Thursday, July 24, 2014

My day off is being rained out, but the sound of the downpour on my metal roof makes it okay. It is the most cozy sound, especially when you're in your pyjamas and a too-large cashmere sweater, with nothing more pressing to do than eat breakfast and write stuff.
These are active days. I bike to work, I run, I work out. My roommates and I are starting a 30-day challenge to give up some bad stuff so I skip desserts again and I have a tan from paddleboarding and mostly I feel wonderful.
Girlfriends abound. My boss' 11-year-old granddaughter joins us for a week and soon she is practically running the theatre, at least in her mind. She takes tickets, does our show makeup, hangs out with Tanya in the booth, brings us pretty stones with personalized letters for each one: I chose this rock because it reminds me of you, good and kind. We have her over for tacos and a movie and she is giddy with the joys of spending a night with the grown-up ladies. We are all giddy with too much sugar and too much "Frozen" and we skip down the street singing LET IT GO, LET IT GOOOO at the tops of our voices.
Annabelle made me up to look like Elsa from "Frozen". It involved a lot of blue eye makeup.

I call two girlfriends who live far away, trying to imagine their lives in Whitehorse and Elkford. We talk music and marriage and I long to see them one day but money is always so tight.  I bond with the two girlfriends that I live with and we stay up late into the night talking about work and life and love, always love. I really like him but he doesn't like me. If someone told you that they had a crush on you would you be flattered or dismayed? Should I do something or just wait and see? Eleven or Twenty-Nine or Almost-Forty: some things are unchanging. 
One day this week I get really tired and therefore grouchy and I worry about the future again. This feels like limbo, I tell a friend. I love you guys and I love what I do here but is this real life? Living in a dilapidated cabin with three other people in a town of less than 300, dressing up for a living? The next day I am less tired and I think It doesn't matter if it's real life. It's MY life. I might not do it for ever, but right now it's okay, It's more than okay.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Two Days.

Two days. Two days away from work. The only 2-day 'weekend' we have until September.
We could not have been luckier with the weather...
At Bowron Lake
...And I could not be luckier to have friends who are willing to drive me around to various adventures. My goal was to spend as much time as possible on, near or in some water. I got my wish. I asked a certain someone to take me paddleboarding. He complied. I swallowed any thoughts of what if, or I want, or if only, and I had a great time. Paddling. Swimming. Hangin' out.
Then I spent the rest of the day with my 2 best girlfriends up here, doing much of the same at a different lake. There were even more paddleboards to rent! I could get addicted. 
Today's schedule included a 5k run with another girlfriend, a massage, and an afternoon ATV-ing and swimming in the Cottonwood River. This water-baby got her fix at last! I did everything I wanted to do this weekend and more. Lucky girl. 
The weekend is over far too quickly. We're back to work tomorrow, and now that the wind has died down the smoke from not-too-distant forest fires is hazing the skies. It's supposed to get hotter. But my skin is browner, my muscles are pleasantly sore, and my batteries are recharged. Sweet summer. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

21-Year-Old Wisdom.

Last night, after work, we have a friend over to watch movies and eat snacks with us. A typical lazy night, except that this is a particular friend: someone I've had a gigantic crush on for years every time I come up here.
And it is so so lovely: I play him a new tune, we all laugh our heads off at the movies, he and I sit together in the growing dark on the same couch for about 3 hours, we walk some of the way home together (I'm house-sitting), and never do we run out of things to talk about because we never do. Even though we do nothing at the end of our walk together but say "good night" and walk away I am in a daze afterwards, like someone who's drunk too much champagne.
But when I'm back in the Panabode kitchen talking to my best friend about him this morning and I say half-joking, "I wish I didn't have such a crush on him," she replies kindly "I wish you didn't either. Because he's a really nice guy and he's fun to hang out with, but I was watching his body language with you and I don't think he's interested." And the truth that was floating around my head in a big ugly bubble pops with an ugly splat and tears spring into my eyes. "It's okay, we'll wear him down, we'll keep inviting him over..." my friend says, still so kind, and I say sadly "I don't want to wear anyone down" and then although I try to stop them, the tears come for real.
This is the same friend who held me and comforted me and talked me through a horribly stressful breakup last summer and I know she loves me and wishes me nothing but happiness and love, fluffy kittens and unicorns; I know that she is fiercely sad on my behalf: why wouldn't he like you, he's crazy not to! I also know that she is not the Oracle and that she may be wrong, but my instincts tell me that, at least for now, she is rightrightright and it hurts, just like it hurts every time. The only things that make it better are the old standbys Age and Experience, who tell me to suck it up, enjoy my friends who love me in spite of my faults, enjoy my work, which is basically getting paid to sing and be a goofball, enjoy my health and strength; enjoy this moment and the moment after it and keep breathing and sleeping well and distracting myself until the pain of not being noticed, of not being visible to someone, dies down again.  And even shittier is having to distance myself from someone I really genuinely like and love to talk to, an intoxicating (to me) combination of smart and silly, all because I can't just be happy with friends instead of lovers.
My 21-year-old roommate is far wiser than me. "Stop having so many expectations," he counsels the lovelorn ladies of the Panabode, we who variously mourn our limited prospects in this small town. He already knows more than us: that it's best to accept whatever happens; that if you want too much you run the risk of losing it all. He isn't the first person to tell me this; the last one was my latest ex, as he and I watched our fragile relationship drown under the weight of all those expectations I had.
So, I guess I stop trying. It's not possible to turn off the wanting, but it is possible to stop banging my head against this particular brick wall over and over again. My young friend recently stopped a long-distance (and very new and uncertain) relationship because he was finding that the constant pining for something he couldn't have was preventing him from enjoying the experience of being here. If he's smart enough to focus on the here and now, I hope I can be too. I'll sleep long and well tonight, wake up feeling more like myself tomorrow. I'll take the pain of not being special to someone, and put it into our afternoon show, into a character who knows that all too well. And I'll keep finding the joy in everything I do, because to do otherwise would be to give away my power.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


This morning I started the day off with a massage with Kate, who lives just down the road. She and her husband are building a bakery, and her strong hands are good at kneading people and dough. I told her that my neck and shoulders felt tight and that I'd been getting a headachy feeling lately, which is unusual for me. She laughed when she started running her hands over my back. "Your shoulders are up around your ears!" she said. "Let's see if I can give you a longer neck by the time we're done." 

Weeks of playing the accordion (a heavy, unbalanced instrument), of manhandling the double bass and of huge, full-body singing (in a tight corset, no less), not to mention hours of rehearsals on top of performances, are taking their toll. Surrounded by intensity at work I try to be the one who plays it cool, so I store up tension in my neck and shoulders until my head aches. I run, I bike, I walk, but I don't stretch enough. My body is an elastic band, pulled taut. 

Last night I went to the pub with T, our stage manager. Both of us fighting the urge to simply stay in, to lie like puppies on the couch until we stumbled off to bed. It was worth going- a folk club from Prince George was in town for their annual gathering, and we laughed and sang and danced with locals and folkies alike and then felt we'd earned the right to flop on the couch and watch American Horror Story (a house addiction) until after midnight. 

Today I feel burnt out and weak. I am lying on the couch with a warm Magic Bag around my neck while G plays a video game, building empires, fighting wars. T is doing some lighting work at the theatre and W is home in Cottonwood with her husband for the day off. In a way I feel like a wimp for being so drained. I don't have kids, my work is fun, if intense, I am earning enough money and I love the people I'm with. But my body needs some time off. It's days like this, with the rain pounding down, that I wish I could curl up in bed with someone and… well. Instead the best I can do is keep myself away from the sugary snacks in the house, renew my acquaintance with the couch, outlast this nagging headache and maybe brave the rain for a quick walk. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Rhythm.

Every year I describe my summer job to people. And every year I tell them: "I have to live in a run-down old house with the same people I work with. It's a bit like a reality tv show sometimes. It's kinda nuts."
But the truth is, that's an exaggeration. It's not usually nuts, except in a good way. Like when your roommate speaks in a ridiculously bad English accent and you all break up giggling because it never gets old. Or when you turn up the volume on a cheesy Katy Perry song on the way to work in your stage manager's car and later you sing bits of it while dressed in a 19th-century costume. Or when you all rush outside the house because there is an ADORABLE  Grizzly bear cub across the road and even though you all know it's a terrible idea to get anywhere near a bear cub, you all have to see the baby close-up. * And then your roommate sneaks up behind you and snarls and you let out a huge scream because you thought it was Mama Bear.
There are two 20-somethings and two late-30-somethings; three girls and one boy, and we all snuggle up in the evening and crochet or play video games and watch "American Horror Story" or some super-hero action movie and laugh a lot and cook dinners together and do the Kitchen Dance as we all try to fit ourselves around each other at the same time.
Sometimes you all have a Junk Food Day on your day off, and you eat ridiculous amounts of sugar (even though some of you are trying really hard not to consume that sort of thing). You might even make Orangette's Chocolate Banana Bread recipe, if you want to make your roommates love you. It's loaded with sugar, cinnamon and chocolate chips as well as three bananas, and it won't last long:

It's the rhythm of my days with these folks that make life up here so sweet. In past years there has been more drama, but even when things were difficult or tense, we found some kind of rhythm together. It could be the hardest part of this contract, living for 5 months with the same people you see all day at work, and every year I'm amazed by how it's actually the best part. 

* This is a terrible idea! We only went outside to see the baby bear because there was no sign of the mother and as time went by it became apparent that for some reason she had become separated from her baby and was nowhere nearby. Don't ever do this. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Why I Came.

Why I come:

The dark, wood walls of this tumbledown house (now with waxed floors! A properly-vented dryer!  And-wonder of wonders- internet!).
The three other people here in this house with me, my co-workers, my friends, my family for the next five months.
A glimpse of grizzly bears running across the highway in front of our car today, scary and majestic.
The theatre, with all of its dust and paint and mouse droppings and beautiful acoustics and wood.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rollin' On

Every spring I write a wistful post about leaving Vancouver in all its warm and sunny glory. This year is no exception.
I walk down south Fraser Street yesterday afternoon inhaling the smell of blossoms, of food; hearing different languages and accents. My life (and diet) is a lot less Asian up North: no Thai, no Japanese, no Vietnamese, only excellent (but very expensive) Chinese food.
I am packing today. My life: compressed into 2 cardboard boxes, a suitcase, an accordion case.

I go on my annual 7-hour urban hike with a friend and the day couldn't be finer. Seven hours of beach, river, railway, sun, wind... We end the hike footsore and sunburned, but triumphant. 

The little cat climbs into my open suitcase, my chest of drawers, my closet. By the time I get back she will be fully-grown. I'll miss her wide eyes, her huge purrs, her playfulness. My brother and his wife will have their house to themselves again for five months. They have been excellent roommates, but so are the ones I live with in the summer. 

This pattern has been part of my life for four years now. 
There are no goodbyes, only "see-you-laters".

Been kickin' sawdust In these clothes
For a blue moon And a red nose
The boys will put 'em up And tear 'em down
We'll wash away The dirt
Just a glass a day Ain't gonna hurt
Pretty soon we'll move on Out of town

We pass them by Across the plains
We don't even try To catch the names
It's supper-time and their kids Are home from school
They draw the shades On their shops
While we go a'checking Through the props 
And putting on the paint To play the fool

Then we're rollin' on
Rollin' on
Feeling, better Than we did last night
Rollin' on rollin' on
It's hard some times Pretty much it's alright

I'll go soft shoe When it rains
I'll go shuffle through The aches and pains
Mr. young at heart That's what I try to be
They all laugh And cry
They get to feeling better And that is why
If it was good for you Truly it was good for me

Then we're rollin' on
Rollin' on
Feeling, better Than we did last night
Rollin' on rollin' on
It's hard some times Pretty much it's alright

-Mark Knopfler, "Rollin' On"