remembering my life

Age 0 – Very few memories but a few impressions of life.

Age 1 – Very few memories but a few impressions of life

Age 2 – My yellow bedroom and the smiling lion on my wallpaper!

Age 3 – Summers at the cottage, the smell of Constan Lake as I played in the sand.

Age 4 – March break in Florida with my family.  Early fall at the cottage with Dad after my Mom and brother went back to school. 

Age 5 – Kindergarten!  First painful piano lessons…

Age 6 – Grade 1, met my first close female friend.  People joked about us being boyfriend and girlfriend, however both of us knew better…yes EVEN that early!

Age 7 – Grade 2, was perhaps the worst year of school for me.  I HATED my teacher as he seemed to hate me.  Confused and angry about being bored and feeling picked on.  Strangled with a skipping rope by an older student at the request of my childhood best friend, I still don’t know why.  I forgave her regardless.

Age 8 – Grade 3, first time I felt “understood” by a teacher who was perhaps my first exposure to an obviously gay adult.  This year marked the beginning of enrichment for me at school to combat boredom.

Age 9 – Grade 4, tested and identified as being gifted.  After being identified, I was told that I was transferring to a new school which made me both excited and frightened at the prospect. At the same time, I was tired of being the enrichment teacher’s “special project” and subject of her graduate thesis.

Age 10 – Grade 5, transferred to gifted program, new school, new class mates, including my best friend, DJ.  Teacher was mediocre and did not teach math, expecting us to teach ourselves.  I learned and began honing the fine art of procrastination this year.  This year I got into my second fight in school – punched when a friend was threatened and suffered heat stroke in the playground, passing out.  Met my second close female friend, we walked to school together and had long, deep and intense conversations.  My music teacher was a hippie who wore sandals and socks year round and he played guitar in class.  Pretty much everything else about school, beyond my friends, I despised as the teachers were pretty much useless in my opinion.

Age 11 – Grade 6, we were bused to a new school in the far west corner of the board of education.  This school was a true dog’s breakfast of students, including French Immersion, Behavioural Modification and Gifted classes.  However my main teacher was a pretty cool individual who let his students explore their identities while being supportive and constructively honest.  The first time I was exposed to the Socratic method of teaching.  My piano teacher revealed her conservative Christian background when she kicked me out of her house because I had my Dungeons and Dragons books with me to read while my brother had his lesson – it is, after all, the devil’s game!

Age 12 – Grade 7, the year I first realized I was homosexual when I had my first honest to goodness gay crush.   My teacher was also openly gay and provided proof that not all homosexuals were fey and effeminate.  I got my first job working at a catering company as a catering and kitchen assistant.  I worked at this company on and off throughout my high school and university career until I got the job at IBM/Celestica.  This was also the year I discovered that music could be FUN when I picked up the trumpet because I wanted to.  I knew that further explorations would be in order.  Class trip to Ottawa, where cracks began forming in our class as we had become too familiar with one another after three years of being in each other’s pockets, combined with the growing pains of becoming teenagers with raging hormones began to be apparent.  I attended a music summer school and realized that I actually LIKED playing music.

Age 13 – Grade 8, class meetings about our group growing apart.  I had finally realized that remaining in gifted program would stunt my emotional and social growth, so I make the decision to leave the gifted program and go to a “normal” high school.  That was combined with the increasing importance of music in my life as I began taking bass lessons, again because I wanted to and found a voice for expression.  First homosexual experience in person at the hands of a predator from my church, I had difficulties understanding that what I knew was wrong, felt so damn right at the same time.

Age 14 – Grade 9 the first realization that I was capable of making mature and “adult” decisions in my life.  I realized that leaving the gifted program was instrumental in my development as a social being and that being able to meet and interact with people aside from a small, close tight-knit social group. 

Age 15 – Grade 10 the year I skipped playing in the junior and intermediate bands and went straight to the senior band.  I formed a band with the guitarist and proceeded to tear up the stages, playing fundraisers and parties, covering classic rock songs and playing long blues jams while drunks danced.  First senior band trip to Cornwall, Ontario, where I learned how to repair my own bass, courtesy of some jackhole who crushed my case with the instrument in it on the bus.  Becoming increasingly aware of my homosexuality and that I had little patience for people who were slow on the uptake.  Also tiring of having to dumb down my music for guitarists, I learned how to play guitar, by teaching myself Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”

Age 16 – Grade 11-12 two years of high school compressed into one, the high school band attempted to travel to the United Kingdom, however these plans were scuttled by the war in the Persian Gulf.  We went to Flint, Michigan instead (woo hoo).

Age 17 – OAC, Ryerson Year 1 final year of high school, the senior band toured England and Scotland, playing pubs, social clubs, a bandshell along the Thames and the Harrogate Royal Hall.  My brother and I stayed with a lovely couple who lived in the northern English countryside and was introduced to veganism as a healthy and ethical choice.  My dabbling with vegetarianism was quashed when I met my first English Breakfast, where everything was fried in rendered bacon fat.  This is where I began my love affair with Scotch, Rye and Irish Whiskeys.

Age 18 – Ryerson Year 2 went to England on reading week with my brother. Highlights of the week between discovering the drink machine sold single shot bottles of booze with appropriate mixer, were the Norwegians in the room beside us noisily having sex every night and getting to see Eric Clapton perform at Royal Albert Hall (a truly magical evening).  I discovered clowning as a way of expressing who I was while hiding behind a mask of sorts, essentially suppressing who I was at the same time.

Age 19 – Ryerson Year 3 interned at Statistics Canada in Ottawa.  Learned how to be politically correct and avoid pointing out certain obvious correlations in statistical findings (such as crime rates in ethnic areas and legal cigarette and alcohol purchases around Indian reserves and border towns).  Discovered Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and met Victor Wooten for the first time.  This was also the year I first wrote to DB and MK expressing my admiration of their expertise in their relative fields and began the beginnings of two wonderful friendships and one incredibly fun working relationship.

Age 20 – Ryerson Year 4, trip to Arizona and Las Vegas.  Laughlin, Nevada is where I discovered Southern Comfort as the perfect sipping beverage for long nights.  Working with the Hopi Indians changed my life as an earth, socially and spiritually-conscientious human being.

Age 21 – Working at the catering company, graduated from university.  It was generally a bland and boring year for me as I tried to pull my life together and understand what it meant to be an actual adult.

Age 22 – Starting to work at IBM/Celestica.  Began to believe that life = work and that work = life.  How wrong I was in that belief.

Age 23 – The year I met DM1 in person and went to my first clown convention.  Found in clowns a group of welcoming people whom I identified with.

Age 24 – The year I met DB in person and we realized that we could successfully work together despite the incredible distances between us.  Collaborations started with my forwarding ideas to him, which he would produce as comedic entertainment product for family entertainers.  One of the proudest moments of my life was when he mentioned me by name in an internationally published magazine article.  My email inbox was swamped with contacts from other entertainers and I haven’t looked back since.  I formed the band Tabasco with a fellow comedian/clown.   We performed oldies, top 40 hits and comedy originals.  Managed to make it work around my insane work schedule, however this band, particularly my partner, just added to my problems.

Age 25 – Realized that my food, drink and other issues were spiraling out of control but had no way of coping with my lack of self-esteem and issues with my sexuality.  One of the problems was my belief that my job WAS my life.  While I was in a band with a fellow clown/comedian at the time, it was unfulfilling and I saw myself going down the same road of self-destruction that he was.  I knew I had to make a drastic change in my life or else I’d be dead by 30.

Age 26 – Started working at my current employer.  One of the happiest days of my life was signing the resignation letter and leaving it on my manager’s desk.

Age 27 – On February 12 of this year, DH and I had our first date.

Age 28DM1 and I were contracted to lecture to beginner clowns at the Clowns of America International convention.  The first time I understood the combination of benefits and drawbacks of being known for performing with DB.  On October 26 of this year, DH and I had our handfasting/commitment ceremony.  I fully came out to my parents and family in December of this year.  For the most part they were understanding and accepting of the “news.”

Age 29 – On March 23 of this year I became a home owner and moved in with DH, living in Hamilton, Ontario. This city rapidly became my hometown and a place of great importance to my development as an artist and a musician.  I began working with our family doctor to clean my life up and try to turn over a new leaf.

Age 30 – The day I quit EVERYTHING cold turkey was the day after my 30th birthday.  My last beverage consumed was a bloody ceasar on my birthday.  Aside from a wine tasting in Florida and communion at church, I haven’t touched a drop since.  I haven’t looked back and feel better than ever despite the odd feeling of weakness. 

Age 31 – The year Parental Unit #2 had open heart surgery and I spent my birthday celebrating in the hospital.  It was also the year DH was diagnosed with full-blown cancer and began treatments.  He was given “two to five good years” without a transplant, however could not be placed on the transplant list until he was tumour free.

Age 32 – I put my music career on hold as DH health began to destabilize.  I began to withdraw from things and focusing on taking care of him.

Age 33 – I started the Dr. Bernstein diet and began to hate what I had let myself become.  I began to believe what the nurses and doctors at the Dr. Bernstein clinic were telling me – that I was a loser and powerless and that I needed medical help to become healthy.  In reality, it is my belief that they were harming me worse than ever and aiding and abetting my eating disorder and unhealthy attitudes towards food, exercise and life.  When I failed in their program (due to my health breaking down), I finally gave up on me and focused on DH’s health.

Age 34DH began worsening in condition as the cancer began taking over.  He had several oblation treatments (essentially electrocuting the tumours and lesions with an electrode) and one round of chemotherapy.  I don’t know what was worse, the affects of the failing organ or the affects of the treatments.  One of the toughest years of my life as I struggled with continued self-esteem issues and my ballooning weight (I am a stress eater).  I tried Weight Watchers this year but couldn’t keep things under control as the stressors built up.  He was declared cancer free and placed on the transplant list.

Age 35DH got the best Christmas present ever and underwent transplant surgery to replace the organ destroyed by cancer on December 1, 2009.  November 30th, 2009 marked the longest night of my life as I paced the hospital waiting room.  The worst day of my life to date was December 7, 2009 when I was called at work and told to come into the hospital as they were reading DH his last rights.  They had left the cardiac PIC line in too long and he had contracted a resistant staph infection.  They moved him into the ICU where they kept him cool under an air mover and packed his body in ice, while keeping him sedated heavily on a ventilator.  Needless to say I had a total meltdown.  DH was released from hospital on December 21, 2009 and has been on the mend since.  I discovered Lomography and began to rekindle my love with visual and photographic arts.

Age 36 – After much discussion, work with a counselor and my family doctor and another attempt at Weight Watchers, I made the final decision to undergo gastric bypass surgery and take control of my life through counseling, exercise and a complete revision of my lifestyle.  I continued to work with quirky film cameras and capturing images in celluloid and on paper, learning how to develop and process films on my own and also trying other ways of expressing myself visually.

Age 37 – Continuing to take control of my life and regain my health.  Part of the experience involves journaling, which rapidly becomes an exercise in songwriting and the eventual completion of a song cycle which is about to become my first recorded project in years.  Breakthrough with counseling and I finally learned that I was someone worthy of love and that I do have a voice worthy of hearing.  I also learned not to accept other people’s crap in my life and to assert myself more to prevent from being shit upon by others.  This blog posting is part and parcel of that exploration.

Age 38 – The future lays wide open.  I will be recording with DB and recording my first solo project EVER as Myke Hutchings.


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