Ah Christmas. Not really a time one would think too much of Eric, Stan, Kyle, Butters, and of course, 'Oh my God, they killed Kenny!' (Sorry I couldn't remember the little girl's name) One would probably also not expect the gang to show up plastered all over the window of a pub at Christmas time no less, but here they are in all their glory...so if indeed you are a South Park fan, Merry Christmas, if not just ignore those first few lines and read the damn post will you...
Christmas for me has always been a holiday I have never really enjoyed. When I was a child as there were five kids in the family, it just didn't come across as anything special in our family -to me that is.... Now I'm fairly certain my brothers and sisters will and do have differing opinions and that's all fine and good. This post though is not about that.
The Christmas season, six years ago probably not to the day yet pretty darn close, I was on or had just started the worst and the last alcoholic bender of my life. It would still be another excruciatingly long five months before I entered the treatment program that was so painfully overdue for me. This was the bender of all benders, for sure. I had always disappeared around Christmas for a week or so because I had come to despise the holiday so. It did change a bit when my daughter was born as I was trying to make the holiday special for her yet after her mother and I split up, well it did take a back seat for me again. The bender though seemed to be part and parcel with the holiday for me.
This final time was one that lasted much longer than a week this time. I am still uncertain if I was trying to kill myself or not. For all intents and purposes the entire thing, more of a blur than anything else. Thankfully so, I think. Sometimes I want to remember all the little bits and pieces just so to have the information as to why I did do what I did then, so as not to ever repeat such nonsense. Then of course I give my head a shake and realize knowing that information would do me absolutely no good whatsoever.
During this bender to end all benders, the one that did finally get me evicted from my place and leave me homeless, I drank non-stop for I believe three months. It really is a wonder to me I didn't wake up dead. Some mornings mind you, I certainly did feel that way. Waking up in 'the sobering centre' was certainly preferable to the drunk tank, yet still very disconcerting. The first time this happened I had no clue as to where I was, none. It really was frightening, to not have any idea where you are or how you got there. To have to try and sneak out without being seen because you did not where you were or how you got there or even if you were supposed to be where it was you didn't know you were? The first time of course being the worst because you were unaware there was no way you could leave this building without going through the staff first, it simply couldn't be done. Plus, they had all your stuff if you were lucky enough to have not been robbed before being brought in to 'sleep it off.' When the police drop you off here, (completely their discretion, if you're being a dick when they pick you up-yer goin' to the drunk tank!) but much the same as the tank, they take all your possessions, wallet, shoes and shoelaces, (not that you have much use for laces without the shoes) backpack that contains your booze if the police haven't already confiscated that, everything in your pockets, all your jewelry, they even took my gum.
The next thing is you get a shitty mattress (much better than the concrete bed in the tank) a thin blanket, and a crappy pillow and left to your own devices until such a time as you sober up enough to worm your way to the reception desk to meekly inquire as to where you are and how it is you got there? I believe I ended up at the sobering centre six or seven times over the course of this final three months of drinking myself stupid. Each time before I was allowed to leave I got the speech as to how to make my life better, treatment that was available, etc. All of which I knew better of course... So in reality this does relate somewhat to South Park because of the stupidity of it all...
Why am I telling you all this you may be asking yourself? Now that you've gotten this far in and have committed yourself to finish reading hopefully, I shall tell you.
Now these are much more pleasant Christmas images, don't you think? I guess the truth of the matter now is, I really do enjoy the Christmas season again. Becoming sober, that first Christmas was well, sobering. It was not a pleasant experience simply because I was in a city I hated, in a treatment centre I really did not want to be in at Christmas, but I had indeed made a commitment- to myself and no one else, that I was going to see this thing through for myself no matter how damn painful it became. Sure enough I did and the next Christmas wasn't quite so bad, then the next and the next, they got better...slowly it became something I enjoyed. I was helping others get through their own issues with the season. Whether it was because of addiction, no family to speak of, depression at the thought of the season, whatever, it didn't matter.
I choose to work through the holidays just to further this agenda. With the exception of last year (because I deserved a break) I have worked every Christmas since becoming sober. No regrets, I have been able to feed the homeless a few of those years and am now actually serving Christmas dinner this year at an old folks home here in town. A little different for me, after the last three weeks of catering a ridiculous amount of Christmas parties all over this city, I will be covering some holiday shifts for a co-worker so they in turn can spend this holiday season with their family for the first time in ten years.
Then of course, as per the norm for me-for us, I will spend some time with my little girl, that as you all know is not a girl any longer, after the holiday is done.
Some may say this is not the ideal Christmas, yet for us- it is, and to be honest, I don't think I would want it any other way.
On that note, I wish you all the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest in the New Year!!
- Everyone that lives in B.C. knows the image above. Quite obviously the Johnson Street Bridge in it's last days, just before it was shutdown and to be dismantled for good. Of course, and it is hard to see, the new bridge in all of it's splendor...close behind and still hidden to the masses completely until it's opening that was about two weeks after this shot was taken.
There has been much progress since yet this post is not about the bridges, moreover it's about what these two structures represent. The old and the new, yes. Yet the broken down and weary as compared to the rebuilding of an idea that once was. This is about recreation of one's soul from the inside out. Taking an individual that has been theoretically and literally beaten to their core for so very many years, to the point of having given up, and turning that around into a person that now and once again indeed does have a zest for life. A need to be, and a need to give love rather than simply defeat ones-self day after day for no other reason than the thought 'no one cared,' no one wanted anything to do with the individual. More so- whom the individual had become through no one else's stupidity and inability to love, but his own. Sad really, and I certainly was.
So yes, of course this post is about me and my continuing journey of sobriety. The re-creation of someone that once was so much more until the booze took a presence and a very strong presence when all was said and done. The foothold it had on my life- enormous, and the difficult decisions now being conducted by the addiction alone and nothing more. I had lost all control over my own abilities to regulate even the smallest thing in my life, all was controlled around the booze in every respect. Whatever I did, the alcohol had to be front and centre even though I did my very best to hide and disguise this from the rest of the world. Apparently I sucked at this. Who knew?
There does come a time in every addicts life where they have a sense of clarity, if only for a very short time, a sense that they need to sober up. Some accomplish this with no issues whatsoever, yet those are a only a select few. Most will continue to struggle for years on end and most will never finish what they start as the draw of that addiction is just so very strong. It is easier to give up and continue on the path that has been the majority of our adult lives. Most do unfortunately succumb to the disease.
The photo to the right is a window dressing I found at Uptown mall. At first all I saw was a wall with dried flowers attached to it as this display was quite large, then I came upon this one window and it hit me. My life has become such that I can honestly say it is beautiful. Absolutely this does have to do with how each and every one of us approach our own lives. The general consensus being along the lines of 'life is hard' or even 'life is what you make it' and those would both be true- at times. We choose how it is we live our lives through our interactions with others and our own ability to create the atmosphere in which we desire our lives to proliferate.
My life at present is 'blossoming' into something beautiful. I am not always so enamored with my life but that's simply because I have come to realize that we cannot be happy all of the damn time, It just isn't even a reasonable request when you think about it. It is about our attitude towards the way we lead our lives that can and does make it a beautiful thing. It's up to the individual perspective of their own existence. I choose to be happy, I choose to be sober now that I understand I no longer need the booze to simply be me. I am a nice person yet for so very many years I honestly believed the opposite to be true. I used the booze to disguise the person I was because I did not like that person. Problem was, I didn't even know that person and it was me all along!
In keeping with the person I am now, material possessions are unimportant, the need to be adorned with such things has become a thing of the past. Once living on the streets for a time, one does have a tendency to see things in a much clearer light after realizing just what it was that brought us to that place in our lives. For me it was the booze, it was that addiction that I refused to admit for so long until it finally slapped me across the damn face and stated, 'wake the hell up buddy- you are now homeless.' It was that simple and that complicated all at the same time. I have left myself only two choices, sobriety or death....
So here I am, four years later and about to embark on the final leg of this journey. Two books published so far, a reintegration into the industry that all but consumed me for so many years but extremely carefully this time. The final leg being a return to the place I call home- in just a few days from now. Still though unsure of what's next to come I am walking into this final leg with eyes wide open- no blinders on. It is exciting and frightening all at the same time....
I must say, there were a few sleepless nights waiting to find out if I did indeed get the apartment I fell in love with as soon as I walked in the door. The waiting was brutal and if reaffirmed some of my still need to be worked on issues. That self-confidence thing still comes back and bites me on the ass from time to time, all the while when I really had nothing to worry about.
This will be my new home, and look, I even have a market in my 'basement.' right above that market, well that's the third floor garden patio and barbecue area for the residents of the building....I think I'm gonna be quite happy here. All I need now is a cat but I think I'm going to have lots of help with that....
--Isn't this little guy/gal adorable? I can't be sure as to the sex as he/she is not mine. Quite honestly, I have looked at this shot many a time over the year I've had it in my collection and only today did I even notice there is another cat in the background. Brother, sister, or maybe even mommy- who knows for sure.
Regardless, this shall not be a post about kittens, sorry. I for all intents and purposes over the last apparently four months plus have posted nothing here! I was surprised. Although I never had the intention of posting everyday such as I used to do with the facebook page, four plus months caught me off guard a bit...in reality that's sort of the theme here. What it is that has been keeping me so very busy that I was so pre-occupied I have completely overlooked the new website for so long. This is no way to increase the traffic to said website which was indeed the idea to begin with.
Having said that, I shall now endeavor to inform the masses of my life through the last while and produce an explanation of where I have been.
But first...I know at least one person that is wondering, so here it is- yes I am still moving to the island in or around June...there was some speculation with interviews and what not at VCC, yet alas I have since been eliminated from that competition and therefore shall continue with plans for the move as before with the insightful and very much useful to future endeavors in the field- knowledge gained from those interviews.
Since My last post in mid-November (yeah I know, right) I have indeed been busying myself just trying to close up shop with the two employers I have/had- still have, shit I don't even know anymore!
I resigned from the Salvation Army a year ago in December 2016- yes you read that correctly- 2016. I am still a casual employee. As a matter of fact I am working this entire week covering another's holidays. It' nice to be needed. Something I can't say I was not all that long ago...
Yet I digress...
My last shift at St. Georges was on the 11th of March, so quite recently, and of course I have already agreed to pick-up a few shifts before I go; in April- and dependent on the move date possibly a couple of grad dinners in June too. Time will tell...
Majestic ain't she... I gotta say I am sincerely going to miss this place. I had some good times and met some wonderful people that I will also miss very much. An experience I will not soon forget.
I think just the opportunity to return to a company that I never in a million years thought I would be a part of again, for me was the ultimate learning experience. It showed me deep down that with hard work and persistence and a little luck too, we can and we do accomplish amazing things in our lives.
Quite certainly the deeper meaning here is lost on the majority, but as my recovery as a whole goes this was a monumental achievement.
I do have many people to thank for this experience, and I have...
Humbled as I have become over these last few years....
So in reality, both jobs have now come to an end as a regularly scheduled employee, just the occasional shifts here and there from this point on. Now comes the hard part, organizing the whole move across the pond.
This of course would be the Dallas Road beach. I thank you again my dear daughter for the use of the print, both here and previously many, many, a time. (No that is not me on the beach, just some random guy)
I guess the question I get asked most now by others is why? Why are you suddenly picking up and leaving? To begin with it is anything but sudden. When I first came over here the plan was three months and gone, outta here, vamoose, sianara (that's not right, I don't speak Spanish) Anyhoo...now having been close to four years in this sometimes Godforsaken place. As I write this there is someone screaming outside on the street that I can hear over the radio, across the second floor courtyard and about 100 feet down with only one window open just a crack. To me he is quite obviously out of his mind on some form of hallucinogenic, hence the screaming... I'm on the fourth floor, three suites in from the road, oh- it's 4:30 am too. This is not uncommon. this does get tiring, and yes depressing, so very, very, depressing.
Need I say more as to my decision to leave?
Probably not but I'm going to anyway. Lately my biggest gripe is being able to negotiate the sidewalks to and from the local grocery store, about three maybe four blocks, without stepping in a pile of dog shit! I am not sure why yet as of late, no one seems to picking up their poo. Every ten steps a new pile. It's horrifying, and disgusting, and just plain unnecessary.
On my way to the market yesterday i got about thirty feet from the front door and there were the police on the corner, not unusual here either, I could see feet sticking out from the side of the building on the corner so they obviously were talking to someone. Turns out there were a couple, as I walked up I watched as the man pulled a syringe out of his thigh and the woman out of the back of her hand- then threw them on the ground in front of themselves as the female officer proceeded to crush them into the sidewalk with her steel-toed boots. thus rendering them unusable again. Again, not an uncommon sight. Did I mention there is a needle exchange across the street? Uh huh, let's hope the officers at least took away their heroin...
Yet I still get asked the question, why? Funnily enough, there are so many people I now know here that see these things everyday as I do and oddly it does not seem to register with them. It's normal occurrence, "why should it bother me that people are killing themselves all around me day after day?" is the unfortunate attitude. That, in and of itself is the thing I so wish to get away from. The complacency of the people here is shocking. "This is the way things are here and there is nothing I can do to change that." That is the attitude, that is the general consensus. Deep down this bothers me to the very core that people have become so cold in their sobriety. Remembering where I live, everyone in this residence has gone through treatment here at one point. Whether or not they are using again is 'up in the air' in the residence. This is not monitored here. When this does become apparent in a resident there is an attempt to get said person help, yet if that fails- they are without doubt asked to leave.
There was an individual recently that has now been sent on his way because he again was deep into his addiction and all attempts to help have been unsuccessful. Many were made, nothing has come of it, now the man has disappeared which is common with addicts using. Personally, I know the man and he was one of the last people I ever thought would use again. But that's the disease- no one and I mean no one is immune to relapse. Nope, not even me!!
So you tell me, is it in my best interests to stay amongst this horror any longer?
I think not...
These are also not uncommon sights...
Next week, after this last stint with the Sally Ann is complete, Saturday actually I am on a ferry back to Victoria to find a new residence where I can hopefully stay for some time to come. Away from this that makes me wonder if a normal life is indeed still possible. I'm not gonna know till I try- so work shall be put on hold, publishing books shall be put on hold also. For now my focus is on me, the move my sanity and my own sense of self. Happiness is my goal. I can't achieve that any more here in this place, than I already have. I have accomplished what I came here to do and then some.
What is next for me right now is sort of an unknown but this entire journey started as a plunge into an abyss of loneliness and sadness and was just that for some time.
Having made it through the really hard stuff, my self-realization is such now that with awareness and the insight of many many an individual throughout my journey I wholeheartedly plan on success for my future at whatever I choose to become.
One tall cup of reality please...
There are many things in my life that I have some very fond memories of. There are also many events from my life that I am less than pleased with. Truthfully I do not believe myself to be alone on either one of these points. Every person has a few skeletons in their proverbial closet to be sure. Whether or not they will admit to such is something else altogether. Myself- for all intents and purposes, was left little choice in that matter when I decided it was indeed time to become a sober individual. I needed to firstly admit I had a problem and in doing this I had to take a damn good hard look into my own sense of self in order to start anew. Intrinsically a difficult and sometimes downright impossible thing to hold one's self accountable for.
Step Eight of the 'Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous' states; 'We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all', is described in this fashion from the text, 'Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions' ; 'This and the next two steps are concerned with personal relations. Learning to live with others is a fascinating adventure. Obstacles: reluctance to forgive; non-admission of wrongs to others; purposeful forgetting. Necessity of exhaustive survey of past. Deepening insight results from thoroughness. Kinds of harm done to others. Avoiding extreme judgments. Taking the objective view. Step Eight is the beginning of the end of isolation.' One could say, with the exception of the part, 'learning to live with others is a fascinating adventure', this is indeed a very tall order.
I have to admit when I first attempted Step Eight, well, let's just say I was far from thorough. This of course was brought to my attention quite quickly by my then counselor of the moment, (bless her heart) she made me realize that by no means had I accomplished the task I had set out to do if in fact I wanted it to have any long term affect and effect on the rest of my days. Needless to say, I was less than pleased with her response to my effort. I was actually somewhat angry with her, and she knew it. Yet after some soul-searching and perhaps a little bitching to myself I understood completely what it was she was trying to impress upon me.
Utter and complete honesty was the only way this was going to have any purpose. So I tried again, then ripped it up, gave it a hell of a lot more insight, thought, perspective, and then mulled it all over just a wee bit longer and what I came up with was nothing short of a freakin' novel. Well two novels to this point.
Interestingly enough, after 'Step Eight' comes- yes you guessed it- 'Step Nine' and this is where the harder part of the hard part comes into play. 'We made directs amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.' Recently I have finally had some closure with a particular person in regards to 'Step Nine' and I gotta say, it feels pretty good. Even though she held no animosity whatsoever towards me, having this bit of closure for me was monumental in this journey of mine. I really have not gone into any of this step work with the idea that having someone accept my apology would make everything all better, that all of my past indiscretions would simply be wiped away, the slate would be clean, you know forgive and forget and all of that crap. That's not the way this works.
The act of apologizing is more the admittance of a wrongdoing, in all reality what a person is trying to do is to forgive themselves. That's it. Most miss this little point. If indeed one cannot forgive oneself, one will never be able to apologize to another with any sense of completion. It just will not feel as an accomplishment of one's goals, that being forgiveness. The reality though is, that forgiveness may never come dependent upon one's particular set of circumstance. I have been very lucky in this regard.
As when we were children, we were taught collectively, if we acted in a way so as to bring harm to another, in any form, usually an improper word was all it took to hurt another's feelings, we would apologize. Simple right? Unfortunately as adults things are not quite that simple. We can and do act in ways that indeed causes harm to others. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. Addiction can be funny that way in the sense that well, one is unaware of those senses for the most part. The ease in which we can hurt others, emotionally and physically, is all too real. Generally we are oblivious to this fact from being under the influence. One of the things that can make a successful 'Step Eight' and 'Step Nine' so very difficult. That being the lack of a conscious memory because of the addiction.
In my case I have found the longer I am sober, the more memories that arise for me. Things I had completely forgotten about because of being so drunk for so very long. The kicker is trying to decide if these memories are real or perceived. Typically they are going to be real, but not always. Some of the memories I have had were simply a replay of a past event that previously held no meaning, and now returning in such vivid detail I must undergo a thorough and extensive evaluation of such memories to simply just determine their meaning before deciding whether or not anything can be done to right the wrong if there happens to be a wrong to begin with. Shit, like I didn't have enough on my mind already just trying to accept this new life of sobriety. Now I have to figure my past out at the same bloody time?
I find it comforting in these instances though to look back on those memories of the past that I do recall, such as with some of those black and white photos above. My grandfather for instance. Of him I have nothing but found memories of my youth, the time spent together at the lake with my siblings, taking turns paddling in the kayaks he made with his own two hands. The kindest man I think I have ever known. Did he ever have to apologize for anything? Yup, I'm sure he did, many times, although that gives me strength in my own quests now.
'To forgive is to forget' does not really ring true, to be forgiven is a blessing, yet we must never forget our wrongs simply to assure we never again repeat those past indiscretions......
Sobriety is hard, but the rewards are damn straight worth the effort.
The reasoning behind my motives are quite simple, what you are looking at is something I have the pleasure of seeing on a daily basis. This photo was taken behind the Salvation Army Harbour LIght Addictions Treatment facility in Vancouver. On any given day this can be seen first thing in the morning and then there are crews of former drug addicts and some still currently using addicts that roam these back alleys and clean this nonsense up. This particular picture is rather tame in contrast, typically it will be twenty to thirty plus used syringes- just outside the frame of this photo there were enough of them, most containing blood inside them to prompt me to call a service that comes and cleans this up in a safer manner than those which I have mentioned. Cherry pickers and surgical gloves, approved bio-hazard containers- the whole nine yards. The syringe in this photo is unused, the garbage strewn around here went on for twenty feet in all directions, there was quite a shindig on this particular evening. Many people got very high and apparently made a hell of a lot of noise in the alley. How do I know this? Well directly above this mess are the rooms of the clients in this treatment program. What a lovely thing for a recovering addict to see eh? So of course when feeding them breakfast the morning this picture was taken, the gossip was about the noise and the police and the arrests and the ambulances- all that had taken place in this alley the previous evening. Lovely eh?
This does beg the question- "How in the name of Christ is anyone going to recover in these conditions?" Seems next to impossible odds doesn't it...the thing is the odds of recovery are very slim to begin with, especially on the first attempt- that's just the way it is. Most addicts that enter treatment are not there because they want to be. More so with this facility, a good number of the men here are court-ordered to be here. The odds that they will stay clean when they leave are slim to none, they'll use and they will end up getting thrown back in the 'hoosegow' and the process starts all over again- until they get it- or they die. It truly is a frightening thing to watch over and over again. I have seen many people perish from this form of internal struggle. I have lost friends to this- some much closer than others, so many now I have lost count, as much as I hate to admit it- I have honestly lost count.
So why do I stay? A fair question...
I've been lucky, one of the things that has kept me sober for this long has been the sheer number of what I will refer to as, 'the atrocities of addiction' (just because I like the phrase), that I have seen during my stay in the Downtown East side. Originally I had a very hard time for a long time even going out the front door of the facility by myself. I did not want to be alone, it scared me, seriously frightened me to walk these streets any time of the day. What I was seeing I did not want to be a part of and it instilled in me a need to stay clean for fear of ending up on these streets. I truly was that close. Still scares me.
Three and half years later, I now worry these streets are having the exact opposite effect. Now I fear that I will give in and once more start to participate in those 'atrocities' all over again. This scares me even more. Just over two months ago there was an 'incident' wherein I was compelled from something I witnessed on my way to work, to ring the bell, get off the bus I was riding, and proceed to the nearest liquor store and just get completely knackered. I just wanted to forget, everything, even if only for a short time. It just didn't matter any more- I could not take the internal mental pain I have been witnessing for what seems like an eternity, it had to stop!!
Quite obviously I did not. My counselor Ashley was going to have field day with this. I saw her two days later, told her the entire scenario, and then explained what I was thinking of doing because of this whole sordid affair poking me in the ribs.
Yesterday I quit my job.
Yup the job I had worked so hard to get, returning to a company I once worked for, that I truly loved, something I thought could never ever happen, yet it did through persistence and hard work, yeah that job. I quit. Not because I disliked the job- far from it, the people are wonderful, I could do without the commute yet it does get me out of this godforsaken place I am temporarily calling a home.
It would seem this wonderful place is simply not enough any longer and the time has now come to return to to what I feel is truly my home, or what I want to become the last place I ever reside. Victoria is beckoning, and I am finally about to heed the call. Enough of the horror already. The things I have learned here are many, the people I have met are numerous also. Some I shall never forget, in both good and in bad fashion (not talking about their clothes). Some of these people I will forget quite quickly while others will be an everlasting memory. I believe very few of these individuals I shall ever see again, yet there will be a few. Honestly the time I have spent here has been invaluable yet it is the time for change and this I shall embrace wholeheartedly. New home, new job, new surroundings, the time has come for a brand new chapter to begin.....
I am excited!
There was a time in my life where I honestly thought I would become this world renowned chef, that I would own this pile of five star restaurants, all over the world, the cuisines ranging through the many many facets that the industry holds, that the world holds for that matter. Lord knows over the vast array and ridiculous amount of different cultures and cuisines I have seen over the years in the business, one would think to themselves, "well hell, there really is no reason this could not become reality." It has not. Truthfully, now- that desire has all but dried up for me.
Sure I do still work in the business, yet I no longer possess the same passion for such as I once held. I suppose it could still happen yet now if that were to be the case it would undoubtedly be from a business perspective alone and nothing more. No way at this point it would be driven by that same passion I mentioned. Fortunate or unfortunate that is my reality. In the world of today it is just not possible to survive on one's passion alone. The tendency to become bankrupt in a short period of time is just too great. So the question does nag at me, "So what now?"
The hospitality industry has been a part of my life for thirty years. I don't want to do this anymore, there are many reasons as to why this has become so. Honestly the list is freakin' endless yet so are the reasons to stay in the business. Now though it's for the paycheque and that alone that I continue. I still enjoy the work and the people especially. Diverse would be a gross understatement. My main issue is in the physicality of the profession. I'm getting older and my body just does not have the same resilience for the work as it once did. Plus, being in recovery, I no longer have the luxury of masking that pain either. It is real and it hurts. Subduing the pain- both emotional and physical by the way, is no longer an option. So again-what now?
Sure I have written two books. Yes they are selling and there are more books in the works-absolutely. A friend asked me the other day-point blank- do you believe you could make a comfortable living from this whole writing thing? Of course after pondering the query for a few moments (I did think about it for a very short time) I am not an idiot and my answer was a resounding- NO! At least not at this point anyway. This is a tough game, a really tough game. So does this mean I couldn't thrive from this in the future? Again the answer would be no. I could, but do I want to make such a drastic change in my later years in life is now the quandary.
So I guess the question now would have to be, "which is the lesser of the two evils?"
I would certainly love to just throw in the towel with the entire food-service thing, just say enough is enough and simply move on. If only it was that easy. It's not that I consider either profession 'evil', I do not. They certainly both have their own pluses and both their own minuses- no doubt.
Now that my decision has all but been made, moving back to Victoria in the new year, what shall I do when I get there is now the big conundrum. Sure it would be nice to just take six months off and think about it for an extended period of time but as with most people I do not really have that luxury. More than likely I shall return to kitchens simply because it is safe (mostly, depending on the kitchen that is). I will continue to write if only for the therapeutic value of such, but it has become so much more than that. School is also in the cards, so it's not as if I won't be busy, or even busier than I have become here in this wonderful place that has been my home for way to long.
The options really do outweigh my past alternatives. That of waking each and every day wondering where in the hell I shall acquire enough money to get myself completely blotto by day's end. No longer an option for me, although as an alternative I understand that possibility is ever present in the back of my mind. One of the reasons I have not made this move to this point is it was a scary proposition for me to return. The memories I have were not good ones initially. They kinda sucked truthfully.
As my counselor has said to me, this is the start of the next chapter in your life. This is when you can choose where that life will now head. You can do whatever you put your mind too.
"Destiny is at your doorstep......"
She didn't actually say that last line, I just made that up, but it sounds promising no? She's my counselor after all, not my personal guru or maharaji (apparently that's not how that is spelled) maharaja, that's it- which is an Indian Prince, so I don't even see how in the hell that has any relevance on the subject at hand to begin with....yet I digress.
In reality, whatever I wish to do, within the parameters of this entire recovery business, is entirely up to me. After all is said and done, it really is my destiny. A new city, a new set of circumstance, a new home for all intents and purposes, time to make some new memories, but properly this time.
Quite a title, no?
One would have you believe I am some world renowned philosopher or some damn thing from that intro wouldn't one?
'Existentialism' - is best described from the Webster's Dictionary of Current English as: noun; a theory emphasizing the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development in a meaningless world.
Having said that, well- today is welfare day. It may also be referred to as income assistance day, or cheque day or the one I have grown accustomed to while so enjoying my stay here in the glorious downtown east side of Vancouver, Mardi Gras.
Yes- believe it or not it has been nick-named Mardi Gras here. Why you ask? Simply put, because it's a bloody party down here every welfare day. An absolute blow out from all I have witnessed during the years of residence in this ungodly semblance of community.
In a place where addiction and mental health issues are rampant, that go seemingly unchecked and unfettered, where people are basically left to their own devices to deal with their monthly Government pittance with no interference, from anyone- even though so many of these people need just that. People for all intents and purposes have been utterly forgotten, left to fend for themselves on these cold damp streets, alone and unprotected from all things, whether it be a case of homelessness, or drug addiction, mental health or for to, too many; all of the above.
Perhaps this is the 'meaningless world' part of the description of the word existentialism that exists right here in front of me? Perhaps not and I have simply misinterpreted the word? Is what I see here not really happening? Am I just someone whom sees the people with the needles sticking out of their arms or ankles, sees the people wandering these streets incoherently so very high they would not you from Adam even if you were to slap them directly across the face? Am I the only person that can see this horror going on unabated day after day?
I think not...
Three and half years since my arrival here in the downtown east side would mean that I have now had the pleasure of being a part of forty-two welfare days all told. During this time, I have watched many people succumb to the almighty cheque day, and return to their drug of choice. While in the recovery program, with a myriad of counselors and other staff members watching out for their goodwill with the best of intentions, it still happens-often. Addiction is a strong and overwhelming nemesis. If in fact this can and does happen to people in treatment, that certainly does not make the odds terribly good for those living on the streets now does it.
So what does need to be done to stop this? Just last welfare day, I myself was very close to being one of those frightening statistics! With three and a half years of sobriety I was that close and honestly it scared the living bejesus out of me. Should I not be strong enough after all of this time to not have these thoughts, these urges to get just completely obliterated? One would assume so right? One can never assume ones recovery is ever going to be fool-proof.
I am sadly aware there are many people in the downtown east side that choose to be here and that do choose to live the way they are living. Day to day, living on these streets for whatever reason; wanting to be lost, wanting to forget whom and what they are or were. It is a choice yes, some people just do not wish to be found, for some it is that simple. For others though, those that are not completely aware of their own personal situation due to the mental health issues, the ones that have no idea how or where to go for help because of the 'disease'. They are but a statistic it would seem and nothing more. that is the sad reality of this place.
The 'Government' is aware, after all is said and done-they are the ones providing these cheques every month knowing full well the reality of some of these individuals. Knowing full well where this pittance they supply is going to end up.
So I re-iterate; " A theory emphasizing the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development in a meaningless world."
Is this simply a theory or is this indeed reality?
Welcome to my world.
A few years ago, perhaps a little longer than that, I had the unfortunate experience of losing everything I own due to my own misdeeds in what I had perceived as a normal existence. This included my rather sorry excuse for a home, yet it was a place I could indeed refer to as my home. If one has ever lost such they will know first hand the extent of what I felt at that time, and for some time after. To a point I still feel that way. Where I reside now I do not consider to be 'Home' per se. More a place of refuge until such a time as I can comfortably remove myself from the rather dreary, depressingly chaotic scene of this temporary residence.
To say I have had many homes over the fifty plus years I have been on the planet would be a gross understatement. Whether I could truly call them homes either once I reached the adult years is all so uncertain to me now also. They were but the place I slept- the place I kept my crap really. Most were not something I have any fond memories of. Not all-yet most.
When I came to Vancouver from Victoria, I came for a reason, and one reason only. At first. Initially the reason was to get sober, then all I wanted to do was to get the hell out of here. I mean; the reason I had moved from Vancouver in the first place was because I just did not like it here any longer for many other reasons I shall not get into. This would indeed become a novel if I did. Suffice it to say I never had any intention of coming back here, ever. Yet this is where I ended up, and this is where I needed to be, and this is where I needed to stay for as long as I have. That time, it would now seem is coming to a long awaited close.
Upon first revelation of this yet undecided decision - 'back-of-my-mind-for-a-long-time-plan' to my incredibly supportive yet quite conservatively critical counselor Ashley- after a long pause in conversation on her part, all she could say to begin with was "I see no red flags at all in your plans." "As a matter of fact it makes me very happy."
Still though, I have not made any decisions as to most of the circumstances except the fact once my lease is up, I shall be leaving the wonderful city of Vancouver, and returning to that one and really only place that I have considered to be my home since being dragged across the country while in essence I was still a child so very many years ago. That being Victoria.
This is not going to be easy, or cheap, and quite possibly this could easily become the hardest thing I have attempted since becoming sober some three and a half years ago. Funnily enough I am not worried about work, attaining work for me should not be an issue by any means now. There are many options open to me, more so than when I was a practicing alcoholic. I was always a happy drunk, and I have, as such, not 'burned any bridges' from an employment point of view. Truth be told I am also considering returning to skool upon my completion of this latest quest of mine.
Recently I filled out an application regarding my latest book for entry into, 'Emerging Local Authors Collection' at the Greater Victoria Public Library. A part of the criteria was one needed to be a resident of the lower island or had lived on the lower island during the year of publication. The last part of that last sentence, well I misread the 'during the year of publication' part. I was declined the chance- or so I thought. After a carefully worded response to my situation of the last four years of my life and the intention of my two books, I have now been accepted to this collection with the email ending- "Welcome Home Joseph." -from a woman I have never even met.
This truly put many more things into perspective for me regarding the entire move.
I'm still scared, there are still many things that need to be worked out beforehand, there will be many tearful goodbyes leading up to the day. I have met some amazing people along this journey that will be difficult to leave, yet I know they have a place in my heart and mine in theirs. My life shall once again be starting a brand new chapter, a chapter I believe I shall title- 'Home.'
So here's the thing. Marketing for all intents and purposes is a major pain in the ass. As depicted by this little girl here, most days when tackling the entire marketing paradigm, this is exactly how I feel. Mostly due to my own lack of knowledge of the entire marketing conundrum, but I guess the biggest thing for me when it comes to marketing is I have never "marketed" myself.
In the past whenever there has been marketing involved I have been working for someone else, selling another's product, and as such I have always been quite successful at it, hell remember the ole saying "I could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo? Well I could, I did for many years, Now, regardless that the phrase is no longer politically correct what with the 'Eskimo' moniker and all, you get my meaning just fine I'm sure.
So what with the being an author and all that, I am now faced with the prospect of having to do just that -sell myself- or moreover the books I have written that are indeed all about myself. I have two books published and now the prospect of getting them into what are referred to as 'Brick and Mortar' stores, I find I do need to approach owners and managers and representatives of all things bookish and give them reason to want to buy my book to sell in said stores. A daunting task for the uninitiated.
Now don't get me wrong, I know I'm a like-able enough guy and for the most part I can get along with anyone in any given situation or circumstance but the fact that I am asking others to not only firstly, give me the time of day- because they know I am selling something, yes I want their money, but I need to be able to explain myself and my product quickly and concisely so as not to take up too much of the prospective clients time and to do this with finesse and tact so as to make them want to give me their money.
Yup, I am selling myself before the books. If the client does not like me from the git go, I guarantee they ain't buyin' no stinkin' books! How does one approach such a scenario? Especially when one has suffered from very low self-esteem and self-confidence for most of their lives, is this even a possibility?
That is exactly what the books are focused on in many ways though, so how do I combine this little trinket of information into a sales pitch you ask? Trial and error has been a big part, this has definitely been a learning curve for me and I must admit that my initial attempts at this new foray into the unknown have been less than stellar. But. It has not been in the crapper either. I have had to this point limited success with the big boys, all things considered though, this is a tough game, and at present I am fairing well in my efforts at becoming the next Stephen King (in sales-not content just to point out the blatantly obvious).
I guess the good thing is I do not give up easy, that's just it, if it was easy I would not even attempt this new venture of mine. Sobriety has given the wherewithal to see this damn thing through to this point, the next move is a challenge I am certainly willing to tackle with guns blazing!
So this is the blog page, huh.
Not very exciting so far is it? I guess this may take me a bit of time to figure out where all the nooks and crannies are located and the fun and excruciatingly painful ways in which I can annoy others on what is now my very own page.
Look at me, I've got my own blog- holy crap. I have to say this is something I have been trying to set up for over a year and half through the tutelage of wordpress and bluehost....Jesus- what a freakin' nightmare that was!! I will admit I bit off more than I could chew there. My God who knew that would be so damn difficult, not I. Yet that nightmare has now come to a close, thanks to the suggestion from James at Friesen Press.
"Why don't you give Weebly a go", he says. Sure enough, I set this up yesterday and here I am actually writing a post!
James my friend- I thank you. You insight over the last year and a bit has been nothing short of amazing. My hope is we shall continue on this course for years to come with at least a few more collaborations on books.
Even though I am all too aware I have yet to even scratch the surface of what I can do with this website, hell after the wordpress fiasco, this to me is utterly astonishing I was able to set this up in such a short period of time and am actually able to publish within twenty-four hours of setting up the site.
The little fact that nobody will see this until word gets out is irrelevant at this point. All in good time right?
And look, I can even post photos and what not! This just keeps getting more exciting as I go along. I wonder if there is any way I can designate the size of the uploads I make, or if I have to go through the same process every time I want to upload a photo or if I can just put a button somewhere and it will do it for me????
I only just figured out how to place a url on the covers of my two books so you can simply click on them and it takes you to friesen press. It would be nice if I can find the Amazon icon somewhere too , but truth be told my royalties for the book are much higher through friesen...
Yup, a never ending learning process this being an author shit is.....
Well, that's all I got for now, think I'll try and figure some more of this nonsense out...