Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Almost at your stop

Posted on | June 28, 2017 | No Comments

It’s 8:30 in the morning.

Winter time. The subway is packed. But for a little alcove where mysteriously there are seats.

I take one. Bury my head in a book. Enjoying my good fortune. Not thinking there might be a reason.

11 minutes and I’ll be at work.

My head goes up when I hear a giggle. I look up and see a weathered looking 50 something holding a gym bag. He smiles at me. He has all of his teeth but he doesn’t brush them that often. His skin looks tanned and artificially so. His eyes are friendly but glazed over.  Like he’s hungover and not sleepy.

I smile back.

He grins wildly back at me.

Now we are in a conspiracy together.

He unzips the gym bag with fumbling showmanship. He takes out a can of paint thinner. He raises his fingers to his lips to demonstrate that I should be quiet about this. He has a mischievous smile. He grabs a paper towel. He rips off a little bit from the roller.

My mouth opens slightly in confusion.

My new friend shakes his head, like, “Wait for it. This is going to be good.”

He unscrews the cap on the metal container of paint thinner. He meets my startled look with a magician’s demeanour as he reveals the rabbit. He pours a little bit of paint thinner on the towel. There’s a momentary pause. He takes in a deep huff.

His eyes clear for a moment. Like a bong after you take all the smoke out. Some bizarre mind killing clarity.

I don’t know what to say.

My first instinct is to be polite and ignore it. My eyes go back to my book. Just a few more stops.

See that’s the thing about the subway in Toronto. It’s a place where you pretend you’re alone. It’s a little hard to pretend with my new best friend. As he aggressively breaths in the paint thinner, the acrid odor hits my nostrils and travels up my brain. Even second hand huffing paint thinner is unpleasant.

I stand up slowly. Trying to pretend I thought of something important, like I have a business meeting a litttle down the car and my leaving has nothing to do with my new friend. He looks up at me, eyes red and glazed. He grins. He knows why I’m going and it doesn’t bother him.

It takes me about 30 feet before the smell isn’t overpowering.

People are slowly looking over. Taking in the site. But within seconds the paper towel has disappeared. He is doing his best to look inconspicuous.

He’s extremely high but maintaining excellent posture.

There’s something interesting about his decision to do it here.

Where there were dozens of potential witnesses.

He bought a ticket, walked down the stairs with his gym bags and decided to do something that none of us could ignore.

I’m not sure if he lives on the street but then we have trained ourselves not to see people on the street. From an early age we realize that if we look at them, truly look at them we’ll see things that we don’t want to understand. So we train ourselves to think of our responses to the questions they pose rather than what their lives are actually like. We respond to them asking for money and ignore what their day to day lives must be like. It also startles me when someone tells me that they should learn to work for a living. Can you imagine a worse job than begging strangers for money, each time leaning into your sense of helplessness?

I’m not saying that my friend was staging some sort of protest.

Just that he decided I would see him. He looked at me before he did it. Because he wanted me to know.

I look back and he puts the paint thinner back into his gym bag. He looks down and notices the paper towel clutched in his fist.

He is very high so his abillity to walk resembles a cross between a drunk on their tenth drink and a crab making his way onto a beach for the first time.

He again meets my eye. Gives me a big charming smile and drops the paint thinner covered paper towel on the other side of the train. He scurries back to his head. Sits down and grins. He looks extremely intoxicated. He’s become visible to everyone in the subway car. Yet everything else around him is less visible.

The thing is no one in the car is going to stop him. Or wonder about him as soon as he is off the train.

It’s just a couple more stops.

Until all we get where we are trying to go.

 

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Why Dogs Make My Daughter Scream

Posted on | June 27, 2017 | No Comments

Sometimes you’re drinking coffee. You don’t realize you are about to see something that will inspire a thousand therapy sessions.

Or that’s this will be the reason that Paul Jean divorced her husband 25 years from now when he surprised her by getting her child a puppy.

Let’s not start there.

You made a strange decision. You got their special mix. Which for some reason isn’t just a typical Ice Americano. You know the drink you get even when it’s winter. They added soda water. Which adds bubbles to your drink.

You’re trying to listen to your friend Charlotte talking. She’s probably saying something that is medium important. Maybe even emotionally revealing. But you aren’t paying attention. You’re just wondering why the fuck there are bubbles in your drink.

You are me in this moment.

I noticed that you might not like the fact that I have made you me.

But it’s important. So shut your goddamn mouth.

We are sitting there with Charlotte. Who in many ways is also me. Because I can choose to pay attention to what she is saying or I can ignore it. Thinking about the bubbles. The cursed bubbles. Actually it’s not just the bubbles. They put sugar in this fucking thing.

“Blah, blah….feelings,” says Charlotte.

I nod.

“I can definitely see what you mean,” I say and laugh. “Like jesus.”

I do an impression of Jesus being crucified. Because why not. I’m really selling this I’m listening thing.

“What?” she asks.

I shouldn’t have ordered this drink.

The recycling can is far away.

Maybe I can just throw it. Maybe it’ll land go right through the tiny hole.

No. That’s foolish. I’ll never make it.

It will smash against the plastic bin. Spraying the hipster couple. Ruin their matching hats. Their denim jackets covered in coffee stains.

All because of this fucking coffee. This stupid fucking coffee.

I rest the cup on the bench. Better safe then sorry.

And then it happens.

I mean it actually happens. Not just happens in my head as I forget to pay attention to my very interesting friend.

The first thing I remember hearing is the sound of a dog collar banging against the dog’s neck.

You can hear it’s feet hitting the ground. Digging into the grass. As it gallops forward.

Tongue wagging.

Saliva dripping off the tongue.

Dangling in front of its mouth.

Motion tearing the saliva from its jaws.

Then I notice that a child is near this dog.

Which shouldn’t be a problem. The dog doesn’t look angry. Just playful.

Enjoying a mad dash across Christie Pitts.

Only it’s rapidly gaining on the child.

Which is when things go  wrong.

A mother is separated from her child by about twenty feet. Her daughter is wearing a winter’s hat over her head. Tiny. Maybe six or seven. On the last day she won’t be terrified of dogs.

“Sweetie, run! Oh my god run!!!”  Her voice is full of desperate agony. “Run! Faster! Faster! My daughter oh my god my daughter! Run! RUN! RUN!”

Everyone looks up. I mean everyone within five hundred feet.

The child flinches. And bolts. Running for her little life.

The dog wanted to play. Now he’s scared. So he’s also running. In the same direction as the child. Faster and faster.

The little girl is just a few seconds ahead of the dog.

As he gets excited.

Growling to demonstrate this excitement. Gaining on her. Gaining oh so quickly.

“My daughter! Someone helped my daughter!” Her fear has climbed up to an eleven. She is going nuclear. She’s also not moved an inch. “RUN! Run Marnie! RUN!”

Two or three feet. Little legs racing up a hill.

She’s not moving. She’s now just screaming.

“Help! Help!”

Fuck. What should I do?

The daughter has lost her mind. Running up hill. Chased by the dog. Who is probably terrified by the mother’s screams.

Maybe I should tackle the dog. That seems like a thing that people might do. I think about it.

It’s gaining on her.  Every single second it closes the gap. The mother is losing her mind. Shrieking.

It’s in those few seconds where the terror sinks deep in her daughter. Into her eyes. Into that place you can’t get it back.

Someone grabs the dog by the collar.

Dog squeak sound as they lift the dog into the air who suddenly realizes they weren’t playing.

This person is the owner.

Who is justifiably confused as to how this situation escalated so quickly.

The mother grabs her daughter in her arms.

Tears in her eyes. Clutching onto her daughter.

The dog instantly settles down. Staring at the mother. Wondering what is going on.

Charlotte and I are gobsmacked. Watching the mother’s whole body shake with terror. Not comforting her daughter. So scared that she’s pushing that fear into her daughter’s ears in high-pitched staccato.

“Honey, oh my god, honey!” screams the mother into her daughter’s ears. Shaking with fear. With the idea that her daughter had just escaped the worst type of danger. “You could have died.”

A long strain of saliva slides down from the dogs mouth.

“Never. Ever do that again.”

 

We watch the child. Trapped in her mother’s loving and terrified arms.

The last few moments so surreal we have no choice.

We walk away. A polite distance.

We start laughing.

“What the fuck just happened?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” replies Charlotte.

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The Perfect Shirt

Posted on | June 27, 2017 | No Comments

Sometimes you want people to know who you are right away.

You consider telling them everything.

Instantly just to get it over with. As though your life was a movie and you were very eager to spoil it.

What if there was a shirt that could help?

What if you could tell people without talking to them who you are?

Then if they spoke to you there would be no misunderstanding.

These are your people.

I’m sitting at a coffee shop called Field Trip. I’m writing. There are remains of a cinammon bun I’ve recently consumed. Mostly finished ice Americano.

Field Trip have a lot of tables and delicious pastry items to try. There is an outside patio where people are congregrating like fools on this blazing hot Saturday.  All in all this is a very exciting Mike Kimber. He’s trying things. He’s at new places.

Look at me go!

Then I see him.

Wearing the perfect shirt.

My eyes widen.

You can’t help but notice his majesty.

He looks a little like Rob Ford. A bigger guy but bald with an open and friendly face. His shirt is yellow. With writing on it. That at first is confusing as I can’t read all of it. I see the word homosexuality on it. And his rather large gut. He has no butt. But also a gut. Interesting.

I notice him hovering over two 50 something year old men. One of them has a hat. Both have white beards. Their eyes look kind. Like they just met him and are willing to hear him out.

All I see is the word homosexuality and I make fairly typical assumptions.

I’m assume he is about to start lecturing them about their sexuality.

I wonder what I should do.

My first task is finishing reading the shirt. But he keeps twisting and the harsh glare of the sun hits me in the eyes forcing me to blink.

I notice the word not their organs and Falun Gong.Falun Gong is a cult in China.

My eyes again go back to the word homosexuality. I see the word sin.

Ok, he is definitely going to cause trouble. I look back at the two men he’s talking to.

They seem to be fairly relaxed. Leaning in. Enjoying whatever he is saying.

I must be missing something.

I squint my eyes and determine that his shirt declares that Homosexuality is not a sin. It’s about two people loving eachother. Not what they do with their organs.

Hmmm.

And there is mention of the Falun Gong. I wonder how these two concepts connect. I mean being homosexual sort of has something to do with sharing organs. And the Chinese government has been accused of taking the organs of practioners of Falun Gong. So maybe he’s making two important but very different statements in one T-shirt.

I do a little further research on my phone.

According to Wikipedia, the Falun Gong, like many Western religions, have a belief system that is profoundly homophobic.

This is a quote from the son of two practioners. According to him he was taught that, “Homosexuality is not the standard of being human, the priority of Gods will be to eliminate homosexuals and that gays are demonic in nature.”

I reread the sentence. Yes I completely disagree with that sentence.

So the guy who looks like Ford is both anti-organ harvesting, anti-homophobia and remarkably well informed on something I knew nothing about. Which he put on a shirt. Because there is no way anyone mass produced this shirt.

I watch him continue his conversation. Smiling. Being a great guy.

The two gentleman I thought he was accosting actually appear to be becoming his friends.

I can see why.

Their shirts are standard button up shirts. The colour patterns are uninteresting. I don’t know who they are and I’m not curious. In fact they are only interesting to me because they are talking to this man with the perfect T-shirt.

I wonder if they would have talked to him if he wasn’t wearing the shirt. If at some point in his life he wore normal shirts and no one noticed him. If he had been a corporate drone for years and everyday he wore the same suit and replied the same way when he was asked about his day and at some point decided he was going to be honest. On the weekends.

If maybe he found a little print shop and he went in.

Just for a lark.

Asked what they’d put on a shirt and they told him anything he wanted.

“Really? Anything I want?”

“Yes. Anything.”

I wonder if a smile came to his face just then. If he had to suppress an anxious chuckle. Then he told them exactly what he wanted. Because he’d met someone and they’d told him about a cult in China who had their organs stolen and also hated gay people. If he’d been so moved by this story he’d paid just under forty dollars for this T-shirt. A shirt that would say exactly how fucked up the world was and that he cared for people anyway. There shouldn’t be organ harvesting. Their shouldn’t be homophobia.

There should be this shirt.

I wonder if he goes around to coffee shops and makes shirts about the people he meets. Maybe the two white mid 50s white men tell him a story. About their son who they adopted who is working overseas helping children who have diabetes but don’t have access to medication. Then they got into a little discussion about the Syrian conflict. A few days later the T-shirt man enters a new cafe. With a new eye catching shirt.

“Stop diabetes overseas. Assad is a warcrime. Let’s stop spilling blood and start raising blood sugar.”

He sits down. People wonder what sort of person makes shirts like these. And he breaks the ice. The shirt immediately gets him past that awkward hello and he explains the situation reasonably. With humour and grace he explains how he met two wonderful gay men who’s son is a doctor and specializes in helping diabetics in war torn nation. The conversation deepens.

He makes a new friend. He hears a new story.

He goes back to the print shop.

He gets a new shirt made.

He goes into work on Monday in his suit.

Quietly keeping his secrets to himself. Providing his bosses with the answers they need. Eating lunch alone.

Listening to conversations across the break room.

Thinking about the world.

Thinking about the next time he dons a perfect shirt, goes into the world and makes a friend.

He goes home. As he’s sleeping he opens up his closet.

He sees dozens of shirts.

With dozens of complicated issues broken down into their component parts.

He sees the world. In all it’s glory.

 

 

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Ice Cream Family

Posted on | June 25, 2017 | No Comments

The first time I tasted Toronto’s famous Bang Bang ice cream a garbage man arrived just as I put the spoon in my mouth. The truck skidded to a stop a few feet away.

First I smelled the inside of the truck. Then the inside of the nearby cans as the garbage man wrenched the door open to grab the bags. Which were still open. Full of flies.

Maybe baby diapers? 

As the first taste of Bang Bang ice cream hit my tongue, I didn’t care.

I was sitting next to my friend Charlotte after an hour’s wait.

On a block of sunlit cement.

The taste of my toasted marshmallow ice cream inside of a cream puff was everything they promised. We know we should go.

That the ice cream would taste better if we moved away from the garbage. But for just a moment we couldn’t.

Sometimes you can’t move. Sometimes you have to let your tongue feel the gentle flutter of angel wings.

“We should go,” says Charlotte.

I concur.

We finished our treat in a nearby park.

We knew we had done well. That in some small way we had a better day than 99% of the world and we had earned it through the survival of a Hipster Endurance challenge.

We got in the line. We stayed in it.

We ordered. We ate.

It was beautiful.

Even though maybe baby diapers.

A week later on a Saturday Night I found myself on Ossington Street once again.

This time the line was even longer. There were literally 150 people in front of me.

I was basically full.

I had already climbed the mountain. I didn’t have to prove myself to anyone.

Yet…..

I don’t fucking have to justify myself to you.

I got in line.

I read my Don Winslow epic about a corrupt cop stuck between his friends and the Feds and waited patiently.

And then the Ice Cream family showed up.

When there were literally was no one behind me. Just 150 people in front of me.

I was relieved.

There’s something comforting in knowing that someone else is going to be waiting longer than you. If they can endure it you can last a little longer. Just to spite them. Because in all lines in the history of time the person behind you is silently willing that you leave.

I listen to the doomsday theories of Ice Cream Family Father.

“Holy (mumbled expletive), it’s going to be 2 hours. At least two hours.”

He’s scrappy, short, muscular and bald. Not balding. No hair. Good shape of head for it. Like it makes him look more masculine somehow. His voice is deep but there’s a little bit of panic in it. Sort of like he’s not excited about ice cream enough for this to be a good idea.

“We came from Thornhill,” says Ice Cream Mom.

She laughs as she says this. I’ve been to Thornhill. I feel like it’s far away. So she’s saying that she isn’t going to leave.

“We did,” agrees Ice Cream Dad.

Ice Cream Dad knows where he lives. This argument isn’t quite so impressive to him.

“It’s going to be great,” she says.

No panic. This is a woman who has given birth to the ice cream kids. Judging by their age there were several pregnancies within a few years. To her this isn’t that big of an inconvenience. After awhile the ice cream children were once in her belly for nine months. These children had used her body like a life extension cord. In fact for about four years and three children she had been their chew toy.

“We’re going to have this ice cream. It’s supposed to be so good.”

“I don’t know if we’ll make it. We gotta go to Church tomorrow early,” says Ice Cream Dad.

I wouldn’t normally interject but I know some key information.

“Hey,” I say. “There’s a place down the street. A good place. Called Sweet Olenka’s. In case this feels like it might be too long.”

A child from the family in front of me begins running in a circle around my legs.

He will not stop doing this for the next hour.

I never kick him. He kicks me several times. But he has little legs. I ignore him.

“Oh. Well we came in from Thornhill,” she says. “You ever tried it? This one. Bang bang.”

“Yes,” I say. “I’ve bang banged. It was great.”

She nods. Gives me a big smile. She looks at her husband. Who breaths in deeply and abandons his fears about this exhibition totally and completely.

This is really a great display of what happens when someone becomes an adult. They come to a resolution. They abandon their bullshit immediately. She rubs his arm graciously accepting his total surrender.

“I think we’ll be in by 10:05.”

It’s 9:30.

35 minutes. I feel the first inkling I might need to pee.

Courage, Willow!

More people file in behind her. Now she’s not at the end of the line. As time slowly moves by the line goes well down the street. I go from being last in line to elite.

I listen to the family. Enjoying their interplay.

The kids are precocious. Speaking rapidly but with something to say. The eldest son enjoys making the father laugh about sports. The youngest son is pretty much a walking potato. But a patient walking potato. The daughter makes jokes as we advance in the line. She’s really, really smart.

She says things like, “You know, I’m not really sure I want ice cream, dad. Maybe we should go.”

He laughs. Enjoying that she’s smart enough to mock him.

The son checks out the menu online. He asks if he can get the egg waffle cone. The father tells him that he can get whatever he wants.

I see the smile on the boy’s face.

He is in a magic moment.

At 12 being offered the choice of whatever you want at the ice cream shop can feel like a minor Christmas. I know that the ice cream is going to blow his mind. Because it really is better than other ice cream. His father knows it too.

He also knows something the son doesn’t.

That this life with his life won’t continue like this forever.

Because Ice Cream Dad used to be part of a different family. One where he didn’t always have his own room. Where he used to have a curfew. Where he would feel trapped by his siblings. And worship them and compete with them. Then he got out. And now he doesn’t see them that often. He loves them but they aren’t his constant companions anymore.

Eventually his father won’t be able to give him everything he wants because he’s start wanting to ridiculous things.

He will also won’t want to hang out with his father on a Saturday night. They won’t have dinner together every night.  They won’t have breakfast everyday. It will be one day on the weekends. Maybe he’ll go to university in town. His sister is really bright. She wants to go Harvard. Her father knows she probably will.

Soon their family will exist across a continent.

Sometimes they’ll make it home for Christmas. Sometimes they won’t. This is a golden age of their family. Where they still compete for their parents attention. Where they haven’t become teenagers. Where they crave adventures like this.

This is the Ice Cream Parents chance to be there.

To wait an unimaginable amount of time for ice cream. To drive on a highway late into the night because for this little block of time they get to have their kids around all the time. Sometimes this feels like too much. The amount they worry. The inevitable hospital visits. The attention that must be paid after a long day at work. When they were born there was no sleep. They used to live in their arms. Now they are little people. Who make them laugh.

It’s nice to see this Ice Cream Family.

Standing in line. About to get exactly what they want.

 

 

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The Wet Bandits: Tough and Black Skirt

Posted on | June 25, 2017 | No Comments

My head whips back.

Shocked by the impact. Surprised. Someone shot me. With a water gun.

Who?

Immediately angry until I see the cherub with the water pistol.

I’m at a party. With nice people.  On their deck. Invited by a friend of mine. People younger than me. With water pistols. Children like this. Maybe I like this more than I think I do.

“Hey….”  I say.

Be playful. Being shot in the face is fun. No one else finds this to be a problem. Everyone else likes to be shot. Fit in. Enjoy the being shot.

“Hey,” she replies.

Nothing flirtatious. Which is good. Because I’d feel really creepy.

She raises her pistol to hover near my face.

I’m sitting on a patio chair.

I make myself smile.

Early that day I watched a young couple play that game where they sort of push eachother around. Like they are so used to touching each that they now they are playfighting an imaginary reality where they know karate and are going to fight each other. I remember forcing myself to smile. Like hey this is a cute way of being at a bus station. The bus moved around the corner. I waited to see if they would playfully push each other in front of it.

I fought the desire to tell them to stop playing their fucking game. It’s an annoying game, I thought. Especially as the guy playfully slaps the girl in the face. She giggles. But does she like it?

“What?” asks the Cherub, putting on a tough face.

“You’re pretty tough, eh?” I say.

Yes. I too will be playful.

She sprays me in the forehead. She laughs.

I laugh.

I grit my teeth before I do.

“Stop that,” I say.

Or what?

“Listen tough….” again being playful. But there’s an edge to my voice which I can tell she doesn’t hear.

She is about twenty. Maybe as old as twenty and a half.

“Yeah, I’m tough,” she declares. She raises the gun threateningly.

“Alright tough,” I say. “Stop fucking hitting me in the face.”

She shoots me again. Digs her finger into the trigger.

I realize how totally helpless I am in this situation.

I’m at a party where i don’t really know the people.

I can get up and tear it out of her hands. But what if she struggles? What if she screams?

I look through the window and notice some very nice people dancing to songs from Youtube. Laughing. This isn’t that big of a deal. Just chill out. They’re young. They’re having fun.

Another girl shows up. She is wearing a black skirt. Has a similar youthful glow. Maybe if I just engage them in conversation I can pivot this to a situation where I’m not constantly being shot in the face.

“How’s your night going, Black Skirt?” I ask.

Black Skirt takes out her own pistol.

“It’s insane how much water these hold.”

Fuck.

“You guys in school?” I ask.

“On summer break. It’s fun.”

“Nice summer,” I reply. “Little hot.”

Too hot to want to leave the porch and go inside. Don’t fuck with me.

“It really is. Nice night right now though.”

“Sure is.”

Momentary pause.

The guns are down.

I’m winning.

I have adulted the fuck out of this.

I just need to ask the right question. What else should I ask these gun wielding maniacs?

“How do you know the host?” I ask.

Tough glares down at me.

No good.

“He thinks I’m tough,” says Tough.

She flexes her non muscular arms.

“Pretty, pretty tough,” I say throwing some Larry David on this conversation.

No go. They’re too young to understand the reference. Or not Jewish enough. Though they do look Jewish.

They both raise their guns at me. They fire. One in the shoulder. One in my hair.

A feeling of insane frustration hits me. Like I’m being bullied, back into a corner. I can feel this blast of rage growing under the surface.

A lone dissenter.

The girl in the blow up pool in the deck.

“Maybe you should stop shooting him with your guns,” she says.

Tough and Black Skirt contemplate it for a second.

I can feel my hands gripping my chair. Ready to propel myself up. Grab their guns. Step on their guns. Laugh in their faces.

Or maybe I sit in the chair. Stretch back. Let years of suppressed anger out in a lightning bolt.

I explain to them how childish they are. I mock them for something that is wrong with them. Something I use my adult eyes to lazer in on. So that they never shoot a person in the face with a water gun again. Maybe I tell them what their 20s will actually be like. Did you know your school won’t qualify you for anything? Do you ever know how often you’ll be asking your parents for money?

Think you’ve found yourself! You’ve found nothing, Tough and Black Skirt! Nothing!

Yes, this could be the end of the Wet Bandits.

An extremely handsome guy enters the deck.

They turn their attention to him.

Holding their guns, and wondering if they shoot him as well.

I relax my hands.

I relax in my chair.

I watch the two girls and the handsome man flirt.

No one shoots me in the face.

Tough and Black Skirt disappear from my life.

I’m too old for water fights or to think it’s funny when someone shoots me in the face.

I do however enjoy having a nice rum and coke on a deck with nice people.

The night continues.

I’m shot in the face only one more time.

 

 

 

 

 

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And he’s drinking (poetry from the age of 22)

Posted on | June 23, 2017 | No Comments

This isn’t a moral, it’s a man life, you can’t fit a
moral in a man’s life because only one can fit or it’s
about thirty one well lit candles, our story begins at
twelve
He sits on a stoop, half fucked with a cigarette
between his lips
His father’s passed out after another one of his full
moon eclipses
Dad works at the stone mill and is used to doing the
crawl home, hangover, wife and family and leftovers
stovers lean cuisine, passed out on Time’s Magazine
Man of the Year
The grass smells sweet and the cigarette provides ash
and fog as shade
His father is unconscious in another glade, today
little Sonny Boy fought back
Knocked his father on his back and took the fire and
light half a cigarette pack
To chain smoke besides his picket fence, his father
ain’t going to hit Mama anymore
Andhe’sdrinking, andhe’sdrinking,
andhe’sdrinkingandhe’sdrinking
He met her at prom and couldn’t say the right words
without slurring them
She made him feel sick to his stomach and weak in the
knees
She had a real mean streak and liked to make fun of
him when he stumbled
She was pretty in a way that made him mumble and
apologize
He bought her a rose but it wasn’t dethorned and her
hand got cut bloody
He staggered her over the red carpet and she laughed
the whole way down
Cursing as he fell on her satin shoulders and pulled
her to the ground
People are shouting and they are kissing, screaming
passion into the blank air
They are making a scene in a play and her handprint in
blood is on his cheek
Roses by anyother name would be clean, he likes his
girl, he likes when she gets mean
Andhe’sdrinkingAndhe’sdrinkingAndhe’sdrinking
By the end of the night she’s refilled him and drank
him seven times
Each day feels like a week, he’s got a scholarship and
enough money for a free lunch
She’s hungry and poor and likes to kiss until the
clouds come and the rain pours
They fuck when their sober but don’t kiss until they
drink, the good times come with laughter and ends in
the kitchen sink, where she pours out old coffee and
the butt of bad jokes and half smoked joints, during
the rain she goes and smokes a cigarette
Blowing puffs of her lungs to chase ghosts and good
sex, she likes when things get complicated
She says he only likes pretty things when they’ve been
mutilated
She’s been looking in the mirror, hoping to be so
beautiful she terms to stone
Sticks and stones may break my bones but stick figures
falling in love
Leave the future alone, when you draw hearts on
pictures bigger than bones
They don’t cast shadows, when they skip
They cast murmurs
He asks if this is forever and she has a drink and
says yes
Andhe’sdrinkingAndhe’sdrinkingAndhe’sdrinking
Her skin is shattered like a hundred glasses of
whiskey thrown in your stomach
Her cigarettes are in a full pack, she tries to fall
back and he doesn’t catch her
He kisses her and tells her baby you haven’t been
falling, you’ve been dancing
You just don’t know the steps, it’s hard to take
responsibility for death of a loved one
When you just wanted to have fun and she got old, her
skin soldered alchemy of golden days as they turned to
leaden legs and shitty systems operating your heaven
machine
Her liver is fine and her lungs are made of paper, she
shouldn’t have been smoking
To keep her hurry over his habits, she stopped magic,
sinking into her liquid skin as they fucked like
rabbits
Bad habits taking my bride from ever after, cackling
firecracker, sparks, count down
We’ve done too much celebrating and the fourth of July
smashes us down
Andhe’sdrinkingAndhe’sdrinkingAndhe’sdrinking
He lives longer and has a lot of drinks, he celebrates
his little boy getting into grade six
Celebrates all his friends getting drunk and getting
up to their little boy tricks
He raises a glass to addicts and tears up her picture,
staring through smoke and ash
His eyelashes are cinged from his last binge and last
pack, candles that he didn’t blow out and can’t get
his wishes back
You see she smoked her fire out and cancer kills
cities every year
And the cities are made of pretty girls and used to be
cool kids
But remember little one, before you reach the age of
thirty one, drinking every night isn’t alcoholism,
it’s just being fun
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There are always Leftovers

Posted on | June 22, 2017 | No Comments

This article is about one of my favorite shows.

It’s also about what happens to a person when something happens and their way of life disappears.

It’s about what happens when you wish your feelings would disappear.

And what happens when you realize feelings won’t go away just because you want them to.

The HBO series The Leftovers tells the story of the unexplainable disappearance of 2 percent of the world’s population.  The show explores how people deal with  inexplicable loss. What happens to the people who survive that loss. Who wake up and they’re still there but the people they loved are gone.

The question is what happens to how us when the building blocks of our identity disappear.

It was a really important show for me.

Because I waiting for my life to return back to normal. And the idea of a normal day was a fantasy.

On November 2oth, 2013 a fire started in the basement of the house I was living in.

I was on Facebook. Scrolling through friend’s statuses when I smelled something strange.  Like someone was burning toast.  At the time I thought it was coming from the downstairs kitchen. My first feeling was annoyance.

As I stood up to yell downstairs for Evan to stop burning shit, I heard Evan yelling up the stairs.

It took me a second to realize what he was saying.

Which was the house is on fire. You need to get out.

He was voice was loud and urgent.

I put on pants. But I didn’t have the presence of mind to grab my shoes. My only concern was making it to down the steps and outside.

I was outside in my socked feet.

It was wet outside. I’m not sure if it was from snow or recent rain.

Still feeling like everything was going to be normal.

Because usually everything is okay.

We were all out.

We called 911. We thought we just had to wait.

Until we found the boyfriend of our downstairs neighbour in the alley way. He was terrified. Because his girlfriend was still inside. He needed our help. He couldn’t get through the door. There was too much smoke.

Nino went to see if he could get in. 911 told us no one should go in the house. We screamed for him to stay put. He ignored us.

I was with the boyfriend. He was ripping his hands against the bars on the window of their bedroom.

I grabbed a shovel from the deck. Smashed out the glass on her window with it.

We screamed at her to wake up. He was desperate. In love. In the most horrible moment possible. Begging her to wake up.

She didn’t hear us.

Still things felt normal. More a fevered dream than a horrifying reality.

You did what you were supposed to do. Soon people who understood what to do would come and everything would be okay.

Nino came around from the back.

There was no way inside the house.

We had to wait. We just had to wait.

For what felt like a million years and was probably only minutes.

Huddled across the street.

Her boyfriend screaming.

In my arms than in Alessandro’s.

News crews, ambulances and fire trucks showed up to battle the blaze.

I threatened a cameraman with violence if he doesn’t turn the camera away from the boyfriend. With utmost seriousness. In front of a cop. Who tells me to calm down.

We weren’t going to be able to sleep in our own beds. Such a strange realization that should have been so obvious right from the beginning.

And they brought her out. Still alive but badly hurt.

The cameras capture it all.

They put us on a bus.

To talk to the police.

A neighbor came by. I don’t remember what he looked like but he gave me shoes.

Somehow I manage to lose the shoes in the days that followed.

I told the cops that my medication was inside.

At some point I walked through the house.

I got my computer. I got my phone. I got my medication.

I left everything else behind.

It was only stuff.

There’s a relief.

We all got out.

******

The immediate after effects of the fire were life changing and undeniable.

I lost everything I owned. I had to find a new home. All of my friends were deeply in the grips of trauma and looking for answers.

It got worse.

When I found out that my downstairs neighbor had died I was staying a friend’s place. In his guest room.

I had the presence of mind to turn on the fan. I put it to the highest volume possible. I knew that when this feeling escaped my body it would be loud and horrible.

I wanted to be a good guest.

I somehow lost the shoes the neighbor gave me.

I bought shoes the day before.  I was so zonked out on stress and trauma that I didn’t notice they didn’t fit. My cousin Graham took me to the mall. To get new blundstones. He got to his knees and put his fingers on the tips of my shoes to make sure they fit.

I started writing things down. Not because the writing was good but because it was necessary.

I had been researching a book about a character living with PTSD and it mentioned the necessity of integrating tragic experiences into your memory.

Memories became dangerous when they are repressed. These repressed memories can become flashbacks where you literally relive the experience. So I wrote about the smell of the smoke and the sound of our frantic screams through a broken window. Because I wanted to move past it.

I did.

For a little while.

A miracle came.

*****

My great escape from the fire was falling in love.

There was a story attached.

Of a long ago promise to a girl in a bar that she’d break up with her boyfriend and be with me.

Seven years later she broke up with her boyfriend and we went on a date.

Just a few weeks before the fire. We liked each other. We had a good time. We held hands.

A few days later I came to the train station and hung out with her for a few hours before she had to go. Maybe that’s as far as it would have gone.

I called her that morning after the fire. She had a dream. Of a home on fire.

She asked me if I believed her after she told me.

I did.

Love practiced always seem to precede love lived.

The beginning needs that belief. Because there’s no reason to trust a stranger with your heart, yet it’s the only way love can happen.

Every night I’d call her. She was a voice on the other end of a telephone like a portal to another world.

And then a few weeks later a train trip to her place in Ottawa. Where I’d get to hang out with her dog Sadie and in my most vulnerable state I would be brave and get to know a stranger.

There was a moment on her couch on that first trip where we were just holding each other in her den.

The room was dark with only streetlights seeping a tiny stream of ghost like light through the window reflected off the snow banks outside. On the couch strains of her her blond hair was resting on my arm. I rested my head against the back of her head. My heart slowed down. I could feel her heartbeat through her neck on my lips.

Listening to a group called the National croon through the speakers. Depressing white boy music for a depressed white boy who couldn’t stop smiling.

And it felt like everything made sense.

Like I’d spent 7 years since I tried to kiss her waiting for her to kiss me back. Just listening to the National and holding her in my arms.

Being with her was a similar emotional feeling to the first days of the fire. Wild. Impossible. Different from everything else that had ever come before it and completely unbelievable that it was happening to me.

You’ve been in places like this. Where the colors weren’t taken from the same palette. Where life was brighter and more vivid.

Death and love are places of transformation. Surrealistic in their vivid color,  synchronistic coincidence a propulsive barrier crushing force, awesome in their deep connection to the things we dream of and their bizarre joke like logic, where life tells you things only happen one way and suddenly they happen the other.

Being in love made me forget I was in pain.

Truthfully it made me feel like the pain had already disappeared. Only it came back. Because feelings don’t disappear.

Even when we want them to.

*****

It was my 30th birthday when things changed.

April 11th, 2014.

And I remember getting the email from my old landlord that would said I had to go back inside 189 Sheridan one last time to get my stuff.

Just one mission. And I never had to go back.

I told myself all I had to do was go in and it would be over.

The trick of grief is this concept of one last quest.

Once you complete it you are cured. There is no pain lurking in the back of your psyche, waiting for a fire alarm at work to make you cry in front of your coworkers. There is this one last mission to Mordor. You externalize the pain. It’s a task that can be conquered and you can return back to your life.

I just had to make it through going back into the house and it would be over.

When I arrived I noticed there were still chairs on the deck.

Where international students came from all around the world to be my friend, sat down and listened to me rant.

Where I’d sit and drink coffee from the Commons with Alejandra as she worked her knitting needles and made progressively less shitty sweaters. Where I was really drunk and I punched a German ex commando in the face to show him how we can heal from heartbreak and luckily didn’t get punched back. Where Clare told me that I should really stop watching Curb Your Enthusiasm because Larry David was turning me into an asshole. Where Evan would challenge me to a game of Horse at the nets across the street and one time I’d beat him. Where on Canada day fireworks went off so loudly they forced us of our home. Watching children setting them off with their parents laughing. And Marketa prepared to storm over and yell at them, because they fucking woke her up. And the way we laughed.

And a million other moments that I tried to forget because the memory of those happy days always returned me right back to that alley way and a window that would break and iron bars that wouldn’t.

A place that was so incredibly alive to me. Until I’d walk through those doors.

And I saw how the fire turned everything black and gray.

There was little left of our happy home.  I had lived here for two years. I knew every inch.

The ceiling on the kitchen was gone.

Burn to ash and wooden splinters on the floor.

I could see into Alejandra’s room where she had been sleeping. Where she would have been sleeping if Evan hadn’t yelled so loudly that we couldn’t ignore him. To my old room covered in shattered wood from my bookshelf. The room where I had filmed my first short film was covered in old equipment.  As we had only stopped filming a few days before the fire came. Books everywhere. All of them covered in poison where the flames touched the walls. All to be left behind. Everything smelled of smoke. Like it just happened. I could feel ashes over my skin.

The difference between being alive and dead had been two minutes. Before the smoke flooded the house. Before the fire climbed up the walls. It reach the top floor within a few minutes. We had parties where people from all over the world descended on the house. A New Years Party where I had heard a dozen languages and saw a room do the Macarena.

Pictures ontop of pictures become this one picture. The end of all things. A sensation so powerful it wiped out everything else. The type of feeling that pushes into the back of your skull and hides because you can’t fully process it. Because if you do you will run screaming.

I stood there.

And the idea I was over it became a joke. A hilarious nonsensical story I’d had told myself.

What kind of life could be born in a room like this?

What type of person could have forgotten what happened even for a second?

I felt this insane rage at myself. What right did I have to feel happy?

The four following weeks were some of the worst I’ve ever experienced.

For me this was worse than the days after the fire where the reason for my sadness was so clear and undeniable. Where I could be patient because the agony was so tangible. Where there was nothing I could do. I meditated. I walked for hours everyday. I talked to people. But I couldn’t pull the pain out of me. I felt sick everyday when I woke up. Like my mind had a wound, I ignored it and now I was living with gangrene.

Each day the rot felt more apparent.

A tragedy begins just as the ice berg. The comparatively tiny visible monolith you can see on the horizon. When the immediacy goes away you’re left with the ice continent that hits the bottom of the ocean. The totality of your experience and how it can hide from you.

There had to be one thing I could do.

Or maybe…

I should have done something. I should have known that I wasn’t okay. There had to have been something I could have done and I didn’t and now I’m useless.

Imagine yourself simplified to two minutes. That you go over and over because you got it and someone else didn’t.

Sometimes the intensity of grief can make you feel like forever is a real thing.

This was April 15th, 2014.

I was scared. Really fucking scared that I was like that house. A place where amazing things once happened and now the ceilings has collapsed and the rooms we where we used to laugh were filled with poison.

****

On April 24th, 2014  the Leftovers premiered.

I remember watching the Leftovers and being stunned to see a world like the one that existed in that house.

A world where the colour had been bleached out by grief.

Where people were struggling to find meaning when allowing yourself not to be numb meant that you’d have to feel things. Things that broke your heart. That made you struggle to breath. That showed the frightening vulnerability where we build our hopes and dreams.

I felt like I was seeing a story specifically made for me.

Showing the absolute insanity it takes to make sense of that sort of world. There were jokes. There were small moments where they would laugh. And it felt so good to hear it.

See their grand quests weren’t to reach Mordor. Or to cross over into other worlds. It was a mythic quest to be okay with being alive. To let yourself have joy when you realize you can’t protect it.

I’d see the character’s insane quests as echoes of my own.

The Priest Matt Jamison would try to heal himself by being true to a lord who mocked him. Our house was infested by house flies in the days before the fire. It’s hard not to remember how many of them died and how many somehow survived. No matter what we did. Or the fact that the landlord came the day before to put in new fire alarms and was called away before he could.

Nora would cling to rationality as she tormented people who had lost their families as she had lost her own family. I’d invest myself in the police investigation. Trying to figure out what happened. Everyone would have a conspiracy theory.

And they’d all face their human limitations. Desperate for the pain to disappear even as it connected them to be the people closest to them. Terrified that if they let go of their pain there would be nothing left.

And after that first season there was color. Fantastic colour. The first blush of happiness returning when you felt like it was gone forever.  Moving closer to those delusions they thought gave them control and only gave them distance. Into the deep connection you make when someone else helps you breath.

It helped me make me piece with the knowledge that pain didn’t have to go away. You can live like this.

And sometimes people laugh.

*****

Only that’s half the story.

Of me making peace with the fact that the pain wouldn’t disappear.

Even when you wish it would.

The girl on the other end of the phone is no longer in my life.

Our story ended.

And for a long time I felt like I’d forgotten her.

Because at some point after we broke up I decided not to write anything about it. I decided I didn’t want to think about the good things because it wouldn’t help me get over it. And it faded. Into the back of my mind. Where a million great moments became a few brief snapshots of our last days together. Because it’s easier to remember why it ended than why it was wonderful.

Because the end of a relationship is about the end of hope and for a long time all you remember is where you ended up and you forget the journey that brought you there.

And it’s easy to push that pain away.

And forget everything that came before. And for a while I think I really did forget her.

Even when I tried to forget her she was a part of me. Quietly in the background. In the places I couldn’t see.

There’s the music I listen to.

My favorite screenplay I’ve ever written was composed entirely to Bon Iver’s latest album. Music she introduced me to. She even provided me the music I listened to during our break up from Bahamas to the National.  I go to a Shambhala Temple and read Pema Chodron because she told me that these were places that had the power to heal.

These aren’t echoes. These works of art a reminder are a reminder that every time you love someone you change. Everything that fills you with awe becomes a part of you. Even when the person is gone. Even if you may never hear their voice on the phone again.

See I’ve come to have new belief about the iceberg.

The visible part is that horrible thing that happens. The few parts of your life that don’t go according to plan. When you’re in so much pain you’d rather feel nothing than feel this. But the reason those feelings have so much power is that continent underneath the surface. Where it wasn’t ice, it was water.

The pain isn’t just the realization that you lack control. It’s that the worst pain exists in the same space as the most precious love. But the good is so much more intense than the bad. So many more wonderful conversations took place on that deck. So many amazing moments happened with that girl.

The end is not everything.

There is still a world below. And everytime you’re forced to remember that pain you have the chance to remember that love.

Watching Leftovers you’ll notice the moments of insane power. As the characters try to exorcise themselves and can’t. Because a ghost is just someone you loved who isn’t there. That you get over pain. But love never dies. It lives. Forever. In the places in yourself you can’t see and the person you become.

The reason you’re in pain is there were places you went you wish you could go again. There were moments you had that hurt to remember because there were so beautiful.

The pain won’t disappear. But you can choose to make the beauty invisible.

This is about one of my favorite shows.

It’s about what happens when your way of life disappears.

When you wish feelings would disappear.

And what happens when you realize feelings won’t go away just because you want them to.

The people in your life shape you. Even when they disappear from your life. They don’t leave you.

There are always Leftovers.

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Lost

Posted on | June 21, 2017 | No Comments

This is about TV.

Why I love it. And a very contentious show that was created by a man named Damon Lindelof.

We won’t start there though.

We’ll start in the world before I landed on the island.

On November 3rd, 2009 I started a six month long fall through anxiety to insomnia, into obsessive therapy exercises, anxiety remedies from over the counter vitamins to prescription medication, sleeping pills to anti-depressants, and lived in a very tiny portion of my mind where I fought a war to escape the singular nightmarish feeling that I had lost who I was. On the way to a place where I feared I might never find myself again.

You’re probably wondering what TV I watched.

The first show I watched was “How I Met Your Mother”.

I did this while the insomnia set in.

Hoping that I’d translate that laughter into sleep.

That my fate would be resolved as neatly as their episodes. The show was weirdly reminiscent of that insane romantic feeling I was fighting to hold onto on the couch next to my first love.

See first love is scary.

Because you don’t know what to expect. You feel like you become another person and you aren’t.  You really crave that feeling. Of relief. Of your real life beginning. Until you realize it’s a continuation of everything else. A struggle of things coming together and coming apart. The thing is when you are joyfully happy for the first time in your life you try to hold onto it. And you get really scared when you feel like some uncontrollable force is trying to take it away from you. This force being all the things I’d told myself I was before I got to feel that type of happy. How I met your mother and it’s sense of romantic inevitability was scary to me. Because if happiness was guaranteed to the best version of myself it certainly wasn’t possible for the person I’d turned into.

We watched it on my blue couch. Next to CBT exercises I’d frantically work on. Then we’d sleep in my horrible bright red room.

So I tried Herbal Tea. Valerian. Some dandelion make you piss to drown a whale sort of tea. Then melatonin. Slip it under your tongue. Fall into a fog, get you over the jet lag of turning 25 and thinking that’s important. Elavil where you are barely present and Barney Stinson begins to seem like an asshole. Where your laughter is very, very similar to the audience. Who laugh when they are supposed to, because that part of you that laughs has become a dry well.

Things weren’t very funny.

My girlfriend recommended we watch Lost. At her apartment.

She agreed to turn the clock around so I wouldn’t see it. She searched out a soundmachine on her computer so that I could sleep to the sound of waves even though keeping her computer on almost fried the battery.  She had been an adventure with a blissed out young man who wrote her a million love poems. Who crashed and wrote CBT exercises. And became something else. And she held on.

Back to Lost.

From the beginning of the show I was entranced. These gigantic emotions hit me. Filled me up. With their sense of purpose for a few hours a night.

The island was a magical place. Where anything could happen. Where the fundamental basis of reality could shift at the end of every episode. Each episode would look at these people as they tried to get their lives back together on the island and how it fell apart off the island. These beautiful actors were hurt. So hurt they couldn’t live outside of that special place. They had to find a community that could heal them. And you know try to kill them. And time travel their asses.

Watching the show I could fantasize about an existence outside my own. Next to my girlfriend, her roommate Kayla and my best friend Michael Mcguire.

I did the work. I did CBT exercises like I was studying for a math exam. Everyday I went to the Holiday Inn gym and worked out. This included doing a hundred laps on Christmas. Because I couldn”t miss a day.  tried a cocktail of different medications. Ativan was fun. It felt like Christmas. Articles told me it could be addictive. I stopped taking it.

Every night before we went to sleep we watched a few episodes of Lost. It was an escape. And when you’re stuck in your head you value those moments. More than anything.

Sometimes I slept after. Without even taking medication. Sometimes it didn’t. It didn’t matter if it worked. I looked forward to something. I wondered about what would happen.

For just a little part of my day I was somewhere else. Invested in someone else’s life rather than obsessively searching for my own.

Damon Lindelof’s show was the perfect escape from my life. And a bizarre reflection of it. A surreal journey through a magical island where everyone was lost, and seeking forgiveness for what they had done to their lives. Just like I was. Trapped on a magical island, less than a year away from the first time I got to fall in love and realize why we’re alive, with friends and a partner who were searching with me, looking to find that person they knew. And day by day little things came back.

And I stopped being so angry at myself. For what I had done to my life.

I found a medication that worked. I missed a day of working out and I was okay. I forgot to meditate. People stopped asking if I had last night because I had. I stopped turning my clock to face the wall. I made weird leaps of faith. I let my rituals die. To prove to myself that I could be okay.

Because I had amazing people around me.

Hermit, Kayla and Stephanie lived together and were part of my crew as we watched 121 episodes of Lost. The evening would start with a trip to the Needs at the end of the block. To get chocolate(Ferror Roche, Mint Chocolate Chip), Perrier and Salt and Vinegar chips. We’d sit down on their gray couches. And we’d watch. Yelling at Kate and Jack. Cheering at every insane twist. They’d smoke after the episodes and I’d frantically posit theories.

Season after season. Weeks would pass and I’d take a small step. Sometimes a large one.

The finale came.

Many people were disappointed at the ending of Lost. Because they wanted the journey to have led somewhere. Somewhere so important it would justify all the hours they had spent.

See journeys don’t usually go where you think they will. The worst things don’t happen like you think they would. The best things would don’t happen like you pray they would. I fell in love because of a million tiny coincidences that weren’t part of any grand plan. We fell out of love. I fell in love again. I fell out of love again. It was a ton of chaos leading to a few transcendant moments where being alive made sense. Lost gave you powerful moments. Moved me to tears. Kept me on the edge of my seat. Let me eat chips, while a beautiful girl nuzzled into my chest.

People hated the finale.

I didn’t care.

Because I started the journey sleepless, more anxious than I’d ever been and ended it able to sleep. Able to experience moments of extreme joy. With my friends. With my first love.

I was grateful to the creators for making a place I could go. Until I found out that I could be okay.

Because at the end of 121 episodes I was.

 

 

 

 

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Run Away

Posted on | June 20, 2017 | No Comments

I’m on a kneeler.

A seiza bench.

Chest straight up. Listening to my breath. Noticing where time starts to get really long. Right at that place where paying attention to my breath is no longer interesting. Surrounded by people sitting in a room attempting to accept themselves.

Being mad boring. When you’re really bored you can find a nail in the floor positively thrilling.

I notice the back pack the girl in front of me brought in when she entered the room a few minute late. I’m very annoyed by this breach of decorum. Staring at that backpack.

Fuck your back pack you rule breaker.

I notice her posture. She rubs her face. Annoyed that she rubs her face. Because it’s distracting me from watching my breath. As it goes into my nostrils. Hits the back of my throat. Then comes out again.

Oh yeah. I’m thinking.

Go back to your breath. Yup back there. That’s pretty good.

You are killing the fucking game, baby!

Realizing my attention is no longer lazer focused I fall back on my equivalent of a star power up in Mario.

It’s called a Loving Kindness Meditation.

There’s a lot of different variations of this particular meditation.

Basically you think of other people and hope that they are happy and don’t suffer. Recently I’ve learned of a variation where you really think of their suffering before you wish them well. Really put themselves in your suffering before you wish them well.

To do this I have to be willing to put myself in the mindset of experiencing suffering. Which makes me think of how often I look for ways to escape unpleasant feelings.

A really easy example would be focus on your own least pleasant feelings. Really think about them. Then you think of all the people going through that feeling in the world. And you wish them to be happy and free of that suffering. In the practice of tonglen you breath in that claustrophobic feeling you want to escape and then you breathe out relief in your out breath.

I think to myself about all the times my head has felt like a very small space.

Touch the small barrier between all of the world and these thoughts I don’t want to think and how they trap me. And can feel my body and mind immediately look for a way to escape this feeling. Like a tangible itch. Which in regular life isn’t noticed. The itch just turns into a story. Either one where I justify myself, where I villainize someone else or try to talk myself out of thinking about it at all.

It occurs to me that most people do this. All the time.

They don’t understand the feeling because they refuse to feel it.

As a result they find themselves disconnected from the people in their lives. Because if you refuse to feel your own feelings, how can you possibly find yourself able to empathize with the suffering of others? And think about that closed in claustrophobic feeling when you experience a sensation you don’t want to. That doesn’t fit in with your concept of how you want to be. Feelings like jealousy, envy, shame. That shouldn’t exist inside your idealistic concept of yourself. Your infinitely breakable delicate concept of self that is precariously balanced in your hand. Waiting to shatter.

Where you say this isn’t okay.

Where you try to escape your own experience, where you tell yourself that whatever is going on inside you shouldn’t be happening. And feel that very thing you are trying to escape become more powerful as you feed it your fear, as you tell yourself these thoughts are in fact more true than every meaningless thought that juts past the thin span of your attention. Feel the vice get tighter.

Now realize that everyone you see is trying to perform this bizarre mental interior decoration exercise.

Everyone is suffering.

For no reason.

Simply because we refuse to accept all of our feelings.

Feel your pain. Accept it.

And think of everyone else who is suffering. Really suffering.

I can feel an actual tingle in my skull.  A heated up part of my mind.

I say it.

May you be be happy and free of suffering.

It feels good. I recommend trying it.

Hmmm….

I have been told that I make fart jokes to show I don’t take myself seriously and somehow get out of being seen as pretentious.

I was tempted to make a comment about a fart that murdered the whole room.

I didn’t fart.

I watched a Leopard eat everyone in the room.

Then I went home. I had green tea.

It was very refreshing.

Then I went for a walk for a little while.

I got tired.

I went home again.

I went to bed.

I woke up.

The next day I ate a sandwich at Contra.

They have great sandwiches.

 

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Poetry From When I was 20 #2

Posted on | June 15, 2017 | No Comments

When you’re 20, you have to write 1000 word poems or they don’t count. 

The Beach

 The world began with him

He was everything, bright shining innovated art that was a swirling sea of sand

Born with all the possibility of man

The beach was bred beauty which he always wanted to return to

Sharp eyes that forgot the cosmos in his blinking

We lived in the mind of his memory

Then he exhaled

And touched the world

Peeling rainbows out of his skin gave him a corpse white beard and inability to walk without a cane

Finding himself old without miracles he hobbled fearful in the world of shadows that had once been his body

He finds that he is looking for missing pieces of himself in the landscape

Where the country and the city’s handshake has become a mercy fight

In the heartless world that realized it’s stumbling wrecked and passed out fast asleep

Passion woke him from sleeping death where he lived breathe to breathe

It took the angel bathing in sunlight to realize the dark nature of his name Lucifer

He looks for proof  of evil and just saw yellow brick roads leading to destroyed factories

The furnace burns ashes of things that used to matter to me

These fingers held hope and when they touched my own they made this room a home

The design is eccentric and designed by her till she tore it down when a new fad took her fancy

I changed the locks and bought new keys

I’m the only who possesses them and I rarely check the backrooms

Dusty and entombed bitterness imbibed by dead things clash in memory madness

Never mind madness

When the trains leave the tracks to find this sick salvation of never getting back

The heater does not work and the frost makes me curl up in my bed and not want to leave my Teflon covers

But it’s home

Under constant renovation

The movers keep moving and leaving out the front door, bringing in more sweet affection

The window is half burning with light and black with pitch

My eyes bitch of a lack of having their itch scratched

Families play on the lawn and disappear in shade

I am alone in myself and crying in the crowd

As kids we all decided to interlock hands and never let go

I didn’t know that when you hold onto someone so tight that you can’t let go they won’t let you release

It ruins the game if you know that you can quit

Only losers spit on the field, walk to the dug out and yell strike-out

Play tomorrow because that’s when the sun comes out and makes the shadow cringe

When you stand tall, invincible prince at the ball, and for a matter of principle

You’d slay the dragon and defy the nightsky

Cause the damsel in distress lowered her tresses as a test to show you could depend on her

She is balding or just aging so that hope reflects what you see in the mirror and the tower becomes less clear

What a victorious quest

What comes next

In the light is the sight of true dark

When they kiss and worlds lock

Legs bucking, misery and love fucking to create a reason for that madness

Your blood turns to water and ice, rotten mercurial toxin mimicking fire yet producing chill

I breathe in sulfur at will

Killed emotions lying unburied for the funeral they were not real but sketched skin of a skeleton

It’s only skin deep and that’s where I feel wounds, playing on my sensations sensitive swoon

You are only bones yet with holy tones you declare your self a martyr making your emaciated fingers into a cross

Which you have to bear for all your labor’s pains

I walk through this world encasing the furniture in flames

This is what I need, the wind bleeds my kisses like arrows thrown by Cupid

I don’t have a quarrel with you, stupid

Your just in my way

The legs of my chair are creaky though I know it has my back

It’s been playing in oil paint and decided to paint it black

I hate this room and I set it up just how I wanted

Picking vaunted beautiful roses for my mantelpiece

Know they wither as I grasp them tight

Tasting angelic spite as the thorns bite into my palms

Friendship bracelets tattered and torn

I wish I could have worn them for another year and wished for nothing but you my brother

I whisper and quietly step through the drowning darkness that plays in your eyes

Smiling accomplice to your demise because I deny that the sands were leaking

I’ll never say that the rocking chair was creaking from its tiring days of sex, drugs, rock and roll

Or that love was biting a hole in his liver and constant highs made his pupils lie and his soul cry as it was hidden behind boarded windows

His soul was dammed

All of my friends are premature old men and lost boys hiding from rescue ships to take them back home

Inside behind eye lids I hid and think about everything I did in constant rewind

Hoping to find a way of editing the setting and forgetting the blood letting

In tunnels which I thought held light held me in their tight embrace

Kiss me on my face and lips and slip down my neck to have a sip

Wondering what I am without movement

Without passionate angels holding me to their chest

Showing me the best way to touch the clouds above the ground

And feeling the flowers as I fell down

Feeling the night in her winter’s gown

We slow dance hand in hand until the sun hits her face and she becomes base tears

Sliding down my cheeks and hearing my voice speak her melody

It makes me want to click my heels and be back in a home when I was not alone responsible for construction

Encased in my mother’s love and my father’s destruction of obstacles in my path

When mom would laugh at my insomnia and cook me my favourite meal

Tucking me under the covers, assuring me the monsters weren’t real, living inside me, trying to make me decide to drink deeply their kisses of cyanide and listen to them as they cried

When baseball was real life and self knowledge hadn’t shown us the pathways to hell

I remember sugar highs before sugar became snow which became lies which wouldn’t melt with a warm sunrise

Playing with my favourite snow man, decorating him in my clothes, thinking he would have no choice in his wardrobe

Yet my home is a room with a roof collapsing

Corroded by time’s sands elapsing

I live outside my window looking at passers by

Wondering if I am the last to try to direct traffic so the kids can fly to school sucked into pixies dust stares

Climbing the stairs I find my knees buckle and my seatbelt in covered in glass from crashes

It’s great speeding until he crashes

Our port glasses smashes, wishing we could wish him good health next year

No matter how many books I have on my shelves and showers I take to cool my skin

I don’t have the ability to make the right decision

So the sand returns to the beach

And I’ll have a rough time trying to teach myself not to drown today

I’m going to have a seat

And bury myself in this beach

Hoping for the seas to ease my thirst

It just gets worst because I am going to retire here and have my eyes blinded by blowing sand

I wait till I join him in dust to dust dancing, going with the wind, impossibly free, bereft of me

Drifting towards the sea where our thirst might be quenched

In front of families playing in the sun, living in eternal dawn

I am young yet already an old man

Why do I cry your tears?

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  • About

    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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