Your Move, Chief

Uncategorized

Maybe this is too late.  Maybe this isn’t even relevant anymore.  But, last week we lost one of the finest individuals to grace this planet.  No, not just because he was a phenomenal actor, but because he battled for so long, to bring everyone else joy and laughter despite his own misery, and emptiness, despite his own mental obstruction. He was gifted, courageous, and beyond brave.

Upon hearing the news of Robin passing away, I was upbeat, driving home from engagement photos, and on the radio, as DJ whoever began playing his next techno beat, and the beats of this terrible song faded in, DJ whoever let us know that an icon had passed. But, that was all. Into the techno trance the song went. Instantly, I felt sick. I loved Robin Williams. First thing that came to my mind, was… Is this guy talking about the same Robin Williams that played Mrs. Doubtfire? Like… Patch Adams – Robin Williams? Surely, He’d have done more than just say “oh hey by the way folks before we get to this song…” But, after searching my mind for a few minutes for another Robin Williams, I came to the unfortunate conclusion. Yes. It was… Patch Adams. Typically though, as part of my own constant fight with mental illness, I feel nothing. That’s my usual reaction. Nothing. Emptiness. Even amongst the most tragic events. I don’t usually feel an overwhelming amount of sadness, or despair. I don’t…. usually feel anything. Empty. I try too, but I can’t for anymore than a moment.  But, I felt sad. Abnormally sad, I just had a bad feeling.  I felt connected.  Moments later, I got home… and I think I had already convinced myself I knew how Mr. Williams had passed. I turned on the TV, and it was confirmed. Suicide. My heart sunk, and my stomach twisted immediately. I don’t know how I knew. It just hit me close to home, right away. I just knew.  I felt it.

As sad as it were for me to learn about the news of Mr. Williams, I am not on a personal level with Mr. Williams, therefore, I couldn’t allow myself to be overtaken by the news. I can’t try and feel the same pain that his family and friends feel, I don’t want too. I’ve felt that. But, the hardest part for me in moving on from this one quickly, and not allowing myself to feel anything more than a few moments of sadness was… the rest of us.

I’m not one to follow along to celebrities’ personal troubles. I always believe they are humans alike the rest of us, they just happen to be good at their jobs, and the rest of us care way too much about what they’re doing, and put them under these encapsulated microscopes, and we wait for them to struggle, we wait for bad things to happen to them, and we pounce, we have opinions, comments, we have all the answers to the lives of these robots. As if that’s what they are.

As par for the course, when a celebrity struggles, fights, battles anything. It becomes a global issue for a mere 72 hours. Whether it’s racism, poverty, drugs, crime, physical health, and… Mental health. It’s unfortunate that all of the problems that plague our society are only really discussed at the “trending” level, when one of these robots we hold on a mile-high pedestal is identified with of these issues. Though, I notice this often, I am easily able to just shut off twitter, facebook, TV, radio…etc, and I don’t need to really associate myself with the opinons, and views of “us”… But, this time, I associated myself too close to the matter, and let it get to me.  It was too close to home.

Shortly after learning about the passing of Robin Williams, I posted this…

Devastated by the news of Robin Williams. Too close to home for me. An unfortunate reminder that we can all be victim to mental illnesses. No matter how rich, or how famous, we’re all just human. #RIP Robin Williams.

The response was tremendous, reassuring, almost like people understood this time.  I’ve been talking about mental illness through my social media feeds for a few years now, and I do it without any hesitation now, but I still often am thinking about what other people might be thinking when I do write the stuff.  But, Maybe, just hopefully we’ve had this discussion enough times that we have finally figured it out. We have finally learned that mental illness is real. It is real, it is happening, and it is happening to any kind of person, regardless of pedestal, fame, fortune and power. It does not discriminate, in any way, shape or form. And, Robin Williams is a sad, and unfortunate reminder of this. After posting this, and seeing the responses, I felt better, I felt like maybe we are actually making progress towards accepting mental illnesses, and accepting those who fight this as… normal.

A few days had come and gone, and for whatever reason, I just stayed off of social media. It’s almost as if I knew I was being naïve, and it was too good to be true, so I was avoiding what I was afraid I’d see, and what I knew I’d see.  We have not made any progress. Then, all in the same day, I was no longer able to avoid reality, and avoid society.

Around the same time, my mom had sent me a note that had passed along to her from one of my blogs readers, and she then mentioned to me one of these internet trolls had wrote something absurd about depression, mental illness and suicide being a choice. I just couldn’t fathom it.  Really? Someone could say that?  Really?  I didn’t even really respond, because I didn’t allow myself to believe it. My mom mentioned that she had tried to make this ignoramus aware of their own idiocy.   I remember then, debating with myself. Do I want to read what that troll wrote, and join my mom in letting her know my opinions too, or just leave it because it’ll drive me crazy, and ruin my day.  I went with the latter, but then I opened up my facebook page, and couldn’t believe the comments I saw. Albeit, from an individual that I, and many others hold in quite low esteem, but there behold comments like

“I am sick of the media responses about Robin Williams, he made a choice”

And then equally sized morons commenting

“He had all the fame, fortune, money he could imagine, how could he be sad”

“This isn’t the real Robin Williams we know “

“He made a choice, lets quit talking about him, and talk about the real Robin Williams we know!”

… Are you fucking kidding me? Are you seriously that stupid, and that ignorant? I immediately, had completely lost my faith, once again in our people. Again, the host of these comments, and this discussion is not someone I would trust to tell me the difference between grass and snow, but still, all the more reason he shouldn’t be commenting on these types of issues. I skimmed through the comments at the time, and those four I just typed stick out in my mind like a sore thumb, an engrained image. Nauseating,

  • What choice did he make? To live with an illness that he tried to tolerate, manage and fight for so long that it ultimately became intolerable?
  • Right, So famous people aren’t susceptible to mental illness, just all the other illnesses, they can’t be depressed, or have bi-polar disorder. Not Robin. Not Kurt. Not Wade Belak? Rick Rypien? Derek Boogard?
  • This is the one that really gets me. Who is the Robin Williams that we all know? Is it Patch Adams? Mrs. Doubtfire? Is it Sean Maguire? Those are the Robin Williams we’ve seen, that’s the Robin Williams we’ve come to know. Him in his professional life. Not his personal life. We don’t know the real Robin Williams, this is part of the problem.
  • Again, the problem. Let’s never quit talking about him, his legacy, or his demise. Maybe that will stop the next one.

You haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about

It amazes me that people can be so ignorant, and so oblivious to these things. These people that are writing these comments, are the exact reason that people like myself, or people like my sister, or Robin, or Kurt Cobain couldn’t feel like they had the power, or strength to talk about their mental illness. These are the people that make the rest of us feel trapped, feel powerless. These are the people contributing to the stigma that perceives mental illness as negative and shameful, something that isn’t real, something made up. The reason these illnesses get so intolerable that, suicide becomes the only thing left, are these people.  It doesn’t take many of them to eliminate any chance of a platform allowing us to comfortably talk about mental health issues.  If only Robin Williams, or Jen could talk about their fight without any fear or repercussion like these internet trolls, maybe they wouldn’t have felt so entrapped, felt so isolated, so scared, they wouldn’t have felt their illness was so intolerable, and then they’d still be hear making both of us laugh today.   But, instead we attack Robin Williams daughter Zelda on twitter, because we can. Because, we can hide behind our keyboards under our fictional internet name,  and our poor grammar, because it allows us a platform to say the cruelest of things without any worry of repercussion. it’s easy, and nothing will come of it. This is where we put our energy, instead of constructively talking about how we can make mental illness an acceptable illness, like anything else… and understand it is not a choice.

No one chooses to struggle with depression. I don’t remember a morning in my life where I decided I wanted to be depressed, I don’t remember a morning in my life where I thought about my afternoon, and thought, ya, around 2:00 after I have lunch, I’ll try kill myself, because I feel sad today.  This isn’t how it works. It’s not a choice, and it’s not just a shitty day where things aren’t going right, so you decide to mop around at home. It’s not just a crappy week at work.

It’s feeling absolutely nothing, feeling empty, it’s not feeling sad, it’s not feeling happy, it’s not feeling real. It’s failure, it’s feeling complete failure regardless of accomplishments, it’s anxiety, it’s denial, it’s worrying, it’s fear, it’s feeling minute, it’s irrelevance. It’s not a choice. It’s “you’re always afraid to take the first step, because all you see is every negative thing ten miles down the road” It’s real.

 

It’s not a choice

&

 

It’s not your fault

Rest in Peace Robin Williams.  Say hi to Jen for me.

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