Yeah, It Sucks Sometimes....But There's Good Parts Too

"I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done." ~ Lucille Ball (American Comedian, film, stage, radio, television actress, "Lucy"). 

These are a few of my favorite things.......

Led Zeppelin.
Smoking cigarettes. Damnit. 
The Atlantic ocean back home. Getting in when it's too cold to get in. 
Body Surfing in the waves. This is my very favorite thing; it boils down to the root of what happiness is to me at my core. 
Reading a novel you can't put down.
My sister drunk, particularly while on a cruise ship.
A good cup of tea or coffee, preferably coffee.
Florence and the Machine.
Mom's cooking.
The smell of fresh cut grass and sawdust. 
Driving with the windows down.
Clean bed sheets.
My bestie.
Closing my eyes and dancing, barefoot.
Men in kilts.
Men with Irish accents.
Listening to friends play acoustic guitar. 
The leaves turning color in the fall.
My Dad.
Bonfires and fireplaces.
Grey's Anatomy.
My tattoos.
Ridiculous songs like The Humpty Dance.
Car dancing. I really enjoy car dancing. 
Jammy red wine.
The word fuck.
Being drunk on a beach in the Caribbean. 
Dancing in the office with my co-worker and office mate. 

That's me. 
That's what I have gratitude for today. 

The Bestest of Friends

"A real friend will clean up the messes you make out of life for you. Even if they shouldn't have to." 
~ Author Unknown.

In this lifetime, not all of us are so fortunate to have the experience and love that comes with having a true best friend. I have been blessed to have the most wonderful best friend imaginable who I honestly feel I could not live nor breathe without. Here's to you, my've made the last twelve years of my life more manageable than they should have been.

What is a best friend?

The person you can purchase a breathalyzer and pregnancy test with to use on the same night from the Dollarstore, while laughing hysterically about it in the line up to the cash register.
`           The person you can drop your pants in front of while standing in your living room to show them your ass while exclaiming, “dude, what the fuck is this all about?”
            The person you can get drunk with on the phone after experiencing a fucked up life event that they should have been there for.
            The person you can stuff a cat into a box with to “dispose” of it for the greater good of the household because, "that fucking cat is nuts."
            The person you can call out as a “fucking asshole” without fear of rejection.
            The person you can pee with in parking lots outside of bars in well lit areas.
            The person you can sneak into a province with to have uninterrupted quality time.
            The person you can trust to intervene on your behalf when you are making out with an idiot in a bar because you’re so drunk you can’t see straight.
            The person who will drag your retarded ass out of that same bar to pour you into a cab because you’re too drunk to be at the bar and are making a scene.
            The person who gives you pep talks when you are feeling like you don’t even know yourself anymore.
            The person who you tell, “I’m not gonna do that again,” just before you do it again and they don’t pass judgement.
            The person who you can look at and say, “dude, what the fuck are you wearing” and it’s all okay.
            The person who you talk to on the phone while having a shit.
            The person you can call in the middle of the night because you’re drunk and “just want to say hello” and they don’t get mad.
            The person who is normal when everything else in the world is fucked up.
            The person who you can watch an hour long TV program with over the phone.
            The person who knows what you need to feel better and does what they can to give it to you.
            The person who you can describe to, in detail, fucked up sexual encounters, including when “the asshole’s fucking dick didn't even work.”
            The person who you tell when you've bought an awesome new sex toy, including descriptions of exactly how it works.
            The person who saves you from having to spend too much time with your family.
            The person who will come up with awesome, well thought through lies and excuses to get your sorry ass out of a mess you've created.
            The person you can tell, “I slept with a married guy/guy who was half my age” and their only response is, “fuck it, was it fun?”
             The person you can ask, “do I look terrible in this” and they will answer with an honest, “yes, take that shit off."

Holy Hell

"Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose."  ~ "Kevin Arnold" (The Wonder Years)

To attempt to sum up the past two months of my life in Africa would be an exercise of futility, an impossibility; I couldn't possibly capture what I have done, what I have seen and what I have grown to love with a fondness I knew nothing of a couple months ago.  Being back in Canada for the past ten days has been a mind-fuck, that's for sure and I have grown to love the phrase "I have a head full of fuck" because it's the only thing I can say that even comes close to describing my experience of transitioning back into "real life." Real life - what a joke.

I wouldn't say I'm bitter about being back but I'm not happy either. I'm lonely - that would be accurate - but, it's a loneliness that makes me want to isolate myself from others because being around them doesn't make me feel any less lonely. I think it's because I am lonely for a place, for a feeling and an experience that was brought about by the life I was living. Everything here seems so obnoxious, so fast, so absurd.

This will be a process, I'm aware of this fact. And, when my head is less full of fuck, I will write more and talk all about the beauty of what I experienced. But for now, I'll be "fuckity headspace magoo," a title recently given to me by a friend who gets where I'm at. It's fitting.

Hakuna Matata

"Travelling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and lose sight of that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it." ~ Cesare Pavese (Italian Poet & Novelist)

Time is now being measured in "sleeps" as opposed to days. Two more sleeps until the great, long awaited journey begins. My first leg begins on Saturday night and involves the flight between Canada and London, which will take approximately six and a half hours. I land in London on Sunday morning, the day of the Olympics closing ceremony. I can't imagine anyone will be at London's Heathrow Airport on that particular day. After a ten hour layover at Heathrow I embark on my second leg of the trip, flying from London to Nairobi, which will take just over eight hours. I land in Nairobi early Monday morning. As I sit here and contemplate what my state of mind will be like upon landing in Nairobi after 36 hours of travelling, I laugh hysterically knowing that I will most certainly be a complete basket case. Thank goodness for Lorazepam. From Nairobi, I travel approximately 45 minutes to an hour West of the city by cab until I reach my final destination. And just like that, the seven weeks begin.

Today, someone asked me what I am looking forward to the most. Elephants. Hearing African children sing. Acacia trees. Snuggling babies. The Masai Mara. Being anonymous. A shift in perspective and understanding of many, many things. Notice that Heathrow Airport is not included on this short list.

Two sleeps. I'm sure it will be interesting to see just how much actual sleep occurs.

Prone to Fits of Insanity

"Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit they are crazy." ~Nora Ephron (American Writer, Screenwriter, Producer, Director)

Quit smoking.
Broke up with boyfriend, who has lost his damn mind as a result and is freaking the fuck out all the time through various means such as phone calls and irate emails.
Leaving in 9 days.
On-call for work until next Tuesday, which equates to basically working 24-hours/day for seven days straight.
Can't sleep.

I'm on the verge....and not of something brilliant.
Leaving now would be nice.
Fuck it.

Fast Forward

"You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven." ~ Jimi Hendrix (Musician, Best Guitar Player Ever)

I am operating at no less than 100 miles per hour at any given time of the day. 9am, 5pm, 3am....there is no differentiation or discepancy. I highly suspect that this is what people who experience manic states at least kinda feel like. I am not finding it overly enjoyable. Since quitting smoking, I've been experiencing absolute insomnia, which is adding to the ringing noise that rattles through my brain like I've just taken a hit off a crack pipe.

16 days from now, I will be flying to Africa.

Every day between this very moment and that 16th day is packed with things to do, people to see, paperwork to catch up on, planning, on-call for work (which is a fate worse than death), last minute purchases, phone calls, and so on and so forth.

All I want to do is lay around and get drunk in quiet solitude as I imagine that won't be easy to come by for the seven weeks I'm working in Africa surrounded by 70 children.

The First 144-Hours

"As an example to others, and not that I care for moderation myself, it has always been my rule to never smoke when asleep, and never refrain from smoking while awake." ~ Mark Twain (American Author).

No one likes a quitter, yet I have quit doing a lot of stuff over the past 16 months. One of the last items on the "things to figure out prior to going to Africa" list was to give up my love affair with my bestie, cigarettes. Given the very short length of time before my departure date (21 days, holy fuck), I had almost succumb to the fact that this goal would not be reached and started figuring out how many packs of cigarettes I would need to bring with me for my two month trip. Then I thought, well, I guess I could actually try or something instead of just hoping to wake up one morning a non-smoker.

I have always smoked. My older sister has frequently commented that I was likely born with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth. I quit once for four years - between 2000-2004 - which was a major accomplishment that sucked almost every single day. I did not drink any alcohol for three of those four years,  knowing it would completely derail my non-smoking super powers. That sucked even more because I quite enjoy drunkenness. I have smoked with vigor since reigniting my love affair in 2004 and have spent all of my days since basking in the warm glow of cigarette embers. Until now.

Many months ago, my naturopath suggested I try hypnosis and acupuncture to quit smoking, so I put those suggestions on the "when I'm ready" shelf to become dusty and forgotten. Very spontaneously, I recently yanked them off the shelf for inspection and made an appointment at the clinic for hypnosis. Hypnosis is something I have never totally understood despite my best efforts in researching it and talking to a variety of therapists that use it as part of their practice. It's a mystery to me. I have a few friends who have successfully quit smoking using hypnosis and I've listen to them describe their experience with the whole thing and this has not proven to clear up any of my questions. What I've learned since being hypnotized last Monday is, I don't have to understand everything so I should get the fuck over it and just let it be.

Over the past 144 smokeless hours, I have not freaked out or wanted to kill anyone. I have not been cranky, irritable, anxiety ridden or certifiably insane. I have felt strangely at peace with myself and the world. It's not like the hypnosis erased my memory nor did it eliminate all cravings for cigarettes. Rather, it's like it made being smokeless okay. I think to myself, oh yeah, smoking, that's what I'd like to do right now and then I think, hmmmm, I don't do that anymore so I should go do something else instead. I've been on approximately 20 zillion walks since I quit and listening to loud music (and car dancing) has become an integral part of my non-smoking success. I've had one acupuncture session and that made me feel light and calm. Ridiculous, eh?

My worldview tells me that nothing can be this easy but, here I am, not smoking after being hypnotized for 40 minutes. Go fucking figure. I have no idea how long the hypnosis spell will last but, as of right now, I am no longer calculating how many packs of cigarettes I need to bring to Africa. Weird.

Asshole, Part Deux

"The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest." ~ Henry David Thoreau (American Poet & Philosopher)

You go away for the weekend and your Asshole squirrel moves right in and parties his ass off. This morning, as I was once again pulled out of my slumber (albeit a little later than the usual 5am wake up call) to Asshole tap dancing on the air conditioner, I discovered this little nest-delight fully formed in my window. Oh wait....he's back! Yes, at this exact moment, Asshole just crawled back into his snuggley little home and he brought a MacDonald's bag with him. Every good home needs a MacDonald's bag as part of it's integral structure.

As I fully realized Asshole's intent of becoming a tenant, a room mate, an obnoxious pal....I thought to myself: I'm not living with an Asshole. This thought was followed by thinking: my good friend Donna needs to come over here and deal with this because I certainly can't. I don't know why I have this irrational fear of Asshole, but I do. I'm not afraid of other squirrels; however, in my defense, they are not trying to shack up with me. Upon more reflection, I thought to myself: if you cannot manage evicting an Asshole, how the fuck are you going to deal with pretty much anything in Africa? You know, like lions, tigers and bears. So, I mustered up my courage and a broom and evicted the Asshole. All of this occurred before 6:30am; his timing is impeccable, I'll give him that.

He'll be back.

It's 5 O'Clock in the Morning....

"You can't be friends with a squirrel. A squirrel is just a rat in a cuter outfit." ~ Sarah Jessica Parker (American Film/TV Actress)

I am being mocked by a fucking rodent. A rodent that looks exactly like the fucker in the adjacent picture. In my home town (in a different part of Canada) squirrels are small, cute woodland creatures that look like something from the movie Bambi. Where I presently live, they are huge black rats with bushy tails who apparently enjoy mocking humans. I remember when I first moved up here and saw one of these things, I almost had a heart attack. I was like, what the fuck is that? A squirrel. Yeah right.

I live in a ghetto apartment with no central air conditioning. To keep with the overall ghetto ambiance of the place, I have ghetto window beaters that do little to cool it down in the +40 summer heat. Because I am a ghetto tenant, my window beaters are not securely and properly fastened in the window and are merely hanging on by a tread by the cheap, plastic accordion like things that protrude from either side. For the past couple weeks one of these black squirrels, who I've unaffectionately named Asshole, has been attempting to break into my apartment via my bedroom air conditioner. And not only is Asshole trying to break in, he's doing it at the ungodly hour of 5:00am. Here's how the scenario plays out:

I am asleep.
I wake up due to hearing a disturbing scratching noise.
I wonder what the hell the noise is because, while I slumber, I seemingly forget that this occurs every morning.
I realize it's Asshole.
I get out of bed and try to shoo Asshole away from the cheap, plastic accordion things that he is eventually and undoubtedly going to get through.
He looks at me, totally unafraid, and continues to tap dance all over the air conditioner while laughing. Yes, he is laughing.
I start to freak out, thinking of the meltdown I will have should Asshole successfully make it into my apartment.
I continue to make noise via hitting the window, turning the air conditioner on and off (which, by the way, sounds like a fucking diesel truck blaring through my bedroom), and yelling like a lunatic.
He continues to laugh while staring into my eyes. He is mocking me and enjoys this little interaction we have every morning.
I finally succumb to the fact that he is not afraid of my antics (and not only is he not afraid, he is amused) and get back into bed. I cannot, however, fall back asleep because I am too busy thinking through the scene that will happen when Asshole gets into my apartment.

I fucking hate that squirrel.
Fuck you Asshole.

Being Dumb is Fun Sometimes

"Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid." ~ John Wayne (American Film Actor)

Sometimes, I like to do dumb things....particularly during the over consumption of alcohol. I don't know how to consume alcohol in any other way then what falls into the overly excessive category. It's not that I drink frequently but when I do, it can get messy - or rowdy, which is the adjective I prefer to use.

This past weekend, which also happened to be Canada Day, I traveled home for four days to see the man I am dating. I have briefly met his family once....and I mean brief, as it was a ten minute introduction. This weekend we decided to spend our Canada Day at his Dad's annual party, which involves a lot of alcohol and BBQ. Given that I don't eat meat, it only involved a lot of alcohol for me (dumb decision #1). After arriving and feeling out my environment for about five to six seconds, I started pounding what my boyfriend calls "Bloody Jamie's" (his name is Jamie) into me at a pace that would make most Olympic runners envious. After about seven of those, I was "dragged" into a shed full of women I did not know (which was weird but funny) where I was "forced" into doing numerous shots of some delicious but unknown liquor. As I stumbled out of the shed I noticed some people wandering off to a different part of the property and felt the need to investigate, only to stumble upon some peaceful potheads smoking a joint (something I gave up eight months ago). In a flash of brilliant decision making, I decided that smoking a joint was a fabulous idea (dumb decision #2) so I indulged. The drinks continued, a merry time ensued.

At some point, I found myself laying on the lawn. I'm not quite sure how this happened or what came right before laying on the lawn, but, that's where I was. My boyfriend's Dad came to join me on the lawn for what I'm sure he expected to be genius conversation and to be completely honest, I have absolutely zero idea what we talked about. None. I'm going to tell myself it was witty but we all know that's inaccurate. It was approximately 9pm when the lawn-laying debacle occurred. And between the merry time ensuing and the lawn-laying debacle, there was at least two more joints (dumb decision #3 & 4).

I then made the decision that my boyfriend and I should venture out to another party around 10pm. After three liquor runs back to his place to get more "Bloody Jamie" ingredients, it was time to go. I have absolutely no recollection of how we got from his Dad's place to his best friend's place (who I've also only met once) but I know neither of us was, that's a good thing. I brought a bottle of wine with me because wine is awesome to start drinking when you are already plowed from drinking vodka drinks all evening on a totally empty stomach. I believe it took me about an hour to drink 3/4 of the bottle of wine (dumb decision #5), which is when the idea of food popped into my hazy, liquor saturated, bad decision making brain. On the menu: hot dogs. Now, I don't eat meat and I don't eat bread (gluten) but the combination of these two things suddenly seemed very appealing to me. "I'll have two" (dumb decision #6 & 7). For some reason, I clearly recall not being able to get the ketchup from the bottle onto the hot dogs but rather got the ketchup over the entire bun of the hot dog instead (it's a mystery that shall never be solved). This did not stop me, although it should have served as a clear indication that hot dog eating was not in my best interests.

I have no idea how much time passed between the hot dog eating and the behind-a-hedge-barfing but I am guesstimating it was about 30 minutes. Was it the Blood Jamie's, the joints, the wine, the hot dogs....who the fuck knows? All I know is that I felt much better after it happened. And then my man had to drag my drunk ass home and put me to bed, which he did without complaining.

I woke up the next morning feeling like a hot dog truck had run me over and yet I thought to myself, I don't think I'm ever going to grow out of this "stage." Like, you know...mature past the point of doing these things. And I realized, I'm okay with that. Fuck it.

Thanks, Beautiful Gay Man

"The belly rules the mind." ~ Spanish Proverb

As I visited my local Second Cup Coffee shop this evening to purchase my gourmet organic coffee beans, a tasty treat in the display case caught my eye. A lemon meringue tart that looked divine but definitely was not gluten nor calorie/fat free. As I eyed it up carefully, thinking of both the consequences to my belly (gluten aspect) and my ass (calorie/fat aspect), I thought to myself....I should buy, no I shouldn't...yes, yes, I should. I decided that the beautiful gay man who often works behind the counter should help me out in making this life or death decision; therefore, I asked him, is that tart ass-getting-bigger worth it or just okay? He responded saying, I had one earlier and it was pretty fantastic - besides guys like big asses. Hmm, I would have to be damn terrific for me to justify eating that...and I told him this. He contemplated this quickly and should definitely buy it.


And as I sit here having just finished eating that fantastic, totally worth it lemon meringue tart, I think to myself....thanks beautiful gay man; you were right.

Fifty Shades of I Don't Give a Fuck

"The 'not-giving-a-fuck' meter is as far into the red-zone as ever before." ~ Lars Ulrich (Drummer for Metallica)

I'd apologize now for my overuse of the word 'fuck' in this post (one of my favorite words ever), but I don't really care about that at the present moment either.

I returned to work this week after the tragic loss of one of my clients (kids). It's my first week back in the office and resuming my normal work duties, including providing therapy to the kids. I'm noticing some startling and anxiety provoking reactions to my being back at work that are disturbing to me on many levels. Most prominent is my profound lack of caring (or, better said, giving a fuck). As a clinician, I have (of course) analyzed my reactions to re-engaging with the kids and my colleagues and have developed some preliminary hypotheses:

  • I don't give a fuck because I cannot sleep since returning to work and am therefore far too tired.
  • I don't give a fuck because it has become too scary to give a fuck.
  • I don't give a fuck because Africa is so close and I am totally bought out of work.
  • I don't give a fuck because the kids I am currently working with are pretty irritating, even on a good day.
  • I don't give a fuck because I feel like I cannot elicit any positive change or shifts within my current client load.
I think there is merit behind each and every one of these thoughts and assume that my present state of not giving a fuck is likely a combination of all of these things. My concern: regardless of how burnt out I've felt doing this extremely difficult job over the past five years, I've never not given a fuck about what the kids have to say. Have I returned to work too early? Have a run my course at this particular job with this particular agency? Have I become ineffective, jaded, insensitive, detached? I have no fucking clue. What I do know is that this feeling is uncomfortable and I hope it passes quickly. 

That said, 59 days.

Crossing Stuff off the Extremely Long List

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ Mark Twain (American Author & Humorist)

65 days. Unbelievable. Basically, that's tomorrow with a few days in between now and then. 

340 bucks later, I have been inoculated against all that might ail me while away in Africa for seven weeks. Today was 'visit the travel clinic day' and I succumbed to yellow fever, typhoid, and hep A and B shots. I declined some others, such as polio, as it is against my nature to get vaccinated for anything. I don't even get the flu shot as some odd place in my brain has me almost convinced that there might be a government conspiracy driving these large inoculation movements. No, I am not schizophrenic. Paranoid, probably. I was also prescribed anti-malaria medication (to the tune of 400 smackaroos) and a wide spectrum antibiotic for extreme poops. In the fairly likely event of extreme poops, I also bought re-hydration salts because if you are extreme pooping, you really want to hydrate yourself. I'm less concerned about the hydration aspect and more concerned about extreme pooping into a hole in the ground. Not to be crude or anything but that sounds messy. 

Now, my arm hurts...only one out of two, so there's a daily positive. I think it's funny that I should complain about this given that my largest piece of body art took about eight hours to complete and I did not complain about that during or afterwards. 

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to Africa I go. 

Accepting Her Decision

"When you are in doubt, be still, and wait; when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage. So long as mists envelop you, be still; be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists - as it surely will. Then act with courage." ~ Ponca Chief White Eagle (1800's to 1914).

Something beautiful has left this world behind and entered into a different place, the spirit world. She is now walking beside her ancestors on her journey home. Her journey will take one full year as she passes through the four seasons and during this time we cannot say her name aloud, as it keeps her tethered to our world, the world she so desperately wanted to escape.

The loss of a child, someone as young as her fifteen years, has been difficult for me to grasp. An Aboriginal leader from my community has communicated to me that, despite the pain that has resulted from her decision, it is one that I have to accept. She has encouraged me to sit with my pain, resulting from the loss of one of "my" kids, and to simply let it be. Suffering is part of life, regardless of how much we want to avoid and suffocate it.

She taught me how to throw a baseball. She laughed at me when I attempted to play catch with her while wearing high heels. She thought it was funny to show me the chewed up food in her mouth. She could make a sound that sounded exactly like a Canadian goose. She liked to listen to Johnny Cash. She was quiet, shy, and sensitive. She loved hockey and her family, despite how dysfunctional they can be. She trusted few.

I will miss you little one.
I will painfully accept your decision.
I won't forget.

Days Pass Quickly

"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once." ~John Archibald Wheeler (American Theoretical Physicist)

Today's count sits at 82 days until I leave for Africa. I have to start getting my shots in about three weeks. There are crucial items I need to purchase, such as luggage, which would be good to start with so I can pack the other items I also need to buy to fill the luggage. A sleeping bag, a warm one, because it gets cold where I'm going. The travel warnings continue to be fairly serious and the people who care about me are becoming unnerved because of my non-unnerved-ness about the situation. Oddly enough, my mother appears to be handling things really well but, at the same time, it's not likely that she's caught the international news on these particular events. My attitude: it is what it is. I can't wait to get there.

Time snuck up on me and yelled YOU'RE LEAVING REALLY SOON, then recommended that I start getting my ass in gear.

82 days. So excited.

Adult Summer Camp

"Sometimes too much drink is barely enough." ~ Mark Twain (American Author & Humorist)

On this long weekend in May, I celebrated the third anniversary date of my good friend Sue's passing. The previous two anniversaries I mourned her loss and felt sad; therefore, I decided to switch it up this year and pay tribute to her in a manner she would have actually appreciated. I got piss ass drunk for two days in a row on margarita's and wine, sitting in sunny 30 degree weather in a lawn chair, while intermittently "throwing" around a football and cooking delicious food. I'm using the word "throwing" fairly liberally here, as in reality it was closer to "hucking" or "bifting" the football due to my level of intoxication on the two occasions I engaged in this activity.

I spent this weekend with a friend who gets me on a fundamental level. We share a lot of silence very comfortably; we do not need to fill the air with bullshit. We laugh when it's funny. I adore her and our friendship. Despite not feeling as enthusiastic about "throwing" the football around with me as I was her (as she was the one running her ass off, chasing the football that was zinging by too far to the left and/or right), she still played with me. And it was hot and there was mosquito's. That's a good friend.

This weekend felt like an adult, drunken version of summer camp. Good times.

Here's to good friends of the past and present.

Daily Positives, May 17th

Despite wanting to go on a shooting rampage at my place of employment today, I managed to simply internalize it all and just hate my life at work more. Yeah me!
I did not get hit by a train today.
I only smoked 100 cigarettes today instead of a million.
I did not drown in a fishbowl today, or a puddle for that matter.
Today, as the children in the apartment below me screamed their heads off for approximately 2 hours straight, I did not puncture my own ear drums.
Even though my soon to be ex-boyfriend lost his mind because I didn't answer the phone when he called last night (one of the reasons he's slotted for the ex-category), I didn't even get angry when he put this stupid fucking post on facebook about just how mad he is. I am officially too tired to be angry. I think this might be a good thing.
Grey's Anatomy season finale is tonight.

Shit Show with the Shit Rats

"I believe that always, or almost always, in all childhoods and in all the lives that follow them, the mother represents madness. Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we've ever met." ~ Marguerite Duras (French Writer & Film Maker)

To put it mildly, my mother and I have not always had the best relationship. I am not unique in this, as family dysfunction is woven into the fabric of every family that has ever existed, in one form or another. It is also abundantly clear to me - this mother/daughter malfunction - because I work as a therapist. Likewise, I have sat on the other side of the therapist's office, for hours, discussing the relationship I have with my mother. Some time ago, my therapist and I had a long discussion about how the relationship with my mother was unlikely to change and yet, over the past many months as I have made considerable shifts, the relationship with my mother has also transitioned into an unexpected place. Apparently, Bowen's Family Systems Theory does have some merit. The two events that I have been able to identify as contributing to this shift were when I stopped smoking pot (my mother's dream) and started dating a good/normal/nice man from my home province (my mother's other dream). Since these dreams have come to fruition, her new dream is having her non-pothead daughter move back to Nova Scotia to start a "family" with said good/normal/nice man. Now, luckily for me, her ideas around me having a "family" do not involve producing grandchildren, because that ain't happening.

Despite my lifelong goal of "never being like my mother," we do share some undeniable commonalities. Recently, some of these similar personality traits have struck me as hysterical, as they fall under the category of "acceptable" or "livable likenesses." How we express ourselves, particularly when under duress, would be one of them. Over the past two months, I have been experiencing some fairly unbearable bullshit at my place of employment and if it weren't for my upcoming trip to Africa (which they are being supportive of and allowing me to take leave, most of which is paid), my ass would have quit by now. In the past, my mother's support around these issues would have looked like this: "buck up." But, more recently her support has taken a turn to the hilarious, of which I greatly appreciate. I have received these wicked emails from her that involve the type of colorful language I usually get shit for from her, including the use of the descriptive term "shit rats," which she is using in reference to some of the people I work with. Here are some direct examples:

  • "How's the fucking shit show with the shit rats going?"
  • "I would kick that shit rats ass the length of the fucking highway."
  • "You are surrounded by uneducated morons who define the term shit rat." 
This is the mother I that I can relate to. Now, if I could only get her on the sauce more regularly.....

Daily Positives

Life's been sucking a little bit lately and, as a result, my mom recommended that I write down some positives every day to remind myself that life doesn't actually suck. Here's my list for May 3rd. 

I did not get drunk at work today. 
Although my neighbor almost rear ended me and then proceeded to swear and scream at me, I did not get out of my car and beat him senseless.
I did not fall down any stairs today or contract a venereal disease.
No one told me to fuck off today, at least not directly.
I ate some chocolate mini-eggs and they were delicious.
I got paid today.
A dog did not eat my homework today.
I did not fall into a sinkhole today.
An airplane did not crash into my apartment today.
I do not have pink eye.

Misguided Nostalgia

"It's never safe to be nostalgic about something until you're absolutely certain there's no chance of it coming back." ~ Bill Vaughn (American Columnist & Author).

Once in an extremely blue moon I miss the irresponsibility of my youth. This is a seldom occurrence that only happens after a night out drinking (which happens may be once a year) when I have experienced the loud tribal beats of an excellent DJ that have reverberated through my chest. I don't know that the average person experiences music the way I do; may be everyone does, I have no idea. I do know that the experiences I had in my young 20's, which included a lot of pill popping and electronic beats, changed my experience with music drastically and, apparently, forever. 

In the year 2000, the electronic music scene in Halifax exploded; perhaps it happened prior to then, but it happened to me and everyone I associated with during that particular year. It was the birth of a new scene that lead to the death of more than a few young people who danced a little too hard with a variety of chemicals coursing through their young bodies. We were ignorant and immature; therefore, people dropping dead had very little impact on our behavior. Everyone thought they "had it under control" regardless of the fact that none of us did, which was heavily evidenced by the obvious lack of any sort of normal human functioning. Little to no sleep, food, and profoundly entrenched in chaos, it was an experience to remember but never to be replayed or revisited. 

I clearly remember dancing to anything and everything....even sounds coming from a dishwasher or laundry machine could catch my otherwise depleted attention span. Music appeared in everything. Don't get me wrong, this was heavily influenced by drugs and a lack of connection to reality, but, it seemed fun at the time. The aftermath of these experiences, when everything was said and done, were anything but fun and I know of many people today that never quite fully recovered. They are still talking in riddles or trying to recapture what was then, which wasn't even real at the time it was happening. 

I don't miss dancing to dishwashers, or the drugs, or the scene, or the people. I just miss, once in an extremely blue moon, the youthfulness of total and absolute abandon. So today, as my lazy 34 year old ass lays around doing nothing, I find my thoughts drifting towards me standing in a field with the sun coming up, covered in dirt (for any number of totally ridiculous reasons), dancing my ass off as the DJ spins a perfect set. 

Like A Fine Wine

"There is still no cure for the common birthday." ~ John Glenn (Former NASA Astronaut)

Tomorrow is my 34th birthday and, although I've known since I could count past 50 that 34 comes after 33, I am still in shock that this is occurring. Age is only a number....I've always hated that saying. If I could pick a number to represent my age, it certainly wouldn't be steadily creeping towards the mid-30's. My sister is turning 39 next month and there is some solace in the fact that I am still years from 40. Years ago, my sister diagnosed me with what she calls Peter Pan Syndrome (PPS for short), meaning that I never wanted to grow up (an accurate diagnosis). Now she laughs at me as she happily sings, Peter Pan is gettin' old, as evidenced by my gray hair and thoughts around possibly being too "mature" to continue having a belly button piercing.

So far, I have no plans to celebrate this glorious event. In fact, I feel that a day of quiet reflection while sitting by the nearby river seems most appealing to me. As for today, the final day of my 33rd year, here are my reflections:

  • I am thankful that I have evolved to a place where falling down drunk and puking doesn't have to be part of my life celebration.
  • I am grateful that I find peace in quiet solitude.
  • It makes me really happy that I still listen to music with base really loud and car-dance constantly.
  • I look better now (physically) than I did when I was younger and frequently get asked for identification when purchasing liquor. 
  • I take great pleasure from doing and experiencing the simple things, like cooking a beautiful meal or drinking a glass of wine (although my "glass" is generally a bottle). 
  • I like me.

Stopping Waiting

"The test of an adventure is that when you're in the middle of it, you say to yourself, 'Oh, now I’ve got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home.' And the sign that something's wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure." ~ Thornton Wilder (Pulitzer-Prize Winning Playwright & Novelist)

Tonight I took what I consider to be the 'big step' in the African adventure plans.....I booked the flights. Realistically, I know that the 'big step' was making the decision to go but this particular step seemed to solidify that first one. I have been looking at tickets for a few weeks now and, quite honestly, every time I found one that was reasonable, I got a little lightheaded and decided to keep on looking (which translated into, keep on waiting). Tonight, I decided that waiting was for suckers, so I booked the damn thing. I leave on August 11th and arrive the morning of August 13th, making my previously noted countdown dates a little off. I now firmly sit at 135 days. 

The "Well" in Wellbutrin is Questionable to Me

"Mankind has survived all kinds of catastrophes. It will also survive modern medicine." ~ Gerhard Kocher (Swiss Political Scientist, Economist)

Funny how we continue to do or use things well after they have proved to be unhelpful. Whether related to a relationship, a thought process, a habit, a way of's all very similar. I was placed on Wellbutrin years ago to help manage some pretty intense feelings of depression I was experiencing. Although it - at times - helped bring the depression from completely unbearable to a constant undercurrent, it never brought it to a functional place. Perhaps that was an unrealistic expectation. Regardless, since finding alternative medicinal practices and eliminating things that were contributing significantly to my feelings of depression, I finally overcame my fear of stopping my prescribed medications. Currently, I am still having benefits from a small dose of anti-anxiety medication (which I have also reduced by half since January) but a month ago I stopped taking Wellbutrin. All I can say is, what a wild trip that was.

As someone who has kicked a variety of substances over the years, I can honestly say that getting off Wellbutrin was one of the more intense experiences I've had doing so. Wellbutrin does not come in a dose smaller than 150mg; therefore, gradually reducing the dose is somewhat complicated. After consulting with both my family doctor and naturopath, the best suggestion provided was weaning off it by taking it one day and not the next for a period of time, then moving to skipping two days in a row, to three, etc. I was told that this would produce a very bumpy withdrawal from the medication, as the withdrawal symptoms are fairly acute with this particular medication.  Cutting the medication into smaller doses was also complicated as doing so shifts the medication from being slow release to quick release and would require me to take pieces of the pill throughout the day. In knowing myself and how hard it is to remember to take my vitamins/supplements everyday, I knew this wasn't a realistic option. My decision: just stop taking the damn stuff and ride it out, which is what I did on February 26, 2012.

I'm only starting to feel "normal" now (four weeks after stopping the med) and this feeling of normalcy is greatly assisted by taking 200mg of a natural serotonin booster called 5-HTP everyday. I doubt I'd be feeling okay without it at this point. Just like when a person takes steroids and the body stops naturally producing testosterone as it gets used to the synthetic kind, my brain stopped producing it's own serotonin a long time ago, leaving me in a state of complete serotonin depletion when I stopped the Wellbutrin. The withdrawal symptoms associated to stopping this medication are very real and intensive and imaginably were so difficult for me due to the length of time I was taking it. The most prominent features of my withdrawal included serious feelings of agitation and anxiety, coupled with insomnia, excessive bouts of crying/weeping and GI problems. My belly was a very unhappy place and my appetite disappeared while dealing with the nausea and tummy cramps. One day in particular, in a seven hour period at my place of employment, I cried four times with little provocation. Then I came home and cried some more. That happened repeatedly and made me look like a lunatic to those who had no idea what I was experiencing. I was often heard saying things like, I just want to run someone over with my car or I want to bash so-and-so's head in, which is quite unlike me. I was a mess....and not the hot-kind.

I have weathered the storm, however, and the sun is starting to peak through the clouds again. I am working diligently with my naturopath and osteopath to maintain balance in my life and that is a great support. I am exercising as regularly as I can manage and I view this activity level as part of my new "medication regime" when stopping my prescribed one. I need all the help I can get. My goal is to be off all of my medication prior to departing for Africa (136 days) but if along the way it becomes clear that this is an unrealistic goal, I will be okay with that. The thought of being free from the things that keep me tethered to dependency or reliance on anything but myself is liberating. I want to know that should I ever be stranded on a desert island that does not have a pharmacy, pot plant, liquor store, or cigarette factory near by that I will not cease to exist. This is the overarching goal behind all of this forward movement and change. I have a long way to go, particularly in relation to that cigarette factory. Hot damn, I'm smoking a lot and I hate it. Once I have achieved greater stabilization, the cigarette smoking is the next thing my naturopath and I will be working on. We suspect that the use of hypnosis and acupuncture will greatly assist this process, along with homeopathy, determination and support. Stay tuned for that one.

The Little One Leaves

"You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams." ~ Khalil Gibran (Lebanese - American Artist, Poet, Writer)

I have been working with a girl who I refer to as 'Little C' since August 2010, which is a long time in residential treatment. Not to say that I haven't worked with kids for longer; I had one boy for two and a half years. 18 months has been too long for Little C and she has experienced many trials and tribulations during that time. From a small Aboriginal community up north, Little C came to us as an aggressive, abused, addicted teenager. I remember the day she first came into my residence - it was her birthday. Happy birthday to her, moved hours away from her home to come live with strangers who knew jack shit about her world. She looked like a boy wearing the gangster clothes that were 3 times too big for her very small frame. Her hair hung in her face and she was without the glasses she desperately needed because, somewhere along the line, she had broken them again. She was hungover from partying for her birthday, wobbling on her feet from a profound lack of sleep, too much booze and who knows what else. And she was pissed. Her eyes betrayed her as she tried to appear calm; they told me stories of her disdain for the adults in her life who had hurt her and those who were "trying to help her change her life." She didn't want any help and she was wiser than most of us.

Little C was placed in the care of the local Children's Aid around age two or three. Removed from her home, as all of her older sisters had been, due to her mother being a homeless alcoholic who had damaged her body so much she was on dialysis three times a week. Her father, dead, stabbed in a knife fight at a local bar. Little C doesn't remember him. Her three older sisters, all with substance abuse problems, regularly used Little C as a punching bag to take out their anger, resulting in her having a broken nose, broken ribs, and a broken heart. Bounced between placements - both foster and group homes - Little C only remembers one family who had a positive impact on her life, who cared about her deeply, and who she was removed from after living with them for some years. She learned quickly that nothing was permanent and that love was a temporary feeling that couldn't be trusted. Her life consisted of garbage bags full of clothing and pictures of her family with worn edges due to being trekked between the various places she's lived. Despite all of this, Little C is fiercely loyal to her family, accepting of the fact that her destiny is directly tethered to theirs and that, likely, this will result in her drowning.  Over the past 18 months, I have witnessed her reaching out to her family back home, only to be on the receiving end of conversations with her mother that are incomprehensible to most of us. She is commonly heard saying, Mom, I know you're drunk....can you just talk to me?

Little C is by far the most affectionate youth I have ever worked with and, given that the staff cannot engage in physical affection with the children they work with, she identified me as the person to get this affection from. She fits perfectly under my arm and will wrap herself around my waist to hold on tight for her hugs. Her head sits directly underneath my chin. Over the time we have spent together, she has called me many things - darling, Mom, her friend, her clinish. In reality, the only appropriate name is clinish but I don't really give a shit. I wish I could be all of those things to her. We meet weekly for her therapy sessions, talking about any number of things from her family to her future to her relationships with boys (and, sometimes, girls). Generally, no topic is off limits; however, she can skillfully avoid conversation around things that make her heart hurt if she is not up to it. Every week she asks me to adopt her. It takes everything in my being to not say, okay, come home with me.

All of the youth I have worked with over the years have been unique and special. Not all of them have carved a place in my heart however. I think there's been three who have accomplished this and Little C overrides any deep feelings I've had for other youth in my care. She is what I look forward to when I enter the residence, she is what I look forward to in my endless week of meetings and paperwork. She has a part of me, as I have a part of her.

In the beginning of March, Little C is being discharged back to her home community. One of her sister's is pregnant and just got out of jail and the two other sisters are continuing with their legacy of substance abuse - as is her mother. She knows exactly what she is walking back into. Despite any change that she has made over the past 18 months of treatment, nothing has changed within her family system and this is unlikely to ever happen. In order to cope, she will drink and drug and place herself in extreme situations of danger, as this is all she knows. She will become lost within herself and found all at the same time. She will be back where she started. My heart breaks when I think of her leaving; selfishly I want her to stay in treatment with me forever. I want to know she is well fed with a warm bedroom and a chance at an education. I want to know that she is safe when she is asleep. I want my hugs, as they bring us both a measure of peace and comfort. I don't know who has learned more from who, as I have certainly learned about survival from her. She has learned love from me, which is not the lessons I am professionally supposed to impart on the youth I work with. It is what it is and I am not ashamed of the relationship we have built.

The only thing I can hope for is that she remembers me, somewhere deep in her heart, and that she takes me with her through her life journey. I hope that she remembers that someone loved her once in all the right ways, without abuse, exploitation, conditions or expectations. And may be, should she continue to survive, she will someday reflect back on her darling, her Mom, her friend, her clinish and offer herself the same love that I did.

To Little have a piece of me.

The Naturopath

"Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease."  ~ Hippocrates (Ancient Greek Physician).

After my osteopath and I completed the bulk of our work together, he suggested that I meet with the naturopath working at the clinic to work through deeper issues. I had goals around quitting smoking both cigarettes and, more importantly (and harder to accomplish), pot. My osteopath knew his limits. So, I booked an appointment to meet with the naturopath, knowing that I could not afford to do so past the allotted dollars I had in my benefits package through work (I have a great plan that includes $500 for acupuncture, osteopath & naturopath services). The first appointment cost $260, so I knew $500 wouldn't go far. However, what I quickly realized is that healing my soul was priceless and that's precisely what he's been able to do for me.

It is said, by whom I'm not sure, that one appointment with a naturopath (a good naturopath and they are not all created equally) is the equivalent to a year's worth of therapy. This is astoundingly accurate. Basically, what mine did was meet with me to do an assessment that involved asking me a lot of questions about how I feel. My job was to describe, in detail, how I felt, which was far more difficult than expected. For example, one of the feelings I constantly felt was the feeling of being scattered, on fast-forward, and restless. He got me to describe each of these things, as in: what does scattered feel like? He attempted to get me to describe this concept without attaching it to the human condition and the best I could come up with was describing that I felt like a dandelion whose seeds were uncontrollably blowing with each passing wind.

After meeting for around an hour and a half, he prescribed me a remedy, of which I had no idea what it was. Naturopath's who use homeopathy give remedies that are either plant, animal, mineral or energy based. As it turned out, mine was energy based. I cannot really explain what that means as it would take a lot of time and (ha) energy. But, what he gave me has since worked to heal my soul in more ways than I could imagine. It is not a drug; rather it is water that has been exposed to a certain energy source for a certain amount of time in certain conditions. If you understand quantum physics, which I do not, you know that water can absorb the energy of different things - and that is the best explanation I can offer.

The first time I took my remedy, I felt like what I imagine a Zen-monk feels like after meditating for 20 consecutive years in a monastery in Tibet. Everything inside of me just stopped. All the feelings of restlessness and being on fast-forward halted and, I will say, it was extremely uncomfortable. This feeling was so unknown to my body and brain, I found myself smoking a lot of pot just to deregulate myself to return to my baseline state of anxiousness. Weird, I know, but I couldn't manage it. Over time, however, this feeling became far more attractive and now, about two to three months later, I cannot live without it. We have adjusted the potency of my remedy three times to find the one that is most beneficial to me, which ended up being the lowest potency that I take more frequently. Since this time, my life has changed dramatically.

I am now addicted to being happy, instead of being addicted to pot. I stopped my almost 20 year habit about two months ago and it was simple. Something I struggled with for almost two decades was no longer a difficult goal to achieve and I don't miss it nor crave it. There were other changes as well that involved ongoing feelings of calmness, being centered and reflective insight. I am a dramatically different person. A happy, happy, happy person.  I meet with my naturopath on a monthly basis to continue our work together and just being in his presence makes me feel like my feet are firmly planted on the ground. That and the feeling that the possibilities within my life are endless. 

Dolphin Boy

Given that I do therapy with traumatized teenagers, this story (featured on The Passionate Eye) carried special meaning for me. It is 45 minutes in length and worth every moment of your time.



"Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don't do that by sitting around wondering about yourself." Katharine Hepburn (American Actress).

I've been working pretty damn hard on myself since November 2010. As a person who has struggled with....well, basically everything.....for years upon years, I felt that my 33rd year better be big. Not getting any younger, that's for sure. I've realized that change is absolutely possible given the right support. You'd think I would have inherently known this given that I am a children's therapist....but, as we know, we therapists are awesome at solving anyone else's problems but our own.

Over the past 15 months I have accomplished the following:
- 15 months of therapy with a rockstar therapist to work through practically everything. Have accomplished all the goals I laid out at the beginning of therapy and am now starting to wean off sessions because all I talk about is happy stuff now.
- Quit biting my nails, a lifelong affliction. 
- Went gluten-free/ mostly organic and stopped eating red meat.
- Quit smoking pot, another lifelong affliction. 
- Ceased looking for approval from anyone but myself, particularly my wacky family. 
- Developed and following through with a plan to travel to Africa to volunteer for two months (193 days left on the countdown).
- Started seeing an Osteopath and Naturopath, which are helping me save me.
- Enrolled in an African dance class, which I begin tonight.
- Became social with friends (see quit smoking pot).
- Stopped sleeping all the time (again, see quit smoking pot).
- Recently started exploring Qigong and am looking into Tai Chi classes.

This list makes me proclaim: I am fucking unstoppable man!!!! 
Rock on. 


Oh, the Places You'll Go at Burning Man.

My sister sent me this link today because it reminded her of me. I felt understood in that moment and it brought tears to my eyes.


It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Africa

"The difference between great people and everyone else is that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next. The difference between the two is the difference between living fully and just existing." ~ Michael E. Gerber (Non-fiction Writer)

Opening up my Christmas presents and seeing items such as a bug net, water purification tablets, and a Whiz It (a contraption that allows women to pee standing up - hahaha), made things even more real. The date is creeping closer and, as of today, I sit at 214 days until departure. Time is moving so quickly all of a sudden and there's so much to much I still don't know and need to figure out. 

When I close my eyes and picture myself there, the place I've dreamed of for so long, I get butterflies in my stomach. 
I like butterflies. 

What Would Jesus Do?

"Santa Claus has the right idea.. Visit people once a year." ~ Victor Borge (Danish Comedian, Conductor, Pianist)

I am adopted...secretly. It is the only answer I can muster that might explain my presence in a family that is so totally different than myself. I must have been adopted and no one told me. I wish they would tell me so that this theory could transition from wishful thinking into my reality. I have plenty of evidence to discount this theory, such as pictures of my mother and father and sister in the hospital with me on the day I was born. I look brand new and my mother looks like shit after allegedly giving birth me....hmmmm, pretty strong evidence to the contrary of my theory. Oh well....I'll keep fantasizing. And really....not being adopted allows me to think to myself, WOW, I turned out so well considering the circumstances. That's a happy, self esteem boosting thought.

I think I should point out that most family hilarity that I might write about on my blog EXCLUDES my dear, darling father who is, if nothing else, normal and kind. How he has managed to survive the regime he has been living under for over 40 years is beyond me....and no, the answer is not the excessive consumption of alcohol. My mother declared him an alcoholic many years back, taking away the one thing he might have been able to successfully use to cope. It helps me, I know that for sure. I don't think my father was an alcoholic, I just think he did not handle his liquor very well and was prone to drinking too much of it on occasion. Show me someone who doesn't do that! I've been known to stumble down a stair or two (or a flight of stairs, depending on how well my evening has gone). Regardless, I give him props for using what was available to him at the time to help him survive and if he started drinking again tomorrow, I'd stand and applaud him.

This holiday season was the exact replica of the one before that. Oh - and the one before that. Actually, there is a long succession of sucky holiday seasons that are firmly rooted in my memory and each and every time I have had the occasion to even consider - for a moment - moving back to my province, they have served me well in snapping me concretely back into reality. A sharp 'fuck that' and 'what the fuck were you thinking, even if only for 2.4 seconds' clearly reverberates through my consciousness. This year the major, overarching theme was: complaining. My mother complaining about my sister; my sister complaining about my mother, her husband, her life - well, basically everything. This season, I took a vastly different approach in the management of this considerable negative energy...but, don't worry, I didn't switch it up too much - there was still the over consumption of many a bottle of wonderful wine. I disengaged. I did not respond. I pretended to listen while giving a nod or a hmmm once in awhile when really I was thinking about my upcoming trip to Africa, world poverty, my next massage appointment, or many other more interesting topics. And I will say, it worked! Once in awhile, I inserted a snappy comeback to their constant meanderings about how much their lives suck, such as, I wonder what Jesus would do? Apparently, I was the only one entertained by this but, was all about me and survival at that point and if I could provide myself with some tidbits of entertainment...I was all over that.

I hope everyone had a holly, jolly drunken Christmas and that you too found ways to entertain yourself while enduring the obligatory family time. Happy New Year!