Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Name

December 23 – New Name

Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

Um, this one's kind of weird. I like my name. Mostly I get called by my full name, which is Alison. But I also get a lot of Al, a few Allies, some A.J's and the Redboot Quartet calls me Al-J. I like all the permutations of my name, really.
The only other name I can think of is Miranda, which my mom was totally going to call me but then she forgot when they brought her the birth certificate to fill out so then she went with Alison. I think Miranda is kind of a sassy, take-charge kind of girl. But then I might get called "Randy" or even worse, "Randi", so maybe I lucked out there.
My name is who I am; I don't think I'd change it, even if I could.

Travel/Future Self

Oops- missed a day. Here are two for the price of one:
December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)

December 22 – Travel How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? (Author: Tara Hunt) {Future Tool: New Year’s Goal Questions for No-Goals Creatives from Jeffrey Davis. For the next 10 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you [...]

Future Self, writing in the year 2016...
Dear Me,
If you do these simple things, the next 5 years will be so much better:
Focus on the good stuff; learn to let the bad things go instead of obsessing so much.
Save some money. Ask yourself if you REALLY need that coffee, that chocolate bar, that sweater.
Build on good habits like getting up early and hitting the gym. Don't give up just because you had a minor setback.
Look for work; don't wait for it to come to you. Create work opportunities. Be creative.
Assert yourself. Don't downplay the many skills and talents you've acquired over the years. You are amazing!
Use the phone, letters and face-to-face contact to maintain friendships. Be less of a loner and more generous. Be the friend that people can call at 3am.
Be generous and giving in love. Remember it takes work to maintain a relationship. Learn to accept the things you cannot change.
Travel. It's always worth it. Which leads us to...

Travel. In 2010, I travelled for work, to Barkerville and Wells. One of the best decisions I ever made. Living and working in small-town BC for over 4 months made me a stronger, more confident person. I also travelled for pleasure, to Winnipeg of all places, to meet up with my amazing mom, who was working there. (She's back there this year... but she flies in tonight for Christmas. Yay!) I hung out with her at the gorgeous B&B she was staying in, got taken to a Turkish-style spa, and ate way too many great meals. And, as I always do with my mom, we walked for miles.
In 2011, I already know I'll be heading back to the 'Peg; not only to see my mom but to see the play I've been in. If I'm lucky and everything works out, I'll also be heading to Istanbul in February for 2 weeks with the Reptiles. Bliss! Then back up to B-ville in the spring and summer. 2011 is also the year that I want to go back to the UK with J, who has never been. We've been promising ourselves for YEARS that we'll go and see our families there before it's too late. Travel is something that I've been wanting to do more of for years, so I'm making 2011 my Official Year of Travel. There.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beyond Avoidance

Beyond Avoidance: What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)

What I should have done a long time ago: Take responsibility for my health and weight and start exercising and watching what I eat. Will I do it this year? Well, I did just join a gym, so that's going well. On the other hand, I probably ate my own body weight in cookies and candy canes at our Christmas party last night, so...

Sunday, December 19, 2010


December 19 – Healing: What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011? (Author: Leoni Allan)

Definitely drip-by-drip. Friends always heal. Connections. I am so all about the connections. And just having the chance to BE. To be ME. To do six months of counselling with someone who said I hear you. I get it. To spend four months somewhere new this summer and be a performer, no holds barred. Working. That's a big healer. I love that my work is a life-changing thing rather than just something I do to make money.

In 2011 I would like to keep building a tribe of really good friends. I think that will keep me healthy like nothing else. I took my time getting home tonight because I stayed late at work having a great conversation with someone and my only regret at the end of it was that I had taken so long to feel comfortable around this person. If I can build the confidence to let people in sooner, I think 2011 will be a very exciting year! And I want to keep on getting work that challenges me, because when I have good work, everything else is just gravy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)

Now's the time, isn't it? We come to the year's end, we think about everything we swore we'd be and do, and how (badly) we measured up to our resolutions. I can hardly believe it was almost a year ago I sat in a hot tub on Denman Island in the pouring rain, laughing and crying with 2 girlfriends and talking about the months past and the months to come. I didn't know about the bad stuff that was coming: months of being broke and working retail and a horrible flu/cold that stuck around all January. But I also didn't know about all the wonders-and there were many more of those than the bad stuff. Things like: going to Winnipeg to see my Mom. Spending 4 months as an actor/singer miles away from my safe routine. Performing at the Ghost Train this fall. Getting my current gig at the Playhouse.
But I digress. I swore last year that I'd write at least a set's worth of solo material. I even started a song-a-week project this summer. Which lasted a whole 3 weeks before the Barkerville rehearsal schedule wore me down. So when the Accordion Festival happened in September and I was invited to play a set, I bailed. Oh, I claimed that I didn't have enough material, that I wasn't ready... but what it came down to basically was fear. I was too afraid to stand there on a stage and say This is my stuff. This is me without a band to back me up.
So, 2011, let me have another chance to prove that I can be a solo artist. I've already been asked to play at the festival this fall. This time, I'll be ready. Afraid, but ready.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lesson Learned

What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?
(Author: Tara Weaver)

This one's easy... I think.
I learned that I can be my own worst enemy. How is that the best thing? Because if I know this, I can change it. And if I can change it, then nothing will stand in my way.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reverb 10: better late...?

December 16 – Friendship How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)

Okay, so I'm late to this thing, but some of my fave bloggers are following the prompts over at Reverb 10, and I though it'd be fun to jump in. I may try and do a few of the ones I missed, if I have time...
So anyway, friendship. You know when sometimes all things are pointing to the same subject or issue in your life? Synchronicity, if you will? Well, that's what friendship has started to feel like lately. And then I sign up for Reverb 10 and... here it is again, for heaven's sake.
I blogged recently about friendship, and how I feel that I am not being very good at it lately. As 2010 ends, I am mourning friendships that seem to be fading, while trying to learn how to be a better friend to the ones I have, and how to been open to new friendships instead of building walls of shyness around myself. I hope that I'll be better at being social (and sociable) in 2011, but for now I'll pay tribute to ten friends who changed the way I see the world in 2010:
A makes me see the magic in our crazy, musical life.
G shows me the power of honesty, and the value of a good chat and a hearty laugh.
M reminded me to be young at heart.
V showed me the fun in of getting outside for a swim, a bike ride or an ATV trip.
R is calmness, dedication to craft, sly humour.
M proves that brothers can be friends as well as family.
B reminds me that 'crazy' might be another word for 'unique'.
P's dedication to maintaining friendships over years and distances is inspiring.
S showed me that sometimes the same people who hurt you can also bring you great joy.
A's enthusiasm is infectious.
Thanks to all 10 for showing me different ways of seeing and living life.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Aches and Gains.

I sound like an old lady these days. "Oooh, my abs!" I squeal, as J makes me laugh about something. I'll go to lift something and my upper arms and the muscles over my ribs (what are those called?) will protest and I wince at the unaccustomed pain.
I signed up at a gym last week, one that offers a 30-minute kickboxing circuit. My punches are still kitten-weak, but every time I go, I learn a tiny bit more about correct posture and explosive force. At least I know what I'm aiming for, even if I can't deliver yet. Vancouver winters are seldom cold, but the constant rain can make a wimp out of fair-weather runner like me, so when I accidentally discovered this gym, so close to my place, I checked it out right away and signed up, an early Christmas present to myself.
Yesterday I was huddled on the couch most of the day, tired and depressed. You know those days when you dig a tunnel of despair and are so obsessed about it that nothing can help light your way out again? Not the company of J, not the whiff of our lovely little Christmas tree, not coffee or- well, you get the picture. J's advice was to stay put and rest, but I knew that only one thing would help: action. So I got on my bike and headed down to the gym. 30 minutes later I was red-faced and sweaty, but the fog had lifted from my brain and I felt more alive than I had in days. I was able to go out that night and revel in the company of friends, and see my way out of the dead-end that my mind had been languishing in.
That's worth a whole bunch of sore muscles, in my opinion.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Been thinking, this night and the last few, about Alec & Laura, and their relationship.
Alec and Laura, for the uninitiated, are the protagonists of this show, which I'm lucky enough to be a part of right now. They meet, quite by accident, at a train station. She gets grit in her eye. He removes it for her. A friendship blossoms, becomes a romance. But they aren't free to love each other: they're both married to other people, people they love, and they have children. Before they can ever consummate their affair, they realize that it is doomed, and that they must always be apart. They choose to do the "right thing", but in doing so, they sacrifice their love for each other.
What I think about, in those moments when I am backstage, or in the dressing room listening to the dialogue coming over the Tannoy, is how I look at this story now versus what I would have thought back when I was, say, 21. Back then I would have been unreservedly on the side of True Love; I would have raged at the fact that Alec and Laura make the decision to go back to their spouses. Black was black and white was white and lovers should be together.

Now, at 36 (and in a 14-year relationship), everything is shades of grey.
If we are lucky- and I count myself squarely among the lucky- we meet our soulmates, and settle down together. But years of familiarity breeds...? Not contempt (hopefully), but certainly the shine wears off. Here's what you can't realize until you've been at it for a while: you have to work to make it last, folks. Add kids into the mix; I imagine it gets way harder.

And then, one day, you may meet someone shiny and new. Someone who hasn't seen you hungover or belching or bleary-eyed. Someone who makes your heart beat faster, your eyes sparkle. Who hasn't heard your same stories a thousand times over. Everything they do is endearing. There's a great quote from a movie called "The Beach" which has always stuck with me:

"When you develop an infatuation for someone you always find a reason to believe that this is exactly the person for you. It doesn't need to be a good reason. Taking photographs of the night sky, for example. Now, in the long run, that's just the kind of dumb, irritating habit that would cause you to split up. But in the haze of infatuation, it's just what you've been searching for all these years."

Alec and Laura have this kind of infatuation for each other. He claims to love her over and over, although (as Laura herself admits) they hardly know each other. They discuss secrets and dreams with each other: her love of music and adventure; his interest in a particular kind of medicine. If Alec and Laura were to end up together, their relationship would become something more prosaic, but while they meet once a week in the anonymity of the train station, they are free to love each other without life getting in the way. "I never think of myself as 'grown up'" Alec admits, and perhaps it is his reluctance to grow up that leads him into this affair, while the more sober Laura never abandons herself as easily as he does.

Two things that make their story interesting to me:
We see their affair almost exclusively as it pertains to Alec and Laura alone, and not as it impacts their spouses. And so we don't have to ask ourselves the obvious questions: is adultery 'bad' and 'wrong'? How will it affect their marriages? Instead we examine how the affair affects the two lovers. Also: Alec and Laura never have sex. And so their affair is one of hearts and minds, rather than bodies.

But is their affair necessarily all bad?
Certainly they are desperately hurt at its end, and although we never meet Alec's family, Laura's husband Fred begins to feel abandoned, though he never guesses why. But Alec eventually has to leave his safe, boring life as a GP in the English suburbs to help start a new hospital in Johannesburg. And although Laura doesn't go anywhere, we get a sense that perhaps she will allow more room in her life for her music. So they've both grown and changed by the play's end, although the process has been terribly painful. Should they have done the 'correct' thing and avoided each other from the start, as Laura's instincts tell her to do? Or did they help each other to grow?

I don't have any answers, and that's the truth of the matter. Ask me again in 20 more years. I look at Alec and Laura playing out their ill-fated love every night and I think there but for the grace of god. I think that I have a wonderful man, one of the best you could ever find, and I love him with all my heart but sometimes I meet men who make my heart race and my breath catch because they are shiny and new, because they see me differently, and I chase after these new connections when maybe I should be running away. And yet at the same time I know how rare it is, and how lucky I am, to love and be loved by someone who has known me for so long and still loves me, despite all my faults.

I stare at the screen and I realize that I don't know how to end this without being trite, or without sounding as if I condone adultery, which I don't. So maybe I can't end this properly. I'll go on being who I am: imperfect, conflicted, wanting to have my cake and eat it too. And I'll keep listening to the lines in this play, and hoping I never find out how it feels to be Laura.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Onstage is: smiling and knowing your cues and not screwing up and most importantly, making everything look so easy, they won't realize how hard it is.
Backstage is where the real show is. I wish I could show you. I wish I had pictures. Backstage is 150 lighting cues, over 50 video cues, over 50 fly cues, and who knows how many sound cues. Backstage is a complex dance between actors and crew. Entrances, exits. Quick changes, scene changes, crossing from stage left to stage right and back again. Watching from the wings. Staying out of the way. Knowing just when to lurk just offstage and when to go downstairs and read a book for a while.
Next time I whine about 'fitting in' on a new job, just shoot me, okay? It's a couple of days since then, we just had our first audience tonight and I can't imagine how hard it's going to be saying goodbye to these guys in a month's time.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

a different perspective

"...or, you could look at it this way: a friend of your created a job especially for you." said J, and his words yanked me out of my self-pity and over-analysis this morning.
I had been feeling a bit blue about my new job, and guilty because I shouldn't be feeling blue about a job that is giving me a wonderful opportunity and paying me so much, and right before Christmas too. The problem is, I allow myself to get very shy in new situations, and to be the last one in to a project, to have to make my place in a group that has bonded together for over 3 weeks already, feels very hard. Add the pressure of having to add pretty accordion parts to a band that has also been playing together for weeks... well, I lost track of the good stuff and allowed myself to feel hard done by. J's words left me feeling guilty, and so I hereby am trying to re-program my brain to look at the many blessings of this job and overcome the things that scare me. It's good to be able to vent your doubts and fears to a trusted partner, but it's also easy to get stuck in a rut of negative thinking and "I can'ts". Every job I've ever had has been an opportunity to learn something new, and now I think I know what this job has taught me. Is teaching me. It's an ongoing process.

Friday, October 29, 2010


When I am home alone in the daytime, I revel. This may take small forms, like staying in my pyjamas until 2pm, or reading at the table. I keep the blinds open so I can see the grey day unfolding, and I cook, or I clean, or I spend too much time on the computer. I practice my juggling until the person downstairs must be like: enough already! Stop dropping those balls on the floor! I've taken to playing Baroque music on internet radio recently (or as one station intriguingly calls it, "Barock Music") because it is old, stately, beautiful, and never, ever, schlocky. Simple, small, domestic things that only feel so good because I don't always have to do them day in, day out. Yesterday and today I have been: cooking delicious meals, making my place look nice, and fielding calls about my next job, a job that will pay me a very nice sum of money to play my accordion for one of Vancouver's biggest theatre companies. I find the word "blessed" a bit precious, so let's just say I feel pretty lucky right now, alright?
Lucky, but slightly disconnected.
Disconnected as in, well, here's a weird little image for you:
I'm fishing, and all around me are lines that I'm supposed to be managing. Some of them have some pretty big fish on them, wonderful fish, but the lines are so long and the fish are so far from me that it's hard to reel them in.
Some of them are close to me, but the fish are tiny, so I just pull 'em out from time to time, look quickly at the fish, and put them back in the water.
Some of the lines that I thought held a juicy fish now seem to be empty.
And there are lines that I haven't even checked yet; lines that may contain the most brilliant, plump, nourishing fish I've yet to meet.
Substitute friends for fish and maybe you see where I'm going with this.
I'd like to be a better friend, but sometimes the rules elude me and I feel like a total beginner. Distance and Facebook and my ever-changing jobs don't help any, and I blame them loudly and often to J, to my blog, in 'counselling' (when I was having that), but I think I need to stop blaming and start trying harder. Facebook is a too-safe place to dip into, leave little remarks, and withdraw, but if push came to shove, if things got hard, how many of those "friends" would give a damn about me? Would do more than write "OMG I'm so sorry lol" and move on with their days? And to be fair, how many of them would I do more than that for?
Friendship should be messy sometimes, and awkward. Friendship should be about being there in tough times and getting drunk together and babysitting the kids when there's no one else, and having it out when you're angry and celebrating the things that are awesome. I wish I had more friends like that; hell, I wish I WAS a friend like that, but I'm not. Not often enough.

Actors and musicians? Stevie Nicks said "Players only love you when they're playing", and ain't that the truth, more often than not. Just because you're my BFF right now doesn't mean it will last once the band breaks up/the show closes. Even if we have the best intentions, we probably won't see each other very much.

Girls? I haven't been great at girlfriends since high school. School was easy. School was she's my best friend; those two/four are inseparable/this is my group, that's who I hang with now and forever. And yes, I am well aware that it wasn't like this for everyone, that school can be the worst time, but I was lucky. I had steadfast friends. Always. After school is I'm moving 2000 miles away. It's boyfriends and husbands and children and differing lifestyles and work and snatching time in the midst of All This. I honour and love the girlfriends I have (a short but lovely list that happily includes my mother) but sometimes (like today) I see a report card and my name and a comment that says: could do better.

Guys are easier, until they're not, and you're thinking well, I like you a lot, which also means I find you attractive, which is a can o' worms and no mistake. I don't want to live in an all-woman purdah, but if I'm hanging out with a guy then there are unwritten rules, right? Like, coffee once in a while is okay, but calling you to go to a play or a concert because my guy is busy/not interested might be weird/predatory/seen as cheating. I pause here and think that maybe I'm over-analyzing, but then I think of my other 'coupled' friends and how often I hear them say that they went out with a guy who wasn't their partner. Which is practically never. I don't want to just have friends that are 'our' friends- although I value those highly-I want some of my own, female and male. But I think this is hard to do.

So what, then?
Today I'll wrap up this blog, which has taken a long time to write. I'll cook dinner for my man, who is one of the best friends a girl could hope to have, because he is working sick today and little things like dinner mean more when you feel gross. And I'll go to the theatre with a girlfriend, one of the good ones, one of the ones who stuck around through the kids and and the distance and the different life paths and I think we'll have a great time.
And I'll keep myself open to new friends, and try to be better and more honest to the ones I have, and I'll stop checking Facebook so often because I don't think that what's on there is the best kind of friendship.

Monday, October 18, 2010


There's something about autumn that makes me want to get cozy. You know, cooking and cleaning and the like. I guess a lot of us are like that, and not just humans. Underneath everything, we are all just animals, sensing the return of cold weather and storms, and wanting to prepare for them.
Both my current jobs require me to be outside, sometimes all day and late into the night. While I am loving this, when I am at home I find myself cooking and cleaning up a storm. Add the fact that we are trying to save money right now, and that we are getting most of our groceries delivered these days, (thanks, SPUD!) and you have a lot of nesting going on!
Jon has long been able to use up leftovers in a delicious and interesting way, while I am more the type to go and spend 40 bucks on groceries to make one lousy meal. But lately my inner penny-pincher seems to have finally kicked in, and I am getting better at grabbing the wilting spinach or the last few eggs and making a meal from those. Here's a dish that J and I both love, which is the ideal way to use up slightly over-the-hill veggies and pretty much anything else you have lying around:
Baked Frittata:
1. Chop up some veggies. This morning I had a sad-looking red pepper, some basil, and a few cloves of garlic, so that's what I used. Oh., and turn on the oven to about 425 degrees.

2. While you are chopping, you may want to be boiling some diced potato. Usually I use those little mixed red, white and blue ones, but today it was a good ol' Russet potato.

3. Meat is good, although optional. I had to use these up today, so in they went.

4. Seasonings make it taste way more interesting, and are a good way to use up wilted herbs and containers of stuff in the fridge that really should be used before they go bad... I find that I can't get enough thyme these days, so I use it in a lot of stuff.

5. Once the potatoes have softened (but not too much!), start browning the meat in an oven-safe skillet. I bought this one in Barkerville and have been loving it because it cleans so much better than a cast-iron one.

Now would also be a good time to add the seasonings, like that pesto, and some old salsa you found in the back of the fridge.
6. Once the meat is cooked, add the veggies. and stir. Oh, there were mushrooms in the fridge as well.

7. Don't cook this stuff for too long. Remember, it's going in the oven soon...
When everything is nicely coated in oil and seasoning, smooth it down with your spatula and turn off the heat. Pour in some beaten eggs. I use 4, but you could use more if you wanted.

8. Stick it in the oven. It'll probably take about 15 minutes. Take it out once the eggs are cooked, but not too dry! This is what the end result looks like:

9. Wait a couple of minutes so that the eggs firm up and the frittata will slice properly. Then cut it up, eat, and enjoy!

The awesome thing about frittata is that there are no rules. You can use pretty much anything you want, as long as it goes well with eggs. Pretty much anything that would be in a quiche, for example. You could also just cook it on a stovetop, without the baking, but I like the oven-baked consistency better. And like I said, it's a great way to use things up. AND, the perfect autumn-day nesting-inside food. Yum.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Alison continues to explore the grimy blue-collar underbelly of show business daily at the pumpkin patch and nightly at the Ghost Train."
This is my latest Facebook status update. I try not to post updates too often, but the phrase slipped into my brain today and I couldn't resist.
I'm not really complaining. I'm happy to be working, although I enjoyed having a few weeks to nest at home after so long away. Running, cooking, cleaning, exploring east van again, finding new pictures to capture my beautiful, troubling, grubby neighbourhood.
But tell them this at theatre school: if you're lucky, VERY lucky, you will get to work at one of our big theatres for a while, and life will be sweet. And if you have ideas and confidence and drive, you will create your own piece and if it's good you'll ride the wave of critical success for a while, and life will be sweet.
But in between those heady times will be the meat-and-potatoes work, including what I just did for the last couple of days, which was: dancing around in a giant pumpkin costume for over five hours a day.
Stay in school, kids.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

on perspective and climbing mountains.

  1. have a reason to go. it was a radiantly sunny day and the thought of staying inside any longer hurt my brain. after several days of late night and bad sleeps i was finally feeling well-rested, but a call about work had left me feeling frustrated and itchy. i find myself- often- trying to find a balance between not feeling taken advantage of and not coming across as someone with a big entitlement chip on my shoulder. this makes me grumpy. so what better way to get out of my head than to go and climb a big ol' mountain?
  2. the first 1/4 is the hardest. the trail is grueling, the view is dull, and the mountain seems to stretch above you eternally. you can't ever imagine reaching the top. your legs protest, so does your heart. you are lapping and being lapped by chattering hikers with noisy friends or ipods, who smell and spit. it takes a lifetime of suffering to reach the 1/4 mark and when you do your whole body screams what the hell? there's no way i can keep going! there's so much more to do and i can't do it! but...
  3. don't panic. after the 1/4 mark you will find a rhythm. your heart won't slow exactly, but its <thumpthump> feels steady and not as if it's going to leap out of your chest. the noisy hikers have mostly stopped talking now, saving their energy for getting to the top. the halfway and 3/4 markers will come upon you much faster than the first one did.
  4. set goals. but make 'em reasonable. i have 2 goals when i climb this mountain: climb it faster than the time before, and don't die. so far i have accomplished both those goals pretty much every time.
  5. look around. unless you're trying to set some kind of record, pause and remember why you came here in the first place. take a few moments to inhale the clean, pine-scented air (just hold your breath until after that sweaty hiker passes you). look behind you through the trees and notice how the city and the water are shining like jewels below you, getting further and further away. hear the birds singing and a waterfall splashing beside the trail. the summit is the goal, but let the journey soothe as well as challenge. otherwise, you could just be on your stairmaster, or running up a steep hill in the city.
  6. the last 1/4 is hard, too. you're pretty tired, and realizing that you won't be breaking any records this time. your legs are weak, because there are 2830 steps on this trail (no, i didn't make that number up- this is true) and you have nearly climbed them all by now. your heart is tired too, from pumping extra fast for over an hour. your clothes feel clammy. but look up. you can finally see the mountain ending, just above you, and nothing but the clear blue sky beyond.
  7. take time to celebrate at the top. let the sun and the mountain breeze cool your flushed cheeks and dry your sweaty shirt. go and buy that snack. (hey, there's an upside to climbing a ski hill, and the upside is that snacks and toilets await you at the top.) look down, way down, at the tiny city 3700 feet below you. your neighbourhood, brimming with energy and noise and problems, is hardly visible. the frustrations and annoyances that seemed so huge this morning are invisible specks. you climbed nearly 3 kilometres, straight up, and you are too tired and too happy to think about anything but your next meal.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

So yeah, I'm home.
Hit the ground running, so to speak, and didn't let up for a few days... headed off to play at a jazz festival on the Sunshine Coast, and just got back last night from some late summer/early fall camping. A few weeks' worth of freedom before fall craziness begins.
There was some intensity at first as we both adjusted to the fact that I was... back. And that, well, if clothes and books and things could be left behind for 4 months then other things/people could be as well, and what did that mean, exactly, and what did that say about the future, our future?
It's a very interesting position to be in, to be able to leave everything and everyone for a while and get a whole new perspective on what (and who) matters. And what matters to me right now is building on the foundation I laid this summer. New confidence, new perspectives, new friends, new motivation. I spent so much of last fall and winter looking inward, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted. And then I spent the whole summer just doing. So now it's time to balance both those things. Taking action. Paying off debts and making life more secure, but also doing the things I need to do creatively to keep my sanity. Keeping the new friends I made, but cherishing the old ones as well.
I want to keep checking in here from time to time, but hopefully if I write less here, it simply means that I'm living more.
Hey, I turned 36 this summer. Isn't it time to start living?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Welcome Back.

Well, not quite back. I'm actually writing this in Nimpo Lake, 3 hours west of Williams Lake. I am decompressing there for 2 nights before tackling Vancouver. My buddy Amelia is cooking at a lodge there and it seemed to make sense to call in on her before heading home. 2 nights to ease into the End Of Summer.
Four months of swimming, canoeing, dancing, playing, workingworkingworking. And now I go home.
I close my eyes and try to imagine the adventure ahead and I have no. idea. what I am heading towards. But I am ready to take the leap.
See you soon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

moving house.

What are you doing over here? My summer digs are here! Or you can head straight to the 'Blog' page here.
Have a great summer!

Monday, April 19, 2010

my city holds its breath.

Beck's song "Earthquake Weather" is in rotation on my iPod (as are such timeless classics as "The Hamster Dance" and Duran Duran's "View to a Kill", but the awful songs on there are another post altogether). I remember reading somewhere once- where? probably on the internet- that the Japanese called certain weather "earthquake weather"; days of stillness, as I recall, when there was no wind and everything waited.
My city is waiting today. Grey and still and untimely humid for mid-April. I run to the park and around the lake once, twice, three times, gulping in air that feels too still and too moist. It has been a day of sitting in front of the computer fiddling around with Photoshop. Day two of my first "professional" photography gig. Running is a relief and an escape and a question: how much longer will I be able to run? Will there still be too much snow up north? Will I be too afraid of bears to attempt it?
Today I hold my breath and cinch myself into the corset I will wear all summer long under various Gold Rush-era costumes. I hope that by the end of the summer I will be smaller and the corset will be more forgiving, but who knows?
I know that around the world, people are waiting too. For planes to be able to fly again. For a volcano to stop spreading so much ash, already. I know people who are getting ready to fly to Europe this week. Will they be leaving on schedule?
Every morning I rise early, for me, with a load of energy and high spirits that nothing can quench for long. I am so grateful for this energy, and fearful of its leaving.
I am counting down: last time I play with this band. Last time I play with that one. Last time I see him or her; last time I do that or go there. Soon, there will be new stories to tell you, new people in my life.
Maybe new people will read my stories, too. I'm planning to keep writing, but at a new location for the summer. Come on over and visit me here, starting in May. I hope you have a great spring. Me, I can't wait for the waiting to be over.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

i have been sitting so long, my ass is numb
trying to write things but the words don't come

waiting for inspiration but my skies are grey
feeling like i wasted this free day

there are a million things i should get done
but do i want to do any of them? not one

emails are trivial, phone doesn't ring
no willpower to practice or sing

i could complain or simply shrug and say
"this day's a write-off, tomorrow's a new day"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

far away/so close.

Doesn't air travel blow your mind?
I mean, isn't it crazy that I can wake up in Vancouver, BC, get on a train, be at the airport in under an hour and be in Winnipeg, Manitoba less than six hours after I woke up? And I can also iChat with my sweetie and talk for free over the internet as if we were almost in the same house. The world is tiny.
I'm in the Prairies to spend a week with my mom, who's been out here since January doing some stage managing until mid-May. If I don't see her now, then by the time she gets back I'll be up north and who knows when we'll meet up?
She's staying long-term in a B&B haunted by three portly cats: Indy, Pumpkin and Shadow. Today we roamed by the Forks and had sushi (sushi! on the prairies! another example of how small the world now is!) and I marveled at the sun and the complete absence of snow. (An unfortunate by-product of how small we make our world? Jet fuel as destroyer of snowy landscapes?)
I get back and a few weeks later I'll be gone again. Up north, where I suspect everything will seem far away and the world will get larger again. Until then I scratch a living catch-as-catch-can, play a few last gigs and savour the good stuff:
  • looking out from the stage at a gig and seeing some of the people I love most staring back at me
  • sharing a stage with three of the craziest, most inspired friends I have, and getting to make music with them
  • sunny spring days in Manitoba with my mom
This spring is shaking up my old beliefs and habits and making me believe that life could change forever.
What is Spring telling you?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Stop the presses! Professional Musician Actually Caught in the Act of
Practicing Her Instruments!
Stunned partner, friends say they've "never seen anything like it!"
It's sad but true. I don't often just sit around and work at becoming a better accordion player and singer. Which, I know. "Ambivalent" and "Lazy" probably don't cover the half of it. Being one of those lucky folks who can coast through most things in life without putting in a lot of grind is a mixed blessing I guess: saves you a lot of effort but gives you lousy work habits.
But here's the thing- having to work at a crappy retail job 3 days a week sure gives you (and by you, I mean me) a better appreciation for the work you really love. And a burning desire to do more of that and less standing around making sure grubby little children don't get too violent with puppets that don't belong to them.
So on my days off I'm pleased to report that I've been putting in some long-overdue work on my 2 favorite instruments and actually hearing the results. Which is good, because I have some gigs coming up.
Being productive is also helping me to avoid the 800-pound elephant in the room. You know, the one with dollar signs in its eyes and a sign around its neck that says You Owe Me. Because really, who don't I owe at this point? Visa, Cel Phone, Utilities, Taxman, Medical... they're all lining up to take a piece. And I really, really have nothing left to give them. This time of year is always brutal. And I'm lousy with money. So roll on, May. Because although it means I'll be heading far, far away from my home and loved ones, at least there's a steady job waiting for me. (Thankfully, compared to most people with credit cards and mortgages and kids, my debt load is tiny. And I know I can get out with some steady work. It's just that my work is so seldom steady.)
Being at home has also given me ample time to read my favorite blogs and news sites, and so I offer the following observations:
  • Why, why, WHY is "DH" the preferred acronym for one's husband in the blogging world? As in "dear husband"? Can we get any more 1950's? Blech.
  • I hereby swear to never, ever use the following texting acronyms: LOL, IMHO, ROFLMAO. They annoy me. However, I do admit to using BTW and my favorite: WTF.
  • If I have kids, they will never have a "playdate".
Okay, time to do some chores. Otherwise, my DCLS (darling common-law spouse) will come home and shout "WTF?!"
Later, 'gators.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

In the midst of honking horns, gleeful shouts, a fairytale ending to two weeks of olympic games-
A sobering email comes in.
It's from my aunt in England. It's titled simply, Mother. It can only mean one thing.
My grandmother, my mother's mother. Gladys Dennis. Grandmee is dead, at the staggering age of 103.
Bon writes so tenderly in this post about caring for her grandfather as he nears the end of his life in a hospital bed. I am bowled over by her love for him. I am so sad that I have never felt anything like this for my own grandparents.
My relationship with her was a casualty of distance and dementia. She lived in England. I live in Canada. When she did live with us, for 5 years, her mind was still ok but her body was failing her. She was the sick lady in the guest bedroom. Then as her body got better, my parents split up and she went back to the UK and lost her memory. My aunt would go upstairs to work and Gran would forget that she was still there and call the police and say she'd been abandoned. She went into a home and survived, as tiny and frail as a bird, long after her sense of self had flown.
When she saw you, her face would light up and she'd say "Hello, Lovely!" Even though she didn't really know who you were she knew you were someone she loved.
She couldn't remember what happened fifteen minutes ago, but she could sing the lyrics to wartime pop songs and seeing Hitler's face in a documentary could still inspire pure terror in her.
Her house was bombed to the ground in World War Two.
She survived on her own after her husband Fred Dennis died of emphysema when my mom was 19.
She was born in 1906. Nineteen-oh-six. Can you imagine the things she saw, the changes she lived through?
I wish I'd known her better. I wish I'd appreciated her more when she was with us. I wish so much of my family wasn't so far away.
Rest in peace, Grandma.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yesterday, J & I celebrated our 12th anniversary together. What did we do? Well, we ended up playing 'tourists' for a day, and got caught up in the Olympic Party Machine that is sweeping our city at the moment. The surprising part, at least to me, was that we ended up having such a good time doing it.
Yes, the Games have begun, and like many people in Vancouver my thoughts about them were mildly grumpy when I though about the crowds, and extra-grumpy when I thought about the staggering expense attached, the expense that we'll ALL be paying off for years and years to come.
I have no problem with athletes. In some ways they are like artists: they practice their skill hard for years and years and most see very little reward for their work. (I mean, when was the last time you saw a bobsledder with a big-name sponsor? They all get media hype for the olympics, but I bet most of us would be hard-pressed to name a luger, a curler or a ski jumper when the games aren't on.) As a non-athlete who is cowardly about heights and pain, I have huge admiration for people who can jump off a gigantic slide and soar through the air, or survive being cut in the face by their partner's skate and even think of trying again. Some might say that what they do is ridiculous, but hey, I play the accordion for a living. I prance around on stage pretending that I'm someone else from time to time as well. Who am I to throw stones? So if these athletes want to compete in their sports and win little metal discs as a reward for their risks, their pain, their hard work, good on 'em.
I DO have a HUGE problem with the olympics as a money-sucking, corporation-favoring machine. I think that they have no business spending the amount of money that gets spent on these games, lying about how much it's going to cost, and then making us pay through the nose for years. My friend Rodney deCroo writes brilliantly about it on his facebook page, and his arguments are much better-informed than mine, so I'll get off my soapbox now, and say...
... that before yesterday, I never would have believed that I could have so much fun in downtown Vancouver on a Tuesday in February! Jon and I walked around for hours, taking in the free performances, the crowds, the fun. And I thought isn't it kind of sad that we need this kind of bloated, over-priced, over-budget event in our city to let our hair down?
Restaurants packed with happy diners. Strangers spontaneously talking to each other. Parties in the streets. Free concerts all over the place. Pedestrian-only areas. Art installations everywhere. A downtown core filled with crowds and excitement. For a moment, we have become a city that knows how to celebrate life.
When this is all over the after-party hangover will begin, and we will be grumpy again. But I hope that we will remember to tell the ones in power that this- this explosion of art and music everywhere is what Vancouver needs more of.
And in this time of gigantic budget cuts to the arts, something that we're going to see less and less of, unless we fight hard to be heard.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fired Up

Last night I emailed a friend:
'You know how I started off the New Year nearly naked in a hot tub with you and B, swearing up and down that I wanted to take more action in my life and stop watching from the sidelines all the time? Well, I have no work and life feels as if it's kind of standing still, but now I'm back from Surrey and excited about starting to figure out where the hell I'm headed for the next few months...'

Man, I was so full of fire in early January! And then life and inertia and unemployment and dogsitting rose up and claimed me, and I tumbled happily back into the sticky chocolate pudding-ness of the everyday, where you take a few stumbling steps forward and a few more giant sliding steps backward again.

I am back from my doggy job in Surrey, and as much as I bitched about the locale, I was overjoyed to spend time bonding with my furry 'niece' and 'nephew'. How can you possibly complain too much about this:

"I'm getting fed up with these damn photos!"

...and this:

"Pleasepleaseplease play Tug-o'-War with me rightnowrightnowrightnow!"

Nope, pretty hard to complain about that, huh?

Plus, they don't call it "City of Parks" for nothing:

Pretty hard to believe that this is 10 minutes' walk from Strip Mall Hell, isn't it?

Back when I was more fiery and conflicted, lo these 2 months ago, I accepted a job offer that will take me up north for 4 months this summer, and I was reminded of that job yesterday as I sat in on someone else's audition. Now only 3 months (less, actually) away, and I am excited to work somewhere that will stretch me as a person and as a performer.
Here's what else I want to experience in the next couple of years:
  • I want to go to the UK with my guy and see our families over there.
  • I want to hear the call to prayer soaring up from hundreds of mosques in Istanbul again.
  • I want to sing more often, and get really good at it.
  • I want to play music in Montreal, Toronto & Europe with my best friends.
  • and more prosaically, I would like to sort out my finances so that the future isn't so scary, tax time isn't a drag, and collection agents don't call us all the time.
Let's see how that goes, shall we?

(In the mean time, stay tuned for my reports as the bloated, costly Olympics descend on my city. I intend to go to as many free concerts as I can, avoid all public transit, and definitely not see any of the actual sporting events.)

Oh, and by the way, I made 2 incredible pizzas tonight. From scratch. Dough and all. In case you thought I was doing nothing with my days. Cooking: I highly recommend it. You will always surprise yourself with what you can do.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

happily ever after...

Lately, all my posts have been very earnest and about self-improvement and other Serious Things. Which is great. But I don't want all my 2.7 readers to think that I've lost my frivolous side. So, in honour of the fact that I'm killing a bottle of red wine by myself (well, the dog is here too, but he's mostly asleep until I say the magic word "walk")and because I'm flipping channels between "Four Weddings & a Funeral" and "Grosse Pointe Blank", I present...

Romantic Movie Scenes That Make Me Swoon:

  • OK, I love the part in Grosse Point Blank where John Cusack and Minnie Driver leave their high school gym during their reunion and do it in the nurse's office. That scene is coming up shortly, so I may have to stop writing for a while soon...
  • The part in "Four Weddings" where Hugh Grant says "I wish I'd rung you. But you never rang me. You ruthlessly slept with me twice and never rang me." And then he runs after Andie McDowell and says ..."I really feel. In the words of David Cassidy, in fact, while he was still with the Partridge Family: I think I love you." (My other favorite part, and the line my friend Toni & I used to quote to each other ad nauseum is "Excuse me. I think I need to be where other people are not.")
  • Pretty much any part of "Lost in Translation". But specifically when Scarlett and Bill are in the hotel bar after the fire alarm goes off and the piano player's playing "I'm So Into You" and they're plotting to stay in Tokyo and start a jazz band. Oh, and the ending, of course. What's he whispering in her ear? Isn't it cool how we never find out?
  • The sort-of creepy but at-the-same-time-cute relationship between Andrew McCarthy (teacher) and what's-er-name (student) in "New Waterford Girl". I visited New Waterford this summer (it's in Cape Breton) and believe me, you'd want out of there too.
  • The surprising chemistry between Ben Kinglsey and Tea Leoni in "You Kill Me" (I watched this movie 3 times back-to-back when I was sick and visiting up at my dad's) ...
  • ...and also between Denzil Washington and Angelina Jolie in "The Bone Collector" (totally forgettable movie, though, so don't bother renting it if you haven't seen it.)
  • Mr. Darcy saying "I most ardently admire and love you," or something like that, at the end of "Pride & Prejudice". And yes, I mean Colin Firth. Is there any other Darcy, really?
  • The ending of "The Sure Thing". I have an ex-boyfriend to thank for introducing me to that movie. He had a thing for Daphne Zuniga. I had/have a thing for John Cusack. We were well-matched. In that respect, at least.
  • Oh my god, I nearly forgot "Amelie"! I adore that entire movie! But especially the end, when they kiss. growlfl.
  • The ending of "Casablanca". Because although I am no expert on the Silver Screen, I DO love this movie. Just like "Lost in Translation", it proves that sometimes, it's sexier when Guy doesn't get Girl.
  • Runners-Up: Dave, Bullworth, The American President, L.A. Story, While You Were Sleeping, Garden State, Delicatessen...
There's not much wine left in that bottle. Which means that I'm probably forgetting a few of my fave movies in my alcoholic haze. As you can see, I favour the quirky comedies over the mushy stuff. What about you? C'mon, weigh in. What romantic movie scene leaves you breathless?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another house, not my own.

Okay, remember when I was all excited about house- and dog-sitting for my brother? Well be careful what you wish for, because the gods like to have their little joke.
*This post is firmly tongue in cheek, by the way. I am not complaining full-on. It's just that there are... complications.

First off, the Dog. He is seventy, in human years. Seventy. He should be hobbling around with greying jowls, glad to be home after sedately walking a couple of blocks.
Not this dog. He is a mutt, of Border Collie and god-knows-what-else origins. Sterner stuff. Which means that he can run and walk for hours and be ready to go again after a quick nap. He will chase a ball until it's too dark too see it, and then he will find it by the distant thud as it hits the ground. He would live outside always, if he could. Four days and I am already a love slave to his Sad Puppy Eyes. And I am walking. Three times a day I am walking. And running. And rollerblading. Anything to keep up with his needs.

Which is actually great, because Hello, room full of chocolate bars! My brother and his wife are raising money for a charity called Team in Training by selling chocolate bars. (Don't get me started on the irony of raising money to run 21km by selling sweet, fatty desserts. There is something so intrinsically wrong about that, Team in Training. WRONG.) Let's just say that I need these walks badly, given the choco-temptations lying in their office.

Lastly, I forgot how far away my brother and his wife live. They live in Surrey. I make no apologies to any of my readers who may be from there: Surrey is Hell. No, I take that back; Surrey is not interesting enough to be Hell. Surrey is Skytrain and strip malls and big box stores and fast food and white trash and litter and bland condos and falling-down crackhouses and the Mirage Nightclub (which my brother calls the Sluttage, for obvious reasons). East Van has many of these eyesores also, but we do them with style, dammit! I miss my 'hood.

I would like to tie this all together with a snappy ending, but I am tired. So very tired. And it's been three hours since the last walk. Which means that it's almost time to do 'er again.
*I would like to reiterate that I am (mostly) joking. Except for the part about being tired. Which I am. I mean, I've gone from being pretty much a couch potato to being the auntie of a very active pooch. You'd be tired too. Oh, and what I said about Surrey. I meant everything I wrote about that.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ennui, and links to help you escape it.

Here's where it gets hard: when the excitement of the new year wears off, when friends & family leave town and the money is stretched tight with no end in sight, when the fiery resolve of a fresh year burns down to smoldering embers. How to keep ennui (and bad habits) at bay? Not sure I have the answer to this question totally figured out yet. Mundane as it may seem, a To-Do list actually helps a bit. Crossing off things as I do them makes me feel as though I'm accomplishing something even though it's small. Baby steps. I know. Rome wasn't built in a day, and all that. Embrace the ennui. Or not. Actually, here are some things that are rocking my world and keeping a smile on my face even through the frustration:
  • my brand-new, super-awesome (and gag-me expensive) Bogs. Get some. Especially any of you who live in remote areas with, like, snow. And mud. They're waterproof, they'll keep your tootsies warm down to minus 30 degrees, and they look great, too. Bonus feature: buying them guarantees that the sun will immediately come out. It happened to me today, true story.
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Terry Gilliam redeems himself after "Tideland", which in my opinion was one of the worst movies I ever saw. "Dr. P" is bizarre, rambling, and looks fantastic, like all of his movies. Is it me, or does Gilliam have a thing for giant flying heads and saucer-eyed young ingenues? Who cares? One day I will write a song or create a show that puts people in a world like the one in Terry Gilliam's head. And then I will die happy.
  • Food. Ok, I feel conflicted about this one, because I really want to lose some weight this year, and soon. But... J made some killer Eggs Benny the other day, with a Hollandaise sauce to die for. And I ate some amazing risotto at a tiny little East Van restaurant yesterday night that tasted as though a hundred chickens died to make the stock it was cooked in. And Waves makes the best hot chocolate of all the coffee bars, and I slurped up some of that last night before seeing "Debt: the Musical". Which also rocked my world. Go see it, even if you're in debt yourself. Especially then.
  • House-sitting at my brother's place in a week: exercise room, pool, laundry, dog... need I say more?
  • The Cross of East Van. I haven't made up my mind on this new piece of art yet. Eyesore, or proud community badge? Creepy Christian undertones or righteous ex-gang logo? You be the judge:
Yep, pretty strange, isn't it? (thanks to for the picture). I may have to add an image of The Cross to my title bar, since this is East Van Chronicles after all.
  • And finally... the last thing that's rocking my world is THE BEST PICTURE I'VE EVER TAKEN OF MY CITY. SO GOOD, I HAVE TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS. Drumroll please.

Thank you Vancouver, for reminding me why I love you. And thank you blog for cheering me up on this january night.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

You Complete Me.

Still doing a lot of sitting around at home, due to this cold. Which leads to a lot of journalling, thinking, and brainstorming, much of it along these lines: Who knew the human body could contain this much phlegm? As I canceled both work and fun events yesterday so that I could be at home, I realized that I was truly sick and can only be thankful that I have the time to take it easy right now. Sometimes your body just knows.

Still doing a lot of thinking about what's ahead this year and how to make it really count. It's my year- no, it actually is: the year of the Tiger, in Chinese astrology. Yesterday was a big one in terms of The Future; I had 2 meetings, both of them dealing with future work opportunities. The first meeting was a gigantic job offer, a huge, flattering, scary, fun possibility that involves lots of hard work and living in a very isolated community for up to 4 months, away from everyone I know and love, performing every day. The second meeting was with my most beloved band, and it was the kind of meeting we have periodically (although mostly via email), where we basically re-hash our frustrations over never being free to play or tour at the same time. We say a lot of IloveyouIloveyouIloveyoubutIcan'tcommitrightnowduetosuchandsuch and then we all sigh in frustration and look for other work. Being in a band is a lot like being in a relationship. No, actually it IS a relationship, but a tricky, polygamous one. Being in a band comprised of four busybusy people is like having an affair: there's never enough time, no one's ever completely happy, and whatever you do, someone ends up getting shafted.

In honor of my new, fiery (and phlegm-y) commitment to Living Life To Its Fullest, I want to make a bold choice to start the new year off with a bang. But instead I hover, unable to jump in to this new job opportunity without an ache of regret.

You see, if I leave the city for 4 months, I won't be able to make music with my friends for a long time. And one of them might move across the country in the interim. My latest self-help book says that every decision leads to wonderful opportunities, and I am starting to know that. This is a wonderful band, but I can't possibly make a living off it right now.

But, but... when I stand on stage with these guys, I feel more powerful, more talented, more complete than I've ever felt. We have a long way to go and they drive me nuts sometimes (and I drive them nuts too, no doubt) but there is something so special there.
Part of me would like to be like of hero of some mushy chick flick; you know, the one where you think the lovers have gone their separate ways and then in the last scene he runs into the airport just as she's boarding the plane and holds out his arms and says I didn't marry the other woman/take that job after all and they fall into each other's arms as the credits roll. But there are 3 other busy people here, and if I ran into the airport, metaphorically speaking, ready to declare my devotion, I might just find that the plane had already taken off. Without me.

All of which is a really convoluted way of saying that I can't help having regrets, even as exciting new possibilities open up before me. And I have less than a week to make my final decision about a huge chunk of the coming year...
Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The new year is really here. Time to take down the blue disco-ball Christmas decorations hanging off every available surface in our apartment. Time to start making those calls and doing that practicing and looking for those jobs and setting those goals. It really is. Time, I mean.

As we age, my brother and I, and have no children to replace us as "the kids", we spend Christmas in a floaty sort of limbo. The Day itself, the 25th, becomes less important (for me, Christmas has always been about the 24th anyway; the anticipation being so much more fun and mysterious and exciting than the payoff of Christmas Day.), but if I'm lucky and not working, Christmas Day becomes Christmas Week, which lasts until the 1st of January.
So it was this year. My brother, his wife and I flew to my Dad's on the 25th (replacing getting up early for presents with getting up early for the airport), and lay around on my father's truly excellent couches eating rich food, drinking too much, and watching hockey. There were no hyper-excited children underfoot, and not much in the way of presents, since we'd spent the money on plane tickets instead. And what is Christmas without kids, really? Well, just a time to eat, drink, be with family. A time for talking with far-flung family members over the speakerphone or on Skype. A time to be there for my dad, who lost his wife last Boxing Day.
He's doing great, though. Looking ahead, not pining for what he lost. And, symbolic though a "new year" is, I too am looking ahead to see what comes next.

I'm working on my attitude, that's the first thing. I'm staying positive, even though I have this cold which won't #%$%& leave. I partied a little too hard last week, ran 8km with my super-fit brother right after Christmas, played a high-energy New Year's Eve party and stayed up until 3:30 that morning. All of which was very, very fun. All of which was very, very bad for this cold, which has lodged itself in my chest and nose and is hanging on like grim death.
So the challenge has been: how do I spin this into something good? And the answer- well, maybe I can be thankful for having this weekend free, so I can rest and take care of myself before work and meetings begin. Maybe I can be thankful that being stuck inside gives me time to do some brainstorming and journaling instead of running around trying to do too much in the cold and damp.
And I am thankful. Because although staring the new year feeling awful was not what I would have wished, it has reduced life to the essentials. Stay warm and dry. Conserve energy. Plan, but don't do. Spend one day doing nothing but watching tv and eating expensive takeout you can't even taste because your nostrils are plugged up.
Rest, and wait, and see what happens next.