Emotional Remembrance

We are approaching the Centenary of the end of World War One and never before have we, as humans, been divided on how to honour and respect those who have fallen in war. Red poppies, white poppies, purple poppies, no poppies, all choices allowed for us with the lives paid during the war.

Here is where things get a bit fuzzy for me. I was raised in a home with two parents born – one before and one near the end of World War Two. My paternal grandfather fought in the WWII, though do not ask me where, as I have pretty much forgotten the details. Not that I did not care, not at all, only I was scared of the stories. He was injured, one bullet hit the back of his helmet (leaving a scar) and a shot in the bum. That last one we found out much later. Grandpa Jensen passed away in 1984 and Veterans Affairs has since allowed the release of his military records. My maternal grandfather, Grandpa Ballan, was a mechanic for the Canadian Air Force; stationed in Chicago, oddly enough.

Maybe “scared” is not the right word. I turn into a puddle of tears when the Remembrance ceremonies are on. In school, I was a nervous wreck, though my mind is placing my current feelings with those I had when I was younger. That is what the passage of time and the influence of education and other humans can do. Growing up in an ultra-patriotic home was tough enough; Remembrance Day was even more smothering. I think seeing my dad and brother putting up the Maple Leaf, the Canadian Ensign (saved from the burn pile, apparently), and later displaying Grandpa Jensen’s medals made me feel even worse.

At one point during the War, my dad’s family got a false notice their father was in Hong Kong. Even today my father has memories of how angry he was, how relieved he felt after it came out as untrue, and the resilience collected after. You need to remember, he lived in a time when veterans from WWI were still alive, some memories of this time were still raw. This rawness led to – in today’s terms – extreme patriotism. It is this patriotism that eventually led me to not wearing a poppy this year.

Without getting into the history of the poppy, as most of us are familiar with the John McCrae poem In Flanders Fields. Being Canadian, this was taught to us at an early age. I remember reciting it with the rest of the school kids at our annual Remembrance Day ceremony. It would make me cry, that I remember. I understood the significance, even at an early age long before I realised my grandfathers’ experiences. Also, without getting into the modern-day political snot-nosed fight over red versus white, I want to make it clear that I would have worn a white poppy if I knew it was available. It would have given my body, my soul and my mind a lot of comfort.

Every day I see some people posting “Lest We Forget” memes, some going as far as say “if you don’t share, you don’t care”. Leave it alone, please. I have had to live with a person who, though in a distant way, suffers from PTSD over the potential loss of a father in the war. I understand you want to honour the fallen, respect those who have served and to remember those left behind, but I ask that you do not make emotional threats. Some branches of the RCL, at one point, were famous for refusing peacekeepers to join as some did not face combat. It took until this year for the Legion to appoint Anita Cenerini as this year’s Silver Cross Mother. Ms Cenerini’s son, Private Thomas Welch, committed suicide after a courageous fight with PTSD after serving in Afghanistan. Suicide is what is taking away some of our veterans and our active service members.

This is yet another reason why I cannot wear a poppy. It is not a punishment to the RCL, who had been a bit behind on the need to push the government in supporting our veterans with mental health treatments. I ask for patience and consideration. You can wear whatever colour poppy you want, even a purple one. You can attach it to your jacket with a maple leaf pin (though the RCL is set against this, as they hold the copyright on the poppy and a pin other than a stick version is a moral violation of said copyright). As well, if you wear it on the right instead of the left, that is okay too, because some people have their heart on the right side of their body.

We need to be thankful for those who fought in the various wars and peacekeeping missions throughout the point of living memory. I do not like using the phrase “they fought for our right to …” as some of these men and women were scared, tired and wrought with guilt. During WWI, young men were given MDMA to help them get over their fear of dying and to fight another day. In WWI, hospitals were set up in the UK to help treat “shell shock” or injuries sustained in battle. Sometimes the treatment included the use of heroin or opium. Some women had to go to work to support the war effort and their young families, leaving their children, oftentimes, home alone. Loss of a family member meant a loss of income. For those who came home, it could have meant a time of mental and physical instability.

Classmates, sacrifices are made in all sorts of ways, and we all have to recognise them. We also need to acknowledge and to commemorate in our own way.

Moving Still

Good day, classmates.

If you have been following me on Facebook and Twitter, you may have discovered I am going through a bit of time as of late. Please be aware I make it sound so much more dramatic in writing than in person. My insides, though, are much like my writings.

I am just about at a possible forever home on the work front thing. I have never been more nervous about having to prove my worth than I am right now. Maybe that is causing some of the extra-crazy anxiety. At the same time, I think I may be catching my triggers sooner. I know I cannot control the events and people around me, only control myself in those situations. I have become more cynical in the way I read the behaviour of others. That has also reflected on my reactions to posts (as an example) that seem too unreal.

Sensibility?

Not everyone is trying to hack your phone; there might have been an update. Sure, there were incidents of Facebook users having issues recently, but I have not discovered a second version of me asking to be friends. I may have lucked out on this one.  Oh, goodness, I have a history of milking things, primarily related to House music, parental elements, memes, mental health, and apostrophes. I understand, seeing this from my perspective, how ridiculous it must be to others. I can only apologise for causing uncomfortableness.

“Wendy, just STFU.”

I am still going to write about my awful days and people can choose to ignore it. God, I do this too much, I know it. I only need to understand how to make these days sound more positive. Yes, bad stuff can be somewhat reasonable. Okay, not everything bad can be good, I am not naive. No, there is a way to deal with this – on my terms. I like to share stories, and sometimes I ask for ideas, which is fair. Not advice, that is for asking how to get red wine out of white bed sheets. As I have mentioned before, we all have levels of unevenness when it comes to the brain-thinking process, and that is what makes us such great friends.

Let’s make a deal: if you can love me being passive-aggressive and okay with me liking David Guetta, I will okay with you liking The Shins and loving you through your discussions regarding your fears about Brexit.

Cider Rules

I am in another reflectorary mood. Making up word combos, reading spam emails and wondering why I bother recycling Keurig cups. Yes, I do that; all of that.

I am compiling a list of wonderments. Feel free to answer these questions. There will not be a prize for the most creative, sadly, only my envy of not being able to come up with the answer myself:

1) Bratwurst and potato salad – is the truly an Oktoberfest thing or only in Saskatoon?

2) How do you know when it okay to ask if someone has lost it or has had work done? Moreover, does it matter?

3) I heard a person say they use the keystroke noise on their phone to make sure they press the right buttons – is this an excuse for being annoying?

4) Lager, Pilsner, wheat, IPA, ale, stout, porter, sour, or cider?

5) If you have more than one of the above, do you have a variety or stick to a favourite?

6) Pretzel – soft or hard?

It is amazing what goes through my head waiting for the bus. I am back at my favourite pub, enjoying the neighbouring conversations, the coffee (yes, it is actually good!), watching silent sport commentaries and though recognising I really want a tattoo, I realistically cannot get one. This is all a part of a mind-changing process.

On the mental wellness front (I need to stop calling it an ‘illness’), my course is going well. I am not afraid to admit my faults in a constructive matter. I am slowly realising I cannot always suffer fools gladly and I can bravely say house music can sound awesome with a bit of viola. I am no longer afraid of meeting one of my worst bullies on the bus – my cousin is a city bus driver.

Yeah!

HEY!!!

Good day, my classmates. As promised, dear Tony, I have included a NO song in my next installment:

I did my random-pick-a-song thing. Tony, my dear Tony, I hope you are okay with this one. 😄 I quite like the shoulder dancing bearded fellow. Much like most music I listen to, I don’t have a clue about the players involved. That is not to say I do not try to research and get all crazy-obsessed over a group or an artist; no, I do that too much.

I am still writing my stories – you can follow the progress (excuse the pun) at Wenda Writes. Musicating (the processing and reworking of music into listenable formats) is coming nicely. Let’s say that I LOVE to copy and paste. It took we about 26 hours to do the Violin I part of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture; however, I now have a template for the other instruments so the time will be cut by a few seconds. All my projects – some completely unfinished – are going according to a plan which I still have to write. I am slowly finding joy in these processes, even the ones that will never be finished. I am working on this for my friend Phoenix. Phoenix Love and his wife Mo Love have a band called Go Satta. This is one of my favourite tracks. Phoenix, you have no idea how much I adore you, your family and your fight for goodness. Thank you!

I thank George Mihaly for the introduction. Sir, you have helped enlighten my life; thank you!

On the brain-wave front, I have joined a counselling group to get the coast clear. Well, at least clear enough that I do not need to have the windshield wipers on 24/7. Just one more thing to add to my interesting life CV. I am finding humour in this for some reason. Or is it relief? I think it is relief. The sessions may not work out and I understand that is just one way to deal with my issues.

Maybe this will help me become less needy. Or less whatever. What is the word I am looking for?

I am writing this on a Wednesday, sitting in a pub. I have started to take the bus to and from work, testing to see if this works out once my situation in the job-front evens out. Oddly enough, I have less stress over this than I expected.

Yeah, just like normal.

Progressive Whatever Trevors

Let’s have a little fun here. I am tired of talking family ickiness and mental breakdowns.

Yeah, I don’t think I know how to do that either. Oh, all be dog boggled, I think we can go with our feelings. I am going to start with my Favourites on Deezer (don’t worry, I will not list all 152):

“Fields of Fire” – Big Country (Guitars sounding like bagpipes. Yes!)
“Good Fortune” – PJ Harvey (Not to be mixed up with DJ Harvey, though his offerings are rather good.)
“Paris 1919” – John Cale (I have three versions of this song on my Favourites list. Addicted muchly.)
“Dog Days Are Over” – Florence + The Machine (No animals or skid steers were injured in the playing of this song.)
“Waf-Woof” – The Springfields (Dusty Springfield pre-solo years.)
“I’m Wondering” – Skydiggers (Do I need to maintain the 35% CanCon rule?)
“California Dreamline” – Rheostatics (Their name used to proceed with a ‘The’.)
“Loving is Easy” – Rex Orange County (I blame Dave for the addition of this song to my collection.)
“Le moribond” – Jacques Brel (Though I do not understand all the words, I get the sarcasm.)
“The Lines You Amend” – Sloan (A gorgeous song, yet one I cannot share on Facebook.)
“People Give In” – Manic Street Preachers (Tony, you know I could not forget to include the Manics.)
“You Can’t Do Disco Without a Strat” – Andrew Weatherall (Though the presentation seems angry, the song is rather good. Mr Weatherall may have needed a nap.)
“Death of a Rude Boy” – Madness (Somehow the skaness makes me weak. I don’t get it, yet I like it.)
“Faster Than the Speed of Night” – Bonnie Tyler (For some reason I see Stephen Morris, of New Order Fame, going all wild and crazy on the drums on a cover of this song. That will never happen, I understand.)
“Jessie’s Girl” – Rick Springfield (My karaoke song. I am going to demand a redo of this song at the next Cosmo Christmas party, as the song started before I could get into character. The drunk dude before me got a restart. Bah!)

I ask that you check some of these songs out on YouTube. I purposely chose not to include links, as searching for these songs will lead to other amazing places, which could ultimately take you away from the original assignment.

That is a good thing.

Richard is going away on a trek to the mountains and will be stopping in to have lunch with me. I am on assignment, waiting for emails and phone calls. Oh, and blockages on Facebook due to the fact Richard does not want his next family reunion to be at Madge Lake.

Be brave, dear husband; listen to The Beatles and may the Force be with you.

 

Here Goes Everything

Within the last three days we have heard and read about the deaths of Kate Spade – fashion designer – and Anthony Bourdain – chef. Both took their own lives, it has been reported.

I am not familiar with the work of both these souls, but I am not removed from feeling compassion, empathy and sympathy. I have been reading comments from disgruntled people asking “why it is important to broadcast their deaths when thousands of others end their lives with no mention in the paper or the Internet?”

I used to ask that question until I was almost a statistic.

Losing someone to suicide is devastating, I fully understand. I only want those in the sphere to know what it is like to be in that place to almost choose to end it all. I can say with all certainty it is a conversation that most avoid. You guys, I see the posts regarding suicide prevention day in/day out, yet the conversation door gets shut with a thud when I mention I survived an attempt. Mental illness only seems to be suffered by those who have not tried or those who have died.

I am part of this conversation, please remember that. With the help of a talk with a friend I am still here.

That breaks my heart.

I believe the presentation of someone admitting a failing moment is hard to respond to. How do you answer? What do you say? I find it easier to deal with someone who announces they have survived cancer treatment. Don’t be like my dad and say, “get some help, as I don’t want to read in the paper that you jumped off a bridge.” One good friend told me that he was glad I stayed. That comment I want to get made into a tattoo.

There are so many emotions involved in dealing with suicide. I look back at the moment my friend told me I mattered and it seems like a dream. I go to that other place every now and then but I always make it back to home. I do not call that moment the “black dog”. I refuse. Black dogs (and most black coloured animals) are usually the last chosen animals to be adopted from an animal shelter. I am not allowing my mental illness to be tagged with animals that are marginalised due to the colour of their fur.

In April 1975 (at the age of nine months) my mother found me unconscious in my crib. I was rushed to the hospital and after a few days of bickering, the doctor administrating my care was finally allowed to test me for diabetes. It was positive. Forty- three years later (after a bitter telephone argument with my mother and three years after my decision to not kill myself) she said this:

“I found you unconscious in your crib and took you to the hospital,” (I thanked her, obviously,) “I could have let you die but I chose not to.” Those words alone do worry me somewhat, as it implies a moment of questioning.

She chose to save my life. I almost chose to unsave it. Now, more than ever, I need to keep this body and mind going. I am going through not nice things right now, yet I am reminded daily of those who think I am worth keeping.

All I ask is for you to consider the struggle it takes to keep going for someone who almost gave up.

Letter to the Editor

I recently received a letter from my aunt, my father’s sister. Even before opening it I knew it was an invitation for the annual family get-together on May Long. I also expected and received, a long list of reasons why she was hurt due to me not going last year. Now, I am used to receiving free guilt trips every time I try to make a decision regarding my own personal mental health and physical well-being. I end up deciding to attend these annual functions, usually against my gut, but also as a way for my mum and dad to avoid the one-day trip there and back. Yes, my husband becomes a chauffeur and our house a bed and breakfast, without the money.

As you are aware, I am slowly trying to become my own self; to own myself. I have had to give up my podcast series of audiobooks due to time and finances. I am still struggling to find a job, yet I am still filling the bank account with the odd job here and there. I am scared of not finding something permanent. Through all this striving for the most awesome position, I have become aware I am looking in the wrong place. My deep dislike for xenophobia, misogyny, racism and the hate towards my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters (I am one of them, btw). Though not a direct connection, the letter from my aunt was the final decision to look into a job that focuses on the person rather than the profit.

Today (7 March 2018) I am home taking care of Richard who is recovering from shoulder surgery. I will admit I have let out a few swear words these six days – his surgery was 1 March – but I have also collected a huge amount of respect for Richard, who has spent over twenty years working with the intellectually and physically disabled. He is learning as well how compassion can be received. I want to be able to return this service (minus the profanity) to others. I want to work in an inclusive place which strives to better people (and/or pets). I want to be able to love people for what they have to offer, even if they block our driveway with mounds of snow causing me to have a meltdown.

You had to be there.

I will have to write a letter back to my aunt. I am sure she is aware of my issues with my dad, without a doubt. Her comments about my brother I can fully appreciate; he does not visit me either. As I Christian, I am to forgive this behaviour, including hers. Guilting me into how disappointed So-and-So was due to my non-visit went a bit beyond acceptable. So-and-So should tell me. I am also to ask for forgiveness. You know how much trouble I have regarding that.

One thing at a time.

I am tempted to ask for an apology, but do I? I may get one, yet at what price? Oh, that sounds rather philosophical. I have all these amazing words in my head, however, knowing me, I will put it aside and find it sometime next year, even with all the pinging reminders of its existence.

I am waist-high in courage, only I am not too sure of how to use it. Writing myself out of the lives of my family and some of my friends may not have been the best way to go. I am better than that, says Richard. I need to offer my hand out to some of these same people who have humiliated me, as they may be my only chance to get out of the Waldheim Rut. My aunt’s letter reminded me of this point, in a non-pointy kind of way.

Boy, she is good.