camel toes and crack cleavage.

There are those out there that will utter “don’t like, don’t look”. OK, fair enough. How many train wrecks have you been consciously able to look away from.

Things that make you go HMMMMMM… 

I don’t know of any woman who finds herself on the receiving end of a compliment when looking like a tsunami of cellulite in Daisy Dukes. Nor is a man likely to be commended for wearing jeans that ride so low that they bring into existence his own personal lunar eclipse.

All I want to do is slip a quarter in there just to see what comes out of the dispenser.

I think I’m going to start aimlessly wandering the downtown streets wearing my pyjama bottoms. Maybe I’ll run them through the sewing machine, so they’ll be sized incorrectly. I’ll do so just to show them my version of “what not to wear”.

I’ll deliberately lumber about with the crack of my asses hanging out for everyone see. You can bet I’ll make a point of throwing that hot mess into the faces of these clueless women (and men) just to see if it triggers any form of self-recognition within them. 

Perhaps, in some alternate universe, they might just see themselves the way the rest of the world does. Miraculously, they’ll have that grand epiphany; suddenly wanting to dress their bodies instead of wearing tourniquet-inspired crap in an ill-conceived attempt to disguise them.

That, or they’ll keep on keeping on, no doubt someday finding themselves featured on “The People of Wal-Mart” website.

Free To Be You And Me

In the 48 years I’ve roamed this earth, the once constant I’ve learned in this life is that change is inevitable. You can stomp your foot, you can screech into the stratosphere, but change comes fast and dirty, and there is nothing anyone can do about it but adapt and hopefully grow from the experience.

I’ve seen my share of changes, and often wondered to myself how things might have evolved in not only my life, but the lives of those around me, had no change ever presented itself. Now, in saying that, we all know some change is for the worse (reality TV is but one example), while some change is for the better.

Such as the role of women in society. Now, I grew up in pretty much a matriarchal household, one where the women outnumbered the men, and while my father’s role was never in question about who the breadwinner was, it was a foregone conclusion that Mama ran the house. To be blunt, if you valued your hide being its original shade, you best not cross any lines she set down in the sand, or you’d be sorrier than sorry for the transgression.

My generation was the last of the “spare the rod/1940’s mentality” generation.

I, for one, as an adult, thank my parents for making their point the way they did. I shudder at the thought of how I’d have turned out had those strict limits not been placed in my path, to keep me travelling the straight and narrow.

However, it wasn’t all goodness and sunshine. Not by a long shot.

You see, I was a pretty odd little boy. Having been rejected by my “real” father at birth might have had some bearing on it, who knows. I do know now my head overflowed with contradictions, short circuits, with a lot of notions that drove my parents, teachers, whomever, to distraction.

What went on behind these eyes...

What went on behind these eyes…

I showed a talent for some pretty broad interests, I must admit, and while some of those talents found themselves nurtured, others were literally things that had my parents up in arms.

More often than not, my hide paid the price. As I said, it was the tail end of that 1940’s mentality.

I know now that my mother and father were doing the only thing they could…by trying to strap the fag outta me. I’m certain they did this hoping I’d turn out “right”, instead of the way they feared. I know that sounds awful, but it was the 1970’s, and that’s just the way the world was back then. They’re certainly not to be faulted for their actions, because, to be frank, they didn’t know then what they know now.

I’m probably the only boy on the planet that cried getting a Hot Wheels set for Christmas. Mainly because those tracks would end up being applied to my butt (there were so many to choose from I suppose) for whatever my daily infraction was.

I was, shall we say, of “independent” thought., and pushed my poor parents half-out of their minds because of it. There were so many assorted sins I’d commit all in the name of my skewed vision back then.

If I had ice skates, I wanted to be a figure skater. If I had a baseball glove, it’d sit, untouched. If I wanted to play with my sister, it was almost always beauty time for some helpless doll. That last one brought the most grief my way. Dad, a tough, no-nonsense former Army man saw men one way, and I’m sure died a few thousand deaths when he watched me unfold. I was anything but his idea of what a little boy had to be. A bit odd, a bit effeminate, a bit of a mix of all sorts of conflicted actions, he just did what any father during that time would do, he’d…you guessed it, strap the fag outta me. That, or throw baseballs and make me catch them.

Dad…thank you for that one. I’d still be a little wimp today I believe if you and Ma hadn’t forced me to face my fears head on. I know it couldn’t have been easy raising me knowing what you learned to see as “wrong” back then.

I should mention here that my father…the one that matters, is my stepfather. But, he’s the only father I’ve ever known, and there is no “step” in my eyes.

In saying this, all these many years later, I confess, I really dug little boy things too. Love playing with my cars, having fake space battles with cut-out Klingon Birds of Prey and starship Enterprises. Always enjoyed playing “Rocket Robin Hood”. Couldn’t pry me off that crazy carpet in the winter…in short, I wasn’t all “girly”. But, I definitely loved the stuff both of my sisters pretty much eschewed….especially Petra.

We’d get into cahoots with one another about dolls and cars. If I liked a Barbie, she’s write it on her list. If she liked a type of truck, down it went. And, when no one was looking, our sinful swap took place.

My poor mother tried and failed to get her queer little boy to pursue masculine things. I mean, I had GI Joe’s and Big Jim, complete with sports camper. Imagine her surprise when one day she found finishing nails pounded into Big Jim’s feet for heels, and a lovely wig and dress on him….I was hopeless.

Well, as the lickings continued, I saw a movie at school that forever changed me. Marlo Thomas had put a really great  project together. Written specially for kids my age entitled “Free To Be You And Me”, it was a must-see. In it, there was a segment about a little boy named William (Billy). This kid loved all sorts of male pursuits, but found himself derided for also wanting a doll; William Wants A Doll

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For the first time in my young life, I honestly felt like someone out there understood me, and that was huge, because I really didn’t understand myself.

Now, as an adult, I grew up male, and am long past all the sissy stuff I once embraced. I also now realize that this is kinda normal behaviour for most gay children. Lesbians tend to gravitate towards more masculine things sometimes, and Gays tend to want to try more feminine things. Not always, but at times.

Marlo Thomas made it possible for me to go through my very troubled and often painful childhood with a glimmer of hope. I truly got to see that someone out there, recognized me for who I was.

I really want to say here that my parents have come a LONG way since then. Both of them realize now that some of what they knew then in terms of handling their kids may not have been the best method. Hindsight is 20/20. Still, I thank them in my mind every day for that they cared enough to try. I only wish I could offer my condolences for the hell I put the two of them through.

I most certainly don’t blame either of them for their approach to what they then saw as a serious problem. The times dictated that any form of feminine behaviour from a boy, or masculine behaviour from a girl immediately required firm action, for the sake of their child.

This was what parents of my generation knew about gays…and it wasn’t a good thing: Creepy Anti Gay Propaganda Film

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Imagine if the world you knew contained nothing but negative images about what a gay person was. Well, let’s just put it this way; they’re a little wiser now, as are most people, thankfully.

But, despite the great evolution that has taken place over time, some things still remain the same for those that refuse to see change as a step forward. These people live within their narrow vision of their world. They come complete with all sorts of ugly, prejudiced notions they continually convince themselves is the Gospel.

Sadly, they’re often a lynch pin that seems to be holding us back as a species. Yet, they see just the opposite, and will cling intently to scripture. Their religious fervour is sometimes so driven that they only seem capable of purveying hatred and intolerance. In short, God is their weapon, and annihilation of anything they don’t want to understand is their life’s work.

Their judgements often come in the form of sexism, using that proverbial apple snack in a certain garden as their attempt to shackle the hard-won freedoms women are finally being able to enjoy in this world. Or, they are often targeting religions they don’t “get”. Perhaps it’s a subtle swipe at the colour of a person’s skin. Whatever their target of the week is, it all amounts to so much ugliness in the name of God.

If you don’t get what I’m trying to say here, you only need to look to Anne Coulter, or Bill O’Reilly, or move a little further back in time to bear witness to the bigoted stylings of one Anita Bryant. There are many more examples, some that held women back, other’s that claimed blacks were biblically quoted as being beneath whites. The list of “causes in God’s name” are endless.

There are those that would look down their noses at my sister for being the main breadwinner in her household. Like our father, she came equipped with all the determination and ambition to be a winner. And, her partner is utterly non threatened by this. Yet, there are those that would point their finger at her, and spew their rhetoric about how her place is at home, and how she’s diminishing her only valid role; which is to be a mother.

I’d love to see one of them attempting to say that to her face. I dare any one of them. They’d be the sorriest fools on planet earth when she finished with them.

As a mother, she followed in Ma’s footsteps and works outside the home. Yet, despite her nine to five gig, she’s there for her kids, not just present, but physically and emotionally available. And, like Mama, nothing gets past her when it comes to those two kids.

The best of both worlds made this child into a strong, independent woman.

The best of both worlds made this child into a strong, independent woman.

You go girl!

I’ve heard it said that boys are mostly raised to be emotionally constipated. I’d tend to agree. With exception of my sister’s approach, and a few other families I’ve known in my time, most girls get taught to be “pretty and emotionally available”, and boys instructed to keep their feelings in check, but opinions strong.

What’s wrong with that picture.

I grew up with this, as did pretty much every boy in my generation and the generations preceding my own. The one truth we had hammered into us was that boys don’t cry.

This was the cardinal rule that came with the penis you were born with. There were no exceptions to it. If you felt something, you sucked it up, and kept it in.

In short; any display of emotion, outside of aggression in sports is a sign of weakness and femininity.

Boy…my poor Dad. What he must have thought when he got a load of his whiny little shithead in action.

For a really long time I couldn’t cry. I was literally incapable of it. My sister, Petra commented on this, and decided to lay into me about that particular “rule”. I’m forever thankful that she called me out, and forced me to take a long, hard look at my programming.

It took a good three years, but when those floodgates finally opened…soon after, my “reconstruction” began.

I realized that I was carrying a lot of dead weight. My mindset was deeply flawed and my attitude sucked. it was then that I finally I started to wake up and realize that letting go and letting be was the only way I was going to become a whole person. Up until then, I was nothing but a shattered soul.

My journey is far from over, and I’m grateful for the emotional place I’m in now, with a couple of exceptions. In saying that, there are times I wish I could just plug another person into my brain, and show them the things I’ve learned. However, everyone needs to figure out what’s what for themselves, otherwise, those lessons won’t always compute. 

I see a lot of people out there in the same spot I once occupied. My truth finally allowed me to become a wiser person. It’s sad that I know they’re equipped with all the right tools, but lack the confidence to move beyond their pre-constructed ideals of what it is they deserve. As I bear witness I truly want to help, yet I realize that the help they need must come from within.

All I can do is hold up that proverbial mirror, and hope they see what the world sees. Lord knows I’m not exactly the greatest example of a human being, and far be it from me to start thrusting my own truths upon another.

It’s perplexing to think that in this day and age, the colour of a person’s skin, religion they practice, or the place a person happens to be born makes them “less” in the eyes of another. A simple fact that these people choose to ignore; no one human being is above another, period.

While some of our actions might need a re-evaluating at times, that we all breathe and bleed is everyone’s truth. Our race, the country we live in, economic class, gender, sexual orientation, creed, and the list goes on shouldn’t matter to anyone. After all, we come into this world the courtesy of a womb, and we all eventually leave it. That is inescapable, and there are no exceptions.

In the end, we all wind up just so much fertilizer. I don’t think Donald Trump’s grass is going to grow any greener than the turf I’m occupying a space beneath.

The skinny of this is, people are beautiful just as they are, period. Dark skin, light yellow, red, white, we’re all people, and the one thing I still see a call to revolution for is learning to love ourselves for who we are. 

I am a big man. I am a hairy man. I could diet and shave my body, and I could sculpt that body. But underneath all that esoteric nonsense, I’d still be me…and I’d still feel the same things, think the same thoughts, and continue to be a misfit. It’s my role in life.

Society looks at who I am, and often thinks I need to disappear, that I’m “less” because of my weight, my fur, my lack of gym definition. And I admit, I feel less sometimes as well. It deeply saddens me that I still feel inferior to others. I am a work in progress, clearly.

For example, a lot of my friends will post photos of their idea of male beauty on their Facebook pages, and I really have to wrestle with what I see. The reason is, the images only show one type of build as being attractive. Big, bulky, furry, muscular men, in short muscle bears. I know just how a chubby teenage girl feels passing a magazine stand loaded with skinny girls on the covers, believe me.

It bothers me that it hurts so much when I see these postings. I finally figured out what cut so deeply is what these men represented to me; the ideal I could never meet. No amount of stretching is going to make me taller. No amount of starvation and gym work will ever give me a flat six-pack. I’m simply not constructed that way, period.

It’s unfortunate that I feel so much self-loathing and worthlessness every time I come across one of these photos. And, in saying that, this is where my personal revolution must begin.

I'm Teddy Ruxpin, can I be my own friend?

I’m Teddy Ruxpin, can I be my friend?

I came to this inescapable conclusion that I must start planning my own personal uprising. That action is going to include a long, hard look at my “shortcomings”. It must also have a plan of action where one pocket bear learns to stop de-valuing himself. On the board as well is the simple act of ceasing the unrealistic comparisons of what he sees. Most importantly, he needs to start loving himself for who and what he is instead of chastising himself for what he isn’t.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s their party. If I want to continue being included on their guest lists, it’s a matter of good form to accept that others happen like something I will never be. It’s also a sound idea to reconcile the notion that it’s OK to be who I am, a walking, talking Teddy Ruxpin.

Change is inevitable, and sometimes painful. But as Cheryl Crow sang some years ago “Change will do you good”.

Cheerz folks.

Beautiful Dreamer

I’m one day off from returning to Ottawa, a place where I lived for many years.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous about a trip home in my life. Why, you may ask? Well, after a year of being lame and functionally immobile, I’ve gotten just a wee bit heavy. I’m worried about the narrowing of people’s eyes, the heart to heart “talks” about how concerned they all are about my not being active enough, and worse, Mama’s “loving punishment”.

We all have Mamas, so I don’t think I need to explain how that’s going to go.

How heavy is heavy, one may ask? Well, let’s see. I now have a really beautiful set of man boobs, and my own continental shelf to rest them on. I have an ass so voluminous, it knows not what comfortable pants feel like. And I have a chin. Several, actually. Let’s not even mention the piggy eyes bored into my head, where once deep pools of blue resided.

fat-pig

In short, I’m fit for a spit!

Now, it is true that I can once again walk, and I’m eternally grateful to finally be rid of the crutches. But I’m going to have to start thinking about how far I can walk to whittle off all this Buddha. In my estimation, nothing short of a jog up the mountains of Tibet will suffice. Trust in the burn, keep running past that wall of pain, and do not pass “Go” until you zip past that Great Wall.

And don’t forget the sports bra, lest you sport two blackened eyes.

But, I’m determined to reclaim my body. I know it lives some place, deep, deep inside. I am aware that past the sad truth that is my rotund stummy tum-tum, I have a pair of feet. I know that within lies a man who doesn’t sweat walking to the mailbox, a mere three inches from my front door. There is salvation at hand once I learn to open the right door. Front, not fridge, pig-o-my-heart. It’s all a matter of getting my inner self to start making peace with the protein pile driver running the show.

How many last suppers have I attended. How many chicken legs have marked those innumerable “day before” ceremonies, only to become an eventuality in the kingdoms of landfill and sewage, where that salad and stir fry should have been.

I truly must confess, my trouble isn’t a sweet tooth, It’s a bicuspid with a hankerin’ for starch. If I can stuff it between two slices of bread, it’s lunch. Nothing is sacred when it comes to baked goods and fillings. Spaghetti, mashed potatoes, you name it, if it’s capable of resting comfortably inside a slice, it ends up inside me. And the results speak for themselves.

I suppose I finally saw the light when I watched one too many birthdays roll by, and noted that my waist always seemed to collect as many numbers as my age did. As well, it was also clear that a man approaching fifty should have at least some wrinkles to speak of. I am without one laugh line, one crows foot, one crease. My suspicion is that every time one starts to form, I just stuff in another hoagie, and out it pops, quick and painless.

PA-6338349-310x415A poor man’s Botox? I could market this. Would certainly help pay for that trainer and gym I so desperately need. I wonder, honestly, how long he or she would want to continue trying to work my body into shape. Is there enough money in the world to try to haul a potato with limbs off its root-bound asses and up top of an exerbike or elliptical? How many days of trying to motivate a man hell-bent on figuring out new ways to create sammiches made of Alpha Getti and beans could they endure before they cracked.

A lard ass is never an easy thing to part with. My bicycling to nowhere in pursuit of that goal is proof positive of that fact. pig-butt

So, I have two options in front of me. I can make peace with a pant size that sadly boasts a matching number for my next birthday, or I can take my well insulated self out that front door, and energetically march to the strains of Kylie and P!nk on my iPhone. “Put down that fork” I’ll exclaim as I merrily lunch on a carrot. I can sit up instead of sitting down. I can…I just need to start believing in those two words.

“I can’t”. You’ve controlled too many aspects of my life, held me back, and have poisoned my spirit.

I will not resolve to lose the weight. I won’t commit to being a better person. I refuse to promise to write that proverbial opus during the next year. What I will do is banish “I can’t” to the bottom of the Atlantic.

It’s amazing how much power those two little words have. Like cigarettes, I too can control and excise that hateful little addiction by stuffing them in between two rocks, and sending them to their death, never to be heard from again.

Maybe then my long lost inner-self shall once again find his way out of the land of stretch fit and polyester.

The world is my oyster. It doesn’t mean I need to spend my life dining on it!

Dreams do come true, for those that persevere. I choose to dream about a life where self-imposed restriction and recrimination lose their power. Then, and only then will my dream become, well, beautiful.

Pass the low-fat, and I’ll pass on the spuds.

The Write Stuff

When it comes to writing, it seems to me that there are times I can absolutely make a word dance and sing for me. Then again, there are also times where I find myself on that proverbial rack, being stretched in four different directions. On the main crank, you will find punctuation turning and tightening while grammar proceeds to verbally have its way with me. For all to witness, there lies one frustrated man, with the Wizard of Words pointing and laughing as I cry out for phonetic mercy. Remind me to drown that bastard in a pitcher of milk, will ya?

Words, words and MORE WORDS!

Words, words and MORE WORDS!

I must admit my output for my poor blog space has been pathetic over the last year. It truly has. And that sucks, because real, decent people tend to like reading my tattered hyperbole and clever catch phrases. They must, because they’re always saying so. It’s not as if I haven’t had the time. In fact, time has been my constant companion. And it’s zipped by. Warp 2, lieutenant.

So what’s been my excuse. Well, for one thing, lack of confidence. A complete, total, and utter void in the “I can” department. Oh, I’ve watched myself sit down at this well-worn keyboard, hour after hour, trying to paint a masterpiece out of syllables and syntax, only to find I’ve pounded out a pile of literary oatmeal; cold, congealed and wholly unfit for print. It’s not that I’ve lacked inspiration. I’ve had a lot happening in my world, much of it very difficult, so I do lay some of the blame on that

I suppose. At this moment, my family is facing a triple-header in the cancer games. Admittedly, I’ve had a lot of my creativity evaporate due to this particular situation. However, that in itself is no excuse, either. I mean, c’mon buddy, you’ve faced down some pretty big dragons before, and managed to continue to create.

Could also be that I’m missing some absent friends very deeply. I’ve incurred some heavy losses over the last couple of years, and it’s being felt. I find it very hard to not having these people in my corner. But, life only loans you friendship sometime, and I’ve had to accept that painful fact, and try to live with the knowledge that they’re happier without my drama.

Blockhead strikes again!

Blockhead strikes again!

My lack of output does have some root in my learning about the power of my words. I’ve had the misfortune of seeing my efforts used as weapons against others.I will tell you, the reader, that in all honesty, I nearly turned heel on writing, permanently. I never wanted to hurt a single human being, but with the stroke of a pen, I hurt many.

Life lesson learned, pray for forgiveness, and turn the page.

I have, however, been working behind the scenes. This year saw the finish of my first draft on “ChickenFeetz”. I’m proud of the fact that I saw this through, and got a beautiful bonus when I learned from a trusted friend and very much published writer that I had what seems to be a diamond in the rough. That made my year. Now, the hard work begins….shaping it into the kind of book it deserves to be. I am very much up for the challenge.

I have also been writing a bi-monthly column for an electronic “Bear” magazine. And, to my surprise, I’ve got some great reviews on the work. Colour me shocked! I take a lot of comfort in the fact that I have great writers who seem to admire my work. It tells me that I’m on the right path, writing “The Write Stuff”.

What I now need to focus on is output, and stepping further and further outside my comfort zone, so that I can stretch my creative muscles, and put to paper some good quality work. I want to make my readers laugh. I also want to make them think. Yet, I realize now that first, I must give them something to do both by.

I’d like to take an opportunity to thank Jeff Herman for his constant support, and his belief in my ability. I don’t know that he’ll ever understand just how important his opinion is to me. It’s kept me going when the dry times come, and has spurred  this writer towards that next plateau.

I’d also like to give a BIG shout-out to Kerry Hiatt. This quirky and wonderfully brash woman has been instrumental in helping me to see what I am capable of doing, and always has a constructive word on hand when I hit that wall made of concrete letters. I look forward to really getting myself up over this next ledge, and cannot thank you enough for all that you are. Never stop being you, and always make time for moustaches!

My partner is crime, Claudene. The two of us have seen heaven and hell together, and I can always count on her to see “me” in the murk, and to just reach out and share a plot or two. She’s my editor extraordinaire, and without her, I’d be spewing out run-ons that would never find their way to that period they so need and want.

Jessica Gauthier.

She’s a fellow blogger here on WordPress: http://writtenmusing.wordpress.com/, and one of my staunchest supporters. I wonder if she knows just how much I have always admired her. I love her humour, her candour, and her ability to take her plans, and make them work for her, all while juggling a very active life. She’s about as fine a writer as there is, and I’m thrilled she takes the time and effort to read my efforts, even when they’re not worthy of anyone’s time or attention.

Rob McCarrol

Another WordPress alumni: http://iamscoundrel.com/, and a man who possesses some of the most creative work you could ever hope to read. We’ve always held a bit of a mutual admiration society when it came to the other’s work. I know I always feel a need to step up my game when he posts to print, and I must say, I am consistently inspired by the body of work he generates. It’s always class A stuff, and a joy to read.

Noah Goad-Moore

The only writer that sends me scurrying for my dictionary. There is not a word this man has printed that I haven’t anxiously read. He’s a mix between Mark Twain and Norma Rae. Sometimes, funny, often creative, but wholly talented. I am consistently in awe of just what kind of smarts this man has up in his head, and enjoy that it’s put to good, artistic use. Someday, it’s my hope he writes a few books, because I think he needs to be anything but this “best kept secret’. This man does not post nearly often enough for my liking, but if you’d like a small sample of what he’s capable of writing, please indulge yourselves at: http://nomogoarc.blogspot.ca/

I must make mention here, when paying tribute, to one very funny man. So funny, in fact, that a lot of the laughter that makes its way into my work is in direct response to him and that succinctly unique laugh track he has built into his robust and unapologetic personality. Mark Cantlon has always been one hell of a big cheerleader when I was all out of cheer. He’s made of whoopi cushions and politically incorrect punch lines, and every single time we start on one another, there is always a screen in need of a wipe, a shirt in need of a change, a keyboard in need of a blotting. I’m so glad I have this great gift of friendship and mirth to draw on. I’m always the better for the sharing.

I’d like to thank you, my readers, for standing by me, patiently, while I repeatedly got my act together. It cannot be easy supporting a writer that so rarely writes. And I will try to rectify that when life starts to get back to normal again (if that ever does happen).

In the meantime, know that I am working my fingers into the keys, and pumping out product, even if that product doesn’t always end up front and centre here, at http://www.tazzybehr.com

Thank-You-Christmas

Stay smilin’
Da Taz!

I want to wish you all the MERRIEST of Christmases, and the best and brightest start to your New Year. And, again, thank you, everyone, for continuing to support and stand by me through these difficult times my family and I have struggled with. It means the world to me.

Remembrance

Here’s a piece I wrote last year for Remembrance Day. I felt it still stood on it’s merits, so here it is again, for those that may not have partaken in it’s content last year.

Some gave all.

Tazzybehr

November 11th.

What kind of day is today. Will the daylight warm my sun-kissed cheeks, or will the blustery winds wail upon my exposed flesh as I walk through the streets of London, taking in the sights of the dormant trees that occupy my field of vision.

Or, will I take a moment, and think about those that can no longer experience any of this.

To many, November 11th is a half day off of work. And seeing that this date falls upon a Sunday this year, these people will gripe about that loss. To school children, it’s nothing more than a recitation of some dusty old poem. Or dreaded homework over the weekend writing a passage on what November 11th means to them. It may bring an assembly, and welcomed time away from school blackboards, but nothing more.

To most Canadians, it is a staid, rigid program that happens…

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