The Never-Ending Battle: A Reading

I’ve considered reading The Never-Ending Battle aloud, but when Open Minds Quarterly republished the story in their Classroom Edition, I couldn’t think of a better celebration.

Except…the reading turned into one of the most publicly emotional things I’ve ever done. First, it took me 12 minutes of meandering to get to the point. I felt like I had a lot to explain before reading the story, to give it proper context. Maybe that wasn’t necessary, but I felt it was at the time and I don’t want to try editing or attempting this. Second, the story and the memories involved still have a considerable emotional impact on me. At first, I choke up and it’s hard to keep reading. But as I do, I slowly break down to the point that I’m openly weeping while reading it. I feel…a little embarrassed for being so open and raw. But thus far, the responses from my closest friends has felt oddly…empowering. They cried along with me as I read the story.

So, here we go. If you want to skip my introduction, go right to around the 12:30 mark when I start reading the story.

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The Never-Ending Battle: Rewritten & Republished


Cover by Kaarina Ranta

In 2009, Open Minds Quarterly published my short story, The Never-Ending Battle, in their Fall edition, Volume XI, Issue III. Along with stories in The Country Connection and A Thousand Faces, it was one of four of my published work that year. It was my first time I’d ever been published. I’ve published The Never-Ending Battle on here before. Some say it’s my best work to date. I don’t know if I can confidently agree. Looking back, I had many problems with the over 10-year old story (I’d written it years before it was published). I thought the writing was sloppy. For years, I’ve wanted to fix it.

Fortunately, OMQ gave me that opportunity. Editor/Publisher Dinah Laprairie contacted me earlier this year. OMQ planned on publishing a special Classroom Edition of their magazine, taking the best stories and poems about mental health they’d published over the years. Their intention is for teachers to use the Classroom Edition at a high school and college level. Dinah believed The Never-Ending Battle should be included.

I was honoured, happily agreeing. However, since this was a new publication, I thought I’d take the opportunity to edit and rework the story. Dinah agreed.

So, I’m happy to introduce the NEW and IMPROVED Never-Ending Battle (geez, I sound like a car salesman), published recently in the Open Minds Quarterly Classroom Edition. Naturally, I hope everyone also gets a copy of the wonderful magazine. I especially invite teachers to pick up a copy. After the story, I’ve also included some pictures of the magazine, including my bio, which is the first time my picture was included with one.

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The Wall that Broke Me

Five years ago, I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature at York University. At the time, it was my biggest accomplishment. I thought to myself, “Finally! After 13 sporadic years in university, I have this blasted 4-year degree! Take that, depression!” On my first chance, I went out and bought a hammer and a couple of nails to hang my greatest accomplishment. Heh, there was a guy in line at Home Hardware that asked, “Working on a big project, huh?” He had no idea how big it was in my eyes.

Next step: a teaching degree, which for me meant moving to Presque Isle, Maine. Even though I knew there was still a lot of hard work ahead of me, I thought the worst was over. I thought I finally had a handle on my depression. I thought I had some good coping strategies. I thought I learned good academic habits that helped me earn high marks and even higher essay scores.

I thought, “Finally, I’m closer than ever to finding my way in life, to finding that place where I belong, to feeling like I have some stability in my life.”

I was wrong on all accounts. In fact, I was closer to hitting the proverbial wall that broke me.

(Note: A word of warning. This one got very long and very personal. It’s nearly 3,000 words. So if you plan on reading it, get comfortable.)

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Redfish: A Review

20160617_103901_HDRWhile at Starbucks with a friend the other day, I stumbled across a poster for a small, local stage production called Redfish: A Comedy About Depression. When I looked it up online, I discovered the titular “Redfish” in the play is a superhero. A play combining depression and superheroes? It’s like this thing was made for me. As luck would have it, I managed to see play’s final showing this morning. I enjoyed it so much that I felt I needed to write a review about it and shout praises at all involved. And add a few minor criticisms which – like I would – I’m sure they’ll take way too much to heart than I ever intend.

Much like my love for superheroes, I make it no secret that I struggle with depression. Only a few days ago, I finally broke out of a near month-long bout of depression where I stayed at home, shuffling between playing video games (The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine, and Stardew Valley) or sleeping for hours on end.

There are things about my life these days that I plan on making separate posts about. One has a current working title of “The Wall.” I also plan on posting about my short story The Never Ending Battle getting republished recently, but I’ll wait until I have a copy of the magazine in my hands before I write that. Stay tuned for that, though, because I’ve actually reworked the decade-old story, so it’ll be reworked AND reposted!

In the meantime: Redfish.

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Theo Moudakis’ Fort McMurry Cartoon: A Criticism


Credit: @andyhurleys on Twitter

As of this writing, it seems the massive fire in Fort McMurray is dying down. 80,000 people in the area were evacuated while the town was decimated. It’s fortunate – and a little amazing – that no lives were lost in the fire.I can’t imagine the work to come, but I hope for nothing but the best for everyone involved.

In the meantime, the Toronto Star published this political cartoon by Theo Moudakis:

Toronto Star Theo Moudakis

On the surface, it’s a nice sentiment, but it’s problematic. Let me explain.

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My Only Writing Award

Writing AwardMy family moved to Summerside, Prince Edward Island when I started Grade 7. For most of the next six years, I thought I hated living there. I hated my neighbourhood because at least half of the boys that bullied me lived in or around the area. I hated winters (then again, I don’t like winter in general). I felt like a foreigner in a strange land reigned supreme by Gallants and Aresenaults (the two most common family names in PEI; it’s kind of a running joke). Most Islanders not only lived there all their life but also generations of their family.

I hated the small town feeling. No matter where I went, one of my tormentors would inevitably see me. I felt constantly monitored, that any action would be seen and, as a result, I’d be relentlessly teased about. My weight, my haircut, my clothes, my dog, my interests; nothing was off-limits for my bullies.

Looking back, living in PEI wasn’t all so bad. I met some of my best friends in PEI. I met my first girlfriends there. My love for comics began there. I have many great memories, including summers visiting Rainbow Valley and Captain Bart’s Adventure Park.

Most importantly, my writing ability honed.

This resulted in my only writing award to date.

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Regarding The Punisher


From Punisher #8. Art by Leandro Fernandaz

Ever since his debut in the second season of Netflix’ Daredevil, I’ve been thinking a lot about Frank Castle; a.k.a.: The Punisher. So much, in fact, that I broke down and bought the first complete collection volume of Garth Ennis’ second run on the title, under Marvel’s Max imprint (Amazon link here).

It all got me thinking more about the character; at least enough to fill a short blog entry, anyway. So here goes.

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