My Ten Long-Distance Relationship “Date Wishes” for 2011

Awhile back, Sunshine came up with a dual blog-post idea for the two of us.  She found it at another website that gave the suggestion as a way to help people in long-distance relationships.
Here is the idea…

  1. We each outline 10 things that we want to accomplish in the next year as a couple.
  2. Share our lists via our blogs.
  3. Get out there and make each other’s dreams come true!

So without comparing notes of any kind, here is my list of things (in no particular order ) that I would love to do with Sunshine in 2011:

  1. Go to the Halifax Farmer’s Market at least once every two months. This is one that we’ve been slipping a bit on lately.  I never liked going out to any kind of farmer’s market until I met Sunshine.  I mean, I went a few times with The Ex but it seemed more of a chore than anything else.  With Sunshine it’s a completely different feeling.  I actually WANT to go.  I actually LIKE walking around and seeing the local artisans and farmers and bakers and whoever else is there selling whatever it is they made.  I just like spending this time with Sunshine, too.
  2. Attend a local “Tweet-up” as a couple. Sunshine has been invited to a couple of these so far, and the last time I noticed on Twitter that an invite was given to her I ended up being included in the mix, too.  Because of our blogs, we have a lot of similar friends on Twitter so it’s only natural that we try to get out and meet some of these people in person to see if we’d actually like them or not.  Plus…it’d be nice to have more “couple” friends to share together.
  3. Spend a weekend in PEI. We’ve been talking about this one for awhile and I’m very hopeful that we can make this a reality this summer.  To walk along the Charlottetown waterfront on a beautiful sunny day would be very special.  Maybe take in some of the local “touristy” attractions would be fun, too (I’m a tourist at heart, after all).  I’m really wanting this one to actually happen.
  4. Walk along the waterfront in Halifax AND Saint John on sunny days. We’ve walked along the Halifax waterfront numerous times and each time it’s a different experience depending on what’s going on that particular weekend.  We went to Saint John on a “stay-cation” last spring but it ended up being foggy and wet and cold that day.  I know the Saint John waterfront can look great if it’s a sunny day…not to mention their farmer’s market was nice to walk through, as well.
  5. Attend one night of the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival. I’m not a jazz or blues fan, to be honest…but I’d love to be able to just sit back in some club, drink in hand, having a conversation with Sunshine about absolutely nothing in particular while some live music was playing in the back ground.  I find jazz music is best when in the background, anyway.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about this festival so maybe I’ll end up becoming a fan.
  6. Attend a live play or musical. I’ve always been a huge fan of live entertainment, having been part of my high school band AND its drama club (plus my years of being in front of crowds as a DJ or event MC).  Over the years, I’ve seen a few musicals (I actually got to see Les Miz in London!) and have attended a few plays (Blood Brothers was pretty awesome), but haven’t seen much lately.  I know there are a lot of small, local productions going on all the time.  So whether it’s in my city or hers, I’d like us to go out on a date and enjoy something like that together.  I think it’d be fun.  It’d be even more amazing if we could see a puppet musical about Dracula, but I think I’d settle for something else.
  7. Attend a concert together. God bless Sunshine…she stood in the rain with me for over five hours so we could see KISS together two summers ago.  And while I offered to drive 3 hours one night at the last second so we could see a Jann Arden concert together (she ended up going with a friend), there hasn’t been any concerts worth attending since 2009.  And really, that sucks.  I’d love for us to be able to sit in a coliseum and enjoy a concert from an artist that we both enjoy.  I heard U2 might be coming this summer, so maybe that’s the concert we can go to?
  8. Fly to Toronto for an extended weekend. While trying to figure out how to fly my daughter in to see me for our “winter visit”, I ended up looking at other possibilities. There’s a new airline that flies right into downtown Toronto for about half the price of the normal airlines.  We could fly into Toronto, jump on the GoTrain to my daughter’s city, then find a cheap hotel to stay in for a couple of nights…maybe even rent a car for a weekend.  It’ll cost a bit, but I think it’d be cheaper than my daughter flying down for two weeks…which normally costs a TON of money (it costs more once she’s here than her travel does!).  We could even drive to Ontario for a visit, for that matter…but if we did that it would have to be in the spring after the winter.  I dunno…it’s something we’re looking into.
  9. Go to at least five restaurants that neither one of us have ever been to. I know it’s hard to tell by just looking at me but I’m a big fan of food.  Mind you, only “specific” foods because I’m a fussy eater (just ask Sunshine).  But I would LOVE to go out and eat at places we’ve never been to before…trying new cuisine (Greek?  Jamaican?) and experiencing something new together.  I think five is a reasonable goal for the entire year.
  10. Go camping more than one night together…in the woods. This is more for Sunshine than anything else on this list.  She’s a big fan of camping out in the woods and I’m a guy who hates it…but I’m totally willing to give it a shot to show her how much I love her.  So I’m absolutely willing to go to Keji or some other provincial park or campground (maybe when we go to PEI?) and camp in a tent without the comforts of home for a weekend.  But NO MORE than two nights…y’know, if we’re keeping track of things here.

So…how does this compare to Sunshine’s list?  Head on over and check it out.  Maybe we’ll both be pleasantly surprised.

DNR

I had a pretty difficult discussion with my dad last night.  I don’t really know how much I can write down because my mind is just mush at the moment.

My mom’s surgery is being postponed until next Friday because they need more time to wait for her new ‘leg parts’ to arrive.  Let me try to break down what’s happened with her thus far…

Operation #1

This was mom’s first operation on her leg. Or should I clarify, the first operation on her leg this time around.  See, she broke her femur last year on a seemingly innocent fall.  Turns out it was because there was a tumor on her leg.  So a couple of months ago she got an operation on her leg to replace the damaged non-healing cancerous bone with a steel rod.  We couldn’t figure out why she never seemed to heal from this operation and was always in pain.

Turns out that the cancer was doing a number on her leg in and around the steel rod.  That meant the break wasn’t healing and she’d have to get another operation done in an attempt to “race” the cancer. This would lead us into her second operation.

Operation #2

So this time around the doctors decided that they’d have to replace her leg bone all the way down to mid-way into her calf (highlighted in blue). This meant a new knee and specialized pieces that would fit both her bone and the piece of steel already inserted into her leg (highlighted in red).

This is where things got really scary.  Mom’s operation was a difficult one as the doctors almost lost her on the operating table on three separate occasions.  I can only assume her body simply wasn’t strong enough to handle the trauma and they fought to keep her alive.

The doctor said that parts of her bone “were mush” and that he had never seen a cancer act that aggressive on someone’s leg before.

Operation #3

The operation that’s scheduled to take next Friday is yet another chapter in the “Cancer Saga” that has been my mom’s life for the past couple of years.  Apparently the cancer has eaten through the bone above the steel rod and has basically disconnected the bone from the steel, resulting in her leg detaching.

Thankfully mom’s not in a lot of physical pain from this because of the copious amounts of drugs that are being pumped into her.  Unfortunately these drugs make mom seem like a late-stage Alzheimer’s patient…which is brutally difficult for everybody.

Moms operation is a lot more serious than her previous one because they’re removing the entire upper portion of her leg and replacing it with more steel (highlighted in purple).  It was originally scheduled for today but because the steel rod needs to be specially designed to fit into mom’s hip, it’s going to take more time to get completed.

Obviously, with the doctors almost losing mom on her last operation, this one has us extremely nervous due to it being so much bigger in scope and scale.  In addition, the doctors don’t really think she’s physically at the point they’re comfortable with to do this operation but feel as though they can’t wait any further.

This brings me to last night’s conversation with my dad.

After careful discussions between my mom and dad, they informed the doctor today that they want to sign a DNR document before the operation.  For those not aware of what that acronym means, it’s a Do Not Resuscitate document…also known as a living will.

“A Do Not Resuscitate document, often called a living will, is a binding legal document that states resuscitation should not be attempted if a person suffers cardiac or respiratory arrest.

This was difficult to hear, to say the least.  It was difficult for my dad to tell me.  At the end of the day, they just want mom’s suffering to stop.  If this operation is successful and she can rebound to her NEXT operation (the one that repairs the ruptured disc in her back that’s because of yet more cancerous tumors), then the hope is that she can recover and live life again…until the next time this disease attacks her.  There are apparently a lot of things that could go wrong with this operation, so my dad just doesn’t want to see mom suffer anymore.

My mom has suffered tremendously over the past few years in dealing with this disease, the last year in particular.  My dad is a wreck…working through the emotional pain and just trying to hide his feelings away. It’s tough to see my family in so much pain.

It’s hard to come to terms with the very real possibility that a parent will die.  I’m 38 years old…it was only a matter of time, I suppose.  But my mom is only 64…she’s really too young to be dying like this. But it’s something that I know all too well after losing my cousin to cancer a few years ago at the age of 34: cancer doesn’t care how old you are.

I’m sorry for rambling on like this.  I know it’s therapeutic to get these things off of my chest and out of my mind but I can only imagine how depressing it must be for you to read.

All I know for certain is that I’ve got my son for the weekend and I’m going to hug him very tightly tonight. He’s going to be my focus and I’m going to do whatever I can to gather some positive energy and pass it along to him so we have the best weekend we possibly can.

I’ll do my best to not think about next week just yet.

Can’t Get Down, Can’t Get Level

Like I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been trying to be “up” over the past couple of weeks even though it’s been pretty tough. Like I said on Tuesday, it just seems that every time mom seems to be getting better something else happens to get in the way.

So I decided that I didn’t want to write another sad post. Yesterday I talked about what music helped me when I was down and really needed to escape, even if for a few hours.  Today I’m going to focus on what visual stimuli is helping me cope with the stress lately.

While I don’t know if I’ve really been able to immerse myself into any television shows like I have with music, I can’t lie so I have to say that the new season of American Idol has given me enough chuckles to help me smile for an hour or two each week.  While the overall show may not be much better with the new judges, I’m thoroughly enjoying Steven Tyler to the point that I’ll keep watching until the show bores me with a horrific “theme night” that isn’t designed for anybody but the geriatric viewer. Give Tyler his own show of some kind because he’s entertaining as all get out.

I’m also trying to catch as much “manly” stuff as I can in my downtime.  Example?  Well…Man v Food can be a lot of fun.  While I don’t think I’d ever win an eating challenge, I’m thoroughly entertained by this show. I also gotta say that even though I got turned down in my Wipeout Canada audition, I don’t think you can go wrong with ANY episode of Wipeout.  That show never fails to bring a smile to my face, even if only for a minute. Oh…and don’t even get me started on how much I absolutely LOVE Shit My Dad Says. That show is the best comedy on television right now.

I also find myself turning to the NFL Network a lot lately…and not just because of the upcoming SuperBowl, but because I just love the sport. I realize, as a Canadian, I should be a massive fan of hockey…but I’m an NFL junkie.  I even look forward to off-season free agency signings, coaching changes, and the NFL draft (I even watch the rookie combines!).  I don’t know why but I’m not that much of a fan of other sports at all.  Although I’ll freely admit that it could all change if the Toronto Maple Leafs actually ended up having a winning season…but that’s just not gonna happen anytime soon.

The biggest diversion I’ve found, though, has been through the comedy of one of my idols: Howard Stern.  Now I realize the public opinion on Stern are quite diverse…you either love him or you hate him…but I’ve been a fan for about 15 years now and his radio show and TV show have helped me to laugh a lot in times of darkness.  I always wanted to be a DJ because of WKRP in Cincinnatti, and listening to Howard Stern has only reinforced my love for the medium.  Sure, he can be over-the-top and not everybody’s cup of tea, but there’s just something about him that brings a smile to my face.  I love how he has done everything his way…the honesty, the tenacity, the wanting to do or say something whether it’s right or wrong…and that are qualities that I look up to.

So there ya go.  Two days of entertainment that keeps me happy in some unhappy times. I’m hoping for more days of happiness going forward because, quite frankly, these unhappy times really suck ass.

OH…I almost forgot!  The title of both yesterday’s and today’s blog posts are from this song by Great Big Sea:

Now that’s DEFINITELY music to smile to!

When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down)

I’ve been trying to be “up” over the past couple of weeks, but it’s been tough.  Like I said yesterday, every time mom seems to be getting better something else happens to get in the way.  I guess cancer doesn’t really care about timing.

So I decided that I didn’t want to write another sad post.  I need to write about my feelings, it’s true…but I also need to find a way to pick myself up when I’m down.  I found that turning to different forms of entertainment when I’m down really helps me to escape, even if for a few hours.  Today I’ll just jot down some notes on two musical acts that have been really helping me lately. And it’s funny, I usually turn to 80’s “hair bands” or cheesy music…but lately I’ve felt different and have turned to these two artists in particular.

The first artist is Billy Joel.  I gotta admit, I was never a huge fan of Joel’s growing up.  I only started listening to him when “Allentown” became a hit, which was followed by the An Innocent Man album.  Any fan of Billy knows that while that was a great album, it was almost more of a concept record with a lot of “doo-wop” type songs on it.  It may have been where he was at musically at the time, but I don’t think it even closely resembles his career.  So from that to River of Dreams just didn’t “do it” for me, y’know?  Thankfully, hearing a recent interview of him helped open up an entire catalogue of amazing music to me.

I’ve been turning to his earlier works like they’re new.  A song like “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” or “Angry Young Man” or “Summer Highland Falls” just seems to put me at ease with myself.  I can close my eyes and enjoy beauty in musical form.  I’m so glad I rediscovered his music.

The next artist I’ve turned to is Disturbed.  I know…BIG TIME departure from Billy Joel, but it’s a different type of “musical therapy”.  They have some great songs that are their own, but when they re-make a song and turn it into their own…I find the songs take on entirely different meanings. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is much more powerful. Land of Confusion” isn’t just a political statement anymore.  These are songs that I can turn way up and feel good about. But the biggest song that affects me is “Shout”…their re-imagining of the classic Tears For Fears song.

I initially thought it was simply a great take on the song until I saw the live version on YouTube.  It was there I realized that their interpretation was much more meaningful.  Lead singer David Draiman wants to be an outlet for his fans; a vessel to help people escape from their darkness and for just a few minutes have a connection of sorts.

I may not be making sense.  If you don’t want to watch the video below, this is a variation of what he says every time he’s about to play this song live:

“Are you ready to all gather together? All your heart. All your soul. All your anger. All your hate. Everything that is black and loathsome and dwells inside of you…I want you to pour that shit into me. Gather yourselves and your strength from me, my brothers…my sisters…my blood.  And shout.”

Maybe I’m being over-dramatic…but to me, that’s deep.  And that affects me in a very spiritual way.


I’ve also turned to television and movies in an effort to escape into a semblance of happiness, but I think  I’ll talk about those tomorrow.  After a difficult phone call with my mom last night, I need to focus on what brings me some happiness for the next little bit.

Oh…and the title of this post is actually the title of a song that I’ll post here tomorrow by one of my favorite Canadian bands. Just thought it held true for me today…like a mantra, so to speak.

One Step Forward, One Stumble Back

I just don’t get it.

I don’t quite understand why The Universe is toying with my family the way it is. I’m not sure why we can feel “up” one day and then slammed the next with bad news, but it’s getting pretty frickin’ tired.

Just as mom was starting to get a little bit better, The Universe seems to have other plans.

I visited my mom on Saturday and Sunday with Sunshine and things seemed to be going well. She was tired and lonely and confined to her bed, but things were looking okay in terms of her diagnosis.

Then I received the following email from my dad late last night.

“Your mom has been in and out of herself but today, she wasn’t too bad. Like we discussed on Saturday, last week’s CT scan showed her femur was detaching itself from the metal in her leg. The doctors confirmed today that the cancer has attacked the lower portion of what femur she has left. So on Friday, she will undergo the 4th operation on her leg, removing the remainder of her femur and part of her hip and replacing it with metal. She still needs a disc in her back replaced because of the cancer has eaten thru all of the bone in that area. That was going to be done in the next two weeks but now I am not sure when that will happen. It depends on her surviving this next operation. Give me a call.”

So that hit me like a ton of bricks.  The doctors almost lost her three times during the last operation and now she needs yet another one, and it’s pretty major.  In addition, the ruptured disc in her back still needs to be operated on…and that’s also another scary procedure.

I’m really nervous about how Friday’s operation is going to go.

I just hate how there seems to be peaks and valleys with her health. As cold as it may sound, I’d prefer if she was in a coma than to have to see her wasting away in a hospital bed…totally unhappy and desperately lonely because she’s two hours away from her husband and three hours away from her son.

Cancer knows no age or race or sex.  Cancer is completely unbiased in who it decides to attack. Cancer has attacked my family a couple of times and has won so far.

Cancer can fuck right off.

Just Another Frickin’ Monday

I don’t have much of a blog post today. It was a pretty rough weekend for me, with the weather impacting the time I got to spend with Sunshine in addition to not being around for my daughter’s 12th birthday AND finding out that my mom will continue to be in the hospital for a few more weeks. Not even mentioning the therapeutic conversations that I had with Sunshine yesterday that brought a lot of buried feelings to the surface.

I’m just not “feeling” a blog post today.

I’m mentally exhausted and pretty tired from my 3-hour trip directly from Sunshine’s place to my work this morning (I’ve been up since 5am). I’m going to try to piece together some thoughts during the day and see where my head is at.

Until then, I hope everybody has a good one today…even if it is a frickin’ Monday.

Damn You, Winter!!

Today the weather channel is forecasting a very large snowstorm to hit my city.  How large?  Up to 30cms (12+ inches) of snow. Mind you, the weather forecast has changed back and forth all week…but it’s changed from 15cm to 40cm and back to 20cm.  It’s all over the place.  Bottom line is that we’re gonna get hammered with some snow.

It sucks because this weekend is supposed to be one where make my 3-hour trip to see the love of my life.  So guess who is nervous about the possibility of my weekend trip to see Sunshine being canceled because of a snowstorm?

Yeah…this happy couple.

It’s one of those things where we’ll just have to play it by ear, y’know? I  mean, I’ll drive through snow to see my woman any day of the week, but a blizzard?  It’s a matter of safety and definitely one of the drawbacks of being in a long-distance relationship.

And what’s worse for me is that I was hoping to visit my mom in the hospital, too…so it’s like a double-whammy if the weather prevents this trip from taking place.

I guess this is kind of a cliffhanger of sorts since you won’t know if I actually made it or not.  Well…you’ll know if you follow me on Twitter.  I promise to give updates for anybody interested.

You can follow me here: Twitter/CanadianBaldGuy

Okay…now with my cheap Twitter plug out of the way…I’m 99% certain I’ll just leave on Saturday morning after the storm has ended.  Will it suck to lose out on half a day?  Absolutely.  Should I call off the entire trip because of it?  Hell no.  I can’t wait to see my mom and especially my baby…the woman who believes in me and never fails to be there when I need her the most.

I can only hope that she’ll let me be there for her in the same way when she needs me.