Today is my nephew’s 22nd birthday. I think. I’m a horrible aunty. I know his birthday is the 18th of August, though, as I was there in the hospital, sat through the 30 hours of labour that my then sister-in-law endured, and then was there to hold him with his pointy little conehead. His head was so pointy from trying to be born that he couldn’t wear the baby toque that they gave him for going home (it rolled right up).
He was a good kid – smart, compassionate, and took care of his little brothers. My brother had, by the time Taylor was a preteen, remarried, and had had three other kids, all boys, so there was a total of five boys in the extended family. Taylor and Jeremy (his brother) they were bounced from house to house for their entire lives it seemed as my brother and his first wife broke up shortly after their second child was born.
Fast-forward to my brother’s second marriage break-up: he didn’t even see it happening. He was focused on school and making extra money for the family, and his wife at the time locked him out of the house and he tried his best – from what we were told – to reconcile whatever differences there were. My brother isn’t a saint, I realize, but from where we stood it seemed awfully cold that his wife – that seemed to support him and love his kids – would just turn a complete 180.
My brother wasn’t in good spirits. His family had just cracked in the middle. I remember it was the beginning of August. It wasn’t long after that we heard that my brother’s *first* ex had dropped the bomb on Taylor once his birthday came: Taylor wasn’t my brother’s boy. My ex-SIL had decided to give that as my nephew’s gift for his 18th birthday.
We were shocked, but also not – he didn’t look like my brother (our whole family is larger with dark hair, and Taylor had blonde hair) and the timing seemed to link up with strangeness that was going on with the family at the time 18 years before. I had met a man that I was dating in Vancouver who just happened to be cousins with a guy that worked for my dad and it always creeped me out how fast word of my goings-on in Vancouver would get back to my family. Turns out that my then sister-in-law was having an affair with this guy who worked for my dad. So we were heartbroken, but we were worried about my brother. Apparently he had known ALL ALONG.
I’m not privy to what happened, I am not a fan sometimes of my brother, but from what I gather, my not-nephew was not pleased. There was an altercation, and then our family lost contact. This crushed us – I not knowingly at the time, but my mom and dad specifically. Taylor was my mom and dad’s first grandson of my brother’s and their first grandchild since my nephew Eric was born; not only that, but we spent so much time with Taylor as a kid looking after him and seeing him grow that he was more than just a nephew or a separate part of the family.
So fast-forward to today. I looked at the date, and it just about brought me to tears. That whole family broke my damn heart, so much. Not only did I not get to see any of my brother’s kids grow up because they lived so far away, but also because it seemed that visiting us – or keeping in touch with me* – was not a priority, but now with this it just cemented my role as aunty where I didn’t get to reap any of the benefits of having those kids around. “Be a good aunty” they say, if you don’t have kids… well, I’ve never known how to do that. I’m not a person to knock down walls, or to push myself on people. I’m not that aggressive. But I see pictures of my good friends with nephews and nieces that have been a part of their lives for the entirety of their lives and I am SO jealous. I’m jealous that they got to spend time with the kids growing up and I’m jealous that they get to see those kids turn into young adults.
Where does that leave me today? Taylor – from what I understand – has cut off communication with this side of his “family”, which, after going to therapy, I can understand. This whole support group of people who he thought he was linked to by blood is no longer “there” and he needs to get to know a different support system… one that was not allowed to get to know him as a child. And yet, it’s the 18th of August and I’m a teary-eyed asshole who can’t get in touch with my “nephew” to wish him all the best. I think that’s all our family wants for him – and we hope that he doesn’t disconnect completely. We were there at the beginning and would like to be a part of his life. I write this partially as an open letter, because I have no way of contacting him. I hope he is safe, happy, travelling or doing things he loves.
And I hope he has a happy birthday.
*I am a horrible person to keep in touch with. I realize this.
I’ve had an unadulterated crush on Jon Stewart for at least twenty years now. His MTV show was syndicated – 94/95 – and introduced me to the music of Soul Coughing, Marilyn Manson, and so many others. It was a beautiful mash-up of random, stupid comedy and some not too bad interviews. Overall it was perfect after going to see some pseudo-grunge indie band at the Town Pump or some such dive bar downtown.
Then he was not renewed. I was sad – so sad.
Then he joined up with the Daily Show.
At first I was scared — how could this guy – who did a one-man monologue of Anna Nicole’s life (before she passed), be a guy behind a desk in a suit.
Now, it sounds bad. Maybe it was, jury is still out on that. But I wanted to be near a lake so I could go swimming. That was my goal. And – at least for that as a goal – it was met. What this vacation was, was a lesson in practical goal-setting.
1) Yes, being near a lake is good but
2) Having a toilet near by and
3) Having running water and
4) Having electricity are also great.
But the views? I guess I’m willing to do anything for an adventure.
So, I realize that this is not without it’s inherent issues – I say that I’m very pro-union, and yet here I am car-sharing, which might be the equivalent of scab who crosses a picket line, in a way.
But I signed up anyhow.
Money is good.
Today Robin Williams would have been 64 years old.
I’ve seen a few tribute posts on the internet today, talking about how great of an actor, person, human being, comedian he was.
But I have to admit, I can’t deal with his death – not because I don’t feel the loss of his character, because I do, but his death – his suicide – is a reminder that even those that are insanely talented don’t make it out of this life intact.
I’ve got my issues, I realize, and it still is a struggle, but the notes about Robin Williams are just a reminder to me – especially when I’m low – that all the money, love, family and support in the world, doesn’t fix a broken brain.
It’s a tough fight to think of that and know that depression lies, it lies to everyone and it doesn’t discriminate.
So if you don’t see me sharing your post about Robin Williams you’ll know why – he lost his battle, but I still have to fight mine.
So, for some reason I always seem to process things by writing about them. And mostly those things have something to do with my mental health.
I have to say that generally in the past year I’ve been healthier mentally than I’ve been for many of my adult years, but I’ve also had enough stress to down a truly sane and normal person: I’ve moved to a new city, sold my condo, killed a car (and had to buy a new one), started a new job, and have moved three times (soon to be four). I also started a relationship and am in the process of ending it. If anyone thinks that I’m not capable, I’d like to give that person a swift boot in their bumhole.
Stop. Just stop.
You aren’t helping – anyone in fact. Aside from the fact that I can’t figure out if you exist (how can one person be such a bigot?), your lack of empathy for someone in such a horrible situation as an abusive relationship and the out and out shaming of that situation does nothing to bolster confidence of a woman where she needs every single bit of help she can get.
I get it – I do. We all play victim in our own lives to some extent – in some situations we are the top, some situations we are the bottom. But your “article” does little to address the fact that women usually are insecure in their financial relationships with their partners, and that power imbalance can mean that they have to figure out what to do and how to do it pragmatically. We’ve jumped leaps and bounds in the past fifty years or so, where a woman would pretty much have to run under the cover of night to escape their abusive homes, or abandon their children, if they wanted out alive. Now, some women are lucky enough to be able to move away, get support, and divorce. But those small steps still pale in comparison to the real threat of mental and physical violence that they face every day, making it that much more of a trial to deal with their oppressor. If they have no money, have cut off outside support from friends, who do they have? A cold agency that might support a 1/3 of the money they need to support their kids? Or do they just stay in place, ensuring their children’s safety (being a buffer between them is probably better than not being there at all), and wait it out?
I come from two parents who witnessed this kind of abuse first-hand. My mother saw my grandmother being beating to a bloody pulp, her hair torn out, and her thrown from a window in front of her. Her and her brother were never harmed, or so we siblings think. A similar situation happened to my dad, where his father would beat up my grandmother. In both situations both ladies weren’t exactly faithful, but both men were also drunks.
I also know this as a first-hand account because in one of my longer-term relationships, my boyfriend at the time hit me. It was once, it never happened again. After he did it – and I’m sure he professes to this day it was an accident, but you know that look – I left. I had support of my friends, I was young enough that I didn’t have a lot of encumbrances, and I didn’t look back. Until we started talking again, and he ended up moving back in. He never did it again, but our whole relationship was eggshells. We had been together for about a year, and when this happened we split for six months.
Why do women go back, or say that “he loves me” and don’t want to press charges? Self-esteem. It was the same reason why my grandmother didn’t stay at her mother’s place in the middle of when the beatings for her were the worst. She had an out, she had a space that was safe, where she could raise her kids and get away from her husband, and with it being on a farm, there was an arsenal of weapons around if her husband tried to get the kids (my mom and uncle) or her. But she chose to “do what was right” and “stand by her man”. For me, it was similar – I had so little self-esteem at the point where I allowed him to move in, I think, that it was okay. It was familiar, we had some good times but *I didn’t think I could ever do any better. Ever.*
You ask why would a woman not want her day in court? Because she doesn’t believe the courts will support her story. I’ve seen it – and I’ve seen how even my small brush with violence was played out even with his friends – no one knew why we broke up, and when I did tell some of them they said “Oh, that couldn’t be (him)!”, like violence doesn’t come in all shapes and sizes. Really. He gets off socially scott-free, and I end up having to deal with the stigma that comes from being in that type of relationship – where his ‘friends’ believe him to be saintly, and aren’t recognizing that he has that capacity. We hide our secrets well, so that we can make our next best move and get out of the situation.
I called you a misogynist – why? Because your words help zero women: if you are a woman in a power position, and can assist, victim-blaming does nothing to support this person in this situation, if you are a supporter of women, and *good men who are not violent*, pointing the finger also supports this notion that it is entirely up to that particular woman to eradicate violence in a relationship. The finger pointing negates the role that *we all play* in this process, in making it unacceptable for violence against women in any and all situations: in situations of sexual assault, violence in relationships, violence against sex workers. As women, a lack of respect for ourselves in any of theses scenarios is unfathomable, and shouldn’t be tolerated.
Since your articles are usually short, I’ll give you my “Birmingham Take Away”, if you will. If you want to address violence, and self-abuse and any myriad of issues to do with women’s health, we have to:
– bolster our women, so they know they aren’t going to go to court just to have an old boys’ club chalk a violent attack or history of abuse to just “a quarrel”
– have our boys in blue take any report of violence against women *seriously* – this means processing rape kits *immediately*, ensuring there are safe spaces for women to go to and report violence REGARDLESS of occupation or social standing and also ensuring that those men who are prosecuted are given similar sentences (ie rich white men need to be fucking held accountable for their actions)
– ensure that the words we use and solutions that we rely upon, instead of blaming the victim, maybe blame the person *actually* committing the crime
I want to support you, and support police workers as well. For the most part, they do an alright job, but we need to help them. Our culture needs to stand-up for women who have lost their voice instead of pointing fingers at them. This is why your thoughts expressed, such as they are, are hurtful more than helpful. I can see the motivation behind it is “why don’t these women just stand up and say enough is enough?” – because they can’t. That’s why we have to help.
In response to this blog: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/news-opinion/maureen-messent-domestic-abuse-against-6918862
Brilliant article on the meaning of ‘being alone’ and really not being ashamed of it; and how others (including Greta Garbo) navigated this in the past.
So, it’s been 18 months since I wrote my blog on suicide, and it will be two years that I’ve been on a gluten-free diet, allowing for my brain to heal somewhat in the past while. It’s not been smooth. I feel at every impasse I’m getting ready to battle: so my question is, is that battle really there, or in preparing for it am I helping build that trench that I can’t seem to get out of?
Totally pilfered from @johncusack but then he pilfered from Goethe, so I guess we’re all even.
In honour of Suicide Prevention Day, I’m making an admission. I’m maybe not a person that you’d think would have had any issues: I was in the top of my high school classes, fairly outgoing, and maybe even a tad adventurous. I can come across as out-going, engaged, even gregarious.
However, after I graduated from high school, and left home, a big shift happened for me and not in a good way. I went a bit haywire with booze and drugs, experimenting within a context of ‘partying’. I’m pretty sure at the time, and well into my 20’s, this was self-medication, allowing me to feel some sort of relief from depression and anxiety that I’d carried around for most of the time I was at university.
I’ve gone through peaks and valleys with my mental health, that is for sure. But sadly, even at times when I really should have been the happiest, with the most gratitude, I was often sullen and distanced. I was terminally depressed, even facing the most beautiful vistas and the most amazing travels. At times I was also – GASP – suicidal.
So at what point did someone else become the master of my physical AND spiritual realm? At what point did I give up the authority in my own life – that I know best – to some new age douchebag wearing a mandarin-collared indian-bought gown and a pair of rayban sunglasses? At what point did *that* become a goal for spirituality? Not only am “I” not represented with that group of leaders but me as a fat, educated, lower to middle income class earner I am *definitely* not represented by those that claim to know what is best for my spiritual morale. At what point did I allow myself to feel less than worthy because I’m not the happy glowing being of sunhood and rainbowdom and I don’t want to add unicorn stickers to all the telephone polls?
Let me save the trouble of spending $1000’s of dollars on spiritual products, books and b.s. This is a summary of every new age hippy dippy b.s. spiritual book ever.
Summary of Every New Age Spiritual Book Written Ever.
Bad Idea: I watch the movie Dad, which (save for his breakdown thinking he has a family in Jersey) pretty much mirror’s my mom’s stint in the hospital where she almost died last year. Needless to say I spent most of the movie crying, but it was still pretty cool because my mom was there to cry with me at this stupid stupid movie. Ironically, my dad had already gone to bed.
So in this film? Ethan Hawke, Ted Danson, Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey. Reminded me of Kevin Spacey doing Jack Lemmon in the Star Wars audition reels. Fabulous.
Generally – feeling pretty grateful for everything. I may have extra weight on my body, be currently jobless, and be a bit of a nutter, but my family is pretty frickin cool.. and I’m lucky to spend these days with them.
I realized- embarrassingly- that last month it has been 10 years that I’ve been single.
Not without some encounters (good/ bad/ indifferent) along the way, but without someone that I would call “long-term boyfriend”… It hasn’t been a decade without other accomplishments though- I decided to quit a job to return full-time to school, travelled overseas (NZ, Fiji, Australia, Germany, London, and a couple trips to New York + others), I’ve gotten my degree, I’ve moved to a new town and found a job and kept that job for five years, while being promoted along the way, I’ve learned a few other things (partial German, how to crochet), written/ directed a short film, helped on others. I’ve taken my Reiki levels, reflexology, and am now unemployed (by choice) with looking at a WTF and HTF am I going to define myself in the next 10 years (G-d willing of course).
So I thought about this whole being single thing – what it means ‘socially’ and what it means for me. I had a bit of a thought wave – what if I was one of those people who would never marry – a spinster/ a bachelorette – and that is just what is determined? Apart from the feeling sorry for myself (as that would happen) what else is there to being single? Would my life’s course, or what I want to do with my life, change in anyway?
This weekend I spent two days sitting at a local market selling off some of my vinyl records. I’ve been collecting records for about 15 years, and it has gotten to a point with my own ‘collection’ that I have way way too many. Of course, there is the honest response as well that almost all of the music that I listen to now is in an electronic format, so I wonder the value of keeping the records around.
I found the experience in selling the records quite cathartic, where it somehow made me feel a bit better knowing that my records were going home with people who would cherish them a bit more than I had cherished them. But the really amazing part for me were the people that would just flip through the records because they were there – and the age ranges – anywhere from kids around 11 years old, to probably one of the older customers who would have had to have been in his mid-seventies at least. All of them had the stories that went along with each record – from those that had some of the records as kids, to others who remember seeing one of the bands in concert, to the one person that was looking solely for album covers by this one graphic designer from the 50’s. I knew that my record collection was diverse, but I really didn’t think it would reel in such an eclectic crowd.
It was a great experience – I didn’t know how I would be accepted as the market was mostly for hand-crafted materials. But it seemed like the boyfriends/ husbands of some of those that were there for the more hand-crafted items would drift over and have a look at records when they had a moment. But the buying was not at all just from men – I’d say it was about 50/50 split. It seemed that a good portion of those that bought records from me didn’t even have a record player at home – they just either loved the artwork, or they loved the kitschy attraction of vinyl, or they thought they would hold on to the vinyl longer than other musical formats. One younger lady had almost literally flipped when she saw I had Prince’s Purple Rain (in fairly pristine condition); she didn’t have a record player, and most certainly had the MP3 versions of some of his songs, but it didn’t stop her from buying the record.
When I got home after the fairly successful market, I decided to watch a documentary that had been made a couple of years ago called “I Need that Record” which attempted to document the rationale behind the decline of the ‘record store’ as a place of musical community.
The documentary wasn’t that well constructed, and seemed to pit the local record store against the big bad record industry- I imagine a somewhat tenuous relationship at best. There were interviews with bigger names from music who have ventured into side-businesses, or who were now self-releasing music, and who had said eff you to the traditional business models and were trying to embrace a new way of connecting with their audiences. One record store who had apparently been pushed out of business by a neighbouring print store was profiled as well, but the idea of why the business hadn’t attempted to set-up in another location was never investigated in the film.
London & outside London photos! —> a few randoms, wandering around London, trip to Peterborough (well, small town outside Peterborough), random carnival in Leicester Square.
For some reason, this picture of my last trip up to Banff has more views than any other. I guess… because its a little off kilter? This was another in my series of “dangerous pictures” ie, those taken while driving… for the most part, most of those photos are rubbish, but I still think it is interesting the type of photos you can get when traveling at 130km/ hr and not looking where you are shooting.