Thursday, November 22, 2007

Missing...5 pounds

I must have misplaced them somewhere. I mean, there's no way in hell that eating any & every carb, sugar and deep-fried thing that comes my way and whining "but I'm siiiiiick" to justify it, and avoiding the gym entirely due to the fact that I cannot catch my breath sitting right now, let alone exercising, has caused me to...lose weight. Maybe hacking up a lung every five minutes is a real calorie-burner. But, just in case you do find them, please don't return them to me. I don't want those 5lbs back, at all.
In other news, I had one of those awful dreams where you wake up sobbing your heart out and generally feeling horrible. In it, I was at the passport office to pick up my passport... but they'd screwed up and there was no passport to be had. I woke up realizing that no matter how anxious I am about traveling, I really do want to be in Istanbul next week. Luckily, reality was kinder than my dreams, and Passport Canada came through for me. I just hope my billets in Turkey like the sound of coughing, because this bronchitis is not. getting. better. I went back to the clinic today to see why, on day 4 of taking these so-called powerful antibiotics I felt no improvement. Turns out that my internet research wasn't so far off after all- most cases of bronchitis are caused by viruses and antibiotics can't touch 'em! So I wasted $66 on drugs that have no use to me, oh, but if I want to spend another $100 I haven't got, I can have a puffer full of steroids to ease my breathing, although it won't cure anything. Screw that.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Every breath you take.

I consider myself a healthy person, all told. Which is why it is so galling to have to rest this week, with every breath a struggle against coughing, phlegm rumbling as I exhale, smelling oh-so-sexily of Eucalyptus oil, bundled up in my pj's half the day. Most of us take breathing for granted...well let me tell you, you should thank your lucky stars if you can inhale without a fight. It is so, so annoying to be sick! I caved today and got myself to a walk-in clinic right after class, where the good doctor poo-pooed my internet research and told me that most bronchitis infections were caused by bacteria and a good dose of medium-potency antibiotics would clear me right up. Homeopathy be damned- I'm back on hard drugs! Let's see... that was over $50 for the good ol' "natural" remedies, plus another $66 for the Biaxin... This is money I can ill afford to spend, people. I have less than $200 in the bank right now. I'm scared about that, really scared. If I didn't have this wonderful trip coming up I'd probably be in the depths of despair. I need work , fast, or no one's getting anything for Christmas!
Wheeze, bubble, hack.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oh my god. Istanbul!

The title of this post says it all, really. Passport Canada are processing my passport as I write, and so, in just over a week, I will be on my way to Turkey!!! I am only just starting to believe it. Just before coming here to write it out, I Googled Istanbul and started looking at pictures, info, history, anything to make this trip more real. Suddenly I had to turn away from the computer screen, so overwhelmed I was by the beauty of what I was seeing. One of the oldest, most romantic cities in the world, straddling east & west, Europe & Asia. And I get to go there with the Reptiles and play our zany Turkish music in a city filled with so much music and history and stories I cannot even comprehend it. My bones sing with excitement; I am aglow, even as I battle Bronchitis and fatigue.
[On a prosaic note: FYI those who are thinking of getting your Canadian passport: it's now quick & easy. An extra $30 on top of the regular processing fee was all I had to give to make sure that I would get my passport in time for this little jaunt.]
I am $50 poorer in my pursuit of wellness. Homeopathic balls to dissolve under the tongue and banish this awful cough, which kept me-and Jon- awake most of the night last night. (And Jon wasn't even in the same room as me!) Some kind of Swiss cough syrup/immune booster (at over $20 it had better work). Acidophilus capsules to reduce my, um, yeast problems. The thing is, I really don't want to be on antibiotics again, seeing as I just took them for my nose infection last month. And I had dinner with June & Dad last night, and June's so into the alternative healing stuff right now that she got me all fired up to try it.
June's energy is waaay up from the last time I saw her, and she has been visiting a Native healer, a woman J & I met while I was in Enderby last Spring. Frying up Bison burgers for us at her tiny restaurant-slash-teepee on the Mabel Lake Road, she mentioned that she also cured people using First Nation herbs and cures. I passed her number on to June and forgot about it. But June finally called her and has had two healing sessions with her. Her energy, as I mentioned, is up, and she firmly believes that there is less cancer activity in her body than there was before. (and her tests seems to support that.) So we'll see. I was shocked by what my dad had to say this time: I'm used to June getting all new-agey and alternative healing these days, but here's my dad's story: Jackie (the Native healer) told June to bury the herbs in the earth when she'd finished cooking them up to make a tea, he said last night, as we chomped Japanese food together. So June was burying them in the earth and saying a little thank you as she did and all of sudden I saw my grandmother standing between us. Hadn't even thought of the woman in ten years and suddenly I could see her as plain as day. Isn't that spooky and wonderful?
My mom will be back in town tonight, I think. She's been on the road with the Axis show for about a month, and I can't wait to tell her all my news... We'll have to have a good gab session ASAP, as she leaves again in a couple of days.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

getting back to "normal"

Someone I worked with on the show emailed me yesterday: God, last week was so great and I didn't even know it! Luckily, school (complete with a host of end-of-term tests & assignments) is keeping me from feeling the post-show blues too badly but I know what she means. The hardest jobs/relationships/life experiences can be hell as you're going through them but you miss the adrenaline when life settles back down again.
I'm fighting a cough so nasty that I sound as if I should be wasting away in a remote sanitorium somewhere, a cough that keeps me awake all night as I lie on the living room couch, a cough that followed me to my 2 music classes today as I struggled through 2 tests I was inadequately prepared for. Hard to believe that there are no rehearsals to go to this week- both a sad and a happy thing. There's this invitation to Istanbul though...
Crazy tho' it is, it's actually true. Something About Reptiles has been invited to Turkey to play a music festival there...on November 25th! All expenses paid. Where's the catch? Doesn't appear to be one. I cannot even wrap my brain around the possibility that I'll be flying (blech) to a place as wonderful and foreign as Istanbul in a week, so I concentrate on the mundane: will I be able to get a passport on time (unlikely, but not impossible), what to pack, who from the band is going? More on this as things develop...
I hung out with my 2-year-old buddy Sebastien yesterday, a day which probably didn't help my cough but which was tons of fun. I'm starting to get to know him as a person just as he starts to become one: a little boy with an endless capacity for humour, mischief, and love. We spent the day in various parks, me marveling at his ability to climb things, hovering close by to grab him if he fell but also cheering him on: hold on tight, watch where you're going, wow, I can't believe you made it! He echoes my phrases carefully, grasping for meaning in unfamiliar words: ...tight, oopsie! and my favorite: fa' down, which he uses all the time. Happy to risk life and limb, to fall down, and to pick himself up and try again, which is very inspiring energy to be around.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Life, post-work

It's a holiday today- the Monday after Remembrance Day, and I'm sitting in my pj's at 12:15 (in the afternoon), typing away as the wind plays havoc with trees, balcony furniture and birds outside. Global warming seems to have brought fierce windstorms to our part of the world over the last few years.
My body, having realized that my stress-filled job is over, decided to have a little breakdown, so I am nursing a lusty cough that rattles around in my chest, and a persistent, itchy little infection down there... well, let's just say that I won't be gettin' any for awhile, unless J is attracted to hacking, itchy women. I need to marshal my strength, for I will be babysitting my 2-year-old friend tomorrow, and he needs a lot of watching, having realized that spontaneously running away, down the street, into traffic, gets him lots of attention. But today is mine, and it's already slipping away (the dangers of sleeping in!) so I'm going to get dressed and brave the winds for a while, maybe visit a neighbourhood I haven't been to in a while, maybe even bring my camera.
I tell ya, if I had some money to go with this lazy lifestyle, things would be just about perfect and I'd never work again...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

it's over...?

I can't quite believe it. It always takes a day or two for the truth to sink in: the show is over, no more rehearsal, stress, tears, laughter, bonding...
My contract began not even 2 months ago, hard as that is to believe. The cast has been working together for a year on this project and now it's done. I have so many hopes and wishes for them and I am only the stage manager. What must be going through the heads of their director, their social worker, the assistant directors, who have steered them through this process for months and months?
I have learned so much. Tonight I wrote down all the tips and rules I have learned about stage management so I'd remember them for next time, if there is one. I have learned about responsibility, about assertiveness, about organization. It's been one of the hardest weeks of my life and I'm sad it's over.
Dakota: I hope you can get through high school without being bullied any more.
Roberto: I hope you can rise above your family difficulties and become self-assured and dashing, as you could be.
Herb: I wish you control over your anger; I hope you channel some of that intensity into something positive and don't waste your life in construction work.
Natalie: I love it when you get excited about something and just glow. I hope you can transcend your family problems to grow into a wonderful young woman.
Pinky: You are older than the rest of them- don't get bogged down in a soul-sucking job and waste your life.
Karine: You have so much raw talent. I wish you stardom and success, but more importantly, the maturity to deal with it.
Michael: You work so hard and with so much intensity it's unreal. Now learn to let go and just feel some things!
It's 1:45am. Time to hit the sack.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Opening night has come and gone in a blur. It's getting near 1am and so, time for bed, but I had to write and just say that after the worry, the fear, the waking up at 5 this morning and so being in a zombie state for most of the day...
Well, the show adrenaline kicked in, as it always does, and I called a mean show. And the cast was amazing- they lit up in front of the audience and did their best performance ever. And the lighting designer, who I have a wee bit of a crush on, is still speaking to me, so I guess I didn't destroy his design. And even people who were at loggerheads yesterday were working backstage in perfect harmony and schmoozing together over the delicious food at the post-show reception.
Sometimes there are perfect storybook endings after all.
Now one more day of this and I have to start contemplating the fact that Something About Reptiles (the crazy Turkish band that I play with) may travel to Istanbul in a couple weeks' time. More on this soon...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

dress rehearsal

I came home from the 2nd day of cue-to-cue last night, weepy from lack of food and mental exhaustion. Cried hard in Jon's arms for a few minutes, not really from any specific worry or pain, but more as a release of the day's tensions. The hard part of this job isn't calling a million cues or being super-organized: it's having to field a 1/2-dozen questions at a time and give all the right answers; it's having to appear calm and in control all the time and never, ever crack the veneer of capability. I don't have the experience to know if this is just a particularly difficult show (although I know that it is) or if it's a difficult show and my inexperience is making everyone's job harder.
Tonight as we were standing outside the theatre, our director mentioned that "the professional team all seemed tenser than other ones she had worked with before." There are a lot of factors that could be contributing to this: time constraints (it's a union house so we have to be out of there right on time or mucho money is added to our bill), the inexperience of the cast (who are much less stable than other casts she's worked with), the fact that our director and assistant director rub people the wrong way...
But of course, all I could think of was: Ohgod, it's me. I'm causing this. This is my fault. For being new at this, for not taking better control...
And then I just have to give myself a mental shake and say Forget it. You called over 175 cues tonight with hardly any mistakes. You got everybody out of the theatre on time: cast, film crew, backstage crew. You listened to people's concerns and dealt with several stressful personality conflicts as they arose. You were not perfect, but you did a good job.
Dress rehearsal was great. Tensions aside, the cast did a good job, I called a pretty good show and the backstage crew worked really hard. If the lighting designer's still on speaking terms with me tomorrow then I'll relax a bit. A little bit, anyway.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

In the booth

I wake up these mornings, still bleary-eyed but seemingly unable to sleep past 8 anymore. I can hear all you parents hooting in derision, but man, that still feels early to me! Today is day 2 of Cue-to-Cue, which theatre people will know is a long, drawn-out torture specifically designed to make actors and grown men wilt and crumble.
Day One (yesterday) went smoothly. In spite of my inexperience, and the inexperience of the 7 actors. In spite of my fears, and in spite of our well-meaning but overly verbose director. Largely due (and I cheerfully admit this) to the patience and expertise of our lighting designer, video projectionist and lighting operator, who gently correct me and guide me without making me feel small or stupid. However, I know that some of this smooth running was due to me, and it makes me proud. I was able to stay in control and polite all evening, never "lost it", knew what I was doing most of the time. This may be one of the hardest jobs I have ever done, but I will come out of it with renewed confidence in myself and new abilities. I may even want to be a stage manager again someday.
Today will be another long, hard day. And then hopefully, things will get easier, although the stress won't be over 'til my contract's up, in 4 more days. I will have around 140 lighting cues to call in this show. Somewhere around 25 video cues. I'll be operating the sound and mixing vocals during a song. Although I'm new to this, I believe this is fairly complex, so I don't think I'm out of order for saying this is haaaard! But this will pass, and I may even come out of it all looking pretty good.
And that's all I want, at the end of the day.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


It is the perfect autumn day. I rose early (it's getting easier!), ran to our nearby rehearsal hall to give some setpieces to our set designer, ran up Main Street & rewarded myself by stopping at Solly's for the perfect chewy toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese. Then got even more self-indulgent and called in at Nester's- the brand-new deluxe supermarket at Main and 29th- for groceries I could've easily bought at my local Skankway- I mean Safeway. Wandered back down Main, checking out some of my fave clothing stores, and spent money I don't have on footless tights so I will look hot when I'm jobless in a week or so- gulp. After weeks of working 7 days a week, this day off has felt like a slice of heaven, although since I got home I've been working through 4 loads of laundry. To simply be alone in our little place while J works , to have time to make it look good and clean our clothes, feels wonderful. I'm a solitary person who's had almost no time to myself in the last month or so, but today reminded me why I choose this life, in spite of the fears it gives me.
Fear. When you were starting Grade Three, you had to take the school bus for the first time, says my mother. I walked down the street with you and when the bus came you were so nervous your voice was shaking but you said is this the bus to Sunnylea? and it was, and you got on and went to school. You were scared but you knew you had to go and you did.
I remember that so well. The giant yellow bus, all those faces assessing you as you pushed down the narrow aisle, hopehopehoping that someone would let you sit with them. And then it was 2 months later and you boarded the yellow giant as though you'd done it always, your friends hollering hellos as you surged down the aisle to meet them.
And that, my friends, is what every month brings these days. I was so nervous starting at college in September, and so apprehensive about stage managing this show, and wondering how the Pumpkin Patch would be this year. And now the Patch is done and I miss it and my friends there. I played my arranging assignment at school yesterday and several people told me afterwards how much they enjoyed it. I still slouch in the back row just as I did on day one, but there are several people back there with me that I can giggle with and talk about music with and it feels...familiar. And the cast of my show, those so-called "at risk" kids who I feared, are mercurial: funny, goofy, moody, talented, lazy. They crowd me before run-throughs: Alison, where's my fake knife? Where do I go after this scene? Who will help me with this quickchange? Sometimes I even have the answers for them. I am proud of myself that I am surviving working with a difficult director, a challenging cast, that I am learning as I go this tricky job of stage managing. I am nervous about next week because we move into the theatre and my responsibilities will increase, but this too will pass. Funny how you can tell yourself that and it can help, but it doesn't banish the butterflies in your stomach, does it? I remember piano exams at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music, such an imposing brick building, so unlike the shabby wreck of a place where I had my weekly lessons. Going there with Mom, out of school for the morning, with sweaty palms and queasy tummy; waiting in a small room to be called in to the exam room was always the worst part of all. Because once you got in there the examiner was always very sweet, you'd practiced hard and notes slid from your fingers and danced on the piano keys in some semblance of order.
A cloth bag bears the slogan: Do something that scares you every day. Every job, every contract, every tentative reach-out to a new acquaintance, every major life change is scary. Thoughts of death, of having children, of having children in these times, of terrorism, of the world giving up on us humans and shrugging us off her back in one great cataclismic event- these things are terrifying. But we soldier on. Fear tells me I'm alive. I could work full-time in any bookstore that was hiring, in any clothing store or office. And I would die slowly inside. I'll take the uncertainty, the fear of the new, over a steady life. Because if you hold your breath and take the plunge, the water is almost always pretty great.