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.)

Continue reading

Posted in Depression & Mental Issues, Life Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Art, Depression & Mental Issues, Reviews, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Theo Moudakis’ Fort McMurry Cartoon: A Criticism

fort-mcmurray-fire-may-3-twitter-al-andyhurleys

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Art, Comic Books, Essays | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Depression & Mental Issues, Life Stuff, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Regarding The Punisher

2071504-the_punisher_v5_08___kitchen_irish_02___23

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Comic Books, Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quickie Comic Book Reviews

comic20booksIn an effort to get out of the house more while being unemployed, I’ve been hitting up the library for comics. I’ve enjoyed several books and series I haven’t been able to check out before. Some, I’d never even heard of before now.

 

 

Continue reading

Posted in Comic Books, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Tips for New Writers

new-writer

Man, I hope I didn’t look this nerdy when I started writing.

After Grade 2, I became a writer. My stories about Gizmo from Gremlins were all written in crayon. As I grew up, my skills as a writer improved. Crayons became pencil crayons, then pencil, then pen, then eventually, a keyboard. My stories changed from Gizmo adventures to horror stories to super heroics.

My journey to becoming a writer took time. I’ve certainly evolved from my days of Gizmo stories. I wish I had kept those old scribblers as wonderful mementos. I especially wish I’d kept my coil scribblers with all my short horror stories.

To be a writer, it’s very simple: you write. If you can write or type out your thoughts, you are a writer. After all, writers write. Even if you never get published, know that you are a writer simply because you write.

But maybe you want to hone your skills. Maybe you dream of seeing your name on a book cover, sitting on a bookstore’s shelf. Maybe you’re young and want some tips on how to progress as a writer. Maybe you’re much older and want to tell that story you’re sure people will read. Maybe you’re a parent with a child who enjoys telling stories.

Well, I can’t guarantee these tips are for everyone. It’s advice I’ve heard or learned over the past three decades. Regardless, I hope it inspires you in some way.

Continue reading

Posted in Top Ten Tuesday, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment