on scary people

I think it’s finally time that I express my opinion about the clown situation happening across North America.  A lot of people know that I once worked as a clown and have studied the art of clowning for almost 30 years.  A lot of people might just think that it’s a hobby, however it’s far more than that.  I’ve worked as an entertainer since I was 13, I have performed thousands of shows in that time, entertained for people dying, people getting married and centenarians in nursing homes. The past few years (since my weight loss) I haven’t clowned as much but I still hold the art close to my heart and have taught and presented at international lectures throughout the past few year. My goal is to further the education making better clowns with new ideas and programs worldwide.

Now my opinion on what’s happening.

The current clown “thing” started with some people (mostly teenagers) dressed as clowns going up on to people’s porches and smashing pumpkins. After watching the story, at the very end the newscaster mentioned that most likely the people doing that knew the people they were messing with.

This year pranksters bumped it up a notch and the public copycats grabbed it and ran with it.

However a LOT of the reports have been proven to be either unsubstantiated for lack of evidence or outright hoaxes perpetrated by teenagers or young adults wanting attention.

This current escalation and media attention is troubling to me. As media attention grows, many legitimate professional entertainers are being harassed or outright threatened by the “dog whistle” alarms in these media reports. It frightens me that people I know and respect are now potentially being placed in danger because people are concerned for their safety against pranksters.

To a lot of people this is not a problem at all and possibly even a celebration. This is a problem, because first it’s the clowns next what?

Yesterday, a leader in the clown industry sent an email to his organization to suspend wearing makeup to any performances until further notice because of their safety. He also mentioned that any form of bullying is wrong and encourages other forms of bullying.

Clowns have been bullied for a long time. Almost every time I go out, I have somebody tell me to my face that they “hate clowns”. Now I understand that there are jobs in this world that people do that I don’t care for, however I don’t specifically walk up to them and tell them that I hate them. I keep my opinion to myself.

But honestly folks, this is pretty simple

1. If a clown approaches you with a hostile demeanor, protect yourself as you would against anybody with a hostile demeanor. Most clown training progams train clowns NOT to approach someone, however be open, friendly and approachable.

2. If you ARE a clown, consider temporarily lightening your look – use less makeup and be more “human.” I have been suspecting the days of heavy make up are ending in this country as the public is wanting less. It’s time to stop fighting that and embrace it.

3. Clowns need to learn to act as professional adults; the “clowns lives matter” is an absolute embarrassment. Clowns are not being oppressed and shot in our cars like the African-American community has been dealing with for centuries. Clowns cannot equate a few months of negative press to that experience therefore cannot and should not even try!

4. Please understand that anyone can put on a halloween mask, crappy makeup and a wig; however that really makes them a person in a costume. If someone dressed as a policeman and did this, the media and public wouldn’t say policemen were committing the acts. They would say imposters were. There’s a difference between a professional and the people now roaming the streets. They’re just sad individuals. They want people to be terrified, and unfortunately, it’s working. People that advertise as professionals are highly unlikely to be the troublemakers allegedly lurking in the woods.

5. Clowns are real people. We love people and we love kids. Most of us want to provide happy memories, and it saddens me that people running in the streets would stain the idea of what a clown should be. Professional clowns are not only trained, but the government requires them to do background checks before jobs, particularly those involving direct contact with children.

6. If you hate clowns or they scare you, that’s perfectly okay but clowns really don’t want to hear that. It doesn’t give any pleasure to somebody to hear another person tell them that they are hated and honestly it gets old FAST. Please keep your opinion to yourself and announcing it loudly to the public is kind of a douchey thing if it’s at a public event where it’s known entertainers are going to be. If your fears are affecting your ability to perform activities of daily living, perhaps you should get them checked out by professional help too, being afraid of a person wearing makeup and a costume, which essentially is their work uniform is NOT healthy or a normal psychological response…

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on questionid.

After my Dad died in November 2014, and my nervous breakdown that December, it was clear that I had pretty major work to do to get my shit together again.  After packing up my basses and other instruments and coming home from my vacation, I proceeded to throw myself fully into therapy.

I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.  When asked what the treatment options were, I proceeded with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing combined with working with cognitive behavioural therapy and for a VERY brief time, medication.  I spent a period of six months of intense self-examination and questioning my identity.

there’s a question that we must all ask ourselves one day,
and there is no easy answer.
an act of self-examination, a question demanding truth
with no correct response.

each time i ask this question, i get a different response,
each interrogation brings further confusion.
forcing me to evaluate my responses from the past;
leaving me further lost in a world of my own creation.

This last stanza is the truth.  Who I am depends on the day and how I’m feeling.  Some days I am pain.  Some days I am rage.  Some days I am love.  Some days I am fear.  Most days I am confused.

However I am not lost in a world of my own creation anymore.  That world was where I spent from age 13 to age 30, where I was medicated, often drunk and avoiding the old wounds, which continued to fester until 2010.

From 2010, the festering wounds were covered with the psychological equivalent of a flesh tone bandage…until it got ripped off over 2013 and 2014.

who am i?
no response to this simple question.
each person i ask has different opinions,
conflicting responses.
who am i?
further confusion building inside me;
every time i peer inside it changes
no simple answers.

I was discharged from EMDR after a year and discontinued my medications after a scare caused by a side effect of anti-depressants.  I am not anti-medications, however I know they don’t work for me.  I’d rather be able to think and feel, with the risk of having a meltdown every now and then, versus being a placid, potentially suicidal zombie.  This decision was made with full support of my medical professionals and with full knowledge of having to do some seriously heavy lifting as far as therapy and being real with myself.

i asked myself this question again today
and got yet another answer
i answered as truthfully as i could, cutting to the quick
leaving nothing to chance.

who am i?
no response to this simple question.
each person i ask has different opinions,
conflicting responses.
who am i?
further confusion building inside me;
every time i peer inside it changes
no simple answers.

there’s a question that i repeatedly ask myself.
and never seem to like my response.
an act of self-examination, forcing me to be true,
leaving me empty and confused.

The act of self-evaluation and forcing myself to face my reality, past experiences and history has been both horrifically challenging and frightening as well as enlightening.  As I peel away the layers, I am removing blockages that are preventing me from moving forward.  I couldn’t have written this music, I couldn’t have chosen to perform it, I couldn’t record and release table for one. and leave it open, vulnerable, to the world.

Yes, table for one. is as much a part of my therapy, recovery and healing as any of the psychological work I’ve done.  Having released it to the wider world has been both liberating and terrifying as I now have a wide open road ahead of me, free from obstruction.

who am i?
no response to this simple question.
each person i ask has different opinions,
conflicting responses.
who am i?
further confusion building inside me;
every time i peer inside it changes
no simple answers.

Yes I continue to struggle with my identity.  I continue to struggle with my ego.  I continue to wrestle with my past.  I continue to struggle with my future.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way!

on passing me by.

passing me by. was written November 2009 on Art Crawl night, while sitting at The Brain on James St. N. in Hamilton, Ontario.

the air grows chill and the days grow short,
the twilight hours are beckoning.
the animals have departed, nature’s slumber begins;
winter is the time of our reckoning.

As it was early November, the nights were growing longer and the days were growing cooler.  I was quietly watching the Art Crawl crowd, drinking my pot of coffee (The Brain serves their coffee in a 4 cup Bodum).

another year is gone –
life keeps moving on.
this year has come to an end;
time no more is a friend.

At this time, Larry’s liver cancer had progressed to the point where he was barely functioning due to the hepatic encephalopathies – essentially his liver was no longer functioning and the ammonia building up in his body was poisoning his brain.

The medication to treat hepatic encephalopathy in end stage liver failure is lactulose – a strong laxative that forces the body to purge.

I was trying to balance his ability to function cognitively with his ability to go about activities without shitting himself.

daylight fades, the sun grows wan;
the night becomes increasingly longer.
the land grows barren, fading out to white;
winter’s grasp grows stronger.

It’s pretty clear that I was beginning to feel the effects of 22 years of denial and anguish and my struggles with faith, my sexuality and my distaste for organized religion.  At the time a good friend had resurfaced in my life, now a Presbyterian Minister, and in the pulpit at the church around the corner from my house.

I’ve written about this person in the past and won’t rehash his betrayals in my life.  I love this person dearly and wish him the best but don’t have room for people who cannot set their egos aside and act in accordance with their faith.

another year is gone –
life keeps moving on.
this year has come to an end;
time no more is a friend.

my hair’s grown grey, my eyesight blurred;
my life spent setting the stage.
my body weakens, my soul grown weary
as i struggle into middle age.

Between drama in the workplace, Larry’s failing health and yes my failing health (I was topping 350 lbs by this time), I was feeling run down and tired pretty near all the time.  I was physically and emotionally spent.  The greying of my hair was progressing quicker and I was eating my stress and feelings by this time, having exchanged my alcohol and drug dependence for Doritos and diet cola.

another year is gone –
my life keeps moving on.
my year has come to an end;
time no more is my friend.

This song was the last thing I had written before Larry had his liver transplant.  It sums up my state of mind and the bleakness I felt at the time.  It’s also a good general “dull grey day” kind of song too…

on on being human.

For me, this is the hardest song from table for one. It represents a pretty ugly period for me and accurately describes how I was feeling when I was at my worst.  on being human. was written on a train ride home from Ottawa in December 2014. I had just hit rock bottom and after years of fighting PTSD and the dissociation from it, I had completely been cut off from my emotions. Even things that once brought me pleasure left me more often than not confused and wanting to withdraw further from life, I was shutting down and detached from emotions, caring and desires…

“i’m going through the motions
just to see if i still can care.
i’m going through the motions
just to see if i’m still there;
i’m just trying to be human.”

I had finally experienced a full tilt nervous breakdown and even something that came naturally to me – playing bass – stopped “working” entirely. My hands felt like they were in oven mitts and my brain stopped talking to my fingers. I was, for all intents and purposes, useless.

“i’m going through the motions
but that doesn’t make me any less real.
i’m going through the motions
but it doesn’t mean i still don’t feel;
i’m just trying to be human.”

I went home and hid from life for a few days, just trying to make sense of it all. The last little piece of what made Myke Myke was completely lost to me. I was scared and my future had pretty much hidden itself from me at that moment.

“i disconnect again.”

Until that moment, music and playing bass in particular was the one place in life I found solace, peace and joy. After Dad died, it seemed as though that was slipping away until that fateful afternoon in Ottawa when it was yanked out from under me, bowling me over in the process. I had nothing left, no husband, no music, no love. Nothing made sense except the overwhelming sense of loss, anger and nothingness.

“after years of alienation, ambivalence and fear,
i’m just trying to prove to myself that i am still here;
wanting to restore the past i have lost.
attempting to find myself again, no matter what the cost –
just trying to be human.”

And in that I failed. Miserably. If it weren’t for Michael Morin and Drake Jensen – I doubt I’d be around writing this today. Those two men saved my life – I am indebted to them and love them dearly because of their handling of my situation. They both were gentle to me, even though I failed them and others. They are still there for me when I need them and they are two of my most ardent supporters AND providers of reality checks.  I want them to be proud of me. I want to show them that I can.

“i start going through the motions
but i don’t know if i can.
i start going through the motions
because this is who i am;
just trying to be human.”

And I’m still just trying to be human. I still haven’t regained the passion to play bass yet. Even though it’s my main instrument, I still haven’t found the “love” of the instrument and ones that I was once connected to, feel little more than tools to do a job. That’s why I’ve been so heavily focused on acoustic guitar the past two years, particularly the baritone acoustic as it combines my love of the lower frequencies with a more melodic form of expression.

The baritone acoustic is the instrument you hear on this particular song. I’ve further detuned it to make it deeper and darker as a representation of where I was at the time this song was written. There’s something joyfully perverse about taking a lovely acoustic instrument and cranking it through a guitar amplifier to get some distortion which sums up how my emotions were at the time – jagged and chaotic.

I hope, one day, to reconnect with the bass. Until then they sit in my living room, out of their cases for once, waiting for the human me to pick them up and make their voices heard.