Looking Eastward

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It's been nearly 17 years since my mom passed away from breast cancer. 

In that time, there hasn't been a time where she hasn't been on my mind.

It is heartbreaking to have to lose a parent - let alone at such a young age. In hindsight, it's an event that has shaped me more than I'd like to admit. Much of what I've done for the last decade and a half has been because of my mother's death.

That's why this year the anniversary of her death has been so confusing. When you structure your life around the goals and expectations of someone who no longer exists, what do you do when you complete them? 

One of my mom's final wishes was for her children to get an education like she had. Specifically, the type of post-graduate education that I now possess.I have a job in a field I love, another wish of hers. I've established myself and am living on my own which was another of her goals for me.

So what's next? 

For the first time I can honestly say I don't know. I've always had my course charted out for me.

But maybe it's a good thing that I don't have a clear direction. It gives me a clean slate. That doesn't mean I have an easy road ahead of me but it might give me a lighter load as I go. 

I'll leave you with a poem I wrote two years ago on the 15th anniversary of my mother's death. 

Agnes

You left me in the early mourning
Five years now
And then ten more

I mourn,
Not for the faded flowers gray
Nor for the days abandoned since
But for a future that could have been,

Now lost to the passage of time

The future holds no more
To me
Than the path it has set aside

The course has been plotted, 
The goal laid in,
Rose shaped and jewel-small

It has been too long
Since I saw you last,
And your face fades from my memory

But I remember that final day
When
You read to me
“I will go with thee
And be your guide,
In thy most need to go
By your side,”

On some sunny days
I see you still,
Far off
In the future ahead.

 

 

Depression and steering into the skid

I've had depression for all of my adult life. It's something that I've learned come to accept as a fact of life.

It's something that won't normally effect my day to day life, but that doesn't mean it's always manageable. 

It is a weight that sits on my shoulders every day and it weighs me down.

Recently it has gotten worse and while I'm starting to get the help I need, I think holding this tight to my chest isn't making things better. 

So here's the thing I've come to admit -- I need your help. 

***

Much of what has happened in the last year and half I would attribute to a resurgence in my depression. After my grandma died on Christmas in 2015, everything has shifted and I've rarely felt like myself.

I've become more impulsive and my mood has changed. 

 I went to a doctor and started going to therapy. Then my grandpa died and I went into another tailspin.

The thing about my depression and mental illness is that it changes rapidly. One moment I can be in a great mood and then the next I'll be super low and there will be no good reason. I'll doubt everything I do or have a panic attack about how I will mess something up. 

Those aren't anyone's fault, there isn't anyone to blame but my mental illness. 

Depression has also forced me to hold on to the illusion of happiness. When you're so low that anything that happens can make you feel better you get addicted to the good things in life, even if they aren't that helpful. 

That makes obsessed with chasing the moments where I feel happy and desperate to continue the things that make my mood better. 

When those things inevitably happen my state of mind tends to get worse

***

I've skipped parties, coffee, dates or events at the last minute -- even if I really wanted to go. The truth is that there wasn't ever a good excuse and I rarely bothered to give one. Depression saps me of all my energy.  On most days it makes me just want to stay in bed or hide the things I view as problems.

Eventually I did it enough times that the invites stopped coming. 

I've pushed away the people that care about me the most because I'm embarrassed about the thing depression has made me into. At the same time I've tried to hold on to the people that make me feel happy even when they no longer want me to. I've even scared away the ones I think might have actually helped me.

***

If you read this and know me by all means feel free to reach out. I'm not doing this on my own but I could sure use some help right now. 

With dignity, humour and love: The importance of the little things

Sometimes it's the little things that matter the most. 

Before my mom died, nearly 16 years ago, my brother and I were given a heart shaped pendant with a thumbprint embedded on it. It is one of the few physical items from my mom that I've been able to keep after moving across the country.

The thumbprint has long since been rubbed away, faded by the near constant friction of wearing it and holding it whenever I needed a reminder of what pushes me. Even though it rarely resembles the thing I was given 16 years ago I still carry it with me. Its size doesn't reveal how important it is me.

Today will be a day just like any other. But it also marks a change.

In my last blog post I wrote about the importance of getting my master's degree:  

It was my mother’s dream that I get a Master Degree. She wanted my brother and I to get an education, she believed it was one of the best ways to make a livelihood.

I’m not sure that I ever truly wanted to get a Master Degree.

I don’t think it was originally part of my plan. But here I am, only ten days away from walking across the stage for the third time in three years – and I’ll be receiving the degree in something I love.

When I go across that stage it won’t be for me. It’ll be for her.

After six years of post graduate studies I'm finally finished the final thing I know my mom would've loved to see my complete. I've collected three degrees in six years.I know the certificates are important but they still mean less than the tiny, worn down pendant I'll be wearing around my neck.

 "With dignity, humour and love," was my mothers unofficial motto.  It's on her grave. Today I'll use it as my official motto. 

The little things, a pendant or a phrase can mean more than six years of your life or three degrees. Don't forget to cherish them. 

It’s OK to follow the dreams that are not yours

Today marks the 22nd Mother’s Day of my life. I used to enjoy this day. It was fun and it was a good chance to spend time with my family. But that was a long time ago. This will be the 16th year without my mom and until now I haven’t really felt like this was a day I could celebrate.

It has taken me 23 years to learn a lesson, one that I haven’t been able to fully appreciate until recently.

Here is that lesson.

You don’t always have to follow your dreams. Many of us won’t. We’ll be limited by wealth or by geography or even time. But this is an important thing, sometimes the dreams you follow don’t have to be your own.

The place I’m at now. The things I’ve done are all because of my mom. She was the one who taught me to fall in love with reading, to know a story and to be brave.  

It was my mother’s dream that I get a Master Degree. She wanted my brother and I to get an education, she believed it was one of the best ways to make a livelihood.

I’m not sure that I ever truly wanted to get a Master Degree.

I don’t think it was originally part of my plan. But here I am, only ten days away from walking across the stage for the third time in three years – and I’ll be receiving the degree in something I love.

When I go across that stage it won’t be for me. It’ll be for her.

That’s my gift to you, Happy Mother’s Day Mom.

 

Archipelago

Every once in a while I like to to write some new poetry. This is one I've been working on for a while and I'm finally comfortable enough with it to release it. I present Archipelago:

Archipelago

A lonely string
of words,
dagger sharp and
ruthless in your head

Brave adventurers
you are,
Braving this untamed wild

with it’s jagged shores
still unexplored

But fail to chart,
the best
path forward

and struggle
To pull
the common thread

When I was young
things were better,
surely you see that
-- Don’t you?

Review: Villain Theatre's The Spanish Tragedy brings out the best of 16th century play

Disclosure: I was provided with free tickets to attend the play.

How much is vengeance worth?

It's the question that lies at the heart of The Villain's Theatre production of The Spanish Tragedy, now playing at Gottingen Street's Bus Stop Theatre.

An adaptation of a play originally written in the 1500's, The Spanish Tragedy shows tremendous fidelity. It's due in part to Dan Bray, the play's director, who chose to set his adaptation in 1930's Spain.

Even more of a departure from the traditional play is the choice to use six non-male actors to portray all characters.

As the two nations of Spain and Portugal come together after a long and bloody war, Hieronimo, played by Katherine Tufts, seeks vengeance upon the men who murdered his son Horatio, played by Madeline Tench.

The play is a bloody experience that is perfectly paced through its 90 minute run time. While The Spanish Tragedy stays loyal to it's roots by sticking to the iambic pentameter of the original, it is still easy to follow.

But the most surprising thing is the play's humour. As a tragedy you'd expect it to be doom and gloom throughout its run but the play keeps a light tone in quite a few scenes. The audience was the beneficiary of every fourth wall breaking look thatLeah Pritchard, who plays Balthazar, shot their way.

As characters flit around the stage, moving in between levels and around the tree that serves as the play's centrepiece, it's not hard to notice the exceptional movement between the cast. Whether it's the interaction between characters or the motion in the background, everything is excellently choreographed.

The standout performer of the play is Tufts. Every time she's on stage is a delight and her ability to switch from angry to crazed at a moment's notice is a sight to behold. As the driving character in the play, Hieronimo is the best example of the theme of vengeance, and you can truly feel it in each of Tufts' mournful screams.   

The play isn't for the faint of heart. There are the aforementioned screams, fights and an excellently rendered but delightfully goulish scene that I won't spoil for you.

I'd recommend you check the play out while you can. The Spanish Tragedy will run until Nov. 20 at the Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen Street.

The Silver Dragon

Victor Fee Quon  1927 - 2016

Victor Fee Quon
1927 - 2016

Yesterday we buried my grandfather, Victor Quon, a man who served as the connection to my Chinese heritage. He touched the life of everyone around him - serving as pillar of the Chinese community in Lethbridge, Alberta.

My grandfather provided more than I can ever hope to understand; I inherited my middle and last names from him; because of him I was born in Canada; he gave the opportunity for my father to attend University where he eventually met my mother. He arrived in this country in 1955 hoping to create a better future for generations to come. When I looked at the family who had gathered for his funeral, I have no doubt that his dream came true. You will be missed. I wrote this poem for his passing. 


The Silver Dragon

You lay now,
Interred and eternal

With weathered skin
Greying hair,
Arms outstretched and thin

A coloured dawn,
Bright and new
Brought you to these shores

Your Herculean effort,   
Boundless in size
Gave me everything I have

But now
You lay,
Interred and eternal
At peace once more



 

The Daily Beast and journalistic ethics

Source: ( The Daily Beast ) 

Source: (The Daily Beast

It really isn't that hard to do things right when you're media. 

Just follow the basic rules of journalism, one of which is don't lie. Another is to not put the subjects of your story in danger. 

Both of these things are what Nico Hines of the Daily Beast did when he wrote his now infamous story that focused on gay athletes in Rio. 

Outing people is bad, but outing people who live in countries hostile to LGBT is worse. They can face life threatening consequences. But I shouldn't have to tell you this. I'll let your writers do it for me. 

When Gawker decided to out a an executive living a secret lifestyle your writers took them to task. 

So what made you think publishing this was a good idea at all? 


Here is what you don't do when you release a controversial and admittedly terrible article. 

You don't do a half measure like edit out identifying details when the entire premise of the article is wrong. Then, when you realize that you messed up so bad that you became a Twitter moment you don't pull the article. It's nice that you now redirect to an editors letter admitting that you messed up but you're also hiding that fact by pulling the article down.

This was failure on numerous fronts. Hines should have never pitched the article, written the article and an editor should have never permitted it to go up on your site.  

The Daily Beast has promised they'll do better. Lets hope they're right. 

Clearwater Seafoods sales have jumped up but it may come with a cost

Chronicle Herald Staff Photo

Chronicle Herald Staff Photo

Clearwater Seafoods, the Halifax-based seafood giant, is planning for the future, even as their cost of doing business increases.

An analysis of the company’s annual reports over the past five years shows their sales have increased by 34.1 per cent and the company’s cost of goods sold has risen by nearly the same amount, at 29 per cent.

Catherine Boyd, Manager of Sustainability and Public Affairs for Clearwater, said the increase in costs is due to labour expenses, procuring a product outside of its fishing practices and changes in fuel costs.

Clearwater has continued to do well even within the limits put in place by the Total Allowable Catch (TAC), a program that limits the amount of catch for certain species of fish.

The TAC fluctuates from year to year depending on the health of each fish stock and the assessment of each countries respective governing body

As detailed in their 2014 annual report, Clearwater has previously expressed concern over this issues.

“Any material increase in the population and biomass or TAC could dramatically reduce the market price of any of our products,” the company writes.

Even natural events can disrupt their sales. In their 2015 annual report they concluded that their sales for the first half of 2015 suffered as a result of “challenging weather both at sea and on land.”

An increase in Clearwater’s cost of goods while their sales suffer could lead to a loss of earnings for the company. At the moment that seems unlikely, as Clearwater has recently acquired a major competitor.

As of the first quarter (Q1) of 2016 that company’s acquisition is now paying financial dividends.

Macduff Acquisition

The largest point of growth for Clearwater in 2016 Q1 resulted from the purchase of Macduff Shellfish Group Limited, the United Kingdom’s largest processor of wild shellfish, for $206 million.

“We’re always looking for new ways to grow our company and increase value,” said Boyd, “The result of whether or not we’ve been successful in [increasing the value of Clearwater by acquiring Macduff] will be born out in the subsequent years financial statements.

The 2015 fiscal year saw Clearwater post a loss of $20 million. Boyd refused to discuss or provide a reason for the financial loss.

“I’m sorry,” she said as the nature of the company’s 2015 fiscal earnings were brought up. “I’m sorry, I can not.”
 

2016 Q1 Results

Despite the loss, the company has rallied strong in its 2016 first quarter results. According to the 2016 Q1 report, the company listed $15.1 million in earnings. According to an investor’s presentation available on the company’s website, they credit their 54 per cent increase in sales from 2015 Q1 to 2016 Q1 in large part as a result of the Macduff acquisition. “Macduff expands our supply by more than 15 millions pounds or 20 [percent],” the company wrote in their 2016 Q1 Interim Report.

Acquiring MacDuff also boosted the companies sales by $25.8 million dollars, or 22 per cent of the quarter’s $116 million in sales. As a result of their successful Q1, the stock of Clearwater Seafoods has jumped since the beginning of the year.