Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the call

I start the week nervous- first day of school nervous- as rehearsals begin on this new show. Every time it's like will this be the time I fall flat on my face? Will this be the one where I bite off more than I can chew? And there's never a totally comforting answer inside me, just: you'll claw your way through this one, don't worry so much. Sometimes you'll feel overwhelmed, sometimes you'll feel on top of the world. But you'll make it.
But this times it's harder. Because today, at the end of day 2, with song snippets spinning around in my brain, I get The Call. The call from my stepmom that says the cancer's spread, it's in my liver and it's going to get worse and I've decided not to have the aggressive chemo because what's the point.
So her daughter and son-in-law and the grandkids are flying in from Ottawa to spend 9 days in Kelowna and say goodbye. Because she may be around for a month more or so, but she wants to have a happy week with her family while she still can. And will I be there?

Will I?

I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't. Go to Kelowna, let down all the people in this play. Stay in Vancouver, let down all the people in this family of mine. So I'll try and please everyone, and it will be one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I get up around 10 these days, adapting my schedule to J's late-night one. Get stuff done during the day, work on the computer nights, watch movies 'til 2am once J has returned from doing his show... it's actually a pleasant schedule, and one I'll miss once we swing into rehearsals this coming week and I have to get up around 8:30.

We rented "The Walker" last night; an odd little film, and one that's unusual enough that I have to remark on it here. (BTW, if you actually enjoyed "The Bucket List", talk to the hand. That "film" wasted two hours of my life- not to mention wasting 2 great actors- and I'm pissed.) Anyway, about halfway through "The Walker" I said to J "Did you notice that the protagonist is a gay man? Who has a lover? This is unusual..." And indeed it was. How many mainstream movies can you think of (other than those films about Capote and I don't know if they count 'cause they're bio-pics) where the leading man is a homosexual in a relationship? And both of them help solve the mystery of the murder that drives the plot of the movie? And the lead character's gay-ness, although certainly a defining part of his character, is not the subject 'round which the whole plot revolves, but just a part of his life? Like I said, an odd little film; slow to get going but well-written and quietly subversive.

In a spectacularly complex Work Avoidance Technique, J & I visited the pet store a few days ago and got a new, smaller fish tank, complete with new "tenants" to inhabit it. It looks great, will be easier to maintain than his old 30-gallon monster... and will probably start fading into the background of our busy lives again quite soon, until we have to remind ourselves that yes, we have an aquarium, and its occupants need caring for. We've actually been researching ferret ownership, ever since I spotted one at Mister Pet's and fell for its winning ways. Apparently they sleep lots, and are curious, smart and playful when awake. However... it's never a good idea to impulsively rush into buying a pet, so if we do get one, it won't be for ages yet.

The weather has cooled off and clouds cover the sun, which makes our apartment livable these days. I'm almost looking forward to Autumn, to putting aside time and money for piano lessons, improving my playing skillz, woodshedding. It'll feel like a new beginning or something.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A gushy fan letter

Dear Lyle Lovett,
You may remember me from the concert you gave last night at the Orpheum. Yeah, I was the girl in the front row(!) who had the goofy grin on her face all night. I swear, if there hadn't been a couple thousand people behind me, I would've danced my way through the whole show. I don't think I've ever been in the front row for a concert before; when the Ticketmaster site came up with those 2 tickets, just right of centre stage, I thought this is odd. There must be a catch. Oh well, I'll give it a shot. And boy, was I glad I did. No one in front of me, room to stretch out my legs, makin' eye contact with the band... very cool.
Even your opening act, Shawn Colvin, was fabulous. It's not everyone who can carry a big, big stage all by themselves, just voice and guitar, but she was awesome. And then your Large Band came on and blew us all away, so tight and slick you could tell there were hundreds of years' combined performing experience between them all. For an arranger wannabe like me, your band is a dream come true, combining strings and drums and incredible backup vocals and making it look so effortless.
And you're so nice! It's hard to fork out money for someone who has a giant ego to match their reputation, but you seemed very humble, and truly appreciative of the talent that surrounded you up there on that stage. Also, you really gave us our money's worth: over 2 hours of stuff, none of that one hour and I'm done crap.
Anyway, I don't usually gush like this. But your concert last night made me remember why I love hearing and playing music. For the whole time I was in my seat in that gorgeous theatre, I was in the moment and loving it... although I did wish I could leap up onstage with my squeezebox and join in. In my humble opinion, some of your songs could really use an accordion- what do ya say?
I'd love to see you the next time you and the Large Band roll thru town... but unless I can get seats that fabulous again, it might be a let-down.
Yours truly,
A Big Fan

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Work-related anxiety dream:
I am taking notes during a rehearsal of what I presume to be the next show I'm working on. There is still no fiddle player, and there's a guitarist I don't know, who seems to be taking direction from- well, not me, at any rate. A large dragon puppet appears (this will probably not occur in real life, FYI, although there may be a giant eagle and a Russian bear). The guitarist commences to play "Puff the Magic Dragon" and I scribble despairing notes on my notepad and think why is no one listening to me? I should have had more stuff prepared.
In truth, I may or may not have the right stuff prepared, we really don't have a fiddler (thanks to my pal Amelia, who deserted us for higher-paying work)... but I can say with 90% certainty that no one will be playing "Puff the Magic Dragon" in this show about Lithuanian Jews circa 1940. Unless things get really out of hand.

More news of the good and bad variety:
Good: I've been cigarette-free for over a week now... and I don't miss it, which usually means that it will stick.
Bad: Either the quitting or just a virus has landed me with a head cold. After months of not being sick- I was really enjoying that after the hellish winter I had.
Good: I rented a new toy from Long & McQuade yesterday: a Boss Loop station. Now I can quite literally "play with myself"! No, not like that, pervs. It'll help me add more layers to the sound scape in this show.
Good: My arrangements of the Back Kitchen music got a great review in Vancouver Plays this week. It isn't so often that music directors get singled out (unless things are bad), so I will revel in this praise.
Bad: Like many others, I am mad, mad, mad that the fabulous Kate of Sweet|Salty has had her work stolen and placed on someone else's blog. Kate's writing literally made me start reading and writing blogs. It's so creepy to think that people lift others' deeply personal stuff and use it for their own ends. But it's heartening to see the magnitude of the outrage over this. I am just a tiny asteroid on the outskirts of this galaxy called the Blogosphere. But it's becomming an important part of my life, and I hate to see it abused.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

That's the sound of my nose, folks- it doesn't feel quite like a cold, more like allergies or just simple dust from the kite store, where everything leaves a film of grubbiness behind on my hands, on my pants, and in my nostrils, apparently. But my shifts there are done until September, and this week is dedicated to... Getting This Upcoming Show Ready. And so I sit here and read my favorite blogs, and type my own words, and check the news of the day, and just, basically... work avoidance again. The thought of a whole week reserved for getting things done is equally fabulous and terrifying: there'll be nothing to blame if I'm not ready to go a week from today. Except me.

Anyway, on a different note-
I went to the last evening of the Vancouver Folk Festival the other day after work... I went alone, which is not the best way to enjoy it, but at least I was free to move when I liked, sit when I liked, eat when I liked. I walked through the stalls outside the perimeters of the festival, admiring all the flow-y, silk-y, hippie clothes while for once resisting the urge to buy something I wouldn't be seen dead in outside a folk festival. (C'mon, 'fess up: how many of you have strange little numbers stuffed in the back of your closets that you paid five bucks for; little dresses made of sari silks, scarves of many colours, weird pants that only look good on 20 year-old flat-tummied hippie girls? Those clothes are like embarrassing 1-night stands that we want to kick out the door at first light.) I should've saved my bucks and perched on a log outside the festival fences, like I did last year, 'cause nothing and no one was worth the entry fee. Whatever musical alchemy went on this year, it didn't happen on the mainstage on Sunday night. However, I did groove alone to Michael Franti, who's always fun, even if his lyrics are a bit annoying sometimes. He's a guy who truly believes in the good stuff: peace, love, activism... and I have to love a guy who can insert "Robby, come to the stage, your parents are looking for you" into one of his rap songs without missing a beat.

I've also splurged on Lyle Lovett tickets for this Thursday night, and so this girl, who sees precious little live music for a musician, is going to get her fill this week. I'm not a huge country fan, but how could I pass up the chance to see Lyle and his Large Band? I used to listen to their live album religiously. I just hope it's a nice long concert.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I was going to bitch about how tired I am, but then I read a few of my favorite bloggers and withdrew that idea. The fabulous Mrs. Chicken is at the end of her tether. The writerly Her Bad Mother is on an emotional roller coaster. And while I in no way endorse the idea that one can't complain about fatigue until one has bébés, those girls certainly put my small sleepiness back into perspective.

A busy week, then, is all I'll lay claim to, a week that saw me working four different jobs: Kite store Sunday-Monday, up to Kamloops Tuesday-Thursday to rehearse some new actors into that show, arranging music for upcoming Stanley Park show yesterday, role-playing for the Standardized Patient Program today. Starting at 7:30 in the bloody morning. SP is fun, though; a chance to play various ailments without any of the pain and inconvenience of actually being sick. (And a great way to do your part to make sure that prospective doctors and nurses are up to snuff.) I can't tell you what my particular ailment was, because we sign a confidentiality agreement. But it was a pretty easy one. By the end of the day, fatigue and the harsh fluorescent lights in my cubicle made my eyes feel as if they'd been cleaned with sandpaper.

I was also going to muse on the lack of responsibility in my life and how this may or may not make me a bad person. But I've decided that my time can be better spent writing my dad a nice email to check in on how he's holding up. I've had a long week; he's dealing with the fact that his wife is deathly ill. I'm not saying the email will make me a saint, but it's probably better than all this navel-gazing.

BTW, why is everybody who takes the Greyhound a white-trash mouthbreather? Does that make me a white trash mouthbreather too? 'Cause I've probably logged more Greyhound time over the last few years than some of the drivers. How come I never meet hot musicians on the Dog? Only the aforementioned WTMs? There ain't much difference between a plane ticket price and a bus ticket, people. So roll up yer Heavy Metal Magazine, yer thundering iPod, yer snot-nosed, snaggle-toothed toddler, and fly Westjet. Please.
Ok, that was judgemental and elitist. But I defy you to disagree with me if you've ever been on a full Greyhound, 'kay?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

This is what summer is all about...

  • Singing the national anthem at the Canadians' baseball game yesterday. At 1pm on a deliciously sunny Friday afternoon, the voices of the Back Kitchen cast (plus mine) float over the walls of the stadium and out into the east van air. And a slightly surreal publicity event becomes the epitome of summer.
  • Bumming around in Kits with my mom yesterday afternoon, sipping a Turkish Chill shake from East is East and Because a girl can never have too many. (I may not be a big fan of the high heel. I may like my clodhopping boots over kitten heels. But I am still a girl at heart and that means I loves me shoes.)
  • Watching The Back Kitchen one mo' time with my brother and a dozen friends. They laugh at the right places and stomp along to the show's songs. And at the end, they lead the standing ovation. And I realize, again, what a lovely family I have.
  • The promise of the beach today with said brother and sister-in-law. A dog, some snacks, the new kite, a bathing suit... it can't get better than that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

like a bird- sorta

For the past 2 nights, I've dreamed of flying.
Not freewheelin' it in the sky like a bird; this is a dream I've longed to have but can only remember having once. Usually when I dream of flying it involves planes, with all the anxiety they bring me. But these past few nights the flying dreams actually involved... kites.
Now I know I was less than thrilled with my job at the kite store when it began back in February. But my relationship with my boss has slowly changed for the better over the months, and while she'll never be my absolute fave person, we now get along pretty well. She likes the way I keep the store neat; I like the low responsibility levels of that job and the chance to be around toys all day. (Although working at the Kids' Only Market is still the best form of birth control I can think of, bar none.) And ever since I took a Prism Snapshot foil kite down to Mexico in April, I've wanted to try more kites, even though my style of flying them can be described thusly:
  • launch
  • flail
  • crash
  • tangle
  • repeat
Anyway, yesterday I finally got a gorgeous dual-line Prism 3D- perfect for Vancouver, I thought, which doesn't always have the highest winds. I didn't have the chance to try it yesterday, so I was excited to get it out today and see how it worked. I woke this morning to the jet-engine howl of the gale outside our apartment- gusts up to 60km/hr. My low-wind kite would snap and shatter in this tempest.
Sigh. Grounded for another day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I should be doing something else, but...

I am busy reading OPB (other people's blogs) and getting a serious case of the "I want a new life" blues.

For instance, there's this woman, she lives in HAWAII, for god's sake. With a handsome husband and two adorable kids. What would it be like to wake up in Hawaii every day? (It looks pretty friggin' awesome, actually.) Taking your offspring to the beach. Eating Asian food all the time- yum.

Or I stare at an Istanbul tourist site and remember the quick 8 days I was there and wonder if I'll ever get to go back. The smell of burning chestnuts from the street vendors. The haunting wail of the call to prayer floating from hundreds of mosques. The mysterious streets that wind smaller and smaller until they're spooky alleys haunted by strays, human and feline.

Or I watch a Johnny Clegg video on Youtube (research for the upcoming play I'm doing) and I want to be on a plane to Capetown. RIGHT NOW. Listening to amazing African rhythms and smelling new smells.

Or I read The Waifs' Myspace page (it has over 8000 friends!) and imagine living the life of a successful touring folk/pop band, juggling motherhood and music the way those girls are doing.

It's not that I'm tired of my life. It's just that there are so many roads to choose, and no matter how much we cram into our lives there's so much we can't possibly pack in.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My friend Megan over at Red Cedar wrote a post praising her gorgeous new Daytons, purchased shockingly cheap at their sale this weekend. Lucky her. I've always had a boot fetish, but they don't always treat my poor feet so well. My brown cowboy-ish boots, which I cooed over and praised in this very blog last year, hold my toes in a vice-like grip. My funky red ones? I can put 20 insoles in them all at once and my heels will STILL wear holes right through. And now my so-country-they're hip Kenny Rogers cowboy boots, which I scored as payment for a Reptiles gig, make me hobble like the Little Mermaid after a night outta water. Gee I loved those boots. Thought they'd be my new trusty companions, peeking slyly from under a pair of jeans or rockin' a short dress. Dark red up the legs, cream-coloured at the feet, they looked so great. But a shift at the kite store and I was running- well, limping- to the shoe store across the hall from my shop. I ended the day in... a pair of Crocs. I know. People are cruel about the perky little plastic (ok, resin) shoes. But I have to say, I like 'em. I feel grounded in them. But... they may not be very good for the environment, so I'll have to make this pair last. They were an impulse buy born of pain and a long shift. But they'll make those hours on the kite store's concrete floor go a little faster.

And in other news... I visited my Barkerville cast, in town with the BC 150 Train:
...saw a feral kitty in an abandoned lot near my home...... and put in some more hours at the retail job that will give me varicose veins and fallen arches, thanks to its aforementioned brutal concrete floor.

... oh, and J and I saw "Wanted" tonight, which we both thought was gratuitously violent and morally bankrupt. And we're people who can usually tolerate a fair amount of, um, splatter. But this piece of poo? Total garbage, with cookie-cutter characters. And unpleasant, to boot. A movie that basically encourages downtrodden office drones to pick up guns to become "empowered'? Yeah, the world needs more of that action.