Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Organizing the Gabe LBGTQ Community

Issa is gone. I am heartbroken. Leo and Merrill came over for coffee and to warm up while the movers emptied their home and loaded up their truck. I shall miss this warm welcoming wonderful family. As they were leaving, it started snowing again. Damnation! By 2:00 pm, there was a raging blizzard of snow. And it’s supposed to snow some more today. Just fuck!

In the evening, the snow slowed to a trickle, thank God. But more snow fell overnight. (See the last two words of the previous paragraph.) However, I was warm and cozy all day in the house, perched by the fire. In the evening, I got some lovely insight into the Silk Road Ensemble (SRE; headed by the incredibly delightful Yo-Yo Ma) watching a film on Kanopy called The Music of Strangers. And no sooner had it started, than he was playing Cello Suite #1; G Major; Prélude; Bach. I started crying.

Is there anything more beautiful than cello music played by a master? And Bach’s prelude is a favourite piece of music, so I was hooked. Plus, I have an SRE album. So, once the film was done, I listened to it with new ears because now I know what the instruments are and who the musicians are as well. I adore the SRE. I love the music of most every culture that I’ve heard, and it all comes together in the SRE. Geez, it felt good to wash my soul in that music.

The film follows a fiery gaita guitar player (gaita is a Spanish bagpipe), an Iranian kamancheh master Kayhan Kalhor (a kamancheh is a stringed instrument, played with a bow), and a charismatic and passionate clarinetist named Kinan Azmeh, who plays like the angels. He can put emotion into music like no-one else. And then there’s the pipa player, Wu Man. (The pipa resembles an autoharp.) Wu Man is a whirlwind. We meet her playing a Black Sabbath song. I loved every one of them, regardless of their being astounding musicians.

The film is uncomfortable early on. The edits and the flow of the script jar. But the music and the personalities involved made it thoroughly enjoyable. I felt uplifted by their music and their charm. You go, Yo-Yo! And the personal stories of the ensemble members covered in the film,  is touching and revealing.

I’ve yet to do a run through of my script without a block. I shall persevere.  I’ve all day to day to work on it (and read), because there’s been another dump of snow and I ain’t going anywhere today. But tonight I have a clinic meeting.

I’ve written for information from the Nanaimo Foundation about their Neighbourhood Small Grant Program. They provide up to $500 to underwrite projects good for community cohesion and advancement. I’m applying for money to have a LGBTQ community party for all of us on Gabriola. I want to create an LGBTQ email mailing list that will enable us to become an informal social organization that has annual or bi-annual parties. Plus, I want the parties (and associated auction perhaps), to create a worthwhile donation for the Gabriola Health Care Foundation.

There are 1,000 people on the waiting list for a doctor. If we are going to get more doctors, we need more space in our clinic. We must create rooms in which they can work. We must expand the clinic. It’s down the line, but we can donate the money and bind it to the construction of a new facility. By the time the Foundation makes the decision to expand, they’ll have a decent donation in hand from the LGBTQ community (that I now call the Alphabet Community).

My cabal consists of Jay, Eoin, François, Steve, Dan, Bryce, Trevor, Clarence, Alex and me. Plus, I know some local lesbians who have a well-connected community here. I’m certain that they’ll all help me with the initial meeting and with party management. 

Rhodotus palmatus, the Wrinkled Peach Mushroom 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Almost 800!

I’m very close to locking in my first 800 words. I know I’m going to get there. I’ve been memorizing now for 2 weeks; this week, I’m sure will see me become adept at this first half of the script, so soon I’ll be memorizing an additional 200 words. Hurrah!

It’s cloudy today, and there is a threat of more snow, but with luck, it’ll rain instead. The cold is soon to leave. I can hardly wait.

Clinic work is getting complicated and more challenging. We have a board meeting on Wednesday, and it’s likely to be a smoker as we will be discussing our future and the need for us to become far more active with fundraising. I’m hanging in, but I feel challenged because the other members of my committee are present only as thinkers, they are not ‘doers.’ So, everything that must be done by our committee, falls on my desk. I’ve written to every board member, telling them that I need more people on my committee.

I had a long chat with my friend Dianne yesterday, and we began with a long discussion about her plans for renovating her house. She is doing the renovations that will lead to her having friends move in with her in part of her house, and she will move into a beautiful newly renovated basement. This is her plan for her old age. She will have help close by.

After we talked through her plans, I asked for a few minutes of air time on our Zoom call, and I started reciting my lines. It was great. I was rolling along and then things started going awry because a short mild seizure came over me. That is when she asked me what I was reading. When I told her I wasn’t reading, that I was reciting my memorized lines for her, she was really, really impressed, and that thrilled me.

And another week begins ….

Sunday, February 26, 2023


I listened to Bonnie Rait’s masterful song, Just Like That, again yesterday. I have yet to listen to it and not cry. But what an unforgettable song it is. The woman is a genius with lyrics and melody, and unlike many elder women, her voice still warrants recording. I always liked her music; I like the blues. But when I heard I Can’t Make You Love Me, I was hooked for life.

I can’t make you love me if you don’t

I can’t make your heart feel something it won’t

She does no wrong when she picks up a pen and her guitar. If you haven’t listened to her song, you need to listen to her story. It’s a beautiful melody with poignant lyrics, excellently sung. I love Bonnie.  

Why do I lovea song with such a poignant message so much—a message that makes me cry? Am I an emotional masochist? It deservedly won song of the year at the Grammys this year (regardless of the opinion of Beyoncé fans). I recognize that Bonnie Rait and her kind of music fits well my generation well; we are the people who grew up with her songs.

It’s a miracle of a song. It has such a straight-forward simple, beautiful and warm melody, and an incredible story, told very elegantly. I don’t listen to pop music anymore. I’m a full-on CBC classical listener. If she hadn’t won the Oscar, I’d likely never have heard this song. Oh, I’m so glad she won. 

Dr. Shoja did not fault my parents, God bless her. The neutral way to state the reason for my neurological disorder, is to say that I failed to bond with the Tyrells. I have attachment disorder, she says. I know she’s correct.

My mother always identified me as her adopted child. She’d often unnecessarily corrected people who referred to me as her son in conversation. So, I always called their family members, their family members, and not mine. I felt that they were nothing to me, but if I liked them, they became friends.

When I was in college, I befriended a family through a science class, I think. We may have carpooled. Through her, I met her two sisters, and we had a blast when we were together. I loved having dinner at their house. Their father was a highly respected doctor who had a medical practice at Vancouver General and taught medical ethics at UBC.  Dinners were absolutely incredible! 

I remember many of those conversations. My experiences with Dr. B. were great fodder for conversation parties all my life. I learned amazing things at that dinner table. And one night, he talked about how transplant patients were having interesting emotional responses. I listened to every word he said. I was fixated, and when he finished, I told him why his story fascinated me.

The patients were struggling with identity and describing feelings like I had about being confused about my identity—a Tyrell by name, but not at all a Tyrell in my soul. (That’s why I began this bit talking about attachment disorder.) It’s the theme of my life, a part of me that hasn’t changed as I’ve aged. I’m glad I got the diagnosis. The diagnosis is a tool that has helped me to understand why things changed. I won’t die with questions.

I think I like Bonnie Rait’s song because the gentleman caller is driven by a confusing force to connect. He’s wants a bond.

I am very, very close to being perfect on the first 800 words. I’m really chuffed by that, but I’m going to continue rehearsing them until I’m perfect for many times in a row. Then I’ll take on another 200 words. It’s very exciting to feel improvement every day.

We’re didn’t have the big community dog walk this morning, because of the snow. Show is falling and melting out of the trees, all the icicles on my house are gone, and the sun is out and everything is beautiful, wherever my eyes go. And it’s much, much warmer. Thank God. I hope that is the end of Winter. I’m sick of cold, and I’m sick of having to keep a roaring fire to keep the house toasty warm, the way I like it in Winter.

Guess what. I’ve become de-facto chair of the communications committee. I’m acting like one, writing committee reports, budgeting, seeing my name on the agendas. But I’m functioning. Today, however, the Foundation circulated an email announcing that an Adminstrative Coordinator has been hired, part time. I knew, of course, we were doing that, but her job description contains most all of the things that I do now, except writing. 

I was hurt and my insecurities flared. I often feel inadequate for the position I have. On the other hand, I will have far, far less to do. Dyan is calling me to chat today at 1:00. I’m curious about what she wants to discuss with me.

One thing I love about being me, is what I might call my soul. That’s why I think that I love to parse the concept of intelligence.

When I was little, I thought the people with the highest marks were the smartest. In college, for a course I was taking, I interviewed my high school accelerate class as part of an assignment. I. had to assess education acceleration programs. I was stunned by some of the stories I discovered. I remember one of a guy who drank a small vial of a drug to avoid being arrested and he became psychotic. There were quite a few unexpected career progressions—careers that didn’t academically capitalize on their youthful academic enrichment.

I developed my “one decade to shine” theory of life after doing that assignment. Some waste their decade to shine on adolescence. I was very proud of my paper when I handed it in. My assignments often had creative embellishments. My paper had three sections. Each one had a cheeky title, but I can’t remember what they were. The first section contained, as well as I could write it out, my understanding of what intelligence was, based on my life experience. I dated the end of the section once I’d written it.

The Second section was an annotated bibliography of the books that formed my intellectual understanding of intelligence—the books that constituted my research. I time dated each entry to my paper. The third section was a critical evaluation of part one that included my “definitive” understanding of the term “intelligence.” And I time dated it.

And all that contributed to me having magnificent insightful experiences connected to the concept of intlligence, during my traveling years. I saw a man in India who appeared to be terrible poor, made money by sitting behind a simple bathroom scale betting with customers that he could correctly guess their weight. He defined correctly as being one of the three consecutive numbers that were his every answer. His customers saw him win once. Sitting there, I saw him be correct 8-9 times out of ten. All he did, with each customer, is gently feel their lower arms and wrist. I thought he was a shining example of practical intelligence.

Another was with the guide of a drive about in Africa. We’d come across a Chameleon one day, and I was besotted by the little beastie. Drivers want to get their day done quickly, but they also want to keep the customer happy. And tips. I spent quite a while with the little thing. I loved how he changed colours and how he moved.

Days later, we’re out having a great, great day of seeing animals, and we were late coming home, driving in the dark. Our guide remained on duty, sitting in the iron chair fastened to the frame of our Jeep at the front, and flashing his flashlight on the bushes on the side of the road as we rolled along the bumpy roads at 30 K.

And, non-judgmental me thought, he’s working me for a tip. I thought what he was doing was overkill—the whole flashlight thing. And then his hand went up and the driver quickly stopped the car and then backed up a little. The guide got off the truck and came to open my door and, with a big smile on his face, he invited me to come see something.

He took me to the side of the road and shone his flashlight on a plant and said, “Look at that!” 

All I could see was leaves, and so I asked him, “Is this some kind of interesting plant?”

“No, look carefully on the plant.”

I could not see anything. And then he moved his flashlight and I saw that a black place was a shadow and it moved. I saw a shadow of something barely invisible.

“It’s a Chameleon,” he said, and he put it in my hand.

We’d been going 30 K in the dark, and he saw the Chameleon. I couldn’t believe it. I had no interest at all in the second beastie, I was incredulous about the guide’s capabilities. Again: Extraordinary practical intelligence.

Another: I went to see some Maasai people with a tour. Alone later with my driver with whom I felt very comfortable and friendly, he revealed to me his horror of what we’d seen of the Maasai people all bedecked in their beads.  He said the beads mean something and what we were seeing was a mishmash of wedding, burieal, and circumcision beading that no Maasai people would mix, except for tourist dollars. So, with his help, I booked myself into a Maasai camp, where I could meet Maasai people without all the tourist pandering. 

While at the camp, I hired waiters and cleaners each day to take me for walk abouts and show me things. When I was with one of my daily guides, I left him to pee behind a bush in a very arid area. When I came back to join him, he said he had something to show me. We walked back towards the bush, and we stopped, and he pointed down, and then he asked me what I saw. I didn’t know what to say; I didn’t see anything striking. Then he pointed out a kind of light gully that I’d noticed but I thought I was looking for something alive or beautiful.

He got a long straight and flexible reed from a plant, and carefully folded it into the groove of the reed. He marked width of the little gully with the reed by pressing a fingernail into the reed where it entered and exited the bully. Then he folded the two ends of the reed over the measured section, and nipped off the excess pieces with his teeth. Now, he had a reed three times in length, the width of the gully, and he bent it into a circle, pinching it closed with two fingers.

“That’s the diameter of the snake in the bush,” he said.

I’ve watched Olympian achievements in sewers of costumes that humbled me, and read exclusively non-fiction for decades, most of it about people who did extraordinary things. Many of them were betrayed by their fellow men, psychosis or by other forms of mental illness. Sometimes, intelligence comes at a price.

From my own life, I’ve learned that creativity is a significant component of intelligence, as is visual acuity. I’m creative and I have a modest photographic memory. Some of my teachers and friends have said that they find me intelligent. If that is true, it’s largely because of these skills of memory and creativity, I think. 

Intelligence, like speech, is a complex activity.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Work, Work, Work!

  Two brothers rescue birds of prey falling from the polluted skies of Delhi. The film won best documentary at Sundance and Cannes and is nominated at the Baftas and the Oscars.

Friday was one busy, busy day, worsened by horrid anxiety because I thought for hours that I had lost the Foundation members list—years of data collection down the drain I thought. I was feeling sick, absolutely sick with a sense of failure and shame. I informed our treasurer and thought of making a fundraiser out of my public burning. But I found the list. People might have heard me sighing with relief in Nanaimo.

I had to work on the clinic newsletter, a brochure for our De Our Doctor campaign, and I spent ages trying to download the clinic mailing list with all the data. My day stank once I realized the problem with the list. All the tension wore me out. Right after dinner, I wanted to go to bed, but I forced myself to stay awake until 9:00, at which point I was a zombie. I went instantly to sleep.

But what a night. For some reason I was dreaming about sea creatures. In one dream, a Nudibranch was behaving like a pet with my in an apartment, and later I dreamt that a large fish was sleeping in my bed with me. What would Freud say, I wonder?

This morning it’s snowing again, but very, very lightly. It’s predicted to pick up later in the day. I will be doing clinic work and running my lines. And speaking of running lines, I did my best run of the first 800 words. I only blew 3 transitions, and that proves practice makes …. Well, not perfect, but getting closer. I will do 10 runs today.