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

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Colony of Losers-Breakfast of Champions

Posted on | April 12, 2010 | 7 Comments

By Pete Diamond

Illustration by Peter Diamond

As I write this there is a new poster on my wall. It says Special Breakfast, 2 eggs with Ham, Bacon or Sausage. It used to be in the window of my favorite restaurant. Now it’s my last reminder of the best and worst times of my life.

The Spartan Restaurant closed its doors for the last time on April 11th, 2010.  This also happens to be my birthday.  And the birthday of their most regular customer Tommy Weeks.

I’ve spent over $20,000 dollars on breakfast specials and chicken marinato over my 21 years of dedicated patronage.  The old Greek ladies and their children became my second family. Owner Maria Kyreakakos is probably the best person I have ever met. When I was five years old I wouldn’t eat anything and she was the only who could convince me to eat.  The young waitresses became close friends, each sharing that same quality which made Maria constantly give and give.  See Maria didn’t always smile.  Often she looked as though the weight of the world bore down on her. She is one of those women blessed with a heart that couldn’t stop expanding. She felt the pain and joys of everyone in her community and struggled to make a small difference in their lives. She didn’t put up a front, she just made sure to do what she could to help the community she cared about.

As the last breakfasts were served it was clear that she had succeeded. And the difference wasn’t so small. Patron after patron left flowers and cards on the mantel expressing their love and adoration. Dozens of people left the restaurant crying. I shed a tear or two myself. Held Maria as she cried in my arms and remembered when I was only a little boy and she was the only who could get me to eat.

I knew that as soon as I stepped outside those doors my childhood would be over.

I’ve already written a poem about what this place means to me. I won’t belabor the point. I will say that I have stories that never made those pages, memories that I’ll never forget and the man I am today has been indelibly changed by knowing this family. People have asked me what I am going to do next.

I guess what I am going to do is try to make something that offers people a little of what Spartan offered me. Something that people will be sad when it’s gone.  Everything ends but that’s not my point. Everything has a beginning.

See they didn’t know what they were making 44 years ago when they served Tommy those first breakfasts.  They were just a poor immigrant family that spoke very little English and came to Halifax, Nova Scotia to make a life for themselves.  They settled in a city that has always been known for its intolerance of outsiders.  When Maria’s husband Nick first arrived in Halifax he jumped in when a black man was being stomped by a horde of whites. Nick and his friend fought the whites off and saved the black man from a particularly brutal beating. The cops tried to charge Nick and the black man.

Halifax didn’t want them and they didn’t care.

The family woke up early everyday and they sweated and they bled to survive the bad years and keep the family business going.

And 44 years later Haligonians can’t imagine the city without it’s best greasy spoon.

I try not to be sad about it. I know they deserve it. They get to have the last years of their lives for themselves. They don’t have to wake up early in the morning and make me breakfast and make me feel better about the world. Now it’s time to travel to Greece, enjoy a decent night’s sleep and get some well deserved rest.

Sometimes I feel like the best things in the world are disappearing more and more every day.  Sometimes it feels like we all missed our chance to be a part of something great. I became a journalist when the industry crashed. I started writing novels when book publishing became a thing of the past. Making music when people prefer to download rather than buy music. I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel that way. Only it’s bullshit.

It’s all self indulgent bullshit we feed ourselves to stay feeling sorry for ourselves because we never expected life to be tough for us. We never thought we were going to have to earn it.  You want to make your band a success? Market it on the net. Spread the word and go on tour and play some fucking shows. You want to be a journalist? Make your own magazine, get another job and eat shit and write until someone starts paying you for advertising space.  And you don’t have to be an artist to make something real and amazing in this world. Just give a fuck about what you do. The sky is falling right now but that’s always the case. If it ain’t nuclear war, it’s the environment, if it’s not Iraq it’s Vietnam, if it ain’t the Commies it’s Capitalism. You can’t wait for life to be the way you want it to be.

It’s been 44 years since they built their restaurant from nothing into a place that changed my life and the lives of thousands of others. They didn’t make a billion dollars or have a movie made about their lives. They just cared about the work they did.  I’m going to do the same.

Welcome to the Colony of Losers, a world of quarter life crises, anxiety, depression and the friends and the failures on the way to your future. This is the story of Michael Kimber’s panicked fall into adulthood.

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7 Responses to “Colony of Losers-Breakfast of Champions”

  1. Dave Plowman
    April 12th, 2010 @ 9:47 am

    Amen.

  2. Kirsten Busche
    April 12th, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

    I am so thankful I got to experience the magic of the spartan and caring of the Kyreakakos family. I am also thankful to you for transforming what I felt to be the devastating loss of an extended family into an inspirational experience I can carry with me. Thank you for everything.

  3. Kate Grant
    April 13th, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

    You have succeeded in distilling exactly what I needed to take with me from having to say goodbye, though nothing we say could ever express the goodness (for lack of a better word) of Nick and Maria. Even in the most trying times I aspired to be as hard working and patient as Maria, she has a genuine integrity I may never achieve, but I am so glad you have been able to remember her for it. Nick and Maria may have put me through school, but the most important things I have learned were from being in their presence.

  4. Andrea Rivers
    April 14th, 2010 @ 12:25 am

    Wow. well said, Michael Kimber, well said. I had no idea those hungover special breakfasts during my xmas visiting would be my last, would maybe even kill for one last spartathalon or a bowl of rice pudding right now. Much love to the Kyreakakos family!! All the best!!

  5. Meagan Robertson
    April 16th, 2010 @ 5:51 am

    Not bad at all MIke…loss always sucks, until you realize you can find something new. No one would ever leave unless arriving felt so good…and return even better. I think that imagining their return to their home country, family and an easy life after years of hard work, with thank-you cards in hand, is as good as the feeling oyur mom had when she saw you eat food;)

  6. Mark Cwajna
    April 27th, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

    sad to hear that Spartan has closed… i wish i could go back for one more breakfast. little did I know that my last breakfast there would actually be the last.

    and to top it off, uncharacteristically, there was an ant in my maple syrup…

  7. Champions Of Breakfast «
    May 12th, 2010 @ 7:57 am

    [...] Of Losers, and when I considered which of his stories I could add to I was immediately drawn to ‘Breakfast Of Champions’, an ode to the Spartan. For one thing I related well to it as a fellow Breakfast Special man, [...]

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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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