A revision of my why I left the Voice Screed – which my analyst told me to reconsider


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This is Dr Seymour, my Shrink. He calls me names in Yiddish. He charges me $190 per hour. And he just told me today that I should not publish my stream of consciousness homework therapy directly to the web. Like I did yesterday. So six years into therapy? Now he tells me? What a Bupkis. Photo by Dennis Potvin.

Okay, so I’m asked why I left the Voice? here it is…

By Terrance Gavan – Monday- June 27-2011

I enjoyed a day in the sun today.

That’s a first for me.

Over the last four summers or so – and for 20 years before that -I  have always had someplace to go.

Camera in hand. Notepad ready. I’ve been a reporter and sports columnist on and off for most of my life.

My reasons for leaving the Voice. Simple. Creative and editorial differences. Nothing wrong with that either. I simply felt that I couldn’t work within the present paradigm. That’s okay.

It happens all the time. People agree to disagree. I’m not doing this for any other reason than to preserve my state of mind. My own serenity is infinitely more important than any dalliance with habit. And yes. The newspaper business is a habit. If it’s not fulfilling those needs to expand horizon?

Then we have to move on. My friend Jeff Blair left a nice niche at the Winnipeg Free Press. Went to the Montreal Gazette. And is now with the Globe and Mail. He’s branched into The Fan radio. We’re supposed to encompass new challenges in life. And when the work suddenly becomes onerous. Or if the guy you’re there for – the guy who made it fun – leaves? You have an absolute right to move on. I wish Mark Arike all the best. Support Mark and the Glamor Girls that do the rough slogging making ads and hinging the whole together with the nuts and bolts. heather and Wanda rock.

For me the ride ended when my good friend made his decision.

Stephen Patrick is taking time. We’re soul mates.  Two old and decrepit news hounds. I’m taking time. I see it as a win win. I get a summer off. Stephen and I get to shoot the breeze.

Of course there is this. This on line whoopee cushion. And that’s how I’ll occupy my time for the nonce. Many of you know I have a job. Since 2002 I’ve worked at a wee aircraft business. We’re hiding somewhere in Haliburton. It’s 10,000 square feet. But I can’t let you in on where it’s located.

If I told you?

I’d have to turn you over to the CIA. CSIS? MI-6? Chuck Barris? (Aha. The Gong Show? Yes Chuck Barris killed people for the CIA. Well, not really, but he wrote a book about it. I’m batshit crazy. He’s like from another planet.)

Anyway. I digress.

I wrote a stream of consciousness here on Sunday. It wasn’t necessarily meant for publication.

But yeah. It was. I’m a blogger. Have been for years.

I know what button to press for a draft. And what button makes a stream go live.

And you know, the 80 or so people who read it? Probably think that it was kinda’ you know … crazy.

Well world! Welcome to my cookie factory. I’m pretty open to everyone I meet. Most people know for instance that I’m a recovered drunk. That I come from a family that had its issues with alcoholism. I get flak for this. Not for being one. But for stating it openly. But I know that alcoholism is not a human defect. It’s a disease. It killed my dad. And it killed 7 friends of mine who could not stay sober.

One we found in a dumpster on Furby Street in Winnipeg after two years of sobriety. Homicide detectives said his body showed signs of tremendous abuse over two months. I have another friend who simply stepped off his 12th floor balcony railing in Winnipeg. Sober three years. These were smart guys. Who had problems. My problems ended on March 20th 1998. I’m open about that. And I’m open to talk any time to any one about the disease. But if you talke to me you better come prepared to take some heat if your take on alcoholism consists of any pre-ordained notions. That it’s a matter of will. Cos’ it ain’t. I know several people who used to get up on Sunday morning and swig down a bottle of Aqua Velva as a pick me up. Don’t ever say an alcoholic lacks willpower. If you have doubts. Stop by the pharmacy some day. Pick up a bottle. Take it home and take a swig. Then come talk to me about weak wills.

In the 1950s the AMA confirmed that chronic alcoholism is a disease, like diabetes, or depression for that matter. I’m not a zealot. But I am in favor of taking these hidden and chronic problems to the streets. I am absolutely not ashamed that I happen to be a recovered alcoholic. And I am also not ashamed – thank you Margaret Trudeau and Senator Michael Kirby – of my struggle with depression. So call me batshit crazy. I’m in this for the long haul.

I got an email today on my http://www.pardontheeruption website today.

WOW! word on the street is that you are very unstable. Do you need a good shrink? Yellowpages.ca may be able to help you find one. Good luck. May you find your peace someday. Very strange are you.

It was signed Cliff J.

I know Cliff. It’s not his real name but the IP address is the same as four harassing emails I received on Saturday night from 2:30 am to 3:05 am. Cliff and his cronies? Have their own problems. Cliff? I recognize the pattern. And I can tell you. It always ends on a rock face; or if we’re really lucky? The OPP will pop by and prevent that next trip in the car. At 3:30 am on a Sunday. Cliff and his cronies don’t earm my respect. But they don’t press my buttons either. I just pop a wee prayer. That things will get better for Cliff and the boyz. And I also say a prayer that they’re not driving. I think Cliff lost his rite to drive some time back. Thank you boys in Blue.

But we digress.

I told Chad, the owner of the Voice, that I loved working for the Voice. Loved the people. But without Stephen? Just not the same. Chad and I are square. He’s professional, he’s hung in with this independent paper and he’s always been good to his staff. And to me. We are coolio. I told Chad, just before I left that I wish him the best.

But he also knows that I can make a great living working 30 hours a week at Auriga Design. I’m not going to tell you how many hours we all work at the Voice. There might be some budding weekly writers out there. And I don’t want to scare them off. Let’s just say: All the writers in this town? At the Echo and the Times and the Voice?

Not in it for the money. Or the fame.

We probably just came here because – and I can attest to this – we’re all enamored of the small town press. And writing. It’s not a job so much as avocation. Addiction? Hmmm? Let me ponder.

And councils? I quit covering council about 20 years ago, because you guys are tough to please. Hey Reeves and especially you new councilors? No one reporting on your councils comes with an agenda. They’re young reporters councilors!

They’re too young to have a fecking agenda. You guys got the agendas. It’s called your platform. And if you don’t like controversy. Put an edit button between your moosh and your brain! Seriously. Don’t kill the messenger! You ran for it. Suck it up and take the good with the bad.

If it happened and you said it? Bam! You now own it! Period. If I had a nickel for every town councilor or Mayor in Selkirk, Teulon, Gimli, Stonewall and Kanata that came to me after a meeting with the following: “Hey gav, you know that thing I said? Can we kinda’ keep that low key?” Well, I would be driving an Escalade and not an old Jeep.

The answer is “No!” Councillor. You say it you eat it baby. So quit blaming the reporters! And by the way. In camera meetings as a matter of course? Turrible, turrible practice. (Charles Barkely Turrible!) You can’t say you’re transparent and then start each and every meeting with an in camera session. It stinks. It’s disingenuous. But I digress. That for another forum.

We’re talking …, err hmm? What are we talking about? Oh yes. Me. Heee!

I don’t intend to conform to norms. When I’m happy. I’m happy. Today, thanks to some pretty nice medical care from the Haliburton Team? I’m good. My mind is sound. My outlook superbly high.

Funny that. Because I also suffer from clinical depression. I take a few pills every morning. And touch wood. For a little over the year? I’m so happy it blows my mind. (Yes it’s ironic) I can’t remember being so free. Ever. I used to self-medicate on booze. A batshit crazy and dangerous mix.

Treating depression with a depressant. Luckily, that’s not my problem. And hasn’t been for 13 plus years. No I don’t do the church basement math anymore. So I can’t tell you with certainty in days and hours. Truthfully? I was purged from the urge to drink on March 20th 1998 in Vimy Ridge Park at about 11:30 am. I had a mickey of Vodka in my hand.

And a voice simply said: “Terry, you’ve got a friend who cares more about your future and your life than you do.” Clear. As. A. Bell.

Like that. I put a cap on the 3/4 full bottle tossed it into a garbage basket at Vimy Park and walked across Portage Avenue into the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba. I swear to God. I have never craved a drink from that moment on. So you can call me batshit crazy. I have that moment in my life. Where something intervened. To take me back into the bosom of my family. So I know about love. And redemption. And epiphanies. So call me whatever you want.

I have that. And I always will. And I have sobriety and a great triumverate of doctors. A GP who knows me, a specialist who looks after me innards especially my liver, and my shrink! Oi Ve. My Jewish shrink.

And my story yesterday? Pushed the envelope. I’m laying down this riff at the request of someone I respect. Three or four people really. So I’m supposed to fix with funny.

I mean always to push the envelope. I hope to stretch boundaries each and every day.

Karen Frybort gave me the mom routine. And Jackie – the conscience – just asked about f-bombs. Hey. Fuck is just a word. Let’s not empower it. It just happens to be an adjective, adverb, pronoun and punctuation mark that I use sometimes. Anyway. Another day.

Stephen Patrick looked at me today and asked if I was having a peyote flashback.

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This guy is crazy. Carlos was fun to party with. As long as you stuck to the Jameson's and not the Portobello sized mushrooms that he used to dabble on his salads. Photo by Dennis Hopper.


Hah. I told him that I only partied with Carlos Castaneda twice. I did not follow him to the sweat lodge. And I swear to god I never took anything that Hopi Medicine Man gave me. I saw Carlos morph into a wolf. And then fly off as an eagle. It’s really scary stuff.

Anyway I told Stephen that my shrink told me to write in streams. Unadorned.

“Kvetch my son Kvetch!”

Yes my shrink Seymour Kaufman speaks Yiddish to me. Thankfully I was educated by RC Priests. Jesuits knew the value of a rounded education. Unfortunately I didn’t get taught by Jesuits. Just a converted Rabbi, named Rev David Silverstein. He taught grade 10 Yiddish at St Pius Preparatory Seminary. My High school. I popped an A.

So I gave Seymour my screed – that was posted here for most of a day – and he read it and pronounced it “Scrupulously honest.”

“This Terrance! is what we’ve been trying for… these 6 long, long, long… agonizing, boring, painful … insipidly lacklustre years of therapy!”

“Thank you Seymour,” I said. “I felt so good that I posted it on line to TheHighlands.ca website… you should see the hits it got!”

And then Seymour did something that was at once quite humorous and disturbing.

He walked over to his 17th floor picture window overlooking downtown Toronto. And he began to bang his head against the glass, causing a distinct wobbly motion in the pane. He banged his head about 8 times and then he turned to face me.

“What?” he screamed. “So now you’re Charlie Sheen?

“Boychik! Bupkis!  Ritch in kop! A pish un a fortz iz vi a khasene un a klezmer!”

Okay and  this screed takes me right  back to Father Silverstein. And Yiddish 101.

Here’s what my kind, caring psychiatrist said to me.

“You young bupkis! Are you crazy in the head?” And for some reason, and I think I got this right: “A pee without a fart, is like a wedding without a band!”

And I kinda like that last one.

My reply. “I’m 55 doc; have you read my chart? And I’ve been coming here paying you $195 per hour twice a week for six fecking years. So I goddam hope I’m crazy! Cos’ if I’m not… and you been stringing me along? I’m suing baby And your brother is my lawyer!”

And then we laughed. Like we do in therapy. And I told him he should get a helmet for future sessions.

And he said: “Az di bobe volt gehat beytsim volt zi geven mayn zeyde!”

And like that’s strange too. “If my grandmother had testicles she would be my grandfather.”

“Seymour,” I asked.

“What is it Booby?” said Seymour.

“Like… do you actually speak Yiddish?”

“Of course not. I told you I grew up in Utah.”

And we laughed again. Ahh. Therapy.

Seymour then said something very profound.

“Terry, my Chutzpenik (impudent fellow), drive very fast home to Haliburton. Go now!”

“On my way Seymour; but what’s the rush.”

“When you get home? Tear down that batshit crazy post. For chrissakes Booby. People know I treat you. I have my reputation to think about.”

“Mazeltov, Seymour. I’m on my way.”

“Mazel-what?! Terry. Bubkis! Boychik! Booby! Speak English. Ah my yidisheh grandma would roll in her grave.”

And under no duress.

I am here responding to peer pressure and a batshit crazy therapist.

Seymour doesn’t it know it yet.

But I’m treating him.

We’re here now. The Highlands.ca.

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get me there peeps.