It’s hard to say when exactly my mental health issues really kicked in. I guess it came in stages. Below are some of the people, pets, and scenes from the better times in my life – pre-2005 and in random order. Ironically, I have maybe 1-2 photos of people who were my closest friends for years. Clearly, I come from a different generation!!!
And soon to come is a poorly filmed video of our high school pop band, Deep-Six, which I formed with my dear friend V.
C. and I
With a friendship lasting nearly 2 decades, V. and I were ‘alter egos’ who spent every day together for 5 years through school, eating together in our ‘niche’, attending classes – though she was more academic than me, and I basically dropped all the streams except English / Social Studies / Music. We made up for lost time through our extra-curriculars, and by playing in multiple bands together. We also formed our own band called Deep-Six (a name chosen by our lead singer, Alex), performing at every Assembly for several years. We even received a Standing Ovation at our final performance. It was the most fulfilling time of my life.
My Dad is such a typical engineer, and we often butt heads. Anyway, he proudly worked for Ontario Hydro for 20-plus years, both on-site and at head office.
D. and I were true-blue friends from Gr. 9 onward. One funny coincidence is, 10 years after graduating university, we both found ourselves working at Scotiabank Head Office – he as a chartered accountant, and me as a dishwasher in the cafeteria. I really liked and appreciated my job, but once again my complex PTSD and incongruent reactions towards people (a supervisor, in this case) caused me to be fired. (She had confided in me that her first baby died from SIDS, and uncontrollably, I started to smile. Ack!)
Anyway, D. married another of our close friends and started a family, and we shared a timeless friendship until my constant ravings about govt surveillance and my eventual nervous breakdown, which coincided with their 2-year move to Vienna, Austria. But unlike most other mental health sufferers, I actually underwent illegal surveillance and harassment!
This is what my aunt wrote: (to come)
Few people are fortunate enough to meet the person they most admire in the world. Pictured above is Kiran Bedi and my landlady, Mrs. S. Bedi is India’s first woman police officer, and beyond that, she transformed the world’s largest jail in a democratic country (10,000-plus male and female inmates) from a brutal, corrupt hell-hole into a socio-environmental oasis. I could go on and on about what this incredible woman has accomplished in a seriously male-dominated culture. She even gave a parking ticket to the then-Prime Minister of India for being double-parked. This, in a country where police are notoriously corrupt or apathetic, and the ‘little people’ can be punished – or worse – for the smallest of offences. Talk about brave! You could say Kiran Bedi single-handedly brought back the rule of law in a country desperately in need of a hero.
My manual laundry set-up from my eco-positive days.
My strong-minded maternal grandmother, Mama.
My adopted grandparents, Grandpa and Grandma O, at their 50th wedding anniversary.
My parents, Aunt Winnie, and the Ongleys before I was born. My Dad boarded with the Ongleys during his university days at Queen’s (’58-’61), and they became his parental figures and role models. Their sense of humour and respect for independence, individuality, personal privacy, and love of the great outdoors all made a deep impression upon my young self.
S., the first guy I felt totally free to be me with!
Played soccer for 16 fun years, but the best times were of course after I became legal! Unfortunately, a guy named Harish stole my favourite team pic.
A friend, Joanne, and I put together the marketing and advertising for our high school Spring Formal.
Above and below: My two dearest friends in the world (one picture to come). Though time and distance may separate us, I will always be grateful for their TRUE friendship. They are people who truly and unselfishly wished well for me – in this life and beyond.
S. and my favourite dog, Jacob. He and I went through hell together, due to 7 dreadful weeks of mites / scabies. Using toxic bleach, Raid and Kwellada multiple times a day, while constantly being reinfected, was a complete nightmare. Aghh! Jacob gave me my first and last taste of motherhood.
The friendliest, most healing cat I ever met: Sylvester.
The lovely nuns of Tien Bao Temple, Vietnam.
The Wongs were like a second family to me. I spent happy childhood summers in their small town of Frankford (pop. 5,000). Most memorably, I would swim for hours in the Trent River, which their house backed onto.
My dear friend Sudevi and Hare Krishna devotees in the Yamuna River, India.
My aunt’s good friend, Betty, an activist Indigenous woman and her granddaughter Fawn at Waterton Lakes, Alberta.
A little guesthouse in Vietnam.
My great-aunt is a Buddhist nun. She lived without electricity for 30-some years in an oasis of bamboo and green space. But now in her 90s, she’s had to move to a little apartment, and of course developers built on her former mini-temple. It was absolutely amazing her little off-the-grid abode. I wish someone had recorded it – it was like entering a rainforest!
This environmental ad is actually designed around a company’s corporate theme. My friend Gavin came up with the brilliant play on words; I came up with the slogan. We collaborated on the visuals, except for the second one, which is my own (it was done after the slogan contest, so I didn’t bother colouring it). The ads were eventually done up for public use.
A poem I wrote in high school (January 1986):