WWII

Friends Near and Far, Present and Past

DSC_0083My favorite place in Edmonton, our award-winning public library!

     Hello Dear Readers!  I want to extend a hand of friendship to all those who take the time to read my blog and encourage you not to be a stranger, email me any time at viking3082000@yahoo.com

Well, today I kind of had something on my mind and I expressed it in a poem which I will post below the second photo for today.  It is a weird thing.  When I was in high school, I had a couple of friends here and there, but never really was in tight with any groups, with perhaps the exception of Air Cadets.  Then, when I quit cadets, as though my membership in that organization dictated who I should associate with, I stopped talking to any Air Cadets completely, with the exception of maybe two guys, one who was my best friend just about all through cadets and thought would be my best friend forever, and another guy who was a good friend for many years but kind of took a different path than me, mostly because he went to a Catholic School and I went to a Protestant one.  It seems so weird now to think of a whole city having the choice of only Catholic or Protestant high schools if you consider how much of the world is Buddhist or Hindu or Native Indian or any of the tons of religions.  In my home town’s defense, they did open up a third high school and most people were free to attend any school they liked.

To get back to the subject of friendship though, I knew this guy in grade nine and his name was Mike.  He was a pretty nerdy guy, overweight, wore glasses but didn’t have much skill in the academic part of school.  He told me once he used to get 95% averages and that it dropped to 65% after he smoked pot twice, that helped me to stop experimenting myself.  In a lot of ways Mike was a good friend, but he liked to egg me on to do things.  He always seemed to get me to wreck something or tick someone off.  Another thing I used to do to impress him for some reason was drive on people’s lawns.  There was this one time a girl was having a party that she didn’t want her parents to know about and I drove my Dad’s van right through the snow in her front yard then yelled at her for not adequately cleaning her driveway causing me to slip.  I was a jerk.

So anyhow, Mike and I did a lot of fun things together.  We had a couple of other friends, one of them is now a University Professor and the other has some successful insulation company in our home town.  It was just that they all drank so bloody much all the time.  Nothing was fun without drinking for them, but there were other reasons I didn’t stay friends with them.  Part of it had to do with me leaving to try and join the military and part of it had to do with people moving on.  The weird thing is that I think about these guys a lot.  When you are 16 or 17 you tend to think your friends will be your friends forever.  I don’t feel so bad about it, it is now more than 25 years since then, but it would be nice to meet up with some of these people.  Sadly with my illness it might not be the healthiest thing.  I am so blessed now to have a great job and lots of people I love working with.  I don’t have a car or any property, but in a way that gives me a special kind of freedom.

I wonder if many of you people, my readers, were around in the 1980’s?  I have a lot of memories of being a little tipsy and driving around blasting songs on our cassette decks like “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake or “Where The Streets Have No Name” by U2.  I have such vivid memories, paired with emotion-memories, (when I think of these times, I feel what I felt back then, I was in love with this young woman I had no hope with, I was often in a state of depression, but cruising and music always lifted my spirits).

It is weird to think back to how I felt at those times, maybe it was because I wasn’t on medication I should have been taking, maybe it was just because I was young, but everything seemed to have so much more meaning, love seemed stronger, attraction seemed so much more urgent.  I also kind of have this feeling that if I call up some long lost friend I will learn they died ten years ago or something like that.  This is where gossip comes in handy, but it is rarely truthful.  I did run into a guy I was good friends with for a couple of years in junior high and he was very happy to see me and even bought two of my books.  He had read about me in my home town paper and said he had been going around bragging that he knew me.  Now that felt good.

I don’t really know what I’m grabbing at as I write this though.  I want to express how hard it is to lose a friend while there is a big part of me that thinks two contrasting things: 1) those people would be a negative influence on me anyway with my new clean and sober and churchgoing lifestyle, and 2) If I really wanted to get in touch with these people, it wouldn’t be as hard as I am making it out to be.  I could pick up the phone, look up brothers or sisters or such, there are people who could get me in touch with them.  One thing I do a lot is one-up myself over people I once knew.  I think to myself, well, I’m better than them because I have written these books, because I have traveled to these places, but when it really comes down to it people aren’t much different whether they are rich or famous or religious or not.  I should also note that there are two guys out there who are literal people-using, self-serving, destructive socio/psychopaths that I should never talk to again.  I guess there are more than that.  I think that is a good time to leave off though, I would love to hear from anyone what they think or see any comments on the topic of friends, toxic and nurturing.

Anyhow, I am writing this blog today on June 6, 2015 which is the 71 year anniversary of the D-Day invasion.  I hope anyone out there who reads this can pause for a moment and say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives on both sides of that battle.  If it hadn’t taken place and hadn’t gone the way it did my Dad wouldn’t have been around to come to Canada to become my Dad as he grew up in occupied Denmark which was liberated by the British Army.  No political statement, no war stories, I just hope anyone who prays that they think for a short while about what this day in history means.  And if you don’t pray, a good way to think for a moment about the lives lost on that day is to watch “Saving Private Ryan” I’m posting the link below in case anyone wanted to take a look.  Scroll down below today’s second photo for today’s poem.  All the best!

DSC_0122This is a photo of the Edmonton Remand Centre, where people were once kept awaiting trial.  There is talk of turning it into a homeless shelter, and whispered rumours that it was one already when it was operating.

 

What Does It Matter To Who

 

One clear, cool and breezy late summer night

As I basked in the glow of the midnight twilight

I breathed in the fresh and clean Northern air

And realized I had something so beautiful to share

 

I hoped there were words to describe these days

These mid-summer nights with no smog and no haze

Just glorious clouds and the clear sky and sun

And so many ways around the city to celebrate and to have fun

 

These things all happen in my city, my home

Where there is rest and respite for the poor and alone

We can do more for the sick and the homeless I will not deny

All over this world though there are poor people I can’t tell you why

 

I want to help them all and so I try to cast in my lot

I once was the same as they were, I haven’t forgot

How the shame and the hunger eats away at your soul

Most of those people once had lives that fate somehow stole

 

 

Though I feel their pain, I also have memories

When all summer long kids did as they pleased

Adulthood back then seemed eons away

So much time for us back then to run jump and play

 

But seconds added up into weeks months then years

Soon I was grown and there was no more time for tears

I had to work at making a living every single day

I needed a roof and groceries, there was no other way

 

Time marched on and on then came the best years of my life

I learned how to cope with and to manage the troubles and strife

And now I will share what I promised with you

It is my good friends that there is nothing you cannot do

 

You can chip off and flatten the mass of a mountain

You can build a physique that looks like a statue in a fountain

You simply must make big goals your life’s plan

And one day the moon and the stars will be right in your hand

 

Sit down right now and plan what you want to make of your life

Write down all about your perfect car, your perfect husband or wife

What you dream in your head you one day will be able to do

If you keep on and on at it each day it will come true

 

The most perfect plans start with simply a thought

The most perfect dreams are made and not bought

I have a goal for myself that one day soon will come to pass

I will write all my poems in the hot sun sipping iced tea from a glass

 

Far away from this land that I love beside the sea I shall be

With shorts and cool ocean breezes and that feeling that I’m free

And I will return each year when the sun shines and the festivals come

Back to my chosen home, my dear Edmonton

 

And all the while I will hone my craft

Beginning an amazing creation in every draft

I don’t want things for free, I will work hard for success

And I will remember it is only God I have to impress

 

Leif Gregersen

June 6, 2015

The Days That Lit The Fires I Was Forged In

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Good morning dear readers!  Well, it is an interesting time for me today.  As anyone who has read much of my work knows, I have a bit of an obsession for the military.  I have always found war and armies, and especially World War Two very fascinating.  As a young kid I remember once being very afraid of global nuclear war and war movies scared me, but as I got older I changed in that regard.  I remember being around 11 or so and our local mall had a military display up and my brother seemed really knowledgeable about land mines and other means of harming human life.  This gave me such a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I think I had nightmares for a while, I know I remember the day vividly though it was 30 plus years ago.  But when I was 12 my parents decided to put me into Air Cadets and I simply loved it.  I don’t like to say I served or anything, though I did do a lot of unpaid work, because I really enjoyed being who I was in Air Cadets, it had little to do with giving something to your country as it was about making you into something better.  I got so much out of cadets it was almost as thought they served me.  I was a top achiever and something of a leader as I made it up to the rank of Sergeant.  At the age of 15 I was influenced a lot by some left wingers and ended up leaving cadets, but at 18 I had come full circle once more and tried to join the military.  For some reason I always had it in the back of my mind that I would still join up, still run off somewhere and sign my life away.  I even had a dream with some of my old cadet friends in it just a couple of days ago where I had it in mind that I was going to go ‘back in’ if I can say that.  But now, two things have happened.  First, I had the honor of having some of my writing published in a magazine made for the Canadian Military, about a forgotten battle that took place during the Korean War, and second, I have found out that the military will not take a person over age 42.  Being 43 I can now rest easy that I will sit out the next major conflict in peace.  This seems pretty trivial, but a lot of people I was in cadets with who were in the military or even just the cadets were often calculating the time until they could no longer be called up.  Another thing that I should mention is that I have some friends who did go into the military and had a completely negative experience.  One guy that is no longer a friend got into trouble and spent 2 years in a military prison.  Another friend was telling me about the fact that a great deal of people in the military suffer from mental illness, be it depression or PTSD or other things.  So in a small way I am kind of glad that even if I wanted to I would no longer be called up.

I wish I could write more about mental illness in the military, but I really don’t know enough about the topic.  As far as my own mental health goes, which is really all I can honestly report on in this blog or otherwise, I am in kind of a poor state right now.  The main thing is that I have had a bad cold and have been laying around the house more than usual and not getting any type of writing done.  For me, sleeping too much and not getting up to do things can be very negative, even when I am taking the proper dose of my medications and taking them on time.  I found myself thinking about life in general very negatively.  I am having a bit of a problem because I don’t think I will be able to work my stage hand job anymore, although I have had some offers of things that could replace the lost income.  I am taking this Wellness Recovery Action Plan course which may lead to some paid work, and I have been giving talks for the Schizophrenia Society which pays a little and sometimes includes book sales and I am also going to be teaching a writing class in June which will bring in a few bucks.  I am really going to miss my stage hand job though, but the fact is I just don’t think I should do it at all anymore.  It is very taxing physically, it can be dangerous, and it often causes me a lot of stress not only from the pace we have to work at but also with the way the schedule goes.  I feel really fortunate that I have the option to scale this back while I try to fill in the blanks with other things.  All I can really say to anyone who doesn’t want to find themselves in this situation is to get as much training and education as you can in something you know you can do for a long time, and save as much money as you can.  You never really know when an illness or a situation can put you out of work.  One of my problems right now is that I tend to spend all the money I get in a given month.  This has been getting better lately as I have been keeping myself busy but I know that when a dry patch comes along I will be suffering again, trying to sell things I don’t need and going into shopaholic withdrawl.  The good thing is that if you do have this problem and can force yourself to shop less for what you don’t need and make the most out of the things you have and things that are free (going for walks, using the library, getting involved in your community by volunteering) it only takes a short time before you can re-program yourself to change your habits.  Anyhow, if I can be of any help via email, please let me know, as always, I can be reached at viking3082000@yahoo.com  scroll down past the below photo for today’s poem.

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My Father, My Dad

 

 

My father, my father

Whose name I now bear

Who I once loved so very much

As I sat beside your recliner

In my own small chair

You were my best friend for so many years

 

My father, my dad

Playing chess with you

Eating your crackers and cheese

Wearing that shirt that was just like one of yours

Feeling such love as you read to us kids

 

My dad

I kept going to your barber

And wearing clothes that you liked

Long after it was no longer cool

To have hair or clothes like that at school

 

My dad, my father

So much to me in my later years

More than a parent and friend

After mom passed

Why did you drink so much before

Scream and fight with me in my teen years so much?

 

My dad

It seemed when I was a boy not a day went past

Without me ending up in tears

Feeling unloved and uncared for

It seemed to surprise you

That I went insane

And was put into an institution for a long time

 

My father

When I left that horrible place

You had no room for me

I had nowhere to go

Still you called in the police

Had me arrested for trespassing

In the only home I had ever known

 

So much anger

So much love

So much craziness

Sometimes I dream about you

Kick at the air

In real life I’m kicking the wall

One day you will get old all at once

Pass on

And I will once again shed real tears for you

And for the father that I never really knew

My father, my father, my dad

 

 

May 24, 2015