Monday, February 25, 2008

Dancing, falling, dancing

I did my usual roll-out-of-bed-and rush-to-school shuffle this morning. Arranging assignment stuffed in backpack. Not quite finished, but the score was done, so it could be played. Transported back to the '40s as our 4-part horn arrangements were brought to life by an impromptu band made up of faculty and students. For all the mistakes and cut corners, I was so happy to hear my arrangement at last. Then after class, a visit to the music department office. "Until you pay your fees, you can't go to any more classes." From happiness to grim reality in 30 seconds. I am so lucky my mom can front me the money until my royalty cheque gets here, but the way it's going, that baby'll be spent before it even arrives. I am so sick of having money troubles! The funny/sad thing is that mom and I were at a bridal shower for my brother's fiance yesterday and we were playing this bridal shower game where the groom-to-be answers questions about himself and then the bride has to guess what his answers were. Well, the thing that bugs Naomi most about her prospective husband (my brother) is that he's bad with money. I guess it runs in the family.

Sad news: a technician at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre who was very kind to me when I was stage managing there this fall dropped dead suddenly last week. The TD of the theatre wrote this beautiful email about how he'd died surrounded by the people he worked with, in the theatre he loved. There's this disbelief about death sometimes, isn't there: I didn't see him die so what does his death mean, exactly? I mean, it was the same way when my mom's really good friend Jackie died of cancer a couple of years back. She'd been sick a long time and lived over on the north shore so I didn't see her for a long time before her death. So when she died I was very sad for my mom but I never cried for Jackie because her death was never real for me. But Doug the sound guy was a character: crusty and profane, but with a marshmallow heart underneath. I hope there will be many people at his wake; I know I'll be there.

I played music for hours with the rest of the Redboots today. Not note-perfect, but there is some magic in the 4 of us playing together that makes us really powerful in a way. Just the easy way we all mesh together when we play, reading each others' minds. I'm a better musician when I play with these guys. I guess that's the magic for me.

I called this post dancing, falling, dancing because: a) it's hard to keep coming up with post titles and sometimes you just think of kinda pretentious ones and
b) that's what I'm trying to do right now: dance, and pick myself up off the floor when I trip and fall, and dance again. Times will be hard and I will get sick and people I care about will die and I can let it drive me mad or I can carry on dancing. Because hopefully I have a lot of years left on this earth and it's my job to make 'em good ones.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

pushing ahead

My bachelor week of popcorn-at-midnight and guiltily watching episodes of "My So-Called Life" is nearly up. J will arrive home tomorrow afternoon and although I will be thrilled to see him, this week was important and necessary for me. Without him (or my mom or any other support systems) around to coddle me, I made it through the wilderness (to quote, um, Madonna) and am facing the world with new strength and joy. I have dyed my hair a nice deep red again (a tribute to Angela Chase, for sure!), plucked my eyebrows, and am forging ahead with an arranging assignment I had given up on. It feels good to have the bit between my teeth again.

Oh, and that Barkerville job? I got it. Ha.

This is me just before the grey clouds broke and I started to feel better about the world and myself again. Note the grim mouth. It's considerably more relaxed today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


So many of the people who anchor my world are strangely silent or away this week: Jon, my mother, Amelia (no long Redboot practices with her away). At school there's a Reading Week, so no classes. Every day I check my emails to see who will be attending our 10th anniversary party in a week; some of our dearest friends have not even deigned to rsvp. The phone seldom rings. There has been no final answer about the great job I was interviewed for over a week ago; I fear the worst. Even my job is anonymous and lonely: no one really knows me and few stop to chat as they do at Tanglewood.

This all sounds terribly depressing, but I don't feel that bad. My throat is slowly on the mend and my energy is coming back. (For now. The first sign of another illness and I'm gonna take a doctor hostage, if that's what it takes to get some attention.) I just feel as if I am floating, slightly unconnected to reality, whatever that is. I work days at this funny little store on Granville Island, just another retail clerk pounding a cash register. I come home to Chinese food leftovers and episodes of "My So-Called Life" (hey, might as well watch it while J's not around to make sarcastic remarks). It's not a bad life, really, it's just not that much of a life. Like so many of us did at high school dances, I wait pressed against cold walls for someone to slide up and say You. I choose you. Come dance with me.

When of course, what I need to do is start to dance by myself. But sometimes limbo is just easier, and that's the sad truth of it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Notes from the house of the screaming tonsil

  • My love has gone to Whistler for a week to do a workshop of a new play. The set is made of ice and snow and it sounds amazing. But I miss him and I wasn't even able to give him an anniversary "present" (ahem) because who the hell feels like sex when their body is fighting yet another infection?
  • My mom, the other person who picks me up when I falter, has also left town for the last week of touring with "The Emperor's New Threads"
  • I have a huge arranging assignment due and I think a jazz theory midterm coming up as well, and practicing to do for the upcoming Redboot gig. But all I want to do is curl up and sleep, dammit.
  • An embarrassingly weepy visit to the doctor at least got me a blood test, which of course I hope will be all clear. But part of me hopes there'll be some not-too-serious thing that shows up there so I can say "See? You all though I was just being wimpy, didn't you. But look!" But most likely there'll be nothing, and I'll just have to keep wondering why I've been almost constantly sick this winter.
  • My right tonsil has decided to take on all the sins of the world and is swollen and extremely painful. But instead of staying home I have to go and work at that palace of good times otherwise known as Kites & Puppets. For the next 4 days.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ten Great Years

Ten years ago this evening I sat in a cave in Invermere BC (look it up on a map, folks... if you can find it), talking to the wonderful, funny, gentle man who would become my "life partner" (ew, I just threw up in my mouth there). It was a cold night in February in a cave in a tiny town on the edge of the Rocky Mountains at around 11pm. So what did we do? Well, what any young couple would've done: we moved closer and closer as we talked, until suddenly we weren't talking any more. We were kissing.
(And then we had to make our way back to our motels rooms, sexually frustrated because we were on tour with 3 other people and so were segregated into boys' and girls' motel rooms, and we had some 'splaining to do the next day to our fellow performers, who didn't believe that we could have gotten that much cave-dust on our clothes just from talking, and then we had to contain our new-found passion for each other because we were on the road with said 3 other people and it's just not polite to be all over each other when you're around 3 other people.)

And from that decidedly weird beginning, a little seed of love grew into a big tree and- barf

I find it really hard to write all mushy-like. But here goes...
Ten years ago, I didn't know much about anything. And maybe I still don't know much, but somehow I got lucky enough to find someone who loves me with all my flaws, who is my best friend and a damn good lover, who can make me laugh and who genuinely thinks I'm beautiful, even when I'm sick and grumpy and feeling like a manatee. (Or he's a really good actor. After all, he did go to Studio 58.)
Our love has been mostly a steady thing: no affairs, no epic separations, no terrifying fights. Just a rock-solid base on which we build our lives. I would be diminished without this man in my life, and I hope he feels the same way about me.
Jonathan, I love you. Here's to 10 x 10 more years together. At least.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What it's like working at a kite & puppet store, or hilarity and boredom in the trenches of the Kids-Only Market

So today was my second day at Kites & Puppets, which is the very original name of the store in which I now spend 16 hours a week. Perks: I got to take 4 kites home to try out this weekend, which is pretty frickin' cool; I haven't used a kite since I was a wee one. Also; I taught myself how to use the Diablo, which is a kind of cup you balance on a string suspended between 2 sticks. When you get better at it you can toss it high in the air and catch it again. I anticipate that it will take me a few more shifts to master that one. And weirdly: I realized as I was trying out the 3-beanbag juggling kit that I already knew how to juggle but it had been so long that I had forgotten that I knew. Not that I'm very good, but still. A nice surprise.
I have to check all the puppets in this tiny cupboard space to make sure they're all out on display. There are more puppets crammed in there than can really fit in so tiny a cupboard, and some of them, creepily, can speak. As I slammed the door shut on a bulging bag of puppets, I heard this tiny mechanical voice say: "I really need a hug!"
You and me both, freak. Now stay in that cupboard.

It's not so much what they make me do

As much as the thought of their hands inside me
(a wonderful 2-line Charles de Lint poem from the point of view of a puppet.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How music made AJ happy yesterday

Once upon a time (well, yesterday actually), AJ was feeling sad.

There were plenty of good reasons she should have been happy: she got to sleep in, her boyfriend was, as always, terribly sweet to her, and most importantly, she had a great job interview with a nice lady who runs the theatre company in Barkerville, which meant that she might have some real work in May.
But later that day, some hours after the wonderful job interview, AJ realized that her little red purse was lost.

And that it was not lurking in her messy apartment but had actually disappeared. On Friday night, you see, she had gotten a ride home with a bandmate after band practice. As the car approached her home, AJ opened up her little red purse to get her keys out. And then, as she got out of Noah's car holding her big green knapsack, the little red purse must have slipped to the ground, unnoticed. And the "ground" happened to be the street where AJ lived, which is not in the nicest neighbourhood in the world. All kinds of desperate people weave up and down this street and will take what they can get.
Anyway, it wasn't until the next day that AJ realized that all her ID: her SIN #, Care card, BCID, birth certificate and bank card were all gone, gone gone. And that made AJ cry. A lot. "I really don't need this shit right now," she wept, in what was frankly a pathetic crying jag brought on by the fact that she had only eaten a muffin that whole day so far. But even though she didn't need it, this shit had happened, and AJ had to file a lost property report with the po-lice, and cancel her bank card.
So AJ was feeling low, and low-energy as well. Even dinner with her delighful boyfriend and lovely friends Gord & Darrell didn't help. Even though it was lasagna, and AJ hadn't had pasta in ages because she is trying to lose weight. So she dragged herself to a Something About Reptiles gig, as they were opening for Blackberry Wood at Cafe Deux Soliels. She didn't really want to play music at all. But then a funny thing happened: AJ started playing her clarinet, and all her troubles disappeared! As if they had never been!

And she was so happy and so energized that she stayed and danced to Blackberry Wood (who are an awesome band you should try to see) and gabbed with her friends Ana Bon-Bon and Amelia, who are both really cool chicks, and she didn't even get drunk, which is a real bonus today as she doesn't have a hangover.
So, even though the little red purse is still AWOL, Alison feels that life can go on, and it was all thanks to music.
The End.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

a feeling of satisfaction

Oh what a good musician am I! Probably 6 hours of practicing, all told, today, and the thing is, it goes by in no time! Blues assignment to write on the accordion, reviewing some old songs on there, arpeggios to practice on the clarinet, a jazzy song to finish writing, a Patty Griffin cover song to learn, 2 hours of playing with Trevor get ready for a gig... There was so much more I didn't even get to. Sooo not like when I was a kid, and a 1/2 hour of piano practice was an endless hell. My voice is tired now, but honestly I could play some more if it wasn't so late. And I wonder why I don't always make time in my life to do this, as I should, and I hope, again, that I will find the discipline within myself to make this happen on a regular basis. A real musician would.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Should be working.

Mornings around here are peaceful, and short. Peaceful because J is usually still asleep, so it's my time to read the first emails of the day, peruse my favorite blogs, and make my delicious breakfast smoothies. Short because we don't get up 'til after 10am. I've really been meaning to rise earlier. I can hear all the mamas who author the blogs I love: You make me sick, lady- we haven't slept in past 6 for the last 5 years! But hell, there have to be some advantages to not having rugrats.
Yesterday I babysat three of 'em while my friends Galia & Tiffany went out: a four year old and my buddy Sebastien, who's over 2, plus a little one who I basically didn't see as she napped the whole time I was there, thank god. The little boys tumbled and roughhoused like puppies, napped sporadically; there were tears from Sebastien because he wanted his mom... not much down time but it was fun, if challenging. I hadn't looked after a 4 year-old before and it's a great age: young enough to be totally unselfconscious about things like boogers and nakedness, old enough to actually have conversations with other people.
Then I got off my widening ass and actually went to the gym, and came home feeling super-virtuous. Jon and I had both not eaten much so we had a very tasty dinner of stuffed pork tenderloin, cabbage and yams. I love that wonderful full feeling you get when you're really hungry and you eat good, healthy, filling food. We're still doing the healthy thing around here, so snacks are no longer potato chips but odd things, like roasted seaweed. Actually, you wouldn't believe how tasty roasted, salted Nori is!
The rain, she is lashing down outside and I have schoolwork to catch up on. A good day to be mainly inside, I think.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Feelin' Broody

...but not in the way you might think. I've spent enough time around kids lately to realize that there is still no tugging on the old heartstrings when it comes to rugrats & anklebiters. They're fascinating, funny, complex, moody little packages, and I love the ones I spend time with. (and not just because their parents are paying me to do childcare.) But I don't want one at the moment.
No, tonight I was just reading someone's blog and they had an ad for some animal cruelty fund (I believe the fund was against animal cruelty, just to clarify.) And I saw the little photo of a baby grey tabby and my heartstrings were yanked and I thought I want a kitten. I want to smell its clean fur and feel its little head rubbing against my chin and stare into its eyes and feel that inter-species connection. And feel it purring on my lap. But I can't technically afford a chocolate bar right now, so I think a kitten is out. Anyway, I don't like the idea of keeping animals inside, and I'd have to, as we're on the 3rd floor. I know it makes 'em live longer, yadayadayada, but they want to be outside, dammit. Why should I prolong a cat's life by making it sad?