Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolutions & Reviews

So everyone's all like 2008 can suck it, so I thought I'd review my year to see if that was so with me as well. Let's go back in time to...
January '08: I finally shook my persistent bronchitis, got strep throat, and after some searching on Craigslist, also got a fairly shitty retail job, which I took in desperation because I was B-R-O-K-E.
February '08: I celebrated 10 wonderful years with my sweetie, slowly recovered from laryngitis, drudged at the kite store, had 2 weeks alone as Jon worked in Whistler. I sound sad but hopeful in most of my posts this month.
March '08: I was still sick all the time, I made it through midterms, got a job MD-ing a musical revue in Kamloops (money! money! money!) and had a party to celebrate J's and my first decade together.
April '08: I got to the airport in the middle of the night with various other family members to fly to Mexico for my brother's wedding! We came from Ontario, England, Kelowna and Vancouver and somehow, it was just the perfect combination of people. Even my parents got along famously. Other, less successful travels included a 1-week Zeellia tour in BC's interior, where I spent pretty much all 7 days in a serious funk.
May '08: I spent 3 wonderful weeks in isolated Wells and Barkerville, working on a show about the BC gold rush. Running every morning, smoking every afternoon; living with 20 year-olds in a ramshackle wooden house, seeing grizzly bears along the side of the highway... life in the country.
June '08: I rehearsed Back Kitchen again, procrastinated a lot while working on music for the next show, had the usual ups and downs...
July '08: I continued procrastinating as I got ready to do "Letters from Lithuania", saw the fabulous Lyle Lovett in concert, enjoyed my solo evenings as Jon performed in "Back Kitchen" all month.
August '08: One of the best casts I've ever worked with. One of the most, um, trying productions. 30% of the shows were rained out. Let's leave it at that, shall we? Rushed to Kelowna to spend 2 days of family time, as my stepmom decided to cut out her radiation treatment and wanted to see us all while she was still in good shape. I would only see her one more time after this, but I didn't know it then.
September '08: I flew to Edmonton for a wedding, bought a whole buncha shoes, went kayaking, ground my teeth in boredom at the kite store...
October '08: Pumpkin Patch, for the 5th time! Still fun, still hard, still great money. Went on the Atkins Diet and you could practically see me lose weight. Started writing music for "Medea". Started writing music for "Merchant of Venice" as well. Squeezed in "Merchant" rehearsals at night after doing the Pumpkin Patch all day.
November '08: I was super-nervous about "Medea", especially because I got behind on my composing, so I buckled down for some hard work. I also played hard and got to visit some great friends out of town. My stepmom's condition got worse, and we all knew things were past the point of getting better. Oh, and the world economy tanked.
December '08: I started rehearsals for Medea- what a relief to finally be doing it instead of worrying about it! And how great to actually be on stage again. Christmas holidays came really fast, and with them, the shopping craze. My mom returned from the icy prairies, where she's been touring for the last 3 months. And my stepmom died after fighting cancer tooth and nail for 2 years.

Re-reading my posts over the last 12 months, I realize how sick I was a lot of the time last winter, and how up-and-down my mood was. Reading other blogs, it seems that 2008 was a pretty intense year for a lot of people. Jon and I had a serious brainstorming session yesterday and we have a lot of ideas and hopes for this year. It's always hard to keep going with those plans after the first flush wears off, but I feel confident that we're going to make some big changes, and I'm going to do my best to keep on the right path. If there's one thing a funeral can teach you, it's that you never know how much time you have left. I know that's a total cliche, but it's so true. By the time we scatter June's ashes this spring, I want to be able to measure some real changes. Here's what I'd like be able to say by then:
Hi June,
Sometimes you drove me nuts, but I really admired your organization and your enthusiasm. You've inspired me to get my life in better order, and I've finally been saving some money for when I'm older. You were always eager to hear about my career, even though you probably didn't understand why I had to be so poor; well I realized that being an artist is no excuse for being clueless about money. I've also learned to market myself better and not just drift from job to job. And although I will never get up as early as you liked to, I'm not snoozing 'til 10am every day! Someone described you at your funeral as a domestic genius, and while that's certainly not something I'll ever be, I've finally learned to keep my little apartment tidy and, more importantly, clean. I even laundered the quilt you made for us, before it got up off the bed and walked itself over to the laundromat!

Let's see if I can make all this (and lots more) come true in 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

On Boxing Day, my stepmom June slipped into a coma in the early hours of the morning and died in the afternoon without regaining consciousness. She'd had a nice Christmas Day at the hospice where she was supposed to be staying for a few days to sort out her pain medication levels. My dad and June had a good lunch together and a walk, and she would have spoken to her daughter and grandkids in Ottawa, as it was Christmas Day. I spoke to her for a few minutes as well, and told her that we were looking forward to seeing her when we arrived in Kelowna on Sunday. That night, she complained of a pain in her head, and yesterday morning, the staff at the hospice couldn't wake her. Her body just gave up, after years of putting up such a fight against the cancer. I'm glad that she went quickly, after what sounded like an enjoyable day. I'm glad she never woke up after what was most likely a stroke. I'm glad for my father, that this long journey is over. I worry about what he'll do in the next few months as his new reality sets in; this new loneliness. I haven't cried yet. I feel very detached and more relieved than anything else, although I think sadness will come when we arrive in Kelowna tomorrow and stay in the house that June made so comfortable.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

3am Thoughts

Rich food and alcohol thwarted my sleep plans last night, and a miscommunication with my mother meant that she called me at 7:30 this morning, waking me after less than 5 hours' sleep.
Welcome home, Mom.

Actually, it's great to have her back, especially since I know that many people can't get home right now because the weather is so, well, winter-y. She's been gone since October, so we had a lot of catching up to do. Which lead to wine-drinking, which lead to us getting home late, which lead to eating pasta after 10pm, which is just not so smart.

Which lead to lying awake at 3am dwelling on things, as you tend to do in the small hours of the morning. Things like:
  • why do I feel like I need to compete with one of my best friends, instead of celebrating our differences and enjoying the things that make us alike.
  • why can't I quit smoking and eating things I shouldn't when it's really just a teeny tiny matter of self-control and do pleasures that last about 5 minutes outweigh the guilt and bad health that follow?
  • if I can't quit my very mild habit, what are the odds that my boyfriend will ever quit, or will we celebrate our 20th anniversary in the ICU with him hooked up to some oxygen device?
  • why do I feel unsupported and frustrated in one of my bands and is it worth opening a can of worms and sparking some conflict to get to the bottom of this, or should I just keep my mouth shut?
and of course, the old standby, the voice that whispers:

  • You're no good.
So you see, I should never eat carbohydrates late at night.

I am going to be gentle with myself and others today. I am going to eat a good breakfast and go play in the newly-fallen snow. At noon, Jon & I are going to get our hair cut, which will make me feel pretty, and then I will have 2 gigs later. I will do my best without endlessly comparing myself to others, and I will try to be confident without being arrogant or feeling that I have to prove myself all the time. I will admit that I have things still to learn without feeling that this makes me a failure. I will be kind to the man who loves me.
I can.
I will.
I am.
These are small but powerful words.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reasons to be Happy

It's -2 degrees and snow is swirling out of the sky and muffling the sounds of trains and traffic. The weather forecast says it's going to remain cold for the foreseeable future. I think we're going to have a white Christmas- I can't remember the last time that happened here. I know drivers everywhere in the Lower Mainland are cursing this White Stuff, but look at it! It's magic!

I sang carols in a beautiful church last night. Which was sort of a trip, because it was a high school Christmas concert, and I haven't been to one of those in a looong time. And not even my high school, to boot. All around me, alumni-who-were-barely-alumni giggled and goofed off and were generally their annoying 19 year-old selves. I wanted to strangle them. But then I remembered what I was like at that age, how giggly and raw and unfinished, and I forgave them, because I had been way more annoying. At the end of the concert the lights in this old church were dimmed; we all held candles and sang Silent Night, and these teenage monsters transformed into a heavenly chorus around me, and I looked up from my music at the choir teacher who had made me, all those years ago, want to be a musician, and I thought this is a perfect thing to do just before Christmas.

I love my job. And it's not over 'till the end of January. Greek tragedy rules!

I have a gig on Thursday with the Redboot Quartet and I think lots of people are going to come...

Did I mention it's snowing?

We finish rehearsals early- on Friday instead of Tuesday. Roll on, Christmas holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Yesterday was a blur of caroling, old school-friends, and a Chinese-Ukrainian concert where haunting erhus mingled with french horns and I sang my first ever song in Mandarin Chinese. Of course, I was taking pictures all night, and the photographer seldom turns up in pictures, so... you'll have to take my word for it that I was there. All this singing about winter has suddenly brought it on with a vengeance, and after my concert last night, J & I ventured down the Drive to by a sizzling hot pizza from Pizza Garden and I captured this: A whirl of snow came down last night, and still covers everything today and I know it's an inconvenience to drivers everywhere but I love it. The first snowfall, especially in a city that gets so little snow, is pure magic to me.

We're getting close to Christmas now, and although I don't really want the blur of jobcarolingconcertsschool to end, if anything it gets more intense this week, because I'm adding dogsitting into the mix. Which means that Christmas will be on top of me before I know it. And to be brutally honest, I've yet to buy one single present. And this just hit me as I typed that sentence: 10 days 'til Christmas, plus every day and night full equals PANIC!

Take a deep breath. Remember the beauty of Christmas and snow. Don't get sucked into the buybuybuy frenzy. In the big picture, it is the spirit of Christmas that matter, not the presents. See below: Ahhh.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Caroling and Greek Tragedy

I had a post on the back burner the other day, a moan about Vancouver's unrelenting greyness. But I got bored just writing it, so I canned it without publishing it. And of course, Vancouver being the tease she is, there was actually sun today- real sun. Not that I saw a lot of it, since I was inside a black-box theatre doing Greek tragedy all day. But it was there, and I enjoyed it on my lunch break, so there.

My mood's been swingin' all over the place in the last few days; not that that has anything to do with the fact that it's That Time of the Month Again. A few days ago I was feeling frustrated and weepy, (nope, definitely nothing to do with That Time, eh?), and today I feel as if I could climb mountains. I had a great rehearsal at UBC today- after all the self-doubt I go through every time I do a show, it was good to hear songs I wrote echoing through the theatre, vanquishing the pale little ghost of me at 19, when I last went to UBC and hated most of it.

This evening I took the bus to Memory Lane (AKA North Vancouver) to sing Christmas Carols with the Collingwood/Argyle Schools Alumni Choir. Grads from my school (Collingwood) and the other school (Argyle), who share a total dynamo of a choir teacher. Ok, so we had her for 2 years and they still have her, but we loved her and we got to go to Europe with her back when I was 17, so I was thrilled to go to this thing after many years of not being available for it. What freaked me out was that I was expecting all the choir to be about my age, but apart from a few other Collingwood grads who were a couple years older than me, they were all much, much younger. Still, it was awesome to see some old friends I literally hadn't seen for 16 years, and to be able to tell one of my favorite music teachers that I was still a musician after all this time. Oh, and I get to sing Christmas Carols at 3 separate little gigs, or giglets, if you will.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

When it comes to silver, I am the proverbial magpie. And while rings can be annoying and bracelets dangle from my freakishly small wrists, a good necklace makes me salivate. So I am very happy because today I can wear my new necklace (if I ever get dressed, that is)!!! And my funky new camera strap from Chicago should be coming any day now (she wrote hopefully). And to celebrate, J and I took to the streets (well, just the one street actually) and I continued adding to my newest photo series: neon signs of Commercial Drive.

I find that all too often these years, Christmas rushes past me without my getting a chance to properly acknowledge it. And I love Christmas. Not all the aspects of it, but a lot of it: Carols (but don't get me started on any songs written after about 1906- they don't count), the excitement of children, sparkley decorations, shopping... there's a lot to love. This year I'm determined not to let Christmas get away without enjoying some of the hokey pleasures that make it delightful. So the other day, I decorated our apartment with shiny blue disco balls, silver snowflakes, and lights. All while listening to King's College choir. And it was great. Christmas will be a nice contrast to the show I'm rehearsing, which is all about killing. And more killing. And the resultant misery. I'm having such a great time so far, and rehearsals are going really well. But it's nice to poke my head out from the tragedy of Medea and her doomed family and remember that my favorite holiday is fast approaching...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Giving Thanks...

  • for this blog, which inspires me to keep snapping pictures, even when I don't really know what they're for;
  • for the start of a new month, and a goodbye to lazy days at home with no motivation;
  • for Christmas concerts and gigs to keep me busybusy;
  • for a fabulous first day of rehearsals, and the chance to perform in a wonderful new show; and finally ...
  • ...for the fact that in Canada, we don't have our Thanksgiving less than a friggin' month before Christmas!