It's 12.30am summer of 2018. Staring outside, contemplating another anxious walk home.
Okay ready to go.
"Bye. Thanks very much".
The older lady smiles, her Tim Hortons hat tilting as she wipes the sweat from her brow.
Can't help but notice how hard, down to earth Canadians work. Working assembly line in an automotive factory - good solid evidence. Sighing, muttering, craving simplicity, I walk out of the door trying to purge the mind of the reality of my circumstances.
"New labyrinth to navigate tonight. Good exercise for the brain".
Same old. Same old. No street lights. Just dimly lit scattered homes as signposts.
Ten minutes on, the spear shaped tower adorning a fifth accommodation in ten months, appears.
"Here we go", as I take a deep breath inserting the key into the garage door lock.
"Fuck. Can't do it" Shivers again. Head to toe. Just as if I was smoking free-base. I'm Caucasian. I've only ever free based cocaine. The racialization of the words Crack Cocaine has been an immorality of dreadful proportions"
Now pacing back and forth. "Why am I fucking thinking that now"?
"Okay. Take slow deep breaths. Oxygenate the brain".
"There's nothing inside. Just your imagination".
Third attempt. Open door. I turn on the light. Lock the door behind me. First hurdle done. But I hear Noise.
To the house door. Off with light. On with another. Open door. Off with light. On with another.
Through door. Lock door behind me. Noise.
"Just Ignore it". Second hurdle complete. Fast paced to stairs. Noise!!
"What's that? Fuck 's sake".
Reverse sequence. On with light. Off with another. Leap frog 20 stairs, two long jump paces and I'm in the second level kitchen to this empty 10,000 square foot home waiting to be converted. From a facility of the deceased to something more appealing.
On with as many lights as I can find. And then finally a sigh of relief. Open patio door to a soothing trellised balcony as fresh air finally relieves my stress.
Quickly Brush teeth.
Into the bedroom housing the deflated air mattress and a dilapidated computer.
So. On with laptop. Press button to another episode of Episodes. Switch on air mattress pump - the first of six times during the night. Off with clothes worn for a year. Tip toe and tightrope onto an undulating bed.
The sound of Matt Leblanc makes me laugh ever so slightly. Finally relaxed I can now close my eyes.
I squint as light penetrates through the blinds. It's morning. Looking up at the ceiling I marinate in another successful sleep.
"Made it. No ghosts, axe murderers, or forgotten corpses".
A sense of accomplishment like sprinkled stardust travels through me.
"Same feeling when someone apologizes/empathizes. Interesting thought. But true I suppose. Dave. Dwight. Then John, Barry, Bob, Dino in their own way of course. Antidotes to the pain of being so stigmatized. Empathy. Must make a note".
I crawl, fall out of the deflated bed.
"If I'm prepared to die fighting for justice why am I so concerned about this house anyway. It was an old funeral home. And it's dark at night. What's the big deal?"
The contemplated thought competes against another one on my suddenly busy radar. Thinking about entering the frigid cold shower. This time, only two attempts and three fuck you's before success.
"Mr James.......Mr James......Paul....."
As I open my eyes I see a kind mans face.
"We have a room for you".
"It's okay. Thanks very much though. But let someone else have it. I'm good. I am use to it".
"Paul. You need a good nights sleep. Take this gown and socks and just follow me".
CAHM December 11, 2018.
"I get up from the floor retrieving the blanket made into a pillow.
"Hello. Hellllo. HELLLlllooooo. Where's my meds".
I turn to see where the by now, familiar noise is coming from.
I look at the kind man. My guide. He smiles ever so slightly as his Shepard eyes and hands steer a path to a petite, neat room. A home for a night.
"Have a good sleep Paul. We will visit you in the morning".
As I take off my shoes I think about being called Paul.
"I like it".
The bed, a converted hospital gurney, is tilted at 45 degrees.
"But it feels fine".
Anything a level improved from concrete was always going to be dream like.
Hello. HELLLLLLLLO. .....Not you again.......helllllloooo.....can you get this Big Man guy out of my room. I want someone else. Helllllo. I want to eat. I have anxiety. My meds. Where are they".
"He's the same staff member whom greeted us when we entered CAMH, the two police officers knowing his name from experience. Nice guy. Courteous. Respectful. And apparently made of sponge. He never reacts just absorbs."
I close my eyes. I'm sleepy. Hoping to reflect on the day of all days. But not before another...
HEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLOOOOOOO....and another one way confrontation.....
"How did I end up here is my final conscious thought of a day like no other. Eyes close without me knowing".
Sitting in the check-in lounge at CAMH. One of the two police officers is stationed so tightly in the corner it's as if a clay man from Flash Gordon is trying to meld into the wall.
"What nice guys those officers are..."
Big Man interrupts motioning me to stand
"Mr James. Do you have anything on you which could be considered harmful to yourself or others"
"No I do not" as I sit down from the brevity of the search.
A female intake nurse like a siamese cat is sitting at a desk surveying the proceedings. Unbeknownst to me she is waiting for Big Man to complete his duties so she can drill through the absurdity of this particular matter, through a direct fact gathering mission.
Another HELLLOOOO rings out from a distance disturbing the sudden serenity of our environment.
Oblivious, Big Man continues,
"Do you have anything in this bag Mr James. Any knives, needles, anything that could be considered dangerous or which you could inflict harm onto yourself or others?
"It's a satchel actually".
Corner of my eye I recognize the Police Officer smile.
"No. There's nothing in there that can inflict any harm"
"What about a lighter. Or other drug paraphernalia?
"Well you may find a lighter. And a stem. Not sure".
And with that PJ wakes up.
Big Man doesn't open the satchel.
He politely says, as he walks to the door, pulling the Police Officer as if by an invisible cord .....
"we will keep the bag......
.....Your satchel.....until you leave".....
"No problem you're welcome to look through it".
"The Nurse will ask you some questions now"
"I stand up and offer my hand to the Police Officer......it was great talking with you. And thank you for your professionalism. Sorry for the inconvenience I may have caused. Maybe check out the website".
We shake hands.
"It was very interesting talking to you. Good luck with everything Mr James".
As I sit down.
The nurse informs us she will be asking a few questions.
"Okay no problem".
"So how long have you been hearing these voices in your head telling you to kill yourself?"
"I haven't heard voices telling me to kill myself".
PJ - nope nor me.
"Okay. When was the last time you heard these voices?"
"I haven't been hearing any voices. I am not suicidal"
"When was the last time you attempted suicide"
"Okay I need to explain......."
Outlining the unorthodoxy of why I was there didn't phase the standardized approach of the intake nurse - whom I concluded was just doing her job.......
Queen and University, Toronto.
In elevator Bob hasn't made eye contact. Kevin to my right.
My heart is beating faster than normal.
PJ Contempt....his actions are contempt. Not good.
"So how were the Rohingya talks".
"Difficult replies Bob", without looking in my direction.
In meeting room at his office I make statements instead of asking questions. Out of touch with coaching. Nothing wrong with statements. Accurate about family. And circumstances. Naively Kevin Tierney and I were hoping Bob would be helpful.
"So nothing going to happen with Judicial process and York University are not going to settle". So why don't we focus on your friend Mike from California", Bob states firmly.
PJ. Le me go.
"What do you mean Bob. I haven't met Mike Young in person yet. Just communicated on phone Email and Skype. Irrespective. We don't need assistance with the personal story being told. That will happen now regardless. And it was never my first or tenth option to have to tell it. This is about righting wrong and social justice.
Kevin politely chimes in. But my mind was scattered. Didn't hear what he said.
PJ was right re contempt. Mike Young had received three phone calls a few days earlier from Canada slamming Paul James referencing I was a drug addict and to stay away. One person said they had played soccer with me, one had coached with me, and one had worked for me.
Kinda coincidence that Bob would reference Mike Young two days after the unforeseen malice. And all three calls would happen on same day.....hardly a svelte glove approach.
"Kevin you should stop enabling Paul with the hunger strike" says Bob
PJ Let me go. Le me Le me Le me......Colin Perkel, Dr Abe, Tom Harrington, Bob Rae......Le me Le me!!
I kiss the top of Kevin's head.
"Don't blame Kevin for anything Bob. He's a brilliant guy. I'd die for him. Without Kevin, Peyvand and other Paul James supporters I'd be fucking dead. Done more for me than anyone of you politicians who are remitted to care.
You see how you treat me like a boy. I'm a 54 year old man.
We are a nightmare as a country on these issues. We lie and cheat. Our judicial process is inadequate to the core. Not one morsel of ethical rigour. We are the worse G8 country for taking care of our citizens mental health.
How the fuck can we manage to have so many homeless citizens in a country supposedly so wealthy and advanced?
Canada needs to be pulled up by the fucking bootstraps.
Give me a platform and I'll have 10,000 people behind me in minutes and they will follow. You know the truth of this matter. You admitted it a year ago but you've seemingly done nothing but harm. Fuck sakes. I'm on hunger strike. And you politicians still don't care. You scapegoat, manipulate, lie, cheat. York University are an academic institution. They are a disgrace. They should be closed down. A fucking academic institution. Preparing our next generation of leaders. They have lied . Obstructed justice. Colluded. Scapegoated. Connived. Cheated. Defamed. Slandered. Ignored. They have treated the Paul J James circumstance in such a way it defies any element of respect or decency. We seemingly give pedophiles more human rights protection. Yet you all sit back and do nothing Bob but side with them. A system against one fucking citizen. And the CSA, Canadian soccer and the soccer media. I get slaughtered and no body does anything except look at their finger nails and glisten in schedenfreude.
And when I finally confront. Not to be bullied and stigmatized into oblivion, I'm the sick, selfish, narcissistic, can't take it, mentally ill one!
This is about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Bob. And you know it. Is substance dependence a mental disability or not. You know it is. You all know it is. So how the fuck do you explain the fact I have been discriminated against, harassed, defamed, slandered and essentially abused for a decade. And all with complete impunity. I've Liquidated every asset, slept on the fucking streets and parks of Toronto and to top if off not one hunger strike but..nine. Nine hunger strikes. And you do absolutely nothing but scapegoat, malign, or ridicule through sarcasm. Or patronizingly, you offer to get me on my feet. What's the matter with you guys!
Has it not occurred to you that when an organization LIE in their testimony that it is wrong. And you have all proven, that rather than tell the fucking TRUTH and correct the horror that this matter has caused not just Paul j James, but Ashley Kelly, my poor dad and sister and now supporters and friends, you will instead sacrifice a Canadian citizen. Which ever way you need to. On the second meeting we had Bob. First question I asked you. What do you think of the world we live in right now. Your answer? It's a Sick Place. On that we agreed. But are you not a part of that sickness? To think you have actually behind closed doors with your colleagues planned all this out while I have reached the precipice of agony and death so many times the collusion is like a "criminal act". What is a matter with you all. Millions of others are suffering and through the Paul James circumstance you had a chance of correcting elements which are clearly wrong, misaligned and misinformed for the greater good of how we approach this.
I slam the desk with my hand and walk out of the room. The heightened decibels encouraged another lawyer to peer in the glass door. As I left I say to the younger lawyer who looked perplexed and a tad nervous.
"It's okay. All's good. I love Bob Rae's story and background. But I wanted to respect Bob Rae. And I just can't".
PJ No respect
Kevin follows into elevator. A little Paler.
Deathly silence. I'm looking at the ground. Not lifting my head. I feel PJ may have over done it.
As the elevator reaches the ground. I ask Kevin.
"Ok then. So?
Time stopped for me. A death pause. As the elevator doors opened Kevin turns to me and says, "under the circumstances you were fucking great !!"
We both smile as best we could knowing the meeting was not worth it.
"He's not going to help but he won't ever forget that meeting", Kevin replied
"I just don't get him. He's on a different intellectual paradigm of thinking and acting. He's not as bad or evil as he appears. Maybe he's falling on his sword. Perhaps for the greater good. Don't know what to do"
"Now I see why you were so successful as a coach. You can't fake that you care so much, " Kevin says.
"I smiled at Kevin as I choked up".
I try to open my eyes. They won't. My uncomfortable sleep continues.
Sitting in waiting area at CAMH.
Been told I have to stay the night and under the mental health act they can keep me up to 72 hours.
Have to meet staff psychiatrists in the afternoon. I feel sleepy. So I put two chairs together and lay down as best I could.
I hear screaming. A female voice this time.
"I want to DIE". If I can't have a bed. I want to die. I'm going to commit suicide. End it all".
"We don't want you to do that "lovely lady". We just can't accommodate you in a bed that you want here right now"
Fidgeting and uncomfortable after half an hour of hearing the back and forth dialogue I sit up. Can still hear the female frenzy in her voice.
She then appears from around the corner. In a wheel chair. I close my eyes and sigh.
"I have to lie down or I will kill myself. You don't care"
We do care "lovely lady". We do care. Let us know what we can do? replied the patient staff member.
"Then let me lie down".
"We can but not here. Let me get you something for your anxiety".
The staff member leaves.
"Sorry your having such trouble, I say trying to show care".
"Look at me. I'm stuck in a fucking wheelchair all day everyday. And I have to lie down or I won't be able to sleep".
I feel choked and guilty.
"I'm sorry I can't help you....the staff will, they are nice"
"No they're not. They don't care. I want to kill myself".
And with that a team of workers came out and listened to the "lovely lady". And eventually "solved" the matter the best they could.
I nestled down in the nook I had created with two chairs and closed my eyes. Haven't heard HELLO for a while was my thought but I figured it would return.
Uncomfortable. I got up. Surveyed the floor. And slumped down as if I were at the respite.
Morning Mr James.
Here is a breakfast tray for you.
Wrestling myself awake, I thank the pleasant lady. I think about what next. "Can't eat breakfast. Have to win the starvation battle".
Pleasant lady returns an hour later.
"You not hungry Paul". P
"I'm on hunger strike".
The lady looks confused and then frustrated.
"Well Mr James. How many hunger strikes have you been on already?"
A rhetorical question if ever I've heard one?
"And what use have they been"
PJ Fuck, here we go. Bob Rae again. Le me, Le me, Le me......
"Depends the metrics you evaluate them on"
PJ Nice one!
"Well why are you on hunger strike?"
"To fight for social justice from employment discrimination the success of which will make the world a better place.
"And has it worked. What use has starving yourself done"
PJ She reading from a Bob Rae script. This ethnomethodology thingy makes sense. I see it now. Patterns?
"Well. To start I have done more coaching since I have been on hunger strike than in the previous six years. Have new friends. Old friends have re-emerged. Over a million views on website and have gained a little respect from some people".
"But no justice" says the now, not so pleasant lady.
PJ FUCK.....Le me Le me Le me.......Le me go
"That's for the other side to reconcile their deceit, immorality and recklessness. The injustice is overwhelming. The bad politic approach of Canadian society guarantees we under perform in so many areas and it kills too many innocent people.
"So Paul . Do you still use?"
"I'm not answering that question. That's a private matter"
PJ That's right. What's got to do with what you've just said. Fucking nightmare. Le me, Le me, Le me.....
"So why are you here."
"To officially and then publicly establish I am not suicidal or mentally ill"
PJ That's right!
"So you think it's okay to use your substance and work?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well. You can't be working and using crack cocaine and expect to be successful and responsible"
PJ This a set-up?
"Well that is why I am fighting so hard for justice at the Supreme Court. Its for the courts to decide when they want to apply the law". Not for you to judge!
"But you lost".
PJ "Man what's with her. She's been coached"
"You don't lose at the Supreme Court. You either get dismissed or granted based on, it appears, political whims of the judiciary and power and wealth. It's an inadequate system - of which the disparity between wealthy and not wealthy is very clear if gauged on the judicial process. There is no access to justice for average Canadian citizens. It is a Cadillac system and apparently rigged when and if it needs to be".
"So, your saying it's okay to work and use crack cocaine?"
PJ WTF. You heard of decriminalization. Hello!!
"Well. In a court of law I could make a case based on my own personal circumstances that everyone should be on crack cocaine".
PJ Yeah. That's right. We could.
"I am being facetious. But when you consider the period of first use 1998 until 2008 - when I then opened up for mental disability support - it was by far the most successful period of my life. How do reconcile that fact? In every facet. Academically, financially. Coaching success. Media contributions?
PJ Yeah how do you reconcile that?
"And then, once I sought help and assistance my whole life nose dived into oblivion. Yet I still managed to write a book, subsist on menial work and take on two litigation cases. Dealt with the stress of our (Ashley) circumstances as best I could including the reality of a lost career and passion. Of the two cases, one was settled and the other went two levels at the SCC and can still go back. And so i say to you what difference does my answer to your question make? Unless you are unscrupulous, Machiavellian, and evil. You have to consider there is something dreadfully wrong with our system and understanding of the matter".
"So you're saying using is good for you"
PJ "What's the matter with her?"
"No one wants to be using that substance. I'm not advocating for substance use of any kind. One way or another. It's what we do about those persons who seek assistance and support if they need it. It's a human rights issue in that, at a bare minimum, a person shouldn't lose their right to enforce their rights because their substance disability is exposed"
"So your saying it's okay to work and use?"
"I'm saying it's a human rights issue not a criminal matter. If a person is responsible and successful in their employment then it should not matter what they ingest into their bodies. Like you may have a drink tonight. And then turn up to work tomorrow" .
"Well let's agree to disagree"
PJ. No. Let's agree. That you agree. With me.
"How about we agree to agree with the Truth for a better world".
"Okay Paul. So you don't need our help. You are not suicidal?
"I don't. And not at all".
"I'll be back. But I'll leave your breakfast tray in case you will change your mind".
I close my eyes. And dose.
PJ You fought well. It was cordial but tough.
But there shouldn't have been the need for a sword fight in the first place. It was political. They're talking to the other side.
Another CAMH staff person enters the room requesting if I can vacate as they need it for a meeting.
I immediately oblige.
Out in the main waiting area. I notice it is 10.45am
I'm wondering what's next. I see our sword fight opponent.
"Hi excuse me. When am I being released?"
"Well that is for the doctor to decide. Someone will be with you shortly".
I close my eyes dose and reminisce.
Sometime in October 2018
Outside dog park on the Lakeshore Road about 100 meters from the concrete upon which I have been living .
"Packed house today" I say to the owner of a Vissler.
I day dream about Max and Ashley.
"Monkey happy. Max happy. Monkey sad Max sad. Monkey angry. Max angry. Monkey sebaceous cyst on arm. Max sebaceous cyst on leg".
As a simple analogy and ever since we had Max and discovered dog parks its useful to see our innate selves. When we were young and our brains not fully developed. Our "chimps" as referenced by Dr Steve Peters replacing Freud's Id are so powerful they cannot be changed but rather only managed. To do that you need to know who your chimp is to begin with and their innate needs.
I see a boxer running and chasing. Always smiling. Respectful of other dogs. Playful. Not antagonist. I think a perfect representation of Chris Willams . Amazing guy. Fast. Lots of energy. Simplistically his innate chimp needed plenty of exercise. And a need to compete.
A shaggy poodle mix. With a ball in his mouth. 8 dogs chasing him. But he skillfully evades them all for an hour. Great athlete. But wont give up the ball. I think Dwayne DeRosario.
Toy Poodle. Elegant. Composed. And smooth. It's what Jason Devos was as a soccer player. No better defender Canada produced. With pace could have played for Manchester United. Poodle without the mix though Struts and isolate themselves from others they deem not worthy.
Jack Russell starts chipping at seemingly everyone. Provoking fights. Annoying. Could be me. At times in my life at least. I'm much more like Max. Shar-Pei/Old English bull dog mix.
Nice Asian Man - staff member calls my name. I wake from day dream. We make our way to a private room.
"Okay Paul. So I've read some things and it seems you are not a big fan of Trudeau...."
"Well depends how you frame it. I'm not a fan of how he has dealt with this matter....thats a better way of thinking about it"
" I respect what he and the Liberals have done with legalizing marijuana. They knocked it out of the park. And their respect of the Canadian Charter regarding Omar Khadr"
"But with the Paul J James circumstance it's been awful and unnecessary".
"So I've read also, for you it's not about the money, it's social justice"
"My whole life it's never been about the money. Spent most of my soccer career not making money because I was so passionate about what I wanted and needed to do with my life. I sacrificed financially and personally to be the best I could be professionally". I paid a price health wise but at the same time had I have received support and not been discriminated against I wouldn't be here today".
"This is about Human Rights protection and were York University right or wrong. They are wrong. Compensation should replace what has been lost including health and well being. Nothing more than that. And so it's not about the money. Much more important is the impact on society. Making the world a better place but that has been thwarted at every turn".
"Interesting. So why are you here".
"Do you still use?"
"I'm not answering that question. It's a private matter"
"Until all substances are decriminalized it's an irresponsible loaded question"
"So how did you get here. Why you at CAMH?"
I've been seeking social justice for the employment discrimination I faced in 2009.
Through two levels of the Supreme Court. Liquidated every thing. Hunger strikes.
Injustice has been delivered. Had no option to confront it through hunger strikes otherwise I'd continue to be ostracized, stigmatized and oppressed. During hunger strikes I have been sent down one rabbit hole of further injustice after another. I didn't need assistance getting on my feet. I turned down social disability payments and social housing. I could work in a factory. Menial jobs. I could have worked in the addiction industry but I've never wanted to. Until we respect the Hunan rights of persons with substance disabilities then no real progress can be made.
The other side have used my mental disability egregiously against the conviction it has taken to confront in the way I have. They keeping saying I'm suicidal and mentally ill. I am boxed in. They have tried to pull off one trick after another to avoid addressing and correcting the injustice so I have turned the tables. It's been a brutality but I still try to be happy and humorous".
"So you are not suicidal. No suicidal thoughts?"
"Do I look or sound suicidal. I've been emotional and angry for sure. But what do people expect. The outrage has fueled the conviction and energy to keep going and to be resilient.
"Okay. What can we do about stigma....how can we be better.....?
Geez. Can't believe you've asked me. But thank you. You are the first to have asked me such a question. You wanting an opinion can't believe it.
Too detailed a question to answer in short time though. So simplistically. Decriminalization. Can't get to square two without it. Education. Respect and dignity which you have given to me by asking the question. And recognition that substance dependence is a mental disability not a mental illness. We shoot ourselves in the foot by recognizing it as an illness. Because as I can prove. When referred as a mental illness it can be used against you at every turn and it limits opportunity to be treated equally and fairly. With employment for example. People are conditioned to think if you are ill you can't work. And therefore if you have used at anytime as a diagnosed person because of a need you are labelled i