All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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25 Songs, 25 Days: Weak in the Knees

Day 21: Your favourite song

Weak in the Knees | Serena Ryder

serenaryder

For my birthday in 2006 I treated myself to the album If Your Memory Serves You Well by Canadian singer-songwriter Serena Ryder. I had become a fan of her soulful music after hearing her perform at the Port Fairy Folk Festival earlier in the year, so was eagerly anticipating another trip into her melodic, intoxicating world. The album itself consists mainly of covers of classic Canadian songs, each and every one perfectly suited to Ryder’s talent and style. But the last few tracks on the album are her own, unique compositions. One of these tracks is Weak in the Knees, and from the moment I first heard it, I knew it was something special.

The day after purchasing the CD my parents arrived in Melbourne for a three week holiday. Unable to pick them up at the airport I traveled to their accommodation to meet them from their taxi. Throughout the journey to the B&B I listened to Weak in the Knees, on repeat, for over an hour. I must have heard the song over two dozen times in that short space of time, and never grew tired of it.

And in the years since, I have listened to it thousands of times, and have never once grown tired of it. It is a song that reminds me of a positive period of my life; a time that saw all of my hard work finally paying off, a time that I was happy, and loved and full of hope for the future. It is a song that reminds me of the time I spent with my parents during their 2006 Melbourne adventure. It is a song that reminds me that, if you look close enough, life doesn’t suck.

If you’re not familiar with Serena Ryder’s work I suggest pouring yourself a nice glass of wine, settling into an armchair and pressing play on the video below. You will be moved. You will be rendered speechless. And you will thank me for introducing you to her exquisite talent.


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Thirteen views of Canada

One of the skills I’ve been practising over the last several months is trying to focus more on the positive aspects of my life rather than the negative. As is too often the case with us human beings, it is far too easy to dwell on the negative rather than rejoice in the positive; even though doing the latter will inevitably make us feel much better with ourselves.

Time and time again, when I take myself to my ‘happy places’ I am drawn to the wide and wonderful land of Canada, where I spent three of the most awesome months of my life (and not just because the women there had a wonderful penchant for dressing in dungarees!)

Some of the decorations I have in my house are a framed (completed) jigsaw puzzle of the CN tower in Toronto, several postcards of this beautiful land on my fridge and some old images I took all those years ago adorning my bedroom wall.

For today’s Thursday Thirteen I’ve decided to share some of these photographs with you. Given the almost antique nature of the images, they’re not of the greatest quality, but regardless of this, each of these photos mean the world to me.

So all that remains to say is: can you identify where the photographs were taken? The answers are hidden below:

| CN Tower (Toronto) | Black Tusk (Nr. Whistler) | Edmonton Skyline at Dusk | Vancouver Island |
| Mina Lake (Jasper) | Montreal Airport | Niagara Falls |
| Pyramid Falls (B.C) | Quebec City | Toronto |
| Vancouver Skyline | Athabasca Falls (Jasper) |
|Athabasca River|


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Saturday 9: Call Me Maybe

Saturday 9 is a weekly blogging meme hosted by Crazy Sam Winters (she added the crazy, not me!).

Every Saturday there will be nine questions – sometimes they will be around a common theme, other times completely random – to be answered however we like.

call-me-maybe

I’ve never heard of this singer or the song – does that make me uncool or just Un-Canadian?

1) Do you owe anyone a phone call?

Probably. Ah well…I have no credit, they’ll have to wait! :p

2) Do you still have a landline phone?

If I could afford one, I would, as it would also give me access to landline internet instead of relying on dodgy (and crazy expensive) pre-paid mobile “broadband”.

But I can’t afford one, so I don’t.

3) When was the last time you looked up a number in the phone book?

I have absolutely no idea, so I’ll just say it was on the 30 April 2003 and hope no-one cross examines me on the subject!

4) Do you receive more calls or texts?

I receive very few phone calls because, you know, social isolation and all!

Thus, courtesy of the junk texts the phone company inundates me with, I definitely receive more texts than phone calls.

5) Carly Rae made the Final 3 on Canadian Idol. Can you name another cultural import from Canada?

There’s a Canadian Idol!? How did I not know this?

Anyway, as for cultural imports, we have Canada to thank for: Charles de Lint, Jason Priestly, Paul Gross, Rachel McAdams, John Candy, Elisha Cuthbert, Avril Lavigne, Bryan Adams, Rick Moranis, Sarah McLachlan, Thomas Wharton, Michael J. Fox, Don McKellar, Sarah Polley, Elias Koteas and Robin Sparkles. To name but a few! :)

6) Sam grew sick of this song by hearing it too often on the radio. Where do you listen to the radio most often? Car? Work? Somewhere else?

At home; it’s the only place I have access to the radio!

7) Mother Winters can work wonders with an iron and a can of spray starch. Every blouse and shirt she presses looks good as new. Is there a domestic chore you excel at?

Vacuuming. Which is really annoying as I don’t have a vacuum cleaner at the moment (damn you poverty!) so have to sweep the carpets instead.

This is not as much fun as it sounds! ;)

8) Do you consider yourself competitive?

No.

…fingers crossed this will win me the award for ‘shortest Saturday 9 answer’ this week! ;)

9) Tell us your superhero name — as determined by the color of your shirt and an item to your right. For example, Crazy Sam now fights crime as The Light Blue Coffee Mug!

By day I am mild-mannered, socially anxious Addy…but by night I take to the streets to spank the criminal element and save small kittens in my crime fighting alter ego The Red Helmet!

Fear him! :p


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6 Places…

A rather open ended prompt for today’s installment of the challenge. Six places I love? Six places I hate? Six places I want to visit? What sort of places are they referring to?

Harumph.

Okay, I suppose I shall have to be all decisive and choose for myself…

~ All photographs © Addy ~


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ABC Wednesday: M is for Making Out (Mounties and Magnificent Hair)

ABC Wednesday is all about having fun. It is all about the visitors and everyday life around our world. This week is all about the letter M…which, given I recently rediscovered this photo from my past, stands for Making Out (Mounties and Magnificent hair!)

The story behind this photograph is simple.

Whilst visiting Victoria, I happened upon this rather magnificent looking Mountie whilst roaming the fair city. Overpowered by my love for classic television series Due South (and a small Mountie Uniform fetish) I couldn’t resist the opportunity to lock lips with this smouldering object of hotness for a humourous photograph that I’d one day look back on with jealously over the sheer magnificence of my hair back then.

Seriously, forget the fact I’m kissing an RCMP official, look at the hair! I would kill to have hair that awesome again! Thick, luscious, full of vibrant colour. Why did I never investigate ‘shampoo commercial modelling’ as a viable career opportunity?

The sad thing is, in spite of that awesome hair, in spite of being surrounded by beautiful women for three months, this illicit kiss was the only one I received during my three-month jaunt across Canada.

But what a kiss :D

And if you haven’t already worked it out, yes, it’s a mannequin. Otherwise I would probably have been thrown in jail for molesting an officer of the law :p

 


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July 2000: Garabaldi, British Columbia

For those of you who missed out on my stream of consciousness last night, I shall recap. The last few weeks have not been the easiest in recent memory. A lot of painful memories have been triggered that threaten to send me back into a depressive episode, and with the encroaching anniversary of a day I refer to as ‘the day I should have died’ (October 11) I’ve been left a bit nervous about this week.

It brings to mind an old saying:

I’ve never liked how my mind throws me back into the events of five years ago during this time of year and I’ve always pushed hard to not allow those events to destroy me, which leaves only strength. And the only way to strengthen myself against the memories that are flooding me is to try trick my mind into thinking about other things instead.

Given I’ve never been one who likes to ‘force happiness’ (I much prefer people being honest about their emotions) I’m not sure how my decision to write about things that make me smile will work. But if it helps dissipate the approaching dark cloud, I’m willing to give it a shot. After all, the only things better than pain are pleasure and walking the tightrope between the two.

When I look back on my life one of the happiest periods was my time backpacking in Canada. For three glorious months in 2000 I travelled the breadth of this great land and experienced many things I’d never tried before; I ate strawberries for the first time, allowed a tarantula to crawl over my hand, purchased my first book of naughty fiction from an amused woman in a Halifax adult store and, in a slightly odd moment of my life when I bent down to cuddle a rabbit in a petting zoo, a goat mistook my muscular back for a rocky outcrop and leapt on top of it – much to the hilarity of a friend who was with me.

Another of the ‘first time’ things I did in Canada was sleep in a tent with a beautiful woman beside me. In fact this happened on three separate occasions in Canada, which may not sound like much, but for the socially-anxious panic strewn man I was at the time (wow, how things have changed!) this was a major happy-dance worthy breakthrough.

The third of these occasions was with Annie during the final weekend I spent with her. Eager to show me some of the more breathtaking parts of British Columbia she took me on a weekend to Whistler where we camped for two nights.

The first night there we had dinner at a restaurant in town, where I sampled Beaver Tails for the first (and only) time whilst bitching about the grotesque cigar smoke an American was suffocating us with. Upon returning to the tent I was ordered to avert my eyes whilst she stripped down into her pyjamas and however much I would like to admit to a naughty glance, I was a dutiful gentleman and didn’t peek until she informed me it was safe to do so.

The next morning we woke early, packed up the equipment we’d need (cameras, energy food, day packs, pants that made our asses look spectacular) and headed off for the Garibaldi Lake Trail.

Arriving mid-morning we parked the car and thanked the heavens for providing us with such a perfect day. The sun beat down on us from a bright blue sky devoid of even a single wispy cloud. Birds frolicked and sang in the forest around us and, although I didn’t spot any, I’m sure the odd bear was loping around in blissful ignorance of the two (frankly) hot people about to stroll up the mountain.

Black Tusk © Addy

My overriding memories of the day are four-fold:

1) How stunning the scenery was. It would not be an understatement to describe the vistas I saw during this hike as the most beautiful I have ever seen. In fact, I would recommend you add this hike to your list of things to do before you tumble off the mortal coil.

2) The fear that overcame us when we noticed a trail of red leading through the snow. It seriously looked like a vicious animal – possibly a bear, possibly an abominable snowman – had attacked some unsuspecting hiker and then dragged their prey through the snow for a late afternoon snack. Of course, we found out later that it was in fact a fungal growth and not blood at all, but believe me, it seriously looked like blood!

Garabaldi Lake Trail © Addy

3) Upon reaching Garibaldi Lake I had decided to hurl myself into the waters to continue my rather odd campaign of swimming in every body of water I visited in Canada. In fact, for the week prior to this, I had stripped down for oceans, lakes, rivers and bathtubs whenever the opportunity had arisen.

However, upon inspection of the lake it was concluded if I did take a dip it would most likely had led to pneumonia and/or immediate death considering it was sub-zero in temperature, so I didn’t. Though I still protest it wasn’t as cold as Loch Sheil or Loch Ness!

4) How comfortable I was in Annie’s company. Again, this may sound a bit pathetic to most, but through my life I have always felt heightened anxiety around women – especially those I fancy. In fact the only thing worse than my anxiety around women is my anxiety around men!

The moment I met Annie I was enamored with her; but for the first time in my life I felt virtually no anxiety around her. And the more time I spent with her, the more comfortable I became. Even when massaging sun-tan lotion onto her bikini clad body or cuddling under a blanket listening to the Vancouver Folk Festival (too situations that always lead to anxiety and panic because of the intimacy involved) I felt nothing but an overwhelming sense of awesomeness.

So to on that day; from waking up to her sleeping face centimeters from my own, through the playful slaps she’d give me in the car if I told a terrible joke, to the ongoing conversation through the hike, being around her – for the first time in my life – felt like the most natural thing in the world. A feeling I have only felt twice since.

By the time we returned to the campsite we were both exhausted. Struggling to ignite the fire I decided to use the socks I’d been wearing all day; an action that made me realize rancid socks are quite possibly the most flammable substance known to humankind! And after chilling in front of the fire for a short while we retired to the tent where, after being a gentleman once again, we began a random – somewhat flirtatious – game of I went to Women’s Ware (an adult store near where she lived) and bought… (i.e. you said this sentence and then added an item, then the next person said the same sentence, the item said, and then added another, and then you continued until the list is so long someone forgets and the other person wins!) So I went to sleep dreaming of strawberry scented lube, vibrators, lingerie, ribbed condoms, handcuffs, paddles and the beautiful woman sleeping beside me.

I still dream of that weekend to this day. Three days jam-packed with laughter, smiles, happiness, intelligent, playful conversation and a sense of bliss I’ve barely been able to replicate since :)

Annie and I, July 2000 © Addy (edited to protect identities)

Movies that make me smile #1: Strange Brew

“This movie was shot in 3B – three beers – and it looks good, eh?”

When I arrived in Vancouver to spend the week with Annie she was having a particularly tough day. Her friend had gone into labor the evening before, her boyfriend was leaving for a few days and she was busy preparing for a move to Seattle. As such, the first day I was at her house she was elsewhere, leaving me to entertain myself with a video she owned and recommended; an odd little Canadian comedy I had never in my life heard of. A movie that I absolutely laughed my ass off over!

It’s been a while since I saw this movie (not the easiest title to find in Australia) but just thinking about it breaks me into a random giggling fit.

Books that make me smile #1: The Hotel New Hampshire (John Irving)

“Human beings are remarkable – at what we can learn to live with. If we couldn’t get strong from what we lose, and what we miss, and what we want and can’t have, then we couldn’t ever get strong enough, could we?”

Throughout my blog, I have written at length of my deep affection for this book. From the moment I read it I adored it and every subsequent read since has only strengthened my love for this majestic novel. Annie, the week I first met her, was the person who brought it to my attention and I picked it up in a second-hand bookshop in Edmonton to read on the long train journey across the prairies to Toronto. It’s a book that’s locked in a time and place; whenever I think about it, I remember Annie, and Canada, and how happy I was during that time of my life.

Songs that make me smile #1: Little Plastic Castle (Ani DiFranco)

“They say goldfish have no memory, I guess their lives are much like mine, and the little plastic castle is a surprise every time. And it’s hard to say if they’re happy but they don’t seem much to mind,”

I’d never heard of Ani DiFranco until Annie played one of her CDs whilst we were driving around the back roads of Alberta. Since then I have listened to every one of her albums, memorized half a dozen songs and introduced this fantastic musician to dozens of Di Franco virgins. If you have yet to encounter her, you really should listen to this; if you’re already a fan, just kick back and enjoy a song that always puts a smile on my face.

“Keep passing the open windows,”


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4 Places I would like to go…

I think my desire to go to Rome began whilst watching the classic motion picture, Roman Holiday. As a teenage boy enamoured with the beautiful woman on-screen, perhaps I believed if I visited the Italian capital I too would meet someone as magnificent as Audrey Hepburn.

But when I think about it more, I’ve had an on again/off again romance with this city since my primary school days studying Roman history, art and the Empire.

It has always been one of my bigger regrets that I didn’t skip across the continent to this country when I was living in the UK, but like most things in life, other aspects (i.e. mental health and anxiety) took priority and it was only after I arrived in Australia did I glance back in hindsight.

I still live in hope that one day I will get to visit this fair city…and if I were being honest, still live in hope I will meet my Audrey Hepburn one day.

What? I’m a homeless romantic :)

My desire to visit Antarctica stretches as far back as I can remember. For most of my life I’ve thought of this land as the closest on the planet to a mythical landscape; completely alien to any other part of the world (with the sole exception of the Arctic, obviously!)

It would be the culmination of a lifelong dream to catch a boat to this continent (so I can experience the sense of scale and distance that a plane wouldn’t provide) and spend a few weeks exploring and photographing this spectacular place.

Although I regret none of my Canadian odyssey, I do wish I’d been able to find the time (and money) to travel to both Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland. For as long as I’ve been studying the Highland Clearances I’ve wished to visit these places. Writers such as Alistair McLeod, Robert Finch, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Annie Proulx only increased my craving for these hauntingly beautiful locations.

Machu Picchu, and other Incan and Mayan locations throughout Central and South America (including Chichen Itza and Coricancha), have long been on my list of places to visit in this world. In 2008 I watched a fascinating documentary film about the caves of the Peruvian tablelands that only reinforced my desire to visit these countries and landmarks.

What’s long been a source of frustration to me is that an opportunity arose that could have seen me visit these lands, but the disintegration of my relationships and friendships, as well as the breakdown and loss I suffered in 2007, rendered it impossible.

As with all other places on this list I still hold onto the hope that one day I will have the opportunity to visit these places, but right now it’s becoming harder to harder to hold onto this hope….but cling to it I do!

Tomorrow: 3 Letters to three different people…