as tears go by

It is the evening of the day
I sit and watch the children play
Doing things I used to do
They think are new
I sit and watch
As tears go by

M. Jagger, K. Richards

The past week has been one of mixed emotions for me and filled with both tears of sorrow and joy.   Between the angst of DH’s health issues and helping him emotionally as best I can and the other highs (music, family) and lows (work) in my life, I’ve had a rather odd week, filled with tears both positive and negative.

My day job involves working with people who are injured and most likely in a transitional phase in their lives as they are coping with recovering from their injuries and other factors in their day-to-day lives (work, family, social adjustments).  As I am dealing with folks who have been in the system for prolonged basis, I often get folks who have long-term disabilities resulting in changes that will affect their lives and livelihoods permanently.

Due to recent policy changes and management style, we have been reviewing many of these longer-term clients and adjusting the services and support we are offering them, more often than not, denying access to services many of these clients have had for years.  This has been tough and recently the anticipated (and somewhat devastating) outcome of one such decision came to fruition last week.  The decision-maker was, of course, on vacation and I was left to pick up the pieces.

My comment on twitter was that I was sure that I had no tears left inside me; however work indeed proved me wrong!

I had recently been contacted by a musician I admire and respect regarding doing some teaching/counselling for their organization.  I don’t know how I landed in their radar, however I was honoured that they reached out to me and asked me to talk about my music and how it relates to and reflects my philosophical vision and spirituality.  The first year I was asked, I was in a rather transitional phase and felt I was not ready to take on such a leadership role, however this year I was, but am unable to due to obvious reasons.

I called this musician and asked them if I could postpone to next year and was told that the invitation is standing and open and that they hoped I would consider becoming a permanent member of their team.  Tears began to flow again – this time tears of joy to be honoured so.  I am a lucky person to have supportive folks behind me who believe in me, even when I do not.

In one of my “music listography” blog postings, I posted a list of music I felt I needed to focus on more, which apparently hit on the radar of a drummer whom I regard rather highly as it included his music.  He wrote a comment on the blog posting in question and also contacted me directly.  More tears – of excitement this time.

I had been attempting to secure a particular piece of music equipment that will allow me to record guitars and basses easily, as well as serve as a live performance tool that will allow me to travel more lightly and carry less stuff with me in general.  It arrived and in the process of playing with it over the past week, I happened upon a tone that just worked for one of the songs on table for one. that has been a sticking point for me.

Writers block overcome in this case, more tears! 

There’s still more musical news, but some of it, I can’t say at the moment, but when the time comes, it will be announced!  Finally, I had a lovely weekend visit from my brother and his family, taking them to the local farmer’s market and one of my favourite cafés for brunch and a beverage.  It was nice just getting a chance to sit and talk with them not surrounded by family at a big gathering.  It sadly just doesn’t happen all that often anymore.

DB has commented that I must be suffering from emotional whiplash these days – it’s closer to that queasy, motion sickness, feeling after being on a roller coaster or the Magic Tea Cups…

state of the union

Yeah, I’ve been quiet.  Sorry folks, just trying to keep my head above water as I tread it!

It’s been a busy week or so between coping with DH‘s health, various medical appointments and attempting on keeping myself sane between work, music and Parental Unit #2‘s 75th birthday.  Regarding my sanity, it’s been kind of tenuous as of late, but I’m coping these days.  Last Monday, for instance, was a good example where I let myself wallow in my own personal psychoses and it ended up helping me.

Monday evening, I had a meeting of the steering committee for the Hamilton Gay Men’s Chorus.  After feeding the dogs and having dinner with DH, I decided to leave the house early so I could walk and clear my head.  Noting that it was about a 7km distance, I figured I’d walk a bit and then grab the bus.  I kissed DH goodbye, put in my earbuds and began walking west.  Approximately 1 hour later, I was standing outside My Dog Joe in Westdale and kind of puzzled how I got there.

I had completely shut down.  And when I “came to” I was unable to experience emotion; everything I was experiencing was through pure logic and rational thinking.  A quick phone call to a doctor friend confirmed that I had finally gone into shock and was experiencing the effects of it.  But things were “okay” I would be back to normal after “three to five days!” 

Thankfully I had an hour before the meeting to compose myself and figure out how to pretend that I was still a functioning human being.  I apologise to fellow HGMC folks if I was distant but as per usual, it wasn’t you it was fully me!

I fully (mostly) recovered just in time for my counselling session on Friday morning.

I had hoped to have my indiegogo campaign live by now, however self-preservation takes precedence.  I am working on the video slowly but surely, however it is coming along and I’m really happy with the results.  In a week or so, things should be done and I’ll be in your faces, begging for support in the presale of table for one.

On the plus side, I’ve been able to secure a cool new piece of equipment to assist in recording at home, that will enable me to handle the guitar chores in Pro Tools a lot faster, allowing the computer’s processor to focus on recording multiple tracks instead of wicked guitar and bass tones!  I can also use this piece of gear for live work, therefore enabling me to easily recreate the tones used in table for one. on stage!

I survived Parental Unit #2‘s 75th birthday celebrations relatively intact.  DH was rather under the weather on Saturday, so he wisely decided to stay home and relax with the pups on the weekend.  I missed having him with me and also missed the dogs’ companionship at the Parental Units’ house but I managed to survive the weekend away – it helps that I pretty much slept and read for the bulk of the weekend.

So that’s pretty much myke’s lyfe over the past week in a nutshell.  Work has been hectic and busy with my having to fill in for summer vacations and other absences.  Keep on moving, keep the head down and trying to stay positive!

when the going gets tough…

The tough get busy and get shit done.

Despite the recent devastating news, it’s been a strangely productive weekend here at mykesworld.  I’ve gotten a lot of writing done both for musical projects as well as future bloggage and blatherings.  The house has never been cleaner since we moved in ten years ago and various errands have been run.

Today, I’m just out on the front porch, laptop in tow, trying to make heads and tails of the situation and determine next steps.

Yesterday was a test run recording some bass tracks using my temporary live setup.  This is temporary as I am awaiting an amazing piece of gear that will replace all but TWO of the pedals on that board, plus it will allow me to interface directly with a computer for recording in Pro Tools.  Major win all around!

The fact it doesn’t sound too bad, ghetto nature of it all, also helps.  Although soon the bass will be replaced with something a little more plush (and local) as well!  I still love my p-bass, it’s just a little limiting at times and George has crafted me a remarkable instrument that sounds very much like it with a little more chutzpah!  (And it’s my favourite colour of blue too!)

I am also working on an indiegogo campaign to finish off table for one., which will go live soon.  Please watch this space, twitter and Facebook to find out how you can help me finish off my first solo CD ever and get early access to my tuneage as well as some exclusive and cool items!  Any little bit helps folks!

I suspect things will be rather hectic around here as I try to keep my mind occupied and also work on getting shit done prior to DH‘s surgery.  There’s some ugly administrative items that need to be handled (updated power of attorney and will) as well as some serious house cleaning/purging of items that was going to occur, but will happen sooner than expected.  Nothing like a severely stressful situation to give one pause to review what is truly important to them!

Anyways, just blathering on here, thanks for your patience as I continue to reflect and work things through!

 

apparently, despite it all, mykesworld is a pretty cool place

Thanks guys!

No really!  After the last blog posting, the outpouring of concern and support has TRULY been amazing!

DH and I are still digesting the news and coming to terms with our new realities and trying to accept what life has handed us.  It’s tough and we’re still processing this, however we’ve agreed to move on and fight this battle – together.  We’ve fought it once before and triumphed, we’re going to fight this again and WIN, dammit!

His surgery is scheduled on September 19th.  Which of course, was two days before the scheduled release of the new Balderdash and Humbug Christmas CD “The 55 Days of Christmas.”  Needless to say plans have changed dramatically.  The CD is still being released, just with a whisper and not a bang.

Sorry to DB and other folks for cancelling, but thank you for your understanding – I really DO have enough on my plate right now.

To the folks whom have offered their help and support.  After going through the transplant in December 2009 and knowing what maintaining the day job, life at home and taking care of DH who will be hospitalized at least two to three weeks in Toronto, you don’t need to worry!  I WILL ASK FOLKS FOR HELP!  I have a list of names, phone numbers and email addresses with me at all times and I won’t be afraid to use it.

Thanks for your offers and continued prayers, healing energies and support!  Words cannot express folks, they really can’t!

How am I doing?  I’m going to answer this in the politest way possible.

HOW THE FUCK DO YOU THINK I’M DOING?!?

Sorry, but it’s the truth.

How is DH doing?  Pretty much the same way.  Folks, he’s as okay with this as anyone can be.  He needs his time to process and think things over and compose himself.  When he’s ready, I’ll let you know – just give him his space please!

And once again, to the well-meaning folks whom have wanted to discuss their personal views with us, I will quote an earlier posting:

“…to the folks who are casually acquainted with DH and I, I just want to give a gentle reminder that both DH and I have had histories with organized faiths with mixed and (usually) disappointing results.  We have our own beliefs and ways of coping with this stress and have reached out to people whom we know, respect and love about our spiritual and emotional needs.  We have done so as individuals and as a couple.   So, please understand I mean this out of utmost respect when I say, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO TRY TO CONVERT EITHER ONE OF US TO YOUR FAITH!  We’ll be respectful of your beliefs the moment you are respectful of ours. Using this moment of perceived crisis is just plain tactless and may result in your being pruned from our lives – just saying.

Being truly supportive of people is being supportive of who they are, including their personal beliefs.

Thank you everyone once again.  You are more than awesome and I love you all!  I’ll keep you updated here as well as continue on with my regular blatherings about the goings on in mykesworld as per usual…it’s just gonna be a bumpier ride than usual!

and then things all go to hell

I wish I wasn’t writing this, but unfortunately I am.

For those who have been following along, DH has had cancer in the past, which was “cured” or in remission after an organ transplant in November 2009.

We’ve had 2.5 good years once he recovered and we were enjoying our lives together as a couple.  He started working as a professional, real-bearded Santa Claus and is thriving based on the love and energy this work provides him.

Here comes the “but” part where I will refer to a prior blog posting for the ugly details.

Well after he was released from the hospital with a diagnosis of “possible cancerous cells” around the bile duct.  After about one month of going around in circles, we finally got the results today.

Life is indeed a motherfucker.

DB has a rare form of cancer of the bile duct.  The tumour is small and hopefully just relegated to the duct itself, however it is resting on the pancreas.  The surgeon expects it to be resectable (removable by surgery), however this will only provide a 60-75% chance of a cure.  The chances will be increased with six months of chemotherapy after the surgery.

The surgery is called a “Whipple Procedure” and in the twenty-five plus year history of the Toronto General Hospital multi-organ transplant program, three have been done.  DH‘s surgeon did all three of them. However, as more people are surviving the transplant ordeal, he’s seeing more of this problem and has three more scheduled in the near future DH is number two on the list. Number one is in the hospital with acute liver failure and jaundice and they are waiting for an operating table.

It is an eleven hour long surgery, barring complications.  They will have to reopen most of DH‘s original incision and he will be hospitalized for three weeks and out of commission for three to six months depending on how chemotherapy goes.

It is indeed scheduled, for mid to late September.  I appreciate happy thoughts, prayers, energies, etc. for particularly DH and save a little for me as well please!

This is our new reality, whether we like it or not.  It sucks, it’s unfair, but there’s little we can do about it at this point.

Fuck you cancer.  Fuck you indeed.

one step forward?

Got a call from the hospital.

They wouldn’t give any information over the phone, however DH and I are scheduled for an appointment with the surgeon next Thursday.

So not great news as they wouldn’t give any idea as to WTF is going on, but it isn’t an emergency/urgent situation.

Prayers/happy thoughts/good vibrations gratefully accepted.

i love my city but…

There was a minor shitstorm yesterday about some comments I made on twitter that some people found offensive and mocking in tone.  People were demanding an apology to what they felt were my insensitive comments about the societal woes of living and working in a city that has it’s rough edges and also has been the final resting place for the province’s poor, infirm and other folks living along the edges of society.

For folks who don’t live in Hamilton, Ontario, let’s just say that Hamilton was once a proud city with a large industrial base which provided well-paying jobs to people.  These jobs were often in heavy industries, which takes a toll on the bodies and psyches of its workers.  Traditionally, there has always been a large number of jobs for unskilled workers, so Hamilton also often became the end destination for people leaving the province’s hospital, psychiatric and prison systems to get a new start on life.  The city, particularly the ward in which I live in, has a higher than average density of halfway houses, rooming houses and group homes where people who are trying to integrate back into “normal” society are trying to eke out an existance.

However with globilization trends and the recent recession (come on folks, let’s call it what it is – a depression) industry in Hamilton has dried up and what jobs that exist for unskilled labourers tend to be unstable and extremely low paying.  Despite fewer available jobs, the provincial and Canadian governments keeps on filtering people into Hamilton, not to mention normal population growth.

So the city of Hamilton seems to have a higher than normal population of people who are on welfare, disability, worker’s compensation and pension benefits.  All of this population receive their monthly payments on the last three days of each month, so there tends to be an increase in business, social activity and traffic on those three days.

I moved into this city over ten years ago and accepted this fact.  When my employer transferred me from the head office in Toronto to our Hamilton district office, which is located right in the downtown mall, it was a mixed blessing as my daily commute suddenly went from two plus hours a day to 10-45 minutes, depending on if I walked, rode my bike or took the bus.

My comments on twitter were a message to a local police officer who is quite active on twitter and I commented on how lively his impending shift would be:

@hentor:  should be a fun cheque day for Hamilton Police – dude w/no pants smoking in front of Delta Bingo.

Indeed, there was a guy wearing only a t-shirt and flip flops, sitting with his bare ass on the filthy sidewalk in front of the bingo hall on Hamilton’s main drag!  This was followed by:

@hentor:  Cheque day in #HamOnt = never a dull moment!

The first response received was from a disability pensioner that he would, indeed be wearing pants.  To which I replied that DH was on disability and when I left him, he was wearing shorts!

However a number of people took offense to these comments and found them mocking and intolerant.  Calling me out publically and privately.  The following tweet was the nicest response I received:

“I love your tweets normally, but all the talk and retweets about cheque day read as mocking and, frankly, mean.”

It was followed up by a comment about while being on the “front lines” can be harrowing and honesty is appreciated, compassion should rule over mocking.  I replied directly to this tweet saying:

@hentor:  apologies to folks for offending but the last 3 days of the month tend to be intense & interesting for downtowners

@hentor: Sorry to folks who find my attitudes mocking, however I feel I should be able to walk my city streets without fear of being mugged/harassed

@hentor:  But for 1-3 days a month, I can’t go to the bank machine or walk to work without being asked for money, a smoke, drugs or to pay for sex…

@hentor:  So if I seem jaded and mocking, forgive me, but I can’t blame my city for this…it’s a combination of things

Stating a fact – that on welfare cheque day, there was a man wearing only a pair of flip flops and a t-shirt sitting on a particularly filthy stretch of sidewalk I wouldn’t touch with gloved hands – is NOT mocking.  It is merely stating a fact.   I’d have compassion for this person, if it weren’t for the fact that he is out there ON A MONTHLY BASIS doing something equally as questionable and anti-social.

Over the ten years I have lived, worked and played in this city, I have noticed some trends that were at first annoying but are now becoming increasingly disturbing to me:

  • For those specific 1-3 days a month, it is impossible to go to the bank machine or walk to work without being asked for money, a smoke, drugs or to pay for sex.
  • During those specific 1-3 days a month, the mall in which my office is located has to bring on increased security, remove benches and garbage cans, and the liquor store at one end has to hire private security and off-duty police to ensure that law and order is kept and no one loiters too long.
  • During those specific 1-3 days a month, littering, tagging, graffiti, petty arson (particularly on garbage day) and other property damage noticably increases.  I know of several businesses who have literally contracted industrial cleaners to clean (powerwash and scrub) their sidewalks on the second day of the month in order to clean up the mess left after.

Recently, certain events have impacted me directly.  ALL of them occurred on the 1-3 “cheque days” at the end of the month since the start of 2012:

  • I’ve been mugged for my bus pass.
  • I’ve had people ask me for money while I was AT a bank machine (there’s a law about that, however security and police never seem to be around).
  • I’ve been physically assaulted en route to work when I didn’t have a cigarette (I don’t smoke) or money to give a person.  The person who did this had a fresh tattoo, a deck of cigarettes, piercings and freshly dyed hair.  So we know what he spent his money on.
  • I’ve been puked on in the mall at work by someone who was over-served at a mall bar.
  • A person urinated in the vestibule of my office building.  One garbage can in the mall was removed as a specific homeless (possibly mentally ill) person repeatedly used it to defecate in.  Said person responded by defecating on an open staircase close to the food court and library.

Living and working in the inner city, one gets to “know” the regular denizens of the downtown core.  These people tend to congregate and chat amongst themselves and, for the most part, behave themselves.  However for the 1-3 days a month where the welfare, pension, disability, compensation cheques are distributed – I’m going to be honest with you – downtown Hamilton is a total shit show and a generally unpleasant place to be.

Increased traffic, increased loitering, more trash in the street, more drunks at the bars, people lined up outside the liquor store HOURS before it is open.  Now I know a number of these people have illnesses that may inhibit their functioning in a society, however a good amount of it seems to be due to a lack of consideration for others.  Let’s be honest, a LOT of these people are grown adults, they are subject to the same laws and regulations as everyone else and they have been through the same education system that everyone else has.

These are my personal experiences over ten years of living and working in downtown Hamilton.  I stand by them and will not apologise for my opinions stemming from them folks.  If you disagree, then I’ll support your right to disagree, but give me a good argument, don’t just say I’m wrong or the ever popular “fuck you, intolerant, classist asshole!” 

I preface my following comments with the fact that I am a benefits administrator for a social service for my provincial government.  I took this job so I can help folks who are truly in need of assistance to get them through a difficult stage in their lives.  However nothing pisses me off more than folks who are looking for a free ride or hand out.

While I believe in helping folks who DO need the help, I also can’t support folks who are in the system because it beats working and they are mired in generations of relying on society to take care of them.  I’m tired of watching the young ladies, with multiple young children, sitting and smoking outside the mall my office is in.  These ladies are there socializing before I enter the building and they are there when I leave the building.  If they aren’t there, they’re taking their kids to Tim Hortons or Mc Donalds or are up with their boyfriend du jour, making out in the rooftop garden, while their children watch.

Why aren’t they getting an education or job training with childcare support?

Unfortunately our social support systems also tend to be an “all or nothing” affair, where disabled folks either have to be entirely unable to work and on assistance or able to work period with no help.  I know of a lot of folks on disability, who are medically incapable of holding down a full-time job with benefits, but would be willing to work part time in order to help support themselves, unfortunately the system does not allow that.

When the Harris goverment came up with workfare, I was happy, as it was working to able-bodied people who were on social assistance and connecting them with jobs and appropriate training.  Unfortunately a lot of people object to this and feel that folks should be coddled.  Let’s help the folks who need it and stop protecting and babying those who misbehave, they are adults and should accept responsibility for their actions in my opinions.

Let’s have them start by cleaning up the city in which they live and showing some civic and personal pride.