What is a “Friend”?

Let us consider what a friend truly is, because I think the internet has distorted the definition greatly. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, just a fact.

The Google definition is fun, if kind of vague. The idea of a friend being someone you know is a bit, well, bleak. I have plenty of people that I consider friends whom I have never and will never meet. We met online, and continue to speak online. I guess you could argue that we know each other mentally, and have no regard for physical appearance. I also know many people who consider me a friend that I have not spoken to in years. Some of which, and I hope no one gets offended by this concept, I would no longer like. This does not change that I would happily tell someone they are a “friend” if the topic gets brought up.

So, if someone says they have no friends, do they mean that literally? I was in a conversation with someone that I consider a sister, and she stated the harrowing fact that she “has no friends.” My reply was asking what I am. She then tried to reverse what she was saying, very non-gracefully. Eventually, she had to change her definition to “no friends around me” which is a point that I was in no position to argue. We do live over an hour apart, and I haven’t spent time with her in over a year.

I shouldn’t bitch. I played in bands for about a decade. I played hundreds of shows and in front of thousands of people. I have gone to cities not knowing anyone, and stayed the night at a random persons house surrounded by dozens of people. In the end of those events, I am guilty for going on a self-pitting rant about how I do not have any friends.

If even in situations when surrounded by people I can feel alone and hollow, what is a friend? I have had more important and impactful conversations with people I have never (and, most likely, will never) meet.

So, I raise the question: What is a friend?

I contend a rather sterile answer. What if friends are who we need at that moment? What if they are who we can categorize as a friend, and not actually “a friend”? That would alleviate the social pressure to be the classical definition of a friend. I cannot promise that this plan would fix much, or even should be considered, but I ask that it should be contemplated.

We all need to relieve the pressure to have a friend. We all need to stop changing ourselves to be a friend.

Linda

Linda and I have a very uninteresting history. She is the mother of a friend of mine, and she is/was a regular at the music store I managed.

Being a nurse, she took an interest in everything I have gone through. One would think that once I left hospital, however, her interest would wain. That was far from the case, however. She has stayed in my metaphorical corner. Her support has been fantastic. She has shown my book to a few of her co-workers (which I appreciate) and understands my plights from both an educated and friend level.

There really was no point to me writing this other than I was feeling very particularly thankful of her existence when I wrote this. I will not link to her profiles or give her last name (because that is creepy and weird to do without permission) but I hope that everyone has a Linda-type in their life. We all need someone to just be in our corner when we need them.

The Last Week

The title of this can be taken two different ways: either a recap of the events of the last week, or the final week that can be.

So, I have finally and officially left Mohawk College res and am living at home for two weeks until I get an apartment in Burlington. It is kind of strange, not being left totally alone whenever I want to be. It is quite nice, however. The not having to make my coffee for myself for the first time in a year is very strange.

I have to extend my thank you to everyone who worked the front desk at the Residence & Conference Centre. They were all so very kind and fun to talk to. I consider them my friends, and will miss each one very dearly.

I also have to say thank you to my group of friends. You made everything more fun and palatable. Not to mention inappropriate and glorious. Nothing too bad, I swear. Yes, there were times I was tempted to thrash my voice exclaiming inappropriate things at certain people, but it was all worth it for the company of the rest.

What have I learned in the last year? Well, that I am able to do a lot more than I thought I could. I lived on my own for just shy of a year and did not die!

OH! I also met the love of my life. Natasha Soulis and started dating soon after I got to residence. It was love at first sight.

She’s funny, she’s cute, she’s amazing. I asked her to marry me back on the 19th of August, and she said yes! What a great thing. To be honest, I do not have words to describe how happy this situation has left me.

Book.

People

I find myself at a very awkward space in time. As I write this, it is only three days until the one month anniversary of my books release, at the same time I find myself chomping at the bit to say something about it.

I still have not had much feedback: as of August 2nd at 10 AM there has been no rating anywhere. Even one star would be something to go on. It would tell me that I should not try to do this again and I would go back into my shell: away from the public eye. Not reading anything is both intimidating and frustrating. As much as I love my friends and family, I have a hard time accepting there reviews of the work. I worry that they are just being nice. I worry that they are not telling people to pick it up. I am trying to reach as many eyes as I can, but I can to only do so much.

No: I do not have the sale numbers as of yet: again, as of August 2nd. I have heard back from about five people outside of my family that they have read it.

To be clear: I am not doing this for the money. I am not doing this for any sort of fame. I wrote the book to elaborate on my tale much more completely than I could ever do in this blog. There are minor differences between the text and here. In places, I was given the freedom to elaborate. Sometimes, I had to hold back opinions. Something I was probably overly cautious about was my intentional omitting of names. I had to keep everything mostly anonymous for fear of lawsuit.

With that said, I have kept from writing about many situations that plagued my journey in both the text and on this blog. They are moments that are just that: moments. They will not matter in the long run, or even in the short. Some are painful, yes. Some will haunt me for an extended period of time. They will never matter to the overarching narrative that I went through. They were even more private than I would like to admit. They are over.

Some people I do have to thank, of course.

I’m going to start with Amanda. She has been a great driving force and inspiration through all of this. She has been assisting me, where she can, for the last almost year. Regardless how things turn out, she has been a great friend.

Katie is my co-worker for Mind The Music T.O. and a great friend. She has offered on many occasions to help me with advertising on Social Medias as well as has helped me through the last few months. Never changing, in the best possible way: I always try to talk to her once a day.

Elianna is a very good friend who has stood with me, even if I didn’t always deserve it, for the better part of the past decade. She got married while I was in the comma, so I missed out on that party. She has a beautiful baby boy, though.

Natasha is my girlfriend. My soulmate. My best friend. She has also been my temporary editor for the last six months. She has been the first person to look over my manuscripts and has never shied away from calling me an idiot when I double a fact or name.

Trevor, Joe, Kelsey, Ryan and Cody have been my friends for the last two or so months. They have been fantastic because they have been my reminder to relate to this world we inhabit. Trevor, in particular, has been bouncing ideas for story lines that he comes up with off of me with the hope to help me figure out my next work.

Kevin & Mike are old friends from long ago. It was actually ten years about a month ago that Kevin and I recorded our first album. It will be ten years about a month from now that Mike and I played our first show together. They, together, have been a great force in my life for the last year.

David is an enigma. He was a friend of a friend for years, and has become one of the more important people in my life over the last year. I do not know what changed, if anything. We both share a similar opinion of music and movies, and it is just so refreshing to have him around. Needless to say: it was a welcome advancement.

Hannah is the main reason I started writing in the first place. She told me time and time again that I should keep some sort of record of what happened while in hospital. When I finally got to a point where I could physically and mentally handle it, she kept me in line.

Stephen was my old bass player from The Twin and my bandmate from Chance Procedures. He has showed nothing but love in the last few years. He lives far away now, but I look forward to a competition, of sorts, in video games on his return.

Luka will always be the most important person in my life. She is by far the best friend I have and will ever have. More than a girlfriend. More than a love. She is still the only person who can do half the shit she does and be held in such a great regard in my head. I will forever blame her for a great portion of my humour and for my constant strive to do DIY.

Chrissy & Adam have been my two closest friends for years. They believe in me, when no one else seems to. For that, and many other reasons, I love them both very much.

Of course, I need to thank a tonne more people, but I am already pushing 1000 words. That means that I am going to cut that off there. If I did not mention you, it is far from personal. It is simply because I started writing this idea out and I felt like I was droning on and on.

The people I can think of, but will not bore you with paragraphs lightly explaining why they are important, are as follow:
Johnny, Angele, Shannon, Ryan, Bree, Elisha, Ben, Kat, Sarah, Kaitlinn, Alberto, Nate, Megahn, Joel, Brownwin, Bekki, Dianne, Joey…
(I’m probably forgetting a few names…)

UNRELATED SIDE NOTE: This marks my 80th update. Yes, I will do some sort of mention every time I reach a multiple of ten.

Book

I was so angry…

Hello and welcome to the Monthly Update! I’m sorry that I am not doing weekly any longer; I was a bit burnt out. HOPEFULLY this new update schedule will allow me to be a bit more thorough and will grant me the time to make sure updates remain interesting and methodical.

I was outside the other night, hanging out and laughing with some friends, when I was confronted with the most outrageous question.

“So, can you walk?”

It seems innocent enough in writing, but the inflection was that of assumption. The person who asked the question genuinely expected me to get up at that point in celebration of my legs and demonstrate how I am just using this mode of transportation because… uh… Maybe she thought it was a fashion statement?

Regardless of what she thought the end-game was, she was actually surprised that I took offence to the statement.

I raised my voice and shouted “fuck you, I can’t” and she got mildly confused. I tried to explain, with great conviction, that people are in chairs for reason. No one thinks “I’m going to hang out in a wheelchair this month!” Not many abled people, anyway.

The fact of the matter is that, yes, there are people who can walk that just need the assistance every once in a while.

There are people who are stricken down, rather randomly, by incredible joint or bone fatigue. They may go DAYS without a wheelchair, but eventually, their body will just “nope” that day and they cannot walk. There are people who have amputations and have a prosthetic limb that needs servicing one day, and they are in a chair for a while as it gets fixed/resized.

After I went on my rant and the girl left rather shaken up, my friend piped up exclaiming that she would not even ask why people are in a chair.

Initial shock had worn off, so (RATIONALLY) I explained that most people do not mind being asked (please let me know if I am wrong). Please remember you are talking to a person. They have feelings. They can read situations fairly well, at least some can.

The one warning I can offer: do not be offended if they do not want to talk about it. Do not be disappointed if they give a half answer and change topic. Either they will explain if/when they feel more comfortable with you. Or they will never explain. Maybe you asked at the wrong time. Maybe even they do not understand the whole story. Maybe they just DON’T WANT TO TELL YOU.

IN THE EVENT IT IS CLEAR THAT YOU OFFENDED THEM:
Just explain, as calmly as you can, that you are sorry. Tell them why you asked: most people in chairs are used to being marginalized.

People in wheelchairs are faced with scrutiny and inequality everyday. This idea does not even include those who already have very unhealthy feelings about being in a wheelchair. I cannot speak for everyone else, but I know I have had a very hard time feeling worthy of the title of “human being” because literally most of my body is chair. There seems to be a stigma that people bound to a wheelchair are “sick” and I know that I have been trying to get over that idea for the better part of two years.

PATREON SUPPORTER TALE :: Sarah

Sarah is the older sister of a friend of mine, though I met her first.

We played on a soft ball team together many years ago. I do not remember the time overly well, but her smiling face permeates my memories that I do have. We went to elementary school and high school together, but were from different friend groups and did not talk much.

AFTER HIGH SCHOOL she became a regular at my store. Well, the guy she was seeing at the time was a regular, and she just came in with him pretty close to every time.

Oh, how we would talk and joke whenever we crossed paths! Seeing her was a bright part of my week, and I made sure to talk to her as much as I could when she came through.

I really wish we had adventures, but we always saw each other during some engagement that we could not leave. I know we would be closer than we are, but I am just happy to have her in my life at all. She is one of the few people that just understands parts of my life that I cannot describe further.

“I’m doing poorly in school, ya know?”
“Yeah, it’s because of this thing.”
“HEY! YOU’RE RIGHT”

That sums up a good portion of our conversations.

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PATREON SUPPORTER TALE :: Johnny

Johnny is one of my oldest friends. I met him back in grade five when I transferred from Preston Public School to St. Josephs. I was having a rather difficult time making friends, and he was willing, nay, happy to take me under his wing.

Ridiculously smart and very cynical, Johnny was never afraid of offending someone to make light of a situation. He was also incredibly intelligent: Intimidatingly so. He has been designing web sites by HTML since since the age of ten or so, and creating his own electronica since the age of fifteen.

One thing he will always be fantastic about is making you notice reality. The way Johnny regards life and situations is blunt and specific. It is quite refreshing considering most people you come across in life are either very apathetic or hyper particular. When I was having a brutal day, Johnny always had a way of making me realize every situation I was in was temporary.

Johnny and I drifted apart a bit in high school. This was mostly due to us exploring different avenues of life and, therefore, having different interests. Not really conflicting, just different. With that said, we both got heavily into philosophy around that time. This meant that when we did get together, we could spend hours debating the realities of life and the specifics of faith.

Johnny and I did not see each other for about four years when he got to University. I was on tour, he was broke, and life in general just made our interactions next to impossible. We would hear about the other through people.

When I ended up in hospital, Johnny came to visit me a few times. I was unable to express, at the time, just how much that meant to me. I hope that he understands how much he has always meant to me.

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~2015

I am using this thing as just a personal blog site until I get back to updating about health stuff!

Well, we made it. Another year gone. For some, 2015 was glorious and beautiful. For others, last year was a pit of misery and hell. To them, I only offer my hope that 2016 will be better and hugs.

I really wanted to write talking about what happened in the last year in a kind of reflection. I realize that I ramble on and on about what I am up to on a semi-weekly basis, but only when looking back can I truly be objective about the things I experienced.

  1. WENT TO SCHOOL!
    Yes, I switched programs because I hated the one I was in/could not do everything that was asked for me. I’m still here. I’m still doing it. I will succeed. I want to and I have to. It’s costing me too much to NOT make it happen!
    I am far too old for this shit somedays. Somedays I am too scattered. Trust me I say that I will make it happen.
  2. WALKED!
    Okay, that one kind of trumps my last couple of years.
    NOT ALONE mind you, but it was still something I was never supposed to do.
  3. STARTED SOMETHING AMAZING.
    If you have me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you have seen me post links to my works at Mind The Music TO.
    For those of you who do not know what I am talking about, it is a website I webmaster for my good friend Katie Maz. She takes amazing photos of Punk concerts and various other kinds of local shows. I manage most of the HTML as well as write the occasional review. If that sound like your thing, come out and read!
  4. MET FANTASTIC PEOPLE!
    Yep, I did.

Somedays, I worry that I put too much emphasis on my old way of life and I am ignoring things I need to do to make life worth living again. That is something I am going to adjust for this new year. Not that I will stop pushing myself, but I need to spend more time on self-improvement for the short term. So that is what I will do. I spent a year becoming who I am today, and a year trying to get back to what I was. I am done with it. I will just be what I can be. I have the people in my life to let me do that, and some people have already asked why I am not just keeping my head down. I live in this horrible place between being truly fucked up and “normal” and some days pride keeps me from just doing what I need to do. Wow. I typed that sentence and realized my main issue. I suffer from an over abundance of pride. Sorry.

ANYWAY. I got watching this great video speaking about why making New Years Resolutions can be futile, and I know that I will not adhere to anything more that what I usually say. So, I’ll just say that.

My New Years Resolution is to be the best that I can be.

Here’s to 2016.

TAKE FOUR

So I have written and deleted this post four times now. I know what I want to say, but I really do not want to post what I have had in the past.

My solution: I am going to avoid the pity party and talk about the awesome that has occurred in the recent past.

TWO OF MY CLOSEST FRIENDS GOT MARRIED AND IT WAS BEAUTIFUL

The other part of the awesome was seeing all of the people that I had not seen (consciously) in years. It was rather fantastic.

It was an outdoor wedding at a golf club. The setting was quite majestic, and the social interaction was incredible. My dad was on standby if something went wrong, but I either managed everything myself (like a boss), or got a hand from people (there was a grassy hill that was the opposite of fun).

I did not stick around for the dance, which I mildly regret. The ceremony itself was gorgeous and the subsequent dinner was grand. Like I said, I got to see many people I once hung around often. It was really great for my morale.

HEY!

I avoided talking about the horrible!
I feel accomplished!

Seriously; I want to keep the less-fun on the down-low, for now, anyway.

Weddings are a reason to celebrate!

Katie’s Tale

Katie and I have been friends for a very long time. She is one of the few people that have been there through everything.

What I find interesting about her words; she never really goes into specifics, yet alludes to a darker reality.

As she mentions below, I assist her with a photo blog.

——-

I fucking hate walking past that hospital. I mean, it’s an inconvenient hangup to have, because I live about a block and a half south of it. Luckily, it’s okay if i pass it by streetcar. But when I’m walking? I frequently cross the road and cross back at Dundas and at Nassau or College, just to avoid walking past it. Like I said, inconvenient hangup to have. And a silly one at that. I know Jay is still alive, obviously. I mean if he weren’t, I wouldn’t even be writing this. Hell, if he weren’t, I wouldn’t be doing a lot of things. We’ve gotten so much closer over the last however long, and talking to him has helped me through so much shit I’ve gone through, with anxiety and general life-crappiness. Plus, the whole Mind the Music T.O. thing. We used to be lots closer and kind of drifted, and I really love having him back in my life again, even though money/time prevents me from visiting as much as I wish I could.

All the visits that weren’t in that hospital have been fun. Like when I went to Hamilton, and we played the “when you’re in Hamilton” game and then laughed at Justin Timberlake for a couple hours. (No, really, we did.)

My mom drove me there once too, over Christmas-ish-time since we were visiting my family in Guelph. That was pretty cool- got to hang with Jay and listen to music instead of going grocery shopping! There was also that time we watched Men in Black 2, which was the same time I got lost in the snow and cold and wound up somehow walking about 8 times further than I had to to meet them, in the freezing weather, dragging my little wheelie bag through snowdrifts. Jay laughed at me for that, and I honestly can’t blame him.

Hey, look at that. I’m crossing the street to avoid getting too close to the hospital. Metaphorically, that is. I suppose I should make myself talk about that, since it’s how I started this. Like I said, I know it’s dumb. Jay left that place, I talk to him regularly. But I just can’t pass it comfortably. Every time I do, I get nauseous. And I mean, if it were just nausea, I could deal with it. But I constantly get vivid mental images of something else that I forgot that week, that week that we all thought would be the last week. The impossibly tiny brownish paper cups that we kept chugging water from just to have something to do amid the heavy silence of the waiting room. Everyone taking constant smoke breaks outside, trying not to cry. They’ve painted over one of those zones and made them non-smoking, since. The broken look in everyone’s eyes. Talking about happy times. Meeting Luka for the first time. Lydia’s sweater, I can’t remember if it was cream or light grey. Something pale. Rahib wearing his work jacket and having to leave eventually to go there, I think? The terrible spaghetti I stress-ate in the cafeteria downstairs. Dark laughter turning into anger at some stupid hospital slogan on the elevator doors. People breaking down into tears halfway through actions or sentences. Buying a bunch of boxes of kinder eggs for people from the shoppers downstairs because for some reason I thought it would help, even though even at the time I couldn’t figure out why. Being out for drinks at the beginning of these days, with a friend, getting a phone call from Lydia, and running outside, fearing the worst. Hearing the worst was coming and collapsing on a dirty Toronto sidewalk, phone in hand. People trying to find the bittersweet, telling funny stories from years ago.

Everyone hanging out again who used to years ago. Every word of what I said on his “death” bed. How small he looked, how it didn’t look like sleeping. Doubling over feeling as if I’d been punched in the stomach when I knew it was time to leave the room for what I thought was the last time. How broken I felt. How broken everyone felt. Every time I walk past the hospital, I get a flashback of that week. Sometimes it’s tiny things, like the colour of something, or how the bathrooms smelled like chemical peach.

Sometimes it’s silly things from after Jay woke up, like watching movies with him or how he made fun of me even before he could speak. (Every time I’d visited, he’d been asleep the whole time, and then finally he was awake. I jokingly exclaimed “Finally, I get to see your beautiful eyes!” and his response- such a Jay response- was to immediately shut his eyes. Jerk.)

I know it’s a dumb hangup to have, because clearly Jay is still in my life, and a big part of it. But I fucking hate that hospital.