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.”

dear santa.

Dear Santa,

At this time of year, I know you’re quite used to folks writing to you asking for things.  This letter will be 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.

When Larry began networking, little did I know that he would meet people who would become friends for the rest of his life.  Little did I know that many of these folks would 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.

The latest gift you have given me is the latest Santa who has asked me to be his “elf” in the way I was for Larry – supporting, helping connect him with resources and continue to serve your spirit by helping another great friend portray you.  Michael 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 – because I need to honour a promise I made to Larry.

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 have recorded and released a CD that is singularly me, I have started writing new songs that build upon while moving away from table for one.

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 and provided me strength.

Thank you, Santa, for all you have given.

Love,

myke.

P.S. I’d 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?  If he has long white hair, a beard and chubby belly – even better!

 

 

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.