Life after life

So I was going to write about how all the critics were wrong in saying that Don Draper in the Mad Men finale was actually dreaming up the iconic "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" Coke ad while he was seemingly blissing out in California. I was sure that was wrong because the origin of that ad is well known and documented, and series creator Matthew Weiner had not previously done that much fictionalization of history.

But apparently that was exactly what Weiner had in mind. He thinks the Coke commercial is the greatest ad ever, and so of course Don was behind it. Which makes zero sense to me. But Don is Weiner's character, and if Weiner thinks the height of enlightenment is an ad that co-opted the idealism of the 1960s to sell caffeinated sugar water, well, that's his prerogative. And it's mine as a loyal viewer who thought the show pretty much rocked to think that he's a bloody idiot for having Don's journey finish that way. To borrow a '60s phrase, it feels like a cop-out.

Anyway, since Mad Men is done, and done in such a way that makes me care less about it (at least Peggy and Joan's stories came out okay), I'll move on to something else.

A little over a lunar cycle ago, on the day of the new moon, I made a sacrifice to my goddess. Really, an actual sacrifice, in more ways than one. I hope she appreciated it. I had already been making changes in my life. On that new moon, I resolved to make more changes, including some important ones.

The first two weeks were a bit rough. Good days, bad days, bad hours within good days and vice versa. Going cold turkey off something that has been integral to your life is not for the faint of heart. But as I relearned how to love my real life, there were good things that helped me along. Saw an excellent local production of My Fair Lady. Saw a very good documentary about clothing production called Traceable and got to catch up with two of my favourite local fashion people. Had a great dinner at Fable that was part of Eat Vancouver and met two lovely guys who later invited Sweetie and me over for dinner at their house. Enjoyed some Doxa (documentary festival) films and the excellent documentary about Kurt Cobain, Montage of Heck. Saw a great show by Sleater-Kinney at the Commodore. Had more dinners with more friends. And drank too much only a couple of times.

I hope my friends know how much I appreciate their love and support through all of this. They mean the world to me—people I've been able to spend time with as well as people whom I would like to see but for various reasons (including distance) have not been able to see. I received a beautiful note from someone far away who is very dear to me. I have been touched many times by small acts of generosity and kindness. And through it all, my beloved Sweetie has been there with her strength and love.

I'm also grateful for other things that have kept me out of trouble and helped me rebuild. Femme City Choir has a pair of shows coming up very soon—June 5 and 6! (Hint: buy tickets.) Songs and choreography don't learn themselves. I volunteer for Out On Screen, the organization that produces the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, and it's one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable things I do. Tomorrow, I will take delivery of a whole lot of new native plants for my garden, which I will place according to a plan drawn up by an excellent landscaper who really knows his BC native plants.

I'm still a work in progress. The quest for balance and harmony are constant. How could I ever have thought otherwise? I suppose some people reach a point where they settle into comfortable complacency. Sometimes I want to be one of them. Fortunately, my goddess won't let me. Even though I get weary sometimes, I appreciate the nudges and sometimes kicks. If I stopped moving, stopped trying, stopped caring, I'd be dead, right? Not ready for that yet.


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C'est un mystère et boule de gomme.

Je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais récemment, je me trouve avec un désir fort de parler français. Dans la voiture, souvent j'écoute Radio-Canada, quelquefois CBUX (classique, jazz), quelquefois CBUF (comme Radio One en français). J'essais à écouter bien pour comprendre l'animateur et les autres parleurs.

Vous voyez, ça c'est ma faiblesse. Je peux lire un texte en français sans trop de difficulté. Je peux écrire en français, lentement et pas sans fautes mais pas mal. Je peux parler aussi pas mal, avec un bon accent. Mais quand quelqu'un me répond?

Souvent, je ne comprend rien.

Oui, ça me fait hônteuse. Les gens me disent, "Your name is so French! Do you speak it?" et il me faut répondre avec "un peu." Un peu—une expression terrible. "Un peu" veut dire "pas vraiment."

Ce n'est pas de ma faute que mes parents ont parlé français rarement chez nous. Ce n'est pas de ma faute que dans tous les cours de français—à l'école primaire, à l'école secondaire, même à l'université—j'ai appris comment réussir aux examins et c'est tout. Et c'était bon que, après trop d'années, j'ai enfin participé à un cours d'immersion, à Jonquière (Saguenay), où presque personne ne parle anglais. Mais après ces trois semaines, rien. J'ai perdu tant que j'avais appris.

Ma vie est bien chargée. Je ne fais pas le temps de trouver un groupe de conversation. Je ne cherche pas des autres avec qui je pouvais parler français. Mais maintenant, ai-je un désir assez fort?



Until you start climbing out of a hole, you don't always know how deep it is. I knew I had had a rough winter. I just didn't know how bad it was, because it hadn't felt that bad. But it might have been the worst ever.

Curiously, although I have a certificate in counselling and have benefited from psychotherapy in the past, I didn't seek help this time. I'm not sure why, especially considering how bad this was. I guess I found help in other ways—my Sweetie, my friends, music, writing. Thinking and reflecting. I guess I found some resources within myself too.

Last night was the full moon, half a lunar cycle from when I stopped self-medicating with something I love far too much and have never been able to control. I knew that even though meds were isolating me and robbing me of self-confidence, they also created a cozy life. Not one that I wanted any longer, but cozy and safe nonetheless. I was under no illusion that going cold turkey was going to be the answer to getting out of the hole. But I knew it was a necessary beginning.

The past fortnight has indeed sometimes been difficult. I find myself on the edge of tears more often than is normal even for Ms. Highly Sensitive Person. I still have a long way to go to rebuild the life I want to have. Climbing out of the hole is a bitch, and sometimes I slide backwards. But I'm not giving up.

There were good things during the climb. Sweetie and I saw a fantastic production of My Fair Lady put on my our local musical theatre. We saw an excellent film called Traceable about how we so rarely know where our clothes really come from and how many hands they have passed through, but that technology makes this increasingly possible. We had an amazing dinner at Fable put on Fable's executive chef, Trevor Bird, with the chef who won his season of Top Chef Canada, Carl Heinrich. We met a couple there with whom we will get together again! Despite a cold, I successfully auditioned for a solo (duet really) at the upcoming Femme City Choir concerts. And we saw a very good film at Doxa (documentary festival) called Tab Hunter Confidential about what it was like for one man to be a closeted teen idol in the 1950s.

A fortnight can't change everything, but you can't get where you want to go without the first step, and the next step, and however many more it takes. I'm not looking back.