Holiday Post

Purple Papa

a;lksjdf;lakjsdf“When you were born, we still couldn’t think of a name for you.”

Nameless for a few hours, I did whatever babies do while my Dad and Mom eventually came to a conclusion, together, that I should be called Phillip. They later, unofficially, removed the second L. In hindsight, this explains a lot of my teachers misspelling my name; the official transcript must have had two Ls.


My Dad and I had an interesting relationship from the moment I was born. There was a time, the story goes, where I wouldn’t stop crying. Dad checked and changed the diaper. He fed me, or tried. He tried bouncing, burping, the whole shebang, and nothing worked. Fed up, he put me in a jolly jumper to tucker myself out, sat in the other room, and put on some records.

I was out within 15 or so minutes.


The stairs weren’t entirely uncomfortable, but I was getting tired of sitting on them waiting for my parents to all get out of bed. Christmas was the best; lots of presents, and Christmas milk, and awesome food… plus, Dad and everyone would get oysters!

I loved having Oysters with Dad.

With a creak, the door of the bedroom cracked open to show a bleary eyed pair of parents shuffling to the stairs.

“Why are you sitting on the stairs, Famous Philip?”

“Waiting for you! Presents!” I grinned.

My brothers and I got a wicked sick Batcave, and the action figures were getting a lot of attention that day.


Dust had gathered on the Batcave. It had been awhile since we last took it off the shelf. I passed it by with indifference on my way to the basement. I hadn’t seen Dad yet today.

The stairway down was dark. I hated and feared the dark, so I crept down carefully, flicking light switches from as far away as I could so I could stay in the light. Once I got to the bottom, the sound of Dad’s electric shaver was loud enough to wake the dead.

I opened the door.

“Morning Dad!”

“Good morning Famous Philip.” He kept shaving, his focus clearly on making sure he got all the rough patches without missing a one.

“Can I shave?” He laughed, and propped me up on the sink, and gave me a shave.

The trimmer tickled my face, and I laughed. Dad smiled. It wasn’t often I saw him smile since he and Mom stopped getting along, but he always smiled around my brothers and me.


Trees flashed by, punctuating the grey outside the car as we sped to the cottage.

Dad was explaining what was happening, how often we could see him and stuff. While driving, he started explaining how Mom wanted us to see him every second weekend.

My furrowed face grumped in the front seat, trying to puzzle out why Mom would want that. “That doesn’t seem fair.” 10 year old me was very interested in fairness; having two brothers has that effect on a boy.

He nodded. “Neither do I, Philip. I love my sons; if I could, I’d want to see you all the time. Now, you should love your Mother, always; she’s the only one you’re going to get, and I’m the only Dad you’re going to get. But…”

A flash of blue circled on the note pad as Dad made a pie graph, something I’d learned about not too long ago, so I could read it. Half of the circle was being sketched in blue. One side was Mom, the other dad. 50/50. Week on week off, he explained.

“That’s a lot more fair,” I judged. Dad smiled.


We hauled firewood from below the cottage, hand bombing the bits from one brother to the next. Julian was in the deepest; he was small enough to fit without banging his head all the time. I was in the hole, taking from Julian and passing it on to Sebastien, who would then run it inside the building and stack it. Dad was inside, correcting Seb’s mistakes and lighting the fires, getting the house warmed up. In the mean time, the cold had permeated my gloves, and my fingers hurt a bit. It didn’t matter much though, we were close to getting the wood we needed for the next couple of days.

“Philip, do you have any homework this weekend?” Dad’s voice was clear through the house.

“Nope, did it while I was in school.”

“You telling the truth? I have to know I can trust you.” His voice betrayed his distrust. Once bitten, twice shy and all that.

“Trust me Dad, I’m not lying. I don’t have homework.” I lied.


I sat crying in the back of Mom’s car, her friend Brigitte in the front with her. Both were asking for details of some kind. What happened?

Sobbing, I told them how I didn’t do my math homework for my tutor, and after trying to squeeze out of it all day I had gotten caught. Dad was furious. He threw a dictionary across the room, and told me to leave.

One month. It had been a month since the last time I lied about my homework, but it wasn’t enough. Dad had kicked me out to Mom’s house.

His voice rang in my head. “If you can’t tell me the truth, then get out! If I can’t trust you anymore, and I love you, and this…” he left the room, the sound of heavy footfalls going upstairs. Sebastien helped me call mom and get me picked up. I don’t know what Julian did.

I cried until Mom got there, and sobbed some more.


The house was dead silent. None of the lights were on, save for a faint glow near the red room at the front of the house. I took off my snow-slogged shoes, leaving them in the mudroom. My socks padded the floor, the wooden floor creaking as I passed through the dinning and piano/reception hall. The dark stillness of the house was like a heavy blanket, smothering all the colours, turning them into a lifeless still-brown.

The door to the red room swung open on semi-dry hinges. The glow of white outside was stuck at the window opposite the door, the light of day unable to pierce the perma-gloam inside. The sofa nearest the door was occupied; someone lay there, wrapped in several blankets.

Dad.

Drifting past the table, I sat on an empty section of sofa near him. He had visibly lost weight, but not gained any muscle. Stress and misery had robbed him of his demeanor, his joyful and bright twinkling eyes which now sat on dark beds themselves. He stared at the window, but couldn’t see past the darkness.

I gently placed my hand in his, and squeezed. As if breaking a spell, his eyes focused and turned on mine. No one spoke.

He squeezed back, the crack of a smile touching his eyes.

An hour later, I left his sleeping frame on the sofa and embraced the bitter cold outdoors as it bit into my face.


Intro to Western Philosophy. Not a bad class, not at all, but the best part was being able to see the one girl in the back every day. I’d never talk to her (and I never did) but she was always a highpoint in my day without meaning to be. I worried about whether that made me normal, a monster, or both.

My phone rang. Dad.

As we spoke about my school and whether I was doing the work, I kept searching in the Sleven for a snack. I stopped mid sentence as I found a tin of oysters. I couldn’t help but smile.

“Philip, are you still there?” Dad was worried we had cut out, again, since he was driving in hilly areas.

“No, no, I’m still here Dad. It’s just… remember how we used to get oysters?”

“Sure thing, Famous Philip.”


The hall broke up in elated cheers as the ceremony came to an end. By contrast, I stood up, stretched, and sighed in relief. Those chairs sucked, but I was glad I got through the ceremony. Graduation isn’t so much a feeling of suddenly being spectacular, but a slow and satisfying stretch after hours of sitting.

I walked to the end of the pathway and saw Dad. He had the biggest smile.

“Sorry Dad, I forgot to shave. I know I should have.”

“No, no. The beard suits you, just…” he paused to collect his thoughts. “Just make sure you keep it clean, mister teacher.”

“Whatever Dad. Look at you, you scruffy bastard. You look good!”

Chuckling, he brought me into a hug. It had been a lot of effort, for him especially. Full professional degrees don’t come cheap, particularly when they take 7 years of secondary schooling to achieve. I worked over the year, sort of, and worked over the summer in a kaleidoscope of jobs that never really paid as much as I would have liked. School would have been impossible without his help. Not to mention all the times he moved me, or lent me the car; the times when he gave me needed advice, or an instrument with which to do a music degree. I owed him everything.

“Thanks Dad,” was all I could manage.

 

 

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To Mom

Audio;

To mom;

How’s it going? It’s not often that I talk to you like this. Honestly that’s my fault, and if one were to be precise, a laudable and likable thing to be, then I would like to add it’s my mistake.

I had a brainwave the other day where I thought about all the things I wanted. Young men want a lot of things; a beautiful partner, a glorious career, an impact on the world, and excitement; but only to the point where excitement no longer breeds boredom through inundation, an overload of one’s being. This is who I am, still and currently, for at least a while. This attitude is what led me to leave home; the necessity for a life experience that could at least be said to rival the idea of a good life. Through whose terms is another question, maybe answered by someone a lot smarter than I am.

As I sat in my room one hot July day, sweltering not only under the heat of a mid-Toronto afternoon’s haze but under the scrutiny of an uncaring depressed mind, I saw a branch to help me out of my darkness, a stick that struck towards England as a place of opportunity and a way to find the glorious life I mentioned above.

Self doubt tried to cripple my confidence, laziness sabotaged my ambitions, and complacency quashed any sense of adventure that sparked in July. Despite these things, or perhaps to spite them actively, you helped me. You bolstered my courage, spurred my spirits, and moved me to move myself towards a future I myself could make.

It wasn’t until today, when I realized that I hadn’t made the chance to thank you.

Up until the day I left, denial reassured me I wasn’t going anywhere; While going through security, grief informed me I’d never be back, and while living here? Loneliness reminded me just where I was, with whom, and to what end: me, myself, and I. From there, I pushed myself not because of any sensibility but from a misled ideology of only I can help myself.

I had a brainwave the other day about how all the things I wanted would not be possible without someone very special; you. And I hadn’t the courage to see past my own failings to notice how, through my denial, my deceit and my disgust, you continued to push me, to help me, and to care, even if it meant I moved further away.

Today, on Mother’s Day of all days, I wanted to, at long last, thank you for your care, your help, and your love; your untiring belief in what I want to do, even if I don’t know what to do. Without you, I wouldn’t be half the man I am today.

Thank you

Love,
Phil

Journal: 2015/10/30

I’m a lucky bastard.

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog with an actual update about myself that wasn’t a cryptic reference to how I was feeling: usually mopey. But not today! I’m actually updating this thing with a real entry! Which, subsequently, will be interesting to see how many people actually like knowing about that kind of thing.

Stalkers, this is for you.

That sentence is extra creepy because I finished a book called “YOU” by Caroline Kepnes, and it’s a really creepy fucking book. Don’t read it unless you want to read a horrifying story from the point of view of the stalker. Seriously, it’s creepy. Did I mention that?

Anyway, I’ve been in France for the past week or so. The schools in the UK get a week off every 6 weeks or so. So, I get a week off every 6 weeks or so! Unfortunately, I don’t get paid, so my wallet it crying a bit. Regardless, it’s a welcome week off. My housemates and I made plans to go visit Paris for a couple of days, followed by a 5 day sojourn in a place called Hossegor. Once the plans were set, we only had to wait until the schools went on vacation.

The Friday the schools went on vacay, we celebrated with a glass on wine and a quick trip to bed. Because school is exhausting, mentally, and we’d had enough. We spent the Saturday packing and lounging and recovering, which would have been fine had the neighbours not had the birthday party of the century that night. We didn’t get to sleep until at least 01:00.

Which was hilarious because the car we booked to go to Heathrow was at 03:00.

We finally made our way to the airport. The car ride was uneventful: some napping, some chatting, but overall it was an hour of super tired whatevers. Once we paid and got out, we discovered that the security checkpoint wasn’t open yet. We got to the airport before the people who work there did! Which led to another hour of napping and such while we waited for the airport to man itself. Once it did, we got through security, had a shitty sandwhich, and got on our plane.

An hour later, we were in Paris.

In hindsight, my ability to speak and understand french was incredibly helpful. We got good directions very quickly and made our way to the metro system. Say what you will about it, but there was only one place the metro smelled (it smelled of pee), and it was faster and more efficient that the London metro. Suck it, England!

We got off about a 5 minute walk from our hotel, where we dropped our luggage. We grabbed a lunch, and that’s when I fully realized why I love France so much more than England: the French know how to cook. I ask for a tuna melt in England and it’s okay. I ask for the equivalent in France and holy shit there’s olives and fancy bread and everything. Long story short, I love French food.

After lunch, we made our way to the Eiffel tower. We found it, no real issue, but our first order of business was to find our tour guide; and find him we did. Nice guy, his name was Alex. Super awesome french accent. Once we got rolling, it was like being treated to an educational stand up routine. The Italian heckled, the Swede mediated, and what did I, the Canadian do? Antagonize him, and pull puns out of my ass. In short, I felt like apologizing afterwards.

Anyway, it was gorgeous. Got to see the top, and see Paris from on high. It was a gorgeous view; everything was in front of you. On one side, la Seine and the bridge from Inception: another had a massive financial district with massive skyscrapers. Notre Dame, the Louvre, Sacre Coeur, the Middle Finger of Paris… it was all there. Oh, you don’t know about the Middle Finger of Paris?

Now you know. It’s called the middle finger because LOOK AT IT.

Seeing as this was the day we woke up at 03:00, it was time to pass out. And pass out we did, happily in our hotel.

We woke up the next day, and set out for the Louvre; for those who don’t know what that is, it’s a huge museum. With three nerds, it would eventually take us 6 hours to skim through an 8th of the place. When I say huge, I MEAN huge. But first, we had to print our tickets! We got to the Louvre at 09:00, but couldn’t print our tickets there: instead, we had to find the closest FNAC store. Why? Fucked if I know!

We spent an hour finding the store, cursing it being closed, eating at a cafe, finding the store again, getting our tickets, and then walking back to the Louvre. When we finally got in… holy shit. Did I mention we spent 6 hours in there? Because we did. We started with the Antiquities, specifically the Greco-Roman stuff. So a good few hours staring at statues with dongs and oversized feet and boobs. In short, a great way to begin my morning! No fig leaves; I learned that the fig leaves wasn’t until much, much later. The Greeks and Romans kinda thought “eh, it’s a bunch of dongs and tits, whatever.” Someone else thought that was unseemly and hid them behind plants. My question is this, Fig Leafer: what if the leaves had parasites? Now the dongs have parasites! THAT’S unseemly!

After that we spent a  lot of time in the Italian painters section. Because, Mona Lisa. That’s why. I was a bit more interested in the painting with Napoleon being ballsy and crowning his own empress. Usually that’s what the Pope did, because through the Pope, allegedly god says it’s okay. The painting is essentially showing Napoleon’s ego: he’s better than god.

The balls on that motherfucker must have been HUGE, which is hilarious considering the rumours about Napoleon himself. Also, those were proven false: although we was about 5’4″, that was the average for his time. We’d just be abnormally huge.

That’s what she said?

After our long stay at the Louvre, we went back to the hotel to nap. Why? Exhausted, that’s why. We had a good long rest, which ended up with us leaving around night time. Where were we headed? Back to la Seine, of course! We had a boat to catch.

La Seine, the big river that runs through Paris, is jammed in between the many, many landmarks that make up the city. An hour long tour on those boats lets you see quite a bit: and at night, it’s something special. Mostly a lot colder, but it is nice! I know this because we did exactly that: a night time tour of the river on a boat. It was awesome: all the landmarks were lit up to show them off, and it was crazy cool to see Paris when it was sleepy rather than jam packed.

I spent a lot of time thinking. Boats are great places to think, especially when it’s a smooth ride on a cold night. It was cool being in Paris, right then and there. Not as many tourists, a great temperature, and wonderful food… that’s when I thought back to how it was for me before I left.

This past summer was a depressing one. The only things that kept me moving forward and waking up in the morning was my YouTube channel and my friends (I miss our runs, guys, and Sam? You and I need to rot teeth the next time I come over): everything else was depressing and had me stuck in a rut. If it wasn’t for moving over to the UK (which I’m honestly still deciding whether I like the place or not), I’d still be living in my room, desperately attempting to just keep getting out of bed and such.

So, I guess I’m okay with the move here, even if there are days where I’m not.

On Tuesday, at 05:00, we got a cab to the train station, played some public piano, and hopped on a train by 06:28, and made our way to Hossegor. It’s a coastal town with the distinction of being one of the “surfing capitals of the world.” More importantly, it’s my favourite place on the planet: the sounds and smells of the ocean, the feel of grainy sand, and the perfect place to read a book or swim. If there’s anyplace where I can recharge and recoup, it’s here. I’ve been here since, but I leave on Saturday to go back to England, back to work.

I’d rather stay here, but… money.

So that’s it for now.

-P.

How to celebrate Valentines

This… looks nothing like a heart. That won’t do.

I’ve talked about Valentines day before. It’s a turbulent time of high emotion, fraught with a decent amount of controversy. I’ve thought about it a lot; I’ve come from the side where I was madly in love, and held meeting with those who were dejected and alone. It’s not hard to find oneself in between either, or to have other kinds of love satisfy the need for closeness and appreciation in one’s life. Usually, I find the latter to be vital for me, and I hope that kind of love is abundant in everyone’s lives, despite that i know that is actually impossible.

Still, another question comes to me this year. How do you celebrate Valentines day?

Everyone has an opinion on this, as in most things; however, this question is heated among people. Lavish dinners, expensive gifts, perfect nights and, as I crudely and entertainingly put it in the past, a potential mattress moving marathon might account for the only way for some to spend a Valentine’s day. Others require only the companionship of those they are celebrating with, be they friends or family. Some don’t even bother, and February the 14th is just another day. Not to mention all the grey area enveloping these extremes, it seems there are various ways people spend their day.

What is great about all these things is that they are all fine, normal ways to go about your waking moments. As per usual, the fuss is about one correct way. Which, I’m sad/happy to report, there is none.

How you celebrate/don’t give a ^@#$ about Valentine’s day is up to you, but on the odd chance you are around loved ones then it becomes a challenge. How do you show your love and appreciation?

And, to toot a particularly worn horn, it’s up to you. Love is a very personal emotion. No other person really experiences it or shows how they feel the same way. On Valentine’s day, of all days to lay bare your care, the choice truly is yours. How do you want to express your love? Only you know how.

With that, I will continue to wig the &$@# our over how to do that myself.

Cheers,
-P.

Oh. Now I see why they dumb it down. That’s gross looking.