Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Decadence is heroin and cake on Tuesday

As I was sitting here before 5 am in the warmth of our little space with toast and coffee hunting and pecking at our computer, I was trying to define "decadence".  This coffee boasts Fairly Traded fresh beans that I just ground up with an electric grinder then steeped for 4 minutes in boiled clean water in my French press for 4 minuets while I waited for my locally sourced grainy bread to leap from the toaster.
Where was I? Oh yes...trying to define decadence.
Merriam Webster defines it thus: Behaviour that shows low morals and a great love of money, fame love etc.
I don't think I like that definition. I'll look elsewhere. Hold tight.

Decadence (originally meaning "decline") is a perceived decay in standards, morals, dignity, religious faith, or skill at governing among the members of the elite of a very large social structure, such as an empire or nation state.
Nope, that isn't right

: the behavior or attitude of people who allow themselves to do what they want or who allow other people to do what they want
: the act of doing something that you enjoy but that is usually thought of as wrong or unhealthy
: something that is done or enjoyed as a special pleasure

That's better, sort of.
I'll leave you to your own conscience and round tables with peers to come up with levels of acceptable decadence.
As you know, or perhaps you don't so I'll tell you, I drive truck for a local non-profit that provides food etc to people with fewer resources than you and me. Daily I rub shoulders with and in some cases, cry with these people. (you may recall my mentioning lunch with Dave who damned near tried as he described a crappy chicken burger lunch as a rare treat)
Apparently, people who dwell in Single Room Occupancy Hotels experience a level of indulgence. 
Imagine if you can, that owning one fresh tub of lime flavoured Liberte yogurt being called decadent. I heard a woman say this very thing yesterday.
On Boxing Day, we visited a music supply store and I noticed a white Lamborghini that looked quick even as it sat still. The owner bought enough equipment to outfit 2 guitars on stage...everything apparently. Not sure what that all entails but it sounded decadent to my untrained ear.
Perhaps indulgence IS the word I'm looking for?
I plan to celebrate New Years Eve with dear friends later today and I'm really looking forward to it, but for many on Earth, its just another journey around the sun. (many won't have another after this one)
I'm going to play board games, smoke a cigar, drink some beer, eat too much food and laugh and talk into the wee hours of next year.
Indulgence. Gluttony etc. etc.
Yesterday, I received a cake from a vender in the shape of a Christmas tree which was decorated with colourful frosting. You know the type. I'm guessing it weighed 2 kilos and I'm not sure that any of my friends would ever purchase a beast.
Well, I dropped it and it got kind of smeared and buggered. When this happens to product, its kind of embarrassing to put it on shelves in the venues where our clients too often theses items are composted. Even we have standards for them poor folk.
There was a woman beside my truck who was twitching spastically, weaving quickly and looking very unrested and nervously thirsty. (this mannerism in the world of addiction is called tweaking. Look it up) We chatted briefly but she was distracted by a tray of cupcakes. Interrupting me, with a croaky voice that matched her scabbed face, swollen arms and hands but not her figure, she asked if she could have them.
I looked at her darting, frantic eyes and asked if she wanted that cake.
She jumped up and down a few times and shrieked REALLY?
I gave her the battered cake and she ran off with it but dropped her scant belongings about 30 feet away. She picked up her bag, make up, needles and smokes, fumbled with the cake and scurried off to no doubt share the sugary feast.
Happy New Year
Look after yourselves.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

My heart was kicked down the street...but not deliberately

Since I was about 5, I've understood the gloomy preminition that Vancouver lies timidly flirting with sea level awaiting "the big one" to shake some of her municipalities from their foundations of terra nova into a wet grave. A rather catastrophic earthquake is always on tonight's menu and for decades we've had lots of foreplay leading up to the great date that everyone will talk about.
Fortunately, up to now, the dish hasn't been available...but damn we wait!
Shelter is the issue. Bugger the Government, I fear we'll all be on our own so its best to make a plan now. Get a kit, get an evacuation plan, get a meeting place. (remember to vote)
Anyhoo, I went for a walk tonight around East Van with a crappy little cigar and a small sized bottled of beer, which incidentally, I opened with a tube of lip balm that my niece made by hand.
So I wandered in exactly the wrong direction of the nearest pub. My wife had a mate over and they were practising music for their upcoming Translink busking zone gigs (a big deal in Vancouver) so I wanted to give them space.
As I walked about, it was evident that Vancouver is feeling the beginning stages of the spiteful exhales of seasonal Yukon breath. We're not used to this, ya Northern bully! We're at sea level down here and we're delicate!
Due East, the prairies often get stupid cold winters, but they're around 3400 feet above the sea, we sit at the Ocean's humid mercy, and that cold air doesn't just flirt with your skips foreplay and gets straight in there!
I've lived on the prairies and HATED the long cold winters, but I'm here to tell you that -6C at sea level is easily crowding -12C or better on the flat lands of Canada. The polar bear swim separates the men from the boys in a very visual way! I love that swim!
Anyhoo, there I was, strutting up Fraser St. in a grand ol' mood in search of a cheap pint. The Canadian Legion which by fate is mere blocks from my home seemed like the best bet but it was shut. I guess the old vets were in bed. (I shouldn't admit that I tried doors and windows, but I wanted a pint)
Seems like I'm rambling don't it? Go grab a cup of tea...I'll wait.
Ok, I'm back. I just chased 3 coyotes down the street in my boxers...cold out there but I had the fear for neighbourhood pets.
So anyway, I'm walking up Fraser heading towards that Legion and I passed by a bank. Inside the automated bank area I saw a scruffy man of about 60 with a bindle and a trash bag possibly containing a sleeping bag. He was seemingly in a trance. I guessed that he was cheating the cold.
The Legion was shut...I had about $7 coffee change (yup, spare coffee change) so I thought I'd give it to the guy if he was still there.
He was there, I went in and offered him the money. Here's the convo:
Excuse me sir, I have some extra coins, may I give them to you?
Oh shit, I'm in your way, I'll leave.
No you're not. Be still friend, I have some coins for you. (shaking them in my hand for emphasis)
I'm fucking leaving! I'm fucking leaving!
Please sir, I have a few coins for you. It's extra, I'd like you to have it.
Don't fucking talk to me. I'm leaving. Leave me alone!
He angrily left the warmth of the bank and I stood there awkwardly staring at the change in my hand feeling like a complete and utter failure. I pissed off a guy living rough.
He skulked up Fraser, j-walked in front of a bus and ran into another warm banking area.
I chose to quickly walk past as my change weighed heavily in my pocket, not unlike the chains dragging down Jacob Marley. Talk about a buzz kill.
He has no bed. No crust. Perhaps no sense. I was on my way home to  a warm bed and a warmer wife.
Life isn't fair.
So here I am at home. It's about 12 degrees C in here, I have a glass of wine and another human that adores me. I must admit I have pangs of guilt at leaving that man at the bank. But as my other homeless friends have told me, they own nothing, therefore they have nothing to lose. They don't fear the big earthquake, or floods, or cold of winter. I wonder who is truly free?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Looking for the crusts of bread I meant to leave

Here on the West Coast of BC, we don't really experience winter in the traditional Canadian way.
We get RAIN, sleet and the odd dump of wet snow that buggers off within 2 days (It does however completely cripple the buses...) However, the chances of tightening up your skates to hit the ice on any local pond, river or waterway is merely fantasy. Best use those gifted hockey sticks to annoy your neighbours by passing tins down the alleys like we used to.
Back in the 70"s, my parents (new to Canada and evidently had heard of winter horrors) bought me a steel SpeedAway sled. I was the first on my block to have such a relic that was shite useless on damp snow slopped grades on top of even the steepest of green grassy hills. The sled dug in fast rupturing my internal organs as all of the other kids with more in tune parents whizzed past on wooden toboggans, plastid dishes and saucers.
Still, I love my parents no end! Fond memories of Harry trying his damnedest to shove me down the hill on Burnaby Mountain at the (then Teahouse) to no avail as everyone else blasted by with shrieks of joy and terror.
Envy? No. Embarrassment ? Yes
What the hell...flash ahead 40 years.
How are you after you've been misunderstood AGAIN?
Mum and dad rolled with it.
Chose your personal scenario. The one where you thought that you were prfectly concise and clear and things went sideways...or at least, wobbly. Maybe driving directions, cooking instruction or trying your damnedest to convey the meeting place.
or your point of view....
I'm first to admit that I hate being wrong (and I'll fight it like you do!)  But I REALLY hate being seen as wrong when I'm accurate!
How do you respond when you're right?
Like a fool, I shut up 8 of 10 times. But I don't know why.
CAVEAT:  it's a very long calendar that I'm right 8/10
Are we frightened to seem holier than thou? To come off  hyper- intellectual , snotty or in desperate need to evaluate ourselves?
Maybe...God bless us, we don't want dummies to feel dumb.
I ramble again...sorry.
On a few occasions this week end I felt like I was the lesser humanoid in the room.
I'm willing to bet that this was due in part to my own broken perception of what was occurring at any given time, but...if you look upon posts in any news story, people are harsh! We've lost the Love!
So all this to say,  without the foresight of proofread, I'm all right mate, I'm no longer expecting your validation or approval but I crave your input!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Happenings that could be hypothetical to protect the innocent

I spend odd hours earning meat and drink for my family. Some are in no way cut out to deal with what I see, hear and do...but I love it.
It's damned shame mind you, that the jobs I have are needed.
I drive a truck for a legit non-profit picking up good day-old food and clothes etc etc from various venders. The spoils of my day are then sold for pennies on the dollar (of the vender's retail) in our "markets" to people approved by various agencies who fall under a few categories.
People suffering from mental health issues and therefore not fully employable.
Recipients of social assistance (various reasons here...don't judge until you buy a lunch and LISTEN)
The aged with no physical means of support.
Poverty striven substance addicted people.
To get the likes of good bananas at 25 cents a pound or 9 grain bread for 80 cents a loaf...beautiful!
We offer support, council, direction....
This job is far better for me than working as a number in a vague machine creating profit for some removed fat cat at the top of a corporate food chain.
This is street level, gut squeezing real, hands on front line work. I LOVE IT!
Weekly, I drop off a gorgeous food hamper at a resource that is in exhistance for desperate sex trade workers in various stages of mental anguish and addiction.
When I walk in there and greet those women, my heart quickens. Dope steals your youth and working in the sex trade dulls your soul. I wish I had a magic wand. No personal wealth...just safe relief for so many of these women I see regularly.
I drop off a huge loud of food at a men's rehab. These guys are sobering for me. Theres 29 steps from street level up to their space and the men cart my wares up them. Some of these guys can't manage the heavy burden of anything more than a 12 pack of soda. Stop and ponder that.
During my week I also see gorgeous, healthy women in the prime of their lives. The mental gymnastics I must do is dizzying. 
I bid fare well to a fit, healthy, attractive European dancer who's under 30 and 17 minutes later I'm with desperate drug addicted women her age and younger. That's a mind fug if you like!
I divide 400 pounds of carrots and apples between 4 different  elementary schools during the week.
This gives me great joy! (after the mental gymnastics remember) 
The patience of a Music Teacher with 20-odd 10 year olds singer worse than I do is surreal! She always has a smile and a wave regardless of the sound of these brilliant songbirds.
And the joy on the faces of the very little kids when they get to glue glitter to their art project. THIS, is breathing deep!
I'd be amiss to not mention Ray, Gerald, Paul, Clayton, John, John and Steve in this post. These are the men that are not far different from me that sleep outdoors or in shitty SRO's in East Vancouver.
I look forward to chatting with these guys. Nothing to prove, nothing to lose. Seems like a nice life in all honesty. No clocks. No bills. No agendas.
Today...for lunch, I was able to pass on a care package to a gaggle of hippies that are opposing something that I fully support them in. Talk about LOVE, gratitude and heart warming smiles! 
I've nothing to moan about! 
Yeah, truth is that I'm on meds for depression. I lose focus too often, forget the good and get pathetically sad! I misenterpret stuff that other humans say which leads to a spiral of the ol'  "woe is me's" But I reiterate, I really have nothing to moan about do I ?
So, here I am tonight, in my home after 16 hours of work that nets me just under $230 but our bills are paid and I didn't exploit anyone earning it! 
My conscience is clear. I'm fed. I'm warm.
How are YOU?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The spiral effect of the cognitive illusion

Have you ever been locked in a cycle of thought or emotion where you truly believe you've been taken for granted? Have you ever hoped that people would see you, sense you, hear you, engage you? Especially the people that say they love you? The ones that are meant to know you?
Have you arrived at some point where perhaps you're almost finished trying to get someone's attention? Do you feel that perhaps they should know by now?
Of course, all of this might be accentuated where strangers are concerned. Especially that gorgeous man with that French accent, smart dark suit, perfect fluevogs and distractingly, piercing blue eyes. The guy with the smile where white teeth peek through perfect lips above a slightly stubbled chiselled jaw. Yeah...that guy.
He's too perfect. Too dreamy and dare I say leg wetting? But if HE noticed!
No...I mean do you long to be recognized by any typical person, not a fantasy girl? To not feel as though you've been taken for granted again and again?
I'm not talking about an eye-level plaque set in granite or a parade marking THE day you actually did something shattering or even a street named after you in a Capital City...
I'm simply talking about KNOWING deep in your soul, communicated to you in your own "language"...that someone out there actually gives a shit about you, thinks of you and has taken the time to show and tell you regularly.
Not critiquing you or setting your deeds on a golden scale of righteousness. Clean slate stuff, not earned or begged for. Just beautiful, real, gut level community HEY MAN I NOTICE YOU stuff.
Yeah. That.
I used to hang around a few guys that were involved with a larger Group of guys that I should probably not mention by name, but they had a saying: THE GOOD WE DO, NO ONE REMEMBERS, THE BAD WE DO, NO ONE FORGETS.
I think that these thugs get the point.
We all need hugs dude.
Tonight is a low night for me. Today spiraled out of my cognitive control by about 6:15am and here I sit 14 hours later still feeling battered and alone as if I were on some isolated island alone that is shrouded in a heavy, cold fog.
I was alone the last time I felt like this, and tried to watch a doco on Jim Crow. It showed in detail the horrific way Blacks were so very ill treated in America, but I had to quit watching.
In addition to the sickening feeling in the depths of my stomach about this history, the images of lynchings and hangings found my mind scanning our home thinking about areas that would support my weight...
I had to switch it off and went quickly to the sanctuary of outdoors looking for racoons. Racoons are safer than my thoughts at most times.
Kind of sounds like I'm playing the Victim Card here, but you need to know...I work more than full time, do other activities besides paid labour, help people, check in on people physically and electronically and call my ol' mum regularly. I'm healthily distracted.
But my brain seems to be my greatest enemy at the moment and between it and the Devil...sniper attacks are damned accurate, cruel and timely!
I've had valuable conversations with a few close friends lately. I hear their struggles, recognize their anguish. Together we scream for relief in an empty make believe corridor in some psychiatric hospital. The more you plead, the crazier you appear...
So therein lies the rub.
Do you stay on course with your meds and therapy, suck it up and shut up until that dangerous point where it almost gets unbearable and then go chase after raccoons and Ocean breezes?
Today, under the shadow of 10,000 crows, in spite of my skull crushing into my eye sockets, I cried in the pissing rain at the Ocean.
I was on my own...but not alone...or so I thought.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

thinking is the best way to travel

During the 70's when I was a kid, life in Metro Vancouver was spent outdoors shine or rain! Indoors on the West Coast to us kids was reserved for punishment. Groundings, detentions at school, brief community imposed curfews and the like.
Harry (see previous posts) instilled one of his apparent truths deep within me;  "outdoors was IN and indoors was OUT." Mum would call me and Harry "blue assed flies" due to our evident never sitting still in one place for too long lifestyles.
Next to his participation in granting me passage to Earth, to me, Harry's greatest gift was passing along this craving to breathe deep.
Looking back, we lived poor and often resided in industrial districts. My first school was a 16 block walk away from our gravel (mud) driveway house that sat inconspicuously between a large industrial bakery and a steel fabrication shop. Our Northern view of the Lions was obscured by twin cranes that would begin to groan metallic protests every day at 7 am from the metal salvage yard that lay just beyond Harry's garden teeming with runner beans, rhubarb, potatoes, swede and "good quality horse shit for me veg"
After school hours were spent walking through ditches, short cuts through people's yards, climbing trees and throwing stones.
At the week end, marvellous adventures would begin. Beach combing with friends, climbing Burnaby Mountain or all day bus passes for 25 cents that afforded us trips into Vancouver proper where we'd sneak peeks into the strip joints through curtain cracks and ride elevators in skyscrapers.
We'd steal toilet rolls and throw them off roof tops cheering loudly into the concrete jungle as ribbons of white twisted earthward.
Security guards chased us from buildings and malls, we'd gather coins tossed in fountains and watch for revealing occurrences as skirted women rounded the windy corner at Burrard and Georgia.
Our favourite meal was plunky chips from a stereotypically fat and sweaty fry cook at a place called Ben's Eat Out. The name in itself made the place a legend.
Old school police would run after us and smack us in the back of the head when we got mouthy. They'd lie to us and tell us that they were going to tell our parents we were in Vancouver if we didn't behave. We believed them.
Gastown wasn't the sad overpriced trendy smug area that you see now. It had character, history and you could feel that this city started here.
We'd look at the one or two shops selling Canada trinkets and not quite understand why anyone would buy them?
Skid row was a safer, vibrant hub of amusement for us than it is now.
The odd heroin addict stayed in the shadows of Gastown whilst the drunks staggered skid row and the mentally ill people still had glimmers of hope in Riverside hospital.
We'd chat with the rubbies and sway as we spoke in order to catch them off balance which made them fall over.
A damned cruel trick, but menacingly funny when you're 10-14 years old.
Life was spent outdoors and we were healthy, allergy free, fit and NOT fat!
Contrast today, 40+ years on. I rarely see kids outdoors anymore and they're becoming weaker and sickly.
The argument is that its not safe. We packed around in groups of 4 or 8. We were safe.
I think we're living in an age of selfishness and quick gratification. I'm not too sure that 8 14 year olds could hang together outdoors for 10 hours on a Saturday. I'm willing to bet that they'd think that they're bored.
I heard a young teen boy lamenting earlier today:  "Bra, I gotta get some money. I need money to buy things!" This kid had better clothes than me, ear buds hooked up to a device and he was holding his phone. His mate was at least as kitted up.
At his age, I needed bus fare, more time, a friend and maybe a buck for Ben's chips and a coke. We'd suppliment our adventures by picking pop bottles out of ditches and bushes and trade them for 2 and 5 cents depending on size.
Mum would give us grief because we communicated via shouting and whistling through windows, used the phone too much (never know when a call from England was trying to get through...) and always had kids calling on me and my brother even if we were already off on another adventure.
I'm older now. I can't turn back the clock nor would I. I have beautiful memories.
But I do wish I knew the secret language of today's youth that Harry spoke to me.


Friday, December 12, 2014

tic tic ticked off

So, Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston of the infamous Red Scorpion gang in Vancouver have FINALLY been sentenced to a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years for the cowardly Surrey 6 murders. 4 of the victims were known to police and had gang ties blah blah blah and the 2 other poor sods were innocent men in the wrong place at the wrong time! Cody and Matthew evidently thought that they'd play God but they're just a couple of stupid humans with guns and no balls!
The horrific crime these two chicken-shit cowards went through with occurred in 2007 AND THEY WERE JUST SENTENCED 7 years on!
Our legal system has failed these victims. (and scores of others) 
So, with all due respect to our failed system and the yellow spined judges sitting fat in our Canadian courts, I fear you fat headed men and women of the Bench have set a standard for all "disagreements" and infractions in our fair Country.
All the evidence is laid at the door of the Courts. Often times there is damning, solid testimony AND confessions. But oh how the Courts draaaaaaag things on.
And so we plebeians learn from you. 
It seems simple to me.
Bring evidence to the accused.
Prove the case.
Get the confession.
Declare the sentence.
Have (them) serve the sentence.
Carry on.
I find it inhumane to drag on cases, punishments, threats of punishments and withholding rehabilitative measures etc etc.
All we are doing, is creating a more bitter, angrier, guilty person who may inevitably take all of your long overdo niceties, chuck them over their shoulder and then go off and commit a greater offence.
Our Supreme Court is a joke, our system is in disarray and the shite methods trickle all the way down to our private families...and in some cases, they inevitably get moved up into that broken system!  
Accuse me. Charge me. Sentence me. QUICKLY! 


Gourmet chicken lunch for 2

There's been a lot of negative local News reported lately. Horrific crimes against humans and property, unchecked Corporate waste of taxpayer monies, police hassles, storms, Government bs...a rather dreary list.
So...a personal good news moment!  I have hope for placement in another job working with marginalized people in Vancouver's Downtown East Side. Canada's poorest postal code. I won't quit driving truck straight away and I'll never allow my professional licenses to lapse but working WITH people is what I really enjoy.
It's a front line job "working" with men (and women) in various stages of addiction, stagnated by poverty and mental health issues and a prejudiced system that continues to fail them.
I'm afraid I've never been able to look away from these types of social issues. I've never felt the urge to chase after a well paying career in some other area.. I'm convinced that big bags of cash wouldn't make me happy. (However I COULD help more people??) 
I bought a guy lunch today. Dave lives in a shitty little space that costs him $500 mouth in single room occupancy hotel in skid row.
"Its clean and the landlord keeps the crack heads out" he assures me. I brought Dave on the truck today because I thought I'd need a hand loading 155 turkeys from a supplier. He was happy to get out and see a part of the city he doesn't recall being in. I guess change is good when you're used to 120 square feet of private living space off of the always active Hastings street.
Dave had a chicken burger, fries and black coffee. We had precious little time so it was a "kiss me quick" at A&W.
I don't recall the last time I've noticed anyone enjoy food the way he did! A crappy fast-food meal (no offense Allen & Wright)
Dave is 51 and has been clinically depressed for 8 years. Too often, for many days on end, he can't face leaving that stuffy hot room of his even though he's on a cocktail of medications.
I understand his struggle in a minute way. Difference is I have a supportive wife, a job, a motorbike, coverage for meds and therapy and friends to name a few of my blessings.
Dave has...his room and smokes. Dave rolls his own smokes...from butts he finds on the pavement. I don't like the smell of them but Dave needs "his fix". Dave doesn't drink or do drugs.
The system fails Dave moment by moment I'm afraid. The social safety net isn't strong enough to support his weight until he's fit enough to keep employed somewhere.
This COULD become you you realize?
So there's a happy story mixed with bitter realism for a Friday night.
I'll see Dave again. I see him often.
In the mean time. Look after yourselves.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

sunrise, sunset.

I had the day off today and my wife had stuff going on so I jumped on my motorbike with her blessings. But I'm a man, so inevitably I screwed that up in the end. Never mind. This blog is about my advances in mental health, not my misery.
I clocked just over 160 kilometres of chilly freedom that I so desperately needed! No partner, no parameters, no schedule, no destination.
Freedom is a word that is definitely up for interpretation.
I was on the bank of a river today watching Chum salmon gasping at their last gulps of life after spawning. They lay more than swimming, pathetically at the shore trying with all their might to go up any stream that offered a current. Its what salmon know they're meant to do.
A local First Nations guy I started chatting with said that they're also called tomatoes due to their crimson colour.
These magnificent creatures beat such odds to get back to this river. But are they free?
One could argue that since they MUST spawn that they are indeed not free...but governed.
What governs your actions? Your thoughts? Your opinions?
Often times, we (ME) live our lives controling other humans for our own benefit.
Think on it honesty for a moment.  Do you really, FULLY give your kids, spouse, employees or friends total freedom? I'd wager no.
We live for self. Face it!
We look out for #1 in 90% of our waking activities.
Mum Teresa flipped it around. I'm no where near ready to commit to that. How many excuses do you want me to cite? Do you have some? Ever struggled in this?
So today...was all about me. My mental well being, a moment to recharge my human battery, to breathe deep the precious air that God designed that I so desperately need.
But I forgot to include someone dear to me.
Such a simple task...but when we're focused on self, nothing else matters. No other one matters...for a moment.
Freedom is an interesting gift. You don't simply have it, you must be given it or it doesn't exist. So in that vein of thought, the freedom I've been given is simply an illusion.
I think, but I may be wrong, that true freedom could perhaps be defined as living quietly on your own in a cabin on a mountain far from civilization utterly dependent upon your own means...
Or, to flip it, it could also mean that your freedom begins at the time of your death.
I wager that none of us embrace freedom.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

CAUTION objects in mirror are closer than they appear

I'm on Citalopram. It's an antidepressant drug that helps my brain recognize "feel goods" and to NOT dwell on the negative downers that I used to be able to dismiss in time without the aid of artificial chemical enhancement.
Example? I look forward to my daily Northbound drive over the Lions Gate Bridge here in Vancouver because I can see and smell the ocean and breathe in the mountains.
One day, it was dreary and cloudy drizzle obscured the mountains from view...and I cried. My day was shot, I was overwhelmed by an irrational dread that orchestrated the rest of my day. I allowed an event that was and IS 100% out of my control to plan my day for me. To negate all the good things regardless of importance, and smother them in thick gray doom.
Squirrels give me joy! Crows...I love crows! Not that day...I didn't drink them in even if I saw any. Safe to say that I didn't notice them. What else did I miss?
WHO have I missed?
I'm in the habit (or preference) of taking coffee as a meal replacement these days. I'm certain my health is shit! I look forward to seeing my friends...the Alley Rats as I lovingly call them, and offering them foods and coffee. I can do without 3 meals today to spare a crust for them...
I see them by 10 am but they're well into the beer by then, no desire for coffee. But they happily, graciously accept my alms of food.
I gave Ray a pecan pie. "I haven't a pecan pie in I don't know how long Lance. It was my favourite as a kid."
Gerald was thrilled to get yogurt.
I won't buy them beer. I'll have a drink with them if I'm not working, but I won't buy it for them. I don't see the point of increasing the incline of a stairway that a human already has trouble negotiating.
I drive truck. Over an average week, I'll back my truck through approximately 70 different situations most of which have rather dodgy geometry and limited visibility. Not to mention the utterly stupid drivers and pedestrians that proceed directly behind me the second my back up alarm begins chirping as I hit my horn 3 or 5 times!
I rely on my mirrors. Next to my brakes, my mirrors are my saviour.
My right mirror has the same inscribed saying that your car does...the title of this post.
The other day, I was sitting on the right portion of the seat in my truck cleaning my interior and the right mirror. I was thinking of Harry. I often find myself thinking of him. #MissingHarry is a hashtag I use often.
My right arm was resting on the edge of the open window as I sat there thinking of him. I don't remember him as a young man, he was 38 when I came to earth.
The reflection of my right arm looked foreign to me. Otherworldly, not my own really. It looked like Harry's arm in all truth. My muscles are relaxing with age, that vibrant colour of youth has long been fading and freckles...are those freckles?
I'm 51 and living, for the time being, with depression. The thought of getting old and redundant is NOT something I'm keen on but I'm fortunate enough to not have the experience of the alternative. Evidently I'm not going to die young.
So I looked in that damned mirror. I looked deeply INTO that mirror. All of my flaws that it reflected back to me, all of my secrets shouted loudly, my truth, my lies...all of my stories and experiences slapped me into sobriety.
I looked at my arm, my face...LANCE!
I'm not giving up on me.
I'm not in love with me right now, but I'm damned fond of me.
Hey, I'm a work in progress right?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Community of Crows

Mental health is an extremely complex subject that gifted healthy professionals must navigate. These learned women and men have the good fortune of centuries upon centuries of literature, experiments, conferences, writings and drug experiments to fall back on for insight when dealing with those of us that are experiencing mental anguish and turmoil.
I'm indebted to them for their hearts to reach out and help us. I'm ever thankful that they chose a profession that is ever evolving...never the same circumstances and rarely textbook to the point that they can enthusiastically grab the drab yellow folder with CURE #5 off of their shelf.
It's an interesting field. Cure #5 is a Unicorn...ever see one?
The goal of my therapist is to get me to the place where I feel that I can stop coming to see her. She's mentioned, not in so many words, that I won't be funding a cabin on a lake for her. I'll take that notion as a silver lining. 
Years of school etc to learn how to relate to the Broken. 
I have a thought about all of this. It's something that was bouncing about in my brain last night as I lay in my warm bed thinking of my homeless friends who have several issues of their own.
How many confused, frightened, desperate, lonely, drunk, drugged out, psychotic people THAT ARE INVISIBLE  ever get a God given moment of clarity where they can honestly notice that they need some kind of help?
And if they ever do hear that beautiful voice of they dismiss it as a devil? Do they ignore it as a guilty conscience? Was it delivered by some asshole in a nice suit as he gave a "fuck you" as they asked him for a bit of money? Was it YOU? Averting your eyes?
Fortunately for me, a person that you share this planet with was the one to tell me that I needed help. You may not meet her but that's neither here nor there. My point is, she hasn't given up (and in all honesty, she should have) What a shitty lot that has been cast at her.
There's hope. I hope for hope. She hinges the future on hope. Hope is a delicate thought that takes many consistently positive ongoing circumstances to be convincing. Lottery tickets hold no hope! The warmth of the morning sun kissing your face on a shitty day offers hope. If the Earth turns and there is no "sunrise" you'll know in about 39 seconds.
So...about these crows.
I'm fortunate to live in the shadow of 10,000 crows. Every evening as the sun begins to set, countless crows fly across East Vancouver to roost together in an evidently NOT secret location. I've followed them. Breath taking! Have you ever had the privilege? 
Almost nothing is known about why crows form these communal roosts or of the dynamics of the populations involved. It appears that crows will travel considerable distances to a roost, but that not necessarily every crow in an area will travel to a particular roost every night. There is some indication that some individual crows may go to a roost some nights but not others.
Those annoying birds go about the community on their own or in pairs and tidy up our trash. We hate their song...
In Alberta, rednecks are hired in towns to shoot them, sad really.
So tonight, as the crows commuted and cawed above me as I walked back from the shops, I began to think about how we humans interact with one another. I couldn't help but feel that we all fall far short.
My heart squeezed but I'm training myself to be positive (sorry Harry) to NOT compare us to crows.
And as I walked home, a white guy in a multicultural city, an older Sikh man in traditional dress randomly stopped me on the pavement and bid me Merry Christmas.
In an instant, my longing for the community of crows was satisfied! 

Saturday, November 29, 2014


I find it interesting yet terribly unsettling how my good positive outlook can be washed away in a toxic soup of negativity within the blink of a few thoughts. Earlier tonight was such a night.
Apparently my mental state, albeit medicated, can't seem to overcome or cope with my weary well being. If I had to over-analyze the reasons, I'd wager that they're caused by my working far too much, sleeping far too little, only eat semi-regularly, comparing myself to others, fearing my future and not knowing how to be on my own. Probably not unlike you right?
I am however, learning to weigh the great and the not so great on a scale , which by the way is tipped towards great simply by the fact that I'm still alive, but I still get tripped up mentally.
I chat on a regular basis with men who sleep outdoors every night! Tonight its snowing for God's sake but Gerald will still be in Stanley Park, Paul will be near Science World, Steve will be in his tent beside the Fraser River and countless others will be in doorways, alleys, nooks and crannies all over the Greater Vancouver Regional District.
An infamous band of brothers coined the term "the good we do, no one remembers, the bad we do, no one forgets" and like so, there travels my thoughts down a dark and heavy street.
Focus on the positive. Think on the bright side. It could be worse. Hang in there, you'll surface blah blah blah.
I'll tell you what I'd like to do right now...I'd like to run through a forest with a DeMarini Voodoo baseball bat and reduce small trees to kindling! I guess I have anger issues and pent up energy. Better than kicking puppies I suppose.
I've worked with kids for over 2 decades. Kids in care, kids on heroin, suicidal kids, victimized kids, medicated kids, churched kids...and "normal" effed up kids. I've never come to understand why many of them (more than you'd like to know) cut themselves and engage in self-harm. That is until now.
Don't worry, by the time you read this, I'll STILL be fine.
Once upon a kid that you'll likely never meet broke up with his girlfriend...or should I say that she dumped him.? Anyway, as we were chatting about his pain, he asked me if I wanted to see HOW much it hurt. I prepared myself for a touch of the old assault as he slid up the sleeves of his hoody...
On his left harm, not unlike surgical precision, were 11 perfectly identical cuts. I applied first aid and we chatted long into the night.
I wondered why he did it. What he meant by SEEING how much it hurt. Today, many months on, I'm going to conclude that he didn't do it for attention...but rather, reality.
I believe that he, as indeed I, needed to realize that he was still a member of space and time in this thing we call today.
Today is forever. Yesterday is a memory that we can't physically visit and tomorrow often only exists in faint hope. Today is all we have. Today is all I have and I need to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I participated in it.
Within the milky haze of confusion, I'm guessing that quick sharp pain jolts a body back into today and a few scars offer proof of being there not unlike your holiday photographs.
So therein lies my dilemma. How can I be sure that I was here today without hurting myself? (remember now, if you have a sure answer, you probably don't have mental health issues.)
I'm sitting in an office at work right now and the walls have closed in on me to the point where it feels like I have a shoebox on my head. The silence is deafening and the sticky goo that makes up my brain is rushing about like a shithouse rat!
Saving grace...I seem to be able to switch off all of this negative crap whenever I'm dealing with a kid or chatting with My "invisible", marginalized friends that many of you wouldn't notice pushing around their shopping carts full of treasures.
So there's today's glimpse. Now I'm going to take this box off of my head, breathe deep, remember a few cherished times, forget about tomorrow and go be cynical about American television.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Must be night time

So even as our World is in a state of unrest, I still managed to notice that I'm still distracted by several side effects from my increased dose of Cipralex. Quite amazing what an additional 5 mg can do to a 200+ pound man.
Sorry... I'm not awake at 1 am by choice just so I can quietly sit and entertain you, my Legions of followers, by candlelight. No, I was ripped from slumber rather suddenly by some irrational dream/thought that danced along my neural pathway.
What a pain in the ass insomnia can be. Funny, later on today as I'm yawning my fool head off in traffic, she won't come to call. She's a night dweller...
What else am I noticing?
Aahh yes, itchy skin. You name it, I'm scratching it! This is handy for a depressed guy in the event I wish to be on my own. Strangers don't seem to want to hang around the guy scratching his arms, legs, head, armpits, chest, groin...handy really. When I'm chatting with friends that are homeless, it must appear to anyone far off in the distance like we're in a symphony of sorts. Perhaps mimicking young rapper culture talking with our hands and touching ourselves...
Did I mention sudden urges to seek out a toilet? Yeah, that's a good one for a truck driver that has to lift things all day. UGH.
Increased empathy is interesting. I was frightened that I was starting to feel callous towards other humans. I noticed that I had to put on empathy for people by memory some days. No fear now, I nearly cried the other day on the river as a lump of wood floated by.
To me, it seemed as though that that wood was gripped in loneliness, randomness, solitude, isolation and that it was long forgotten and going unnoticed. It would only get worse once it entered the vastness of the Ocean.
But I'm practising positive thinking. Not that wishy-washy feel good, look on the bright side of life even though you've lost a leg kinda crap, but the real, STOP AND NOTICE positive thinking.
For instance, when I was standing for too long in a ridiculously crowded coffee shop behind Vancouver's Top 10 fussiest coffee snobs, I thought "how nice that we can all get out and grab a coffee."
Yeah. That was weird.
I have other things to share that are going on too...but I think my peppermint tea has calmed me so I won't pester you.
Fear'd still recognize me! I'm a work in progress.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Clear windows kept shut

So far, this binge of Citalopram (I guess its a binge if its daily use) has altered my mood in so much as I can still breathe but also I'm learning to try to attempt to see all things with relative clarity without employing my usual negative spin which by the way, was inherited from or at the very least, taught to me by Harry. (and take breath)
Correction...NOTICE things positively rather than always seeing things negatively.
Most of those pesky side effects have waned but I still gag in the mornings, eat very little, can't form enough spit to even lob onto the shoe of Stephan Harper should he ever come for tea, suffer gut cramps, night sweats and awesome NOT head-videos that are all but truth.
 Fortunately there is no Agoraphobia in my diagnosis although this wonder drug would apparently help with that too. Incidentally, that's just a big name from the Greek AYOPA meaning Large Public Square and OOBIA meaning phobia. This disorder makes it very difficult to be in public in big places. Often, this condition must be ruled out in diagnosis because many of those of us that are depressed often want to hide from other humans for a variety of reasons.
Think about it...if you ever noticed an adult man standing in the middle of a grassy park crying ,would your first thought be  "I best rush over and comfort this stranger who is in an obvious time of sadness or mental anguish "  I wager your answer is an unconditional NO. That may be just what he needs...or sadly the opposite of what he wants!
So, for many of us, the blinds are drawn, the bed covers are up to our chin and the cat goes hungry while family and distance friends try and cope with whatever the hell is going on inside your brain. Catch is that you may never even know what it is that's hurting your head.
All this to say that fortunately I'm NOT afflicted with a fear of people or feel the need to hide and starve the cat. Quite the opposite really. I experience terrible dread when it comes to being alone for large chunks of time. This, by the way, is a far cry from "being on my own" which on occasion I quite like.
Depression is a bugger! You ( I ) don't want a crowd of people patting my head "helping me" but at the same time I long for a text. Text is good in so much as I can control the interaction which I couldn't do if you actually phoned me. Clever as well as sly ain't I?  Some may diagnosis this as Chickenshit from the Greek KOTOTTOUAU and OKATA  (my apologies for not having the correct alphabet at hand)
Driving truck around Vancouver is good therapy for me. I listen to chat radio, shout at God and the Universe, engage venders if and only if I want to and I even enjoy the freedom to pull in and walk around the block to breathe if I need to.
The grouphome is another animal altogether.
In this house where the clients are 13-18 years old, male and female, I must push my emotions and issues to the back burner and give these ones my 100%  attention and professionalism. So far, so great.
To think at 51 I'm suffering with what many of our youth of the day are also suffering with.
Snag is, they haven't the resources or in many cases the forthwith or maturity to seek out help let alone understand that something may be amiss.
I think it best that I reserve any further comment about this "industry"
So there it is in a nutshell (pun intended)
If you happen to have the privilege to know that a friend/family member is suffering depression, reach out to them GENTLY if only to remind them that they're valued and alive and that you're happy that they're still standing on this planet with you. Its a good planet. There are billions of people standing on it and we only know a few.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What have I been moaning about?

I noticed a few things today that caused to me stop, listen, emphathise and weep. Each story concerned other humans for a change...not ME!  I'm starting to think that its good therapy to get my eyes off of me occasionally.
Texas oil giant Kinder Morgan has work crews in a Provincial park not far from my home. They've been turning Earth, falling trees, disregarding Canadian law and desecrating the area which is also, not to say the least, First Nation's land.
Our local Provincial Government is turning a blind eye to this in spite of the fact that 90% of the effected area's voting (Municipality) population AND the entire City council and Mayour's Office opposes the tresspass. The Federal Government is mute, not surprising.
In all of this, a group of people of varying ages and backgrounds set up camp in opposition and in the direct path of the work. A protest to be sure. Young and old lived in make-shift tents on the mountain for many days.
The American corporation is suing several people for assault ( see twitter #mykmface ) which is a fear tactic that frightens me! I have no money.
The protesters didn't budge...until today.
Canada's RCMP and at least 4 other Police forces swooped down this morning and arrested the protestors and will now dismantle the camp with the help from Kinder Morgan employees.
This is American PRIVATE corporate greed influencing the Law Makers and Law Keepers of Canada. I pray their wealth turns to burning gravel in their stomachs.
I pray that the minds of the Canadian puppets carrying out this evacuation will question their beliefs as many Canadians are doing today.
What I've noticed: The protestors, on OUR behalf took a stand! What have YOU taken a stand for? What WILL you stand for?

I pulled into a vender today to get the scheduled donation as usual. I saw Laura whom you will probably never meet.
We chatted the way we do every day...but today I noticed something in her eyes.
I can't recall why, but I told her that I was recently diagnosed depressed and that I was taking a few steps towards personal relief and wellness. She lost it.
Laura, who is my age and single suffers too. She shared her personal struggles, some break throughs and some lows. Her condition has cost her 2 relationships.
She asked me about meds because she is dealing with it with vitamins. I'll will employ some of her wisdom.
She cried and asked me "Lance, do you know what the hardest part of all of this is for me?"  I admitted that I didn't know.
She said  "I hate that its all emotional. Its all in my head. I can't stop it I can't control it and I don't want to admit it!"
Look around, you may notice someone who could do with a smile.

There's a guy where I work. You may not meet him, but you should.
Often there are stigmas attached to the circumstances surrounding those in need and the barriers they face. Enter Al.
Two unimaginable tragedies sent his life into a downward spiral of depression and despair. In 2002, a drunk driver murdered Al's son who was only 11 years old. Incomprehensibly, his daughter of 14 died of brain cancer just 2 years later.
In the blink of an eye, Al lost his children and alcoholism, numbness, depression and lack of caring engulfed him.
Today...AL is coping. I enjoy seeing him several times a week at work. He's cheerful, funny, full of optimism and carrying on.
We could learn from Al.

Tonight after therapy, one of those hold-up-the-mirror type of therapy sessions, I bumped into John also called Frank outside of Tim Horton's. He was in search of a battery for an incredibly gaudy wrist watch he was wearing. The watch must have weighed 3 pounds and screamed Tijuana but John Frank was proud of it.He shuffled down the street and I assured him that I'd wait for him to return. I don't like waiting by the way.
Minutes later, John Frank showed up sad. His battery was worth $17 apparently. He got the watch from a guy that owed him money. Shifty little dude, but I like him. 2 Vancouver Police members eating soup in Tim Hortons watched us with earnest...I watched them watch us keeping the peace.
I wanted to cross the road with John Frank and take him for a beer in the bar...but I had a moment of brilliance and reconciled in my humble opinion, that he didn't really need another beer...ever.
I bid him fare well and walked away.

So whats my application in response to this day? What, if anything, should I do?
I think I'm going to continue to interact with humanity with eyes wide open, ears at the ready and my mouth initially kept shut whilst LISTENING to the stories of the brothers and sisters set before me.
Many are people have had a harder go of it than me!
But the greatest reminder today comes from a previous tweet which I mentioned in therapy:

"The pursuit of happiness must be navigated by Self because no other human will always go out of their way to make you happy"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I'm on medication. I'm on medication because I've been professionally diagnosed  "in a state of general unhappiness or despondency"  Apparently I'm depressed, which isn't a total surprise to my family.
Synonyms: sad, unhappy, miserable, dejected, gloomy, glum, melancholy, disconsolate, downhearted, downcast, down, despondent, dispirited, low, heavy-hearted, morose, dismal, follow how I'm drifting, but yes, that's me for a few years now. ( not complete shite as I walked the planet mind you. But not, as mum would say; "quite the ticket" )
You know, if you met me and hung out with me, you'd like me. It seems that I hide most emotions well. I'm pretty easy to get on with and strangers that I chat with don't ever seem to be annoyed or put off.
I have a sense of humour, I help people too a fault...these could be coping mechanisms that I will certainly re-evaluate as time creeps on.
Alcohol has been abused too. Pity...I love a good ale. Self medication comes in all forms. How can I justify thee, let me count the ways...
Like I mentioned, I'm a giggle to be around...but YOU don't live with me!
The saying goes that you hurt the ones you love...well,  I LOVE MY WIFE AND DAUGHTER!
I'll write more about that in future episodes kids, stay tuned.
Spending time with a therapist weekly and ingesting Citalopram daily, I'm told...will help me immensely. I'm banking on those words spoken to me by the Professionals. Since they're professionals, I'll take those words as a promise. I don't promise lightly because I know what "a complete and utter fuck up I am"
Might be the coward's way out. Promise little, they expect less. (work on that one Spoke ya chickenshit bastard)
I'd like to write about my Citalopram side effects before the hoped-for benefits. I've been trained by Harry in the negative you see. I was an A student! Thorn before the rose 101.
Side effects so far after 5 days: diarrhoea, dry mouth, frequent urination, gagging, dry heaves, light sensitivity, itching, fog head, drowsy, bloody nose, yawning, vivid dreams, loss of appetite, delayed physical response, metallic mouth and suicidal ideation.
Caveat: "Most people who undergo suicidal ideation do not go on to make suicide attempts, but it is considered a risk factor"  Thanx to wikipedia I think.
My agony and discomfort pales compared to the misery I've caused, I'll carry on doping and hope the break-in period springs forth fruitful loveliness.
Benefits? That professional promise. THESE PILLS WILL HELP YOU SORT OUT YOUR EMOTIONS.
I guess in layman's terms it means that I'll begin to pay more attention to the people and things that MATTER MOST TO ME rather than putting my own selfish ass first and foremost regardless of the carnage mangled in my wake.
I have any friends I need to call.
It means that I will no longer cry for no apparent reason when I'm alone.
It means that I will no longer wear a heavy dread day after day after day.
It means that I will be able to function whether you text me or not.
If you've looked at previous blogs, you know that I chat with homeless friends.
The other day I found myself chatting with my friends Gerald, who lives in the old bear pen in the park and Ray who lives in a shitty SRO, about depression.
They're NOT depressed, I am! WTF?
Life isn't always what we declare it to be from an outside observation.
Ray and Gerald are alcoholics, I'm depressed.
I'm a work in progress. A torn canvas hoping desperately to woo the Artist to create a masterpiece upon my very soul.
The easel is in a shambles and can hardly bear weight. The canvas is torn and faded yellow. The light is ever so dim.
I'm a work in progress. The Sun will rise and burst through the window so the Artist can create a masterpiece.
I pray my family will line up to look at it.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Spinning yarns.

I was killing time during the 1 degree Celsius night on Broadway street. I had an hour to kill before my therapy session. Procrastination is a high suit amongst those of us weighed down by the heavy fog of depression...I was in no hurry to go and see my therapist. Bare my ugly heart, my broken spirit, my anguished mind...doesn't sound like a good time does it?
I hit Tim Hortons for a decaf...any excuse really.
This particular location has its share of interesting clientele and it seems as though the staff extend a fare share of grace to the, how do I say it...less desirable humans so long as they're civil. Its a refreshing change really.
I grabbed a small decaf and watched a very old woman meticulously fold what could have been close to 100 plastic shopping bags. She toted one of those shopping bags on wheels but in all honesty, her treasures to my untrained eye looked like trash. What do I know? I don't see with her eyes...
Upstairs, 3 young Asian men played a card game very loudly with lots of laughing.
Near the toilets, a woman was engrossed with her work on her laptop. A screen play I should think. Perhaps a novel...or a blog?
At the window reading a book sat an ambulance attendant. To his immediate left was a gray haired man with his face hidden in his folded arms resting on the counter. He looked eerily still to me, but I'm sure that the medic had it covered.  
I bid the old bag woman fare well but it went un-noticed. Another night perhaps.
As I got to the pavement, I struck up a conversation with a guy that I noticed. He had just given a panhandler some change and continued to awkwardly maneuver a bike while balancing 3 six-packs of premium import lager. He was half cut and chatty and I thought it quite a skill.
John (I sense a theme here in my blogs perhaps) was cashing in his daily take at the local bottle return when a guy in a truck pulled up with as many as 60 dozen empties.
Apparently, so John said, buddy got fed up after unloading them and gave them to him to cash in. Quite a score I should think. John shouted over to two "friends" and shared the bounty. There's a lesson there in case you missed it...
John wanted just enough for 24 beers. Modesty in a world of desperation. Strange isn't it?
By the time I met John, he was 7 beers in and ready to weave a yarn or two. Snag is, I only had 20 minutes on the outside.
John freely shared a bit of his story that seems to echo unrelated around the streets and alleys of Vancouver all too frequently.
Had a home, spouse, kids, job...something went sideways suddenly. Unfortunately I didn't have the luxury of time but he did begin to sheepishly say that his "best friend"  took him for all of his money and then his wife left him. That was 14 years ago and he hasn't seen any of his 4 kids in 7 years. Or was it 7 kids in 4 years? No matter to me really. Sad either way. He has a No Contact Order. Probably another yarn there.
I figure John to be crowding 50 but in that world, an at risk kind of lifestyle, its truly difficult to guess.
John spoke about how crime was escalating in "his turf" and got quite agitated as he told me what he had done to a guy he caught doing property crime. Whether or not that particular yarn was true, I could easily imagine John being quite capable of  taking upon the task of judge, jury and sentence. His demeanor got meaner as he spoke about those "disrespecting bastards". He was getting even more elevated and all I could wonder was whether or not he was a nice calm man when sober.
Lots of people walked past us as we chatted. I could only guess by each expression and evident body language that each one  probably had questions.
What are they chatting about? Why we were chatting? Are they friends?
I think I was just passing time and be neighbourly.
John had to bounce and so did I. He told me to find him again. He usually was around that Timmys he said assuredly. I extended my hand to shake his and said good night.
John called after me... Hey Lance, they know me as Frank over there...but its really John.
Must be another yarn...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fractured mirrors JOHN

I've been driving truck for a non-profit located in Vancouver BC for a year now. It's an odd job but I think I like it.
The gig has me going to various venders to pick up a variety of donations. I gain access to these generous businesses via loading bays and doors in alleys.
I prefer the randomness of the doors in the alleys to the impersonal big bay doors. The bay doors seem too sterile for me.
I meet all sorts of people in Vancouver alleys. On days off, I walk through local East Vancouver alleys rather than streets. Alleys don't lie. Trash has stories, derelict cars are full of someone's memories, even the graffiti is someone's truth inspight of my understanding of the words.
 I notice the invisible people as I work. I wave or honk at first. Time of day stuff.
Slowly I let them get to know me as I take my breaks (if any) in alleys chatting with them...if they want to engage. Many can't seem to remember the language I'm trying to communicate with. Must be from lack of use. Invisible people have no voice.
Often I give the guys that chat a coffee or something sweet to eat.
You probably won't meet Ray, Gerald or John.
One day in between telling me how much he hates the Quebec Government, the well educated John blurts out with unnecessary volume: "I HAVE 8 FUCKING CERTIFIABLE MENTAL ILLNESSES"
I laughed out loud whilest smiling and told him that I may have 2 myself, 1 for sure.
John has a place to stay. We pay for it. It's a dump I can assure you. My guess is that John doesn't have access to a daily shower or laundry facilities. I take that for granted.
John scrounges recyclables "so he doesn't go crazy" or find trouble with "idle hands."  He cashes in his bottles and cans then uses his money to buy food. He buys tinned goods usually and puts them into the food bank bin at his local Safeway. Sometimes he gives me case lots of goods he buys at a cheap outlet. He tells me to "make sure that the people who need this gets it."
I stand as close to John as he is comfortable with. I shake his hand which, incidentally is filthier than the glove he removes to grip my hand.
McDonalds has a gimmick where you buy any hot drink and you get a sticker on the cup. 7 stickers on the card gives you a free coffee or hot chocolate.
The other month John gave me 27 full cards to hand out to people I see. He finds the stickers on the cups that WE toss into the trash.
"YOU TELL THEM THAT THEY CAN HAVE A HOT CHOCOLATE IF THEY WANT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE COFFEE THEY WON'T TELL YOU THAT BUT THEY CAN HAVE HOT CHOCOLATE COFFEE ISN'T REALLY THAT GOOD FOR YOU"  he shouts at me in one breath as a thick white foam accumulates around the corners of his stubbled mouth. John IS passionate I'll give him that!
I notice people cut a wide berth around us at the trash can as we speak about politics. I also notice the looks strangers give him, which to me appear like daggers of pity, disgust, shock and fear.
I like John. John makes me smile. John won't come for lunch...he has far to much to gather on his daily rounds.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

silence is golden

In society, we punish people with segregation. Parents often send their kids to their rooms when they get on their nerves. Even now, at 51... I can still hear Harry (my deceased father who I miss terribly) shouting "Get out of my sight, go on outdoors" or even my soft spoken mum:  "get off my tits!"  I guess I was a busy kid, an annoying kid.
Well now I'm a busy adult and I can't stand being lonely! I do however enjoy being on my own at times. I go fishing on the river (with little success) ride my motorbike, stand at the window of the local Chinese barbecue for many minuets watching the man cut meat...but damn it, I'm alone too often and for too long! Apparently that is very bad for me!
I'm a foolish man thats doesn't stay in touch with the too few male friends that continue to try to engage me. I fear I may have learned that from Harry. He had only 1 friend. I can't recall one single evening meal where we had people over...not one! No one ever came for Christmas either. I suppose that's in part because we were new to Canada, leaving all relatives in England.
Along the way I've managed to really muck a few things up.
Life is cruel at times, and I've earned much of what has befallen me. If one could roll back the calander I have a couple of dates...
Too many times lately, I've had to grab hold of something sturdy here on Earth while looking to the heavens through burning tears while thinking about some of my worst moments. Those times where the shock waves I've created have maimed other people...and at the top of my lungs I shout MULLIGAN! 
Sadly there is no chance of a re-do. 
Some searing words that have recently gone into my ears are for now alive in my soul. Hearing the words...more than the words themselves, is the reason I'm seeking therapy. 
I've hit bottom. I'm a reckless, wayward ship on a foggy, calm breathless Sea and I'm desperate. I've lost my sail, rudder, anchor and sextant. The North star is an unidentifiable blur and I fear I'm merely drifting into the abyss.
Those words, now buried deep within, shout a new identity to me, one I hope to throw off with professional help and time.

"I'm tired of you being an absolute, utter fuck up"
 That's louder than Harry ever was...

Early diagnosis? DEPRESSION! Well, at least I'm not simply an asshole!
This blog is new. Don't like it so far? Go away...
I'm not looking for sympathy. I make no excuses for my behaviour. I will NOT cling to a victim mentality.
This is it folks...this is me, a work in progress.