What Makes You Happy?

Uncategorized

What Makes You Happy

 

I haven’t written in a long time, part of me felt like it was maybe because I’ve been doing better. I haven’t been feeling as depressed. My life had seemingly come together, even if just the slightest. I always told myself that when hockey ended, I was going to become an author, a literary wizard; I was going to write every day now that I had a bit more time. Well, hockey’s been over for about six weeks, and I am just starting to write at 10:56PM Easter Sunday.

Sure, I’ve been busy with things in the meantime, but if anyone knows me, busy, is not an excuse. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find the means to do it. Busy doesn’t exist in my world. It’s not because I don’t ever do anything, in fact, that’s probably quite the opposite. I probably have more going on than most folk. Actually, I could almost guarantee that. I just don’t feel the need to let everyone know how I preoccupied I am. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. It makes me sick when people say they are too busy.

Why? I remember years ago, my sister tried to chat with me through Facebook, through simple Internet chat… and, I recall looking at the messages, the message read something along the lines of hey, call me when you got some time, want to know how college is going. I looked at it, thought, meh; I’ll call her later… I am busy. I never called her. And, I don’t know if I ever talked to her again. She committed suicide a couple of months after, and I’ve never been too busy since.   So when people tell me, they are too busy. It doesn’t sit well. At all.

So, to say that I haven’t been writing, because I have been doing well, or because I have been doing poorly… I don’t even know the answer. Sometimes life has a tendency to just happen, and just leave me trapped in the motions that I just can’t comprehend the appropriate emotions, and feelings.

I know that writing provides me with the single most joyous experiences of my life. So, you would think it’s easier to do so. But… for some reason, it’s been getting more difficult, and for the first time, I feel like my writing is actually good. In the past, all I did was write about how I felt. That’s it. There was no scientific method to it; there was no English specialty behind it. Simply, just how I felt. I have such a difficult time re-reading my pieces, for a variety of reasons… mainly because I feel such a huge disconnect with the person who wrote that very piece, but also because… I think it’s shit. I looked earlier, and I have posted 47 entries to GAB. This being 48. I can honestly say that 1 was of quality, Your Move Chief. So, as much gratification as writing brings me… I don’t know if it’s from the actual writing, or the feedback. As pathetic as this may be, I seek so much approval, and accreditation, from… whomever, predominantly from my mom, and from my fiancé…. It’s pathetic, if I don’t hear anything within a day or so, I am texting those two asking what they thought… It drives me crazy that I do this. But… I do. And, I can probably recap every single compliment, or piece of positive feedback I have received from my blog. There is truly nothing, and I mean NOTHING more gratifying than when I hear about people who have read my blog, and find comfort from reading. Whether, I know them or not. I spend so much time wanting to write, then I spend such little time actually writing, and I conclude with spending even more time looking for approval on my writing. From, my family… my fiancé… my best friends… my friends… strangers… When, I receive this, it’s pure happiness. Joy. Elation. You know that feeling where you just can’t wipe that smile off your face. This is the only time I’ll feel it. So you’d think I’d write more, with this being the case. But, truth is… I think I have become a bit scared. My unrelenting life standards have once again trapped me with failure. Where, I need simple accolades. However, that’s slowed down significantly. I don’t know if it’s because my writing has gotten stale, or the content has. Or maybe, I am just without the random viewers from Europe. Or, perhaps, the people who have already graciously patted my back don’t feel like they need to tell me good job every single fucking time. Though they shouldn’t. However, I feel like, unless I get that… I am failing. I want to know what every single person thinks of my writing, even if they think it’s complete crap. I just want to know… because; I think it is too, I can’t even find myself appreciative, and satisfied with my own work.

So, in getting to the point of this entry… the great folks at Mind Your Mind proposed the question, what makes you happy? I thought about it for a long, long time. There are so many things that I enjoy, so many. But, to label them as something that makes me completely happy would likely be false. I think at any point, doing makes me happy. Regardless, of what it is that I am doing. I think sometimes you can find temporary joy in that, and I do. But, I tried to really think of something that makes me truly happy. True joy. I almost couldn’t think of anything, till I thought about writing, then I thought about all of the positive feedback I have received over the two years, and the people I have been able to help, if even just to help them temporarily. This has brought me pure joy, and continues to do so. It’s the only thing that allows me to feel self-pride, and self worth. Regardless, of the success I have at work, or in coaching sports, or my daily life even. I always seem to be stuck wanting more, and eventually get a place where good just isn’t good enough. But, with writing, that’s different. Even, if I receive two notes about my latest post, to me it was a success, and it provides that feeling. That feeling where I can’t stop but smiling, even if it’s a random stranger at an arena that says, “hey, you’re the guy that writes that mental health blog” … Yes, I guess so. These are the things that keep me ticking, and continue to remind me just what it is to feel joy, and to feel good.

You just hope that somehow you can find a way to enjoy, accept and appreciate your own bravery and work. Sometimes there is just far too much pressure on writing purely for the audience, and hoping to help them find joy, and hope. I need to find my own first.

Rest easy, and rest happily Max. I hope you can still find some time to read my blog, and I hope that you’ve found true joy.   I know you and Jen are hanging out as we speak. Listening to music, watching over us, and laughing at us.

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Summer Road Trip Chapter II – Anaheim & Catalina

Anaheim, Calgary, Facebook, San Fran, Travel, Uncategorized

The Route

Calgary – Kennewick

Kennewick – Redding

Redding – San Francisco

San Francisco – Anaheim

The Stay: 3 Nights

The Nest: Hotel Indigo

The Miles: SF – Anaheim: 656 Kilometres / 2,730 Kilometres Approx

Anaheim/Newport/Catalina Island

Last time I was in Anaheim, I was in grade six when my grandparents took my sister and I to visit Disneyland. This is still today, one of my favorite memories with my family, and with Jen especially.   There are many times from that trip, that I can still recall so vividly that it’s as if it were just recent. The highlight of the trip then was going down Splash Mountain a total of ten times throughout our days at Disneyland. When I was there, I don’t recall a tonne of lineups for rides. I was really excited to head back to Anaheim. To me, it’s just such a beautiful, chill place… and of course, I have some of my fondest memories there.  Couldn’t wait to begin a new journey there with Amanda who had never been.

Day 1

Anaheim was one of the few destinations, where we actually had plans, with the baseball game that evening, and then Disneyland the following day, and our final day was a trip to Catalina Island. Day 1 comprised mostly of driving, as left SF in the early AM, then sat on the freeway in LA for another chunk of the day.  We eventually arrived at our hotel around 3:30, and almost then almost fought to the death over who got to pee first.  Once we settled that out, we settled in.  Our hotel was absolutely magnificent.  Top 5 hotels I have ever been too, no question, and location was excellent.

Several hours later Amanda was finally ready, and we were able to leave.  Part of what made our hotel so great was the location.  20 steps from a California Pizza Kitchen, and a PF Changs.  Two of my favorite Murican’ establishments.  After our fantastic meal at CPK, we were off to the Angels game.  The easy highlight of the trip for me, no question.  I hadn’t been to a baseball game since I was in SoCal last when I was 12 or so, we went to an Arizona v. SD Padres game.  So I was once again like a little kid.  A lost squirrel, if you will, completely overwhelmed.  The stadium was amazing, the beer was huge, cold and well priced, there were cool team stores everywhere. It was just cool. I probably ended up having a few more of those massive beers than I should have, but, it was great. I could have spent the whole week going to ball games. I wanted to sit in every different section possible.  Oh ya, and they gave us these wicked beach bags. Which we used every day on our holiday.  So really, this game made the trip.  We wouldn’t have had those bags otherwise.  

Day 2

The thing I hate most about holidays… is sleeping on them.  I can’t, I find it to be such a waste of time, so I am always up very early, and ready to go right away.  This I think is Amanda’s favorite travel habit of mine! There is just so much to always see, do, read about that you can’t do in your sleep!  Well, again, several hours later Amanda was finally ready, and we walked to disneyland.  I was a kid yesterday at the ball game, now it was Amanda’s turn to be a kid at Disneyland.  She was prettttttty excited, it was actually cool to see.  It was her first time in Disneyland, and I’m happy to be the one to have took her.  However, as ecstatic as she was walking up too and through the gates of Disneyland, the excitement vanished quickly.  Only a couple rides in.  We went on the Star Tours ride, which is a 3D simulator ride, that’s pretty rough, though pretty cool but a lot of people left the “Star Tour” feeling a little queasy.  Then we took advantage of our fast pass to Space Mountain.  I remember Space Mountain being this cool glow in the dark like roller coaster.  Well, I thought they must have changed it, because it wasn’t glow in the dark.  It was a pitch black roller coaster, and terrifying.  This roller coaster is flying, curling, twisting, flipping… In the complete black.  You couldn’t see a thing.  People were turning on their flashlights on their phones so they could see.  At the end of the ride, we just stopped.  The whole thing just kind of shut down for about 10 minutes, with the speaker coming on in a star trooper voice telling us to be patient blah blah.  Finally we got back into the dock, and got the hell out of there.  I have no idea still what happened, but something wasn’t right.  The ride shut down later that night.   After our bad experience on Star Tours, and then another on Space Mountain.  We weren’t really having it.  I was feeling a little off, and Amanda was feeling downright sick.  So we took a break, departed “Tommorowland” and had lunch.  

It took us awhile, but finally we were ready to go again and enjoy Disneyland, or try.  We just needed to get out of the “Tomorrowland” town. The rest was great, besides how fricking busy the whole place was. It was crazy, especially on a Wednesday; I was convinced it wouldn’t be too bad. Hahahah! Wrong. The one thing I remember about DL last time, was that oftentimes we just walked right up to the ride and got on, then got off, and walked back up and went again. If I recall, we had a 3 day pass, but I think we did every ride a few times each. Including Splash ten times, and Space Mountain a few times too… with lights on.  This was not the case this time, I think the shortest wait time we had in a line was probably 30 minutes without a fast pass, and the longest probably about an hour, even with fast passes, there were times we still waited 20 minutes or so to get on the ride. It was CRAY! We had to be pretty selective of what we wanted to do as an hour would go by, and we’d only get one thing done, by the time you wait, do the ride, and exit. Then, we’d usually have to find a washroom to pee, or get ice cream, or a pretzel or whatever other snacks. The ride I was waiting for all day was Splash Mountain, and of course the wait time for this was two hours, and I wasn’t doing that so we had to save it to the end before we left around 9:30. It was just as cool as I remember.

Day 3

Another early day, having to be at the Newport Catalina ferry terminal to board by 8:30am.  We predicted the traffic terribly, and arrived at the ferry around 8:50, then had a battle parking, so I parked in the only lot I could find, a two hour lot. Our ferry returned to Newport at 5:45, so two hours should…umm… cover it? The ship left at 9:00am.  By the time my parking war ended, I got to the boat at … ahh about 8:58pm.  Rumor has it, Amanda wasn’t thrilled with me.   After I harassed Amanda about getting sick on the kids ride, she got her revenge on me en route to Catalina as I barely stomached it. Along with the rest of the ship.  Though, in the beginning it was a beautiful trip, we saw many dolphins jumping in and out of the water, along with a few whales.  The dolphins was cool, I had never seen a dolphin before, so to see 15-20 of them alongside our boat was quite fascinating.  The rest of our time on the ship after that however… was horrible.   

Finally, we docked in Catalina, and I couldn’t be happier, I tried to hide from Amanda that I barely survived that, but, she knew right away. Might have been my ghostlike complexion. Not sure. Anyway, we went to this restaurant a couple on the boat had recommended, and it was great. Largest menu I have seen and fantastic food.  Well priced too which was a new thing for us on this trip.  

Catalina was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t even know it was a real place, I just thought it was a fictional land from Step Brothers. But, it was certainly real, and stunning. We walked along the beach for a bit, checked out some cool shops, then parked it on the beach, where I had a exceptional nap. Unfortunately, we only had the day there, and had to board the ship again at 4:30 and set sail home. I was terrified of going on this again, and thought I was going to vomit foresure. I changed our seating arrangement and sat outside, on the top and told myself the fresh air would help me. It did, the ride back seemed much, much better.   We arrived back in Newport around 6:00, and headed back to Anaheim for dinner at PF Changs, and then called it a day, and a trip to Anaheim as we’d leave to LA/El Segundo via Laguna Beach in the AM.

Final Synopsis

I absolutely love(d) Anaheim, and area. I would go back anytime, and for any length of time. There are so many beautiful areas all around. If I were to go back, I think I would probably go back without a trip to Disneyland, I think as an adult, it’s cool for a day, but the crowds of people were enough for me to be satisfied with going once as an adult.  Though, I’d maybe try California Adventure Park.  

If you’re going…

  1. If you haven’t done Disneyland, of course go for a day, but before you get too far… Create a plan of action.  Commit to lineups.  
  2. Absolutely go to an Angels game. No question.
  3. Catalina is also a must. I think it was $60 per person on the boat, and it’s awesome. Despite the hour to get there.
  4. Take a day for Newport Beach area, and as well Laguna

Next Time

  1. I’d certainly spend a few nights in the Laguna/Newport Area
  2. Go to more Angels games!
  3. Rest & Relax.
  4. More time at the beaches

And thats Chapter II on our journey!  After Anaheim, we detoured through Laguna Beach and headed towards LA.  I’ll have that for you soon! 

– B

Summer Road Trip Chapter 1: San Francisco

Calgary, Facebook, Mozilla Firefox, San Fran, Travel, Twitter, Uncategorized, YYC

The Route

Calgary – Kennewick

Kennewick – Redding

Redding – San Francisco

The Stay: 3 Nights

The Nest: Hotel G – Downtown off Geary Street.

The Miles: Approx 2,072 Kilometres

San Francisco

Day 1

San Francisco has always been one of those cities on my travelling bucket list, having never been there before.  So it was a must visit for us when we began planning our trip in the winter.  

It was our first “real” stop of our trip, after staying a night in Kennewick, and Redding as a checkstop. 2,000+ kilometres later, and 20 hours later.  We had arrived at Hotel G.  Checked in. Left the truck for valet, for an excruciating $65/night.  We made it.  

The beauty and the beast with our holidays is we don’t really plan any activities, other than a few ideas of places we’d like to go, and things we’d like to check out. This works for us, because we’re more relaxed, not stressed out, rushing to get to somewhere.  You just kinda go. It also works because you get to see lots of things you otherwise would maybe miss if you had more structure. And, I hate structure.  It makes no sense.  

So, we walked. With a little handheld map, and a brochure from our hotel suggesting things to do.  We decided to head to the ferry building on the water, and check out the “Hidden Gem” of San Fran. The beast with not having any plans, or structure is often times transportation. We have no idea really where we are going or how to get there, and sometimes this can be a battle, and often turns out to be the only fight Amanda and I ever have.  San Fran has a pretty intensive transit system, with buses, trains, trolley cars and well…  everything but a flying karpet basically. And they call this the BART, the flying BART. – Bay Area Rapid Transit.   We knew where we had to go, but no idea how to get there. So I hopped on the first trolley car I saw. Apparently these things have designated stop, and pick up zones. Well, I am from Calgary so I didn’t know. I hopped on it, then hopped off it the next street when I didn’t think we were going in the right direction. The driver on the trolley car didn’t like my method, and let me know. So as he drove away after I had jumped off, I had to run back to get on. It was cool. I felt like an episode of full house, or one of those chick flick movies where the guy comes running after his girl on the trolley car.  

Anyway, we luckily… actually accidentally found ourselves at a BART Hub (I think) And, we figured out the train system well enough to get us towards the ferry building.  Well, it wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be. And, the map I had told me AT & T Park was right around the corner, which I was way more excited about.  So, we stopped for supper on the water at this pretty restaurant that ended up just being far to hoity toity for me and if anyone knows me well enough, you know I get extreme anxiety at these places, stressed out and I hate them. Well, this happened. And, in turn, I get grumpy, irritable and very uncomfortable.   After this odd meal, I convinced Amanda to let me walk over to the ball diamond. It was awesome.  I was like a lost squirrel. I thought everything was so cool, and I took 500 hundred pictures, and proceeded to just take off, leaving Amanda in the dust…  Not my fault, she couldn’t keep up, there was so much to see! I looked back at one point, and pretty sure I saw her taking a selfie with a statue of a seal…  Apparently she asked me to take the picture but I was marveling at McCoveys Cove.   We then stopped at the pub at the park, and enjoyed a couple drinks and a snack. Amanda had some kind of pretzel, while I had a chocolate sundae with popcorn in it. It was again, cool. Then, we just aimlessly walked back in the direction we thought was our hotel. It was. Thankfully, and that was Day 1. Awesome. I still hate the Giants.  Go Cards.  

Day 2

Again, no plans, other than to sleep in and get some rest. So I woke up at 6:50am, and said LETS GO!, LETS GO!!! …  So we did. Once Amanda was ready, seemingly forever later. The San Fran AM routine began – Walk to starbucks, get a ham and swiss with a coffee. The weather wasn’t great, so we spent a bit of the morning in the mall wondering around my favorite place – Nordstroms. I found absolutely nothing, except an adult male reading the paper while an older fella who could hardly stand shined his shoes. And, this outraged me. Are you that special you can’t shine your own boots pal? Seriously. This was the only highlight of the AM.

Then we went back to Amandas favorite place, the BART, headed to the wharf, and then we walked, and walked. Along the wharf, we stopped at this little seafood joint right on the pier. Committed to trying seafood in San Fran, we shared a Dungeness crab. Yes. An entire crab. Typically Amanda is the world’s slowest eater, while I am the opposite. Well, I have never had a full crab placed in front of me so this thing took me about 90 minutes to crack up, dig out, and eat. While she sat there staring at me for half of that time as if she were a seasoned … Crab Meat Picker? I don’t know? But, it was fantastic. One of the better meals I have ever had. Full Crab – Crushed. Onto the next place, again no idea where that was going to be. We would just stop at something that looked sweet. So. Pier 39 it was. What a zoo! Here I thought this was like one little pier with a few stores and shops. Nope. This damn thing I swear had us halfway to Maui. It went on forever, and had the entire population of Hawaii, Japan and Texas on it.

We checked out some different shops, walked around, and just took in the experience. It was cool, except the lineups to piss. Not cool, and with this bladder, really not cool. While we were travelling to San Fran, I decided I was finally going to get the next tattoo I wanted, just a quick walk in would suffice. I wanted to go somewhere in Hollywood and get it done, but we came across this real cool place on the pier that was rated phenomenally and a hot spot for the SF Giants. So, of course. I had to.  If it’s good enough for the Kung Fu Panda… Good enough for me!  That ate up a huge chunk of our day, getting seven letters tattooed on my bicep. Amanda of course, completely supportive and waiting patientally the entire time.  This is one of a million reasons why I can’t wait to call her my wife. She is the only person I know who would patiently wait around for three hours while this happens, and not snicker once. Not once.  I couldn’t. After the tattoo, we just walked some more, went to a few more little restaurants for snacks and drinks, then we found the Rainforest Café… Which I had to drag Amanda into, promising her it would be cool. Well, forty minutes later, and I think about hundred dollars later, I had a hell of a time trying to get her out of there. Finally, I got her out of the kids restaurant and we went for a quick wine tasting, then waiting in the cable car line for the rest of the night, and hopped on that to call it a day, and evening.  By the way… I get that this is a tourist attraction for San Fran. But, they need to retire these things. They take forever, and are complete POS. Get rid of them.

Day 3

If you’re still reading this, thank you, and I apologize for your boredom.  

I have acquired this new liking to wine, thanks to a trip to Penticton with the fellas. So we decided we wanted to do a wine tour. You can go on actual tours that would take you through four or so wineries, but it would take all day, and cost a bunch. So instead… Of course. We did our own wine tour. Asked a few locals where to go, got suggestions, and we set off across the Golden Gate – Which was another extreme anxiety moment for me. It’s got to be one of the most fascinating structures on earth, no doubt… But, it doubles as the saddest, and I had a hard time going across it. Anyway.  We headed towards Sonoma Valley to check out some wineries, once in the Sonoma/Napa area, there were wineries, after wineries, after wineries. We checked out one right away, that was awesome – Viansa, and then drove around for hours just marveling at the fields, and trying to find the next one to go to. We headed into the Sonoma town, did some tasting there, had lunch and then went to the Sebastini winery, which is one of the oldest ones in the country, and probably one of the most profitable, if not the. So we did the tour as well, which was interesting, and had some tastings, of predominantly reds, which were all terrible and tasted like smoke. I hate red. Day 3 ended with us driving around some more, and some silence because we briefly got lost, so I got mad… But, we found our way to Golden Gate Park, enjoyed dinner and then called it another night, and a final chapter on our San Francisco journey.

Final Synopsis

Yes. I have pages reviewing what we did, and then a final review of it. I liked San Fran, it was really cool, much different than what I was expecting.  Though as cool as it were, I was perfectly content with leaving after the 3 days, I felt like we did a tonne, and almost everything I wanted to do except a Giants game, as they were out of town.  Not sure if there was much else in SF I would have wanted to do.  I enjoyed how unique the city was, everywhere you walked there was something to check out.

Things I didn’t like, it was very expensive, and at times seemed a little too intense for me. For example, driving home from the winery, as we were getting on the golden gate, I was going 105 KM, which was equilvalent to just over the speed limit where we were, and this vehicle two back was wailing on her horn, I had no idea it was to me, but when she eventually passed me in the other lane going mach II, she let me know it was me that was fucking up apparently. This still rattles me, and I think I got honked at a few more times, and even walking down the street, everyone hammers on their horn at other drivers.  I also didn’t find the people there the most friendly of sort, not that they were blatantly rude, they just weren’t as friendly as some other people in different places I’ve visited.  

I would go back to San Fran, but it wouldn’t be before I went to about ten other cities first, and I don’t think I would stay for too long. I’ll give it a B. I think I’d get bored if I had to stay there much longer, or I’d be broke.  

If you’re going…  

  1. If you like sports, go to AT & T Park, even if the Giants aren’t playing.
  2. Do the fishermans wharf walk, plan a whole day for this. Eat small at a few different places – end it with the sourdough clam chowder.
  3. Skip the expensive, exhausting winery tours. Do your own. Take some time and do the research, check with local people in the bar/wine business about good wineries, then just go on your own, and at your own pace.
  4. Cable Cars are stupid. Don’t waste your time.
  5. Oh, and don’t drive too slow!!! 

Next Time

  1. I wouldn’t go to SF again, unless the Giants were playing.
  2. I’m a bit of a geek, but, I’d like to check out the twitter offices, then zip to San Jose/Palo Alto area and check out Facebook, Apple and Google always interested in those sorts of things. Much to Amanda’s dismay.  
  3. Not screw up the Alcatraz tickets….  
  4. Save more money

That’s my wrap on our journey through San Francisco.  I’ll try to do a recap on each place we visited, I promise they won’t be as long as this one, will post Anaheim tomorrow!  

– B 

Starting Over – My First Christmas

Uncategorized

Starting Over – My First Christmas

A lot has gone since we last spoke on this blog, Amanda and I moved out of Discovery Ridge early in December and into a brand new house in Mahogany.  We’ve been here a few weeks now, and are slowly beginning to get settled in, we have a few more boxes of I don’t even know what left to sort through, but we’ll get there.  The home is beautiful, I couldn’t be happier with it.  We have a lot of work to do in the spring with the yard, a deck and a fence but I am looking forward to all of that.  One of my favorite things about the new house is the office space/2nd spare bedroom upstairs, it’s the one space in the home I am allowed full control of, and I love it!  For those who have read this blog in the past, you know that writing for me is sort of like a ritual, I need music, I need dim lights, I need incense, I need a lot of stars to align to be creative. In a one-bedroom condo, it was difficult to do all of that without being a nuance to someone else.  Now, with the extra space, I am able to get away and do my writing pow-wow more often.  It sounds stupid, but the new home has been much more conducive to my writing.      …I hope I just used that word properly; “conducive” has become my favorite word lately.  My mom will let me know if I used that incorrectly I am sure, haha.

I hope everyone is prepared, and excited for the holidays coming up in a couple of days.  I am a little bit of everything, excited, scared, nervous, sad, the whole works… once again.  Springtime, leading up to the anniversary of Jen’s passing, and December are usually the hardest times of the year for myself, and my family.  This will be our sixth Christmas, and New Year’s without her, and it will be my first real Christmas without Jen.  Scratch that.  Now that I write it out.  I’m petrified.  The year Jen passed away, my mom, Brody and I set out to Cuba last minute, I believe we left Christmas day.  It was the best thing we could have done, cause I didn’t have to see Christmas really at all.  We flew home on New Years day.  Again, it was great cause I didn’t have to see traditional new years back at home.  Years since I’ve been in Hawaii, with Amanda and her family, and last year with both of ours.   That was also great, because you were completely distracted from the holidays here at home.  If we flew out on Xmas day, Terrific, I missed it all again.  If we didn’t, well, it wasn’t as bad cause you were usually so busy preparing for a 2-week trip to Hawaii that you didn’t really notice it as much.  And, in Hawaii, sure we still celebrated Christmas, we had dinner, exchanged gifts, said Merry Christmas.  But we did so in our shorts and flip flops, in 28 degree weather, at a Hawaiian pub.  It wasn’t real.  The people around were doing the same thing, nothing really changed.  It was wake up, coffee, newspaper, breakfast, and beach and then onto some activity, everyone did the same thing there, you never really saw Christmas, so to me it wasn’t really Christmas, it didn’t feel like it at all, new years the same thing.  I was able to avoid it, year after year, and I truly felt as I woke up on January 3rd, or 4th, after the dust had settled, I felt like I had won.  I beat the holidays.  The 3-4 weeks before the holidays, just like the 3-4 weeks before May 7th, you work yourself up so much wondering what it’s going to be like, that you almost psyche yourself out, and that becomes the most difficult part.  When it’s over, and you’re still breathing, you’re still alive… you feel like you’ve won, like you just beat someone in a battle that took nearly a month.  You came out on top.  Christmas and New Years has always been the same thing, Usually around Jan. 3, Jan 4 once it’s all done, I don’t feel like I have to hide from the holidays anymore, I realize that I survived, and maybe, just maybe it wasn’t all that bad.  I feel completely victorious, as you would after winning an exhausting battle, even though the battle is with yourself.

Amanda always calls me the Grinch, jokingly because I am so anti-holidays.  The truth is, I do hate them.  Absolutely.  You would too.  You would hate any time of the year that is as difficult for me as the Christmas holidays, and the spring.  We used to always spend every Christmas together, whether in Victoria, or Vegreville.  Our families would be together, and it was awesome.  Christmas was always one of the few times a year I would be able to see my sister when she lived in Victoria.  I looked forward to Christmas so much.  I can remember our last Christmas break together vividly.  We were going to Joey’s in Sherwood Park for dinner, my mom, my brother, Jen, Abbey and myself.  We were meeting my aunt and uncle for dinner.  I can remember the entire drive to Sherwood Park, I remember the conversations, I remember what everyone was wearing, I remember the weather, I even remember the damn road conditions, I remember bits and pieces of the dinner conversation.  I remember exactly where we sat in Joey’s.  The exact table, and I remember where everyone sat.  What I don’t remember, was really ever saying Happy Holidays to anyone, or saying goodbye to my sister.  I had no idea that would be our last Christmas, I had no idea that would be the last time I would ever have the opportunity to hug my sister.  I had no idea.  It was.  I’ll never go to that Joey’s again.

This is why I hate the holidays.  I’m afraid of them, I want to skip them all together, if not at the very least completely avoid them.  As I mentioned before, I’ve done a bang up job of doing the latter.  But, this year… There is no escaping.  I am here.  I am stuck, I have nowhere to go, I have nothing to distract myself.  I am going to have to finally face the holidays, and it’s already been a struggle.  I can tell since the beginning of December, I’ve just started to become a bit more stand-offish, I’ve been distant, I’ve been tired, not really motivated.  Just feel like you’re in a complete slump.  And it’s not really helping a whole lot at home when we have a tall task of moving going on.  There have been days where I’ve just come home, and I’ve been completely content sitting on the couch with the hockey game on, and doing nothing, saying nothing.  I’m just completely lost in myself, the hockey game is on, but I’m not even watching it.  I want too.  And, I want to help unpack, or organize things, but I just for whatever reason.  I can’t.  A serious case of the holidays blue’s, if you will… I guess.

A few times I’ve drove to work, or to hockey, or to wherever, and I can see Christmas tree’s in the windows of homes, or families building snowmen, or Christmas decorations.  Usually, I’d think that this should make a person happy, excited, or at the least feel good.  For me, it’s as difficult as can be.  Right away I have flashbacks to our Christmas’ together, whether it’s dinner at Joey’s, or we’re all sitting around the tree in Victoria.  Then, I think ahead to what will happen in a week when I am still here, and It’s Christmas, how the hell is that going to go.  Probably not well.  Then, I begin to psyche myself out all over again.

This is why I hate Christmas, Amanda is right.  It’s not because I just don’t like it, it’s because it’s an extremely devastating time of year.  It’s just… hard.

I’ve been thinking for the last month, what the hell am I going to do when the clock strikes 12, and its December 25th.  Now what.  I thought, well, I’ll go somewhere; I’ll go for a drive.  Nope, I can’t do that, because I’ll see it.  I’ll see Christmas, I’ll see families enjoying it, as they damn well should, I just can’t anymore.   I thought, maybe I’ll just hang out, and just write all day, and watch movies, but then I thought nope, I can’t do that cause I’ll put myself right back into that slumping feeling where I am incapable of doing anything else.  I thought, well, I’ll just sleep, I’ll just play xBox, I’ll go skate at the outdoor rink… I have no fucking idea.  I have no idea what I am going to do.  I thought maybe, I’d drive to Vegreville for the day, and just spend the day with my family there… But, nope, that’s far away.  Really, I just tried to avoid Christmas with the family because of 350 Kms?  … This is how far I am starting to go to try and avoid the whole thing.  I don’t want to leave Amanda at home by herself all day on Xmas day, and I certainly don’t think I want the hoopla of Christmas.

I don’t want to take Christmas away from anyone else.  I believe it’s something every family should celebrate if you can, like I said, it was my favorite time of the year. I’ve just lost that now, and I try myself to keep it all to myself without effecting those around me, in my “Grinch” ways.  Like, Amanda for instance.  She loves Christmas, and I want her too.  She want’s to do the gifts, and the decorations, and everything else, which I great but I just don’t.   But, I keep it to myself.

So this year, Christmas for us will be on Boxing day.  We are going to celebrate it, just a day late.  I laughed at that kind of, thought that’s Jen’s way of compromising with me.  Telling me, Kid, you gotta go through this, but I’ll throw you a bone.  Do it on boxing day, not Christmas day.  Have Christmas Day at your own pace.  I don’t know if it’s her compromising with me, or having a laugh, but either way… I am hoping it helps.

On Boxing Day, my mom, niece, and my mom’s boyfriend Alan will come over for dinner, gifts, and… Christmas.  As too will my good friend Geoff, who has been through it all with me from day one of this year never ending grieving process.  I have to admit, In a weird way,  I am kind of looking forward to it.  I am looking forward to Jan 3 more than anything else, and the days to come after.  This entire blog, I shared with my counsellor, told her why Christmas is so difficult.  She mentioned that maybe this is one of the last steps in my grieving process, and the last barricade of an extremely challenging year.   Christmas was always such a special time for me, then I lost that, then I avoided every one of them.  Now this year, I have nowhere to go, but I’ve had all the years in-between to grieve, and to prepare.  I can’t hide from Christmas forever, so maybe this year, is the year I go through it, and I become victorious on Jan 3 when it’s all over, and from there it’s uphill, Christmas is the last thing I need to conquer.

Maybe I am just being too much of an optimist these days… but this year has not really been conducive to my life.

Bring it on holidays, I guess.

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 I wrote this entry about 10 days ago as I was boarding my flight home from Hawaii, It took me awhile to post, but I have finally settled back into my routine at home, and here it is for you to read if you wish!   

 Sitting here, in one those gimmick-y massage chairs that you find in the malls, and airports.  Except, the difference is.  I am sitting in this chair because it remains larger than those plastic chairs in this airport, and without my last american dollar bill, it is still leather.  However, I will not waste my last american dollar on a 3 minute massage that will likely ruin my back within seconds.  So, I will sit here, and allow the thing to blink at me, and tell me to put money into as long as I feel comfortable, and sane. Fortunately there is only 3 people within my visibility of this lengthy hallway, that stretches across about 10 airport gates.  Yes, I am finally leaving my beloved Hawaiian Islands and am returning home, to the real world.  It’s been an exceptionally amazing 15 days in Hawaii.  Having spent 10 days in Maui, and the last 5 days in Waikiki on the island of Oahu with my girlfriend, Amanda. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Hawaii for extended periods of time the last couple years as well.  However, this year, was different and better then all of the rest, despite my 15 days being the least amount of time I have stayed on the islands.   I know, I’ve been pretty lucky.  But, this time, I was able to spend the first few days in a condo, with my mom, grandparents, my niece and my brother Brody.  All of whom, are people I only see a couple of times a year.  Especially, my grandparents and Abbey.

 It was a different vacation, in our condo we had my grandparents, my mother, my 7 year old niece, and my 13 year old brother, and then myself.  Every person was in a different age bracket, and some in Hawaii for their first ever time.  We of course, all had a different idea of what a holiday looked like, and a few times this resulted in some people being edgier then they would be otherwise, but whats a Courchene get together with a little wit, rift and edge.  Probably not a Courchene gathering, at all!  Nonetheless, It was an awesome couple of days, my brother and I spent most of the time together, walking around, hanging out at the beach, boogey boarding and chucking around a half sized water football that I could chuck better then Elway.  But, just being in the company of some people who are really important to me was above all what made the holiday one that I will never forget.  My mom and brother left about 4 days after my arrival, however, my grandparents and niece stayed another handful of days.  Later in the week, myself, my grandparents and Abbey had a nice dinner with the Fedyna family at their place.  This was probably one of the best days ever, and not just on the trip, but in recent memory.  Amanda’s dad was beyond generous, again in housing me probably longer than anyone should, and then as well, inviting my family over and making a terrific surf and turf meal yet.  I can’t remember a time seeing so many people in the same small place, having so much fun, and just being generally happy.  Especially us!  It was awesome.  I wish that my mom and brother would have still been there, to complete the presence of our family, and as well, Jen.  But, I know she was there with us still.  It was just awesome.  I can’t say enough about how special that night was, and how thankful I am too the Fedynas for making it happen.  What made the night even more special, was my grandpa and I having a race in the pool.  My grandpa is in terrific shape for his age (haha) but, he really is, it’s amazing.  He got up and snorkelled nearly every morning.  I snorkelled for about 3 seconds and hated it and vowed to never do it again.  He does it every day. So he is a terrific swimmer.  And, I am not a terrible swimmer, though it certainly isn’t graceful.  I do get to where I need to go pretty quickly in the water.  But, Grandpa thought I would have no chance against him in a race.  And, no one else really took my side either.  2 strangers watching in the pool decided to have a countdown for us, and were apparently betting.  I was pretty confident that I’d beat the man, so I suggested we throw some money down.  Well, much to his surprise and of the strangers husband, I was 50 dollars richer. Thanks Pa.  Nice try though.  I am still too young, and too athletic.  Despite my greek olympian-like figure.

Anywho.  As special as that night was, it concluded their holiday, and off too Victoria the three of them went in the AM.  But, it was an awesome 9 days spending half of that with my mom and Brody, and then more time with G&G and Abbey.  I loved it.  I missed them so much.

Amanda and I headed off too Honolulu together within the next couple of days.  Honolulu is probably one of my favourite cities I have ever been too.  Aside from the pure beauty of the place, the greenery, ocean, mountains…etc,  It’s just a really cool place.  The layout of the island is pretty neat, and the history is just amazing.  Of course, Pearl Harbour.  As well, the military feel too the city is something that I find so cool.  Driving around you’ll see different Air Force Bases, Naval Stations.  It’s awesome.  I love that stuff.  I know that the city is not all the peaches and cream that you see along Waikiki, and at the North Shore.  It can be a pretty tough city, and if I am not mistaking, I believe crime is pretty bad in Honolulu.  And if it isn’t, by the sounds of sirens, and the presence of police, you would never think otherwise.  But, I like Oahu too because it is just a real place.  As much as I like Maui, and some other places I have been.  They just don’t seem real.  To me, Honolulu is a real place.  It’s beautiful.  But, our 5 days in Oahu is coming to a halt here in the next 45 minutes or so as I will board my flight home, and Amanda has already taken off back to Maui to spend another couple weeks with her parents.  But, This has been an awesome trip.  We did a tonne within our 5 days here, Taking in the final round of the Sony Open, Spending probably too much time at the Ala Moana shopping centre, we did a drive around the island after stopping in at the dreadful Dole Plantation Farm.  We went through Haleiwa – Surf City USA, then checked out where the Banzai Pipeline action is, and the surf there was still pretty good.  About 8-10 feet. Then, we just continued driving along the shores till we made it back to Waikiki.  What a beautiful drive.  If I am fortunate enough to come back here, I am going to write off 2 days and just drive around, drive through the different towns and cities, check out the Hickam AFB and the Naval Stations, and again spend an entire day at Pearl Harbour.  I just love Honolulu.  I am sad too be leaving, but I am excited to get back to life, and get back with the Bisons, and see what lies ahead in 2013 for the kid!  Hopefully the year continues to be as great as it has been the last 15 days!

What the hell…. The massage chair beside me just randomly started going off, and no one is sitting in it, or has put any money in it.  Weird.  Thanks for reading!! Aloha!

Blair

@Blairlystang

 

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Reindeer Pajamas, Hot Chocolates, Holidays & Hell.

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Happy almost-holidays season everyone!  I know most of you are likely already in the full swing of things by now. Trees, lights, decorations.  All the glitter, and all the rest.  I know at our place there are a few too many snowmen, snow-penguins, snow-bears, snow-mooses…  And, pretty well every other morphed Christmas animal you can possibly think of.

While, I do enjoy Christmas.  Holidays are just never the same as they once were for me.  Especially Christmas. It’s typically an emotionally enduring time of the year.  As it is Christmas. It’s a special time of the year. But, ever since I’ve lost my sister, It’s never quite been the same. It’s hard. Actually, most holidays are just different now.  My birthday & Christmas are often the toughest.  And, that usually results in me being referred to as “the grinch” by my girlfriend.  But, it’s not that I hate the holidays, I most certainly do not.  But, maybe as some others can understand after your life changes drastically as a result of losing someone close… And, as I have mentioned before.  Nothing is ever again the same, and nothing is again as it easy as it once was.  Ever.  

Christmas used to be my favorite time of the year. I longed for it every day as soon it turned December 26th – I couldn’t wait for the next Christmas Day.  I think up until I was 15 or so.  My average of sleep on christmas eve was likely 3 hours. I could never sleep Christmas Eve.  Just way too excited.  Albeit, I was a kid.  A lot of it was, I just couldn’t wait to open up gifts, and get spoiled by my parents, grandparents and rest of my family.  Then, as I grew up, it became less about the gifts (while I still thoroughly enjoyed them, and still do now!) But, it became more about spending time with those close too me, that I may otherwise not be able to see as often as I would like.  As my sister lived in Victoria, we only were able to get together a few times a year.  Which… still haunts me today.

Anyway.  Christmas was always a special time because I got to spend it with Jen, my parents, my brother, and my grandparents.  I can remember just waking up in the morning, and being so excited to just hang out, throw gifts around and watch everyone else just enjoy being together.  This is exactly what Christmas is about. Family, laughing, and being in the company of those whom matter the most.  And, as you grow up, you realize this.  And I think that’s part of why Christmas now is a little bit more difficult. We are missing one.   I think too,  I had just really gotten myself to the point of truly realizing what Christmas is about, and then suddenly we were without Jen.  While, every day is difficult after a tragedy.  Some days are worse than others.  But, holidays.  They’re just never the same. Again.  As much as you try and fake it, make some kind of shitty attempt to place normalcy into your days, and into your Christmas festivities… It doesn’t matter.  It all just amounts to trying too hard in hoping to be able to fake it, get through, and continue on in our own world of denial.  Ultimately… Just making the days and the season all the more difficult.  Then, in turn, you just kind of float through the days.   Doing your best to completely avoid the traditions that make Christmas.  All the while, just feeling completely empty and emotionless. Raw.

Now, I should never complain, because my holidays seasons the last few years have been quite extravagant, and I have been extremely fortunate and lucky to have spent the last 2 in Hawaii.  And, while as great as Hawaii is, and I do get to go with some people that do mean the world too me.  The last couple Christmas that I have been in Hawaii, I have not been with my family.  Which is sometimes difficult because I know that holidays for them are never quite the same, either. So you want to be together to try and help them cope…But, I think, why I have enjoyed going to Hawaii so much the last few years, is not just because it’s Hawaii.  But, because it’s almost like… It’s… It’s not real.  It’s not Christmas.  Even though it may be December 25th… It’s +28, people are in shorts, the beach, the ocean, everything that goes with Hawaii.  It’s not what I have been accustomed too.  It’s not tradition. And, tradition is easier to avoid. And, the other part that has made the past few I think… manageable, maybe, is I haven’t been with my family.  I’ve been with people that Christmas to them is as normal as it should be. As much as I try, and I think my family does as well to instill normalcy into our lives, like I said, we sometimes just try too hard and make it worse.  So, the last few, while I have thought about Jen a tonne.  It’s never really been talked about, or apart of the “Christmas Celebration” except in my own head, I guess.  Because, I have been by myself, and with my girlfriends family.  But, Christmas has been manageable, ultimately, because, I have ran away from what has made it so difficult in the past.

But, I know that I can’t go on like this forever, because, it is the holidays, and at some point I need to enjoy them as much as I once did, or, at the very least, make some sort of attempt to do so. While I also need to stop running away from the problem.   And, I think this year I am going to have an opportunity to do so.  While, in stages.  I think what is different this year, and is going to allow me to possibly cope with this season is, I have come to terms with my own mental illness, and I think I have maybe, finally accepted that Jen is gone.  And, she is never coming back…..As hard as that is to admit.  It’s reality. And, I think, I have finally realized that.  Despite how hard I sometimes try to bring her back.

She isn’t. 

Also, on Christmas day, this year;  I will be at home, in Calgary.  While, away from my family still, and likely just myself at home.  I will see again what Christmas is, and I think being right-square in the middle of the lights, the snow, just that aura of Christmas, that you don’t find in Maui.   I think that is going to be Step 1 of coping, and attempting normalcy these holidays.  Step 2. I leave to Hawaii ( as per usual ) on Jan. 1. However, different this year is my mom, my grandma, grandpa, brother and my niece Abbey (Jen’s daughter) will all be there.   Our family will finally be back together for Christmas.  Missing Jen but, I know that she will be there.   I get to spend the holidays with my family again…  And, in an environment to me, that just isn’t “holiday real”  – Just as I like, and for now, need. But, we are all going to be there together.  Going through it.  Together.

December through January isn’t the same for anyone in my family anymore.  And, instead of running away from the process, we will finally be able to go at it in unison once again.  Which, I am thoroughly excited for.  It’s still going to be different, and always will be.  And, maybe I am still partially running away from this by going to Maui. But, I am entirely fine with that.  So, in stages I hope to be able to enjoy a Christmas holiday season as close to normal as I possibly ever can.  Just without the tree, pajama pants, hot chocolates and christmas themed wrapped gifts.  I am not ready for that yet.

I know it will never be the same as it was.  No matter how hard I try.  I am just excited to be able to do it together, with my mom, my grandparents, Brody & Abbey.  Our way of coping with Christmas… Is too run away from it, but I am happy that we have decided to finally do this together.

Some people I am sure probably don’t, and won’t understand why we continue to run away during the holidays.  Some argue it’s the best time to be in Alberta.  Sure.  But, like I said… It’s different for us.  Remember in my last blog, or a few blogs back I mentioned the feeling I had driving to my sister’s funeral in Victoria.  I’d just expected the entire world to stop.  And, when I drove to the church, and saw people getting their mail, walking their dogs, having coffee and laughing.  It fucking pissed me off.  I just couldn’t believe people were getting on with their lives.   My world has just halted, instantly.  And, I expected everyone elses did too.  How could they continue?  But, really, of course people are going to get on with their lives.  It didn’t happen to them, but still, I couldn’t believe it.  That’s exactly how Christmas is for me now.  We used to always gather at the decorated Christmas tree in the living room, while in our pajamas, enjoying a coffee, hot chocolate,  or an orange juice…Whatever it was.  We’d sit there in our pajamas and throw gifts to each other, celebrate and embrace. We did Christmas. We did it right.  All of us.  Now… I just can’t do it. I can’t do tradition.  During Christmas I always get that same feeling I had en route to Jen’s funeral.  I, for some reason, just can’t imagine people doing what we used too, doing what you’re supposed to do.  I can’t fathom it.  And, I don’t want to see it.  Just like I didn’t want too see that man walking his dog that morning.  It’s doesn’t seem real.  It’s hard.  So, I leave so I can avoid it. Christmas is different.

That said, I am certainly not the grinch, as some of you might conclude after reading this.  I still enjoy the holidays. And, I wish nothing but the best too everyone else during them.  Actually, I wish more than that.  I hope that you thoroughly enjoy that time around the tree tossing gifts to one another. Having that mocha or hot chocolate with your brother and/or sister in your pajama pants decorated with reindeer and Santa’s. Please enjoy this moment.  This is what it is about.  Enjoy it the most. It may, now seem trivial, and “just part of it”. But, trust me.  It isn’t.  It’s more than that.  Because, you never know if you will be able to have this special opportunity again.  So, please.  Enjoy Christmas. Be grateful, and understand what it truly is about.  Family.  Not the cash that you get. Not the toys.  It’s your family.  And it’s that one really special time of the year.  So, while, I run away to the tropics to avoid tradition.  I urge all of you to run to the tree, with your brothers and sisters, Even if you see them every single day, and scrap for the majority of those days. Please, for me, soak it all in. Enjoy Christmas. Because, this is what I miss the most, and I will never get back. Enjoy one for me. 

– Happy Holidays too all of my readers!