Grief Is Physical.

This post deals with suicide grief and contains triggers.  I know my last post was also about grief, and I try to avoid doing multiple posts in a row because it’s such a heavy topic – but it’s hitting me hard this year and permeating all the corners of my mind.

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As many of you know, December 1st was the anniversary of my mother’s suicide.  It’s hard to get a description of what grief feels like, because you are trying to describe the indescribable.  The words we have are inadequate, but we try anyway.  Following is a quote about being a survivor of suicide, and what that feels like.  The last couple paragraphs speak to me.  When I came across it at the time, it was a relief to know that others have felt this way.  So I’m sharing it here.  I have often described grief as a hot coal sitting heavily in the center of my chest, burning me alive from the inside out.  Hurting so bad it’s hard to breathe.

“You know, you don’t really ever contemplate the meaning of gone before something like suicide.

Loss is not always just loss. Pain is not always just pain. Anger is not always just anger.

For me, these are things I don’t actually feel anymore. They are just a part of me. They just exist.

I don’t feel the brick on my chest or the lump in my throat. I don’t feel the sad and the hurt. I suppose I feel certain things, but not these. I think the most accurate way to describe it is that something was there and it no longer is.  It’s like I’m one of those anatomy models in your high school science classroom. Someone, the one, has come and taken away all the vital parts. It looks familiar, you can sort of recognize it but it just isn’t right.

My best friend once told me about love. She said ‘The hot, fire-y, bodice-ripping love is intense. It comes on strong but you can’t stoke a fire like that. It burns too hot, uses up all the fuel and goes out. Lasting love is more like this ember. It’s reached the core and is steady and strong. Yes, you have to maintain it but it will sustain you.’ A steady warmth at your core.

When you left, that ember morphed and took on a life of its own. Now I’m burnt, from somewhere near the bottom of my chin down my throat and over my chest; it spread out across my shoulders and stopped right above my belly button. All I feel I can do is stand there with my arms out and display this massive charred raw wound I’m left with. Naked, vulnerable and wounded. I breathe heavy. I stand there not showing anything, no pain or hurt is detectable on my face. Wanting more than anything for you to be standing there, in front of me to witness. Selfish…maybe…probably. It’s how I feel. I hate being the girl you left behind.

But…you…are…gone.”

I had a link in here, but this draft has been in my folder for a long time and the original source can no longer be found, it was taken down by the hosting site.

It takes time, but we do heal in our way.  You don’t get over it, you get through it.  These kind of emotional scars, you do carry them with you for a lifetime.  You will always feel this loss, but instead of letting it go you sort of expand to make room for it.  You adjust to it’s weight.  And someday, it won’t hurt quite so bad. I’m still waiting for that someday.

And that’s okay.

Here are some affirmations from Toronto illustrator Hana Shafi that are making me feel better. To see more of her work check out her Tumblr and Instagram.

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To Love

***Trigger warning: Suicide***

It’s the time of year when I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother’s death. The hardest thing about living with the loss of a loved one to suicide is the seemingly never-ending guilt and anger.

I replay the moments that torture me on a loop – thinking if only I could have done more. Gave more, done more, been more. I’m angry at myself for not being something that I could never be – that no one could ever be. I’m angry that sometimes I lashed out. That I wasn’t always perfect. That I wasn’t a never-ending well of giving.

That I couldn’t give all of me, all that I am, to save her.

It’s supposed to be easy to love someone.

I think sometimes, loving someone is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.

How to pitch your consulting services: A practical guide in what NOT to do.

I recently had to upgrade my license to a Class 4 so the government would know that I probably won’t crash when driving a bunch of people around in a 15 passenger van but that seems really unfair because WAS MY LIFE ALONE NOT WORTH THE EXTRA LEVEL OF TESTING? Now I feel unloved by the government, which to be honest is kind of a regular problem.

I’m getting off track.

I felt like I had leveled up in life. Like, if life were a video game, the ‘badge unlocked!’ screen would flash in front of my face and give me a gold star.

Except.

The rental van – which was so big it was more like a bus – was way fancier than my little beater car and it had a bunch of buttons on the dash that I had never seen before. I asked my trainer about them but she was like “just ignore those” but I can’t because BUTTONS and I couldn’t ask my driving tester guy because I was afraid he’d be like “you don’t know what those buttons are?” and then take away my fancy license.

If you managed to follow that you also get a gold star for your ability decipher bullshit.

That one’s important.

And, sidenote, it’s funny that I have a fancy license because I am the same girl that proclaimed, upon entering a friend’s car;

“Ooo, automatic windows and air-conditioning. Fancy! My car is manual everything, and you know what I do when it’s too hot out? I die. I stagnate in a car so hot it would be illegal to leave a pet in it. What does this button do?”

And then, a week later, I stated that I couldn’t drive a stick. I was with the same friend, and they gave me a look of utter confusion and said “Didn’t you say your car was manual?”

“Oh no, not like that. It’s automatic. It’s manual everything else. Like, I have to manually roll down the windows and stuff. That’s manual labour, ya know? Manual.”

I was dead serious.

Anyhow, back to the buttons in the van. Now I feel like it will be one of those great unsolved mysteries – I’ll never know what these buttons do and I’m too afraid to push any of them in case one of them is the ‘spontaneously combust’ button, which frankly, would be irresponsible of them to include without clearly marking it with an on-fire stick man.

There also appears to be a to-do list button, and I don’t know much about how these designer features are added but I don’t think you should be creating your to-do lists and driving at the same time.

Seems distracting.

I’m already bad enough at to-do lists.

Mazda, if you’re reading this, I’d be happy to come aboard as a consultant and test-drive your new vehicles in exchange for insightful feedback such as this.

Only automatics though.

The moral of the story here is that it’s been found, beyond a reasonable doubt, that I am responsible enough to transport lots of other adults around at once.

Who wants to go for a drive?

 

 

 

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A recipe for people who can’t follow directions.

I had to make a dish for a staff potluck, and one of my coworkers is vegetarian so I decided to look for something new to try. Because it felt wrong to make something with loads of meat in and then be like “SORRY NONE FOR YOU.”

It would also be decidedly less funny the next time she was handing out paychecks and was like “SORRY NONE FOR YOU.”

Although to be fair, it would probably be hilarious for everyone else.

I’m getting off-topic.

Anyhow, everyone loved it and demanded the recipe so I promised I’d share. Then I was asked if I’d followed the recipe exactly, and of course I did because being exact is very, very important to me of course I didn’t, so I also promised to add notes with my variations.

And the notes turned out to be funny, so I’m sharing the whole thing with you too.

Here’s a photo I took to send to my sisters because when I make things I sometimes like to take photos of it in order to pretend that I have my life together. I call it The Instagram Illusion:

It’s actually delicious.

Vegan West African Peanut Soup

  • Author: Cookie and Kate
  • If it isn’t obvious, my notes are in italics.
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: African

 

Ingredients

  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped (I used a super large one cause that’s what I had.)
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger (I used pre-minced ginger cause ain’t nobody got time for that shit. Have you ever actually tried to grate ginger? It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (Again, I used a pre-mined garlic. There was a time I really enjoyed mincing my own garlic but those days are behind me now. I guessed at how many tablespoons would equate to 4 cloves then doubled it cause I like garlic. But then I had to use less because I ran out. The moral of the story is no one really knows how much garlic I used in the making of this soup.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I used a pink Himalayan salt here, and cause it’s in a grinder I just ground out a little pile that looked like it might be a teaspoon. You might notice my cooking style is very relaxed. The only necessity is music played at a high decibel level. It relaxes the vegetables before they’re cooked, resulting in a sweeter taste. At least, that’s what I yell over the music when my roommate asks me to turn it down.)
  • 1 bunch collard greens (or kale), ribs removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch strips (I used kale. I did remove the ribs, but I didn’t ‘1-inch strip’ it. I just chopped it up. The 1-inch thing felt a little demanding and ain’t NO recipe gonna tell me what to do.)
  • ¾ cup unsalted peanut butter (chunky or smooth) (I went smooth, cause that’s the only peanut butter that makes sense. Also, I used a little more – see why below – so… like… 4 giant heaping spoonfuls. Whatever amount that is.)
  • ½ cup tomato paste* (I picked up little cans of compliments tomato paste. ½ a cup 118ml and my little can was 152ml and there’s totally no way I was save a tiny little bit of this tiny little can so it all went in. I just added more peanut butter to balance it out).
  • Hot sauce, like sriracha (AKA rooster sauce) (three generous swirls, added to the pot in ½ inch concentric circles because I’m not a monster.)
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish (I have no idea how much I used – garnishes literally do no matter. I used a mortar pestle to crush. Actually, more accurately, I WOULD HAVE used my mortar pestle except I can’t find it in my moving boxes at the moment so I just used a shot glass and bowl to crush the peanuts, realizing as I did so how much I was ripped off when I bought my mortar pestle. But this recipe is not the right place for a cultural commentary on consumerism through the lens of mortar pestles, so I’ll leave that for another day. You’re welcome.)

Instructions

  1. In a medium Dutch oven or stock pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and salt. Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes. (I just used a large pot, cause who actually has a Dutch oven? No one living on a not-for-profit salary, that’s who.)
  2. In a medium-sized, heat-safe mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste, then transfer 1 to 2 cups of the hot stock to the bowl. Whisk the mixture together until smooth, then pour the peanut mixture back into the soup and mix well. Stir in the collard greens (or kale) and season the soup with hot sauce. (I just kept adding swirls and tasting until I liked it. I wanted it to have a little heat but not so much it would cause anyone to throw up, like last soup* I made, should they try it.)
  3. Simmer for about 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often. Serve over cooked brown rice if you’d like, and top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts. (I used Basmati rice, cause no other rice matters. Also, I probably simmered for closer to 20 minutes as I thought the kale could use some more softening up.)

Notes

  • Adapted from Cookie and Kate as well as Local Bounty: Vegan Seasonal Recipes by Devra Gartenstein.
  • *The cookbook author suggested that 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes is a suitable substitution for the tomato paste, but commenters report that the crushed tomatoes produce a runny soup (unlike the thick soup shown here). I highly recommend using tomato paste if you can find it. I also recommend Muir Glen‘s organic tomato products—they come in BPA-free cans and seem to be readily available.
  • Most African peanut soup recipes include sweet potatoes. I suppose you could toss in a chopped sweet potato when you bring the stock to a boil, but I liked the soup as is.

 

*The last soup I made really did make someone throw up, but they have terrible indigestion but love spicy stuff and the soup was really spicy. I’d like to point out in my defense, that they said it was delicious on the way down. I didn’t ask how it was on the way back up.

Want to get better understanding of what happened in Charlottesville? Read these.

Like the rest of the world, my eyes are on Charlottesville right now.

I wavered on whether to write about it – I’m not a political or cultural commentator, and people wiser than I are already discussing, writing, analyzing, and illuminating the topic. But I have a feeling that in order to achieve any sort of true change, and move forward, we have to – at least – speak out. To speak up for the people around us. To speak up for what we believe to be good, and true, and kind.

I’m shocked, because it’s impossible not to be shocked by such things, but I’m not surprised. In the Western world, racial tensions have always bubbled beneath the surface while we pat ourselves on the back for how far we’ve come.

We aren’t talking loudly enough about the socially-sanctioned violence that is being inflicted upon minorities. Now, but also before Charlottesville, from before Trump ever came along – although he seems to have fanned the flames.

So let’s talk. Or, in this case, read.

This is some reading that I’ve been doing, in my attempt to get some clarity about what happened. Hopefully, it’ll resonate with you too.

Charlottesville and the effort to downplay racism in America, by Jia Tolentino

“Charlottesville, Virginia, feels enough like Eden that it’s always been easy to hide a certain amount of blood […] What happened in Charlottesville is less an aberrant travesty in a progressive enclave than it is a reminder of how much evil can be obscured by the appearance of good.”

When Does a Fringe Movement Stop Being Fringe?, by Vann R. Newkirk II

“Even the most feared white supremacists in the lore of Jim Crow were just regular white men […] The disconnect in terms is understandable. It’s one thing to see the Red Shirts and Klansmen as bogeymen of the past and imagine their pogroms and mob clashes in the abstract. It’s another to see them manifest suddenly in violent strength, even if one subscribes to the idea that white supremacy runs deeper than caricatures of hooded rogues, and that its long tendrils have always animated politics and political violence in America.”

Charlottesville Is the America That Donald Trump Promised, by Jay Willis

Via GQ.

“Today marks the first fatal terrorist attack to occur on this president’s watch, but it did not come at the hands of that one religious group he denigrates at every opportunity, and whose adherents he wants desperately to ban from entering the country. Instead, it was committed by people who have been living among us all along, quietly waiting for an opportunity that, at long last, has arrived. Hate has always existed in America. Donald Trump just made it fashionable again.”

The Rise of the Violent Left, by Peter Beinart

“Antifa (short for anti-fascist) traces its roots to the 1920s and ’30s, when militant leftists battled fascists in the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain. When fascism withered after World War II, antifa did too. But in the ’70s and ’80s, neo-Nazi skinheads began to infiltrate Britain’s punk scene. After the Berlin Wall fell, neo-Nazism also gained prominence in Germany. In response, a cadre of young leftists, including many anarchists and punk fans, revived the tradition of street-level antifascism.”

What Trump Gets Wrong About Antifa, by Peter Beinart

“Saying it’s (Antifa) a problem is vastly different than implying, as Trump did, that it’s a problem equal to white supremacism. Using the phrase “alt-left” suggests a moral equivalence that simply doesn’t exist […] antifa’s vision is not as noxious. Antifa activists do not celebrate regimes that committed genocide and enforced slavery. They’re mostly anarchists. Anarchism may not be a particularly practical ideology. But it’s not an ideology that depicts the members of a particular race or religion as subhuman [..] If Donald Trump really wants to undermine antifa, he should do his best to stamp out the bigotry that antifa—counterproductively—mobilizes against. Taking down Confederate statues in places like Charlottesville would be a good start.”

How “Nice White People” Benefit from Charlottesville and White Supremacy, by Lauren Duca

“Look, getting a job because your name is Geoff is not the same thing as joining the KKK, but that privilege is precisely the thing white supremacists were working to reassert in Charlottesville. They chanted about not being “replaced.” Their very existence is grounded in insisting on a moral claim to this country as a superior race. They want to continue having every possible advantage based on the color of their skin; that’s practically the mission statement. Most white people are at least aware that they benefit from white supremacy, and yet we stuff down these painfully obvious truths, tending to our cognitive dissonance like a paper cut that won’t heal, worrying more about being called racists than the effects of racism itself.”

Have you heard of goth chickens? Because they’re totally a thing, and they’re fantastical.

I’ve finally found my spirit animal. My patronus, for you Potter fans out there.

So pretty. Source.

This is a goth chicken.

It’s a genetic mutation, of course. All the best things are. It’s known as fibromelanosis, which just means that the birds produce 10x more melanin than your run-of-the-mill Foghorn Leghorn.

Foghorn J. Leghorn – from Looney Tunes, obviously. The greatest show from my childhood. Source.

This means that the Goth Chicken is totally black – from feathers to bones. To it’s black, black heart. The inky colour is so deep it’s iridescent in the feathers, shimmering with purples and blues.

Ermergerd look how cute that baby chick is… source.

It’s feathers, skin, bones, organs, muscle – all totally black.

Apparently, only his blood isn’t black. Cause hemoglobin and shit. Source.

How cool is that? I totally want one. I can keep a chicken in my apartment, right? Plus, in a zombie apocalypse you could eat him. Nutritious and delicious, tastes just like chicken.

I assume.

New favourite music stuffs!

Hillsburn is playing our Blues & Jazz music festival tomorrow, and I’m pumped. Two weeks ago, one of my dear friends (and total music buff) was like; “Have you heard of Hillsburn?” and I was like; “Nope” but then she put on the CD and I had totally heard one of their songs before. So I’m totes hip.

I don’t know what it is about my particular corner of the world, but here in the East Coast incredible artists and creators are literally dripping out of our walls. Literally. It’s kind of creepy actually.

Anyway, I think they must be spiking the water or something. And as long as they’re already spiking the water with talent, they might as well throw some LSD in there too. (Is that still a cool drug? I don’t know what the kids are taking these days.) Would make for a super interesting Saturday. That way we can all chase the dragons in the kitchen.

I’ve gotten off-topic.

Back to Hillsburn. These are some of my favs from their album “In the Battle Years”. Definitely worth taking a listen.

I also really love the last song from that album; “Billy”, but I can’t find a version that will play for me on YouTube so I don’t wanna link it. It’s on Spotify though, and I highly recommend taking a listen. Cause it’s super dark. Spoiler: It’s about murder. But it’s got a super catchy riff so it’s okay.

I don’t know if this will work for yas, but let’s give it a whirl:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/1PXmX2r7fBlpTXpIauTn5t

I’ve heard they put on a pretty epic live show, but even if they have an off-night I’ll likely be mildly intoxicated and drunk me is super easy to impress, so I win either way. Yay me!

If you see me at the show, yes – that is a flask in my purse and no, you can’t have some.

BTWs, the Storytelling Gig went off without a hitch, and as soon as I get the press pictures I’m gonna tell you all about it. It was awesome.

Here’s a backstage picture I took from another Small Halls show that I MC’d in the meantime:

I’m basically a music photographer now.

PS – I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this (cause duh) but drugs are bad. Don’t do them.

PPS – Unless they’re prescribed to you. Then take the drugs.

PPPS – This also feels like an appropriate time to point out that ‘sharing is caring’.

Ermergerd!

I found a new place! Yay for not being homeless!

Also, it’s gorgeous. Totes gorge, if you will. It’s actually a little too fancy for me. I haven’t figured out how to operate the dishwasher. But honestly? I think that’s the dishwasher’s fault and not mine. When I press buttons the dishwasher refuses to respond in any way that makes sense.

I’m naming the dishwasher Scrooge cause it’s so difficult to work with.

In other moving news, I can finally (almost) fit all books onto one giant bookshelf. IT’S MY NEW FAVOURITE THING. I feel like Belle.Today is also a super exciting day! First – this blog right here was mentioned by CBC. I like that they warned people in advance about my cursing. Fair move, CBC. I feel ya.

The other fun thing happening today is that I have a performance as an introductory storyteller for the internationally award-winning Small Halls festival. It’s crazy, I don’t even know how it happened – but sometimes the universe gives you opportunities and you gotta follow them. I’m excited, and nervous. I’ve been rehearsing HARD, and I think it’s gonna be great. I think when my feet hit that stage, as the great Neil Gaiman and Jenny Lawson say, I’m just going to pretend to be somebody who’s good at it.

I’m IN this!

Wish me luck!

PS – I have helicopter stories, falconry stories, and ‘how Domino’s pretty much saved my life on moving day’ stories coming up for you on the blog roll this summer. Stay tuned!

PPS – If you like this blog, don’t forget to subscribe (you can find that in the sidebar —>) so that I can stalk your inbox keep up with you.

A Podcast Story – Pt. 1

OMG – things are happening! Slowly, and piece by piece, but they’re happening.

You know how I’ve mentioned that I’m launching a Podcast, right?

Here’s the logo:

Our tagline is: “Completely unsolicited life advice from two thirty-somethings who have no idea what’s going on…”

And this is the icon:

You can find the website here. It tells you what this is all going to be about. Please let me know if I’m missing something or if you are left with unanswered questions. It’s just a temporary landing site – something prettier will be developed down the road.

We even have business cards…

Business cards make it totally seem like I know what I’m doing right? Right?!?!

And our Facebook just went live. Like, 30 seconds ago. Please like it so I don’t feel like a loser.

My life is still a circus and I may be homeless come the 1st of June cause I haven’t found a new place yet. So send me good vibes please!