Monday, September 29, 2008

Of books, Mad Men, and vertigo

I'm working on a list of 100 Facts About Me to post here, but sheesh- it's hard going! Might take awhile. (And then only 4.6 people will ever read it. And of those, maybe 0.7 will care. But it's fun to do anyway.) So in the meantime...

A health update, just 'cause. I felt so awesome yesterday; I was on fire. Went for a killer run; felt energized and invincible. Biked to a Zeellia rehearsal and home; loved it. Drank tons of green tea and water to stay hydrated. As I was heading to bed, noticed that I felt slightly woozy and dizzy, as if I'd had a few too many (I haven't had a drop of alcohol for over a week). Thought: Oh well, I've overdone it a bit. I'll just sleep that off... Woke up this morning with a case of vertigo! That's worn off, thank god, but I'm still feeling kinda crappy. What gives, health gods? Don't make me feel so good one day and then yank me down to earth again the next! 

Watched Mad Men last night with J. We're both loving it- it's a shocking reminder to me of the mind-boggling chauvanism the original Feminists had to fight against; gives me a whole new respect for them. Wouldn't want to live back then, but it's fun to watch. 

Read a funny post from Beck yesterday. I wish I could link you to it, but I've momentarily forgotten the name of her blog. Anyway, it was a post about how she'd written a scathing review of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, but had taken it down because she was afraid it was too mean-spirited.  I read some of the comments, where people hotly agreed or disagreed with her original post, which I wish I could've read. I have to say, I luuuurved that book, and have read it many times. But I can totally see where the naysayers are coming from: that it can be seen as flaky and self-indulgent and part of the whole navel-gazing, self-centred spirituality that we Westerners are perfecting lately. This review makes some good points, and I really enjoyed Googling other opinions on this hugely popular book. 
I guess where I come from is that I like reading about how a woman my age makes her peace with the fact that she doesn't need children to complete her life, (because- duh- goin' thru the same thing here, folks) and Gilbert was lucky enough to take her child-and-husband-less self off to 3 very interesting places for a year, and concentrate on sensual and spiritual pleasure which sounds delightful. I mean, who wouldn't like a year to focus solely on doing what you feel is right for your mental and spiritual health? And get paid a fat advance for the privilege? And of course you're going to piss off others, who say Well, your flaky-schmaky quest for god is BS, lady and I'd like a year to go stick my head up my ass but there are bills to pay and butts to wipe and how dare you rub your lucky fate in my face and have the cajones to whine about your love life?
Which, ok. But we don't all have to make the same choices. I can see why some folks think that it's part of this whole OprahmagazineEckhartTolleBuddhistLite self-indulgence masquerading as self-help. But I think you can also enjoy this book as a fun piece of travel writing and the story of how one woman had a transformative year. 

Anyway, rant over. 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I neglect my bike for years at a time. Then one day something clicks; I drag it from the balcony to clutter up the "hall" in our apartment, and begin to take it everywhere I go. That's where I'm at these days.
This morning I rode down to the East Van Farmers' Market, a ritual I try to fit into every Saturday, especially as there are only a few markets left this year. It was crowded, as it always is (the best time to go is early, and when it's pouring rain- not too many people to contend with): They let dogs in the market, which I think is great. Also strollers, which is not so great for traffic. Here's one sad doggie whose owner didn't bring him along, for some reason:Fall is the best time to go to the market: there's corn, apples, and many squashes, if that's your thing. I don't much like to eat squash, but they sure take a pretty picture:
Trout Lake looked beautiful through the changing leaves: (I don't know why there's a strip of red at the top- some Photoshop blunder on my part).
And finally, after a ham-and-cheese crepe and a rare Americano (when I do coffee, I go for the hard stuff), I cycled back home again, stopping to take a picture of the Grandview Cut, in all its Autumn glory:
Just another lazy Saturday near the Drive.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Ever since I can remember, I had a vivid fantasy life. Get your mind out of the gutter- I don't mean those kind of fantasies (although they pop up from time to time, of course). But the world of my imagination has always been an absorbing place I can escape to when real life is dull. I mean, I was mocked by a little "friend" when I was about 6 for walking down the street telling myself stories out loud. After that, I learned to keep my lips sealed, keep the stories inside. But they never went away, they just changed as I grew up.

"It really bites my ass when you answer me like I just asked the stupidest question in the world," J complains tonight. After a tense few minutes, I apologize, because he's right, after all. Tired and grumpy, feeling pulled in a bunch of different directions, I lash out at J because he's... there. Because he's (gasp) less than perfect. Because inside my head during a long shift at the kite store I was telling myself stories about falling in love (not with anyone specific, you understand. Or at least, not anybody real.) And then I went out for dinner with the real thing, this person who's spent the last 10 years loving me and arguing with me and cheering me on and not replacing the toilet paper; and it was hard, because I just wasn't in the mood for real life today.

Do you spend a lot of time "inside your head"? Do you think that living "with your head in the clouds" sustains you or distracts you from getting things done? Is a vivid fantasy life just a low-tech version of those computer games like "second life" or whatever they're called?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

That's me- out there on the fringe...

As I stared at my friendly, helpful bank teller yesterday, I came to the realization that I had no idea if this person was male or female. This is why I love living near Commercial Drive, folks. Even the bank tellers are interesting. Anyway, he/she set me up with an appointment to talk to a very large man about getting a Visa. And I was approved! In 2 weeks or so, I will receive a credit card with my name on it, the first in my 34 years! OK, I scraped in there by the skin of my teeth, but who cares? Now I can join the leagues of people with crushing debt problems! (Actually, I mostly got the card for ID & emergencies, but I'm sure it'll see a teensy bit of use every once in a while.)

It's been a few days of feeling a little... marginalized, I guess the word is. First of all, our Prime Minister, Stephen "Dead-Eyes" Harper, thinks that the funding problems of artists like me, problems his government created, are of no concern to "ordinary people." Listen up, Dead-Eyes. I don't go to fancy galas. I get up every day and try to scrape a decent living together as a musician because it's what I'm good at. To survive, I take on weird little gigs like working in a kite store or being a dancing pumpkin, for god's sake. And I don't really mind because I'd rather have the freedom of my life than be bogged down with a well-paying job that would eat my soul or a mortgage that would eat my savings (savings? ha, what savings?) I chose this lifestyle; I have to make do with the financial hardships that go with it. But don't call me part of the "cultural elite", whoever they are. In this country, I doubt they even exist.

And then this whole thing of getting a Visa: how come it's so easy for an 18 year-old student to get his hands on one but I only get one because I have a few extra bucks padding out my bank account from my grandma's legacy? Of course, I know the answer: the student gets it because credit cards want to get 'em hooked when they're young and broke and foolish; a 34 year-old who's never owed any money is not an appealing customer. That's why it's taken me so long- don't think I haven't tried to get a card before.

Topping it all off, even the theatre companies I work for have no idea what to do with me. I've had to get snarky with the latest one for not budgeting me for their remount rehearsals. Let's look at this: new cast, five songs (most with 2-part harmony) and you're not going to even think of getting a music director in? And then you're going to get super defensive with me when I ask for some respect? I already had this with another company this summer; I'm getting tired of it.

Lastly... I read 2 very good blog entries yesterday about another set of marginalized people: the overweight. Which I am. Gosh, it was hard to complete that last sentence! I often joke that I have the opposite of anorexia, in that I think I'm thin and gorgeous... until I try to squeeze into a pair of jeans at the mall. I have boobs and hips, people. Even if I was at my ideal weight I WOULD HAVE THESE THINGS. Not to mention short legs, at least, if we're going by the average length of jeans these days. Right now I'm in limbo: not big enough for the plus-size section, not comfy in all those narrow clothes.

Sorry. This sounds very complain-y and I don't mean to inflict that on you, dear 2.8 readers of mine. I'm not even in a bad mood today. It's just that I'm surprised, I guess. My life and my job feel so...normal to me. But I guess they are a little "out there". Which I don't mind, as long as I don't start feeling invisible.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Grrrr. Rage. Grump.
That was me, yesterday. Why, I have no idea. Well actually, it was because I didn't get what I wanted and it was my own fault, which is one of the most frustrating positions to be in. Wanted to change my cel phone over to Koodo, since Telus is ripping me off (and I know, Koodo is a subsidiary of Telus which poses the question: why do Koodo users not have to pay the system activation fee while I do?) Couldn't switch over because I have no ID right now because it was stolen waaay back in February and I was too stupid to get it replaced back then and am paying for it now. Also I don't have a credit card, which makes companies nervous. I also need to update the memory on this computer of mine so that I can install the incredibly complex software I need to know my way around for this film scoring course I start next week...! And I couldn't get that done because it's a slightly older Mac (about 3 years, which is practically antique in computer terms) and there were no appropriate chips to be found.
Anyway, I do like my instant gratification, and when I don't get it, I get grumpy. But luckily, J & I made a bizarre impulse buy that was so unexpected that it took away my bad mood.
After all, there's nothing like an antique Chinese wooden arch/headboard to brighten up a gloomy day, is there?
*UPDATED LATER* My marvelous machine is now equipped with a fiery 2 gigabytes of RAM. I can now install the fearsome Logic Studio and begin ruling my home music studio empire. Very slowly. And with much gnashing of teeth, probably.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Omigod. Shoes.

This is a very girly post, but I have to admit that shoes are a major fetish of mine. Well, boots, really. I don't think of myself as a major shoe buyer, and I'm sure that compared to many, I am in the minor leagues. The funny thing is that I usually wear the same boring pair of Blundstones day in, day out, because they are the most comfortable. But they are getting tired, and they don't look very glamorous. So here is a photo essay: the footwear I'll be sporting this Fall...
These are the workhorses: my Blundstones, from the Australian Boot Company. Fit like a dream, you can walk for miles in 'em without pain. So they're not very flashy; who cares? However, it might be fun to wear these as an alternative:

I just bought them today, as a matter o' fact. Max & Co. blue leather. They seem very comfy, so I look forward to getting to know these guys a lot better in the next few months. But when I want to add some height to my short stature, or glam up a pair of jeans, I might turn to...

The understated yet classy pair. I scored these from my mom's very rich friend Sheil, who only gave them up because her feet were a little wide for them. I looked up the brand- Sartore- on the internet, and let's just say they'd be out of my price range if I bought them new. As it was, they were free, free, free... and she'd had them re-soled, too! But being ankle boots, they won't go very well with skirts, so then I'll turn to...

The might-be-leather-but-they-smell-kinda-chemical pair I got a few weeks ago. I thought these would be my go-everywhere boots when I bought them, but there are a couple of snags: they're really warm, as in they don't breathe at all. And although my calves are actually not that big, the left boot in particular is hard to zip up all the way. So we'll see. Anyhoo, on to some shoes...

These are dead gorgeous, in my humble opinion, and vintage, to boot (no pun intended). When I want to channel Dorothy of Oz, or a retro housewife, I will wear these ruby retro beauties. I wish I could say I'll wear them all the time (I'm actually wearing them right now), but given that they are heels, and I can't really wear heels, they'll probably decorate my closet more than my feet. However, so far they are surprisingly comfy given their height.

Now, there's an event coming up that my poor feet suffer through every year, and that's the Pumpkin Patch. Why do they suffer? Because it's hard to find footwear that's warm and waterproof, that's why! But fear not, feet. This year, you will rest easy in the fuzzy, waterproof comfort of...
The Rocket Dog lined rain boots! Stylish and waterproof on the outside! (Love the side buttons.) Lined with black fuzzy material on the inside to keep your feet warm even when you're playing music outside for 7 hours at a time! Finally I will be both stylish and comfortable at the Patch!!!

And on those rare days when it's not raining out there, I have...Yessss. Kenny Rogers Signature cowboy boots. Actually, I may turf these. I don't really have room for them now that the blue boots are here. My current rule is: buy a pair, chuck a pair. But sometimes you gotta have cowboy boots, so I dunno. Maybe they'll get a reprieve until after October...

Well there you have it. The contents of my closet, or at least the shoe/boot portion. I have neglected the flipflops, Crocs and other sundries you don't really need to see. You know what the cool thing is? With the exception of the Blundstones and the black ones, all the other stuff you see here is second hand. I know some people have a thing about wearing secondhand footwear but all I have to say is Can't you see how much you're missing out? Get over it! Or don't, and let me keep snapping up all the bargains out there, 'kay?

88 keys

Recently, I learned to juggle.

It came from too many shifts at the kite store, where we happen to sell those beanbags for jugglers. Bored, I picked up three of them to see what would happen, and in tossing them up in the air, remembered as they fell every which way that I had tried to teach myself many years ago, and had always failed. But my hands, though too clumsy to actually catch the bags, remembered the form, so I kept trying. Last week I had a breakthrough; up to 50 catches before a bag fell!
Now, when I have a spare moment at the store I pick up the 3 little beanbags and toss them, sometimes perfectly, sometimes...not. I am not consistent enough yet, but I have improved a lot and it was an excellent reminder of two things: muscle memory is powerful, even if it's been years since that particular motion, and regular practice really does make a difference.

It's been a timely reminder, what with starting piano lessons last week. I've been taking it slow, learning to walk again before I try running (although my teacher is always telling me to slow down, so I guess I'm not walking slowly enough). Certain things are so different from when I was last practicing as a kid: half-hour lessons go so fast! Practicing every day is fun! And certain things are like old friends I haven't seen in a long time: hello A minor harmonic scale, haven't seen you for a while. My fingers stumble where once they would have flown. But I have advantages now: I carry extra experience on my shoulders: years of playing instruments, hearing patterns, writing music. Every day I play those chords and scales like a mantra, like a Tai Chi exercise. I may be walking slowly, tentatively now, but as my hands learn the chords and scales again- easier this time because I enjoy the learning- I will begin to sprint.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Edmonton, we hardly knew ye.

  • Cost of 2 return tickets to Edmonton: $575
  • Cost of 2 nights in the (kindacrappy) West Edmonton Days Inn: $250
  • Nerves after 2 flights in 3 days: Frazzled. (even though said flights were short and smooth.)
  • Seeing your sweetie reunited and laughing with his high school buddies from Cape Breton (class of '88): Priceless.

So it wasn't the wedding I would plan (see above cake for details). But the bride and groom seem to really love each other, and if that's there, everything else is just icing. Purple and white buttercream icing, in this case.
More importantly, it was a rare opportunity for J & his friends from Riverview High in Cape Breton to gather (they all live on the prairies now, typical Maritimers fleeing their beloved East coast in search of work), pick up where they left off, and of course, get some serious drinkin' done there, b'y. They don't see each other very often, even the ones who live in the same city. But they gather for the important life events, they re-connect even though their lifestyles are varied, and I know that if Jon was in trouble, they'd have his back.
And I like them too, which is a bonus. Plus, I got to glam up for the wedding, which was fun, and a great excuse to wear my new Little Black Dress. You can't really see it here, but I really enjoyed wearing it. And here I am, posing in front of a Prairie phenomenon, the subdivision with the man-made pond (no swimming, fishing or boating allowed).
I can't say we really got to know Edmonton (hence the title of this post). We were stationed in West Edmonton, which I can only describe as a soulless hole filled with drab brown houses and motels. Oh yeah, and The Mall. (The world-famous West Edmonton Mall, eighth wonder of the world, if you believe their publicity material. Yes, it's big. Really big. We killed some time there today before our flight home. I would way rather have seen downtown Edmonton but there was no time.)
It's good to be home, though. It's good to be on solid ground, not hurtling through the air in a narrow, combustible tube of death with wings. It's great to be back in the mountains again. Thanks be to whatever gods there are that theatre school brought Jon to Vancouver and not flat, brown Alberta. But thanks, also, to good friends who are still laughing together over 20 years and 5000 miles from the Old Days.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Still exploring ways to chase away the blues- I've found a few more tasty recipes for that in the last few days, helped by the fact that the weather remains amazing. We are finally getting the summer we never really got when it was summer!

Monday's solution was to get outside- on kayaks, this time. It would be pretty hard to find a better way to appreciate our coast than this, I think. Gliding softly past seals and even sneaking a September skinny dip off a tiny island in Indian Arm (luckily there are no pictures of this, and if there were, I wouldn't share 'em). For someone like me, who loves the water but isn't thrilled at the idea of being too far from land, paddling in a sheltered, narrow inlet is perfect. How can you not love a view like this? (That's an old power station in the distance, just one of the curious sights you can see from the water here.)
Today was Kid and Friend Therapy, with Galia's twosome providing gummy grins and 3 year-old curiosity galore. I love finding new things in my own backyard, so to speak, and Galia introduced me to the Avalon Dairy, hidden away near her son's preschool. A century old, and you can buy milk and eggs there, as close to the source as you're going to get in the big city.

Tonight is Wonton Wednesday at my mom's: homemade wonton soup and apple crumble for dinner. This could be the start of a new tradition...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Recipe to cure the Post-Summer blues:

  • Wake up early (for you). Read the news and your favorite blogs, and realize the weather is getting better by the minute. Decide to head to the farmers' market for dinner supplies. Stop in at your mom's on the way over, on impulse, and invite her along. Pick up some delicious locally grown produce. Run into friends and pat their grinning baby. Head home to sleepy man.
  • Cajole sleepy man into hurrying so you can hit the great outdoors. Drive through the 'burbs to a nearby Provincial Park. Hike 5.5 km up and down a rocky trail. Hear the wind rustling in the trees around you. You should watch for bears, but not too vigilantly. Relish the scent of sweat and sunscreen on your skin. Your heart will pound at first as you hit the first steep part, but you'll adjust. Try not to feel too peeved as your pack-a-day boyfriend cruises by you. The temperature will be perfect, the trail a lovely mix of sun and shade. You will hear people in the distance, but only a few other hikers will actually cross your path.
  • You'll come to a small, rocky beach at the trail's end. At first it'll be filled with kayakers, but be patient. Soon they'll push off again into the water and you can explore alone. Marvel as you so often have that here within this huge city are such pockets of absolute beauty and nature. Vow that you will do this much more often.
  • Have a home-cooked dinner of local corn, tomatoes stuffed with home-made pesto and baked, small spicy sausages.
  • Go to the Fringe Festival and watch some theatre, the first time you have done this in years.
  • Savour the feeling of being comfortable in your body for the first time in days. Sleep soundly.


Back at Kids' Only Market yesterday, feeling even more too old to be working there, let me tell you! 34 seems so definitively... well, almost middle-aged, if we're talking three-score years and ten. I know, I know, it's all about how you feel, etc. Well dammit, when I'm at the kite store, I see that almost everyone else who works in that market is either a) the store owner or b) some little college student earning her rent money and I feel that I'm getting closer to the owners' age than the students'. However, on the plus side, as it's pretty quiet there in the fall and winter, I am perfecting my juggling skills (we sell juggling balls, along with the kites & puppets) and yesterday I had a major breakthrough, probably because I practiced for a couple of hours. Quick, add another skill to the resume!

We closed "Letters" last weekend, and of course, it already feels like years have passed since then. Certain emails drift to us from different cast members indicating that they miss the whole experience... J & I on the other hand, aren't feeling the post-show blues so much this time. Sadly, if we'd pushed the run dates back another week we would have had much better weather than we had to endure. As it was, we were rained out 3 nights out of 10!

My body, perhaps, is feeling the post-show blues, even if my mind denies them. Ever have times when you don't have a specific illness but you feel as if your body is not quite right? I feel restless, slightly grumpy; my tummy seems dissatisfied with any and all food I try to feed it... I think it may be time for another cleanse or some such thing... at least I've been smoke-free since the show ended. I saw a David Mamet movie called Redbelt last night and it inspired me to get healthier and learn a martial art or some such thing. But gyms seem to charge a lot of money for their classes...

Anyway, this is a time of transition, which I never seem to find comfortable. I seem to be doomed to be caught in the middle between 2 warring sides of me; one that hates routine and the other that fears change. Still, there are exciting things afoot: piano lessons start next week, J & I fly to Edmonton for a wedding next weekend, I have meetings about a new project that could be very exciting...

Now I need to get healthy so I can face the Autumn with all the confidence I require.