The Final Frontier

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13 years ago, I faced a border that everyone inevitably crosses:

Crossing from Life into Death.

I was reckless in my youth. I did things merely out of contempt for authority. I liked to blur the line between moral and immoral. I was a loose cannon.

When I was 16, I ran drugs for a guy named Joe. By no means was this guy a role model. In the same token, he wasn’t some low-life taking advantage of a naive teenager; I knew what I was getting into.

At least, I thought I did.

Heatherington is a particularly scummy area in Ottawa. Nowadays it’s home to a lot of gang activity. In my teens, Heatherington Park was a major pick-up/drop-off site for drugs. Now, let me make this clear: I wasn’t doing work for some big gang or cartel. Which, if I had of thought about it harder back then, should have been a red flag.

The big guys don’t want little fish in their pond.

Long story short, I was doing a regular drop-off in Heatherington. As I got close to the park, I noticed some guys from the bus were following me. I started to get anxious, and before I knew it, 3 guys were chasing me across the park.

Bat to my lower back; I was down immediately.

I went numb momentarily, before the pain radiated through every inch of my body. The assailants were on top of me in no time. Rifling through my pockets, tossing me around like a rag doll.

Then they put a knife to my throat.

I didn’t dare move. They emptied my pockets, then patted me down; they wanted to make sure they got everything. I didn’t dare move. I tried my best to focus my attention anywhere but on the person holding my life in his hand.

Then our eyes locked; I recognized him.

We went to middle school together for two years. He often found himself in trouble for beating up other students. He was a nice guy in general, but his temper always got the better of him; he was prideful.

I thought for sure that was the end for me. I was looking death right in the eyes. I was convinced he recognized me and would not leave it open to chance, that I would turn him in.

Suddenly, his comrades began yelling at him, in Somali (I recognized some of the words from former classmates in middle school.) They stared at him, yelling. He yelled back. And then in a flash, they were gone.

I got to the border, but was spared from crossing.

People often talk about seeing “their life flash before their eyes” in a near Death experience. I had no such moment. Perhaps because I wasn’t truly facing Death; only violence with no motive of killing from my attackers.

There was definite fear, which I am sure is shared with those who have shared near Death situations. Fear not necessarily of dying, but more of pain and torment.

Would it be fast?
Would I in-fact die?
If I didn’t, what would my quality of life then be?

Since that day, I’ve always wondered about why we fear Death. Why, do we put so much weight into something that is completely out of our control?

Is it the prospect of facing the unknown?

We face many unknowns on a day to day basis. Yet throughout human history, we persevere through them. Granted, most of these don’t have quite the finality that Death seems to impose. Since we have yet to find a way to scientifically measure, quantify, or even experience Death, it makes it that much more difficult to want to go through the process. Is Death a pure and simple finality?

Is there an Afterlife?
Will I be Reborn?
Is time non-linear? If so, am I just reliving a series of experiences? Am I stuck in a temporal loop?

Perhaps science one day will advance to the point where we can experience Death, and record empirical evidence. Until then, we are left with the dilemma that Death may in fact be, a finality.

Of course, that doesn’t explain why we fear it.

Many would say they fear Death because they lack a sense of fulfillment with their life. This is more commonly seen in younger persons, who have perhaps not accomplished the goals they’ve set in life. If this is the case, why are so many people complacent and inactive in filling this void? Does the nature of Death itself, not prompt a greater desire for living and learning?

One does not control their own fate; that is to say, whether they live or die. Even those who decide to end their lives, do so at the mercy of their own chemical imbalances; something which they have no hand in.

Since we can to a degree, control our actions on the mortal plane, why are so many of us apt to follow the path of an unfulfilled life?

We seem to hold on to the idea that you must live many years, to have lived a “full life”. Do years really equate to a life lived? I believe most would agree that it is the content of those years that determines this instead. One could live 100 years in a vegetative state, while another 25 years travelling the world, meeting people, trying new cuisines, and indulging in everything our planet has to offer. Who then had the “fuller life”?

Would it not be fair to say: “Collect experiences, not years”?

That’s a lot of questions in one night.

I’ve been taking a philosophy class, and it’s incited me to look deeper into existential questions. I’ve always had a curious mind, but have stopped short over the years addressing these types of topics. Taking this class (plus a fresh new notebook) is opening a new realm of thinking, that is really exciting. It also gives me a chance to put these thoughts into a concrete medium.

I’ve continuously said that I want to be active with this blog, yet seem to constantly hit a brick wall. I’m hoping that since I will have a hard-copy journal, that it will facilitate my blogging ventures. I know that the way my mind works, and catalogues thoughts is a bit messy. However, I hope this blog can become a vehicle for deeper thinking for those who read it, and expanded discussions down the road.

-DFP-

Tides

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I grew up by lakes and streams
Simpler things
People were
Quiet and
Reserved
They didn’t pay you any mind
If you gave them no reason to

We lived
We breathed
We just
Were

Now oceanside
These tides are different
Everyone moves fast
Like all they care about
Is being noticed
They lack
In purpose
In intent
In sincerity

Maybe bigger isn’t better

The freedom of no horizon
Seems fanciful
But where do you go
When you feel
Lost?

-DFP-

Mensonges

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Je te aime
Je t’aime
J’ t’aime
Jt’aime
Et pourtant ça ce peut
Que ces mensonges
Ne vaut plus la peine

C’est magnifique
Le façon que
Tu pirouette
Avec mon coeur
J’ai maintenant le temps
Pour déménagez mes sentiments

On pourrait peut-être 
Loué une cabine
Ou même l’espace 
Où on devrait retrouvez
Votre fierté

 

-DFP-

In Between Dreams

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Sleep.

Yesterday I slept for 14 hours. My monthly “crash” if you will. I used to track my sleep using an app on my phone. I realized pretty quick that it was less a helpful tool, than it was a symbol of how bad my insomnia has grown over the years.

In high school, I wager I got about 6-8 hours of sleep every night

In my binge drinking days, closer to 5-7.

If you believe the last app readings, which were back in November: 4.5 hours/night.

Of course, the app isn’t wholly accurate. It only starts calculating from when you start the timer. It doesn’t factor in how long it takes you to doze off after activating it. It also doesn’t account for waking up frequently throughout the night. Let’s not forget, this is also an average measurement. As previously stated, I usually have a crash once or twice a month, where I binge sleep. My body just can’t handle the fatigue anymore. You could probably safely assume I indeed only sleep on average 3-3.5 hours every night.

My mind doesn’t have an off switch. It’s not that I lead an overly exciting life; the thoughts buzzing are certainly not screenplay worthy. Frets and worries of a near 30 year old are pretty bland, truthfully. I have school registration in roughly 12 hours to contend with, currently. I also have a ticket to a concert tonight that I’m pretty jazzed about. It’ll be the first concert I’ve gone to alone in, pretty well ever. Earlier in the evening, I was challenged to list 5 “Nice Things”. My brain doesn’t typically  lean towards positive things, particularly lately. Since I can’t seem to find sleep though, let’s give it a whirl. Who knows? It may just clear some clutter…

  1. West coast rain on my face. Especially in the morning when it’s still cold and I’m barely awake.
  2. The fact that as the years go by, my handwriting is slowly looking more and more like my Gramma’s everyday.
  3. The hum of a tattoo gun; the bite it delivers into the skin.
  4. Beers that wash over your entire palette.
  5. The unmistakeable sound of a home run.
  6. The perfect snap a baseball mitt makes on a beautifully thrown 2-seam fastball.
  7. A book so good, you have to re-read it immediately since you can’t leave the characters behind…because they are not characters, they’re friends.
  8. Sour-cherry cheesecake.
  9. A seamlessly conceived playlist.
  10. Rhubarb rock candy.
  11. The first cookie from a freshly baked batch.
  12. The first autumn wind.
  13. Cherry cola.
  14. The fizz that tickles your nose, from a freshly poured soda-fountain drink.
  15. The cold-side of the pillow.
  16. Coming home from camp and not being able to wash the campfire smell off your skin.
  17. Not being able to sleep the day before a big trip, while still being able to get up early to get your butt to where you need to go.
  18. Plaid
  19. Being the first to toe the rubber on a freshly groomed baseball diamond
  20. Ocean spray, on a summer day at the beach.

(…so I got a little carried away)

-DFP-

Triggers

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A whole new day
Begins with
Commotion
I never woke
Katy
She cried
It’s just
Common sense

Static’s on the
Radio
All night long
I never made
It home
I ran out of
Steam
Two feet from
The doorstep

Nobody’s putting
A foot to
The peddle
I’m tired
Of writing things
That make sense 

I didn’t say
I wanted to kill myself
Just that
I wanted to
Die
It’s just
Common sense
Katy
She kept on
Crying

————♦————

“The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind.”

I wish I could be, an emotional-history revisionist.

They say that the victors of war, are the ones who write history. In love, are there really any winners if it ends in heartbreak? I suppose it’s those who do the leaving. While they may come away scarred, ultimately they get the privilege of causing the most damage.

They get to make the clean break.
They get to hold the answers, withholding them if they see fit.
They get to dictate future interaction, or lack thereof.

Of course, they also don’t have to live with the same sentimentality day to day. When you make the decision to break off a relationship, it immediately dulls any nostalgia that can be traced back to certain things. Your time is over with that particular connection, therefore severing the need for emotional attachment to places or objects. Those who choose to end things, don’t have to live with: seeing the lamp-post you were leaning against, when I first saw your beautiful smile; or passing by restaurant we had our first dinner date.

Nor do they still struggle with rushing for the Richmond-Brighouse train vs. The YVR Airport one. Not that it has ever made a difference to my commute home; it just always felt cozier in my heart to take YOUR train.

Those triggers are just the ones trained on me daily; they open up much deeper wounds. Thoughts upon thoughts that never seem to cease. Scars that re-open every time I think of:

Our first hug (vice grip tight – I still feel it to this day)
How you were almost always quicker to text first after a date (unless I cheated)
The way you hissed your S’s for emphasis (aww yisss)
Our first kiss on the train platform (one on the nose)
The first time I saw you dance (so beautiful and carefree)
How even though you hate asparagus, you still ate it when I made it
How my hand fit so beautifully into the crook of your back (and how safe it felt)
How a popsicle would please you more than a fancy dinner (Rockets of course)
How Batman will forever be tied to you (Bane voices on the bus)
How I’ll never be able to watch Game of Thrones, no matter how hard I try (I’ll just hear your voice mocking: “Khaleesi” and “Not without my Dragons”)
The way your eyes lit up when discussing your Master’s Thesis

I could go on.

I carry these thoughts day after day after day. I didn’t get to decide I stopped loving you. I didn’t even get to hear when and why you stopped loving me. Armed with that hurt, I could re-write you to all my friends, as a cold, uncaring, horrible wench. The problem with that is, I’ve never been a very good fiction writer.

I didn’t get to make the clean break you did. There is only one way I could have that kind of ending.

Let it be known to history that:

I will always remember you as sweet and kind. Patient to a fault with my weird idiosyncrasies. Beautiful in every way. From your sparkling eyes, bright joyful smile, the sweet slow cadence of your voice, crazy hair, loving heart, and giving soul. In our short time together, I feel like I have enough memories to fill a lifetime…so even though I still lie awake, sleepless almost every single night, I’ll always have nothing but tender thoughts and love for you in my heart.

-DFP-

Because There Were Viva Puffs

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Man have I neglected this thing…so brace yourself, this is a LONG one.

When I started this, it was a forum to remove some clutter from my head. I also wanted to start writing again, even if it was mostly just train of thought, or anecdotes. I used to fill notebooks weekly in high school, and then it all kind of fizzled away. Maybe that’s just part of being young and naive. You have this false sense of pride in things you do because, at that age, you are so sure you’re adult, and mature, and right. Everything you create must be golden. The editor inside your head, he or she hasn’t been born yet. It’s a feeling I hope to rekindle some day.

Then, life suddenly got busy, so this got neglected.

Between taking an online course, tap classes, work, and trying to fit a social life in between, the clutter that’s usually in my head hasn’t formed. There hasn’t been time. Oh, and I finally started to write something again…

k asked me a few weeks back to write her a bedtime story. Of course, rather than let myself go unfiltered and come up with something on the spot, I delayed. Unlike some other writing projects however, (Hello Fairytale Rum-Runners novel and Short Stories about Superheroes in Mundane Jobs!), there’s been some pen to paper. Ok, so I’m not very deep or far into it. Heck, I didn’t even do a flow chart or any character in the rounds (Oh please no one tell Ms. Riddell!!). The point is, pen was put to paper. It’s helped calm my thoughts at night.

k also mentioned the other day that it’s probably about time I blogged on here. Considering I’ve paid more attention to our joint music blog…she’s probably right. I had intended to post something last night. Things got a bit out of sorts though, and the last 30 hours or so have been a bit of a blur. I’m not ready to bore with details…there’s a fair chance I never will be. I will however make use of this sleeplessness to at least write out my intended post from last night.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

I’m not going to sit here and pretend to know what or who extends past our mortal plain. I suppose for lack of a better term (because we are so obsessed with labels) most would call me an agnostic. I’m not a big fan of that term, primarily because it’s so rife with skepticism. Whatever tenants of my spirituality I do hold, are not ones that I struggle with or spend time weighing their validity. I think people have become so focused on boxing a person’s spirituality inside a preset religion (or concrete system of beliefs), and it really detracts from meaningful conversations on the topic.

I’m kind of getting side-tracked though. To start, that preamble should serve as a bit of disclaimer. This post relates to something that extend outside of the “rational” or “scientific” plane. If that’s not something you can handle without being critical, rude, or condescending…this post may not be for you.

ANYWAY…

Thursday was a long day. Since business has been slow at work (oh the joys of tourism dependant retail), I’ve been working on our inventory. We’re just a small shop, so the task seems pretty straightforward. The problem stems from the fact that in the owner’s 30 years of business, no one has bothered to do any inventory management. Last year, it took me 3 months to consolidate 30 years worth of inventory: repetitive SKUs, dead stock, improperly inputted stock, non-existent stock, while also accounting for everything that was ACTUALLY in the store. A year later, I find myself still trying to fight this awful demon.

After yet another full day of going through boxes upon boxes of junk that has been collected over the years, I was ready to go home. I was sore, hungry, and exhausted. My roommate Tara had her parents over for dinner. She made a lovely shrimp/crab sun dried tomato-pesto linguine, and when I got home she had put a plate aside for me. As I was sitting down to eat, Tara told me they were heading out and she was really sorry for the mess in the kitchen. Hey, your parents come over, a whirlwind of awesome cooking for them is going to leave a mess, right? She said: “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it when I get back”.

There are 6 of us in the house for those who are not familiar with my living situation. Paul and Tara are basically the landlords, there’s myself, Rachel, Lyndsay, and Jessie. Lyndsay is one of Tara’s friends, and is also a member of P&T’s church, as is Rachel. Jessie is a home-stay student from China that they are hosting while she goes to school. We are an interesting, diverse, neat group to say the least. Everyone is usually pretty good at helping out when it comes to cleaning up…but hey, we all have our off days ;).

Thursday, I was quite content to have one of those “off days” and take Tara at her earlier word. I devoured my dinner, and decided I was just going to go crash with some Netflix. I felt a bit guilty though, and thought that I should at least put away the dishwasher. That way it would expedite the cleaning process for when P&T got home. We keep some of our Tupperware in the pantry. When I went to put it away, I noticed something I hadn’t seen in years…

When I was a kid, my Grandma was always sure to spoil us with treats. She almost always had a full tub of some sort of gummy treat. Most times when I would go over with my mum and sister for after dinner tea, we would eat the whole thing. Cookies were also a staple. Two in particular: Chips Ahoy! Chewy, which were my Uncle Raymond’s favourite. I thought he was the coolest growing up. He did tae-kwon-do, had a Turbografx video game system, and he had sweet hair and a million types of mousse just like Uncle Jesse on Full House. I usually headed straight for those. The other ones she usually had were Viva Puffs. You know, the ones with the marshmallow on top of a cookie, enrobed in chocolate with a fruit jelly? I was never too crazy about them, but Grandma always had them…so they were nostalgic.

…Viva Puffs. I honestly don’t think I had seen them in 12+ years. I’ve lived in this place for over a year, and I don’t recall anyone every buying them. Tara does all the grocery shopping (mostly stateside) as it’s easier for the household, rather than have 5-6 of us all buying different things.If you’ve read further back to older posts, you’ll know that my Grandma passed away in early December. I was immediately thrown through a loop. I had both a deep sense of sadness, but also a sense of closure. This all goes back to my preface. I don’t pretend to know what happens after a person passes. I’d like to think that our loved ones stay with us in some sort of way, watching over us, keeping us safe. This felt like a reminder, to know my Grandma is still with me.

So after indulging in one, I felt compelled to repay the favour. Sure, there’s no way Tara could have known about this when she bought them. I just felt such an overwhelming sense of love, regardless of the initial intention…or even lack thereof. No matter who you are, what you believe in, returning that feeling in kind is what everyone should concentrate on more often.

After finishing unloading the dishwasher, I loaded it up again. I ran another cycle, then washed all the other dishes. I cleaned the counters and stove, and wiped the dinner table. Finally, I took out the garbage, the recycling, and the compost, despite being completely wiped and grumpy…

…all because there were Viva Puffs.

-DFP-