Sunday, August 17, 2014


This has been a week of laughter, which is a pretty great epitaph for the week that was.
Laughter that has had me doubled over, or bellowing with it, head thrown back, or breaking into giggles at the best/worst times during rehearsals.
Part of it is stress, because at a time when we're usually doing our parts by rote we've been thrown back  into creation and rehearsal again. So by the end of the day we're tired and exhilarated and so wound up that we're manic. Three of us showed up at the taco stand for dinner last night and I think our friend Mark thought we were on crack.
Part of it is relief because the atmosphere at work is so much lighter, which is something I didn't realize until things changed.
Part of it is because this is the time of summer when friendships have fully ripened, and we have a particularly great group of friends this year. A really good gang of people to play with.
And part of it is the good weather, which continues to shower us with heat and sunlight when we are more used to... well, the other kind of showers.
The four of us who live together up here rented a cabin at the lake and spent 2 nights there this week after 3 long days of rehearsals. Friends came up and visited. We swam all day, when we weren't eating or playing cards or lying on a paddleboard reading on the lake (my favorite). We floated downriver, got out, and did it again. I had my bathing suit on all day. I still can't believe how much fun we had and how much we needed that break.
Three shows today, and a sick cast member to boot, and we still laughed a lot. Our new cast member is talented, funny, and gives as good as he gets when it comes to jokes and teasing. He is also an appreciator of women, which after a long summer of pretty much zero attention from anyone is slightly dizzying and very fun. We are all more generous onstage than we were.
This morning I lay in bed early in the morning and listened to rain pounding on our metal roof (a rare break from the heat and sunshine) and felt cozy and lucky all over.
In a few more weeks I will be forty. I am in a frame of mind these days where that feels like a promise and a beginning rather than a curse.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Today was an unexpected day off (don't ask).

The sun was shining and the air was warm. You learn not to take that for granted around here, especially by August.

I had to play the organ for a Masonic church service (again, don't ask). After that, the day was my own.  I possess the kind of personality that feels guilty when I'm inside and it's a sunny day. My 21-year-old roomie was perfectly content playing video games on the couch, and he'd certainly earned the right to do so. I got on my bike and rode. It was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment thing. I hadn't eaten, I forgot sunscreen and water and all that good stuff. A stop off at the taco stand took care of the no-breakfast thing. Then I hit the road.

Past the dump, past the gravel pit, past Manmade Lake. Up, up, up Devil's Canyon, black rocks and scorched-looking trees looming above. Two tiny lakes at the top, one on each side. Put my foot into one: primordial sludge sucks at me and makes me reconsider. Whiz back down the canyon and stop at Manmade Lake: stash my bike and find the perfect spot to swim, then bike home, soaking wet and bone-deep content.

I glance in the mirror: tanned face, huge eyes, lake-messy hair. A better testament to this surprising and perfect day off than any photo I could have taken.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Blue Day.

“Fear is the original sin. Almost all of the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something.It is a cold slimy serpent coiling about you. It is horrible to live with fear; and it is of all things degrading.”
― L.M. MontgomeryThe Blue Castle

A note from a new acquaintance stuns me out of my usual selfishness: I am blessed to have been able to get to know you guys a bit... She was a shy girl who hung around with us for a few days during ArtsWells and then abruptly left her job because she and her boss didn't get along... I thought she was young for her age and a bit of a pill; she found beautiful things to say about each one of us (me and my 3 roommates) in this note she left us. I am humbled and schooled. I try to be a nicer person. It doesn't always work out. But I try.

This is our Monday and people are at daggers drawn (what a great expression) at work. Tension, drama. I keep my head down and get through the day. I visit a friend where he works; I relax and we chat and laugh but later I recall L.M. Montgomery's wonderful quote about fear. I am so fearful sometimes. I can't say what's in my heart and it becomes this big thing that I can't shrug off. I cycle home feeling sad about my shitty day at work and my fears which stifle some of the things I need to say.

I watch some documentary shorts at a film festival in town. God, why are they all so damn depressing? There's an 81/2 minute doc about a man who's friends with a spoon. His family have rejected him for this and in the end he takes meds so he can stop being friends with the spoon and go to his son's wedding as a "normal" person.  A few tears trickle out. God, it's just a spoon. Why can't they accept him as he is? Then there's a documentary about a residential school survivor... the tears start to flow for reals. By intermission my eyes are red and swollen. Several of the docs were shot in east Vancouver and I'm surprised by how homesick that makes me feel. We walk home and autumn's chill bites at us in our thin sweaters. Is it that time already? Yes it is, up here where summer is short at best.

It's a blue day, for sure. We had an amazing day off yesterday, which makes today's sadnesses bearable, because I know how much fun can be had here too. Yesterday a gang of us went to the lake and paddled and swam and snacked and laughed and it was perfection, which is what the lake always is for me. Sun on my skin and lakewater in my hair and good friends to share it all with. So I know there will be more of that, and more great days of work, too.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Thrills & Spills

Today is the first day of ArtsWells, the "festival of all things Art", as it bills itself. Half of east van, my other home, comes to Wells, either to perform or to watch. I shoot into the day firing on all cylinders. A 4k run at 7am. Walking a friend's dog. Two shows. The weather is hot and the haze from a distant (we hope) forest fire puts a blur on the mountains. 
It's an odd sort of day. Three of us are tired from an epic day off of paddleboarding and going shopping in town. This morning my run feels good at the time but is probably not really such a hot idea. Our stage manager takes a tumble off a railing before the 4pm show, bruising her back and shaking herself up quite a bit. I get through that show in a daze, hot and tired out. On our way home we spot a friend of ours lying on the side of the road. She's skidded in gravel, fallen off her bike and broken her wrist. 
From the worry and sombre waiting at the accident scene to the giddiness of a festival- it's a weird transition. 
It ends up being the best year so far for dancing friends (usually I'm alone, wanting to hit the dance floor but lacking friends who want to join me). This year I have a nice pack of girls to get my groove on with. They are all way, way younger than me, but that's no big deal. I bump into friends I had forgotten were coming up here, I hug fellow-musicians who are performing, I buy a pretty ring, I dance and dance. 

Yesterday I spent the day in the water and sun and today I immerse myself in music, with the promise of more to come. Life's pretty much perfect. 

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.