Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I'm a little bit sweaty right now. But it's cold(ish), and I'm at home alone so at least I'm not offending anyone with it. Why am I sweaty? I just had my first tap class tonight and it was so fun I called a friend right away just to coo about how great it made me feel. (She's also my boss at my summer job, and a life-long tapper herself, so I knew she'd be delighted for several reasons that I finally took my first dance class.)

Did I mention that the government approved all my course choices? Remember how I said I'd be fucking gobsmacked delighted if they said yes to my request to take tap classes and a Victorian combat class called "Fight Like Sherlock Holmes"? Well, they did. Thank you, Targeted Skills Shortage Program. I bet I can safely say that I am the ONLY person in the province who got money from this program to learn to fight someone with an umbrella. Or shuffle off to Buffalo. I am beyond astonished.

It's so lucky I got to do this class today, because The Tonsils From Hell have deflated (almost) back to normal size so I was back in fighting form. Well actually I was feeling really tired and sad most of the day, probably due to last of the illness and also because I had to deal with some stuff this morning that was a bit depressing. So after I came home from the morning stuff and did my grocery shopping I made a nest on the couch and crocheted and listened to music and continued writing a song that I started last night. It wasn't a super-productive day but I kind of needed to nest a little bit. Then I dragged myself to the tap class and darn it if I didn't feel 100% perkier after it, even though it was nine o'clock by then.

You know how sometimes I try to wrap up my posts with a bit of a summary, a way of tying it all up? Well here's what I've learned this week, through my tap lesson and other events:

  • Exercise is good. I already knew this, and have been exploring new ways to get fit, since I can't run these days. Those endorphins kick in and you feel terrific, even if you crash later. Swimming, for example, makes me feel incredible. It also makes me want to nap in the afternoons like a toddler. 
  • Even if you are taking an Absolute Beginner tap class, you will sweat. And your face will get red and you will really wish you'd brought water. And your legs will hurt the next day. (I don't know this for sure yet, but I'm betting. Ask me in a few hours.) 
  • My absolute favourite kind of day involves some kind of exercise, followed by great food, music, and the company of at least one excellent friend. Which means that tomorrow should be just about perfect, because all of those things are lined up.
  • Being sick for a week allowed me to indulge in a lot of laziness but hey, at least I ate really healthily (when I ate at all, because swallowing was hell), read some great books, watched waaaay too much "Felicity" (judge me who dares!)  and my crocheting is coming along nicely I'm getting better at crafts  I worked hard to improve myself in certain areas. 
  • I know some of my crafty friends would disapprove, but every time I say or write something about crocheting I just feel like a crazy single cat lady. Although I saw this cool hipster chick doing it on the bus yesterday and felt strangely validated. Which is shallow. 
  • Sometimes trying to sum up blog entries is pointless: I had a tap class. It was fun. It made me feel better about my life again. As you were, ladies and gents. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Sore Tonsil Chronicles

Lovely Holly from Victoria has been staying with me on and off this week while she attends a life coaching seminar thingy over here in Vancouver. (The course is called Landmark; some people love it, some people consider it a money grab. I'm on the fence, but Holly's enthusiasm is contagious when she comes home late at night and tells me about her day.) 

We met while I was over doing a show in Victoria last month- I can't believe that was only a month ago!- and although we didn't have much time to talk, we bonded quickly over a love of Origami jokes (sample joke: what do you call it when you fold a Graham Cracker, some chocolate chips and a marshmallow into interesting shapes? Answer: S'more-igami! I know, weird.) 

By Tuesday night I can feel something coming on. I've been tired all day and decide not to attend the final Landmark meeting, which friends are invited to. Partly because I know they will do their damndest to get me to sign up and spend money, but also because I'm exhausted... Soon it's hurting when I swallow, and by Wednesday morning my tonsils are swollen and sore. 

But the sun is shining! It's been a perfect January week: fog creeping in by night to be replaced by dazzling sunshine during the days. I decide not to give in to this illness. Aside from my throat the rest of my body is functioning pretty well- Holly and I throw on our coats and walk and walk and walk. One of the nicest things about being a lady of leisure these days is that I can do what I want, as long as it's free, or close to it. I've been so focused on Getting To The Pool 3 times a week and Working Out once a week (not to mention Staying Out Of The Rain) that I've forgotten to just get outside and explore this wonderful city. Vancouver is seducing both of us with sunshine and sea air, and we walk along False Creek and end up at Granville Island for lunch, then meander back along the seawall to Main Street. 

By the time I get home I'm crashing hard, but Holly and I have a mutual friend who's in a play, so it's back out the door and off to the suburbs, with another longish (and uphill) walk thrown in. After the show our friend wants to go for drinks, so it's back into the cold night, down the steep hill, onto several buses, and off to a bar for a late night snack and some cocktails. Our friend's been having a tough week; he vents about it to us on the bus ride but once it's off his chest we start kidding around and the three of us are a goofy little trio swilling Dark-'n-Stormys and munching wild boar macaroni cheese. (What do you call folding a pig into interesting shapes? Boar-igami!) I fancy our mutual friend a wee bit but I have no idea where I fit into his scheme of things, so having Holly there diffuses any weirdness and we all have a great time together 'til the we hours of the morning. 

Thursday morning I start cancelling my plans, because it's clear this sore throat isn't going to be ignored anymore. I say goodbye to Holly (hoping fervently that I haven't given her this bug), and head to the doctor, who assures me it isn't Strep Throat. Which means there are no drugs I can take; I'm gonna have to tough this one out. By the afternoon I'm staring dully at my computer screen watching season two of Felicity and wishing I could hack out my tonsils with a kitchen knife.  By nightfall I start to cry, the pain is so great when I swallow. I've been trying to stay off Facebook more (and being fairly successful), but pain makes me needy, so I fire off a request for hugs, dirty jokes and love. Even though it's late, some of my friends come through in fine style, so by midnight I'm laughing through my tears. 

Today is more of the same. The weather is still amazing, but I didn't have a great sleep last night, so I cancelled more plans and made do with a short walk up Main Street for Kombucha and yarn. (Kombucha because it's supposed to be good for you, and yarn to crochet with.) I'm sad that I can't hike as planned today, but glad that I have no pressing work to do, because having to work sick is the worst. At least I can rest, get better, enjoy some alone time. It's been amazing getting to know a new friend better, and I'm so glad I pushed aside my sickness long enough to enjoy some of the sunshine over the last few days. Now where's that kitchen knife...?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dear Facebook,
                          First of all, I want to preface this with the old cop out: It’s not you, it’s me. Which may be the ultimate cliche, but it’s true. I’m just... tired of you. And it’s probably because, as with many destructive relationships, I’ve just given you too much time in my life lately. 

These days I’ve been realizing just how many things I have a tendency to overuse and it’s been a sobering time, and a time for big changes as I overhaul my diet, exercise daily, and try to do/eat/drink things in moderation, always moderation. But you? I always thought you were no big deal. In the summer I don’t have internet in my home, so my intake drops. But now? Living alone in the city with lots of time on my hands and no money? We were made for each other, Facebook, and I dived in: I scrolled through my news feed, instant-messaged friends, dreamed up snappy status updates and uploaded carefully-shot photographs (no blurry, badly-shot snaps for me!). 

But something changed, crept in as I was staring at my screen... I started feeling annoyed, Facebook. I’d felt it before, but this time it wasn’t going away. It was getting worse. 

Everybody’s status updates started to drive me nuts, even my dearest friends’. The perky optimist who just has to tell me how great her day is going to be, because she’s doing the same damn thing she does every day? Ugh. The people who ‘share’ yet another Buzzfeed list or inspirational platitude? Grrr. The proud mommies posting another hilarious thing their kids said or did? Spare me. The Vague-bookers, luring me in with their mysterious remarks: It’s all over, I’ve had it. Or, fuck you, you dick-head.  I started to realize that I could basically predict exactly what my friends were going to post because it was the same thing every day: there were the political pundits, the mommies, the performers (always with another gig or show to promote), the constant sharers and over-sharers... I want to emphasize that none of those things are intrinsically bad or boring or wrong. It was me. I just got sick to death of seeing it all. Facebook, you started making me dislike my friends and that’s not cool. 

Not to mention that you also started making me dislike myself. I found myself always wanting to be clever, to say something that would make people laugh and “like” me... I caught myself wondering how I could capture a moment in a pithy status update. I “liked” things and read things and made comments. I was an active, engaged member of the Facebook community. And then I was an addict.

So why did I stay? Why was I hooked?

I conned myself into believing that you fostered connection, Facebook, and that held me for a long time because I truly love feeling connected to my friends, my arts community  and my family. I spend my year living in 2 different towns / my extended family is in another country / there might be work somewhere down the line if I keep in touch with this person / I have a huge crush on this guy and Facebook is the way to benignly stalk him / I I don’t post something today people will forget I exist... The reasons were endless. Until they weren’t. 

I started feeling mad at myself for placing so much importance on people who I barely saw in ‘real’ life. I gave myself a talking-to: 
So what, some guy “liked” another funny thing you wrote. Is he banging down your door asking you for coffee? Nope. So what, you think the things that woman writes are funny and cool? Would you actually want to spend time with her? Do you have anything in common? Maybe not. Do you really want to waste another 30 minutes of your day reading the comments of some small-town tempest-in-a-teapot status update or getting sucked down the internet rabbit hole as you check out another article someone’s linked to? Can you afford to go to all these shows you get invited to? 
And the only question that really mattered: Can you afford to give this entity so much of your time? The answer, I realized was NO. 

You’re a great tool, Facebook. I love that there’s a network of several hundred people that I can contact and check up on when I need to. You’ve reconnected me with a number of old friends, and several of them are now people I hold very dear. You keep me in touch with the tiny northern town where I spend my summers, and when I’m up there you keep an eye on my city for me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the casual acquaintances I have online, but I want to spend more time with flesh-and-blood people, not commenting on the status update of someone I once did a show with ten years ago.  You have your place, but I refuse to let you rule my life any more. 

Today I made a choice NOT to visit you, Facebook, and it was hard. My fingers strayed to your name on my bookmark bar more than once but I stayed strong. I hope to have more days like this one, where I don’t check in with this shadowy group of people who call themselves my friends but whom I rarely see. Instead, I want more weekends like this one: a new friend crashed on my couch while in town, we bonded over (virgin) cocktails, talked ‘til late into the night and had breakfast together this morning before she caught the bus back home. And I thought, how lucky I am. Because I have so many  great friends. Because I will keep in touch with them by phone, by email, and yes, by Facebook. But I will stop being obsessed. I will take several days between visits to you. I will stop rolling my eyes over the same-old-same-old online suspects and spend more time actually catching up with people I love. 

I’m not breaking up with you, Facebook, but I DO need more breathing space. And it’s up to me to carve that out for myself. 

Friday, January 10, 2014


2014 began with a night of playing clarinet with some friends at a local bar, followed by a day of snowshoeing in a ridiculously tiny amount of snow- thanks, Climate Change!- along with hiking and a movie. I couldn't have asked for a better, more healthy and low-key way to start the Year of the Horse. Honestly, every New Year's Day that I don't wake up
a) feeling cheated, as if everyone else in the world had a far,far better time last night than I did, or
b) face-down in my own vomit*
is a good one. But this was one of the best. No hangover, no disappointment, only music and fun.
"Where's the snow?" You might well ask.
The first ten days of 2014 have been a bit like bodysurfing: act unaware, and a wave might slam you into the beach; but with a bit of practice you can turn around and punch through the wave to calmer waters, or get really cheeky and surf on top of the water until you glide all the way to shore.
Employers tell you they'd really like it if you got back to the weight you were at two years ago? Ouch, slam. Using that as the final push to really start changing fundamental things about your diet and fitness: surf! Revenue Canada wants all the money you don't have, plus the money you DO have, plus oh, maybe... your soul? Slam. Meeting with people who can help you get through this and learn to manage your finances better? Treading water. Work is harder to find than hens' teeth? Slam. The government- the same one that wants All The Money- wants to give you money so you can take courses which will supposedly make you better at your summer job? Whoosh!

The government in their wisdom has granted me a nice lump sum of money to take courses with over the next few months. So far I'm signed up for Occupational First Aid (mainly because I thought it would be empowering and useful, and because it was far too expensive for me to even think of signing up for without funding) and Playwriting (because the Government nixed Dance or Music- both of which are far more applicable to what I actually do at my summer job- but apparently thought writing was peachy.) The ways of the government are mysterious and somewhat foolish, but I am certainly not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I am still figuring out how to use the last bit of funding. I'm pushing for German (useful, because of all the German and Swiss tourists we get at my summer job) and-why not?- a course called "Fight Like Sherlock Holmes", which is a four-day Victorian-era combat class. If the government okays that one I will eat my hat, but I will also be fucking delighted.

Here's to starting this year off with the strength to beat those rogue waves and the curiosity to see where the current will carry you.

This actually happened once. To be fair, I was in my twenties at the time, which is when these things are supposed to happen.