Friday, March 28, 2008

Random Friday Blogging

As I lurched my sleepy way to school this morning I thought well, it's still bloody cold but at least it's not snowing. Not 20 minutes later, trying to absorb Coltrane Substitutions (sounds like a diet snack, doesn't it?) someone said Oh! It's snowing outside! And it still is, 1.5 hours later. Which is a travesty, for Vancouver. And yes, I do realize that compared to the Rest Of Canada we have had it ridiculously easy this winter but this is damp cold seeps into my bones and my lungs and makes me wheeze and shiver like a decrepit character in a Dickens novel. Although this makes the prospect of flying to Mexico on the 5th very, very easy to bear. What's 5 hours of aerophobia compared to sun, sand, surf and did I mention it's 30 degrees down there?

Jon and I watched possibly the worst movie in the entire world last night, a movie so bad that it deserves to be up there on the list of "greats" with Ishtar, Showgirls and Battlefield Earth. It's called Southland Tales, and you should watch it only if you a): have a huge affection for all the SNL alumni and feel the need to watch them hideously miscast in this lumbering mess. Seriously folks, we have Jon Lovitz, Nora Dunn, Cheri O'Teri, Amy Poehler, and possibly more that I didn't catch. WTF?
b): if you like epic sci-fi tales that have such a broad scope or vision that they end up becoming a confused, rambling epic that makes you feel like you're on drugs as you watch. It was clear that the actors had no idea what was unfolding. That the director/writer and producers had somehow dropped the cinematic ball, so to speak, and it had rolled into a sewer. My one-word review for this movie would be: bleurghh. I lost 2.5 hours of my life to this piece of poo and I want to sue the makers of this movie for compensation.

I want to eat cheese and french fries all day long. Call it the winter hoarding instinct, call it gluttony, call it what you will... I long for carbs and the sweet fullness they bring. But it's like a one-night stand: I despise myself later.

It's nearly noon, and I've wasted enough time blogging. Time to clean the apartment, time to wash, time to get on with things. When what I want to do is retreat to bed and eat cake or something.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The body as a (pretty battered) temple

Yesterday was a random day, health-wise. I got up and made it to school and all was fine. Later, though, when I returned to hand in an assignment I had the craziest dizzy spell; the world lurched unpleasantly as did my stomach. I got home and all the chores and tasks I'd planned went out the window as fatigue set in. (Preggers? God, I hope not...) My chest wheezed and my cough was back. I feared the return of whatever has been plaguing me all winter, but a good sleep seems to have chased it off, although a day at the Kids' Only market hasn't done much to help. The more time I spend there the more I loathe it. It's not that I dislike kids, at least not as individuals. But as a horde...(insert shudder here.) Screeching, whining, messing up my puppets over and over and over again. Just being their charming little selves, grrr.

I've been thinking a lot about health and the ways our bodies can let us down these last few weeks. How I-never-thought-it'd-happen-to-me turns into what-if turns into oh-god-no if we're not lucky. My stepmom's cancer is getting worse. Tumors in her lungs are growing, and she's starting to have trouble breathing. A new tumor in the muscles around her spine. My brother's wedding in Mexico, which she was putting off chemo to attend, is now out of reach for her, which seems doubly cruel as she is one of our few family members who would really appreciate all the things that go into a wedding. She and my dad sound surprisingly upbeat when we speak on the phone and I marvel at their strength, their refusal to admit defeat, at least most of the time. Let me know the minute you need me to come up there, I say. There is nothing, nothing that can't be put off if need be. Illness doesn't pick its moments to suit us, of course, and family trumps everything else but still. Angry at myself for agonizing secretly about what I'd be sacrificing if I had to put off work, school. I feel as if we're all standing on a precipice that could crumble under our feet at any time. This is not really my pain yet except sporadically; it's still far away in Kelowna, but soon the edge will give way and we'll all be dragged in to my dad and stepmom's pain and oh god we've never had to deal with anything like this in our family and who is ever ready for something like this? All the more surreal when contrasted with my work life, which is going great, or my life with J, which is lovely.

Weddings and cancer, love and travel, music and retail- the highs and lows that make up my spring so far.

Monday, March 24, 2008

blissful holiday!

Got home yesterday afternoon from Kamloops, a 5-hour drive straight to the in-laws for piles of Easter lamb. Why Easter involves making a meal out of the young, innocent lamb I'll never know, but it sure was tasty!
I got a lift back with Shelly, the choreographer, which was fun because we talked non-stop all the way home. Driving back was a reminder that however lovely the weather might be at your starting point, it could be (and was) completely different in the mountains. Although I don't drive and am therefore not the ideal road-trip companion, I was able to talk her through some of the nastiest weather I've seen up there on the Coquihalla highway and keep her from freaking out, so I think I earned my ride. Snow blew all around us, settling on the road and making things slippery and scary. Luckily everyone was on the same page and we didn't have any cowboys trying to speed by us or trucks plowing into the back of us. As we slithered down the steepsteep hill toward the Great Bear snowshed we saw that traffic had come to a standstill going the other direction. But at least by the time we got to Hope it had become rain rather than snow, so the drive from there wasn't too nasty.
I made it it New West in time for the aforementioned tasty lamb (and the button-pushing behavior of the in-laws, who make my poor boyfriend all grumpy), was in bed and asleep before 11:30, and woke up by 9 today feeling more rested than I had in weeks. I even went running this morning! Had a dream last night about being in a magical dress shop on Main Street that was open late and sold fantastic clothes that made me look thin and sexy. One of those dreams that you wake up from feeling special, and happy. I should probably do some schoolwork today but I might just squander my precious day off and enjoy a day of idleness. Yum.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dispatches from Kamloops

Kamloops is a very goofy name for a desert place. Dry cold air and blue skies. Brown mountains and a river-carved valley. Pickup trucks, curling and tiny Japanese restaurants with better food than in Vancouver. Curling, hockey, rednecks and culture in an uneasy sandwich.
I love our hotel! The Rocky Mountaineer has put me, the director and the choreographer into the Thompson Hotel downtown; not close to our rehearsal space but a nice area to walk around. Downtown Kamloops has a surprising number of good restaurants, including Sanbiki, which has Japanese food that puts many Vancouver sushi joints to shame. There are also a surprising number of burly men in our hotel and around town, thanks to some kind of Police curling team championships. Who knew that policemen spent their spare time curling in such great numbers? At least, being cognisant of the noise bylaws, they'll probably cease being rowdy by 11pm.
It's hard to screw up a gig when you're hired to replace a guy who made the cast feel like shit. He must've been on the glue, as my buddy Amelia would say, because this cast is fabulous! Young, talented, funny, sweet... I had a frustrating day today because there's so little time and so much to do and the band is always noodling away when I'm trying to get stuff done! But even with these petty frustrations I'm so happy to be here. It's great waking up every day knowing you're doing what you were born to do.
Choreographers always scare me. They bark at casts all the time: "Faster! Slower! Watch your arms! Move! Stay still!" They are decisive and abrupt. They know how to command large casts with little apparent effort. However, I've really bonded with this one. Had too many martinis with Shelley this evening, which is probably why I'm writing in point from tonight.
I bought a cel phone before I left town. Used to hate seeing people yakking away on their cels in public. Now I can see the appeal. Puts the magic back in phoning someone when you can do it anywhere. I know the novelty will wear off soon, but it's fun while it lasts.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fat plums from the gods

The gods finally heard my whining about money and rewarded me with a fat (phat?) new job, which fell into my lap on Friday night like a plum. The Rocky Mountaineer, a company which charges people exorbitant amounts of money to take a train through the Rockies, is producing a play which passengers may watch (for an extra fee, of course) the night before they depart from Kamloops. My friend Peter Anderson wrote it, which means it'll be smart and funny. And I guess their music director wasn't quite the ticket, because they fired his ass on Friday and phoned me in a panic to see if I could replace him! Instantly my brain whirled, because you never get these plums when it's most convenient. Let's see, I have school, and those days at Kites & Puppets, and Sean & Michelle invited us up to the Sunshine Coast next weekend and ... breathless, I asked for a little time to make up my mind. And when I got off the phone, Jon heard my doubts and my confusion and he said "You should do everything you can to make this job work. If you turn it down because of a retail job, you'll be stuck there for the next 4 years, like I was at the warehouse."
I realized the truth of his words, and that evening, accepted the job offer, and the very generous fee that goes with it. I guess when you charge exorbitant fees from your passengers, you have wealth to pass on to your employees, which rocks. I will miss some school, it's true. And I had to shimmy my schedule at K&P but I don't really feel too bad for them. I have a feeling that my days there are numbered and that totally works for me!
So I leave for Kamloops Tuesday morning, riding the ol' Greyhound. I'll be there 5 days, back for a week or so, back up for 3 days, in Mexico for a week, back up to Kamloops right after we get back. I'll be living out of a bag for quite a while. But life will not be boring. And I will not be broke.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Played our first Redboot gig on Friday night to an enthusiastic crowd of friends, family and anonymous patrons of The Main restaurant. Two-plus hours of holding a giant accordion strapped to me like a bizarre and heavy baby, singing jazz and trying to remember the arrangements of all these brand-new songs. Following a nightmare setup of tangled and missing power cables, the first few songs were a little flustered. But we settled into a groove and I for one had a wonderful night. The feedback (from the audience, not the microphones!) was great, too, and we actually made some money, so that was a nice bonus.

Although I made a point of drinking nothing but water the entire night, I woke up the next day with what felt like a hangover, but was probably nothing more than dehydration and exhaustion. And I had to compound it by working all day at Kites & Puppets, which was sheer bloody hell. Saturdays at the Kids Only Market being a constant wave of messy children, grabbing my puppets, putting them back in the wrong places over and over and over... I felt like Sisyphus, rolling his boulder up the hill again and again as I tidied the store for the umpteenth time. And the concrete floor there is hell on the old legs, let me tell you. I could have slept all day today!

However, there were clothes to buy, so I managed to roll out of bed at 10:30, or so I thought...
Mom and I traipsed up and down Main Street in a search for dresses for my brother's wedding- and we were both successful! In fact, I bought two lovely items: a blue chiffon dress for the wedding that looks kinda like this (only imagine it in 3 shades of green-y blue):...and a very elegant-yet-versatile maroon Grecian dress that is just nice to have, but I don't know exactly when I'll wear it; I just had to have it. So nice to spend money on myself again after all those lean months! Mom got herself some great stuff: a really fun beaded little number for the wedding and a very '60s mini dress that she looks fabulous in. So all in all, a lovely day of shoppin' with Mom.

I was going to to and write in a more stylish and profound way but I'm too tired this evening. Literary style will have to wait, I'm afraid- I can't even form a proper sentence right now...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

By the way...

You can check out my latest band here: the soon-to-be famous Redboot Quartet!

I've added it to my links at the sidebar there, but I thought I'd feature it today as we have a gig coming up this Friday and any of you readers (all .08 of you) might want to check it out...


It was ever thus. I can remember nights of sweaty anxiety, feverishly trying to complete a project that had been due for ages and was only now being done the night before it was due. Parents must feel so torn watching their kids go through that; a combination of kid's gotta learn and how can I help my poor sweet baby get through this any way I can? Well, now there's no parent to soothe me as I try to catch up on 2 months' neglected Jazz Theory studies in time for my midterm on Friday.

Ok. Diminished 7th chords: what are their chord scales?
Name the 6 Harmonic Formulae and provide examples.
What defines a blues song?
Analyze this song, pointing out all instances of Modal Interchange.
Provide the 8 examples of Dominant Chords with a non-Dominant function.
Provide the 7 examples of Deceptive resolutions.
Does this song have an AABA or ABAC form?

These are some of the questions I'll be asked in 2 days. Actually, I do know the answers to a lot of these questions, after a few hours of grind. But I'm annoyed with myself for letting illness, financial difficulties and lack of energy get in the way of my studies. I do these 2 courses for myself, to learn more about this subject that means more to me than most other things. To let myself get behind is to let myself down, not to mention my mom, who generously provided the cash that made these courses possible. I had a great Fall term and it would be shaming to fail an exam after such a great start. So I'll take a few more minutes to finish off today's blog entry and then dive back into my notes again.

My ambivalence about practice has probably come up before in these entries; I love rehearsing with others but have such a hard time buckling down at home and playing music alone. It's best to do it every day: I really need to make time at least 5 days a week to work on my instruments and get better at playing them. I'll see if I can make this a part of my daily routine, like running- oh, wait a minute, that went really well, didn't it? When's the last time you slipped on your sneakers, again? (...and the waves of guilt crash completely over my head.)

On a more positive note (and who could be anything other than positive on such a sunny day, even when I can't go out and appreciate it?), the Redboot Quartet has their debut performance this Friday and I can't wait! Playing music with these guys is the best incentive for becoming a better musician.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Cheerio Day

It is 3pm. I haven't washed my hair in 2 days, which is an eternity for greasy-locked me. The house is awash in old food-encrusted plates and camera equipment. I tell J that we really must hire another maid. I had school this morning and since then we've been drifting in and out of sleep in our messy bed, making up for the last few sleep-deprived days. I have eaten about 7 bowls of honey-nut Cheerios today and that is all.
To steal a quote from someone (I think it's Alice Walker): "Sometimes life just be's like that."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ginger Tea & Party Updates.

Last night I looked around at all the guests at our 10th anniversary bash in wonder: all these people showed up just for us! Jon & I don't throw a lot of parties (our place being small and not soundproof), so it was a bit nerve-racking waiting for guests to arrive at our friend Gord's funky studio apartment. There was food (piles of it), ambiance, music... And in the middle of the evening I looked around at everyone who'd shown up: family, bandmates, theatre people, friends we'd known for years, friends we wanted to know better, and I was so happy, because the lines were so blurred. Family=Friends. Coworkers=Friends. Jon's friends=My friends and vice versa. Our work life and our family and our social life are all intertwined in the best way. And I got to celebrate 10 years with the best man in the world in front of all the people who mean so much to both of us. We are truly lucky.

By the way, here's a great flu-fighter I've been glugging today: hot water, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, cayenne, maple syrup, and some black seeds that the prophet Mohammed ate (and he was never sick, apparently). Redboot Steve made it today for us during rehearsal, and I thought it would be gross but it was surprisingly tasty. Wish I knew what the black seeds were called, 'cause if they were good enough for the Prophet...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Blogging at 2am: bad idea or really bad idea?

So, normally I think that Vancouver lags behind major metropolitan cities when it comes to things like "cool" and "after hours" and "a scene", although I really wouldn't know, since my idea of a hot night out is usually a) playing a gig or b) going to a late movie or c) gorging on Chicken Chow Mein at Chong Quing.
But... we do have a pretty amazing little theatre scene, of which I am very proud to be a peripheral member. And one of the coolest groups in that scene is the Leaky Heaven Circus, of which I am a founding member. Tonight I did a clown act at a Leaky Heaven salon where we explored "the spaces between gender" and I sang "He's Not Heavy...He's My Brother" with another performer, both of us dressed in drag pretending to be brothers and it was- weird. And fun. The great thing about that group of folks is that you can be pretty much whoever you want to be and it's totally acceptable. That's what I love about theatre.
And the nicest thing was that Ana and Amelia showed up halfway through to spirit me away for alcohol and company all through the night, so that it's after 2am now and I'm still awake and blogging. Lungs too smoky, head spinning from spirits, but overjoyed to have spent an evening with the girls, drinking and dishing the gossip. Not something I do often enough, and very fun. I feel very lucky. And tired. I think I'll sleep now...