Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Week

I am typing this in Kelowna, as Christmas Week continues. (Really, it's not just a day is it? Unless you have to work, Christmas stretches on until the New Year's Eve hangover subsides.) 

We go for walks: Dad, Louise and I. Or just Dad and I if Lou is working. We take our cameras-
Dad is trying to forgive me the unpardonable sin of now using a Nikon- and we try and find colour in this monochrome landscape. Nothing is browner than Kelowna in early winter. 

Grey skies, snow-skiffed mountains, steely lake.

We bond through eating, wine and photography. It's what we do together, not what we say. 

I flew up here on the night of Christmas Day, a short, smooth flight. Cheaper than the bus. Up here I am a kid: sleeping, snacking, watching movies and reading. Waiting for news, waiting for the next job, always waiting. Soon I'll fly home and take down the Christmas tree and life in 2014 will begin. What will it bring? What will I bring to it? But for now I am grateful to be a kid, to travel from one parent's to another and be loved and taken care of. I am old enough to know that it can't last forever. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Warning: This Post Is Really Negative.

Okay, I warned you. Right in the title. This post is going to be very negative. Here's why:
  • A few nights ago it snowed. When I woke up on Friday the streets looked like this:

It was a glorious, snowy, pre-Christmas sight that warmed my heart. And now it's totally melted. Thanks, rain! You suck!
  • I woke up sick today. Well, technically yesterday, because it's now past midnight and so today is now Christmas Eve. My favourite day. And I am sick. I need tons of sleep and the next few days will be eating and travel and more eating and having to be sociable when all I want to do is be alone. 
  • Did I mention the eating? Because I feel really bloated and unhealthy; over-stuffed and self-indulgent. Yeah I know. There are so many people in the world who would kill to have this problem. That doesn't actually make me feel any better about myself. 
  • Something I ate or drank has made my mouth break out in horrible sores that really, really hurt. Which is one way to curtail the over-eating, I guess. But not a very nice way. 
  • I went to a really nice party on Friday night but I stayed waaaay too long. Around 2am I was in a hot tub with some drunk and loud people when the last of my alcohol buzz evaporated and I was suddenly profoundly sad. This may have been because my ex was there and although I love to see him and we get along really well I am always filled with a complicated mixture of sadness and failure and guilt when we are together (but not) at parties. So I left the party and went home. In tears. 
  • I felt so lousy the day after the party that I thought I was hungover. I also thought that the next day too so I was almost relieved when I realized that it was sickness, and not a hangover. Because I really didn't think I had drunk that much at the party. 
  • Because the sickness sucked all the happiness right out of my body, I did not enjoy two Christmasy events that I had been looking forward to: dinner at my brother's place and the East Van Pantomime. Although to be fair, I don't think that either of these two events were actually all that great anyway. But when you're a childless adult, if you don't enjoy family get-togethers and Christmas shows, then what's left to enjoy at Christmas? 
  • I feel directionless because I'm not working and I'm not inspired to write anything right now. Except really complain-y blog posts, apparently. Which makes me feel lazy. 
Okay, it actually felt good to vent there. I am going to try and sleep this thing off and hopefully I will wake in a day or two feeling less tired and mouth-sore and sad. I guess I've had a pretty good run of happy lately, so a day or two of sadness won't be the end of me. But dammit, it's Christmas! The timing could be better. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pretty as a Picture

Holy cow! I have a new camera y'all, and it's fantastic. 
My lovely mother came over to visit me in Victoria and we were discussing cameras (because Victoria is a very photogenic city) and Christmas and before you know it we were at London Drugs and...
Here's what it looks like.  Isn't it pretty? I know it's girly, but I love that it's red.
I wish I'd had it in Hawaii, because some of my pictures from there look a little washed-out. I don't think that's going to be a problem with this camera. You can expect to see a lot more pictures on this site from now on. Photography is one of those hobbies that waxes and wanes with me. Sometimes I take a lot of pictures, sometimes not so many. But I always come back to it. Having this camera, I think that I'll be coming back to it more often than ever.
Plus it has a Selective Colour feature which I think I'm going to be using quite a lot. 
So Victoria was amazing. I LOVE it when I have fears or low expectations about a job and then that job just comes along and blows me out of the water because it's so wonderful. You'd think I'd be more trusting by now but no, I still have The Fear before a lot of my gigs. To be fair though, I had The Fear this time because I felt like I was unprepared and under-practiced. But I came through. It wasn't my best-ever accordion playing, but I sounded good in the ensemble. And it re-confirmed for me that sometimes you don't have to be technically the best player in the room, it's also so much about getting along with everyone that makes you the right person for the job and I really fit in. This show was staged so that all the musicians were also participants in the play (to call us actors would be going a bit far since we only had a couple of lines each, but we were integrated into the show rather than lurking in an orchestra pit) and I was the only musician in the band that had experience being ONstage as opposed to being in the pit.  And I just clicked with everyone.  I kept hearing "We LOVED having you here!" from people. Sometimes repeatedly. So clearly I was doing something right. I came home today feeling as though the last 3 weeks- Hawaii to Victoria- have been a whirlwind adventure: new friends, new experiences, and LOTS of great memories. 
This photo was actually taken with my old camera, which actually did serve me pretty well for a cheap point-and-shoot. 

 Joy, indeed. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

In Which Working With a Bunch of Cute Young Actors Prompts an Inner Monologue About Love and Other Hard Things (Get your minds out of the gutter, people. Honestly.)

They are so confident! So talented! And so very, very young.

Working with a student theatre company, with a bunch of fit, pretty things at the beginning of their careers, is both exciting and depressing. On one hand I can look at these fledgeling actors and honestly say to myself that I am so so glad to be in my very late thirties, even though in many ways my life is more full of drama and weirdness now than it ever was when I was 21. Little did I know, back then. Last night I had dinner with the director, who is an old friend, and we got the giggles all through dinner because we were changing the lyrics of this one song in the show and I was filled with utter joy. Not only because silly out-of-control giggling is very good for the soul, but because I could look at this moment and see all the years of work and life and friendship that had brought me to this moment
(as well as many times of sadness and self-doubt and unemployment) and for once I Got It. I was truly happy to be right here, right now.

You know what else is exciting-or depressing? Secretly drooling over some hot young guy who's in this show and realizing dude, you've probably got 15 years on him. Give it UP. All of a sudden I'm this dirty old lady.

I'm in a weird place right now with love. Just all over the map.
When I was in Hawaii I was very aware of being alone- as I would be, considering that I was in a tropical paradise filled with lovers and families. The very kooky lady I was staying with was 61, looked 10 years younger, and was having relationship troubles which we talked about quite a bit. I was at the bar with her one night just gazing at all these butterfly women in their fifties and sixties. Makeup, short little dresses, dancing to the band. And on one hand, how awesome! These ladies are anything BUT what you would predict a lady in her sixties would be. They were waaaay more glamorous than me, with my flyaway hair, my freckles and minimal makeup. (And don't think that relative youth gave me any advantages, folks. If anyone was checking me out I certainly wasn't aware of it.) But on the other hand I thought I don't want to be playing this game at their age. Fluttering from one date to the next, worrying about ending up alone. (And in Hawaii ending up alone means you have to kill All The Centipedes. Which is a very fine reason to hook up, if you ask me.)
I checked out this blog today and she's giving advice on staying in a marriage. I happen to think it's very good advice, and not only for marriages but for many long-term commitments. Basically she says: The Sikhs say that marriage is the closest we get to God. It's a spiritual journey. And if you look at it that way- as a spiritual quest, if you like- then maybe, just maybe, it'll be possible to stick with it, not to look for something shinier, sexier, newer. 
I couldn't agree more, actually. Even though- and maybe BECAUSE- I've been distracted by the shiny stuff in the last few years. I had some really good things going, and I let them go because I'm sort of like that dog in "Up", the one who means well but just has to yell "Squirrel!!!" in the middle of a sentence because hey, it's a damn squirrel! Nothing's better than a squirrel! Until the next one, that is.
So maybe- just maybe- my spiritual quest is to figure out what the hell I want right now before I inflict myself on anyone else. Right now I'm mostly pretty happy living in my head... which is SO funny considering I'm in a production of "Zorba"in which the whole message of the play is: Get out of your head! Grasp Life by the balls! Live big! But you know what? Zorba's 60-something and he's alone. And every year it gets harder for him to have a woman. So...
So yeah, I'm going to work on continuing to be happy, right here right now, which is a feeling I kind of landed in around September and am still constantly appreciating, every day. I'm going to think a lot about my particular paradox, which is that I'm not the type of person who's made for short random hook-ups, but I can't settle down quite yet. And I'm going to keep staring at the gorgeous young actor I have a total crush on and be both sad and relieved that I will never even cross his mind.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Like a Waiting Room in...?

I have to admit, my B&B makes me think of that waiting room in "Beetlejuice", the one where Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin wait once they're newly dead, to try and figure out what comes next.
Not because there are dead people floating by (at least, not that I can see), but because it's old, quiet, and almost utterly devoid of other people. Like a waiting room. The couple who owns it doesn't live there. There is a housekeeper who comes and goes, and other guests, but we rattle around in this 3-story mansion like pinballs, never meeting. The huge living room has 2 desktop computers (a huge relief to me, who couldn't manage to fit my laptop into my luggage), and instrumental Christmas music playing softly through the speakers, and a lovely Christmas tree in the corner. The loudest noise is the sound of my fingers hitting the keys as I type this. In the mornings, between 7 and 10, a 'continental'-style breakfast is laid out (by whom?): bread, jams, cereals, coffee. I come down around 8:30 and munch, and this is when I meet company: an avuncular retired businessman from Ottawa who's here to visit his pregnant daughter. We chat, he's fascinated by my gypsy lifestyle but tells me he wouldn't want to do what I do- too little security. I tell him that sometimes I feel the same way. We share stories as we look out the windows at Craidarroch Castle, which is literally right behind the B&B. A castle in the backyard!
My bedroom is at the top of the house, filled with a king-sized bed on which I do a gleeful somersault the first night I'm here. I have arrived just in time for a day off and a technical day in which the musicians are not needed. Sigh of relief: I can finally practice this damn score, which is hard. And I can walk around this beautiful city which I almost never visit because well, I don't really know why. The ferry ride makes it seem inaccessible, which of course it isn't.
Is there anywhere more lovely than Victoria in December in a cold snap? I roam the streets at night carrying only my camera and snap dozens of pictures: old houses, Christmas lights, Chinatown, the legislature, and of course, the castle in the backyard, built (if I remember rightly) with the ill-gotten gains of a family who exploited the miners of Vancouver Island and had a tragic history. The perfumed air and sweaty heat of Hawaii seem far away and that's fine. This northern girl is revelling in holly berries and chill night air and a magical, quiet bed and breakfast that seems almost too good to be true.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Things I Like About Being Back in Canada:

  1. Not being on a plane anymore: Think about it. We cram ourselves into a tube that's loaded with highly flammable fuel and roar through the sky tens of thousands of feet above the earth. And we pretend that it's totally normal, no worries, nothing to see here. I love travelling. But I can't forget that the "getting there" part is fraught with dangers. You just have to look around at people's faces when the plane hits turbulence to know that everyone's aware of their mortality in that narrow metal tube. 
  2. Snuggling into a nice warm bed: I liked the tropical heat of Hawaii, but sleeping in a bed that was gritty with beach sand and having to kick the sheets off because I was sweating? Not so fun. I like to bury myself with blankets when I sleep. And cuddle up to my teddy bear, who would have been banned in Hawaii because he's too furry. (And no, that's not a euphemism; I really DO sleep with a big teddy at the moment.)
  3. Being IN my own bed: My saintly mother met me at the airport at dawn today, and was going to drive my straight to the ferry so I could get to my next job right away. As soon as I stepped off the plane I realized that I was just too exhausted to make that happen. Luckily my music director was cool with me coming tomorrow instead, so I had today to unpack, get myself in order for the next trip and... relax. After 9 days of swimming, biking, paddling and exploring, I needed a holiday from my holiday!
  4. No giant centipedes! Really, does this even need an explanation? In the tropics, everything is outsized: the trees, the flowers... and the insects. I was brushing my teeth one night when a monster centipede scuttled into the bathroom. Muffling a scream, I then watched it make a beeline for my bedroom. I spent over 30 minutes sitting gingerly on my bed, freaking out, until I saw it leave. Then I stuffed towels under the door and slept... sort of. 
  5. Seeing my friends... although that's still a pipe dream until I get back to Vancouver for good, in just over a week. Until then, it's Facebook for me. I am so lucky when it comes to my friends; they seem to love me even though I'm not always around for them. 
Um, I think that's pretty much it. Otherwise I miss Hawaii, but I had a good long time there and now it feels like time to get working again. I breathe in the crystal, icy air (yup, I came home to a cold snap- great timing!) and although I'd like to get back to the tropics again, this is my northern home and I'm happy to be back. Mostly. At least I can stop jumping at the sight of real or imagined bugs for the time being. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kona Kronicles part 2

What an adventure it's been! Sometimes you're just in the right place at the right time. Thanks to my new German friends Maria and Sylva I got to explore a huge chunk of the Big Island on our 2 roadtrips together. This place is amazing in its variety- drive 2 hours and you can go from this:
200 year-old lava flow north of Kailuea-Kona

to this:
Akaka Falls, on the east side of the island
There's also grassy ranchland, green Canadian-looking farm country, steaming volcanos and coffee country. Not to mention stunning beaches, of course!
Hapuna Beach
Now I know why everyone was so insistent that I have a car, and if I return it'll definitely be with my licence, and hopefully a friend as well. 

It's all the little things that are so great as well: waking up at 6:30 every day because that's when the sun appears (as quickly as it disappears around 5:30pm), buying local bananas and coconuts from a roadside stand:
...and watching sea turtles sunning themselves on black sand beaches: 
(I've also nearly bumped into one of these guys every time I've gone swimming)
I've watched people leaping off the edge of the world:
A brave soul jumps from South Point, the southernmost point in the USA
and seen waves smashing against rocks so hard that I was drenched in spray.
Laupahoehoe Point, on the east side of the island. A beautiful spot with a tragic history. 
But of course, this was only 2 days out of ten. A lot of my time has been spent shopping, eating, and exploring on foot or on my bicycle.  And reading on various beaches. It's been all I could have hoped for, really. I hope I'll be back some day.