Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lucky.

The city is cold and rainy. I buy an adorable pair of grey fleecy fingerless gloves with a mitten attachment that pulls over the fingers. Mittens! I haven't had them since my age was in single digits and it feels awesome. 

Old Yeller played a gig this week: seven friends crowded onto and around the tiny corner stage while our friends and family laughed and ate and cheered. The best pre-Christmas present a girl could get. Well, that and my guy taking pictures of us like the paparazzi; meeting my friends, giving me a grin and a wink when he catches my eye. I tease him: You'll get tired of coming to my gigs. And he gets that stubborn look in his eye and says Nope


Friday, December 12, 2014

Shameless.

Must be something about this time of year: I remember it happened last year and here we are again: I find myself frustrated by Facebook and social media in general right now, and I don't know if I want to contribute to it by writing more, more, always more.

We are all clamouring: Listen to me! Look at ME! Whether it's heroics, or what we had for dinner, or the funny thing our kid said, or self-promotion for an upcoming gig-
Why are we doing it? If a tree falls in the forest, if we did a good thing or thought of a funny thing and then DIDN'T put it on Facebook or on a blog... maybe people wouldn't know. And maybe that's okay.

But it's there, a great web of lies and half-truths and publicity, and why not harness it? I'm as guilty as the next person. Look at this blog.

I made a big decision recently. I decided to stay in town this year and not go north for the summer. So I'm riding the internet waves, putting out feelers and putting myself out there and selling myself so I can make a living (hopefully) without my usual main source of income next year. I set up a profile on LinkedIn. My guy says he'll make me a website. More me me me.

I love it and I hate it. It's a powerful tool and I know it and as a writer I love to put my thoughts out there and have instant feedback; the "likes" coming thick and fast to a status update or photo I've posted; the comments or the messages flooding in.
But I walk to the mall to buy some groceries and I realize: I can't go half a block without wrestling my phone out of my pocket to see why it vibrated this time. I literally can't leave the house without my phone in case someone messages me or my guy texts, or an important email comes in.

I do small things to change this: I uninstall Facebook and Candy Crush (ugh, don't get me started) from my smartphone so it can live in my pocket more, and less in my hand.

It's almost Christmas. I LOVE Christmas! For 3 reasons: Lights. Food. MUSIC.
I'm rehearsing a Christmas show and another show and a gig; my days are suddenly filled with prep work, while my nights are full of rehearsals. I make a date with a girlfriend to go and see a street that's famous for its Christmas lights. I buy a little tree and put mini lights on it. I hang ornaments (too large for my tiny potted dwarf tree) from my venetian blinds and while I do this I listen to the cheesiest Christmas music imaginable. (But it has to be either classic crooners or the classical stuff. I'm talkin' Dean Martin or Kings College, Cambridge. None of this contemporary Pentatonix/Michael Buble/Idina Menzel shit.)

My guy texts me. We are both swamped with work, we haven't seen each other in 4 days but it feels longer. We are both chained to our computers and our cel phones and it's too much, but he sends me this one text: We just listened to your song again. On the stereo. Gosh you're good. 
I melt a little.

The wind is howling outside tonight. I just powered through a productive music rehearsal and now I'm nursing a glass of wine and the cats have hissed and fought and galloped through their version of the witching hour and now they're sleeping again.  I turn off the tv, finish typing this, and in another universe I set my phone and my laptop on fire, fanning the flames until they're both nothing more than a foul-smelling plastic-y ooze on the living-room rug.

But in this universe I close the lid on my computer, plug my phone into the wall, and try to remember to raise my eyes from the screen(s) more often and drink in everything that's around me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I started writing the paragraph and it was full of cautiously happy statements: I had a great time in Hawaii but I couldn't really afford it. I looked better in my bathing suit than I did last year but I put on a few pounds there. 
Fuck that. Oahu was amazing.
We hiked to the top of Diamond Head.

We watched the sun setting from the bar at the Moana Surfrider Hotel (which we dubbed "our" hotel because we loved hanging out there so much. Although I'm sure the cost of an actual room there  would be waaaaay out of our price range!)

We rented a jeep and headed up the coast to Haleiwa, where we spent 5 days soaking up the sun, watching surfers take on Pipeline's famous waves, and eating incredible home-cooked breakfasts which our host, Cab, plucked from his back yard (the avocados! the spinach! the bananas! the coconuts!)
I was really hoping to see some mega-waves at Pipe. But these waves were gorgeous, even though they weren't that huge.

We ate a lot of good food. We swam in the salty waves. We got sand in every fold of clothing and skin.  We road-tripped. We put up with each other's quirks and we even shared a bed for over a week. Budget travelling. 

And after a six-hour "rest" at Honolulu International while Westjet flew out another plane because the one we were supposed to take broke down... I arrived home. To the rain, and the cold, and to a pair of arms that was eager to wrap themselves around me. 
A girl couldn't ask for more than that, huh?


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Passages

Sad news... 
Two words that mean something bad is coming down the pipe.
Tonight it came to me as I sat on the couch with my sister-in-law, enjoying a quiet night in. Just us two girls, plus the cats, plus the old dog; all of us snuggled in the living room watching movies and gathering together against the dark post-daylight-savings-time rainy evening. I spent the day doing nice stuff: shopping for food, walking the dog because my roommates are so busy right now; walking him right into a local shoe store, where I bought some expensive and stylish rain boots. My sister-in-law and I were doing the usual thing of half-watching the movie, half-checking our phones and various devices so we didn't miss a thing.
A message, short and sad: Rob is dead. Cancer. I know you weren't in touch but I thought you'd want to know...
Rob was my boss, years ago. He breezed into the bookstore where I worked, and he made working retail fabulous. "Life is a banquet," he'd quote from Auntie Mame, "and most poor suckers are starving to death." He was gay, and out, and proud. "Love you!" he'd proclaim loudly down the store phone to his long-time boyfriend, and he didn't care who heard.  He could be a customer's best friend or worst nightmare, depending on who they were, what books they were interested in, and what kind of a day he was having. He reviewed an autobiography of Pamela Harriman by saying "she slept with all the best people." He was catty, bitchy, and incredibly kind and sensitive.
He smoked a gazillion cigarettes a day, always smelled like them. My memories of him are smoke-tinged. I can't imagine him talking without picturing him blowing smoke out of his mouth and nose. He was the manager of Blackberry Books, and I his assistant. Our "staff meetings" were more usually smoke-and-gossip sessions outside the store. Years later, when we became Facebook friends, I couldn't believe his transformation: little Rob, with his ever-present cigarettes and his nerdy physique, had transformed into a mid-life stud: muscular, handsome; posing shirtless in photographs with jeans saucily unbuttoned. I guess I'll never find out now what (or who) was behind this metamorphosis, but it never ceased to amuse me when I saw his pictures. Do you still smoke, Rob? I'd wonder to myself. He performed in a gay comedy troupe called Tops & Bottoms. I always meant to catch a performance but never got around to it. He wrote me an absolutely wonderful reference which I used for years; I wish I still had it. For a while, he was an important person in my life; a co-worker and a true friend.
Am I the only person who looks suspiciously over their shoulder when bad things start to happen? Trust me, I don't have the monstrous ego to think that this spate of deaths has anything to do with me, and yet... My bandmates and I met up last weekend to find that everyone had had a brush with death last week; death or illness had come too close to all of us and we shivered as we felt its icy breath.
I am healthy and happy; I have an exciting vacation booked with a dear friend, and a new man whose saucy, romantic texts can sometimes leave me breathless (not to mention his presence, which causes similar difficulties at times).
I don't want to die. I don't want my loved ones to die.
At the end of the day it's what most of us wish for; as the song says: Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go now.
I pray for more of what we all want: time. Time to laugh, to make love, to enjoy my friends and my life. No more deaths for a while, no more sadness. But I am getting older, and so I know that this is only the beginning.


Friday, October 31, 2014

No escape.

Just returned from a 2-night 'date' with my new sweetheart. Starry-eyed mutual admiration. Long walks in the neighbourhood and kissing on the beach in the late-October rain. I come out of the public washroom to see his neat, lean form waiting for me and I think is this for real? This is passion and chemistry and lust, yes, but it's also cuddling on the couch, watching movies late into the night and then talking so much we suddenly realize it's 4am. We fit together, he and I. He's talking about how much he'd like to go motorbiking in Europe and he shoots me his mischievous grin and says "wanna come with me?" I know it's all hypothetical right now anyway but I bump his hip with mine and match his grin and say "I'll go anywhere with you, baby." And I mean it.

We can never predict the future. This time last month I was saying goodbye to one of the best summers I've ever had and feeling blue as I watched the seasons changing, saw my friends (and I) leaving the little town I love so much, wondered when I'd find someone who'd love me. Now I have just finished up another job I adore, I see my two best girlfriends from up north right here in Vancouver on the regular, and there is a lovely new man in my life who seems as thrilled to be with me as I am to be with him.

"And I don't know a single woman who has not had to deal with violence. Not one."

I see that on someone's Facebook wall and I feel cold inside. We are all debating the Jian Ghomeshi scandal on our FB pages, our blogs, our newspapers... What started off as disbelief that someone would be persecuted for their sexual kinks has flipped, for so many of us, into another kind of disbelief altogether. Again, I utter a silent prayer of thanks for my life. My lovers have been, without exception: kind, sweet, gentle, loving men who knew that they held the balance of physical power and strength and never, ever used it against me in any way. I have never been attacked, raped, or harmed by a stranger. I have experienced my share of harassment, like all women, but it's been pretty mild, all told. Unless this changes (and I pray that it never does),  I will continue to be a member of an extremely fortunate minority. And the fact that I'm an anomaly is so terribly wrong. 


I know a woman who suffered such horrific sexual abuse as a child (a child!) that she has permanent injuries. I know a woman who is verbally abused by her partner in front of other people, the same partner who loves her and looks after her in his way, and who probably has no idea that the way he talks to his girlfriend is wrong. 


I open up my Facebook app on the way home this morning and see that a lovely woman, a member of the Wells and Barkerville community, has died very suddenly in the night. Another Facebook friend wrote: "I really can't believe that everyone of us is going to have to face death, there is no escape. It's so hard to be conscious of these things, it's hard to live and know this so clearly."

Amen to that. All I can do in the face of so much bad news, so many sad and violent and heartbreaking stories, is gather my loved ones around me, be compassionate to others who are not so lucky, and try to appreciate my happy little life as much as I can. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sick Day.

The baby cat is delighted to have company at 9am. She darts around my room, stopping to weave happily against my legs or rub her furry body against mine. Although I love her, I am not so delighted this morning.
I am home because I am sick. Strep Throat, or something else that has made my tonsils pop up like golf balls. I sleep for over 8 hours, and I wake up feeling like hmmm, I could use a nice long nap right about now. 
I don't have time for this! I was supposed to be at the pumpkin patch today, on the last of the really busy days, working 6 or 7 hours to give my paycheque a final boost. I've been pushing through the last few days, but last night I realized that there was no way I could go in today, and I called in sick. I never call in sick.
I am seeing a sexy-hot motorcycle-driving man who thinks I am- to use the words of my 19 year-old friend- the bomb. I had to cancel our date last night because I realized that I was too tired and sick to even take pleasure in the thought of making out with him, let alone the reality. Not to mention that when you have infected tonsils your mouth tastes as though something died in it. He texts with offers of hot soup or a ride (in a car co-op car, not the bike), and I thank him and refuse. I've known him for less than 2 weeks; I don't want the sick, hairy-legged version of me to make an appearance in our lives just yet.

Last night I went shopping for late-night snacks with my brother and it was as though a split personality had taken over: in my stash were lemons, ginger, Kombucha, superfood-salad-mix... and also jalapeƱo cheese puffs, Skor Bites and Sour Cherry Blasters. I ate a bit of all those things last night and let me tell you, the health foods and the non-health foods were both equally delicious.
I get my computer out to do some accounting while I sip my green tea. Three hours later I've switched to coffee, the receipts are still un-tallied, and I've been Facebooking, blogging, and looking at online boot and clothing sites for far too long. Fail.
The baby cat flops onto a patch of sunlight and rubs against the other cat until she starts grooming her. Love me. I feel too horrible to love: sore, tired, unwashed.
Time to slow down, whether I want to or not. I check the calendar to make sure: yep, it's been only 2 & a 1/2 weeks since I got back and a myriad of things have occurred: friends, dates, passion, concerts, dinners, music, rehearsals, workworkwork... I read one of my sister-in-law's health mags this morning: Average time before readers think you should see someone before sleeping with them: 3.9 months. 
Oops.
I guess my body made an executive decision amidst all this craziness and just shut me down the only way it could: by disabling me for a while. Time to take a me-day or two.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Leaning Into the Turns

Where did you come from, sweet stranger? 
I've known you for two hours and all I can think of is kissing you. 
You showed up at the cafe with your retro motorbike and an extra helmet for me, and I put my arms gingerly around you, expecting to be terrified as we roared away. Instead, I fell in love.
With the bike. The bike. I hardly know you

But I want to.
You're easy to talk to.
Or you would be, if I didn't get so flustered every time we made eye contact that I stammer and reach for my water glass. Which would be fine, except it's been empty for the past ten minutes. 

I have no context for this. This is why I've never 'dated'. When you meet people through work you have a mutual background, mutual friends, mutual lifestyles.
You rehearse, say,  a show together. You are thrown into the pressure cooker and you become close. Also, you have a reason to be together, every day.

But we steal time together around our work. Our decidedly non-mutual work.
An impulsive coffee date four days ago and I've seen him every day since.
I learn to love the feeling of the wind against my body as we roar down the highway. I learn to wrap my arms and legs around him, lean into the turns, shout conversation at red lights. On the bike, I feel totally safe with him.

He drops me off at home and we kiss in the alley at the back of my house. And kiss. And kiss.

Until the shadowy neighbourhood tomcats are jealous
Until our noses are cold
Until my brain turns to mush 
Until we disengage, reluctantly, and kiss again, and wave goodbye. It's 1:30 am. I get up at 7. 

I don't know what this means. I don't know what this is. I don't know if that matters.

Today I am tired, running on empty after my late night. Sitting on my hay wagon, singing children's songs to enthusiastic strangers, I remember the cause of my late night, and grin.