Thursday, July 21, 2016

11 Months, John Lennon and Spoiler Alerts

Canadian friends, if you are not up-to-date on Coronation Street and/or Eastenders, you may want to skip this post until you are!

Over the weekend, on Saturday actually, it was 11 months since Mark died.

11 months.

In less than a month now, he'll be gone a whole year. 

A year. 

365 days. 

8760 hours. 

Almost completely unbelievable.  I see photos of him, and I'm so glad I took so many photos of him, and I think, well that wasn't so long ago.  And really, it feels like 5 minutes and a million years all at the same time since he died.

This past month, I felt a lot better physically and emotionally than I did last month.  I've been really busy over the past few weeks.  When I moved into the house in January, I left a lot of stuff in the two spare bedrooms and knew that eventually I would get around to sorting them out.  Well the time for sorting, or at least organizing the piles, finally arrived.  I found a roommate, someone to rent out the extra space I wasn't using.  This meant a lot of boxes needed to be either unpacked or moved to the the basement.  A good number were unpacked, some were moved to the basement and a whole pile of stuff was removed from the basement and shed and carted away by a junk dude.

It felt good to start the purge.  While there is still so much to do, I've made a really good start on it all.  The activity was probably good for me too. The distraction of it.

Looking back to last month again, I felt physically ill and emotionally drained around the monthly marker of Mark's death.  This month, that didn't happen but I had a couple of really sad moments over the weekend.

This is where the spoiler alerts kick in - if you're a fan of Corrie or Eastenders and are not up to date with the UK broadcast dates, stop reading now!!

Kylie and David

I knew that Paula Lane was leaving Corrie.  I didn't actually care.  I have never really liked her, well I'm sure she's a truly lovely girl, I didn't like the Kylie character.  No amount of late-breaking redemption was going to change that.  David I've never ever liked.  I'm not supposed to, I know that.  The two of them together just grated on me.  I had read that there was a plan in the works to kill off poor Kylie, I just didn't know it was going to happen on Friday.  I certainly didn't expect to happen in a quick(ish) and violent way.

I sat in front of the TV with the dogs, shocked when I realized that the end was close.  As she lay on the cobbles, in front of the Rover's Return, struggling to breathe while she bled to death (from a stab wound in her chest), she had an opportunity to tell David all of those things that you hope you'll get to say to your loved ones before you die.  Now, after losing Mark last year, I know better than to wait until I'm on my deathbed to tell the people I love exactly how I feel about them.  I tell them all of the time now.  You don't always get an opportunity for a dramatic bedside goodbye.  I know we didn't. 

Watching the scene triggered something inside of me and I started to weep.  I cried hard.  A fucking ugly cry.  I didn't realize I was doing it until Gracie started scratching at my leg but I was actually wailing out loud.  At one point, after the paramedics arrive and pronounce her as well and truly gone, the camera pans over her face and they have one of those plastic breathing tube things in her mouth.  That took me immediately back to the emergency room, Mark had one of those in his mouth when they let me in to see him after he had died.   Watching how calm David was as he walked away from Kylie's body, reminded me so clearly of how numb I felt... of how calmly I walked away from Mark's body and out of the hospital.  You are in shock, I know that your body does that to protect your brain from just exploding.  The whole scene was really well done and after the episode was over,  I had a horrible headache and felt completely spent, drained, cried out. Gah.  Television is supposed be an escape, right?

Phil Mitchell

For those of you who watch Eastenders, you'll know that they recently killed off beloved landlady and Mitchell Family Matriarch, Peggy Mitchell.  Phil came back to the square for the funeral, looking jaundiced and frail.  His liver is failing and the research that they have done on what that looks like is spot on.  It has been increasingly difficult for me to watch Steve McFadden sit, crumpled on the sofa, holding tissues to his face while his nose bleeds.  Mark suffered with horrible nosebleeds during the last few days of his life.  I know now that it was caused by his liver shutting down but at the time we thought (and were told) that it was a side effect from the steroids he had been taking to try to help him feel better before he started chemo up again.  Again, watching this made me cry.  Not as hard or as ugly as when Kylie died but it was really hard to watch it.  It just seemed unfair that my attempt to clear my head and escape for a little while, just bit me in the ass, hard.

John Lennon

Everyone who knew Mark also knew that one of his heroes was John Lennon.  Since Mark died, I've had a really difficult time to listening to John or the Beatles. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can't and until just this weekend, there were certain songs I couldn't hear.  They just reminded me too much of Mark.  I had this old playlist I was listening to on the weekend.  It was something I hadn't listened to in a long time.  In the middle of it, was a chunk of John songs. 

Mother came on, I listened to it, didn't cry.

Isolation started up, I let it go and got through the whole thing.

Working Class Hero, God.... Gimme Some Truth, was able to listen to each song, in it's entirety and not have to flick it off or grab a bunch of Kleenex.  This was huge to me, massive.  It felt really good to be able to enjoy the music and think about how much Mark loved those songs and just be peaceful, not sad. 

That is progress my friends.  I've learned that baby steps will get you where you need to go, it just may take you a little longer to arrive.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

self preservation

I made a conscious decision a few months ago to actively avoid the news (when possible) on the weekends.

I felt like it would be better for my mind and my soul if I allowed myself a break from bad news.  More often than not lately, the news isn't only bad, it's heartbreakingly sad.  I frequently find myself at a loss for words, incapable of understanding the gruesome hatred that boils inside of people. 

I don't understand how someone can drive a truck into a crowd of merry-makers on a joyous national holiday.

I don't understand why the police in the US can't stop murdering black men (and women).

I don't understand why in this day and age, women still feel unsafe going places alone... why we still are so hyper-aware of our surroundings at all times and need to be super vigilant about protecting ourselves.

I don't understand why evangelical christians in the US (or elsewhere) think that they have any right to tell any woman or girl what she can or can't do with her body.

I don't understand how Canadians can feel so smug about how we treat each other (compared to what's happening in the US) when we have historically, and systemically treated our indigenous peoples as "less than"

I don't understand how in some places, it's perfectly okay for a father to sell his pre-teen daughter into marriage to an old man for a few cows.

I don't understand what has happened to the political system in the US it going to eat itself? what will happen to us if a reality star actually gets elected President?

I'm fairly well read, moderately intelligent and I cannot for the life of me figure out any reasonable answer to any of these questions.  Sometimes I feel like I need to pinch myself and make sure that it's not a dream or a weird movie. 

When I'm on my self-imposed bad-news sabbatical, I listen to music and send silly messages to friends on snapchat.  I read things that are enlightening and I hang out with my dogs.  The break allows me a bit of perspective and reminds me that all is not bad in the world.  It's just really easy to forget about the good things when you're bombarded with bad news all of the time.

If you're looking to start a little soundtrack for your own little news sabbatical, I can suggest including some Camera Obscura.  I have been revisiting them recently and full on binged out last week.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


New buddies. Sam is slowly warming up to his new roomie. #dogstagram #eskie #shitzu #americaneskimodogSo Sam and Gracie and I have a couple of new roomies. 

One of the roommates is Kealey.  He's an 11 month old shitzu puppy.  Sam is very very slowly starting to adjust/warm up to Kealey.  Gracie so far is being cautious. 

Puppies have a lot of energy.  Sam and Gracie will both be turning 9 next month. They are not quite seniors yet but I can see it's going to take them a little while to get used to having someone who just wants to play, around all of the time.

It's actually pretty adorable to watch Kealey. He follows Sam around and wants to be everywhere Sam is.  Sam is not too thrilled about it but he's getting used to it.  When Sam growls at Kealey, Kealey mimics it back to Sam.  Pretty sure Sam thinks that Kealey is being a smart ass but I think he should be flattered!! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all, right?

He's going to have to, I don't think Kealey will be going anywhere for a good long while.

Friday, June 17, 2016

bigmouth strikes again

It occurred to me this week that it's been 30 years since I've been to Peterborough.  I only realized this because I'd read that it was 30 years ago this week that The Smiths "the Queen is Dead" album was released.

That week, we must have been finished school already, or had a day off in our exam schedule, we got into the car with my mom and dad, probably the green Buick Century, and took a little road trip together.  I know we drove through Havelock, to Peterborough (to see the lift locks!) and eventually ended up in Oshawa.  The Oshawa part is important.  We went to the mall, the Oshawa Centre probably.  My dad and my brother went to a movie and my mum and I shopped. 

I don't remember much about what else I bought or looked at but I can recall, very clearly, clutching a copy of "The Queen Is Dead" in my hands for the drive home, anxiously, almost breathlessly, waiting to run to my room and put it on the turntable.  That's right kids, this was 1986.  Your choices at the store at that time were vinyl or cassette.  I always chose vinyl for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the artwork was always better and secondly, I had a turntable.  I also could make a tape copy of the LP and listen to it on my walkman.  How many times I listened to that album, hundreds probably.  I loved the Smiths, so much, still do. 

They really spoke to me and a year later, when I got my first apartment, the first poster I hung up in the living room of my brand new apartment was of them (I also had posters of Bruce Cockburn and the Communards in the bathroom but that's another post).

Everything about their lyrics resonated with me and there were only a couple of people amongst my wide circle of friends who even knew who they were, much less loved them like I did.  I remember my mum telling me to "turn that down! he can't sing!!" - that always made me laugh.  You could like his voice or not but the words were poetry, no argument.  I spent a lot of time and probably too much money tracking down 12" singles and imported versions of albums I already had.  There was no such thing as too much Morrissey and Marr for me.  Even now, all these years later, I still keep The Smiths, and solo stuff by Morrissey and Johnny Marr in regular rotation.  I never grow bored of them.

Admittedly, this week has been pretty rough for me, I'm feeling a lot better about things today and listening to Big Mouth Strikes Again, surprisingly, is helping.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

10 months and my body's in trouble

Mark’s been gone for 10 months…

He died 43 weeks and 4 days ago…

For 305 days I’ve been on my own, navigating through my life without him.

Most of the time, I’m okay.  I get up every morning and feel positive about the day ahead.  The past few months have been really good I have to say.

This week though, my resistance is low, my ability to deal with things seems lacking.  Maybe it’s the Orlando shooting (I’ve kept sort of quiet about it because if I think about it at all I start crying and have a really hard time making myself stop).  I think I’ve had a bug or some kind over the past week or so too. Yesterday I stayed home from work to nurse a horrible headache and ended up sleeping the day away.

Today I feel groggy, hungover from the headache I think. I still feel exhausted, like I could sleep for days.

I hate feeling weak but that is how I’m feeling right now, in this moment.

On days like today, I feel like I’m confronted with grief triggers everywhere I go.  In a day or so, I know that this cloud of grief which is hanging over my head today will clear.  The triggers won’t be as powerful.  The tears won’t come so easily or with such violence. I will feel strong again, and capable again and happier than I feel right now.

Right now, I’m just holding on tight with both hands, white knuckling things I suppose,  until this passes and I can get back to feeling good again.

...sincere thanks to Mary Margaret from Margaret Mary...