Monday, December 31, 2007

yup that's me, making Christmas last as long as I want it to.

So I'm up here in Kelowna, about to see in the new year...if I can stay awake that late. No seriously, I slept really badly last night for some reason (could it have been the bottle of Bailey's I drained right before bed?) and only got about 4 hours' sleep so tonight I'm gonna sleep long and well. And really, what's there to stay up for? I've had my fabulous meal- my dad & stepmom always see that I eat like a queen while I'm here- watched my movie... Dad is listening to a British Invasion collection CD and Tom Jones is crooning "It's not unuuuuusual"... I could sleep soon. I'm reducing my horizons: true happiness is now a perfectly pan-fried piece of sole and watching "You Kill Me" about a gazillion times with a curly-haired Portuguese Water Dog slumped on your lap. No, but Ben Kingsley is to die for in this flick, silly though it is. I could fall in love. I could fall in love with a 65-year-old bald British actor playing a Polish-American alcoholic hitman. I always did have a thing for older men actually. Especially the odd ones that every other girl said "eewww" about. Who's with me here?
This beats the pants off last year's new year's eve, which was also the closing night of "Christmas in Wales" over in Chemainus. We drank at the closing night/New Year's party with one eye on the clock, because 3 of us had to take the ferry back to the mainland the following morning and go straight to rehearsals at the Arts Club for the Back Kitchen. There's too much pressure to have a super-great blast on NYEve, because it's the start of the New Year, for god's sake, and if you don't have the best time ever then what kind of loser are you? Well I say the hell with it. Stay home with your true love far away and fall in love with some celluloid substitute instead.
Um, Happy New Year to my 1.5 readers, whoever you are.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy (Burp) Christmas!

The festivities are winding down, the presents are open, the pile of junk food is being consumed at an alarming rate, the turkey leftovers are disappearing...
To me, the best part of Christmas is Christmas Eve, maybe because you can sense the anticipation of thousands of children in the air, the excitement of things to come. Christmas Day itself always feels bloated and quickly unexciting once the presents are open. I spent Christmas Eve day with my mom, preparing for the night's feast-ivities. J & his folks arrived soon after 5. The nicest surprise was that my brother was able to join us for a good few hours before going off to his night shift at the hospital (he loves that double-time pay). There was music (good ol' CBC), smoked oysters, sherry, and of course, the actual turkey dinner itself. Nicely lubricated by alcohol and background carols, the party flowed pleasantly. J's parents enjoyed themselves; freed from having to be the hostess from Hell, his mother could relax and enjoy herself. We all ate way too much of couse, but that's part of the fun. Then Mom & I took ourselves off later for the 11pm service at Christchurch Cathedral, which we've wanted to do fro years.
(This post was never completed, due to time constraints. But I'm posting it anyway)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

"Tis the Sneezin'

A Merry Christmas Poem:(
Jon & I are stuffed-up and snotty
My bronchitis is still making me feel grotty
Christmas Day will probably find us in bed
Both of us heartily wishing we were dead
I played music with friends last night until one
Then walked 35 blocks home in the rain, which was dumb
Tonight there's another party- should I go?
Well, of course, the answer is "no"
But there'll be friends, and booze, and smoked salmon
Laughing and singing and lots of jammin'
So of course I'll be there, guaranteed
Even though I should probably be quarantined
*(the author accepts no responsibility for the lousy rhyming scheme of this poem, as she has now been sick for about 6 weeks and her brain is turning to mush. She has canker sores on her tongue that make speaking & eating challenging, a cold, and the aforementioned bronchitis is still around. Any suggestions on how to make this all go away would be heartily appreciated.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

it's too yucky outide- I think I'll blog some more.

Ooh- this is my first holiday season as a blogger. Welcome to what I hope will be an annual event I shall call...
Christmas Traditions I like to Mock (part one):
  • "It's a Wonderful Life" No, it's not. If you put this lame-o movie in a cage match with "A Christmas Carol" (the B&W Alistair Sim version, natch) it would get its Yankee ass whupped. I am seldom more proud to have British roots than when I don't have to endure this crap with my family every year.
  • Christmas Songs. This is the only time I fully support Christian over Secular. "O Come Emmanual"? Benjamin Brittain's "Ceremony of Carols"? "Lo How a Rose"? Pure, silvery magic, especially when sung by little treble boys whose voices have not yet broken. "I'll Be Home For Christmas"? "The Christmas Song" & my mom's personal anthem of anathema "The Little Drummer Boy"? Dreck.
  • Feeling obliged to buy presents for everyone in your extended circle when you can't afford it. This blows. Don't give in to the insanity! Buy prezzies for the ones you love. Give everyone else a Christmas card. Seriously.
  • Getting guilted into doing things you really don't want to do/can't afford to do/don't care about. Also blows. No wonder so many people stress out over Christmas! If you have elderly, lonely parents or other family who really need you over the holidays then by all means spend time with 'em, even if you hate them. On the other hand... If you are baking 10,0000000 cookies your waistline doesn't need, hosting parties for people because you feel you should, not because you actually like them, and worrying what the neighbours will think if you don't clamber all over your icy roof stapling reindeer to the shingles then you are officially sad. And by the way, there are enough people doing their one-day-a year at the soup kitchen over the holidays. Be charitable to someone in need in February and I'll buy it.
Ok, that's all the mockery for now. If you have an impassioned argument about the merits of "Blue Christmas" (or "White Christmas", or any other Christmas 'song'), I'd love to hear it. Ditto any defences of "IAWL", although I will never believe it's better than "Christmas Carol". Never.

if I eat Almond Brittle for breakfast will it be any more bad for me than if I ate it later in the day?

So yesterday was the first ever Axis Theatre Gingerbread House Build-Off at my mom's place. The cast of "The Emperor's New Threads" worked hard to create these G-bread masterpieces, which my mom had provided the raw materials for: homemade gingerbread slabs, melted chocolate for "mortar", icing sugar for "snow" M&Ms and jelly beans and candy canes for detailing. (Note to readers: not only is my mom the coolest mom ever but she is probably the only stage manager you will ever want to have, especially if you like parties.)Josue went for the trad approach, Tanya's was a bit like an ancient Greek monument, and Stephano created a lovely villa, complete with wall and garden. A good time was had by all, and as the fabulous Mme. Anderson has written another TYA show, we all may have more work next year- here's hoping! After trying our hardest not to gorge too much on treats like Brie, hommous, shortbread, pizza and chicken drumsticks, J & I went off down the road to dinner with Galia & Terence and stuffed more food into ourselves- I love this time of year! G& T gave us some lovely baked treats for a present (see the title of today's post for details). Aw, now I've made myself hungry!
I have to reiterate how grateful I am to who-/whatever gave me the perfect family and in-laws who don't drive me crazy, although they're best in small doses. This year, to dilute them, my mom will actually be hosting our Christmas Eve party with J's folks, bless her. After many years of study I have decided that the reason my mom gives such good party is that:
  • she is warm & welcoming
  • she never sweats the small stuff
  • she always plays great background music
  • her cooking is without peer
  • she genuinely enjoys having people over
This year I will be flying up to Kelowna to see Dad & June close to New Year's eve and staying for a few days. This involves a little sacrifice on my part since my father and stepmom are seldom awake after 10pm and so are not exactly the ideal people to be seeing in the new year with. But as long as they have some booze in the house the dogs & I can take care of ourselves thankyouverymuch.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

new opportunities

On Saturday night, a new band was born. It might become the one band I've hoped of playing in for years, or our combined crazy schedules might pull it apart. But I'm hoping we can make it work. There's an excitement, an electricity when we play together, even though it's not a polished sound yet. The potential is awesome- I'll have to practice my butt off to keep up with these guys.
We stood in front of a bunch of theatre people, some who've known me since I was just starting out as a musician, and played just a few songs for the Leaky Heaven fundraiser- I must say it was very satisfying to look and sound good in front of people I want to work with and an old crush was there, which was extra fun- and they loved it! Here are some of the things we heard:
"You guys sound as if you've been playing together for years!"
"What great singing!"
"I've never seen anyone play the accordion with such passion...and such eroticism!" Seriously, I'm not making this up.
Anyway, I have to run, but keep your fingers crossed for me. This could be awesome.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

D'you think...

...that eating a wheel of shortbread with breakfast might, just might, play havoc with my plans to look really slim 'n sexy by Spring??? Nah, didn't think so.
It is so intensely grey outside that it's taking all my willpower to change clothes and waddle off to the gym (to combat the negative effects of said shortbread), so I'm putting it off by writing this blog.
I think I'm slowly coming back to the land of the living after spending a diverting time in the land of the bronchially infected, with a not-so-brief foray into the Valley of the Jetlagged. Still really enjoying my sleep, though- J says "it's about time," having been a long-time fan of 11-hour "naps".
Yesterday I didn't get out of my pj's until sometime in the afternoon! On the bright side though, I did finish 3 arrangements of Eastern European tunes for the hopefully reborn Redboot Trio. I would post a sound clip here, but there seems to be no way to do that. I find there is something so satisfying about arranging music- when the pieces just seem to fit together perfectly. I, who have no time or patience for jigsaw puzzles, Scrabble, Sudoku or any of that stuff, will happily mess around with a song until it sounds just right. Hours will pass like minutes (as they did yesterday) and hopefully at the end of it I come out of my daze with some tasty new material. Can't wait to test these songs out on Russ & Amelia!
Ok, must go to the gym now. Can't put it off any more!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

random gratefulness

I feel genuinely sorry for those people who dread this time of year. Whether it's tragic memories, evil family members you suddenly have to cook for or just too much damn money flying from the wallet, some folks just can't seem to get behind this "merry" part of Christmas at all. Time then for me to give heartfelt thanks that although my wallet is running on fumes and probably no one will get a Christmas prezzie from me, even my sweetie, I am looking forward to spending some happy nights eating and drinking too much with the people I truly love. My mom gets back into town tonight after touring the province with "The Emperor's New Threads"- I have so much tell tell her- all about my trip, which is feeling a bit like a dream at this point... I have just bought the fixin's for a chicken stew, so J & I will bask in chicken-y goodness tonight... We no longer have cable, so we'll have to think up some other inexpensive way to make the hours pass- this could be good for our love life!
I just dragged my sorry ass back to the gym today after many months away. First it was school starting, then the pumpkin patch, then the stage managing job... something had to go and exercise was it. Well, after a month of flopping around the house like a dying fish because of my bronchitis I was as weak as a kitten. Good thing I didn't start by jogging, as I nearly did! In my fantasies, a horde of overweight women in stretchy clothes would have welcomed me back and paraded me around the room in triumph after I completed my 2 circuits. But my Curves is shamelessly low-key (thank god), so I got a pleasant "hello"on my arrival and worked out in peace and quiet.
Oh, and I survived my one music exam yesterday, although I slept so much this past week that I didn't study as hard as I should have. Honestly, every time I so much as glanced at my notes I'd fall into a coma. But I think I passed, although not with flying colours or anything. And my teacher said my jazz/swing arrangement of "I Love Paris" was one of the best in the class, so score one for the old, cunning, part-time students!
Time to go and practice my clarinet now...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

a little snow

It is grey outside, with a high ceiling of clouds, and a little snow trickling out of them as if it can't help itself. A dusting of it lies on the ground, but it's very thin and won't last long.
I read that it's going to be a long cold winter, and I'm glad, because it seems like such a Canadian thing to have a cold winter and we've been lacking them these last few years- Global Warming and all that. When there's snow on the ground I remember that there are no other countries between us and the North Pole, the top of the globe.
My sleep patterns are still very messed up... I tried to study for my theory exam last night and by 9:30 my eyes were drooping and I had to call it quits and retire to bed- I bet I was out like a light before 10pm. And I slept right through until 8:15 this morning- almost 12 hours! Well, I guess my body needs to sleep right now so I'll just let it- and be thankful that I have no kids to wake me at ungodly times.
I had a gig with the North Van Community Band yesterday: 25 or so of us labouring through Christmas songs at a North Van Christmas craft fair. I find it strangely satisfying, even though we are pretty bad. The percussion section is hilarious- it's made up of two 50-something ladies who look like the conservative moms they are. I mean, good on them for taking up the drums (especially if it embarrasses the hell out of their kids) but they have a very shaky sense of rhythm! The kit player took off on a Duke Ellington medley yesterday and the rest of us were caught unawares, suddenly galloping through "It don't mean a Thing if You Ain't Got That Swing". Still, even though I always hate the pain-in-the-ass factor of commuting to the north shore, I always feel better after tooting away on the clarinet for a couple hours. I think it's the healthy flow of air through the lungs (and I very seldom cough while playing, I've noticed), plus the nostalgia factor of being back in North Van, where I grew up- it's a tidy place where the houses are comfy and everybody looks as if they have enough money.
Today, Zeellia is playing an outdoor (shiver) gig on Cambie Street- three nine-minute sets scattered throughout a 5-hour period. Who thinks up these things?!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Saturday, midnight.

So I got home from work around 4 today, full of good resolutions to study for my upcoming Jazz Theory exam, which is on Monday. Instead, I was soooo sleepy, (perhaps it was the lemon-and-honey grog with the shot of potent Kyrgeze brandy- for my throat, of course), I decided a nap would be in order, and went down around 5:30, aiming to rise by 7 and begin anew. Yeah, well that didn't work out so good. I slept until 11:30pm, and now I'm up, and hoping I will sleep again by 1 or so. I don't know whether to blame the jet lag or my bronchitis, which is now in week friggin' four, or the fact that I'm mildly terrified about my general lack of funds and maybe my body's decided that if I'm sleeping, I'm not spending $.
You know, it really bites to be in this money (or rather, no-money) situation again after having been fairly well-off for the last couple of years. Thank god J is getting tons of editing work- that expensive camera and Final Cut he went out on a limb to buy turned out to be a heaven-sent idea. Now if only he would land a nice supporting role in some tv show and keep me in the style to which I've become accustomed...
I woke up at 5:30 on Thursday morning, galvanized by fear and dread. J found me huddled on the living room couch, sobbing my heart out. We can blame a lot of things- jet lag, although I don't know how long I can keep milking that excuse, sickness, even cigarette withdrawal (did I mention I smoked in Turkey? Well I did, and if you think I don't know how amazingly stupid that was, well I do), but basically it came down to me crying about my problems and J comforting me, which he is so good at, but I feel like a troll for making him do it, especially at such an ungodly hour.
You know, the suckiest time of year to have no money is... pre-Christmas.
Anyway, enough whining. I know there are many blessings for me to ennumerate, so I'll do so, so you don't think I'm a total bitch:
  • my incredible, all-expenses-paid trip to foreign lands;
  • my part-time work at Tanglewood Books, which may at least help me to pay the rent;
  • my lovely man, who is the best cuddler around;
  • some upcoming gigs- nothing makes me feel more Christmassy than singing and playing music
And, because I've been reading the wonderful blog Sweet Juniper and drolling over their incredible photos of abandoned buildings of Detroit, here are some more pictures of Istanbul for your viewing pleasure... G'night.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Jet Lagging.

I have never slept for almost 24 hours before- jet lag is a killer. Got home yesterday afternoon, was in bed by 6:30 in the evening, and with a few interruptions, slept until after 4 this afternoon! Now I feel groggy from so much sleep, but it was good for me- I didn't sleep much this week for obvious reasons. Who wants to sleep when they're halfway across the world for only a week? There's too much to see and do, not to mention the fact that jet lag again had a hand in only letting me sleep for about 6 hours at a time.
Fatigue aside, it was an incredible trip, one that is already taking on the feeling of a dream as I sit at my desktop and try to sum it up. One week is not long enough to see a city that huge, especially when you're traveling in a group and working, and tired and still getting over a nasty illness. I'll describe these photos to give you some idea of what it was like:
The above picture is the view from Bilgi Universitesi, Santral Istanbul campus, where we were staying. A pocket of calm and wealth, surrounded by poor neighbourhoods. We called it the Compound, because although it was lovely and relaxing, it was a bit like being in a gilded cage. The pointy towers are minarets, which are everywhere. There are so many mosques that Sam and Noah started playing "Mosque Buggy"- punching each other in the arm every time they spotted one. There must be at least a thousand mosques all over Istanbul, and when the Ezzan (the call to prayer) rings out 5 times a day over the minaret loudspeakers, the sound of the singing echoes all over the place. Very haunting. This is a picture of one of the countless narrow streets we saw, filled with so many tempting stores & cafes. This was a little market that seemed to specialize in garden supplies and pets. I'm not sure how well those pets were going to be treated though, because Turkish people don't seem to have very many pets. Most of the cats & dogs I saw were strays, and had to scavenge their food where they could. There were even stray cats on our campus, staking out the cafeteria for scraps. And this is a sweet shop, of course. On the whole I found Turkish candy a bit too sweet, but Turkish Delight is just one of those things you have to try at least once while you're in Turkey. And the stores, piled high with colourful treats, looked so beautiful. This is the Hagia Sophia, one of the most famous sights of Istanbul. Funnily, this shot, with its palm trees, headscarfed woman and mosque, looks like a middle eastern cliche. Actually, I didn't see very many palm trees at all, many woman don't wear any headscarves, and the Hagia Sophia was declared a museum by Ataturk, so it's desecularised. The weather may look tropical in this photo, but it was actually really cold the whole time we were there, cold & crisp. This is me, pretending I can dance like a Turk. Of course, they all learn to move as kids, at weddings & parties, so this gorgeous girl did a lot better than me. All the young women there are very beautiful, so the guys in my band were in heaven. I on the other hand, who had only packed comfy, boring clothes, and felt very frumpy after 2 weeks of being sick, felt distinctly unglamorous. And these are the rest of Something About Reptiles, posing on the steps of-what else- a mosque with a Gypsy kid who was selling us some spinning tops. We ended up by mistake in a Gypsy area one day called Kustepe, and were mobbed by kids who led us to an internet cafe and asked us questions and sang songs to us and made us laugh. We were so lucky to have Burcu with us as she was born in Turkey and is still fluent in Turkish. Having a translator got us into places that we wouldn't have otherwise visited (or survived). We also all learned a lot of useful phrases from her, so by the end of the week we could all order food and beer, ask how much something cost, and say our hellos and goodbyes.
Oh, and our 2 gigs went very well. I wondered how Turkish audiences would take to 1 ex-pat Turk and 4 foreigners playing their songs, but we were a hit. As one Gypsy man put it when we busked in Kustepe: "The hands of the Devil play pretty well." Bush & Blair may be seen as "2 devils", as our Aya Sofia guide put it, but we were treated very well.
I think all of our appetites were only whetted by this trip: none of us was ready to come home yesterday, especially Burcu, whose family, as well as most of her heart, is still in Turkey. I'm already plotting how I can return.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Missing...5 pounds

I must have misplaced them somewhere. I mean, there's no way in hell that eating any & every carb, sugar and deep-fried thing that comes my way and whining "but I'm siiiiiick" to justify it, and avoiding the gym entirely due to the fact that I cannot catch my breath sitting right now, let alone exercising, has caused me to...lose weight. Maybe hacking up a lung every five minutes is a real calorie-burner. But, just in case you do find them, please don't return them to me. I don't want those 5lbs back, at all.
In other news, I had one of those awful dreams where you wake up sobbing your heart out and generally feeling horrible. In it, I was at the passport office to pick up my passport... but they'd screwed up and there was no passport to be had. I woke up realizing that no matter how anxious I am about traveling, I really do want to be in Istanbul next week. Luckily, reality was kinder than my dreams, and Passport Canada came through for me. I just hope my billets in Turkey like the sound of coughing, because this bronchitis is not. getting. better. I went back to the clinic today to see why, on day 4 of taking these so-called powerful antibiotics I felt no improvement. Turns out that my internet research wasn't so far off after all- most cases of bronchitis are caused by viruses and antibiotics can't touch 'em! So I wasted $66 on drugs that have no use to me, oh, but if I want to spend another $100 I haven't got, I can have a puffer full of steroids to ease my breathing, although it won't cure anything. Screw that.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Every breath you take.

I consider myself a healthy person, all told. Which is why it is so galling to have to rest this week, with every breath a struggle against coughing, phlegm rumbling as I exhale, smelling oh-so-sexily of Eucalyptus oil, bundled up in my pj's half the day. Most of us take breathing for granted...well let me tell you, you should thank your lucky stars if you can inhale without a fight. It is so, so annoying to be sick! I caved today and got myself to a walk-in clinic right after class, where the good doctor poo-pooed my internet research and told me that most bronchitis infections were caused by bacteria and a good dose of medium-potency antibiotics would clear me right up. Homeopathy be damned- I'm back on hard drugs! Let's see... that was over $50 for the good ol' "natural" remedies, plus another $66 for the Biaxin... This is money I can ill afford to spend, people. I have less than $200 in the bank right now. I'm scared about that, really scared. If I didn't have this wonderful trip coming up I'd probably be in the depths of despair. I need work , fast, or no one's getting anything for Christmas!
Wheeze, bubble, hack.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oh my god. Istanbul!

The title of this post says it all, really. Passport Canada are processing my passport as I write, and so, in just over a week, I will be on my way to Turkey!!! I am only just starting to believe it. Just before coming here to write it out, I Googled Istanbul and started looking at pictures, info, history, anything to make this trip more real. Suddenly I had to turn away from the computer screen, so overwhelmed I was by the beauty of what I was seeing. One of the oldest, most romantic cities in the world, straddling east & west, Europe & Asia. And I get to go there with the Reptiles and play our zany Turkish music in a city filled with so much music and history and stories I cannot even comprehend it. My bones sing with excitement; I am aglow, even as I battle Bronchitis and fatigue.
[On a prosaic note: FYI those who are thinking of getting your Canadian passport: it's now quick & easy. An extra $30 on top of the regular processing fee was all I had to give to make sure that I would get my passport in time for this little jaunt.]
I am $50 poorer in my pursuit of wellness. Homeopathic balls to dissolve under the tongue and banish this awful cough, which kept me-and Jon- awake most of the night last night. (And Jon wasn't even in the same room as me!) Some kind of Swiss cough syrup/immune booster (at over $20 it had better work). Acidophilus capsules to reduce my, um, yeast problems. The thing is, I really don't want to be on antibiotics again, seeing as I just took them for my nose infection last month. And I had dinner with June & Dad last night, and June's so into the alternative healing stuff right now that she got me all fired up to try it.
June's energy is waaay up from the last time I saw her, and she has been visiting a Native healer, a woman J & I met while I was in Enderby last Spring. Frying up Bison burgers for us at her tiny restaurant-slash-teepee on the Mabel Lake Road, she mentioned that she also cured people using First Nation herbs and cures. I passed her number on to June and forgot about it. But June finally called her and has had two healing sessions with her. Her energy, as I mentioned, is up, and she firmly believes that there is less cancer activity in her body than there was before. (and her tests seems to support that.) So we'll see. I was shocked by what my dad had to say this time: I'm used to June getting all new-agey and alternative healing these days, but here's my dad's story: Jackie (the Native healer) told June to bury the herbs in the earth when she'd finished cooking them up to make a tea, he said last night, as we chomped Japanese food together. So June was burying them in the earth and saying a little thank you as she did and all of sudden I saw my grandmother standing between us. Hadn't even thought of the woman in ten years and suddenly I could see her as plain as day. Isn't that spooky and wonderful?
My mom will be back in town tonight, I think. She's been on the road with the Axis show for about a month, and I can't wait to tell her all my news... We'll have to have a good gab session ASAP, as she leaves again in a couple of days.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

getting back to "normal"

Someone I worked with on the show emailed me yesterday: God, last week was so great and I didn't even know it! Luckily, school (complete with a host of end-of-term tests & assignments) is keeping me from feeling the post-show blues too badly but I know what she means. The hardest jobs/relationships/life experiences can be hell as you're going through them but you miss the adrenaline when life settles back down again.
I'm fighting a cough so nasty that I sound as if I should be wasting away in a remote sanitorium somewhere, a cough that keeps me awake all night as I lie on the living room couch, a cough that followed me to my 2 music classes today as I struggled through 2 tests I was inadequately prepared for. Hard to believe that there are no rehearsals to go to this week- both a sad and a happy thing. There's this invitation to Istanbul though...
Crazy tho' it is, it's actually true. Something About Reptiles has been invited to Turkey to play a music festival there...on November 25th! All expenses paid. Where's the catch? Doesn't appear to be one. I cannot even wrap my brain around the possibility that I'll be flying (blech) to a place as wonderful and foreign as Istanbul in a week, so I concentrate on the mundane: will I be able to get a passport on time (unlikely, but not impossible), what to pack, who from the band is going? More on this as things develop...
I hung out with my 2-year-old buddy Sebastien yesterday, a day which probably didn't help my cough but which was tons of fun. I'm starting to get to know him as a person just as he starts to become one: a little boy with an endless capacity for humour, mischief, and love. We spent the day in various parks, me marveling at his ability to climb things, hovering close by to grab him if he fell but also cheering him on: hold on tight, watch where you're going, wow, I can't believe you made it! He echoes my phrases carefully, grasping for meaning in unfamiliar words: ...tight, oopsie! and my favorite: fa' down, which he uses all the time. Happy to risk life and limb, to fall down, and to pick himself up and try again, which is very inspiring energy to be around.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Life, post-work

It's a holiday today- the Monday after Remembrance Day, and I'm sitting in my pj's at 12:15 (in the afternoon), typing away as the wind plays havoc with trees, balcony furniture and birds outside. Global warming seems to have brought fierce windstorms to our part of the world over the last few years.
My body, having realized that my stress-filled job is over, decided to have a little breakdown, so I am nursing a lusty cough that rattles around in my chest, and a persistent, itchy little infection down there... well, let's just say that I won't be gettin' any for awhile, unless J is attracted to hacking, itchy women. I need to marshal my strength, for I will be babysitting my 2-year-old friend tomorrow, and he needs a lot of watching, having realized that spontaneously running away, down the street, into traffic, gets him lots of attention. But today is mine, and it's already slipping away (the dangers of sleeping in!) so I'm going to get dressed and brave the winds for a while, maybe visit a neighbourhood I haven't been to in a while, maybe even bring my camera.
I tell ya, if I had some money to go with this lazy lifestyle, things would be just about perfect and I'd never work again...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

it's over...?

I can't quite believe it. It always takes a day or two for the truth to sink in: the show is over, no more rehearsal, stress, tears, laughter, bonding...
My contract began not even 2 months ago, hard as that is to believe. The cast has been working together for a year on this project and now it's done. I have so many hopes and wishes for them and I am only the stage manager. What must be going through the heads of their director, their social worker, the assistant directors, who have steered them through this process for months and months?
I have learned so much. Tonight I wrote down all the tips and rules I have learned about stage management so I'd remember them for next time, if there is one. I have learned about responsibility, about assertiveness, about organization. It's been one of the hardest weeks of my life and I'm sad it's over.
Dakota: I hope you can get through high school without being bullied any more.
Roberto: I hope you can rise above your family difficulties and become self-assured and dashing, as you could be.
Herb: I wish you control over your anger; I hope you channel some of that intensity into something positive and don't waste your life in construction work.
Natalie: I love it when you get excited about something and just glow. I hope you can transcend your family problems to grow into a wonderful young woman.
Pinky: You are older than the rest of them- don't get bogged down in a soul-sucking job and waste your life.
Karine: You have so much raw talent. I wish you stardom and success, but more importantly, the maturity to deal with it.
Michael: You work so hard and with so much intensity it's unreal. Now learn to let go and just feel some things!
It's 1:45am. Time to hit the sack.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Opening night has come and gone in a blur. It's getting near 1am and so, time for bed, but I had to write and just say that after the worry, the fear, the waking up at 5 this morning and so being in a zombie state for most of the day...
Well, the show adrenaline kicked in, as it always does, and I called a mean show. And the cast was amazing- they lit up in front of the audience and did their best performance ever. And the lighting designer, who I have a wee bit of a crush on, is still speaking to me, so I guess I didn't destroy his design. And even people who were at loggerheads yesterday were working backstage in perfect harmony and schmoozing together over the delicious food at the post-show reception.
Sometimes there are perfect storybook endings after all.
Now one more day of this and I have to start contemplating the fact that Something About Reptiles (the crazy Turkish band that I play with) may travel to Istanbul in a couple weeks' time. More on this soon...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

dress rehearsal

I came home from the 2nd day of cue-to-cue last night, weepy from lack of food and mental exhaustion. Cried hard in Jon's arms for a few minutes, not really from any specific worry or pain, but more as a release of the day's tensions. The hard part of this job isn't calling a million cues or being super-organized: it's having to field a 1/2-dozen questions at a time and give all the right answers; it's having to appear calm and in control all the time and never, ever crack the veneer of capability. I don't have the experience to know if this is just a particularly difficult show (although I know that it is) or if it's a difficult show and my inexperience is making everyone's job harder.
Tonight as we were standing outside the theatre, our director mentioned that "the professional team all seemed tenser than other ones she had worked with before." There are a lot of factors that could be contributing to this: time constraints (it's a union house so we have to be out of there right on time or mucho money is added to our bill), the inexperience of the cast (who are much less stable than other casts she's worked with), the fact that our director and assistant director rub people the wrong way...
But of course, all I could think of was: Ohgod, it's me. I'm causing this. This is my fault. For being new at this, for not taking better control...
And then I just have to give myself a mental shake and say Forget it. You called over 175 cues tonight with hardly any mistakes. You got everybody out of the theatre on time: cast, film crew, backstage crew. You listened to people's concerns and dealt with several stressful personality conflicts as they arose. You were not perfect, but you did a good job.
Dress rehearsal was great. Tensions aside, the cast did a good job, I called a pretty good show and the backstage crew worked really hard. If the lighting designer's still on speaking terms with me tomorrow then I'll relax a bit. A little bit, anyway.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

In the booth

I wake up these mornings, still bleary-eyed but seemingly unable to sleep past 8 anymore. I can hear all you parents hooting in derision, but man, that still feels early to me! Today is day 2 of Cue-to-Cue, which theatre people will know is a long, drawn-out torture specifically designed to make actors and grown men wilt and crumble.
Day One (yesterday) went smoothly. In spite of my inexperience, and the inexperience of the 7 actors. In spite of my fears, and in spite of our well-meaning but overly verbose director. Largely due (and I cheerfully admit this) to the patience and expertise of our lighting designer, video projectionist and lighting operator, who gently correct me and guide me without making me feel small or stupid. However, I know that some of this smooth running was due to me, and it makes me proud. I was able to stay in control and polite all evening, never "lost it", knew what I was doing most of the time. This may be one of the hardest jobs I have ever done, but I will come out of it with renewed confidence in myself and new abilities. I may even want to be a stage manager again someday.
Today will be another long, hard day. And then hopefully, things will get easier, although the stress won't be over 'til my contract's up, in 4 more days. I will have around 140 lighting cues to call in this show. Somewhere around 25 video cues. I'll be operating the sound and mixing vocals during a song. Although I'm new to this, I believe this is fairly complex, so I don't think I'm out of order for saying this is haaaard! But this will pass, and I may even come out of it all looking pretty good.
And that's all I want, at the end of the day.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


It is the perfect autumn day. I rose early (it's getting easier!), ran to our nearby rehearsal hall to give some setpieces to our set designer, ran up Main Street & rewarded myself by stopping at Solly's for the perfect chewy toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese. Then got even more self-indulgent and called in at Nester's- the brand-new deluxe supermarket at Main and 29th- for groceries I could've easily bought at my local Skankway- I mean Safeway. Wandered back down Main, checking out some of my fave clothing stores, and spent money I don't have on footless tights so I will look hot when I'm jobless in a week or so- gulp. After weeks of working 7 days a week, this day off has felt like a slice of heaven, although since I got home I've been working through 4 loads of laundry. To simply be alone in our little place while J works , to have time to make it look good and clean our clothes, feels wonderful. I'm a solitary person who's had almost no time to myself in the last month or so, but today reminded me why I choose this life, in spite of the fears it gives me.
Fear. When you were starting Grade Three, you had to take the school bus for the first time, says my mother. I walked down the street with you and when the bus came you were so nervous your voice was shaking but you said is this the bus to Sunnylea? and it was, and you got on and went to school. You were scared but you knew you had to go and you did.
I remember that so well. The giant yellow bus, all those faces assessing you as you pushed down the narrow aisle, hopehopehoping that someone would let you sit with them. And then it was 2 months later and you boarded the yellow giant as though you'd done it always, your friends hollering hellos as you surged down the aisle to meet them.
And that, my friends, is what every month brings these days. I was so nervous starting at college in September, and so apprehensive about stage managing this show, and wondering how the Pumpkin Patch would be this year. And now the Patch is done and I miss it and my friends there. I played my arranging assignment at school yesterday and several people told me afterwards how much they enjoyed it. I still slouch in the back row just as I did on day one, but there are several people back there with me that I can giggle with and talk about music with and it feels...familiar. And the cast of my show, those so-called "at risk" kids who I feared, are mercurial: funny, goofy, moody, talented, lazy. They crowd me before run-throughs: Alison, where's my fake knife? Where do I go after this scene? Who will help me with this quickchange? Sometimes I even have the answers for them. I am proud of myself that I am surviving working with a difficult director, a challenging cast, that I am learning as I go this tricky job of stage managing. I am nervous about next week because we move into the theatre and my responsibilities will increase, but this too will pass. Funny how you can tell yourself that and it can help, but it doesn't banish the butterflies in your stomach, does it? I remember piano exams at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music, such an imposing brick building, so unlike the shabby wreck of a place where I had my weekly lessons. Going there with Mom, out of school for the morning, with sweaty palms and queasy tummy; waiting in a small room to be called in to the exam room was always the worst part of all. Because once you got in there the examiner was always very sweet, you'd practiced hard and notes slid from your fingers and danced on the piano keys in some semblance of order.
A cloth bag bears the slogan: Do something that scares you every day. Every job, every contract, every tentative reach-out to a new acquaintance, every major life change is scary. Thoughts of death, of having children, of having children in these times, of terrorism, of the world giving up on us humans and shrugging us off her back in one great cataclismic event- these things are terrifying. But we soldier on. Fear tells me I'm alive. I could work full-time in any bookstore that was hiring, in any clothing store or office. And I would die slowly inside. I'll take the uncertainty, the fear of the new, over a steady life. Because if you hold your breath and take the plunge, the water is almost always pretty great.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

making room for the girls

Today was the last day of the Pumpkin Patch... until next year. (Insert photo of a tractor-drawn wagon receding into the distance, which I would have taken if I hadn't been a flake-ass about bringing my camera along). I know some people were happy to be done, but I'll really miss it: the camaraderie and the cash. It was a lovely group of folks this year, and I'll certainly miss the constant performing, which fueled my outgoing, slightly wacky side. Now I'm back to being serious-and-sober Stage Manager me, with a grim hint of Retail Me to come, unless I land a more interesting job soon.
In fact, the Pumpkin Patch job literally takes years off my age, as witnessed by several of my co-workers there who were convinced I was 28 at the oldest, and more likely 23 or so. (The fact that I wear no makeup there and my hair's all over the place and I'm acting like a 23 year-old probably has a lot to do with this misconception, but still.) I don't know whether to be flattered or horrified.
I hung out after work with a very sweet girl who worked there this year and wants us to keep in touch and hang out. Part of me was so thrilled- a new girlfriend! I hardly ever make new girl-friends! And part of me was cynical- she's 21. And young for her age- in a good way, but still. Will we be able to bridge the age gap and be friends? Nothing makes me realize how much I'm not like a 21-year-old than hanging out with a real one. But actually, it was fun to sit at East is East with her and confess our mini-crushes on various Pumpkin Patch guys (sadly, the pickings are slim, ladies) and just be girls. Not something I get much chance to be these days, given that my two closest friends are my 60-something mom and my very manly man. And any other girlfriends I have are married, mostly with kids, which cuts down on their ability to cut loose.
I really miss the days when I was young (did I really just type that? I didn't mean it like that!) and had girlfriends. Not 'meet me for coffee once in a blue moon' friends but friends who lived in synch with me, knew the in-jokes and giggled hard at them, friends to whisper secrets and crushes to, friends to be cruel to and make up to. Problem is, these friendships are so often edged out by lovers, spouses, long-distance moves, kids.... I envy the closeness of some women, and I wish it could be me. I feel as if I don't know the rule, am missing the secret password or something. I move in a male world- I like hanging with guys; the comfortable closeness of the ones who are like brothers and the edgy flirty friendships that feel slightly dangerous. It is so damn hard to make room for the other girls. And if I make room, will anyone let me in?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

full days

My admiration for people who can write eloquent, witty and sometimes heart-rending blog entries during exhausting times is now boundless. I get busy, and all I want to write, when I want to write at all, is: Aaaaaaaaargh.
What to say, really? I love the Pumpkin Patch; the folks out there this year are especially awesome and help me get through the busy days when I'm literally singing my head off for 5 or 6 hours at a time. "I'm my best self out there," I said to J. recently. "Hardworking, don't complain, funny, outgoing..." It's true, too. Even on the rainiest days, and we've had some doozies this year, it's almost always fun, with a strong pinch of we're-all-in-this-together thrown in.
Rehearsals are...hard. I find that the way I work and the way that this company works don't necessarily gel, but I am learning so much and I will come out of this stronger and wiser. And that, my friends, is the upside to contract work: I will come out of it. The end is in sight, and I will move on, though to what is unclear as of yet. Joblessness lurks perilously close these days as my theatre contract ends November 11th. There are many things to worry about, but at least the good thing about being busy is that I don't have much time to worry, and when I fall into bed I sleep almost immediately.
Enough moping. It's a perfect Autumn night out there: clear, windy, cool, with lovely scattered leaves underfoot and a haunted moon overhead. I'm home from rehearsal and I need to get out into the night air and head over to Mom's to pick something up. I'll let the night clear my head.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

at home, putting off studying by blogging.

Sometimes bliss is just having the place to yourself and lazing around at not-even-7pm in your pj's!
I put in 5 hours at the patch today, and then took the bus to a training session for the Standardized Patient Program (a really good little moneymaker if you have a flexible schedule, BTW). Now I'm done, and much as I would like to join J in hanging out with some friends this evening, I have to buckle down and get some homework done- see, I can be responsible and have good study habits!
I actually feel sparkly and fun tonight, so it was a bit of a sacrifice to stay in; some nights it's all I want to do. I feel like doing some mad flirting, or going dancing, or... but no. Tonight I have a date with Jazz Theory and Arranging. I'm sure we'll have a lovely time. No, really.
I realized that I haven't said anything here for a long time regarding my stepmom and her cancer. She called me early this week and the old spark was back in her voice, the first time I'd heard that in a long time. She and my dad had been to see a First Nations healer, a woman that J and I met back in May when I was working in the Okanagan. We were drawn to her because of a sign promising Buffalo burgers, but she told us a little about her healing powers as we chomped her amazing organic buffalo. Enough to get me to take her number and pass it on to June a while later. Well, she got into this other alternative stuff and I figured that was that, but they finally went. And loved it. June said she was sure that this woman had done a lot of good, and they're going back this coming week. The thing I liked about this lady was that she was very no-nonsense and grounded, a very strong lady. And she hardly charges anything at all for her healing work. That sounds cheap of me, but the thing is that June has been paying and paying to go to this other clinic- even if it heals her she'll have no money left! Whereas this woman only charges the bare minimum, which seems much more honest to me. I have no idea if any of this will work, but to hear the energy back in June's voice was fabulous.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

a new low?

Yes folks, today was a special day. Today I made my debut as Polly the dancing pumpkin out at the pumpkin patch. I danced for about 4.5 hours, and my back will probably never be the same. Nor will I ever have warm, fuzzy thoughts about the innocence of children again. They mobbed me, punched me (luckily the costume is very round, so I didn't feel a thing) and pushed me around.
Actually, I had a lot of fun (I love to dance, and nothing gives ya more carte blanche to dance like a fool than a huge orange globe that covers your whole body!). My favorite quotes of the day:

1. Teacher: "Remember what we talked about, kids, about personal space? Well give the pumpkin some personal space, okay?"

2. Little girl, as I advance on her: "It's going to bite me!"

I will never complain about singing on the wagon again. I'll try and score a photo next time...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

tick. tock.

Reading some of my favorite blogs this evening, steaming tea in hand, I came across two references to Advanced Maternal Age. Yes, this not-so-magic number-35- is fast approaching, leaving me feeling like I did in school when homework was due that I'd left 'til the last minute (I always have been a bit of a procrastinator). The thoughts I'd have then are the same ones I have now: What, already? But I'm not prepared! Does this mean that what I produce won't be good enough? Maybe I should just not do it at all...
A co-worker at the Pumpkin Patch says I feel like I'm in this alternate world where everyone has a child. Funny, and true, because of course the patch is a place you'd probably only come to with a little one. So they're in my sights all day long and still I vacillate between want & don'twant, back and forth like the pendulum in my biological clock.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Life on the roll

"Awk! $#@* me!"
That's the sound of me trying to extract the roast chicken from the oven, always terrified that the dishcloths are going to catch on fire and I'll have to drop everything and flames will consume us all... I must have been burned in a previous life.
I'd forgotten how you can get just slammed out at the pumpkin patch on a good-weather day: people lining up from 9:30 until 4:30 just to get out there in the fields and pick some pumpkins. Forgotten how your voice can get hoarse after 8 hours of singing with-I kid you not- maybe 10 minutes' worth of break time the whole day. How you'll get home, shoulders aching from the accordion, mind spinning with the same 3-chord tunes, inner ear whirling from the constant rocking and rolling of the wagons which you've sat on all day. I couldn't do it for more than 3 weeks, but it's pretty fun, even though it drives you crazy: there's a feeling of cameraderie, we're-all-in-this-craziness-together that's quite a rush, even though it's brutal. Besides, even though the hours are long and the breaks non-existant, we're making good wages and it'll be over soon. over soon. over soon. over soon.
Must go and yank the chicken out again to baste it. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

something to think about

A comment on someone else's blog caught my eye today as I checked out my few faves. (It's a great way to start the day, this- switch on the computer and read blogs with a mug of hothot tea clenched in fist.) A blogger was commenting on what a terrible mood she'd wakened in, and how heavy her heart was, which is sad, because she seems like a great person and those black moods can be awful, whatever the cause. But someone had commented on this entry: "Thanks to Ambien, I no longer have nights like this..."
And I thought: I am so lucky. Because even though I can write every once in a while about feeling doubt, or pain, or even rage on occasion, anyone who reads this blog can see that I am basically a very happy, well-balanced person with a built-in optimistic nature. Because the only mood-altering drugs I have ever taken were the illegal, fun ones. Because even in the harder times I can usually see that cliched light at the tunnel's end.
I have huge problems with the amount of drugs that are peddled to us by pharmaceutical companies who convince us that we NEED them to live normal, "healthy" lives. Especially anti-depression drugs. But I have never known that total blackness of the spirit that can totally swamp a person so that maybe drugs are the only way away from sure suicide. And I pray to whatever gods there are that I will never have to know.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

because I am seldom houseproud...

...but I love, love, LOVE our new bookshelves! J bought them last night and by the time I got home from rehearsal was already knee-deep in cardboard, assembling them. I filled them with books and was done around 1am. Finally books can be seen in all their glory at our apartment!
I grew up in a household where books were always proudly displayed, never hidden away because they were "messy" or "didn't match the furniture" or other such twaddle. Over the last 10 years or so I've had an ongoing argument with J about the amount of room books take up in our place, which is too small for clutter. But I always held firm: no books of mine were ever going to live in a storage locker; books are to be enjoyed and always accessible, not squirrelled away. However, we never had enough shelving to make this look good: the books were all here but they were stuffed into such small shelves that they looked horrible and weren't used as often as they should have been. Now, they have pride of place at last. My fiction and music books rest comfortably near J's books on Zen, film-making, symbolism, and what I call the "Manly Arts" section: knifemaking, model shipbuilding, wilderness survival techniques and the like.
I don't consider myself that well-read, even after years of working at bookstores: I love fiction, travel writing, and a few other genres, but I don't range that widely, and I have a terrible habit of reading the same "comfort books" over and over (and over) again instead of trying something new. J, although he doesn't read much, reads very smart stuff when he does. But there is a quote from "To Kill a Mockingbird" that I've always loved: when Scout is having trouble at school because she is already a voracious reader, she says that she's never thought about whether or not she loved to read because: "One does not love breathing."
That's exactly how I feel.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Patch

So tired. Can't write in complete sentences tonight. Played at Ana Bon-Bon's cd release party last night with the Reptiles, got home by one, up by 7:30 AM!!! At the Pumpkin Patch by 8:30- played "You Are My Sunshine", "Oh Susanah" et al until 3pm, got home and got sucked into cleaning the apartment with J. Finally decided to lie down and read when J went out to a movie and I could hardly stand up due to fatigue. Best part of the day? Rev calling and telling me that the Patch is cancelled tomorrow due to heavy rain warnings. "You're ok with that? Not too disappointed?" she asked without a trace of irony and it was all I could do not to howl with laughter. Rev is a wonderful organizer who co-ordinates the Pumpkin Patch every year, finds stellar musicians, books the bands, etc, but she takes it all a leeetle too seriously. I had to laugh the first time I went out with a wagon today- we're supposed to say this shtick about this giant plastic pumpkin they have in a field called Percy that you pass in the wagons on the way out to the field. You're supposed to say something like: "...and if you look over there, you'll see Percy the Pumpkin. Percy is the oldest, biggest pumpkin in the patch and he loves this song..." and then you sing "You Are My Sunshine". Well, the weather this year had not been good to Percy and he looked as if he had leprosy as all his orange paint is peeling off. What with that and the fact that his grinning mouth is painted black with one tooth, Percy looked a lot like some disreputable wino you'd have arrested if he lurched anywhere near your kids. Oh, and it rained. All day. Ah, the patch! It takes a special kind of person to love it, I think I've mentioned that before.
On the (very) plus side, I now have a day off tomorrow! Jon & I are having his folks and my mom over for Thanksgiving dinner and I can get some homework done before they arrive. And our apartment looks fab, thanks to all the cleaning that J's been doing. I must say, now that he's finished that BCSA video, the man has been a star in the domestic department...

Thursday, October 4, 2007


It came from nowhere this afternoon, hot & choking. I'd had a good long sleep, was looking forward to my last day off in a while. Decided to go to VCC to get my student ID card. Looked around the apartment for my registration info & receipts...nothing. Started tearing the place apart, searching through stacks of papers, recycling, my files, everything...they were nowhere to be found. That's when the rage came, out of all proportion to the event- rage at myself for being untidy, rage at our place for being messy, rage (oh so much rage) at J, who was glued to his laptop and barely noticed my meltdown. I retreated to our bedroom and sobbed. Applied eyedrops and kept searching, even though I knew it'd be no problem to walk over to school get a duplicate from the registrar. J realised-finally-that something was up and began to help. But it was too little, too late. I knew I had to leave, and fast, before bile began to spill from my mouth.
Now I feel hollowed-out and teary, tired and toxic. The rage has abated but it leaves me shaken- it wasn't a good scorching anger that cleared the air but a foul wind that blew in for no good reason, leaving me wondering why. I feel pretty healthy, my job isn't too stressful, I've adjusted to school and work, J & I have been getting along fine...
I can't look at it and say I was mad at anything or anyone specific, that's the problem. Maybe I'm a bit more stressed about money and work than I've been letting myself feel and it had to spill out somehow. I just don't know.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Babysitting lessons

I had another day of childcare with my buddy Sebastien yesterday. It was so crappy outdoors, we ended up staying in all day, but we found lots of things to do. There was: splashing in the sink, piggyback rides, throwing a big blue ball and laughing hysterically when Alison pretended to fall over while catching it, and playing with Mom's tape measure (not such a success- I broke it). And, last but far from least, blowing bubbles on the balcony. (see above picture) This kid is nearly two, and his parents and babysitters have not exposed him to TV yet, which I think is awesome. He's trusting, funny, active, daring, affectionate, and learning so fast! We chatter in Franglais together because his mom is bilingual- it's very good for my vocab! I am also learning tons about toddler-wrangling, because he can be stubborn. He was very pissy when he woke up from his nap because he wasn't expecting me to be there- he was so outraged that it was funny (although not to him!). It was as if we'd played the worst trick in the world on him: "I went to sleep and Mom was here and I wake up and you're here? What the hell?" So far I find that it works to give him a big hug, let him know he's loved, and then ignore the sulks and redirect his behavior with distractions. This could potentially be useful in stage management as well- hmmm!

Monday, October 1, 2007


As some of you know, I am strangely attracted to Mama-blogs. Not in a creepy, lock-her-up kind of way, I'm just compelled to read them right now because there's this ongoing should-I, shouldn't-I dialogue in my head right now re. children.
Anyway, through these blogs I've learned about the whole Facebook controversy regarding pictures of breastfeeding and I have to say, I am firmly on these moms' sides! We can show all the violence in the world, but the sight of a mom's boob and wow, apparently some people get all weird.
So in honour of this cause I have added this Facebook Sucks button to the right. I am not totally ready to give up Crackbook itself, although I'm tempted because it's mostly so colossally silly and a big waste of time. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A rainy-day miscellany

Perfume. The only one I like to smell on my body is Chanel No.5. I know, champagne tastes... I liberated a bottle of the eau de toilette from my mother's bathroom years ago (sorry, Mom) and just recently I've begun using it again. Its sophisticated, elusive scent makes me feel more grown up. I wonder how much of loving it comes from the fact that I smelled it on my mom as a child and loved it then...
Soprano. When I was a kid I always sang alto in the choir because I could learn the harmony parts. When they finally let me be a soprano I was so happy- at last, the high notes! In high school, Toni and I would sing along to whatever was on the radio as we drove along in her car. Her foot as often as not propped on the dash as she drove. Singing the melody line was not cool- you had to find an alternate part, always. From such silly games comes a remarkably good ear for harmonies that has stood me in very good stead.
Games. I've never used a vibrator, can you believe it? J & I keep meaning to buy one, but then we forget. I've also never had a three-way, made out with a girl, or had someone snarl "you know you want it, Baby" while dripping candle wax on my nipples. But I'm only 33, so this could all change. I have held on to the same great guy for 10 years though, and it wasn't just due to my sparkling wit, let me tell ya.
My parents never beat me, so what can I write songs about? I had a disgustingly happy childhood in North Vancouver & Etobicoke. I love my mom, (who is truly my best friend other than J), my dad, and my younger brother. I am also very fond of my stepmom and my future sister-in-law. All the crazy people in my family (and there are a few) are overseas, in England. We are ridiculously healthy, except for my stepmom, but she is determined to beat her cancer and we are trying so hard to believe she can. The men in my life before J weren't good matches for me, but they were all pretty nice. This has made me confident, optimistic and friendly, but left me with very little fodder for angst-y songs.
Greasepaint & Footlights. We had tickets to Young People's Theatre in Toronto when I was a kid. I was always so jealous of the actors- I wanted to be up there onstage too. I was (in)famous in my neighbourhood for staging a full-length lip-synch version of "Cats" with all my little friends, which our parents had to watch all the way through. I know exactly why I love playing music, but my love for theatre is harder to analyze, so I don't. I just know that being part of a production makes me feel wonderful.
Don't take me to Playland. I have a terrible intolerance to being whirled, dropped, flipped, swooped or spun. Amusement park rides are strictly off-limits. Doesn't matter if it's the Polar Express, the Rainbow, or just the Swings- I will feel nauseous for at least an hour after I ride and yes, I will barf on you.
Time's up. Here are the ways I think I might die: in a car crash, trapped inside a chunk of twisted metal as the flames lick closer. I don't drive, so I am a nervy passenger because I don't feel in control. Or... I kiss J goodnight and go sleep on the couch because I have a cold and I'm snoring. Suddenly I awake to a thunderous roar. Is it a freight train? No, the whole apartment's shakingshakingshaking, the whole world's rocking and as I run to find my love, the whole bedroom breaks free from the building and slithers down the Cut onto the train tracks in a flat heap, squashing me under tons of debris. Hey, I live in a major earthquake zone- it could happen at any time.
Just say no. It was easier for me to quit smoking and weed than to give up sugar. I've been smoke-free for over a year, haven't done weed for months. But I'm going to get up from this computer and bake some chocolate chip cookies right now.

Friday, September 28, 2007


This is me today, straddling several worlds as I write quickly before heading off to a rehearsal. Wearing capable, comfy stage manager clothes for work, but made-up and packin' a pretty red dress for tonight's gig with Something About Reptiles- which will be a fun thing to do after way too long without a show to play! Hair freshly dyed ("Paint the Town" is my hair colour, and a damn good one, if I do say so myself), health returning, thank god- and I passed my 2 music tests with marks in the B range, so thank goodness for that!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Autumn is a good time for rehearsals. The cold, wet, changeable weather makes people want to stay indoors and work. It's so much harder to rehearse in the Spring, or Summer. I spent a very enjoyable few hours this morning polishing up the vocals of the "Emperor's New Threads cast at the Russian Hall. They all sound better than they did last year, as if they all learned to use their voices over the summer. How I envy them, not because they get to sing my songs (!), but because they get to sing at all! I haven't been, lately, and I miss it so much. Ditto playing the squeezebox, but I guess I'll be doing plenty of both soon enough, at the Pumpkin Patch. For those who don't know, I tend to spend much of my Octobers entertaining at the Richmond Country Farms pumpkin patch. You get to wear orange, and a cowboy hat, make up a nickname for yourself (I'm Accordion Allie, natch), sing the same 5 hokey tunes over and over all day, and get maybe 2 short breaks if it's not too busy. It's also tons of fun, did I mention that? Although I think it takes a certain kind of person to enjoy it. A masochist, maybe.
Anyway, the "Emperor" rehearsal was a dream. The cast kept saying "Oh, we're so happy to have you here!" and I kept replying "You guys have no idea how happy I am to be here!" It's a tiny cast of three plus my mom is the stage manager, and Peter and Melody Anderson (the writer/designer and the director respectively), as well as being two of the most talented theatre pros in town, are also two of the sweetest. We broke for lunch at 1:00, and Mel had snuck in and set the big kitchen table in the Russian Hall's kitchen with a fancy tablecloth and candles. She'd brought in delicious mac 'n cheese (it's a running gag in the show), salad and drinks, so we sat around and had a candle-lit lunch and laughed a lot and I thought sometimes working in theatre is every bit as fun and amazing as I thought it would be.
Nose update: it's not a Staph infection, and I have a nifty saline spray to combat the inflammation. Let's hope it goes away soon. It's not so much the sore nose I mind, it's feeling so tired and run-down that bites.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's another world.

I'm starting to realize that there are many East Vans. There's the one I live in, where the Drive is a funky street to eat out and buy great clothes, a rough-edged but warm-hearted neighborhood that I love. A neighborhood I can walk around, even late at night, and feel pretty safe in. And then there's this other East Van, where some of the kids in my show live. A place where you get beat up if you walk down the Drive. A place with rival gangs that can trap you between them, so that every walk is dangerous. A world where the streets aren't safe, and home may not be any safer. Just now, after I wrote that, J & I were standing on the balcony watching some totally looped guy stumbling around in the bushes outside the apartment across the street. The other day, there was a completely stoned woman passed out on our lawn. "It's gotten worse in the last year or two," said J, matter-of-factly. So these two worlds are closer than I sometimes think. I love where I live, the raw mix of it all. But it breaks my heart to know that it's a place of terror for other people. And seeing the violence, the drugs and the poverty spilling over- I can understand why so many flee to the suburbs or to smaller towns to raise families. It takes it out of you, to stay.
One family that has stayed are my friends G&T, and their son Sebastien, who I looked after for almost 8 hours yesterday. Here's a typical East Van scenario: I took the little guy to a park close to his home, where he played joyfully in the playground while a homeless guy thrashed in his sleeping bag by the empty paddling pool and a dead cat lay stiff by the garbage cans. Thank goodness he's too young to see too far beyond his tiny bubble yet! I forgot how much fun kids are- it's so amazing to belly-laugh with someone that young- to look into their eyes and share a joke, even though you can barely share language yet. My face was tired from laughing. He plays his ukelele and sings: "Maman! Papa! Alisooooooon!" while he rocks out- it's so great.
I'm still fighting this nose infection. My latest self-diagnosis: some kind of Staph infection. One hopes not, especially since I was around a small child yesterday. But it might be, so I'd better get it checked out, because if it is, it's not gonna go away on its own. I'm usually so lucky with my health- it really drags you down, feeling blah all the time.

Monday, September 24, 2007

my nose feels like a radish.

Yes, my nose may look normal, but to me it feels like a swollen, fat, just-about-to-burst beach ball. I've never had this before- is this what sinus infections feel like? The bridge is so tender...I have to look after little Sebastien tomorrow-what if he hits me in the schnoz? I might have to wear a face guard!
The tests keep on comin' at school, and I parry and thrust, keeping my head above least I think so. Test results in a few days!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

...and me without my camera!

I took a Mental Health Day today and did a lot of nothing in particular. Or, rather, nothing related to school or The Play. Met up with Mom and strolled around the East Vancouver Farmers' Market for a while- it's apple season and the crisp, tart, juicy apples there taste nothing like their insipid cousins at the supermarket. Then over to the Russian Hall to record a cd onto a minidisc for The Emperor's New Threads. (I wrote the music for that last year and they're touring it around BC again this Fall.) Then we walked to a travel agent to try and book our flights to Mexico in the Spring for Mal's wedding. After a huge walk to get there, they were closed, but it didn't even matter because just being out on a day like today was bliss. A fierce wind last night blew away all our clouds and the air was fresh and just cool enough. And for me, being active and walking miles is some of the best medicine there is. But I was a dunderhead and forgot to bring my camera, so this blog will have to remain photo-less for the time being!
It was interesting to be at the Russian Hall, back in "Emperor" mode after all this time. (we rehearsed it last January, so it's been a while.) Made me realize that I miss being a music director- it's been a while now since I've had any MD/composing gigs and my soul (and my bank account) is feeling the lack. We'll see what the new year has in store, I guess.
Anyway, that's it for me right now. I'm going to be present in my own life today and stop staring at this screen!

Friday, September 21, 2007


That was a long, exhausting day. I rolled out of bed blearily, still tired. Zombie-lurched to school, clutching my hot-water-with-lemon. Not one, but two tests to get through in Jazz Theory! (I think I did well in one of them, though.) Then workworkwork on my script and homework, and off to a terrible rehearsal in which the kids stumbled around on the stage like the living dead, and their director freaked out on them for not working harder. And to top it all off, I stuffed my maw full of sub-par Chinese "food" and sucked down 1 and a 1/2 danishes, craving starch and sugar so much that it was worth the guilt that always follows. Why is it so easy to sabotage a healthy diet?
My sweetie is concocting a delicious-smelling chicken stock in our tiny kitchen. The scent wafts through the apartment and makes me feel better (has anyone actually proved that chicken soup has curative properties? It would make a great thesis. And think of all the great "research" that would have to be done.)
My mom took pity on me and gave me a lift to rehearsal today, saving me from the rain.
And best of all, I have two days' break from school and rehearsals!!!
(sorry, this isn't a very eloquent post. And it's kinda whiny. But that's just how I be today.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I should be doing my homework...

...but I don't wanna.
Jazz Theory is slowly making sense to me, like a dim light in a dark tunnel slowly flickering on. But I'm not sure the faint light will withstand the harsh wind of a quiz, to take that metaphor WAY too far! It's also hard for me to learn late at night, the traditional time for students to work. I only absorb info before about 9pm. After that I may as well hang up the ol' spurs, because nothing's gonna stick in my brain.
Tonight, my mom & I met the parents and half-sister of my brother's fiance, Naomi. We had sushi, which is a great way to break the ice, all that finger food, soy sauce flying everywhere, etc. I had met N's half sister before, on a very drunken night a year or so ago- she's great, as is everyone we met tonight. I am so lucky with my family. All the really crazy ones are a long way away, in the UK. Poor Malcolm, though. Finally getting hitched (the first one of our generation) and my mom and I are so not into weddings. My mom is the woman who promised me she would never wear old-lady polyester pantsuits if I never had a white wedding. And I enthusiastically agreed. I am very fond of my future sister-in-law, but I just don't understand the whole need for a big wedding! I don't. At least they're getting smart and marrying in Mexico, so it's a combined tropic holiday-slash-wedding. (not to be confused with a holiday slasher wedding, which is much different, and bloodier.) Mind you, I will probably cry as much as the next person when Mal says his I do's. If J & I make it to 10 years, which is pretty likely as it's only 5 months away, we'll have a nice little party to celebrate and that will be that.
My theory is that everyone has one performance in them, and for most people, it's their wedding. Hence the histrionics. J & I perform for a living, so...
Anyway, in other news I survived my first rehearsal with the crazy at-risk youths last night. I still hate stage managing but I think I'll survive. I don't know why it's so easy for me to be bossy when I'm a music director and so hard when I'm SMing. Actually I do know- it's 'cause I have waaay more confidence when I'm MDing. Please gods make me more assertive. And let me pass my music quizzes tomorrow. I'll sacrifice a nice goat or something, ok?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Flying Folk Army Reunion BBQ!

There were chips. And dips. And kids- the tiny offspring of my band mates. (Maybe one day they'll have their own bands!)
And jammin' to the old tunes, just to prove we can still rock! (That's me on the squeezebox)
Some of us have moved on to other areas of music. Some of us don't play much anymore. But there's always this band, the one that never officially broke up, the one with a 2nd CD in the works for the last 5 years...
Hey, we're all still speaking; we all still like each other. That's more than many bands can say.

Friday, September 14, 2007

It's Almost Bedtime

I'm going to savor my sleep tonight, unless my tricksy body has other plans. My upper back is twingeing, the kind of twinge that happens after a bit of commuter-biking and hunching over a computer for too long. School, production meeting, homework... but there was gorgeous weather, dinner with my sweetheart, and time to play a little clarinet as well. If this keeps up I shall have to stop calling myself Accordionista, because the poor old squeezebox isn't making it out of its case these days! My pal Russel recently invited me to join the North Shore Community Band, so off I went last night, to play my clarinet in a North Shore high school...just like the old days at my alma mater...except that my high school band sucked. This one is really fun, and the music is challenging enough that I'll actually have to practice, which will be fun. The inside of my lower lip stings today, though.
The sound of a band (as opposed to an orchestra, which sounds very different) took me back to my days at the National Music Camp of Canada, back in Ontario. Almost all the school bands I've ever been in have been terrible, but NMC made up for it. In one week, you'd learn more about your instrument than you would in an entire year of school band. These amazing jazz & classical musicians would come up there to teach, and they had a blast. They'd put on concerts for us, in the humid evenings in the main hall; I still sometimes hear their names on CBC. We'd play in bands, and have sectionals with experts who'd teach us everything we ever needed to know about our instruments, in my case the clarinet. I can still remember the pleasure I felt when I learned that the clarinet has 2 registers: the Clarion and the Chalemeau.
The camp itself was...spartan, to say the least. The rest of the summer it was a camp for Jewish kids- Camp Wahanawin. There were wild 3-D papier mache "posters" of all the musicals these kids had put on, all over the dining hall. If the musicals were half as entertaining as the posters...
The camp was run by this older guy and his sons, who all looked exactly the same- dark and saturnine. I remember that one of them was called Bruce, and that in the morning we were roused from our saggy bunks by one of them mournfully intoning over a loudhailer: "Flagpole, everybody. Everybody to...the flagpole." Glory days.
Anyway, I'm still feeling a bit nervous about biting off more than I can chew this fall. But with my trusty clarinet in hand and a view like this from my balcony, how can life be all bad?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

sweet music. (or, Chord Scale Theory, my ass)

I know, I know. Two posts in one day- tres nerdy, n'est pas? But... I was so tired, and my head was stuffed full of Jazz Theory, and all I wanted to do was lie down and sleeeep for 2 days. But like the good clarinet player I am, I got on my bike and pedalled off to a Reptiles rehearsal 2 hours ago, and it was like a dip in a sweet, cold pool. This learning about the cold hard rules of music is all very well, and it will be very useful to me, I have no doubt. Just playing for 2 hours with honeyed tea, good friends and wild Turkish songs however...
That's what music is all about. That's why I do it.

water, water!

It's so unseasonably hot right now. Part of me wants revel in this latelate summer (especially since we didn't get much of one from June-August), but you can't really, these days, can you? I mean, there's always that sad little voice in your head saying "well it's not supposed to be like this, is it? Probably some Global Warming-related disaster, that's all. We'll pay for this heavenly weather, mark my words."
Actually, unless I guzzle water from morning 'til night, days like this can be difficult. I'm really trying to keep up with the old physical fitness routine as well as stretching my poor brain in new directions, so between running and working out I always need water or I get headaches that last all day. I hope I can keep fitting the exercise in as life gets busier- Rev from the Pumpkin Patch called yesterday and signed me up for 12 days of Pumpkin Patch work next month, sandwiched between school, homework, stage managing and whatever else comes up!
Finally, a note of joy... I took the advice of our building manager Robert (whose stories of vigilante justice meted out to junkies and car-window-smashers working our 'hood are both amusing and horrifying) and took our poor window-lacking car to an auto-wrecker in Surrey. Well, my Mom took the car and I rode shotgun, as I still don't drive. Unfortunately I didn't take a camera, because I would have gotten some wonderful B&W shots of the auto-wrecker wasteland that exists under the Patullo Bridge. A true man-land; I think mom & I were the only females to be seen. I admit I'd dressed a little sexy, thinking that it might help in the discount department, but some of the stares I got made me feel like I'd walked into the sticks: "Yer not from around here, are ya?"
Anyway, the guy who actually fixed our windows was fantastic. Friendly, helpful, stayed 2 hours after the wreckers closed to install the windows, and the whole thing only cost $150 as opposed to the $650 we would've paid at Speedy Auto Glass!!! Made me feel better about human nature again. So Gateway Autowrecking gets the great big Seal of Approval from me. Take your car there and experience the love for yourself. Our car is no longer a flappy horror, thanks to them.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


Wow. That was a hard week. But, like all things, it has passed. And looking back, there were just as many wonderful things in there are there were hard things- in fact, most things were a hard/wonderful combination! As you can see above, this was my office for most of the last 6 days. Hard: the fresh air knocks you out! I mean seriously: zombie drool mode after a few hours in all that sun & wind. But also Wonderful: could I even believe I get paid to stroll around Jericho Beach at the tailend of summer and discuss which areas would make potential performance sites? Pretty awesome.
Here's my poor boyfriend getting kicked by "Lithuanian soldiers" for being a Jew. This show, "Letters From Lithuania", is pretty intense. Lots of violence and death, juxtaposed in one of Vancouver's most stunningly beautiful parks. If it ever gets performed (which it's supposed to, this summer), it will be very interesting to see how people react to its themes and content. There'll be a lot of stilts, masks, site-specific sets... along with the aforementioned violence & death. I stage managed this workshop, which for me is hard. I don't like SM-ing. But also wonderful: I needed money! And SMs get paid more than actors!
Also hard: school. It's kicking my ass. My instructor told me to wait as long as possible before paying for the 2 courses I'm taking, so I don't waste my money if I'm too overwhelmed. Thanks, Rob MacKenzie. But I know he's only saying that to be kind, and honestly, there's so much I don't know, so much I should know before taking these 2 classes (jazz theory & arranging). But how wonderful- to sit at a chair in a classroom and soak up information. I love learning! (And I'm determined to prove my instructor wrong and pass these 2 courses.)
The hardest thing this week: to wake up on Friday, tired already but determined to get through my 1st Jazz Theory class and then head straight to the LFL workshop...
and I get outside our apartment and some goof has smashed 2 of our car's windows! Nothing taken, just sheer vandalism, to the tune of $650. It was impossible to find anything wonderful about that. But Jon and I got through the day, a dark cloud hanging over both our heads, and slept for 10 hours Friday night and got up yesterday in much better moods.
Now the workshop is over and I have only school this week before my next SM job starts next Monday. One week. Better get working on that music homework! I went to the VCC bookstore and bought my textbooks and a comfy new knapsack on Friday. I'm a student now, even if the courses aren't paid for yet. And I'm in this for the long haul, dammit.