Weekend Update

It’s been a while since I’ve written and all of a sudden I decided now was a good time. I sat at my desk staring at my screen knowing I have several tasks to do. Not really too many for an average worker, but tasks with a deadline and priority are always a bit stressful for me, and July hasn’t been a great month. I decided to answer the 1800 phone number that has mysteriously been calling me 4 times a day just to see who it was. Bad choice. My morning mood has been lessened a bit by the credit department of Bell Canada.  I get my TV and Internet from them, and although I recently chopped that bill down from over $200 a month to only $125 a month, it still adds up to over $500 when you don’t pay it for a while.

Along with that thought, I have not paid rent yet this month and it’s Friday the 13th already. I have been spending more because of the hospital stay and the daily outing for my medicine IV bag swap. More in gas and more in food.

Today is the first day of the annual convention I always have mixed feelings about. In advance, it agitates me and gets me all wound up with needless anxiety but during the 3 day convention, where I man the Info Desk with friends, I always have a good time. I wish my brain could remember that and forgo the pre-show butterflies. This year, the show is in the middle of this health/finance/life depression but I imagine I’ll still be a happy face to on-comers and regulars. If I could choose an easy job I enjoy, it’d probably be info desk. The faces of others and the smiles fuel me and re-energize me, or at least they usually do. 

This year, with my IV bag sticking out of my arm and my restless sleep habits it may be an extra chore to keep my smile on, but I have faith the environment will keep me up in spirits. I certainly hope so, because my team of 3 is a team of 2 this year so I’m mathematically more important.

We shall see. I’m doing my best to believe my optimism and ignore the impending doom of a poverty lifestyle.

It has to start somewhere.

There is an old saying; if you have to start somewhere, it might as well be here. It wasn’t referring to blogging.

In my case, more sickness and poor health may be on the way, or so goes the path of my imagination at the slightest sign. On day 10 of my hospital observation/recovery, I am starting to fall back down a little, and wondering if perhaps, the other health-related issues may show up.

I guess we’ll see. I sure hope my liver and kidneys and whatever don’t fail while I’m here. While I am not entirely unhappy in this place, I don’t really want to stay longer than I need to. I don’t want to give medical staff the opportunity to see me worsen.

It’s also day 10 without drugs. Day 10 without eating Hershey’s kisses and Tootsie roll fruit chews as my main source of food.

I expected all my withdrawals at once to have a more substantial effect, as I have experienced Cold Turkey before.

I hope that doesn’t just come on Day 12, and the doctor knew it all along. That would suck indeed. I flip-flopped between living through suffering, or selecting Monty’s door #2 and choose the ultimate in Instant Gratification… Hospitals seem fairly well designed to keep any suicide tools out of my reach, but that may be because I didn’t really look too hard.

I no longer have any interest in suicide. It’s virtually off the table. The only reason I can’t tag it a 100% no, is because I am in a place where I see ultimate suffering on multiple levels and that scares the shit out of me.

I am not afraid to die. I am afraid to ALMOST die… I am afraid I will want to keep living, even if in a veritable hell. 

In Canada, as far as I know, suicide is still illegal and even in a hospital, everyone will always work to save you, even if you’re screaming LET ME DIE at the top of your still recovering lungs. I watched my father ask to die many times. It was horrible but not nearly as horrible as seeing how close I could be to that. 

I came into this hospital not really “with it” enough to know what was going on. I recovered to mental clarity on day one and have spent the next 9 days trying to breathe a little deeper, but for the most part, feeling like a healthy being told day after day after day that I had to be here another day. Recovery.

So I did what I do. I embraced my now and started being a spectator. I watched the nursing staff and the patients. The joys and sorrows and the panic and agony. I watched grown men in the middle of a happy conversation with family, suddenly gasp a second breath and transform into a screaming panic without awareness of where they were. Literally, mid-sentence from a hospital bed with a nurse to a man who thinks he’s in a war being bombed, or in another case, a very loud man asking why everyone was in his house.

I tried to imagine what that would be like if it were me. I tried to ponder whether my years of mental training in understanding my own mind would let me tackle that kind of panic better, but of course, all that training did, was help me better understand how easy it is to lose your sense of self.

Perhaps that is the “Later Jeff” I have referred to, that lives on the other side of my wall of tomorrow. The version of me I have been burdening with all the life-long troubles that I ignored and abandoned and handed off tag-team style to tomorrow. 

I understand the idea of a mental breakdown. It’s when that version of yourself is asked to step up and be accountable, finally. The amount of shit that will rain down on me when that day comes will be heavier than I can even imagine.

I talk of my current mind being skilled at joy crushing but when the time comes to be responsible for all my procrastination shit, it might just be mind crushing. Soul Crushing.

——

Our family lived through an extended period of decline when my Grandfathers mind started to fade. He hit all the landmark symptoms that are all too common today but were new to us at the time. He’d do things I never really could understand, like hide the daily newspaper in some of the weirdest places. We found copies year old as many as 10 years later as I remember.

When my father started to fluctuate his moods, even more, than previously and at the starting edge of what we learned would be a similar decline, it was doubly terrifying. My Grandfather didn’t know what was happening. He didn’t have perspective.

My father had a roadmap of misery to anticipate both filled with the fear that starts in your 50s when you begin to struggle to remember specifics, but also with the full and total awareness of how it affected his family. 

My father was a proud man and one of those subtle intellectuals that truly understood how many things worked. He was a secret inventor of solutions and he was a fixer of things. He built much of our first house and and and…

And then one day, it was clear he no longer was.  It might have been as simple as no longer being able to fix the coffee maker. Whatever it was, he detected it before we did, but it wasn’t his secret for long, mostly because he could not hold back his anger, now doubled by his newfound incompetence. That is probably not a fair word for me to use when describing dementia, but it was the word he used.

From his perspective, my father had become useless.

I wasn’t present for much of this. It was too painful on so many levels. I developed my own anger but mixed with sadness and fear. I took on a bit of a “not my problem” approach and visited two or three times a month, which was supposed to be every week at the minimum but I’d make up reasons to appear busy for as many as I could without suspicion.

From the beginning, I could see this pain crushing my mother, and I tried my best to keep down my emotions of how bad it must be. Having lived my own life without really ever having to face the bad stuff, I would just use sentences like; I know I couldn’t handle that.

Sadly, I believe I am much stronger than my mother was. we were both witnesses to how father affected each of us. We were the team that could make each other laugh after a session of tears caused by his anger and mean words.

The task of being caretaker to a man who she probably still loved, but must have not-loved as much inside her head was not one you’d look forward to under normal circumstances, but when you are given the responsibility of caretaker and that person is loud and scary and mean in new ways even harsher, you either can — or can’t.

Something snaps inside and you transform from John and Mary Goebel to Patient 1 and patient 2. It’s not unlike throwing your entire life of memories and cares and wishes and desires over that wall of tomorrow with the understanding somebody will take care of you. It might even have been a percentage voluntary.

I’m not insinuating that my mother was faking it, or that she really wanted to decline in that scary way. I’m more likely to believe something we have yet to discover is the cause, but I can’t deny that “going crazy” has been something I’ve considered as a solution to that day yet to come when I am asked to choose. Will I live on during the decline suffering mentally each day to remember? First to remember details about the story I am telling, followed by an even more frustrating struggle to remember the people I am sitting next to telling the stories too.

It’s selfish, but I will claim my fear is even greater than my father’s because my entire existence as far back as I can recall has been to not be a bother. The mantra of “don’t interrupt, don’t agitate, don’t annoy” is why I am so weak to progress in life. Asking anything of anyone is so hard for me, I don’t do it.

Asking somebody to help me finish my sentence will be hard, but asking somebody to help me do EVERYTHING is an inconceivable burden.

Is it fortuitous then, to add to this horror, the fact that I don’t actually have anyone to ask. I have no wife to put through that.

This is the point however when I think of my Mom, On her second loop of watching her life loves change and become a chore.  I’d choose crazy. I know I would. I might even break down far before it comes to that.

For the next several years, the two of them declines together but I wasn’t present. Throwing that responsibility over my procrastination wall as is my way, it was intercepted and accepted by my sister, the family elder. Julie had lived a life almost in preparation to be the family saviour. Her youth was divided between a social life, a school life, and a hospital life.

From her birth deformity to a slew of recurring visits, it wasn;’t surprising she pointed her goals to nursing and care. I believe Julie is also the strongest willed and stable minded of us 3. 

To be honest, I never really knew either of my sisters. They were 7 and 9 years older and gone by my age 10.

There was some guilt on my part, having thrown my parents over that wall, but the more you live a life without inconvenience and tragedy, the more you need to. I was conditioned to instant gratification from the start.

For me, my parents died about 10 years before my parents died. I do my best to not regret or feel too bad for that decision. When your mother doesn’t know who you are, I didn’t feel the need to continue that sadness. 

Loop 3.

I have had memory issues of my own since — I do not know. 

I’ve been obsessing over it for decades, and it has helped me in my work on understanding the brain a little better and how it stores memories vs stories. I have a full memory of the stories that have been told from my youth but am unable to remember people or emotions or things that happened. I don’t remember any order to my past. All my memories of saved as separate, recallable self-contained stories and in most cases could have happened last week, last year or when I was 30.

I’ve worked my skills as a storyteller around those limitations and have almost been successful in not talking about my bad memory because I have enough stories ready to go as to appear functional.

In truth, I suspect I saw my first red flag triggers a few years back that I may be on that same path forward, except without a spouse. 

When my mom started to decline almost simultaneously, most of the people we encountered were surprised. Dementia wasn’t usually a contagious illness and the likelihood of two people living together contracting symptoms at the same time was so rare, the extended care homes all claimed it was a first for them to receive a request for a couple.

To me, it seemed more obvious. For 30 years, at least once a week or more, we’d all eat a sausage casserole out of that same aluminium pot. I can visually describe that pot even today with enough detail you could sketch a picture. I especially remember it’s deep grooves caused by years of wear from continued stirring and washing.

It is conceivable the pot was over 60 years old, as I do remember a great many of our dishes were owned by my great grandmother. The plastic bowl and spoon I have used to eat cereal is possibly as old as plastic. I often wondered how much lead or pewter dinnerwear contributed to the madness of our ancestors. As I remember it, history is filled with people going looney later in life.

I blame that pot, but even still, I’d give anything to have another serving of that sausage casserole or the locally famous singular meal my father ever cooked; Noodles and Breadcrumbs, also from the same pot.

Believing the aluminium pot was part of the decline comforts me only in knowing they probably ate from it more than 40 years more than I did so maybe I am not destined to follow them.

My memory issues are just as equally caused from that time I slept a night in a teeny camper trailer in Florida and woke up smelling gas.  The oven had been filling the camper presumably for 9 hours or more. Brain damage is to be expected, but I never pursued it. I also thought it made a better story without confirmation but since that time I have used that as my fixed point by which I have no personal memories previous. That would have been about age 40… ish.

I’d be content with this level of insanity and memory loss if it didn’t get worse, but I’m 54 and it will. It already has.

——

It’s 10pm on a Sunday. My second Sunday in the hospital. I’ll start my new routine to sleep shortly, and they’ll come drip another litre or so of antibiotics into my arm. Then I’ll struggle and toss and turn all night, inserting some NetFlix binging in between restless cycles.

Today was a hard day at times. Fathers Day. I’m on a reasonably quiet wing on the eighth floor, but when the shouting starts, it is so coincidentally similar to my Dad’s loudness it was hard to listen to without reflooding some of that sadness back in.

I’ll be glad to rest, even in 15 segments and wake up. Tomorrow is a new day. A new week. A new mood.

Happy Monday’s Eve.

End of Part 1, June 17. 9:58pm.

I think I’ll spell check and do some slight editing. I might share this one a little more publically.

 

My TO DO List solution – sharing.

A few years ago when I was deciding on all the life changes for the second part of my life, after having found myself living alone for the first time ever, one of my favourite discoveries was how much the simple act of sharing a TO-DO list changed everything. Each morning, I’d load up yesterday’s list, check off tasks completed, write a brief summary of my day, and share the list with someone. Over time, the WHO changed, but the simple process of updating it daily and sharing it with another changed tasks into responsibilities. A witness to procrastination helped to motivate me more than I was able to do on my own.

This year, I slowed my progress down in most areas for various reasons explored in the other pages of this blog. One of those things nearly abandoned was my TO DO List. The people I was sharing with were among those emotionally affected by some of my newly expose drug habits and our interactions seemed strained because of it. With no reactions at all, the act of sharing the list changed. Sharing was no longer motivating, but how transitioned to being yet another source of guilt and sadness. Another display of my failures, recapped every day.

I’m building myself back up, and I need that to do list and the motivation of friends and family, so I look forward to the upcoming spring weather, and a newly refreshed me.  This is the email I sent today, but I suspect I’m on the lookout for a new share recipient. It’s not a hard job… Being alive is a plus, but not a deal breaker.


Monday May 7, 2018

Dear Friends and Family.

After several successful years of sharing my TO DO list every morning with you, the messages were being sent less and less. As of May, I was not really sending any at all.

Like a sign on the wall that becomes part of the background after a week or so, the TO DO ritual became less helpful. We were pretty much ignoring the process, and it contained unfinished items for over a year. It became almost a mockery of itself.

I looked for systems to replace it, but a TO-DO list that is effort also gets ignored so I just kept doing what I do, working on the tasks of whoever was complaining about being ignored each day. I kept remembering the old joke of the man who returns to the shoe repair shop in his hometown after finding a 5 year old ticket in a pocket and he’s told; “They’ll be ready Tuesday”. Customers never liked when I told them that joke as I would give them a similar reply to why their job was still in progress.

However – I do need to see a to do list now and then. I do need to be reminded that some tasks are being ignored while the “fun” ones are tended to. I don’t function without reminders and nags. My brain has difficulty with recalling things on it’s own, especially when so many new and shiny things are in front of me.

Now more than ever, I need to earn my income again after a reckless short stint of financial comfort that came and went too quickly.

Today, on a Monday, I have been re-energized by necessity and a new found joy in web design thanks to a new development tool that allows me to enjoy even tedious projects.

I want to do good things again. To be active and productive at least a few days each week.. so I return to my TO DO list, shared with you.

If you still have interest in assisting, then feel free to interact and inquire about some of these tasks. I hope to check some off with regularity and maybe shuffle them around in order to help me choose between the past-due items which all have equal priority in the eyes of the long waiting clients.

If you don’t, that is fine too. The act of sharing has a purpose, even if not used interactively. It helps to provide a guilt-based responsibility just knowing somebody else is witnessing the stagnation, even if only occasionally. If you’re alive and you saw this message – it’s helpful. If you didn’t read it, then I don’t know that, so it still works. Parts have been casually redacted for privacy reasons.

[_] Magic Pigeon Racing
[_] John VanO stuff
[_] Stiv
[_] Litespeed research / changes
[_] NetBound.ca
[_] Discovered BlowerTech site needs a lot of work for unknown reasons.
[_] Sinwal
[_] Lino
[_] Carrasco
[_] Domain Check for Arctic, Stivervale

[_] Email inbox read/respond/purge
[_] ALWAYS Laundry…

 

Life Changes

I’m losing my morning person abilities.  The winter and spring of 2017… I’m not waking up energized and dtsrting my work day anymore. I’ve even lost my proide in being a morning person.  I hate it. I have not gained the late person powers. I still want to go to bed before 10pm… but I no longer like waking up at 6am and geting a lot done before noon.  Most days I’m not starting work till after 9 now. The days are getting longer, but my work days are getting shorter. That’s not right.


I want to say FUCK OFF a lot more now.

In my 20’s I may have wanted to say FUCK OFF once or twice to somebody.  In my 30’s maybe a few more times.  It seems in my 50’s I want to say it almost weekly.  Oooooh fuck off. It can mean many things.  It can mean; shut up.  Please shut up, or OH MY GOD WILL YOU PLEASE STOP TALKING.  I can mean, YES, I GET IT!.. Are you kidding me?  Noooooo!  Oh FUCK OFF.  IT’s a satuisfying term, even if it’s just in my head.  I’ve hardly ever said it out loud… but vthe amount of times I’ve mentally thought it – often accompanied by an eye roll is way up.

In recent times, the meme; “Zero Fucks given” or similar has become a part of pop culture. It’s not quite the same as FUCK OFF, but it has a similar patern. People who care less, are far more irritatimng thgan people who care, even if they only care one or two fucks worth.  If you have zero fucks to care about something, I probably want to say FUCK OFF to you.  You’re probably irritating as fuck.

I wish I could transfer some of my fuckks cared to you.. but I don’t think it works that way.

Hmmm… is that what GIVE A FUCK means?  Care.  MAKE LIVES MATTER.

I could wear a T Shirt that says EVEFRYTHING MATTERS but the black people – or the people who give too manhy fucks abiout everything might protest. IN 2017, BLACK LIVES MATTER is a phrase a lot of peoplem give a fuck about it seems, even if it’s just to complain about somebody else not giving a fuck about it.

Oooh fuck off is a phrase to me, that is one step short of a face slap.  Some people deserve a face slap, but I understand such an action might land one in jail, or if you’re white, at least get a scolding.

I could write more about this but…. awww. fuck it.

The TV I watch 2016

We’re a few months into the 2016 seson, and a few shows have already been cancelled. It’s time to list the shows I still watch weekly.

 

In no particular order

The Daily Show with Trevor noah
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
@Midnight (occasional)
TMZ (occasional)
Dragons’ Den (occasional
Drunk History (occasional)
Tosh.0
22 Minutes
Rick Mercer
Jimmy Kimmel Live (occasional)
InnerSPACE (occasional)
Still Standing
Saturday Night Liv
Supernatural
The Great Indoors

The Big Bang Theory
Rosewood
South Park
Lethal Weapon
Survivor
Brooklynn 99
Timeless
Conviction
Travelers
Murdoch Mysteries
Lucifer
Elementary
Rizzoli & Isles
Class
Doctor Who
MacGyver
Notorious
Simpsons
Family Guy
The Good Place
Good Witch
Conviction
Four in the Morning
12 Monkeys
Dark Matter
The Librarians
Angie Tribeca
Border Security Canada
Braindead (if it returns)
Four in the Morning
Houdini & Doyle (if it returns)
IZombie
Killjoys
Last Comic Standing
Lucifer
Private Eyes (if it returns)
Saving Hope (if it returns)
Sunnyside
Timeless
Whose Line is it anyway?
Penn & Teller Fool Us
Wizard Wars

The Emergency Room

There are a few places in life people need to wait. Some lines you can avoid, or do without. Some lines you can schedule and return at less busy times.

It’s hard to avoid the waiting room at a hospital. I suppose the rich can pay for better treatment in some cases, but I like to believe we’re all fairly equal in the emergency room.

That’s nor to say people are treated in priority, giving aid to the bleeding or unconscious first, but in the room I find myself in today, we’re all just sitting here watching the time pass by, each dealing with the hours in our own way.

The family with an impatient child is to my right. He either cries, runs around, or screams in joy but he never stays quiet. His parents react as if this is clearly the norm for him. They’ve gotten over the embarrassing stage and the need to apologize. It’s just the way it is.

Another man to my left is asleep. He hasn’t moved much for a while, but I’m confident he’s still alive. Up until recently I thought he was just resting with closed eyes trying to block out everything else. I myself have trued that technique for as long as I could. Recently however he’s transitioned to the new phase of sleep where his chair sprawl has gone more wide. I hope he doesn’t miss his name when they finally call.

Two separate people are playing games with the sound on, although low. The older boy beeps with a schedule that makes me think it’s a match game, but not Candy Crush. I know those tones and tines well. The younger boy is playing some farm game. His phone makes oink oink, cluck cluck barn sounds with irregular frequency.

The mother, daughter duo to my immediate left are discussing how theur life will change if she’s told she can’t eat junk food anymore. She asks her. Mother if she’s ever even tried Kale. Apparently everyone is talking about kale now.

For an emergency room, nobody seems to have any visible emergencies. We all sit together and wait our turn. The names are called out slowly. In the two or more hours I’ve been here, only a few have moved.

I suspect there are different areas for different levels of emergency. I’m in the O Zone waiting area, sponsored by John Vince bulk foods. Clearly a lower priority emergency room waiting area.

Finally, after just over 2 hours, I get to go sit and wait in my own room. I don’t know if it’ll be another hour, or a shirt wait, but it’s certainly less fun to be alone. This place is new… But not like my diction office. There are no gruesome pictures of lungs or intestinal tracts on the walls. It’s just me, a chair and a bed… And a basket of soiled linen next to the chair which might have a slight odour.

I wait.

My visit today is one of the irritating ones both for me and the staff. I’ve got one of these mystery ailments that wasn’t in the text books. That means more tests and guesses. I made the mistake earlier of comparing the doctors diagnosis with my own work with computers.

“I know it’s not the same”, I started, “but I know the frustration of these cases when you have to use experience to figure out what’s wrong. I have similar issues when I am diagnosing computer problems. There is always that case that doesn’t quite match your training.”

It seemed like I may have upset him comparing his years of dedicated schooling about the human body, to my experiences troubleshooting Windows 98 crash issues.

“nobody dies when I get it wrong. ”

I went to far with that one. We didn’t speak again. He sent me here, to the hospital. I don’t have that luxury I thought. If I can’t figure out why you’re getting a blue screen of death, then you keep getting it. If I send you to somebody else, they’ll reformat your machine and start over.

Lucky doctor I thought.

Not really. I would certainly have preferred he knew the answer. Now I sit and wait for hour 3, fully aware that these new eyes may be equally stumped and need to hand me off yet again to another line in another building.

At least I’m away from the screaming baby.

The new face arrived shortly after and proceeded with some of the same basic tests I’d been subjected to twice already, but that was to be expected. I was happy he agreed with me more than the first doctor. I probably didn’t have a stroke.

As a computer service guy, I made it a personal policy of mine, and those I had working for me not to badmouth those who came before. I never trash talked whatever the previous support person dud, whether it be a friend, another IT specialist, or a blue shirt at Best Buy.

It was nice to see this doctor had the same policy although his face told a slightly different story. Almost a discust for whatever doctor had come before having told me I might have a mild stroke.

First if all, he said, if this was a stroke, it would have been a full on stroke, nothing mini. If you can’t move your arm, that’s not mini – – and you certainly would have at least one symptom.

I had full strength in both arms and all my faculties. They asked of I knew my name, and the date and a few other questions. I was hoping they’d ask who the president was, like on TV. I wanted to answer; Donald Trump… Oh no. I have lost my mind.

I didn’t get the chance, especially since this is Canada, but I had to make the joke anyway. It was funny to me, so I said it anyway, but with a laugh to make it clear I wasn’t delusional.

After we established it was probably just a normal shoulder injury, most likely created by sleeping position, weather, and my old shoulder injury, I was walked to the MRI machine for the confirmation.

The nice technician helping me on this portion of my journey was surprised to hear I was looking forward to this procedure. “I don’t hear that very often” she said. I explained that it’s a new story. Lots of people see these things on TV but few get to experience it.

I made a few traditional jokes about metal and the terrors of TV episodes, and emptied my pockets like at the airport.

“Luckily my teeth are all plastic now. They used to contain a lot of metal.”

She reacted professionally with a smile, despite probably having heard most of the same jokes a hundred times before.

Following this, I walked down to the next room and got the x rays. No. Lines or waiting at either of these stations. Then, back to station one for some blood letting and then full circle back to the waiting room.

I’m not sure what comes next. I assume I’m waiting for results to be examined, and then one of the four doctors or nurses, or perhaps a new one will consult with me and send me on my way with some instructions.

Hour 4… I’m not certain why I have to wait just for them to tell me I can leave.

Maybe if I was rich.

Waiting….

One last unneeded test and one more sit in the waiting room, but I’m told it’s all ok. Some physiology therapy and I should heal.

Only 5 hours.

 

Fame Adjacent

I have a very social relationship with many of my clients, having served them often for over 20 years now. One client of mine that I consider a friend, has a 19 year old son with amazing talent, and has recently started down the path of a singing career.

As is the industry’s way, they’ve been told he’ll be a star. He has talent, and a great look. he writes, mixes and records his own music with skill.  A lot of big names have participated in his growth.  people are excited. It’s a slow process to become an overnight success however and much of the past few years has all been preparation work.

When I visit, I hear a lot of stories, but nobody really has any solid way of knowing whether he’ll hit big, or be one of the many close, but no success stories. Does he have the “IT” factor the girls will love?  As a 51 year old straight male, I can’t say with any experience, but the moment that inspired this blog was his appearance on the Canadian MMVA show I’m currently watching. The MMVA show is a huge live concert and awards event held on the streets of downtown Toronto, broadcast around the world. It’s a huge deal in Canada, much like the MTV movie awards.

290x240_FrancescoYatesHe wasn’t one of the performing artists yet, because he’s still to new a name, but he did get to come out and be an award presenter.  To me, he seemed a little more awkward than the other guest presenters.  HE just didn’t have the same smoothness that the other presenters did, although this may be somewhat related to me seeing him and being more critical because I know him. I know he’s been on all the radio and TV morning shows across Canada recently, as his first release hit the radio, but for most Canadians, this may be the first time they’ve seen him.

I’m not sure he nailed it. He does have a cool hairdo though, and maybe that less smooth awkwardness is part of the appeal they’ll be marketing. He’s more real.

It’s weird having such a close, yet far connection to celebrity – or near celebrity.  I have met him a number of times when I came to his house to install a printer or fix the network. He was the one to nickname me Frogman. In reality however, I don’t have any real connection, and I doubt he could pick me out of a line up. If I said Hi to him walking by on the street, he’s most likely wave Hi back, but not know who I was.

Still, I was close enough to the story of his rise to feel excitement and some odd form of pride for him. I got to hear back stage stories, and photos, and early unreleased music.  It was a cool feeling. I dreamed of being a part of the entourage. I tried to convince his mother I should be his onsite technical support, and go on tour with him in the bus. That was a silly fantasy, but I imagined it.  Sadly, musicians use Macs anyway, so I’d have been useless as tech support.

In any case, I wish him well, and if he does ever get to be a household name like Avril Lavine or other Canadian music stars, I’ll always be able to say; I knew that guy.

 

Jeff Goebel: My Origin Story – Chapter One.

Memory Master _35__0001In this moment, I have decided to blog my life story, with the possibility of adding a second chapter any time before I die. In other words, I write as the mood strikes me, and I’ve had little success with organized structured writing.

My memories of portions of my life are scarce, but I can still tell my story. I was born John Jeffrey Harry Goebel.  My mother’s father was Harry Francis, so as bad as Harry was to a kid of the 60’s it wasn’t Francis.  My father’s name was John, and although that is my official first name, they chose to call me Jeffrey, or Jeff as my norm.  I was Jeff Goebel, and only a very select few ever found out the full name. I was born October 19th, 1963 and was told my entire life, I was one of the very first children ever born in the Georgetown Hospital’s new wing that allowed them to perform paternity care.

Later, in my 50’s I celebrated this fact in a Georgetown forum online, and was contradicted by people born a year ahead of me in the same hospital. A bubble burst inside my head, and I felt actual sadness at having lost a point of pride.

I was the third child of John and Mary Goebel, and arrived 7 and 9 years after my sisters.

I have a surprising number of visual memories from my life from birth to age 7, when I moved away. I can remember the names of my two neighbourhood best friends at the time, but was never able to find them on Facebook. I remember preschool a little. This was true mostly because there were some strong stories from that time that have been retold over the decades.  My mother was the Nursery school teacher. I remember a girl I may have had a crush on, Kathy Toast, who I re-met again in High School, just to say Hi.

Ijefftux remember the school and two of my teachers, although some of that memory has been boosted every few years by the school photos I have of Kindergarten and Grade 1.

I remember the places I played, and a few stores. I remembered the hairdresser, presumably because I may have had to wait at it for hours some days.

I remember Golden Fish and Chips and Scott’s Chicken Villa.

Oddly, I seem to have a talent for remembering floor plans of everywhere I’ve spent much time. I remember the floor plan of this house. I remember some of the furniture, and I remember eating cereal at the kitchen table. Scattered memories, many of which are not of the originals, but of the stories my family told. Like the History of our nation, the stories replace the truths.

I have memories of several very specific stories, as my parents would retell them for years. One of the most common, was the group of stories retelling four of my personal life accidents and injuries.  Apparently, early Jeff Goebel was a klutz.

#1. The exploding Canada Dry Bottle.

Sometime before age 5, I allegedly dropped a 750ml (26 fluid ounces at the time.) bottle of Canada Dry Ginger Ale from the counter to the floor, and it “exploded” on me. I do not know the full extend of the damage, but to this day, I have three strong deep life lasting scars on my left hand, which I occasionally use as a starter to this list of baby injuries.

#2. The Pipe Incident

pegsThis story contains two visual memories you need to possess, in order to fully visualize this injury. A 1960s era swing set, and a wooden hammer and pegs construction set. Already you may being imagining what may have happened to me within this scenario.  I was Popeye father, and the kid sitting on the swing, was my child.  The wooden hammer from that toy, by luck, happened to fashion a rather perfect Popeye pipe, at least to the imaginations of two five year olds.

When you are a kid with undiagnosed A.D.D using a gigantic oversized mallet as a hammer, and you stand next to another child gleefully swinging up and down on a swing – you may have a better understanding on how I damaged my throat and almost lost my larynx – or some similar, but equally important component to human speech. Apparently the hospital stay was extended. There is no cast for the inside of your throat.

#3. The infield eye ball

I have a visual memory of this injury, although I’m certain I am remembering the story, rather than the incident – but for this one, I have a bit of shame. I can’t quite believe I would have been so stupid. I am sitting on the single wooden step outside my home, that leads to the front door we seldom used. I can picture it in my head clearly.

I was spectating a sporting event happening in the front yard. While not quite a full baseball diamond, my two sisters were pitching and batting a game. My Grandfather Harry was the first in my experience, as “one of those people” that somehow seem to be good at everything they try. In his time, he had been minor leagues in baseball, fantastic at Golf, and other sports.  I was too young to participate, and this was the beginning of me watching sports, and not trying to participate. I sat and watched.

The stupid part was from where I was watching. If you understand the way batting works, you hit a ball, and it goes up and forward. They certainly couldn’t bat towards the house, so naturally, my Grandfather was standing directly in front of me swinging away. At some point, I like to believe I got excited and ran towards him, but apparently I was just sitting on the step, and his back swing cracked me in the head.

Not as powerful as a front swing would have been, but enough for a black eye, stitches and a scar that has lasted to today. The facial scar, as it happens isn’t as bad as it could have been cosmetically, but it does slice my left eyebrow nearly down the middle. It is a slash through it showing my white skin.

#4. Catch and Release

By this point in my life, it was clear there was a pattern. I got hurt more than my two girl sisters. As I understand it, there were other examples, not as story worthy. I don’t have any specific memories of being beaten up or abused… just real sincere OOPS moments.

For one summer, probably in the final year of the 60s, my mother was scared to let me outside alone. As she tells the story, I wasn’t allowed to go out where I could get in trouble. I remember this was the beginning of my life struggling with boredom. I had energy and liked to be active.

One day, she agreed to let me enjoy at least the sunshine of outdoors and sit on that step. The same step I had previously failed as a spectator. The bad memory step.  As the story goes, a random act of God’s wrath, a neighbourhood teenager walked by, and his fish hook swung all the way to my face on that step, and looped through my nose. I was caught, and nearly lost my nose. We were able to stop the boy and remove the hook without a slice.

Year later at my mother’s funeral the story was re-told by my oldest sister as having happened somewhere else, a little more logical. At Acton Fairy Lake campground beach, which was a regular place we took the trailer in the summer.  I accepted the correction, and forgave my mother for changing the venue to close an anthology story. It worked better as a story in front of the home.

This was one of the earliest examples of the story replacing the truth. Parents are masters.

These four events are often used as part of my mother’s story about why we packed up and moved from that house, to farm country. We moved 20 minutes away to a suburb village of the small town of Georgetown. I had to change schools and be bused.

For the first three grades at the end of the 60s, my commute to school was crossing the street. Our home was on the corner opposite the school yards. It was my playground.

For my Mother, we decided to  move to the country because I was getting to hurt as a town boy. I would be safer with no friends, and no access to concrete or traffic. Although I was too young at the time, I suspect we moved because my Great Grandmother Gertie had died. It was her house, and we just lived in it. My guess is we had enough money for a new home better suited for a family of five, and they were much cheaper in the country, we could afford something really nice.

I remember a single visual memory of her in the hospital, probably the last time I saw her. She was blind and frail and I don’t know that I ever had much of a relationship with her.

We packed up the family, and moved to Balinafad.

 

 

 

SNL Layers

I just finished watching this week’s 2014 Christmas edition of Saturday Night Live. It’s odd to feel cheated that hardly any celebrities showed up this year. The only cameos were three former SNL Characters – so far anyway.

The demographically perfect boy band One Direction is actually growing on me. They were not bad, as I expected, given that I’m over 40. It’s supposed to annoy me. I’m nearly grandpa age.

The sketch that made me stop the playback and blog, as the one set in the past, with three “dames” in a bar who seem quite bat-shit crazy. The conclusion actually had a way to explain it for a quality ending, at least to me. It made me smile. I won’t are it’s rare that I enjoy an SNL sketch through to the end, but it’s not unheard of. 

However, the part that most impressed me, was how hard the sketch must have been. This entire show has really had a lot of hard song and dance numbers. It always amazes me how well these talented people are able to pull a song and dance routine in 4 days, and still pull it off with precision.  In my head, from my history with community theatre, the first few weeks are still horrible… but I suppose 3 days is easier than 1 day every week for three weeks – in some ways.

 

The part that impressed me, was a swinging song sung by two of the women, and Ammie Adams. Although not dancing, the lyrics were jibber jabber read from cue cards and yet they sang all three together without error.  I want to believe it was a live take, because it’s Saturday Night Live, but back stage shows have implied some times they play the dress rehearsal versions.

In any case – they did it – twice. Well. It made me smile on two levels. Giving respect to the dedication and practice, or the amazing talent of people doing things I tell myself I could never do.

That kind of live comedy show with minimal rehearsal is an amazing skill. Saturday Night Live is a success because it’s done live. I hope that never changes.  All other sketch shows are comedy. Saturday Night Live is theatre.

It was always my dream. I never wanted Second City. I wanted to be on, or write for Saturday Night Live.

Since I can remember, I’ve liked scripts. I think it stemmed from my two first editions of the Holy Grail first draft and movie script, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I first read as the original radio show scripts.

With undiagnosed attention deficit disorder, I grew a fondness to sketch comedy rather than long form scripts. I wrote sketches. As a kid, I watched every single sketch comedy and variety shows on TV, and in the 70s, there were a lot.  Everyone had a variety show, and I watched them all, from Any Wiliams to Jim Stafford to Shields and Yarnell to Avery and Shriver and even the singers and Bobby Vinton too…

Saturday Night Live wasn’t just sketch comedy. It was theatre like my Mom did, up on a stage with fake sets and an audience. Plus, it was restricted to late night, so you had to be older that me to stay up late and see it.  I missed season 1 live, but starting with season 2, I don’t know that I ever missed an episode. Our early VCR was Beta, so I sometimes missed the the last 30 minutes, because they only recorded one our.  I fast forwarded past 70% of the musical acts I think. I love music, but live music on TV doesn’t’t hold my A.D.D interest past the first few bars when I see the set furnishing.

Number one on my buckers list has been Saturday Night Live for 30 years. I literally have dreams of being there, and have every year since I was 15. Usually something horrible happens… I had nightmares about giant lobsters that night.

I may have given up more than half the things I used to watch on TV. I’m watching less, and my PVR was filling, but I always like to watch Saturday Night Live each week I can, usually on Sunday.  Live-ish. I have never given up on them, and their Doctor Who-like cast changes. I’ve never complained about one cast over another.  I love the concept.

It’s similar to South Park, in turnaround. Each is about this week’s funny… and yet, they stand up in time.. at least a few a season make the highlight DVD for future generations.

Thank you Saturday Night Live,m for being a part of my life story, and tonight’s Blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Artist Thirds

I go to a lot of places where artists show their work. Not so much official art galleries, but smaller marketplaces and shows. Festivals and public displays where artists rent small booths and try to sell their paintings or jewelry or other hand made work. I enjoy these events and like the idea that I often get to talk directly to the artist creators in person. I almost never have the money to spare to buy this kind of artwork, and in many cases, even if I did, I probably would not. I don’t wear jewelry, and I don’t use pottery or trinkets much, but I still enjoy the conversation, and respect the artist skills.

One of the things I like to say to an artists, is that I believe they have 50% talent and 50% patience, and I don’t have enough of either to be like them. I offer respect to not only their skill, but the incredible time and dedication it takes to do what they do. I like to let them know I understand the time they put into their art is appreciated. I tell them when their work made me smile, and I understand it’s not all about the cash. I can’t give them money for whatever reason, but I can give them the gift of knowing their work made someone happy, and they are appreciated for the effort spent.

2014-12-14 14.12.01This past weekend, I was at event called; “The bizarre of the bizarre” and it showcased a more unusual or odd side of art. Lots of skulls, and twisted designs with weird styles. Stuffed plush Zombies and other sculptures and paintings that fit the description bizarre. Even if I didn’t like the content, I still wanted the artists to know I respected the work. I tried to compliment everyone on their skill, even if I didn’t especially like the blood and gore of the piece.  For the works that had obvious time consuming obsession, I used my line; “I always say an artist has 50% patience and 50% skill”. I certainly couldn’t sit still long enough to do this sort of thing.”  It often opens them up to talk a bit about how long it did take them.  More often than not, the effort is shocking, and you begin to realize artists need to do it. It is their expression and their passion and their release.  60 hours of work may only sell for $30.

I try to respect the craft, even when a small part of me sees artwork I consider easier. Things the back of my mind says; “I could do that” or even has the nerve to think; “I could do that better”. I know myself well enough to know the truth. Even if I could do the skill, I couldn’t do the patience. I’m, not great at discipline, and although I may be able to start such a project, my attention would wander and it would lay unfinished.

Sometimes art makes me sad in this way. Since I was a child playing mind games, I would often ask myself; if I could have one talent I don’t have, would it be to play music, or to be able to draw. I usually choose drawing. My life would be so different if I could draw. In truth of course, my life would be different either way. The life – and brain of an artist is different than mine. I should not be sad that isn’t me. An artist is a different kind of person, and al to often in the past, I have criticized or belittle it.

Today, this blog was inspired because I clicked a link, and was watching another one of those time lapse – or perhaps they call them hyper-lapse movies about the city I live in. A video set to music that showcases Toronto. There are a lot of them out there, and the first one you see is amazing. You watch it all. After the 5th one, they seem similar, but no less special. Just less watchable for me. I not only lack the patience to be such an artist., I sometimes lack the patience to be a spectator too.

In any case, this time I watched the video with a sadness. In my head, I was thinking that photography is one of the easier art forms. A specialty of seeing, and using technology to capture a mood. I was a photographer. I had training, and an excellent eye. I had equipment. I was good – years ago. As I watched this video, I didn’t see anything spectacular. I just say photos, and video clips set to music. The package was pleasing but (in my head) nothing I could not do. It made me sad I could not be an artist, even when I had the pure skills.  I was missing something.  Not just patience, but the ego. The confidence.

I herby amend my standard artiest breakdown statement.  An artist is more than 50% patience and 50% skill.  I will now split them into thirds, and add the third that is perhaps most key;  1/3 confidence.  A true artist not only has the skill and the ability, but the ego to say their finished product is art. Many people can play the guitar, but only some have the inner confidence to call it art.  Many people can build a sand castle, or turn a pottery wheel, or take a photograph, but some of us – rare special people, call it art – and stick a price tag on it. In some cases, the ego is so powerful, it borders on arrogance, but even bad artists have fans. If you tell me your drawing of a dog is art, I believe you.

No matter how bizarre it may be.

Art is patience, talent and an attitude.  Artists have a mindset.

So now there are three reasons I don’t think of myself as an artist, and that’s ok. I know I’m good at things they may not be. Maybe they can’t remove a virus off their artist computer, or design their own web site. Maybe they even think to themselves late at night; “Gee… I wish I understood Windows 8 like that guy does.” In their eyes, they may even think I have such patience, talent and confidence when they watch me zip my mouse around the screen.

Everyone is different, even when we’re the same.