Posted on | January 28, 2016 | No Comments
There are times in life where I get a crazy idea and I don’t feel like keeping it in my head.
This can be seen when I’m waiting for the bus, listening to Pusha T and dancing in a crowd of people pissed off that it’s snowing. This happens in subways when people are reading advertisements and I’m banging my head like crazy to the latest Grimes song. This happens in several non-dancing circumstances that I cannot recall at this moment.
Anyway you’re wondering what this is about.
It’s been awhile. There has to be a reason I’m here.
Yesterday was “Let’s Talk” day and I realized no one really mentions the upside about living outside of social norm. Or having anxiety or whatever the fuck you want to call being honestly human. There’s the chuckling really loudly that may seem socially disruptive but actually feels really good. There’s also the pleasure of having an idea and acting on it before rational thought can get in the way. Because a lot of nice things aren’t done when put under aggressive logical analysis. Your brain is meant to solve problems so if you use it the way it was meant to be used your really never thinking about how insanely capable you are of creating magic. Reason has a habit of stopping magic.
I’m sitting at the bar at a restaurant I go to sometimes. Eating ribs. Most likely getting some on my face.
And I notice this threesome. Two older men, one older woman. And this older woman shines with this intense amusement and energy. Black hair, elven smile, skin aged like pen strokes from a master artist who took the time to write all the jokes she tells in her laugh lines. I find myself stealing glances at her.
She touches her husband’s face, sort of just covering his eyes for a split second to get him to look at her because she still likes having his attention. I’m going to go ahead and guess they have been married for decades. And he startles because he doesn’t want a finger in his eye and looks at her and it’s crazy. Magic. He’s in an exactly the spot he wants to be. I guarantee this guy wakes up in the morning and looks at her and goes to the washroom and high fives his mirror. Like damn we did good. And then probably does a hundred push-ups just because he wants to have more mornings like this. Just because he wants to live forever.
And it hits me in the chest. And the idea occurs. I turn to my waiter and whisper, “Do you know how much their bill came to?”
The waiter tells me. Not sure why I’m asking. Assuming I’m being intrusive because I am sometimes. It’s a lot to spend on an impulse for a complete and total stranger. But fuck it. These moments don’t happen everyday.
“I’ll pay the bill.”
“What? Do you know them? Random act of kindness?”
I shake my head. This isn’t random. I want that to be clear.
“Alright. I got it. On one condition. When you tell them that the bill is covered you have to tell the woman it’s because she’s beautiful. I want her to hear that.”
I pay their bill and my bill and I leave without letting them know who I am. And I’m imagining what happened next over and over in my head as I type this. Their surprise that someone covered the bill. Them looking up expecting to see someone they know. Learning that the person is gone and asking why it happened. And her getting to hear that it’s because she’s beautiful. And I feel this deep hope that she’ll carry this strange moment with her as an unresolved mystery. And everyday she will remember that strangers think she’s beautiful. And maybe she will get a sense of the extreme wonderful effect she has on the world simply by caring about the people in her life. That she won’t forget she shines.
So I imagine the waiter coming toward the table.
Them looking up. The words passing through the waiter’s lips.
“A stranger covered your cheque. He said it’s because he thinks you’re beautiful.”
I imagine what the smile looks like. I imagine her thinking about it in a week or a month or a year and having that same smile. I don’t know what that smile looks like. So the mystery stays with me. So I get to keep it unresolved. As a question. As a mystery. As a reminder that we don’t get to see the effect we have on strangers. That we can do more than we think we are capable of. That somethings are better than our imagination.
I write this story because I want to remember that moments like this are possible. That some things are better than being reasonable.
You probably thought this story was over. I certainly did.
What if I told you that my interpretation of events was almost entirely inaccurate?
So I may have not been wearing my glasses when all this happened or in stealing glances I may have been a poor eyewitness.
I think my glasses were foggy and I may have taken them off and forgot to put them back on. Today the waiter was excited to explain what happened. It didn’t exactly conform to my expectations.
“They were so amazed that someone had done that for their daughter and that their meals were covered too. They were giddy.”
“Yeah the elderly couple and their daughter.”
“Wait. How old was their daughter?”
It occurs to me that the math doesn’t add up. One of the old men was a woman. The only one who could be a daughter was the raven haired woman. Which creates some questions.
See they were in a dark corner. And not having my glasses on (or being a terrible witness) I assumed a lot of things that weren’t quite true. I thought I saw a man and his wife. It was actually his daughter. She was playing with her father’s face. Being affectionate but a different kind of affection. Sherlock wins again.
1) The second old man was actually a senior citizen woman and the first elderly man’s wife. I don’t quite understand why I thought that. Possibly because it’s rude to stare.
2) The woman who I thought was an older woman was actually 35 but the shadows playing in the corner of the restaurant were tricky and I made a mistake. She looked extremely youthful because she was actually just five years older than me. So it sort of changes the perceived meaning of the gesture. It also prevents me from explaining what I thought I was doing because culture has this absurd idea that you shouldn’t assume 35 year old women are actually 60.
3) Consolation. Her parents were South African retirees and had been struggling with their English. They had been feeling uncomfortable in a new country and were moved nearly to tears by this strange display of kindness.
While the gesture remains good and pure it was not at all what I thought it was and my reasons came from poor eyesight and a total misunderstanding of almost everything that was happening. I thought I’d share this with you. Sometimes you do a good thing for a good reason. But then it turns out that you completely misread the situation and your good reason is a play of light, a darkened corner of a restaurant, possibly absent glasses and an overactive imagination. And even with your faulty understanding of what is actually going on you can end up doing a completely different kind gesture.
If I meet this woman in real life I will not be able to explain the meaning of my gesture or my mistaken belief that she was married to her father. It doesn’t take away from what happened or even destroy the sentiment that inspired it. I wanted to make someone feel good about themselves. I succeeded.
It just proves that life isn’t quite how we imagine it.
Which is a little magical in and of itself.
Posted on | October 9, 2015 | No Comments
I once gave a girl named Rachel Denkers a rock.
I told her that if she threw it away I would die. I assume she has kept it.
Weirdly enough I have heard numerous confirmations in the decade since I picked up a rock and passed it to her that she still has it. I gave it to her through whimsy. Rachel was cute. Intelligent and interesting. She had a boyfriend. I later became friends with said boyfriend and years passed and lives changed.
But there is magic in moments where you act totally insane. And there is magic in objects with story.
I was writing a fantasy book at the time. I spent seven years writing it. For a long time it was total garbage. I remember passing it to numerous people throughout the years and them reading it. Or trying to. And writing various amount of replies about part 1 and then eventually being unable to go any further. Think of it as their crappy version of Infinite Jest. It was called For Four and it was about those strange moments where life lines up and synchronicity sings. Where life makes sense and if you’re like me you collect those moments. You have a few of them and sometimes the sense bends and breaks and you are on a new journey.
One of the people who read a snippet of the book was a very odd man named Professor John Barnstead. He taught a science fiction class in his spare time. At a very young age he made a picture of a bus which explained the theory of relativity. He was head of the Russian department at Dalhouise University and pretty much any student whoever had him remembers his eccentric brilliance. He is in the Dalhousie Hall of Fame and he has changed a couple of my friends lives with his intelligence and encouragement.
I loved his class. He got me to read Canticle of Lebowitz and I have gotten dozens of others to read it as a result. I decided he should read For Four or at least a segment of the complicated mythology I had come up with. He told me it was good. That I had something. That he believed I could be a writer.
It was years later that he confessed he had been lying at the time. The book was a mess. But I seemed so hopeful. And psychotically determined.
Sometimes lies mean something. A lie can be hope to a writer looking for a sign that he hasn’t wasted his life. A few years later my friend Phil agreed to edit it. Over 13 months I rewrote the book entirely and we met every week to go over it. Until it was something I was really proud of.
I can remember the moment someone I didn’t know read it and told me he thought I was a good writer. That he made it through all 150,000 words and loved it. And that feeling of overwhelming relief. I cried on the floor of my room. Knowing that I was doing the right thing. That I was going to be that big thing. A writer.
The book didn’t get published but I can read it and enjoy it. And that moment wouldn’t have happened without that well placed lie.
After a lot of tinkering I brought it back to Professor Barnstead and he read the whole thing again and he confessed his lie. He said it was true now and he was proud of me. He also gave me two fourleaf clovers that he found while reading it. In honor of For Four. I left the two four leaf clovers in a box when I moved to Toronto. And found them on my last somewhat ill fated trip to Halifax.
And they’ve been good luck.
Writing has always been a method for me to convert pain to beauty.
And after my last trip to Halifax I was ready to write again.
Sometimes objects are as magic as the people who gave them to you.
And Professor John Barnstead is a lot of magic. And I realized I wrote things for him to read but I never wrote about what his reading my work meant to me.
Posted on | October 2, 2015 | No Comments
Darwin was a monkey,
Adam was a murderer of innocence
A meme of internet interest,
the evolution of what’s holy and scientific
And how they intersect
And all the truth we can fit in an instant
In life and death, God and insect
Every atom began with a big bang, and the news cycle is infinite
Hitch your chariot to that horror and ride it
Lord knows everyone else has tried it
Even I did
Start your article with while others in the media have cited these two things and I deny them
You have to tell the truth, as if everyone else believe they were lying
when they climbed into the belly of the Beast, Leviathan
Went and did it it’s misogynistic, only white men did it, these crimes are chauvinistic,
let me design it, I’m totally committed
We will close our mental health centers and fill our prisons
10,000 murders that regular guy with guns committed,
assault rifles need to be expressly forbidden,
guns can guarantee our freedom and protect our children,
the perfect gift for Christmas for a civilian, who remembers thanksgiving from the point of view of the pilgrim, more guns in our schools, principal as the hired hitman,
We just need to pray for a good religion
God apparently had a hissy fit, he had these audiobooks and no one would listen to them
The victims names and pictures as they listed them
The media for telling us that it even existed and interviewing kids after five minutes of the violence that they just witnessed
Freedom has a hitlist
Those that suffer most turned into murderers and villains,
TV tells what’s evil isn’t the killing, Chuck Norris can kill the villains
Even if the body count is in the millions
The moral is that only the government are allowed to murder children
Using this a way of starting a conversation about mental illness is like using Scarface to for education about drug addiction
Any excuse we can use to say that if we only we could fix them
As if evil actions were the result of a mental condition rather than mental conditioning
Whatever label we can affix to them
As long as it is us against them
Won’t help 17 year old unless he has slashed wrist with him
For an Emergency room to admit him
He needs to have a good plan for them to listen
Photoshop him, and take pictures of everyone who would miss him
And we can say how could we have missed this
Society is sick so we want to believe it’s personal illness rather than what we believe willed this
We know how it killed them
Because we were the ones that built them
And baby I still remember how we spent the billions
We got from selling violence to children
Back in the day
We really made a killing
Posted on | September 15, 2015 | No Comments
How dope can you get
Ask the junkie as he lights the jets that let him lucid dream
Lucy in the sky with diamonds on the soles of her feet
Dancing to the beat of I am leaving on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again, baby I hate to go
But papa’s a soul man
He doesn’t make music he’s just a fan,
been so since the first rythm ruined his life
He has an excellent record collection and a life he sometimes recollects at night
In his arm he feels the blues bite
The needle buries its steel teeth in wax and asks him again with respect
How dope can you get
Baby it’s true
Miles Davis used his bitches brew, playing broken fingers of God and the smile of you know who,
while on the heroin nod, little light he let shine,
Chet Baker had his own funny little Valentine
Kurt played unplugged, Nirvana unstuck in time, plugged into the machines that separates his skin at the seams
With a chokehold on inspiration, crack and weed make Rakim’s eyes bleed and there comes Cream, Wu Tang 36 chambers of Shaolin,
Old Dirty Bastard howling
Oh baby I like my raw
Along the Watchtowers in multicolored clothes, the world saw Ladies Screamed Death and Hendrix composed
How many highs came out of their lows
Negatives turned positive when the proofs were exposed
Number one hits dilated eyes to slits and blissed out eyes gave way to sold out shows
Dope music let’s you let go, behind the curtain in a frenzy of echoes
What the fuck do you expect
Turning life to poetry when you cannot stand the prose
How dope can you get
Carried by worshippers wearing his crown of shit,
Johnny Cash almost drowned and came out of it
Elvis died a King in Graceland, face a sagging recollection that he used to be handsome
The junkie looks to get outside of his head and ends up barricading himself inside the clutching veins
addicts always live in attics without windowpanes
His burnt fingers can’t play the guitar and his smoked skin, looks like a man who wants to get out, so bad he can’t be let in, a King in a world of flesh lives as a skeleton all of his memories are of trying to forget
45’s in all barrels, hoping to be on their way to 33,unfortunately all devils die early and don’t go to heaven
He’s 45 and he’s never been 27
How dope can you get
The Jester is worshipped,
all jokers stuck in the middle with you in a world that’s all ears In a sea of dead Davincis
So much talent, Jim Morrison becomes GG Allin
Mirages make oases out of salt water,living for future generations, but not living long enough to see his daughter
Papa was a rolling stone but not a father
How dope can you get
In a world without time, he can’t hear the music
The records are skipping, and his heart can’t keep up with his mind
The motors old and the vinyl has watermarks
Slowing down the constant of movement, in a world of sharks
How dope can you get
The response is a needle scratching that no longer makes any music
You can only let life get so far away before you lose it
The junkie dies in a room of records,remorse and regrets
The stacks were against him, and jokers always get taken out of the decks
How dope can you get
The answer was a hundred percent.
Posted on | December 30, 2014 | No Comments
The reality in life is that people are almost always too close or too far away.
Proximity invites conflict. Distance invites loneliness.
Distance is yearning, hope and no arms around you when you sleep. With distance you can be selfish, you can own yourself so completely there is no other reality than the one that exists in your head. It can be perfect and you can revel in the pain of the perfectionist, of the idealist, holding onto what comes next, of what could be. It also means that you secure yourself against the world. The other is being witnessed in highs and lows, in strength and weakness, in feeling each moment so strongly you lose common sense, your misery so sharp you forget to notice where it falls into joy, where you are mood, where you are passing through agony and bliss so rapidly you forget the movement exists at all.You also will make mistakes. Many of them, many many of them. Some because you can’t escape your head. Others because you can’t read minds.
The point of these endeavors is to get close to people because ultimately the best moments and worst moments in your life involved other people. It becomes clear that you can’t do this without invading someone else’s space. You can’t do it flawlessly because they have built up their own routines for how life can be safe, how distance can feel as secure as a warm blanket. You’ll get in their way. They will get in yours. You will attempt to please them. With time this runs out and you become simply awkwardly yourself. Because there really is no other choice after awhile. And sometimes you won’t be fun. Sometimes you won’t be interesting. All you need to do is not pull away so far that you can’t come back.
Sometimes you won’t want to be held. Sometimes you’ll need it like a child does, because you can’t get close to someone else without first getting close to yourself. And being that close can hurt. You feel those wounds you’ve avoided by living shallow. By letting your life be dictated by trivial things, by defining your moments purely by following your interests and obsessions, imagining your humanity was simply a TV screen to be filled with the latest programs and your voice simply a laugh track and Facebook status to be shared with the world.
It feels like going insane. Everything seems to have meaning attached to it. Every second has weight. When you are in their orbit. And the meaning falls away and is replaced with some other mood. Some other gust of wind. And it’s capricious and unreasonable as the weather where the lightning that strikes you may have nothing to do with you. There is that amazing sensation where you hear the rain falling in cascades and you know they can’t go inside yet and you grab your kite instead of an umbrella. Because you know tonight they get struck by lightning and you aren’t willing to let them do it alone.
When people are far away they can be perfect and so can you. This is why unrequited love hurt you so badly as a child. This is why we mythologize reunions and hide relationships in entertainment. We want the closeness that comes with catharsis. We don’t want the process of breaking that leads to catharsis. It’s easier to be a friend than to be a lover. It’s easier to watch the Olympics than compete in it. When I’m single I give advice to my friends in relationships and think they’re insane. So wrapped up in small issues. So stuck in their own head. Going into crisis and emerging from it with no memory. As though each salvation was special. As though each step forward a high dive miracle.
It’s easy to see it as insanity when you aren’t inside it.
Sometimes I think people who don’t go crazy have run too far away from life. Sometimes I think that completely rational people are unable to poop.
The experiment makes no sense to the scientist. But here was what I realize when I’m inside it. When I am close enough to people that I put my self into jeopardy. Those moments when I am just close enough to people, when they sneak further inside me than I thought they could have come as a result of constant company. Years disappear with the world on my periphery. I don’t remember. It’s when things that messy I remember. Because time slows down when you are close. You can feel the pressure of being seen, of noticing your own racing heartbeat, your own speeding thoughts, you can’t be numb like this, no matter how much you drink, how much you smoke, how much you pretend, it hurts to be this close because every cell in your body is alive.
You have to risk people getting too close to have them get close enough.
Or to put it yet another way, how close you are to life dictates how quickly it passes, how fully you remember it, how much meaning people have for you. With distance time barely exists, your memories are flimsy when not granted weight by pain and hope. By allowing someone close you can experience the very nature of time change. Space dictates time.
Posted on | December 20, 2014 | No Comments
So there’s this joke I have been trying to word. It’s good. I mean I laugh. Sort of.
So this guy is experiencing low grade anxiety.
Nothing big. Just feels a bit like a teakettle collecting stem or a man about to scream into the face of a stranger on a bus.
He just wakes up and he wishes he could go back to sleep. Maybe his thoughts race a little. Maybe no matter what he does he keeps coming back to feeling a bit like a failure. He doesn’t like to think about this. He prefers to think about Doctor Who and how so many British actors could play the same man.
He figures there has to be something his doctor can deal with. Maybe his medication isn’t working. Maybe his thyroid is working a little too well or not well enough. Maybe he needs a lexus.
So he goes to his doctor, little dude, like two feet tall. But he seems big. The Doctor seems big I mean, not the guy, the guy is not really noteable height wise. But the Doctor, he stands on a stool and he yells at alot.Wears hats. And he has this deep voice. Like a cave is in his throat and everything he says echoes. And he is better at basketball than you’d expect. Anyways…..
Doctor checks him out. Looks in his throat. Looks in his ears. I don’t know why he does this. I don’t think you can see anxiety. Though I imagine it might be in your ears. Does a blood test. Nothing comes up. And they are flummoxed. I mean they look up that word in the dictionary and that is the only thing that describes their level of confusion.This just doesn’t make sense.
Then the Doctor casually decides to prescribe him a pill because he figures fuck it, this will make this unctuous tall bastard quiet down. The man blushes. Feels his heartbeat start to rise. He can’t afford medication. He is doing a calculation his head and it’s how much further down he can comfortably take his bank account into over draft.
The Doctor chuckles. “You don’t have depression. You’re unhealthy but not more than most tall bastards. You’re money sick.”
“You need more money. Than you’d be happy.”
Money sick is a condition where you worry about money all the time. You feel embarrassed and shameful when asked about your life because you lack the proper amount of money to feel confident. You also take a lot about what you watched on netflix. Because socializing is the one expense you can cut out. And you don’t feel quite so alone when you’re watching enough TV. That’s how the doctor describes it. He asks the guy, “Are you watching enough TV”
Because if you watch enough TV you will be well armed for your social conversations. The ones that happen incidentally at work or at a coffee shop. Because other people are also money sick and have been watching their Netflix, the church that protects the world from the realization of their Great Depression. It’s that sense of collective doom you feel and the irritation yelled in your face in Facebook. It’s the smoke from the fire of helplessness. It’s money sick.
So the Doctor realizes he could just give the guy some money. A little bit.Then he realizes how high his taxes are. How expensive his first home is. And he decides to talk about that for a while. And then write a refill for the guy’s anti-depressants.
Because a doctor can’t cure everything.
Posted on | December 16, 2014 | No Comments
I don’t understand why people don’t want to give speeches at funerals. For me that would be a big moment. I would write the hell out of it. People would cry. People would cheer. I would momentarily be your grandmother’s hero.
I’m not saying I’m ghoulishly excited about the death of those close to me. I’m more concerned about what happens before death. The idea of no one inviting me to give a speech.
I’m not waiting to give a speech at your funeral. I’m just thinking about that disconnect where people are worried about public speaking rather than the loss of a connection with someone who is close enough to you that they would want you to speak at their funeral. There has to be a very few people who would want me to speak at their funeral. And I don’t think this is where my writing career is headed. I don’t want to be a freelance funeral speaker. I would obviously be very good at it.
What I want to focus on is how much we fear awkward conversations. Even though we know the people we love could die. How many times have we jettisoned meaningful relationships because we didn’t want to get in a fight with them about we feel they’ve mistreated us? Two hours of feeling uncomfortable or stop being friends with someone who loves us and for some reason annoys the fuck out of us at this particular moment?
My tendency is to let things drift.
If you are anything like me you fear arguments for a simple reason. You suspect this might just be the moment when someone reaches behind the curtain and grabs the little man working the wires, that terrified little midget that lurks at the heart of all humans, that inner child panicked and crying at adult life who is sure people understand how little he is able to live it. And then drag the little man around to meet everyone else you know. And suddenly you aren’t allowed to do your job. Or associate with your friends. Because you’re a fake. Because you don’t deserve it. And they might know you well enough to know it and explain it.
Or maybe not. Maybe you can somehow rationalize how bottling up your feelings will be beneficial to everyone. That the people around you have big enough problems that they don’t need to deal with yours. So instead of opening up, getting into an argument or serious discussion you quietly drift out of their lives forever. Because you’d rather let a relationship die than face your own culpability in the situation you find yourself in.
It’s interesting to me how we lose important connections because we don’t want to feel momentarily awkward. Because we fear not bad situations but confirming the truth of them. Think of all the people who stay married when the love is dead, who stay in friendships where they no longer have anything in common. Because we fear the truth. We think it might be truth etched out of the same poisonous material that makes up our minds.
We would rather be in a situation that is rotting and dying than have to suffer a surgery to excise the cancer. To learn that we don’t love perfect people. That they don’t love us because we are perfect. To learn that the more you love a person the more conflict you will experience.
This is inspired by nothing in particular in my own life. But a podcast considered to be the greatest podcast of all time. Where Mark Maron and Louie CK deal with the ups and downs of their close friendship. Where Mark Maron’s insecurities pushed him away from people who could note them.
I’m at a time of change. Where I’m striving with everything I have to reach my goals and as yet have little to show for the struggle. Where I don’t really want to talk about my life with people. Because I can see are at different places and I’m at a different place than I want to be. I wonder if this shame about my own life means that I’m not there for the people who need me. Because I don’t call because I don’t want to spend money that socializing entails. Because I am so concerned with getting where I want to be that I don’t check in to see where you are.
Well I love you. And I want to be there.
Even when my life isn’t great to talk about. I want to hear where you are at.
Posted on | September 16, 2014 | No Comments
What if those things you hate about yourself were beautiful?
What if it was perfectly reasonable to want to be safe
What all that pain and worry gave you compassion
What if that war you fight with yourself makes you part of the human race
What if your mistakes saved your friends from following in your footsteps
What if your utter exhaustation lead you to your dreams
What if you had a good heart and you performed a couple shitty surgeries to make sure it wouldn’t hurt like it did and you have to undo the damage by walking through agony and love was your reward
What if the pain you’ve lived with was a measure of the wisdom you’ve experienced
What if you had done things differently, if you’d been smarter, what if you didn’t have the friends you do, if I didn’t get a chance to get to know you, if you’d been more successful and we hadn’t had too many drinks and said inappropriate things
What if you weren’t insane, you were just getting to know yourself
What if sanity isn’t really being anyone, just making yourself a mould of what someone else wanted to make you
What if you couldn’t know anyone else until you stopped seeing yourself as some boat meant to take you somewhere else where you wouldn’t be, whatever the hell you don’t want to be that you are
What if the reason people struggle to connect with you isn’t your imperfection
But your inability to love yourself even if you have some opinions you disagree with
What if they have some opinions they disagree with
If their knee jerks when there’s lightning in the air and their reactions are also fucking stupid sometimes.
How could they expect to be loved for who they are when you can’t love you who are
What if all that unnecessary suffering wasn’t you choosing to hurt yourself
But trying to make your life better
And no one ever having really told you how to do that
What if all those things you want to get rid of were to go and you didn’t have any character left
It’s lonely being perfect
And everybody needs somebody to love them
And Mr. and Mrs. Perfect don’t need anyone at all
Posted on | September 15, 2014 | No Comments
I remember walking through a Freshco in my pajama pants on the phone with my dad trying not to cry. Also trying to find yogurt. But not mainly trying not to cry.
His voice was gentle and mine was fighting panic.
I did cry but we haven’t gotten there yet.
My house burned down the previous November and a girl I didn’t know died. Her name was Alisha.
For the first months after the fire I was trying to finish my movie, find a place to live, enjoying being in love for the first time in years. I felt like I was okay with it. I felt like I had dealt with at the time.
On my birthday I found out that I had to go back into my old house to get the film equipment we had left behind. Doing so felt cathartic. But in the back of my mind this terrible anxiety was growing. Each ordinary problem felt magnified. There was this deep sense that there had to be a reason my life felt so out of control.
And I am in the grocery store crying.
A few days earlier I had been telling someone about the movie I made. How my house burned a few days after. And they asked me if my film equipment had lead to an electrical fire.
And I felt this deep sickness building in my stomach. I said nothing for a few days. Just locked in this ironclad sense of shame. This belief that somehow I was responsible for the fire that burned down my home. That I had killed someone.
Inadvertently. By accident. With my dreams of being a writer.
I knew it was unreasonable, I also was scared that I believed it.
I called my dad because when I fall apart I call my dad.
He explained to me step by step how my fears were impossible. If the circuit was going to blow it would have happened during filming, if an electrical fire happened I was no more responsible than if I had simply plugged in my laptop, if the wiring was faulty it was the landlords fault. He was careful, he was thorough and he was convincing. And he was right.
And I was crying.
Part of trauma is a sense that you could have done something differently. A lingering guilt. A desire to protect yourself from ever feeling like this again. Telling someone about my fear marginally released the tension. Seeing a therapist gave me the perspective that I needed to be patient with my pain. And the tremendous tension lessened.
A week ago I went to a ceremony where butterflies were released to honour lost loved ones in High Park.
I met Alisha’s mother and father. I met her friends. I made awkward jokes and watched them crying feeling like a space alien watching Earthlings. I never feel things right away.
And I watched frozen butterflies try to fly into the warm heat of the sunlight running rampant through High Park.
It took a few days for it to hit me. To realize how close I came to my own loved ones being hurt like that. To see how one of the worst experiences of my life was infinitely worse for her mother and father and her friends. And that type of pain makes you crack a bit inside. The safe walls crumble. The feelings go places you don’t want them to go.
I wanted somehow to be able to make them ok.
I remember that walk through the grocery store. The panic and the relief. How my desire for a simple explanation as to why bad things happen to good people forced me to my knees.
I wanted my dad to somehow be able to explain it to them like he explained it to me. It’s not your fault. Bad things happen. I know it feels horrible but this isn’t your fault. There was nothing you could have done.
The tears that fell down my cheeks were from relief and release. That maybe I could let go. I hope that the tears that fell down their cheeks as butterflies left their palms were the same type of tears.
And I still want an easy answer.
I don’t want to have to make peace with a hundred times. I want to be able to control it. I want to be able to control how I feel.
Only I can’t.
Human life is fragile. People love you and would be shattered by your absence. Each moment we live is lucky. It hurts that we can’t control our feelings anymore than we can prevent tragedy from taking what is irreplaceable.
There is nothing wrong with feeling pain when the world is incredibly unfair. There is nothing wrong with losing a little patience with yourself when you suffer more than you’d like.
From my own experience I’d recommend picking up the phone and sharing the thoughts you’d like to keep hidden with someone who loves you. They might be able to carry it a little bit better. They might be able to lighten the load.
You might feel better. Even if you’re weeping in a grocery store in your pajamas. Even if they are out of the yogurt you were looking for.
Posted on | September 4, 2014 | No CommentsBrief Intro: Sorry for the Upworthy style title. I just feel like people should read this. Because my friend said some important things and he said them well. I’m not super close to Ken Thomson. We went to school together. We may have talked about a few geeky things because like me he is a geek. He had a great beard and that was about all I really knew about him. Besides he could write. And we graduated the same year from university and apparently we’ve had similar feelings when we went through Facebook feeds and saw what seemed to be a legion of our friends finding success as we were a little embarrassed by our own lives. We also both live with depression. His story is about wanting to kill himself and seeking out a friend who could help when he most needed it. It brought tears to my eyes. Because he talks about a lot of things many of us go through that we can’t put into words. I was blown away by his bravery. I expect you will be too. Michael Kimber Kenneth Thomson September 2nd, 2014 A month ago I was ready to kill myself, and had Kylee not opened her door when I showed up unannounced that Saturday, I very well might have.
This is a hard thing to admit, to having been suicidal, especially so recently. I have been worried about saying anything for fear that now everyone will think of me as some delicate flower, or some object of pity, or an attention seeking drama queen, or that people will just walk away, because why invest in something that might be gone soon? And when you’re surrounded by people who are achieving things in their lives and careers its embarrassing to say “I can’t even get out of bed some mornings,” let alone “I just want to not be alive” when they’re buying homes and starting families. So I’ve been a bit distant lately, but a weekend with some friends changed that, I think.
I’ve been depressed for years. Probably longer than some of you have known me. And I think I’ve been anxious for probably longer. Since June I’ve been on medication, seeking counselling, and I’ve been given a handful of self-help books (thanks Su, Robyn & Chuck).
It was really easy to ignore it all for so long. Not that the signs weren’t there. I’ve spent years seeking out shit jobs because I simply don’t think I deserve a job that could make me happy, especially when everyone else is simply better. I started smoking because it’s the only socially accepted way to kill yourself. I have a selfish attitude towards relationships. I find a flaw in everything. I’ve been avoiding social situations because I just figured I’m a miserable bastard and who would want that around? I’ve had an e-mail drafted to a friend for over two years. I kept saying “once I have something good to say, I’ll finish it off and send it.” Two years. Getting a good night’s sleep has been hard for a year now, at least.
Recently, and probably much longer than that, it all started really affecting my relationships with others. I was getting short with people, so many little things would just piss me off. The performance anxiety in the bedroom did me very few favours with the ladies or my confidence. I watched myself systematically destroy a dear friend’s trust in me, because how dare they be happy when I’m not. To top it all off I had a day where I physically could not leave my house. I just couldn’t face the world.
I went to the doctor, got some medication and an appointment with mental health. I quit my job, which just felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. But as “happy” as i seemed, i still couldn’t sleep well, and my thoughts when I had a few seconds alone turned instantly negative. And then I ended up back at, essentially, the same job. My one little victory that I was clinging to was taken away from me.
After a few days of feeling absolutely miserable, as in the only feeling I could feel was misery, I gave up. I can’t think of a better way to describe it than I just gave up. I started to resent my connections to other people, because it would make me such a selfish bastard to do myself in. If there was no one it would be so easy. When I was at the Buskers, surrounded by happy people and I just couldn’t relate to the world. Smiling seemed like a foreign concept. While walking home I knew when I got there I was going to hurt myself, I knew how I was going to hurt myself (it involved the mirror, which probably says a lot about how I regarded myself at the time), and I knew I like to finish what I start. This is the hardest thing to say: this felt good. It felt so good to finally feel like I had total control of my life.
I don’t know what happened, but walking across the Commons some sort of survival instinct kicked in and I turned towards Kylee’s apartment. I knew she was around that weekend, I knew no one else could get to me in time, and I knew I trusted her. I did not have her phone number so I just buzzed her and hoped to fuck she would answer. She did. Thank god. Just having someone there, at that moment, was the most important thing. She brought me along for the night and I actually enjoyed myself a little.
I made a few, tentative, attempts to reach out to other people that night. Not that Stephanie on the West Coast could do much, but Robyn invited me out the next night for Shane’s birthday. It was nice to see Shane, someone who always seems happy to see me because, I don’t why actually, but it’s nice. And dear Joel has been an absolute peach through all this.. There were one or two bad days the following week and a phone call to the Mental Health Crisis Line, but since then it’s been better.
I’ve told a few people now, and they’ve all been supportive. My medication has been doubled. I’m getting more sleep, like almost the recommended amount. I think my overall mood has been improving bit by bit. Not that I would say I’m “happy” but I certainly want to keep living. I really do. Maybe that’s the hardest thing to say: I want to live.
This is such a weird place to put this, but writing tends to help me organize my thoughts, and why write if no one is going to read it? I’m certainly not writing it for my own amusement. (That’s what my notebooks full of poetry and plays are for). And I guess I just want people to know that maybe this is why sometimes I don’t respond to messages or don’t show up to parties, because it’s just been so hard to face existing some days.
So this is where I’m at right now; bad but getting better. I hope everyone’s summer was better than mine, haha.keep looking »