Monday, December 14, 2009

I think I keep this blog so I can remember what happened a year, 2 years ago. I read memoirs and biographies, and marvel at how sharply and how skillfully writers can bring distant memories and dialogue to life. While I, on the other hand, have to stop writing this and scratch my head for a moment and think what was I up to this time last December?

Oh yeah, I was right in the middle of Medea rehearsals. Okay, good. Brain's not totally fried yet. Although alcohol isn't helping. According to J, I turn into a goldfish when I drink, with a lousy 7-second memory that causes me to repeat stuff endlessly. Played some music at a private party on Friday, the drinks were flowing, and all I could do when I stumbled home was rhapsodize about the "melt-in-your-mouth" roast beef. Over and over. Poor guy has to listen to my slurred speeches about beef while mercifully, I forget all about it until he teases me the next morning. That can't be good.

This musician's life is a hard one, I'm telling ya. I'm caroling every other day, which is great in that we're performing at old people's homes and they love it. But it's killing my voice, which is both phlegmy and husky right now, an unattractive combination. And the band stuff is killing my liver, because my bandmates drink like fishes. Hey, I got a free trip to Montreal, though. Can't believe that's already over. I love that city. This time, the weather was perfection, I flew in two days before our concerts and I walked miles, soaking in the atmosphere of a city so unlike Vancouver. One day I basically walked for seven hours, with the odd stop for delicious meals along the way. St. Denis and St. Laurent. Vieux Montreal. Atwater and Jean Talon Markets. Outremont. I stumbled through conversations in my very basic French and wanted to move there immediately, become fluent, and spend my day in a haze of bagels, cafe-au-lait, and working the odd theatre or music gig alongside friendly and gorgeous Francophone men.
Much, much later...
I started writing this entry days ago, thinking I had loads of time to finish it, when lo, both computers in our little house were struck with what I can only assume is a machine version of Swine Flu, and screens were dark for the first time in... well, a long time. Mine is still refusing to switch on right now, so I'm typing this on J's MacBook Pro, which has a fried logic board. Which means that it's basically been lobotomized and can perform simple tasks like blogging and emails, but if J asks it to download video, it says duhhh and drool drips down the screen and then it shuts off. Merry Christmas, J! Guess what you're buying yourself for the holidays?
I'm so glad it still sort of works, though, because have you ever tried blogging on an iPod Touch? Not recommended.

It's been an intense few weeks, actually, and I'm still not sure how to blog about it. Huge feelings in my heart: fears and love and sadness and joy and confusion and despair and hope. Fall is always such a busy time for me, but all that work's ending, and it's hard not to get blue at all the No Mores in the air:
no more caroling (in a few days)
no more playing trumpet in the Winter Spectacular pit band
no more Winter's Tale
no more Redboot Quartet (at least for months)
no more awesome friend (off to a cooking gig for 2 months)
no more mom (also away on a job in the new year)

Into the void of the new year: fears and possibilities and maybe even some kind of re-birth. Or at least, a re-boot.

The friend who's leaving said to me in Montreal that she hoped I could learn to live my life all the time like I do onstage, by which she meant: big, fearless, powerful, confident. And it is just hitting me for the first time in my life, that not to live a fearless life would be the worst thing I could ever do to myself. It is so hard for me to live like that every day, to turn off those nagging voices of self-doubt and fear and criticism without being in an altered state or onstage. It is so hard to re-program your brain to stop sabotaging yourself.

Amanda, at Tumble Dry wrote so beautifully recently about how at some point, it is unforgivable to keep doing those bad things to yourself: eating that extra greedy bite, smoking, not taking the time to do the important things, - whatever your own personal failings are. It is unforgivable because we all owe ourselves more than that. Here's what I'm trying right now:
running every other day, rain or shine
accepting compliments gracefully, without self-deprecating excuses
eating less, and eating better
starting conversations with people I want to get to know
saying what would I do if I had no self-doubt? And then acting as if I didn't.

Right now I am so filled with sadness: the rain is pouring down for the 1000000th day in a row, I feel lost and worried and tired, so many things are ending... but inside there is a spark of hope: I can make changes. I can create new opportunities. I can learn to be fearless.
I have begun to make changes. It would be unforgivable to stop making changes.

This could be an amazing new year.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Owning It.

Last night I watched my show open, and it was a great show. People listened, and laughed, and the music all worked, and the cast were brilliant.

And at the reception I was thanked, and appreciated, and complimented, which felt amazing. People I'd hardly spoken to during rehearsals because I was too shy, too wrapped up in myself, came up and told me what a great job I'd done. I sat in a little room drinking gin and talking to people I really like and respect and felt totally accepted.

And it struck me, afterwards, how much time and effort I waste, waste, on being fearful. And scared. And shy. And self-doubting. And although I'd had such a good time during this process, it would have been so much better if I'd left those feelings behind me much, much earlier.

I'm not going to wallow in regrets about that now; I'm going to try and hold on to all those wonderful things I felt coming my way last night so that next time, next job, I can step into my role with pride and strength and know, right from the start, that it's going to be an interesting, challenging, fascinating journey. And that I am just the right person for the job.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On Getting Mad.

I knew it would have to happen. I watched a run-through of the show and they were ignoring things I'd asked them to do many times; being as sloppy and non-specific with the songs- my songs- as they were being precise with their lines. I adore them all, and I think they like me, but somewhere along the way I had lost their respect, and the music was suffering.

My boyfriend, a graduate of the same theatre school, was matter-of-fact. "Get angry with them," he told me. "I know how they think. They won't respect you unless you're tough with them. It's what they're used to." He was right (it's a fantastic, but very challenging theatre program, where the teachers' philosophy is to break you down and then build you back up.) and they deserved it. So why was it so hard? Why did the thought of having to give a hard-ass speech (much less harsh than anything they hear daily from their instructors) at the next day's rehearsal keep me tossing and turning that night? Why does anger, or the mere anticipation of it, tie my stomach in knots and make me weep?

I hate to play the old blame-my-parents card, but anger (healthy anger, that is) was always a tricky issue with us. We're English, for god's sake. We suppress. We stiffen those upper lips and swear, tightly, that nothing is wrong. None of us is very good at blowing our tops and moving on; we glower and sulk until prodded. I can't get angry without a million buzzing voices of self-doubt torturing me:
It must be my fault.
What right have I got to be angry about this?
If I show anger, I won't be loved/liked anymore.
If I get angry, I am a demanding bitch. I should be more accommodating.

I am a woman. I would be willing to bet that we have more anger issues, in general, than men do. And that for some reason- and no, I don't think my parents can take all the blame here- I cannot feel angry without getting so wound up that I cannot use it effectively. Assertively.

"Remember to breathe," my lover tells me, the night before I have to stand up to my cast. "If you feel tears coming on, breathe from below them." He gestures to my stomach, the centre, as my Akido sensei used to say, of my Qi. J has been assailed many times in the last decade by my highly-strung, ineffective rage, and so his words feel especially like a gift.

I go in to rehearsal and deliver a talk, so choked up that I can hardly get the words out. I don't cry, although my chest feels as though there are metal bands around it. I don't know if the lecture helped, but the next run-through is noticeably better. And I think they still like me.

Two days later I am still shaking my head at myself, and looking for solutions so that it will get easier the next time. And the next time. And the time after that. Solutions that are mental: detach, don't over-analyze. Solutions that are physical: centre, relax, and above all: breathe.

Even when you know deep-down that you need to change; and you're willing to make that change, it's always easier said than done, isn't it?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Hallows Eve

Every two weeks I sit in a small office and tell a gentle, motherly lady about my problems.

Which, the more I go, I realize just how lucky I am.

Not that I didn't know this already, but sometimes you forget, in the daily rush and press of life.

If nothing else comes of these sessions, at least I will come out of them knowing this: that the anticipation of events is what scares me; that I am strong and brave when it comes to actually doing things. I write down the things that scare me, and then I watch them crumble into dust when I face them head-on. A new job. A difficult person. Being broke. The future.

Right now, my mom is working with people who have been broken since they were kids. They are broken, and yet they build hope with what they have left to work with, and they carry on. They are lawbreakers, addicts, homeless, bipolar. In the shadow of their misfortunes I am speechless and grateful for the gifts I have: love, family, friends, work.

Tonight was the perfect Halloween night, as if all the planets had aligned: Saturday night, clear but slightly misty, and... (special bonus): Daylight Savings the next day. The streets were choked with freaks: bunnies, slutty nurses, witches, cowboys, monsters of all descriptions. The side streets echoed (and echo still) with firecrackers. It was as if the whole city had been saving up its zany party animal side for this one night. I threw off a long day of work, threw on some mad clothes I found in the dark corner of my closet, and headed out into the night to gulp red wine and eat too much sugar.

Too lucky to feel anything but happy on this night of spirits.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Meme of the Day

I've been a huge fan of SweetSalty Kate's for a couple of years now. In fact, it's fair to say that it was her blog that made me want to start writing again, and that led to the birth of East Van Chronicles. I started reading her blog when she was going through the most heartbreaking time imaginable, so to read about her triumphs and successes these days is truly wonderful.

Anyway, enough gushing. I've been kinda stuck lately on what to write about here, so I'm doing the following meme, courtesy of Kate's other blog. If you like it, paste it into your own blogs and do it too...
The Dread Crew Meme
1) You are facing an epic journey. You may choose one companion, one tool and one vehicle from any book or film to accompany you. Or just one of the three. It's up to you. What do you choose? Companion: Allan Breck Stuart from R.L. Stevenson's "Kidnapped" (he's brave, resourceful, and sexy to boot.)
Vehicle: The Giant Peach from "James & the Giant Peach" (Roald Dahl)
Tool: One Ring to Rule Them All, of course!

2) You can escape to the insides of any book. Where do you go, and why? Into any of Charles de Lint's Newford stories. I've wanted to love in his world (and specifically in his fictional city of Newford) ever since I first read "Memory & Dream". Folk musicians, good friends, artists, dreams, danger and lashings of magic. What's not to love?

3) You can bring one literary character into your current life. Who do you choose, and why? Rupert Campbell-Black, from Jilly Cooper's "Riders", "Rivals", etc series. He'd be impossible, but never, ever boring. Or Lord Peter Wimsey. Hmmm.

4) The War For the Oaks (Emma Bull) is my go-to book. I could read that book fifty-seven times in a row without a break for food or a pee and not be remotely bored. In fact I’ve already done that but it wasn’t fifty-seven times. It was sixty-four. In fact, the only book I have ever literally finished reading and begun to read again. Immediately.

5) Of all the literary or film characters that made an impression on you as a kid, who was the most enviable? George, of The Famous Five. She got to dress like a boy, had a dog, and solved mysteries with her 3 cousins all the time.

6) Of all the literary or film characters that made an impression on you as a kid, who was the most frightening? Pennywise the clown in Stephen King's "It". Slag him at your peril; that guy can write some truly terrifying stuff.

7) Every time I read The Bible, I see something in it that I haven’t seen before. Actually, I'm just kidding. I've still not read most of the Bible. But I have read "A Room With A View" about 1498 times, so I guess I'm still finding new stuff there.

8) It is imperative that The Eight be made into a movie. Now. I am already picketing Hollywood for this—but if they cast Angelina Jolie or Amy Adams as Catherine Velis, I will not be happy. I will, however, be appeased if they cast some plucky, talented lady I've never heard of.

9) The Power of One is a book that should never be made (or should have never been made) into a film.

10) After all these years, the scene in the book/movie "Jacob's Ladder" where Tim Robbins' face goes all blurry in the mirror still manages to give me the queebs.

11) After all these years, pretty much any scene in the book "Frenchman's Creek" by Daphne DuMaurier still manages to give me a thrill. Oh, and when Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy tells Elizabeth Bennett how much he "ardently admires and loves" her. Sigh.

12) If I could corner the author Robert James Waller, here’s what I’d say to them one minute or less about their book, The Bridges of Madison County: "Your book stunk. It had no redeeming features. As a bookseller, I was embarrassed to sell it; in fact I actively tried to prevent customers from buying it. It came out over 15 years ago but I still grit my teeth with rage when I think of how crappy your writing is." Actually, I'm way too polite to say that. But oh, how I wish I could.

13) The coolest non-fiction book I’ve ever read is The Size of the World. Every time I flip through it, it makes me want to pack it up, pack it in, and start traveling 'round the globe.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Ever have those days where nothing, absolutely nothing in the closet feels or looks right?

I think it's partly the changing of the seasons, especially the summer-to-fall transition. We had an especially hot summer, where basically going around naked, or as close to it as possible, was the only solution. Now Fall -and a job- is here, and I have to wear things again. Real things. Things that, you know, co-ordinate. And I'm looking at all the stuff in my closet and it looks bloody terrible. Worn-out or childish or ill-fitting or just plain what-was-I-thinking? Being someone who um, fluctuates in size (and taste) from time to time doesn't help either.

The bottom line: when my next cheque comes in, I need to stock up on some cheap-yet-professional looking clothes that flatter my curvy figure while not looking as if I'm wearing a sack. If nothing else, it'll be a nice change from my jeans/cowboyhat/neon orange sweatshirt I have to wear at the Pumpkin Patch. Now that's a flattering ensemble!

Monday, September 28, 2009


In an effort to avoid some composing work, I've tweaked my blog header a bit, thus wasting a good hour and a half! Inspired by the wonderful ladies at Shutter Sisters, who pointed me in the direction of a really fun Polaroid app, I've put up some of my favorite pictures of my 'hood, taken by moi over the past couple of years. Not only did I mess with the wonderful Rollip to create the faux-Polaroid look, I also had to download Picasa to create the collage effect. Do you like it?
*clears throat and waits anxiously for non-existent feedback*

Just think of all the useful things I'm learning while I'm avoiding doing the real work I should be doing! At this rate, I'll be a graphic designer before long...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lying Fallow.

The last few months have been quiet ones for me.
Not a lot of work- except for the part-time work in August, I haven't done a lot since the spring. I don't count gigs and band rehearsals, since they are barely paid and sporadic.
Not a lot of socializing- other than the Nova Scotia trip, we've kept to ourselves.
Not a lot of exercise, which I'm trying to change by starting to run again.

Every day I troll the internet, looking for work that I could live with, at least until the next theatre contract. I send emails into the ether: I am a composer, answering your job listing, here is my website and hear resounding silence. I email the director of my next theatre project: here are some sketches, when do we start and hear almost nothing back.

I am making this quiet time count for something. I cook and learn and cook some more. My eating- out bills have dropped. (Although my weight hasn't. Funny, that.) I have written some fine songs, songs I'm really proud of. I weigh my options and try to figure out where to go next.

But I feel a little bit like the Invisible Woman right now.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Online Journal... or Performance Art?

Had an interesting conversation with my mom today on the perils of blogging.

Mom's never read my blog. Not that I'd mind her reading it- I don't say that much about her here, and our relationship is very close. But we were talking about family, and relationships, and my dad, and my recent visit to see him. Which I had been considering blogging about here. But as I said to Mom tonight, " I wouldn't want him to read the stuff that I was going to write here. And if I don't want him to read it, then I shouldn't be writing it here."

I consider blogging to be a form of performance art. There is, in its public-ness, a "look at me" strut, an online airing of things that are maybe better left in the dark. It's a fine line. I want to be honest, to make this thing more than a banal listing of the Momentous Events of My Day. Jesus, if you want that, read my Twitter/Facebook blather:
  • Going out to see a play!
  • Making dinner right now- yum!
  • Listening to music!
Who cares?

And I get a thrill that you (whoever you are) read this, that friends and strangers (not many, but some) find these words in the vastness of the internet and spend some time with them, with me. I have no intention of making this blog private.

But today's conversation was a good wake-up call. I have not (yet) violated anyone's sense of privacy here. That I know of. I admit that I read blogs like this one and tune in eagerly for more. Blogs like that disclose so much. That's her choice. But it's not mine.

I will be honest here, but not at the expense of other people. I was lucky to wake up to this before someone got their feelings hurt.

J just asked me what I was blogging about. And so I told him, about the conversation with Mom, and the not writing really private stuff about people other than me and he was like, Duh. Because he's always found this blogging thing kind of weird. And because he knows that sometimes, it's all about him right here. Love ya, Babe.

Monday, September 7, 2009

He's Good. Maybe Too Good.

J is too good with the birthday/Christmas presents. I'm definitely going to have to step it up this year, especially in light of the fact that my Christmas present to him last year was... a dolly.
Nope, not this:
or this:
...but this:In my defense, he did actually want one. I mean, he asked for one and everything. But still, a dolly? Could I possibly have chosen a present with less romance?

Now that you've seen how bad my present was, let's see what J got me this year for my birthday. On the great day itself, I had the small matter of a trip back from an island, a cd release party, and a stinkin' head cold to take care of, so he saved my present until yesterday. I wanted a surprise, so he didn't tell me what it was. In fact, I didn't figure it out until we got off the skytrain yesterday and arrived here. Yes, in honour of my newly-sparked interest in cooking, he signed us both up for a Knife Skills course. And it was awesome! For over 2 hours, we learned to dice, mince and julienne... and we got to eat the fruits (veggies, actually) of our labour: a smoky bacon-and-clam chowder and a frisky Asian chicken stir-fry. I could get addicted to cooking classes. I mean, I know cooking's all popular and trendy right now, thanks to "Julie and Julia" and countless other bestseller books on the subject, but learning to cook really is fantastic.

But now the pressure is on. Christmas will be here before we know it, and J's birthday (and it's a big one this year) isn't far behind. And I'm gonna have to bring it. Help a girl get some inspiration, will ya?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You Can Learn A Lot About Someone From Looking at Their Google Search Bar:

What's on mine...
  • casseroles (cheap recipes)
  • facebook (haven't bookmarked it yet, although I'm on it everyday. Must be my ambivalence towards Crackbook)
  • helicopter parents (found a great site about "free-range parenting", which I'm a big fan of. Helicopter parents are so-named because they hover over-protectively over their young all the time.
  • end of six feet under (we've finally watched all 5 seasons. Now I'm gonna have to get a life again!)
  • david hasselhoff (don't ask)
  • jimena (seeing if the hurricane had wreaked much havoc in Baja yet)
  • pop music communist russia (upcoming theatre project)
  • smithsonian folk (ditto)

Monday, August 31, 2009


Thirty-five started with a bang.

Thirty-five so far has been: a cold in the head at the worst time, traveling to a lovely island to play music, double-accordion jamming on the ferry ride home, a cd release party in a blue taffeta dress watched by family and friends. It's been: getting to play in and play out my birthday, with gigs on either side of it, like a cushion. It's been sleepless nights and stuffy noses and hot sex and being broke and cakechipswinetequilashotsvodkawaterwaterwater.

I've packed more living into the past 48 hours than I often do in a week or more.

I want the whole year to feel like that.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why I love living on Commercial Drive: reason # 386

(overheard outside Mark's Pet Stop; said in a sexy European accent):
"Do you have anything for a really arrogant cat?"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Summer time is the perfect time to really taste life. Scent and taste are heightened by the heat: cheese left on the counter is runny and ripe, not rubbery and boring like it is is if it's straight from the fridge. In honour of this lovely summer day I am trying to savour things, not easy for someone like me, who tends to swallow food-and life- without really chewing sometimes.

Today I am relishing the creamy feel of good Brie on the back of my tongue (a decadent treat, thanks to a couple of babysitting gigs); the sharp bite of Gipsy salami, a hair-ruffling breeze as I walk home, the peace of my empty apartment which I have to myself this afternoon. One thing that hanging out with small children has reminded me: they live almost utterly in the moment.

Not a bad thing to try every once in a while.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Body, give me a break already!

Jane the cat was curled up in her cat-nest in the flower beds by the front door of our building as I returned from grocery shopping this afternoon. Old, half-blind, half-deaf and weighing all of about three pounds, she has taken to snuggling in my arms every time I pick her up after months of running from me as if I had the plague. Owned by one of the apartment's crazy cat ladies (there are quite a few), she'll probably end up as a tasty hors d'oevre for a passing coyote one of these days, but I hope not.
Cuddling Jane was the nicest part of a walk/grocery shop with a low point that included honestly feeling like I was going to pass out in the SuperValu, which would have been embarrassing to say the least. I still feel vaguely nauseous and wrung-out. I'm trying to figure out if my body is protesting:
  • the cleanse I'm on
  • the fact that I've quit taking the Pill for a while because I figured it was time to give my body a break and maybe this is causing some weirdness as my hormones re-align
  • That Time of the Month: the first post-Pill Curse
  • all of the above
I'm trying to turn over a new leaf, folks. Trying to focus on the positive, save my money and get healthy. So Body, cut me a break here! I need some energy, some pep to wake up with. Feeling like a limp french fry (white, slightly sweaty, limp) is NOT conducive to Getting Things Done, alright?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

point form is all I have the energy for right now.

  • Am halfway through a new (but temporary) job, which I thought I wouldn't like but actually I do. Suffice it to say that my child-wrangling skillz are slowly improving.
  • Fighting- I don't know what? Mild depression? Lethargy? Merely the onset of a cold/flu-like illness? Not sure. All I know is that it's hard to get out of bed right now (might be something to do with having to get out of bed so early these days!)
  • To counter-attack the lethargy and tendency to nest and hermit rather than go out, I am concentrating on improving my budgeting/banking skillz. Realize that I am starting basically from scratch in this area, which is depressing at almost 35. Did you know that I have never made and followed through on a budget? Ever?
  • I've started a new blog to chronicle my ongoing efforts to gain money and get fit. I'm not going to link to it. Yet. We'll see how it goes for a while. I may want that one to stay more anonymous. No names and locations are mentioned on that blog to protect the not-so-innocent (me) from being rumbled as Financially Foolish and Physically Flabby. Am excited to see if I can follow through on this self-improvement kick. For once.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm writing this by the harsh glow of the computer screen, staring hard at the keyboard to see letters through the gloom. It is 10:47am in my apartment and there is almost no light.

Why, you ask?

Because this week the sun is our enemy, coming as it does with heat that has shattered records all over BC, dryness that has sparked innumerable fires and forced us to flee inside from its burning rage. So there are blankets over the windows of our west-facing apartment, fans going full-tilt, fish floating sadly in a too-hot tank. I know how they feel.

When I got home from my tour (more on that later), J had put tinfoil in the windows to keep out the heat. My suburban middle-class what-will-the-neighbours-think hackles rose immediately. "I'm sorry, but I don't think I can live in a place with tinfoil on the windows," I whined. "It looks so awful." After a few more pleas, he sulkily removed it, and the heavy blankets went up instead.

We moved our social life into the bathroom last night: pool-less as we are, our tub was a decent substitute. A few candles 'round the sink, Latino music on the radio, a pitcher of Mojitos resting on the toilet... and the two of us- neither one a small person by any means- crammed naked in a cold-water bath together. Not a pretty picture but hey, needs must when it's thirty frickin' degrees outside!!! It's either that, or wear this stylish tinfoil hat to keep out the rays...
On a related note, the latest Redboot tour was short and sweet and really fun, although we had to cram a whole load of driving (15+ hours) into one day to get up north to our festival. A/C blasting, CBC on the radio, our bass player reading great chunks of a novel aloud to us to pass the time. Set a new record for the furthest north in BC I've ever travelled- Kispiox, we love you! And since it seems to be the day to post weird pictures of me, here's another one:

Lastly, I want to write about something that has haunted me every day for the past week, although it doesn't fit with the goofy tone of the rest of this entry. Last Thursday, some wonderful members of our theatre community lost their children in a horrific accident. Although J & I know them, have worked with them in the past, we don't know them very well and this is not my tragedy, so I'm not going to write much about it here. I will only say that the news hit me like a punch to the gut, and if it hit me like that, I can only imagine how their friends and family must feel. How they themselves feel, I don't even want to imagine. To witness the web of love and support for these people that has sprung up across the country has been amazing, and I can only add my prayers for strength and recovery to the hundreds of others.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On The Shore.

Being back on the North Shore is a trip, and I don't just mean that in the it-takes-one-hour-to-get-here sense, although that certainly applies too.

I mean it in the sense that I can walk up the hill from the house we're house-sitting, and stumble across the home of an old classmate of mine, a kid who once bought me my first bouquet of roses when I was in grade nine. His dad was-and still is- a taxidermist, and he was obviously a man who loved to take his work home. The lamps were made of, well, legs. There was a stuffed bear looming in a dark corner, and beavers and deer frolicked stiffly in various poses. It was the stuff of nightmares; no wonder that relationship never went anywhere, although I remember the roses fondly.

Around the corner from where we're staying is the house belonging to the father of my best high school friend. She married in Ireland, and had a second wedding at her dad's place. Now we've fallen out of touch, and walking past his place makes me feel nostalgic and sad. She has two kids now, and a stepson who must be a teenager. The last time we spoke, she sounded more Irish than Canadian.

Another short walk downhill is the house where my dad lived for a short time, with the woman he rebounded swiftly into a relationship with after my mom left. (sorry, that's bad grammar, but oh well) They had a giant dog, a Great Pyrenese, who had hip displasia because of her giant size. Dad and Misha would hobble down to William Griffin Park because, as Dad said, "We like to watch the skateboarders."

Bits of memories swirl around my neighbourhood like leaves; I reach out, and catch a memory in my hand with every walk I take.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Scotland, Old Stomping Ground: a photo essay

New Scotland is what Nova Scotia actually means, and Old Stomping Ground is what this was to J, who grew up in Cape Breton, though he wasn't actually born there (he doesn't really like people to know that he was born in... Regina! Sorry Babe, the secret's out...). It was my first time in Nova Scotia, and my 2nd time in the maritimes (I was in Newfoundland when I was nine).

We went there for the wedding of one of Js high school friends. Of course, everyone moves away from Nova Scotia once they hit about 20; they have to go to school, and find jobs, and you can't get jobs in NS, not many anyway. But J's friends have formed this loose but totally strong web that spans time and distance and very diverse lifestyles. They may only communicate via Facebook and the odd phone call most of the time, but when the chips are down, they're totally there for each other. In this case, that meant flying in from BC, and Calgary, and Ottawa to be at the wedding. I envy them this connectedness. Oh, and they may have lived Away for over half their lives, but never, ever doubt that they are Nova Scotians to the core.

So for J, it was a journey down Memory Lane, complete with drives past his old house, highschool, and oddly named fast food joints:

But for me it was a journey of discoveries and new things: Halifax (which I adored) and its British military heritage:

Fortress Louisbourg with its French military history

Travesties:and delights:

nautical sites,

harbour lights,
sailing on the Bras D'or Lakes
small towns:
and big cities, spooky after dark.
J reconnected with old friends and high-school sweethearts (no, that wasn't weird and she was totally nice)...

...but we had time alone together, too...All in all, it was the perfect vacation.

(except for the part where we were flying back home and hit some heavy turbulence and the plane hopped around in the sky like a giant metal frog for an hour and I am so motion-sensitive that I still felt as if I was in that bouncing plane hours later as I was sitting at the computer and I was terrified. The end.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

For me, Oatmeal was one of those things that I read about for years that was a fearful let-down when actually tasted. This was the "porridge" I'd been reading about for years? This mouth-burning, grey-brown... mush? I turned up my nose and quoth "nevermore".
Over the years, I've re-acquainted myself with it a few times. Week-long cleanses that involved eating whole grains in the morning, that sort of thing. An uneasy but cordial relationship. Most recently it made a cheap and healthy breakfast while I was on the Barkerville spring tour.

My sweetie's under doc's orders these days to get his cholesterol down, and what magic food does that, you may ask? Well, apparently oatmeal and cinnamon are both great, and as an added bonus, oats are supposed to help burn that hard-to-budge belly fat. So guess what yours truly is scarfing up for brekkie from now on? (Getting J to eat it may be harder, since he hates porridge, but I'm slowly converting to a fan of the stuff.)
Here's my secret:
  • Use good grains. For me, that means Red Mill brand grains. I use the 8-grain wheat-free variety, but I'm always open to recommendations...
  • Salt can make or break a bowl of oatmeal, say the old-timers, so I always add a pinch. Today's online opinion, however, seems to conclude that it is unnecessary.
  • Here's the clincher for me: I always add a generous serving of nuts, raisins and banana for flavour and texture. I like those items to be hot and cooked, so rather than adding them at the end I throw them in as the grains cook up. Sunflower seeds work well as the nut contingent.
  • Yesterday I was unable to find any, but when I next shop for food I will probably buy some raw hazelnuts to chop up and sprinkle on top of the oatmeal when it's done.
  • When it's all cooked up (about 7 minutes, yo. Quick!), I sprinkle cinnamon on top. Then I add a scoop of plain yoghurt and a squirt of honey or maple syrup. I will probably start putting fresh cherries on there as well, since this is the season. Tasty goodness!
I guess touring will often send you home with a renewed zeal for healthy living, since being on the road is seldom healthy in any way. Forget the nouveau rockstar "I'm travelling with my nanny, my yoga teacher, my therapist and my organic chef" scene. All four of the redboots crammed into a Volkswagon station wagon for 5 1/2 days. Competing for space in there were 2 amps, an accordion, a fiddle and a double bass! I am still in shock that we fit everything (and everyone) in. If we hadn't had a roof rack, we actually would not have succeeded. We relied on the kindness of family and friends for accommodation along the way, and boy, did they ever pull through for us! Amelia's Uncle Julian stocked the bar, fed us mountains of cheese, stayed up partying until 3am and cooked us giant greasy breakfasts for three of the 5 nights we were away. Russell's mom gave us fresh fruit and sleep when our bodies needed it most. And we had a crazy dance party at my friend Betty's house in Duncan, complete with wine and cheesecake. So as you can see, we were treated like kings, but like kings who have iron constitutions. Copious amounts of liquor, late nights, cheese and grease can take their toll. You can see pictures of us performing and cavorting here.

So anyway, this week/month/rest of my life is about clean living. Oh, and apparently it's also about adjusting to the fact that while I was away, plumbers re-directed our plumbing so that all the taps in the bathroom have been reversed. Hot is now cold and vice versa. Yes- wait for it- even in the toilet. You haven't lived until you've felt your bum warmed as you... nevermind. I don't know who they're hiring for this job, but I suspect they're discount plumbers. Thank god we're off to house-sit in North Van at the end of the week. We'll be living it up over there for a month while the plumbers bugger everything up back home.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Girl with squeezebox.This is what serendipity looks like. A few weekends ago, Amelia and I were busking at the ferry terminal on the sunshine coast. Correction: we tried to busk, but B.C. Ferries doesn't allow musicians to make money on their property (boats or land). So we were "practicing". With a violin case "coincidentally" open in front of us.
When the ferry pulled in, we headed back to our car; a lady called to me from her car as we passed. She asked me if I was looking for a new accordion. "My dad just passed away- he played accordion all his life. No one else in the family plays and I want them to go to a good home."
I said I was always on the lookout for new accordions; she took my number and said she'd call when she actually had the instruments in her possession. I didn't think she'd remember.

Yesterday she called out of the blue, said she had one of the boxes with her and would I like to have it? Today she dropped by and gave it to me. I played her a quick tune (it's a fine accordion, a welcome addition to my collection) and she had to run off to pick up her young son.

Lori-Ann, thank you for your gift. Not only for giving a complete stranger an expensive instrument, but for passing on something that your father John loved so much. It will indeed have a good home with me. I promise I'll send you pictures of your dad's squeezebox being played in many places. It may have a hard life with me (my accordions all end up being held together with duct tape), but it will be truly loved.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Boy, do I love me some Honey Nut Cheerios. J bought me a box yesterday, and I have to confess that when I went to pour myself a bowl this morning... most of them were gone. That's right, because my menu for yesterday went something like this:
  • bowl of cereal
  • bowl of cereal
  • bowl of cereal
  • bowl of cereal
  • bowl of cereal
  • salmon, salad & rice (see? I know how to eat nutritiously)
  • m+m's
  • warmed-over Chinese food leftovers (oh well, there was one healthy thing somewhere on today's menu)
  • bowl of cereal
I kid you not, that was exactly what I ate yesterday, give or take one or two bowls of cereal. Do you ever have days like that, or is that just me?

I claim mitigating factors, though: I had been scared and stressed the day before by the sight of my loved one inexplicably doing the Mashed Potato on our floor (update: he finally got a doctor that took this seriously: he had blood tests yesterday and he'll see a neurologist next week. Now we wait and hope that someone can figure out why this happens to him every year or so. Oh, and he can't drive until they figure it out. AND-wait for it- we just got the car fixed. Life, eh?), and I woke up yesterday feeling all dizzy and sickly. I know- what the hell is going on in this house? In fact, I began to wonder if that was exactly it: was it, in fact, the apartment that was making us feel weird? Yesterday night, after a record day of doing almost nothing (hey, it's hard to do stuff when you feel as if you were riding an amusement park ride or drinking too much all day. I had to take some anti-nausea pills just to start actually moving) I attacked the bathroom and kitchen with a vengeance. Dirt, be gone! Mold, stop growing!

If you Google "Mold" online, you can read a truly horrifying litany of all the things it can do to your health- and yes, seizures and dizziness are both on there. Now I'd be very surprised if mold was making us sick, since we are well almost all the time. But it was a good wake-up call, and our place is cleaner this morning because of it.

This is a weird post. I have some other ideas brewing; I want to write more about the concept of being "grown-up" (which includes cleaning your apartment and bugging the building manager to do some maintenance, already, and paying taxes, etc. etc). And I want to write about how an otherwise sensible woman can run 10km and spurn cigarettes, but still not manage to lose weight. And other cheerful stuff. But today I have to get ready for the big Redboot tour of Vancouver Island: practice, publicity, etc.

I want to leave you with a story of optimism, to balance out the health worries and navel-gazing that go on around here:
My friend Russ plays the double bass; we've played together for years and he's good. We'll get somewhere, and he'll just set up camp in the corner and practice quietly for ages- he doesn't show off, doesn't spout on about how music is his life, blahblahblah, he just does it, and gets better and better.
Anyway, his expensive Czech bass got stolen out of his car the other night- at his house, in his carport, and we all thought: end of story. You can file the police report, tour the pawn shops, but you'll never see it again.
Well, here's an excerpt from an email I got from Russ today: "I am really happy to say that my bass did turn up tonight from a teenager who said he 'found' it in the park. I didn't give the guy a hard time, I am just glad he brought it back."
God knows what really happened, but isn't that great?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

He was on the phone, and then suddenly, he was on the floor.

I heard a thud from the other room- the wind blew our screens over again, grrr- and called out to him: "was that the screens again?" No answer, just more thudding, so I ran over to his desk and he was on the floor, facedown in an uncomfortable position, twitching and making noise. Just a few seconds of fear before he came back to me, confused and sore, bleeding where he'd bashed his lip and nose in his fall.

My brother's dog had his annual seizure a few weeks ago, and it must be in the air because today J had his, although it's been over a year since the last one and we'd hoped like hell they'd gone away to wherever inexplicable brain weirdnesses go when they're not terrifying us.

He looks as if I hauled off and punched him one- swollen lip and nose, one side of his face red and scraped. And so the fears start again: what will he do to himself the next time? Where will he be? What if, god forbid, he's driving when it happens?
He's at the doctor, with strict instructions from me not to come home without a referral to a specialist. I'm still shaken.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Get a Job.

The sun, she is beating down as if it's August, already. We're having to take cover in our little suite; shutting the blinds, blasting the fan, keeping the light off in the fishtank to keep its temperature down. At nights, I run a cool bath and soak in my own "tank" for a few minutes; go to bed still dripping with cold bathwater so as to dry off slowly and coolly under the sheet.

I am sporting a fine tan already, even though I slather on the sunscreen. My calf muscles are tight and firm from running. I am relaxed; buying plants, cleaning the apartment, loving the outdoors.
And I am jobless and living off my savings, again.

Having just re-read some of Anne Cameron's muscular Westcoast fiction (anyone tried her? I like it, but it's often pretty depressing), I feel slightly guilty. Guilty in an artsy-fartsy, work-when-I-feel-like-it, live-for-today kinda way.
The fact is, if it weren't for the money my granny left me, I couldn't relax like this. I'd be scouring Craigslist for another low-paying retail gig for the summer. What she left me paid for an online course, a computer program I needed, a few other things. But the rest is being used as I vowed it wouldn't be: groceries, rent, life.
I don't owe much and I don't have dependents. Therefore my life is my own, and if I want to have a lazy summer, so be it. I have time to do publicity for the upcoming Redboot tour (and I've been doing tons), to practice my instruments, to make my place look decent. These are all good things. I can leave on tour, fly to the east coast for a week, have band practice without having to beg for time off from a job that doesn't pay enough anyway.

But there's a little voice that says make the most of this. Make it count. If you have no job, then make sure you're doing the tings you want and need to do. Don't waste this by sleeping in, by getting flabby, by not going to parks and on hikes whenever you can.

I intend to listen to that voice as much as possible.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Slow Down.

So there I was, rockin' the running and the workouts, when...
A new shoe, worn too soon with bare feet, rubbed a great big hole in my left heel. No shoes with backs of any sort for a while.
A sore throat and general lassitude, together with our sudden heatwave has put a damper on the exercising for a while. I won't stop, though; I miss it way too much. But resting my sore foot and sleeping in again for a few days won't kill me, either.
My last contract is done, done, done! "Sparrows" closed yesterday afternoon, after a short but successful run at the Surrey Children's Festival. I'll really miss it, and the fact is that the rest of the summer (who am I kidding? The rest of my life, right now) is jobless, which is always scary. The downside of contract work. The upside is that it's only the end of May, but I already have this fabulous tan!

There are some wonderful things, though. We visited J's mother, who is, finally, properly on the mend from the heart surgery, and is a delight to behold: already thinner, fitter and more positive than I've ever seen her.
And although I'm usually the last person to know about, or enjoy, "indie rock", these guys caught my attention a few days ago and haven't let go. Honestly, go check out this video. It's the best summery, shimmery song I've heard in ages.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dear Thighs,
I'm sorry we got to this point in our relationship. It's ironic that you're the ones who are suffering now, because I've never had any problem with your size and shape. (The Stomach, on the other hand, is definitely in my bad books.)
First, you felt the burn when I started running, lo these many years ago now. But I have to say, you adapted splendidly when I showed no sign of stopping, and now you only punish me when I run again for the first time after too many days of slug-itude. You've done incredibly well as I get into a new training regimen that just may culminate in my running 21 kilometres, if I survive.

But Thighs, this fitness Bootcamp thingy I've been doing this week? The 45-minute torture session of hops and lunges and sprints and pushups and the dreaded (and dreadfully named) Burpees? The sessions that leave you (and me) barely able to hobble up the stairs? Well, take comfort in the fact that it was practically a freebie, and there's no way I can justify the indulgence of regularly-priced bi-weekly sessions with this guy.
But be warned: I may take some of his lessons to heart and spring 'em on you when you least expect it. There's nothing wrong with my memory, although my legs may be barely functioning.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's been a busy week. I've been wanting to post more, but life got in the way. Which it should. After all, when a talk on costume design has your boyfriend researching this , you might be inspired to suddenly buy this Art Deco floor model General Electric radio:
And then you may just want to sit around and take in its awesome beauty all day. (Nope, it doesn't work, which is how we were able to afford it. But it has all its parts, so we might get it fixed at some point. Or it will be turned into a giant iPod player. Or just a great big lamp stand, which is what it is now.)

And who has time to blog when the weather is so warm and sunny that you're running every day? (About 10 pounds lost so far, folks. booyah.)

And when you're opening this show tomorrow morning, life gets interesting. And fun.

And then you're heading off to here for a quick visit, and then back to town for more shows... well, that would keep anyone from the computer!

*mother-in-law is healing nicely post-surgery and Boyfriend has been a superstar; looking after her, driving to rehearsals and shows, and staying overnight with Mom so that everyone has better peace of mind. What a guy.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Latest

Good stuff and not-so-good stuff, all rolling around in the mix, like always.

Good stuff:
The Redboot Quartet album is recorded, mixed and mastered! Or, as I should say, Liquor For Thieves is almost ready for sale. That's what we're calling it; don't ask what it means because we don't know, we just liked the phrase. And we all like liquor, so it seemed to fit. Two days, twelve tracks, 1 day to mix and master it. We managed to pull off a pretty skillful album in a tiny amount of time with very little rehearsal, and I'm particularly happy with my playing, which I think is some of the best I've ever done. It's a rush job, but I love the sound. Stay tuned for news on touring and the cd release party we're dying to have!

I'm drinking tons of water, losing weight, and eating my veggies and other low-carb things again. A recently rediscovered friend from highschool is my "buddy" in this, which has been helpful. Also running quite regularly, helped by the fantastic weather we've been having.

Not working a lot, which is financially worrying, but it's great to have some extra time to myself. Yesterday I was able to go for a run, then sit in the park just watching life go by (which I almost never do, and it's so relaxing), and then stroll all the way down the Drive. Very good for the soul, especially in light of the

Not-So-Good Stuff:
Seems to be the era of Worrying About Our Mothers. Our divorced, alone-in-the-world mothers. At least mine is incredibly healthy and active for her age; hell, for any age. And has a strong network of friends and some family. But she needs to find somewhere to live- to own somewhere, not rent- and I don't know what she'll be able to buy with her share of the proceeds once she splits them with her sister in the UK. Who co-owns her condo. And with whom my mother is no longer on speaking terms. What a tangled web. Why does she have to move? Long story. But she does.
And J's mom is recovering post-bypass, but is suffering from balance and memory loss. Which seems to be fairly common after heart surgery, if the internet is to be believed. The question being whether or not she'll bounce back (some do) or not (some don't) to her pre-surgery sharpness. It's starting to sink in that the road to recovery will be long and that J will shoulder almost all of the burden, as she has no other family here, and no friends, and although J's dad will help somewhat, he'll push her buttons almost more than he helps.
I'm trying to help; cooking meals to be frozen so that J and his mom can eat easily once she's out of hospital, visiting when I can. There's this selfish monster in me that's already crying "this isn't fair! What if things get worse? Is this the beginning of much harder times?" The problem is that we've been lucky so far, and have so few responsibilities, and now we have to man up and deal with this. I know there are so many heavier burdens, and I'm not proud of my selfishness, but it's there nonetheless.

As always it's a question of finding balance, looking for the sunlight through the clouds, and growing up a little bit. All around us these days are signs that time is speeding by so fast: friends' children are getting big, we watch Jim Carrey in a movie and marvel: "He's looking old!" A stepmother's ashes are scattered, a father mourns and a mother has an operation. The thing to cling to through this is that there is so much living left to do, and to see this all as a relentless downhill slide to the grave is silly. Now to put these good thoughts into action...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today I learned what a wuss I am about hospitals.
Today we woke up at 6:20am because J's mom's open heart surgery got bumped up to 9am. She didn't even know she was getting surgery until 2 days ago. She went into the hospital for exploratory surgery, and-surprise!- when she comes out of the OR today she will have had a triple or quadruple bypass instead. These guys don't mess around.
This morning we sat with her for 2 hours until they loaded her onto a gurney and moved her into pre-op. Where I got to meet the surgeon who'll hopefully make her life a lot better. (He was younger than J, clutching his morning Tim Horton's coffee as he said hello.)
Everyone was friendly, sympathetic and competent. I have every faith that they will do stellar work on her. But watching her get wheeled away, looking so much like her son, my heart (luckily so strong and healthy) skipped a beat. I know I've said this before, but I've been so lucky, and my family has been so healthy, that hospitals are almost an unknown world (which is weird, because my brother works in one. But you just don't drop into the Adult Psych ward for a casual visit.)
Here's hoping we won't get to know hospitals any better in the next little while. And that my mom-in-law gets out of this one ASAP.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Cleaning 2

I guess I had a post called Spring Cleaning last year, because as soon as I started typing that into the Title bar, the words popped up! Not an uncommon title this time of year...

Here I sit, smelling not unpleasantly of Heat Rub (as if someone had spilled Wintergreen toothpaste all over my legs) and basking in a glow of accomplishment. It has been a couple of weeks of rest, self-examination and growth since I got back from touring: hammering out new terms and new goals, both alone and with J. Sometimes examining your life under a microscope is not easy, but usually the end results are worth it. I can honestly say that I am happier right now than I have been in a long time.

And... best yet, I did my first Vancouver Sun Run today, and finished one hour, two minutes and seventeen seconds after I (finally) passed the start line! Having my brother running at about the same speed really kept my competitive fires burning. I surprised both him, and myself!

Must go and shower before rehearsal.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Tour: better late than never...

Things about touring:

You will feel like this at first. Especially if your first venue is the Chilliwack Humdinger RV Show. You may wonder what you've gotten yourself into. Three 30-minute shows a day for people who, well, buy RVs.

2) You will eat a lot of food and most of it will be bad for you. This is a side effect of being in a van with 4 energetic man-boys who are over 10 years younger than you and metabolize way faster than you ever did. Skittles, 7-11 Taquitos, chips, Mike 'n Ikes', burgers as big as your head...

3) Your view a lot of the time will be this:

Five people in a large white van; each staking out their own nest within. You will buy fuzzy slippers and a blankey for the long drives. A power adaptor that plugs into the cigarette lighter so that you can use your laptop whenever. You will bring and buy movies but never use them because you don't want to miss any of the jokes and conversation floating around you. Why touring with boys is good: silly in-jokes, lots of laughs, adaptability, Meat Loaf on the iPod, random goofiness. Why touring with boys is bad: sweaty foot smell, nonstop junk food, messiness, FARTING!!!

4) You get to curl your hair EVERY DAY!!! And wear a fake hairpiece!!! Green eyeshadow!!! FEATHERS!!! You haven't felt this girly since grad.

5) The world narrows to a sharp, small focus: Hotel, Van, Theatre/Community Arts Centre/Legion/wherever you're performing that night, trailer (to unload and load all the gear and costumes), backstage, Van, Hotel.

6) You are reminded anew what an amazing place you live in. Even in the dead of winter there is beauty. And history. You'll see mountains, moose, snow, rivers,

7) And best of all, there are new friends to be had, good shows performed and hundreds of kilometres travelled.

Big thanks to Richard & Amy of Theatre Royal in Barkerville, BC for being great bosses/fellow cast-members. And to Aaron, Elliott, Thomas and Marcello for being awesome van-buddies, cast-members and new friends. My earlier post was totally wrong: I spent almost no time alone on this tour and I had tons of fun!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Scattering the Ashes

this is how it ends
we chose this weekend: family and friends
long flat sands, tidal pools, the rain stopping just in time.
real life makes our ritual short and our hearts lighter: our dogs chase and bark, your grandchildren splash and play nearby
we remember you with tears and smiles, with messages scribbled on balloons to let fly into the grey skies, with tulips and daffodils scattered with your ashes
all that's left
let time do its work
let the tide do its work
and carry you to the sea

we scattered my stepmom's ashes today at the beach she loved: her family from the east and her step-family in Vancouver, friends from several towns, dogs and children.
what she would have loved: that we are all together this weekend; that I went with her grand-children to the Aquarium yesterday; that 8 of us sat in a Yaletown restaurant last night and ate, drank and laughed hugely (and racked up the most epic bill I've
ever seen); that tomorrow we'll have Easter brunch and drink a toast to her.
Rest in Peace, June

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tour Lag

I'm back. And all my body wants to do is sleeeep. Feels like jet lag, although no time zones were crossed. I'd love to share more with y'all, but Telus has let us down (again) and our internet is dead, dead, dead. So I'm hammering this out at an internet cafe, and hoping that soon, the internets will be back up at our place. Had a great time, though. The best. Surprisingly. I'll tell you all about it soon...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Boys Are Smelly.

We have left RV Land and are officially On The Road. I ride in a large white van with 4 boys (I can call them boys because they are all younger than me), We all get along well, but the van smells of sweaty socks and, occasionally, farts. Some of the sock smell can be attributed to me, though.

Today is our first day off and we are spending it in Kamloops, so I'm having flashbacks to the Train Show I worked on up here last spring. I have had a little orgy of shopping: a new suitcase, a fleecy blanky for our long van rides, fuzzy slippers (ditto) and glorious books! Kamloops has a wonderful used book store I'd like to give props to as it gives me great pleasure every time I come here: At Second Glance Books, you rock. I got 2 novels, and a memoir of 2 stewardesses in the swingin' sixties called Coffee, Tea or Me- how could I resist? I also jogged today and walked miles, so sitting and blogging for a while feels lovely. My favorite Japanese restaurant in the world is closed today (sigh) but I will make do with another one and so avoid McDonald's , which I went to in despair last night because nothing else was open.

Touring is limbo. You don't have to make the bed, cook dinner (or breakfast or lunch), or do anything other than your one job (performing) and travelling. I know that I have other work to do, but it is so easy and seductive to be lulled into indulging myself and for now, I'm going to go with it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

On Tour. Again.

Touring gets harder when you're older. That is, unless you've graduated to the private jet, or the incredible tour bus that sleeps 15. I haven't.
I get to sing my heart out at the Chilliwack Humdinger R.V. Show. Come and watch me die a little three times a day!!!
Well, at least if things get really bad, it's Sunday tomorrow, so I can go pray here:
Yes folks, that trailer really does say Transport For Christ on it.

I'm feeling a little bloated right now, so I'm drinking over 2 litres of water a day to flush out my system and stay healthy. It seems to have worked, because a cold that I got on Tuesday has already almost gone. However the abundance of truck-stop, gas station, food court and Tim Horton's food is definitely not so good for the waistline. Yesterday I went to Safeway and bought every non-perishable healthy food item I could think of (no fridge, you see): healthy powdered soups, those rye crackers that taste like cardboard, an avocado, smoked oysters, tahini, oatmeal...
Today I sat on our stage at the RV show food court and watched everyone in sight devour burgers while I spread avocado bits and tahini on a cracker and ate the lunch of the virtuous.
We have one more day at the RV show, then it's off through the mountains and on the road for real. I get along well with everyone in the cast, but I can still see that I'll be spending quite a bit of time alone for the next few weeks. Actually, it's kind of restful. And at least our current hotel has a pool, hot tub and sauna. Might as well enjoy that while it lasts...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Things About Toronto

  • You will get tear-y at the sight of Lake Ontario and the CN Toronto. Although that may be because you only got 4 hours of sleep before your 7 am flight.
  • In Vancouver, we have mountains to tell us where we are. In Toronto it's the CN Tower, the only building you can see from anywhere.
  • You will have totally forgotten that Toronto is totally made of red brick: all of it. This is not a memory that you kept in the 15 years since you were last there, but it's true. Vancouver is wood and stucco and things that bend in our damp, earthquake-y setting. Toronto is old and unbending. Things may crumble, but they will never rot. Even your old house is red brick. And the hospital where you were born.
  • Downtown is pretty different. So are some of the things about your old neighbourhood. But certain things will tug at your memory: The smell of the subway- metallic heaviness in the back of your throat; the bustle of St. Lawrence Market on a Saturday morning; a park across the road from a family friend's house; the "Inglis" sign near the Gardiner Expressway; the buildings at Ontario Place. These are the things that make your heart beat faster after all these years, even though all your friends and family have moved away from your birthplace.
  • Well, not all your friends. Some family friends remain, and after a few glasses of wine, they'll give your mother a huge hug, because sometimes old friends are the best kind.
  • Oh yeah, and although you won't be able to stay for Opening Night (well, technically it's Opening Matinee), it's pretty freakin' cool to have a show that you wrote the music for onstage at the very first theatre you ever went to as a kid. "The Emperor's New Threads" is currently at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People (formerly Young People's Theatre). Too bad it's acronym is... LiKTYP. Hmmm.
*I'm going on tour for a few weeks with Newman & Wright Theatre from Barkerville. We'll be traveling to Chilliwack, Dawson Creek, Hazelton, Chetwynd and... well you get it. Not exactly glam, but hey, I get to sing music hall songs and even dance a bit. I'll be bringing my laptop, so I'll try and post some stuff soon. ta-ta!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

(touching wood frantically)
The illnesses of this winter have somehow passed me by. Other than a scary cold/chest thing right around the time "Medea" opened, I've been fit as a fiddle, and feeling very lucky. I guess the no-kids thing has helped, since I'm not exposed daily to the little germ factories. In fact, since "Medea" closed, I've not had any steady full-time work, which means the coffers are low, but I'm not exposed to phlegmy, croaky, snotty people very often, either. I know I've said this before, but after the blahs of last winter, where I lived in a depressed, wheezy, hacking-cough world for months, this bouncing health feels like a gift indeed.
A gift that our almost-daily sunshine adds to, especially as it positively makes me long to get outside and go for a run. And since I recently signed up for the 10-k Sun Run in April, a daily run is much needed.

Tomorrow I fly to Toronto for a whirlwind two-fold visit: my birthplace, and my mom, who's been away from home for many months now. By the time she gets home in early April, she will have been away for the better part of six months, and I think she's ready to stop touring, already. Hopefully the sun will shine in Toronto, and we'll explore the places we used to visit when I was a little girl: St. Lawrence Market, Harbourfront, Ontario Place, Chinatown... I can't wait.

I feel as though I've stepped through a bit of a doorway in the last few days; I don't know if it's related to the sudden upswing in exercise, or just all the sun that's pouring in, but I feel more present, more in the moment and able to embrace and enjoy what is happening now rather than pining for/worrying about what may come all the time. I had a fabulous recording session with one band the other day that got my more fired up about playing music than I had felt in a long time. Two other bands are starting to develop in new and exciting ways.

Tomorrow I'll clench my teeth and brave 5 hours in a plane. Wish me a smooth flight!

Friday, March 6, 2009

thoughts that were a lot more coherent in my head than they appear here.

We sat around a table at Stella's last night- my family- drinking exquisite overpriced Belgian beer and getting happily sozzled together: me, Jon, my brother, sister-in-law, and my Dad, in town on business. Work has been an escape for him in the last couple of months since my stepmom died. The companies he works for have money to burn before the end of the fiscal year so he jets off to Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, and there must be some relief in not rattling around in a house that was large for two people and now houses only one.

I feel guilty that my life hasn't changed more since June's death. That I could say oh god that's tragic and still go on with things as before seems horrible; not because it lacks respect for the dead but because I can't make more room in my life for my father now that he's alone. In another ideal universe I give up work and move in with him and we break through the awkward pauses and find a new closeness in our shared grief.
But it's not like that. I simply can't stop working; every job and every dollar is essential. And if I'm more honest, I didn't want to, not really. I love my dad, and we like each other too, but it's not easy, not the way it is with my mom. We don't have a shared vocabulary.

So we did what we could last night: we got expensively tipsy together and had some laughs and maybe it wasn't much but at least we all enjoy being in the same room together, and if we need a few beers to make conversation flow a bit more smoothly well, that's what beer's for, right?

And it gets me thinking, especially in light of a few blog posts I've read recently on the whole moms-versus-nonmoms debate in the blogosphere. You know, the one where some moms are saying well you just don't get it 'til you've had kids I mean I'm way more of a woman than you'll ever be and the childless are saying don't give me that crap and if you complain about being sleep-deprived one more time I'll... Both "sides" feeling cranky and judged. I love shit like this. I love wading through the posts and the endless commentary, agreeing and disagreeing with various writers. I read a lot of "mom" blogs like a voyeur who peeks into a noisy dark room and takes it in hungrily then says that was... interesting. I don't want to live there, ever. But maybe I could visit again sometime?

Here's what I think: I think choosing to have OR not to have kids is an inherently selfish decision. I mean, I didn't choose not to have kids because the planet is overcrowded (although it is), or because I was afraid I wouldn't be a good enough mom (also true). I choose to be childless because my love of travel, sleeping in and playing music far outweighs any desire I have to breed. And you parents, you didn't have kids because they might discover a cure for cancer (they most likely won't, you know) or create world peace (ditto). You had them because you wanted someone new to love, or to save your marriage, or because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

But getting back to family (see, I'll tie this all together eventually). You may have kids and they'll have kids and you'll all sit together at a table one day and drink beer and act like a clan of some sort. Or you may have a brood but you all hate each other or live halfway around the world and never see each other. Or you may choose, like my brother and I, to live a life without kids. To bring our branch of the family to an end. Which means that if (god forbid) I'm widowed one day, there may be no one to have dinner with.
When I'm old, who'll be at the table- so to speak- with me?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Lying in bed the other morning, I had a thought. (I'm actually doing less lying-in these days, and getting up early and boy, does it feel good.)

My thought went something like this: remember a while ago, you were complaining to J that all your girl-friends moved away? That you didn't belong to a tribe of women like the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? (Okay, they were actually a wee bit dysfunctional and weird, but still.) Well, that complaint hasn't come up lately.

I'm realizing that I do have a tribe, and I am trying to do my bit to keep our bonds strong, even when work and distance threaten to break us up. The phone rings, and it's my amazing mother, calling from across the country with her news and her love. Sixty-something (I can't divulge her age- she'd kill me) and touring our huge country in a battered red van with a bunch of actors. I Facebook someone I graduated from high school with, and suddenly we're walking down the Drive, and I'm meeting her little son for the first time and all the years in between grad and now melt away and we find friendship in the new and the old. I'm catching up with an ex-bandmate at a party, and wondering why we haven't talked in over a year because we have lots to talk about. I'm getting drunk with my sister-in-law. I'm gossiping with a girlfriend I've known since I was a teen, talking kids and theatre and Life. I'm playing music with another one, grinning madly as our 2 instruments make one voice.

My tribe is out there, and it nourishes me every day. It just took me a while to realize that.

Friday, February 20, 2009


It never lets you settle, this life. I've probably blogged before about how conflicted I feel about my lifestyle; on one hand there there is glorious freedom, a flexible schedule, the ability to say why, I believe I'll just fly East this week without having to check in with a supervisor or booking time off months in advance. On the other hand, there is the not knowing: the new jobs that require a new set of skills or a new twist on old ones; a first-day-of-school feeling every month at least. Not to mention the financial instability: the fact that without a gift of money from a dead relative, you wouldn't be flying anywhere, ever, because you couldn't afford to.

I feel as if I'm wriggling around in a chrysalis right now, hoping that the me that will emerge later will be a better person, fighting against the uncertainty and insecurity and hormones that make me irritable and snappy. There have been wonderful little gigs lately; the kind that remind me why I'm living this life which is not, after all, about money and fame but about the deep joy it brings me between all those moments of self-doubt and fear. Singing in a small cafe with good friends both on stage and in the audience. Helping 2 "at-risk"teenagers record their songs and being rewarded with joy from these girls who have been through more than I can even imagine. These and other events have been timely lessons about putting aside ego and finding the good stuff. I think I also need to make some health changes as well, so that my body is less tired, better nourished (less large?). We have also been blessed with a stretch of incredibly good weather lately, and I need to start taking advantage of that and getting outside!

It's almost spring here on the West Coast (take that, eastern Canada!) As good a time as any to cast off the old, bad things and embrace the new.

(I know, my 2.8 readers, I promised a steamy sex post last time, and I failed to deliver. J has been sick basically all month, so our usually romantic month of Valentine's Day and anniversary was a pretty subdued affair: a rose or 2 for V-Day, a quiet dinner-no alcohol for J because of antibiotics- on our anniversary. Let's just say that this year marks 11 years with this remarkable man, and we continue to find out new things about each other and make each other laugh. "Eleven years," Jon said to me the other day. "We could have had a tween by now!" And I freaked out, just a little, to realize that he's right.)