Tag Archives: Mika

The wolf is always at the door, reprise.

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The wheel of fortune has turned, and as the Covid 19 pandemic spreads, Mika and I watch the chaos unfold around us. The pandemic is bad enough in its own right–just as the flu takes a terrible toll every year–the Covid 19 virus will take a dreadful toll before it runs its course. So far, we are making the best of staying home–we are naturally reclusive, we keep to ourselves at the best of times. It is unlikely that we will be exposed to the deadly virus. We are working from home–Mika works for the federal government at Statistics Canada, and I work in the MacOdrum Library at Carleton University. For the time being, we are drawing our salary and benefits–we accept that we are fortunate. Beyond that, our house is paid for, and we are out of debt and Mika informed me that we have enough in savings to sustain us for a while should one or both of us get laid off.

What concerns us the most is the economic upheaval that will result from the quarantine currently in place. We are among those fortunate enough to have our jobs and full salaries still–for the time being. We are in a comfortable position because of a blend of our efforts and good fortune. Both Mika and I experienced hardship in our lives. I did not land my full-time job at Carleton University until I turned thirty-nine. In the years before I started working at Carleton, I went through tough times. I struggled to get by on temp work and contract jobs–often in return for bum’s wages. I experienced long bouts of unemployment and went on social assistance when I was between jobs. I underwent personal bankruptcy over the Canada Student Loans I had no hope of repaying. Trust me, I tried to repay them, but given my spotted employment record in my thirties, the situation was hopeless. I never gave up. I applied myself during bouts of unemployment, working voluntarily in libraries to keep up my skills as a librarian.

Mika is hearing impaired. He has partial hearing only in his right ear. He was born this way and grew up with this disability. It did not stop him from excelling in school. He went to Queen’s University on an academic scholarship, where he studied mathematics and computer science. He works for Statistics Canada as a programmer. Yes, he applied himself to overcome his disability and had the good fortune to land a full-time job with the federal government shortly after he graduated from Queen’s in 1996. Mika is savvy at financial management too. It is his skill at managing money that ensured our prosperity as a couple. It is his skill and discipline in financial management–he is no spendthrift–that will get us through the crisis.

In our isolation, we have not lost track of the gravity of the situation. On a personal level, we have friends who fear that the loss of employment could lead to the loss of their home. Mika and I increased the wages for an acquaintance we employ to clean our house. We offered him a hand up, and he happily accepted. He was laid off from his day job and is waiting for his Employment Insurance benefits to kick in. Yes, the federal government instituted a guaranteed income for workers–seventy-five percent of their wages and salaries–and bailouts for small business owners who are forced to close for the duration of the crisis. It is like we are passengers on the RMS Titanic. The ship is sinking, and though there are not enough boats for all the passengers, the federal government has at least thrown out a lifeline to offer as many people as possible a chance to survive.

Mika and I are fortunate. We have each other and lots for which to be thankful. We kept the wolf from the door throughout our lives through a combination of our efforts and good fortune. It is distressing to think that the Covid 19 pandemic and the economic crisis it spawned could spell a drastic reversal of fortune for us. However, as I wrote in an essay I published last year: “The wolf is always at the door and you never know what fortune will bring but rather than despairing I accept I am still among the living and intend to live my life to the fullest.” Mika and I will keep our friends and families in our thoughts as we weather the storm. We hope that the current crisis is resolved with as little hardship as possible to everyone across the world.

Posted by Geoffrey and Mika

 

 

What will survive of us is love. — Phillip Larkin’s An Arundel Tomb

536072_486556508070130_1208265843_nGeoffrey and Mika in their library.

The story of the life and love shared by Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone resonates with me to this day. I learned of their life together and the tragedy that befell them in viewing It could happen to you, the YouTube video produced by Shane Bitney Crone in memory of Thomas Lee Bridegroom, who died in a tragic accident on May 7, 2011. Though I do not know either of these men, I was so moved in a way that I normally am not upon hearing of a personal tragedy that strikes people who are strangers to me. Watching It could happen to you had a profound effect on me; I felt grief and outrage well up inside me upon learning of the injustice and iniquity that was heaped on Shane Bitney Crone following the death of his partner, Thomas Lee Bridegroom. As same sex couples could not marry in California at the time of Tom’s death, Shane had no legal standing as Tom’s partner and could do nothing as the Bridegroom family claimed Tom’s body, his assets and barred Shane from attending his funeral. This is so wrong and it happens to other couples. From the grief and outrage I experienced I was inspired to join in the effort to advocate for full civil rights for gay people, marriage rights in particular. Continue reading

Bridegroom A Love Story, Unequaled

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Mika and I enjoy reading and viewing biographies in print and on film. The latest addition to our library collection is a copy on DVD of the documentary film Bridegroom A Love Story, Unequaled, produced by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. The documentary was inspired by  the video It could happen to you, published on YouTube by Shane Bitney Crone in 2012. The video is a moving account of the loving relationship between Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, the untimely death of Tom Bridegroom in a tragic accident and the unfortunate events that followed. The story of the tragedy that struck these two young men has resonated with people across the world following publication of the YouTube video It could happen to you. The documentary film, Bridegroom A Love Story, Unequaled, while dealing with the disturbing events following Bridegroom’s death, presents a biography of both Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, giving more detailed accounts of their childhoods, formative years, how, as young men, they came to meet and become a couple.

The film is a blend of still photos and video footage of Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, their families, friends and acquaintances taken throughout their lives. If also features interviews with Bitney Crone, members of his family, friends and acquaintances of both men. Thomas Lee Bridegroom’s family has consistently exercised their right to silence and refused any comment on the matter and appear only in still photos and snippets of video taken before their son’s untimely death. The look into their respective childhoods was particularly interesting. Before viewing the film, I surmised that Bridegroom came from a comfortable, middle-class background. He attended the Culver Military Academy, which commands rather hefty school fees and enrolled at Vassar College following his graduation. I learned in viewing the film his parents mounted an extraordinary effort, his mother took a job at Culver to help raise the money to pay the school fees. They saw to it he had the opportunity for a very good education. Shane Bitney Crone attended state schools and left for Los Angeles following his graduation from high school to seek his fortune in the entertainment industry. He had the support of his family in pursuing his dream.

The tone of the film is quite temperate and gets the point across very gently and eloquently that gay people fall in love, become couples and set up households together. It shows just how precarious it is for a gay couple when their relationship is not given the same legal standing of that of a heterosexual couple; thereby making a strong case for marriage equality. It is well worth viewing and though inspired by the personal tragedy that befell Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, it documents, as the title indicates, a love story, unequaled.

Posted by Geoffrey and Mika

Geoffrey & Mika: Mika’s 40th Birthday!

Mika and I went to the Keg restaurant with our good friends Jason and Fran to celebrate Mika’s 40th birthday. Two happy couples getting together to celebrate a milestone in Mika’s life. Mika and I are in our 15th year together and life is great!

Video produced and published by Geoffrey