Friday, November 28, 2008

Pro's (but not prose) & Cons (because boring entries look better as poetry)

So, on the "pro" side, I looked into photography
courses and walked down the Drive but
on the "con" side I ate potatoes and a cookie
and totally sabotaged the whole low-carb lifestyle
that's been sliding into the can the last
few weeks

And I got up after 12 noon, did I mention that? ("con")
because I stayed up so late the night before
drinking martinis with my sweetie so maybe
that's a "pro" because we spent some
quality time together.

and I'm also
all caught up on my schoolwork
(all A's so far- ha!)
and rockin' my compositions for "Medea"
it's a good thing rehearsals start next week because

all this lethargy
is not so good for me*

*(always finish with a rhyme at the end)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Other People's Words

I had another post up earlier, a couple of fairly mean-spirited movie reviews coupled with a bit of a rant about divorce, step-parents and the media. And while I still hold with everything I wrote in that post, I think this song, which is on the new cd by The Breakmen, is way more eloquent on a subject that's close to my heart at the moment. I have a step-parent who's in the hospital right now, and my Dad is trying to keep it together up there in Kelowna- to work and live and try and be "normal" while his wife slowly dies. No other words- mine or anyone else's- come close to this song in summing up what it must be like for them, and what it feels like for me: to want to take on just a little bit of the pain they have.

Hospital Moon - by Archie Pateman & Mark Berube

I remember watching you dance that night, holding her like a dream you stole
I watched your heart, so pure, bet it all on her and let the dice roll
I watched you change direction that night, never dreamt of stopping you
Hope was the fire in her eye, in spite of a hospital moon

Give me, give me, give me a bit of your low, a bit of your low

Your knees are skinned from kneeling, your hands are wet and cold
Your eyes are tired from crying and wired from trying not to let them close
'Cause what will happen if she wakes up and you're not there?
What'll happen if she's all alone in that room?
Hope is her lover in a chair silhouetted by a hospital moon

Give me, give me, give me a bit of your low, a bit of your low

In a world of war and money, cancer and lies
Politicians running and and doctors coming in to sympathize
All that's certain is heartache, and love lost too soon
And the coming of a new day, and the setting of a hospital moon

Give me, give me, give me a bit of your low

Monday, November 24, 2008

good & bad

We played a Jewish wedding yesterday, Amelia & I; not a family that we knew personally, but it was still lovely to be part of it, and it was our first Jewish wedding, so that made it more interesting. We loved the fact that the short ceremony included both singing (by the female rabbi and those of us watching) and wine, and concluded with the bride and groom beamingly dancing out of the incredibly tiny room to a rousing chorus of "Simon Tov u Mazel Tov". As we played klezmer/Eastern European instrumentals at the reception later, we mused that Amelia still had a chance to find a nice Jewish boy of her own, but my boyfriend's Irish-Catholic ancestry and my anglo-welsh forefathers mean I will never do the Hora at my own wedding. Sigh.

Later, instead of going right home we paid a visit to Burcu, newly back from Istanbul where she was visiting friends and plotting the Reptiles' return to that incredible city. I love how she closes her shop for the night and then has impromptu meetings, band practices and dinners around the couch at the back of the store. Drinking too much red wine, listening to haunting Iranian music and eating delicious Indian takeout at Burcu's clothing store- not a bad way to spend a Sunday night.

I am waiting for news on my stepmother, who's in the hospital at the moment. Her back is in agony, they don't really know why, and all the physio and massage isn't helping. Even though it's an old injury, the fact that nothing's helping means that the spectre of Cancer rears its head again. And so the limbo that she and my dad live in lost days is over for now and there is new pain and fear for them both and my concern for them is shamefully tempered with the thought oh please don't let me have to go up there this week; I have so much stuff to get done because sickness and dying have their own agendas and there is no convenient time but also because when it is in Kelowna and I am not, I can keep their fear and sorrow at arms' length and I am terrified that I won't be able to be strong enough to watch one relative die and be a comfort to the other. I'm not proud of these feelings, but that's how it is. Another voice says when it's time, you'll do what needs to be done and I know that's probably true but not yet, please. Not yet.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy 50th, WISE Hall!

...because it's not every day a local institution turns 50. Ok, I haven't been to the WISE Hall in ages. But it was a venue that supported the Flying Folk Army, and was the site of many a fine party. So I was more than happy to show up for its 50th anniversary. And take a few pics while I was there. Including this one of me: (I look more like my dad every day)I have a very funky camera strap en route from Chicago, courtesy of Souldier Straps. Can't wait. I've been really digging the photography thing in the last few weeks. Don't know where, if anywhere, it'll lead, but it's super fun.
Jon and I also had a blast at the East Side Culture Crawl today. 300-plus galleries to browse around- all near our neighbourhood! We ran out of steam long before we'd seen even a fraction of the art that was on display. Some days, this is the best 'hood in the world, and this was one of those days.

Friday, November 21, 2008

There is this great scene in the movie "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (a surprisingly funny and entertaining movie, IMHO) where Sarah berates her ex for wearing the same pair of sweatpants for a whole week. Well Sarah, I feel your pain, but I am that man at the moment. These days I get up, change from my pj's into what I call my "daytime pyjamas" (paint-stained sweats, t-shirt with no bra if I'm really feeling casual, and stare at the computer until my eyes bug out. I wish I could claim that it's all work, but still a good portion of the staring has to do with blogs, or blogging, or (new thrill) playing with my best photos in the 30-day trial version of Adobe Lightroom I just downloaded. Oh, and participating in my first online chat with my teacher and some classmates for that film composition course I'm taking.

Sometimes I do this thing where I'm a total slob but then I can't stand it anymore and I get mad at J and then we throw some stuff out. And sometimes we clean the apartment in total harmony, without argument. And sometimes, like now, we are both being slobs in total harmony. I'm thinking well, I have school, and this composing job, so I don't have time, and he's thinking well I have to go film Jules' play and then come home and teach myself everything about Final Cut, so I don't have time. And we fester together, in happy slovenliness.

She writes (I would direct you there, but her blog is private) I love my kid but I am so missing the freedom to get up late and do what I want without all this planning and sometimes I realize that it's suppertime and I'm still wearing the same sweats I had on yesterday and I haven't even washed my face and I think Dude, I really sympathize, but when it comes to the sweats-wearing and the getting nothing done, I am exactly the same and I don't even have a kid!

Two close friends of mine had a big fight recently about... tidiness. They've been living in each other's pockets too long, roommates and bandmates and buddies, and it's wearing on their friendship, which is sad. I think they're going to need some time apart, from their friendship and their projects.

It gets hard, when you're in your thirties, to compromise any more. You don't want the beer-splashed sofas, the milk-crate furniture, the crusty dishes. But you get busy, too. There's work, and sometimes children, and all of a sudden you're standing in your kitchen shouting "Where's a damn maid when I need her? I need a servant, for god's sake!"

(or if you're me you could just wake up earlier and do some cleaning, fer godsake. But that would seriously cramp my go-to-bed-at-2am lifestyle, 'mkay?)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Photo Lessons

We did it, we actually got away for a 3-day break to the "Sunshine" Coast, and I am sitting at my desk pretending that I am still not really returned, and therefore do not have to return calls just yet. The photos I took are part of my slideshow on the sidebar to the right- it was equally awesome and frustrating to pick up my beloved Digital Rebel again after a long hiatus. Awesome, because when you get a great shot, it really is a great shot: crisply focused, taken at the exact moment you wanted to capture and not, like, 2 seconds after, like on our crappy little HP digital. Frustrating, because the LCD screen is so small, sometimes you think you have the perfect shot and it's not until afterwards that you realize it was actually blurry. I made friends with my 50mm lens, which I'd always shunned before, and to be honest, I barely missed the zoom lenses I usually carry. But given my blurry-to-crisp ratio, I obviously need to get more practice in. I was that annoying person who dogs everyone at parties, snapping away. But since I hate to use a flash, it wasn't all that noticeable, and I'm realizing that if you just keep snapping away without drawing attention to yourself, people sort of forget you're taking pictures, which leads to some honest and un-"posed" shots.

Oh, and we had a sort of sugar and alcohol and carb binge that definitely lead to my pants feeling tighter today than they did last Thursday. It's really scary how fast you can fall off the wagon, and even scarier how quickly your failures can show up on your hips! Lesson learned. On the plus side, however, I went for two great runs, so all was not totally lost...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I did it! What? Survived the last month- pumpkin patch, Studio 58 rehearsals and all. Now it's the 9th of November already (how did that happen?) and of course I'm totally behind on my next project: writing music for Medea, the Greek tragedy I'm doing at UBC. It'll be interesting to see how these acting students stack up to the ones I just worked with, who were delightful. Even though I had doubts about my work at times, rehearsals with the 6 musicians in the show were always super-fun and as usual, I learned as much as I taught. Last night was the well-received opening night, and I can now start letting that show go and move on to the next. J and I are also taking off to the Sunshine Coast (faint hope of actual sunshine, though- it'll probably rain all the time) later this week for three delightful days- a much-deserved break.

Watching the show last night and breathing a sigh of relief as the music cues came and went, I realized that my biggest lesson learned on this show was that I am allowed to trust myself a little more. A friend sent me a wonderfully encouraging email last week, just as I was doubting myself, and I am going to remember her words and try not to get so knotted up about my abilities and my (often imagined) failures. I will try to learn to be both confident and still humble. We'll see how that works out for me in the months to come...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Getting Away With It.

Reading Alan Bennett's Writing Home for at least the 5th time. It's the perfect diary: a glimpse inside the life of a wonderful, understated and very funny writer. So modest ("I know so little that writing is like crossing a patch of swampy ground...trying not to get my feet wet or egg on my face"), and yet he never lets himself get away with his seeming modesty either: "...I prefer to be liked and thought a nice man. But I'm not. I'm just as bad as the rest of them, only I don't like to show it." An introvert, liking to lurk on the sidelines, happily morose. Hard on others, hardest on himself. I wonder what he would think of blogging (having published several volumes of his diaries for the world to read, he can hardly be too judgmental, one would think). He talks about a friend calling him to congratulate him on one of his plays, "...but really to congratulate you on getting away with it again." That's how I often feel when I've finished a project- as if I've dodged a bullet and somehow no one's guessed the truth: that I have no idea what I'm about. But I know that somewhere, someone knows, and it helps to keep me humble.

After a run-through at Studio 58, where some of my latest work will be performed in The Merchant of Venice; Kathryn Shaw, the head of the school, gives me notes and I quail as generations of actors have before her gimlet eyes. I feel as if I have squeezed in my work for that show between days at the Pumpkin Patch and various other chores, and it's not my best stuff. Watching Antony Holland direct and act (as Shylock) at the age of 88 is several lessons in itself: I was nearly moved to tears watching him in the run-thru. Approaching his nineties, he is spry, sharp as a tack, and has every line memorized: the stage manager only has to prompt him twice. For the first time yesterday I was truly aware of the honor of working with someone who is literally a living piece of theatre history. His delivery is simple, stripped down; none of the histrionics or mannerisms that sometimes characterize an actor of his generation. The meaning of every line is crystal clear. At 88 my grandmother was already sinking into dementia; this man can still recite Shakespeare, for god's sake. The lottery of aging is so random.

The curse of my kind of life: afraid of turning down work I accept it all... and then end up feeling resentful that my time is not my own, and scared that I'm not good enough at all these jobs I take on. A friend of mine blithely takes all kinds of jobs he knows next to nothing about and executes them competently enough because he has no doubts that he can pull them off. But I am more like Alan Bennett: knowing how little I know I can only wait until I am rumbled by someone who's onto me: congratulations on getting away with it again.