The Mini-Reunion (part two)

CBG - 90sOver the next ten years (i.e. the 90’s), I went through a ton of ups and downs. I flunked out of two different universities before graduating both community college (top of the class, baby!) and university (with a BComm) in 1998. I worked at my dad’s restaurant part time, as a DJ on weekends, and as a bartender part time while going to school full time. I remained the same guy for the most part…slightly cocky and arrogant, going from short-term relationship to short-term relationship because (a) I felt that it would make me look “cool” in the eyes of my friends, (b) my ADHD prevented me from committing to pretty much anything long-term, and (c) my insecurities would be temporarily fulfilled if I had a woman find me attractive…either emotionally or physically.

I did things and made mistakes that followed me around the small town. Women I slept with, things I had said, and the stupid things I had done had caught up to me. I had a “reputation”. It was at this point I decided that not only did I have to work outside of the town, but I had to leave it entirely.

MonctonI moved to Moncton, New Brunswick in 2001 and remained there until moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia to be with my incredible wife almost four years ago. In Moncton, I became relatively anonymous. I finally matured a bit and grew into a pretty decent person. Of course, a combination of depression and Adult ADHD meant that I still had my fair share of issues…and I’m sure there are people who I worked with over the years who think I’m an asshole. But I was able to move on and just find out who I was as a person (a failed marriage can do that to a guy).

When this happened, though, I stopped going back home to visit my friends. I felt shame and was embarrassed not only of the person I used to be, but as the person I was at the time. I was working in a call center to make ends meet. The last time I really got together with “the boys” was my bachelor party. Then three of my best friends (two of whom are brothers) were my groomsmen. I thought, at the time, that I finally had what I always wanted.

CBG - mid-00sOf course, the marriage ended quickly for a myriad of reasons. I remember going back to my best friend’s place on a Saturday night back in 2008 to tell him we were splitting up. Instead of my best friend having my back, he berated me. He told me how stupid I was for this mistake and that he couldn’t believe I was doing this.

I never told him how that night made me feel, but needless to say our friendship has pretty much disappeared in the years since. I think the last time I saw him was at my mother’s funeral five years ago. His wife has since “unfriended” me on Facebook, presumably in an effort to clean-up account because she didn’t consider us friends anymore.

Mini ReunionI’ve seen some friends here and there over the years. I’ve seen most of them on Facebook, though. I guess in this day and age, there really isn’t any reason to have a High School Reunion in person when you can see all of your friends online. But still…when the invitation popped up in my inbox to attend a friends-only “Mini Reunion”, I jumped at the chance.

I feel like I’m finally in a point in my life where I’m not embarrassed or ashamed anymore of who I am or what I used to do. I have no doubt that some of the people attending the party (and even the person who actually extended the invitation to me) remember me as that arrogant jerk from high school who they put up with because I was friends with so many people. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to being able to meet them in person and show them the man that I’ve become.

CBGI’ve got the greatest wife I could have ever dreamed of. I’ve finally got a job that not only pays well and has “manager” attached to the title, but is at a company that makes me feel proud to work there. I’ve got three incredible children of my own and two amazing step-daughters who I consider my own children. I rarely drink and even when I do, I have a few beer and don’t get “out of control” like I used to do. The man I am today is NOT the man I was 20 years ago. I don’t have the self-esteem issues that I used to have…and that has helped me become the best “me” I could possibly be.

VyvanseMost importantly, I’ve got my depression under control and take medication for my Adult ADHD. I’m not going to say that my ADHD medication is a “miracle drug” or anything, but just ask my wife…Vyvanse has changed my life for the better. On a daily basis, I feel like the man I was always supposed to be…and I can’t wait for my friends to see me now.

Will I reconnect with my best friend? Will I reconnect with people that I will want to continue to see on a regular basis? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I’m going to have a great time catching up and being ‘me’. The universe will then decide what’s next.

The Mini-Reunion (part one)

I moved around quite a bit as a child. My dad worked in the banking industry and, back in the day, when you moved up it also meant that you moved on. I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and lived in Cape Breton for a bit until moving to Windsor, Nova Scotia. Dad then became a branch manager and we all moved to New Minas, Nova Scotia until I was in Grade 3. We then picked up and moved to Saint John, New Brunswick until I was in Grade 5. Then I
moved one last time to Amherst, Nova Scotia (population 9,000) when Grade 6 started (waaaaay back in 1983). AmherstIt was here that my family finally set-up roots, dad opened up a pizza restaurant, and it became the place I called home for the next 15+ years.


Christmas ChoirIt was also here that I began to make friends. We ended up moving (AGAIN!!!) from one part of town to the other about halfway through the school year, so I began to make friends all over again. I gotta be honest, though…I have very vague recollections of this time in my life. There’s one very vivid memory of a Christmas concert where I sang a solo in the school choir, but that’s another story for another time.

Thankfully, the next year was Grade 7: the first experience of a blended school. I got to hang out with the friends I met during the first half of the previous year and the second half of the previous year. I suppose this actually was to my benefit because I wasn’t starting from scratch.

Let me tell you a bit about myself at this point, though. I was a kid who was constantly showing off in school in an effort to get attention. This was due to a few reasons:

  • I barely saw my dad as a kid because he was a workaholic. Our “family time” consisted of meals and television and the occasional vacation. That’s about it. So I was doing what I could to get attention somewhere from somebody.
  • Because we moved around often, I was always having to make new friends. I found that being the “class clown” was the easiest way to make a few friends right out of the gate. But this also meant that I could very easily been seen as a little dickwad by those who didn’t share my sense of humour.
  • I had undiagnosed ADHD (primary inattentive), so it was simply a reaction to my body not acting the way it should have.

CBG and friendsI made a few really good friends over the next few years. Guys who I still consider best friends today even though we barely talk or see each other anymore. It sucks that we drifted apart, but that’s later in the story.

As high school came to a close, I can look back now and (thanks to the numerous video tapes I’ve seen over the past few years) see just how lucky I was to have any friends at all.

Seriously. I look back and see that I was just so damn desperate for attention and acceptance that I had a cocky, arrogant attitude about me. This was a façade, though, as I was probably the most insecure person in the entire school.

Horrible hair…big-ass glasses…a ridiculous sense of “fashion”…and vicious acne issues that earned me the nickname “Pizza Face” for awhile (thanks to that awesome family pizza restaurant…ugh). The insecurities only piled up due to (a) getting picked on and made fun of by those in school who felt as though they were “cool”, (b) constantly getting berated by my father for not ever being good enough or living up to his expectations (an issue that arose because of the ADHD, as I always had “so much potential” that I could never fulfill), and (c) never having a girlfriend throughout high school.

PIZZAHMy first kiss was in sixth grade. My first make-out session was in seventh grade. I think I had a girlfriend for a week in eleventh grade. That was it until graduation. It made for a brutal high school experience on one hand, but I still had some fantastic friends that helped me get through each day. In fact, I ended up not only accepting the “pizza” nickname, but embracing it…even getting a “PIZZAH” license plate for my second car in my high school senior year.

It was in my senior year that I really cemented most of my friendships. I was still a goofy, nerdy, arrogant show-off, but my real friends either put up with it or saw through it. There was a good number of us who graduated being close friends…something I never thought would change or end.

I was wrong.

Orange is the New Black – Season 4 on Netflix NOW!!

Just over a month ago, Netflix was kind enough to offer members of their Stream Team the opportunity to screen the first six episodes of Orange is the New Black’s fourth season. I wanted to write about the show immediately after my wife and I watched those episodes, but we were asked to wait. Time sped by and then POOF~!! The new season was available on Netflix.

Needless to say, it didn’t take very long for the two of us to blow threw the remaining seven episodes and can I just say…OH EM GEE!!

Listen, I’m not going to give away any spoilers in this post but let me just say a few things about Season Four:

  • You will be absolutely shocked at a death during the course of the season.
  • This season is NOT a comedy-based season. I know it’s been known to be primarily comedy in years past; this season is emotional and depressing and, at times, stomach churning.
  • The acting performances are spectacular. It really is amazing how some of the actors get completely immersed in their characters. I fully expect award nominations and award wins for members of the cast during “award season”.
  • The writing is, as usual, fantastic. I don’t know if you’ll find a more interesting program with interesting long-term storylines that really play out in an incredibly well thought-out way than with OITNB. Top to bottom, this is just a fantastic program.

OITNB 1One of the things I’ve learned over the past month is that viewers who watch and enjoy OITNB are what Netflix considers to be “repeat offenders”. The original series is one of the most re-watched globally among subscribers. After researching over 190 countries, Netflix found that more than half (53%) of Orange viewers have re-watched at least one full season. That’s an impressive number and just goes to prove how great the show is.

Some Canadian-specific highlights about OITNB fans are as follows:

  • Almost one quarter of Canadian respondents (23%) planned to watch the previous season while 42% planned on re-watching all seasons before the season 4 launch back on June 17th.
  • Close to half of respondents (43%) said they started preparing for the new season the week before June 17th, and Canadian fans were actually willing to give up house chores to do so (for example, 41% were willing to give up cleaning the house 38% were willing to give up making your bed just to focus on Orange).
  • Outside of refreshing their memory, one third said that they liked to re-watch Orange just so they could relive moments with their favourite characters.
  • 30% of Canadians said that they looked for possible foreshadowing.
  • Over one quarter (28%) said they re-watched because it’s their favourite show and they can’t get enough.
  • It can be lonely in Litchfield, apparently. Over one third of Canadian respondents (32%) said they planned to re-watch by themselves. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do that.

In more overall highlights…

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Netflix CanadaWhat I did, though, was sit with my wife and blow through the final episodes over the course of a weekend. We simply couldn’t help ourselves…the show is that damn good. As entertaining as it is to “binge-watch” a series like Orange, the only down side is that we now have to wait another year for the next season to begin.

I suppose we’ll have to find another series on Netflix to watch. Any suggestions?

My Father’s Day

Happy Father's DayI gotta say…Father’s Day was a mixed bag of emotions for me. Let me explain why.

On Saturday, Sunshine and I went on a road trip to Saint John, New Brunswick. There wasn’t any real reason to go…it was a four hour drive there and we wanted to just enjoy each other’s company for a few hours.

We visited for a couple of hours and left after lunch. On the way back, I thought we should stop by my dad’s as a surprise and wish him a Happy Father’s Day. Sunshine thought that was a good idea and even suggested we grab a card in addition to the visit. So I called ahead to make sure he was there.

That was my first mistake.

He answered sarcastically and started giving me grief about driving around and telling the world on Facebook. Y’see, his new wife (a lovely woman) is on Facebook and was relaying our updates to him.

“C’mon old man…that’s what people DO these days. We celebrate our life by posting photos of where we go and what we do. If our friends don’t want to follow us, they don’t have to. But we have a number of friends who find it annoyingly cute and enjoy the pictures that we take. So suck it…”

…is what I probably should have said. Instead, I just asked if he was going to be home as we drove by. He said that they were leaving to go to a concert but we’d have a 45-minute window. Good enough, I though…that would be just enough time to say “hi” and then head back home.

We were there maybe 30 minutes. He never opened the card we gave him. He talked about my younger brother (i.e. my nephew that my parents raised and my dad eventually adopted) and how he was getting his life together. I told him that I was happy that he was finally getting his life together and he needed to get out of the house (he’s now 22 years old).

That was my second mistake.

My dad went on to berate me about how much of a screw-up I was at that age. I tried to remind him that I had been living on my own (with the exception of a couple of “return trips” back home) since I had turned 18, and that I was a LOT more worldly and able to talk to people than he was (due to him growing up playing video games and being pampered by my parents his entire life).

Nope…he’d have none of that. He continued to put me down and berate me and my life in front of my wife. I tried to ignore it all and just kept the conversations moving on.

fathers-day-3After we said our goodbyes, Sunshine and I began our final two-hour drive home. During this period she told me that she couldn’t believe how my dad treated me. She understood why I turned out the way I did when I was younger. She understood why my siblings turned out the way that they did.

I tried to not let it bother me even though it did. I mean, that’s just HIM. He doesn’t have any feelings for others when he talks like that and only cares about what he says. He doesn’t say it to be mean, he just says it because that’s what he perceives to be the truth.

He’s the kind of guy that if you tell him how much his words bother and hurt you, he’d turn around and say that you’re the one with the problem; not him. YOU’RE the one who is soft and needs to toughen up because he’s only telling you the truth.

happy-fathers-day-quotes-from-daughterHe berated me about how long it took me to complete university (it took me 8 years because I flunked out of two universities). I couldn’t imagine trying to explain to him that I was such a screw-up when I was younger because I was undiagnosed with having ADHD (primarily Inattentive). I can only imagine what my life could have been like if I could actually study for a test or exam without having my mind drift off every couple of minutes.

I can only imagine what my life could have been like if I had simply gone after my dreams instead of constantly doing whatever he wanted me to do in an attempt to gain acceptance from him. I did what he wanted me to do even though I didn’t like it. He spent my entire life only focusing on the bad things and wondering why I wasn’t as successful as he was.

Sunshine then made the decision that even though the girls haven’t seen him in over a year that they don’t need to be exposed to that type of toxic environment. We both then decided that over the next few months until my dad and step-mother go back down to Florida for the winter, my son and I will make the occasional 2.5-hour trip back home for the weekend. I mean, I don’t want my son to be exposed to that toxic environment, either.

MjAxMi0zNDZhYjQxZTJhNGM1NTM5And it’s not like he hates me or anything. My dad loves me. He told me so before hugging me goodbye on Saturday. He doesn’t realize just what he’s like or what he has done to me psychologically over my 44 years of life. So I’m not trying to punish him or anything…I just want to get my son away from hearing those types of words.

The great thing about this situation with my father is that it helped remind me of how good of a father I am to my kids: ALL of them. I am constantly telling them how much I love them and am proud of them for whatever they do and take pride in. I also support their decisions and will do what I can to support them in any way I can going forward.

I want them to know the kind of love and support that I never got from my dad. And I know how they feel, too, because even though it was a “kid-less weekend”, I had all of them text or message me their Happy Father’s Day wishes.

They love me and they know I love them. That’s all I ever wanted from my dad, but I’ve come to realize that type of love and acceptance will never happen. But I’ll get that from my own kids, and that will end up making me the happiest father in the world.quote-i-have-daddy-issues-so-i-keep-tissues-on-me-at-all-times-ryan-reynolds-100-78-47

Donald Trump: America’s Joke & The World’s Biggest Fear

Can one of my American friends explain Donald Trump’s appeal to me? From an outsider looking in, the man has ZERO political experience and is viewed as a bigot, a racist, and an all-around joke by the rest of the world. And no, I don’t normally get political AT ALL on this blog, but it’s gotten to the point where it looks like Trump has a legitimate opportunity to be the leader of the most powerful country in the free world…and that has the rest of the world very scared.

I’m not going to throw insults and talk about the man’s hair. I mean, that’s just silly. And he’s not dumb, either. He’s an extremely intelligent man who has done incredible things in the business world. So let’s say he does get elected by the American people…I will assume that the first thing he’ll do is tackle the economy. So yes, he may do very good things for the American economy over the course of four years. I find it hard to believe, but it’s very possible. But after he creates jobs and gets people back to work..then what?

I’m not saying that you need to be a career politician in order to be a great leader. Current U.S. president Barack Obama and current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were not in politics long enough to be career politicians, but they brought a blend of experience, intelligence, and charisma that was not only viewed in a positive and relatable way by their own people, but also viewed in a positive light by the other leaders of the world.

Other than using his lawyers to find loopholes to benefit his multiple real estate projects, what has Trump done in the world of politics to prove that he’s even qualified to be president? He has no real experience with foreign policy, education, health care, or any other important topic that every single leader needs to have in order to run an entire country. Sure, he can surround himself with very intelligent people who can make very intelligent decisions, but at the end of the day he’s the one who has to make the final call on those decisions and talk the talk…and I find it difficult to believe that taking a crash-course on being president over the course of the past two or three years will be enough for him once the inauguration process is complete.

I just don’t understand. “Make America Great Again” is a good slogan and all, but if you don’t have any legitimate, concrete ideas on how to actually DO that…it’s just a slogan.

It’s just like his boasts about building a wall along the U.S./Mexico border that he will get Mexico to pay for. It was an absolutely ridiculous soundbite at first that turned into a legitimate campaign promise…and you have to wonder about the intelligence of a man who things this is a realistic idea. It’s gotten to the point where his biggest campaign promise is being torn to shreds by comedy programs who can easily pinpoint the flaws in his idea and the constant flip-flopping Trump has done on the actual costs of the project.

And just for a second, again…as an outsider looking in…let’s look at the reason and rationale for “the wall” to begin with. He wants to stop illegal immigrants for pouring over the borders from Mexico into the United States. He claims that he’s all about legal immigration, but Mexicans are “…bringing drugs (and) bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.Trump

That quote ALONE should be enough to cause serious concerns to the American people. Unfortunately, #MURICA not only loves him, but thinks his racist views are right.

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Add to that his actual quote of saying, “I think Islam hates us” and you can see just how narrow his mindset is. Terrorists may hate the United States, but it’s ridiculous to assume that an entire religion hates them. It’s ridiculous AND it’s dangerous.

Trump came out and claimed that “thousands of Muslims were cheering” when the World Trade Center buildings came crashing down during 9/11. That claim has since been debunked, but the quote is still out there for #MURICA to hear and believe and turn into a reason to rally for Trump. 

And that’s the thing…Trump supporters only hear his soundbites, not the truth that comes out after the fact. And don’t think for a second that he doesn’t know this. He is actually quoted as saying, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters.” 

And THIS is the man that could be the most powerful leader in the free world?? 

And it’s not just the Latino or Muslim community that he offends/alienates…

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Trump claims to be someone who can bring people together, but his words and his actions tell an entirely different story. He is a bully and a person who lives to insult others. How can people look up to a man like that? How can people want to vote for a man like that? Has #MURICA’s self-confidence fallen so far that they don’t mind being bullied into voting for this man?

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Hillary Clinton is “crooked”. Bernie Sanders is “crazy”. He has no problem insulting people who don’t agree with him, yet his followers find it amusing. If this happened in elementary school, he’d be sent to the principal’s office. So why is this type of behavior encouraged by the #MURICA masses?

I’m Canadian, but this whole thing bothers me because when America makes bad decisions, it reflects poorly on the rest of the free world by association. And because I’m on the outside looking in, I’m having an extremely difficult time trying to figure out how the elections got to this in the first place (it’s not like Hillary Clinton is a fantastic Democratic choice, either). I mean, is there NOBODY in either party qualified enough to run for president that has experience, intelligence, and charisma? At least Bernie Sanders is putting up a fight against Hillary, but how old is this man? Isn’t it fair to say that he might be a LITTLE out of touch at this point in his life?

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I’m legitimately wanting to know what Trump brings to the table. I don’t mean catchphrases or sound bites, but actual policies. And not just with economics or immigration, either. And I don’t need a link to his website…I want to know if people who support him actually know what they’re supporting.

I think this tweet might just summarize everything the rest of the world is feeling right now…