Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Days After Hershey (Part II)



Thursday, February 9th ...
                                             My friend Mairead invited me to go watch her and her dance troupe perform at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre.  I gladly accepted without any hesitation.   I was feeling stressed out from too much work and grief.
                                            I was in badly need of a diversion.
                                            The performance was excellent. I was so impressed by the dancers' timing, agility, and endurance.  Amazing!
                                             I'm not sure if people were supposed to analyze the performance or not, but I did.  In the first half of the dance, the three performers pushed; pulled; and tossed each other around.  At one moment they seemed to be assisting each other by pulling one another to a standing and position, or dragging them out of the way. At other times they were pushing each other away or turning their backs on one another.
                                             The second half of the performance was lighter, humorous. Each dancer carried an egg, sometimes multiple eggs.  They balanced them on their feet or other parts of their bodies. Eggs were placed upon their closed eyes and inside their mouths.  Eggs were strewn ałl over the stage and the performers tried their best not to smash these fragile little things, but an occasional accident occurred.
                                             The dance was all about life, I thought. The pushing and pulling of humanity, of nature,  constantly changing from the beauty of nurturing of others to the harshness of pushing each other away in anger.  It's all a continuous beautiful and ugly swirling mess in which we are all dancing. A tender cuddle here, nameless people get killed over there. Beautiful sunshine in one place, a terrifying tsunami in another.
                                              The eggs, of course, symbolized the fragility of life, of our environment. Most of us are respectful of the environment, or at least aware of its delicate balance, but there are those who act like they're taking cartons of eggs and intentionally smashing them to smithereens. Bastards!
                                              I realized many things as I was watching Mairead perform. Although I may feel like all of my anchors are gone (by this I mean those who love me unconditionally and are with me consistently), I am not really alone. I have many people who love and respect me. That's fantastic! I am also a member of this beautiful, ugly, swirling mess. I am part of humanity, the nature that envelops us all. Yes, I have this feeling of being alone, but nobody is truly alone. If only we reached out a bit more.
                                                I also realize that I had the same thoughts and feelings (did I really go through this, did this actually happen?) many times before. Hershey was just the newest surreal experience in my life. It wont be easy but I know the pain will subside. I've gone through so much in my life and I've always come through the other side.
                                                 As life changes, so does its tune and I need to find the next rhythm for this dance.
                                                I love you, Hershey!





Friday, February 10, 2017

The Days After Hershey

Warning! This post may be difficult for some people to read, especially if you're experiencing grief yourself.  And yet, if you're able to get beyond the sadness there's always hope.


That day ...
                  Did that really happen?  Did I just spend a whole incredibly awful and nerve-wracking day only for it to end even worse, like some fucking rancid cherry on top?
                  Emotions and memories got all tangled and jumbled up. As I held his furry frame close to me, cooed softly to him, and stroked his paw and head, memories of my mother and of Rob came to me.  Sitting with my mother in the hospital, waiting, waiting for the inevitable end. Rob, almost thankfully, had already passed when I had arrived.

Later ...
              Food?  My stomach felt both full and empty at the same time.  Must I eat? I must. I know that I must eat in order to survive.  I must survive not only for myself but for people who love me and depend upon me.
             Emailing, scheduling my employees, doing the payroll, and training a new person - it all seemed too much to handle! And yet, I did it all because of the reasons mentioned above. I also finished the three paintings that I had been commissioned to do for a show next weekend.  Plus, I went to the St. Lawrence Market two days after Hershey's death.
             Life continues to go on no matter what.

Counselling day  ...
                                 A torrent of tears fell from my eyes as I tried to unravel and understand the emotional mess I was feeling.  Like my mother and Rob, Hershey had emotionally branded me as his. I felt torn up inside: sad, angry ... lost.
                                 All of my anchors were gone.
                                 Afterwards, I had a lemon loaf and a frappuccino with Alana at Starbucks and that cheered me up a little.
                                 Brittainy and I had dinner at Sambuca's, and that made me even more happy, especially since an old friend of mine, whom I hadn't seen in ages, came up to our table and started reminiscing about the first time we had met twenty years ago.
                                 Memories of that particular evening, from ages past, flooded my mind, and I found myself smiling and chuckling.  I remember I had been selling my note cards to people all up and down Church St. That's when I met Paddy.  She had bought a package of cards, and she and her friends liked me so much they took me out drinking.  I don't think they had ever assisted a person to get drunk before because they called Rob as soon as I started coughing a bit.  Rob, in his usual matter-of-fact tone, said, "Yeah, she does that.  It's nothing to worry about."


(Part II will come later.  I'm tired ....)


Friday, February 3, 2017

My Sweet Hershey Bar




It is with tremendous sadness that I need to tell everyone, that yesterday at 6pm, because of a massive tumor on Hershey's thyroid, I had to put him to sleep. I was with him right until the very end, and I'm very glad I could give him love and support in his last few hours. Like his name suggests, he was such a sweet cat and I'll never forget him and never stop loving him.

 Rob had named our other cat Rascal Houdi after a song by Max Webster.  I struggled to find an appropriate middle name for Hershey.  Hershey Kiss?  No ....  Hershey Penn (after Penn & Teller)?  Naw.

I don't know why but in recent years, in my mind, I would call Hershey my sweet Hershey Bar.  If I patted him and he'd close his eyes and purr, letting me know that he like what I was doing, I'd think to myself: I love you, my sweet Hershey Bar.  I love you!

(Yes, I know, this is sounding corny and maudlin, but I promise you that there's some cute pictures ahead.  Plus, give me a break.  I just lost my cat and I'm drinking Scotch and feeling sorry for myself.)












I love you, Hershey! And, I honestly think that you felt the same about me. You were funny and clever and sweet. I'll never forget how you carried your rainbow string and sang to it or how you could open doors. You were an amazing cat and friend. Most amazing of all is that you actually forgave me for running you over as a kitten. But we had almost 11 fantastic years together afterwards.

If there is an afterlife and you run into Rob please say hi and give him a nuzzle for me.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Back on Track Part II (The Sequel)



I didn't have the time yesterday to say everything I wanted to convey.  As always, I had a million and one things to do!

Today, however, I'd like to continue my train of thought, about feeling like I'm back on track, about feeling more optimistic about my life and the small part I have upon the world's stage.

Firstly, on Saturday, I went to an OCAP meeting.  Shamefully, I haven't been to one in ages - but it is one of my New Year's resolutions to get more involved and try to make a positive difference in the fight against poverty!  I felt inspired to do just that as several members listed the victories they had won and battles still to be fought. I admired their passion and dedication to fight for/with poor and marginalized people.

On Sunday, I did more work on my painting.


I don't hate it now.  When I look at the painting, I see an abundance of possibilities.  It's not exactly what I had originally envisioned, but what the hell, sometimes you just gotta go with the flow.

And speaking of possibilities and going with the flow, I was asked to take part in a group art show.  The theme of it is going to be on A Midsummer's Night Dream, and I'm supposed to paint four pictures for the event.  I'm very excited about it all!

In closing, because yesterday I listened to one of Martin Luther King Jr's speeches on Democracy Now, I'd like to quote from the great man himself:

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that."

May we all shine a little light of love, hope, and tolerance upon these uncertain days - and may our light shut out the darkness.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Back on Track


Last week I was depressed. I had a cold; I had piles of things that I had to attend to; the gloom of the winter weather; the constant barrage of noise from the construction outside of my building - these things brought my mood down to the lowest it's been in months!

Another bloody condo, I fumed. Who needs that? Most of the people I know are poor and struggling to find affordable housing.

I'm up to my ears in emails and I should update both my website and the employee schedule. I feel absolutely useless if I can't stay on top of things.  I'm supposed to be perfect, right, like Mom was?

My painting is crap.  I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! This isn't the vision I had, it's turning into something else. Maybe I could paint over it and start over ....

I hate Donald Trump!  He scares me.  The people he has appointed scare me too. They all seem to be filled with hate and distain for minorities, women,  and people who are LGBT. If you're not white; male; privileged; and not for war, oil, and big corporations they have no regard for you and want to beat you down.

Where's a rock that I can hide under until the dust settles?

That was my thought process last week. However, since then I bumped into a friend of mine who lives in my building. She told me that she was fed up with the abusive and disrespectful way that the attendant care service had been treating her. She had applied for Direct Funding so that she could hire her own attendants.  Unfortunately, she said that it could take two to three years to actually get the funding because there was such a demand for it.  I pressed her to go to the media and tell her story about the terrible conditions from the attendant service.  I had done this eleven years ago and it had made such an impact that I'd gotten Direct Funding within six months! If nothing else, it might make the government funnel more money into the program.

I felt good about helping my friend. I also felt good to realize that I'd had Direct Funding for eleven years.  In fact, this month is the anniversary of that wonderful, incredible event.

Happy anniversary to me! Happy anniversary to my freedom! I weathered the storm and had come out a happier, stronger person.

Do your worst,  World! I can take it!

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Message to Rob on Our Anniversary






Happy Annie-versary, Sweety!!!! Twenty-nine years ago today, we met at M'goo's for ice cream. It was love at first sight.  Twenty-two years ago today, we got married . It was the happiest day of my life!!!! We shared so much together throughout the years, both good and bad.

I miss your touch, your scent , your laughter, your curiosity and enthusiasm for for anything computer related. I miss being close to you, not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. You were my "go-to-person, and I was yours. We shared any kind of news, both good and bad. With simply one look, we knew what the other was thinking.  There a million other things I miss about you, too, Rob, but it would take years to list them all.

You have no idea how much I love and miss you, Rob Warenda, no idea at all!!!

I hope that wherever you are you're thinking of me too and of all the good times we shared.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo







 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

It Is What It Is


I was going to do a review of my year in photos and give a detailed account of how I struggled to get healthy again and get back to my normal routine. Not to blow my own horn, but I'm so proud of myself for doing just that, as well as doing three art shows as well.

I was going to share the fear, frustration, and anger that I feel towards the world around me too.  Ironically, I think that these feelings are part of the problem with the world.  And it's reasonable to feel this way when you have very little and your whole life is a continuous struggle. It's when fear turns into hate and prejudice that everything becomes this gargantuan mess.

Friends and family said that they are depressed and overwhelmed about the political horizon , and so am I.  It is what it is, though, and just wallowing in these feelings of helplessness won't help anything or anybody.

I don't know about anybody else,  but I'm going into 2017 like a tiger ready to fight against greed, prejudice,  and people who have no regard the environment or for other people.

Happy New Year, everybody!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Weird Week


Life has been so weeiiirrrd this week!!! 

Alana, me, and Brittainy on Halloween
First, on Halloween, I lost two credit cards, one debt card and my iPad Mini.  Fortunately, I found them fairly quickly - thank goodness - but boy, did I sweat bullets until I got everything back! In an age where your actual identity can be stolen, people have to be so careful ....

On Tuesday, I received an email from a camp counsellor who I haven't seen in forty years! It was so great to get in touch with him. The best things I remember about Claremont Camp are this guy, the beautiful scenery,  rug hooking, and canoeing.

And then,on Thursday afternoon I ran into a friend who I hadn't seen in ten years.  It was so good to see him, catch up, and laugh at our memories.

Later that day, I took both cats to the vet. On the way home, I had one cat on my lap (in a carrier) and one (in a carrier) behind me on my wheelchair. It must have been such a funny sight!  (Both cats were meowing loudly!)  And yet, this guy, who was obviously high as a kite, came up to me and started rubbing my hair and saying, "Wow. Your hair is so beautiful and vibrant!"  He didn't even notice the cats! 

Of course, I raced away from this guy as fast as I could!

Today, at the market, this customer told me that she'd had a dream three nights ago about somebody writing on a board: "A.K.A." So, today she came by my booth and saw my signature and I told her those are my initials and she said, "Oh my god! I had no idea what my dream meant but it's like I was destined to meet you!" I was very touched when she began to cry and told me that she had a sister with A.L.S.
.

It's been an eventful, fun(ny), slightly weird week.  Except for that weird guy who touched my hair, it was great to connect and re-connect with people!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Anne Boleyn Who?



On Saturday I dressed up as Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort to King Henry VIII of England.   Some people knew this historical figure, but many did not. So, I had to recount the tale many times during the day.

Tonight, because it's Halloween, I'm dressed up as Anne Boleyn once again.  So, I thought I'd retell her history here.  It may or may not stop people from asking Anne Boleyn who?


Anne lived from 1501 to 1533, making her only 32 when she died.  If she hadn't met good ol' Henry she might have lived longer.  But Anne lost her head over Henry - literally!

Because 1) Henry had gotten her sister Mary pregnant and then dropped her like a hot potato afterwards, and 2) Henry was still married to Catherine of Aragon, Anne rejected his advances at first.

However, because Henry kept pursuing Anne,she basically challenged him and said no sex until you divorce your wife and make me your queen.

Out of love/lust for Anne, Henry attempted to do just that.  I say "attempted" because Pope Clement VII refused to grant him a divorce.  In ordinary circumstances this might have been possible (royalty at that time could get divorced in the blink of an eye), but the pope's hands were tied because Catherine's nephew was the Holy Roman Emperor whose army surrounded the Vatican menacingly.

Henry and Anne got married anyway. The pope, of course, excommunicated Henry, but Henry basically said, Fuck you - I'm going to start my own church and do whatever I want!  Plus, all of my people will agree with me that my first marriage was a sham. True to his word, Henry founded the Church of England and orchestrated an annulment to Catherine.  And, because he was such a powerful schmuck of a king, practically everyone agreed with him, and those who didn't simply kept quiet.  (Except for Thomas More, but that's another story ....)

 Nine months later, Anne gave birth to a girl named Elizabeth, who later became Queen Elizabeth I.  There was much pressure for Anne to produce a male heir because, like any patriarchal society, males were/are viewed more valuable than females.  Unfortunately, Anne never produced a male heir, but kept having miscarriages.

Because of this fact, or perhaps because after three years of marriage the bloom had fallen from the rose, Henry's eyes began to wander to one of Anne's ladies in waiting named Jane Seymore.  Fearing history repeating itself, Anne naturally objected and Henry resented her jealousy.

Things went from bad to worse.  Sensing the king's displeasure, Henry's advisors poured poison into his ear and made him believe that Anne was sleeping around with multiple men.  They even  accused poor Anne of  practicing witchcraft. 

Then came the shit show.  The men who were accused of having sex with Anne (including her brother George!!!) were tortured until they confessed, and then they were put to death.  Anne, to her credit, denied all of the accusations to the bitter end and professed her love to Henry, who very kindly ordered the best swordsman in France to cut off her head.

Thanks, Henry.  You're a gem of a guy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The More Life Changes the More it Stays the Same


Life can be funny sometimes.  Take this morning for example ....

I opened up Facebook and it gave me a "memory" of nine years ago, when I was at a demonstration fighting for the rights of people with disabilities.


I laughed to myself because I had planned on going to another demonstration today.  How fitting that Facebook memory was!


Today, the other OCAP members and I were at City Hall to fight against the discriminatory practices that govern the Housing Stabilization Fund.  The HSF provides support for people on Social Assistance struggling to obtain or retain housing in Toronto, but there's so much red tape and so many hoops to jump through that it's almost impossible to get this funding.

Funding, it's always about fighting for funding.  ODSP and OW are the insufficient funds that poor people and people with disabilities try to survive upon. (If you have kids it's even harder!) Funding for shelters, funding for affordable housing.  They cut, we fight, gain a little headway, lose a few battles -  and then we start all over again!

Will I still be going to demos in another nine years?  If need be - you bet your ass I will!

However, hopefully, by then society will smarten up and learn about empathy and kindness.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I Met This Cool Guy Named Nav






Every week I meet new and interesting people at the St. Lawrence Market.  It's one of the many reasons I like selling my artwork there.

This week, I met this cool guy named Nav. What made him so cool?  Well, he explained to me that every day he takes a picture of something/someone that has a positive vibe and puts it on Instagram, Twitter, and  his blog  (http://navsproject365.com/).  Every month Nav goes to a different country, takes pictures, and gets to know people.

I'll be honest, as I get older I get more and more cynical. I look around me at our society's obsession with sports, fashion, entertainment and think is this it?  Shouldn't we be doing more?  Shouldn't we be fighting for social justice and trying to save the planet from impending doom? Are we all just one mass of Nero's fiddling as Rome burns?

Certainly, many people do fight for causes (solidarity with the people in North Dakota, for instance, fighting against the pipeline!) but it seems like most people are complacent as long as we have food, shelter, and a comfortable life. Or, perhaps we don't know how to fight, so we put blinders on.

Having said all of this, Nav's philosophy got to me and I wondered what if everybody in the world took notice every day of something/someone with a positive vibe and passed it onto other people?  Perhaps we would become more connected on a deeper level to each other and understand each others' experiences. Also, if we viewed the world in a positive inclusive way maybe we could come together and fix the mess we're in.

Just a thought...



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Run Wild, Run Free



So, this is a text conversation that I had this afternoon between my good friend Roger and myself:



Hi, Roger!  A bunch of friends and I  are going to see 
Equity at 6:30 would you like to join us?

What is Equity?
A movie based on a true story.

Sounds good.
It's a thriller.

Which cinema?
Plus, we're having pizza either before or after 
the movie, which is at the Carlton cinema.

Oh okay well I know how to get there :)
I'll let you know about the pizza!

Sounds good
That will be three consecutive pizza nights :)

Actually I ordered pizza on Saturday and 
it lasted me until last night! But I love pizza!
Remember Trash and "Hut Damage"?

Oh I remember Hut Damage
LOL those were the days!
Yes they were

I didn't have teenage rebellion years, it only 
started when I met you guys...And thank you!
LOL
I'm still having mine...or do they call that a midlife crisis?
(Picture of Roger beside his motorcycle.)

My philosophy is go with the flow. By the way, did 
you read my latest blog post about my mom having 
recurring dreams about riding a motorcycle?

No I didn't see that one. 

It was mostly about her love of birds but I also 
included her dreams about bikes. Not to psychoanalyze 
her but I think part of her yearned to be "free".
I think most of us have that. 

Pretty much I think.

Pizza at 5! Woo hoo!


After my conversation with Roger about pizza, the movie Equity, and our wild and crazy times during the late 80's and early 90's, a parcel of merch came for me.

One item was a set of note cards with the design of a black dog running.  I had to smile; the original painting was called Run Wild, Run Free, Dhalgren.


I thought to myself, in my own way I run wild and run free ....



Kinneret and I at the underwear show at Cafe California!

Birthday party at Royal York Hotel

Fresh dye job & new dress

On my 2nd  Belini

Holding McLovin'

Sexy cat stockings

Happy to see Larry & crew from Indiana

Leon at my art show opening

Yuula, me and Seth at my art show opening

Roger & I at Laura & AJ's wedding

Me, rocking my new gold outfit at the market

I hope that everyone can occasionally run wild and free, if not physically then spiritually..

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Bird Woman of Guildwood


Four years ago today my mother passed away. As you can imagine, I've thought of her a lot within these 24 hours. Memories flood my mind which bring both joy and sorrow.

However, one thing has occurred to me and I don't know why I haven't thought of it before. My mom was a bird woman. Sure, growing up in Guildwood Village Mom took care of all our pets (dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils and even a lizard named Isaac) and I honestly believe she loved all the creatures, she was especially nuts about cats! Our cat LuLu was our Mom's very favourite pet. "LuLu is a lady," she would proudly say.

And yet, we had a bird feeder in our backyard and Mom had a book on birds too. If she saw an unusual bird she would look it up in the book to figure out what species it was and what its habits were.

I also vaguely remember her saying that if she was reincarnated she wanted to come back as a bird so she could fly high in the sky. That was my mom. I think part of her wanted to fly or run free like the wind. She would tell me how many dreams she had about riding away on a motorcycle.

It was odd too, because birds seemed attracted to my mom as well. On two separate occasions, on the patio of City Grill, this small sparrow would come and perch on her head. Most people would freak out and scream but Mom just laughed and jokes that maybe it was trying to nest in her hair.

I've inherited my father's vast slide collection, and one of the thousands of slides was one with my mom with two parrots perched on her shoulders.

On Mom's last day on earth, my cousin Lesley looked out the window and said, "Aunt Verna, if you're out there give me a sign." Immediately a hummingbird flew by and my cousin took it as a sign that my mom had been reincarnated as a hummingbird. I'm not sure about anything to do with reincarnation, but I got a tattoo of a hummingbird in honour of my mom.

Mom, whether you are a bird flying high in the sky or a biker chick, I hope you're having lots of fun! I love you.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I Am Very Busy


My friend Alana gave me this pencil case.  I laughed when I saw it.  Often when I'm asked, "How are you?" I reply, "I am very busy!"

Which is true.

When I came home from the hospital and I was well enough, I painted.







In fact, I'm preparing for an art show right now. It'll be at the Weird Things Gallery on August 18th.

I've gone to see Cripping the Stage, met the Lieutenant General, had fun at Pride, and went with my friend Leon to see a film about Frank Zappa called Eat That Question!







And now that I had my G-tube removed two days ago and I'm feeling fantastic, I'm going to be even more busy!

Watch out world, I'm coming through!