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    Wednesday
    Nov252015

    someone to watch over fox

    the path to the hair salonThere is no greater relationship a gay man can have than with his hairdresser; unless of course he is bald. This morning I followed the rainbow and drove into the heart of the gay village to get my hair cut by my Scissor Ninja Kristoff.

    Kristoff has been taking care of my red hair now for just over five years. The two of us met while playing gay softball one hot summer. At the time, I was in an abusive hair relationship with a gay stylist named Fabrizio. He was pretty much Edward Scissorhands on blow. Every time I went to see him I feared for my life as knives and razor blades flew in the air as he cut up all his life's tragedies. 

    As soon as Kristoff learned the gravity of my situation, he took me into his chair immediately. Even though I know my Scissor Ninja sees other people; I have been steadfast in my devotion to him and will continue to be throughout the years. 

    “You will never guess what happened to me last night!” I exclaimed to Kristoff, while taking a seat in his chair.

    “What?” he asked, taking a sip from his coffee and then ruffling his hands through my hair.

    “I fell in love!” 

    “Shut up gurl!”

    The sky was blue and the birds were chirping outside the garage-door, disguised as a window, beside me. The sun shone down on Davie Street, and there I was, looking into the mirror and thinking to myself, I am the happiest gay in the village.

    Drifting into my own reflection for a moment, I came back when I realized Kristoff was attacking me with a barrage of questions like Chinese throwing stars.

    “Who is he?”

                “Why didn’t you text me?”

                            “What does he look like?”

                                        “Same cut as last time?”

    I assured Kristoff I would tell him everything, and waited for him to turn off his razor before beginning the story.

    the move i did not see“It all started last night when I went to buy a ticket to see the movie Brooklyn at Park Theatre. After spending the entire day lying flaccid on the couch, I knew I needed to end off the night on a more productive note.

    After purchasing the ticket, I checked my phone and realized I had approximately nine minutes to grab a glass of wine. And so I walked in to the bar next door and ordered two.

    Fifteen minutes and one delightful buzz later, I handed the debit machine back to the lovely bartender and picked my Michael Kors jacket up off the floor. Strutting towards the exit, I was just about to leave when the most beautiful sound pulled me back. 

    “There’s a saying old, says that love is blind…”

    I stopped my hand on the door handle as the Gershwin lyrics floated like rose petals in the air.

    I turned around to see that an entire jazz concert was set-up on the stage in front of the bar and I didn't even notice! Most likely becuase I had my head dug into Facebook and Instagram the entire time. Spot lit, there stood two musicians: a woman with her trumpet and a man with his electric guitar. 

    I looked down at the movie ticket in my right hand and back up to the stage. One verse later and I was back at my bar stool ordering a bottle of house red wine.

    Oh Kristoff! I can’t even describe the magic I felt! The singer! Her voice! It was so much finer than the wine in my glass: rich, smoky and talk about a lasting finish. The falsetto of the trumpet! The bass of the guitar! How sensual it was every time they embraced with each toot and pluck. For the next two hours I sat there and for all I knew, I could have been in a jazz club in Montreal, New York City or Paris! The rain crashed down outside, the candle on each table burned bright, and I was in love.”

    “Rugged, this all sounds great, but when does the man enter this love story?"

    Kristoff unsnapped the robe from around my neck and stood patiently awaiting an answer.

    “What man?” I asked.

    Our eyes locked in the mirror, all four of them puzzled. 

    “I could have sworn you said you fell in love last night." 

    "I did!"

    Kristoff gasped and reached for the blow dryer. 

    where the magic happened“OK. Well first of all put the blow dryer down," I reasoned with him, standing out of the chair my palms up in the air.

    "Rugged," Kristoff said unarmed, "I have been cutting your hair for the last five years and not one of your love stories has ever included a man."

    Extending my arms to give him a hug, I held my Scissor Ninja tight and whispered into his ears, "Minor detail my beloved friend. Whether or not a man enters the picture, I will always have plenty of someones to watch over me."

    After we ended our embrace, I knelt down to pet the resident pug Rocko, paid the lady at the front counter and said goodbye to Kristoff.

    “Thank you for the exquisite haircut!" I waived. "Now go enjoy your weekend in Palm Springs and I will see you next month!”

    WAIT! Readers Stop! The beautiful singer at the bar! I must tell you! Her name is Anita Eccleston and you can listen to her too! Check out her music and support her at www.anitaeccelston.com

    Tuesday
    Nov172015

    dear sean, eleven years later

    2003 / 2015This post comes to you tonight from three places: (1) a basement in south east Vancouver on a rainy and cold night (2) a sore stomach from eating too many cheese sticks dipped in cream cheese and (3) a place of grace and gratitude.

    It is not often that I write like this so I am just going to run with it and hope for the best. At the moment, according to some website I found on the internet, I am two-hundred and sixty-five thousand and nine-hundred and sixty-four hours old. Why I could not come right out and say I am thirty is simply because I am dramatic.

    After a hot and messy decade, I am finally sitting at a desk and doing what I love most: writing. When my fingers are not on the keyboard these days, I am singing in a choir, practicing with a make-shift doo wop group, and serving pasta and pizza to West End locals dressed in blue jeans and a plaid shirt. After spending the first half of my twenties tipsy and torn about going back to school, and the second half hungover and managing a restaurant, I am grateful for the space I now find myself in. 

    Tomorrow afternoon, I am traveling to North Burnaby to present a workshop for grade ten students on the topic of “Suicide Prevention and Response.” As a volunteer for the Crisis Centre, I have been traveling to high schools across the lower mainland presenting this topic for the better part of four years. Every time I walk into a classroom and set up the PowerPoint, I always begin with the same line, “I am sure it is not every day that a dashing redhead walks into your class and starts talking about killing yourself… Hello my name is Rugged Fox.”

    I love holding a pen and carrying a drink tray, but out of everything I have done in this life, I am the most passionate about this work. The students I find myself presenting to, typically, range in age from fourteen to sixteen. This is how old I was when I wanted to end my own life. In my introduction to the students, I always speak to the fact that had I received this information when I was their age, there is a good chance I would have got myself help a lot sooner.

    My story is not much different from any other teenage kid who skipped into puberty thinking it was going to be one long wet dream. Little did I know a soiled bedsheet was going to be the least of my problems. When I turned thirteen, my penchant for flare, ambivalence towards hockey, undying love for the Backstreet Boys, and keen fashion sense turned me into an easy target for pretty much everyone and anyone. In grade eight, I successfully became the only kid in history to transfer out of their homeroom half-way through the year.

    After my mom began to question why I refused to get out of the car each morning, I confided to her that no matter where I sat down, I could not seem to escape the syllabic sounds of “faggot” ringing behind my ear.

    The following year my parents made the executive decision to pull me out of the public school system and enrolled me at St. Jude’s: an all-boys private Catholic school. There I experienced a fortunate reprieve from the hallway torment I had grown accustomed to. My school uniform became an invisibility cloak, my superpower was blending in. However, it was not long thereafter that I discovered I would become my own worst enemy. By the time I was fifteen, I had successfully learned how to despise myself – and just like English class, I was excellent at it.

    I didn’t know at the time, but for the next seven years I would treat depression as if it were “my precious.” I hid it from everyone and didn’t let another soul come near it. As to not arouse suspicion, I made a point of doing the exact opposite of what “depressed” people do, and it worked. I was bright and cheerful, an A+ student, Vice-President of my graduating class. All the meanwhile, I was up every night scrambling to piece together an image of the future that kept falling apart.

    Following my first year at the University of Winnipeg, I knew I had no choice but to come out. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I knew that my life depended on the one less traveled. Three steps out of the closet door and I began an education that was not listed on any of my course syllabi. I started to learn how to love myself, one self-help book at a time. With the help of a therapist (funded by the United Way) I worked each week to dismantle the wall I had built around myself, in order to repair and reconstruct the damage that lay inside.

    On July 5th, 2004, I sat down at a (now gone) coffee shop called the Fyxx on Albert Street in downtown Winnipeg and pulled out my journal. I took a sip from a gigantic mug of dark roast, checked out the super cute barista, and began to write myself the following letter.  

     

    It is important to note that, at the time I wrote this, I did not believe one word to be true. It would take me nearly ten years before my construction was complete that I could actually believe it. Especially now that I was reading with an entirely new set of eyes.

    If I had to write myself back today, it would look something like this: