Living with ghosts

I’ve come to both love and loathe the quiet moments. I love the sleep. I loathe the dreams.

Hey now, this post is not all doom and gloom, though there will be a fair bit of that going on. Look beneath, though, and you’ll see the shine. It’s always there under the shit.

I live with ghosts. Not the boo woo kind. Kind of the boo hoo kind. Ghosts of touch. Ghosts of laughter. Ghosts of loss and love. Ghosts of those gone away and those gone forever.

I sit with ghosts. They surround me. Sometimes I feel them drown me. But I sit with them. Stoic. Trying to make peace.

I love the ghosts. I cling to them like they give me life. I cling to them like I cling to my memory boxes, terrified of forgetting, itching to move on.

I never want to forget, so I live with ghosts and they change me. I talk to potatoes and I feel less alone.

I live with ghosts, but they don’t haunt me.

I live with ghosts, so I don’t live alone.



Perfectly Lovely

I’ve set myself up a little writing space on the front porch in hopes that it will encourage more writing. I’ve got some herbs growing in the corner and sometimes a little bird will come and land on the railing, sing a little song and take off again. I’ve got my Grumpy Bear mug full of tea, Earl Grey, hot. The wind is rustling the big trees in the front yards, occasionally loosening a leaf or two. My space is perfectly lovely and it is all mine.

Time To Live Again

Ok, so here’s the dealio, yo. This has been a frenetic month. And year. And however fucking long it’s been since I’ve written anything here. I keep saying “I need to write” but I never “have the time”. When I’m out, I’m busy busy busy and when I’m home I’m sleeping sleeping sleeping or watching TV with my eyes closed. Never time, never time.

Well, fuck that! I’m writing this on the subway, on my way to an appointment, then a workshop, then a walk-in counselling clinic. I’m publishing it from the hospital wi-fi. It’s time to take back control over my life, no what matter what the fuck is going on in it. Things are not ever going to fully settle down. I have chronic, progressive, incurable diseases. That will never change.

Great Potato, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

So many of us with chronic illnesses live with crushing uncertainty. It feels like we’re shuffling from doctor to doctor trying to find answers that never come. And sometimes the answer is “there’s nothing more we can do” and that’s the most crushing answer of all. I know it’s not just me who lives this way. We’re fucking legion out there.

It’s time to take back the reins and be the drivers of our lives.

It’s time to live again.

Buddy and The Potato: a tale of two tubers and the couch they call home

The Potatoes

Buddy (right) and The Potato (left) discuss important couch matters

Way back in that whimsical and Aqua Net-drunk year of 1987, a young Kaarina was given a most huggable friend. Yes, before there were flowers in sunglasses, elves on shelves, or any toy ever dancing the Macarena, for a glorious period shorter than Rico Suave’s blip in pop culture history, Coleco brought us Couch Potatoes.

Young Kaarina named her new friend Bud the Spud, after a Stompin’ Tom song, but he prefers Buddy for short. He’s an easy breezy potato, having grown up with plenty of hugs in small town Northern Ontario. But, alas, all things must grow and Kaarina was no exception. Just ten years later, she moved away and Buddy was packed in a box.

Ten years after saying goodbye to Buddy, Kaarina found herself browsing the aisles at her favourite thrift store in Toronto. What’s this?, she thought as she caught sight of familiar green armchair packaging. Yes, it was a Couch Potato, mint, for $3.97. Oh happy day!

So, The Potato came home. He was guarded at first. He hadn’t grown up with the hugs and support that Buddy did. He didn’t yet understand about the power of love and friendship. But he would. He had a breakthrough when he realized that Kaarina could have sold him on eBay, but she never would because he’s her potato and she’s his person. In this disposable day and age, that really means something, dammit! And so The Potato opened his heart, even to Prince, and everyone was richer for it.

The Potato didn’t really come into his own, though, until he perched himself on his couch for the first time. All those years in the thrift system, The Potato had dreamt of having his very own couch. Oh, he’d seen couches come and go. Floral sofas, elegant chaise longues, stained couches, torn couches, cushionless frames. Yeah, he’d seen a lot of shit in the system. But he whiled away the days dreaming of better times, of couches as bright as the sun, where potatoes’ wishes always came true and no one would dare donate a bag of t-shirts soaked in fresh urine ever again!

And so Kaarina declared the Couch to be a Nation within the Nation of the Apartment. The Potato has full political power on the couch and he is kind enough to open his borders to Kaarina and guests, just as he had opened his heart.

One jolly Christmas, Kaarina went to visit her parents and found a bevy of boxes to sort through. And in one of those boxes, she found her Buddy. Yes, Kaarina was blessed with two potatoes.

There is a clear hierarchy on the Couch. The Potato is the Supreme Potato, but Buddy would step in should The Potato be unable, for whatever reason, to perform his coucherly duties. Buddy’s easy going attitude helps to keep The Potato in check, as he tends to get a little neurotic. They make a great tandem tuber team and the Couch is run smoothly and efficiently, making it a most pleasant place to curl up for a nap.