Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I Found My Thrill

I walk north, across Broadway, down the big hill, onto the track where I have tentatively started running again, onto the bus. My accordion is a heavy bulk on my back but I have time to snap a picture as I walk; red berries against a brown background. It's January, but I am bare-legged as I walk. A testament both to the mildness of our winters here and to the heat of seniors homes, which is where my accordion and I are headed today. I learned my lesson after the first few visits: wear as little as decently possible or perish in a pool of your own sweat! 
The home I'm playing at is a religious one; the staff are kind and the residents are the usual mix of avid and comatose. It is a birthday party: the lodge has a monthly party and celebrates the birthdays of everyone born in that particular month with music and cake. Wayne introduces each "celebrant", and also takes a moment to acknowledge the centenarians in the crowd. Wow, there are a number of people in the audience (all women, unsurprisingly; women live longer) who are over sixty years older than me, and I'm no longer a spring chicken. Some of the elders take a well-earned nap, but I hear a strong baritone singing along to "Blueberry Hill", and when I swing into "Hey Good-Lookin'" two ladies on my left clap and harmonize with glee. I try to pick a mix of unknowns and singalongs. "Danny Boy", which I have grown to like, always gets 'em. But the rock-'n'roll/country numbers like "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Oh Lonesome Me" get enthusiastic responses too. I am reminded again that unless they are the really old ones, today's seniors grew up listening to Chuck Berry and Elvis (time to add some of the King to my playlist I guess). 
When I get home I decide to take the old dog to the corner store with me, since bladder/bowel control are becoming things of the past for him these days. Probably the same for some of the folks I played for this afternoon, sadly. 
Waiting patiently to go back inside again.

You know what, though? I took him to the park this morning and he was a firecracker. Up to his old tricks; even did my favourite, where he grabs a big stick and manages to get the end of it wedged in under his collar so he can wrestle it into "submission" all by himself. Happy grin, bounce in his step. Amazing what makes us shed the years: a quick jaunt in the park, a 65 year-old chart-topper and we shed our layers of years and become young again, if only for a few minutes. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Epiphanies and Anniversaries

Dammit, body. You were supposed to spring into action around Epiphany, ready to start a new year of eating right and exercising hard. Instead...

It's been a hard week. Over a week, in fact, of being a congested, tired, achy, brain-foggy mess. At least I can console myself that everyone else in the city also has this virus right now. But worse, I started to feel my mood tipping into a dark place it hadn't been for a long time... hard not to feel that way when you're sick and the numbers in your bank account are slipping down past the safety zone, with no big job to push them back the other way. I was starting to feel as if I was standing on the crumbling edge of a cliff. I was/am too tired to exercise, too sick to watch every little thing I ate, too broke to afford a Grand Gesture or a fancy event to cheer myself up. The nagging voice of self-doubt started creeping in: How could I be loveable, with my straggly uncut hair showing months of roots (and grey), my belly rounded from holiday overindulgence, my tissue-reddened nose and glassy tired eyes? How will I ever make a living making music? Would I be forced to live forever as my brother's tenant, unable to afford my own apartment? Had I made the wrong decision in cutting myself off from the summer job and northern towns I love so much?

When my guy offered me a small, easy photography gig with a bit of money attached, I grew insecure and snappish, sure that I couldn't do what he needed, although he assured me that it was a simple job. Although I ended up doing it, I was needy and grumpy about the whole thing.
I decided we needed a date night, since I'd hardly seen my sweetheart since New Year's Eve. Although I'm still feeling gross, I rallied- 2 nights ago- and dressed up. Pretty skirt, classy fishnets with the seam, even curly hair, because I know he likes it. He called: he was feeling stir-crazy and wanted to get out. Maybe we could meet up earlier and go for a ride on the bike before dinner? I started seething, thinking of having to change out of my carefully-chosen outfit. I'd wanted to feel dressed-up and civilized, not climb on the back of a motorbike in the cold evening air... I snapped at him, unwilling to bend, to re-write the script in my head. Then I called back and apologized for snapping at him- "Did you snap at me?" he asked, puzzled. Again, the script I was writing in my head, the one called I Am A Terrible Girlfriend And He's Probably Going To Leave Me Tomorrow, was completely different from what was going on in his head, where he was feeling bad for being irritable at me because he'd had a frustrating day, and was just looking forward to seeing me and maybe taking me out for a spin because he knows I love riding on the back of his motorbike whenever I get the chance.

We met. His eyes gleamed at the skirt, the stockings and the curls. He parked the bike and we walked- me mincing a bit in unaccustomed heels- to the cheap but fun place I'd picked for us to eat at. And even though the bike broke down (later) and the movie we'd picked to go to was sold out, we managed to make our own fun. We always do. And the black mood that had sat with me for days slowly lifted. He loves being with me. He loves that I know the words for obscure things (he can't get over the fact that I knew that the word for a monk's shaved head is a tonsure). He drools at my fishnetted legs and curled hair, but is equally inclined to say "god you're hot" when I'm standing in front of him with bed-head, sweatpants and no makeup. He makes me laugh with his stories and his imitations of his friends, he draws me cartoons and plays my music for his friends; he takes me for motorbike rides and always, ALWAYS gives me the warmest gloves when we do, and insists that I borrow his hats when it's raining. I can't believe it's only been 3 months since we first met (in fact, it's exactly 3 months today).  It's time to stop writing those glum scripts in my head and try to roll with things a bit more. Because this one's a keeper.

One of my favourite bloggers has a post that touches on this as well. You can read it over here; it's what inspired me to write this post.

On a completely different note... the Oscar nominations are out!  I don't know why, but this year, I'm pretty excited about them (well, partly because Grand Budapest Hotel made the list and I think that it was a damn fine movie). Although I probably won't watch the Oscars (I'd rather watch paint dry, honestly), I DO want to spend the next couple of months watching as many of the nominated movies as possible, including the docs and the foreign films. When I do, I'll blog about it here. (I'm definitely inspired by this guy, who also worked up in Barkerville this summer, and who is a smart and funny writer.)  Hey, if nothing else, watching movies at home is something my guy and I both love to do together. And it's dirt cheap.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Two Thousand Fifteen

Happy 2015! Here at the chateau on 12th Avenue we are so very classy that we let cats sit on the table. Actually, it's not that we let her so much, it's that she just does.

In what was surely an auspicious start to the new year, I spent New Year's Eve with some of my best friends, playing music and chatting until the wee hours. I had the pleasure of seeing my guy mingling with my bandmates and getting along famously with them, which was just lovely. In the middle of playing a song I'd look over and see him smiling at me... it doesn't get any better than that. Then my friend Holly turned up because she was en route to Victoria from Salmon Arm and had nowhere to party while in Vancouver. I'd felt some anxiety about telling her she could come, as the uptight side of me thinks it's kind of rude to ask friends to someone else's party... I should've remembered the Law Of Holly, which is that she knows everyone. Within minutes of arriving, she was chatting away with some other people from Victoria and I was chiding myself for being uptight. Midnight came and The night/morning ended with my guy and I eating at the Naam (a 24-hour vegetarian restaurant that's been in Kits forEVER) at 3am, and getting to bed by about 4...

Needless to say it was a lazy day yesterday, although we did manage to go running... straight to East Is East, where we sipped spicy chai and warmed our hands before plunging back into the cold crisp sunshine and buying veggies. My guy had bought a turkey and he was determined to cook it. Although I'd had my fill of over-rich holiday food I could hardly deny him when he wanted to make it for me, and thanks to his paper-bag method of roasting it the turkey was moist, tender and crispy-skinned. I was flabbergasted, since a) I'd kind of assumed he wasn't much for cooking and b) his kitchen is so tiny and overstuffed that you couldn't swing a cat in it, so I didn't think that much good could come out of it. Despite my sleep-deprived bossiness in the micro-kitchen and the aforementioned lack of space we managed to prepare roast turkey, quinoa tabouleh and roasted veggies and still be on excellent terms by the end of it! We watched the appropriately epic The Man Who Would Be King and sipped martinis, and life was good.

Today dawned grey and cold. I unclasped myself from my guy's side and went home, clutching my spare clothes, an accordion, and a bag full of various turkey parts to make into soup... not a very fun journey on the bus (not to mention squeezing into our local Korean grocer for some veg)! I had kind of forgotten what a farce it can be, making sure you have the right instruments, clothes, etc with you when you go to your lover's house, and then dragging them all home again... But I made it, and turkey soup is now packed into several mason jars, some of which will eventually make the journey back to my guy's place the next time I head over there.

Here's hoping that 2015 started as well for you as it did for me.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Year in Review:2014

I can't believe I've not done this before;  it's been an amazing year and I'm going to go over each month and what happened...
January: I was living in an awesome sublet on Main Street. It was the start of a new year, and some things needed to change.  I received an email from my summer employers saying that they wanted me to lose some weight before my contract began in the spring. Although I was shocked and angry, that email did spark an urge for change in me, and I began to watch what I ate and how I exercised.  It was also a month to take stock of my finances and realize that things couldn't continue as they were.  It's an ongoing struggle, but I've become a little bit better about money since then. I also reconnected with my ex and we strengthened our friendship, and my new friend from Victoria-Holly- came and stayed with me while she took a course in Vancouver.
February: I said goodbye to the lovely sublet and moved in with my brother and sister-in-law just off Fraser Street.  Thanks to my summer employers, I got funding to take several courses, including Victorian martial arts, playwriting and first aid.  The first aid course was intense, and in the end I failed it, but I learned a lot. My resolve was strong and I continued to exercise and lose weight.
March: I got an amazing contract with Studio 58, composing music for a play.  I was able to see how far I'd come in terms of both competence and confidence during this job, and it was delightful. I explored my new neighborhood, crocheted tons of crafty things, and fell in love with my brother's new kitten.
April: once again I got ready to leave Vancouver while the city did its best to seduce me into staying. I continued to play music with Old Yeller, a group of friends and ex-boyfriends(!) who became a second family to me. My ex and I deepened our friendship and connection to each other, which laid some of the ghosts of guilt and sadness I'd been carrying around since we split in 2010. And I visited       my new friend Holly in Victoria, falling in love all over again with that city, and delighting in a new friendship.
May: back to Barkerville, and back into winter after Vancouver's spring. Old friends and new co-
workers. As always, the first month of work up there was isolated and busy, and it was only as the month drew to a close that we started to make tentative friendships outside of work. There were some changes to the town: new people running things and new employees.  We opened our school show and kept rehearsing for the main season. I fell in love with the double bass all over again.
June: I got to house-sit for some friends in their beautiful converted church. The rhythm of my summer job washed over me again and I settled back into the groove. We opened our main season shows and started to socialize with neighbors and fellow interpreters. The four of us who lived together became tighter and tighter as tensions at work drew us together. Spring and then summer arrived in the north. I rekindled my feelings for someone, only to realize once again that they were not returned.
July: the weather turned hot and sunny, and I had friends to enjoy it with! Margaret and I went running. Tanya and I discovered paddle boarding. It was a month of outdoor adventures and hard
work, and work could be a pretty intense place at times. Luckily we were all becoming experts in
letting off steam during our downtime.
August: this month was a highlight for me, beginning with ArtsWells (Dancing! Live music! New friends!), and ending with my 40th birthday, a delightful night which included a bonfire, cake, many friends, and hash brownies.  The four of us who lived together made friends with a wonderful gang of  people who became a delight to hang out with.  We rented a cabin on Bowron Lake and many of those friends dropped by and spent a wonderful day off with us, swimming and sunnbathing. Meanwhile, tensions at work increased until someone was let go. We had a new cast mate who became a fast friend, and work became fun again. Unfortunately this came too late for our employers, and one of them became very ill, necessitating changes to the show.
September: I moved into another house for the month, and my new friend Eve came too. It was a month of saying goodbye as people finished their contracts... But although it was a melancholy time there were moments of great joy: incredible hikes, trips to the big city (Prince George!), gatherings and adventures and the easing-off of work. Only one show a day as opposed to two. Sunny, crisp Autumn days watching the leaves turn almost overnight. Crazy late-season swimming. When my contract ended I stayed a few extra days but that was a mixed blessing as the last of my friends left town.
October: I paid a quick visit to Kelowna to visit my dad. Fit and healthy after an incredibly active summer, I returned to Vancouver and began work at the pumpkin patch. I also entered the world of online dating... Three dates in I met this motorcycle-driving dude at a coffeeshop. The moment he walked in I thought "wow", and the rest is history. Two months later we're still going strong and we're absolutely crazy about each other. I never expected this, and it's been a gift, every day.
November: I kissed my new guy goodbye and flew off to Oahu with my friend Tanya. Eight days of sun, surf and sharing a bed! And we're still speaking to each other!  As November ended I made the difficult decision not to return to Barkerville for my summer job. I still don't know what the new year will bring in terms of work, but I want to restart my career down here and see if I have what it takes to live in the big city year-round again. Several people I knew in Barkerville passed away, a sad shock.
December: I played accordion in an Italian christmas play and started rehearsals for a musical based on the video game Portal. A whole new world for me. My new guy continued to teach me how to love riding a motorbike, and how to be a girlfriend again after not being one for a long time.

When I think back over this year, what strikes me is how happy I was, even though there were financial difficulties and big changes and periods of loneliness throughout.  It was a happiness that began back in the fall of 2013 and just kept going. I had some wonderful gigs. I wrote some good songs. I travelled to some beautiful places and learned all over again the importance of exercise and a healthy diet. I met a lot of new friends and held on to them, even though we were separated by distance. I reconnected with a wonderful person from my high school days. I forged a tender and forgiving friendship with my most important ex. And in the last few months of the year I was surprised by something-by someone- wonderful. Someone who swoons when I sing, who made me a funny and saucy hand-drawn Christmas card, who wraps his arms around me and gives me rides on his motorbike and tells me true stories late into the night (and early into the morning too!).
Old and new, young and old, my friends give me strength, joy and support as I keep stumbling down this crazy road of life. They keep me excited about the future, even as I see the dangers and sadnesses that lie ahead: parents aging, money troubles, health issues, uncertainties and worries. I think that 2015 could be incredible. But even if it's not, I know I'll have the best people to hold my hand and get me through it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


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


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?