In April it will be ten years since my guide dog Croche passed away from cancer. After she died, I grieved and was lonely. This loneliness made me want another dog, but I couldn’t even think of going for another guide dog. I decided I wanted a little lap dog. I never could have imagined what I would get.
Dobby, you are a pain in the butt. You really are. You’re so possessive, but you’re just my pet. You don’t control what I do or with whom I do it with.
Sounds harsh, but lately he has been super protective of me, not letting me have any sort of social life whatsoever. He annoys the hell out of my company, family and friends, dates. He bugs me so much, but I have had him for nearly nine years now and I am no dog trainer, even if it weren’t looking like it is pretty much too late at this advanced date anyway.
Did you drive away past men in my life? Well, okay, I can’t say that, though sometimes it feels like he helped, even in his own way.
I love Dobby. I named him after a character from Harry Potter and many people have complimented on what a cute dog he is, until they spend any real time with him I must add.
He barks madly at any visitor I happen to invite into my home. He thinks he must protect me and our house from any intruders, even though I told them to enter. Whereas, if I really had an unwelcome someone stopping by, for any less than welcomed reason, I doubt he would be able to protect me at all.
Sometimes he feels like a stocker dog, following me wherever I go, unless he can get a bit of the cat’s food or sneak into the litter box. So gross.
Some guard dog. He is not a guide dog. But…he is my dog. Boyfriends have come and gone, but Dobby is here to stay.
I just sometimes wish he could take it down a few degrees. I truly wonder what is wrong with him. You have to see it to believe it.
When I heard the prompt word for this second week of Just Jot It January
I immediately thought of my Dobby.
What aa mongrel!
Week two of this month-long blogging exercise is commencing, of which I’ve only written twice for this year because of other things requiring my attention, but today it’s being guest hosted by Dan of No Facilities.
I am feeling a little like I am frozen, and I’m warm while I say that. I don’t need to be out in a snow bank to say it. It is January, a new year, and I am frozen by many fears. I am afraid I will accomplish nothing, that this year of 2016 will be empty and a blank void in my life. I feel frozen by indecision and by uncertainty, but I hope I can find a way to thaw from that feeling of being frozen by all of this, that I can find the courage to take risks and keep moving forward.
I am equal parts afraid and optimistic. I am a lot hesitant and somewhat hopeful. The fear that I could go a whole year and not get anywhere at all clings on tight. On the other hand, I see a wide open year ahead as full of unknown possibility and promise of something great.
You never know the experiences you might have, the events in life that you just can’t plan for, and the people you may meet, who may come into your life for all kinds of reasons, for the short term only or for longer.
Here I am, a year on from the fear and those remarks I made on my blog at the start of 2016, and a good year for me personally and creatively, trying new things, all by deciding to focus on myself is how 2016 actually turned out.
And now, I end 2016 and begin 2017 by looking back, at the year I’ve just had and ahead to the year to come.
Then, to kick things up a notch, I thought the best way to focus on my writing was to take a writing workshop with a Canadian writer I’ve admired since I began blogging and seriously writing. Carrie Snyder – Obscure CanLit Mama
Her style to creative work was just what I needed and it made me open up and here I am, one year later exactly, off to broaden my writing workshop horizons.
In reality, my brother had just come off a close medical call and was becoming himself again. I had lots to be thankful for.
I just needed a bit of a push, some creative inspiration,
and a path for a new direction in my life.
The year 2016 would, by many, be labeled “The Year All the Greats Died…the cursed year” even if you look at that with perspective from other years, past or future.
It began with David Bowie, but for me, it all started with Snape,
as Bowie hadn’t quite meant to me what he’d meant to many others who felt his loss.
A new year maybe, but a new month meant another #1000Speak,
focusing on the subject of forgiveness.
With the start of 2016 I decided to start a new Friday tradition.
This third month of 2016 would bring more music, as I would discover my theme song for the year and forevermore: Scars – Emmanuel Jal Feat. Nelly Furtado
and I would officially begin to learn how to play the violin, with lessons that would challenge and reward me, in both big and small ways.
Then, in honour of International Day of Happiness, I wrote a piece for March’s #1000Speak
about how music makes me happy.
By this point in the year, I decided to cut back on blogging and write more of the memoir I’ve always planned for.
The writing mentor was a big deal, for that, as great and knowledgeable as she is and as much guidance as she’s been so far, but it was a sign that I could make writing my future – only I could do that.
Weeks before, at the end of May, the lead singer of Canada’s own Tragically Hip announced his fight with brain cancer and all his fans of Canada were listening, especially all across the country, one night in August.
“Regarding the influence from his poet-balladeer father, Cohen has said, “He’s tremendously helpful. Forget that I am his son. I was tutored in lyric-writing by Leonard Cohen and I had his sensibilities to draw upon. And I’m not just talking genetically. I could literally talk to the cat and he could lean over my notebook and point to a couple of phrases and say, ‘These are strong, these are weak.’ How can I consider myself anything but incredibly fortunate.”
Canada loses a great artist and the world all feels it, a distraction, in the form of RIP Leonard Cohen,
just following the chaos in the United States.
I focused on my own personal growth for a greater part of 2016, but managed to fit in a little, last minute dating during the final days. Also, I made new and face-to-face connections with a few local women writers. So, a balance of personal and social, for good measure.
A few of the final famous deaths of 2016 would include daughter/mother pair Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but for me, it was the loss of this guy that brought me back twenty or so years:
I watched Days of Our Lives multiple days a week, while I was sick at home from school or stuck on dialysis. It was my favourite soap opera of the late 90s, as ridiculous as the storylines always were.
And now, here I am, and another January is upon me.
It is a bit of a contemplative month, with the new year so new and fresh, but I value it for its melancholyish quality. It is a quiet time of reflection and so much possibility ahead.
As a new year begins I search for the motivation I see all around me, the kind that is going to get me to the places I strive to get to. I feel the blueness of January and hope I can find some momentum in the months to come.
My 2016 Resolutions were:
I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.
Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.
I’d known of this song of course, but it wasn’t until it appeared in a film about the night Robert Kennedy was assassinated, that came out about ten years ago, I never would have heard its words and felt their meaning so deeply.
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
No one dare
Disturb the sound of silence
It’s fifty years since that assassination, but things feel similar, with the racial tensions in the US lately. How much really changes?
Okay okay, I shouldn’t leave it like that. Change does happen, however painfully slowly it might do.
I don’t know how much of a lot of Canadian music always makes it out of Canada sometimes, but the big news here this past week is the announcement that a nationwide musical icon has been diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. I just figured I would share one of my favourite songs from Gord and his band. I learned something new and interesting about the origin of the song “Courage” and it seems apt.
I know I have looked to these lyrics, searching for courage at different times in my own life, and now it appears courage “couldn’t come at a worse time” for Downie.
Here’s what I learned about a Canadian writer who inspired “Courage” the hit song:
I honestly, sometimes, feel I really don’t deserve them as my mother and father. This was brought home to me in a big way this week.
I was on the phone with my mother early in the week about something. When I hung up, I found myself feeling emotional about how they have always looked out for me, in both big and small ways, and how even now they are preparing for the future. It is a hard thing for me to think about sometimes, how much they have had to worry about me, but that’s how life goes. I can’t fully express, as we’re in the middle between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, still upcoming.
For that ability to turn on my AC when spring suddenly makes the leap into summer earlier than one might have expected.
I guess it’s like PBS or something, but again, this one would be something only those living in Ontario, Canada would likely be aware of.
I watched this channel since I was a kid and now I watch it for so many fascinating nature, science, social issue and travel documentaries. I love a lot of their historical programs. I learn a lot, as far as media goes, from TVO.
For the sharing of ideas that make me better and believe I deserve to strive for more in my own life.
This woman’s words made me cry because I’ve felt out-of-place too, many many times in my life, but I still want to believe I will figure out where I fit in.
For hash tag Greatertorontoday and the good deeds that were done.
All across the city of Toronto, for one day, acts of kindness were done for others. I would hope this isn’t just a one shot sort of a thing, that it could go on for more than just one single day, but it was nice to hear the reporter on the Toronto news reading the Tweets from the random acts of kindness that were happening.
My feelings on Toronto as a city run deep, but I know it has a great respect around the world, for its multiculturalism. I hope this, in itself, helps people to realize we are all human and deserve the same kindnesses shown to us all.
For gestures put forth and peaceful acts, amongst so much nasty rhetoric and angry attitudes throughout the world.
First, mid week, it was nice to see Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, taking one day off during his trip to Japan, to celebrate his anniversary with his wife.
Many thought this worth commenting on, criticizing, but I was glad to see that he values his relationship with his wife, while still performing his duties for Canada.
But then came the real uproar, at the end of the week, when President Obama visited the site of the bombings, on Japan, at the close of World War II.
Misinformation spread like wildfire, that he was offering an apology. He was simply pausing, at a place of great significance and destruction, while already in the country on official business.
It was the respectful thing to do. I know all the arguments, I realize I didn’t have loved ones directly affected by Pearl Harbor, but I know when peace is called for. I’m thankful he made the gesture.
For several more steps forward in the planning and execution of this podcast idea with my brother.
We did a trial run and it was not bad, but I couldn’t truly focus until I was happy with the name and then my brother’s friend reminded us of something memorable, an image that comes to his mind when he thinks of our family: Ketchup on pancakes.
That’s right. It’s a family favourite around here, for breakfast, or whenever.
Our podcast is officially “Ketchup On Pancakes”.
So now we think we’ve figured out the microphone issues, settled on a catchy name, and have begun a proper outline for our introductory episode. We hope to record next week. I am excited and just hope my brother doesn’t get sick of me too quickly, as I can actually see this podcast going somewhere in time.
For a rebounding, a super positive, as in my latest violin lesson.
Sometimes, you’re just not feeling it. Other times, everything, the energy in the room, it seems to flow and I leave feeling super pumped about this choice to learn to play the violin at thirty-two years old that I’ve made.
That was the difference between the previous lesson, as I prepared to play Happy Birthday for my sister and this latest lesson, where I felt I could handle it, whatever it may be, and I took in every single word and concept my teacher explained to me.
For the support (past, present, and future) of audacious women writers, editors, dreamers who make their dreams come true and who show me guidance and kindness along the way.
Every week, twice a week, I read one particular website religiously. I have been trying to get a feel for the sorts of essays they publish, in the hopes of writing one. I have the idea all ready to go and again, this week, I came across one essay and it spoke to me, being about a similar topic.
Well, the editor of the site has been supportive of me submitting (actually resubmitting, as I was rejected early on, but feeling more and more confident to try again), as she seems to be encouraging me to give it another shot.
And, of course, there is my long developing support from an editor who reads my blog occasionally, who has followed my progress, and sounded intrigued about the podcast.
I found several songs (Japanese folk songs) about cherry blossoms. I found, through further investigation and coincidence, that they have a meaning closely related to one not-so-thankful thing that did happen this week, along with the colder weather around here.
Here in Ontario, Canada it has been bitterly cold this weekend. Here’s my list of thankfuls, in spite of the weather, which I hope will improve very soon.
For a chance Facebook Messenger chat last Sunday evening, after months of a developing online writing relationship, and suddenly I had myself a writing mentor.
I wasn’t altogether happy with where I was with my writing and she saw that in me, rightly so. She volunteered and I eagerly reached out for her offered help.
For a return to my violin lessons.
Finally, there was no more interrupted holidays or illnesses. I couldn’t get by with only one lesson, if I were ever going to become even halfway decent.
For one hour, I go into a small practice room, on a university campus, and I funnel all my energy, all my mental power, into what my fingers are doing, holding the bow, how my arm is held to have a proper reach on the notes, and all the while making sure I don’t raise my right shoulder. It all takes incredible focus for me. I think nothing but violin, often forgetting many other basic facts and details about my life.
Gregory Peck would have turned one hundred and I thought it worth mentioning the performance of a lifetime he gave. It makes me tear up when I watch, every time.
I like his reaction when he asks Scout if she knows what a compromise means. When she answers with “bending the law” as her guess, his reaction is priceless, not to mention the part about how “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view”.
For the sense of bonding with those who understand.
It’s just nice, even when I’m not feeling always up to going, to get out and spend a few hours, one evening every few weeks, at my favourite place: the library.
We may all be of different ages and have a wide array of writing interests, but we all are there because we love writing/storytelling in some capacity.
If you listen to one song today, make it THIS ONE! Lyrics written by – THIS GIRL!
For a dinner with my parents, after an afternoon where it was brought home to me how lucky I am to have them both.
We went to pay our respects, to an old family friend, someone who means so much to so many. He was a wonderful family man: husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend.
He fought hard, battling the cancer, that would eventually take his life.
I thought harder still about the cherry blossom, once I learned its meaning, the only actual flowers I saw (with the weather being as it is) this week was what I could detect the scent of, as people send flowers as a condolence to the grieving family.
For a history of 90s music remembered with a legend.
Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain died, twenty-two years ago, but he will always be what the nineties were for my brothers, who introduced the grunge world and this band in particular, to me. It was a kind of music none of us had ever heard at the time.
For the first voice-to-face meeting with my new writing mentor.
What would we do without the invention of a little thing called Skype?
It was nice, though I was nervous originally, to finally hear her voice, after months of online interaction.
We had a beneficial first meeting, discussing writing and nothing but, for more than an hour. She told me some things I needed to hear, things about my abilities as a writer. She let me learn from her and the road she has traveled into the world of mostly literary travel writing.
I left the call, by the end, feeling highly energized and hopeful.
For another extremely enjoyable family gathering.
For my siblings.
It’s Siblings Day today and I celebrated yesterday: had some excellent discussions with my sisters, have enjoyed collaborating on a song with my younger brother, and had my older brother do what he does best and that’s take photographs. This, however, means he is rarely, if ever, actually featured in any of our photos himself.
I would not be the person I am today without these guys.
And so, all and all, it was an overall success of a week. Big things are happening. I can feel it.
While, at the same time, life isn’t always easy and things happen we’re never going to be ready for.
Two things happened this week worth mentioning here, now: a friend of the family passed away from a long-fought cancer battle and I secured myself a writing mentor.
You may wonder what those two events have to do with one another. Well, one is terrible and the other is exciting, but they are both big things to have happened.
They both give me pause, when thinking about my writing, why I write.
At the heart of life, the topics I write about: birth, love, death.
When someone passes away I am left whirling, in my own head, and writing helps me make sense of the nonsensical of life. Death is going to happen to us all. We can’t say when. We don’t normally have the ability to decide how it will end. I know I am a very small person, in a big big world, and I need a way to put the things that I don’t quite understand into some kind of perspective.
We won’t be around forever. I won’t. Life will pass me by, like that!
Sometimes, I wonder about my writing. I wonder about it and question it, like many writers, and I try to figure out why I continue to write, what makes me do it, again and again and again.
I write because it helps me figure life out. I write because I can, because I’ve been told I am good at it, by myself on good days, by other people, when I need to hear it, at just the right moment.
I didn’t see it coming. I’d wished for it for a while, but how did one go about acquiring a writing mentor anyway?
Sure, there were writers I admired, but I didn’t know how to approach them, to ask them if they would teach me or guide me or help me. I couldn’t decide how to make my request known, and so I continued to write.
This week, all the stars must have aligned.
On those bad days, I doubt my writing and the point of it all. I know writers do this all the time. I was not alone in this. I may ask it, in those darker moments when I feel like we’re all doomed to die and what’s the point of so much of what we do in the meantime, but then I get on with it and I don’t doubt it anymore.
I don’t know where it will lead me, but maybe it’s time I started to figure all that out too, to find a direction and take the steps necessary to do something with my writing.
Don’t you ever just feel like telling the world to, “Bite Me!” Reality really can bite sometimes.
“I’m here for my appointment,” I said, approaching the window in the doctor’s office.
“That was yesterday actually.”
The receptionist said this, without sounding at all annoyed at this latest inconvenience of her precious time, but I would find out later that it happened a few times a week usually. In fact, one girl came in after me, only to learn she was, in fact, a day early for her scheduled appointment.
Immediately I felt like crying. I couldn’t believe I’d done that. I’d checked the card, several times over the last few months, and I swore I had the right day. Maybe they’d written it down wrong. Maybe this wasn’t my mistake at all, but theres instead. Maybe?
I wouldn’t normally have felt like bursting into tears over something like this, but I hadn’t slept well, fallen to sleep after finding out another terrorist attack had taken place, and even the death of a famous Toronto mayor, of cancer, this had contributed to my state of sensitivity.
I don’t know. Something about the situation I was in, the coming together of the events already that morning, it all felt kind of unreal.
“Really?” I said. “Thank you very much.”
The receptionist must have taken pity on me. “It’s her OB morning, but I can squeeze you in somewhere.”
“Oh thank you very much,” I said, grateful I wasn’t going to leave without finding out what my test results were, without getting a chance to speak with the doctor about my situation.
I took my seat, preparing to wait as long as possible, as I knew I was lucky to still be seen. All around me, women were arriving, being weighed and getting their blood pressure taken, being shown to exam rooms to see the doctor for their varied, so-and-so month checkups, all in different stages of pregnancy. Here they were. I didn’t know their stories and they didn’t know mine, but I began to feel out-of-place and silly amongst them.
One woman came out to meet her husband and young child. I wondered about all the women there alone vs the one there with, likely, her supportive partner. But maybe the other fathers had to work and couldn’t get off. Who knew. None of us truly knew another’s life and circumstances. That would, likely, be too much of a weight to carry anyway…even more than any fetus.
Speaking of unborn babies, I wanted to cry, at the realities and the uncertainties. But I wasn’t going to cry, there, in front of all those pregnant and expecting mothers, some already mothers, whose hormones and the huge event to soon happen to them actually had more of a physical reason to burst into tears than I had.
But of course I had a reason, my reasons, several reasons, but I didn’t do it, not there in front of everyone, receptionist and patients, in that waiting room on a Tuesday.
I wasn’t there, on that OB morning, for the same reasons as everyone else and I didn’t think I ever would be. I really really didn’t know what I felt about that likelihood.
Forty-five minutes later, I left still wanting to cry. So many things about that day felt unreal to me. Yet another global terrorist attack. Yet another life taken too soon from cancer.
And as for myself, I was sick of yet another symptom with nothing causing it. No blood test or examination result could be connected to how I was feeling. I’d stumped yet another medical professional, but I definitely wasn’t there for the same happy, blessed occasion as the rest.
I’d been through this before. Really had enough. Really sick of it. Real ridiculous. No, really.
So, the list of the unreal grows and grows and grows.
It’s really unreal that certain people are in the running for the US presidency.
It’s so unreal to me that people, the book buying public, that they seem to require life to be spoon fed to them, as someone pointed out to me how unlikely any publisher is to want a memoir when they can have yet another how-to.. diet or get-rich success story.
Wow! Okay, so I usually begin my TToT with some sage words, but upon searching quotes for February I came across nothing but doom, despair, and dying. These were all words used in the quotes that my Google search came up with
Is February really that bad? Does it stink that much or what?
So instead, me and my birth month might not get some wise literary or philosophical musings, but I do have my very own February song.
The last day of February is the day set aside for the awareness of rare diseases and I really wanted to speak up about mine. These are no more serious or worth fighting than cancer, diabetes, or MS, but just a lot less spoken about. So many diseases so little time.
I want to thank website “The Mighty” and all the family and friends who took the time to share and help me spread my message just a little bit farther.
So, supposedly now I am a contributor and have an in road with the site. Guess this means I can continue to write for them, after they’ve approved of whatever that is. Guess this is how these sites work? I am still new to all this.
For a lot of talk, with the one-and-only man himself. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared on television, for an hour talking about an important subject.
Not sure if this is more than a Canadian event, as it’s represented by Bell, the phone company.
Of course there is also a lot of talk about how a huge corporation is in it to look good and is getting something more out of it, but I focused on the fact that depression deserves the air time and attention and Trudeau spoke with sensitivity and commanding poise about the struggles with depression in his own family and what he, as the leader of Canada, hopes for those who live with mental illness.
For the notification that I’ve reached five hundred WordPress followers.
This comes just short of my two-year blogging anniversary next week.
I have more on top of that five hundred, but that little sound on my phone to inform me of the milestone made my day.
For the invitation to join as a blogging co-host for the week.
but I’m actually looking forward to February and the arrival of the day I was born.
I hope for lots of good things as I usher in the second month of 2016: from movies I’m really looking forward to coming out, to my favourite television series starting a new season, to the challenge of learning a new skill and working on another.
More of all that in the days and weeks to come.
Dobby and I are glad to welcome February. How about you?
“As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses. … I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death,” said Professor Severus Snape.
Unfortunately, this is fiction and Alan Rickman wasn’t so lucky this past week. Neither was David Bowie or Celine Dion’s long-time manager and husband, Rene Angelil.
Cancer is a bitch!
Since I can’t think of a less thankful item, when this whole week cancer has been in the news, I will just focus on some things I am thankful for.
For the gifts, talents, and art left behind, even when the creators of these things are lost to us all.
I have never been a huge David Bowie fan. I missed the boat, all throughout the 70s and when he was first making his mark.
I think, for better or for worse, not being able to see Bowie is part of why I am unable to totally grasp what a unique statement he made. This isn’t to say I don’t believe he was talented, as I can tell from the outpouring of tributes since his death how much of an impression he made on the world of music and more. I did have my favourite Bowie songs though, for sure.
The first time so many bloggers and writers all got together on the same day (the 20th of the month) to write about compassion was not until next month, but this was the day the idea first started to take shape.
I am so thankful it did. I am so thankful the original creators thought up the idea in the first place. I keep thanking them, but it’s because I am so much more better off since they decided to make a difference in this way
For the chance to stay with my brother again.
It will take a while before I will run out of these because every time I do something with him, even and especially those things we’ve done many times before, I can be grateful that he recovered and we are still able to have all the fun we’ve always had together.
I go to hang out with him, for visits, and it’s always a lot of fun.
This one is not only my thankful. His friend is thankful that they can play music together again.
I am including a link to some music of theirs, which was just put up on YouTube.
For a good piece of pizza.
May be hard to believe, but it’s not as easy to find as it sounds.
First-world thankful right there, but pizza can be a comfort, at a rough moment, especially when eaten with loved ones.
For those loved ones.
I know I am lucky to have them and I am reminded of this at the worst of life’s moments.
I just hope they know they have me, my support, anytime they need it and to not hesitate to reach out, whenever they need anything, anything at all.
For the life of a brilliant performer and the life he brought, on screen, to a certain literary character.
Alan Rickman passed away this week, from cancer, and I am grateful he played the role of Severus Snape, in the Harry Potter films, eight times, not to mention all the other wonderful roles he played during his lifetime.
It isn’t always easy to have a character from literature come alive in just the right way when the film of the book comes out, but Rickman WAS Snape. I owe him for that because he made a beautiful dream come true/to life just a little bit more for me, and that’s worth my gratitude here.
For a win for NHL team Chicago Blackhawks.
My brother and his wife were looking forward to this night out together, just the two of them, and I couldn’t think of two people who deserve it more.
I am not a big hockey fan, but my brother loves this team. He deserved to see his team win this time.
For another excellent exercise in creativity and creative writing.
I wanted to attend this particular one because it is being held by a fairly local writer, a Canadian author, whose blog I read regularly and whom I met, for the first time, last year at one of her
It is precisely why I plan to devote the whole of next month to the subject here.
I see it all around me, between couples, families, friends, and even from fans. It is powerful and it is ever-lasting, in one way or another. It’s at the heart of so much of what we do and who we are. It offers hope and makes life worth living.
I may choose to wait to talk exclusively about it on this blog until February, the month known for romance, but I write about it now, when times are toughest because it’s right now when I feel we could all use it most.
It’s the sort of week that only a Harry Potter movie can sooth.
First it was David Bowie, then Alan Rickman, and finally it was the death of Celine Dion’s long-time manager and husband Rene Angelil. This cancer is a real jerk.
I am a fan of some Bowie songs and I am glad Dion was discovered, but it was the news of Alan Rickman’s death, on Thursday morning that threw me for a loop. All these men were no longer young, but still it was the dreaded cancer that took them from their families and from fans around the world too soon.
Of course I did not need this sad occasion, or any occasion at all, to get me to watch a Harry Potter movie marathon. As it is fifteen years since he first played the role of Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, this time I am watching and paying particular attention to the brilliant Alan Rickman’s portrayal of one of the favourite literary characters ever created in my opinion.
I don’t remember Ricman from the role that made him famous in Die Hard or the next role, where he played the villain in Robin Hood.
I do know he came to embody the character audiences always loved to hate on screen, but who was he, as a man, in his off screen life?
I knew him in such roles, perhaps a little lesser known, such as when he starred alongside Johnny Depp and his Harry Potter co-star Helena Bonham Carter in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon barber of Fleet Street”. He was positively evil in that,
It was in Harry Potter that I first heard his voice. I don’t forget a voice like that. It was infused with intensity and control over the words he was saying, whatever they just so happened to be. His slow speech grabbed hold and kept hold of my attention, anytime he spoke lines on screen.
I can honestly say that not everything about the movie versions pleased me, as big of a fan of the books as I’ve been since I first read them, but Rickman’s performance as Snape was never a part of my disappointment. He nailed that character, as one of the best cast parts from the entire story.
He was absolutely, terribly mean and you couldn’t help but hate him, as cruel to Harry and everyone else as he always was, but that’s what made him so great as an actor.
He could go from the world of Harry Potter to Shakespeare and almost everything in between. His start with the British Royal Shakespeare Company must have been something to see.
But whether he was playing a Shakespeare character on stage, the Blue Caterpillar from a tale like Alice in Wonderland, a modern literary villain in Harry Potter, or the bad judge in a musical, he was magnificent in whatever he was doing.
It’s strange how the death of someone you’ve never met can get to you, but from a closer source than I ever thought I would have when I first saw him take on the role of Severus Snape, I heard it confirmed what a warm and amazing person he was in real life, not just a fact made known through the celebrity reports and tributes.
His portrayal of Snape brought something important to life for me, as in he jumped off the screen in an extension of the character I loved to hate in the books.
It was Rowling who came up with the sad tale of a life that Snape lived, but it was Alan Rickman who made it real for me. He made that sadness real and I feel that same sadness now.
Rest in peace Allan Rickman.
It will always be Alan, for me, the man who was meant to play Snape. Always and forever he will be it.