100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #47.

I may appear to be a fully-grown (over-grown in the middle these days, sadly) mostly-functioning adult but the truth is: I’ve always been and always will be, a ginormous nerd.

#47: Fandom.

Being a “cool-challenged” left me on the outside looking in. I spent far too many nights home alone as a juvenile while my peers were fumbling to unhook training bras for the first time while exploring the joys of dry-humping. I had to hide my weekly haul of comics and action figures as I made my way back home to my “Batcave”. (In actuality a Harry Potter-esque room under the basement stairs.) Regular ass whuppings from the so-called cool kids were another reason to dial down my public love of all things nerdy.

But I never did. And so my torment continued for years. Decades later things have changed. And how.

Black Panther, a film starring a superhero, who is black, has made $631 million to date at the domestic box office. Television programs focused on characters that are vampires, werewolves, imaginary friends, heroes, villains, space explorers, time travelers, etc, abound. Retailers like Hot Topic are making millions selling young girls like my daughter licensed clothing and products of every variety. Mommy bloggers are the toast of Disney and regularly write, tweet and post about animated and live-action fare that was once considered strictly “kid stuff”. Star Trek is hotter than ever. Toy lines based on licensed characters are super nova.

And convention like San Diego Comic Con sell out months in advance and are the hottest ticket in town for entertainment outlets and especially movie studios, eager to push their next big product.

In short, everyone that ever busted my chops as a kid for being a nerd is now eating shite.

 

It is a golden age of fandom, my friends, so there’s no need to hide your love of Doctor Who or The Walking Dead. In fact, you should embrace the fan culture that speaks to you on a deeply personal and spiritual level, Like Hello Kitty, for example.

For the first time ever I’ll be attending all three days of Niagara Falls Comic Con this year and I can’t wait. I’ll see thousands of people who have formed an ad hoc community where everyone is accepted unconditionally.

Even Twilight fans.

I’ve met souls at cons who literally wouldn’t be alive today is not for the messages of hope they took away from their favorite series. Bullied tweens who feel stronger whenever they imagine themselves as an Asgardian fighting beside Loki (he’s more interesting than Thor any day). Timid teenage girls who feel more comfortable in their own skins after watching Murdoch Mysteries and Wynonna Earp. Adults who, after a lifetime of hiding it, are finally able to proclaim their love of Star Wars. I’ve met them all and more.

And I recently met the greatest, most devoted bunch of super fans in the entire Multiverse: Acolytes of the show, no make that the phenomenon, known as Wynonna Earp. Earpers don’t just watch this program, that’s not good enough for these over-achievers. No, they live it’s values and they even launch hashtags (#FightForWynonna is a movement) and buy billboard space in Times Square when they realize it’s parent company, IDW Entertainment, may not have the funds to produce a fourth season.

IDW didn’t do that.

The show itself didn’t do that.

Earpers did that.

Now that’s devotion, you Muggles.

Said no one at a comic book convention ever.

Does all this mean I genuinely believe watching The Avengers films will give you a reason to live?

As the kids say, Hell’s no! But it can certainly light the spark that reignites your Hopeful Flame of Life (hey, I just made that up!) and gets you back into the world. And that’s the best argument for being a nerd I can think of at the moment.

See you in the lobby and the con floor, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #48.

My mother had two factors to contend with as bone cancer consumed her from the inside out: The disease itself and her waning spirit.

We did what we could for her fading spirit and frequent mood swings. We talked about old times for the first few weeks but watching movies or television was difficult as she was in too much pain to focus. She received a video message from her favorite actor (more on that in the future) but again, her focus waxed and waned. Her nurses were amazing (I saw an actual doctor visit with her once in two months) but years of addiction to prescription medication meant she was virtually impervious to the amount of Dilaudid she could initially access from her pain pump.

Don’t get me wrong, she sounded close to dying the first day we walked into her hospital room (after being told she was very close to her end) but Mom perked up considerably for weeks after her family reentered her life. You could say my entire family had something to do with that and while we did, there was another element.

#48: Gold Peak Iced Tea.

Yes, I’m going to have to switch into “shameless promotion mode” right now, but for a good reason. Water didn’t keep Mom going. She enjoyed tea but it didn’t do diddly for her. Her food consumption was mostly minimal – except for that one time we walked in on her scarfing down a chick burger – but bonce cancer coupled with flesh-eating disease will do that to you. There was one item that acted like a miracle elixir, and I’m not kidding here, actually kept her strength up.

You guessed it, Gold Peak iced tea.

I can’t recall the exact moment but there came a time when we realized Mom wasn’t eating anymore and the few sips of water and tea she had been taking in had ceased as well. That left iced tea as the only form of “sustenance” going into her body other than an IV drip and blasts of painkillers that she was controlling with the click of a pump.

“Jesus, the Gold Peak is the only thing keeping her alive! Screw medical science, I’m getting Mom a Gold Peak drip!” – Me.

And so it went for the last few weeks of her life. Her medical team was mystified. The staff at the hospital’s Tim Hortons was pleased with the sales bump. And we were blown away every day. Her sugar high inevitably faded and her story came to an end on an otherwise beautiful day in June (Mom loved the sunshine so it was fitting) but for a few months a seemingly-simple concoction helped her defy the known boundaries of medical science.

I’m not suggesting Gold Peak products will keep you alive should you develop a fatal illness but iced tea certainly contributed to Mom’s power boost. It’s the greatest thing you can imagine, well, that I can imagine at least, on a blistering summer’s day.

It’s cool, refreshing, and it’ll keep you sober. Is it genuinely worthy of inclusion here? It’s my list on my blog… so Hell’s yeah!

See you in the lobby, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #49.

We’re going to begin today with a proverb that’s been tweaked over the course of centuries but still rings true, perhaps more than ever in a day and age where living for today is all that matters to most of us.

 

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost,
for want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
So a kingdom was lost—all for want of a nail.

JLA: The Nail DC Comics, 1998

As a bellman I’ve literally met millions of people over the last two decades. Most of these encounters are brief and consist of my patented hospitality jibber-jabber, but as regular readers of this space know all-too-well, some of my guest encounters are prolonged. And just plain nuts.

#49: Connections.

There was young lady from Ohio who I first crossed paths with when I worked at the Comfort Inn on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls over twenty years ago (!) and who took to my down-home Canadian charm immediately. She was traveling with friends on a “Grandmas Weekend” and we seemed to hit it off nicely. A few weeks later a gift arrived at the hotel for me, which sent Management into a tizzy; they don’t like staff to ply guests with “sob stories” in a bid to solicit extra gratuities or gifts.

Fortunately my squeaky clean rep saved my Canadian bacon (you’re laughing but it really was squeaky clean back then) and the situation was defused. And when the gifts continued I wrote back (this was before the advent of social media, kids) and included my home address. Yes, in retrospect it seems like a foolhardy thing to do but I was young and foolish.

The gifts continued and included a gorgeous baby scrapbook for my then-newborn daughter and were followed by a series phone calls over the course of a number of years. My wife and I established an actual friendship with someone whose bags I delivered on two occasions. 

O.J. Simpson. Kevin Smith. One of the biggest importers/exporters of cigarettes in this country. Countless hookers. (So, so many hookers.) I meet a new batch of people every day and it became clear to me years ago that I could never predict just how much of an impact they’re going to have on my life if I tried. Vincent Pastore (he was Big Pussy on a little show called The Sopranos) has strolled through the hotel several times and during one visit he signed an autograph for my father-in-law, Jack Fisher. It became one of Jack’s most treasured… treasures.

The high school teacher I had that placed me at Zellers for an internship inadvertently introduced me to my wife and without him (and medical science) our daughter wouldn’t have been born and I wouldn’t be the kick-ass dad I am, so you never know how a seemingly-innocent relationship will determine the course of your entire existence.

So stick around and keep making those connections. They could just save your life.

See you in the lobby, friends…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #50.

My home is haunted but the ghosts are benevolent; you hear them walking around upstairs, they appear out of the corner of one’s eye or as shadows that dissipate immediately.

I’ve never heard any of the human spirits speak but the ghost of our beloved cat, Felix, (yes, originality is my strong suit) used to meow throughout our home on a regular basis.

How’s that for an opening?

(And yes, that is what she said, thanks for asking.)

#50: The Dead.

Diane the Concierge. Felix the cat. Tiffany the shih tzu. My grandmother. Both my in-laws. My mother. Rockin’ Ronnie. I think of the people I’ve lost often but it’s not always about tears and regret. I remember Diane’s old school English wit and charm; she was a lady in every meaning of the word.

Felix used to perch on our bedroom furniture and then tense up and scratch the hell out of it when you told her to move, and she loved to sleep bedside you and scratch the hell out of your feet when you rolled over.

Tiffany was a gluttonous hound who would plant herself at your feet whenever you had food, her little eyes speaking volumes.

My grandmother loved to cook for her family and was happiest when you sat in her living room, a TV tray across your easy chair, a hot meal of pork roast and delicious gravy (prepared in the German manner, of course) at the ready. We’d sit for hours and watch television (the Price is Right was her favorite) for hours. Sometimes we barely spoke but then again, we didn’t need to.

My in-laws were both amazing people who opened their home to me when my wife and I were saving for the in vitro fertilization procedure that would eventually give us a child. What more can I say about two people who would do something like that?

The most complicated relationships in our lives tend to center on our parental units and my relationship with my mother certainly qualifies. But she gave me life and all the love I could ask for growing up so that’s all I have to say about that.

And then there’s Rockin’ Ronnie. Every workday I wake up bright and early at 4:30 am, get cleaned up and head out into the cold, all-encompassing darkness that’s just beginning to loosen its hold on the city of Niagara Falls. I walk in the middle of the side streets so as to not fall victim to any nefarious types that may be lurking in-between parked cars in driveways or at the side of homes and then I stick to the sidewalks when i reach the main streets.

Go ahead and laugh but a few years ago there was actually a group of idiots who were driving around in a pick-up truck and beating on pedestrians. So there.

Now to my point: The only thing that makes my ten-minute morning walk to work less mind-numbing is the variety of music that pours out of my headphones and into my barely conscious consciousness. There are a few songs in my catalogue that never fail to make me tear up as the memories of my fallen friend flood in, but again, not all tears are a bad thing. I’m grateful to have had a colleague who quickly became a brother to me in the first place.

I can no longer speak directly to the people I’ve lost but they speak to me through the waves of nostalgia that roll through my mind daily. I’m willing to bet that the people you’ve lost do the same thing, even inf you don’t always recognize their actions. And if we could directly communicate with your loved ones I’m sure their messages would include the following:

  •  “I miss you.”
  •   “I miss pizza.”
  •   “I miss alcohol.”
  •   “I’d like to be back among the living; ghosts don’t get to change their clothes and my hospital gown is open in the back.”

And oh yeah…

“Being dead isn’t as much fun as you’d imagine… Don’t willingly leave the land of the living!”

Listen to the dearly departed and keep on keepin’ on. Honor your loved ones by getting help if you need it and live the best you life you can, the one you deserve.

See you in the lobby, friends…

 

Not all spirits are harbingers of doom.

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #51.

Today’s post may not make me any friends in health and fitness circles but you can’t have everything, right?

Taking a day-by-day approach to your mental health means making the most of each day and food will always play a big role in this endeavor. So why not treat yourself to a cop’s stereotypical favorite food?

#51: Donuts!

You may be scratching your head while chuckling ever-so-slightly but if America runs (while wheezing) on Dunkin’, why shouldn’t you? Of course, in Canada we enjoy Tim Hortons donuts while swigging back their (supposedly) delicious java, but it’s all relative, right?

Okay, I don’t actually know what that is supposed to mean but let’s move on by highlighting the power of the seemingly-simple donut. You may think it of as a fried dough confection that will leave you with a sugar high for the ages (and a few extra pounds) when consumed in large numbers, but if one group has their way, the donut may change democracy as we know it.

In Calgary, Alberta, a group calling themselves Democracy Donuts wants to inject some-much needed zeal into the upcoming provincial election by luring more people to the polls by handing out donuts to voters at select advanced polls during the provincial election. Democracy Donuts has established a crowd-funding campaign to raise enough green (actually Canadian currency comes in a variety of colors) to hand out two hundred doughnuts per day at select advanced polls during the Alberta election. 

And you thought Canadians were boring and more level-headed than Americans? Never forget, we now have legalized weed, folks!

Donuts can be anything you want them to be: Plain, covered in multi-colored sprinkles, dripping with liquid sugar, topped or filled with whip cream, the list goes on forever. They even come with a variety of holes and shapes. Then again, the same can be said of hookers… But that’s neither here nor there.

 

Bill loves ’em. And so should you.

 

The point is, donuts are delicious and they’ll make your day better with a jolt of energy a veritable cornucopia of tastes and sensations. What more could you ask for? And you can even make them at home!

It’s true! Just follow this link to Paula Roy’s tasty blog and prepare to be amazed at what you can accomplish in your own kitchen. The humble donut has also helped to unite the human race; you’ll find a version of this amazing treat in every civilized society from Canada to Peru, where they have the picarone, a donut-shaped fritter made with a squash and sweet potato base and served with a drizzle of sweet molasses-based sauce.And yes, once more I have left you with a hunger you probably didn’t have when you arrived.

You’re welcome.

See you in the lobby or your local donut shop, kids…

 

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #52.

When things get bad in our lives, I mean really bad, we just can’t see the good, so we certainly can’t recognize that what we’re afraid of may actually be a blessing in disguise.

#52: Fear.

It will come as no shock to anyone that I’m a ginormous Whovian (that’s someone who loves the British sci-fi masterpiece, Doctor Who, for you Muggles) and so I wish to share a quote from this brilliant series that I think will be helpful and should easily fill a paragraph.

“Let me tell you about scared. Your heart is beating so hard I can feel it through your hands. There’s so much blood and oxygen pumping through your brain it’s like rocket fuel.

Right now you could run faster and you can fight harder. You can jump higher than ever in your life and you are so alert it’s like you can slow down time.

What’s wrong with scared?  Scared is a superpower!  Your superpower!”

If you naysayers still think science fiction is a lesser genre, you’re just jerks. Please click away now. If you’re still here then let’s chat about the things that terrify us, shall we? I’m not talking about centipedes in your sink or a group of young punks blocking your walking path to work.

No, I’m interested in the things that horrify some of us so much we’re willing to end it all just to make the fear vanish. Growing old alone. Or just growing old. Not finding true love or even just someone to help fill the hours of our days. Cancer or a dozen other diseases. Homelessness. Of course, this is the tip of the iceberg. After all, fear is a very personal thing; what chills you to your core may not do so for me.

But we can all stand united in our desire to give fear the bird. “Coward, take this coward’s hand and together we’ll fight the dragon” and all that.

 

Without going into detail, I spent enough time with him to know that fear is what drove my friend to take his life and that, more than anything else, will haunt me for the rest of my days. If he had only called me or my wife, if he had only reached out, we would’ve told Ronnie that we would take his hand and keep him safe from the dragon.

But he didn’t. (Though I’m not judging him for it.)

And so here we are.

It can be paralyzing, but fear has no power on its own. If you don’t feed it, it withers and dies. But if you use it properly it can propel you further than any almost any force in the world, with the exception of love, of course.

Yes, I’m being a bit simplistic, but it’s me, what did you expect? My logic is sound nevertheless. I hope it serves you well.

See you  in the lobby, friends…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #53.

An overwhelming sense of disconnection is often responsible for one’s desire to commit suicide, in my humble opinion at least.

Our problems loom so large over us at times that we lose touch with the world and so we fail to appreciate it’s many wonders. And dangers. Today’s topic is both and shoudl always be treated as such.

#53: Fire.

Before we continue please do me a favor and don’t shout today’s title. Especially at work.

Now then, time to get all scientific-like: Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light and various reaction products. Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition.

Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak double bond in molecular oxygen, O2, to the stronger bonds in the combustion products carbon dioxide and water releases energy (418 kJ per 32 g of O2); the bond energies of the fuel play only a minor role here.

And if you understand any of that you were most likely beat up a lot in high school. Personally, I was lost after, “fire is hot”.

All I know for sure is that if you really observe it at work you’ll see that fire is magnificent. The way it crackles and dances as it attempts to multiply and consume everything in its path is mesmerizing. Fire is literally an almost-unstoppable force of nature that demands as much respect as it does fear.

 

If I could do this at work I’d be the coolest bellman ever.  And no guest would ever stiff me again.

It provides heat to keep us alive. It is essential to cooking food to also keep us alive. We use it in rituals; I knew a guy who dated a Wicca girl who used fire in their lovemaking regiment. It took months for his body hair to grow back but he loved that chick until the day she cursed him to burn in Hell.

Fire can be used to clear land, to generate light for signaling. Just don’t ask me who you’d be trying to contact this way. You could use it for smelting. Which by the way, is what happens when a witch from Oz with a lisp encounters Dorothy. “Help me… I’m smelting!”

It can be used for the incineration of waste and cremation (which is another form of waste removal in some cases) and even as a weapon or mode of destruction. And that’s where the fear part comes in. The early human that first discovered fire was no doubt in awe of it – until he or she tried to grasp it. And then they no doubt invented the first curse word.

It just occurred to me that if you love fire so much it’s something you feel is  worth living for, that you’re probably a pyromaniac.

And so this turned dark real fast…

Time to wrap it up. Respect and fear fire and your life will be richer and blister free.

See you in the lobby, kids…

 

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