About mykesworld

musician, writer, photographer, spiritual humanist, foodie, coffee addict, neurotic.

dear santa

Dear Santa,

Once again for this time of year, I know you’re quite used to people writing to you asking for things.  My letter will be, once again, different.

I am writing to thank you for all you have done for me throughout the years.

When Larry decided to portray you, I was happy he found something to keep him busy during the months of November and December.  Little did we know that his portrayal of you would become something much deeper for both of us.  The men who portray you are often incredible people who set aside their lives to portray you, and eventually their lives are shaped by you and what you represent.  Many of Larry’s friends and mentors who don the suit of red have become good friends, mentors and spiritual advisors to me.  The men who portray you are often incredible people who set aside their lives to portray you, and eventually their lives are shaped by you and what you represent.

It never ceases to amaze me.  And those that remain in my life have been blessings to me – I am reminded of your giving nature and love in their actions.  My faith in humanity is refreshed when I am with them.

Your biggest and best gift to me was Larry being given a focus and drive.  Your next greatest gift to me are all the men who portray you who have stood behind me and supported me when my world fell apart.  You continue to give in the men who were inspired by Larry to grow their beards and don the suit of red and portray you.

At least two of these folks have been a large part of my life before you entered it and they remain a large part of my life.  They continue to support me in their actions, words, prayers and deeds and they remind me that faith can be a powerful thing when given the right intent and reason.

This year, I was finally able to make Larry’s last bequest and a promise I made to him on his deathbed a reality. This year – I gave Santa Michael Larry’s last suit, a belt buckle and various other resources to help him become you.  Michael is important to me as he kept me going when I hit rock bottom with PTSD and Depression and I am blessed and honoured to call him friend.  The only reason why I’m still walking this earth is because of him and I am indebted for his quiet love and peaceful resolve to keep me talking when my mind and heart were trying to shut down, screaming for my body to join them somehow.  I wear the semicolon on my left forearm because Michael gave me reason to stay alive.

You have given me a good friend who both portrays you but also has taken me under his wing and works with me musically.  David has been my most ardent supporter, believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.  He still does.

You have given me a number of spiritual supports and guides who are showing me that faith is a personal thing and can be balanced with my scientific mind’s desire for rationality and evidence.  Just as I believe in your existence in the hearts of the people who portray you, I believe in a higher power that exists in the hearts and minds of people who are searching for more.

You have given me the drive to keep going when everything within me fought forward motion.  I continue to make and release music that represents who I am and provides a foundation for whom I hope to become.

You have continued to keep my family in my life and I am blessed with a supportive and caring Mother and an amazing brother, sister-in-law and nieces.

So.  For once, it’s time that someone thank you for all you have given me.  Gifts that aren’t material, however gifts that have supported me, provided me strength and kept me alive.

Thank you, Santa, for all you have given.

Love,

myke.

P.S. I’d still like to ask you for one thing.  If there’s someone who is supposed to be in my life to make me happy, can you make it happen soon, or if he already is can you reveal him to me?

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questions nobody seemed to have the answer to four years later

It’s been four years and I STILL have a number of questions that have remained unanswered to date.  I’ve talked to counsellors, friends who have lost spouses, clergy and coworkers and nobody has been able to provide a succinct, pat answer to any of these.

I suspect nobody will actually ever have an answer to them but I’m going to answer them as best I can from my perspective anyways:

  1. When does it stop hurting?

    It doesn’t, it goes from being a constant pain to more of a dull ache that waxes and wanes as your emotional reserves flow.

  2. How long does the feeling of incredible loneliness last?

    Four years and counting.  Again it ebbs and flows.  However I’ve learned to take every chance I can to get out and be with people, even though the homecoming to an empty bed may hurt.  You can rejoice in what your partnered/married friends have while reflecting on where love fits in your future.

  3. When is an acceptable time to start considering “moving on”?

    Whenever you’re ready to move on.  Don’t let anybody tell you anything else dammit!

  4. When does the guilt for even thinking about moving on subside?

    It doesn’t.  You just learn to cope with it and manage your response to it better.

  5. How can I even consider the possibility of anyone to replace the one person who meant more than anything else in this world to me?

    I’ve learned that there will never be someone who replaces Larry’s place in my life.  The people who come close create their own space and position that may be close to or similar.  Sometimes they may even encroach and fill a gap where Larry once was but they will never be him.

  6. Will I find someone who is just as good as the one person who meant more than anything else in this world to me?

    That’s entirely up to me.  I’ve been close and have made some damn good friends in the process.

  7. When will my anger for losing the one person who meant more than anything else in this world subside?

    Hmm…good question.  I’m no longer angry, perhaps lost, sad and hurt are better descriptors – the anger kind of morphed into a combination of things.

  8. Am I justified in feeling this constant combination of hurt, pain, fear, anger and guilt?

    Yes and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

  9. Are people being nice to me simply because of this?  Am I being handled with kid gloves? Are they being honest with me or protecting me from some dark truth?

    Yes they are, and they are likely being dishonest with you because they don’t know how to handle the truth of your situation.  They’re the kind of people you should keep a close eye on.  You want people who are respectfully honest in your life – the kind who will tell you when you’re being unreasonable and yes, an asshole!  People who are willing to lie to you to protect you are not someone you should keep close, even if the lies make you feel better.

  10. Why are some of my friends avoiding me?  When I need them now more than ever?

    If they didn’t even try to reach out and talk through their fears, their side of losing your partner and dealing with your grief, they likely were not friends to begin with.

  11. Why can’t some people just leave me alone?

    Because people want to feel like they’re helping.  Those whom you told to leave you be for a while but were still there when you needed them are the people who care about you and understand you enough to be considered lifelong friends.

in memoriam

To those who have passed afore me
I give remembrance.
Your sacrifices, your lives, your very being
I honour.

I can only hope that my actions
allow me to
stand as tall as you once did.
Inspiring, commanding.

Your spirits live in the hearts
of those who loved you.
Your memories echo in the minds
of those whom you touched.

May your rest aeternal grant you
the peace, knowing that
future generations continue to live, to love
all because of you.

I kneel before you and pay homage.
An act of supplication and submission.
Your wisdom continues to guide me.
Your memory rests its hand on my shoulder.

Today I remember.
Tomorrow I will never forget.
Until my time comes
and I join you in spirit.

dear larry – a state of the union, four years later

Dear Larry,

Here I am four years after your passing.  I’m not sure if you’ve been following but it’s been a pretty busy year for me.

While I have a lot to feel accomplished and proud about, I still often feel I’m no further ahead than before.  I suspect this feeling of “Yeah but…what’s next?” will be continually present in my life for quite some time…but who knows?

I’m quite resolutely single.  There are special people in my life, however none of them have become someone to share my life with at this moment.  I know and feel love, but nothing even remotely close to what we had.  I’m content with that for the moment – despite the occasional pangs of almost crippling loneliness, Chloe and I are doing okay, facing the world together.

Chloe is doing well, she’s acclimatized to being an “only child” after Sunny passed and is enjoying the occasional visitor and trip to Grandmas!  She’s taking good care of me and continues to know instinctively when I need a little extra cuddle or quiet time.  Her seizures have diminished and only happen when things are really hot and she’s stressed out.

Mom’s doing okay, she’s coping with some issues with the house that Dad normally would have taken care of, but with the help of Stephen, Ivan, Jack Goldsmith and myself, I think she’s doing all right…despite the odd crowbar being thrown into plans.  Stephen, Dana and the girls are doing well – you’d be so proud of Hannah, she starts University in September and has decided to go to York.

Santa Bob is still in contact and we often chat together.  He and some of the other Santas have been a remarkable help and incredibly supportive of me as I heal, recover, learn and grow.  I suspect that Santa will be in my life in some form or another for quite some time.

After years of struggle, Bob and I finally had to call it a day with Santa Canada.  Too many people wanted to handle the visits and “glory work” but no one wanted to step up to the plate and handle the grunt work…it was a valiant effort by the Santas Bob and I but alas…

David is still my mentor, psychologist and “second dad” – it’s been a while since I’ve seen him in person, but we’re in regular contact to keep each other sane and laughing.  Doug, Dana and Mara are still amazing friends who keep me grounded and remind me that there will ALWAYS someone there “in case of emergency.”

Rev. Doug has become a great friend since you died.  His no-nonsense demeanour and solid grounding in faith is an anchor for me…you’d be so happy that Rev. Beyerl has taken me under his wing to ensure my studies that started with you have continued…I am blessed to be able to walk the fine line between Pagan and Christian.

While the Hamilton Gay Mens’ Chorus has disbanded, I still sing at St. Paul’s and my voice has grown stronger over the years.  It has helped me find my voice and strength in other areas of singing and I forever am thankful for Blair to have taken the chance on me as a singer.

I wish I could tell you how Cheryl, Melissa and the kids are doing, however they seem to be quite out of the picture and have not responded to attempts to contact them.  I guess I will now be “out of sight, out of mind.”

I suspect you know your cousin Elda has joined you on the other side of the veil and I hope you have had time to catch up and chat…

table for one. has been recorded and released.  It’s an audio document of my life while you were convalescing from cancer and then my recovery from the psychological and emotional devastation of your and Dad’s (and yes, Sunny’s) deaths.

I am happy to have it “out of me” and in the public eye and ear as it has allowed me to move on creatively.  It’s as if the stones blocking my pathway…

That being said, I’m still a basket case and unsure of what the future brings.  Work, despite being more peaceful now, seems to be up in the air and after almost 2 decades there, I am not sure of what I would desire for my future.  It’s very interesting as I know my future path is veering away from that direction but at the moment, I am unsure of where it will lead me.

Thank you for loving me when I was pretty near unlovable.  Thank you for believing in me when even I could not do so.  Thank you for picking up the broken pieces of my life and making me whole again.

I miss you.  I hope to continue to honour your memory.  I love you.

m.

expectations of privacy in public places

Over the past few days, I’ve had a series of interesting conversations with people about privacy and their rights.  Particularly with regard to having photographs or videos taken in public areas.

This is something that is interesting to me as I often work as a public figure (musician, family entertainer, clown and “cosplayer”) and control of how my public personae are presented is an important concept for me.

Rocky1

These days where everyone who has a phone has a camera and almost instant access to publishing the videos or photos they take, controlling one’s public image is becoming more and more difficult.  It has made me even more aware of how I behave and act in public and a lot of my focus when I’m “in character” is about how I am perceived.

One thing that IS clear is this:  In the modern age, if you are in a public area and dressed in what can be considered a “costume,” “getup” or “drag,” you should EXPECT to be photographed or stopped.

PEN Canada’s formal statement on photography in public places sums this issue succinctly:

“People are welcome to take pictures or film in malls, transportation centres, and the like, unless posted signs specifically prohibit it, or until they are requested to desist by a representative of the owners of the property.  In such an instance, though the owners or their representatives (such as a security guard) are within their right to request a halt to any further photographic activities, they have no legal right to force the deletion or destruction of photos that have already been taken.  The publication of these photos is a separate issue and may be affected by other applicable laws.”

Photography blog, Ambient Light, has a great guide to public photography laws which includes what one’s individual rights on privacy entail:

“You cannot photograph a person who has a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy‘. This is someone who believes that they are in a private location and no-one is watching them, such as a person in a bathroom.”

The key words here are “private location.”  On public property, like side walks and city streets.  Photographers can photograph anything that a normal person could see from public property.

In other words:  if you are in public, photographers are legally allowed to capture your image.  If you are at a public event or street fair and in some form of “costume” that makes you stand out from the crowd, you should expect to be photographed.  Yes, it would be preferable if they asked your permission, but it is not necessary for them to do so.

Where it can become an issue for you is if they use that photograph for commercial purposes.

On property that is privately owned, but open to the public, like malls, galleries, etc. Although you should ask before taking photos, if there aren’t any “no photography” signs, photos can be taken unless the photographer is told otherwise by the owner, property manager, security guard, or other representative of the owner.

This is why a number of events or conventions have recently added signs that state “cosplay does not equal consent.”  Most conventions have signs posted that state that people MUST ask for permission to take photographs of others, particularly cosplayers. With the recent boom in cosplay popularity, it became quite typical for people to “ambush” cosplayers and take pictures that were often less than flattering.  Prior to this a lack of rules around photography created the potential for cosplayers to be subject to unwanted physical contact and even abuse.

Many “adult-themed” events and locations now have a no-cameras rule to allow attendees a level of privacy.  Often only “sanctioned” photographers are allowed.

Theme parks like Disney actually have locations where one can get photographed with costumed characters.  This allows more “one-on-one” time for folks with their favourite characters and allows Disney to control the behaviour of the guests getting the pictures and video.

As someone who is often in the public eye and is acutely aware of their image, having an unflattering or even just an unwelcome photograph taken can be an annoyance, but is part and parcel of having an unusual public persona.  I have found that an unwelcome photographer can be at least paused with an “I’d prefer that you not take my picture at the moment.” (usually while the clown is setting up or eating lunch), most do pause and allow me time to compose myself for a photograph at least.

However if they do not, I cannot stop them if I am visible from public property.  If it is on private property or in a controlled access event, I can report the photographer.  If they are peering through a window or over a fence, I call the police…

Every time I step out of the house in my performance clothes, either as Myke Hutchings, musician, Rocky the Clown, or in my Steampunk clothing, I leave the house with the expectation that I will be photographed or filmed.   When Rocky used to take the GO Train into Toronto for gigs, I had a sign that read “Clown at Work” on a plunger that I stuck to the window beside me, in case I napped…there are a few cute photos of a sleepy clown floating around…

If you are presenting a public persona beyond yourself, you should expect to be photographed.  Try to be polite and gracious at all times, even if you are saying “please don’t.”

table for one. a finale.

Thanks to my friends for attending the table for one. CD release “event” on February 20, 2017. It’s been a long time coming and I’m glad to share the music that I have created with everyone. Special thanks to Shannon Munn for opening Cannon Coffee Co. especially for the event and also to Douglas Steckle for shepherding me to and from the event and helping out. Both of you are amazing!

Thanks also to Cindy Schnaithmann for making the Cannon work as a venue and making the arranging of it so easy, despite the construction the cafe is undergoing this week!

As I came down from last night’s performance, I reflected on the journey that has been the table for one. experience.

Life is a constant evolution. table for one. documents a 7 year period in life where I dealt with my husband’s cancer, his transplant surgery, and then his death, followed by my father’s death one year later and the ensuing nervous break down…the past three years have been of reflection, healing and moving forward…and the songs in the table for one. cycle reflect that.

I realized after performing certain songs that I can no longer go back into the particular headspace and “heartspace” that they represent any further. While they are my creations and I’m proud of them in their own right, sometimes they need to be set free and exist on their own…as a marker of a particular moment in time.

being human. is one such song as is patient. Both have had their chance to be shared and the emotions therein expressed but my heart, mind and spirit are just not in them any more.

I’m happy that these songs can still resonate with people and that they will listen to them and gain strength and whatever joy they from them, however they are not for me any further. These compositions and recording belong to the world at this point. I will protect and guard them, however I will not revisit them as a performer.

I’ve also been able to use the table for one. experience to reflect on the writing for a CD, recording it and releasing it as a single project/object and realized that at this point in my career, it is not a sound artistic and financial prospect.

You may have noticed my Patreon page being mentioned earlier last week. This represents the next step in my career and musician and will focus on the release of musical items as they are created. We shall chat about this at a later date.

That being said, I still have a small stock of CDs left, so if you’d like one, please let me know and we’ll work it out!

Thanks for your continued support and patience!

why i can’t just “get over it”

At age 13, I was raped by a member of my church.

The “molestation” (oh how I HATE that euphemism!) was covered up by the clergy with one well worded threat to me regarding my future.

I had my first crush at age 14 and would repeatedly punch myself in the groin when my hormonal body showed the effects of being in the presence of that person.

I started drinking at age 15 – rum and coke eased the confusion, anger and self-loathing I felt.

At age 18, I began conversion therapy in order to heal me of troubling sensations and desires that went against my Anglican upbringing. At the end of my second year, the good “Christian” counselor told me that the therapy wasn’t working and that as I was going to hell anyways, ending my life might be the best thing for me.

The government pulled the funding for the therapy because it was misguided and actually making things worse.

From 19 to 21, while attending university, I was more often than not found propping up the bar at Mr. Greenjeans in the Eaton Center. Being so close to Toronto’s gay village while attending Ryerson and denying who I was was confusing and painful – it was easier to be numb than see the handsome bears and get THOSE feelings.

At age 22, while working weekend nights at an electronics company, the company doctor provided me with a medication to help keep me awake on my night shifts while being able to attend midweek management meetings during the daytime. At the end of my shift, I needed to counteract the effects of the medications, so I turned to rye whiskey.

For two months in a row, I was employee of the month at the Jack Astor’s near my employer – I was there so often it seemed I worked there.

At age 23, I met the man of my dreams who patiently talked me through my issues as I accepted my homosexuality. I began to pick up the pieces, while medicating.

At age 26, I quit the electronics company and started at my current work. My prescription for amphetamines ran out so I medicated with coffee and bourbon to ease the withdrawal.

I continued eating as if I were on the diet pills however. I was always a husky child, portly or big – I soon ballooned to fat and morbidly obese.

My husband was diagnosed with liver cancer and had to sign a contract regarding alcohol intake before being put on the transplant list. He rarely had more than a beer with a meal so that wasn’t a problem for him.

The morning after my 30th birthday, I could not recall the two days prior and felt like shit. I vomited the contents of my stomach and a fair amount of blood.

I booked the week off work and with my husband’s help kicked EVERYTHING, dealing with the withdrawal by locking myself in the guest room and going through the physical agony.

I turned to food to ease my pain. Eating a large bag of Doritos and a 6 pack of cola if things got tough at work or I struggled with my sexuality.

Just before Christmas of my 35th year, my husband received the gift of life. After nearly dying due to an infection, he rallied and I realized that he needed me healthy to care for him.

While going for therapy to help me deal with our marital issues after the transplant, I began working on my food issues. I started by giving up sodas and lost 45lb almost immediately. I signed up for bariatric surgery and began to work with a dietitian, my doctor a psychologist and a trainer. I went from almost 400lb to the high 100’s. I’m hovering around 200 and am comfortable and happily active.

During all of this, I peeled back the layers psychologically until we got to the rape and my subsequent struggles with my sexuality. I did all of this with NO medications due to my history of chemical dependency and two suicide attempts while on anti-depressants.

At age 38, I was working for a person who had made off color comments about my husband and I, refused to let me work from an office close to the hospital where he was receiving treatment. Her reasoning was that our marriage didn’t count – when I and coworkers pressed her to clarify her statement, she began a two year campaign to make my life as miserable as possible. I had to leave the office and faced Human Resources more than once because of this individual’s attempts to impugn me.

In my 39th year, my husband succumbed to cancer after the third round. Let’s add grief counseling to my psychological treatment. After years of struggling with my faith, I found a spiritual home who accepted me for who I was – flaws and sexuality intact.

On my 40th birthday I rented a dumpster and purged the house, starting the ongoing journey to reclaim my home and establish Myke as a “me” instead of one half of a “we.”

My Dad died unexpectedly in November of that year. The minister who threatened me at age 13 was there as he passed. I tried to be strong but the cracks began forming.

One month later, after Dad’s funeral, I had a nervous breakdown and let a man I respect and admire greatly down as I couldn’t even do something that usually came to me as easily as breathing. That night, if it weren’t for Michael Morin keeping me talking, I would have killed myself – everything that made me Myke was gone.

After 27 years, at least 15 of which in some form of counseling, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Again I refused medications because I was already suicidal enough, and started Eye Movement Desensitization Retraining.

So here I am – the remains of almost 30 years spent covering up my past, trying to deny or destroy who I was.

Grief is difficult enough – losing my husband was hard, losing my Dad reopened old wounds that had temporarily scabbed over – but losing my voice and ability to express myself was devastating.

It’s been a difficult couple of years as I work through what I’ve gone through – I know it hasn’t been easy for many who are close – I hurt my brother and his family after a panic attack during Christmas 2015, I’ve made my Mom cry more than once.

But I’m trying. It doesn’t excuse my behavior and I AM trying to mitigate my anger, fear and rage.

However over 30 years of pain, confusion, rage, self-loathing and repeated attempts to medicate, cover up, change or destroy who I am isn’t something that a person can get over in a few weeks, months or perhaps years.

My mental and emotional health is a work in progress. Yes I have bad days and I wear my heart on my sleeve – after decades of bottling things or filtering them through a pill or liquor bottle…they need to be aired out and released.

So I’m working on getting over things – it may not be as quick as you and I prefer, but it is a work in progress. If you can’t handle that…get over it!